Archive for ‘For Sellers’

May 7, 2014

Why Use a Realtor?

Are you considering buying or selling a home?  A real estate transaction is most often one of the largest financial decisions that you will make in your lifetime.  It is important to work with someone who has the knowledge and experience to guide you through the real estate process.  Check out the Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Agent:

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AskHomesale.com provides real estate advice and information for home buyers, home sellers, and homeowners alike. Askhomesale.com is part of the Prudential Homesale Family. The Homesale Family of Companies is the leading real estate company serving the Baltimore, Maryland, South Central and Southeastern PA real estate markets.  Prudential Homesale has more than 25 offices with over 1,000 REALTORS®. Prudential Homesale’s footprint includes Maryland real estate offices in Baltimore CityFederal HillFells PointWestminsterand Timonium.  Pennsylvania real estate offices include YorkLancasterWyomissingChambersburgGettysburgHarrisburgand Schuylkill Haven.

Tips for Home Buyers  |  Tips for Home Sellers | Tips for Homeowners

April 7, 2014

Credit Karma

For many of you, the thought of buying a home raises some financial concerns such as CreditKarmagetting pre-approved and affording the down payment. Getting pre-approved is often based off your debt-to-income ratio, your credit score, work history, etc. Take note, that just because you pay everything on time, doesn’t necessarily mean that your credit score is perfect. It is important to have a sense of where your credit stands; check out creditkarma.com to find out.

CreditKarma.com provides you with a free credit score; no credit card required. By creating a free account and becoming a Credit Karma member, you will have safe and secure access to four different credit scores including your TransUnion Credit Score, Vantage Score, Auto Insurance Score, and Home Insurance Score. This system also includes a simulator that allows you to plug in variables and see how your credit score may be affected.

Staying up-to-date on your credit score and working to continuously improve it, will keep you on track so you know when buying a home is right for you.

March 24, 2014

Prepping to Sell

Every seller wants his/her home to sell quickly and at the best price possible;  it takes more than just good luck to make this happen.  With careful planning and a little bit of know-how you can highlight your home’s strengths and downplay the weaknesses; turning it into a very desirable home!

De-clutter and de-personalize are typically the top two suggestions for making a home more marketable.  The buyers need to be able to imagine themselves, not you, in the home.  Photos and family heirlooms will distract buyers from looking at your home’s fabulous features.  Removing extra clutter and furniture will make rooms appear larger and also makes it easier for buyers to move around your home.  Rent a storage space if necessary to hold extra items while your home is on the market.

Here are some other great suggestions:

Neutral Appeal

Paint the LR in a fresh, warm, neutral shade to tone down any out of date finishes.  A good rule of thumb is to use neutrals in all large spaces. neutral

 

Make Minor Repairs

Replace cracked tiles, patch holes in walls, fix leaky faucets, fix doors and drawers that won’t close or jam, and replace burned-out bulbs. repair

Three’s Company

Accessories can make a room more inviting.  Odd numbers are preferable, especially three.  Imagine a triangle and place an object at each point.  Be sure to vary height and width, with tallest in the back.  Group by color, texture, or some other unifying factor. threes company

Polished Appearance

Take a little extra time to make the bathroom tile and fixtures sparkle.  Consider accessories that will give off that spa-feel!  Put out items like rolled-up towels, decorative baskets, and candles.  This gives the bath a polished look and doesn’t cost much. polished

A little pop

Visit your garden and bring a little fresh color indoors.  Fresh cut flowers will add color to your home and also herald the seasons.  Bright and sunny for spring and summer, a little fall foliage, or how about evergreens and holly berries for a smashing winter look. a little pop

Curb Appeal

Your home won’t sell if the buyer won’t get out of their car. Keep the sidewalks clear, trim lawn and shrubs, paint faded trim, and add a few colorful flowers (weather permitting). 

