For Sellers / Marketing Plan and Tips

Home Improvement Tips to Increase the Value of Your Home

Buying a home may be a dream, but the initial purchase is only the introduction to that dream. There’s always something about your house that could be a little better, a little closer to perfect. Now, with a little planning, you can bring your home closer to your dream of perfection.

27 Tips You Should Know To Get Your Home Sold Fast and For Top Dollar

Walkers MillBecause your home may well be your largest asset, selling it is probably one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Through these 27 tips you will discover how to protect and capitalize on your most important investment, reduce stress, be in control of your situation, and make the most profit possible.

Common Mistakes Made With Money and How to Avoid Them

Everybody makes mistakes with their money. The important thing is to keep them to a minimum. And one of the best ways to accomplish that is to learn from the mistakes of others. Here is our list of the top mistakes people make with their money, and what you can do to avoid these mistakes in the first place.

5 Things You Must Know about Recent Mortgage Loan Changes

Everyday people are pondering whether they can afford their dream home and if they will qualify for a mortgage loan. By taking these few minutes to acquaint yourself with the “5 Things You Must Know about Recent Mortgage Loan Changes”, you will greatly increase the chances of having your mortgage loan approved and getting that home of your dreams.


Home Improvement Tips to Increase the Value of Your Home

Many home improvement projects begin with someone in the household saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice…?” What follows may be a wish for a remodeled kitchen or a room addition with space to accommodate every family member’s needs. However, reality usually intrudes upon this daydream: There’s only so much money and so much space. The trick is turning your dreams into reality. Start by evaluating your needs. Most homeowners consider home improvements for one of these reasons.

Improving to Move or Improving to Stay

You need to evaluate your plans carefully if you’re improving your home to put it on the market. Cutting corners could hurt rather than help your prospects, but you don’t want to go overboard either. Potential buyers may not want to pay for the extras you have included, such as a hot tub or pool. It’s best to keep changes simple. Also keep in mind that people viewing your house may not share your tastes and therefore won’t necessarily appreciate the time and effort you put into finding just the right shade of green paint for the walls.

Improving to sell is easier if you mentally put yourself on the other side of the proverbial fence: What is important to the home buyer? Here’s a list of remodeling projects that buyers are likely to find valuable:

If you’re remodeling in order to stay in your home, you still need to avoid over-improving it. You’ll probably sell someday, and even if your house is the best on the block, you may have a hard time convincing buyers to pay extra for the things you found so important. Keep the value of other homes in the area in mind whenever you consider improvements. Your home’s value should be no more than 20% above the average. That means a $10,000 kitchen improvement project might be a better idea than a $10,000 hot tub, especially if no other homes in your area have hot tubs.

Exterior HomeHome Maintenance: Unfortunately, some home improvement projects get started because something is broken. A leaky plumbing fixture may be the first step to a major bath remodeling. After all, if the tub has to be replaced, why not do the whole room? While that’s certainly one reason to remodel, you’ll generally want to avoid basing your home improvement projects on immediate need. Proper maintenance will help to minimize problems. Go over every part of your home at least once a year. Check out the roof, plumbing, electrical wiring, etc. As soon as you notice a problem, fix it. Early attention to repairs will help you avoid a larger expense later on. Remember maintenance does not add to the value of your home. Repairs, generally, are not improvements but necessities.

Hiring Help: Let’s face it, home projects can be expensive. You may be tempted to tackle them yourself as a way to save money. For small projects, that may be a smart move. You don’t have to wait for someone else to fit your house into their schedule, and you can take pride in doing the work yourself. Unless you’re particularly handy, however, large home improvement projects are better left to the pros. If you’re remodeling the kitchen, ask yourself if you can handle the plumbing, electrical and carpentry work. And don’t forget that you need to finish it all quickly, because in the meantime you’ll be without a kitchen and eating out can be costly. Keep in mind, do-it-yourself jobs generally take more time and you’re responsible for obtaining the necessary permits and inspections. Hiring people who have experience can save you money and time, too. For example, these professionals can help you get a custom look using stock products, and that can be a significant savings. Getting something done right–the first time–will give you value that lasts for years.

