Today's Real Estate Market - How To Get Your Home SOLD!

Many homes throughout the country are available for sale. Today's buyers have a considerable amount of choices with regards to buying their ideal home. The formula to get a house sold hasn't changed for several generations. Simply, it's supply and demand that can vary. When supply is low and demand is high, selling prices increase and houses are simple to sell. When supply is high and demand is low, prices drop and houses take time and effort to sell. No matter what you've read or heard, the average real estate market is right where it needs to be. There are less homes on the market today than there was 6 years back, however, if that wasn't the situation, prices would not be so attractive. This should not be a big surprise; the amount of home sales from the mid 2000s had been abnormally excessive and for that reason, so were the prices. With a great number of active listings, is your house likely to sell or sit on the market?

Typical ideas that should be altered to get a house sold:

Homeowner Idea: My house is furnished very beautifully.

Modified Idea: My house is furnished very beautifully for me personally.

Homeowner Idea: The stained trim inside my house is stunning.

Modified Idea: The stained trim within my house is stunning, in my view.

Homeowner Idea: We spared no expense when we updated our kitchen and bathrooms.

Modified Idea: We spared no expense when we updated our kitchen and bathrooms in 1989.

If you are genuinely dedicated to selling your house these days, you should be ready for 2 things; a beauty contest and a price war!

The days are gone that a house in desperate need of restoration can be listed on the market and sold at or above market value. Today's potential buyers don't have any reason to fix your house when you can find several others in perfect condition right down the street. In the course of our latest real estate boom, houses which were in need of repair remained available on the market long enough that cash-strapped buyers could buy them at full price. Other houses during that time had sold for thousands above their present value. It isn't like this any longer. Existing prices are right where they need to be. A person can continue to sell their home within a reasonable amount of time. Below are a few things that you can do to make sure your house sells:

1. Make sure your home is in excellent repair. Roofing, exterior siding, plumbing, electrical and also the structure all have to be sound and up to current standards. Your home's roof and exterior siding have to be free from debris or unsightly stains. Preferably, your roof shouldn't be close to the end of its life cycle. Your doors and windows have to be fresh and operable. A terrific way to set your house apart from the rest is with an attractive new entry door.

2. Your house must be cosmetically fresh and modern. Updating the proper way is often a key element for you to get your home sold! Not sure how to start or what direction to go? Look at styles on the internet or in magazines to get a good idea of the styles today's home owners want. Potential buyers are seeing and expecting improvements including granite, hard wood, ceramic tile, etc. Fresh new paint and carpeting is a good solution to brighten your house up for the new owner. Pay close attention to the trim work in your home. You might really like the feel of stained trim, but recent styles point to crisp white trim. Keep in mind, you are not updating based on your tastes. You're updating so that your house interests potential buyers!

3. Staging your home is the icing on the cake and definitely will get your house sold ahead of the competition. Is staging your house truly that essential? You bet it is! If you are intending to reside in your home throughout the listing period, you can de-clutter and take away unnecessary furnishings and decorations. Substitute your pile of bills with an artificial plant. Eliminate almost everything from your kitchen counter tops unless of course it offers visual appeal. Simplicity is essential for you to make your house appear large and welcoming. Minimizing, likewise provides the new homeowners more than enough room to visualise their unique furnishings and decorations. Remember, pretty much everything is being done to attract prospective buyers as opposed to your tastes.

4. Remember the curb appeal! The way your house appears from the road is just as essential as anything else. Landscaping must be a step in front of the competition. At the bare minimum, your lawn should be green, shrubbery trimmed and fresh mulch must be applied. You will want to put in a handful of flowers or suspend a few ferns from your porch. Anything at all that you can do to make your house welcoming and delightful will help.

5. The Price Is Right...or is it? Your house must be priced right. Many owners would like to try to rationalize an increased selling price. Listed here are a handful of typical feelings from sellers, seeking more than their house may be worth:

  • Perhaps we will start with a higher price and find out what happens.
  • Our home is the same as the one across the street and I know our kitchen is better.
  • We made a $30,000 down payment on this house and do not wish to lose those funds from the sale.
  • If I aggressively price my house today, potential buyers may simply offer me less.

Note: Over 10 years of experience has shown that in today's market your home will sell at market value only if it is in impeccable shape.

6. Make certain your house is accessible to be shown, without you being present. Your house needs to be available to be shown properly, without potential buyers being required to jump through hoops to get inside or feel as if they're intruding. Think back to when you bought your house. Did you want the home owner, their kids or their animals following you around? A very important thing to do is to get out-of-the-way. Potential buyers prefer to go throughout the house and feel at ease discussing the things they like and do not like.

7. Jealously place yourself in a purchasers' shoes. Had you been a buyer today, would you walk in and pay full asking price; no questions asked? Of course not! Why would anybody else? Potential buyers are likely to continuously try to rationalize a lower price for your house. If you are unable to rationally defend your house without souring a potential buyer's appetite, you should seek the services of an experienced Real Estate Agent.

8. Negotiating the sale of your house is the ribbon around the box. If you are sentimentally attached to your home, how could you objectively negotiate a price? Do you wish to listen to a potential purchaser explain to you all the reasons why your home is over-priced? Place your self in the buyer's shoes; wouldn't you choose to do exactly the same thing? Effective negotiations are only realized with many years of experience. People purchase homes based on emotion and they rationalize the cost to fit their motivation.

Once you have implemented all the steps previously mentioned, you ought to have an agreement along with a closing date! All done? Not quite. At this point you need to navigate the home inspections and legal process required to get your house properly transferred to its new owner!

What Does it Take to Make a Killing Out of the US Foreclosure Market?

The U.S. foreclosure market is a great opportunity for real estate investors and new-house bargain hunters to get a foot in the door at great prices. Given the fact that foreclosures do represent a certain amount of financial pain and failed dreams it is, perhaps, a slightly hard-hearted thing to say.

Yet, as every savvy first-time house buyer and real estate investor knows foreclosures also represent opportunity. In the dark cloud of a U.S. housing downturn they represent a very silver lining which, properly utilized, can help the housing market recover.

How is this possible you're going to ask? Well, think of this for a moment. The engine of real estate is new housing, or more precisely, new home owners eager to get their first home. Traditionally, this group is also important for the economy at large as they spend more, on average, on decorating their homes, furnishing them and improving their appearance.

The moment the real estate market experiences a slow down the economy experiences a slow down because none of this activity is really going on and because new home owners are not able to buy expensive homes.

This is just as bad at times when houses go through a steep price increase as it is when house prices stagnate and the market 'freezes' as has been happening this year and prospective new buyers are virtually locked out.

This is where foreclosures suddenly come into their own. Let's examine exactly what a foreclosure is and why it happens: A home that's been foreclosed on has been transferred ownership from its home owner to the lender. This has happened because the home owner has fallen behind on payments to the point that the collections department of the lender or their debt assessment have decided that it's no longer viable to try and maintain the relationship they have with the borrower.

At this point they take possession of the house and try to get rid of it so they can recover at least some of the money owed to them. It's a decision which is not taken lightly. A foreclosed house incurs costs to process and sell and for the lender it represents a loss as they will not be able to get back on it what the life-term of the loan agreement they had with the borrower would have allowed them to make.

It does, however, represent a bargain for a new home owner looking to buy above his reach or even a discerning real estate investor looking for a way to get a foothold in the market. It is precisely because of this that finding the right foreclosure home to buy can give you a huge impetus to making a killing on the real estate market.

Jeff Adams

Real Estate - Easy to Use Tips For Selling in Today's Market!

If you are trying to sell today, there are several important things to know and do in order to get the house sold. Here are four tips to selling your piece of real estate in a buyer's market:

1. Be Realistic
The most essential part of getting your home sold in this real estate market is to have realistic expectations. In some areas of the country, as much as a third of the homes for sale are foreclosures, being sold at loss.

That means you have some stiff competition. You are most likely not going to get an amazingly huge profit out of the sale like you might have a few years ago. You need to look at comparable homes on the market and expect a similar price for your house. Neither are you likely to see your home sold within a matter of days. Be prepared for your property to sit on real estate listing for several months.

2. Perfect the Curbside Appeal
The very first thing people see about your home is the front yard and the house exterior. Do all you can to let these elements make a great first impression. Many people can picture making renovations to the inside of a house, but most have a harder time picturing themselves living in a house with an ugly facade.

