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 If you can swing it and your dishwasher or refrigerator are outdated, consider installing new models that prospective home buyers will appreciate.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.

Just Moved? Time to Make Some New Friends

Just Moved? Time to Make Some New Friends

A lot of people worry about how pets and children will adjust after a move. Adolescents and teens are incredibly social yet often have a hard time finding new peer groups and making friends. And while these are all obstacles that are often overcome, we often handle these issues without considering how the adults in the house will adjust socially to a move.

Wait. What? Yes, you. The adults. It doesn’t matter if you moved 20 minutes from your old house or 200 miles away. You are in a new neighborhood and just dropping everything for a cup of coffee with your friend up the street won’t be possible unless you make a few new friends in your new vicinity.

Making New Friends

Making new friends doesn’t mean you have to ditch your old friends, but you need to have a social circle you can turn to locally. Here are a few ways to meet people in a new area:

  • Join a meet-up group. Look online for local meet-up groups happening in public places and go check one out. You probably won’t be the only one there who hasn’t met anyone in the group before, and you may just find that commonality to bond over.

  • Find a sports team to join. Love soccer? Love baseball? There are adult fun-leagues all over the place. Find one and you’ll not only get some great exercise but will make friends with a common interest.

  • Take a hobby class. There are plenty around, from new paint studios to ceramic classes. Maybe sewing, knitting, or even sign language. Check out the adult classes that are often listed in community brochures or college catalogs and see if something interests you.

Setting Guidelines

Here is where things will get hairy. First, you need to become more comfortable with yourself. You need to be willing to have dinner in a restaurant – alone; to go grocery shopping in a new store – alone; to take a class where you may not meet a new friend – alone. Go to a museum; check out an art gallery; check out the local coffee shop’s open mic night. Just go and open yourself up to opportunity, whether it be enjoying the experience or striking up a conversation with someone new.

At the same time, you need to have guidelines for the types of people you’ll allow into your life. If something strikes you as odd about a person you see at a meet-up, don’t feel obligated to exchange contact info – or don’t use it when given. If you have fun, get an email address. If you keep calling people but they never call you, look to find other people who will reciprocate your friendship in a friendlier way.

Not sure what to do? Talk to your real estate agent. Many are familiar with the areas in which they are selling and can probably help you to find the resources you need to get out there, have a little fun, and meet some people in the process.

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.

5 Things Homeowners and Buyers Should Watch For This Month

It’s no secret that the US economy has had a shaky start in 2014, but this doesn’t mean that things won’t perk up. It will be an interesting selling season to say the least, as everything is rather low: interest rates, housing prices and inventory. If there is enough inventory to keep buyers happy, we could see some of the best sales yet.

Here are five things that homeowners and buyers should watch for this month and beyond.

1. Mortgage rates are still at historical lows.

Mortgage rates do fluctuate, and while they are rising a little more each month, rates still remain at historical lows. As long as the economy is poor, mortgage rates will continue to remain low. When the economy is booming, the opposite happens. For new homebuyers, low mortgage rates will save hundreds off their mortgage each month. This could make that difference for you, too.

2. Housing inventory is still limited.

Housing inventory remains very low, which isn’t helping speed up the housing market. But, if you put your home up for sale, chances are strong that you will have a home that is in demand and will sell quickly since there isn’t that much on the market. Low inventory also leads to bidding wars, which can help your home sell for more. On the flip side, buying a home gets a little more tricky – and competitive.

3. Expect stricter lending rules.

The new qualified-mortgage rule makes the collection of asset documentation super important. Basically, the banks want to make sure that you can make your mortgage payments and repay your loan. Even though these rules are a good thing, they create a lot of extra paperwork. If you’re applying for a loan, be prepared for these changes.

4. Refinancing is slowing down.

Homeowners were refinancing like crazy a while back, but now that mortgage rates are rising and new loans are being given, this side of the banking industry has slowed. If you’re interested in refinancing your current loan, don’t hesitate to fill out the paperwork to do so. You can always ask to have your paperwork set aside for when mortgage rates dip back down.

5. Flexible loan options are available.

Things are not like they were during the housing boom, but there are some flexible loan options available. FHA loans are backed by the government and have more gracious terms as far as down payments and credit score requirements. Some say that adjustable rate mortgages will also become more common during 2014 because mortgage rates are on the rise.

Tips for the First Time Homebuyer

First-time homebuyers – those who have no present home ownership – are some of the luckiest in the market today. In order to stimulate a sluggish housing market, there have been a handful of incentives and loan opportunities that encourage those without a home to buy, in turn stimulating a down economy. Since the housing bubble, the market has been most generous to new buyers thanks to low housing prices and historically low interest rates. The drawbacks have been that lenders have tightened their lending guidelines, and there is a low inventory of homes available.

Why Buy?

Homeownership offers many benefits:

  • Increased control (no more cancelled leases)

  • A residence that better meets your needs

  • Home equity

  • Tax benefits

  • Builds credit

Below are a few tips for the first-time homebuyer.

  • Check the selling prices of homes in your area. For the most accurate data, you’ll need to look at the MLS, so contact a real estate agent who can give you access to this up-to-date, real-time system.

  • Use a mortgage calculator to determine how much you can afford each month. Overestimate your expenses so that you leave ample room to afford your mortgage and the hidden costs, such as HOA fees, property taxes and utility bills.

  • Find out what property taxes will be. There are big differences from one county to the next. Unfortunately, no matter where you live in NJ, you can expect to pay high taxes.

  • Determine how much closing costs will be. First-time homebuyers sometimes have more incentives than other buyers, so you may be able to get your closing costs paid for. Still, it’s not as common for these costs to be rolled into your loan as in years past, so know what you will have to bring to the table.

  • Work with a reputable realtor. A realtor is your best guide during the home buying process and will match you with the best properties, while also keeping you up-to-date on fluctuating interest rates and taxes.

  • Start the pre-approval process. A lender will look at your finances, qualify you based on your income and tell you how much home you can afford. Fannie Mae recommends that you spend no more than 28 percent of your income on housing, so take this into consideration. You want to afford your home, not make it a financial strain.