Tips for the First-Time Home Seller
There is a lot of attention paid to first-time homebuyers Most real estate agents and lenders have some kind of guide to help first-time homebuyers navigate their first home purchase, but what about the first-time seller? Selling your home for the first time can be just as confusing as a home purchase, so here are a few things to remember as you navigate your home sale.
Before that first showing, it’s important to prepare. This involves not only cleaning, decluttering, and staging the home, but also learning about your local real estate market and finding the best agent for your needs. Interview more than one agent and ask lots of questions. Learn about the services they offer: do they include professional photography, video, or virtual tours? Ask for a comprehensive market analysis (CMA) and ask each agent their suggestion for the listing price and their method for arriving at that number. Use this information to determine the best agent to assist you. Once you have an agent, stay involved. Discuss the plan for showings and open houses. Try and be flexible to allow for as many potential buyers as possible viewing your property. Review the listing online for accuracy and stay in touch with your agent for feedback from showings. Once you start getting offers, respond as quickly as possible. It’s not just about the price; watch for terms, such as length of escrow and contingencies, when evaluating these offers. Be prepared to move so that you can take advantage of a good offer, such as all-cash. The most important aspect of a successful home sale is the relationship you have with your agent. Be transparent about your needs, concerns, and goals; insist that your agent do the same, and working together you will navigate through your first home sale successfully.
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10 Home Inspection Issues Red Flags
Most homebuyers realize that they can’t expect a perfect home inspection report when buying a resale home. Cosmetic flaws and minor repairs are easily managed and shouldn’t be deal breakers. That said, there are some issues that are more serious and should give the buyer pause if not addressed adequately. 10 Home Inspection Red Flags
1. Leaky and Rundown Roofing – watch for signs of current or past water damage.
2. Poor Drainage – drainage issues can cause serious damage to the home foundation, siding, and basements.
3. Foundation Issues – signs of foundation problems can include cracks around doors and windows or uneven floors. Foundation problems can cost thousands of dollars to correct.
4. Plumbing Problems – major plumbing issues should be considered carefully and further explored.
5. Pest Infestations – termites and other wood-eating pests can cause extensive damage that can be hard to find and costly to repair.
6. Mold – that “musty” smell could be due to hidden mold and further investigation should be taken as mold can be dangerous to the health of the family. Depending on the type of mold, it can be very difficult to remove entirely.
7. Faulty Heating System – a malfunctioning furnace can be a fire hazard.
8. Electrical Wiring – faulty wiring can cost thousands of dollars to repair.
9. Structural Damage – sagging joists, rafters, and door jambs can be evidence of larger issues.
10. Deferred Maintenance – a home in poor condition could be hiding more serious issues due to chronic neglect.
Homebuyers should be alert to these issues and know the costs to repair before concluding the sale. Home sellers should address these issues before putting the home up for sale to ensure they get the best possible sales price.
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Tips to Make Your Home both Beautiful and Kid-Friendly
Have you ever been to a home where it’s clear that the kids have taken over the space? It’s obvious that the home has become more of a playground, filled with toys and bright-colored plastic everywhere. Homes like this often sacrifice style for durability or stain-resistance. Maybe this is your home? The good news is that it’s possible to create a home that incorporates the beauty of a stylish home with the practicality of living with children. Here are a few design tips to help.
• Be Realistic – You may love the look of crisp white sofas and delicate glass vases, but if you live with kids, opt for more durable choices. Natural fiber furniture in neutrals hide stains while looking stylish; choose a sofa with removable cushion covers you can pop in the wash as needed. Display beautiful wood or stone accent pieces instead of glass, to cut down on accidental breakage.
• Less is More – Uncrowded rooms allow for the excess energy of fastmoving children. Give them room to play. Less toys also means less mess when they’re all inevitably spread over the house!
• Double Duty Furniture – Look for stylish bins or hidden storage units such as ottomans where you can quickly dump excess toys when guests pop by.
• Create a Play Station – Carve out a special place for the kids to play, such as a basement family room or a cozy attic. Keep larger playsets and toys there and help the kids make it a special place just for them. This may keep some of the ‘kid clutter’ contained to one area of the home.
• House Rules – Develop some simple rules and then be disciplined about it. For example, a good house rule is that toys are gathered into storage units each evening before dinner. Cleaning things up a bit at a time makes it less overwhelming.