What you can do is repaint the exterior, including the trim and fences if needed. This will give the place a crisp, fresh look no matter how old it is. Another tip is to spruce up the landscaping.

Of course, you should make sure the lawn is always well trimmed, but you can also add some interesting aesthetics by adding bushes and flowers. Unless you are very experienced with landscaping, hire a professional to improve your yard.

3. Depersonalize the Place
When people walk through your house, they want to be able to picture themselves living there. That is hard for them to do if there are pictures of your family and pets everywhere and if they see very personalized knickknacks and memorabilia all around the house.

Your job is to clean out and pack away everything that tells a potential buyer that you are the owner. You will have to pack it all up anyway when you do sell, so this just gives you a head start.

In addition to family pictures and personal items, you should also remove any highly stylized decor that may not appeal to the broadest selection of buyers. Your real estate agent can be a valuable resource in helping you determine what needs to go and what can stay during the selling period.

4. Make Your Home a "Turn-Key" House
Buyers can expect a lot during a down real estate market, so you will see more bids and buyers if your home is in a turn-key state, meaning it is all repaired, renovated, and ready for a new resident to move in.

This means painting all the walls in a fresh coat of neutrally-colored paint, fixing any leaky faucets or holes in the wall or broken hinges. Your other focus areas should be on the kitchen and bathrooms.

You can give these rooms an automatic face lift by painting them in very light colors and by replacing the old cabinet hardware with shiny new knobs and handles. Look your house over and try to find any areas that need to be improved to make the place as close to a model home as possible.

Staging Sells Houses - 6 Tips to Remember

Staging a home is essential when a house is for sale. Staging can make the difference between a house languishing on the market for months versus one that sells quickly and for top dollar. When a seller decides to sell, they must also decide to emotionally move out of the home long before a buyer is identified. A seller must no longer see them self as the owner, but as an intermediary occupant. Hopefully, when the listing agreement is signed a seller will realize how important it is to stage the home so that it will be attractive to as many prospective buyers as possible. In a sense, the staging process must first begin in the mind of the seller. Experienced realtors can attest to the many challenges they encounter when endeavoring to explain the benefits a seller receives when their home is staged. Here are six areas professional home stagers zero in on when staging a home and tips every seller should remember.

One: Curb Appeal
Eye catching curb appeal is critical because buyers need to want to see the interior. At a bare minimum, the flowerbeds need to be freshened, grass mowed, and the walk-way swept. Make sure the little things that are no longer noticed by a seller, but will scream deferred maintenance to a prospective buyer, are addressed. The cracks in the sidewalk must be repaired before they start chipping away at the asking price. It is amazing how much money a prospective buyer deducts from the asking price because of minor imperfections. Another reason curb appeal is so important is because realtors typically tell buyers to drive by houses to see if they like the outside before proceeding to make an appointment to show the inside. Realtors know how important curb appeal is to buyers. Remember, if a buyer doesn't like the outside of the house, chances are they won't want to see the inside.

Two: Clearing Away Clutter
After the curb appeal test has been passed and a prospective buyer crosses the threshold they decide if they like the house within the first 8 seconds! First impressions are lasting! Pay special attention to the foyer. Make it warm and welcoming instead of a drop off place for shoes, mail, and keys. In addition, clutter must be banished from every area of the house. Buyers are looking for square footage. Clutter is the number one culprit that conceals valuable real estate. When selling, it is imperative that a house appear as large as it possibly can. If there are boxes or extraneous furniture in the house, a buyer cannot see what's for sale. Most buyers lack imagination and can't visualize what the home would look like if it were not overrun with clutter. Remember to help the buyer see what is for sale by removing the clutter.

Three: Packing Collectibles
The next no-no is knickknacks. There are three reasons why a seller should begin the cathartic process of removing their beloved collectibles. One, it will drive home the fact that the house is for sale and make it a reality especially if the sale is not necessarily for the happiest of reasons. Removing bric-a-brac will help the seller come to terms with the fact that the house will no longer belong to them. Two, it gives the seller an opportunity to get a head start on packing. Three, while a seller's valued and sentimental collections may be beautiful, they could be problematic, too. For example, when a prospective buyer tours a home for sale, the last thing a seller or realtor wants is for the buyer to become distracted by the collection of clowns in the family room. Losing a potential buyer is no laughing matter. Remember that collectibles can be distracting, are personal and taste specific and won't do anything to help the home sell.

Four: Removing Family Photos
Professional stagers agree that the suggestion to remove family photos receive more resistance from sellers than any other. Nevertheless, in order to successfully stage a home it must be void of personal photos. Again, this is the most difficult change to make for sellers because it depersonalizes the home, but that is exactly the look a stager wants. Think about it, what makes a furnished house a home as opposed to a model home? Personal effects like family photos do. When a prospective buyer is touring a home and imagining living in it, don't bring them to a screeching halt by having them encounter personal pictures. Remember, packing the photos away will help the buyer envision themselves as the new owners.

Five: Simulate a Pet Free Home
Another important staging issue the pros address are the four-legged family members. Pets should not be present when a house is being shown to prospective buyers for three reasons. One, it is important to avoid alienating buyers who don't like pets, two there are buyers who may have a fear of them, and three, pets can be distracting to buyers who do like pets. Eliminate pet odor and remove the canine china and the kitty litter box. Remember to stay focused realizing that removing the pet from the home is only temporary and can assist in speeding up the process of selling the house.

Six: Make Minor Improvements
Kitchens and baths make and break sales. If there are discretionary funds available, allocate them to kitchen and bathroom makeovers. A return on the investment is almost always a guarantee. Expensive renovations should be avoided, but giving the rooms a facelift by changing out the kitchen cabinet knobs or resealing the bathtub are good projects to undertake. Of course, any structural problems with the property should also be repaired. It would also help to order a home inspection so that when the buyer has their inspection done there aren't any costly surprises. Remember that even minor improvements to kitchens and baths make a big difference and can make the home more desirable to a buyer.

Home staging is not a 100% guarantee that a house will sell during a specific time-frame or for a specified amount of money. However, if a house is priced correctly based on a CMA (Competitive Market Analysis), and it is staged, preferably by a professional, the chances of a quick and profitable settlement are far greater. Home staging will give a house an edge on its competition. The process of selling a house can be exciting and exhausting all at the same time. But nothing makes the process as emotionally draining as having the house sit on the market for months. To avoid this, realtors recommend that a seller do all that is possible to make the house desirable to as many buyers as possible; staging will do that. Remember, home staging will help a house to sell as quickly as possible and for as much money as the market will allow.

©Rena Bullard 2009
This article may be reprinted, in its entirety, with copyright information.

Renting Vs Buying a Home - The Debate Rages On

The debate rages on as to whether it is better to buy a home or rent it. Outlined in this article are 12 benefits to buying a home and 8 benefits to renting. The debate pretty well boils down to what is right for you in your situation. This article will help you to determine just that.

Outlined below are 12 benefits to buying a home as compared to renting:

1. Buying home is a great investment. Homes tend to increase in value, in the past 20 years the average Toronto home has increased 11% per year.

2. You are in complete control. You can make any changes or improvements you want. When you do spend the time and money to improve the house it is for your betterment not your landlord's.

3. You can leverage your money. You can put down as little as 5% and the bank comes up with the rest, yet you are still in full control. That is as long as you maintain your mortgage payments.

4. You have the ability to step up to a better home by leveraging your existing home equity. This can typically happen without significant increases in monthly expenses.

5. Your monthly mortgage payments are like forced savings. In the early days the majority of the payment is interest but you are still increasing your equity position with each payment. You then withdraw these savings when you sell your home.

6. Protection against inflation. Assuming you have a fixed rate mortgage your payments will not change over the life of your commitment, even if inflation goes up.

7. You have the ability to live how you want to live, decorate how you want to decorate. You get to be the king/queen of your castle.

8. You do not have to pay capital gains tax when you sell your primary Toronto residence. This is not the same situation for an investment property, but there certainly are other tax benefits associated with investing in property.

9. There are great tax benefits on investment properties. Even if the property is not your primary residence there are some significant tax deductions that that make this a very favourable investment strategy.

