Monthly Archives: April 2015

Home Selection Checklist – A Good Aid When Choosing a Home

This home selection checklist is a tool to help you select a home that is right for you and your family. Before you select a home and get a mortgage, you need to know if you will be happy with the home you select for the coming years. Home selection is a major step in your life and using a checklist to select smartly will help you think of all the things you need to realize about a home before you buy. Take a checklist with you to each home you might select and write down all the important home selection points on the checklist. Use the checklist for each potential home selection and you will have a “fact book” to review and analyze before your final home selection.

These important factors in home selection are designed to help you create a checklist of your own.
You can then research homes for sale and checklist how each home compares to other homes you’ve selected to view. By the time you are ready to get a mortgage you will know, from the selection checklist, exactly the pros and cons of each home.

  1. How old is the structure? Older homes require more maintenance. Mortgages on older homes can be more difficult to obtain. Mortgage insurance and the homeowner’s protection required by the mortgage company you select can be more costly on the home. Note on the selection checklist any items which need repair if you select that home.
  2. How many stories is the home? If you or a family member is aging, or you expect to live in your home selection for years, stairs can be a major problem. If you are young and won’t live in this home selection for years, this shouldn’t be a problem. Place this on your selection checklist if it is a concern for you and your family. Note on your home checklist any selection items which might make family visits difficult. It would be a major inconvenience to say the least if your family can’t visit because of stairs or hills.
  3. What material is the home construction? Concrete slab and block construction homes pose a lower fire threat and this will reflect in your home insurance and maybe even mortgage rates. Place the building type you prefer on your home selection checklist.
  4. Kitchen area: How large a kitchen will suit your lifestyle? Is the refrigerator ancient or newly new? Is the stove in good condition? Do you prefer to cook with a gas or an electric stove? Do you want a garbage disposal? Determine exactly what is important in a kitchen, and place those selections on your checklist. Then rate each property you might select as to how many of the checklist features are included. Of course, some selection checklist features are easy enough to add; other selection checklist features can’t be changed.
  5. Living areas: Is a formal living area and a den an important selection on your personal selection checklist? List on the home selection checklist each need. Are there windows for plants, if you are a plant-lover? Is the carpet in the potential home selection in good condition? Think about these items before signing a mortgage! Note any probable expenses on your home checklist for later review. Use these in budgeting for your mortgage
  6. Laundry facilities: Does your home selection have laundry hookups that will not require you to run up and down stairs to bring laundry from bedrooms to the washer? Are the hook-ups in good condition? Note on the selection checklist. Place on your selection checklist any items you would select to replace upon moving into the home. Write on the checklist the anticipated cost of replacing the items you select as unacceptable. Remember to budget so you can pay the mortgage plus refurbish the home selection after purchase.
  7. Bedrooms: Is your family formed or do you plan on more children? Are there enough bedrooms to allow guests? Is the master bedroom in the home selection large enough? Obtaining a mortgage on too small a home can be a major error. Place on your selection checklist exactly the size home you need to select.
  8. Closets: Will there be enough closet space for your family’s clothing? Place on your checklist how many closets you require.
  9. Bathrooms: Will there be enough facilities in your home selection to allow everyone space for their personal items and plenty of time to use facilities. Large families require several bathrooms; be sure to put this on your home selection checklist! A selection that needs bathrooms added plus mortgage payments can be expensive. Consider this in your mortgage budget.
  10. Roofing: Take a look at the materials and condition. If the roof looks as if it will need repair soon, consider this major cost in your mortgage pricing. Roofing is very expensive. Research the cost of replacing a roof before you make an offer. Note these costs on the home checklist. Will your budget cover mortgage and roofing expense?
  11. Water heater: Look at the water heater and determine condition. Look for places that may have leaked and any damage resulting. Also, is the water heater gas or electric in the home selection? More notes for your home checklist.
  12. Air conditioning / heating: Do these units in the home selection appear to be old or new? Are they energy efficient? If you sign a mortgage on a home only to learn the entire heating or HVAC requires replacement, you could cause yourself financial stress. Checklist the estimated age of each appliance and piece of equipment in the potential home selection. Include checklist notes of expenses for replacing older items. Place in your home mortgage selection notes that you may want a home inspection or warranty if equipment looks older; your checklist selection can save you from making a major mortgage error!
  13. Utility Cost: Don’t be afraid to ask the home owners to see electric, gas and water bills. If your home selection is well insulated and energy efficient, they will be happy to show you. Energy costs are important points on your home selection checklist.
  14. Neighborhood: Do you want to be in a gated community? Is a play area for children nearby the home? What about schools? Is the neighborhood surrounding the home selection clean and attractive? Ride around the neighborhood; see other homes to learn about the area before making your home selection to mortgage. Secure neighborhoods help not only ease of mortgage approval, but on insurance as well. Checklist this item on your home selection list.
  15. Yard: If you have children or pets, you may desire a large yard. If you are a gardener, a nice yard is important. Again, checklist everything that truly matters in your ideal home selection.
  16. Parking: Is there space for your vehicles and guests? Is there a garage? Carport? Is the driveway in good condition? Include on your home selection checklist what matters to you. Again, if these require repair, put these notes on the checklist so you can budget accordingly.
  17. Future expansion: If you wish to expand the home at some future time then is there space on the property without crowding? Consider the future before you mortgage a home that you may have to sell later as your family needs grow.
  18. Zoning and Restrictions: If you have a home business, is it permitted in the potential neighborhood? Selection of a home which prevents the activities you value would be a bad mistake. Some communities have restrictions regarding working on your car or motorcycle, parking a boat and other issues you need to know before making your final home selection. Keep this point on your selection checklist if you work on your car or have a boat beside the home.
  19. Work: Is the home of your selection near your workplace? If not, is it easy to access the expressway for an easy commute from home? Will you come to hate the idea of going to work from this location? Note on the selection checklist for your home the miles you will drive per day and the cost.
  20. Shopping: Groceries, and convenience stores, gas stations and the like should be in close proximity of your home selection. Note on your selection checklist how far from home to the nearest shopping centers. Checklist where you would go from your home to shop.
  21. Sidewalks: This checklist point for home selection is important for families with children. If there are no sidewalks, then children won’t be able to easily walk to visit friends, ride bikes, or do other activities children love to do. Also, checklist if you like to take strolls or walk for exercise yourself.
  22. Amusements, churches, activities: If you have activities you like to do, consider the drive time from the home selection. Will your children’s movie visits on Saturday become a long drive? Are at least a few doctors nearby the potential home? Amusements your family enjoys should be reasonably easy to reach.
  23. Neighborhood Lighting: If you like to go out at night, or your children will be playing outside, is the area well-lighted? Not only are these selection criteria important for your children, but burglars just hate a well-light home and neighborhood! Checklist some safety issues you need before considering a mortgage.
  24. Traffic: If you have children, your new neighborhood should be low traffic. Also, traffic equals noise. Consider this important fact as well. A home on an expressway has frustrated many.

