Real Estate Corner…
Q. We are thinking of selling our home, and heard there are four critical phases of the selling process we must examine with our agent. What are those phases?A. If you’re selling your home, you need to be aware that there are four critical phases of the selling process. A mistake in any of the phases can jeopardize a fast, top-dollar sale.
Here are the phases: 1) Pricing the property to ensure the likelihood of stimulating offers. Many people try to set a high price thinking they can come down later. That’s a big mistake because above-market pricing stifles showings and discourages offers of any kind, usually netting the homeowner a lower price than they planned on getting. 2) Marketing the property to attain the highest number of showings from qualified buyers. Check your agent’s marketing plan carefully to ensure they have the ability to do more than just place it in MLS and hold a few open houses. 3) Creation and Negotiation of the purchase contract. A good agent’s negotiating skills can make or break a purchase contract. Check their experience in these matters. Ask questions about past transactions they handled. 4) Managing the escrow process. During this phase, your agent must be on top of all the escrow functions: inspections, appraisals, financing, contingencies, and more. When interviewing real estate agents, make sure you address each of the four phases of the selling process. Your dialog will be pivotal in establishing trust and a personal chemistry that is crucial between you and your agent. If you have a question about selling your home, please call us at office 732-946-8308.
Q. We entered into a contract with someone who wanted to buy our home. The agent representing the buyer presented us with a “pre-qualification” letter from a lender. Today we discovered the buyer was rejected for financing. How can this happen?A.You allowed the term “pre-qualification” to lull you into a false sense of security. The loan amounts referenced in pre-qualification letters are conditional on verification of income, employment, funds on deposit, credit report, and more. A lender can issue a pre-qualification letter after just a simple 10-minute phone interview with a prospective purchaser.
As a seller, your best vehicle for peace of mind would be a pre-approval letter accompanying the offer to purchase. A pre-approval letter is a firm commitment to lend money and is issued only after verification of the crucial financial items mentioned above.
If you’re thinking of selling your home in the next year, please call us at :732-946-8308 for important information that could save you thousands in the process, and avoid unwanted surprises like the sellers above experienced.
AND… if you’re thinking of buying or selling, and you just need a little helpful “guidance,” order one of our Free Consumer Reports highlighted in our Free Consumer Resources .
Q. We’ve been thinking of hiring a REALTOR to list our property. What should we look for in a qualified, competent agent?
A. Do you remember the old riddle, “what do you call the person who graduated dead last in his/her medical school class?” Answer: DOCTOR! Well, the same is true for real estate agents. Just because someone passed a state licensing examination doesn’t mean they are qualified to handle your needs. All agents are not the same. Here are a few things you should look for in a qualified agent.
First, determine if he/she specializes either in your area or type of home. Second, ask them specifically how they helped clients overcome specific problems they encountered in a past transaction. Third, ask them specifically what they will do for you if they represent you. They should have a step-by-step plan of action. Fourth, ask them how long they’ve practiced real estate. Fifth, ask them about their marketing skills. See, most agents are trained to handle transactions and understand the law, but few are trained in effective marketing. A poor marketer will cost you thousands of dollars in wasted time and energy. And finally, ask them for a reference list of past clients they’ve helped. Call those references and ask questions about how they handled the transaction.
If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home soon, call us directly at:
732-946-8308 for our Free report, “12 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring A REALTOR.” It could save you lots of time and money!
Q. Our daughter and her husband want to buy a home, but recently asked us to “Co-Sign” on the loan. What are the consequences of this action?
A. There’s nothing wrong with helping a family member or close friend with buying a home. However, co-signing on a loan should be done with great care and knowledge of the consequences. Co-signing means that you are extending your personal credit for the benefit of someone else. Problem is, if the borrower defaults, the lender will look to you for full repayment. So you’re not really a co-signer, you’re a co-debtor. Here are a few tips that may prove helpful when co-signing:
- Although you’re co-signing, make sure your co-borrower is putting cash into the transaction. The more they put in, the lower your risk.
- Obtain a credit report on the person you’re co-signing for, even if it’s another family member. If they’ve defaulted on other debts, there’s a good chance they’ll default on the debt you’re co-signing.
- Ask the lender to release you from the loan when the principal balance is reduced to a certain amount.
- Examine how your credit rating and ability to borrow will be impacted. Co-signing on a loan can sometimes impact your ability to get financing if you need it.
- Make sure you’re name is listed on the deed as a co-owner. If you’re on the deed, and if you make any cash contributions, you may be able to deduct mortgage insurance, property taxes, and a pro-rata portion of interest you pay. Ask your accountant or tax planner.
- If the home is sold, will you share in any appreciation or gain in value?
Q. How Do You Find And Pre-qualify Buyers For A Home You Have Listed For Sale?
A. Buyers for homes I list come from a number of sources. Many come from referrals, either through my office or through previous clients of mine. Some come from company advertising, open houses and “For Sale” signs. And others come from the enormous exposure created through my exclusive home marketing plan. But that’s not the only way buyers are exposed to a home listed for sale. As a member of Multiple Listing Service (MLS), We cooperate with over 3,000 other agents. We have an agreement that any agent who has an offer accepted on a property we have listed will receive a share of the commission. This is an excellent incentive for them to show and sell your home.
