3 Easy Do-It-Yourself Tips to Make Your Home Look More Chic
Updating your home to be more chic – without looking cheap – is completely doable on a budget.
If you’re looking to add more class to your home, taking on a DIY project can give your house that extra sense of style while saving you money. No need to cringe at those three little words: “do it yourself.” There really are fast, easy and affordable projects you can do on your own. Here are five relatively easy ways to enhance your home.
1. Replace Your Light Fixtures
Switching out an old or basic light fixture for a more elegant one is an easy way to shift the ambiance of a room. By adding a sophisticated light fixture, you can control the intensity of the light and character of your room. And you don’t need to pay a pretty penny for expensive new fixtures – you can buy used fixtures online.
2. Add Floating Shelves
Installing floating shelves in your home combines the functionality of extra storage space with a bit of style and personal flair. Floating shelves can be mounted on walls in many different patterns, and they come in various materials to give your rooms a unique touch. For a small room choose shallow shelves to display framed photos; for a larger room you can afford to use deeper shelves to hold vases, books and unique trinkets.
3. Paint an Accent Wall
Painting an accent wall can add a pop of color and showcase your personality. Usually a low-risk project, a homeowner of any skill level can tackle this project in a day. You just need some painter’s tape, a brush and the color that suits you! Just make sure the color you choose is complementary with the other colors in the room. Stay consistent between warm and cool tones.
4. Install Decorative Molding
Adding decorative molding around your home can add an extra touch of elegance. Install molding to the ceiling by capping walls, columns and cabinets, or add chair molding lower to the ground. With detailed molding you can add character to your rooms while also making them feel taller and more finished.
5. Build a Stone Fire Pit
Take your sophisticated style outside by building a stone fire pit in your backyard. Completed in only a few hours, take uniquely shaped rocks or large stones and put them together to create a functional and stylish fire pit. Before starting the project, be sure to check your local fire codes or homeowners association to ensure you are safe and allowed to start building.
Adding a touch of class to your home doesn’t have to break the bank! Just be sure to start with one project at a time, allowing yourself to complete one before starting the next. Otherwise, you’ll fall victim to chronic project incompleteness syndrome – not a good look!
Now that you know about these five inexpensive DIY projects, which will you try?
If I can ever be of any assistance in answering your Real-Estate questions, feel free to contact me any time- I would love to help you solve your Real-Estate problems!
-Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell
Wondering Which Home Loan Product Serves Your Needs the Best?
Home Loans, and knowing which one best serves your needs, can be tricky in today’s market. Understanding which type home loan and product works best for your particular scenario can save you thousands of dollars (not to mention frustration!). With such low inventory in North Texas, creativity counts when 1) you need to win in a multiple-offer scenario and 2) have a challenging situation or are self-employed. If you’re wondering how to qualify for your next home, read on…
Thankfully, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the BEST loan officers in our business! If you aren’t finding homes that meet your “move-in-ready” standard, let me introduce you to a pro who can tell you all about the 203K home loan program. Looking to actually flip property for profit, and not actually owner-occupy the home? I have a wonderful connect with a bank which offers you a line of credit after just two successful “flips”. Credit-challenged or a recent divorce has left your credit score less than “healthy”? With today’s FHA home-loan, which offers a 3.5% down-payment option, your score has to be at least a 580 for financing approval. Is this your first home, or the lack of a down-payment is preventing you from owning a home? Perhaps the SETH down-payment program is for you (requires a 620 Fico Score). Self-employed, and wondering how that will affect you? As you might guess, I have wonderful loan officers who are ready to lend and specialize on this particular type of situation, too! Considering a move-up or want to enhance your lifestyle? Concerned your current home won’t sell before the dream-home you just saw sells (to someone else)? Let me introduce you to the Bridge Loan Program. I also have access to the relatively new 3% Conventional loan program or get this….a 1% Conventional Loan Program through one of my preferred lending partners. Whatever your situation, chances are…there is a product out there for you. Let’s recap just a few of the primary options that are currently available to you (all data is as of 5/10/17; always confirm as rules and guidelines can change at any time, and without notice):
FHA Home Loans (580+ Fico Score / 3.5% of sales price as down-payment)
SETH Down-Payment Assistance (Zero Down) Programs (620 Fico Score-can be used with FHA OR Conventional Loans
Conventional Home Loan (680+ Fico Score)
203k Home Loan (For Owner-Occupied Renovations / Fixer-Uppers)
Bridge Loans (Help you buy your next home before you’ve sold your first one if you don’t qualify for both).
Portfolio Loans and Hard Money Loans (Investment Property / Property Flipping)
There are SO many options and products in today’s market!
By the way…if you haven’t already heard, as of 7/01/17, more than 60% of tax liens and public records currently reflected on one’s credit bureau will be taken off for not meeting the new guidelines. If one of these situations has prevented you from your home-ownership goals and dreams, feel free to contact me, and I’ll put you in touch with the loan officer who specializes in that particular scenario. I would love the opportunity to listen to your story, and find a successful solution to your problem.
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell
Time for Some Spring-Cleaning and Organization!
Spring Cleaning time of the year is here, and it’s the perfect time to organize your home. Included in organization are those oh-so-important documents and information that seems to never be at your fingertips when you need them (birth certificates, immunization records, etc). I am the first to admit that while I may be organized with things in my professional life, those documents in my personal life seem to never be where I need them. So, let’s take this time to get organized together! Especially if you’re considering putting your home on the market this summer, now is the perfect time to start organizing your home and donating items that are no longer useful so that you aren’t bombarded with so much to do in the midst of summer before listing (when you would much rather be on vacation and spending quality time with your family 🙂
Some people have not embraced the usefulness of the bookmarking app of Pinterest. “Do-It-Yourself-er” or not, you’ll find many great ideas here…and not just for the home. One in particular that I ran across seemed great for organizing and storing all of life’s useful documents. Whether you decide to important documents in a file-cabinet and lock it away, place them neatly in the garage (so that that ugly filing cabinet is out-of-sight), or store life’s must-haves on an external drive, consider making a second copy filed under “items for home loan” if considering purchasing a home soon. Not only will it make your home loan process much smoother, but should something happen or an emergency arise such as an unexpected surgery or hospitalization, another family member will know exactly where to go to make sure there’s no lapse in any important bill during your stay. So jump on Amazon and get a few filing-cabinets and let’s begin, working one-by-one: (by the way…the mentioned website also has a lot of great tips for the home!).
Once you’ve organized all of the important papers and documents in your life…on we go to organizing other important matters of the home. If you’re considering selling a home this summer, your agent will be so impressed when they come by for your pre-listing appointment! Bookmark this page and sign up for updates to get great tips and advice on streamlining your home in easy-to-follow steps…and don’t miss my next blog-post offering great advice on how to declutter a home without feeling overwhelmed or bombarded!
Considering Selling YOUR Home and Wondering What You Can Net On the Sale?
Contact Me Any Time Via Text / Email or Call; I’m Always Happy to Help!
Amy S. Arey, Realtor
Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell | AmyAreyRealtor@Gmail.com
**Connect with me on Linkedin here to view recommendations from my clients**
Wondering what the HOTTEST Home Improvements and Interior Updates are in North Texas Right Now?
No doubt you can find a number of magazines and websites with articles on the best updates for resale. The problem with these articles is that they focus on the national or global scale. If you’ve ever renovated your home and then tried to sell it, you especially, know that $ in does not equate to $ out. That being said, it’s important to know what updates are behind the fastest-selling homes in your specific area when considering renovating your home.
Based upon multiple economists predictions, the housing market in Texas will continue strong in 2017 due to two dominating factors: 1) The ever-increasing demand in housing in housing from the ever-increasing group of first-time home buyers, and 2) the continued job-growth. While the upper-end luxury real estate market has tapered off, the demand for housing under $350,000 has increased more than ever. With that demand, comes a younger crowd with different wants an needs. When considering selling a home, or considering renovating to get the most money for your home, its important to know what’s driving the wants / needs of these consumers to get the best “bang for your buck”!
It’s important to understand what is going on in your local market to know how you stand up next to the competition. Based on a survey from yours truly 😉 of homes sold in North Texas (that went under contract within a week of being listed and sold for more than list-price), there was one dominating factor: a move-in ready home. With the growing number of younger home-buyers in our local market, I might also be so bold as to suggest that we can get a little “trendier” with updates to appeal to the current consumer opposed to the normally recommended “neutral traditional” winning the cake. I don’t have to tell anyone that Millennials have a reputation for being BOLD. They want a move-in ready home with character. (Note: I am not suggestion you do not need to repaint those purple and red accent walls; there is still something to be said for mass appeal and knowing what is popular in a given location within a specific price-range). We must know our audience to know how they will perceive our product! How does one do this you might ask?
ASK YOUR LOCAL REALTOR
So what “are” the sought-after updates that are helping homes in North Texas sell faster than their competition (and for more money?!)
- Open Floorplans / Open Concept (I KNOW; surprise for me too!! ;0)
Knock that Wall Down! People crave space they can relax and entertain in…
We are also still seeing a lot of “greige” paint in homes, with the aid of Revere Pewter…
2. Gourmet Kitchens with Gas Ovens, Huge Islands that Double as Breakfast Bars
….don’t forget the “trendy pendant lighting” over the bar…
3. Hardwood Flooring
(The tile-like hardwood is a GREAT substitute-especially in areas with moisture, and makes for a great, less-expensive route with the look of real hardwood!)
4. Brick Accents and Limestone Washed Fireplaces
5. Subway Tile Back Splash
6. Mature Trees
Homes for Sale in Richardson, Homes in Eldorado in Mckinney and other areas of Collin County offer lush, treed lots. Search for yours here!.
7. New Roof
It probably does not surprise you that living in Texas, one might consider a new roof a definite “plus” when searching for their next home. If your roof is in need of repairs, contact me! I will be able to refer you to various roofers in DFW whom my clients have had great experiences with!
8. New Front Door – The Mission-Style Door
Is there any surprise that consumers value a new front door as a sought-after amenity on their “must-have” list? A simple investment that can instantly transform the exterior look of the home by adding life to curb-appeal, as well as the immediate foyer area by allowing natural light to cascade in, creating more of a “homey” and “open” feel, this is a can’t lose investment when considering renovating your home. (The mission style door, shown below, seems to make quite the appearance in renovated homes in Collin County right now). This should be a shoe-in considering that most people make their first impressions within 7 seconds. These pertinent seconds could be the seconds that decide if the buyer wants to even “come in” to your home or not…
**Don’t forget that “pop” of color next to your door to make your home feel inviting and well-cared for!**
CONSIDERING SELLING IN NORTH TEXAS?
Wondering how much your current updates could get you when selling a home? Wondering what to do to your home to get top dollar?
Contact me today to listen to your goals / discuss options to meet your goals!
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell
Prepping Your Home for Sale to Make Your Listing Photos POP!
Prepping your home for sale has many components, professional photos being one of them. When considering selling a home, you want the photo to compel the potential buyers to like what they see so much (online) that it creates the desire to see the home in person. While some of us enjoy many aspects home-shopping, we have to remember…some do not enjoy the process at all, and looking at yet another home is the last thing they may want to do at the time. Making the most of the features that you have and following your Realtors pre-listing check-lists can ultimately help you sell your home quickly…and for top dollar. Below are a few of my favorite photographer’s tips to ensure you get the very best exposure and quality out of your Real-Estate photo shoot.
Below are some great tips from my own professional Real Estate Photographers in DFW-Home Snappers:
Replace all burned out light bulbs
Use bulbs of the same temperature (ALL incandescent or ALL compact fluorescent) Turn all ceiling fans 0 FF
Turn all TVs OFF
Turn all computer screens OFF
Open blinds/window treatments to let in outside light
Make all beds
Remove small floor rugs to reveal actual flooring
Place all shoes/jackets in closetsEXTERIOR – Creating an online “curb appeal” and a relaxing oasis
Front Exterior – The front exterior is usually the first photo buyers see
Close garage doors
Remove cars from driveway and front of home
Clean up landscaping (mow, trim shrubs, clear leaves)
Remove empty planters
Use broom to remove cobwebs from eaves and door frames
Remove visible water hoses
Remove toys, sports balls, basketball goals, soccer goals, etc.
Back Yard – The back yard should be an oasis to relax Clean porch, tidy up outdoor tables/chairs/cushions Pillows/cushions should be fresh, not faded
Clear out kid’s toys, balls, frisbees, etc. Turn on pool fountains/water features
Remove visible water hoses
Remove trash cans
Kitchen – Sometimes the focal point, the kitchen deserves attention to detail Clear countertops completely. No knife blocks, baking supplies, mail, etc. Leave out max of one small appliance (ex. coffee maker)
Clear outside of refrigerator of magnets, papers, photos, etc. Hide garbage cans in pantry or closet
Remove dishes from sink, place in dishwasher
Dining Room / Table – Allow buyers to imagine a nice family meal
Clear table, dust and polish the table top
Use decorative place setting if available
Feature one center piece such as a bouquet of flowers
Straighten all chairs and space them evenly
Remove child seats/booster chairs
Living / Family Room – The space to enjoy conversation and spend quality time with family
Remove stacks of magazines, papers, mail, etc.
De-clutter fireplace mantel/hearth (no more than 5 items, including art)
Fluff and arrange furniture pillows
Remove kid’s toys
Bedrooms – Rest for you and guests
Master Bedroom – A good night’s rest recharges the body and mind
Make bed, including decorative pillows/shams if available
Press bed linens and bed skirts
Clear nightstands of all personal items
Remove all clutter from top of dressers
Clean under bed, removing items that may show in the photos
Kid/Guest Bedroom – Don’t forget about guest bedrooms
Remove personalized names from walls
Remove wall stickers/posters
Remove diaper genies
Clean under bed, removing items that may show in the photos
Bathrooms – To be spa-like, the bathroom must be clear of all personal items Clear countertops completely. No soap, toothbrushes, medications, deodorant, etc. Put toilet seats down
Close closet doors
Remove shampoo, soap, loofahs, etc. from showers and tubs
Remove dirty towels – leave out only new, unused towels
Remove floor mats
Pets – Pets are loving, but their presence should be minimized
Place food and water bowls in pantry or closet
Place pet beds/toys in pantry or closet
Use lint roller on furniture to remove pet hair
Contain pets in hidden crate or outside
Clear back yard of pet waste/toys
“Are we in a Real-Estate Bubble”? I have heard that question at least a dozen times in the past few years with our market’s soaring sales prices and appraisal rates. (One of my clients the other day even joked ((I think)) that it was an inevitable as the 2nd coming of Christ)). *Blink* Blink* Blink* Blink. Although a real fear with many who have delayed buying or selling, the conditions are not the same as they were in the 80’s when the dreaded “Real Estate Bubble” happened or even in 2008 when the “Credit Crisis” happened. Many who lived through and bought and sold real-estate during this era sometimes give well-intentioned yet uninformed advice to those considering buying and selling today.