10. Typically when you buy you get more space than when you rent. This is not always the situation but it often is.

11. It is usually quieter in a Toronto home that you bought than a Toronto apartment that you rent. Many apartment buildings are just thrown up these days with paper thin walls. car

12. The monthly costs of owning a place are often just a little bit more than what you would pay in rent for an equivalent space. As you pay those monthly expenses you are bettering your home equity position as opposed to paying down your landlord's mortgage.

Outlined below are 8 benefits to renting as compared to buying:

1. If you tend to like to move around than buying may not make sense since there are some decent size expenses associated with buy and selling a property. You also are more susceptible to basing your move around market conditions.

2. You may not be able to afford the down payment. First an last is much more affordable than 5-25% of the value of a property.

3. If there is a possibility that you will lose your job and not be able to make your mortgage payments. The downsides of missing your rent are much less than if you miss mortgage payments.

4. If you think you may be getting divorced you should wait to purchase a home. Not only is it a real hassle to deal with, it is unlikely that your home will have appreciated by the time you are forced to sell.

5. If you have had bad credit. You will need to reestablish your credit before you apply for a mortgage. It is highly recommended that you run a credit check on yourself before you go to your bank.

6. You may not be able to afford buying. There is nothing wrong with that, don't make yourself house poor, just wait.

7. If you think the housing market is going down you may want to wait until it hits bottom and starts to bounce back. But be careful as by the time it is bouncing back the financial gains to buying in the slump may be lost.

8. You may just not want to have to deal with the inevitable maintenance of a home. As a renter all you have to do is call the landlord.

A Career in Interior Decorating

Imagine having a career that lets you use your creativity to make homes and businesses more beautiful and comfortable. Welcome to the world of interior decorating!

There are few careers that offer so many benefits. As an interior decorator you will have the satisfaction of making your vision a reality. You will meet interesting people, and because many people who hire interior decorators are wealthy, you will likely spend time in many beautiful homes and businesses. If you start your own decorating business you can enjoy the freedom of being your own boss. And perhaps most importantly, your "work" will be fun, interesting, and rewarding.

As long as you have the desire, you can become an interior decorator. No special education or experience is necessary to break into this career and succeed. (Unlike becoming a certified interior designer which has strict requirements including two to five years of post-secondary education in interior design.) You can become an interior decorator immediately.

If interior decorating sounds like the career of your dreams, here are 10 steps to breaking into this fabulous job, based on the FabJob Guide to Become an Interior Decorator published by

1. Train your eye

Since you are interested in a career as a interior decorator, chances are you already have a "good eye" for design. In other words, when you look at a room you can see what looks good, and what could be improved. But no matter how naturally talented you are, you can continually "train your eye" by studying what people consider to be good design.

Seek out beautifully decorated interiors to look at. You can find numerous examples of beautiful interiors in design magazines or in your own community by visiting show homes, open houses for sale in wealthy neighborhoods, furniture showrooms, historic homes, art galleries, and offices of professionals such as interior decorators and corporate lawyers.

2. Educate yourself

Interior decorators are expected to know about the various elements involved in decorating such as: space planning (how to arrange furniture and other items within a particular space), use of color and light, furniture and decorating styles (for example, Colonial or Southwestern), floorings, wall coverings, window treatments, and use of accessories such as pillows and art. You can learn decorating basics through courses, books, web sites, and even by speaking with retailers of products used in home decorating (paint, carpet, lighting, hardware stores, etc.)

3. Practice at home

Most interior decorators get their first decorating experience working on their own homes. Even if you have just one small room to experiment with, you can get "hands-on" experience with a variety of decorating techniques. For example, you can make a dramatic change to any room, quickly and inexpensively, simply by rearranging the furniture or painting the walls a new color. Give it a try! Experiment with techniques you wouldn't ordinarily use. Consider this room your "research lab" where you can try things out before recommending them to a client.

4. Volunteer your services

Your friends and family members may already have asked for your advice about decorating, but if they haven't yet asked you to actually decorate their homes or businesses, why not offer?

Some occasions your family or friends may want to redecorate are when they experiencing transitions in life, such as: marriage or co-habitation (help them merge two households into one), moving into a new home, childbirth (offer to decorate the baby's room), hosting a special event such as a wedding or dinner party, starting a home business (you could decorate their new office), and selling a home (explain how a well decorated home can attract buyers).

5. Prepare a portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of samples of your work, plus any other documents that can help show why someone should hire you. The most important part of an interior decorator's portfolio is photographs of interiors you have decorated, so make sure you take "before" and "after" photos of every space you decorate. Choose 15-20 photographs of work you are proud of, and arrange them in a photo album or portfolio case.

Your portfolio can also include letters of recommendation and "design boards" (poster boards onto which you have pasted pictures and samples of materials such as fabrics, flooring, wallpaper, etc.) to show clients what you recommend to decorate a particular room.

6. Get a job

Even if you plan to start your own interior decorating business, you can learn about the business and meet potential clients by starting with a job in the industry. Companies that hire people with decorating talent include home builders, manufacturers of furniture and housewares, hotel and restaurant chains, retailers (furniture stores, home improvement stores, antiques dealers, housewares stores, etc.), plus interior design and decorating firms.

To get a job, you will need to prepare a resume that emphasizes your experience with decorating plus any other skills the employer is looking for, such as customer service or organizational ability.

7. Start your own business

Many interior decorators dream of being their own boss. If that's your goal, you'll need to decide on business matters such as your company's name and whether to incorporate or not. Free basic business advice is available from organizations such as the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Many interior decorators choose to work from home when they start their businesses because it saves on the cost of an office and, unlike many other types of businesses, you won't be expecting clients to come to you - you will usually be going to their homes or offices.

8. Establish relationships with suppliers

Suppliers are companies that supply the products and services you need to decorate. They include manufacturers of furniture, wall coverings, flooring, fabrics, etc. as well as contractors who do painting, carpentry, installation, etc. When you go shopping as a professional interior decorator, you are entitled to "designer discounts" of up to 50% off the regular retail price which you can pass on to clients.

While some decorators charge an hourly rate or a flat fee, others charge "cost-plus." For example, if your cost for a product is 40% percent below the regular retail price, you could charge the client your cost plus 20%, thereby saving the client the other 20% they would pay to buy the same item at a retail store. This opportunity to save money on decorating may convince clients to hire you.

9. Get clients

Your potential clients could include home builders, new home buyers, wealthy home owners, professional couples, advertising agencies, art galleries, bed and breakfasts, boutique stores, corporate head offices, hotels, law firms, restaurants, spas, and many other types of businesses.

One way to market your services is by networking with professionals who can refer business to you, such as real estate agents, architects, antiques dealers, art dealers, home renovators, and owners of businesses that sell home furnishings. Other marketing techniques include putting up a web page with photos of interiors you have decorated and getting publicity in the homes section of your local newspaper.

10. Grow as a professional

Successful interior decorators continue to learn new decorating techniques. Once you have started a business you can continue to develop your skills by attending trade shows, reading decorating magazines and books, and joining professional associations. You can also impress clients and have an advantage over your competition by becoming certified as a professional interior decorator.

First Time Home Buyers: Tips to Buying Your First Home that will Reduce Stress and Buyer's Remorse

The purchase of a first home is likely to be the biggest one-time purchase in your life. There is a huge shift from living with family or renting, to owning a home. It can be an overwhelming experience and at times you may feel that you are barely keeping in step with the process. We are now at a point in our lives where our children are buying their first homes and we see the worry and signs of stress that make this FIRST BIG PURCHASE such a momentous event for them. The learning gained from buying a home and selling a house six (6) times - four different cities and two different provinces - has given us experiences that we share here with our children. The tips we can give you when going through the mind-game process of buying a home are insightful and are especially for people just like our children - first time home buyers.

Every step along the way to becoming a property owner brings a new rush of questions.

This first-time home-buying torrent of questions can, at times, feel like you are fighting river rapids in a kayak. Just like novice kayaker, it is fear of the unknown in home-buying that creates the stress.

Can we afford this house?

Did we pay too much for this property?

Will we be able to make the monthly payments?

How will we pay property taxes and still have money for any maintenance and renovation costs?

Will we have a mortgage forever?

