What You Need to Know about Selling Your Home “As Is”

Before you sell your home “as is,” you need to take a moment to understand what “as is” means so you can decide if it’s right for you. An as is sale means that you are selling your home in its present condition, good or bad, and that you don’t intend to make any repairs or provide any warranties. You will still have to provide state-mandated disclosures.

In a seller’s market, you have a better chance of attracting buyers who will accept your home as is due to the low supply and high demand for affordable homes. Fixer-uppers have greater success selling in a seller’s market, despite selling at a reduced price. You will likely sell your home for less when you save repair costs, but you can still enjoy some profit when you close.

An as is sale usually moves along faster because your responsibility is limited to putting the house on the market without having to do staging or obtaining pre-sale inspections.

There are probably more cons than these pros when you sell as is. The biggest negative is having to sell your home for less than market price to offset what a buyer will expect to have to remedy.

Another significant obstacle is the lack of confidence that buyers have in trusting the property disclosures in an as is sale, making it difficult to get strong selling prices. There are a limited number of buyers who are willing to buy homes in as is condition if there are a lot of repairs needed. Additionally, as an as is seller, you need to have well-honed negotiating skills because experienced house flippers will negotiate hard to get the lowest price possible.

Our experienced team has worked with all types of home sales, and we invite you to contact us so we can take you down the path of marketing that works best for you.

Give Your Home an Instant Makeover with These Low-Budget Ideas

If you feel like it’s time to freshen up your home, there are some simple no-cost makeovers you can do.

Before you add anything new, remove clutter and clean out closets. You may find something hidden away that can change the look of your décor. A deep cleaning will brighten up hard surfaces and light fixtures. Even a good vacuuming of your rugs will brighten your spaces (as well as your attitude).

Take any leftover paint from your garage and touch up scratches. See if any walls could “pop” by being painted with an accent color with the paint you have.

Simply rearranging furniture can create positive results in how you feel about your interior spaces. You might remove pieces to have a more spacious look. If you are rearranging furniture, then keep the momentum going and move your accessories around. It can be as easy as changing the look of your bookshelves by repositioning books and bringing décor from another room to fill the spaces. Moving your pictures and photos around will also freshen your look. Adding plants will bring new life and color to any room.

Your windows and lighting sources also provide ways to change your living spaces. Since light opens up space, consider how the window coverings are letting in light. Clean the windows and watch things brighten up. Moving lamps around can also enhance your interior.

Give us a call and we will help you take the guesswork out of what changes will make you feel better about your home.

5 Simple and Inexpensive Ways to Refresh Room Decor

We are enjoying the riot of color and life that is summer in all its glory. Why not let summer be your inspiration and breathe new life into your surroundings? Here are five simple and budget-friendly ways to get the décor ball rolling.

Pep up with paint. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in sprucing up your space. Perhaps there is an accent wall that could really use a pop of color, or maybe it is time to change the color scheme of a specific room. Either way, a can of paint, a roller and some old-fashioned elbow grease are all you need.

While you’ve got that paintbrush in your hand … Paint something that you don’t like. That may sound a little odd, but if you have grown a little tired of an old dresser or dining table, you could paint it to give it a new lease on life. Check out YouTube for a smorgasbord of helpful tutorials.

Find your light. You would be surprised just how much the lighting in your home can boost or reduce your mood. Swap out old fixtures or forgo harsh overhead lighting in favor of a smattering of flattering lamps. You could pick up a few bargains online.

Cultivate an indoor jungle. Plants are a great way to add some life to your surroundings. Beyond their aesthetic value, they also reduce toxins in the air and improve air quality. Peace lilies, aloe vera, ivy and rubber plants are all great examples of air-purifying flora that purify the air.

Unleash your inner artist. Make your wall a canvas and display some eye-catching art. It doesn’t need to break the bank. You could get painting yourself and create tailor-made pieces that fit in with your color scheme.

Is There a Best Time to Buy or Sell a House?

There is no defined time that is best to buy or sell a home because there are a few influencing factors that will determine when it is right for you. Our goal is to keep you informed on these factors so you can make the decision that’s best for you.

If you know what the market activity is at any given time, it should dictate when you move forward with your planned real estate venture. The supply and demand of homes will determine the availability and price. The statistics that we provide you will help you select the right time to buy or sell your home.