This home selection checklist points are meant to help you think to checklist important home selection options before obtaining a mortgage for a home. Make yourself a custom home selection checklist that includes the things that matter to YOU and YOUR FAMILY, and then take this along when home shopping. With a checklist
in hand, you can make the selection that will make you happy for years and years!

Exclusive Report – 8 Steps To Success – How To Sell Your Home Fast & Make Maximum Profit!

When you sell your home, it will be the largest transaction you ever participate in (other than buying a new home). You need to inform yourself and get educated with the facts before you sign on the dotted line.

This report will teach you how to not only sell your home more quickly, but how to get top dollar in the process. We will examine 8 critical steps to success and how you can apply them to your situation.

Tip #1 – How to Maximize Profit

Ever heard the old saying ‘There are three factors in selling Real Estate – location, location, location’?

While this may hold true to a certain extent, location isn’t everything. No matter where your home is located, there ARE things you can do to get maximum profit upon selling.

First, you need to make your home sparkle and shine. Imagine that you are in a contest called ‘The Cleanest Home in America’ and you are trying to win a top prize. Well, you don’t need to imagine, because you are in a contest. There are hundreds of other sellers in this area who are trying to get YOUR buyer to purchase THEIR home and you WILL lose out if your home isn’t spic and span.

Fix every problem, no matter the size. If a door squeaks when you open it, use some oil on the hinges. If the paint in one room has some minor peeling, re-paint that room. Potential buyers will look at everything.

Tip #2 – Act like a Home Buyer, think like a Home Buyer

How hard is it for a potential buyer to obtain information about your home? Do they have to jump through hoops to get a return call from your Real Estate Agent? Do they have to come to an open house just to find out about all of the amenities your home offers?

Never make it hard for a buyer to do business with you. Sound simple? It’s not. You would be amazed at the amount of buyers who simply move on and give up on a certain home because they can’t get the info they want and need in an efficient manner.

Do yourself a favor. Before selecting an Agent, call up the Agent acting like you are a buyer and want information on one of their listings. Then, see how long it takes for them to return your call. The service you receive will be a good indicator of the service and response time your potential buyers will receive. Also, if your agent is running an ad for your home in the local homes and land magazine, make sure they insert plenty of info about your home and its amenities. Buyers want to know the sq footage, the price, and main amenities right off the bat. Do the legwork for the buyer and make it easy!

Tip #3 – Find the Best Real Estate Agent. the Easy Way

Trying to find a great Real Estate Agent can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. Every agent in town will try to convince you that they’re #1 for this or that. All of them will promise you the moon, but few will be able to deliver. We participate in many Real Estate transactions each month and, as a result, we are very familiar with the top Agents in this area. We would be happy to introduce you to a top agent, at no cost to you. To sign up for our NO-COST, no obligation ‘Agent Locator Service’, visit our website.

Tip #4 – Always Sell First

There are a number of reasons we advise you not to move out before you sell. The main reason is that vacant homes take longer to sell. Did you know that scientific tests have proven, time and time again, that vacant homes are more difficult to sell, because they appear to be lonely, cold, forgotten places?

