Thursday, September 12, 2013

Understanding Home Inspections.

UNDERSTANDING HOME INSPECTIONS



There’s no denying that purchasing a home is one of the biggest thrills of your life, but it can also quickly become overwhelming. While the home you choose may appear to be the perfect house, hiding underneath the dream could be serious unknown defects that can make your investment a costly one.
Enter the home inspector. A home inspector performs a physical inspection of the structure and systems of your prospective home. This means that while you may love the beauty of the living room’s wood floors, your inspector can tell if the floor will truly last. 
The home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home, from roof to foundation. The inspection will determine not only the condition of the home, but also help foresee any immediate unnecessary additional cost that may go unnoticed by the untrained eye.
Home inspections start at around $200 depending on the size of the home, its age and overall condition. It’s money well spent if you’re serious about that particular property. 
According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, the standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components.
John Prohaska, owner of J&P Inspections in Des Moines, Iowa, compares a home inspection to getting a physical from your doctor. 
“When problems or symptoms of problems are found, the inspector may recommend further evaluation or remedies,” he said. “A home inspection summarizes the condition of a property, points out the need for major repairs and identifies areas that may need attention in the near future.”
The inspection will show the positive and negative aspects of a home, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape. After an inspection, both parties have a much clearer understanding of the value and needs of the property.
Knowing about an issue before closing gives you the upper-hand at the negotiating table. A home in good working order may have been worth $350,000, but if $20,000 of work needs to be done to replace rotted wood or bad plumbing, the price should drop.
Before any sale is complete, you will need an inspection to look over the good, the bad and the ugly of what your new home really offers.
Remember, even if a house needs repairs or has hidden problems, it shouldn’t always be the catalyst for getting out of a sale. No house is perfect and as long as you know ahead of time what needs to be done and can possibly change the purchase price based on the information, the home inspection will give you a great starter list of what needs to be done to really make moving in that smoother.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sellers: Itemize What You’re Taking With You


Sellers:

Itemize What You’re Taking With You

Believe it or not, after months of searching countless homes, finding the perfect one, negotiating price and finally agreeing to a deal, a sale can fall apart over a disagreement about curtains.
When striking a deal to sell a home, it’s important that you are perfectly clear about what you are taking with you and what you are leaving behind. The general rule is that if something is attached to the structure or the ground, it is real property and stays with the house. If removing the item would ruin or disfigure the walls, the item generally stays.
If you need a tool to remove it, it stays. Legally, these are called fixtures, which include everything permanently attached to the property such as a fence, built-in appliances, ceiling fans, flowerbeds and shrubs. Conversely, if you can disconnect, unhook or detach an item from the home with bare hands, it’s free to leave when you do. This is known as personal property and should never be assumed to be part of the sale. Items that fall into this category are furniture, potted plants, free-standing appliances and an outdoor grill.
A good rule of thumb is to not show your home with any fixtures you are planning to take.
Replacing them is the better option.
Every real estate agent has a story about a deal falling through because of an argument about what a buyer thought was staying. For this reason, you should walk in each room with your agent and make a list of things that you will be taking with you. If you decide to leave the curtains, chandeliers or are open to giving up some of the outdoor furniture, it may just help with a sale. People appreciate the notion of getting something for free, and a savvy agent will hint to a prospective buyer that fixtures and furnishing may be negotiable. Unless the items are really important to you, let them go with the home. Use them to get the price you want and then replace the items in your new home.
By itemizing and discussing all the things that stay and go at the outset, there will be no miscommunication on closing day.







Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential.



Monday, June 3, 2013

Selling an Ugly Home


Selling an Ugly Home



Let’s say that you inherited an old house in a distant location and want to put it on the market. You may not have the time, resources or energy to make it perfect and just want a quick sale.

Or, maybe you had renters at your property who did substantial damage and you don’t have the money to make necessary renovations.

Fear not. Just because the house needs work doesn’t mean you can’t sell it. Many homebuyers today are shopping for deals and want to see the potential in your home. In that case, leave brochures for new cabinets in the kitchen, color palates around the bedrooms and even create computerized images of what updates could look like.

In addition, secure bids from licensed contractors on necessary fixes and provide them to your potential buyers. People may overestimate the cost of a new roof, shower stall or drywall repair and fresh paint. Estimates will bring the home into clearer perspective.

Work with your real estate agent to make the home as presentable as possible for the least amount of money. Make a room or two inviting so you have the photos that will attract buyers to what you can call “a fixer upper.”


Of course, nothing is going to attract people more than a low price. Obviously, you will need to discount the sales price to gain an advantage over comparables in better condition.

A down-and-out house doesn’t mean you’re stuck. With small repairs, research and practical pricing, you can turn that “Ugly Betty” into a sale.

Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential company. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How to Buy and Sell a Home at the Same Time







AOL Real Estate

Now that the real estate market is picking up again, many people are looking to sell their homes at last. But when you sell, you have to move somewhere -- which usually means buying another home. Buying and selling at the same time brings up a whole new set of challenges, but those who plan well in advance can make it happen smoothly. Here are five ways to successfully buy and sell a home at the same time.

1.
Prepare to be stressed. Buying a home is stressful. Selling a home is stressful. When you do both at the same time, the experience is super stressful, not to mention emotional and difficult on many levels. You're potentially carrying two mortgages or trying to time the purchase with the sale. There will be a lot of sleepless nights, worrying over finances and pressure to make a decision. It's enough to ignite a family war.

Accepting upfront that this process will be extremely stressful will help in the long run. Know that most homeowners go through this, and there is success at the end of the long, dark tunnel. Plan everything as much as possible in advance. Do your homework. And take care of yourself. You're going to be busier than usual.

2.
Meet with your agent early on. Owners often believe their home is worth less than what the current market will bear. That's why it's important to meet with your real estate agent early on, even months before you plan to buy or sell. Researching online valuation tools or doing basic research will help to guide you. But a local agent will help you understand your home's true current market value and marketability. A good agent is in the trenches daily and knows your neighborhood and market inside and out.

3.
Learn the market where you want to purchase. After getting some hard numbers for your home's sale you need to do the same on the purchase side. What's on your wish list? What are your priorities? Determine your needs and understand what you will get for your money on the purchase side. You need to know this to factor in how financing will work with the buy/sell. Also, understand that market. Is it more or less competitive than where you live now? How long can you expect to search for a home? This will factor into your sale timing. If you're moving within the city or town where you live, your listing agent will likely serve as your buying agent. If you're moving just outside your area, you may need to ask your agent to refer you to an agent knowledgeable about that area.

4.
Know your numbers. Once you understand the numbers on both the purchase and the sale, you need to know your financing options. Many people today don't have a strong-enough financial foundation to purchase another home before selling their own, so knowing this upfront can help you plan more appropriately.

Engage a local mortgage broker or lender and understand what kind of down payment you'll need to make a purchase, given the price point and type of home you seek to buy. How much equity do you have in your current home, and is the equity available? Do you have enough of a down payment liquid and would a lender allow you to make the purchase before selling the home? Find out by going through the loan pre-approval process. A good, local mortgage professional is as valuable as a good real estate agent.

5.
Make a plan. Now that you know your numbers, it's time to come up with a plan and execute. The plan can vary greatly, depending upon any number of conditions. Some examples: Buying in a competitive market? Adding a contingency that your current home must sell before you buy probably won't work.




• Selling in a competitive market? You may be able to negotiate with the buyer for a longer escrow or even a rent back. This would buy you time on the purchase side.
• Selling in a slow market and buying in a competitive market? Need the sales proceeds in order to do the purchase? Unfortunately, you're in the worst-case scenario. Consider the option of selling your home first and moving into temporary housing. While not the most physically convenient, it could be less stressful.
• Need temporary housing? Start researching those options now well in advance

Understanding the variables: There are so many variables that can come into play when buying or selling. Each one may affect your decision-making process. Identifying and planning for the variables as much as possible early on will help you avoid sleepless nights, stressful days, or fights with your spouse or partner.


By Brendan Desimone AOL Real Estate

Thursday, April 11, 2013

FREE SHREDDING EVENT ! LOWER GWYNEDD, MONTGOMERY COUNTY PA

FREE SHREDDING EVENT!
SHREDDING EVENT


Shred all those old documents that have been accumulating quickly and dispose of sensitive papers safely - while you watch!

