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Serving South Florida

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For over 30 years

Posts Tagged ‘home buying’

Tips for Buying a Home in a Seller’s Market

Seller's market
Seller's market

Buying a home in a Seller’s market always has its challenges. But when you’re trying to do it in a seller’s market, the difficulty can reach a new level. When the market favors the seller, time is of the essence. Multiple offers happen with more regularity in a seller’s market than a buyer’s market, because a seller’s market is defined in part by low inventory and a surplus of home buyers. A beautiful home that is priced well can attract more than one offer.

In a seller’s market, you should always assume you’re competing against several other offers. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t buy a new home in a seller’s market, when there are more buyers than homes, and sellers can afford to hold out for higher offers. You just need to make sure you do it right and arm yourself with the right information:

Here are a few things to consider as you prepare your offer when buying in a seller’s market:

Choose an Experienced REALTOR: In sports and in business, it’s important to have the best players on your team when facing fierce competition. In a seller’s market, that means choosing a real estate agent who not only has proven expertise in the neighborhoods you’re interested in but is also highly responsive and efficient. Make sure to use an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent that owes you a fiduciary and works in your best interest.

Demonstrate Credit Worthiness: You should get Pre-Approved for a home mortgage with a local lender before touring homes if you need to get financing. By obtaining a pre-approval for a mortgage before you start home shopping, you’ll know how much buying power you have. Your offer may have far more credibility than competing ones where buyers didn’t take this step.

Lower Your Expectations: When the inventory of homes is limited, you probably can’t afford to wait for the perfect house to hit the market. Prepare yourself to adjust your expectations. It makes the most sense to make exceptions to your criteria for things that can be changed. For example, you can renovate or add a bathroom someday, but you can’t change the home’s location or lot size.

Make your Best Offer first, be Ready to Bid: Make your best offer but be prepared for it not to be your final offer. High home prices can lead to home appraisals that don’t climb as fast, leaving lenders to not fund the loan. Home buyers should have money set aside the pay the difference between a contracted purchase price and the appraisal.

By Prepared to Make Concessions: Your relative lack of power in a seller’s market doesn’t just affect the question of price. It carries over to every other aspect of the deal, too. Shorten the inspection period, be flexible on closing dates; you should be prepared to accommodate the seller’s needs even if it is an inconvenience to you.

Don’t be that buyer who wants to wait until the weekend to view a home in a seller’s market. By the weekend, that home could be sold. Try to be one of the first showings. Sellers usually don’t enjoy having buyers come through their homes at all hours of the day, so most would like to see their home sold quickly. If you write a good, fast, and clean offer, your chances of acceptance are far better than those of a buyer who is unprepared or is unrealistic on price.

Finally, don’t get carried away with the pressure to buy, even in a seller’s market. Remember that a home decision has a long-term impact on your financial future. It may be better to let a house go than make a poor decision that’s expensive to change.

Should You Refinance During The COVID-19 Situation?

Covid-19 and Refi

Covid-19 and Refi

Rates are lower than ever; when a refinancing is done right, it can save you thousands of dollars. But not every potential refi makes the cut. Sometimes the expenses just don’t justify the potential savings.

It is time to refinance your home mortgage if the terms lower your mortgage interest rate, pay off their mortgage years earlier, or saves thousands in interest over the life of the loan. You can save serious money by refinancing your mortgage. But due to refinancing fees and expenses, not every refi makes financial sense.

COVID-19 is creating changes with lenders and how they are doing business. This is resulting in refinancing taking longer and getting stricter than it has been in the past. Although the mortgage process is considered essential as a financial transaction, depending on where you live, there may be changes related to COVID-19  involving your appraisal, rate lock and closing process.

Rates are quite low and because your home is your biggest financial investment, the equity can be very useful as a resource in times of trouble. But if you’re thinking of financing your home loan there are several steps you should take to make sure that it’s the right move for you.

How Long Do You Plan On Being In Your Home?

Being able to answer this question will help you figure out the term length you want on any refinanced mortgage; but there’s another reason asking this question …

If you plan on moving within the next 5 – 10 years, it could be worth your while to look at an adjustable rate mortgage ( ARM).  You get a lower rate initially with an ARM because the rate can adjust after the teaser period. But if you move before the end of the fixed-rate time frame, you don’t have to worry about whether the rate is going up and down in the end. Additionally, your payment will tend to be lower because most adjustable rate mortgages are based on 30-year terms.

