Sandra McCarty

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10 Mistakes Home Sellers Should Avoid

Posted On: June 30th, 2018 7:08PM

Selling your home is time-consuming and emotionally challenging. Strangers will come into your home and poke around in your closets and cabinets. They will criticize your home and then offer you less money than you think your home is worth. Selling a home is a complex, emotional transaction and it is easy for home owners to make lots of mistakes, but with a little know-how, many of these pitfalls can be avoided altogether. Below is a list of mistakes to avoid when selling your home.  

Mistake No.1: Getting Emotionally Involved

Once you decide to sell your home, it can be helpful to start thinking of yourself as a businessperson and a home seller, rather than as the home's owner. By looking at the transaction from a purely financial perspective, you'll distance yourself from the emotional aspects of selling the property that you've undoubtedly created many memories in.

Most buyers will also be in an emotional state. Remember that you are selling not just a piece of property but also an image, a dream and a lifestyle. Extra effort of staging and perhaps some minor remodeling will help to get top dollar for your home. These changes in appearance will not only help the sales price, but they'll also help you create that emotional distance because the home will look less familiar.

Mistake No.2: Not Hiring an Agent

Trying to sell your home on your own, especially if you haven't done it before, is ill advised. A good agent will help you set a fair and competitive selling price for your home, will market it with the help of hundreds of agents through the Multi Listing Service that will result in a quick sale. An agent can also help take some of the high emotion out of the process by interacting directly with potential buyers, so you don't have to and have qualified buyers who will most likely make an offer on the house.  

An agent will also have more experience negotiating home sales than you do, helping you get more money than you could on your own. Further, if any problems crop up during the process—and they commonly do - an experienced professional will be there to handle them for you. Finally, agents are familiar with all the paperwork and pitfalls involved in real estate transactions and can help make sure the process goes smoothly.

Mistake No.3: Setting an Unrealistic Price

Whether you're working with an agent or going it alone, setting the right asking price is key. Remember the comparable market analysis you did when you bought a home to figure out a fair offering price? Buyers will do this for your home, too, so as a seller you should be one step ahead of the game. Absent a housing bubble; overpriced homes do not sell. Don't worry too much about setting a price that's on the low side because, in theory, this will generate multiple offers and bid the price up to the home's true market value. In fact, underpricing your home a bit can be a strategy to generate extra interest in your listing.

 

Mistake No.4: Expecting To Get Your Asking Price

Any smart buyer will negotiate, and if you want to complete the sale, you'll have to play the game. Most people want to list their homes at a price that will attract buyers while still leaving some breathing room for negotiations. This will allow the buyer to feel like he or she is getting a good value and allow you to get the amount of money you need from the sale. Of course, whether you end up with more or less than your asking price will likely depend on whether you're in a buyer's market or a seller's market and on how well you have staged your home.

 

Mistake No.5: Selling in Winter (When You Have the Option Not To)

Winter, especially around the holidays, is typically a slow time of year for home sales. People are busy with social engagements, and the cold weather makes it more appealing just to stay home. Because fewer buyers are likely to be looking, it may take longer to sell your home, and you may not get as much money. However, you can take some consolation in knowing that while there may not be as many active buyers, there also won't be as many competing sellers.

Mistake No.6: Skimping on Listing Photos

So many buyers look for homes online these days, and so many of those homes have photos that you'll be doing yourself a real disservice if you don't offer photos as well. At the same time, there are so many poor photos of homes for sale that if you do a good job, it will set your listing apart and help generate extra interest. Good photos should be crisp and clear, should taken during the day when there is plenty of natural light available, and should showcase your home's best assets. Consider using a wide-angle lens if possible - this will allow you to give potential buyers a better idea of what entire rooms look like.

 

Mistake No.7: Not Being Properly Insured

With the above-average number of people who will be on your property, you want to make sure you are insured in case someone has an accident on the premises and tries to sue you for damages. You also want to make sure that there are not any obvious hazards at the property or that you take steps to mitigate them (keeping the children of potential buyers away from your pool and getting your dogs out of the house during showings, for example). 

 

Mistake No.8: Trying to Hide Significant Problems

Any problem with the property will be uncovered during the buyer's inspection, so there's no use hiding it. Either fix the problem ahead of time, price the property below market value to account for the problem, or list the property at a normal price but offer the buyer a credit to fix the problem. Realize that if you don't fix the problem in advance, you may turn away a fair number of buyers who want a turnkey home. Having your home inspected before listing it is a good idea if you want to avoid costly surprises once the home is under contract.