APRIL 27, 2013 10am-12pm

Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors
1600 North Bethlehem Pike Suite 100
Lower Gwynedd, PA 19002

rsvp-joannegenesio@comcast.net
Joanne Genesio - PA REALTOR at 10:07 AM
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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Staging for the Spring

Any home stager will tell you that “staging is staging” and the principals remain the same throughout the year—keep things clean, clutter free and colorful. But that doesn’t each season comes without its own brand of staging magic. For spring, there are a number of things you can do both inside and outside to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Barb Schwarz, creator of Homes Staging® and CEO of Stagedhomes.com, suggests adding splashes of color to your porch with potted flowers. She favors larger pots placed on each side of the front door bearing tulips or daisies with greenery in the middle. Bringing spring colors into a home is just as easy, especially with accessories like throw pillows, area rugs, artwork, towels and bedspreads. “Change accessories and the whole house changes,” Schwarz said. Swap-out decorative pillows on a sofa for a fresh, new look. “This year nature colors are really in; green is really big and hot orange is an accent that is strong.” Designers recommend using other knickknacks that speak of spring, such as pears, eggs, sea shells, nature, leaf patterns in fabrics, wicker, real leather and rust metal as contrast. Schwarz said it’s also a good idea to replace the drapery panels in a home or office. She recently changed a den from a daisy pattern in blue to cream plain panels that went from ceiling to the floor “and the whole room looked bigger and more elegant,” she said. Of course, all rooms in the house are important and there are ways to liven up each one as the spring season blooms. You want the buyer to buy the whole house, not just one or two rooms staged, so it’s important to create a cohesive design. Yet don’t forget your “great outdoors.” Clean up your yards, remove fallen leaves and dead plants, and trim bushes and hedges. Indeed, spring brings more buyers so take advantage of all that the season has to offer. Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates, Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

‘Tis the Season for Tax Breaks

‘Tis the Season for Tax Breaks With April 15 rapidly approaching many are scrambling to complete their taxes. For those who have recently bought or sold a home, there are a number of tax deductions that that may be available to them. Real estate broker’s commissions, title insurance, legal fees, advertising costs, administrative costs, and inspection fees are all considered selling costs and may be used to reduce one’s taxable capital gain by the amount of the selling costs. That could result in a big savings depending on the final sale price. Interest that is paid on a mortgage is also tax-deductible, within limits. A married couple filing jointly can deduct all their interest payments on a maximum of $1 million in mortgage debt secured by a first or second home. Buyers may also be able to deduct some of the interest they paid on a home equity loan or similar line of credit. One deduction that many buyers often overlook is points. Points or origination fees on a home loan that were paid during the purchase of a home are generally tax-deductible in full for the year in which they were paid. Refinanced mortgage points are also deductible but only over the life of the loan – not all at once. Homeowners who refinance can immediately write off the balance of the old points and begin to amortize the new. If your lender required private mortgage insurance, the PMI premiums are tax-deductible for mortgages taken out from 2007 through 2011. Making improvements to property prior to the sale or once one moves in might qualify for an interest deduction on your home-improvement loan. Qualifying capital improvements are those that increase your home’s value, prolong its life, or adapt it to new uses, such as adding a porch or installing energy-efficient windows. Many times during a sale, the seller will send the local tax collector’s office a check for real estate taxes prior to the closing. In many circumstances, however, the buyer will pay a pro-rated portion of the taxes for the year at closing. This tax deduction also gets overlooked. For those working from their new home: If a room is used exclusively for business purposes, they may be able to deduct home costs related to that portion, such as a percentage of your insurance and repair costs, and depreciation. In some instances, if you have moved because of a new job, moving costs may be deducted. These can include travel or transportation costs, expenses for lodging, and fees for storing your household goods. Every year the tax laws change and certain tax deductions become available while others phase out. If you have recently bought or sold a home, it’s probably a good idea to seek out a professional tax consultant to do your taxes as missing deductions that you can legally claim can add up to quite a bit of money. Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential company. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Selling in Colder Months

Selling in Colder Months While the warmer months are generally regarded as the time for home sellers to get their property ready for sale, marketing the home in winter and early spring is just as important. Homebuyers are out looking for homes 12 months a year and there’s no reason to drop the ball on sprucing up a home December through March. Here are some tips for selling a home in the winter months. Heat it up: If you are planning an open house or have showings scheduled, turn up the thermostat and make the home warm and inviting. A cold home shopper will race through a house and start questioning the windows and insulation. Light it up: For homes with fireplaces, this is the perfect opportunity to show the potential buyer how cozy a fireplace can be. Leave some marshmallows and sticks nearby and invite those seeing the home to test it out. Take care of snow and ice: For those selling in heavy wintry climates, make sure that the walk is clear, the driveway is shoveled and put down salt to control any icy surfaces. If a buyer pulls up to the house and has to slush through inches of snow, they may not even bother to enter. For those who aren’t currently living in the home that is for sale, make sure to hire someone to clear it for you. Use photographs: If you have a beautiful lawn, stellar landscaping or an outdoor pool or deck, many times these are quickly overlooked or passed by because of snow. Take some eye-catching photos of these amenities during the warm months and display them during a winter showing so buyers can get a better understanding of what the outside truly offers. Schedule Open Houses: There are still many who don’t believe that selling in the winter is a good idea, so it’s a great time to take advantage of less competition. Many serious buyers often come out during the winter months, including corporate clients who usually need to relocate within the first quarter of the year. Emphasize the Positives: Does your street get plowed quickly? Is it near public transportation to make it easier to get to work in the snow? Is it within walking distance of stores? Does it have a great hill for the kids to sled down in a safe environment? If so, accentuate these features. Since a lot of people are waiting until spring to put their home on the market, having a home ready in winter is a great way to beat the rush. Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates, Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wrapping Up Your Home for the Holidays

Wrapping Up Your Home for the Holidays In the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” Clark Griswold may have gone a little overboard with his Christmas lights, but if he was selling his house, he may have had the right idea. “Great decorations really set the tone for the holidays, a time when you can showcase your house in a different way to highlight areas that normally may not stand out,” said Amy Cornwell, President/ Lead Designer for Creative Impressions, which specializes in seasonal decorating. By creating a festive atmosphere, a home seller allows perspective buyers to envision what their holidays will be like in the property—complete with a beautiful tree, stockings hung from the fireplace mantels and the smell of Christmas cookies in the air. “[Buyers] associate a sense of ‘home’ through the traditions and memories of holiday d├ęcor,” Cornwell said. “It’s a great way to attract buyers.” Nighttime is when many perspective buyers are driving around looking at houses, and nothing will slow them down more than a great Christmas light display. “A well-designed display adds festive elegance to a home, and highlights the already-present features of the property,” said Brandon Stephens, vice president of Marketing at The Decor Group, Inc., Lubbock, Texas, specializing in interior and exterior holiday decorating. In fact, consider holding an open house at night, when you can serve hot chocolate and better show off the Christmas lights, holiday decorations and all that the house has to offer. Here are some simple suggestions to ensure your home captures the holiday spirit without interfering in the real estate process: • Keep decorations to a minimum so you don’t block views, make rooms feel smaller and disrupt the natural flow of the home. Consider a smaller tree and store gifts in another room. • Incorporate fresh evergreen or rosemary into your decorating for a classic look and to promote “the Christmas tree smell.” • Make sure light strings and extension cords are tucked away for everyone’s safety. • Eschew religious or cultural decorations to not alienate prospective buyers who don’t share your beliefs. • Leave a plate of holiday cookies and warm cider or cocoa for prospective buyers. The holidays are emotional times for most people, including home shoppers. Holiday decorations, presented tastefully and sensibly, can help you wrap a bow on your home for just the right buyer. Happy Holidays! Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated member of BRER Affiliates Inc. Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

WINTER IS APPROACHING...IS YOUR HOME READY?

Winter Is Approaching … Is your Home Ready?





Autumn winds blow a chilly reminder that winter is fast approaching. Perform the following maintenance tips each fall to protect your property's value and prevent major repairs.