As a seller, you want to list your home when available inventory is low so you can entertain more buyers and be more aggressive with pricing. As a buyer, you want to shop for a home when there is plenty of inventory to pick from. More homes on the market means more ability to negotiate the price.

Interest rates will influence your timing and also determine which home you can afford. Low rates allow sellers to be more assertive on pricing because more buyers can qualify to buy their homes.

Buying or selling a home in the late spring or early fall is generally a good choice but not always the most advantageous. There is more competition, so consider listing your home during less market activity. As a buyer, you will have fewer buyers to compete with while you can still see a reasonable inventory of homes.

If you are wondering when the best time is for you to buy or sell a home, call or email us, and we’ll update you on the present market activity and how it may affect your timing. We are always here to help.

Buying a House Contingent on Selling Yours? Here Are 5 Tips

As an existing homeowner who is ready to purchase another home, you may only be able to do so once you have sold your present home, so the purchase of your new home is contingent on you selling the home you are in. To be a successful seller and buyer at the same time, here are five strategies that can help you avoid owning two homes or having two mortgages.

1. Be intimately familiar with the contingency agreement so that you can maintain tight timelines with buyer performance on your present home. Your success in closing on a new home depends on your buyer’s ability to close on your home.

2. If you are in a seller’s market, be prepared to have your accepted offer rejected if the seller receives another offer that is not contingent. Most sellers will want you to agree to the “bump clause” that will allow them to move forward with a stronger offer if you can’t remove your house sell contingency and stay in the deal.

3. Show the seller that you are a serious contingent buyer by aggressively pricing and marketing your present home. Stage your home and increase its curb appeal for a faster sale.

4. A strong contingent offer will have a better chance of a seller being willing to negotiate a deal. Be aggressive on the offering price, and keep the terms and other contract contingencies to a minimum.

5. For expert advice and guidance, be sure to work with an experienced real estate agent who can help coordinate the simultaneous selling and buying of your home.

Contingent sales can pose many challenges, so please don’t hesitate to call upon our sales team for help. We can also help you with a backup plan in the event your home sells before you can buy another.

Make Your Life Easier with These 4 Smart Products

Smart home products that make you safer while adding value and functionality to your home will always be the favored upgrades. Check out these products that will also make your life easier.

1. At an average price of $200, WiFi-enabled video doorbells will keep you tuned in visually and audibly to the action on your front porch, all via your smartphone. You don’t even have to be home, and you have the benefit of seeing and speaking to whoever rings your bell. Video doorbells are easy to install and provide great security.

2. A great partner to the video doorbell is the smart door lock. Enter the digital world by having digital key codes for anyone you wish to be able to access your home. You can give temporary access with a smart lock and lock or unlock your door with your smartphone or voice.

3. As power grids expand and the number of households increases, so does the number of power outages. Generators for the home are becoming more popular, but not the portable ones that are noisy, need refueling and spew smelly gases. These generators look like HVAC units and run on natural gas or propane. They kick in automatically when the power goes out and are built into your home. An added incentive to have a smart generator is that it can be operated from your smartphone.

4. WiFi-enabled blinds that you can control with your voice or smartphone will help with heating and cooling costs. They also up your level of home security.

Take Care of Your Home with These Summer Maintenance Tips

Taking care of your home is one of the best things you can do to keep its value. Summer is the best time to detect issues that require maintenance to maintain the integrity of your home. There are some simple but important tips to help you take care of your investment.

Exterior cleaning can be your biggest asset. Start by power washing your siding and decks. It may expose surfaces that need protective coatings from the winter elements. Follow up your pressure washing with cleaning the outside of your windows to remove accumulated dirt and grime, making the windows more functional. While working on the exterior, thoroughly clean your gutters. Make sure that they drain properly so you don’t get pooling in the yard.

The summer months are a great time to get a garage door tune-up to make sure it is operating smoothly and seals out water and pests. If you see pests anywhere in or outside your home, hire an exterminator to eliminate these unwanted visitors.

Check your roof for damaged shingles and the eaves for water damage that can cause further issues to the interior of your home.

Your landscaping should properly direct water runoff around the exterior of your home. Replacing mulch or rocks that have washed away will help ensure that water drains away from the house.