 

Mistake No.9: Not Preparing Your Home for Sale

Sellers who do not clean and stage their homes are throwing money down the drain. If you can't afford to hire a professional, that's OK - there are many things you can do on your own. Failing to do these things will not only reduce your sale price but may also prevent you from getting a sale at all. For example, if you haven't attended to minor issues like a broken doorknob, a potential buyer may wonder whether the house has larger, costlier issues that haven't been addressed. Have a friend or agent with a fresh pair of eyes point out areas of your home that need work. Because of your familiarity with the home; you may have become immune to its trouble spots. Decluttering, cleaning thoroughly, putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls and getting rid of any odors will also help you make a good impression on buyers.

 

Mistake No.10: Not Accommodating Potential Buyers

If someone wants to view your house, you need to accommodate this person, even if it is inconvenient for you. You have to clean and declutter the house before every single visit. A buyer won't know and won't care if your house was clean last week if it isn't clean when he or she views it. It's a lot of work, but stay focused on the prize, the prize of selling your house for the highest possible price in the shortest possible time.

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Buy Now Since Interest Rates Will Continue To Rise

Posted On: May 31st, 2018 5:49PM

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have climbed from 3.95% in the first week of January up to 4.61% last week, which marks a 7-year high according to Freddie Mac. The current pace of acceleration has been fueled by many factors.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's Chief Economist, had this to say:

"Healthy consumer spending and higher commodity prices spooked bond markets and led to higher mortgage rates over the past week. Not only are buyers facing higher borrowing costs, gas prices are currently at four-year highs just as we enter the important peak home sales season."

 


But what do gas prices have to do with interest rates?

Investopedia explains the relationship like this:

          "The price of oil and inflation are often seen as being connected in a cause-and-effect relationship. As oil prices move up or down, inflation follows in the same direction.”

You may have noticed that filling your gas tank has become substantially more expensive in recent months. The average national gas price has climbed nearly $0.50 from the beginning of the year, leading to the highest price for Memorial Day weekend since 2014.

As rates go up, your purchasing power goes down, but don't worry; rates are still well below the averages we have seen over the last four decades.

      "Freddie Mac said this year’s higher rates have not yet caused much of a ripple in the strong demand levels for buying a home seen in most markets, but inflationary pressures and the prospect of rates approaching 5 percent could begin to hit the psyche of some prospective buyers."

Buying sooner rather than later will help lock in a lower rate than waiting, as the experts believe rates will continue to climb. Even a small increase in interest rates can have a big impact on your monthly housing cost.


Bottom Line

If you are planning on buying a home this year, keep an eye on gas prices the next time you are at the pump. If you start to feel a big jump in price, know that rates are probably on their way up, too.

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5 Tips To Improve Your Credit Score to Secure a Mortgage

Posted On: March 30th, 2018 12:14AM

Sandra McCarty Homesmart CrossIsland

1. Improve your credit score with error disputes
A 2013 Federal Trade Commission study found that 5% of credit reports contain errors that can erroneously ding your score. So if you spot any, start by sending a dispute letter to the bureau, providing as much documentation as possible, per FTC guidelines. You'll also need to contact the organization that provided the bad intel, such as a bank or medical provider, and ask it to update the info with the bureau. This may take a while, and you may need documentation to make your case. But once the bad info is removed, you should see a bump in your score.

2. Erase one-time mistakes

So you've made a late payment or two—who hasn't? Call the company that registered the late payment and ask that it be removed from your record. If you had an oopsy and missed just a payment or two, most companies will indeed tell their reporting division to remove this from your credit report. Granted, this won't work if you have a history of late payments, but for accidents and small errors, it's an easy way to improve your credit score

3. Increase your limits

One no-brainer way to increase your credit score is to simply pay off your debt. Not an option right now?  Here's a cool loophole: Ask your credit card companies to increase your credit limit instead. This improves your debt-to-credit ratio, which compares how much you owe to how much you can borrow.

Having $1,000 of credit card debt is bad if you have a limit of $1,500. It isn't nearly as bad if your limit is $5,000. The simple math: Although you owe the same amount, you're using a much smaller percentage of your available credit, which shines well on your borrowing practices.