Roof, Gutters and Downspouts

Rain, ice, snow and wind can all cause damage to your roof and gutters. Now’s the time to trim back all tree limbs and vegetation away from the roof. You also should remove debris, such as leaves and sticks from your gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters don’t allow water to properly drain away from the home, which can cause seepage in your ceilings and walls. You can also invest in gutter guards, a screen that prevents debris from entering the gutter and directs the flow of water away from the house and into the ground.
Water Heater

You don’t want to find out that your water heater isn’t operating properly when you need it most. So use this time to perform an annual inspection, which includes having your tank’s pressure and temperature relief valve checked. In addition, remove sediment from the bottom of the tank by draining two gallons of water to improve heat transfer and the efficiency of your heater.
Heating and Cooling System

If you have a forced warm-air heating system, you should check the exhaust vent and air shutter openings for dirt and dust. Clean any lint and dirt from the blower blades, motor and burner (if you have a gas heater). Vacuum air passages and check and replace, if necessary, fan belts. To prevent airborne dirt from circulating throughout your home, wash out your reusable filter or replace it if it’s disposable.
Doors and Windows

To help control heating costs, make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed. Now is the time to repair or replace weather stripping around door bottoms and jambs and window frames. Check for loose or missing glazing putty and caulking for deterioration. If you have storm windows, install them.
Water Pipes


Frozen or burst pipes can cause major damage to your home and be expensive to remedy. Before frigid weather hits, protect your pipes in unheated areas from freezing by adding insulation, which reduces heat loss from hot-water pipes and condensation on cold water pipes. This can be accomplished by wrapping the pipes with heating tape or blanket insulation and duct tape or by encasing the pipes with preformed plastic foam. In addition, examine your pipes for cracks and leaks.
Fireplace

Before you light the logs and get ready to settle in front of a cozy fire, make sure that your fireplace is in good working order. Clean the chimney flue and, if needed, have it inspected and repaired. Check the seal on your flue, which is designed to keep out drafts. Replace the seal if it is loose or damaged.
If you decide to perform the fall maintenance yourself, disconnect the power for any electrical or gas systems. In addition, before inspecting, cleaning or making any repairs refer to your owner’s manual for all equipment for proper instructions, which should be the final authority on any maintenance.

Outdoor Surfaces and Landscaping

Fall is also a great time to seal your driveways, wood patios and other hardscape surfaces. In addition, prune tree branches away from your home and electrical wires. Plant spring flower bulbs and move sensitive potted plants indoors.
Although this list is merely a guide, it can help you keep your home in good shape and have a winter free of major repairs.






Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential Financial company. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

IMPROVING YOUR CREDIT SCORE

Improve Your Credit Score Those about to start house hunting should check their credit score before things get too serious. There is nothing quite as frightening in the mortgage process as learning that your credit report contains a late payment or other blemishes that can prevent you from buying a property. The higher your credit score, the better your chances are of financing a home. A credit score of at least 620 will give consumers a fighting chance to secure a home loan; 720 should qualify in most cases. However, a lower credit score doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t finance a home. Credit score repair begins with your credit report. You can request a free copy of your credit report annually from the Federal Trade Commission at AnnualCreditReport.com. Check the report for errors. Don’t panic if your report contains blemishes. There are steps you can take to fix negative marks, regardless of whether the marks are in error or if you’ve missed a payment or two. The simplest thing to do if you’ve missed a payment is to call the creditor and ask them to erase the negative listing. You can also do this with a well-documented letter. There is no guarantee that a lender will do this, but if you’ve been a good customer through the years, this method has proven to be successful. If you are one of the many who have defaulted on a student loan you can enter into a “rehab program,” which will get your account back on track after 12 months. This may not be the quick fix you need when buying a home but the sooner you do this the better. For disputing a negative mark that was not your fault, you can try disputing the account with the credit bureaus as “not mine.” One quick fix used by borrowers to boost their credit score is to have an older family member with a sound credit rating add you as an authorized user on a credit card. This can help increase your score and you wouldn’t even need the card in your possession. With more loans requiring higher credit scores today, it’s never too early to start fixing credit challenges. Prudential Brookfield

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Inspect for Code Violations Before you Sell

Inspect for Code Violations Before you Sell Code violations can extend the home-selling process or halt it altogether. Therefore, it’s good business to hire a home inspector before placing your home on the market. A quality home inspector is well-versed in all local codes dealing with electrical, plumbing, building/structural and more, and can help sellers understand any code violations and the steps and costs necessary to meet codes. Code violations have a way of popping up in paperwork. When the city records a code violation, a fee is assigned to the property, but because the violations don’t appear as a lien on a title search, it can be difficult to ascertain whether a sanction has been assessed that will delay closing. According to Code Violation Services Inc., Windsor, Colo., violations can include the presence of garbage in a yard, maintenance issues, overgrown lawns, non-sanctioned improvements, safety issues or other dangerous items needing repair in a property. Here are some of the most common inspection problems: Bedrooms -- All rooms listed as bedrooms must have an operating window with 30 square inches of clearance for fire escape. Bedrooms also must have heat. If a home is listed with three bedrooms, and one does not meet both these requirements, it cannot be legally called a bedroom. Furnaces and Compressors -- Rust in the heat exchange is a common problem that shows up on inspections. So is missing insulation where required by code at the time the house was built or improvement or replacement was installed. Electrical -- Common electrical code violations include junctions not enclosed in a junction box, a lack of GFCI outlets in bathrooms and kitchens or reverse-polarity on outlets. These are inexpensive fixes that can hold up a sale. Life-saving Equipment -- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are required by law in most states, and by not having them—or having the proper kind—it will be considered a code violation. Plumbing -- Violations can include everything from dripping faucets to loose toilets to improper drainage. Structural -- While these can be more expensive to fix, if they aren’t taken care of properly, they can prolong or even cancel a sale. Common code violations include rotting wood trim around windows and doors, rotten or delaminating siding and missing flashing on roofs or above windows and doors. Extra Rooms -- Many who renovate basements or add sunrooms do so without permits. For the safety of everyone involved, be sure your improvements and additions are backed by the proper permits and resulting inspections. Don’t hurt your sale because of code violations that can be easily fixed. Get an inspector, make the changes and enjoy the comfort your efforts bring when the closing comes to fruition. Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates, Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sellers: Itemize What You're Taking With You

Sellers: Itemize What You’re Taking With You Believe it or not, after months of searching countless homes, finding the perfect one, negotiating price and finally agreeing to a deal, a sale can fall apart over a disagreement about curtains. When striking a deal to sell a home, it’s important that you are perfectly clear about what you are taking with you and what you are leaving behind. The general rule is that if something is attached to the structure or the ground, it is real property and stays with the house. If removing the item would ruin or disfigure the walls, the item generally stays. If you need a tool to remove it, it stays. Legally, these are called fixtures, which include everything permanently attached to the property such as a fence, built-in appliances, ceiling fans, flowerbeds and shrubs. Conversely, if you can disconnect, unhook or detach an item from the home with bare hands, it’s free to leave when you do. This is known as personal property and should never be assumed to be part of the sale. Items that fall into this category are furniture, potted plants, free-standing appliances and an outdoor grill. A good rule of thumb is to not show your home with any fixtures you are planning to take. Replacing them is the better option. Every real estate agent has a story about a deal falling through because of an argument about what a buyer thought was staying. For this reason, you should walk in each room with your agent and make a list of things that you will be taking with you. If you decide to leave the curtains, chandeliers or are open to giving up some of the outdoor furniture, it may just help with a sale. People appreciate the notion of getting something for free, and a savvy agent will hint to a prospective buyer that fixtures and furnishing may be negotiable. Unless the items are really important to you, let them go with the home. Use them to get the price you want and then replace the items in your new home. By itemizing and discussing all the things that stay and go at the outset, there will be no miscommunication on closing day. Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