First impressions are very, very important! curb

So Inviting

Create a relaxing bedroom setting with soft colors and luxurious, comfy linens.  Remember to de-clutter your closet, flaunt the storage space! inviting

Groupings

Furnish your space by floating furniture away from walls.  Position into cozy groups and create an obvious traffic flow for the room.  This will open up the room and make it seem larger. grouping

 A few final suggestions:

  • Great lighting makes a home warm and welcoming.  Increase the wattage in lamps and fixtures.
  • Paint a small room the same color as an adjacent room.  A seamless look will make both rooms feel like one large space.
  • Don’t be afraid to use a dark paint in a small room, like a powder room, for a cozy, intimate feel.
  • Display art in a creative way, not just encircling your room.  This is a great way to show off your space.
  • Remove and replace favorite items you wish to keep, like curtains or fixtures.  If a buyer doesn’t see it, they won’t want it. 
  • Make your home sparkle inside and out.  Clean windows, polish chrome, vacuum daily, wax floors, replace worn rugs, etc.

 The work is done, your home is now ready to shine and impress all those potential buyers.  Happy Selling!

February 6, 2014

Moving Day Etiquette, Mind Your Manners

blog feb 5Moving is a hassle, no matter how much you pack, plan, and prepare for the big day.  You will most likely hit a few bumps along the way!  It is highly recommended that you use a checklist to help you survive this arduous task.

Aside from being organized for the actual move, you also need to take into consideration those around you who will also be affected that day.  Like your mother always said, “mind your manners”.  Here are some etiquette guidelines:

Time of Day – The most recommended moving time slot is between 9am and 4pm on a weekday if possible.  During this time most neighbors will be away at work, therefore reducing any inconvenience to them.  Also remember to keep noise level low; do not allow movers to blare music from the moving van, etc.

Last Impression – Make sure the last moments spent in your old neighborhood are good ones.  Be careful not to block driveways and streets with vehicles or furniture.  Keep an eye on the moving crew; some will take short cuts they shouldn’t, through yards, flower beds, etc.  Be considerate of others!

First Impression – The same consideration described above should also be given to your new neighbors!  If you see that the moving truck will be blocking a neighbor’s access, knock on the door, introduce yourself, and explain the situation to them.  Apologize in advance for any inconvenience!  Be readily available if something needs to be moved.

Help – Don’t just sit around and watch or give orders.  Roll up your sleeves and help out, even if you have paid movers.  You can always start unpacking boxes in your new home, be busy!

Refreshments – Offer some basic refreshments to your trusty “crew”, whether it be a group of hired pros or your family and friends.  Provide some snacks, as well as some refreshing bottles of water and sodas; consider offering coffee or hot chocolate if you are moving during colder weather.

Clean up – Once your old home is vacant, take time to clean up any trash, vacuum, dust, and leave it in presentable condition.  Also make a trip around the exterior, cleaning up any debris left behind from the move.  The same holds true for your new home keep an eye out for trash or debris that may be left outside.  Clean it up immediately so your neighbors don’t have to.  Also try to avoid leaving a large trash pile by the curb for pick up. Instead, make a trip to the dump to dispose of these items.

Pets – If possible, take them to the home of a friend or family member, vet, or pet daycare.  If not possible, keep them comfortable in a room away from the noise and commotion.  Pets can become agitated and noisy during a move.  The risk of them getting out and getting lost is also higher during a move.

Thank you – Don’t forget to tip and say “thank you”.  For paid movers it is generally 5% of the total bill.  If using family and friends, show your gratitude by buying a few pizzas for dinner and saying thanks.  People like to feel appreciated.

How you handle yourself on moving day goes a long way in determining what type of relationship you will have with your new neighbors.  Make sure you get started on the right foot!

January 22, 2014

Is Your Home Priced to Sell?

ImageWhen selling your home, the right price and an attractive appearance are arguably the two most basic essentials.  Buyers have a lot of choices and since no two homes are alike it is crucial to make a distinction between your home and the others on the market.

Studies have shown that the first 2 weeks on the market are the most important.  Your home is exposed to the most active buyers, during this time, and if you are over-priced, you will quickly lose their attention.  If that happens, you could be forced to endure a slow stream of random buyers who enter the market after that point.

There are several things you should consider:

Request CMAs – Determining the value of your home is the best place to start.  A CMA (comparative market analysis) will show you the prices of recently SOLD homes in your area, homes on the market now, and homes that did not sell.  You should consider the price of the sold homes, not just the current LIST price of area homes.  You should entertain CMAs and marketing strategies from at least 3 Realtors.  Realtors seldom want to list a home that is over-priced for the simple fact that the chance of selling your home would be much lower.

Think like a Buyer – The features you consider important in your home may not be the same features that buyers will consider valuable.  Discuss current home trends with your Realtor.  Your home’s price should be comparable to other similar homes; not be reflective of what you think its worth.

