7 REAL ESTATE NO-NO’S THAT COULD SINK YOUR HOME SALE

STOP TAKING YOUR OWN PHOTOS AND 6 OTHER REAL ESTATE NO-NO’S THAT COULD SINK YOUR HOME SALE

Selling a home has its challenges. Maybe the couple across the street just listed their house, which you know has an amazing, redone kitchen that makes your dated kitchen seem even more sad. Maybe values on your street or in your neighborhood aren’t appreciating the way you want them to. Or maybe you’re getting transferred and you have to sell – and find something new in your future city – in what seems like an impossibly short amount of time.

Whatever the circumstances, you want the sale to go as smoothly, and take place as quickly, as possible. So don’t do this stuff. Really. Just don’t.

1. Don’t take your own photos

How important are house photos? Many buyers won’t even look at a listing that doesn’t have them. Ditto for poorly taken photos that don’t adequately show the home or photos that are just so bad they’re shared online for all the wrong reasons. We’ve talked before about the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) survey that showed that homebuyers rate photos as the feature they use most when searching for a home online. Remember this. Like a mantra.

“Home sellers used to count on curb appeal to make a good first impression on potential buyers,” said HGTV. “Now, with 80 percent of homebuyers starting their house hunt online, a home’s ‘pix appeal,’ or how good it looks in photos posted on the Internet, is taking over as the top way to impress buyers off the bat.”


uglyhousephotosTo put it another way: “Here’s a shocker: Most of the listings with bad photos also have wording like ‘price lowered!’ ‘Marked down!’ and ‘Priced to sell!’ in the listing – all signs that the phone isn’t exactly ringing off the hook,” said Adorama. “Could it be that the lousy photos of these properties are turning away potential clients?”

The easy answer: yes.

If you insist on taking pictures yourself, (and we really, really recommend you don’t unless you’re a professional photographer, at least heed some tips. But again, not a good idea. Trust us.

2. Don’t try to sell your home by yourself

According to the National Association of REALTORS, 87% of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker – a number that has been rising consistently since 2001, when it was 69 percent.

The reason: Homes sold with a REALTOR® get a higher sales price: “The typical for sale by owner (FSBO) home sold for $210,000 compared to $249,000 for agent-assisted home sales,” said the NAR. Homes listed with a real estate agent also sell weeks earlier than FSBOs.

3. Don’t argue with your agent about price

What you feel like you should be able to get for your home. What your neighbors across the street with the updated kitchen and the oversized lot got for their home. These are two things that are irrelevant to your listing price. So is what you currently owe on your home.


It’s your agent’s job to research the area, the market, recent sales and new listings, and come up with a smart pricing strategy to get your home sold.

If you disagree with the listing price your agent recommends without a legitimate reason (like you’ve found real comparables that weren’t part of your agent’s research or listing presentation), there might be trouble brewing.

4. Don’t trust Zillow as the word of God

In a nutshell, using Zillow (as well as Redfin and Trulia) to determine your home’s value, is dangerous, because their price estimates are off. And not by a little.

Zillow has copped to being off by 8% on their Zestimates®, but that doesn’t come close to the L.A. Times report that found Zestimates can be wrong by as much as 61% depending on the house and the location. A recent study found that their average Zestimate is off by $14,000.

5. Don’t follow prospective buyers around while they’re touring your house

Buyers hate this, plain and simple. If they have questions, they will ask. Shadowing them will only make them feel uncomfortable, which isn’t likely to result in a sale. Your agent will most likely ask you to vacate the house during showings. You should listen here, too.

6. Don’t refuse to negotiate

If there’s one thing you can count on during a home sale, it’s that there’s going to be something to negotiate. Even if both parties immediately agree on the sales price, there could be issues that are uncovered during the inspection, or conflict surrounding the close of escrow and move-in dates. Your inflexibility could end up in a cancelled sale.

7. Don’t ignore your agent’s request to fix up (or at least clean) your house

Staged homes sell faster and for more money. So do updated homes. But that doesn’t mean you have to shell out a bunch of money. Depending on the condition of your home, it could take as little as a good scrub down and a little decluttering to make your house shine.


uglyhousephotosYour agent will undoubtedly have suggestions to make your house more saleable. Don’t ignore them because you think people won’t care that there’s clutter everywhere or pet odors. People care. Really. Even if it’s uncomfortable to hear that your house isn’t as tidy as it should be or that your décor style maybe isn’t what buyers are looking for, it’s in your best interest to make the recommended changes. If you want to sell your house, that is.

 

Written by Jaymi Naciri

How to Bounce Back After Foreclo

How to Bounce Back After Foreclosure

Philip and Denise Powell lost their home in 2011 after Philip’s hours as a pastor were cut in half and Denise was sidelined by a surgery. But they were determined to become homeowners again, so they rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

The Highland, California, couple got financial counseling. They took control of their credit reports, tackled high-interest debts and cut spending. In 2015, they bought another home.

“We thought we’d never recover,” Philip Powell says, recalling the devastation they felt after losing their home. “No one in California was ready for the crash; it hit us hard.”

Their story is typical of the more than 9.3 million homeowners who lost a home through a distressed property sale from 2006 through 2014, according to the National Association of Realtors.

As rents rise, low mortgage rates persist and the economy gradually improves, some who lost their home in recent years will be able to re-enter the housing market. A 2015 study by the NAR found that 1.5 million previous homeowners might be eligible to buy within the next five years, based on the time it takes to boost credit scores and save for a down payment, as well as mandatory wait times to buy another house.