Word-of-mouth is a good way to start looking for home improvement specialists. Check with friends, business associates and neighbors for recommendations. Always ask for at least three references – and check them out. Check, too, with your local chapter of the Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. You can find the number in the community services section of your telephone book. Make sure everyone is in agreement about design, schedule and budget. Get the details down in writing in a signed contract. You’d also be wise to check on professional certifications and licenses, where required, and insist that any contractors you hire are fully insured and bonded. Contact your town or city Building Department for information. In particular, make sure contractors carry workers’ compensation insurance so that if any workers are injured on the job, you won’t be held liable. Ask for a copy of their insurance certificates. Also make sure that you or the contractor secure any necessary permits before beginning the work. Contact your local Planning and Zoning Commission for information.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the pros you may work with in remodeling your home:

Architect: These professionals design homes or additions from the foundation to the roof. If you’re planning structural changes–adding or taking out walls, for example–or anticipate a complex design, you’ll probably want an architect. You may pay an hourly fee or a flat fee. Be sure to get an estimate of the total cost: It can take 80 hours or more to draw up plans for a major remodeling project.

Contractor: This person oversees the nuts-and-bolts aspects of your home improvement project, such as hiring and supervising workers, getting permits, making sure inspections are done as needed and providing insurance for work crews. You may wish to get proposals from one or more reputable contractors, based on specific details of your project. Be sure each contractor bids on exactly the same plan for comparison purposes. Once you’ve chosen a contractor, make sure your contract specifies that you will pay in several stages. It’s customary to pay one third when the contract is signed so that the contractor can buy supplies. The number and timing of other payments depends on the size of the job, but do not make final payment until all work is successfully completed, inspected and approved.

Interior Designers: These specialists offer advice on furnishings, wall coverings, colors, styles and more. They can help save you time (by narrowing down selections) and money (from the professional discounts they might receive). When meeting with an interior designer, be sure to talk about your personal style and preferences. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour, or you may negotiate a flat fee of perhaps 25% of the total project cost.

Financing Repairs: Depending on the scope of your home improvement plans, finding funding may be a project itself. If the project is small, you may be able to save for it from your regular household budget. For larger projects, you’ll probably need to borrow money. If you participate in a 401(k) or 403(b) plan at work, you may be able to get a short-term loan from your account. To find out if this option is available to you and to learn about any tax implications, talk to your benefits administrator. Another possibility is borrowing against the cash value of your life insurance policy. If you’re interested in finding out more about this type of loan, talk to your life insurance agent.

To take out other types of home improvement loans, head to your local bank, savings and loan, or credit union. Compare interest rates, repayment options and penalties from lending institutions before deciding on one of the following options:

Living RoomSecond mortgage: This is a loan against the equity in your home. It is, in essence, an additional mortgage. Typically, financial institutions will let you borrow up to 80 percent of the appraised value of your home, minus the balance on your original mortgage. For example, if your home is appraised at $100,000 and your current mortgage balance is $70,000, you may be able to borrow $10,000 by way of a second mortgage. You may also incur all the fees normally associated with a mortgage – closing costs, title insurance and processing fees. Talk to your tax advisor about whether the interest on a second mortgage may be tax-deductible.

Refinancing: This involves paying off your old loan and taking out a new mortgage on your home. To refinance, generally you’ll need to have equity in your home, a solid credit rating and a steady income. You’ll incur all the closing costs that go along with getting a new mortgage, so unless you’re doing extensive remodeling and can get a mortgage interest rate at least two points less than you’re currently paying, this type of loan may not be for you.