Tip #5 – Dot your ‘i’s’ and cross your ‘t’s’

Even if your Agent has assured you that the purchase agreement / contract is complete and correct, always double-check it yourself to make sure. It’s important that you read and understand the contract the buyer will sign. Make sure that everything has been properly disclosed. A good buyer discloses everything, including any repairs the home will require, as well as all terms and additional costs. All of these should be spelled out clearly in the contract.

Tip #6 – Learn How to Negotiate Properly

When you are done reading this report, make sure you check out our No-Cost Report entitled ‘Negotiating Tips of Top Sellers’. Visit the Home Seller section of our website and click on the link there.

Tip #7 – The Price is Right. (Or is it?)

Price is the most important item to consider when selling your home. If your home is priced too high, your home will languish on the market for months. If the price is too low, you will lose thousands of dollars in hard-earned equity needlessly.

Remember – It’s not what your house is worth, but what someone is willing to pay. You need to gauge market conditions properly for your area, and then set your price a bit lower than the average. If you price your house according to the market, it’s not likely to sell quickly. That’s because the top 10% or 20% of houses with the best prices are selling each month in this area. If your house isn’t in that lower 20% range, then it isn’t likely to sell as quickly.

Tip #8 – Get Prepared and Do Your Homework

If you are selling your home, statistics say that you will likely buy a home here or somewhere in this state. You will soon be on the other side of the deal when you become a home buyer. You’re going to participate in the largest financial transaction of your life the next time you buy. Are you ready? Have you done your homework?

Are you aware of the supply and demand statistics of home inventory vs. sales made this year? Are you aware of what % of total homes listed for sale actually sold last month, and more importantly, how that statistic can positively affect how you structure your purchase offer? Have you assessed the best use of your cash and planned to maximize your leverage?

In short, have you prepared a Home Purchase Strategy? We participate in many real estate transactions every month. Over time, we’ve learned a thing or two. Our staff would like to help you develop your personal strategy and consequently help you save thousands of dollars in the process.

Buyer Beware – Don’t Get Hosed By A Home Value

When you’re a first time home buyer, considering the home value of the property you’re interested in is all important. There’s not much point in fawning over a home you can’t even afford, or in one who’s supposed home value is definitely not worth your money.

For the first time buyer, the best way to make sure you get your money’s worth for a home is to get yourself a real estate agent to check the home value. Sure, there are people out there who regularly do real estate transactions without any agents involved, but they’ve been through the process several times and are familiar with the ins and outs of buying or selling a home. As a first time buyer, you certainly are not, no matter how much reading up you’ve done. Get yourself a buyer’s representative to get you the best deal on the home, to doublecheck that the home value is accurate, etc. A buyer’s agent is your advocate in the buying/selling process and is there to pilot the legalities involved in buying a home.

You should NEVER, EVER buy a home without getting a home inspection done. This ensures that all information regarding home value and condition the seller is giving you is on the up and up. Hiring a third, neutral party to check out the condition of the home and make sure the home value assessment is fair is the best way to make sure you’re not getting hosed.

Your home inspection should be as detail oriented as possible, leaving no stone left unturned. The home value of a property with a brand new, energy efficient water heater and central air conditioning system is bound to be higher than the home value of a property who’s water heater and air conditioner is 10 years old. And unfortunately, some homeowners have no problem stretching the truth about their home value and general home condition.

Home inspection should cover both the inside and outside of the home, as the condition of both is sure to have an effect on the home value and therefore the listing price of the home. On the outside, the inspection should cover the siding, the foundation, exterior brick and stone, roof, insulation, sidewalks and driveways and any porches or decks attached to the home. The condition of these factors can have a big impact on the home value and are easy to fake – a fresh coat of paint can go a long way to make siding look new. That’s why it’s important to have an expert inspect these things.

On the inside, an inspection should cover and ceilings, walls and moldings of every room, looking for loose pieces, cracks, drywall pulling away, etc. Both the electric and plumbing should be thoroughly inspected as well as the water heater, furnace and/or air conditioning unit. These things should all be checked for the condition, age and efficiency of the system. Older, inefficient models are bound to decrease the overall home value not to mention drastically increase your electric or heat bill. Inspections should also look at the garage, basement and attic, or any additions to the home to make sure they are all in good repair, meaning no stains or cracks, no water leaks, etc.

A property’s listing price and their home value aren’t necessarily going to be one and the same. It’s very possible that the asking price to purchase the home may be more or less than what the actual home value is – but that depends on the sellers. If the seller is trying to move as soon as possible, it’s likely they’ll drop the asking price to lower than the actual home value – in which case it’s a steal. Of course, on the other end, it’s possible that sellers may jack the listing price above the actual home value – maybe because the home is a good location, or they think they can get away with it.

Either way, using a buyer’s representative as well as a home inspector is a first-time buyer’s greatest defense against an inaccurate home value and jacked up listing price. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help!

How to Show Your Home for Sale

Home for SaleWhen buyers make an appointment to see your home they have already made several important decisions. They have selected your neighborhood as a possible location. Your lot and exterior style appeals to them. Your price is within their range. If the floor plan and interior style works for them, and if the buyers feel a sense of trust in your home, they will move to the contract stage. Here are some tips to help you make the most of this important step in the sale of your home – the showing.