Summer is a great time to do some interior painting. Protect your walls and take advantage of warmer temperatures for drying and odor control. Keeping up with today’s decorating trends by updating your home’s interior will help keep you prepared should you decide to sell.

This advice should keep things in top shape. Contact us by phone or email, and we would be happy to give you more advice on which maintenance tips best benefit your home. We are always here to help.

5 Tips for Negotiating an Offer for Your Dream House

When you have found your dream home, the goal is to create a purchase offer that the seller will accept. This can be hard to achieve when you don’t know a seller’s motivation or if you’re in a competitive market with multiple buyers. Here are some tips to help you negotiate.

1. Time is of the essence, so respond to a seller’s counter immediately. If you hesitate, another stronger offer may come in and nullify the seller’s counter to you.

2. Evaluate the comps that you have been given and reasonably increase your offering price to make it more attractive to the seller. Stay within the limits of your budget and loan preapproval.

3. If your original earnest money deposit is 1-2% of the sales price, consider raising it to 3-4% so the seller sees that you are serious.

4. Having as few contingencies as possible in your offer assures the seller that there are fewer ways you can withdraw from the sale. Market conditions and the level of risk that you want to take on will determine what contingencies you feel secure about waiving. Loan, home inspection and pest inspection contingencies have the most importance.

5. Keep any requested seller concessions to a minimum because they lower the seller’s net proceeds. Concessions can be closing cost credits or seller paid home warranty plans.

With our experience, we can assist in negotiating terms that a seller may accept. But when negotiations are no longer to your benefit, we will also let you know and advise you to move on. Your best interests are our first priority.

Know Your Must-Haves and Nice-to-Haves to Avoid Overspending

Shopping for a home is an exciting adventure! With all the excitement, clear decision-making can become murky and lead to unexpected costs.

Coming back to the ABCs, your wants and needs will lead you to the right home at the right price that will give you the best life with functional room for growth. The key: you don’t have to have “everything” to “have it all.” Here’s an exercise to keep you aligned with your goals prior to the journey ahead.

Create your list. Take time to get clear with yourself about this big decision. Make a list of everything you could possibly want in your home. Big or small. Long or short. If coupled, your counterpart is included in this exercise.

Order of importance. Next, force yourself to rate each of these facets on your list in numerical order. Ideally, limit these to your top 10.

Divvy it up. There are two types of items on your current list: those that are “heavyweights” and those that are aesthetic. Keep reading for more.

Heavyweights. Anything that includes number of bedrooms, windows, “open floor plan,” “dedicated space for …” and the like are the staples that can’t change without a major investment. These are the items that take priority in your search for a home to avoid costly renovations.

Aesthetic. Subway tile, shiplap, paint colors, lighting … these things can be easily upgraded or changed to suit your style (or even DIYed). Remove these items entirely from your list(s).

Prisoner’s dilemma. This might sound harsh, but it’s the last and final step in getting very clear with your wants and needs moving forward. What can you absolutely not live without? And on the same note, what aspects of your new home will help you thrive best? We know it’s hard, but do another forced reranking of these “must-haves.”

Trust your list. Excellent job! You’ve done the prep work. Now, remember to trust yourselves. Share this list with us so we can better assist you in finding your perfect match. As long as you’ve honestly invested yourself in this exercise, you’ll know exactly when you’ve met “the one.”

6 Ways to Turn Your Backyard into a Summer Oasis

At last! Summertime is around the corner, and you can make the most of it by enhancing your outdoor living spaces. With a little thought and planning, you can create your own personal backyard oasis. Here are some ideas.

1. If you don’t have a deck or patio, build one. Not only does this addition give you a great place for gatherings and grilling, in Remodeling Magazine‘s Cost vs. Value report, the statistics show that such an improvement yields a return on your investment of more than 75 percent.

2. Creating attractive privacy screens can easily be accomplished by incorporating fences, trellises and shrubbery around your outdoor deck or patio.

3. Pests can ruin a great time outdoors, so use preventive measures such as citronella candles and employ a pest control company that can spray your yard for unwanted crawling and flying insects.

4. Create a living space with comfortable outdoor furniture for lounging and dining. Be sure to include area rugs for color and for defining spaces.

5. Well-placed lighting will extend your outdoor experience well into the evening and create a great mood. Tiki torches, string lights and landscape lighting all contribute to the ambiance.