Home Equity Line of Credit: Like a second mortgage, a home equity loan lets you tap up to about 80 percent of the appraised value of your home, minus your current mortgage balance. Since it’s set up as a line of credit, you won’t be charged interest until you make a withdrawal, but you will have to pay closing costs. You can make withdrawals gradually as you start paying contractors and suppliers. The interest rate charged is usually variable and may be based on the outstanding balance. Make sure you understand the terms of the loan. If, for example, your loan stipulates that you need to pay interest only for the life of the loan, you’ll have to pay back the full amount borrowed at the end of the loan period or you could lose your home. The interest on home equity loans may be deductible; talk to your tax advisor.

Unsecured Loan: Although the interest rates charged are often higher and you generally will not be able to get a tax deduction for the interest paid, the costs of obtaining an unsecured loan are usually lower. The relative ease of obtaining this type of loan makes it popular for small projects costing $10,000 or less. The lender will evaluate your application based on credit history and income.

Be House Smart: You’ll be happiest with the outcome of a home improvement project if you plan carefully and do your homework. Armed with the information in this pamphlet and a realistic idea of your needs and budget, you’ll find your home getting closer to your dream of perfection.

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27 Tips You Should Know To Get Your Home Sold Fast and For Top Dollar

“…..you have to sell your present home at exactly the right time in order to avoid either the financial burden of owning two homes or, just as bad, the dilemma of having no place to live during the gap between closings.”

Because your home may well be your largest asset, selling it is probably one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. To better understand the home selling process, a guide has been prepared from current industry insider reports. Through these 27 tips you will discover how to protect and capitalize on your most important investment, reduce stress, be in control of your situation, and make the most profit possible.

  1. Understand Why You Are Selling Your Home  Your motivation to sell is the determining factor as to how you will approach the process. It affects everything from what you set your asking price at to how much time, money and effort you’re willing to invest in order to prepare your home for sale. For example, if your goal is for a quick sale, this would determine one approach. If you want to maximize your profit, the sales process might take longer thus determining a different approach.
  2. Keep the Reason(s) You are Selling to Yourself The reason(s) you are selling your home will affect the way you negotiate its sale. By keeping this to yourself you don’t provide ammunition to your prospective buyers. For example, should they learn that you must move quickly, you could be placed at a disadvantage in the negotiation process. When asked, simply say that your housing needs have changed. Remember, the reason( s) you are selling is only for you to know.
  3. Before Setting a Price – Do Your Homework When you set your price, you make buyers aware of the absolute maximum they have to pay for your home. As a seller, you will want to get a selling price as close to the list price as possible. If you start out by pricing too high you run the risk of not being taken seriously by buyers and their agents and pricing too low can result in selling for much less than you were hoping for.
  4. Setting Your Home’s Sale Price If You Live in a Subdivision – If your home is comprised of similar or identical floor plans, built in the same period, simply look at recent sales in your neighborhood subdivision to give you a good idea of what your home is worth.

    If You Live in An Older Neighborhood – As neighborhoods change over time each home may be different in minor or substantial ways. Because of this you will probably find that there aren’t many homes truly comparable to your own. In this case you may want to consider seeking a Realtor ® to help you with the pricing process.