Notice most questions and fears are centered around finances. Not surprising then that this big purchase would cause you stress. Finances or Money is the number ONE cause of stress in our lives.

Our experiences can be the information that can help you steer the ship named 'Home Equity'. Equity - the difference between the market value of a property and the claims (loans + mortgages) held against it.

Here are a TEN pointers that helped us and can help you through the psychological aspects of buying your first house (you might even experience an adrenalin rush):

1. Accept that buyer's remorse will happen and it could overcome you early in the process of purchasing your first home. Buyer's remorse is a natural feeling where we doubt ourselves and question our purchasing actions. It may last for months after you buy. These are natural feelings to have; a home is a large purchase with significant impact on your lifestyle. Remorse will give way to a contentment as you make this house your home. Buyers remorse usually lessens as you become more experienced in buying and selling houses.

2. Buy a House, Sell a Home. Buy to resell. Buy with resale in mind. Remember that this is your FIRST house purchase, and not likely to be your last. Within 3-10 years of buying a house you are likely to sell and buy a second, third, or fourth house. Perhaps you will buy more than that number. No matter the number of houses you buy, do so with the view that you will re-sell, make a profit, buy UP (larger home) and/or reduce your mortgage on subsequent house purchases.

3. Pay the minimum Down Payment on your first house - unless you are paying 25% or more against the total price of the house (this may provide you with some relief on the mortgage rate), THEN pay the minimum. Use your cash for legal fees and transfer taxes PLUS for household improvements (like painting), maintenance and furniture/appliances/tools purchases. Remember point number "2" - this is your first home.

4. Don't make yourself 'house poor' - Amortize your first mortgage to the limit (25 years plus). This will reduce the impact to your monthly cash-flow (mortgage + interest payments). Don't concern yourself with paying down this FIRST mortgage in 5, 10 or 15 years. You expect to build equity in your first home to apply to your next home purchase(s). Remember item "2" - this is just your first home.

5. Loans and Mortgages are a Fact of Life - settle into the idea that you will likely have a mortgage and some form of loans for most of your working life. Unless you come from "material substance", i.e. money, or have won the lottery, you will have large debt for most of your life. Accept that you are likely not to be in a position to eliminate your mortgage until you have worked 20-25-30 years.

6. Shop around for your mortgage - mortgage hunting can be an exciting thing. Use it as a learning experience. Bankers, Mortgage brokers and Real Estate agents all want to give you the money! Talk to other first time home owners. Compare interest rates, terms of mortgage and payout penalties. It's a numbers game - have fun with this financial aspect of home ownership by familiarizing yourself with financial terminology and ask those 'mortgage financiers' to break it down into layman's terms so you can understand it.

7. Separate an 'emotional' buy from a 'good' buy - this ONE THING will be your biggest hurdle, causing additional stress between a couple in their hunt for the first home. Real estate agents may try to leverage (manipulate) this couple tension to their advantage - like getting you to buy beyond your means or buy NOW because other offers are on the table. As difficult as it may become, agree as a couple that if things are not right for you as a couple that you are willing to walk away from any house deal on the table. Be vigilant in reaffirming this point to each other.

8. Create a "Must Have / Would Like" list of features - accept compromise as an element of home buying - unless your first home is custom built, accept that you will need to compromise on some of the features you have on your list of features. Remember item "2" - this is just your first home. Getting all the house features you want requires a longer term view - a goal on your next home.

9. Scope out any neighborhood in which you want to own a home - just like test driving an automobile before you buy it, walk around your potential neighborhood. Check out schools, shopping and city hall (use the web) for zoning (building projects), crime levels and types, community involvement. Talk to people who live and work in the area you are considering a home purchase.

10. Accept the fact that your current social lifestyle may shift a bit - entertain at home instead of going out on the town; mowing the lawn and garden maintenance might replace some of your gym activity; interior decorating and carpentry become new hobbies to replace Nintendo and X-Box.

11. Breathe - Breathing is good. Enjoy the rigors and rewards of home ownership. Learn and continue to educate yourself on home ownership.

First time home ownership can be a highly stressful situation. But buying your first home can still be a wonderful experience. Home buying and home ownership should complement your life and relationship with your spouse and family. You may want to do it more than once. Buy a House - Sell a Home. Make your house the home that others will want to buy. Be the Consumer, Not the Consumed.

Real Estate Exit Strategies

An exit strategy is a means of escaping one's current unfavourable situation, or the company would be in a serious condition, leading to collapse of real estate market. A good and a practical exit strategy would automatically lead high success for the real estate investor. There are basically 4 types of exit strategies, namely,



Real Estate Appraisal/Getting Above the Market Price

Refinancing - It is the smart strategy to get rid of your existing mortgage through the proceeds of a new mortgage. In this manner you can very easily manage mortgage payments plus helps you in fetching the equity build up on the property that you have purchased until recently. Refinancing works really well if the interest rates have gone down, and you would therefore have greater debt ensuring high mortgage and eventually low interest rate per month. Moreover, Refinancing is used in most cases to improve overall cash flow.

Two Types of Refinancing:

No-Closing Cost

Borrowers with this type of refinancing typically pay few upfront fees to get the new mortgage loan. In fact, as long as the prevailing market rate is lower than your existing rate by 1.5-percentage point or more, it is financially beneficial to refinance because there is little or no cost in doing so.


This type of refinance may not help lower the monthly payment or shorter mortgage periods. It can be used for home improvement, credit card and other debt consolidation if the borrower qualifies with their current home equity; they can refinance with a loan amount larger than their current mortgage and keep the cash difference.

Home Staging

Home staging is decorating your home with all the necessary things so that it looks look bigger, brighter, cleaner, warmer, more loving and, and above all it attracts the buyer's attention who can purchase it for good price. You can employ skilled craftsmen for home staging. These are called as Home Stagers. They can simply change the complete room interiors of your house to give a splendid feeling altogether.

Real Estate Appraisal/Getting Above the Market Price

Through this process, you develop a positive opinion of the value of your real estate property. It is based on the facts that all properties are heterogeneous in nature, as, no two properties are identical, and all properties differ from each other in their location, amongst other things. The positive opinion developed as the result will fetch you above the market price on your property, when you go for selling the property.

What Factors Affect Home Resale Value? Simple Home Improvements To Increase Your Home's Value

It's never too early to start thinking about selling your home, and many real estate experts say that the best time to start is before you even buy it. If you're buying a new home, chances are you're going to be selling it in five, ten, or twenty years from now. While reselling may be far from the top of your priority list, there are a few interesting facts to keep in mind. Some attractive features of your new home might turn out to be investments that don't pay off when it comes time to sell, while other features that you overlook now could have a positive effect on your home's value over time.

When looking for a new home, your top priority should still be your own needs and desires, but it can't hurt to have "resale value" in the back of your mind. After all, a home is a huge purchase, and it can turn out to be a great investment.

All features of a home will essentially be built into the price. If you do your best to learn about the true value of these features, especially their effects on the value over many years, you will have a better idea of how much you should be paying initially.

Features that add to your home resale value

Good location
Real estate experts agree that a good location is the biggest factor in adding value to a home. The home should be in a growing community; close to freeways and commercial areas, but not so close that the neighborhood is too noisy or congested. It's also a good idea to check city records for any proposed land use action that will affect the area. The neighborhood may look peaceful now, but the city could be planning on tearing down the green space to build a new freeway. Planned city action could drastically change the value of the house over time, positively or negatively.

Large kitchen
The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house. It's a central location for gatherings, and it's a room in which you spend a great deal of time. Large kitchens that are open, accessible, and adjacent to dining and family rooms will add substantially to your home resale value.

Three or four Bedrooms
Bedrooms provide room to spread out, secluded workspaces, or extra space for a growing family. As far as the home resale value is concerned, three or four bedrooms is ideal. If the house has five or more bedrooms, make sure they're not inflating the price too much. You shouldn't be paying much extra for more rooms, as they won't add significantly to the resale value. Also, if the home has less than three rooms, your pool of buyers will be limited and you could have a harder time selling in the future.

2.5 Bathrooms
One bathroom in the master bedroom, one shared bathroom, and a half bathroom for guests is ideal. If the house has more than 2.5 bathrooms, make sure it's not inflating the price, as more bathrooms will do little to increase the resale value. Two bathrooms is also an acceptable number, but any less than two will hurt the value of the home.