Sweeten the Deal – Some buyers have needs that go beyond the bottom line price.  The ability to close quickly, seller-financing, or assistance with closing costs can be a strong attraction to buyers.  The more flexible you can be in meeting these other financial needs, the more successful you will be in pricing and selling your home quickly.

Do your own Research – It is important to educate yourself and visit open houses in your area.  Make an assessment of how these homes compare to yours in terms of location, size, amenities, and condition.  If all sale prices were the same, would you buy your home or someone else’s?

React Quickly – Immediately after your home hits the market there should be a flurry of interest and showing activity.  If not, this may indicate that your home is over-priced.  If this limited interest continues for a few weeks, you should react.  It’s still not too late to reduce the price, but do it quickly in order to sustain some interest!

Consider the Market – Things to think about: Are homes selling quickly?  Are the interest rates attractive?  Is the economy good?  How is the local job market?

Keep it Clean – You only get one chance to make a first impression.  Clean it up and fix it up.  Make all necessary small repairs, such as fixing minor leaks, patching drywall cracks, or holes in the walls.  Clean up clutter and remove personal items.  Make sure your home is immaculate every time a buyer steps inside.

You have one chance to grab buyers’ attention.  Make sure your home’s price stands out from all the others for the right reason!!

December 19, 2013

Wrapping Up Your Home for the Holidays

home-christmas-decorationsIn the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” Clark Griswold may have gone a little overboard with his Christmas lights, but if he was selling his house, he may have had the right idea.

“Great decorations really set the tone for the holidays, a time when you can showcase your home in a different way to highlight areas that normally may not stand out,” said Amy Cornwell, President/ Lead Designer for Creative Impressions, which specializes in seasonal decorating.

By creating a festive atmosphere, a home seller allows perspective buyers to envision what their holidays will be like in the property—complete with a beautiful tree, stockings hung from the fireplace mantels and the smell of Christmas cookies in the air.

Home Buyers associate a sense of ‘home’ through the traditions and memories of holiday décor,” Cornwell said. “It’s a great way to attract buyers.”

Nighttime is when many perspective buyers are driving around looking at houses, and nothing will slow them down more than a great Christmas light display. “A well-designed display adds festive elegance to a home, and highlights the already-present features of the property,” said Brandon Stephens, vice president of Marketing at The Decor Group, Inc., Lubbock, Texas, specializing in interior and exterior holiday decorating.

In fact, consider holding an open house at night, when you can serve hot chocolate and better show off the Christmas lights, holiday decorations and all that the house has to offer.

Here are some simple suggestions to ensure your home captures the holiday spirit without interfering in the real estate process:

  • Keep decorations to a minimum so you don’t block views, make rooms feel smaller and disrupt the natural flow of the home. Consider a smaller tree and store gifts in another room.
  • Incorporate fresh evergreen or rosemary into your decorating for a classic look and to promote “the Christmas tree smell.”
  • Make sure light strings and extension cords are tucked away for everyone’s safety.
  • Eschew religious or cultural decorations to not alienate prospective buyers who don’t share your beliefs.
  • Leave a plate of holiday cookies and warm cider or cocoa for prospective home buyers.

 

The holidays are emotional times for most people, including home shoppers. Holiday decorations, presented tastefully and sensibly, can help you wrap a bow on your home for just the right buyer.

Happy Holidays!

October 28, 2013

Appliances – What is the Life Expectancy?

Not ready to face the expense of replacing your stove, dishwasher, or even your vacuum??  Read on to discover some preventative measures you can take to keep many of your household appliances from reaching an early demise.  Also, discover when it might be to consider finding a replacement…