1. Setting Showing Appointments

Homes may be shown by appointment with the Realtor, appointment with the owner, or by using the house key placed in a lockbox. The lockbox is a popular system in many areas, and facilitates showings by all members of the local Multiple Listing Board. To arrange a showing, agents must first call your home or cell number. If you do not answer, they may leave a message, and proceed with the showing. Most lockboxes record the agent’s identity and time of showing. Whether your home is shown by special appointment or by the lockbox system, the objective is to make your home easy to show to potential buyers. This is your first contact with the buyer, and you should make them feel welcome in your home.

When you receive a call from a Realtor for a showing, keep in mind that he/she is showing lots of homes, and it is difficult to set precise times. Be flexible on the timing, and allow a window of one hour for arrival, if possible. If you are going to be at home, you may ask the Realtor to alert you when they are 15 minutes away. You may occasionally receive a last minute call, with the visitors already in your driveway. If you are prepared for a showing, invite them to come in. If you are not ready, let the Realtor know that you need some time to prepare. Always thank Realtors for trying to show your home. You need them to come back!

2. Consider Children & Pets

If you have children it is very important to educate them on the showing procedure. They should know that real estate agents will be calling for appointments to show their home, and they should know how to respond. If they are at home by themselves during the day, they will need to let in the agent and buyers, and vacate the house during the showing. They may wait in the backyard or go to a neighbor’s house. Televisions and video games should be turned off. Hopefully, they will know how to tidy up the kitchen. Children must know that an advance phone call by the agent is required for a showing. They must not allow entry to anyone who comes to the door without an agent.

Pets pose special problems for showings. If pets are left in the home during the day, leave a note alerting the agents that a pet is in the house. Give instructions as to how your pets should be handled. For example, “Cat must not be allowed outdoors.” Often pets are fearful or uncertain about strangers entering the house when you are not home. Many people are afraid of (or allergic to) pets, and are not happy to encounter them in the house. It would be best to crate your pets during showings, place them in a restricted area, such as the laundry room, or take them out of the house. Keep in mind that a great variety of people may enter your home, including children. If there is any uncertainty as to how your pets will react to strangers, you should remove them from your home during showings.

3. Provide Lots of Information

Have brochures laid out on a table for prospective buyers. Anticipate the information that would interest your buyers. Examples are: a copy of your survey or floor plan, photos of neighborhood amenities, school information, neighborhood newsletter, nearby country club, golf course, etc. Answer their questions early. Remember, prospective homeowners are choosing a home and community – a lifestyle.

4. Don’t Hang Around

Do not be present for the showing. Sit outside or run an errand. When you are there, buyers may feel that they are intruding. They will not discuss changes they might make to your home, or how they would use the space. This could limit the time spent in your home. Never take over the showing or attempt to sell your house. You do not know the buyer’s special interests, and may inadvertently turn them off. Remember that this not a social visit. Buyers need to make an emotional commitment to your home. They usually need some quiet time to experience your home and sense how they would enjoy living there. Your presence is distracting and inhibiting to potential buyers.

5. Appeal to Buyers With Sights, Sounds and Scents

People gather impressions about your house from all senses – sight, sound and smell. Improve your home’s appeal to all senses. Leave blinds open, and consider removing some screens. Natural light sells houses! Increase the sizes of your bulbs if the light is dim in certain areas. Put on some instrumental music, but keep it very low and mellow. Do not leave televisions on. Have the temperature cool in summer and warm in winter. Use pleasant scents, such as candles or potpourri. An unpleasant odor will have a very negative impact on a buyer’s reaction to your home. In particular, cigarettes and pet odors are a turn-off. Do not try to mask an unpleasant smell with another smell. Work toward a clean, fresh smell.

6. Have a Safe Showing

Keep in mind that the public will be entering your home, and consider their safety and yours. Do you have rugs, wires or small toys that could be stumbled over? Buyers should be able to move easily from room to room. You may need to remove some furniture to keep traffic patterns open. Leave your stairs completely free of clutter. Replace any missing handrails. Remove valuable objects from tables where they may be accidentally bumped. If you use candles for a nice scent, do not leave them burning when you leave the house. Do not leave money, guns, medicines, jewelry, x rated magazines or any personal items in public view. Consider your security, and the buyer’s safety as you prepare your home for viewing.

7. Set the Stage

Consider using a staging service to help you present your home. It should be perfectly clean and clutter free. Homes generally look better with furniture, but they must not appear crowded. Your furniture and accessories should give your home a very general appeal. Avoid strong political, personal or artistic statements. The focal point should be the house, rather than your family. Use decorative objects, such as pillows, framed photographs, books, fresh towels and flowers. Create a mood with natural and lamp lighting and soft music. The goal is to make potential buyers feel that they could move right in. Home buying is an emotional process. You must build a sense of trust and attachment to your home during the short time that buyers are in your home. They must positively imagine themselves enjoying your home and gardens.

