Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 5/11/2017

You’ve seen every house on the market and you’ve finally found the spot you can't wait to call home. In fact, you’ve mentally decorated it and planned your new life, down to the barbecues and block parties you’ll have with your awesome new neighbors. Sweet!

Slow down there, dear buyer. As you know, you still have one giant hurdle to overcome: You've got to make the offer that wins the house. And in a highly competitive housing market, that can be easier said than done. Don’t blow your chances with any of these common home offer mistakes.

1. Dragging your feet

If you love a property, the worst thing you can do is wait to make an offer. Of course, you're allowed to have some feelings of uncertainty—after all, this is likely the biggest financial decision of your life. But the longer you vacillate, the greater the chances you'll set yourself up for failure.

"Time kills deals," says Andrew Sandholm of BOND New York Properties, in New York City. "Dragging your feet means you could wind up paying more in a bidding war situation or missing out on the property all together."

Not only should you be emotionally ready to pounce, but be logistically ready as well. That means pulling together all of your paperwork—bank statements, pre-approval letter, and any documents supporting proof of funds—while you're house hunting.

"Get everything ready so we can act fast when we find a home you love," Sandholm says.

2. Offering your max pre-approved amount

Today’s sellers are often besieged by multiple suitors, and the successful buyer will be one who's prepared for a bidding war. The best way to arm yourself for battle is to make sure you've got a strong financial arsenal. That means getting pre-approved (do this now, if you haven't already) to show a seller you're financially prepared to buy a home—their home.

But when you make an offer, beware of submitting a price that exactly matches the amount you were pre-approved for, says Chuck Silverston, principal at Unlimited Sotheby's International Realty in Brookline, MA.

“Many buyers come in with a pre-approval for the exact offer price, but when you’re competing against other offers, including cash offers, you want to show financial strength,” he says. “An exact pre-approval could make a listing agent nervous because not only does the buyer not have any wiggle room to negotiate, but they might no longer qualify if interest rates rise.”

"In this market I often advise buyers to look at homes under their max loan amount," echoes Denise Supplee, a Realtor® with Long and Foster Real Estate in Doylestown, PA. "When you have to bid against multiple offers, they will need some room to go up, and if they are at their maximum amount, that may not happen."

3. Using an obscure lender

Also consider using a well-known local mortgage lender or bank, suggests Realtor Megan Tolland, with Realty Executives Boston, who often sees online pre-approvals from out-of-state lenders or unknown online entities.

“Agents, and therefore sellers, are generally more comfortable with a local lender they know,” she says.

4. Lowballing

Trust your agent and bid accordingly—even if it means offering a little more than you think you could get away with. If you lowball the seller in the hope that it'll spark a negotiation, it could backfire—especially in a seller's market.

“A lowball offer that isn't backed up with math or comparable sales data is disrespectful and could turn off the seller and possibly mean you will miss out on the property completely,” Sandholm says.

5. Waiving the inspection contingency

“I don't care whether it’s new construction or even your mom’s house you’re buying from her—get it inspected,” says Joshua Jarvis of Jarvis Team Realty in Duluth, GA.

An inspection is the only way to uncover potential flaws that could cost major cash to fix. And if you waive the inspection contingency in your offer, you stand to lose your earnest money if you back out.

6. Letting outsiders sway your offer

When you're buying a home, you probably want a second opinion. And probably a third, fourth, and maybe even 10th. We totally get it. But beware of letting these people—who mean well but haven't seen the many, many other homes you've seen—influence your offer.

"The 'adviser' does what they think is best and tries to protect the buyer and usually slams the home," Jarvis says. "Unfortunately, they don't have the education in seeing the other 10 homes or understanding the market."

If you're going to rely on outside advice, Jarvis says, then ask that the person accompany you through as much of the process as possible.

7. Not selling yourself

Wait, isn’t it the seller who, you know, does the selling? It might not sound quite fair, but in a seller’s market, you want to make sure you—the buyer—look as good to the seller as that picture-perfect house looks to you, Silverston says.

And it's not just about looking good on paper. In fact, Silverston says, the offer process begins the moment the buyer steps through the door at the open house or showing.

“In today's highly competitive environment, the listing agent is trying to determine which buyer will be the easiest to deal with,” he says.

That’s why buyers should avoid pointing out defects, asking a lot of nitpicky questions, or even insulting the owner’s taste by discussing changes they want to make.

“Basically buyers who act less than enthusiastic will see themselves at a competitive disadvantage when sellers are comparing multiple offers,” he says.

And, don’t forget to help seal the deal with a love letter—a personal touch could be enough to boost you to the top in the seller’s mind.





Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 4/4/2017

What Is The Disclosure Statement?


Disclosure statements are used in many of life’s situations. This is the place where the buyer is able to learn about the ins and outs of the property that they are about the buy. Examples of items that would be on a seller’s disclosure are:


  • Water in the basement
  • Updates made to the home
  • Known pests
  • Paranormal activity
  • Death on the property
  • Past fires
  • Nearby major construction projects
  • Title 5 sewerage issues 


Disclosures Serves As Protections


The disclosure statement serves as a protection for both the buyer and the seller. From a buyer’s perspective, through this information, they are able to understand a bit more about the property that they are potentially buying. 


On the seller’s side of things, the disclosure statement serves a s legal protection of sorts. The seller is obliged to reveal anything about the property that could potentially affect the value or affect the living conditions.


How Does The Seller Make The Disclosure


Each state and even each city within a state varies in the way a disclosure is conducted.  The statement can be composed of dozens of documents that need to be signed by the seller. Other states have disclosure document forms that consist of a series of yes or no questions about the home. Sellers may also be required o present communications between neighbors, owners, and agents. In some states, the disclosure statement is valid for up to 10 years, allowing buyers to collect damages if something wasn’t properly presented on the statement.  


How Do Sellers Know What To Disclose?


The basic rule of thumb is that if you know something about your property, you should disclose it. If you try to hide something, it could come back to meet you in the form of a lawsuit, even years later. Many states have legal requirements as to what should be revealed on these documents.  


What’s Disclosed To Buyers?


The disclosure doesn’t have to be all bad. This document is also an opportunity for sellers to present any of the improvements that they have made to the home. Make sure that you include all of the upgrades, renovations, and improvements that you have made to the home that you’re selling. This can help to impress buyers as to how well you have taken care of the property.


It’s easy as the buyer to check some of these improvements as you can find out if the work was done with or without permits by checking with the city’s zoning reports. Work that was done without a permit may have not been completed according to code. This could pose some serious health and safety risks to you and your family. 


Problems that you’ll want to disclose as a seller include pest problems, property line disputes, disturbances in the neighborhood, liens on the property, and appliance malfunctions. 


Remember that the disclosure doesn’t substitute the buyer’s right to a professional inspection of the property. It’s important for buyers to know as much about a property as they can in order to be sure they’re making a good investment.





Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 2/16/2017


It’s February and snow is still covering much of the country, but the spring buying season is just around the corner. Wage increases and low inventory in many U.S. markets is making this year particularly advantageous for home sellers.

Check out these tips from Century 21 Real Estate’s Chief Operating Officer Greg Sexton, which will help sellers get their homes ready to win over buyers for the spring market.

1. Repairs. A seller may need to do work to their house before putting it on the market. Agents could suggest that a seller get a home inspection before listing the property, which will help identify problem areas and repairs that need to take place. “Take a look at the home with a critical eye and eliminate any issues a home inspector may discover – make sure all items are up to code, seal any cracks, and fix a leaky roof,” Sexton says.

2. Landscaping. It’s never too early in the season to think about curb appeal. Offer sellers tips for sprucing up landscaping, such as trimming hedges and cleaning up flowerbeds. Add a pop of color with cold-hardy plants.

3. Declutter. One of the easiest ways to prep a home for sale is decluttering. This may include removing family photos, papers, even furniture to help make the interior of a home look more spacious and allow potential buyers to picture themselves living in the home. The walls may also need a new coat of paint to come alive.

4. Finances. Agents should be aware of any financial obstacles that may come into play, Sexton says, whether it’s liens on the house or a second mortgage, which would be paid from the seller’s proceeds upon sale.Prepping a home for the market also includes talking to clients about their goals and setting realistic expectations, he adds.





Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 2/7/2017

 


 

Confusion over down payment requirements is hindering some consumers’ confidence about buying a home.


For the past three years, the median down payment for first-time buyers has been 6 percent and 14 percent for repeat buyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Yet, when consumers are asked about the down payment amount they need to buy, 87 percent of non-owners say that a down payment of 10 percent or more is necessary.


“Current non-owners’ ultimate goal of owning a home may not be as far-fetched as they believe,” says NAR President William E. Brown. “There are mortgage options available for creditworthy borrowers with manageable levels of debt and smaller down payments. Those interested in buying their first home in2017 should review their finances, sit down with a lender to see if they qualify for a mortgage, and find a REALTOR® to help them get started on their home search.” (Read: Smaller Down Payments Lure More Buyers and 3%Down Payments May Be Game Changer)


Consumers in general have a favorable view over home ownership: 90 percent of home owners and about eight in 10 non-homeowners indicate that owning a home is part of their American Dream, according to NAR’s Aspiring Home Buyer Profile, which included 2016 survey data from its Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey. That said, optimism about now being a good time to buy is starting to diminish among non-homeowners.