appliances

Appliance

How to care for it

When to replace it

Stand Mixer Never overload the mixer, causing it to work harder and put extra strain on the motor.  When cleaning, make sure ALL parts are cleaned including the attachment socket! If the mixer won’t turn on at all, you probably have a dead motor.
Microwave Always use proper microwave-safe plates and bowls.  Keep the interior clean and the turntable rotating smoothly. Takes too long to heat food or it won’t turn on.  Beyond replacing a fuse, the cost to repair could exceed the cost to replace.
Drip Coffeemaker Rinse pot and grind basket after each use.  Once monthly, run 1 part vinegar/2 parts water solution through it to clean, followed by 2 brew cycles of plain water to rinse. If your coffee isn’t really hot after brewing.  The heating element has probably died.
Vacuum Cleaner After every few uses, clean the filters, the opening to bag or canister, hoses, etc.  Keep all air flow and parts moving properly. If the motor dies.  The cost to repair typically costs as much as a replacement.
Hair Dryer Clean lint and dust from the rear filter regularly. Replace if blowing cold air or has a burning smell!
Range Wipe up spills and messes right away, keeping burners clean and preventing fires.  The same applies to spills in the oven which can smoke or ignite! Time to replace when the buttons or knobs no longer work the burners, gas burners won’t light, or the oven doesn’t heat up.
Dishwasher Check the filter located in the bottom of the machine for clogs and debris.  Use a cleaner made for dishwashers regularly. If the machine is cracked, rusted, leaking from the bottom, and if the motor or pump stop working.
Washing Machine Keep machine level, never use more detergent than instructed, and always remove objects from pockets to avoid damage to the machine. If the washer sounds like a freight train during the spin cycle!  This indicates a bad support bearing and a very pricey repair!
Clothes Dryer Clean lint screen after each cycle.  Hire a professional to clean vent duct and interior of dryer once a year. Time to replace if you need to repair more than one part at a time, like a motor and timer.
Refrigerator Once a year, use a vacuum to clean the coils located in the bottom or rear of the fridge.  Also test the doors seals periodically to keep cold air from escaping. Replace if it no longer keeps food cold or frozen.  Almost every other part is repairable or replaceable except for the cooling system.

With a little extra time and TLC you may be able to squeeze a few more days, months or years out of these frequently-used home appliances!

Homeowner Tips | Tips for Buyers | Tips for Sellers | Home Buyer Resources | Home Seller Resources

October 18, 2013

Quick Tips for Selling Quickly

Sell-your-house-fast-nutleyPatience is a virtue for just about any circumstance including selling your home. Yet sometimes you must sell quickly when a job opportunity arises or you face an abrupt lifestyle change. Assuming your home is in good condition and free of liens, here are several tips to help expedite a sale.

1. Price your house correctly: Working with your agent, choose a price that’s somewhat lower than what you’re seeing in the market, but not too low that it will send up red flags. Let your agent establish a price he or she feels will make your house the buzz of the neighborhood. The amount may not be what you had envisioned—remember, the market has changed substantially over the last five years—yet when priced slightly below comparable sales you should attract serious buyers.
Many Prudential Homesale agents use the Prudential Value Range Marketing SM as an additional pricing resource. Instead of setting a specific price, a value range is selected enabling sellers to entertain offers in a defined range.

2. Be flexible, compromise: know your basement price and don’t be offended by offers within those parameters. Consider negotiating housewares and fixtures that may appeal to prospective buyers, such as those expensive new drapes you just installed, the dining-room chandelier or that slick, washer-drier combo. Conduct a complete inventory of household features to determine what you can and can’t live without.

3. Remove the clutter from your home: This must be done regardless of time frame. Throw away anything you won’t be taking with you and pack in storage items that you won’t miss during the sale process. Consider renting a storage pod that can be picked up and eventually moved to your new home.

4. Offer incentives: One popular incentive for a fast closing is to share or pay for your buyer’s closing costs. You may also offer higher commissions for a fast sale, which may lead to even more showings.

5. Rent to buy: If there’s interest in your home but no one is willing to step up to meet your timeline, offer prospective buyers the chance to rent your property with the right to buy it in six months or a year. Both parties win, as buyers can experience the home and neighborhood firsthand while you transition with cash flow to cover expenses.
Indeed, home-selling requires time and patience yet there are several things you can do to help expedite the process, if necessary. With flexibility and creativity, you can increase your chances of a quick sale.

October 2, 2013

Real Estate: Buy or Sell First?

buy-or-sellWhen it comes to home buying, the ideal situation would be to find a new home, just as you receive an offer on your existing home. You would then be able to close concurrently and move into your new home a few days prior to closing on your previous home. This does happen more often than not, but anyone looking to buy a new home needs to consider all the possible scenarios.