Large, rectangular lot
Most buyers are looking for a fair sized, rectangular, level lot. Small yards, odd shapes, or sloped lots will decrease the home resale value. There should be enough space in the front and back yards for a person to consider them accessible. Enough room for decorations or activities is a huge plus.

Closet space
A walk-in closet for the master bedroom is a very desirable feature. Aside from the master bedroom, a home should have enough closet space scattered throughout. A lack of closet space can alienate certain buyers, and depreciate the value of the home.

Two-Car garage
Depending on the location of the house, a two-car garage is most desirable. If the house is surrounded by other homes with larger garages, it might be best to consider a larger garage size to match. In general, two is the magic number. More or less could affect the home value in undesirable ways.

Hidden, main floor laundry room
A laundry room should be out of sight to avoid becoming an eyesore, and it should be located on the main floor of the house. An easily accessible laundry room can cut back on trips up and down stairs. Remember, even if an inconvenient laundry room isn't an issue for you, it could be an issue for your potential buyers, and it could hurt the value your house.

House size vs. surrounding houses
The size of the house can either increase or decrease its value, depending on its location. If the house is a large luxury house surrounded by smaller homes, the surrounding houses will drag down the value over time. On the flip side, if the house is small or medium and it's surrounded by larger homes, the value could increase over time. If you're looking at a home, compare its value with the values of the surrounding homes, keeping size in mind.

Surprising Features that don't add to home resale value

A view
While a pretty view is easy on the eyes, it doesn't do much for the value of a house, and it could be costing you a lot of money. Compare the price of the house that has a view with another comparable house in the area that doesn't have a view. Is the price inflated because of the view? Chances are, when it comes time to sell, you won't be getting the extra money back from the sale.

Fancy landscaping
Unless you are thoroughly impressed with the fancy landscaping, don't pay extra for it. Landscaping can be the sign of a hobby or investment made by the previous owner. If you can't imagine yourself enjoying the landscaping in the future, let the seller know. If it doesn't interest you and you're not willing to invest the same amount of time and money as the previous owner, the landscaping will eventually deteriorate, and you won't get your money's worth when it comes time to sell.

Swimming pools
Houses with swimming pools were very popular a few years ago, but with the recent awareness of dangers and injury statistics, families with children are steering clear of them. Unless you want a pool for your own recreational use, make sure you're not paying extra for it, as you won't be seeing a return on the investment.

Multiple stories
In the past, multi-story homes were very popular. Recently, the market has made a surprising shift, and now single-story homes are far more desirable. The exception is single-story homes surrounded by multi-story homes. In most cases, a single-story home will pay off more in the end.

Though they are quaint and comforting, fireplaces do little to increase the value of a home. Let the seller know that you're indifferent to the fireplace, and you don't see it as an additive feature of the house-at least not one that's worth paying for.

Home Improvements That Increase Home Resale Value

While you're looking for a home, or if you've already moved in, you can always think about ways to increase the resale value. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Home improvements
While you're browsing homes, look at any "less than desirable" features as an opportunity to make some home improvements. Any ideas you have, from paint color to new furniture, could go a long way toward increasing the home's value. Assess your own skills, or form a relationship with a contractor, and view the home from the perspective of a restorer. If the lot is sloped, could a new terrace or porch do the trick? If the home only has two bathrooms, could a new half bathroom be added in? Can you turn the home's imperfections into assets?

Kitchen & bathroom renovation
If you're checking out a new house, and the kitchen or bathrooms appear uninviting or cramped, consider the cost of renovating these rooms compared with the money saved from purchasing the house in such condition. Even do-it-yourself fixes, like new tiles, new cupboards, or a new coat of paint can increase the value drastically. Keep in mind that most buyers scrutinize the kitchen the most, with the bathrooms a close second, followed by the master bedroom. If you see beauty potential in these rooms, you could turn that potential into profit.

Remove wallpaper
Most buyers don't like wallpaper. The design is often dated, and buyers don't want to have to remove it themselves. Here's where you can turn a hindrance into an opportunity. If you're willing to put in the effort to remove the wallpaper yourself, you can significantly increase the home's resale value. When the wallpaper is removed, make sure to paint the walls a neutral color, as this allows a wider range of buyers to essentially project themselves into the home and imagine their lives within its walls.

Your house is your home

While these facts represent the opinions of many real estate experts, thinking about home resale value is still a guessing game. You're betting that today's valuable features will retain their value in the future. There are many proven trends, and it's always a good idea to educate yourself on the local markets and neighborhoods in which you plan on commencing your search. While your house is a large investment, it's also simply a home. You need to find a house that you can see yourself living in for many years. Keep these tips in the back of your mind, begin your search with confidence and optimism, and when you've finally found a new home it will be a positive financial investment, as well as an investment in the future of you and your family.

How to Sell Your House

There are two main routes to choose from when you decide to put your house on the market: selling it privately or going through a Realtor. Which of these will work best for you will depend on your own personal situation, how important it is to you to save on the Realtor fees, and whether you have the time and the inclination to put in the work needed to find a good, reliable buyer by yourself.

A realtor will be able to take a lot of the strain off of you, and will also be able to bring your home to the attention of a wide range of suitable buyers. If you decide to sell the house yourself you will need to pay for and organize adverts, deal with potential buyers and time-wasters yourself, and make sure that you are following all the rules and regulations that apply to property sales. If you are able to do this yourself you may save some money, as you will not have to pay the realtor, but you could also end up paying out just as much or having real difficulty finding a serious buyer if you struggle with the marketing or legal requirements.

If you do decide to use a realtor then it is a good idea to speak to a number of different real estate companies before you choose which one to go with. Get valuations of your property from each, so that you get a clearer idea of what it is worth, but don't tell them that you are approaching a number of different realtors as they may pretend to think your house is worth more than they will actually be able to sell it for in order to get you as a client. Once you have gotten to know the different companies you can discuss their fees. At this point it will be useful to mention what other companies have offered, as you may be able to get a better deal.

You will need to make sure your house is looking at its best for the marketing photos and viewings by potential buyers, but also on a day t0o day basis. Many potential buyers will drive past the house in order to get a glimpse of it and to see the neighborhood before they decide whether to get in touch with you or the realtor. Others may notice the "for sale" sign, which should be displayed prominently outside, and become interested in your house that way.

There are a number of simple ways in which you can impress potential buyers, generating more interest and improving the chances of getting a good offer. Most people who are considering buying a property like to imagine themselves living there. This means that it is a good idea to clear out any clutter, clean the place thoroughly, and take away any hint of your own taste. Offer potential buyers a blank canvas and they will find it much easier to see the house as their new home. You don't want them to be so distracted by your belongings and decoration that they forget to think about the house itself.

If there are any small jobs that you have been meaning to do around the house, then this is the time to finally finish them. This could include fixing any minor damage, repainting anywhere that's gotten a bit shabby or more major repairs that will boost the asking price of the house. It is especially important to keep the outside of the house looking good, as this will be the first thing that visitors see and it will also be what those potential buyers who drive past will see. Clear away any garden clutter, and make sure any plants are looking as good as possible.

When someone arranges for a more thorough viewing of your house then you should make sure everything is neat and tidy, get rid of any children or pets (particularly if you have overly friendly or aggressive ones) for the day and try to keep out of their way as much as possible. Allow them enough space to get a good look at the place and talk it over without having to worry about offending you if they don't like something.

You will need to consider a number of things once someone makes an offer on the house. You should think about how trustworthy the buyer is: have they already been approved for a mortgage, or will you have to wait and see if they can get enough money together? Do they need to sell their current home before they will be able to close with you, or can they move in as soon as possible? If their offer is lower than the asking price, do you want to accept it or try and negotiate for something a bit higher? Are they setting any conditions on their offer, such as wanting you to pay for any repairs- and are you willing to meet these conditions?

5 Keys to Help the Home Buying (And Moving) Process Go Smoother

There are many things a person can say about buying a home and each person's thoughts and experiences will be different. Here are 5 key things I find to be helpful or things I wish I would have really followed through with, or did better throughout my home-buying and moving experience.