With sometimes as many as 22 offers (which is the most I’ve experienced myself) on a single home under $300,000, it’s difficult to think a real-estate bubble in Texas is not approaching. Some argue it will only affect certain states, such as California, where it’s not uncommon to pay 100k over list-price (a shocking figured compared to our sometimes 5-10k over list price is hot real estate areas of north Texas where most of us are still shell-shocked for having to do “that” to win a bidding war). However, analysts predict otherwise. (Keep in mind that many articles you read are also written on a “national” and not “local” level so you may get misguided information simply for that reason). Many conditions would have to coexist to create another Real Estate Bubble in North Texas, including rising unemployment rates, lax qualification guidelines from mortgage lenders (which we know is not the case, although they “have” loosened in the past few years), an increase in foreclosures, etc for another “credit doomsday” to occur. (Not to mention, much of the fraud has been narrowed out, alongside “questionable” lending practices such as “stated income loans” before the subprime fall in 2008.
A leading cause of the crash in 2007/ 2008? Unorthodox Capital.
As cited by Fortune Magazine’s May Issue:
“This time around the unorthodox capital isn’t coming in the form of international investors piling money into the U.S. mortgage bond market, creating a doomsday machine that cranked out home loans with very little scrutiny, but from domestic institutional investors, folks buying second and third homes and serving as landlords, and foreign buyers stowing cash in American real estate”
Let’s take a look at a few things that caused the “Real Estate Bubble of the 80’s” (not in any particular order):
- The failure of a large number of savings and loans institutions resulting in the Federal Reserve doubling interest rates in an effort to reduce inflation.
- Rising interest rates brought on a recession – which brought on FRAUD
- Rising loan rates alongside a SLOW growth economy
- Overbuilding in multi-family, condo-type residences
- Real-Estate values collapsed in the Energy States, (Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma) due to falling oil-prices.
- Scandals. Fraud. Scandals. Fraud. Fraud. Fraud
- “Unsound” Real-Estate lending / High-Risk Loans
What is YOUR opinion of a looming Real-Estate bubble for Texas? Yes? No? Why or why not?
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341
Serving North Texas since 2002!
During the past several years, I’ve had more and more single or divorced females contacting me to buy a home. Buying a home can be a daunting process for the first-time buyer, much less for someone who also has the stress of buying a home “being a single woman” (especially with all of the negative “horror stories” one might hear from “well-meaning” family and friends of all of the horrible things that could happen that you may not be able to take care of alone), especially with not understanding warranties, repairs, or the process to follow should a repair-emergency come up. Lord forbid the home fall down a month after you purchase it 🙂 Many of these clients have started the process with me to end up mid-search becoming afraid of these very things-repairs. I’ve had a few people tell me “I’m afraid of what would happen if something falls apart or breaks”.
I feel society has put a lot of negative attention on telling us what we “can’t” do. (Many of the aforementioned clients were very strong, rational women, who were simply letting others’ insecurities get to them and prevent them from their dreams). Don’t let someone do this to you; arm yourself with information and protect yourself with a home-warranty that covers your major appliances…and then some! (Should a needed repair such as a plumbing leak happen, simply call your warranty company so that they can appoint a service-technician). You don’t have to know how to “fix” the problem yourself. Of course, it’s always good to have a few handymen (or “persons”) around as well. Don’t have these people in your life? Ask your Realtor…they will be able to appointment a few great handmen (“persons” 😉 or contractors for you.
On that note, while browsing blog-posts on LinkedIn the other day, I came across one that I was VERY impressed with, written by the founder and owner of the company-Jo Ellen Soesbee of “Toolbox TomGirl, LLC”. Jo Ellen and her company pride themselves on empowering women (to do things they thought they couldn’t do, from the most simplistic “fixes” to the most intricate remodeling projects). Jo Ellen travels nationwide, teaching / publicly speaking on this very subject, the basis of what she has built her company on. I was so impressed with what I was reading, that I had to send her an email. To my surprise, she responded back–in great detail.
I encourage anyone who is a female buying a home alone (or just wants to learn a few things, or enjoys home-remodeling) to check out her blog and her company: www.ToolboxTomgirl.com, along with:
Feel free to contact me if you’re considering buying a home-whether coupled or single, I will guide you through the transaction and the path to home-ownership. I’m always open to questions and concerns about the home-buying process and what to expect. Whether a condo in Dallas, or a single-family home in one of the many suburbs of North Texas, we will find one that’s right for you!
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell
If you’re like many people, you’re forward-thinking when it comes to considering your home’s resale. You’re likely wondering what improvements to your home can help you sell it for more in the future and reap the rewards for your investments. Not ALL investments will provide you a good (if any!) return. As summarized by Money Magazine, below are a list of top upgrades wanted nationwide, as surveyed by a list of consumers:
- An entertaining-ready kitchen (not surprising!)
- An open floorplan with flexible living space
- Energy-efficient updates and appliances
- Updated major appliances (HVAC, hot water heater, etc)
- New Roof
- Hardwood floors
- A home for the “ages” (ie: showers one can “roll into” without a curb
- Master on the main floor
- New paint
- Outdoor entertaining areas
- “Smart” Systems (ie: the Nest System)
Read the entire article here.
Considering selling your home and wondering what you could make on the sale in today’s market? Give me a call today! 214.901.1341-cell
Amy S. Arey | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell
“Why Has My Home Not Sold?!”
There you are…90 days after putting your home on the market…a few potential “new” homes picked out…and not only not a single offer in sight, but slowings have come to a screeching HALT. What has happened? Why have other homes in the neighborhood moved faster than yours? THREE THINGS influence the sale of a property: 1) Location 2) Aesthetic Quality and 3)Price.
1) Location: I absolutely love to work the sale-side of a transaction, and firmly believe that there is a buyer for every home. (Someone else’s trash your treasure? 😉 The golf-course lots that may be appealing to one buyer may not even be a thought in the mind of a homeowner who once lived on a golf-course lot and had one-too-many golf-balls hit his window. The lake-view that some may find appealing may be disregarded by someone who feels they attract bothersome misquitos. The overly-ornate house may be the perfect home for someone searching for that niche piece of property. The key is to 1) know your competitor and what they offer and play up your positives and down-play the negatives.
2) Aesthetic Quality: This is not just about what your home “looks” like. Think about touching all senses…what does your home 1) look, 2) feel, and yes…even 3) “smell”.
3) Smell : (In helping one of my friends find a home a few years back, there was a home that stood out…the home in which she, her husband and their children live in today, in which we termed “the apple pie house”. It stood out because of the wonderfully fragrant apple pie candle smell that filled the entire house (unlit, by the way). It created a “homey” feel and left an impression. I’m not a fan of candles because of the fire hazards, but vanilla glade plug-ins work GREAT. If there IS a particular odor (pet smell, cigarette, etc….don’t just MASK it…it WILL be uncovered 🙂 Fix the problem first, then add the scent).
4) Sound like? (I will also add “taste” for open house situations). Put on light jazz music to set the mood, turn all of the blinds 3/4 of the way up so that sun comes in, and the rooms appear more open, make sure there is a neutral pleasant scent.
Exercise: Park your car in the front of your home at the curb with a notepad in hand. Put yourself in a different mindset for a moment–that of the potential buyer. Even in this heat, is your grass as green as it could be? How would you grade the overall curb-appeal? If you have a green thumb, great, otherwise, this is NOT the time to take up landscaping…leave it to the professionals (or ask us for references who can help) to ensure the best appearance possible. Are there cobwebs above your door? Is it in need of powerwashing? Is the fence in need of staining? (A small investment now could reap you rewards later). Remember, a buyers first impression of your home is going to be the lasting one. It could also mean the difference of a home the potential buyer may drive up to then decide to not even go in because something on the outside made them feel that the interior (or worse-structure) of the home was not taken care of. (Do you have scheduled appointments that are not “showing up”? This could be the problem. Once inside…look around-how does it feel? Is it cluttered with personal belongings? (Make sure to take down all personal photos from your home before putting on the market-you want the potential buyer focused the features of your home….not what you did on family vacation 🙂 Clean everything from the kitchen counter so that the counterspace feels as spacious as possible. Make sure toys, shoes, etc are in “stash boxes” which you can quickly throw things in and push under a bed or stack neatly in the garage for showings. (That being said…do NOT cancel appointments unless absolutely necessary. It’s a numbers game and if they can’t go in, they aren’t going to buy it…but they may buy your neighbors, of whom they got to see). Make sure vanity areas, toilets, tubs, floors and windows are SPOTLESS. These things are a reflection of the entire “upkeep” of your home. Now is not the time to scare away an otherwise interested buyer. Even if you typically do not use one, it may help to have the assistance of a cleaning service while your home is on the market.3) Price -Price can ALWAYS overcome the latter two issues. Is your home priced competitively? When listing your home, your Realtor should have ran comps to determine what homes are selling for and what yours should be listed at. Some sellers feel that listing higher in the beginning gives buyers an opportunity to “make an offer” that they feel is fair. Unfortunately, this is just NOT the case. While listed “too high”, you may be losing out on the qualified buyers who WOULD have been interested in your home. Something else also happens…when your home sits on the market, buyers and Realtors alike begin to wonder what’s “wrong with it” and may bypass it. Is YOUR home priced competitively? A great way to find out is to go look at OTHERS near you which are priced in the same range. Are you in need of a decrease in price? Just yesterday, I had a potential seller contact me who had purchased a home, loaded it with upgrades and listed it for top dollar. He had it listed with a different realtor..in which the listing expired. He says to me…”I don’t know why the home hasn’t sold, I really think it’s worth $400k”. My response? “Market value is what the general public is willing to pay for a particular property. YOU may feel it’s worth $400k and “I” may feel it’s worth $400k, but if your home has not sold, and the general public is not willing to pay $400k, then your home is not listed at market value, and is priced too high.
Obviously, the top 3 factors must be coupled by a creative, focused marketing plan by a Realtor who knows your goals, the market, and cares about your best interests.
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell
Want to know YOUR Home’s Value? click here
Buying a home
is called “The American Dream” for a reason=everyone dreams of owning their own home. For some, this dream may seem like something that will never materialize due to 1) not really understanding what is required “to” buy a home or 2) realizing the mistakes you’ve made in past years really are affecting your life, your credit, and your ability to buy the things you want.
Improving these conditions is like going on a diet and losing weight (or gaining mass for those of you whom this applies more to). You’ll have to work at it over the course of the next year to meet your goals. There are things in your lifestyle you will have to change to get what you truly want. You’ll have back-falls and slip-ups and at times may feel like giving up (don’t!); the beginning is slow but you WILL see results if you follow my guidelines below. You also will not be in this alone. I will be with you every step of the way, check in once or twice a month to help you monitor your progress, and will always be there for any questions you may have. Rest assured, your information is always 100% confidential.
Before you even begin this process, (Ask your agent ((Moi`?)) to set you up on an auto-update for home-listings. This will keep you motivated and keep your “eye on the ball” as you work through all of the changes you are about to encounter. Are you ready?!
First, we will need to take a good, hard look at your finances. If you want to buy a $175,000 home in one year you’ll need to have 3.5% of the sales price (FHA loan) saved for down-payment (that’s $6125.00 / $511.00 per month saved or $256.00 per person per couple). Doesn’t sound too bad, right?! You can also have this amount “gifted” from a family member if you are so lucky. There are also loans in rural areas called USDA loans which require no down-payment and of course, down-payment assistance programs if you qualify, but in this competitive market, it’s always better to have some meat (ie cash!) in the game. In dealing with a multiple-offer scenario in this very competitive market, you’ll need to prove that you are the most-worthy buyer to the sellers-the buyer who can fulfill their contractual promise to get to the closing table.
Of course, there are other expenses you will want to save for (other than your down-payment), or at least be aware of in buying a home. You will want to be prepared for:
- Your Earnest Deposit (average is 1% of the price of the home)
- Your Option Fee (Average is $100.00)
- Your Inspection Costs (Average is $375.00)
- Your Appraisal Fee ($450.00)
- Several months of home-owners insurance or lender-required escrows
The best advice anyone has ever given me on budgeting is to have two separate accounts-one for bills and the other as your “primary” account to do with as you wish (transfer to savings, or perhaps save for the down-payment of your home). For myself, I actually have three accounts since I’m self-employed – a 3rd for marketing / advertising expenses (which also makes tax-time each year much easier!). Add up all of your monthly expenses, bills, and transfer that amount + a little cushion into your “bills” account each month. This way, you can rest assured the household bills are paid on a timely fashion and you don’t have to worry about making sure something didn’t get paid or fell through the cracks because you were
not paying attention busy. You’re primary account will tell you exactly how much you have left over. If you’re not saving as much as you would hope, then perhaps make buying a home a 2-year goal instead of a 1-year goal. Or, maybe consider getting a short-term 2nd job as a way to save the money for the down-payment of your home.
Now, let’s talk credit.
Although FHA’s rules state that you could be approved for a home loan with a score as low as 580, most lenders will want to see scores at at least 620 (since they will be the entity lending you the funds). If you have damaged credit, it may be worth it to seek the advice of a professional in that field (that is, the credit-repair field). Sure you may be able to save some money by attempting to repair your own credit, but (with good intentions), you may do more harm than good to your own credit simply for lack of knowledge of the laws pertaining to credit repair (such as paying off collections).
I don’t claim to be a credit repair professional or anything of the like, but I will tell you the basics on how to raise your score.
First, you will want to order all three of your reports. CreditKarma.com will allow you to order them for free. I like this site because you can review the changes on a weekly or even daily basis ((which can be a lot of fun when you see your credit scores rising!)). Go to http://www.experian.com and order your report from that bureau there. Designate a day of each week as “credit repair day”, ie: Mondays from 6-7. You won’t see many changes at first, but soon, you will. Just keep the end-goal in mind: your home.
