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10 Home Sale Deal wreckers to Avoid

For many, a new year may mean a home purchase or sale. If you’re planning on being on either side of the closing table in 2015, you will need to avoid these 10 deal-wreckers, as provided by
1. Not understanding the length of the process.
Buyers and sellers often err in thinking that the home buying or selling process is shorter than it is. There are a thousand things that can hold things up – sellers can be slow on formally accepting an offer, buyers have trouble selling their old house, financing is held up, repairs need to be made, etc. Make sure to allow two to three extra months to complete the deal.
2. Tipping your hand.
As with any negotiation, not having a good poker face can ruin the deal for you. Try to contain your enthusiasm for a house, as sellers and their agents can try to take advantage of it. Also, don’t let your love for a property cloud your good judgment.
3. Assuming the appraisal and the actual value are one in the same.
Yes, appraisals are meant to be objective estimates of value. Different appraisals can come up with different results. Sellers should have their agent perform a comparative market analysis to get a better idea of their home’s true worth before putting it on the market, while buyers should request a similar service from their agent.
4. Skipping loan pre-approval.
This is a crucial step for buyers, and one that may seriously affect your chances of getting a good home quickly. Obtaining preapproval for a mortgage will give you a better idea of how much you can safely borrow, and will allow you time to correct any problems. It also marks you as a serious buyer, and sellers with a potentially hot property should never settle for anything less than proof of pre-approval.
5. Trying to time the burst of the bubble.
Trying to time a purchase or sale with when the real estate bubble is going to burst is nearly impossible. And, in most parts of the country, the bubble is still intact. In reality, real estate bubbles don’t “pop” anyway: they deflate and then inflate again with market fluctuations. Buyers and sellers should realize that real estate is always a long-term investment.
6. Living outside of reality.
When buying a home, if you only follow your heart, you may be in for some nasty surprises later on. Your dream home may be your dream home, but make sure to consider the big picture, including the commute, area schools, taxes, homeowner association and other quality-of-life-affecting aspects of home ownership. That fantastic house may not be worth the other trouble it creates in your life.
7. Hiring the wrong real estate agent.
This one can really affect the buying or selling process. Always interview several agents, and make sure to obtain references. Don’t only look at large companies or top-producing agents. Also, seriously think before hiring a friend or family member who is an agent. Remember also that an agent who suggests the highest listing price or has the lowest commission is not necessarily the best choice. If you remember the mnemonic SEED – smart, empathetic, experienced and dedicated – you will usually be happy with your agent.
8. Not knowing the contract.
Since the contract is a legally binding document, not knowing what you’re signing can be a very big mistake. Review it carefully before signing, and make sure it contains everything it should, including who is paying for what and any verbal commitments. Make sure your agent takes an active part in the construction and negotiation of the contract. This is one step that can cause you large amounts of time and heartache if done wrong.
9. Timing the transaction incorrectly.
As you may imagine, two mortgages can be extremely difficult to manage. If you are selling your current home and buying another home, keep in mind that the sale of your current home is the most important transaction. If you have a choice, secure the sale of your old home before you sign a contract for the new home.
10. Not doing a criminal search.
Agents in many areas of the U.S. are not obligated to tell buyers if there is a sex offender or other criminal residing in the neighborhood. Ask your agent to provide you with this information, if possible, and also do your
own research. Check with the local sheriff’s office to find out how to access sex offender and other criminal databases.

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Conducting Your Own Home Inspection

Although there is no substitute for a professional home inspector, you can do some preliminary work on any houses you are interested in buying, which may save you time and money in the long run.

The house is perfect. It’s in a great neighborhood, close to work, close to school. It has the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms. It doesn’t have ugly tile or shag carpeting. Before you start salivating too much, take pause and remember these tips for doing a preliminary inspection, as presented in a recent USA Weekend article.

Inspecting The Outside

Stand in the front yard. How does the exterior look? Does the yard and exterior of the house look well-maintained? A messy or shabby exterior does not necessarily indicate serious problems, but it can be a sign that the owners may not be highly dedicated to maintaining their home.

Now look at the house. Does it stand straight and tall? Does the roof make a strong horizontal line? Walk around the house and look closely at the places where the house meets the foundation. Look for any signs of rot or cracking. Any of these things can indicate the need for a lot of structural work. Also look at the driveway and sidewalks. Are they seriously cracked? This may indicate how strongly the house is situated, as well as the volatility of the soil.