1. Take a Home Buyers Course ~ Do not underestimate the wealth of knowledge being offered at a Home Buyers Course. These courses provide you with information about credit, debt, types of loans, taxes, insurance, closing costs and the closing process. Depending on the organization providing the course, you may also get information regarding home maintenance and the ongoing cost of maintaining your new home. I took a home buyers course twice, once at least 2 years before I bought my home, but didn't take the information seriously. My credit improved and I also reduced my debt, which in turn improved my credit score; however, my savings declined. ***Please take heed to the information you receive at these courses, and take action so when the time comes to buy your home, you will be well prepared.

2. Do Your Homework When Finding a Real Estate Agent ~ Have a set of criteria regarding what you are looking for in a Real Estate Agent. Do not look at superficial qualities, such as race, appearance, location of real estate office, or even age. Instead focus on how knowledgeable the agent is about the market where you would like to live. Also, make sure you're real estate agent understand what you wants and is not trying to sell you what he/she wants. If you want to look at condos in the suburbs, your real estate agent should not be taking you to look at brick bungalows in the city. If they constantly miss the mark with properties they show you, it may be time for a new agent, which is what I had to do. My first real estate agent hardly ever contacted me with property's to look at and when she did, they were not what I was looking for. I just stopped contacting her about looking at properties and she never called me again. I knew then she wasn't the one.

3. Save Money ~ I regret not having more money in savings when the purchase actually went through. I qualified for a grant so I had to put down very little money and I think that's what got me out of savings mode... knowing I didn't have to have much for a down payment, and that my closing costs were covered. In fact, I even received a little money back from closing because of the grant. Yet in still, there is so much that needs to be done when you are purchasing a home and moving. You need to have money saved so that you can cover all these expenses without having to utilize your pay check at the time of closing and moving. Your home buyer course should get you into the habit of saving for the big closing day, but you have to really be set in your mind that you will have the money for a decent down payment and closing cost, even if you don't need it. Because trust me, sooner or later, you will need that money for your house in some capacity. Save yourself the headache of having to go further into debt in order to fix things or decorate your home. I advise you to start saving early for your home and keep on saving even after you move in. It can save you thousands!!!!

4. Prepare Your Mortgage Documents Before You Apply for the Loan ~ The home buyer course should give you a good idea of what you need to officially apply for your loan after you have found your home. This will be much different than the pre-approval process and depending on the type of loan, can be much more intensive. Each person's situation is different, however, HERE is an overview of most of the documents you will need when you meet with your Loan Officer to apply for the loan:

Income Verification ~ Can be pay stubs, self-employment accounting and tax records, pension or social security award letters, etc... Whatever your income is and no matter the source, you will need to provide something to your loan officer to verify what you earn.

Debt ~ Credit cards, car notes, student loans, personal loans, other mortgages, and any and all other kinds of debt you have that you pay. Even if your student loans are in deferral you will still need to provide that information.

Assets ~ This is kind of tricky because some of your debts may also be considered assets, such as a car and house. Other assets include, checking and savings accounts (yes, they do check these), 401 K plans and other retirements accounts, CD's, stock, trust funds and more.

Vitals ~ Identification such as a driver's license or state ID card, social security card

Work History ~ This can especially important for certain types of loans. Have at least your work history prepared with addresses and phone numbers as well as a contact person for your previous employers for the past 5 years. For the self-employed people, your tax returns for the past 5 years may suffice as proof of work history.

Address History ~ You will also have to give your lender information regarding where you resided for the past 5 years, could be more or less years depending on the lender. If you have lived with a relative, you will have to report that as well.

Tax Returns ~ You will need your tax returns for the past two years. Depending on the lending institution, you may need an actual signed copy of your returns as opposed to getting a transcript from the IRS.

Housing Information ~ You will need to have the purchase agreement with you for the house you are buying. Once your offer is accepted, you and the seller will sign the purchase agreement. This states what the terms of your agreement are and information about closing. You may not have to actually take this with you; the seller agent may fax it or send it to your lender. Either way, it will be needed.

Addressing Discrepancies ~ You may also have to submit a written statement to your lender to clear up and inconsistencies or gaps in your history. Everything has to line up when you complete your application, so be prepared to handle any question that may arise regarding your pay, work history and previous residences.

5. Plan Your Moving Day in Advance ~ Do not wait until the week of your move to start packing!!! Start to schedule your service shut-offs and shut-ons at least two weeks prior. Don't schedule everything on the same day and if at all possible don't try to do everything in one day. Depending on how far you are moving, you may need to pack an overnight bag that has everything in it you will need for the next day, such as a change of clothes, hygiene products, and of course your cell phone charger!!! You should also plan eat take out or to dine in at a restaurant for the night of the move. If television is a main source of entertainment for you and your family, plan to have your cable and Internet connected on the day of the move so that you and your family can enjoy some good food and a good movie on the first night in your new home!!!

Lastly, the most important things to remember throughout the whole process are knowledge and preparation. You need to know what to expect so that you can prepare for what is coming up!!! The more knowledgeable you are about the whole process, the more likely you are to stay on top of what is needed at each step. Don't be afraid to slow down or stop if you find things are not going the way they should or if the process is moving too fast and you don't know what is going on. Take some time to make sure you're doing the right thing and to make sure there all information is being presented up front because in the end, no one will be left paying the mortgage (insurance, taxes, utilities, etc... ) but you!


How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

There are literally dozens of things you can do to prepare your home for sale that will make it look sharp and enticing to prospective buyers. This is by no means a complete list of everything that a seller should or can do to make their property stand out from the competition. These suggestions will help you get moving in the right direction so that when your home or condo is for sale you will get a better response from prospective buyers.

Exterior and Areas Surrounding the Property -

1. Eliminate all signs of deterioration such as an old mailbox or broken fence posts and replace as needed. If the exterior paint looks bad, you'll either need to paint the place or offer buyers a credit for painting.

2. Make sure the yard, flower beds, and plants all look appealing. This is a good time to have a landscaper visit your property and remove dead plants, trim trees and shrubs, mow the lawn, remove debris, clean fountains and bird baths, etc. If you have pets, pick up after them every day and fill in any holes where they have been digging!

3. Get rid of any clutter in your yard. Not everyone loves those lawn decorations, even if your best friend made that metal sculpture you adore. What you love, others may find offensive and they may not even get in the front door if they don't like the look of the yard and exterior of the property.

4. Repair, paint and dress up and kids toys, swing sets, dog houses, or other structures that will remain in the yard. Deferred maintenance of these items makes buyers wonder whether the inside has really been well maintained or just recently refreshed.

5. Check all outside lights and replace / repair any fixtures as needed. Make sure all light bulbs are working and that you have the right type of bulbs and sufficient lighting for your driveway and garage areas.

6. Clean that patio and barbecue grill so they look spotless. Do the same with lawn and deck furniture, or put those items in a storage area is they look dated or worn.

7. Patch, repair and seal the driveway and sidewalks, if needed. If you have any outdoors sporting equipment like a basketball hoop, volleyball net, etc., make sure it's in top notch condition. If it looks ancient and beat up, better to remove it temporarily or replace.

8. Look at the house numbers and replace if they are not readable from the street or they have deteriorated. Polish up the front door knocker, clean the glass, and spruce up the front entrance to make a good first impression.

9. Check all windows and screens for holes or damage. Repair or replace as necessary to maintain a high quality look. Wash all the windows one day before your property is on the local MLS tour.

10. Make 6 sets of keys for your real estate agent and test them all. If the lock is even a tiny bit sticky it makes a bad impression on buyers. Spray some lubricant (e.g. WD40) and if that is not good enough, then call a locksmith and have the lock repaired or replaced.

Interior Repairs and Improvements - Everything You Do Must Be Non-Offensive (i.e. Neutral)

1. Clean the entire home or condo from top to bottom. I recommend that you hire a professional cleaning service to assist you, or if you are an absentee owner, let them do the work. This includes cleaning the carpets, moving furniture and cleaning under and around all furnishings and decorations.

2. Remove clutter. You may love all 14 pictures of the grandkids lined up on the mantle, to a buyer it looks overwhelming and detracts from the "open feel" they are seeking. As gut wrenching as it is, this is a case where less is more. Leave enough pictures on the walls so the place doesn't look bare and an occasional knick-knack on the coffee table or mantle is ok. Pack away the dried flower arrangements, sports trophies and everything else of a personal nature so as not to distract buyers from "seeing" your property. Take a good look at all the furniture in your place and remove anything that is non-essential to make your place appear larger.