Now, look at each report…and each trade line, one at a time. Is there information that is incorrect or outdated? You’ll need to work with the bureaus and the creditors to remove this incorrect information. Disputes can hurt you when applying for a home-loan, so you’ll want to start this process early (this is why we are allowing a full year to meet your goal). Many times, incorrect data can be reported, or the correct data can accidentally be reported to the wrong person’s credit. Each week, work on ONE item at a time so that the process doesn’t get overwhelming.
While you are working on getting the incorrect data OFF of your report, you’ll also want to work on paying down all of your revolving balances under 30% of your actual line of credit. (Ie: if your line of credit is $500.00, you never want your balance to be more than $130.00, and never, ever max out your credit cards). Take one trade line at a time and pay it down.
Then, while you are paying down all of your revolving balances, and making sure they are paid in a timely manner (see 35% above), you will also need to negotiate any collections on your bureaus (remember…this blog-post is speaking directly to those who have very damaged credit). There is a lot of controversy about what paying collections does to your score. However, if the trade line is no longer there because you have negotiated a “pay for delete” with the creditor, it can’t be counted against you.
While you are paying down debt and getting inaccurate information off of your credit reports, you may notice a slight dip in your score and wonder what has happened since you’ve spent so much time and energy doing the right thing. While trade lines were being paid down, or removed, your average age of credit may have decreased (this is what has lowered your score). This is temporary but it does take time to yield long-term results and keep them consistent. Remember, this is a work in progress! *Check your credit reports each week to monitor your progress. You may get there quicker than you think!
In most cases, you will need new, positive trade lines. Look for secured cards that report to all bureaus. Get two and keep them under the 30% balance. Most of these cards will offer you a non-secured card after 6-7 months of on-time payments. From there, your score will go up even higher.
- Remove Inaccurate Information
- Pay down debt
- Build new, positive trade lines
By the time you get to this point, you are likely ready to embark on your home-search! From here, you’ll need to get pre-approved by a loan officer whom you trust, or ask for a referral from your real-estate agent. You may have small set-backs, but just keep pressing forward-you will get there, and you’ll soon be earning equity. (Again, if this latter portion seems too cumbersome and time-consuming, you may want to enlist in the aid of a credit-repair company).
Serving North Texas since 2002!
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell
How Much Money Do You Need to Buy a Home?
“How much money does it take to buy a home these days” should be the question..
No doubt the home-buying process has been thrown upside down in this fast-paced seller’s market. Instead of a buyer striving to get the most amount off of a sales price, and sometimes getting their closing costs paid by the sellers, buyers are now faced with the competition of how to prove themselves to be the most qualified candidate to the sellers (sometimes among many, but usually several)…to buy their home. A buyer may state that they will not allow the market to influence their home-offer…but that buyer soon finds that after losing 3-4 offers, they are the one left without a home.
So, what amount “does” one need before entering the home-buying rat-race of North Texas in 2015?
- Earnest Money- This was typically 1% of the sales price of the home. Now, buyers are putting down 5-10% of the sales price in earnest money deposits (and in some cases, more!) to prove their commitment to follow through on the home sale.
- Option Fee – This was typically $100.00 for the standard 10-day option. It’s now not uncommon to see $500.00 or more for the option fee and a 3-5 day option period.
- Inspection Fee – This depends upon the square footage of the home, but the average home-inspection for a 2700 sf home is generally around $350.00.
- Structural Engineer- We live in Texas. Be prepared to see hairline cracks, mortar cracks and more. You’ll want to have the foundation evaluated by a structural engineer if so, to confirm the integrity of the structure. Expect an average cost of $350.00.
- Appraisal Fee – $350.00-375.00 in most cases.
- Survey – Did you agree to pay for this or did the seller? That’s another cost to account for.
- Escrow and Insurance – Your lender may require several months of insurance and/or escrow to fulfill the loan requirements.
- Origination Fee – Want to buy down your interest-rate? This costs $ too.
- Closing Costs – Generally 2-5%. We are in a market where almost no one is asking the seller to pay for their closing costs, ie: a seller-contribution. It happens, but it is very, very rare-especially in popular, sought-after locations.
- Down Payment – Let’s not forget this guy. More of a down-payment means more of a solid offer. While the minimum down-payment ranges from 3-20% (depending upon what loan-type you get and if you plan to owner-occupy the home), more is always better and shows the seller that you are a stronger candidate for the home.
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-cell
Does Your Home Make You Depressed?
As funny or odd as those words may sound, the place you invest the majority of your time in, ultimately your home, could heavily impact your mood and overall well-being. In fact, places such as the Academy for Neuroscience of Architecture in San Diego have some surprising facts and suggestions based upon this find. With a large majority of us working from home these days, our home is more important than ever to be a cozy refuge that allows creativity, productivity, and of course relaxation. Research shows…it’s not just Feng Shui that can create a positive home environment.
How do you know if it’s time for a little renovation or for a move?
Colors. I’ll first point out the obvious. If your home is dark and dreary, it make have an affect on your psyche that you are not even aware of. A lot of research has gone into colors vs moods such. Look at the fact that a lot of restaurants use “red” as a color; it’s been known to provoke conversation and make you hungry!
Notice how you feel walking into a particular room. Does it feel soothing and relaxing to you…or just…dark? If it doesn’t feel soothing, it may be time for a paint-change. Ask the Pros: This popular “greige” (Sea Salt by Benjamin Moore) color below is a favorite of top designers.
Ceilings. Did you know that taller ceilings promote abstract / creative thinking? Don’t have taller ceilings? Paint the walls a slightly darker shade and leave the ceiling white.
Lighting. Not enough natural light can have a huge impact on our system and how our brain produces melatonin. Not enough natural light in your home? Maybe incorporate french doors onto a patio that allow more natural light in. Switch the dark drapes for something light and airy (maybe white) that just frame the windows. Have a dark sofa? Accessorize with white throw pillows to liven up the room.
Clutter. Ever notice how when our homes are spotlessly clean that we feel more relaxed? When they aren’t organized, we may have a habit to feel “emotionally cluttered” as well. Take some time to do some spring-cleaning (no matter the season!). There are a lot of Facebook online garage sale sites in which you can easily rid yourself of things you haven’t used in years…and better yet, use the cash-flow to reinvest for the right decor for your home. Donate what you can’t sell. There are many charities which will pick up bags right from your front porch. Grab a pen and paper and make yourself a task list. Take one item and spend 30 minutes on it per week (ie: clean out the “junk drawer” in the kitchen). You’ll feel so much better!
The View. If looking out over the city landscape is just not your cup of tea anymore, consider moving to a location that will give you more of a garden view…or vice-verse if the suburbs have you craving some “life” in your view. Golf-course views are relaxing for some, while others prefer more of a lake-front view. Maybe a nice picturesque backyard would do wonders for your mental clarity or relaxation at the end of a stressful day (not to mention the garden work if that’s something you enjoy), thus making you more productive in the long-run because you “feel” more at ease. Perhaps search for either of those online and think about how you feel looking at each view.
Updating. If your home is outdated, it could be a stressor for you. You may not want to have company and you may not want to even be there yourself. Inexpensive fixes such as changing out fixtures, implementing a few new area rugs, lamps and accessories could change the entire look of your place all-together.
There are many DIY sites (along with pinterest) that have a plethora of information if you’re willing to learn. I’ve found YouTube is great for step-by-step renovation instruction. Cheers to a cozier home and a happier you!
Searching for your next home in DFW? I’d love to help! Contact me today to start looking for the right home for you!
Amy S. Arey, Realtor, CNE | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341
Here is the complete list of Realtor.com’s 20 hottest markets right now:
1. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado
2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
4. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
5. Vallejo-Fairfield, California
6. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts
7. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California
8. Santa Rosa, California
9. Ann Arbor, Michigan
10. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan
11. San Diego-Carlsbad, California
12. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, California
13. Boulder, Colorado
14. Fargo, North Dakota
15. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California
16. Austin-Round Rock, Texas
17. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California
18. Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire
19. Columbus, Ohio
20. Stockton-Lodi, California
Amy S. Arey | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341
Keeping a home clean while on the market and being ready for showings (without going insane) takes some know-how. I’m going to give you some tips on being ready for showings in less than 10 minutes. No more cleaning for an hour after every call from the appointment-service. Even in markets where homes are staying on the market for days or even hours, it’s crucial to put your best foot forward and know how to make your home display at it’s very best…so that you can count the cha-ching on all of those over-full price offers rolling in! First impressions count!
At this point, you should have done the prep-work (decluttering / depersonalizing your home) so that there is actually less “to” clean. Even if you’ve never had your home professionally cleaned before, now is the time to take advantage of a cleaning service and have your home deep-cleaned (so that the upkeep is easier on you). Below are some tips on how to make cleaning for home-showings less stressful. I would like to point out that it is imperative that you have a discussion with your entire household on the importance of everyone working together to keep the house in order while the home is on the market.
First and foremost, set a timer, get the whole family involved (if possible) to prep for showings.
1) Invest in large, plastic storage containers. These are great for stashing toys or a number of random items you don’t want lingering during a showing. Throw everything in and stack neatly in the garage so that you have easy-access to it later.
2) Vacuum everything. Forget the broom, which tends to just push dust around (and takes longer). Vacuum all of the floors.
3) Mirrors and Glass. Get in the habit of wiping down mirrors – every mirror in the home – each night before you go to bed. Touch up as needed.
4) Get in the habit of making up the bed as soon as you jump out of it. One less thing off of your list when you get “the call”.
5) Wicker Baskets. Storage is key. Use wicker baskets to stash under your bathroom sinks. No one wants to see your toiletries.
6) The dryer. Throw bathroom rugs in the dryer with a dryer sheet to fluff and freshen right before showings while you are working on the rest of the list.
7) Designated Spots. Make sure you have designated spots for everything, and a designated “storage area” to keep things like remotes / mail out of sight. The breakfast nook is not a designated spot for mail.
8) Showers. Make sure they sparkle! (Again, if you’ve done the prep-work, everything else is just “maintenance”. Keep an old Elmers glue bottle full of gel bleach for stubborn grout stains in the shower and dab on for a quick fix! Get in the habit of using a squeegee on your glass shower doors every time.
9) Bathroom countertops. Keep a countertop cleaner and paper towels in the bathroom cabinets to spritz the countertop as soon as you’re ready for work (or your day).
10) Furniture Polish. A little shine can go a long way for the appearance of “clean”. Spray quickly on your refrigerator / stainless steel / kitchen sink / bathroom sink basin and rub in for a great shine!
11) Clorox Bleach Tabs. It’s not all-natural cleaning but it does keep your toilet bowl fresh and clean. No one likes a dirty toilet!
12) Groom Your Pets More Frequently. This may seem like an odd statement, but if you groom your inside pets more often, there’s less hair to clean up later.
Designate certain upkeep tasks (ie: mopping the floors, dusting the ceiling fans, etc) to one task-list item per day. Do it quickly and market it off of the list. These suggestions may sound like common sense, but not letting items build up are the best way to keep a clean home.
Above anything else…make sure your home SMELLS fresh and clean (not masked by harsh chemicals / odors). Again, first impressions are key…and could mean the difference of someone walking in to your home and exploring as a possible home option….or stopping at the foyer and moving on to the next home. Don’t let your home be the latter.
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Amy Arey Realtor, Halo Group Realty | 214.901.1341-Cell AmyAreyRealtor@Gmail.com
Home Value. The thought and understanding behind what makes up a home’s value confuses many-especially with so many different terms that seem to relatively have the same (but different!) meaning. Some months back, I had a client’s home listed (and under contract) as well as this client’s “next” home under contract. I get a frantic call at a certain point in the transaction because she got her “appraisal” back and it wasn’t nearly high enough to net the amount that was needed to put down on her next home. She sounded hopeless, thinking this entire domino affect was ruined. At this point, I was concerned until she mentioned she received the report in the mail. At this point, I knew it was the tax-appraisal she had received and NOT the home-appraisal. I smile, then begin explaining the differences between the two appraisals. Sometimes even very experienced buyers confuse the three types of home values. Oh, the many calls I’ve received wondering why a clients’ home has dropped so significantly in this sellers market (after receiving their tax appraisal in the mail).
Tax Appraisal: Politically correct, this should be termed a “tax-assessment”. This is what a government employee uses to determine the amount of tax a home-owner will pay. (This has no bearing on what you can sell your home for). Ie: They drive by, snap a photo, run their evaluation and wha-la: determine your taxes.
Home Value / Market Value: Closely related to your appraisal value (but again-different ((confused yet? ;-), market value is the amount the general public is willing to pay for a specific item or product-in this case, your home. In a sellers market such as ours in North Texas, where homes are selling in a matter of hours, with the bidding wars and multiple offers, buyers may be willing to pay over appraised value in a situation where the appraisals are having a hard time catching up with the sales prices. *Supply and demand: market value is driven up by consumer demand.
Appraisal Value: This is an evaluation of a home’s value by a licensed home appraiser, generally during the home-loan process (required by the lender). The appraiser will pull “comps” of likes homes that have sold in the area, come inside the home and take measurements and photos of the interior and exterior. This evaluation is a guide to how much money the lender will loan. The loan to value is based on the appraised value. This will be substantially different from your taxed value or “taxed assessment”.
Still have questions on home-value? I’m only a call / text or email away, and of course, I would always love to earn your business or referral business for anyone looking to build / buy / sell in North Texas!
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC
AmyAreyRealtor@Gmail.com | http://www.Aarey.HaloAgent.com | 214.901.1341
Down-payment assistance …when we hear those words, most of us think of the individuals in the poverty-level who may be scraping by at $35,000 per year. This is just not the case. There are a multitude of rarely spoken of programs which even a person or household making under $98k per year could benefit from. As you have guessed it, if you make over this amount, there is not a down-payment assistance program available for you 😉 Let’s face it–in a market like ours in North Texas, where buyers are competing with other buyers who are willing to pay over appraised value (out of pocket!) just to get into a home and buyers digging into the funds that would otherwise be for closing costs or down-payment…well, down-payment assistance may come in handy.
