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Saturday, March 13, 2010

For Sale by Owner

As an alternative to working with an experienced Real Estate Agent, you might consider selling your home yourself. If you choose this option, be prepared for a lot of work. It can and has been done, of course, but if you don't have the time and energy to commit to it (or need to sell in a hurry), this option might not be for you.

The following is a checklist to help walk you through the process:

Know your property. If you aren't already, become familiar with such facts about your property as property taxes, zoning, lot size, square footage, etc. Look at the terms of your existing loan.

Research the current market & property laws in your area. How much are properties similar to yours selling for? What are the terms of the sales? What property disclosure laws do you need to take into consideration?

Set the price. Once you know the specifics about your home and have checked out what similar properties in your area are selling for, set a realistic price.

Determine financing alternatives. Contact lenders in your area to determine what the options are for your prospective buyer. You want to be informed before they ask, or your lack of knowledge may turn them off from dealing with you.

Perform a "walk-through" of your property. Look at it from the perspective of both the prospective buyer and the inspector. Take notes on all items that need to be repaired or replaced. Things to consider include:

From the street, is the house appealing? This is called "curb appeal".

Does it need a new coat of paint (either because the old is obviously "old", or because of an uncommon choice in color that might turn off prospective buyers)?

If a house, is the lawn & landscaping attractive and well-kept?

If it's a condo, you can't do much about the building, but is the front door (and balcony, if there is one) appealing?

Are the windows and doors attractive and in good repair?

Is the roof (and the gutters) in good repair?

Are the interior paints & finishes in good condition (recently updated), or do they need to be freshened up? This is one area with the best ratio of least expensive to most desired. For a minimal investment, you could possibly make or break a sale by having your home look well-kept and inviting.

Are the appliances in good working order & of recent vintage?

Are the plumbing and electrical systems in good repair?

Are the carpets or other floor coverings clean & in good repair. Like the paint, attractive & well-kept floor coverings are worth paying for so that your home makes a good impression.

Are the sealants (sink, shower, tub, windows) in good condition?

Are all light fixtures working properly, and is there good lighting in each room so that prospective buyers won't think you're hiding something in the dark?

**Make all repairs noted in your inspection.

Know your neighborhood. Most prospective buyers will want to know about the local schools, shopping, parks, transportation, etc. Be prepared so you can knowledgeably answer their questions.

Establish a marketing budget. How much are you willing to spend to sell your house?

Investigate the real estate sections of local newspapers and other publications. Which will get you the most "bang for your buck?" Are there "throwaway" (i.e., free) real estate publications in your area that accept ads from individual sellers? In the local paper(s), is it better (in your area) to run a text-only classified, or do they have "photo boxes" where you can run both text and a photo of your property? Don't forget the Internet. See if you can get your home listed on a website that features local properties. Some newspapers automatically (or for an extra fee) offer Internet advertising tied in to their traditional print ads. Learn the rates and deadlines for each publication, then decide which one (or more) is best for you and your market.

Establish a marketing plan. Now that you know what advertising will cost, create a plan on how to best (within your budget) reach prospective buyers, both local & out of town. Since many people do relocate from a distance, be sure to include Internet advertising in your plan. If your town is large enough, the "local" newspaper might have a national edition that you want to place your ad in, at least periodically.

Write the text and/or design your ad. At the least, you will need a well-written few sentences that will run as a classified ad or a photo box ad. In addition, you might decide to run a larger, custom-designed ad in the paper and/or to use as flyers to hand out at open houses (or anywhere else you might meet prospective buyers). Don't skimp on this. A professional, well-crafted ad can attract buyers while a poorly designed and executed one can turn buyers off to your property.

Clear your schedule. Make arrangements so that you have free time to schedule appointments at the prospective buyer's convenience, as well as for any "open houses" that you hold.

Purchase and install a "for sale" sign. . This should be well-designed, attractive and weatherproof. The sign must be placed where it can clearly be seen from the street.