Age Of Current Loan

The age of your current loan sometimes plays a role in whether you can refinance. Even if you can refinance, it does not always make sense.  When you refinance you have to pay closing costs.  If you are not planning on staying in the house past the breakeven point when the savings and the additional expenses paid starts to net to overall reduced costs for home ownership, the it is not the time to refinance.  You may want to accelerate buying a new home to realize the saving from lower interest rates.

Plans For Monthly Savings

If you determine that you’re going to save money by refinancing based on the rate and term you can get, make sure that you have a plan for what you’re going to do with the monthly savings in order to put yourself in a better financial position. No one knows exactly when COVID-19 is going to end and how long it will take for the economy to recover. If you can save money now, you can work on establishing the savings need should the vaccine be delayed or we continue with a longer recession

You could use your savings to build up an emergency fund. Maybe you choose to allow yourself to save money in the future by paying off high-interest debt now. You can also use this to catch up on saving for retirement if you stopped contributing temporarily while dealing with the situation caused by the virus.

It’s a very volatile market right now, so we advise all of our clients to rely on the advice of their Home Loan Expert and Financial Advisors at all times.

The Mortgage Refi Process

Approving a mortgage is a complicated process, one that requires a lender to validate a borrower’s income, check the value of the home being used as collateral and scrutinize the title history of the property.

Just as refinancing applications picked up, the coronavirus pandemic dramatically changed the way everyone in the mortgage industry works. Loan officers no longer go to the office. Appraisers stopped walking through houses. And no one gathers around the title company’s closing table. The process is a little slower because everybody’s working from home right now. Things that would take an hour to do are taking a day sometimes.

It is more difficult to verify a borrower’s employment. A task once dispatched with a quick call to the borrower’s human resources department now means leaving a voicemail and waiting a day or two for a response.

Meanwhile, homeowners looking to refinance may have to get in line behind buyers who need a mortgage so they can close on a house which are a priority with lenders.

The mortgage industry already had been digitizing, and lenders quickly adapted to many changes. One stumbling block, though, is that most lenders still require some documents to be signed in the presence of a legal witness and notarized.  Florida allows for mobile notaries and they are busier than ever.

Sometimes, documents are being signed remotely and online and mobile notaries are not allowed yet.  You need to allow time for in person notarization and overnight mailing of documents.  Digital closings may be the way of the future, but we are not there yet.

What You Can Do to Secure a Smooth Refinance

Here are a few ways you can make the refi process as smooth as possible:

— Get your paperwork in order. Don’t let something simple like a missing document delay your refinance. Collect PDFs of financial documents, including pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns and retirement accounts.

— Make sure the lender will honor your rate lock. In normal times, lenders extend rate locks for 30 to 60 days, meaning you won’t have to pay more if rates go up before your loan closes. These aren’t normal times, though, and many refinances aren’t closing within 30 to 60 days, so make sure your lender is willing to extend your rate lock if your deal is delayed.

— Keep your credit score tight. Now isn’t the time to miss a payment, take on new debt or otherwise do anything to lower your credit score. Lenders are being especially strict about borrowers’ credit histories.

 

