Getting Ready to List Your Home – Steps You Can Take to Add Value for Buyers

Getting your home prepared for a listing with a real estate agency is an exciting time. Of course, your agent will want to be excited about your listing and bring as many qualified prospects as possible. Is your real estate professional providing you with guidance about how to add value to your home? These home maintenance and repair tips will help you increase your chances of a sale more quickly.

De-clutter and organize. No one wants to step through clutter, look in rooms or closets that are overflowing with unnecessary items, or have to imagine what the space could look like without a homeowners personal effects clouding the “scenery.” Before you list your home for sale, start going through all the rooms, from attic to basement, and clean out and organize. You can create piles for discard, donate and store; once you’ve done the first two, it’s time to organize your storage needs. Closet storage systems will help you keep clothes organized and make a great presentation. Garage and basement storage solutions are also available to keep items off the floor and in a safe place.

Refresh rooms with paint. That first impression will be largely influenced by the look and feel of your rooms. After you’ve cleaned and cleared, a fresh coat of paint in neutral colors will help rooms look larger and make prospective buyers feel better about your space. Bright colors might be your style but not theirs so avoid making too much of a “statement” in your color choice.

Update bathroom fixtures. Swap out those tired old bathroom faucets and the old sink; install a new vanity or a shower head; or put on new toilet seats if necessary. You need not spend lots of money to do these simple updates and a little goes a long way. Remember, clean and new is better than tired and worn.

Update kitchen appliances and fixtures. If this is in your budget, it is well worth the expenditure on this end of the sales process. There’s no need for a full remodel but a face lift is well worth it for making a quicker sale. New cabinet doors and hardware or a new sink or new faucet with sprayer (a popular feature) are good investments. If you can swing it and your dishwasher or refrigerator are outdated, consider installing new models that prospective home buyers will appreciate.

Boost your curb appeal. Landscaping and driveway appearance are what prospective home buyers will see first—and will encourage or discourage them about coming inside for a closer look. Get your lawn in shape, plant your garden beds, prune your trees and shrubs. Outdoor lighting is also a benefit, from the front porch to the walkway or gardens. If the driveway is in poor shape, have it repaired.

Make necessary exterior repairs. In addition to the driveway, your front steps should be in good condition; your gutters should be in place and doing their jobs to prevent water damage to the home; missing roof shingles should be replaced; problems with paver or concrete walkways, your sidewalk, patio and deck (where applicable) should be remediated. Remember, you don’t want to give anyone a reason to walk away (and you wouldn’t want anyone to trip and get hurt).

Insulate for energy efficiency. One way to show prospective home buyers that your home is prepared for 21st century living is to add insulation in order to improve your energy efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs. This is a also good time to look at your windows to see where you can seal any seams or cracks where air penetrates.

At Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we guide our clients to make sure their homes are in “ready for sale” condition, in order to make the sales process as stress-free as possible for everyone involved. As part of our client service, our real estate agents will go over what we feel your home needs to prepare it for a listing, and help you hash out the pros and cons of certain upgrades and repairs. Want to find out more about the best way to sell your home in Essex County or other northern New Jersey areas? Call Century 21 Cedarcrest at (973) 228-1050 or visit our website to get started.

The Last Minute Home Visit Survival Guide

Home visits are a welcome sign that your property is drawing prospective buyers. However, last minute visits are often a home-for-sale nightmare. When it is time to sell, but you need to still live there until it sells, buyers sometimes show up at inconvenient moments. There are survival tips to make the best of the situation, even on a moment’s notice.

 

Be open and honest, but smart: As the homeowner, the ability is there to not allow showings during different times of the day or to turn away last minute requests. Sellers are well within their rights to set boundaries with their real estate agents and request a few hours notice for showings. However, keep in mind that turning away a buyer is turning away a potential sale. Be honest with your agent about your expectations, but consider that there may be times when a buyer is available on short notice.