In the first quarter of 2016, 63 percent of consumers said now is a good time to buy. By the fourth quarter of last year, that percentage had dipped to55 percent.


“Nearly all non-homeowners said they want to own a home in the future (87percent), but it’s evident that higher rents and home prices – up 41 percent in the past five years – along with limited entry-level supply and repaying student debt have combined to make buying a challenging goal,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “It’s also a little surprise that non-owners in the West – where price appreciation has been the strongest – were the least optimistic about buying.”


Not surprisingly, however, the number one reason non-owners cite as not wanting to own: The inability to afford home ownership. More than half of non-owners in 2016 said they could not afford to buy a home; about one-fifth of respondents said they needed the flexibility of renting.


Student debt is increasingly sidelining many would-be buyers too. Of the 39percent of non-homeowners who said they had student debt in the second quarter,a majority indicated they were not very or not at all comfortable taking on a mortgage (59 percent). A separate study last year conducted by NAR similarly found that nearly three-quarters of non-homeowners who are employed and repaying their student loans on time believe their debt is preventing them from purchasing a home; slightly more than half of borrowers expected that delay to be five years or more.


“In addition to having to postpone important milestones such as getting married and starting a family, many young adults are financially falling behind previous generations in part because of having to prioritize repaying their sizeable student loans over buying a home and saving for retirement,” says Yun.





Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 1/23/2017

 

 It’s a slow Sunday morning. You’ve just brewed your coffee and popped open your laptop to check out the latest home listings before you hit the road for a day of open houses.

You’re doing your own real estate thing, and you think you’re doing pretty well—after all, any info you might need is at your fingertips online, right? That and your own sterling judgment.

Oh, dear home buyer (or seller!)—we know you can do it on your own. But you really, really shouldn’t. This is likely the biggest financial decision of your entire life, and you need a Realtor® if you want to do it right. Here’s why.

1.They have loads of expertise

Want to check the MLS for a 4B/2B with an EIK and a W/D? Real estate has its own language, full of acronyms and semi-arcane jargon, and your Realtor is trained to speak that language fluently.

Plus, buying or selling a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. Realtors have the expertise to help you prepare a killer deal—while avoiding delays or costly mistakes that can seriously mess you up.

2.They have turbocharged searching power

The Internet is awesome. You can find almost anything—anything! And with online real estate listing sites such as yours truly, you can find up-to-date home listings on your own,any time you want. But guess what? Realtors have access to even more listings. Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A Realtor can help you find those hidden gems.

Plus, a good local Realtor is going to know the search area way better than you ever could. Have your eye on a particular neighborhood, but it’s just out of your price range? Your Realtor is equipped to know the ins and outs of every neighborhood, so she can direct you toward a home in your price range that you may have overlooked.

3.They have bullish negotiating chops

Any time you buy or sell a home,you’re going to encounter negotiations—and as today’s housing market heats up, those negotiations are more likely than ever to get a little heated.

You can expect lots of competition,cutthroat tactics, all-cash offers, and bidding wars. Don’t you want a savvy and professional negotiator on your side to seal the best deal for you?

And it’s not just about how much money you end up spending or netting. A Realtor will help draw up a purchase agreement that allows enough time for inspections, contingencies,and anything else that’s crucial to your particular needs.

4.They’re connected to everyone

Realtors might not know everything,but they make it their mission to know just about everyone who can possibly help in the process of buying or selling a home. Mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, home stagers, interior designers—the list goes on—and they’re all in your Realtor’s network. Use them.

5.They adhere to a strict code of ethics

Not every real estate agent is a Realtor, who is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of Realtors®, the largest trade group in the country.

What difference does it make?Realtors are held to a higher ethical standard than licensed agents and must adhere to a Code of Ethics.

6.They’re your sage parent/data analyst/therapist—all rolled into one

The thing about Realtors: They wear a lot of different hats. Sure, they’re salespeople, but they actually do a whole heck of a lot to earn their commission. They’re constantly driving around, checking out listings for you. They spend their own money on marketing your home (if you’re selling). They’re researching comps to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

And, of course, they’re working for you at nearly all hours of the day and night—whether you need more info on a home or just someone to talk to in order to feel at ease with the offer you just put in. This is the biggest financial (and possibly emotional)decision of your life, and guiding you through it isn’t a responsibility Realtors take lightly.







JoAnn M. Drabble