How To Set Up A Home Office

Home Office

Home Office

I’ve spent more than three decades with a home office. When you work at home, even part time, you discover that a makeshift desk area on a kitchen counter or the dining table isn’t the best setup. Having a dedicated home office, even if it’s compact, makes a big difference in comfort and productivity. Having a dedicated space also serves as an important signal to those who live with you that you’re ‘at work’. Create boundaries within your home that your family members understand.
Stake Out Your Spot 
You need to pick a spot in your home with the fewest distractions, and where all the essentials (like electrical outlets and your modem) are close by. Modern WiFi is a wonderful thing but understand it can still be inconsistent in even the most tech-friendly neighborhoods. I anticipate that our connectivity speed will be further degraded by all the streaming and game-playing that is happening now, in addition to everyone trying to work from home as well……be patient and see if you can upgrade to a higher speed with your home Internet provider.
Also, try to find a spot near a window with some natural light so you don’t feel completely tucked away from the world. Think about storage and try to keep work-only items grouped together. Think outside the file box to find an organizational system that works for you; see what you can use around your home. It’s more important to give everything that has been sitting out in piles a permanent home than it is to buy new containers. Here are a few ideas for organizing your home office:
·     A grid of clipboards on the wall can make for a handy place to keep papers organized.
·     Wall-mounted cups keep frequently used supplies neat and within reach.
·     Cups and bowls borrowed from the kitchen make great desktop and drawer organizers.
·     Labeled, open-top baskets on shelves are great for people who like piles
·     Traditional files are still useful for important documents.
Set Ground Rules with the People in Your Space
Set ground rules with other people in your home or who share your space for when you work. I say “morning,” but not everyone who works from home follows a nine-to-five schedule. Yours might be a “getting started” routine at another time of day. I want my elderly parents to be able to call me anytime, but have reminded them that “after 6” is the best time to get my undivided attention. I ask other family members and friends to respect my work hours and stick with the less obtrusive email or text for non-emergencies.
Act as if you are “going to work”. Whatever your routine was when you were going to the office, try and maintain it now that you are working from home. Exercise, shower, get dressed (not pajamas), and then “go to work”. I try and avoid eating at my desk and taking a coffee break, lunch break, etc.  Use these times to reconnect with other household members and address their needs and concerns.
Think About Your Back, Feet and Shoulders 
Pick a back-friendly, ergonomic chair if at all possible and always make time for exercise (don’t forget to stretch!). I prefer to stand or walk around while I am on the phone but now that my husband is working from home as well, we find that this is distracting to one another. Go outside and get some fresh air while on that call.
Although you can easily work on a laptop from anywhere, an entire day, week, or even a month spent looking down at a screen is not going to do your neck muscles any favors. If you have the space and the budget, think about upgrading to a decent-sized computer monitor to plug your laptop into. I use two monitors so that I can multitask between emails, software applications required for my work, calendars, and more.
Most desks, chairs and monitors and still designed for the average sized man. I have made adjustments by ensuring that my monitors are at eye level. You can use boxes, books, magazines or anything you have around the house to easily accomplish this…no need to be purchasing special desks, risers, etc. If your chair is not adjustable, use pillows, etc. to ensure that you are sitting at the right height to keep your back straight. I have purchased an ergonomic cushion that provides comfort and support for my spine as well as adds two includes to my seat height.
Make Friends with Your Postal Worker or Delivery Person 
Thank goodness for USPS, UPS and FedEx!!! These people get bonuses at Christmas for their daily deliveries to my door. I have always been an online shopper for convenience and time-saving and now that I am getting deliveries for food, office supplies and more the visits to my front door have increased ( still can’t find toilet paper however).
Take the time to let your local postal worker or delivery person in your neighborhood know you’re now working from home if your work involves a lot of envelopes and packages. I have made a point in the past to have a few daily words with the drivers that frequent my home. It helps when my local delivery person knows I’m working at home and sending and receiving envelopes and packages on a regular basis.  In today’s world something as simple as leaving a note on your door explaining your situation will work and be appreciated.  My UPS driver told me a couple of days ago that I can leave the package outside my front door with a note to pick it up or if I see him in the neighborhood to just hand him the box…..no need to go out to the UPS store!!!
Pump the Brakes with Social Media
Social media can be absolute poison if you don’t limit yourself. It’s definitely good to stay on top of the news during these uneasy times, but if you allow yourself to be sucked into endless posts, you might look up at the clock and discover you lost three or four hours of your day.
I enjoy social media and participate for both personal and work reasons, but I have learned to use it wisely.  I check it before I head to my office with my morning coffee and then again at the end of the day. That doesn’t mean you can’t laugh at someone’s funny online story, or post about your favorite sports team or TV show. Just try to limit the damage during work hours.
Freshen up.
Give yourself a big pat on the back, because the hardest work is now behind you! Today is all about making your home workspace fresh and clean, so it will be a healthier, more pleasant place to spend time in.
·     Vacuum your home office from top to bottom. Use an attachment to clean window treatments, high corners and fabric lamp shades.
·     Wipe down shelves and surfaces with a damp microfiber cloth.
·     Use monitor wipes to clean your screens.
·     Use a keyboard cleaner to blow dust from between the keys or gently clean them with cotton swabs.
·     Bring in some fresh plants to help clean the air.
Straighten up your home office before you are done working each day. Bring the coffee cups back to the kitchen and completely clear your desktop.
We are all anxious and a routine will help keep our life as “normal” as possible in these difficult times. Don’t be hard on yourself if you are not as productive as when in the office. Working from home is a mindset and a discipline and cannot replace a normal work environment. It takes time, discipline and commitment to find the right balance for your personal and family needs.

