Monthly Archives: July 2014

Popular Home Features that are No Longer In Style

Posted on July 31, 2014 in Buying a Home

Home StylesJust like many areas of life, the housing market is subject to trends.  If your home happens to have a feature that’s one of the hottest trends, it’s likely to sell very easily and for your asking price or even higher.  If it has a trend that’s out, it may be more difficult to sell.  Here are a few different home features that were hot for a time but have now cooled off.  Many are seen as luxuries in a market that is now focused on practical, environmental housing.

A two-story family room.  These spaces may look amazing with their incredibly high ceilings and open area to the balcony upstairs, but they’re also very hard to heat and cool efficiently.  They also have a lot of wasted space at the top, space many people would rather use for another upstairs room.

The formal living room is also no longer popular.  Instead, people are looking for great rooms—an open area that combines living room, family room, and even the dining room or kitchen into one large space.  Homes that do have a formal living room will still do fairly well on the market if the space can be transformed into a home office or another bedroom.

Sunrooms.  Sunrooms aren’t exactly practical, and they can be difficult to heat and cool.  Many people don’t see the point to a sunroom, especially if they don’t care about growing indoor plants or having an area for entertaining that’s separate from their living room.  They’d rather have a larger kitchen or additional storage space.

Large master baths.  While people do enjoy good-sized bathrooms, they no longer feel the need for showers with multiple heads or a separate shower and tub.  Instead, they’d rather have something a little more practical such as more counter space or a double sink.

Outdoor cooking areas.  Outdoor kitchens were very trendy at one time, but today, very few people entertain outdoors.  These areas were always seen as luxuries that most people couldn’t afford, anyway.  Likewise, the outdoor fireplace isn’t as in demand as it once was.  While it can be very nice for chilly evenings, it’s a luxury that most people now see more as something else to be maintained.

Remember that just because your home has one or more of these features doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause.  You may have the perfect location or other great features that make the property a hot commodity.  Your realtor may even know of the perfect buyer who is looking for that formal living room or outdoor kitchen.

Types of Lenders to Avoid

Posted on July 24, 2014 in Buying a Home

There are many lending institutions out there that will provide you with a loan that meets your needs, your budget, and your timetable.  However, there are also some unscrupulous lenders out there who will try to take advantage of you.  These lenders will target the elderly, those with credit problems, and those who don’t make a lot of money by tempting them with the prospect of home ownership.  However, as with anything that’s sounds too good, these loans always come with a downside that can lead the borrower into bankruptcy.

So what are some red flags that should tell you the lender you’re working with isn’t on the up and up?  Here are a few:

  • Types of Financial LendersThe lender tells you it’s okay to falsify information on your loan application.  This is actually a crime and can result in jail time.  Even if you don’t go to jail, you could be required to immediately pay back the entire loan.  If a lender says it’s fine to fudge even the smallest detail, walk away.
  • Don’t work with a lender who tries to convince you that you can make a higher monthly payment than you believe you can.  If you’ve looked at your budget and know what you can afford, stick to that.  Sure, that amazing property that has everything you could ever want looks nice, and yes, the lender seems to be offering you a great rate, but don’t fall for it.  You’ll end up living off of credit cards or defaulting on the loan.
  • Watch for lenders that offer certain terms when you’re applying for the loan, but then unexpectedly present different terms at the closing.  Make certain to always read over everything regarding the loan (another sign of a bad lender: he or she tells you that you don’t have to read over it).  If anything looks like it has changed, ask for an explanation.  Even if you get one, be prepared to seek out another lender.  None of the terms should change without a very, very good reason.
  • Never, ever sign a form that is not completely filled out or is blank.  No lender should ever ask this of you.
  • Don’t let a lender talk you into borrowing more money.  If you qualify for a larger loan than you need, don’t take that extra money.  You’ll end up paying more in interest than the extra money is worth, so don’t be tempted and don’t let the lender talk you into it.
  • Finally, do not work with any lender who refused to give you copies of a document you’ve signed.  You have the right to a copy of anything you’ve signed or will be asked to sign.

The New Definition of Luxury

Posted on July 16, 2014 in Buying a Home

When many people think of buying a luxury home, they picture a mansion with a huge swimming pool and dozens of bathrooms.  Today, luxury real estate has been redefined.  Yes, many people still want the large mansion, but more and more people are looking at smaller properties that have specific appeal to them.

Luxury Homes TodayOne of the biggest luxury items today is technology.  People want smart houses.  They want to be able to turn on the lights or change the temperature setting from their phones, have motion detectors throughout the home, or have a temperature-controlled wine cellar.  Having top quality items in the kitchen is also important.  The more parts of the house can be controlled from a smart phone or tablet, the more attractive that home is to many people.  Technology is luxurious now.

Another thing people are considering luxurious are homes that have a smaller footprint.  Rather than spreading outward, many people are looking at homes that go up.  These vertical mansions have more floors, but sit on smaller lots.  This allows people to build larger homes in areas where there isn’t a lot of land for sale.  They also tend to have more open floor places that save space.  Kitchens, dining rooms, and living rooms flow into each other instead of being separated by walls.