HARP 2.0 Can Help Underwater Homeowners

HARP 2.0 Can Help Underwater Homeowners For homeowners who are underwater on their conventional mortgage, the government has enacted a new Home Affordable Refinance Program to help eligible participants pay down the principal without having to pay mortgage insurance. The new HARP 2.0 Refinance Program was made available to U.S. homeowners March 17, 2012 and those eligible can refinance by Dec. 31, 2013. “You can use HARP even if you’re far underwater on your mortgage. There is no loan-to-value restriction under the HARP mortgage program so long as your new mortgage is a fixed-rate loan with a term of 30 years or fewer,” said Dan Green, a loan officer with Waterstone Mortgage in Columbia, Md. “If you use HARP to refinance into an adjustable-rate mortgage, your loan-to-value is capped at 105%.” The original HARP program (also known as Making Home Affordable) was started in April 2009 and changes were introduced last fall by the Federal Home Finance Agency and confirmed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This program had several roadblocks that made it difficult for homeowners to refinance. For instance, the program only assisted those with mortgages with a loan-to-value ratio between 80% and 125%, but in many hard-hit housing markets homes have lost more than half their value making owners ineligible. To be eligible today, a loan must be backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and the mortgage must have a securitization date prior to June 1, 2009. FHA, USDA and jumbo mortgages are not HARP-eligible. One of the changes in HARP 2.0 is that borrowers will now be able to refinance regardless of how much their homes have depreciated. Previous loan-to-value limits were set at 125%. Appraisals and underwriting have also been eliminated, as most homeowners will no longer be required to get an appraisal or have their loan underwritten, making their refinance process smoother and faster. Certain risk-based fees for borrowers who refinance into shorter-term loans will either be eliminated or modified. HARP only applies to first mortgages. “HARP 2.0 is meant for first liens only,” Green said. “Second liens are meant to subordinate. You’ll get to replace your first mortgage and your second mortgage will remain as-is. Just be sure to mention your second mortgage at the time of application so your lender knows to order the subordination for you.” Remember, the Home Affordable Refinance Program is not meant to save a home from foreclosure. It’s meant to give underwater homeowners a chance to refinance without paying PMI. Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Downsizing can be Emotional

Consider the Emotional Side of Downsizing your Home People downsize for a variety of reasons, from the “empty nest” syndrome to convenience or hardship. Here are a few things to consider as you contemplate moving to a smaller home. “Before any move, focus on how you want to live. People don’t think enough about why they’re moving,” said Mary Jo Zeller, director at Gero Solutions, which manages moves for seniors. “Increasing numbers of downsizers these days want to exchange the worry and expense of maintaining a large property, for the luxury of low maintenance and the opportunity for more leisure time.” Emotional ties to the family home is one of the main barriers to downsizing, but equally, deciding on where to move to, and what style of property will best suit, can be just as daunting a prospect. During the downsizing process you may be surprised at how attached you have become to your possessions and how difficult it might seem to part with them. A good tip is to start getting rid of your items a few months before your move so donate, recycle, e-bay and give away some of those items you really don’t need anymore. This will make the move much easier and your smaller home less cluttered. Decorators recommend sketching floor plans for your new home to see where all your current furniture will fit. You shouldn’t wait until you move in to discover that there’s just no room for that armoire or extra stools. For those already on the top of their property ladder, they may find that reversing course and heading down is the right decision for them. Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates, Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential

Monday, April 9, 2012

FREE SHREDDING EVENT!

SHREDDING EVENT


Shred all those old documents that have been accumulating quickly and dispose of sensitive papers safely - while you watch!

APRIL 27, 2013 10am-12pm

Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors
1600 North Bethlehem Pike Suite 100
Lower Gwynedd, PA 19002

rsvp-joannegenesio@comcast.net

Friday, March 16, 2012

FREE SHREDDING EVENT

SHREDDING EVENT


Shred all those old documents that have been accumulating quickly and dispose of sensitive papers safely - while you watch!

APRIL 14, 2012 10am-12pm

Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors
1600 North Bethlehem Pike Suite 100
Lower Gwynedd, PA 19002

rsvp-joannegenesio@comcast.net

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Should I Accept This Offer

Should I Accept This Offer?

February 29, 2012 -- Realty Times Feature Article by Carla Hill


Being a seller in today's market can present its share of challenges. How do you know when to accept an offer and when to hold out for something better?

Is the current offer a low ball offer or are you simply hesitating over attachment to the home? This is the first and most crucial question to ask yourself.

You see the memories and the upgrades you've made to the home. You know down the cent how much you've invested in the property. In today's market, however, home values have fluctuated and dipped. It's time to detach emotionally from your home and view it in a financial light. Is this a low ball offer or is a reasonable offer for your current market?

How long has your home been on the market? If your home is new to the market, especially if you've had multiple requests for showings, then accepting the first offer can be a gamble. You might not receive another offer, but on the other hand if this offer is too low you might be dealing with a vulture.

Are the terms agreeable? Some offers are right on target with asking prices, but are demanding when it comes to closing cost concessions and even move-out dates. If you don't have a new home lined up and the buyer is wanting you out in 2 weeks you'll find yourself in quite the scramble! Consider all the factors included in the sale.

Will you lose money on the sale? Many homeowners have found that their homes have depreciated in value over the last six years. Can you afford to sell at the offered price? Think about if this will cause you to be too far in debt on your mortgage to buy your next home.

How fast are you needing to sell? -- Are you moving to another state or city? Many of today's sellers are needing to move and that means buying a home. Even if you're not moving, you may have already found, or purchased, your next home and don't need two mortgages hanging over your head. In this instance it would be best to run the numbers, negotiate competitively, and accept a fair (even if lower than expected) offer.

Are you are risk of going into foreclosure? If you are selling because you can no longer handle your payments and don't want to ruin your credit for the next seven years then it would be wise to accept even low offers. Buyers are few and far between in today's market.

This is where the expertise of your agent comes in. They can tell what market activity is like for your area. How long are homes staying on the market before selling? Do they think you'll receive another interested party? If they think the offer is too low and that you'll get more money by waiting a short period for another buyer, then you should wait it out.

Buyers today are just like anyone looking for a deal. They know that home prices are on the decline and that inventory far outweighs demand. They come in shooting from the hip, wounding asking prices with their offers. Don't be afraid to shoot back with competitive counter offers. If someone is truly interested and not just low-balling they'll play the game.

As the seller it is up to you to decide on what deals to accept. If your home is on the market or you are consider listing it, then it would serve you well to figure up your bottom line now. What selling price can you afford? Be aware of what you will and won't sell your home for. Then when offers come in you'll know just how you can respond.



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© Copyright 2012 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

Expanded Cape Cod for sale on Freed Road, Harleysville, Souderton, Montgomery County PA, Prudential Fox & Roach, Joanne Genesio

Expanded Cape Cod for sale on Freed Road, Harleysville, Souderton, Montgomery County PA, Prudential Fox & Roach, Joanne Genesio

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Understanding Home Inspections

Understanding Home Inspections



There’s no denying that purchasing a home is one of the biggest thrills of your life, but it can also quickly become overwhelming. While the home you choose may appear to be the perfect house, hiding underneath the dream could be serious unknown defects that can make your investment a costly one.
Enter the home inspector. A home inspector performs a physical inspection of the structure and systems of your prospective home. This means that while you may love the beauty of the living room’s wood floors, your inspector can tell if the floor will truly last.
The home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home, from roof to foundation. The inspection will determine not only the condition of the home, but also help foresee any immediate unnecessary additional cost that may go unnoticed by the untrained eye.
Home inspections start at around $200 depending on the size of the home, its age and overall condition. It’s money well spent if you’re serious about that particular property.
According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, the standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components.
John Prohaska, owner of J&P Inspections in Des Moines, Iowa, compares a home inspection to getting a physical from your doctor.
“When problems or symptoms of problems are found, the inspector may recommend further evaluation or remedies,” he said. “A home inspection summarizes the condition of a property, points out the need for major repairs and identifies areas that may need attention in the near future.”
The inspection will show the positive and negative aspects of a home, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape. After an inspection, both parties have a much clearer understanding of the value and needs of the property.
Knowing about an issue before closing gives you the upper-hand at the negotiating table. A home in good working order may have been worth $350,000, but if $20,000 of work needs to be done to replace rotted wood or bad plumbing, the price should drop.
Before any sale is complete, you will need an inspection to look over the good, the bad and the ugly of what your new home really offers.
Remember, even if a house needs repairs or has hidden problems, it shouldn’t always be the catalyst for getting out of a sale. No house is perfect and as long as you know ahead of time what needs to be done and can possibly change the purchase price based on the information, the home inspection will give you a great starter list of what needs to be done to really make moving in that much easier.



Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates, Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many

Monday, February 13, 2012

Avoid These 8 Staging Mistakes

Avoid These 8 Staging Mistakes


You may love your home, but that doesn’t mean that everyone coming through the door will feel the same way. What may be “charming” to the seller may seem off-putting to a prospective buyer. Many sellers attempt to stage their home themselves and, in doing so, create mistakes that can actually sidetrack the sale of their homes.
Here are some of the biggest staging mistakes, according to professional home stagers.

1. Getting too personal: Home staging is meant to create a neutral canvas that will appeal to the majority of buyers. Staging is all about de-personalizing the space, and creating more of a luxury hotel or a model home look that will appeal to most everyone. This is not the time to bring in your unique style and create a look that appeals to just you.