What Is Not Covered Under Standard Homeowners Insurance?

Homeowners Insurance Coverage
Until it happens, most homeowners think of disasters as something that won’t happen to them. Disasters can be as minor as a tree branch falling and breaking a few windows, or as concentrated as a pinhole roof leak slowly dripping water into a residence—causing mold or other ripple effects. Sadly, too many people who experience disaster on a large or small scale may find the trauma continues when it’s time to file an insurance claim.
You need to be knowledgeable about what your Homeowner’s Insurance does and does not cover. These common held assumptions about insurance are items that are NOT covered and may require additional insurance or riders.
Wear and Tear Is Covered-Myth
Fact: Coverage typically includes damage from fire, weather and theft, not damage due to general wear and tear or neglect. As a policyholder it’s up to you to maintain your home, including making routine repairs and protecting your home from pests. If you neglect to take care of your property ( a leaky roof) you may not be covered.
You’re Insured in Case of Flood Damage, Earthquakes, Tornadoes and Hurricanes-Myth
Fact: Although some weather-related damage is generally covered, such as from hail, other storm related damage from wind or water may not be.
Floods require specific flood insurance from the Federal Government. Earthquakes might be covered, but sometimes they require additional insurance. Hurricane and tornado damage requires a separate windstorm policy. Sinkholes, mudslides and other earth movement (except in CA) requires a separate endorsement.
All Personal Belongings Are Fully Covered-Myth
Fact: Homeowners insurance typically covers furniture, clothing and other personal items, but more valuable items like jewelry and artwork may require an add-on policy. Homeowners should routinely inventory belongings to determine if policy limits meet their coverage needs.
You Have Protection Against Any Injuries That Happen at Home
-Myth
Fact: Your policy’s liability coverage protects you if a guest is hurt in your home, but if a family member is injured at home, it’s normally covered by health insurance.
Home Businesses Are Part of the Package
-Myth
Fact: A home business requires business insurance to cover property damage and liability; homeowners should consult with their insurance carrier or agent to be sure they’re fully covered from disasters large or small
You Can Rebuild For The Amount Of The Insurance Coverage-Myth
Fact: Unless you insured for “replacement value” you may be under insured to rebuild your home. “Ordinance of Law” exclusions may not cover to the changes to building codes and the additional costs of bringing the property up to code if damaged.
Overflows of back-ups from your sump pump, sewer or drain are covered-Myth
Fact: A standard policy does not include coverage for these issues and require a separate endorsement.
It may not seem like particularly interesting reading material, but it’s better to take the time to thoroughly understand what your insurance policy covers than to be stuck in a situation where you’re not sure when you really need it.

What Home Buyers Can Learn From a Seller’s Disclosure Statement

Sellers Property Disclosure

Any responsible buyer wants to know everything about the home they’re buying before signing on the dotted line. After all, this is probably the biggest purchase you will ever make, so due diligence is a must. The majority of the real estate agents in Florida are Transactional Agents and do not owe the Buyer a fiduciary duty, An Exclusive Buyer Agent does and will work for the buyer to determine all the information known about the property and advise you on inspections, permit searches, etc. Reviewing the Seller’s Disclosure is the first step in this process.

A Seller’s Disclosure in the State of Florida Is a standard form that is essentially a checklist in which a seller indicates the condition of the different features of a property, any known problems affecting the property, and any pending legal issues. This could include things like knowledge of lead-based paint, water damage, pest damage, past repairs, past insurance claims, any history of property line disputes, etc.

Typically, a seller’s disclosure form is filled out by the seller along with their listing paperwork. When buyer’s agents go into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to look up potential properties for their clients, that disclosure statement should be available or can be requested from the listing agent.

I am increasingly running into situations wheretransactional brokerage firms are taking the position that since a Seller’s Disclosure is NOT required by law that are not asking the sellers of their listings to fill one out. The first line of the SPDR provides “Notice to Licensee and Seller”; the less they know, the easier it is to make a “deal”. They are relying on the fact that other transactional agents working with buyers will feel the same and not ask for a Sellers Disclosure.

Although sellers aren’t required to complete this specific SPDR form, a residential seller does have to comply with the rule established in Johnson v. Davis. In that case, the Florida Supreme Court held that “where the seller of a home knows of facts materially affecting the value of the property which are not readily observable and are not known to the buyer, the seller is under a duty to disclose them to the buyer.” These material facts are sometimes referred to as latent defects. In addition, in Rayner vs. Wise Realty Co. of Tallahassee, the First District Court of Appeal provided that this same disclosure requirement applies to residential properties that are being sold as is.