6. Keep it fun and include a fire pit, hot tub or game set for the kids.

Creating the perfect summer oasis will add value to your home and attract more buyers. When you start planning your project, contact us if you would like our professional input. We are here to assist you in the decision-making.

Increase Your Home’s Value, Save Money and the Planet with This

With Earth Day being celebrated on April 22 for the 51st time, protecting our one and only planet is on our minds. What can increase the value of your home, save you money and save the planet? The answer is a simple one: improving energy efficiency. And there’s more good news: special clean energy financing may be available to make it easier to pay for energy efficiency upgrades.

A good place to start is to replace older high-energy-using systems (HVAC) with newer, more efficient ones. If your heating and/or cooling appliances are more than 15 years old, consider replacing them. Your monthly heating and cooling bills will be lower in addition to your home reducing its use of the planet’s energy reserves.

Adding an extra layer of insulation in your attic is a moderate cost that can easily be recouped in a few years through your energy savings. Upgrading windows and doors will better seal in the heating and cooling and contribute greatly to the overall value of your home.

Circulating the air will help reduce your heating and cooling costs. The addition of ceiling fans will accomplish this and, for pennies a day, save a lot of energy usage.

Low-flow plumbing fixtures and upgraded water heaters will contribute to stabilizing water sources for everyone and reduce your monthly water bills.

One-third of a home’s electric consumption comes from lighting alone. Switching to LED bulbs, putting up new energy-efficient light fixtures and installing larger windows for more light will save on monthly bills and add to the value of your home. Energy Star-rated appliances for your kitchen will also contribute to energy conservation.

Whether you’re considering improving the energy efficiency of your home for the planet, to save money or to increase your home’s value, reach out to our office so you can get the best information in determining which innovations make the most sense for your market.

In the Market to Buy a House? Here’s a Home Viewing Checklist

When you begin your house-hunting adventure, what should you be looking out for? Here’s a checklist to take along with you when you view prospective homes.

Grade. Check the grade of the property that surrounds the house. Walk up to the house and take note if the grade slopes away from the structure. Any puddling or sloping toward the house could mean poor drainage.

Roof. While outside, stand back and check the roof for any shingle damage and poorly maintained gutters.

Plumbing. A quick and easy check for plumbing issues is to run the faucets to see if there is good water pressure. While running the faucets, take a look under the sinks and check for drips or past water damage. To avoid other possible expensive leak repairs, check walls and ceilings for discoloration that could likely be from water leaks.

Pest control. Hidden areas such as basements and attics can be home to unwanted pests and insects, so include a visual inspection of these areas.

Structural. Needed structural repairs can be noted by checking for floor and wall cracks and out-of-square door frames.

Electrical. A quick check of a home’s electrical wiring can be done by running some of the appliances with the lights on. Any flickering could indicate wiring or electrical service issues.

Please give us a call or email us prior to starting out. Our experience will help guide you through this checklist to help you avoid unanticipated and costly issues in the future.

What to Consider When Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

With the great weather and sense of newness spring brings, it is a great time to prepare for and start remodeling projects. Whether you are upgrading, updating or customizing your home, hiring the right contractor will be the key to the success of your project.

A great starting place would be a contractor referral from a friend or family member. Even if a contractor comes to you with good recommendations, it is advised to check their references, licenses and insurance. You still should get at least three estimates and a firsthand look at the contractors’ past work to help assure a good pick. Inquire if the contractor will be doing all of the work or if he or she will be using subcontractors as well.

Once you have selected a contractor, carefully scrutinize the details of the written agreement for the work to be performed. Make sure that every aspect of the project is spelled out, and see how any changes will be handled. The types of materials to be used should be listed and should meet your specifications. The commencement date and estimated finish date must be included with language addressing what your recourse is if the project is not completed per the contract. It is equally important to be indemnified in the event the work doesn’t meet building codes.

The payment schedule should include only a small-percentage up-front cost in the event the work doesn’t get completed. The final payment should be due at completion if the work is done to your satisfaction.

When considering a remodel or improvements, be sure to consult with us to ensure your upgrades are in alignment with your neighborhood, target buyers and trends to consider when selling your home. Reach out with your questions about remodeling. We are happy to help and can also refer you to contractors.