    If You Decide to Sell On Your Own – A good way to establish a value is to look at homes that have sold in your neighborhood within the past 6 months, including those now on the market. This is how prospective buyers will assess the worth of your home. Also a trip to City Hall can provide you with home sale information in its public records, for most communities.
  5. Do Some “Home Shopping” Yourself The best way to learn about your competition and discover what turns buyers off is to check out other open houses. Note floor plans, condition, appearance, size of lot, location and other features. Particularly note, not only the asking prices but what they are actually selling for. Remember, if you’re serious about getting your home sold fast, don’t price it higher than your neighbor’s.
  6. When Getting an Appraisal is a Benefit Sometimes a good appraisal can be a benefit in marketing your home. Getting an appraisal is a good way to let prospective buyers know that your home can be financed. However, an appraisal does cost money, has a limited life, and there’s no guarantee you’ll like the figure you hear.
  7. Tax Assessments – What They Really Mean Some people think that tax assessments are a way of evaluating a home. The difficulty here is that assessments are based on a number of criteria that may not be related to property values, so they may not necessarily reflect your home’s true value.
  8. Deciding Upon a Realtor® According to the National Association of Realtors, nearly two-thirds of the people surveyed who sell their own homes say they wouldn’t do it again themselves. Primary reasons included setting a price, marketing handicaps, liability concerns, and time constraints. When deciding upon a Realtor® , consider two or three. Be as wary of quotes that are too low as those that are too high. All Realtors® are not the same! A professional Realtor® knows the market and has information on past sales, current listings, a marketing plan, and will provide their background and references. Evaluate each candidate carefully on the basis of their experience, qualifications, enthusiasm and personality. Be sure you choose someone that you trust and feel confident that they will do a good job on your behalf. If you choose to sell on your own, you can still talk to a Realtor® . Many are more than willing to help do-it-your-selfers with paperwork, contracts, etc. and should problems arise, you now have someone you can readily call upon.
  9. Ensure You Have Room to Negotiate Before settling on your asking price make sure you leave yourself enough room in which to bargain. For example, set your lowest and highest selling price. Then check your priorities to know if you’ll price high to maximize your profit or price closer to market value if you want sell quickly.
  10. Appearances Do Matter – Make them Count! Appearance is so critical that it would be unwise to ignore this when selling your home. The look and “feel” of your home will generate a greater emotional response than any other factor. Prospective buyers react to what they see, hear, feel, and smell even though you may have priced your home to sell.
  11. Invite the Honest Opinions of Others The biggest mistake you can make at this point is to rely solely on your own judgment. Don’t be shy about seeking the honest opinions of others. You need to be objective about your home’s good points as well as bad. Fortunately, your Realtor ® will be unabashed about discussing what should be done to make your home more marketable.
  12. Get it Spic n’ Span Clean and Fix Everything, Even If It Seems Insignificant Scrub, scour, tidy up, straighten, get rid of the clutter, declare war on dust, repair squeaks, the light switch that doesn’t work, and the tiny crack in the bathroom mirror because these can be deal-killers and you’ll never know what turns buyers off. Remember, you’re not just competing with other resale homes, but brand-new ones as well.
  13. Allow Prospective Buyers to Visualize Themselves in Your Home The last thing you want prospective buyers to feel when viewing your home is that they may be intruding into someone’s life. Avoid clutter such as too many knick-knacks, etc. Decorate in neutral colors, like white or beige and place a few carefully chosen items to add warmth and character. You can enhance the attractiveness of your home with a well-placed vase of flowers or potpourri in the bathroom. Home-decor magazines are great for tips.
  14. Deal Killer Odors – Must Go! You may not realize but odd smells like traces of food, pets and smoking odors can kill deals quickly. If prospective buyers know you have a dog, or that you smoke, they’ll start being aware of odors and seeing stains that may not even exist. Don’t leave any clues.
  15. Be a Smart Seller – Disclose Everything Smart sellers are proactive in disclosing all known defects to their buyers in writing. This can reduce liability and prevent law suits later on.
  16. It’s Better With More Prospects When you maximize your home’s marketability, you will most likely attract more than one prospective buyer. It is much better to have several buyers because they will compete with each other; a single buyer will end up competing with you.
  17. Keep Emotions in Check During Negotiations Let go of the emotion you’ve invested in your home. Be detached, using a business-like manner in your negotiations. You’ll definitely have an advantage over those who get caught up emotionally in the situation.
  18. Learn Why Your Buyer is Motivated The better you know your buyers the better you can use the negotiation process to your advantage. This allows you to control the pace and duration of the process. As a rule, buyers are looking to purchase the best affordable property for the least amount of money. Knowing what motivates them enables you to negotiate more effectively. For example, does your buyer need to move quickly. Armed with this information you are in a better position to bargain.
  19. What the Buyer Can Really Pay As soon as possible, try to learn the amount of mortgage the buyer is qualified to carry and how much his/her down payment is. If their offer is low, ask their Realtor ® about the buyer’s ability to pay what your home is worth.
  20. When the Buyer Would Like to Close Quite often, when buyers would “like” to close is when they need to close. Knowledge of their deadlines for completing negotiations again creates a negotiating advantage for you.
  21. Never Sign a Deal on Your Next Home Until You Sell Your Current Home Beware of closing on your new home while you’re still making mortgage payments on the old one or you might end up becoming a seller who is eager (even desperate) for the first deal that comes along.
  22. Moving Out Before You Sell Can Put You at a Disadvantage It has been proven that it’s more difficult to sell a home that is vacant because it becomes forlorn looking, forgotten, no longer an appealing sight. Buyers start getting the message that you have another home and are probably motivated to sell. This could cost you thousands of dollars.
  23. Deadlines Create A Serious Disadvantage Don’t try to sell by a certain date. This adds unnecessary pressure and is a serious disadvantage in negotiations.
  24. A Low Offer – Don’t Take It Personally Invariably the initial offer is below what both you and the buyer knows he’ll pay for your property. Don’t be upset, evaluate the offer objectively. Ensure it spells out the offering price, sufficient deposit, amount of down payment, mortgage amount, a closing date and any special requests. This can simply provide a starting point from which you can negotiate.
  25. Turn That Low Offer Around You can counter a low offer or even an offer that’s just under your asking price. This lets the buyer know that the first offer isn’t seen as being a serious one. Now you’ll be negotiating only with buyers with serious offers.
  26. Maybe the Buyer’s Not Qualified If you feel an offer is inadequate, now is the time to make sure the buyer is qualified to carry the size of mortgage the deal requires. Inquire how they arrived at their figure, and suggest they compare your price to the prices of homes for sale in your neighborhood.
  27. Ensure the Contract is Complete To avoid problems, ensure that all terms, costs and responsibilities are spelled out in the contract of sale. It should include such items as the date it was made, names of parties involved, address of property being sold, purchase price, where deposit monies will be held, date for loan approval, date and place of closing, type of deed, including any contingencies that remain to be settled and what personal property is included (or not) in the sale.
  28. Resist Deviating From the Contract For example, if the buyer requests a move-in prior to closing, just say no. That you’ve been advised against it. Now is not the time to take any chances of the deal falling through.