In cases were the listing agent does not provide a Sellers Disclosure I request that the Seller answer all my questions in writing and provide a comprehensive list of questions that encompasses everything asked on the SPDR and more.

A seller’s disclosure form is NOT a substitute for a home inspection. Remember, sellers are required to disclosure only problems they know about. Most homeowners don’t go in their attic very often, and have probably never been up on their roof, and they aren’t required to do so before filling out the disclosure. While this document can provide a lot of valuable information, the home inspection is another layer of protection for a buyer.

The importance of this disclosure statement is just one of the many reasons why it’s critical for buyers and sellers to use an Exclusive Buyer Agent ( EBA) during any real estate transaction. EBAs are up-to-date on the latest laws and regulations and are very experienced with the complex documents and paperwork. They can help walk buyers through the disclosure so they understand all aspects of the home they’re buying and recommend the appropriate home inspections ( WDO, Radon, Leak Testing, Mold, and more) to ensure that any hidden defects are found in advance of the purchase.

Equifax Breach: What To Do Now?

As data breaches go, this is one of the most extensive.

What steps should you take now in response to the massive Equifax data breach?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sensitive information of almost half of all Americans has been compromised, all because the company safeguarding that information reportedly failed to upgrade and update software despite being warned to do so.

To make it worse, company execs sold millions in stock after the breach, but before they told the public what had happened. The company continued to sell consumers like you pricey identity protection packages, even though they knew they were guilty of exposing that same consumer data to hackers. And it seems they suffered another hack earlier in the year but failed to notify us of the potential damage.

No wonder consumers feel helpless as they try to protect themselves from identity fraud.

Here’s what you should you be doing now in response to the Equifax breach.

Read up

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has put together some very helpful and comprehensive background information on the Equifax breach, chock full of consumer tips. You can read that guidance here.

Do a test

Visit the Equifax website www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to see if your personal data has been exposed.

Here’s the how-to’s from the FTC: “Click on the “Potential Impact” tab and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is sensitive information, so make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection any time you enter it. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach.”

Monitor your credit

If you’re affected, sign up for the year of free credit monitoring that Equifax is offering. Even if you are not affected, you should monitor your credit to make sure no one else is taking out loans in your name. (Many big-name credit card companies offer free credit monitoring as a cardholder perk. Use it).

Once a year, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major bureaus (Experian®, Equifax®, TransUnion®) at annualcreditreport.com.

Here’s some additional advice from credit card lender Capital One: “It’s important to review all three reports—some lenders don’t report to every bureau, so they may have different information. Read through each report carefully and make sure you recognize the accounts. If something strange turns up, start by contacting the lender to investigate. For more info, take a look at this article on checking your credit report.”

Practice safe financial habits

Keep a close eye on your finances by reconciling bank accounts and credit card statements monthly, shred financial papers, change passwords often, use different passwords for different financial accounts, be careful what you click on, and practice safe computer habits.

It’s not a bad idea to enroll in purchase notification programs with your bank or credit card providers. They’ll alert you by text or email if there are large or unusual purchases in your accounts. Some even let you lock or unlock your card via mobile app. (I’ve got some funny stories to share about the purchase alerts I’ve gotten for my college age kids. Definitely TMI).

Fraud alerts and freezes

There’s been a lot of talk about fraud alerts and freezes.  Putting afraud alert on your credit reports lets potential lenders know what’s going on, explains Capital One, and alerts them to take extra steps to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name.

According to Capital One, “you only need to notify one of the three credit reporting companies to put a fraud alert on your credit report and they’re required to tell the other two companies. Make sure you keep copies of all letters and renew the alert every 90 days until the issue is resolved. You can also check out the Federal Trade Commission’s website for more information.”

A credit freeze provides more protection but is time-consuming. A freeze restricts access to your credit report. Without reviewing that info, few lenders will  open a new account for you. “This makes it harder for potential thieves to apply for credit or open accounts in your name,” says Capital One. However, freezing your accounts may involve service charges, takes time on the phone or online, and can get in your way the day you want to buy a new car or make some other consumer purchase using credit.  To learn more about credit freezes, click here.

7 Legal Tasks to Do When You Move

The Internet is full of checklists and resources to use if you are planning to move. There are packing timelines. There are lists of packing supplies. There are even directions on how to pack boxes.