Prepare a fact sheet. Design a single sheet description of your property listing the features and benefits that will draw in prospective buyers. This should be attractive and professional looking. Have enough copies on hand to give out at open house showings.

Purchase "open house" signs. Make sure that they include a place to write the address of your property and the date/time of the open house. In addition to one for the front yard, you'll want to place several in conspicuous locations around the neighborhood, such as main streets leading to your house. For these, directional arrows can point prospective buyers to your house even if they don't know the area. Make sure that you take these signs down as soon as the open house is over. You don't want people showing up on your doorstep at all hours of the day and night.

Set up a schedule of open houses. While most are held on the weekend, this is not convenient for all buyers. Make sure that you coordinate your print advertising to include information about your next open house.

Keep a list of prospective buyers. As people come through during open houses, or as they call from reading your ads or seeing the sign out front, keep a list with their names & phone numbers. Concentrate your attention on those who seem serious about your property, as opposed to those who are just checking out the neighborhood or whiling away a Sunday afternoon. Make sure that you make follow up telephone calls to all those who seem seriously interested in your property.

Once you have an offer, it's time to negotiate. Leave your emotions behind when you enter negotiations. You never want to get angry or give away the fact that you're overly eager.

Get your forms in order. A number of forms are required for the legal sale of your property. In addition to the contract of purchase and any counteroffers, there are approximately 20 other forms that the seller is required to provide to the buyer. It is necessary to review the contract carefully to determine when these forms/documents are due and what the buyer's rights are once they receive the document. The form and content of many of these documents are prescribed by California or federal law and must be adhered to in their entirety. The proper forms may be obtained from your local Board of Realtors.

Negotiate final terms of the sale. With the buyer(s), come to an agreement (in writing) regarding the following:


Inspection contingencies

Financing terms

Date of closing

Date of possession

It would be prudent for you to have an attorney review any and all contracts before the deal is finalized.

Final walk-through. When both the buyers and a witness can be present, schedule a final walk-through before you complete settlement in order to determine that the property being conveyed meets the expectations of all parties involved. Resolve any disputes before the transfer of title.

Find and make arrangements for the home you will be moving to. Unless you have already built or bought a new residence, you'll need to be the "buyer" for a new property while simultaneously being the "seller" for your current one. If possible, schedule both transactions to close at the same time, or else close your purchase shortly before closing your sale. You need to be moved out before the new owners take possession.

"For Sale By Owner" involves a lot of work, and is not for all sellers. Decide before starting the process whether you feel comfortable handling all aspects ofthe transaction.

I will do all the above for you and more as your Seller's Agent.  You can go about, doing what you do best, and I will do what I do Best, SELL YOUR HOME FOR YOU!

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Clock's Ticking on Homebuyer Tax Credits

When it comes to securing federal housing tax credits, there's still time for many first-time and repeat homebuyers to spring into action.

The countdown is on for qualified first-time and repeat homebuyers to take advantage of tax credits.

The window of opportunity is closing for those buying a principal residence under the Worker, Homeownership and business Assistance Act of 2009

First-Time homebuyers - those who haven't owned a principal reidence during the three-year period before the purchase - who sign a purchase-and-sale agreement by April 30 are eligible for up to $8,000 in tax credits.

You have to close on that agreement by June 30.

And new this year, some repeat homebuyers who meet the same April and June deadlines might be eligible for up to $6,500 in tax credits.  These buyers must have owned and lived in their previous home for five consecutive years in the last eight.

This is great for some people, who might be wishing to buy up

Both tax credits carry income caps

Time is running out!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Five tips for selling a home, FAST

If we assume the standard must-haves for a home sale are already in place -- the home is de-cluttered, clean, and in good condition -- then all you'll need are these five tips to help you achieve a quick sale.

1. Get your loan to underwriting before you even make an offer.
With the buyers approved as a "sure thing," the main worry left is: Will the house past muster on price?