Showing your home is an important part of the sales process. You only have a short time to gain the buyer’s interest in your home. Their time in your home should be handled with care and respect for their time. Each showing is important. Remember, you only need one buyer, but you don’t know which one.

Home Sellers: Redesign to Sell Your Home Fast

If you want to sell your house fast, for top dollar, (of course!) consider the art of redesign to attract your target buyers through their emotions. Redesign means to reinterpret your living spaces and existing furnishings, making the most of what you already have and bringing in touches of interior design to create a buyers’ dream home.

Home buyers think they choose a home based on financial smarts, but most buyers choose the home they fall in love with and just can’t live without. The physical senses of buyers respond to a home’s design, and buyer base their purchase decisions on what the see, hear, smell, touch, and even taste.


What do buyers actually want?

All buyers want a home that most closely suits their needs and makes them feel a sense of happiness. Therefore, you’ll want to take those two factors into account when choosing your colors, patterns, and textures as you redesign your home for sale.

Don’t Paint Everything White

Buyers respond to color, and although white may look fresh, most people don’t look good in all-white rooms. If your home is meant to appeal to wealthy, well-educated buyers, use complex, muted colors. If your target buyer will be less educated, use primary or pastel colors. Also use warm color if you’ll be selling in fall or winter, and cool colors when selling in the spring or summer. If you want your buyers to feel good and look good in your home, avoid the temptation to paint the entire interior white.

Keep Your Buyers in Mind at all Times

Selling your home is largely a matter of keeping your potential buyers in mind. The emotional needs of various types of buyers are different. For instance, first-time buyers want shelter and security, while moving-up buyers desire more space, prestige, and peace.

Think about using your furniture in new ways. Many home owners who go through the redesign process take out extra furnishings in the living room and use smaller-scaled upholstered chairs found in the bedroom in the living room makeover. Although you might not be as comfortable in the smaller chair, your buyers will see the room as larger and with plenty of seating.

Clean and shine your home, move furnishings around for your buyers’ point of view, and then add a few carefully selected props to encourage your prospective buyers’ desired emotions, paying special attention to feelings of happiness, joy, serenity, and security. You’ll sell your home more quickly if you pay close attention to the small details.

Copyright © 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher

How To Go About Selling Your Home On Your Own

In days of booming real estate, you would think that selling a home shouldn’t be too much of a task. And if it’s going to be that easy then why not do it on your own and save yourself on thousands of dollars in commissions. Well, you would be right in thinking so! Selling a home on your own has become much easier these days compared to earlier and it’s something that has been done successfully in the recent past by many homeowners. Nevertheless, you cannot totally eliminate the ‘option’ of considering the services of a real estate agent. It’s worth a try selling your home on your own but if things don’t seem to work out then it’s best to go back and rely on the services of a trusted agent you know.

So how should you go about selling your home on your own? Outlined below is a useful checklist of how you can go about selling your home on your own and points you’ll need to keep in mind while you go about the home selling process.

First things first. Before putting your home on the market, make sure your home is ready to sell. You don’t want buyers coming to your home and walking back without a trace of interest for reasons you could very well avoid. Spruce up your interiors, have your entry way done up, improve the curb appeal of your home, … Basically, do everything that you think would impress you if you were a buyer for your home. If you choose to make improvements to your home, do consider whether the cost of such improvements can be justified by a hike in the price of your home or in selling your home faster.

Next, you’ll need to set an asking price for your home. You may ask an agent to give you a comparative market analysis of homes in your area, you may look up data on how much homes in your neighbourhood have sold for in recent times or look around your neighbourhood for homes on sale and compare their prices. Make sure you don’t over-price your home. (You may get a free home appraisal done here.)

Importantly, put a ‘For Sale’ sign outside your home. The implications of this are quite obvious – it would tell your neighbours and passers-by that your house is for sale and the word will spread.

Compose a flyer for your home with picture and details of your home. You could put these flyers in a transparent folder on your ‘For Sale’ sign for interested buyers to take home with them to look through. Distributing these flyers in supermarkets and other stores will also help in increasing the chances of a quick sale.

Get a set of real estate contracts and disclosure forms. You may find these in some stores or you may also get them from the Internet.

Plan your advertising budget and the mediums you choose to adopt for advertising your home. You may choose from TV advertising, Newspaper Classifieds, Real Estate Magazines and Internet Ads. With a number of people using the Internet these days to begin their search for a home, advertising on the Internet proves to be a cost-effective medium.

Plan and execute an ‘Open House’ for buyers to come and inspect your home. Effectively, Saturday and Sundays would be ideal for such purpose.

Finally, you’ll need to rope in a real estate attorney to handle the closing, when you’ve got a buyer who’s presented you with a signed offer that’s perfectly acceptable to you.

Selling your home on your own will require some patience and perseverance on your part. It’s not something you can do if you’re too busy to be able to show your home to buyers or to be able to effectively market your home. Selling your home on your own though will save you a lot of money in real estate commissions and is something definitely worth the effort and time you put in. So, following the outlined points above should get you through most of the home selling process. And once your home’s sold, celebrate!