But moving is much more than purging and organizing your personal affects. There are legal tasks you need to take care of too.

Here are 5 legal tasks to complete when you move:

  1. Read your leases: Review your current lease to make sure you will not get into trouble for leaving. You are responsible for paying rent for the entire lease term, even if you have vacated the premises. If you need to move before the lease term is expired, read the lease to see if you can sublet or assign to a new tenant. Check your new lease for these terms before you sign it. And make sure you complete these tasks to protect your rights as a tenant.
  2. Protect yourself with insurance: Thoroughly read any contract with a moving company before you sign it for delivery times and insurance coverage. Moving companies are required to provide some moving insurance. But you may wish to purchase more. You should also consider renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance.
  1. Notify your creditors: Update your address with all of your creditors to ensure you do not miss a payment. And be sure to complete a change of address with the United States Postal Service and request that your mail be forwarded to your new address.
  2. Keep receipts if you are relocating for a job: You may be able to write off your expenses if you are required to relocate more than 50 miles due to a job change. Review the Internal Revenue Service’s requirements to qualify for this tax break.
  3. Update your estate plan: State laws governing wills and estate plans differ. If you move to a different state, update your estate plan.
  4. Register your vehicles:If you’ve moved states, provinces or countries, register your car and get a new driver’s license, tags and/or plates for your vehicles. Check your local DMV for more information.
  5. Register to VoteAgain, if you’ve moved cities, it’s important to make sure you’re on the voter’s registration for your local area. You should also make sure you’ve updated all important files and documents with your new address.

 

Spring Cleaning Guide from Optima Properties

Spring checklist

Now that the clocks have SPRUNG AHEAD it is a good time to think about Spring Home Maintenance.  As current homeowners you need to keep your home systems and property in good condition so that the small maintenance issues do not become major and expensive repair items.

 

Do not read this list and become overwhelmed, it is an extensive list meant to cover basic home maintenance. Not all of these maintenance items will apply to all homes.  This is a comprehensive guideline designed for homes in the South as well as Northern climates.

Spring cleaning is a way to demonstrate pride in ownership (or rentership).  A home and its contents are investments; money spent on something you really love or really need (ideally both).  When you take the time to clean thoroughly and properly, you can maintain and prolong the life of the item or finish for years.  Further, it means you live in a cleaner and healthier home; less dust, dust mites, allergens, odors, and dirt.

Always start from the top and work your way down.  Think about it like this: dust falls down (like rain or snow) so if you start at the top, you’ll never have to re-clean a surface (which is a time waster).  It doesn’t make sense to clean the floors first and then dust the tabletops; you’ll just have to clean the floors again.  Use gravity to your benefit and always work from top to bottom.  It also helps you not miss anything!

General Spring Cleaning Tasks:

These are a list of some of the things that need to be done around the house, and spring is a great time to do them.  So often we don’t remember to do them, so let this be your wake-up call!

 

 

 

 

Tests and replacements:

Test smoke alarm

Test carbon monoxide alarm

Check flashlight batteries

Check fire extinguishers

Change air filters

Check all window screens for tears and repair or replace as required

 

 

 

Overall Spring Cleaning Chores:

Dust crown molding and baseboards and clean scuff marks

Dust ceiling corners

Dust/wash light fixtures and lamps

Dust ceiling fans

Wipe down doors and walls (Swiffer works great for removing all the dust)

Touch up paint

Vacuum or wash/dry clean window curtains and bedding

Wash or dust window blinds

Wash windows and screens inside and out

Dust books and bookcases

Polish wood furniture

Wipe down and vacuum furniture (clean the base and under cushions)

Condition leather furniture

Remove stains from upholstered furniture

Vacuum and wash lampshades

Deep clean hardwood, tile, linoleum, and carpet flooring

Shampoo carpet (DIY or schedule a professional)

Remove area rugs to shake out, then vacuum, then clean under them

Remove fingerprints and dirt from light switches and door handles

Clean air vents

Dust around and BEHIND mirrors, picture frames, and wall hangings

Schedule chimney sweep

Schedule termite or pest control maintenance

Spring Clean Outside:

Sweep, power wash, and/or stain deck

Power spray siding

Touch up paint trim, wood, doors, and shutters

Oil hurricane shutters

Power wash garage door and eaves of house

Clean outside door frames

Wipe away cobwebs

Shake out entry mat

Clean grill

Clean and repair gutters

Replace broken bricks, wood, or stone

Clean outdoor light fixtures

Clean outside patio furniture

Trim trees, bushes and shrubbery

Check and repair sprinklers

Inspect roof shingles

Clean outdoor and indoor trash cans

Clean out garage and sweep

 

Tips for Investors New to Flipping

Flipping is when real estate investors buy real estate and then resells them at a profit months down the road. Can you make money doing this? Yes.