2. Focus on home "sold" prices. Don't spend too much time analyzing list prices -- after all, sellers can drop them dramatically overnight. Instead, study the "sold" prices so that you have a better grasp on the real market rate for the home before you get to the negotiation table. This should reduce your chances of multiple appraiser reviews before the lender approves the deal-or worse, nix it.

Many websites, such as Realtor sites and Zillow, let you view sold prices.   Listingbook churns data out in near-real time. You can see that a house went under-contract yesterday, for example, as well as sold prices by the percentage of list price, or price per square foot.

3. Frequent open houses. Comparison shop by actually getting out of your home and into ones for sale. Yes, it's convenient to view listings on your computer or Blackberry, but once you've narrowed down the choices, view as many of them as you can in person, even if you are the seller. The best way to gauge the competition is to see it for yourself. Remember, marketing materials are just that. A listing agent is not likely to highlight the crack in the ceiling or the bent door frame.

4. Personalize the home's marketing for the Internet-savvy buyer. Create a blog about your home and leave a note on the dining room table directing people to the site.  Include helpful articles and features of your home that will make it easier for prospective buyers to compare it to others.  In these days where almost everyone and their dog has a blog, any seller could easily produce such a site. I predict that this will be the future of home marketing -- but be careful if you choose the do-it-yourself route, as you could also unwittingly offend a buyer or highlight a flaw rather than a selling point about the home.  Talk to your Real Estate Agent before you start a blog of your home, we can give you the information you need.

5. Educate the appraiser about the home and neighborhood. Thanks to the new appraisals codes, which mandate the use of an appraisal management company, there is a good chance the appraiser will not be as familiar with the subject area as you are. The problem today is you can't assume an appraiser knows the neighborhood or has access to all of the neighborhood transaction details in the MLS database.
Owners should detail all improvements made to their home and how it may compare with the neighborhood norm.
Any known recent neighborhood sales that were foreclosures or were in poor conditions also should be provided, along with valid comps. Then compare that to the differences between traditional home values and distressed sale values and how the owner's home historically compares.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Home, condo sales agreements increase in January

The number of single-family homes placed under agreement last month increased by 8 percent over the same time last year, while condominiums were up 10 percent, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors.

January marks the seventh straight month that the number of homes put under agreement had increased over the year before, a sign that the region’s real estate market is improving, MAR said.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pending Home Sales up for 7th Straight Month

Pending Home Sales Up For 7th Straight Month

The number of single-family homes put under agreement statewide in January was up 8 percent over the same time last year, while condominiums were up 10 percent, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR).

January marks the seventh straight month the number of both single-family homes and condominiums put under agreement increased over the year before, according to MAR.

"The Massachusetts real estate market continues to move in a positive direction and is slowly making its way back to more normal levels," 2010 MAR President Kevin Sears, broker/co-owner of Sears Real Estate in Springfield, said in a statement. "As indicated by the seventh straight month of pending sales increases, there are buyers who not only feel it is a good time to buy, but who are also going the next step and actually making offers."

The number of single-family homes put under agreement in January was up 8 percent compared to the same time last year (2,576 homes in 2009 to 2,791 homes in 2010). On a month-to-month basis, single-family homes put under agreement were up 1.7 percent from 2,743 homes in December.

The number of condos put under agreement in January was up 10 percent compared to January 2009 (1,059 units in 2009 to 1,194 units in 2010). On a month-to-month basis, condos put under agreement were down 4.4 percent from 1,249 units in December.

Published from "Banker & Tradesman"

Mortgage Rates Today Tuesday 2/09/2010


Conventional - 5%, zero points, 45 day lock, 30 year fixed

4.875%, 1 point, 45 day lock, 30 year fixed

FHA - 4.875%, zero points, 45 day lock, 30 year fixed

4.75%, 1 point, 45 day lock, 30 year fixed

These are unbelievable rates. This will not last!!!

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