Top 7 Advantages of New Construction Over Resale Homes

Once you start house hunting there is no doubt one of your first stops will be at a new homes website or community to see what they have to offer in the area you would like to live in. In fact, new homes have stepped up to win the hearts and minds of homebuyers for the better part of the past decade where we’ve seen an unprecedented explosion in new home construction and buying. What was once considered a luxury reserved for the rich and famous, new construction has opened the door to all price ranges and styles including luxury high-rise condominiums, townhouses, active adult communities and single-family homes.

There are a tremendous number of benefits to owning a new home including the ability to customize the home to your liking, meeting all the new neighbors as they move in and substantial savings in utility costs with new homes now being built to a higher, more energy efficient and green standard.

It’s your house. No, REALLY your house. – When you buy a resale home you are purchasing a home that someone else crafted to suit his or her lifestyle. Sometimes it’s just perfect and exactly what you are looking for but more often than not there are a few “Why did they do that?” issues with a home that you will have to renovate or remove when you move in to fit your lifestyle. When you build a new home you will be able to choose exactly what you want and where you want it so you can move in and not have to touch a thing.

Everyone else is new too! – Resale communities are great because you can see the neighborhood, how people care for their homes and everything is already established but those same benefits can prove to be cons when you are the only new neighbor on the block. Moving into a new home grants you the privilege of meeting the neighbors when they are also looking to meet new people and settle into the community. There won’t be any pre-established social circles to work your way into and you will be discovering new things about your neighborhood at the same time everyone else does.

Newer homes are more attractive when you resell… – Life happens. You might have to relocate or you make a lifestyle change a couple short years after you move in. The good news is that newer homes are more attractive to prospective homebuyers because it’s their opportunity to buy a newer home without the price premium associated with new construction. Better yet, you’ve already purchased all the appliances and upgrades for the home and many parts of the home are still under warranty making the home a great inclusive value. This will compare favorably to older resale homes that may require renovation or updating to make it livable for the modern homebuyer.

Location, Location, Location! YOU choose! – When you shop for resale homes the homes you find are obviously fixed to their current location. How many times have you seen a great resale that would be absolutely perfect if it were a little closer to the community clubhouse or offered a larger back yard for the kids to play? New homebuilders typically offer a range of model homes to choose from and you can usually place that model on a lot of your choice. Now you can have the home of your dreams in the cul-de-sac you’ve always dreamed of!

In the current market new homes may be a better deal than resale homes. – That’s right, the market shift has turned the tables. Now buyers have the market in the palm of their hands and can get some really outstanding deals on homes but you have to know where to look. Resale home owners may be willing to deal but in the past thirty days I have been able to successfully negotiate $69,117 off the asking price of a new home for a client and then shortly after located a home for another client and negotiated $91,000 off the asking price and we are still in negotiations to get even more from the builder. By the way, these home prices included upgrades! I have never met homeowners who were willing to accept a substantial reduction on the price of their home to the tune of more than $60,000. As a matter of fact, many homeowners have overpriced their homes on the market because they owe more than the home is worth and they cannot afford to go lower in price.

Buying Tip: To score a new home deal you can’t walk in and offer builders $400,000 under what they are asking for the home. Fantastic deals can be found however if you find the right buyer’s agent who specializes in new homes because their experience, relationships with builders and negotiating ability will help you save thousands of dollars.

That brown carpet and tiny kitchen? Soooooo 1970s! – Kitchen big enough for one? Small closets, shower only bathrooms and carpet everywhere? Not for today’s homebuyer! The modern lifestyle is drastically different from what it was even ten years ago and resale homes often lack the oomph and space to satisfy. Today’s homebuyer wants a bright, open kitchen with breakfast bar and high-end appliances. We now do most of our living in the kitchen! Soaking tubs in the master suite and walk-in closets are now considered standard staples of the modern home. New homes often feature these amenities as a part of their standard offering and are even starting to prepare homes for the future including the addition of whole house networking and walk-out basements that can be finished as future living space.

New homes save money with efficiency and green building techniques. – Many new homes are taking advantage of the Energy Star standard which sets forth a number of requirements that products like windows and doors must adhere to in order to achieve an Energy Star rating. In addition to Energy Star many builders are now offering green building and living options like the installation of solar panels on the roof of a home to harness the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity. If you install enough solar panels you may just have the electric company paying you for the electricity you are producing! These features are often very costly to retrofit a resale home with if it wasn’t initially built to these standards.

The next time you start searching for homes be sure to consider all of your options including new construction. When buying new construction you should take into account the fact that most new homes take approximately four to six months to build. You will also devote more of your personal time to building the home as you will need to choose home upgrades and work with your agent through the inspection and financing processes.

Happy hunting!

Helpful Hints for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying a house can be a daunting task, even for someone who has
owned several homes. My husband and I recently purchased our first home together, and it was hard to find good advice that we truly found useful. We had to learn a lot on our own, but at least now we feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the whole process. Here are some helpful hints we picked up along the way:

1. Use your online resources.

Almost every state and local government has a website where you can research real estate information. The data on home sales, taxes, and neighborhoods is invaluable when you are shopping for a home. We were able to find out the most recent sale prices in the neighborhood we selected, and we didn’t have to rely on a real estate agent to get the data for us. Doing the research yourself will make you more knowledgeable about the market, which is key to making a good purchase.