3. Paint is a cheap and relatively easy way to brighten up any property. Use neutral colors that are easy on the eyes and hire a professional unless you have done quality interior painting in the past and have confidence you can do a stellar job.

4. Replace all light bulbs that are out or missing. Replace dated light fixtures if within your budget.

5. All closets and storage areas need to be organized and cleaned. Put loose items in boxes so the place looks neater. Buying uniform size boxes from the local box company in bundles of 25 will save money and help to create a cleaner look than just grabbing boxes from the local liquor store.

6. Do you have pets? It is critical that your house not smell like animals, no matter how much you love Fido or Fluffy. Areas where pets reside must be kept meticulously clean. If you have to, burn some incense, put potpourri in strategic places and remove and replace and carpet that has been soiled. It is extremely difficult to sell any property that has pet odors or residue.

7. Put a chair or bench near the front door if people need to remove their shoes before touring your property. The lack of a place to sit is a real turn-off, especially in resort markets with aging populations.

8. Do minor repairs. Many sellers overlook the need to do touch up repairs such as caulking the tub, fixing a leaky faucet, driving loose nails into deck boards, etc. Taking care of these little details eliminates the biggest objection that buyers have when they see something amiss; "What else is wrong with the place?" Remove doubt in the minds of buyer prospects by attending to these minor repairs or hire a handyman.

All of this may seem like a daunting task, but millions of sellers do these things every year to prepare their homes for sale. Whether you hire help or do it yourself is your own personal decision. Remember, the properties that sell fastest and for the highest price are quality properties that are in good condition.

In a resort market such as Incline Village NV at Lake Tahoe or Vail, CO where buyers are looking at real estate and writing offers during a very short sales season, all of this preparation is even more essential. The old adage, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression" is never more true than when it comes to a buyer walking into your place for the first time. Most buyers in a high end market such as Incline Village do not want to do anything more than paint or carpet. So, do yourself a favor and make your property appeal to the greatest number of prospective buyers.

Copyright - Don Kanare - 2007 - All Rights Reserved

Dangerous Decorating: Improvements that Lower the Value of Your Home

Reality television home improvement shows are no doubt fun to watch. It is amazing to see a small room or entire home transformed into a show place. Some of the most unbelievable transformations are on children's rooms. They will take a theme like the racecars or princesses and make a child's dream come true.

As a Realtor, my favorite part of the show Trading Places: Boys vs. Girls, is at the very end when the parents arrive to see the redecorated room for the first time. Whether there are ropes hanging from the ceiling, a psychedelic paint job or artificial grass on the floor, the reactions are priceless. Sure they are saying "awesome" for the television cameras, but are they really happy with the new rooms? As a parent, I know how quickly kids grow out of favorite toys, colors and activities. A theme-based room could be hard to transform back to a normal room when the fad passes or child grows. And what if you have to sell your home? How will potential buyers view that boat on the ceiling or the chalkboard walls?

This isn't just something that happens on television. People really do crazy things to their homes and it's not always for their children. Whether it is a unique wall treatment or an indoor hot tub, some people's individualism hurts the value of their homes.

Here are some of my favorite, unbelievable things I have seen in people's homes and how the remodel deteriorated the estimated value.

Playground Swings in the bedroom. This family removed a wall from two adjoining bedrooms to create one large room and bolted two playground swings to the ceiling. This home was 1700 ft.., split level home with 3 bedrooms prior to removing the wall. It is now an odd two bedroom. Combined with the possible extreme damage to the structure of the home depending on the weight of the persons using the swings this home would have lost thousands of dollars of market value.

Crinkled grocery bags glued to the wall instead of wallpaper. It is a nice unique look but since it will be difficult, if not impossible to remove, you will need to find a buyer who likes the look as much as you did.

Multi-colored hand painted murals and stenciling painted on walls throughout the home. This can be beautiful to the owner but because it is uneven, it is difficult to repaint. Often sanding and several layers of special primer are required to remove.

Indoor hot tubs. Unless you are installing in a four-season porch, think twice about this, especially if you live in a cold weather state. It just doesn't make any sense. I have seen them installed in bedrooms and family rooms. Many were professionally installed. Most buyers still didn't like them because they took away living space. Often buyers were concern about the installation. What if it leaks? Will it wreck the foundation? Does the steam cause mold? Even if the sellers offer to remove the hot tub prior to the closing, buyers have so many concerns that they will walk away from the home. Again your improvement reduced the value of your home buy tens of thousands of dollars.

So does this mean a person shouldn't personalize their home at all? Of course not!
It is your home after all.

What I am suggesting is that when you are considering a home improvement or trying the next decorating trend, remember that your home is your biggest investment and asset. Put the hot tub on the patio, deck or four-season porch. Swings belong in the backyard. And wall treatments need to be removable and easy to repaint. Make your decisions with this in mind and your home will be beautiful and pocketbook will be protected.

Copyright 2006 Teri Eckholm

Taking The Fear Out Of Buying A Home

You are probably like most first time home buyers; you've listened to your friends and family's advice, most of which is usually to encourage you to purchase a home. Having cold feet is very normal. Prior to purchasing their first home many people wonder if it is the correct thing to do. Relax. This is fear is normal as well. Learning why you should buy a home makes the process much less frightening. Below are some very good reasons why you should buy a home.

Pride of owning your home

The pride of owning your own home is the primary reason people want to own a home of their own. This means you can decorate and paint your walls anyway you want, you can crank up the radio and best of all you can make your house your home. Owning your home ensures both you and your family a great sense of security and stability. Home ownership is an important investment in your future.

Value Appreciation

It is no secret to anyone that the real estate market is unpredictable. The past few years have been obviously quite turbulent. But despite the current tumultuous market real estate has consistently appreciated. A home to many people is seen as an investment and some security against inflation.

Deducting mortgage interests

Owning a home is an excellent tax shelter and our tax rates greatly favor the homeowner. Assuming you mortgage balance is not higher than the price of your house, mortgage interest is completely deductible. The largest component of your mortgage payment is the interest.

Deducting property taxes

First time home buyers should read IRS publication 530, it contains a lot of valuable tax information those that are purchasing a home for the first time. Property taxes paid for a first house and also for a vacation home are totally deductible on your income taxes. As a matter of fact in California proposition 13 established the amount of assessed value after property is exchanged. Limited property tax rises to 2% per year or the current rate of inflation.

Exclusion of capital gains

If you have lived in your house for two of the previous five years you are allowed to exclude up to $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for a married couple of profit from capital gains. It is not necessary to buy a new home or purchase a large house. Age restrictions do not apply and the "over-55" rule does not apply either. You are allowed to exclude these thresholds from taxes every 2 years. This means that you could sell your home every 24 months and keep your profit. This would be subject to some limitations but free from taxation.


People that carry credit card balances are not allowed to deduct interest paid. This can cost you as much as 18% to 22%. The interest in an equity loan usually much less and it's deductible. Many home owners believe it makes complete sense to pay off this type of debt with a home equity loan. You can borrow against your homes equity for a slew of reasons. Home improvement, college tuition, medical expenses are but a few of these reasons. You should however read your states laws regarding home equity loans as they do vary and can come with some restrictions.

Make Your First Home a Flip - Part 1

The Way To Flip Successfully The First Time

There is one way that you can avoid a lot of stress, not loose all of your free time, spend money when you have it, and learn the skills for your future projects. Simply by purchasing your first flip and live in it until you are ready to flip it.

Where do you live now? Do you rent, or own your own home? If you want to have a successful first flip you can purchase a house, after you have followed the guidelines I will set out for you, move into it, improve the property, flip it when the time is right, and make money. Many our flips were done this way.

Option 1 The benefits of moving into your first flip home, compared to purchasing a home to renovate for a quick flip but not living in it, are many.