4. Pay on time
If you're often late with payments, now's the time to change. You have the power to improve your credit score yourself. Commit to always paying your bills on time; consider signing up for automatic payments so it's guaranteed to get done.

5. Give yourself time
Unfortunately, negative items (such as those habitually late or nonexistent payments) can stay on your report for up to seven years. The good news? Changing your habits makes a big difference in the “payment history" segment of your report, which accounts for 35% of your score. That's why it's essential to start early so that you're sitting pretty once you're shopping for homes.

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4 Reasons To Buy A Home This Winter!

Posted On: December 18th, 2017 4:27PM

Happy home buyers


Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.


1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

Core Logic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 7.0% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.7% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

 

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have hovered around 4%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by this time next year. An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

 

3. Either Way, you are Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity. Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

 

4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

 

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

 

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

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10 Ways To Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Posted On: October 23rd, 2017 5:35PM

First impressions are everything – at least when it comes to selling your home. According to the National Association of Realtors, 63 percent of homebuyers will drop by after viewing a home they like online. What will they see? The home's exterior – including the front entry, yard, driveway and sidewalk -- should serve as a snapshot of what's to come when potential buyers enter your home.

1: Curb Appeal Starts Online
Since 88 percent of homebuyers begin the process on the Web, fabulous photos are critical to getting homebuyers to the front door, says Jennifer Ames, a top Chicago real estate agent. Find the best time of day to shoot each room. Take a digital shot and examine it as if you were a buyer, and get rid of extras – bikes on the front porch, platters stacked on top of the fridge – that don't show your home at its best.


2: Act Like a Buyer
Walk around your entire home's exterior with a critical eye and a notepad and pen. Take notes on what looks "off" and needs repairing, replacing or cleaning. Get in your car and drive by slowly from both directions during the day and night. You might see something you've never noticed before, like a Frisbee on the roof or a missing piece of siding.


3: Look Up to the Sky
Most homeowners don't give their roofs a second glance, but the roof is an important curb appeal item that buyers do notice, says Jean Miskimon of the Metal Roofing Alliance. Is yours missing any shingles, or is it dingy and streaked? A good cleaning or, if necessary, a roof replacement will up your home's curb appeal factor tremendously.


4: Shiny, Happy Numbers
If your house numbers aren't easy to see or if they're dirty and dingy, replacing them carries a tremendous impact, Caroline says. Consider the style of your house – traditional, transitional or modern – and create a harmonious or contrasting effect with new house numbers.


5: Get a Second Opinion
Homeowners often get used to certain defects –chipped paint on the front door from the keys banging against it, cobwebs on the porch ceiling, cracked or stained steps – and might need a new set of eyes to help them prioritize what needs to be fixed and cleaned up, says Kelly O'Ryan, office manager for Coldwell Banker in Lexington, Mass. "Know your budget and how much time you can spend, and get an outsider to help you decide what needs work," she says.


6: Under Pressure
Budget-conscious homeowners will love this tip: Pressure-washing the dirty siding and deck, as well as the oil-stained driveway and faded walkways is an extremely cost-efficient way to increase your home's curb appeal. If you don't own a pressure washer, you can rent one from your local home improvement store for the day.

 

7: Plant Some Color
Except for the dead of winter, some types of annual plants are always in bloom, says Sheri Silver, a landscape designer and owner of Fiori Garden Design. "Spruce up your porch containers, window boxes and front beds with some colorful flowers for instant lift," Sheri advises. Never plant artificial flowers – a few inches of dark mulch will brighten up the beds without screaming "fake."


8: Open Up
Fling open the shutters, curtains and blinds, Paul says. "Homes that are brighter inside sell faster, and open curtains look prettier on the street," he says. Go outside and look at your window treatments from the street, and try to keep a uniform look throughout.


9: Light Up Your Landscape
Give your walkway an edge with solar light fixtures, which are affordable and a cinch to install, says Rick Hoffman, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage of San Diego County and Temecula Valley. "Solar lights are inexpensive, and you can place them where they highlight your home's best attributes – landscaping, walking paths and any custom fixtures."


10: Add Some Polish
Paint is only about $25 per gallon, and painting the front door, trim and shutters is a great way to polish the look of your home, Kelly says. Other inexpensive fix-ups: a new mailbox (research your city's regulations to make sure you're up to code first), a new porch light fixture and a cheery new welcome mat.

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