To FSBO or Not to FSBO, That Is a Good Question

When it’s time to sell your home, will you be the one who puts up the For Sale sign? The idea of putting up a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) sign will probably be a consideration with the hope of avoiding the majority of the 6–10% selling costs that come with having a real estate agent list your home.

With an FSBO, prepare to take on all of the duties and liabilities that you otherwise would be paying an agent to assume. You will have to find access to comps to accurately price your home, and you will need to be aware of the legal aspects of a home sale. Be sure to check your state’s laws for selling your home and determine if there are any regulations you must additionally comply with as a FSBO. Any omissions may be costly and litigious.

If you are an inexperienced seller and choose to market your home and take on the challenges of a For Sale By Owner, you will quickly appreciate the skills that a real estate professional brings to the table. FSBO listings usually have a hard time targeting the right buyers and are often underpriced and less attractive.

Working with a real estate agent will help you avoid these common problems, assure a successful sale and still realize a profitable outcome. Our team is here to list and market your home for you so your next home sale will be as stress-free as possible. Call or email us, and let’s put you in the best possible position when you sell your home.

Tips for Budgeting and Saving for a House Down Payment

Prior to buying a home, you need to assess the amount and source of your down payment funds and check in with a lender of choice to determine what kind of loan is best for you. You should work on getting your credit score as high as possible and create a reasonable budget so you can save the needed down payment funds.

There are down payment assistance programs that will help keep the size of your down payment to only 3.5 percent of the purchase price. In some cases, with lender-required education, there may be no down payment required.

Plan on buying a home that fits your savings plan of an amount equal to 3.5 percent of the price. You can always move up to a larger home later as your equity grows.

It is not uncommon for all or part of a down payment to be gifted from a family member. This option may allow you to buy a home sooner than expected because your funds are immediately available.

To help save money to buy a home, have your bank set up an automated transfer of at least 10 percent from every paycheck to a separate account that is reserved for your down payment funds. Have your budgeting plan include reducing some of your more luxurious indulgences. Eat out less often, shop for more affordable getaways and evaluate how much you are spending on items you could really live without.

If you can find a way to increase your income, even if only temporarily, your down payment fund will grow even more quickly. You may have a hobby that could be a marketable commodity, or freelancing your skills could supplement your income.

Reach out to learn how you can put yourself in the best possible position to purchase a home.

Look out for These Home Inspection Red Flags

A home purchase is likely the biggest investment you will ever make. To protect your investment and your personal health and safety, you want to be aware of red flags that could signal significant problems with the home that you wish to buy.

Structural red flags are the most serious because they threaten the integrity of the home. Look for large basement floor cracks and bumps. Doors and windows that are out of alignment, along with steps that have separated from the foundation, are all indications of settling of the home.

Mold-related issues are often detected in older homes with deferred maintenance and may not have easy fixes. Keep an eye out for patches of black mold in the house as well as any mold-related odor, unventilated bathrooms or bubbled paint.

Even an untrained eye can uncover red flags associated with destructive pests. Powdery residue around wood elements, grinding sounds, and hollow areas in floors and walls are indicators of wood-destroying pests. Droppings and bug body parts are also signs of insect infestation.

Defective roofing can present you with several threats to a home’s integrity. Beware of a roof that is over 20 years old and displays cracked and missing shingles or has evidence of previous repairs. Once inside the home, keep an eye on the ceiling, where there may be staining or patchy paint.

Our team will help point out red flags like these so your home-buying process will result in fewer risks to your health, safety and bank account.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Decluttering and Downsizing

Even if you are not moving, one of the more challenging parts of home ownership is keeping your home clutter free, knowing how to downsize your spaces and how to practically reduce the number of your belongings. This guide will help you improve your skills so you can get the job done with the outcome you planned for.

Once you know why you need to declutter and downsize, how you do so will make more sense. Take a moment to realize the mental and physical benefits of the task at hand. Create a mental picture of what end result you wish to achieve. Hold on to that idea and enjoy the process.

Start with items that no longer have meaning to you or are no longer functional. They will be the easiest to discard and will create your decluttering mindset and enable you to keep going.

Next are the things that still bear a bit of a question mark as to whether they stay or go. These items may be duplicates of things you have kept “just in case.” Analyze their real value, rarity and usefulness. Doing so will answer the question of if they are worth taking up precious space.

