Friday, August 19, 2011

What Things Should I Do When Selling My Home?

Both selling and buying a home are always very big decisions and there is a lot to consider when doing either one. In this market, if you choose to sell your home, there are some very important things that you should do to market it well.
One very important thing that needs to be done is house cleaning and maybe even some rearranging of furniture. We all have our house kept the way that works well with our lives, but don't assume that how you keep it is the way everyone else would. If you have pet toys or kid toys, they need to be put away out of sight. Try a decorative bin and slide it under some shelves or simply put them in a box in the closet. Keep your house more clean than you are normally used to keeping it. This is a home you are selling and one of the easiest ways to turn a prospective buyer away is to have a mess in the kitchen, over flowing litter boxes, or an untidy master bedroom. After all, would you buy a car that smelled like cat or had a mess all over the floor? Probably not, and this is a home you are trying to sell so make a good impression. People can easily see a messy house and assume that other up keeps on a home may have fallen through the cracks as well (no pun intended). Also, if you have over sized furniture or maybe just not enough walking space in some areas, ask a friend if you can store that large chair in their home for a bit. Or maybe move a few things to a storage room or the garage and keep the car outside for a while. It is hard to picture where to put the furniture in a new home when the home has no room for new ideas.

Curb appeal! Curb appeal! Curb appeal! Put some extra money into planting some nice flowers and bushes. Keep the walk way swept and the lawn trimmed. Buy some paint and have the front door redone if the paint is chipping. Restaurants spend a ton of money to make the entrance of their venue look appealing to attract people to come eat there...you should put in at least a couple hundred (if not more) to make your home a place people want to see as well.

Last but not least, this may be the hard part, but also the most important. This is your home and you have made memories here. And you have invested time, money, and effort into redoing the patio or upgrading the kitchen. This home is a very big deal to you and it has a lot of personal value it to. As a home owner, I am well aware of all of these feeling and thoughts that we have when getting ready to sell a home. But as a realtor, I must say, the most important thing you can do when selling your home is to find a good realtor that will price it right the first time on the market. You need to see what has sold in your area in the past 90 days. If possible, try not too look more than a mile or so away. The closer the better. You also need to consider the square footage of these homes and make sure they are somewhat close to yours. (The number of bedrooms may not matter as much depending on your location) When you look through the homes that have sold, find ones that may have similar upgrades, or lot sizes and amenities like a pool. Now, ask yourself when looking at the price those homes sold for "Am I risk adverse? Or am I a big risk taker?" If you have nothing to loose and time is not of the essence, then you can price it where you are comfortable. Most people are not in that position, so for everyone else, I would highly recommend finding the average price of those similar homes, and listing yours just under. Do not look at what other homes are currently listed at! If they haven't sold, that number means nothing. There are a lot of factors to think about if you list your home too high. If the home sits on the market too long, you may attract people that are only willing to come in at a very low offer thinking you may be weary and desperate. If you price it too high and continue to lower it after it's been on the market, the buyers' agents will tell the clients all this information and again, the client may see that as a good place to jump in with a very low offer. I know that is not the easiest pill to swallow, but at the same time, this is priceless advice and in the end, it is your decision and you will either sell your home in a reasonable time or the home will sit and wait it out. Good luck with selling your house and when finding a realtor, always deserve better!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pre-Approved, Pre-Qualified....what?

Do I need to be pre-approved. pre-qualified or pre-nuptualed? Well, I can't give you advice on what you should do when you get married but I am here to tell you about the house you will be buying and how to go about doing it. There was a day, not too long ago, when we could go out looking for houses, find the perfect one, and put an offer on it. Some of us would have hopefully been pre-approved for the loan for the house and others had simply gone over our basic finances with a loan broker and we were given a ballpark of what we could afford. Well, those days are over.
The most important thing we can do for ourselves today is get a clear and precise understanding of our finances and what we can afford. It is no longer as simple as how much we make minus what we pay in bills. Today a loan broker may want to see your income history in bank statements, proof of where your down payment came from and how long you've had it and, of course, your credit history is more important today than ever. Some people may have children with a partner they are no longer with and instead of the typical child support, they are having their ex pay for rent or mortgage where they live. Other people may have received a down from a family member but still need to show the transaction transfer and proof of relations to the person who gave it to them. There are a million and one different financial situations that people have and it's not as simple as it was in the past to get a loan. Banks are being very careful to qualify potential buyers today after what happened with the financial crash we all witnessed. Some people may need to be credit-approved which is just an in depth and much more informative understanding of one's finances. This is typically done when we don't have a straight forward, easy to read, income or perhaps debt.
All that being said, the one thing you need to know about pre-approval and pre-qualification is that you need it. In order to make an offer on a home, this is something that, today, is necessary. When you start looking for properties, don't get yourself into a pickle by finding something that is great for you, but loosing it to someone else who is already pre-qualified gets their offer in and accepted. The early bird gets the worm. That is not the only reason is it necessary to get pre-qualified but also, we may think we can afford more than we truly can and we can only learn that when we are pre-qualified. So, call a friend and see if they have a loan broker they recommend, and ask your real estate agent for a recommendation as well. They call a few different brokers, see who you feel comfortable with, and start your engine cause now we can go look for some houses and you will be well on your way to finding your new home.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