 

Start packing: In today’s market, there is a supply shortage of great homes. Do not expect your house to languish in the real estate market listings for months at a time. Packing all the items that are not completely essential for daily living will not only get a jump start on your move, but will greatly reduce clutter around the home. This leads to less last minute clean-up time and fewer moments spent scrambling when you get the call or an unexpected knock on the door from a buyer or her agent.

 

Clean as you go: Living a somewhat minimalist lifestyle while packing will make the constant clean-up a little easier. Not allowing the bathroom towels to be strewn about or the beds to remain unmade all day will make the last minute straightening go much more quickly and simply. It is worth the effort to not be caught off guard.

 

Arrange to have a quick get-a-way: Whether through an open arrangement with a neighbor or friend to pop by on short notice or a regular seat at the local coffee house: have places in mind to visit during showings. While it is tempting to want to be home when strangers are mulling through your halls, it is best to not be there. Buyers are going to be less candid about their opinions in front of the seller and will have difficulty picturing themselves as the owners with the current owner present. So, take some time for yourself. It will help you survive with style!

 

Tips for Hosting a Successful Open House

Once you have decided to sell your home, one of the first things your real estate agent will do is schedule your open house. An open house is a showing of your home and property where prospective buyers can drop by and visit during a certain day and time. This is a proven way to get buyers interested in placing a bid or offer on the house quickly. More offers lead to getting a sale close to – or even above – your listing price at closing. When the date for the open house draws near, there are some proven ways to prepare your home to look its very best.

 

Boost the curb appeal: Be sure that the lawn is freshly mowed if it is during the spring or summer months. Clean up any yard damage from play or pets, fix fences, or even hire a landscaper to spruce things up around the yard. Do not assume that a buyer will see the potential in your property; rather, show them an inviting entrance to a home.

 

Kick the clutter: Clean it up! Sellers sometimes think that a buyer will be attracted to a homey atmosphere. This is a common mistake. Prospective buyers aren’t interested in seeing how the current inhabitants live. Instead, a buyer wishes to envision him or herself living in the home. So, avoid excessive knick-knacks, store excess furniture and any valuables in a storage locker or friend’s home, and put fresh towels in the restroom. A professional carpet cleaning or a coat of paint can also go a long way towards impressing the next owner.

 

Make other plans: Owners, their children, and pets should not be present for the open house. Many sellers find this uncomfortable, as they worry about their belongings and wish to supervise or answer questions. While this is a perfectly normal way to feel, it does make the buyers less likely to make an offer. They will feel disinclined to voice their honest opinions of your property to the agent.

 

A successful open house can culminate in multiple offers and a faster sale. A great agent will help with tips specific to your home’s unique appeal and be your guide through the process.

 

What is the Home Buying Market Like in February?

What is the Home Buying Market Like in February?

 

The home buying market in February may be a bit slower than it is in other months, but there are still some significant trends to watch for, some of which can set the tone for the market later on in the year. Since the start of the buying season is considered to be between March and April. February tends to be a month of preparation.

 

Assessing the Numbers

 

2016 is already off to a good start for potential homeowners. With the average interest rate in February being 3.79%, down a quarter of a percent from the beginning of the year, buyers have access to homes that they couldn’t afford just a month ago. If the interest rates keep falling, this could set a trend for buyers to step things up a notch when it comes to the homes they are looking at.

 

Naturally, interest rates aren’t the only things that have an impact on home buying trends. Current bills that may lend more insight into credit scores are also something to be considered, as well as the job market. Since unemployment rates are falling, the January Non-Farm Payrolls Report may have the biggest impact on the market in February.

 

February Compared to 2016

 

The home buying market in February shouldn’t be used to perceive how the rest of the year might go, since February means something a little different for those who are considering buying a home. For the most part, shoppers aren’t all that interested in getting out in the cold and looking at snow-covered homes. On the other hand, they may have their tax returns in hand, making them prime targets for current scammers.

 

Some current scams involve false reports of identity theft and disputes on credit reports. Since millennials are expected to be some of the most active homebuyers this year, they are also going to be some of the biggest targets for February scams. Right now, shoppers are expected to be doing a lot of online browsing and hopefully, ignoring the calls from scammers rather than responding to them.