2. Be realistic about how much you can spend.

Try to buy a home in a price range that allows you to put down 20%. If you put down less than this, you will have to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance) to protect the lender in case you default on the loan. I know that 20% is a lot, but it’s not unrealistic. You may not be able to do it on your first home, but hopefully you can on your second home. The profits from the sale of my condo enabled my husband and me to have more than enough for the 20% down payment on our home. But we didn’t put it all down on the home – we saved some of the profits for the unexpected expenses that come with buying a home. We suggest that you do the same.

3. Shop for a home in the winter, preferably around the holidays.

Since most people just aren’t interested in buying a home when
they are trying to deal with the holidays, you can pretty much be one of the few buyers out there. We bought our home right before Christmas, and it was definitely a buyers market. We had our pick of homes and were able to underbid on the asking price, even though we live in one of the hottest real estate markets in the country.

4. Use a smaller mortgage company that can offer personal service.

People tend to go with large, well-known mortgage companies, since that’s all they know. But the smaller, regional companies provide excellent customer service, and can often give you better rates than the big companies. Since they don’t advertise and instead rely on word-of-mouth, they have to be good in order to get your service. We started off with a big-name company, but in the end, we went with a regional company because they had better rates and better customer service.

5. Always have a home inspection.

I think most people know this fact already, but it is really
important in areas with a hot real estate market. It can be easy to get caught up in bidding wars, and to want to get a house at all costs. Some friends of ours wanted a house so badly that not only did they overbid, but they also waived the home inspection. They got the house – and right along with it they got several thousand dollars worth of damage that would have been found in an inspection.

As a final note, try to remember that buying a home doesn’t have
to be scary. It’s very exciting to own your own home, so think ofall the good things that will come once you have made it through the home-buying process. If you follow the advice above, then you should be well-equipped to make it through unscathed.

Thinking of Selling Your Home? Don’t Believe the Hype When Hiring a Realtor to Represent You

Just peruse through the Sunday newspaper, real estate books or scan various Realtor websites and you will see a lot of hype.

  • Largest Producer!
  • If we don’t sell your home we will buy it!
  • Your home sold in 39 days or we will sell it for free!
  • We will advertise your home until it is sold!
  • We guarantee to save you $5,000 on your next home purchase!
  • We will sell your home for 1% 2% or 3%!
  • #1 Real Estate Agent!

Real estate is a cutthroat, competitive industry. Realtors are always trying to find new ways to attract home buyers and sellers. With so many to choose from Realtors are constantly trying to make themselves stand out from the crowd. With this desire to be different we naturally create a lot of hype.

Let’s go through a few of the more common ways Realtors try to grab your attention.

Largest Producer!

People should be impressed by any agent that is the largest producer. Right? What if that Realtor is in a 2 or 3 agent office? It is not as impressive anymore. What if the agent was the largest producer for just one week? They don’t advertise that information. Again, not as quite as impressive. Most people just assume that the agent is the either the largest producer ever or for at least a long period of time like a year.

If we don’t sell your home we will buy it!

Are these Realtors so confident in their ability to sell your home that they will buy it if it does not sell? Not really. If you read through the details you will see that the chances of the Realtor buying your home are slim to none. Most of the agents who advertise this have never bought one of their client’s homes. In order for the agent to purchase your home there are usually numerous requirements such as them buying your home for the appraised value minus various costs like financing and marketing (broker commissions) fees. In the end, it does not make much sense for the home owner to sell to the Realtor.

Your home sold in 30 days or we will sell it for free!

This one is similar to the above hyped program. Typically, there is a list of things the homeowner would have to do to get the Realtor to sell his house without a commission. In reality, it rarely happens. Typically, the Realtor requires that the homeowner price the property at a value given by an appraiser or by the real estate agent. Other requirements may be:

  • the asking price of the home needs to be dropped frequently
  • when the home sells the homeowner would be required to buy his next house through the same real estate agent
  • the home would be required to be in showing condition all of the time
  • the home would also be required to be easily seen on short notice.

If the homeowner does not perform on any these tasks then the Realtor would not be required to sell the home free. There are all kinds of caveats that the agent can have to get them out of selling your home for free. Some of them are very entertaining.

We will advertise your home until it is sold!

Most Realtors will do this one without too many caveats. Most agents know that advertising rarely sells a home. A very small percentage of people buy the home they originally called on. The main purpose of advertising by a Realtor is not to sell your house directly. Advertising generates phone calls and some of those people become clients of the Realtor. Over time this builds up a list of home buyers looking for property. Another reason Realtors like to advertise is to get future listings. People thinking about selling will usually interview agents that advertise heavily. So when an agent tells you how much they plan to advertise your home keep in mind that most of that advertising benefits the Realtor and not your house.

We guarantee to save you $5,000 on your next home purchase!