There are definitely varying views on the topic of down-payment assistance and what it means for our economy. Some feel that if a person can not afford all of the fees associated with buying a home, then they should not venture out into the process in the first place. I have a different view. The down payment assistance programs are there for buyers who need them (and if it also gives you an edge in the drastic environment in North Texas that we are currently enduring, then what do you have to lose?). Not everyone has the ability to put $20,000 down + pay closing costs on a home, while most “do” want to own a home. Embarrassment or lack of knowledge could prevent a buyer from inquiring about government funds for buying a home. Let’s explore a few options to see if any of them are right for “you”:
All of the programs vary to some degree, but you do have to know what to search for. Some require you to be within a specific area, some with a specific lender, and most will require you to take some sort of housing class to qualify for the assistance and / or credit.
USDA Home Loan – Most are familiar with this home loan for rural areas. This program allows you to buy a home with no down-payment if you qualify. You must make under a certain amount (each county is different). To see if you qualify: http://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/incomeEligibilityAction.do From here you will also want to make sure that you are searching for homes in an area that allows for a USDA Home Loan: http://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/welcomeAction.do. At this time, rural areas such as Celina, Pilot Point, Anna, Melissa, Van Alstyne, etc…all qualify. While there is no stipulation of which lender to work with, you will want someone familiar with how to navigate this type of home loan.
The SETH Program – Otherwise known as the 5-Star Texas Advantage Program. This home-ownership program allows for a “gift” that can be used for down-payment assistance OR closing costs. There is no first-time home-buyers requirement, but there IS a specific lender requirement and an income-limit. http://sethfc.com/option-1/ Under this same Umbrella is the HAT Program. The Hat program requires a credit score of at least 660 and the borrower must contribute 50% of their own funds. An on-line home-buyer class is required.
TSAHC- Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation – This program provides first-time home-buyer grants as well as down-payment assistance. This program can be used to buy a home or refinance an existing home. See if you qualify: http://www.tsahc.org/homebuyers-renters/first-time-home-buyer-grants
Homes for Texas Heroes – This program provides home-buying benefits for teachers, police officers, correction officers, fire-fighters and EMT personnel, and Veterans. Homes for Heros provides a 3-5% down-payment grant to qualifying individuals. There is no stipulation of how long you have to live in the home. You need to have at least a 640 Fico score and there are debt-to-income requirements. http://www.tsahc.org/homebuyers-renters/loans-down-payment-assistance
My First Texas Home – This program is specifically for first-time home-buyers in Texas and provides up to 8,000 in down-payment assistance. There is a specific lender requirement as well as income limitations. http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/homeownership/fthb/down-payment-assistance.htm
Bond Program 77 – This program is for first-time home buyers or those who have not owned a home in 3 years. Household income must be under $110k and the sales price of the home can not exceed $370,379. The property can be located anywhere in the state of Texas but you must occupy the home for a set period of time. The grant is set up as a deferred 2nd lien and will become payable should you move. The maximum “loan” is currently 5% of the purchase price and can be used for down-payment or closing costs. http://www.txhomeprograms.org/program/programdetail.php?id=164
Haven’t found exactly what you are looking for or still haven’t found a program that you qualify for? Are you aware that certain cities offer down-payment programs just to live within that city? Find a qualifying program for your city here: http://www.txhomeprograms.org/program/all_programs.php
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell
Avoid Buyers Remorse
Buyers Remorse–that feeling of anxiety or regret that you made the wrong decision, exists in most every sale. We all question our own buying choices and that little voice is always there. While there is no way to completely avoid buyers remorse, there are ways to lessen it.
Especially for the buyer who is not an “impulse buyer” and likes to carefully weigh their options, this market (in north Texas) can prove incredibly frustrating. The home you see today may not be here tomorrow. While you do have options (and I always encourage my buyers to continue looking while in the option period, if for nothing else but to give themselves peace of mind), you may feel pressured to make the right choice.
Before we discuss how to lessen buyers remorse, lets look at a few things that may be causing buyers remorse in the first place:
-The feeling that you may be missing out on a “better deal”. Whether it’s buying a home, a car, or even getting married, most of us can honestly say we have “been there”. We look for reason to “not buy” xyz instead of justifying the purchase. Go back to the list (perhaps mental) that you made when you began looking and compare your “must-haves” with your “preferences”. If the home doesn’t meet your needs, maybe it is time to move on.
-The Home Costs More than It’s Worth. In this sellers market, with bidding wars running rampant, it’s easy to question your buying logic. You may feel like you’ve paid too much for your home just to “get the home” (ie: an example would be when you have paid 10k over list price to win the offer). Some neighborhoods appraise faster than others, so make sure you have discussed this with your Realtor. If the home appraises for the sales price, and there is a rising trend in the home sales in the area, you have enough logic to rationalize your decision, even when having to pay over list-price to get the home. Afterall, “market value” is not defined by the list-price of a home but more-so what the general public is willing to pay for a particular home (or product).
-Well Meaning Words of Others. Especially as parents, we want the best for our children, and sometimes underestimate their ability in a given process (such as buying a home) of trying to protect them. When people hear that they are taking on “too much”, and hear of all of the horror stories, it’s easy to start to believe them.
-Being Rushed Into the Sale. There are two different types of pressure, one being positive, the other negative. When I meet a new client, for example, especially if they are new to the area, I make sure they know what to expect in this market. If they want a home with xyz features / price / location, and we find it, I will suggest we move forward. Now, on the other hand, if a Realtor (or any sales person) pressures you to buy something that you don’t like / want / that doesn’t meet your needs, they aren’t looking out for your best interests and are obviously just trying to “make a sale”. If there is absolutely no reason you can think of to not move forward, only that you feel that the process is moving faster than you can absorb the information, perhaps submit an offer. A new process is enough to make anyone nervous; it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are making a wrong decision.
-Fear of the Unknown. If it’s just the overwhelming fear of how large the commitment or unknown items are (the neighborhood, the schools, how the taxes or warranty works, for example), then it may be time to do a little more research and ask your Realtor questions. Read “How to Buy a Home-The Cliff Notes”.
Let’s talk about a few ways we can lessen buyers remorse:
-Don’t Waive your Option Period / Inspection. Drastic measures are being taken in this market to win the case of the bidding war. Waiving the option period or inspection is becoming quite common but it’s not one that I agree with. Do your due-diligence and investigate the home you are about to buy. Decreasing the # of option-period days is one thing (I always text my inspector before to “make sure” he is available within the 3-day option period before I even write it on the offer) but waiving it all-together may make you regret a decision rather quickly. Nothing screams buyers remorse faster than moving into your new home and the hot water heater exploding, only to find out it was nearing the end of it’s life cycle and because it was not a negotiated repair during the buyers process, and your home-warranty company will not cover it, then you have to pay out of pocket.
-Know what You’re Looking for Before You Shop. Know what you’re shopping for before you dive into the home-shopping experience. Do some online research and comparatives to know what you get for your money in a particular location so that you can get an idea of what to expect. By doing this, you also know when you’ve come across the best home value for what your money can buy.
-Know WHY You are Buying a Home or Product. Superficial reasons behind making a purchase are more likely to lead to regret. Don’t max out your approval amount or buy something just to “keep up with the Jones’s”.
-Don’t Buy Something You Don’t Really Want Just to See if You Can Get it. Gamblers are out there in all walks of life–don’t be one when you’re gambling on what is to be your future home. You want to buy a home you like, that fits your needs. Don’t submit an offer in a sellers market just to try to “win the game”. (I have actually had a buyer come out and tell me he did this for this very reason).
-Get a Home-Warranty. Get and keep a home-warranty on your home. Even in newer homes, things break down and need repairs or replacement. Keeping a warranty in tact may prevent you from paying an expensive replacement cost out of pocket.
-The Feeling of “Settling”. Again- know what you’re looking for and do your research. If you want a Tudor-Style home and there aren’t any renovated Tudor-Style homes in the area you want for under $200k, then you have to make allowances. Determine the pros and cons of making those allowances to determine what would make you the happiest. Most find that, even when you custom build, there is no “perfect home”.
-Find a Professional to Lead You. Shop around or get a referral from a friend / family member who has had positive results from a particular Realtor. Buying a home is sometimes the largest investment some will make in their entire lives. You want someone representing you who not only knows how to negotiate for you, but to also keep you on track / refocus your goals when things get stressful. There are a lot of moving parts to a real-estate transaction and trust / knowledge is key.
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty | 214.901.1341-Cell
Attention Police Officers, Teachers, Fire-Fighters and EMT Professionals: Buy a Home for HALF of List-Price!!
You may have heard of “The Good Neighbor Next Door Program” but didn’t know exactly what it was or who it pertained to. In the midst of multiple full-price and over full-price offers on most every home, you’ll be glad to know that if you are 1) a teacher 2) an EMT or Firefighter or 3) a police officer, there is still a great program out there for you–one in fact, that allows you to buy a home for 50% (yes–FIFTY!) of list-price. Make certain you read the fine-print and discuss details with your Realtor, because this, like all programs, does have restrictions.
To qualify for the Good Neighbor Next Door Program, you must agree to live in the home for at least 3 years. (There’s a second, “silent” note that you sign that is only “enforced” if you move earlier than 3 years). You must also purchase in the area in which you work. These are HUD homes and are sold as-is. (More great news: “as-is” doesn’t mean that you have to buy a money-pit. A “203k” loan will allow you to roll in the price of repairs). Loan-types that you can use on the Good Neighbor Next Door program are: VA, FHA, Conventional, and even cash. If you qualify for an FHA loan with this specific program, you only have to pay $100.00 as your down-payment. (Sound good so far?!).
“What’s Different About this Program”? Your options will be very limited in terms of which homes you can buy since it’s “only” HUD homes through which this program works. The process for submitting, negotiating and buying a home is a little different than your standard process for buying a home. Your Realtor can guide you through the process.
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell
Should You Buy a Home if You’re Single?
“Should I Buy a Home if I’m Single?”-Even if not spoken aloud, this is a question in the mind of many who are not married and considering embarking on a house-hunt. As a Realtor in DFW, I have had quite a few wide-eyed first-timers look at me with the glassy, confused stare and ask me if they should buy a home if not married or if not yet married. There are many varying views on whether you should buy a home or remain a renter if A) you’re single or B) you’re young. Four of the last five buyers I have personally helped buy a home are single (and three of those clients are women). Of course, the most important factor is how you personally feel about home-ownership. From the words of a local credit-repair professional in DFW, “You’re paying someone’s mortgage each month; it may as well be your own”.
Emotional / Psychological Reasons: If you’re single and considering buying a home, surely there is the emotional detachment of wanting to wait to buy a home with the person you marry. If this is that important to you, then by all means–wait. Just remember, with 2015 being the “Year of the Millennial Home-Buyer and many more “under 30’s” in the marketplace, there’s a good chance your significant other has already owned a home.
Home Maintenance: Home-maintenance issues and the ability to handle repairs are likely the most misunderstood situation for new home-buyers (at least in my experience). Sure, you can’t call the maintenance man to change out a light bulb every time it burns out (though you can hire a handy-man for small tasks like this for a fee!), but a good home-warranty will help you avoid a lot of out-of-pocket expenses. A home-warranty functions like an insurance policy: should your HVAC go out and be covered, you may only have to pay a small service fee for the covered party to be repaired or replaced (with no other out-of-pocket costs!). Most of the time, the seller will pay the average annual cost of $500.00 the first year (have your Realtor negotiate this for you!). **Contact a Realtor for more information on home warranties and how home warranties work.
If the hassle of yard maintenance (although there are many lawn-care or landscape professionals in the DFW metroplex who would only charge you $25.00-30.00 per routine service). You could also consider buying a townhome or condo to avoid yard maintenance (just watch out for the monthly HOA fees which could easily escalate your payment). There are even quite a few townhomes and condos with very small yards that you could mow with a weed-eater!
The Fear of Forever: I know this look, and I’ve seen it often in the face of the first-time home-buyer. While the rest of know that the vast majority of people do NOT stay in their home for the duration of the 30-year note, many first-timers simply do not understand how this works. Some feel (and have voiced to me personally ((with fear in their eyes)) what if I don’t like this home in 10-15 years (again…thinking they would have to live in the home for the full 30 years. This creates all sorts of doubts to the newby buyer: “What if I find the man / woman of my dreams?”, “What if I find a better job elsewhere?”, “What if I just get tired of this house?”, “What if I can’t handle it alone?”, “Will this be the end of my carefree freedom?”. This is where we, as the Realtors tilt our head, smile…and explain how equity works.
Financial: Financially speaking, if it makes sense to you and you can afford the up-front fees (down-payment, closing costs, several months prepaid taxes and insurance to start you out, along with a few misc. fees), then by all means-buy a house. With rates being lower than ever and likely only going to rise in the future, your mortgage payment will likely be much less than the rent you would pay for a comparable home (or even apartment). Afterall…when you move out of your rental home or apartment, the most you would earn back is your deposit (and usually not even that!). If you own a home and decide to sell it after 5 years….you’ll earn a profit. Generally, this is thousands of dollars-especially in this sellers market. You can take this money, pocket or invest some of it to make yourself MORE money, or put down on your next larger, smaller, or just different home.
I Don’t Know How This Works: Buying a home has a lot of moving parts. You may feel like it’s a huge animal that could swallow you whole and never know what hit you. Don’t let the unknown scare you out of buying a home. Part of our job as your Realtor is to guide you through the process, making sure you are protected and know “what’s next”. It’s always helpful to do a little research on your own about the home-buying process so that you know what questions “to” ask. The first step of your home-search is to get qualified by a trusted loan officer (or have your Realtor recommend someone) to sort through loan options, and determine the sales price of the home to look for. (This also gives you a starting point should you need to work on a few things before being qualified. Not everyone is approved the first-time, so don’t feel shamed if this happens to you). Some people were taught the wrong things to get “perfect credit”, thus decreasing their credit scores instead of raising them.
This Sellers Market: No doubt, the sellers market (caused predominately by the influx of companies / people moving to North Texas, and decreasing inventory and increasing demand) has changed the game of home-buying. No more can you expect to get the seller to pay your closing costs and offer several thousand below market. You will be competing with multiple offers in most cases in the 250k and under range and this would cause your offer to immediately be thrown out. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t areas in Texas or even North Texas which you can negotiate your closing costs to be paid. Just be very wary — you want to buy a home in an area that will still sell in a buyers market…not just a sellers market. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a situation a few years down the road of not being able to sell your home very quickly, or worse-not getting the money out of it that you put into it (or the dreaded, “having to take money to the able”–never fun). Our negotiating for you as your Realtor has changed from “getting you the best deal” to “proving you to be the best / most qualified candidate” when compared to the pile of other offers. (Now, this doesn’t mean you have to put ALL of your cards on the table 😉
All in all, buying a home is a very personal decision. It’s a decision that you, as the buyer, have to be comfortable with. There are many pros and cons in each person’s mind that they have to consider before making the decision to become a home-owner. Do your homework, find a great Realtor who will be on your team, guiding you and watching out for your best interests, and ask a LOT of questions.
