Ready to Sell. Now what?

Ready to sell your home but not ready to put it on the market yet? Then this post is for you.

Committing to the decision to sell can take time. Once you’ve made that commitment, the next step is preparing the house for sale. You know, doing the deep clean, making repairs, freshening paint or neutralizing a vibrant color, de-cluttering, and maybe tweaking a few things here and there.

Not sure where to start? De-cluttering is a fine place to begin. I’ve heard the DIY shows tell you to remove all personal photos, etc. I’m not 100% sold on that theory. Yes, you do not want a buyer looking at your stuff and family photos for a number of reasons. I once showed a house loaded with personal items and my buyer felt bad about buying the house because she saw they had so many good memories and didn’t want to take that away from them. This may seem a little farfetched to you, but it’s a true story, and I’m sure if one person felt that way, another did, too.

We want potential buyers to feel comfortable in the house and leave with a good feeling.

On the other hand, you still live in the house. So when you are clearing shelves, start with non-essential items. (You are planning to move. Packing non-essential items is a good place to start. Heck, you might decide you don’t miss some of those knick knacks once they’re out of sight.) However, you are still living in the house. Leaving out a few cherished family photos will not hinder a sale. Having a wall plastered with years of memories may.

Repairs and paint freshening would be next or in tandem with the de-clutter. A fresh coat of paint can really help a room; especially if it’s covering a color others might find loud or too vibrant. If the paint in a home/room is currently neutral and clean, don’t repaint. If the walls have become dirty with streaks or fingerprints or past touch ups do not give the wall an even color appearance, a professional repaint should be done. I say professional because we ideally like clean/straight borders.

In Florida, a subtle shade of beach sand or beige is preferred for interiors. Trim (base boards and crown moulding) should be white.

Repairs. Repairs can get out of hand. They don’t need to. Keep it simple. Some of the most common repairs I see needed in resales are: the need to wood rot around doorways, air conditioning units needing service (fresh filters and coil cleaning), light fixtures not working or not secure, and dripping faucets. Repairs generally do not include upgrading formica counters to granite, or replacing carpet with tile or wood. In most cases, these are not jobs that will bring a 100% return on investment. So although your house may sell for a few thousand less than the same house with granite next door, I don’t generally believe spending $10,000 to get $7,000 in return is worth the time, hassle and cost. I have also seen those new floors or counter tops removed by new buyers and replaced with something more to their liking. In most cases repairs should be kept simple and not include major upgrades.

Once these steps are complete, it’s time for the deep clean. Getting behind appliances, in corners, crack and crevices, cleaning windows and don’t forget the light switch covers. Pressure washing driveways, walk ways, fascia and patios/decks should be part of the deep cleaning process, too.

Now that your house is ready for market, it’s time to find the right Realtor® to work with you in the sale. S/he may recommend additional improvements – likely just little tweaks since you’ve already done all your prep work. Getting this leg work done up front can save you time in the long run and will certainly help you in getting the most money the market will allow for your home.

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Home Buyer and Credit Survey

Experian recently released their Experian Home Buying and Credit: Survey Report, 2015.
Results are based on answers provided by buyers that purchased a house in the past year or plan to purchase in the next year.

I’m sure everyone who reads/looks at this report will get something different out of it. Here’s what I found most interesting.

The survey found that “more than two in five future buyers are worried that they will not qualify for the best home loan rate and have delayed purchasing to improve their credit.” The survey goes on to say that 55% are working to improve their credit to qualify for a better home loan rate.”

Here’s the thing, interest rates are really low – still. They have been for several years now. A 4% or 4.5% mortgage is nothing to squawk about. Interest rates fluctuate and waiting a few months to bump up a credit could cause more harm than good should rates continue to rise (and they will). That great interest rate you are working towards getting today may not be there tomorrow or next month or the month after.

If you find a loan program that can put you in a monthly payment that fits your budget, would that work?

Another factoid I found interesting is that only half of recent buyers reported “checking their credit as soon as they considered purchasing a home.”

Buying a house is scary. It is a big step; one of the biggest steps adults take in life. Delving into credit can be scary as well – especially when you aren’t sure what will be on that report. Here’s what Experian found though….43% of recent buyers had a better credit score than expected, and 30% were surprised by their credit. So odds are pretty good your credit is not as bad as you think. You know what they say, we are our own toughest critic….

Checking credit and getting qualified for a mortgage are the first steps in taking the leap to home ownership yet according to this survey 67% of future home buyers are not pre-approved. Here’s the deal, finding a house on or Zillow is not the first step to home ownership. Getting qualified for a mortgage with a lender is your first step. Here’s one thing that could happen: Say you put the cart before the house and find an agent that will take you house hunting without a qualification letter from a lender (this is not likely but it happens from time to time). You could see a house, fall in love with it, want to write and offer, call a lender and find you do not qualify for a house in that price range . Deflating to say the least.