Most of all, strive for a livable home. It’s almost impossible to have a picture perfect home with kids, but by taking a few simple steps, you can merge a kid friendly environment with a beautiful adult home.
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Self-Employed? What You Need to Know about Financing a Home in 2021 Self-employed borrowers have always had to jump through a few hoops to finance or refinance their homes. Without a traditional paycheck, lenders look for other ways to document income. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many business owners and delayed tax return filings. As a result, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have enacted changes in the way the mortgage industry processes home loan applications (as of June 11, 2020).
Self-employed borrowers are typically verified by the most recent two years of income tax filings. As a result of the pandemic, those two years might not give a current or accurate picture of the borrower’s income. As the borrower is seeking to secure a loan before the next filing period, underwriters are now requiring a signed Profit and Loss Statement (P&L) from these borrowers.
Profit and Loss Statements
As part of the underwriting process, self-employed applicants must provide an audited or self generated P&L statement for the current 2020 period. The statement must not be older than 60 days and must include:
• Net Income
• Business Depository Account Statements (two most recent)
• Business Revenue In addition, the borrower must provide their most recent personal bank statements which should support the P&L statement.
Self-employed loan applicants have always faced challenges when seeking a home loan. Now more than ever, it’s important to understand the requirements and work with a mortgage professional to ensure the loan application is packaged correctly with all the needed documentation. Lenders are still approving home loans, but with these changes put in place to minimize risk as the mortgage industry works through the challenges of this pandemic.
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7 Carpet Cleaning Hacks You Need to Try
Carpet is making a comeback. While the last couple of decades have trended toward hardwood floors and travertine tiles, 2020 has seen a resurgence of wall-to-wall carpet in interior design. With bold designs and colors that have modernized an old standby, carpet has once again taken center stage. Whether you have wall-to-wall carpet or just a few rooms of it, keeping carpet clean and stain-free is always desirable. Of course, you can always call in a professional carpet cleaner, but it’s not that scary to tackle carpet dirt and stains on your own. You can save on professional cleaning services with these do-it-yourself carpet cleaning hacks.
1. Try a Lint Roller – Dirt, crumbs, pet hair, and spills like flour, rice, glitter, and other tiny particles can be pulled from the carpet with a good old lint roller.
2. Use a Squeegee – A damp squeegee will remove even stubborn pet hair from carpets.
3. Blot, Don’t Rub – Carefully and gently blot stains with your cleaning solution to keep them from spreading and soaking deeper into the fiber.
4. Deep Clean with DIY Cleaning Solutions – White vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, and more can be used to safely and cost-effectively clean your carpet. Consider these eco-friendly solutions the next time you clean.
5. Bring the Heat – Carefully heating a stain with a blow dryer will help loosen the stain and make removal easier.
6. Shaving Cream – This budget-friendly solution is an excellent cleaning solution for small spaces and leaves carpet fresh and clean.
7. DIY Deodorizer – Keep carpets smelling clean by mixing Borax, baking soda, and a few drops of essential oil; sprinkle and vacuum after a few minutes. Whatever your opinion about carpet, it’s here to stay. Keep yours clean and long-lasting by using these carpet cleaning hacks in your home.
How to Hire the Right Service Professional
The popularity of home improvement television shows has increased the number of home projects. Unfortunately, not everyone is capable of knocking down walls and re-tiling their kitchen on their own. If you’re one of these non-DIY-ers, you will need to find service professionals to help, but choosing the right person for the job is critical. Here are a few simple tips to help ensure you hire the best person for your project. • Check References and Reviews – One of the easiest ways to verify the experience and professionalism of a contractor is to read online reviews. If someone has been in the business for a few years or longer, you should expect to find plenty of reviews to read on Yelp, Angie’s List, and other sites. Asking for local references is also important. Call references and, if possible, go see completed projects in person. • Confirm Licenses and Permits – Verify the contractor is licensed by the appropriate agency and that the license is in good standing. It’s also important to have any required permits for the project by your local city or county. Non-permitted work can result in loss of value, fines, and even forced removal of the work. • Proof of Insurance – All contractors need insurance and most are bonded. Ask to see the proof of insurance before allowing anyone to work in your home. • Get it in Writing – Get a written estimate with the scope of work and question any confusing terms. This should include clear expectations, deadlines, and pricing. Make sure you understand everything before signing any type of contract. Hiring the right person for your home improvement or maintenance job can be time-consuming, but is well worth the effort. Do your homework upfront and you can avoid costly mistakes.