Ready to start your own home-buying journey or simply have questions? Feel free to contact me any time!
Amy S. Arey, Realtor, CNE | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell
To Buy a Home now…or wait? This has been the looming question for many who are considering buying a home, but possibly holding off due to the DFW area being in such a sellers market. One thing is for sure….you’re paying someone’s mortgage each month (whether renting or owning), it may as well be your own.
Below is an article by one of “D” Magazine’s best Loan Officers:
1. Prices Will Continue to Rise
The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects appreciation in home values over the next five years to be between 11.7% (most pessimistic) and 27.5% (most optimistic).
The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.
2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase
Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will be up approximately three quarters of a percentage point over the next 12 months.
An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.
3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage
As a recent paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:
“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”
4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life
The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.
But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait?
Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe it is time to buy.
If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.
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Interlinc Mortgage Services, NMLS ID 205696
Office: (214) 945-1066 Fax: (214) 945-1061 17000 Dallas Parkway Suite 103 Dallas, TX 75248
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Finding Lake-Front Homes in Texas can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to look. Below, the best lake-front communities and neighborhoods in Texas will give you a jump-start to your home-search. Here, you can begin exploring neighborhoods (location! location! location!) so that you know which areas best fit your needs before you focus on the home itself. Sometimes, the terrain of one area over another holds significant appeal. If seeking a lake-front home as a 2nd residence or weekend home, your needs and wants may be slightly different from someone seeking a lake-front home as their retirement and likely last home.
Neighborhoods with Lake-Front Homes
Transforming the look of your home doesn’t necessarily mean you have to completely renovate your home to give it an updated look. There are many quick tips that are amazingly easy on the pocketbook, and yet give a powerful punch to your interior’s look. Whether listing your home, or just craving a little enhancement to your living space, below are 10 quick tips to easily transform the look of you home (on a budget!).
1. Wall Paint- Let’s take a look at the obvious. Updating your space by painting can create one of the most dynamic changes. With an average of $200.o0 a room for custom paint, if you have the time, paint the large areas yourself, then pay a professional $40.00 per room to “cut in”.
Look at the change and the impact (which brings me to my next item of discussion….)
2. Change Your Bedding- Notice the difference in the “before” and “after” above. Pick three colors and utilize the rule of “3’s” –Three colors, three different ways, three different times. Add throw-pillows to pull the look together.
3. Enhance Your Baseboards- adding trim an inch between your existing baseboards and painting in between can make an amazing difference. The same goes for crown molding.
4. Replace your fixtures….or paint them. That’s right, now with the help of Oil Rubbed Bronze Paint. Bye-Bye Brass!
5. Grout Stain- You would be amazing at what a difference this stuff will make in the look of your tile! Polystain is what I used on my own project. This can be used on shower-tiles as well as floor tiles. (A little tip that the man at Home-Depot gave me: If your tile is white, or off-white, don’t use white stain…it will make your actual tiles look dingy in comparison; go a shade darker than your tile to make them “pop”).
6. Paint your cabinets- This is quite the tedious job but can make a huge impact as far as updating a home on a budget goes. Thanks to Ann Sloan Chalk paint and today’s trend for glazed cabinets, you’re sure to find an updated look that matches your wanted decor-trend or look.
7. Extend Your Cabinets- Don’t have 42-inch cabinets? No worries. Just nail a 1 by 4 above your existing cabinets, then add molding, Paint, and Wha-la!
8. Paint Your Doors Black- Did you know that it’s a “Designers’ Secret” to paint interior doors black to instantly make a space look more expensive?
9. Accessorize! A few coordinating throw-pillows or printed framed art can do wonders to make your space come alive!
10. Declutter- Last but not least…the very best way (and least-expensive!) way to make your place come to life? De-clutter. Get rid of the items that are no longer in use or that don’t provide the space with the “energy” you hope to achieve.
Need to go beyond and get prelisting tips before putting your home on the market or need the advice or recommendation of a professional designer in the Dallas-area? Contact me-I’d be happy to answer any questions that you may need and connect you with the right individuals!
Selling a Home this Summer? Here’s Your Simple “Get Ready” Check-List!
Curb appeal in selling a home counts for a lot, as well all know. However, do you know what “curb-appeal” and all of its components really are? Of course, we all know that it’s the cosmetic “look” of the exterior of the home, but what all, does that actually include, you ask yourself? Moreover…what steps do you need to take to boost your curb-appeal? If considering selling your home this summer (or by the time school is out!), below are steps to take NOW before putting your home on the market.
Go outside and stand at the street facing your home and look from the top, down.
1) Trim any trees that are hovering too close to the roof.
2) Paint the exterior of the home if it’s in need.
3) Now is the time to call chem-green and water (by hand if needed or water-restricted) so that your yard will be green and lush this summer.
4) Trim shrubs and have some colorful flowers planted. Doing this now will allow growth so that in 4-6 weeks, they will be fully-bloomed and perfect for professional photos!
5) Powerwash the exterior and get the cobwebs down.
6) Have the exterior and interior windows cleaned
7) What do you think potential buyers are doing while the Realtor is fumbling with getting the keybox open? Better hope they aren’t looking up at your cobwebs. You got it-power-wash.
Now for the interior
There’s a home for everyone. Really. After 14 years of selling homes, I am still amazed at the different likes, dislikes and varied tastes out there. There’s no need to pour upgrades into your home that you won’t get your money back on (*unless the market warrants it; there are rare cases for this). I will say, that spotlessly clean can go a long way to aid in the sale of your home. If you’ve never hired a professional cleaning service (at least to do a “deep clean” now is a great time to indulge).
1) Put a fresh coat of pain on the interior / exterior of your door. This is the first impression of your home. What feeling do you think potential buyers would have if the first thing they looked at was a sun-weathered, paint-chipped door with dings in it?
2) Vacuum the cobwebs from walls / ledges. You may want to hire someone else to do this if you have very tall / soaring ceilings. The same goes for ceiling fans.
3) Neutralize, neutralize, neutralize. You may be fond of red walls, but another person may not. Touch up paint where needed. You want to appeal to a wide audience. Convey classiness and not trendiness.
4) Declutter. If you haven’t touched it in 10 days and it’s on the kitchen counter or just sitting around, box it up and neatly stack in the garage.
5) Depersonalize. You want people to notice your home…not standing around looking at your vacation photos. Take the photos off of your refrigerator, mantle and walls. You want the buyer to “emotionally move in” when they are looking at your home. They can’t do that if they are still thinking of it as “someone else’s home”.
6) Make sure all of your light bulbs are working. Take out the energy-savers and replace them with real light bulbs while your home is on the market.
7) Bathroom counters, tubs, showers–make sure they sparkle. (Magic sponges work great for shower tile / glass doors). There is no bigger turn-off (well…I can think of a few) than walking into a home and seeing moldy shower-caulking. Take the old caulking off, spray the shower with peroxide and scrub baking soda with a toothbrush if needed for those “hard-to-reach” areas (this will penetrate; bleach will not) then re-caulk.
8) Make sure the floors are freshly cleaned. Spot shot carpet cleaner is a great thing to have around if you have kids / dogs / your home on the market. Buy it. It will be your new best friend. (It also works great for #7)
9) Make sure the interior looks light, bright. Open all of the blinds to 3/4 of the way down (dust all of these as well) to to have them look uniform throughout the home and allow sunlight in. If you have darker window treatments, it may be a perfect time to invest in something white to frame your windows with (white gives a clean, serene feeling). You don’t necessarily have to go the designer-route (save that for your next home 😉 You’d be surprised what a white table-cloth and curtain-hooks can do to transform your space.
10) Accessorize. Now that all of your personal items and photos are neatly tucked away, you may need to add a few small interior touches to liven up the space. Think neutral area rugs with a splash of color to pull everything together, coupled with a few colorful throw pillows and back pillows for the sofa and chair. Put some fresh flowers on the counter.
11) Fixtures. Again, while I don’t recommend on pouring money into your home prior to putting it on the market, if your fixtures don’t match, you would be surprised at what a big impact this simple change can have on your space.
12) Music-light jazz for showings. Get in the habit now.
13) A neutral scent. Simmerpots work great for this. I’m a fan of the “Nest” candle collection myself (“Holiday” is amazing and very fragrant without being over-powering. No worries; it can be “holiday” year-round 🙂 Macys, Nordstroms, a few boutiques (Sharlas in Mckinney on the square) and of course Ebay carries them.
14) Bedding. It makes a big impact and creates a cozy feeling. Think Pottery-Barn Layering.
Here’s the best news…if you’re reading this on 3/19, by this time next month, even if you only complete ONE of these task-list items per day, you’ll have your home ready to list by the end of April with time to spare! Print this check-list off and hang on your refrigerator to release those “feel-good endorphins as you check them off!
Now that you know what to do to prep your home, it’s time to find out what you can realistically sell you home for and how long it will approximately be on the market for. You can do that here:
Have questions about selling a home?
Feel free to contact me. I serve all of North Texas.
Amy S. Arey, Realtor, CNE | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell
With homes moving in a days (hours in some cases), you may be asking yourself, “How DOES a buyer buy a home in this sellers market of low-inventory?”. With Realtors competing to get to the new home listed like bachelorettes going for the final rose, it may seem impossible. Truly, there are lots of things to consider… moreso if you also have a home to sale “before” you buy. You may be afraid of listing your home only to find that you can’t get what you want with your “next” home because of the multiple offers, right? Don’t fret! There is a way to navigate this tangled process! In this market…the early bird gets the worm (with a strong offer, of course!). So when your Realtor mentions that “this home will be gone if you wait until tomorrow” they aren’t being pushy…they are being realistic, and trying to get you the home that you want.
You may also want to sell your home in North Texas and realize that you may not want to pass the opportunity of a sellers market. You lavish the idea of getting top dollar for your home and having it under contract within a matter of days. You realize that it would be much easier to sell now if you have pets as you wouldn’t have to have your home on the market for months on-end and deal with endless showings, crating animals (or leaving with them within only an hour’s notice), picking up toys or stashing your own belongings to make the home look and feel pristine. You realize it’s now or never if you want to take advantage of the opportunity…until FEAR hits you–the fear of selling your home too quickly and not being able to have a 2nd home to move into in time.
This can be a very scary experience-especially if you’ve never sold a home. Luckily, we as experienced Realtors know how to navigate this delicate web. While it can be a very scary experience for someone diving into the unknown, we deal with this intricacy every day and can easily help you find your way to your next white-picket-fence without being homeless in the process. 🙂 A few years ago, we may have listed a home for our sellers, then waited patiently until the right “nibble” came along before we even began showing our sellers options for their next home. In this market, the ballgame has changed.
It’s now very important to:
1) Do your homework. Allow your Realtor to go over market statistics to not only show you what your home can sell for, but likely how long it will be on the market. If the average date on the market is three days, then you will know that you better be prepared with options by beginning to look at options for your next home “before you even list your current home”.
2) #1 being said, you will want to be proactive and find a lender whom you trust to make sure you are approved for both home loans or what your loan options are. Find out if you need to sell your first home before you buy your second. The “bridge-loan” that seemed to have vanished from a few years ago has even made a come-back. Find out if your loan-officer has this option. This prevents you from having to submit a “contingent” offer (which can make you look like the weaker candidate in a multiple-offer scenario that you are trying to win) if you have to sell one home before you can close on your next home.
3) Know that as a buyer, homes in most areas of North Texas are selling in a matter of days (or hours in some cases!)…especially if under the $250k sales price. This means that you may not get the first or second home that you offer on. This can be stressful for some buyers but know that making sure time-lines are met are part of our duty as your Realtor.4) Get your Realtor to send you listings of homes that you like a few months before you even list your home if unfamiliar with what you can get for your new price-range and features you want. Familiarize yourself with what’s “out there” for what you want. This prevents the fear of listing your home and not being able to find something else that you like.
HOW DO YOU CONTROL THE TIME-LINE, YOU ASK YOURSELF?
Its easy (after you do it a few times a month 😉 Before you list your home, have your Realtor go over your comps and “average date on the market”. FIND YOUR AVERAGE DATE ON THE MARKET HERE.
Then, discuss with your Realtor what you are looking for, for your “next” home and if the date on the market in your current neighborhood is 5 days, list your home and start shopping around. Go look at a few homes. You may come home to find a few offers on your current home 🙂 If you find a home that you like that day, your Realtor will help you determine the timeline of closing, moving out, and how to negotiate the contract on your “next” home. Didn’t find what you want on the first trip out? (no worries–most don’t). In the summer, new homes hit the market every day (it’s important to be on an automated listing-search so that you don’t miss anything (especially when they are moving so quickly).
You can still accept an offer on your first home, and possibly negotiate a “longer-than normal” close-date…ie: 45-60 days opposed to 30 days. Make sure your Realtor asks the other Realtor how flexible the time-frame on their closing / moving in is. (Sometimes, the higher sales price is not necessarily the best offer for you…sometimes, it’s the most flexible candidate). Luckily for you, in this market, you’ll likely have a few choices between offers (on your current home). Between negotiation and a great little item called a “seller lease-back” (you close and fund on your current home, then stay in the home a few days after it’s sold and “lease-back” the home from the new owner until you move to your 2nd home), all making for a smooth transaction and move). Sometimes your Realtor can negotiation a FREE lease-back (so always ask!).
The process may seem like a gamble and a bit scary, but remember…we do this every day and would be happy to guide you through the process.
I am always here for any questions that you may have.
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC
When choosing to remodel a home, you may ask yourself if your work warrants a permit. Some choose to remodel or update a home when thinking of selling to gain an “edge” on the competition for a higher sales price. Some new investors are excited to get through a remodel, sell the home and reap the rewards of their labor. Some would just like a “facelift” on their current home. Whichever the case…you’ll likely need a permit (and possibly several).
SEARCH FOR REMODELED HOMES HEREThanks to Pinterest, there seems to be more “do-it-yourselfers” (or the now, more popular “DIYer” than ever before. Some are confused by thinking that if you do the work yourself, it does not require a permit). The truth is, there aren’t many jobs which do NOT require a permit. The Texas Building code requires that all structural alterations of a home (pools, decks, fences, etc) AND interior remodeling projects require a permit.