Finally, take a look at whether the landscaping, driveway, sidewalks and gutters are pitched away from the house. If not, proper drainage of moisture may not occur and may cause rot or erosion.

Inspecting The InteriorWhen you enter the house, pay attention to the details. Make sure the front door handle is secure and the front door closes with a solid thud. Test all kitchen cabinets, opening and closing each cabinet and drawer. They should all move smoothly and close squarely.

Also make sure to turn on the water in every sink to assess the water pressure. Also take a good look at faucets and other fixtures; they should be in excellent condition. In the bathrooms, touch all tiles in the shower and tub areas to make sure there is no movement. If any tiles move, there may be rot behind them, which could be very costly. Take a look at the grout and caulking and make sure it isn’t cracked or gaping.

When going up or down stairs, make sure that railings and banisters are secure; they shouldn’t wiggle when you grab hold. Open and close all doors to make sure that they move smoothly and close securely. Finally, if the house has a basement, it should not smell mildew or musty.

Taking a critical eye to your dream home might be tough, but you may be grateful you did. You should always get a professional home inspection, but if your preliminary inspection turns up problem after problem, you may not want to go any further!

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Get Your Asking Price

Before You Begin…

…ask yourself, “Will this project enhance my life?” If the answer is yes, then consider these three factors to determine whether the project will enhance your financial situation as well.


Finish any unfinished rooms or convert any convertible rooms, such as the basement or a recreational room. Not only does this give an increased amount of usable space, but it can also be used as a sale point, since these are expenses that the buyer won’t have to incur. Offer a free media room. With deals, you can probably have one installed for around $5,000. Media rooms are something many house shoppers see as a neat luxury, and could be the difference between someone going for your house or someone else’s.


You can make the mortgage on your house more desirable by buying down the interest-rate. This is something fairly easy to offer someone, and it certainly makes it harder for someone to take an offer with someone else where they have to pay a higher interest rate. Rather than offering a cash-specific incentive, you can offer something like a vacation. Again, this makes your offer stand out from other offers. Offer seller financing. This is actually not that difficult to do if you can make the deal work, and can actually end up earning you some money. Talk to your realtor about the possibilities.


Offer to pay their HOA fees for a year. This is a practical buyer benefit. If someone is carefully looking at their budget, then not having to include these fees in their monthly expenses can be a big deal. Offer to pay off some of their debt. If this is done as part of the loan program, then it could lead to the buyer qualifying for a larger loan, or a better interest rate. If just a side agreement, then again, it could mean lower monthly payments, which can be extremely important to the buyer. Finally, you can always offer to pay the closing costs. These tend to be something that is a big hit to buyers’ pocketbooks, and is something people don’t adequately budget for when shopping for a new house.Unfortunately, other than the few aesthetically appealing things people can do to spruce up their house, real incentives tend not to be cheap, but they can mean the difference from having to drop your asking price by quite a few thousand, or actually getting what you want! The key to choosing which incentive to go for is to think about what incentive works best for you, and then think about what kind of audience you are playing to.

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Simple Inexpensive Improvements that Add Big Value

Residential Renovations that Reap Rewards: A Guide to Inexpensive Home Improvements

Whether you are selling or dwelling, home improvement can add a pretty penny to the bottom line or can help you fall back in love with your abode. There are plenty of inexpensive tricks that can provide some incentive to perk up your investment, without a complete overhaul. We have compiled a list of the top 10 boosters to get the beautification process rolling.

1. Modernize the Mess Hall

As the hub of family interaction, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Brighten the cabinets with a fresh coat of paint or some updated hardware. Add a new faucet or light fixtures to rejuvenate the space or change the window coverings for a more modern feel. Buyers are always interested in the kitchen, so try a quick facelift that will turn up the heat on your bottom line.

2. Spa Sparkle

Shine up the bathroom to offer a clean and calming spa-like refuge from the daily hustle. A quick fixture change, a new toilet seat and fresh accessories can be all you need to brighten up the bathroom. The bathroom is second in line to the kitchen to potential buyers, so use a discerning eye. A fresh coat of grout in the shower or maybe even a new pre-fabricated tub can do wonders. Open up the space with a pedestal sink and lay new vinyl sheeting or individual tiles right over your existing floor to inexpensively revive underfoot.