The final step would be to address those pieces that still stir memories. It is hardest to declutter the photos and heirlooms that stir your emotions, especially if they’ll make you feel guilty if you part ways. Consider scanning old documents and photos. Friends and relatives may feel honored if you pass on small collectibles. Some items can be repurposed to start new lives in your newly created spaces.

It is a learning process to successfully declutter and downsize. Stay focused on your mission. We have guided many clients through the process and can do the same for you.

Don’t Make These 6 Mistakes as a First-Time Home Buyer

Experience will be your best ally when it comes to avoiding pitfalls when buying your first home. We are here to help you avoid these most common mistakes.

1. A real estate agent who doesn’t have your best interests at the forefront or the right tools and resources to assist in getting the job done effectively won’t likely produce good results. Be selective in choosing who will represent you.

2. Relying on a lender just because of a past banking relationship may not yield the best rate and terms for your loan. Explore the competition.

3. In a hot seller’s market, hesitating to put in an offer on a suitable home could mean losing a rare buying opportunity and creating uncertainty when it comes to future prospective properties.

4. Not staying within your budget and moving forward with a higher-priced home can cause you to pinch pennies to make ends meet and trigger unnecessary anxiety.

5. If you are in the midst of a seller’s market and you have not been preapproved for a loan, your offer is in a very weak position. You risk losing every buying opportunity until you do get preapproved.

6. You will miss valuable buying opportunities if you make your home search parameters too broad. Don’t spend too much time looking at properties that really aren’t for you. Narrowing down what features of a home are on your bucket list will allow you to home in on those properties from the start.

We are here to ensure you have a smooth home-buying experience. Call or email us and let us help you avoid these mistakes and other potential pitfalls.

Purchasing a Home vs. Renting: 5 Tax Advantages

While renting a home gives you the freedom of picking up stakes and moving whenever you want, realizing the dream of home ownership can give you far more benefits, the most obvious being the growth of your nest egg coming from normal market appreciation and the additional equity increase that you gain from making home improvements over time.

Home ownership can also enhance your financial status with some of the following tax advantages.

1. Making monthly principal and interest payments on your loan may qualify you for a mortgage interest deduction, which reduces your income tax liability proportionately.

2. Owning your own home means paying property taxes and, with some limitations, may give you an additional tax deduction on your income taxes.

3. If your loan includes a mortgage insurance premium and your income qualifies, that premium is deductible and also lowers your tax liability.

4. A percentage of some home improvements can increase your tax deductions, especially if they are eco-friendly. Solar panels and wind turbines are examples.

5. Having a home-based business and the improvements that are associated with that business may also contribute to decreasing your tax liability. The square footage percentage of the portion of your home where you conduct business may give you additional tax deductions.

If you feel that owning your own home will benefit your financial future, then we are here to take you down that path.

4 Reasons to Consider Buying a Home in the Off-Season

As a home buyer, you can optimize your home buying if you move forward with your search during the off-season of where you wish to live. In very hot climates, the off-season will be during the summer, while in most other parts of the country, it would be during the winter months. Here are a few reasons you may want to consider buying your home out of season.

1. A seller who lists his or her house during the off-season is more likely to be very motivated to get the home sold. Therefore, you can benefit because the seller will be more willing to negotiate on price and terms, especially if you present a fair offer.

2. There are usually fewer buyers when you decide to shop when it’s not peak market time. Fewer buyers mean less competition and no price wars. Buyers tend to be more focused on the holidays during the winter, while communities in hotter climates draw virtually no competing home-buying snowbirds during the summer.

3. Since the off-season can mask the usually attractive curb appeal of a home, it can also provide a more realistic viewing of a home without the gingerbread. You can better see the “bones” of a home with minimal landscaping and possible deferred maintenance.

4. The durability of a prospective property can be better tested when you shop off-season since the mechanics of the home are being put to use on a daily basis. The furnace output is being tested to its maximum capability in cooler winter zones, while the air conditioning is being constantly challenged in the desert climates during the summer. The insulation and soundness of doors and windows are also best evaluated during these times.

Even though the market traditionally slows down during the off-season, we are here 365 days a year to improve the results of your home-buying experience.