When prospective buyers come to me directly, we have to know if they’re qualified to afford your home. The last thing we want is to waste your time with buyers who are not qualified. Here is the key question we ask them when they call: How much home have they been pre-qualified or pre-approved to purchase? If they haven’t been pre-qualified, we require them to do so, and ask even more questions in the process: How much cash do you have to put down on a home? What is your annual income? What kinds of debts do you have? How long have you worked at the same job or in the same industry? How good is your credit status? Do you have a home you need to sell before you can buy another? When do you need to move?
By screening potential buyers, Outlook Realty save time for both you and us, resulting in the most qualified, ready-to-buy buyers for your home. If you’d like to learn how to potentially save thousands on your home sale, Outlook Realty have several Free Consumer reports you can order from our enclosed “Insider’s Free Resources” sheet, or just call Outlook Realty directly at :732-946-8308
Q. What Areas Of My Home Should I Focus On To Protect My Investment And Maximize Its Value?
A. There’s no doubt, your home is a substantial investment. So it makes sense to protect it to maximize its value. One way to do this is with regular maintenance. While many homeowners keep their homes spotless on the inside, they may not be aware of what needs to be done to the exterior or “structural” areas of their home. Here’s a quick checklist of items you should inspect and maintain every six months.
- Your Roof. Climb up and look for damage. Flat roofs frequently show soft spots, or areas where there may be ponding – signs of potential leaks. Pitched roofs should be inspected for roof tiles and seams. If you see a crack or problem, fix it immediately.
- Your Mechanical System. Mechanical systems include your heating and air conditioning systems. Heating systems should be checked for deadly cracks and leaks, and air conditioning systems should have filters changed and checked for their efficiency. These small inspections will save you money, and quite possibly your life.
- Exterior Paint And Fascia. Wood exterior needs frequent inspection and maintenance. Small lapses can be costly. Inspect the exterior of your home for signs of wear, and stay on top of any required maintenance.
- Safety Systems. Check your smoke detectors and replace the batteries every six months. After all, the time you need them most is not the time you want to learn they failed because of something so simple as a battery. Also, make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in or near every bedroom. It could save your life if there is a gas or heater leak.
Q. We have our home for sale and recently received an offer from a buyer. Problem is, the offer isn’t quite what we wanted. What should we do?
A. The first thing you should do is analyze the offer carefully with your agent. Here’s why. Sellers frequently examine just one or two parts of an offer: price and financing. While these items are important, there may be other areas that can make the offer either more or less attractive. These include: earnest money, down payment, interest ceiling (the highest rate buyers will pay for new financing), closing costs, financing time limit, closing date, type of financing, personal property contained in the offer, and any contingencies related to the offer. By examining the offer with your agent, there are three actions you can take:
First, you can accept the offer as is. If you do this, you have a binding agreement.
Second, if the offer is totally unsatisfactory, you can, of course, reject it altogether. This option closes the door on the offer. Sometimes it’s the right action, but I would suggest the third alternative.
Third, make a counter-offer. If everything is satisfactory except the price, for example, you can ask for more and submit the counter-offer back to the buyers. Or, if there are other elements of the offer you want to counter – say, for example, they want to close in two weeks – you can ask for a month.
Keep in mind that an offer you have in hand will be binding as soon as you’ve signed it. Any changes you make to the offer will require the buyer to initial or sign it again. If you’re thinking of buying soon, and require competent and caring representation, please call Outlook Realty at 732-946-8308
Q. Our real estate agent suggested that we have a professional home inspection performed before we put our home on the market. Why should we consider this?
A. Getting your home professionally inspected before you put it on the market seems like a strange thing to do at first glance. In fact, many agents don’t even think of having homes inspected before they list them. But once you understand how it can benefit you…the home seller…it turns out to be a very prudent decision. Here’s why…
- Home inspections eliminate any “surprises” that can delay or even kill a home sale. They also help the seller negotiate better. In most cases, the buyer(s) will use weaknesses of the home (frequently from an inspection performed after the home is in escrow) to negotiate a lower price at a time when the seller is most vulnerable. Rather than become a victim of such tactics, you can show you’ve already taken their issues into account in determining your price.
- Getting your home inspected before going on the market actually allows you to understand the true value of your home – knowing what you may need to fix and what you want to leave alone. It also helps you to price it better and understand what your “net” proceeds will be from a sale. The strengths and weaknesses of your home are going to be known by the buyer at some point anyhow. And the sooner you know them, the more you can act to minimize, eliminate, or adjust for them.
- Home inspections ensure a faster close by eliminating contingencies and other issues, and help ensure a problem-free closing.
Do You Have A Tough Real Estate QuestionWe love hearing from our good friends and clients and Outlook Realty are always looking to answer pressing questions you might have about anything relating to real estate or home ownership. If you have a question, tip, or idea, please feel free to call us at 732-946-8308 or just simple send your questions by e-mail: OutlookRealty@yahoo.com
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