 

Now is the time for realtors to start really promoting visuals for their market and interacting with the public. Since this part of the home buying season is largely done online, it’s a great time to catch the eye of potential buyers with images and helpful advice. For potential home buyers, it’s a great time to reach for that home they couldn’t afford last month, and do some research on areas they want to live in.

 

How Much is Too Much When Determining Your Maximum Buying Price?

How Much is Too Much When Determining Your Maximum Buying Price?

A lot of thought and planning goes into determining the price range a person should look in when buying a home. A lot of people set a range with a minimum and maximum – the minimum being a base for expectations and the maximum capping him financially. Even still, having a maximum buying price does not mean you have to push it to the limit.

Assessing Your Income

The general rule of thumb is to follow the industry-wide standard for payment-to-income ratio. The amount you spend on your home each month is the total sum of the actual mortgage payment, property taxes, homeowners insurance, and any other applicable fees like mortgage insurance or homeowner’s association fees. That total should not equal more than 25 – 33% of your total household income.

Your income isn’t the only thing you need to take into consideration, too. You need to seriously assess your outstanding debts as well. Outstanding debt will make it more difficult for you to qualify for a mortgage, and that’s even more reason to lean more towards the 25% (or less) than the 33%. You’ll want to make sure you have enough money for your housing and your debts, no matter what emergency situations may arise. A good mortgage lender will apply a debt-to-income ratio and will not allow you to have a housing payment that is higher than your debt obligations.

Assessing Stability

The highest possible limit for a mortgage represents what you can afford in the best of times. Life isn’t perfect, though, and surprises do come along. Think about whether or not you’d be able to make your mortgage payments if you were in an accident or if you lost your job. What if your mortgage and bills had to be paid on one income instead of two (if you’re married and sharing debts with a spouse)?

Use a Mortgage Calculator

There are dozens of great mortgage calculators online. Take advantage of one – or even more than one – to assess your financial situation. Use this information before, during, and after the loan approval process.

At the end of the day, everyone wants to see you in the nicest home you can afford – realistically afford, that is. Take your time, have a real conversation with your real estate agent about your wants and needs, and remain realistic about your ability to pay for your dream home.

What Type of Insurance DO I Need for an Investment Property

What Type of Insurance DO I Need for an Investment Property?

Congratulations on your decision to expand your portfolio by purchasing an investment property. A true investment property you have opted not to live in may be put up for rent or eventually flipped for a profitable sale. Until then, you’ll need to make sure you have the right type of property insurance.

Looking for a Dwelling Policy

The traditional homeowners insurance policy offers a number of different coverage options. They typically include property coverage for the main building, contents coverage for your personal belongings, coverage for detached structures like sheds or garages, loss of use (in case you have to stay in a hotel during a covered repair), and medical expenses and liability coverage.

As an investment property owner, you may not need all of those coverages – especially personal property. You’ll want to ask your insurance agent for a dwelling policy that covers the buildings and any other structures on the property so that you are covered against your standard risks – fire, theft, burglary, vandalism, and anything else not excluded from the policy. The dwelling policy will also include liability coverage because you are still, as the owner, responsible for personal injury an individual might incur on the property (such a slipping on ice or tripping over cracked sidewalk).

Personal property coverage is not necessary on an investment property that is rented to others. While your dwelling policy would cover the building itself, any tenant you lease to would be responsible for purchasing his own personal property policy.

Landlord Coverage

While a dwelling policy will give you some protection against liability, there are unique risks involved with being a landlord. It’s important to talk to your insurance agent about the availability of landlord insurance for rental properties in your area. This may be a special policy or it may come in the form of an amendment to the dwelling policy you already have.

This type of coverage will offer special protection against loss of rents in the event of a covered loss and some offer limited coverage for items you may keep on the premises. These may include washers, dryers, dishwashers, microwaves, and any other items you leave on the premises for your tenants to use; and it may also extend to items you leave on the premises to make repairs.