When in question as to whether your project requires a permit, contact your city.You may think it okay to bypass the permit, thinking you won’t get caught, or asking yourself “what difference will it make”. If you have licensed contractors doing the renovation, they will typically take care of this step for you, but if there’s no permit, the work may not be warranted. This also holds true if doing the work yourself. Why does this matter? It may not, now…but problems may arise when you get ready to sell and the buyers lender may actually deny the loan if they discover major renovation work has been completed without permits.
A permit’s purpose is to ensure the work completed is SAFE.
No one likes to pay for excessive repairs when selling a property…especially if they are the fault of a contractor in which the work isn’t insured.
FAULTY SHOWER-PAN ANYONE?When considering remodeling a home and in doubt of needing a permit, ASK. Take the extra step, time, and small fees now to protect yourself from costly disasters later.
Have questions as to whether remodeling is the best choice in selling your home, or have questions regarding net profit on future investment properties? Feel free to contact me! I’d love to help!
12 WAYS TO INSTANTLY BOOST YOUR HOMES VALUE
Boosting curb appeal is a great way to increase the overall value of your home. Undo to popular belief, you DO NOT have to spend a fortune (quite the contrary!) on updating and upgrading to make your home more valuable or increase the sales price. The “Value” of your home is determined by “what the general public would willingly pay for your home”. If your home feels and looks more attractive…guess what–you’re well on your way to a higher sales price (or increasing your homes value for a future sale!).
Below are 12 ways to add pizzazz to your home without breaking the bank:
1) Make sure sure the grass is nicely cut, bushes are trimmed and the lawn is green and appears well-taken care of.
2) MULCH! Fresh mulch and just pop of color at the entrance can do wonders to create an overall “improved impression” of your home!
3) Put a fresh coat of paint on your door–it’s the first impression that people see of your home.
4) Clean windows inside and out.
5) Have a clean, inviting entrance, foyer area (make sure it’s not stacked with shoes, other items!). Put FRESH flowers out in a vase.
6) Make sure the home has had an overall cleaning, scrubbing–enlist in the aid of a cleaning service if needed for a deep-down clean!
7) Make sure the home “smells” clean and fresh and isn’t simply “masked” by plug ins.
8) Neutralize, neutralize, neutralize! Faux is out. Neutralize those walls with something that is appealing to a large, overall audience. If you can do a great job and cut in without making it look like a “do-it-yourself” job-go for it (otherwise, you can budget on spending approximately $200.00 a room on average). Sometimes, you can also get a bargain if you paint the majority of the room yourself, then hire a painting company to come in and get the areas you can not reach or that you don’t want to “cut in” on so it still has the look of a “professional” paint-job.
9) Invest in new bedding. You don’t have to spend a fortune and buyers won’t care that you don’t have designer bedding (it’s not coming with the home after-all!), but they WILL care if it looks nice and will create a different overall “feel” of the room and the home. Bed-Bath and Beyond has great bargains for bedding, and your neighborhood Marshall’s carries deals on “bed-in-a-bag” as low as $50.00 sometimes. Take a look below at the difference in what bedding can make:
10) Lighting-See the difference even in the “before” and “after” photos above from Hosking Interiors? Lighting not only adds the element of “light” but helps to set the mood. If a room is dark, buyers don’t see just as a “dark room”, they see it as “dreary” (and no one wants a dreary house!). If you have a room that doesn’t get much natural light, add floor-lamps. Add accent lighting to night-stands, bathroom counters, and even the kitchen bar to add more “mood” to your room. “Spotlights” hidden behind floor lamps add a nice touch and create a big difference, too.
11) Frame your windows. You don’t have to spend a fortune on designer-drapes. Pinterest has some great tips on making “no-sew” Roman blinds.
You can also go to home-depot, buy a few drop-cloths (yes, I said drop-cloths), buy a few packs of curtain-hanging hooks, and wha-la:You can also make a custom shower-curtain from these if you’d like to get really crafty:
12) Accents: Get out your good china, set the table as if a really important dinner-guest was coming (complete with dining ware, silverware, wine and water goblets, and yes–another vase of fresh flowers OR a really interesting art piece for your centerpiece).
Pillows! Accent-pillows are great for adding a touch of color (and remember the rule of 3’s: three colors, three different ways, three different times). Use colors you are already working with in your living room or “pull” colors from your rug and use those same accent-colors for your pillows:
Need more suggestions on selling your home? Adding Value to your Home? Contact me any time; I’d love to help!
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell | 214.901.1341-Cell | http://www.MckinneyRealEstateInfo.com
HOW TO BUY A HOME THE CLIFF NOTES
If inaccuracies or “credit delays” prevent you from owning now, ask your Realtor for a trusted Credit Repair Company. Many times, depending upon what is ON your credit, you may be able to buy in 1-6 months. It does NOT have to be expensive OR painful.2. Determine How Soon You Would Like to Move.Only you know what is best for your move-time. If within 3 months or so, go to step # 3. Otherwise, there are multiple sites for you to browse online to determine what is available in the neighborhoods you are interested in (don’t know which neighborhoods you are even interested in yet? Your Realtor can help you with this.3. Find a RealtorFirst and foremost, make sure this person has your best interests at heart and is willing to fight for you (notice I didn’t say “with you”) every step of the way.Again, ask friends, family, coworkers who they have used. Most people are quick to pass on a referral who has done a good job for them and know they would take care of you as well. This person will listen to your needs and wants and will help create a plan to meet your goals. Happy Searching!4. Submitting an OfferOnce you have found the place you’d like to call “home”, your Realtor will run comps to determine a fair offer. The general rule is to submit an offer which is fair (and not insulting) but that you will likely get a counter back on. Your Realtor will suggest the best negotiation tips. (Can’t give away all of our secrets in an open forum 😉 From here, your Realtor will “write up a contract” filling in the blanks of the many items and blanks to negotiate within a contract. Send over that pre-approval letter to submit with your offer. Most listing agents will not even present to their sellers without one. No one wants their time wasted by an unqualified buyer. (Oh, you thought price was the only obstacle?). Once all terms are agreed to, you will move on to step 5.5. Executing a ContractThis simply means all parties have agreed to all of the negotiated terms. You will now write two checks–one for the option fee (made payable to the seller) …generally $100.00 and one for the earnest money (made payable to the agreed-to title company). Your Realtor will deliver (or email) the executed contract, and deliver earnest money to the title company. Sometimes a title representative will pick this up from you and deliver to the title company.6. Get a Home Inspection
Remember your $100.00? This paid for an option period. This gives you an “out” if anything wacky comes back on your inspection that the owner does not want to repair or credit. Your Realtor will help you negotiate these items via an “Amendment for Repairs”. This must be done during the option period. In fact, you must pay close attention to all of the dates in the contract and in returning paperwork as everything will be time-sensitive.7. Your Financing Contingency
If you are not among the lucrative few who are paying cash for your home, you probably signed a “Third Party Financing Addendum”. This addendum covers you for a particular amount of time for particular terms. Your lender will be working very hard on “their” side of the transaction with your financing to meet this important deadline. Your lender will also then order a survey, and HOA docs will be requested.
8. Get a Home Warranty
Your title company will be contacting you to determine who you want for your Home Warranty Company. Your Realtor will recommend a few if you need help. The warranty is like an insurance policy. Your Realtor should have negotiated the seller paying for this for the first year ($500 or so). Like an insurance policy, you can get more or less coverage, depending upon what you want.
9. Your Title Policy
Your title policy ensures a free and clear title. With Encumbrances, or for instance…child-support liens or tax liens, title can not pass to you until the liens are paid (hopefully by the seller!). This step is especially important with foreclosures since most are sold “as-is”.
10. Your HUD Statement
This document goes over credit and expenses to both parties. The Escrow Agent will go over this very closely with you before you sign the rest of your paperwork. This is emailed a day or so before closing.
11. Closing Day
It’s finally here…the anticipated day you have been waiting for–to finally hold the keys to your new home and walk through the doorway and know it’s YOURS. The actual closing itself should take roughly 30 minutes. Make sure to bring your ID and have your certified funds (cashier’s check or money order) ready. Your lender will have told you the amount you need to bring. Time to celebrate the beginning of earning equity and many new memories in your new home!
As always, I am always here to answer any questions that you might have. I’m never too busy for your referrals! 😉
*Amy S. Arey, Realtor * Halo Group Realty, LLC * 214.901.1341 *
Visit my Website or Search for Listings
How to KNOW if a Potential Real-Estate Investment is Good or Bad
Oftentimes, people begin investing in Real Estate because it is less volatile than say…investing in the stock market, a “safe” investment, if you will. Before jumping on the “safe-investment boat”, know that there is some leg-work to do. I’ve seen many new investors come across a run-down home and when looking at it, suddenly have the look of the wide-eyed blond on the 2015 Cast of the Bachelor (if you missed the premier of the Bachelor, this likely isn’t funny, but I’m sure you get the idea). They know it looks really “bad” and it could look really “good” but aren’t really certain how to put the numbers to work to make sure this potential real-estate investment (whether flipping, or holding to lease out) will reap them the financial nets one desires. (Translate: a cheap house does not always = a good investment).
There are many benefits to investing in real-estate…cash flow, depreciation (or a write-off on your taxes), and principal reduction (read: EQUITY!). “Appreciation” as they say….is “icing on the cake”. An experienced Realtor should be able to navigate you through the process if you are new to investing and even help you manage the curve-balls if you are an experienced investor, and let’s face it-there are always curve-balls). There are formulas and figures you must know and numbers you must crunch to make sure you end up on the winning-end of the deal.
Let’s start with home-flipping.
Hard money lenders are expensive, but a great asset if you can not afford to pay cash just yet (or while you are saving the proceeds from your first few flips TO pay cash). Hard money lenders function “like” cash in that they can generally close in a few days. They do want to protect their money just as you would yours and always lend with the mentality that this person “could” buy the home, then move to an island far away and never be heard from again. That being said, they will want to see good ARV (“After Renovation Value”) numbers. If there’s home you feel is a good deal for 100k but the renovated comps in the area are only selling for 140k, this home is NOT a good fit. Why? Hard money lenders (on average) will loan 65-70% of ARV (meaning on this example, they would lend 98k). You’re only 2k away, right? WRONG. There are closing costs, lender-points on the front AND the back-end…and you haven’t yet accounted for the actual renovation costs, which could be 25-30k. (You’ll want to have 10-15k of your own cash saved to (as they say) have some skin in the game. Don’t worry…you’ll make this back, and then some 🙂
As you may guess, the higher-priced properties yield higher rewards, but generally require more investment, which means higher risk: 1650 sf cost much less to renovate than say, 3,000 SF. (Afraid yet? Don’t worry…there is a rhyme to the reason). Focus on areas such as Richardson Heights in Richardson which has homes that have been renovated and have sold for much more (than they were pre-renovation). Otherwise, you can load a 135k home up with amazingly beautiful upgrades and want to sell it for 245k and may actually have someone fall in love with it and be willing to PAY that much…but it could fail to appraise for $245k because there aren’t enough comps to compare it to within a specified area that “have” been renovated. Guess what happens then? You lower your head and have to reduce the sales price because (unless they are paying cash or willing to pay over the loan value out of pocket), no lender will lend on a home that does not appraise.
Keep in mind that most of these “great deals” are sold “AS-IS” and without warranty. A 30k renovation could be night and day difference if the rehab is only cosmetic. Look at the big-ticket items when looking at a home for investment. How does the roof, water heater, HVAC system, furnace, plumbing, electrical panel and foundation all look? Although I “always” recommend a home-inspection for any hidden defects…many investors have learned what to look for and bypass this stage as you typically find the same issues over and over again and tend to have the pricing memorized. Even if sold as-is, some of these things may be items your Realtor could still negotiate for you.
It takes a little bit of guess-work to put together your “renovation budget” which you will break down and submit to your hard money lender of choice for them to approve. They will pay your contractors in draws (make sure to budget for this cost as well; they do charge a fee for each draw 😉 With a little experience, know-how and contractor contacts, you will find this step much easier to handle. As you may guess, all renovation budgets will vary on each condition and potential ARV of a property, so a lot of calculations and though must go in to this critical step. Do know that in North Texas, it is still very much a sellers market and if looking under the $200k purchase-range, there may not be a property readily available that fits your needs–it may take months to find the right fit. Don’t make the mistake of getting in a rush to buy and make a terrible decision on the property itself. You want a property that is in an area that moves quickly and in one that will appraise, such as the Richardson Heights area of Richardson, where there has been a lot of renovation. Follow these guidelines and you can have a $150k property that you can rehab for 25-30k and resale for $230k (in the right neighborhood). With this scenario, you would net about $36k post Realtor fees (calculated on a 6% listing. I always give my investors discounts if they have also purchased the property through me). Not a bad profit in 3 months (1.5 month to renovate, 1.5 months to close), right? Although much more difficult to find than rental property, they provide a quick return when done correctly.
Let’s talk about rental property.
If the fear of a bad tenant does not terrify you, and you have had good experience with other rental property and verify and screen your tenants well, rental property may be the investment for you. (*Remember also that there is less risk with multi-family homes since they will never all be vacant at the same time). For the examples below, to simplify the numbers, we will use single-family homes. The question is…how do you know if a rental property is a good investment?
Buying property to lease out does not give you an immediate, large return. However, it does give you cash-flow, principal-reduction (you basically have someone else paying the payment so that you can someday sell and make a profit), a discount on your taxes, and hopefully appreciation. You’re sort of like a human-IRA in that you hold the investment until its ready to be sold 🙂 So, how do you know if it’s a “good deal”? Most people want a 10% Cap Rate (“Capitalization Rate”) or your Gross Annual Income divided by your purchase-price. Example: If you purchase a home for 165,000 in Collin County and you can lease it for $1350 per month (1350 x 12= 16,200 / 165,000), you have a 9.8 Cap Rate. That’s it! (I’m just kidding; you didn’t think it would be THAT easy, did you?). Remember, there are still taxes to consider, vacancy loss (assume 10% vacancy loss over a year for padding), HOA Fees, a management company if you pay one to take care of the details and “manage the property”, etc.