Should you buy or sell first? There are many schools of thought on this subject. Ultimately, it depends on you and your situation. For instance, can you afford to pay two mortgages in the event your previous home does not sell by the time you move? Would you consider a bridge loan (a short-term, high interest loan that let you borrow against the value of your old home to covers the bills until you secure the new, larger loan)? Are you willing to move twice to find the home of your dreams if you sell first and can’t find the dream home fast enough?

This is where the advice of a real estate sales professional is invaluable. Real estate sales professionals know the current market conditions. They are trained and experienced in working with home buyers and sellers to determine an ideal time to buy and sell.

It is generally less stressful to sell your home first, because you won’t have to worry about owning two homes at one time. The market will dictate how long it will take your home to sell, as will your location and the time of year. As a rule of thumb, it is a good idea to put your home of the market as far in advance as possible when purchasing a new one. But, since interest rates are low and confidence is returning to the market, there’s a good change your home will sell faster if priced properly. (Again, your real estate professional’s advice is critically important here.) In that case, you may want to purchase a new home first.

What if your present home sells before you find a new one, putting pressure on you to find the right house for you more quickly? You may then decide to make an interim move or request to rent back your home for a specified amount of time as you continue to look for your new home. Those may be worthwhile options if you have your heart set on a specific location or type of home or if you are purchasing a home that is under construction.

If you buy a home before selling your present home, you may end up with two mortgages. Under those circumstances, you may be able to apply for a bridge loan to assist you in making two mortgage payments until you sell your first home. Your real estate sales professional can assist you in finding a lender.

So should you buy or sell first? This is a challenging question regardless of real estate cycles, yet your own circumstances and a knowledgeable real estate professional will help you make the right decision.

 

AskHomesale.com Provides tips for Homeowners, Home buyers and Home Sellers

September 17, 2013

Renting Your Home – Can you handle it?

 
forrentAlmost anyone can be a landlord and the extra income can be great…but owning even one rental property can be a huge headache! Do you have the time and skills to handle it properly?

A landlord is responsible for providing a safe, smoothly functioning home for their tenants. That means making sure plumbing, wiring, and appliances are working, outdoor areas and stairways are safe, and having the ability to quickly respond to all problems. It also entails advertising the rental, screening potential tenants, and evicting them if necessary…all while staying within the strict guidelines of the law!

Before you even begin to tackle these tenant issues, you should determine whether or not your property is a good, potential money-making candidate.

Things to consider:

  • How much will it cost to keep it going…including mortgage payments, utilities, maintenance, repairs, etc.? Is it in good repair, in a safe part of town?
  • Estimate your rent price. Adding up the costs involved is not enough. Check around your area for competitive rates on other similar rentals.
  • Compare the rent to your costs. Create two Profit and Loss statements, one best-case and one worst-case scenario. Will it make a profit? Are there other reasons you want/need to hold onto the property?

Once you have determined your property is a good rental, you need to decide if you can handle those tenant issues we mentioned earlier; maintenance, tenant screening, and the law. Yikes! It might be time to consider calling in the cavalry…or in this case, a property management company.

What can the right property management company do for you?? The right company will act on your behalf in all matters concerning the upkeep and management of your rental. Some of their most common duties:

  • Advertising
  • Repairs and maintenance problems
  • Collecting rent
  • Performing credit checks and background checks on prospective tenants
  • Keeping current with local tax codes, as well as building and neighborhood requirements

The major benefit is the amount of time saved and hassle that is avoided by you, the owner. Typically the property management company will charge a fee based on a percent of the rent collected and amount of work involved to maintain the property.

Tenants will benefit by having a central contact for reporting issues, asking questions, and response times can be much faster!

How to pick the right one? Ask about the following items when you are interviewing…

  • Communication – Is there fast and easy communication? 24 hours/7 days week??
  • Evictions – Do they handle them? Is there an extra fee?
  • Additional fees – Discuss any and all of them up front!
  • Agreement Terms – What if you decide to end the relationship? Is there a penalty?
  • Advertising – Where do they advertise? Newspaper, online? Will they put up a rental sign?
  • Rent Checks and Deposits – Will they mail them to you or direct deposit?
  • Landscaping / Yard Work – Do they handle these services? Cost?
  • Section 8 Tenants – Do they handle them? Are they familiar with the rules and procedures? This requires a lot of extra time and paperwork each month!

Rental properties can be a real challenge for investors. Find the plan that works best for you…reduces your stress, AND maximizes your profits!

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