2. Using dark colors: If painting, you should choose a nice, neutral and warm color, such as beige tones, grey tones, or light blue or pale greens. You’ll be amazed at the transformation a few coats of fresh paint will make on your home.

3. Not taking advantage of natural light: People love natural light, so blocking off any light with heavy curtains or furniture can hurt your sale, especially if the home has attractive views. Anything dated in a home is a turn-off to a potential buyer and window treatments are one of them.

4. Thinking more is better: Scale down your furniture. The size of the furniture needs to be in balance with the scale of the room and the other furniture in it. Remember that the purpose of furniture when selling a home is to define the purpose of the room and to show what will fit where. It is not meant to show that you can provide seating for 15 in your living room and every seat has a side table to rest drinks on.

5. Leaving pets at home: You need to remove all traces of animals from the house and make sure “Fido” or “Sunshine” is away during showings. Having a pet could kill a sale before someone even steps into a house.

6. Neglecting the outside: People care about the outside space just as much as the inside, so add flowers, make sure the lawn is mowed, the yard is tidy and add a few backyard accessories for the kids.

7. Only dealing with “main” rooms: People are quick to stage living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms, but don’t forget to spruce up the garage, basement and closets as well.

8. Forgetting fixtures: When staging a home, it’s important to ensure all lights are burning with fresh bulbs, and that all fixtures are working.
Remember, staging a home means showcasing the property’s many features, not concealing its flaws. Make sure your house is in good condition and use staging to cast the home in the best light.






Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates, Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fireplaces Provide a Warm Glow to a Home on the Market

Fireplaces Provide a Warm Glow to a Home on the Market



With winter weather gripping most of the country the fireplace takes on greater importance in the sale of a home.
The National Association of REALTORS® recently conducted a survey that found nearly two-thirds of homebuyers had a fireplace on their wish list. The fireplace has become a coveted amenity and homes boasting this feature see its benefits during resale.
“The fireplace is a focal point when people come to see your home,” said Hillary Staats, an interior designer for Sanctuary on Church in Vienna, Va.
That’s why it’s important to make sure that the look of your fireplace has been updated and is working properly. An older looking fireplace that seems an eye-sore can be easily updated.
“There is a lot you can do to enhance the fireplace before a sale. A lot of times, if it has older brick, I will re-stone a fireplace. Other times it could be as simple as changing mantels, adding a fancier screen or placing a beautiful piece of art above it.”
Transformation materials that are inexpensive and easy to work with are tile, manufactured stone, granite, marble and wood. Sometimes even painting over old, ugly brick will make a huge improvement.
“A masonry fireplace can really set a home apart from the rest and significantly improve resale value,” said Larry Kett, owner of Kett’s Hearth and Home in Grand Rapids, Mich. “Adding a mantel also helps. An engaging fireplace and mantel can provide grandeur for an otherwise ho-hum room.”
Keeping the mantel clean and uncluttered is also a must. “You want the fireplace to look inviting but not cluttered, so keep the mantel clear of all photos and knickknacks,” Staats said. “It’s fine to decorate with accessories, but they shouldn’t distract from the fireplace itself.”
If you want to add a fireplace to improve your home’s resale value, consider an electric fireplace as it’s often the least expensive option and reasonably easy to install.
Gas fireplaces are more common today and easy to use, plus they can be installed just about anywhere. There is no need for a chimney, wood or even matches with this type of fireplace and there is no mess to clean up either. Ceramic log kits are efficient and look like the real deal, without ashes to clean up.
Finally, regardless of the season, a fireplace should be kept clean and in working order. “You want your buyer to go home feeling really great about that room and knowing they can move in and sit in front of that wonderful fireplace and hearth,” Staats said. “There are few things as warm and inviting as a burning fire on a wintry day.”






Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated member of BRER Affiliates Inc. Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity. Source.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Home Selling During the Holidays

The Pros and Cons of Home Selling During the Holidays



One of the great debates in real estate concerns the prospect of keeping a house on the market during the holiday season. Some argue that the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve is busy enough without the worry of buying a home, while proponents like the prospects since those shopping are generally more serious about buying.
A downside for the seller is that the hectic time of year makes it harder to get your home ready at the drop of a hat if a call comes in. People are busy making food, wrapping presents and preparing for a house-full of guests.
However, your house will also be decorated with beautiful lights and decorations and will create a festive elegance to a home that will attract buyers.
Some agents believe that keeping your house on the market will have you appealing to a much smaller inventory of buyers who have very specific needs that your home might not match. Others counter that less inventory over the holidays means less competition and since more people have vacations this time of year, they actually have more time to search for their ideal home.
The holidays can provide a breather for homes that have been on the market awhile, as some use the time to remove property from the market in favor of a fresh start in January. However, you risk losing the buyer who may have been looking in December to capture tax benefits that many consider with their need to buy a home.
What’s the best solution? Of course it’s up to individual homeowners and their respective circumstances. Prospective sellers should discuss their holiday prospects in detail with their Prudential Real Estate agent. Working together, they can make holiday wishes come true.





Prudential Real Estate

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Looking to Buy a Home

Looking to buy a home? Checking out homes for sale is a lot of fun … but it’s also work since you want to choose a home that’s not only going to meet your needs but your budget too. So, what should you do to effectively view homes when you are looking for a house to buy?

First, consider how the home meshes with your wants and desires. The home you purchase needs to be functional for your family when you move in, since major renovations can be very costly. More weight should be given to things that cannot be changed, like location and floor plan. I advise my clients to look at it like a pie chart. 35% location (neighborhood, city, schools, etc) and 35% floor plan. Then move on to secondary items that can be changed such as price and condition and weight them at 15% each. Price can be negotiated and condition can be fixed.

As for the technical aspects of the home, leave that to the professionals. “Also consider that a licensed inspector will be brought in during the Option Period negotiated in the contract. Rely on the professionals and don’t make big decisions based on assumptions. But be sure to work with professionals you are comfortable with and don’t be afraid to ask for references.”

That said, buyers should be cognizant of the work that the home might need. “Aging systems like plumbing or electrical can quickly and easily turn a dream home into a money pit for a buyer who’s been lured in by some great curb appeal or staging.”















–Move.com Sarah W. Caron, Contributing Writer

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Costs for First-Time Buyers

Costs for First-Time Buyers




Buying a new home can be a huge, complex undertaking, especially when it’s your first time. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced real estate agent guiding you along the way.
In a survey conducted earlier this year by Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services (PRERS), a Prudential Financial, Inc. [NYSE:PRU] company, 75% of respondents highlighted the importance of real estate agents in the process of buying or selling their home.
“Americans continue to see real estate agents as having a very important role in helping them price, buy and sell their homes,” said James Mallozzi, PRERS’ chairman and chief executive officer. “Although the data underscores the value real estate agents provide, it also shows that the industry needs to continue to work hard to meet clients’ unique needs.”
First-time buyers need to look at their financial situation and crunch the numbers to see if this is the right time to buy. Chances are the numbers they see today will be the best they will see for some time, which is why so many are considering homeownership.
Still, understanding the money that goes into a home purchase is important. The biggest mistake new buyers make is underestimating the costs of buying a house and maintaining it over time.
Homebuying requires more than a down payment as closing costs and future expenses will figure prominently. Many experts agree that homeowners should have 1%-3% of their homes’ purchase price in savings for improvements and surprise expenses. Mortgage experts also say it’s wise to have at least six mortgage payments in the bank after a closing.
While those numbers may not be feasible for everyone, if you are spending above your means on a new home, you may find yourself in financial trouble fast.
Inspections are important for the first-time buyer, as they list repairs that will be needed for the home. A buyer should put together a short-term and long-term plan based on the inspection so they know how much money they will need in the months and years ahead.
As renters, people are accustomed to paying rent and basic utilities. As homeowners, you’ll also pay for water, sewer and trash collection. Then there are property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and homeowner’s association dues, plus yard care, snow removal and other expenses unique to your location.
To be sure, buying a home is one of the largest investments you’ll make and when done wisely, it can be one of the best decisions of your life. Your real estate agent will help each step of the way, first helping you establish a realistic price point for your home purchase and a clear understanding of your monthly expenses.





Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential company. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Winter Is Approaching … Is your Home Ready?

Winter Is Approaching … Is your Home Ready?





Autumn winds blow a chilly reminder that winter is fast approaching. Perform the following maintenance tips each fall to protect your property's value and prevent major repairs.