3. Ardent Appliances

Hopefully, the avocado green electric stove is long gone, but if your appliances come in a variety of colors, it may look just as unsavory. Experts agree that a mismatched kitchen may leave a bad taste with buyers. If new appliances aren’t in the budget, look to re-facing. Some appliance doors can just be flipped inside out for the opposite color, so all you need is a screwdriver to update. You can also request new fronts and tops from the manufacturer to create the streamlined look.

4. Room Conversion

If you have an extra playroom or den, consider yourself in line for a windfall. When selling your home, increasing the number of bedrooms can significantly increase your profits. The only difference between a den and bedroom is a closet; so invest in the storehouse to up the ante.

5. Machine Clean

Spruce up neutral carpets with a professional cleaning, brightening the room and clearing any unwanted odors or stains. If your carpet is blemished, try placing area rugs or large furniture over the worn spots. It may seem like you are hiding the problem, but most experts agree that replacing the carpet for a house on the market isn’t worth the investment.

6. Light Up Your Life

Lighting can dramatically affect your mood, so brighten things up! Breezy window coverings allow you to control how much natural lighting you’d like to let in, a strategically placed table lamp or a dramatic chandelier can add character, while making your rooms appear larger and more open.

7. Straighten Out Your Storage

Older homes present the ever-present storage problem. Create space by utilizing closet organizers or wire and laminate shelving in the pantry, closet and garage. Purging some old junk in a yard sale or through donations can remove some clutter, while making the space look bigger.

8. Nuts and Bolts

Potential buyers sometimes take a look under the hood to assess the amount of wear and tear a house has endured. Hiring a professional to check, fix and update electrical wiring and plumbing can confirm to the purchaser that your house is healthy on the inside and out.

9. Opportunity Knocks

Still opening the front door with a flimsy standard-issue knob? Choose a hearty piece of hardware that emphasizes sturdiness, while a bold color that says, “look at me!” Refinish the front door with a bright hue or faux finish a steel door to look like wood for a refreshing first impression.

10. Groundwork

The front yard is the first thing that potential buyers see, so don’t miss out on your chance to pique their interest. Focus on a clean cut, straighten up the lawn edges, freshen the landscaping and add some color spots or striking shrubs for impact.

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10 Tips to Make Your Home More Salable

Here are several ways you can get a leg up on the competition.

1. Dump the junk.

Less clutter in your home makes it look bigger, roomier and cleaner. Go through your home and make piles of items, such as “garbage,” “charity” and “maybe.” Throw away anything useless, give away anything that may still have use and seriously consider the maybes, such as how long it’s been since you’ve used the item and whether it’s broke or damaged.

2. Price it right.

A home that is priced well above the local market or above similar homes will not sell quickly, or possibly at all. Work with your agent to price your home correctly the first time.

3. Find the best.

Having a good real estate agent or broker can make all the difference in the world when the market becomes more competitive. An agent who knows how to market and advertise your property, and who has good experience and connections, will be an invaluable asset. Interview real estate agents and ask for references.

4. Require a marketing plan.

When you decide upon an agent, make sure that he or she develops a customized marketing plan that fits you and your property. The standard approach may not work for every property.

5. Change the deal.

If your home isn’t selling within a decent time period, consider changing the deal instead of lowering the price. For example, instead of lowering your asking price from $500,000 to $480,000, keep the $500,000 but offer a 2 percent “seller contribution” to help pay for closing costs. This saves you money (you pay $10,000 in closing costs rather than a $20,000 price reduction) and is very appealing to many buyers.

6. Get a HELOC.

Having a home equity line of credit (HELOC) in place can help you, even if you’re not planning to sell your home for several years. This way, you’ll have funds available if you want to buy another home while your current home is on the market. Be aware, however, that if your current home doesn’t sell in a reasonable time period, you may be saddled with multiple mortgage payments.

7. Fix it.

Buyers will ask for a home inspection. You’ll save time by getting a preliminary home inspection yourself and making repairs before putting the house on the market. However, if a repair is requested from a potential buyer, it may be cheaper than finding a new buyer.

8. Ask for feedback.

Find out what potential buyers thought after a showing or open house. Take negative comments as constructive criticism, which you can use to make the next showing or open house better.

9. Beware of the take back.

Watch out for buyers who want you to take back financing. When loans are available everywhere for little or nothing down, don’t go into the banking business when there is less risk to you with an outright sale.

10. Ignore inconvenience.

If a potential buyer wants to see the house at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, so be it. This is a time where you have to be flexible. It is better to show flexibility and have the house seen than to turn away potential buyers.