A number of little touches and amenities also makes homes more luxurious.  A large master closet, for example, adds a lot more than just extra storage space: it makes a large impression on people.  Having things like USB outlets will see luxurious to those who have a lot of different devices they have to charge, while built-in bookshelves are a luxury to those with many books.  Anything that makes the buyer’s life easier is considered a luxury for them.  Built-in storage, a large kitchen island, and a large number of outlets are just a few things buyers may be looking for.  Many also find a home that can be customized luxurious, so they’re looking for those extra spaces that can be anything from an additional bedroom to a home gym to an office.

Finally, the definition of luxury changes depending on the location.  What buyers find luxurious in one city is not in another.  For those in humid areas where insects are an issue, sunrooms or enclosed patios are a must.  That’s not as big of a deal in areas that are cooler.  Cities with efficient public transportation systems won’t see as big a demand for multi-vehicle garages, while areas that are more dependent on cars will.  Your realtor can help you determine what, if any, amenities in your home could be considered luxuries and will play those amenities up to potential buyers.

Tips for Moving

Posted on July 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

Selling your home is just the first part of the battle.  Now you’ve got to move!  But moving is more than just putting things in boxes and driving them to your new home.  To move with the least amount of stress and work, you need a plan.  Here are a few tips to help make your move easier.

Moving Tips Ask your Realtor for Information – While your realtor may not be able to help you pack up your things, he or she may be able to give you a contact list of local movers or for local utility companies.  This can be especially helpful if you’re moving to a new city.  Your realtor may also be able to point you to the best stores to purchase a new washer/dryer, refrigerator, or furniture if you need to do so.

Gets Quotes from Multiple Moving Services – If you’re going to use a moving company, get information from several of them.  Find out what services they offer.  Do they have insurance?  Are they equipped to handle extremely large or fragile items?  Are their quotes binding?

Create a Box for your Important Documents – You may need things like your most recent bills, your children’s school records or immunization records, tax information, and other documents soon after your move.  Keep these documents in their own box and mark that box as one that you personally move.  That way, you’ll know exactly where it is.

Create a “Personally Move” Stack – Along the same lines, there may be a few items you want to personally move, even if you have friends and relatives helping you instead of a moving company.  This shouldn’t be a huge number of items, but it can include your important documents, fragile family heirlooms, and your expensive jewelry.  Basically, take personal responsibility for anything you’d be devastated to lose or have broken.

Don’t Move it All – If you have clothes you haven’t worn in over a year or old items you don’t use regularly, donate them.  Do your best not to move anything that you don’t need to move.  If you start early enough, you’ll have time to go through everything.  If not, you may find yourself throwing trash in a box and moving it just because you don’t have time to see if any of it is worth keeping.

Have a Labeling System – Make sure you know what’s in every box.  Some people like to write detailed descriptions on the outside of the box with a marker, while others use different colored stickers.  Whatever your method, have one.  That way, it’s clear where the boxes go and what’s in them.

The Anatomy of an Offer

Posted on July 2, 2014 in Buying a Home

As a seller, one of the most exciting things you can hear is that someone has made an offer on your house.  This is especially true if you’ve been on the market for several months without a lot of interest.  But once you’ve finished letting out that sigh of relief or jumping up and down, it’s time to actually take a look at the offer.

Knowing The Basics of Making an OfferYour agent will most likely want to meet in person to discuss the offer because there’s actually much more to it than the amount.  In fact, while the amount of the offer should certainly factor into your decision of accepting or rejecting it, there are other aspects of the offer that can make or break the deal.  In fact, it’s actually possible someone could offer you full price for your home that, after all the contingencies and concessions are factored in, actually nets you less than you’d get if you took an offer that was under your asking price but had fewer conditions.

First, take a look at the earnest money deposit.  This shows you how serious the buyer is.  Sometimes, buyers will offer a larger deposit if they think you might see them as a weak buyer—someone who’s not pre-approved for financing, for example.  Usually, the deposit is held by a third party.  If the buy goes through, the deposit is applied to the final selling price.  If it doesn’t, the buyer gets it back.  Take this number as a sign of how much the buyer wants the house.

Next you’ll come to the contingencies.  The first you’ll usually find is a mortgage contingency.  This lays out the type of mortgage the buyer is trying to get, including their rate and term.  If this doesn’t look realistic, the buyer may not be able to secure financing.  This section should also state how long the buyer has to secure their loan.  Your property could be tied up for months if this time limit isn’t set.

Seller concessions are another major factor for you to consider.  This can include anything from the seller paying the closing costs to removing some landscaping to even paying for a brand new roof.  If it’s a seller’s market, buyers won’t ask for very many concessions because they know they have a lot of competition, but if it’s a buyer’s market, expect them to ask for a few things.

These are just a few of the major parts of an offer.  You’ll also see inspection and appraisal contingencies, personal property requests, and other contingencies that you need to carefully read over and weigh before you make your final decision.