Enjoy a Profitable Home Selling Journey

The home selling journey is an exciting time, and for good reason. Ultimately, the home selling journey represents a period of endless possibilities. And for those who start planning ahead for the home selling journey today, they may be able to enjoy immense profits down the line.

What does it take to reap the benefits of a profitable home selling journey? Here are three tips to help you do just that.

1. Understand the Real Estate Market

The housing market may seem like a moving target at times. However, home sellers who analyze the real estate sector closely can identify patterns and trends and plan accordingly.

Home sellers can look at the prices of recently sold houses in their cities and towns to better understand the current state of the housing market. Then, these home sellers may be able to differentiate between a seller’s market and a buyer’s market.

Also, home sellers can assess the prices of available homes that appear similar to their own. This housing market data enables a home seller to understand how his or her residence stacks up against the competition.

2. Assess Your Home Both Inside and Out

It never hurts to upgrade your residence, especially if you want to optimize your house’s value. Fortunately, a home appraisal makes it simple to assess your house’s interior and exterior so you can determine a competitive price for your residence.

A home appraisal requires a property inspector to look at a house’s interior and exterior. Following the appraisal, a property inspector will provide a home seller with a report that details the condition of a house.

For home sellers, it is important to review all of a property inspector’s findings. This will enable home sellers to identify opportunities to enhance their residences and prioritize various home improvement projects.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to enjoying a profitable home selling journey, it pays to go above and beyond the call of duty. With a real estate agent at your side, you can take the guesswork out of selling your home and move closer to getting the best price for your residence.

A real estate agent is committed to client satisfaction, and as such, will go the extra mile to promote your residence to the right groups of homebuyers. That way, you can boost your chances of receiving multiple offers on your home as soon as it hits the market.

Plus, a real estate agent will set up home showings and open houses and negotiate with homebuyers on your behalf. He or she will even provide expert home selling recommendations at each stage of the home selling journey. As a result, a real estate agent will help you streamline the process of selling your house and maximizing your residence’s value.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to enjoy a profitable home selling journey. Instead, use these tips, and you can improve your chances of selling your home at a price that matches or exceeds your expectations.

The Time is Now to Buy a High-End Home

The news has been bombarded with negative stories about the real estate market over the past few years, but the tides are turning and inventory is now lower than ever. There are still many opportunities for buyers as prices still remain low. For savvy homebuyers looking to buy in the high-end or luxury marketplace there is tremendous opportunity.

If you’ve always dreamed about buying a luxury property but considered it just out of reach, today’s market may has put downward pressure on the prices of higher-end homes making them more affordable than ever. To buy your dream home you will want to have a strategy.

1. Choose your agent wisely.

Your agent is your advocate. You will need an agent who is experienced and successful in the luxury home market. Agents who deal in luxury property have the right knowledge to help you locate and negotiate an offer on a high-end home.

2. Take the time necessary.

The high-end home search may take more time and patience. The supply of luxury homes may be smaller, you may even need to expand your search or rely or your agent to find homes that may not be currently up for sale. The home will be bigger, have more features and thus there will be more to consider in the purchase decision.

3. Prepare the perfect offer.

Cash is king in today’s market. According to the May 2011 REALTORS® Confidence Index from the National Association of REALTORS®, 30 percent of all purchases between mid-April and mid-May of last year were financed with cash. The number was even higher for luxury properties.

Even though many luxury sellers may also be in a distressed property situation they are typically more particular about who was buying their property as well as the final selling price. Use your agent to carefully craft the perfect offer.

Question the Neighborhood Before You Buy

The time has come to buy a home and you have a list of questions a mile long. How many bedrooms does it have? What is the down payment? What are the taxes? What school district is it in? But there are some questions you should be asking that you may not have considered and these answers will not be disclosed on the property’s listing sheet.

In order to make a smart buying decision you will want to dig a little deeper into the neighborhood’s crime rate, area residents and what safety measures are in place to keep your family safe.

Here are a just a few things you will want to research before buying your next home:

1. Check the sex offender registry. Most states have provisions like Megan’s Law and other registries where individuals with histories of criminal convictions must register their home addresses with local authorities. Check the address of the home you are considering to see who is living in your potential new neighborhood.