When Is It The Right Time To Buy?

Owning a home is a great dream to fulfill. There is something about knowing that the walls that surround you are yours and if your lucky, so is the yard. But when is a good time to buy for me? I have money saved up, but is it enough? I know prices are low but I heard they may get lower; the news calls it a "double dip". Everyone who is thinking about purchasing a home right now has these question and probably a lot more they are asking.
First things first...find a good loan broker who you trust to get you pre-qualified. When you lay all your cards on the table for that loan broker, try to listed carefully to what they say about your finances. Here are some things to keep an eye out for when looking to get a loan: If your loan broker has nothing but "yes" or "no problem" or "you shouldn't worry about that" to every single thing you say when tell them about your skepticism or situations you think may be a red flag for your finances, then you may want to find someone else. You really want someone who has your best interest in mind and if they are a "yes man", you may find yourself in a difficult position down the road. If you want to be the safest person out there, rule of thumb says you should have a 20% down payment, plus about 2% of home price for closing costs, and a nice savings account for a safety net. There are financial advisers out there that say homeowners should have 6 months worth of your mortgage and all bills in your savings. I know you are thinking "WOW, that's a lot". I know it is, but this is the safest way to go. Most people don't do all that but I do believe that however you divide your finances up, that having a savings account for the unknown situations that come with home ownership is very wise.
Next thing is finding your realtor. Same thing applies here as did with the loan broker...don't go with the "yes man". Looking for a house can be overwhelming and sometimes emotions get involved. If you are looking for a 3 bedroom home, on a street with little traffic, in your chosen school district because you and your spouse are hoping to start a family, then remember what you started out looking for. Of course your agent will show you things that don't have everything you want, because unless you have an unlimited budget, that can be hard to find. But you also don't want to walk into a 2 bedroom condo right next to all the night life, fall in love with all the upgrades and have your realtor telling you it's perfect for you needs and you can sell it in a couple years when the kids start coming. Fact is, you may get the condo because that is what your money can get you at that moment, but your realtor should be honest about what is best for you and not sell you on a hope that you can resell if it doesn't work out. Way out all the pros and cons on a piece of paper if that helps and ask your realtor's opinion about the matter.
And finally, "The Big Dipper"..oh wait, I mean "The Double Dip". I don't know about you but just hearing makes me hungry. Okay, all joking aside, I know this is on your mind. Fact of the matter is that no one can predict the future and there are just as many opinions as there are anchormen and news channels. This is what I know: ratings sell. I can't say for sure where the economy is going and anyone who says they know, knows nothing, all we can do is take an educated guess...and how educated are the guesses they sometimes put on the news stories...don't forget, ratings sell. What I do know is that home prices are extraordinarily low. Most homes are selling from 10% to 30% cheaper than they were four years ago, especially if you look at short sales. And the rates for a loan are also extremely low. In 2000 they were at 8.5% and today you can hope for 4.75% (everyone is different). The difference on a $300,000 purchase, with those two rates, is $267,048...almost another home. Point being, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. If you are financially ready to buy and at the right place in your life, then do it! This market is like a sale on top of a sale. Just don't forget to find a good loan broker and a good realtor to help you along the way!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why You Need An Agent When Buying Your Home