Most home sellers have a built in cushion in their asking price. Here in Sarasota, Florida on the average a home will sell for about 97% of list price. If I sell a home for $350,000 chances are that the home was listed for $360,000 – $365,000. In this situation it would be pretty easy for the selling agent to say he saved his buyer $10,000 – $15,000. Was the agent such a shrewd negotiator that he got the seller to drop his price? Most likely not. The seller probably just factored a 3-5% cushion into their asking price.

In many instances, especially in hot markets, homes sell at or above their asking price. Most Realtors who advertise these guarantees either give you something small such as a home warranty or a some other type of buyer credit if they do not help you negotiate a lower price.

We will sell your home for 1% 2% or 3%!

This is another hook that Realtors use to attract home sellers. Usually this 1% 2% or 3% is the listing agent’s fee for selling your home but it does not include any co-broke fees.

Depending on the market, sellers will list their home anywhere from 5%-7%. What happens now is that the listing agents goes to the Realtor community via the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and offers a co-broke fee (usually 3% or half of the total commission). If the other agent brings the buyer he is paid the co-broke fee. The majority of real estate transaction involve 2 Realtors. Therefore, the 6% total commission is split between the two agents. Often times when an agent advertises 1% 2% or 3% they are only advertising their fee but the commission goes up if you want your house listed on the MLS. Most of the time it is crucial to have your home listed on the MLS.

#1 Real Estate Agent!

#1 at what? Are they the absolute best Realtor in the world? Have they sold the most real estate? Are they always the biggest producer? Did they sell the most homes last week, last month, last year?

I see Realtors throw this one around a lot. Any real estate agent can #1 at something on any given day. There are so many statistics in this industry that it would be pretty hard not to find an agent to be #1 at something. I think agents use this one because it tends to grab people’s attention more.

I think it is normal to see this type of marketing in a highly competitive industry. I feel it is the nature of the business and there is nothing wrong with it. Many successful agents have used or are currently using these marketing ideas. When looking to find an real estate remember not everything is as it seems.

You Have 15 Seconds to Sell Your Home! 11 Steps You Can Take to Sell Your Home for Top Dollar

Selling your home? Here are some suggestions to help you sell yours for more than your next door neighbor’s, and faster! Most buyers will know within 15 SECONDS after crossing the threshold if they want your home. But first, you need to attract them inside!

11 steps to take to sell your home for top dollar

1. Start at the street. The buyer’s first glimpse of your home must entice them inside. Design Psychology goes further than mere curb appeal. Here are some easy additions you can make to help your home outshine the competition:

Add a couple of BIG plants, either in hanging baskets or pots, to the porch, which will lead buyers’ eyes to the entrance.

The first color our eyes process is yellow, so place yellow flowers near the front door.

Plant white flowering annuals, since they look clean and show up better at night.

2. Get rid of brown or dead leaves and bare spots in the yard. Add mulch to cover bare dirt near the house. Bright flowers hold the eye and “fill” empty areas, but you don’t need to add plants to every space. Just make sure that everything looks neat.

3. Paint your front door a happy color. Yellow-gold (amber), red (blue-based), sage, apple, or forest green, depending on the other colors of your home, will attract the eye and create happy feelings. Buyers won’t notice the Color Psychology you’re employing, but they’ll love the result.

4. Once buyers step inside the front door, they usually make their minds up within 15 SECONDS, so first impressions are vitally important. Focus your attention on the first wall buyers will see, and then hang a mirror on that wall large enough to reflect the buyer’s image. It will psychologically reinforce the buyer’s presence in the home when they see themselves in the mirror, causing them to imagine living in your home.

5. Go beyond just clearing clutter, and remove furnishings that don’t add to the setting. Also clear bathroom and kitchen countertops. Under-furnished homes let the buyer’s imagination fill rooms with their own belongings. Once they visualize their favorite chair in a particular spot, you have a sale.

6. Pack away your personal photographs, trophies, diplomas, and small accessories and stack them neatly in the garage or a separate storage space. That will also protect you from having strangers view your personal life.

7. If your home looks too bare, replace your personal treasures with house plants or cuttings from the garden. Be creative.

Use tree branches and fresh flowers to bring nature indoors.

Fill vases and glass jars with fresh cuttings and set them in baskets.

Add green house plants in winter, spring, and fall.

During hot selling seasons, use green, silver and gray foliage to help keep your home visually cool.

8. Lighting affects emotions and is a crucial design element for happiness, so turn on the lights when showing your home. Day-like light bulbs enhance happiness. Amber and pink light bulbs warm, while blue light cools.

9. Air the house out. You get used to odors, but buyers shouldn’t smell anything other than natural pleasing scents like wood burning in the fireplace or fresh lemon in the summer. Cut up a grapefruit and run sections through the garbage disposal. It’s both refreshing and clean smelling.

10. Buyers like temperatures around 70 degrees in the winter and 67 degrees in the summer, so turn up the thermostat in the winter and turn it down in the summer.

11. Park your car out of the way and encourage buyers to park in a space where their car won’t block the view.

Remember, you’ve only got 15 seconds to sell your home, but by using Design Psychology techniques, you can convert lookers into buyers and get top dollar for your home.

(c) Copyright 2004, Jeanette J. Fisher. All rights reserved.