2. What is the history of the home? You may think this unusual but some abandoned homes have been used as drug labs. Homes that were used as drug labs are hazardous to your health. A home that served as a methamphetamine lab contains chemicals that often make unsafe to live in. These homes are usually but not always sold by banks as foreclosures. If the bank or real estate agent does not know the home’s history they don’t have a legal obligation to disclose it so you will have to do your own homework. First, talk to neighbors to see if they have any information. You can also search the federal Drug Enforcement Association’s Clandestine Laboratory Registry.

3.  Check the neighborhood’s crime rate. Don’t look at just the numbers of crime but also consider what sorts of crimes happen in the area. Are the crimes violent and non-violent? Will you need to invest in a car alarm or a security system after a rash of break-ins? SpotCrime.com gives detailed crime data, breaking down crime types with easy-to-scan icons and providing data for communities all over the country.

4.  What precautions are in place in the neighborhood? Does the neighborhood have a watch program? Talk to the home’s seller and the neighbors about what type of precautions are in place. For more information on neighborhood watch programs check out the National Crime Prevention website.

5. Visit the neighborhood at different hours of the day; watch for unsavory visitors, traffic and vacant homes.

Buying a home is an investment in your family and your future. If you have any other questions regarding local information your real estate professional can help point you in the right direction. You can also always call the local police department and ask for any statistics they have on the area.

What You Need to Know: Lead Paint

Did you know that approximately three-quarters of the housing in the United States built before 1978 contain lead-based paint? That is about 64 million homes.  Lead paint can pose little risk, but it can also cause serious risks when it isn’t properly maintained and managed.

There are approximately 1.7 million children that have blood-lead levels above safe limits. Lead poisoning can cause permanent brain damage and damage other organs. It can also cause abnormal fetal development for pregnant women. Lead comes into bodies by breathing or swallowing lead dust, soil or paint chips.

The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction ACT of 1992 directs the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure people receive information needed to protect themselves from lead-based paint hazards.

In 2008, EPA issued the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. It requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools be certified by EPA. If you are a homeowner performing renovation, repair, or painting work in your own home, EPA’s RRP rule does not cover your project. For information on the RRP click here.

For home buyers federal regulations require that home sellers provide lead disclosures to home buyers who are purchasing a home built before 1978. Buyers have 10 days to conduct a lead-based paint inspection or risk assessment at their own expense. The regulation does not require any testing or removal of lead-based paint by sellers.

 

Your Financial House: 3 simple steps

TinaSutherandHeadshot

As the year begins it is a good time to get your house in order as well as your financial “house”.

Tina Sutherand

Tina Southerland G&N Insurance

Among the things you should review when you do your tax preparation, is your insurance coverage.  Has your situation changed recently?  Did you make any major purchases that need to be insured?  Do you have adequate coverage for your valuables, home and vehicle/s? Below are 3 simple steps you can take to ensure you are receiving the best rates and coverage. Thanks to insurance expert Tina Southerland at G&N Insurance of Southboro, MA for compiling this list.

Reviewing your finances?  Meeting with your accountant for tax purposes? 

How about reviewing your current personal insurance plan? 

Many people are under the impression that they have enough insurance coverage at a great price.  However, this rarely turns out to be the case. I take pride in making sure my clients are properly protected, while saving on their annual premiums.  Statistics show that 75% of MA residents have not comparison shopped their insurance policy in years!  Fact is, we now have a competitive market and it is definitely worth tackling this small homework assignment.  As an independent agent specializing in auto and home insurance, I have the ability to compare rates with dozens of companies in MA.  Follow these 3 easy steps to obtain a review from me!

  1. Gather your current up to date coverage selections pages for your home, auto and umbrella policies (if you cannot locate one at home, most companies offer access to policy documents online)
  2. Send me a copy of those pages via email  Tina@InsureWithGN.com or fax 508-342-8381GN LOGO
  3. Set up a time to chat over the phone, or meet in person so I can make sure you get all the discounts for which you qualify.  Email or call me at 508-873-7793

It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3!  I will be sure to email you the proposed new package, outline the savings and any improved coverage limits.  If you decide you want to move forward, I will handle the cancellation with your current agency.  I look forward to assisting you today!

Getting Your Home Inspected

Before you sign the papers to purchase your home, you will want to get one important thing done: a home inspection. This essential task will not only give you insight into the potential problems a home has, it was also give you the ability to renegotiate based on what is found. Knowing what to expect is the first step.

A home inspection should include the condition of the roof, attic, walls, ceilings floors, windows and doors, the heating and cooling system, plumbing and electrical systems, the foundation and basement. All these areas of inspection as done only if accessible. For example: if the roof is covered with snow, an inspector will look at what they can, but the snow may obstruct the view.