So if you’re considering buying your first home. Do your homework. Pull your credit, and call a mortgage lender before you start scrolling through home sites. Don’t know how to read your report or don’t understand something on it? That’s ok. A good lender can help you understand what’s on your report and help guide you in the right direction if improvements need to be made.

If for some reason your credit score is not where it needs to be to qualify, at least you know and can begin working on correcting the item or items that are holding your score down and you back from purchasing your first home. Building a credit score does take time but not as long as you may think once the repairs are made.
Knowing is half the battle. Taking steps to correct past mistakes leads to victory. But again, Experian found that 43% of recent buyers had a better credit score than expected, and 30% were surprised by their credit. So please, don’t let what you don’t know hold you back from taking a step forward – in home buying or life.

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Real Estate News and Reality

The Central Florida market has been on fire. Lenders, appraisers and Realtors® are busy, busy, busy. Year over year statistics are impressive.

Right now, the Orlando area market appears to be pretty stable. Month- over- month prices are increasing gradually and at a healthy pace, inventory of homes for sale has increased considerably in the past 2 years, and buyer traffic is steady. On the whole, we in the Orlando area are in a stable market.

On a national level, I hear and see news about prices skyrocketing and concerns of another bubble. I had those concerns a while back myself. Our market righted itself though, and I suspect other markets throughout the U.S. will follow; this has been the trend since the market crash and recovery – hardest hit states are where the trends start and the rest of the U.S. follows in time.

It’s hard to ignore the news, especially in the age of connectivity we are in. If you’re in the market to buy or sell a home, the best thing you can do is ignore the news.  Instead, examine local data. Better yet, save yourself from data overload. Find a Realtor® that is in tune with the data, knows how to interpret it, and has the know how to sort the facts from the fluff. This is a world of T.M.I (too much information). There are a number of factors to consider when working to determine where the market is going and where values are, and real estate is truly local – in some cases hyper local. Values can and will vary from town to town and even from neighborhood to neighborhood. Finding an agent that will be honest with you about your market and where you stand in it is crucial, and is likely to save you time, money and stress in the long run.

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Oh Experian…. It’s about more than your FICO

Have great credityou seen the Experian commercials about how a person’s great credit score virtually guarantees a low interest rate and/or line of credit? A good credit score is important. That is true. The higher the score, the greater the odds of getting a lower interest rate on loans or revolving credit lines.

What irks me about these commercials is a great credit score is not a guarantee of anything as Experian suggests; especially when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. Credit is only one of the determining factors in obtaining a mortgage. Other factors include income and job longevity, the amount of debt a person carries, outstanding liens/judgments that may be looming out there, savings, a previous bankruptcy or foreclosure.

A person could have great credit but no money saved to afford the costs associated with securing a mortgage or meet a possible requirement for reserves (additional savings cushion in the event of emergency). A person with great credit could have started a new job in a different field of work than previously held or may be collecting unemployment benefits. Lenders typically like to see at least 2 years employment with the same company or within the same field of work.

Someone with great credit may be carrying a little more debt than they should per lender requirements or have a recent bankruptcy that hasn’t been discharged long enough to be able to qualify for a mortgage. Re-building credit after a bankruptcy or foreclosure does not take as long as someone may think…..However, lenders require certain time pass after a bankruptcy is discharged or a foreclosure date has passed before approving a new mortgage. These time frames can vary based on the loan product being offered or even from lender to lender. Havimortgage approvedng an 800 credit score will not negate these waiting periods.

So yes, great credit is a good thing to have. For Experian to say “getting a mortgage shouldn’t be a problem” based on a credit score alone is spreading misinformation (which there is more than enough out there already on a plethora of subjects.) As I briefly pointed out, there is a lot more for mortgage lenders to consider, and verify, than a FICO score. Why Experian has decided to imply otherwise is beyond me….

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Sugarloaf Mountain Road….A Central Florida Gem

I have a beautiful new listing on Sugarloaf Mountain Rd.  This road has some prestige IMG_6586attached to it as it is known for spectacular views, beautiful over sized properties a great place for our bicyclists to ride, and plain ole beautiful rural living that is just a hop, skip and jump to civilization –  seriously, less than 15 minutes to shopping and dining.  A new turnpike exchange coming to the area will shave a bunch of time off a trip to Orlando, the airport or the beach.

My new listing is at 20650 Sugarloaf Mountain Road, Clermont, FL 34715.  It has 4 bedrooms and 4 baths and is just over 3,000 sqaure feet under air.  The property is 7.31 acres and priced at $577,000.  This property is gorgeous to say the least….