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Common Mistakes Made with Money and How to Avoid Them

Everybody makes mistakes with their money. The important thing is to keep them to a minimum. And one of the best ways to accomplish that is to learn from the mistakes of others. Here is our list of the top mistakes people make with their money, and what you can do to avoid these mistakes in the first place.

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5 Things You Must Know about Recent Mortgage Loan Changes

“Insider Secrets that can make owning your Dream Home possible…”

  1. Increased Ability To Finance Your Closing Costs You can now finance up to 100% of your closing costs thanks to recent changes in Federal Housing Administration (FHA) guidelines, compared to the old limit of 57%. This is very good news for the first time home buyer who typically has less cash available at the time of closing.
  2. Increased FHA Limits There FHA loan amount maximums have increased, which is particularly helpful for people living in high cost housing markets. FHA ’s mortgage limit is now tied to local housing costs. The limit is now 95% of the median home price, or 75% of the Fannie Mae maximum loan amount, which ever is lower. This is another avenue for the first time home buyer to achieve the dream of home ownership.
  3. Increased Accessibility to Down Payment Assistance Programs With the rapid increase in home prices over recent years, more and more people are having the dream of home ownership ripped from their hands. Typically one had to go through a rigorous process to qualify for a down payment assistance program. Today, there are now programs which have very little hassle. Ask your mortgage broker if they have access to such options.
  4. Rapid Loan Approval One of the latest innovations in the mortgage industry is the advent of computerized loan approval. These programs provide both rapid loan approval and more uniform loan approval practices. This type of approval is done by scoring a borrower’s credit worthiness which quantifies the risk they will default on the loan. Does your mortgage broker use such a program?
  5. Affordable Mortgages Which Don’t Verify Income These loans are perfect for those people who are self employed, real estate investors, retired persons and anyone who doesn’t want to have to prove their income. It is essential to have a good credit score in order to qualify for non income verified loan.

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