In terms of liability, your needs are slightly different. The liability coverage on a landlord policy may also defend you against claims of invasion of privacy, wrongful entry, or wrongful eviction.

The purchase of your first investment property is an exciting event. Make sure you have the insurance you need to make it a viable part of your portfolio for years to come.

 

Top 3 Turn Offs for Prospective Buyers

When listing your home, you probably have many questions. Will the buyers like my home? Does it have an attractive layout? Is it decorated nicely? Is it priced right?

The truth is that most buyers form an opinion about a home within minutes, whether they see it online or in person. You want to make a good first impression so that you can lock in prospective buyers and show them what your home really has to offer. But, it’s important to know what types of things buyers don’t like. Let’s take a look at the top three turn offs for prospective buyers so that you can avoid them in your own home.

1. Dirt and Grime

Before listing your home, you need to do more than just vacuum and dust. The house needs to be in the best possible condition. Period. Prospective buyers expect to walk into a home that is bright, airy and clean, so don’t assume that people will look past everyday grime. Some things to consider: shampooing the carpets, cleaning grout on tile, vacuuming the vents, cleaning the baseboards, scrubbing around showers and tubs and washing the windows. Of course, keep all surfaces, especially countertops and sinks, spotless too.

2. Odors from Pets, Food or Cigarette Smoke

While the house is on the market, choose the foods you cook wisely. Fried foods, for instance, will create film on the cabinets and cause the home to smell. Pet odors easily go unnoticed by homeowners, but many pets leave their scent around the home. Not only should pet odors be eliminated, but so should their toys and accessories (litter pans, bowls, etc.). Have a plan so that Fido isn’t around during the showing. Smokers should also keep all things hidden (ashtrays, lighters), and smoke outside when the house is on the market.

3. Outdated Fixtures and Appliances

If your light fixtures and appliances are outdated, you’ll need to do an update. Buyers want to see modern homes that they can move right into with little work or updating on their part. Some easy, affordable fixes: changing cabinet hardware, installing new light fixtures and painting the cabinets. Naturally, having new appliances and cabinetry is best, so understand that if you don’t have it, you won’t get the highest possible price for your home.

Real Estate Agent vs For Sale By Owner

If you’re considering putting your house up for sale, you are probably concerned about the costs related to selling, moving and repurchasing a home. After all, you may not be getting what you thought from the sale of your home, so it’s a good idea to be financially smart.

One of the first questions that you may have is whether you should sell your home on your own or hire a real estate agent. At first thought, it may seem best to sell your home on your own, as this is the ‘free’ route to go. But, even financial experts recommend using a real estate agent.

 

Here’s why.

They know their stuff.

You want to sell your home fast. This means that it needs to be cleaned up, repaired and placed on the market at a competitive price. Real estate agents can offer suggestions on what needs to be done to get your home up to par. They know what’s selling in your area and at what prices. Basically, they know their stuff. You’re not just paying for a service; you’re paying for essential knowledge as well.

They will give your home maximum exposure.

Nowadays, people comfortably search for homes through the Internet. You want your home to found online, don’t you? If you list your home on your own, you’re more limited on where you can post. Active real estate agents have access to all listing sites, including the MLS database. This means that your home will be placed in front of the biggest pool of buyers so that it gets maximum exposure. This leads to more traffic, a faster sale and perhaps even more than one offer!

They handle buyer calls and showings.

Chances are, you have a full time job, or at least a busy schedule. Do you really have time to handle all calls and emails from prospective buyers? Do you plan on being available for the showings? With a real estate agent, all of this is handled for you. The real estate agent will answer questions, handle phone calls and emails and arrange for showings. All you have to do is sit back, relax and let the house sell itself.

They handle the negotiating.

Will you know what to do when an offer comes in? Do you know how to negotiate? Active realtors do this all of the time, and they know how to negotiate in your best interest while also closing the sale. The final decision will be up to you, but at least you have an expert negotiating on your behalf.