Have you ever been out looking for your new home and thought to yourself "I don't need an agent. I'm going to do this on my own and save some money." Well...I am here with some enlightening news for you. You don't save any more money when buying a home if you use a realtor to help you, than if you did it on your own. In fact, you are more likely to save more money with a Realtor when buying a home. I'll give you an example of why this is. You know how you can buy plane tickets and hotel rooms online straight from the their website? Well, there are also websites out there that give you discounted plane tickets and hotel rooms. These discounted websites are there to bargain a deal for you and also to do wide spread advertising of the hotels and airlines. So because these discounted sites advertise and get more business for the companies than they were getting on their own, the hotels and airlines then pay these discount sites for their services. Now you can always just call straight to the hotel and airlines and get the price they quoted you, which leaves little to no room for negotiations. Well, that is kind of what your buying agent does for you. We will show you more properties than you can see on your own. We can get you into homes on days there is no open house and give you useful information about the home and the area. We will also give you comparables to that property and help you to weigh the pros and cons of one property v.s. another. And when you find the home you are looking for, our big job is to negotiate a lower price for you. The agent who sells the home has the job of getting the highest price for their client and that client is the one who pays the commission to have their Realtor advertise, market, and promote the sale of their home to other Realtors. So, do you want to walk into a situation of trying to buy a home with no help, no professional guidance, and nobody to stand in your corner and negotiate for you, all at the low low price of...nothing-more-out-of-your-pocket? I think it's time you started looking someone to work for you...you deserve it!

Friday, June 17, 2011

How would you like to live in Sherman Oaks, California?



It is a known fact that California has some of the highest priced real estate there is. San Fransisco is up there and of course Santa Barbara is a highly sought after town as well. You can't argue that California, as a whole, has some of the most beautiful ocean views, mountain tops, national forests, desert ranges and, you guessed it, homes. We are known for having a very wide variety of styles of homes and you can only imagine that with all the creative people in Hollywood, that Los Angeles has a vast number of them right here. Sherman Oaks is one of the most sought after places to live in Los Angeles with the magnificent hill side homes to the flat lots with California bungalows. We have grand large homes where the rich and famous live as well as a great selection of condos right in the heart of Sherman Oaks. Up until the fall of the market, the average buyer could easily spend $700,000 for a home here but things today are a bit different. This is the time for buyers out there to purchase real estate in places like Sherman Oaks. I have a feeling these home prices wouldn't last too long and I know that the mortgage rates are bound to rise as well. There are some pictures attached here of condos I am holding open houses for this weekend. One of them is a short sale listed at $289,000 with 2bd,2bth and multiply community amenities and the other is listed at $335,000 with 2bd,2bth as well and is a standard sale. There are not too many places in America where you average 72 degree weather all year, you are 25 minutes to the beach, an hour from snow top mountains where you can ski, 30 minutes from the beautiful countryside, one and a half hours from wine country, and living where actors, directors, architects, singers, painters, and creative people from around the world call home. These are the times to not miss out on great buying opportunities, so if you have the resources and the desire to own a home...this is your time. Don't let it slip through your fingers.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What you need to know about finding your Real Estate Agent

Sometimes looking for a real estate agent feels a bit like looking for a good doctor or dentist. Some people already have someone in mind and others have no clue where to begin. Well, don't worry, you are not alone. You may try to ask someone you know if they have a recommendation for you. But not all people work well for everyone. Sometimes you just need someone who feels right to you, and not just to your friend who recommended them. Wouldn't it be nice if once a week we could go out and shop for our doctors? We would have them all in one area and get to know a little, sort of like speed dating. We get to introduce ourselves, ask their opinion on a couple of things, and see what they think. Well, real estate agents have that and it's a great opportunity for you to meet your future realtor. It's called dadadada drum roll please...open houses. Yes, that's right, open houses. I know what you are thinking..."aren't the people in open houses there to find people to buy that house in particular?" The answer is yes. But it's also a great place to do some realtor shopping for you. When Sunday rolls around, try going by some open houses and just get to talking to the real estate agents that are there. If you know that it's not someone you want to work with, then go to some more open houses. Just get a good feel for how they are and whether they seem like someone you would want helping you to find or sell your home. You don't have to tell them you are shopping for an agent but grab their card on the way out and if you want to get to know them better, think of some things you'd like to ask them and give them a call. It's that easy. So if you are in the market for a real estate agent, one way to find one is by getting out on Sunday and stopping by some open houses...not only will you begin to see what else is on the market, but you'll get to meet some of your local realtors and hopefully find one that works for you!