If you’ve ever looked at your company budget, you would find it looks similar to the budget you will have for your rental properties–THEY become your business and you must treat them as such:
Annual Rent – Vacancy = Gross Operating Income
Gross Operating Income – Operating Expenses = Net Operating Income
NOI – Debt Service for a year (Your Mortgage and Insurance) = Cash Flow Before Taxes
Annual Debt Service – Interest = Principal Reduction (EQUITY building!)
Net Operating Income – Interest – Total Depreciation = Taxable Income x your tax bracket = Taxes Paid or Saved. (If you get a negative number, that’s the amount you SAVED 🙂
and of course
The Return on Investment of your Rental Property is the Cash Flow Before Tax + Principal Reduction + Tax Saved divided by your Cash Invested (your total amount finance)
Considering Real Estate as an investment, alternate source of income or wanting to reduce your taxes? Feel free to contact me; I would love to help…or answer any questions that you may have.
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell
Serving North Texas since 2002!
How to WIN in a Multiple Offer Scenario When Buying a Home
You’ve found the perfect home…the size, the location, the price; everything about this house screams “home”. You have visually decorated the home and have already envisioned hosting holiday parties and family-get-togethers at your new pad…only to find out after placing your offer, that there a handful of others eyeing your home as well. Your heart skips a beat and you feel like you’ve just gotten off of the Texas Giant at Six Flags. You want this home; it already feels like YOURS. You have already “emotionally moved in”. What do you do?
Chances are, if you’ve shopped homes for sale in North Texas lately, you may have recently found yourself in this situation. With both inventory and interest rates being lower than they have been in YEARS, coupled with the rise of the toughest competition ever-the cash buyer-multiple offers are very common right now. The key to winning is knowing how to give yourself the competitive edge to stand out. Below are a few keys to winning in a multiple offer scenario:
1) Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s.
Write a clean offer…make sure every blank (required) is filled in, in the contract. Nothing says unprofessional / careless / inexperienced than a partially put-together offer. If an agent fails to fill out the commission blank to watch out for their own money, do you think they are watching out for yours?
2) Submit the Offer with your Preapproval Letter and Copy of Earnest Money and Option Money Checks.
This sounds self-explanatory and (in my opinion) should really be a crucial step in submitting “any” offer…not just one in a multiple-offer scenario, but you’d be surprised how many offers (at least to me) are turned in without these key items.
3) Shorten Your Option Period
Knowing the general option period is 10 days, submit a shorter option period (after confirming with your agent that you can have an inspector lined up ASAP). If you and your agent are “on the ball” you can normally get your inspection and all repair negotiations complete within 5 or so days. The contract / home goes to “Pending” after your option period, so the shorter your option period, the shorter time the seller has to wait on pins and needles wondering if you are going to back out. (Make sure your agent puts a “respond by” or “must agree by X date” on the amendments to shorten response time by the “other” party as well. *I never recommend foregoing the option or inspection period completely*. Even if you are a full-time investor with a renovation crew…there are always “unknowns” to be aware of. After all, the offer you initially placed on the property was the price you were willing to pay “in it’s current known condition”. If there are electrical hazards, plumbing problems and a roof that is about to fall down, those items may impact the value of the property.
4) Pay More of an Option Fee
With the standard option fee being $100.00 in this area for the general 10-day option period, sometimes, offering only $50.00-$100.00 more to the seller is enough to make yourself stand out from the other offers (obviously, coupled alone with some of the below and above suggestions as well).
5) Put More Earnest $ Down
This shows the seller you are serious and want to move forward. This amount goes towards your down-payment anyway and you get it back in the event the contract falls through (within guidelines).
6) Put Down More of a Down-Payment
If you have it to spare, this eases the seller’s mind that once the home is tied up in a contract that there is probably less of a chance that “your” financing will fall through if you’re putting down $120,000 opposed to someone only putting down 3.5% on an FHA loan. While we all may not have $120,000 to put down on the home that we want, the contract with the larger money “down” will always appear stronger. (Example: Last Friday, I listed a home in Plano. On Saturday, we had 7 showings and two full-price offers, with a potential 3rd as a back-up. By Saturday night, we had the home under contract with the buyer who only had an 80k note on the $208,500 list-price.
7) Waive as Many Contingencies as You Can
“Contingent upon financing, contingent upon the sale of another home, etc, etc”. Obviously, each of these situations is unique with each individual buyer, so make sure your Realtor is well-informed of your situation so that he or she can look out for your best interests.
8) Agent Relationships
This may seem like an unfair edge, but it does happen. A Realtor who has been in the business a while and knows many other agents, is a good networker, or has had good working experiences with many other Realtors is the agent you want to represent you. The listing agent just may pick your contract based upon the working knowledge with your Realtor and know them able to get the contract to the finish line, meanwhile making he or she look better to “their” client.
9) Cash is Still King
If you CAN pay cash, do it. The seller will know you can close faster and will have no financing hurdles. In situations where this is not an option, pay more than list-price. Obviously, do some research with your Realtor to know the going rate and average price-per sf and what it’s selling for in the area that you are buying your home in. Sometimes, all it takes is an extra $100.00-$500.00 to put yourself in first place.
Many people have a problem paying not only full price, but over. They could not fathom not getting “the best deal”. However, if it’s within reason of what others are selling for, and it makes sense….sometimes the best “deal” is not just in price-it’s in getting the home you want.
10) Write a Letter to the Seller(s) Telling Them Why You Want the Home.
Selling a home, especially after living in one for a few years, having memories, children growing up (and sometimes out) of the home is a very emotional experience. If you write a letter of the reason you love the home and what you see yourself doing in the home and why it’s important to you…they just may feel an emotional connection with you, and want to work with you (even if not the highest offer) opposed to the parties to the other offers.
I hope these tips come in handy if you’re reading this and embarking on your own home-buying journey. Don’t forget to “sign up for my blog updates” for other helpful home-buying and selling tips.
Had your own multiple-offer situation in which you won? Feel free to comment and share your story and how you won! I would love to hear from you!
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | Watters Creek
825 Market St, STE 230 | Allen, TX 75013
Aarey@HaloAgent.com | 214.901.1341-Cell
The Secrets to Sell a Home
by Amy Arey
Learn more about how to sell your home by reading this summary of the home-selling process.
Decide Whether You Want to Sell
Take some time to reflect upon whether you really want and need to sell your home. The selling process takes a lot of time, patience and energy—it would be a big mistake to start selling your home if you are not absolutely sure you want to do so!
Also, learn the costs associated with selling your home. The home-selling process is stressful enough. Knowing that these expenses exist, and how much they’ll set you back, will make life a little more enjoyable throughout it!
State deed tax
Abstract or title search
Choose a Real Estate Agent
Working with a skilled, communicative, scrupulous real estate agent will make the entire home-selling process much, much easier. Take your time in finding the right agent—one that you are confident will do a stellar job marketing your home and that will work hard to represent your best interests. Beware of agents that describe how they’ll market your home in generalities or that brush aside your questions—these are not the types of people you want to work with!
Pro tip: Don’t automatically choose to work with the first agent you find, or the agent that promises the highest listing price!
Sign a Listing Contract
Listing contracts are agreements between sellers and listing brokers that establish the terms and conditions of a listing. There is no standard listing contract that is used throughout the real estate industry; there are multiple types of listing contracts and their terms and conditions are negotiable.
Here are the three kinds of listing contracts:
Exclusive right to sell – The most common type of listing contract.
Open listing – For homeowners who want to sell their home by themselves but are also willing to work with a real estate agent.
One-time show – A contract that allows a specific agent to show a FSBO (for sale by owner) home to one of their clients. Per the terms of this contract, the seller pays a commission to the agent if their client agrees to buy the home.
Your listing contract should address these important questions:
What will the agent’s commission rate be?
Are there any situations where the agent’s commission rate will be adjusted? (For example, if a friend decides to buy your house without the agent being involved in their decision to do so.)
What will the length of the listing period be?
How will disagreements between you and the agent be resolved?
Will you and the agent use a lockbox to facilitate showings, or will you need to be present for them?
Will your home appear in MLS (multiple listing service) listings?
Prepare Your Home for Showings
Even well kept homes that don’t require repairs need at least some cleaning and staging before they are put on the market. Keep your house vacuumed and dusted, and put knick-knacks in storage. Rearrange the furniture so that room layouts are conducive to foot traffic. Make your home as well-lit as possible by keeping curtains and blinds open, washing windows, and replacing light bulbs that are out.
It’s also important to improve curb appeal by polishing up your home’s exterior. This entails pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, and maintaining the landscaping throughout the period of time your home is on the market. If the house itself looks a little worn down, it may be wise to put on a fresh coat of paint, and powerwash the decks, patios and walkways. Remember: your yard gives buyers their first impression of your home, so keep it in good shape!
Make the following repairs, if they are necessary. These minor cosmetic fixes don’t cost much and will do a lot to reassure potential buyers that your home is in good condition.
Fix leaky faucets
Replace cracked windows
Replace jiggly doorknobs
Repair loose handrails
While it isn’t necessary to do so, making the following improvements will increase your home’s value and lead to a higher sale price.
Wondering what the best (small) home improvements are that reap big value?
Replace kitchen appliances
Install an alarm system
Price Your Home
A home seller’s best friend is their real estate agent—especially when it comes to pricing their home. Your agent’s knowledge of the local real estate market and the stats they’ll compile for comparative analysis will prove invaluable when determining the best listing price for your home.
Home pricing is largely based on what comparable homes in the area have recently sold for. “Comparables” typically have the following qualities:
Similar age, square footage, and bedroom count
Listed within the last six months
Located within the same local market
Looking for more information on how to price your home? Consider the following:
It’s not always imperative to have the lowest-priced home on your block!
Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. They won’t attach the same sentimental value to your home that you do, so they’ll likely balk at the price if you factor sentimental value into it.
Keep your focus on where your local housing market is going.
If a home is well-marketed and is located in an area with a competitive market, intentionally under-pricing the home can lead to bidding wars that bring its price up to a more desirable level.
Keep Your Home in Good Condition
You never know when a potential buyer may want to see your house, so it’s important to keep it in good condition for the entire time it’s on the market. Keep it ready for showings by doing the following:
Dust and vacuum often
Keep bathrooms spotless
Keep your sink free of dishes
Keep your dishwasher clean
Consider Deal Sweeteners
In a buyer’s market, sellers sometimes add deal sweeteners to make their home seem more attractive than the competition. Deal sweeteners provide financial or psychological assistance to buyers and can serve as powerful incentives for them to make an offer!
Common deal sweeteners include:
Buying down the homebuyer’s mortgage rate
Paying the closing costs
Offering a transferable home warranty
Decide What Offer to Take
From the many offers you receive, carefully choose which one you want to accept!
Pro tip: Meet every offer you don’t want to accept—even insultingly-small lowball offers—with a counteroffer. You never know when a buyer may cave and agree to pay much more than it originally seemed like they would.
Sign the Purchase Agreement and Choose a Closing Date
After you accept an offer, you will sign the purchase agreement and agree on a closing date with the buyer. Depending upon the terms of the purchase agreement (e.g. if the seller agrees to make repairs before closing), the closing date can take place six or more weeks after the agreement is signed.
Have Your Home Appraised
Have your home appraised to determine its value. Admittedly, this is something the buyer and their mortgage lender will be more concerned about. The mortgage lender hires the appraiser, and the buyer pays for their services. However, if the buyer included an appraisal contingency in their offer, your relationship with the buyer could come to a swift end if their offer price far exceeds the appraised value of the house!
Prepare for Closing
Get ready to close on the sale of your home by doing the following:
Prepare disclosures. You must disclose every flaw and shortcoming of your home that could adversely affect the new owner’s enjoyment of it. Legal action can result if the buyer is not made aware of any problems, whether by design or by unintentional omission on the part of the seller.
Gather and prepare necessary paperwork. This includes documents like the certificate of title.
Keep your home in good condition. The deal can be jeopardized if you do not clean and maintain your home before closing.
Attend the Final Walkthrough
Sellers must attend the final walkthrough to answer any last-minute questions the buyer may have. Final walkthroughs take place between a few hours and a few days before closing and are meant to ensure that your home is in the agreed-upon condition. The buyer will confirm that repairs outlined in the purchase agreement have been made and that the home’s condition has remained the same since the purchase agreement was signed.
Attend the Closing
Sign a seemingly-endless stream of paperwork at the closing, and ownership of your former home will officially pass to the buyer. Every party with a claim on the money earned from the sale of the home will get paid simultaneously—your mortgage lender (if you still have an outstanding mortgage), your real estate agent, the appraiser, other third parties and, finally, you.
Congratulations, you’ve sold your home!
Not sure if you want to sell your home yet? Just have questions? Feel free to call me any time!
Amy S. Arey, Realtor , Halo Group Realty, LLC
Watters Creek | Allen
Ever Wonder What a Realtor Does After Helping You Find Your Home?
What a Realtor does after you find your home seems to be confusing to many. After posting the question (pointed towards Realtors) asking if they showed property to those who did not yet have a preapproval letter ((though I knew what the answer would be 😉 I received a comment on the post stating that we work for a client for 2-3 weeks then we “make a commission”. If involved in any facet of Real-Estate, you know this is not the case.
Let me be the first to say, I love my job. Most days, it doesn’t “seem” like work. I find the challenges exciting and love being able to meet different people as no two people, transactions, or homes are ever the same. However, it’s not always FUN or a piece of cake…in fact, quite the opposite most of the time. Sure, there is a lot of money to be made, but there’s also a lot of money to be lost. Any person who’s looked at a Realtor’s commission check seldom thinks about the taxes, marketing dollar and advertising (since we are self-employed and pay for this ourselves) that gets taken right off of the top (not to mention the office fees, MLS and board fees and dues). Every sign and keybox that you see is a personal cost. Even the keybox that lets you IN to the home is an annual cost. Being a Realtor does have some challenges that if it’s truly NOT one’s passion…well, those are the ones who we see out of the business in a year or two.
After the “fun part” of looking at homes is over (with a buyer), there’s much work to be done. Some might say that this is where our “work” really starts (though some would even state that it’s the marketing and advertising that was put together before we even met our valuable client). Once the offer is submitted, a bit of psychology goes in to play and it’s time to negotiate for our buyer. We also act as a “project manager” during this time, leading our clients through the transaction process to the closing date.