For those looking to put down homeownership roots once more, here are five tips:

1. Know your options: You no longer have to wait seven years after a bankruptcy or foreclosure to buy another home, says Ray Carlisle, president of the national nonprofit NID Housing Counseling Agency. For homeowners who had extenuating circumstances such as prolonged income loss or major medical expenses, Fannie Mae has shortened its waiting periods to two years after a pre-foreclosure sale — a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure — and to three years after a foreclosure. That’s down from the standard waiting periods of four and seven years, respectively.

To get a Federal Housing Administration loan after a foreclosure, the standard wait time is now three years — and as little as one year with extenuating circumstances, says April Brown, a spokeswoman for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

2. Change your bad money habits: Focus on paying down debt, creating a solid savings strategy and avoiding new splurge purchases. Ask yourself, “How much house can I afford?“ Saving for a down payment and closing costs is one of the biggest hurdles that homebuyers face. Start socking away bonuses, windfalls, tax refunds and other extra cash in a savings account. Setting up automatic deposits to your savings account is another way to grow your down payment reserves, and it removes the temptation to spend money unnecessarily.

3. Repair your credit: The FHA’s minimum credit score requirement for maximum financing is 580. Some lenders offer loans at that minimum, Carlisle says, but other mortgage lenders require a FICO score of 640 or higher. Paying off high-interest debt on time each month and not taking out new loans or running up your credit cards will help build your credit score. Also, ask your utility providers or landlord to report your on-time monthly payments to the major credit bureaus to have those count on your credit report, too.

4. Beware of predatory lenders: If you encounter lenders that try to seduce you with “special” zero-down home loans or real estate agents who recommend rosy rent-to-own or land contract agreements, run the other way. Carlisle says that 80% of NID’s clients are minorities who are disproportionately targeted by predatory lenders. Never sign any contract you’re unsure of, and have a housing counselor, real estate attorney or different lender look it over to get a second opinion.

5. Seek help from the pros: Not only can housing counselors help you address credit issues and set up a savings plan, they can connect you with state, local and private resources that can ease your path to homeownership, Brown says.

Next steps
If you’re looking to buy again, reach out to a HUD-approved housing counselor before you begin. Also, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling provides help to more than 3 million people each year. Find an NFCC-certified housing counselor to discuss your options.

By Deborah Kearns

3 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INSURING YOUR VACATION HOME

3 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INSURING YOUR VACATION HOME

Ready to purchase a summer home along the coast or a winter home in the mountains? Although it may seem like a can’t-miss investment, a vacation home could prove to be more expensive than you think, especially when you consider what it takes to insure this residence.

Believe it or not, vacation home and homeowners insurance are not interchangeable. Even though vacation home insurance may offer some of the same coverage as a typical homeowners’ policy, certain exceptions could apply.

What differentiates vacation home insurance from a homeowners’ policy? Here are three things you need to know about insuring your vacation home, and why you may need to add vacation home coverage to guarantee you’re fully protected.

1. Consider that your vacation home may serve as a temporary residence.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the average consumer spent $258.59 annually on vacation costs (food, housing and other living expenses) in 2014. But as a vacation homeowner, you’ll likely need to account for these costs and many others.

For instance, if you spend only a few weeks each year at a summer home on the beach, you’ll still need to ensure this residence is protected against hurricanes and other inclement weather year-round. You’ll also need to insure your summer home based on the fact that this residence may provide only temporary housing, which means you’re not present to maintain this residence in the same way an “average” homeowner would take care of his or her house regularly.

Homeowners insurance covers the “average” homeowner, i.e. someone who spends the majority of his or her time at a residence. Since your vacation home serves as a temporary residence, however, you’ll need an insurance policy that accounts for the fact that you may spend only a portion of the year at this house.

2. If you rent your vacation home, you may need additional coverage.

Vacation homes may provide supplemental income because they enable you to rent your residence to guests at various times throughout the year.

In fact, market research firm Statista reported U.S. vacation home rentals topped $22 million annually last year, and this total may surpass $37 million by 2020.

But consider this: Would an average homeowner rent his or her house to visitors? Of course not! As such, you’ll need insurance that accounts for guests who stay at your vacation residence temporarily.

Your homeowners’ coverage will likely not apply to vacation home damage caused by a renter, so you may want to add extra coverage against damage to your vacation house. You also might consider additional liability, bodily injury and medical payment insurance to minimize your risk when visitors stay at your vacation home.

3. You’ll want to account for insurance costs before you purchase a vacation home or rent your vacation home to guests.

Before you dot the i’s and cross the t’s on your vacation home purchase agreement, consider your insurance costs. By doing so, you’ll know exactly what it will cost to guarantee you’re protected against a wide range of dangers that otherwise could damage your vacation home and its long-term value.

Purchasing a vacation home represents a major investment, one that should not be taken lightly. If you understand your vacation home insurance options, you should have no trouble optimizing the return on your investment.

Vacation home insurance costs may vary based on risk factors such as the location of your residence, the age of your home and its amenities—all factors that could impact the cost of your homeowners’ policy, too.

Comparatively, with your vacation home insurance, you’ll need to account for problems that could arise when your home is unoccupied, including theft, vandalism or undetected damage like when a water pipe bursts.

Keep in mind that these issues may occur in an average home as well. On the other hand, an average homeowner is more likely to detect and address such problems immediately as opposed to a vacation homeowner who spends only a few weeks a year at a particular residence.

Like any residence, your vacation home represents both an opportunity and a risk. If you devote the time and resources to evaluate rental home dangers, you can learn about these risks and insure your vacation home accordingly.

Written by Ryan Hanley