Roof, Gutters and Downspouts

Rain, ice, snow and wind can all cause damage to your roof and gutters. Now’s the time to trim back all tree limbs and vegetation away from the roof. You also should remove debris, such as leaves and sticks from your gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters don’t allow water to properly drain away from the home, which can cause seepage in your ceilings and walls. You can also invest in gutter guards, a screen that prevents debris from entering the gutter and directs the flow of water away from the house and into the ground.
Water Heater

You don’t want to find out that your water heater isn’t operating properly when you need it most. So use this time to perform an annual inspection, which includes having your tank’s pressure and temperature relief valve checked. In addition, remove sediment from the bottom of the tank by draining two gallons of water to improve heat transfer and the efficiency of your heater.
Heating and Cooling System

If you have a forced warm-air heating system, you should check the exhaust vent and air shutter openings for dirt and dust. Clean any lint and dirt from the blower blades, motor and burner (if you have a gas heater). Vacuum air passages and check and replace, if necessary, fan belts. To prevent airborne dirt from circulating throughout your home, wash out your reusable filter or replace it if it’s disposable.
Doors and Windows

To help control heating costs, make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed. Now is the time to repair or replace weather stripping around door bottoms and jambs and window frames. Check for loose or missing glazing putty and caulking for deterioration. If you have storm windows, install them.
Water Pipes


Frozen or burst pipes can cause major damage to your home and be expensive to remedy. Before frigid weather hits, protect your pipes in unheated areas from freezing by adding insulation, which reduces heat loss from hot-water pipes and condensation on cold water pipes. This can be accomplished by wrapping the pipes with heating tape or blanket insulation and duct tape or by encasing the pipes with preformed plastic foam. In addition, examine your pipes for cracks and leaks.
Fireplace

Before you light the logs and get ready to settle in front of a cozy fire, make sure that your fireplace is in good working order. Clean the chimney flue and, if needed, have it inspected and repaired. Check the seal on your flue, which is designed to keep out drafts. Replace the seal if it is loose or damaged.
If you decide to perform the fall maintenance yourself, disconnect the power for any electrical or gas systems. In addition, before inspecting, cleaning or making any repairs refer to your owner’s manual for all equipment for proper instructions, which should be the final authority on any maintenance.

Outdoor Surfaces and Landscaping

Fall is also a great time to seal your driveways, wood patios and other hardscape surfaces. In addition, prune tree branches away from your home and electrical wires. Plant spring flower bulbs and move sensitive potted plants indoors.
Although this list is merely a guide, it can help you keep your home in good shape and have a winter free of major repairs.






Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential Financial company. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Home Sellers: Five Tips to Make Your Bathroom Stand Out

Home Sellers: Five Tips to Make Your Bathroom Stand Out



Every homebuyer has a vision of their perfect house and the rooms that are most important to them. Because of their relatively small size in comparison to the rest of a home, bathrooms are often overlooked in the staging process, but for many, it could be the most important room in a buying decision.
A bathroom is more than just a place for grooming; it’s a sanctuary. It’s a place one can relax in a hot bath and escape the stresses of daily life for a few moments at a time.
Updating a tired-looking bathroom is one of the best things you can do to increase a home’s resale value and the fixes are not too costly or labor intensive.
Easy fixes include adding new, luxurious-looking towels, replacing the shower curtain and adding candles around a bathtub. However, with a little more money and effort, your bathroom can become a talking point of the house.
Here is a look at five great ways to upgrade a bathroom.
1. Beautify: By adding decorative glass, stone tile or accents to the bathroom, it will stand out among the other houses in the neighborhood that are for sale. Extra-wide wall tiles are popular these days and wood cabinets can be beautifully embellished with intricately carved wooden inlays.
2. Lighting: Add more lighting options around the room, especially around the vanity to reduce shadows and glaring. This is something that isn’t too expensive and can really highlight the positive features of a bathroom. Mood lighting around the tub area is also increasing in popularity.
3. Bath/Shower: It’s not too often you hear someone complaining about a bathtub being too large, and that’s because there’s nothing better than coming home from a hard day’s work and relaxing in a big soothing tub. By putting in a new tub and creating more of a spa-like atmosphere, you will have buyers imagining themselves washing their cares away. Adding a massage element to the showerhead or one that replicates rain showers is also something that will appeal to buyers.
4. Update Fixtures: Not as costly as some of the other tips, changing out the fixtures in a bathroom can add a great deal. From cabinet handles to faucets, the addition of brushed nickel or other metals that are polished and elegant are always a huge hit. And if space permits, add a second sink.
5. Think Green: The bathroom is a prime place to start putting those environmentally friendly devices to work. Installing fixtures that save water, such as a low-flow showerhead, a low-flow faucet aerator, and a dual-flush toilet, can save thousands of gallons of water each year. Adding energy-efficient windows is another easy option, since the size of bathroom windows are relatively small. Another fix that is both decorative and energy efficient is the addition of natural stone flooring, which helps the bathroom stay cool during the summer, and warmer during the winter.
When buyers walk into a renovated bathroom that exudes quality and offers an intimate, contemporary feel, it’s one of the top things that people will remember about a home.



Prudential Fox & Roach is an independently owned and operated member of The Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential company. Equal Housing Opportunity.
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Selling an Ugly Home

Selling an Ugly Home

Let’s say that you inherited an old house in a distant location and want to put it on the market. You may not have the time, resources or energy to make it perfect and just want a quick sale.
Or, maybe you had renters at your property who did substantial damage and you don’t have the money to make necessary renovations.
Fear not. Just because the house needs work doesn’t mean you can’t sell it. Many homebuyers today are shopping for deals and want to see the potential in your home. In that case, leave brochures for new cabinets in the kitchen, color palates around the bedrooms and even create computerized images of what updates could look like.
In addition, secure bids from licensed contractors on necessary fixes and provide them to your potential buyers. People may overestimate the cost of a new roof, shower stall or drywall repair and fresh paint. Estimates will bring the home into clearer perspective.
Work with your real estate agent to make the home as presentable as possible for the least amount of money. Make a room or two inviting so you have the photos that will attract buyers to what you can call “a fixer upper.”
Of course, nothing is going to attract people more than a low price. Obviously, you will need to discount the sales price to gain an advantage over comparables in better condition.
A down-and-out house doesn’t mean you’re stuck. With small repairs, research and practical pricing, you can turn that “Ugly Betty” into a sale.



Prudential

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

TIPS FOR PURCHASING IN A 55 PLUS COMMUNITY

Buying in a 55+ community will be very similar to buying in any community but there are some differences to be aware of.

Assuming you already know the 55+ community you are interested in, just looking within the community itself, here are some questions to explore when buying a home:

1. Find out about the monthly homeowner's association fee; what does it cover, how much is it and when is it expected to go up. If the community is older, find out if any special assessments are coming up or expected.

2. Get a copy of the homeowner association documents. Before you buy, review the rules of the association. Find out the rule for any areas of special interest to you, like pets, additions like building a patio or fence, visitors, children, leasing your property, etc.

3. Find out about the amenities. Remember in this economy many clubhouses and other amenities that were planned will not get build for some time, if ever.

4. Find out about activities offered. How often, what types, any extra fees?

5. Look at resales, not just brand new properties. Maybe you can get a deal on a resale that has been upgraded substantially. Preview listings with a resale real estate agent and ask questions about the property and the community as well.

6. Talk with the current owners/residents to see how happy they are living in the community and how happy you will be living with them. Are they your age? People love to talk, so ask questions.

7. Find out about the cost of utilities and any related cost of ownership.

8. Find out the cost of any upgrades, which appliances, counter tops, floor coverings, etc come with the property.

9. For newer communities, how strong is the builder and/or developer of the community? Is the community just getting started and right after you buy if goes in to foreclosure, will the community be a ghost town? There is less risk in a community that is further along in its development.

10. Remember buyer's agents also handle 55+ homes.

I hope these questions will help in your search process.








Copyright 55communityguide.com

Thursday, September 29, 2011

5 Ways To Make Your Home For Sale Stand Out

With so many homes on the market, it's important to make your home for sale as attractive to potential buyers as possible. Even if your home isn't perfect, following these five guidelines can improve the appeal and value of your home for sale.