The typical closing is 30 days. True, there are some instances where you have a cash buyer and the closing is a little sooner than 30 days…sometimes only a few days but if you’re like most of us, cash-transactions only happen a handful of times in a given period. One might think that we’re kicking back, waiting patiently for the closing-date but that’s simply not the case. From the point that the offer is accepted, we are once again, acting as a project manager and guiding our clients. We are collecting (or coordinating) the deposits of earnest money and options fees, collecting receipts, scheduling inspections, negotiating repairs, coordinating information with the title company and your lender, making sure the home appraises and if not, going back once again and negotiating with the other party, making sure all of the blanks in the contract are negotiated and upheld by all (which if not, this is another story, another day), making sure the HOA (if there is one) allows what they want to do, making sure they know what to do and bring to closing, and a large part of simply answering questions ((sometimes daily)), and responding to our clients needs, concerns up until the closing day. (Remember, we are doing this while working with multiple other clients (since we are self-employed, we typically do not just walk into our offices and clients readily walk through the door and want us to help them; this part actually does take quite a bit of effort for them to know we exist ((as well as to prove to them what sets US apart from the competition-this is a very competitive business)), marketing for new clients, advertising and marketing our listings, etc). All in all, we are making sure our client is happy and protected and is getting the best deal possible for what they want. (This does not mean we are “taking advantage” of the other party; we simply do not represent the other party–we represent “our” client).
If you’ve ever wondered what your Realtor does after the offer is accepted, I hope this blog post has shed some light on your questions. There are good and bad people in every business and hopefully you’ve had a great experience with your own Realtor. What we do is not rocket-science…but if you don’t know what you (as a buyer or seller) are doing, it could have great consequences for yourself as well as your Realtor. (Again, this is your Realtor’s responsibility to guide you). Not only legal ramifications (law-suites for things such as non-performance), forfeiture of money (who wants that??) and so many other things can happen if you don’t tread the transaction-path carefully.
ANYONE can buy or sell a home on their own–but do you really “want” to?
Amy S Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty | Watters Creek-Allen
Why Has My Home Not Sold?!
There you are…90 days after putting your home on the market…a few potential “new” homes picked out…and not only not a single offer in sight, but showings have come to a screeching HALT. What has happened? Why have other homes in the neighborhood moved faster than yours? THREE THINGS influence the sale of a property: 1) Location 2) Aesthetic Quality and 3)Price.
1) Location: I absolutely love to work the sale-side of a transaction, and firmly believe that there is a buyer for every home. (Someone else’s trash your treasure? 😉 The golf-course lots that may be appealing to one buyer may not even be a thought in the mind of a homeowner who once lived on a golf-course lot and had one-too-many golf-balls hit his window. The lake-view that some may find appealing may be disregarded by someone who feels they attract bothersome mosquitoes. The overly-ornate house may be the perfect home for someone searching for that niche piece of property. The key is to 1) know your competitor and what they offer and
2) Emphasize the positive, downplay the “negatives”.2) Aesthetic Quality: This is not just about what your home “looks” like. Think about touching all senses…what does your home 1) look, 2) feel,
3) Yes…smell like? Don’t cover up an odor with heavy fragrances; remove it…then add a light fragrance throughout such as vanilla. (Notice I said “light”….not over-powering). Simmer-pots are great for this added touch.
4) Sound like? (I will also add “taste” for open house situations). Put on light jazz music to set the mood, turn all of the blinds 3/4 of the way up so that sun comes in, and the rooms appear more open, make sure there is a neutral pleasant scent. (In helping one of my friends find a home a few years back, there was a home that stood out…the home in which she, her husband and their children live in today, in which we termed “the apple pie house”. It stood out because of the wonderfully fragrant apple pie candle smell that filled the entire house (unlit, by the way). It created a “homey” feel and left an impression. I’m not a fan of candles because of the fire hazards, but vanilla glade plug-ins also work GREAT. Again, if there IS a particular odor (pet smell, cigarette, etc….don’t just MASK it…it WILL be uncovered 🙂 Fix the problem first, then add the scent).
Exercise: Park your car in the front of your home at the curb with a notepad in hand. Put yourself in a different mindset for a moment–that of the potential buyer. Is your grass as green as it could be? How would you grade the overall curb-appeal? If you have a green thumb, great, otherwise, this is NOT the time to take up landscaping…leave it to the professionals (or ask us for references who can help) to ensure the best appearance possible. Are there cobwebs above your door? Is it in need of powerwashing? Is the fence in need of staining? (A small investment now could reap you rewards later). Remember, a buyers first impression of your home is going to be the lasting one. It could also mean the difference of a home the potential buyer may drive up to then decide to not even go in because something on the outside made them feel that the interior (or worse-structure) of the home was not taken care of. (Do you have scheduled appointments that are not “showing up”? This could be the problem. Once inside…look around-how does it feel? Is it cluttered with personal belongings? (Make sure to take down all personal photos from your home before putting on the market-you want the potential buyer focused the features of your home….not what you did on family vacation 🙂 Clean everything from the kitchen counter so that the counterspace feels as spacious as possible. Make sure toys, shoes, etc are in “stash boxes” which you can quickly throw things in and push under a bed or stack neatly in the garage for showings. (That being said…do NOT cancel appointments unless absolutely necessary. It’s a numbers game and if they can’t go in, they aren’t going to buy it…but they may buy your neighbors, of whom they got to see). Make sure vanity areas, toilets, tubs, floors and windows are SPOTLESS. These things are a reflection of the entire “upkeep” of your home. Now is not the time to scare away an otherwise interested buyer. Even if you typically do not use one, it may help to have the assistance of a cleaning service while your home is on the market.
3) Price -Price can ALWAYS overcome the latter two issues. Is your home priced competitively? When listing your home, your Realtor should have ran comps to determine what homes are selling for and what yours should be listed at. Some sellers feel that listing higher in the beginning gives buyers an opportunity to “make an offer” that they feel is fair. Unfortunately, this is just NOT the case. While listed “too high”, you may be losing out on the qualified buyers who WOULD have been interested in your home. Something else also happens…when your home sits on the market, buyers and Realtors alike begin to wonder what’s “wrong with it” and may bypass it. Is YOUR home priced competitively? A great way to find out is to go look at OTHERS near you which are priced in the same range. Are you in need of a decrease in price? Just yesterday, I had a potential seller contact me who had purchased a home, loaded it with upgrades and listed it for top dollar. He had it listed with a different realtor..in which the listing expired. He says to me…”I don’t know why the home hasn’t sold, I really think it’s worth $400k”. My response? “Market value is what the general public is willing to pay for a particular property. YOU may feel it’s worth $400k and “I” may feel it’s worth $400k, but if your home has not sold, and the general public is not willing to pay $400k, then your home is not listed at market value, and is priced too high.
Obviously, the top 3 factors must be coupled by a creative, focused marketing plan by a Realtor who knows your goals, the market, and cares about your best interests.
-Amy S. Arey, Realtor * Halo Group Realty * 214.901.1341
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The Truth Behind Why Realtors Ask for PreApproval Letters Prior to Showing Property
Requesting a buyer to send over a preapproval letter prior to showing property (or even meeting) these days is not an uncommon practice. It shouldn’t be taken as an insult to your integrity, credit worthiness or anything of the like. We (as Realtors) are not only asking you to do this to protect ourselves, but you as well. We aren’t being lazy or lacking customer-service. We are making sure you are lined up for success in your home-buying experience.
First and foremost, let me begin by telling you that I’ve been a licensed Realtor since 2001. In the beginning of my career, I would show property to any buyer without first making sure they were approved. I was new in the business and simply did not know any better. What I didn’t realize, is that there is, unfortunately, a LOT of fraud out there, with not only people pretending to be other people to online predators attempting to get “up close and personal” with female Realtors, but also people who simply like to “sight-see” and truly can’t afford a $300,000 home (much less the million-dollar home they are contacting us to see). Sure, it’s fun to look at model homes and look at the decor and see high-end furnishings…but this is a business and that’s what pinterest is for. I have also learned over the years…that people who “are” serious and are approved, generally have no problem when asked for a preapproval letter and don’t even question it, for that matter.
Getting a preapproval letter establishes several things:
1) You are who you say you are.
Again, this is not an insult to your character. We may not know you from Adam…much less your payment history, credit worthiness and income level. This is why loan officers “exist”. There are catty people out there who get jealous or insecure for who knows what and pretend to be other people. I’ve personally had an ex-boyfriend’s friend from WAY back contact me (because they had too much time on their hands and wanted to waste mine?) pretending to be someone else. I take my business very seriously. I don’t have time to deal with fictitious buyers.
Safety is also a huge concern. Put yourselves in our (Realtors’) You’re meeting strangers in sometimes vacant houses whom you don’t know a thing about. I need not remind you of the cases of Realtors being murdered. A “facebook friend” is still a stranger. (How much do you “really” know about the people who have been on your facebook friends list for 5 years?). Think about how many potentially “fake” profiles you have questioned on your friends list. They may be harmless, but I, for one, would rather not find out the hard way. You may argue that a murderer can still have an exemplary credit score, but this is not what we are trying to establish in this case-(You are who you say you are and that you’re looking for a house to buy, not trying to meet us for deceitful reasons).
I’ve tried explaining this to someone before who sarcastically said “Well, what protects “me” from “you”? My response? “Good question. My fingerprints are on file with the state of texas on the TREC website. You can go get fingerprinted and I can check those, but I just need a preapproval letter”.
I’ve also had a situation with a fraudulent buyer from Trulia which I “never” hope to encounter again. I spent a LOT of time on this buyer from another country who had a fictitious loan officer. The first red flag I should have noticed was that the loan officer’s preapproval letter (when looking back) had no contact information on it. This was a story in itself, but the buyers were very much smooth-talkers and I “try” to look for the best in people and believe them (not to mention, we have an ethical duty to represent and fight for our clients). Luckily, the agent on the other end of the transaction was very experienced and had encountered a similar situation in her career and knew that “I” was not involved in any of the fraud.
Stating you are a “cash buyer” does not mean that removes you from proving you are qualified. If this was the case, every “sight-see-er” would just state they were a “cash buyer” to remove themselves from the crucial qualification step (and some still try). Just as a buyer with a home loan should have a pre-approval letter, you as a cash buyer should also have a “proof of funds” (this is generally a bank account showing that the balance of the sales price of the property you intend to purchase is in the account). Most just white out their personal information, leaving their name to prove that it is, in fact, their account.
I had a buyer just yesterday contact me to show him property but seemed to be offended when I asked for a preapproval letter. He declined, calling me “lazy and overly-zealous” then added that he was a “cash buyer” and that I “missed out”. We make the same percentage on the sale of a home whether it is cash or financed. Whether you can close next week or the end of the month via a financing method makes no difference to me. What “does” matter is that we will have a good working relationship and name-calling does not necessarily lead me to believe that you are A) a professional or B) telling the truth.
2) Inaccuracies on Credit Reports
I’ve had many a buyer who had information on their credit report that has put a halt on their home-search for various reasons. Perhaps they cosigned on an apartment for someone and that person left owing a balance and didn’t both telling the cosigner. Perhaps the information reported was truly someone else with a similar name or social (it happens!). Either way, these are items that can affect you buying a home and take some time to correct or remove. The house you wanted to see and intended to buy is now something you can not move forward with until you correct these items. I don’t need to remind anyone how hot of a sellers market that we are in, in North Texas or the shortage of inventory that we have experienced, forcing multiple full price and over-full price offers everywhere. That being said, that home you wanted to see likely will not be there (especially if listed under $300k) in 30 days (the least amount of time it generally takes credit bureaus to report new or changes information).
I recently had a buyer who pressed on and on about seeing a property and was not yet approved. She finally took the 15 minutes to submit an application to get approval to see the property. When we got there, the seller complained for about 20 minutes about why her house sale had fallen through and it wasted time, put them in a bad situation since they were relocating because the original buyer’s financing had fallen through. They had already moved out, forcing them to put the home back on the market again. The seller made the comment “What is going on with today’s Real Estate Agents…are they not making sure their clients are approved before taking them out to show them property”? If YOU were a seller and had to get your family out of the house on a Sunday afternoon and put up the dogs for a buyer who you later found out did not have financing in place….how would that make “you” feel?
3) Changing Home-Loan Guidelines
If you haven’t purchased a home in 10-20 years (even if you did have “7 homes in your lifetime with no problem before), I don’t need to tell you that home-loan guidelines on qualification have changed…and are still changing. If I question a situation on a particular scenario, I always ask feedback from the loan officer since they would know of any changing loan qualifications in their field (likely before we would) just to “make sure”. Just because you “own three businesses” doesn’t mean you are qualified. Self-employment guidelines have drastically changed over the past couple of years and you may not be able to qualify for what you think you would have.
A “Newbie” Realtor may make the same initial mistakes that I did at the beginning of my career and show any Tom, Dick, or Harry to hope to get that “next sale”. However, any of us who have seen the ins and outs of the various scenarios I have just mentioned will tell you that it’s always better to do your due-diligence and make sure you have your ducks in a row to purchase your home. It’s okay if you are not currently qualified-we can help you get there and do so with clients every day. If you state you “won’t have any problem getting approved” but refuse to get preapproved, this signifies a red flag to us. If you are, indeed qualified, why take offense of us asking you to prove it to us?
4) The Obvious
I. like most Realtors, can be very competitive when it comes to fighting for our clients and getting them the home they want. That being said, we want to line you up for success. We want “our client” to be the one who comes out on top on a multiple offer scenario. When we begin looking at homes and you find one you fall in love with, you may think you have time to go home, log online, or call up your favorite banker, credit union or mortgage professional to have them send over a new preapproval letter. However, times have changed. Even if they can get to you “that same day” it may be too late. Most listing agents will not present an offer to their sellers without a preapproval letter. They are protecting their client (the seller) and making sure the deal would not fall through over financing should they decide to move forward on the transaction with a particular buyer. You may say “Well, then it wasn’t meant to be” but how many times do you want this to happen before you feel otherwise?? If you like a home and you are up against two other offers–both full price and both financed, and although you are a “cash buyer” with no documentation to prove it….do you really think they are going to choose your offer over another qualified buyer who is “ready to go” and will likely be more prepared to make it to the closing table?
We are not trying to offend when inquiring of your credit-worthiness. It’s a (huge) part of our job. I hope if you had qualms over why we do this (prior to reading this) that I’ve cleared up a lot of the misconceptions and questions. “You” may “know” you are approved, but we don’t.
Amy S. Arey, Realtor | Halo Group Realty, LLC | 214.901.1341-Cell