Can you make a lot of money doing this? Yes.

But you can also lose everything you own if you make a bad decision….Absolutely!

A renovation can be an overwhelming experience with high stakes. Investors must create an overall vision for the project, gauge its financial feasibility, build a reliable team that includes a Realtor, contractors, lender, accountant, insurance agent, designer or architect, and attorney or Title Company, be highly capitalized, and hope that their assessment of the market is accurate and that the property sells quickly. The longer your cash is tied up and you are paying expenses the less profitable your investment.

Thanks to tighter lending standards you will need plenty of cash, and nerves of steel, to get into flipping. So what do you need to get started?

  • First, you need an excellent credit score. Lenders have tightened their requirements for home loans, especially if you want a loan for a high-risk house flip.
  • You need CASH! Use the cash for a down payment, so you don’t have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) on your second mortgage. You could also take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC), if you qualify. If you have enough in savings, and you manage to find a bargain-priced property, you can buy the property for cash, and take out a small loan or line of credit to pay for the renovations, Realtor fees, and closing costs.
  • A great way to get started flipping houses – especially if you have little money – is to form a joint venture with a partner who has money. If you don’t have the money, the joint venture partner will fund the deal while you do all the work. Although you may not get rich on your first deal, you’ll gain something even more valuable – experience.

What Makes a Good Real Estate Investment?

Finding an undervalued property in this market can be a challenge. With foreclosure rates down and bank owned property inventory drying up, there is a shortage of inventory compared to just a year ago.  Utilizing real estate professionals will greatly assist you in finding suitable properties.

 

  • Location. Expert flippers can’t stress this enough. Find a home in a desirable neighborhood, or in a city where people want to live. Start by researching local cities and neighborhoods. Look for areas with rising real estate sales, employment growth, and good schools.
  • Sound Condition. You don’t want to tear the house down, and start rebuilding it from scratch. Look for structurally sound homes. You may not have the opportunity to have a home inspected, especially if you buy the home at a real estate auction. You need to learn what to look for, or bring someone knowledgeable about building, electric, and plumbing with you to look at the home, to determine if the home is structurally sound.
  • The Right Fixes. A home with old carpet and wallpaper may be easy, and cheap, to update. Other home repairs to tackle might include, replacing outdated kitchen and bathrooms, and replacing windows and doors. A house that has mold, needs a roof replacement, or needs rewiring, requires some serious time and cash to update and sell. Make sure you know which updates and repairs you can afford to fix, which repairs you can’t afford, and which home improvements will increase the selling price of the house. When you estimate the cost of any job, experts advise that you add 20% to the final estimate. Why? It’s always going to cost more than you think it will.
  • Value. Make sure the price of the home is below its value in the local market. Otherwise, you will not make money. The worst house in a great neighborhood has nowhere to go but up in value, due to the value of the other homes in the area. Know which home improvements increase the home’s value. Focus on these projects first. Home improvements that increase the value of a home might include upgrading kitchen appliances, repainting the home’s exteriors, installing additional closet storage space, upgrading the deck, replacing windows and doors.
  • Before you make an offer, make sure you know the uppermost price you can pay for a house, and still make a profit. This includes your estimate for repairs, interest, and taxes. Remember to pad your estimate by 20%. If the homeowner or bank won’t sell to you for this price, walk away. It’s better to keep looking, than to risk going broke from a bad investment.

 

Now Get Working

  • Make sure you know which home improvement projects you can complete quickly and successfully, and which projects will need contractors.
  • You need permits before you start remodeling. Not having the right permits, or not correctly displaying permits, can cause serious delays, and fines, from city inspectors. Make sure to apply for permits as soon as the sale is final. It’s also helpful to make a timeline for projects, with associated deadlines, and the budget listed for each project. This helps you, and your contractors, get renovations done quickly, and within budget.

 

Relist and Sell

  • Many flippers end up listing their homes with a Realtor. Realtors eat and sleep real estate, have access to buyers, and can list your house in the MLS database. They also know the current market fluctuations, and have the skills and network to get you the best price quickly.