The cost of an inspection can vary depending on your location. Getting a variety of prices from different licensed inspectors can help you find the best deal in the area. While the cost may make you want to skip out on an inspection (with all the money you are spending to by the house, one more cost can feel enormous), not getting one can really hurt your wallet later on. Major structural issues, leaks, and toxins can cost big bucks to fix.

A multi page detailed report will be created based on the inspection, including recommendations. This should be reviewed carefully to estimate the amount of work that will be involved in maintaining and/or fixing the house. While that roof the report mentioned isn’t leaking today, if the inspector mentioned that it may need to be replaced soon, figure it will. Then of course, there are more immediate areas that may need attention, that you will have to plan on addressing right away.

Finally, if there are major issues with the house, you can negotiate this into your offer. All offers should be made contingent on the inspection, so that once the inspection is done, the offer can change. So if that roof is already starting to leak, you can bring down the offer price to be able to put money towards a new roof right away.

No matter if you are buying a year old home, or one from 1950, a home inspection is a must when making an offer. Skipping the inspection will only increase the risk of damage to your finances down the road. Better safe than sorry!

How to Spruce up Your Home: Prepping for sale

If you’re going to be putting your house on the market, you want it to be in the best condition possible for when prospective buyers come and look at it. A little sprucing up can add a lot of curb appeal and increase the chances of selling your home as soon as possible.

Make Over Kitchen Cabinets

An older, out of date kitchen can be given a face lift with the addition of some paint and new cabinet doors. The doors on the kitchen cabinets can make or break the way a kitchen looks. If you don’t have the funds to buy new cabinet doors, consider painting the cabinets. Avoid any type of wild paint, sticking instead to solid colors or the tried and true basic white. Add interesting touches like removing one cabinet door and paint the inside of the cabinet and shelves a different color. You can keep it open, or add a glass door. Adding some new knobs and handles will improve the look even more. You can go basic, or get really fancy with some high-end hardware, depending on the style of your home.

Give the Entrance a Makeover

Brighten the entrance to your home by painting the door. Choose an accent color from the rest of the front of the house. Add brand new hardware for a totally new, finished look. Place potted plants on either side of the door, or if you have wide steps, place them on the steps. Paint railings with fresh paint, being sure to scrape off the old paint first. Place solar lights along your walkway to add even more brightness. Replacing your mail box will also add character and instant curb appeal to your home. Be sure your house number can be seen from the road by placing large numbers on both your mail box and the house.

Organize Closets

People, especially women, always take closet space into consideration when looking for a house to buy. Purchase closet organizers and have them installed, or install them yourself. Then organize those closets and get rid of everything you don’t actually use. This will make your closets seem much larger and add so much more storage space by utilizing empty spaces in the closets. Alternately, if you have two closets in one bedroom, take the doors off one closet and turn that one into an office. There are “office in a closet” kits that come with shelves, and a deeper shelf to use as a desk. Add a desk chair, a computer and place a few books on the shelves and it looks like you have a home office, virtually creating a whole new room within a room.

 

 

Got Solar? Benefits and Pitfalls of Solar Power

Everywhere you turn people are saying “go green”. More and more people are looking for alternatives to heat and power their homes. One alternative is solar energy. There are both benefits and pitfalls to solar energy.

The Benefits

•Solar power is predictable. It is easy to predict how much electricity your system will produce because the amount of sunlight that hits your roof doesn’t vary that much. This means it is also easy to predict how much you will save in electric bills.

•Solar power will lower your electric bill. Solar power will offset the usage of conventional electricity especially in places where the price for grid power is high — like California, Hawaii and much of the northeast.

•Solar power is safe and clean. Solar energy systems produce emissions-free electricity.

•Installing solar panels may also help you qualify for a tax credit. For more information on energy tax credits click here.

The Pitfalls

•Solar power can be predictable but it is also variable. In other words, it can be predicted on a long term basis but not on a daily or even weekly basis. For example, solar panels won’t produce electricity at night.

•Solar power can be a more expensive alternative in the short term. The price of solar panels continue to fall but there are many aggressive financing options. If your state has no tax incentives and electricity prices are relatively low solar would be an expensive option for you.

•Some homes just don’t work. The roof must be in good condition with an unobstructed southern exposure. If the house is surrounded by trees and tall buildings solar panels will probably not work. A ground-mounted system is an option only if you have sufficient space in your yard.