1. Clean your home thoroughly and keep it clean!

According to real estate professionals, doing a very thorough deep-cleaning of your home, inside and out, is a great way to make your home appeal to buyers. And just to be clear, by "clean," they don't mean the typical cleaning you might do on a regular basis. Go the extra mile by cleaning every window, every baseboard, cabinets, ceiling fans, etc. Maintain this level of cleanliness until closing, if at all possible. Once you do the majority of the deep cleaning, keeping it clean will be easier as long as you keep up with it regularly. Another option would be to hire a professional cleaning service to do this for you.

2. Have quality, relevant photos on your home's listing.

Since most people browse home listings online first, it is essential to have a good selection of quality photos of your home. Dark or blurry pictures will not do a property justice, and may give the impression that you are trying to hide something. Make sure you or your real estate agent photographs your home's interior AND exterior. Listings that only show one or the other will not make a great online impression. A good rule of thumb is, if there aren't pictures of something, buyers are going to presume it's not worth seeing. Also, it is important to make your photos relevant to what you really want to show off. As nice as your furniture may be, most people don't want to see a photo that makes it the main focus of the picture. Take photos of the entire room, not just one wall or corner.

3. Keep your yard well-maintained.

Curb appeal is a big selling point, especially once a potential buyer visits your home in person. Having a tidy, well-landscaped yard will give your home a nice presentation. If you don't have much or any landscaping in your yard, just do the best you can with what you've got. Spread some fresh mulch around shrubs or flower beds, keep your yard mowed and free of weeds, and invest in a lawn edger if you can. Make sure your yard isn't cluttered by lawn ornaments and decorations. When it comes to presenting a home for sale, less is more. And speaking of clutter...

4. De-clutter your home.

Some real estate agents suggest getting a head start on the packing you'll have to do anyway by going ahead and packing things you won't need for everyday use. You can even rent a storage facility to house any non-essential furniture pieces. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure your home is free of clutter. Don't feel like you have to make your home look like a motel room; a few knickknacks can give your home a "lived in" feel to it. The important thing to remember is not to hide your home's potential. Buyers will want to envision their furniture and their things in your home. This will be much easier for them to do if they aren't distracted by a lot of art on the walls or collections of bric-a-brac.

5. Upgrade, update away!

Take stock of your home's appliances and interior features. Wherever possible, update or upgrade anything that you think is outdated. It will cost money, but not always as much as you think. And remember, whatever you put into your home is an investment and a selling point. This is especially true when it comes to kitchen appliances. If your stove, refrigerator or dishwasher is more than 10 years old - you should seriously consider an update. Many appliances these days are also more energy-efficient, which is something more and more buyers are looking for. In addition to appliances, look at the condition and age of your floors. If you have hardwood, perhaps getting them refinished would be a good idea. If you have old linoleum in your bathrooms, check prices on some new laminate or tile. This principle doesn't just apply to floors and appliances, of course. If you see anything in your home that could use some spiffing up, do it. And you can do it without breaking the bank. Even replacing old carpet with new carpet (even if it isn't top grade) will make a difference.

These are just a few ideas to help your home make a great impression on buyers. Talk to your real estate agent for more ideas, or to get a specific list of things you can do for your property.





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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Weighing 30 and 15 Year Fixed Rate Mortgages

Weighing 30- and 15-year Fixed-Rate Mortgages






One important decision homebuyers face is whether to secure a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage or go for a 15-year one, which carries a lower interest rate.
“All things equal, a 15-year mortgage allows you to pay off your mortgage twice as fast while saving a significant chunk of money on interest,” explains Mark Crosby, a mortgage expert in Wilmington, Del. Still, “I think the 30-year mortgage is a logical choice for most people because it has more advantages.”
For starters, mortgage payments are less expensive with a 30-year mortgage, enabling more consumers to qualify for home purchases. “With a 30-year mortgage you are almost always free to make additional principal payments necessary to pay off your loan [faster] without penalty,” Crosby says. “With the 15-year loan, you are committed to giving that extra money to your lender each month, whether you can really afford to at the time or not.”
Higher payments that come with a 15-year mortgage make little sense if they keep you from building savings or contributing to a 401(k) plan, IRA, and perhaps your kids’ college funds, adds Dan Green, a loan officer with Waterstone Mortgage in Laurel, Md. “You could be needlessly tying up too much of your money into your house.”
Green said another reason people favor a 30-year fixed mortgage is the tax benefit that can be achieved. “This is because the amortization schedule of 30-year fixed is back-heavy, with early-term payments big on interest and light in principal,” he explains. “By contrast, the 15-year fixed is always light on interest which lowers its taxpayer benefits.”
While it’s true you gain more of a tax break from a 30-year loan, it shouldn’t be the main consideration when deciding on a term. The 30-year borrower pays less in yearly taxes because he or she pays significantly more in interest.
Sot it all comes down to choice and circumstances. Choose the 15-year loan if you have the financial wherewithal to assume the payments. Your interest savings will be substantial and you’ll own your home faster. Opt for the 30-year loan for lower payments and greater flexibility. You can always choose to pay more on your mortgage when the money is available.




Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential company. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Monday, September 5, 2011

How to Choose a Neighborhood

How to Choose a Neighborhood


Narrow your home search by identifying neighborhoods that are right for you.
When evaluating a neighborhood you should investigate local conditions. Depending on your own particular needs and tastes, some of the following factors may be more important considerations than others:

quality of schools
property values
traffic
crime rate
future construction
proximity to schools, employment, hospitals, shops, public transportation, prisons, freeways, airports, beaches, parks, stadiums and cultural activities such as museums, concerts and theaters.
Neighborhood search strategies
If you’re a first time-buyer with limited financial resources, it's wise to buy a home that meets your primary needs in the best neighborhood that fits within your price range. You can maximize your home purchase location by incorporating some of the following strategies into your neighborhood search:
Look for communities that are likely to become "hot neighborhoods" in the coming years. They can often be discovered on the periphery of the most continuously desirable areas. Look for a home in a good neighborhood that is a bit farther out of the city. If commuting is a concern, purchase a home that is close to public transportation.
Look at the neighborhood demand by asking your REALTOR® whether multiple offers are being made, whether the gap between the list price and sale price is decreasing, and whether there is active community involvement. You can also drive around neighborhoods and see how many "sale pending" and "sold" signs there are in a particular area.
Look into purchasing a condominium rather than a house, in a desirable neighborhood. This way you still may be able to purchase in a prime area that you otherwise could not afford.




Copyright © by Move, Inc.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Why Isn't My Home Selling?

Why Isn't My Home Selling?

Price is the No. 1 culprit


If your answer is price, you’ll be right a good majority of the time. If your home isn’t selling, buyers think the value of your house is less than the price you want.
For all the time and effort that goes into buying and selling, the economics of the process is relatively simple. Anything is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay and a seller willing to accept. This is the same whether it’s a pack of baseball cards or a $1 million house.
Although the economics may be simple, arriving at that magic price is difficult. Just think of the cost, time and energy that companies put into pricing a product so it succeeds in the marketplace. It’s no different in real estate.

If you’ve taken the time to educate yourself on the local market and are diligent in hiring a professional agent, and are willing to listen to her, you can get a lot closer to the magic number. But you are setting yourself up for disaster if you don’t do your homework and go with what you “feel” your house is worth. Worse yet, is interviewing agents and choosing one solely because she says she can get you more than what the other agents think the house will sell for.
These are some of the most common mistakes sellers make when setting a price:


Price based on need
What you want to make from selling your home means absolutely nothing to buyers or the marketplace. So setting a price based on what you want so you can retire, move up, start a business, etc. will almost certainly fail.


Price based on ego
Your neighbor sold for $200,000 last year so you want $210,000 because you “know” your house is better. Regardless that the market dropped five percent since your neighbor sold. Nearly every owner thinks their house is the best on the block, or at least better than any of the ones that have recently sold or are on the market. Unfortunately for sellers, your opinion doesn’t carry any weight with buyers. Only their opinion matters.


Price based on greed
Even if it’s been shown that your house will likely sell for around $250,000, you insist on listing it for $275,000 because “you never know, someone could come along who just has to have it. Besides, if we don’t get any bites we can always lower the price later.” The problem is it won’t take long for buyers to realize your price is unrealistic and think you are, too, and won’t want to deal with you unless the house is “a steal.” The listing languishes, so you drop the price, but not enough, it sits even longer and pretty soon you have a listing that’s been on the market so long buyers decide there is something wrong and steer clear.


The solution is to get the price right. This is done by using what is called a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA). If you’ve hired the right agent, this is the first folder out of their briefcase when you meet to list your home. A CMA breaks down the sales price of homes that are similar to yours in location, size, age and condition.