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Simple Ideas to Refresh Your Master Bedroom
We’re all spending more time at home these days. With the entire family stuck together, the home has been placed under a microscope. If your master bedroom is not the oasis you wish it were, here are a few simple ideas you can use to change the feel of the space without breaking the bank. • Lighten Up – Setting the mood starts with lighting. Try a modern-industrial styled fixture or vintage chandelier to freshen your look. Consider the purpose of the lighting: do you want to soften the room with dimming lights or brighten a reading corner? • Change Colors – Changing the color of the room can make a big difference in the feel of the space. Choose a soothing color and add fresh linens, floor rugs, or even paint or wallpaper to revitalize the room. • Luxurious Carpet – Having a beautiful floor does not necessarily need to mean an expensive change. Add a luxurious area rug to add elegance to your bedroom. • Create a Sitting Area – Most master bedrooms have unused space. Find a cozy corner and add a comfy chair to carve out a quiet area to relax or read. • Try Some Wallpaper – Wallpaper is a great way to add interest and personality to décor. Today, there is a wide variety of temporary wallpaper products that are easily removable when you tire of them. Try a bold geometric or subtle textured pattern on one or more walls to add a modern spin to your room. Bedrooms should be a place to relax—someplace to unwind and refresh after a long day. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to update your master bedroom this weekend with some simple, inexpensive changes. Try one or all of them and spruce up your bedroom.
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Strategies to Make Your Offer Stand Out and Get Accepted Summer is traditionally a busy time for buyers and sellers. This year has been no exception—and with lower interest rates, many homebuyers are finding the competitive environment challenging. With multiple buyers competing for properties, even terrific offers are often being outbid. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make your offer more attractive to the sellers and increase the chances of getting the property.
• Have Full Pre-Approval – A step beyond pre-qualification, a pre-approval involves submitting your full application to underwriting. Your lender will collect all your financial data and submit for review. This is stronger than a pre-qualification; a pre-approval requires the buyer to provide the proof of their ability to qualify for the loan.
• Increase the Earnest Money – Earnest money is the deposit held in escrow. While the contract will dictate how monies are disbursed in the event of a cancellation, increasing the amount offered can show the seller you’re serious.
• Add an Escalation Clause – In a bidding war, it can be difficult to know what to offer because you want to outbid the competition without going too high. An escalation clause is one way to automatically outbid the others. The clause typically offers an amount—$1,000 for example—higher than any verifiable offer up to a specific amount. This can ensure yours is the highest offer.
• Pay any Appraisal Shortage – When offering more than asking price, sellers become concerned about the appraisal coming in too low. If you are willing to pay over market value, include the amount of shortage you are willing to pay.
• Remove Inspection Contingency – This option can be tricky, but if you are planning a large remodel or are willing to tackle any defects found, then you can make your offer stronger by accepting the home as-is.
In this fast-moving, competitive real estate market, it’s important to make your offer stand out from the crowd. These strategies are great ways to demonstrate to the sellers that you’re serious about buying their home, increasing the chance of having your offer accepted.
Working From Home?
What Home Buyers Are Looking for Now With major employers now stating that their employees will be working from home for the foreseeable future, many homebuyers have adjusted their list of desirables in their next home. Some not only need to plan for a home office space, but also need to accommodate the homeschooling or distance learning needs of their children as well. This is impacting the way homes are marketed and the type of features that have become important to buyers at all price points. Of course, homebuyers with larger budgets have the luxury of seeking homes with extra bedrooms or offices and dens already included. But many buyers are not as fortunate and need to find the needed space in more creative ways. The easiest way to add working space is within the bedrooms. This offers the ability to close a door for privacy. Larger bedrooms (both in master and secondary bedrooms) have been a top priority for homebuyers. Another important feature is an open floorplan which features a Great Room design. For generations, kids have done their homework at the kitchen table, and a spacious kitchen/family room combo makes it easier for home learning without becoming cluttered. Another option for homebuyers is a separate formal dining room which could be converted to a workspace. With all the changes in working and learning environments for both adults and kids, the home is even more important than ever. As needs change, homebuyers seek different features from their new dwellings.
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