 

Final Word

  • Without a doubt, flipping homes offer great risks, and great rewards. A house flipper must be prepared for the possibility that the home won’t sell right away. House flippers also have to make tough decisions, like whether to accept an offer that is less than they wanted, but still for a profit. If you can handle all of the ups and downs, and you have the time and enthusiasm for fixing up and selling homes, then house flipping might be right for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a Home Buyer Should Never Say!

Always know who the real estate agent you are working with represents. If they are the Listing Agent they represent the Seller, a Transactional Agent works for their personal benefit and even though an agent will put you in the car and drive you around and are not the listing agent, in most states they are Sub-agents for the Seller and work for the seller. It is most advisable for buyers to only work with Exclusive Buyer Agents (EBAs). If you find that you are at an open house or have called an agent and they are not an EBA…you’re your tongue. What buyers may innocently say in the presence of a Seller, Listing Agent, Transactional Agent, or Seller’s Sub-agent can be used against them during a negotiation.

While it may be tempting for buyers to say what’s on their mind during their home search, you should consider yourself in a poker game and keep your cards close to your chest and your comments to yourself. There are some things home buyers should never say on the fly.

Others may be listening. Listing agents, seller and neighbors  all have motives to keep tabs on the situation — or there could be even be a camera or recording device planted somewhere.  In the age of smart home security you can never be too sure.

Those off-the-cuff comments made while moving from room to room could be used against you.

Here are some obvious comments home buyers should never say when shopping for a home:

‘I love it; it’s perfect!’

That feedback goes straight to the seller.

When the less-than-full-price offer comes in and the buyer requests all sorts of concessions, how will the seller be inclined to respond?

 

‘That (decor, furniture, wall color) is awful!’

What were they thinking?

So maybe the sellers’ tastes are not what the buyer would pick, but that doesn’t make their choices wrong. If these comments get back to the sellers, their desire to be cooperative when offer time comes in my be less than enthusiastic.

 

‘This home is way overpriced’

Be careful with that statement.

While this is a common buyer thought, what happens if this house ends up being the best option? When the listing agent or seller sees the buyer’s name on an offer, they immediately tart off in a defensive position. If is is truly overpriced your Exclusive Buyer Agent should provide a comprehensive analysis during the negotiation to make this point.

‘I can afford to spend up to X’

While it’s certainly a good idea for prospective buyers to find out just how much they can afford, they should keep that information strictly between them and their Exclusive Buyer Agent. You would be surprised by the number of deals that end of at the top of your affordability range because you disclosed this to the agent that is driving you around. Insist that they develop a Comparative Market Analysis and pay no more than market value for any property regardless if you can afford to pay more. Most real estate agents have a duty to get the highest price offer for the Seller or want to get the highest price offer to get the most commission. The only type of agent that has a fiduciary responsibility to the Buyer is an Exclusive Buyer Agent, even an Accredited Buyer Agent will either be a transactional agent or sub-agent of the Seller if they are not the listing agent as well.

“Why is the Seller moving?”

This is a personal question that’s best not asked by a buyer, it will more often then not result in an evasive answer or a lie.

Let the buyer’s agent position that query with the listing agent in a diplomatic way to glean information about the situation at hand.

‘What are the neighbors like?’

Talk about putting someone on the spot. Listing agents likely have no idea — they don’t live in the neighborhood 24/7, and it would they cannot discuss race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. When cornered, is the seller likely to divulge?

“There’s a Mrs. Kravitz across the street and a curmudgeon next door? And by the way, the teenager that lives on the other side of the house? His band starts warming up in the garage about 11 p.m. on Thursday nights.”Hardly. These people are trying to sell their house. It’s all wonderful. Buyers have to assess the neighbors on their own. Visit the neighborhood and different times of the day and on the weekends to get a sense of the neighborhood.

‘Will the seller take X price?’

Negotiations are best left to agents with a written document from which to work. No Agent or Seller will be inclined to negotiate in good faith without a written offer and Proof of Funds or a pre-qualification letter that demonstrates your ability to buy the property.

Although it’s OK to be candid with your own agent and those you trust, only do so when you are not within earshot of anyone in the seller’s camp.  That includes those curbside chats as you are wrapping up the showing near your car.

Be engaged but conservative in the information you share and how you react to homes you see, even if you have a real interest. You can jump for joy when you are with your agent writing the perfect offer.