Your agent will also consider the listing prices of homes on the market, but these are used more to identify the competition. Even with a strong agent and CMA, your price may not be on target. That’s because the market is always changing and your agent should be updating your CMA whenever anything comparable to your property sells.

Not every reason your home isn’t selling will be the price, although they will be related to it. Here we have that value vs. price issue. If buyers perceive imperfections in your listing, they will want a discount, so if they’re not buying, your price is not discounted enough for buyers to believe the value to them at least equals that of your price.

For example, if your lawn is brown and the landscaping worn, buyers will want a discount. The problem is that a seller will not consider this a major issue and attach a much lower discount than a buyer will accept.

This is why it is imperative that sellers do everything they can to eliminate any issues buyers may have with their house before listing. Obviously, you can’t do anything about a bad location, such as being near railroad tracks, or that you have just one bathroom. But you and your agent should have factored these drawbacks into the listing price.

Here are some of the most common reasons buyers are turned off by a particular house, so make sure these are addressed before lopping thousands of dollars off the asking price:

Put on a good show
This is the second biggest reason a home isn’t selling. Buyers often talk of “connecting” to a house. This is not likely to happen if your house is not company-coming-over clean and ready to show like a model. This goes for the outside as well. If you don’t want to put the effort into doing this, then you’d better adjust your price to compensate because buyers will only consider your house because it’s a good deal, not because it “speaks to them.”

Can’t buy what they can’t see
If you make it difficult for people to see your property, then chances of a sale at the price you want drops considerably. Selling can be a nuisance, but it’s a necessary one. If you don’t allow a lockbox or require appointment-only showings, you are the culprit to the house not selling.

Out of your hands
It’s not always the seller’s fault that a house isn’t selling. Sometimes the market changes and buyers disappear. Maybe a new home development has opened nearby and they are “stealing” the customers. Or maybe you’ve received bad advice from your agent. Any of these can affect whether your house sells, which means you need to consider the reasons and make the necessary adjustments.







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Copyright © by Move, Inc. By Diana Lundin

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The 203K Mortgage

The 203k Mortgage





Real estate consumers today can find ample value in distressed homes – properties that are under a foreclosure order or up for short sale. In many cases, however, “distressed” speaks more for the condition of the homes than their recent financial histories, as they’ve sat empty for extended periods and have been subject to vandalism and theft.
Those considering homes in need of repair and renovation should consider a 203k mortgage, which enables homebuyers to finance both the acquisition and rehabilitation of the property with just one loan.
“FHA 203k purchase loans are the perfect financing vehicle for homeowners seeking the value proposition offered by REO homes,” said David Wind, president and board chairman of White Plains, N.Y.-based Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company, in a company statement this June. “Home buyers’ ‘perfect’ home can be purchased in less than perfect condition with a single-close loan product that allows repairs and remodeling.”
There are two types of 203k loans: the 203k streamline and the full 203k. The 203k streamline is the most popular among homebuyers and lenders.
“The maximum allowable in repairs is $35,000 under the 203k streamline and it does not allow any structural repairs to be done to the home, unless [the repairs are] a result of an unforeseen circumstance,” explained David Krushinsky, a certified mortgage planning specialist for Mesa, Ariz.-based AmeriFirst Financial Inc. “The full 203k allows structural repairs and will allow the buyer to exceed the $35,000 in home repairs. Both loans allow up to $1,500 in swimming pool repairs.”
Contractors chosen to perform repairs must be licensed, bonded and insured, and they usually must provide the lender with a resume and two client-reference letters.
“After the close of escrow is when all the rehabilitation work begins,” said Krushinsky. “Funds usually aren’t released immediately so it’s important for your contractor to start work in a timely manner. Typically, if they’ve been in business, they have existing relationships with vendors so they can order materials and begin work. If not, the project may take longer than anticipated.”
Since the 203k mortgage is based on the home’s potential value after repairs -- not its existing value -- you can be approved for a higher loan amount. The mortgages also carry long-term-fixed rates, are insured as soon as they fund, and include escrow accounts for the scheduled repairs.
Loan amounts are capped according to local FHA limits. Only owner-occupied properties of one to four units qualify for 203k mortage financing; homes also must be at least one year old.



Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential company. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Monday, July 25, 2011

AVOID FORECLOSURE WITH A SHORT SALE

A short sale is one of the common alternatives used to avoid a foreclosure. It can be an advantage to a homeowner facing foreclosure and who desires to avoid having a foreclosure on a credit record. Short sales are exactly what the term sounds like. When a home is sold for less than what is owed on it the difference between the amount the home sells for and the mortgage loan amount on the home is called a short sale. Thus, if a home's mortgage amount is $400,000 but is sold in a short sale for $200,000 the amount short is $200,000.Getting approval from a lender involves a process of filling out certain documentation and submitting it to the bank or lender's loss mitigation department for consideration and approval of the short sale. It is the bank that has the final say over whether the short sale is approved rather than the homeowner who is selling the property.

The first decision that should be made by a homeowner considering a short sale is whether a short sale is the best solution? If the homeowner simply wants to walk away from the home a deed in lieu of foreclosure may work better. The homeowner simply deeds the property back to the bank. In many cases the bank, in return for a deed in lieu of foreclosure, will pay the homeowner money called "cash for keys". This process allows the bank to avoid substantial fees and costs that would be involved in a foreclosure and provides the homeowner with money that can be used to assist with moving expenses or to begin to rebuild a financial standing. Follow the guidelines below in order to obtain the best results, if a short sale is determined to be the best solution in resolving a foreclosure problem.






1.GET THE BANK OR LENDER'S SHORT SALE PACKAGE.This can be done by simply going to the lender's website and finding it's criteria for submitting a short sale package. Download the package and fill it out. If the homeowner will be represented by a real estate agent, this function and the rest of the steps in this article will generally be handled by the real estate agent. If the homeowner chooses representation by a real estate agent, the homeowner should ensure that the agent is experienced in handling short sales.




2.SHORT SALE DOCUMENTATION.The short sale package should contain at minimum an authorization to release information authorizing the real estate agent to represent and speak on behalf of the homeowner; a completed financial statement, copies of the homeowner's last two years tax returns; the most recent two months bank deposit statements and a hardship letter written by the homeowner that clearly and accurately explains the homeowners' hardship circumstances that justify an approval for a short sale.Without hardship circumstances justifying a hardship it is unlikely the lender will be motivated to approve a short sale. The bank also generally requires the homeowner to submit an IRS Form 4506T which permits the bank to obtain copies of past tax returns. These documents generally make up the short sale package. Some banks or lenders may require additional documents in which case they should simply be provided.




3. MAKE THE SHORT SALE PACKAGE ATTRACTIVE FOR MAXIMUM RESULTS!Presentation of the short sale package is an important step. Appearance and perception of the package is crucial. The package should be submitted with a cover letter requesting short sale consideration with a table of contents and tabs separating the various documents. This presents a professional appearance and is helpful to the negotiator assigned to review the package and to determine whether to recommend approval or declination of the short sale.Take care to make the negotiator's job as easy as possible and not have to search for information within the package. Tabulation serves this purpose well and will be appreciated by the negotiator.Although not always required, it is also a good idea to wait until there is a bona fide offer from a qualified buyer before submitting the short sale package. The offer should also be accompanied with a HUD-1 statement also. A HUD-1 statement will show the bank what it can likely expect to receive as a final amount resulting in a short sale.An experienced real estate agent will know what to do in submitting these documents. If the homeowner chooses to handle it personally, help should be sought directly from an escrow company or closing agent who will usually be glad to assist in preparation of the HUD-1 in return for the fees in closing or handling the escrow.




4.ESTABLISHING AND MAINTAINING RAPPORT WITH THE SHORT SALE NEGOTIATOR.Once the short sale package is submitted to the bank's loss mitigation department a negotiator will be assigned. It is important to establish a good relationship with this person because the success or failure of the short sale rides on an approval recommendation from the negotiator.Be courteous and professional at all times and provide additional documentation when requested so long as it is reasonable and it makes sense. Most negotiators are professional and courteous and will be helpful when they perceive the same from the homeowner's side.




5.CLOSING THE DEAL AND WALKING AWAY.If all goes well the short sale will be approved. The homeowner will be able to walk away without a foreclosure on the record and to commence rebuilding a favorable financial record.














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