Here’s what I said in the public remarks of MLS:    Sugarloaf Mountain Rd, one of the most scenic spots & highest elevations in Central Florida. Falling in love with this part of town is easy. Falling in love with this 7.31 acre property is even easier. Wooded views, open IMG_6550pasture, stunning design & pure beauty abound inside & out of this gorgeous home. Words cannot capture the feeling of peace & tranquility this home site gives. I will take a moment to share an abbreviated list of the finer points of this home & property which include and is in no way limited to: new roof in 2015; freshly painted/stained within the past year; dual zone a/c & tankless hot water systems; R-30 insulation in ceiling & walls; energy efficient windows; low power bills; ample outdoor spaces for relaxing including complete wrap-around porch, impressive flagstone patio w/ over-sized fire pit and hot tub ready copiously sized deck w/ summer kitchen; paved driveway w/parking pad; electricity & water hooked up throughout property & more… Property features include 50 ft. lighted round pen; barn w/ four 12’x IMG_661112′ stalls; 5 paddocks- 3 w/shelter; run to front pasture; shaving spin w/raise-able roof & concrete pad; workshop w/ full power; 2 utility sheds w/ power… This property is absolutely stunning & worth a look for anyone interested in getting away from it all without having to disconnect from the world; only 15 minutes to shopping, dining & the new turnpike exchange currently in beginning stages of construction.

If you want more info or a private tour, let me know.  I’m sure we can arrange a showing that works for your schedule.

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Why I dislike HGTV and those other guys…

As a Realtor®, I am not a big fan of coming home and watching shows like Get It Sold or House Hunters. (In fact, I had to Google real estate reality shows to share some titles.)   The last thing I want to do when I come home from a long day of showings, negotiations, inspections, etc. is sit down on my couch and watch other people “sell” real estate……I have seen shows like this a few times and what I have found has been a bit disturbing to me, and I am sure other real estate agents in the field; or as I’ll say here, living the reality.

I’ve noticed these shows distort the reality of real estate. Shocking, I know, a reality show realitythat isn’t really portraying reality. I have seen these shows imply that a real estate agent knows things like how much a new kitchen will cost or the cost of a new roof. I don’t know if this happens on a regular basis. As I said, I’ve only seen shows like this a handful of times. When I have seen them, I have seen scenarios like I mentioned where estimated costs were given by agents.

I’m not one to say, “That’s not my job.” In fact, I detest that phrase. “I am not trained for that” would be more appropriate in this case.

I am licensed to sell real estate. I have not gone to masonry school, worked as a carpenter, termite inspector, home inspector or painter. I do not know how much a new kitchen or roof would cost and neither do those agents on tv. The shows are recorded after the fact. The buyers have bought those homes prior to taping . It is all staged for the enjoyment of the viewer. Sorry to burst any bubbles here.

If someone asks me how much a new roof is I tell them I can refer them to a roofer. A new roof could cost anywhere from several thousand dollars and upward, depending on the scope/extent of the work to be performed, quality of materials, size of the house and I am sure several other factors I am not aware of. Same holds true for a new kitchen or interior or exterior repaint; costs vary.

These “reality” shows have created an expectation of some buyers that their real estate agent know everything about home repairs, updates and upgrades. Unless an agent is also a contractor with years upon years of experience in each field of construction, no one agent can accurately say what any home improvement project will cost. Also, no agent should. It is a misrepresentation and having the decency to say, “I don’t know but can point you to someone who does” is a lot more beneficial to a buyer than pulling a number out of… thin air.

As your Realtor®, I will keep my eyes open for things like polybutelene piping, a plumbing product used in the ’80s and ’90s that most insurance companies refuse to insure, or Federal Pacific electric panels, known to be a potential fire hazard and also difficult/costly to insure. Typically, these things are clearly marked and visible to the naked eye. I can generally see when a roof may be nearing the end of its life expectancy and share my experiences in the field regarding these items with my clients. Do I know what it costs to replace or repair these things? No. I do not. I am not a roofer, plumber or electrician and do not know what materials a buyer will choose for replacement.

As your Realtor® I wreality arrowill be objective and provide feedback when needed and asked for.

As your Realtor® I will work with you in determining the best price and terms for a home, help you navigate through inspections, appraisals, financing, and all the steps on the path to closing.

As your Realtor® I cannot tell you how much a freshly painted interior will cost, the source of a possible plumbing leak, or the cost of repair. That is simply beyond the scope of my knowledge.

In short, the next time you’re sitting comfortably on your couch or relaxing in your recliner and watching a real estate “reality” show, please keep in mind the bulk of reality of the show is the buyers featured purchased a home, the real estate agent helped in determining an offer price and saw them through to closing.

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Realtors riding the wave of the moment…..c’mon now.

While expanding knowledge, being well rounded and understanding and being able to operate in current market trends is crucial, I believe consistency is key. I have never been one to jump on bandwagons or ride the wave of the moment.

When the real estate market crashed, I did not chase short sales of REOs. Throughout this whole crisis, I kept my focus, as it had always been, on the traditional seller – the one who was often times neglected by their lender and the buyer who thought the deal was with the short sale or REO.  Seems those REO and short sale specialists are looking for a “new” way to butter their bread now that those markets are slowing…..

Article- Real Estate Agents Returning to Traditional Sales






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