Benefits Of Living In Your First Flip

  • You turn your rent money into equity
  • You are not under the gun for deadlines
  • You can save money and do projects as you can afford them
  • You can take more time learning about carpentry, decorating etc.
  • You can shop for bargains and save even more
  • You don't have to worry about subcontractors showing up for completion deadlines
  • You may be able to take advantage of free labor of friends and family
  • You don't have two mortgage payments to make.
  • You won't be under stress of deadlines
  • You will be able to enjoy much more of your free time
  • You can wait until the market is right for a sale

The Downside Of Living In Your First Flip

  • You plan on moving in three to four years
  • You may have to live in the midst of partially completed projects
  • You renovate to sell not to live in
  • Your end profit will take a little longer to realize

SIDE NOTE Someone once asked me how I considered a renovation over three to four years a flip? A property you purchase to sell and make money on, and that you renovate for that specific purpose is a flip, plain and simple.

Normally when people buy a home, they plan on living in it for a number of years. Eventually they improve, renovate, etc. to their "own tastes". This does not always favor a future sale. Sometimes people's personal taste in decorating, furniture, etc., can get in the way of a fast sale, or getting top dollar. Remember, your tastes are not everybody's tastes. If you have very eclectic tastes then your property may appeal to even less of the market.

In moving into your flip, you are not only saving yourself a lot of possible headaches, stress and financial burden but just as important, you will not be upgrading, decorating, etc., to suit your "own tastes". Instead, following guidelines and using resources we will discuss in later articles, you will be developing the property for the largest possible group of home buyers. This is crucial for a successful flip. You need to save your own personal decorating tastes and ideas for your dream home.

Option 2 What about purchasing a home, you will not live in for a quick flip.

Benefits Of A Quick Flip You Are Not Living In

  • You will not have to move
  • You will not have to live in the midst of partially completed projects
  • Your end profit may come quicker

The Downside Of A Quick Flip You Are Not Living In

  • You are under the gun for deadlines
  • You may not have enough self-contractor experience
  • You may be dependent on subcontractors for completion
  • You have to find subcontractors
  • You may pay more for labor in busy times
  • You may run into unexpected repair problems
  • You have less time to shop for money saving bargains on materials
  • Your completion may be affected by the weather
  • You may have to make two mortgage payments
  • It may cost you more money than anticipated (and probably will)
  • It may take you more time than anticipated (and probably will)
  • You will have less free time
  • You may have increased stress
  • The MTM factor could ruin you

If it's your first flip, option 1 is a much better scenario for you. If you know what you are doing, have the necessary experience and contacts, you may want to try Option 2. (Personally I normally go with Option 1 myself whenever I can). Once you have the experience, you can grab a real deal that you can make money on quick, if and when it comes available. (Not very often)

It will take you a few flips to gain the experience and contacts to make a quick flip work.

Next article in this series...the 3,2,1 times 2 theory to your dream home.

Painting Do's and Don'ts for Home Sellers

It's easy, quick and cheap, but don't make the mistake that it can cure every homes woes. To do it right when selling you should follow some basic rules of using paint as part of your home marketing to-do list. Mark Nash author of 1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home shares some tried and true tips on how to get the most mileage out of repainting a room or an entire house.

-To make the living space of a home appear larger or flow more easily use the same color or hues of the same color in adjoining rooms. The key is to keep the eye moving. Recently a home seller had painted each room on the first floor a different bold trend color, it shrunk the home visually and made it much darker. A new tone-on-tone color scheme I suggested expanded and lightened the house, and it sold soon after the redo.

-Use eggshell paint on the walls and semi-gloss on woodwork and trim. White is a fail-safe trim color. Buyers get always imagine their wall color choice with white trim and they like that they won't have to repaint the trim.

-To expand room height paint the ceiling a different but light color than the walls. A decorator tip that really works is to add some blue tint to your white ceiling color.

-Don't paint laminate kitchen cabinets, the paint peels and wears easily and looks like a quick fix.

-For a quality paint job, preparation is important. Walls and trim should be sanded, spackled and cleaned, for paint to adhere properly.

-Light paint colors require two coats, darker colors three or four. Prime everything once to even existing surface colors out before using finish colors. Gloss finishes show wall imperfections more than flat finishes, use sparingly.

-Use quality paints. It might not make sense to buy better paint if you won't enjoy it, but inexpensive paints can really cheapen a paint job and the home. The small cost difference isn't worth the gamble.

-Bring paint samples home from home improvement stores to accurately match with carpets and fabrics. Paint manufactures now offer sample sizes, do a wall test of any color your thinking of using. Colors look different in different lighting and times of day.

-Don't be tempted to use faux finishes, leafing or glazes. They're trendy and very specific in taste. Buyers will think it will take extra time and expense to remove and change them.

-Do take the time to put down drop clothes, tape trim and window mullions, remove switch plates and curtain hardware. Paint drips and stains lack attention of detail to home buyers.

-Think twice before have a bath tub or ceramic tile repainted or finished. To get a good new finish on these surfaces is difficult and buyers run from bubbled bathtub make over's.

-If you're not the best painter or time-starved to do the job right, hire a professional to come in and paint. You can focus on other jobs to be done before the marketing of your home begins and it will eliminate additional stress.

Finding That Diamond in the Rough

When you're in the market for a new home, you probably have some idea of just what that home should look like. But it's important to keep in mind that a home that isn't in pristine condition may still have great potential. Many new buyers will go by their first impressions and if not perfect they opt out from pursuing the purchase of a house that others may see in a different light. Here are some tips to help you look beyond bad decorating and ugly wallpaper to see a potential jewel.

Floor Plan: The floor plan is extremely important. Look at entrances, exits, and where the rooms are located. Think about the flow of traffic in and around your home. A good floor plan is worth a lot, especially when you look at the cost of changing it.

Also consider noise. Do you have young children that will play in a particular part of the house? How will that noise reach the part of the house where the adults will spend most of their time? A friend of mine loves her house, but she complains that the noise from Monday Night Football reaches all the way from the room where her husband and son watch the game to her bedroom. Even though the two rooms are on different floors and different ends of the house, voices carry.

Walls & Floors: Walls and floor coverings make an important first impression. Paint is relatively inexpensive, so try to see the walls in the colors you would choose. Carpets can be removed and replaced; hardwoods can be refinished and vinyl floor coverings are not very expensive.

Walk all the floors and listen for squeaks and feel for uneven spots. If the floor is solid, the way it looks can be changed quickly and cheaply.

Kitchen: The kitchen is usually the most popular room in a home. Paint and new appliances can make a big difference, should you not like what's there now. The most important thing to consider is whether or not it has enough space to suit your needs. Also check for the work flow. Make sure when the oven door is open or when the dishwasher door is down, that the flow around the space is not hindered.

Now let's turn to the outside. The curb appeal is very important to presenting the house for top dollar. When you look at a house with an unattractive appearance, ask yourself if it can be altered to your liking with just a few dollars and a little work. While other prospects may be turned off and walk away, you may be able to offer a lower price then expected and with just a little TLC, polish that diamond.

Keep in mind that unless you are building your dream home, you will probably never find the "100% perfect" home. So before you make an offer, keep in mind what you can't live without and what you can improve upon with some well-placed upgrades and improvements.

How Home Improvement Television Shows Have Inspired People to Tackle Their Own Projects

In the past, whenever someone wanted to have a home improvement project done or even a larger scaled renovation tackled, they found the most capable professional to handle all of the work. This was also true if they needed design or decorating help. That is not the case anymore, thanks to the several home improvement television programs that are on currently helping the viewers to do the work and projects themselves. This is even more true now, with the recession and homeowners needing to save their money by doing the work themselves. Whether it is installing a new bathroom with great tiling and bathroom lighting or designing a new art space in the newly finished basement space using progress lighting, the options are endless for the new generation of do-it-yourselfers.

One of the very first TV programs to show regular homeowners tackling a renovation and decorating project was a show called Trading Spaces. This had two families, usually next door neighbors that had 48 hours to completely redo one of the rooms in their neighbor's house with the help of a professional designer and carpenter. There had never been a show that showed non-professionals doing this kind of work before and how the designers taught these people how to do things in such a simplified way with great results. They also were given a low budget of only $1000 to do the room so not only did the projects have to be done by novices but they had to be less expensive too. This show alone inspired many homeowners to realize they too can do home improvement projects.

Trading Spaces then led to many other shows becoming popular showing the viewer a complete transformation in a short half hour segment. Many of the shows involved budget minded techniques that could be used like on the show Design on a Dime. This has professionals come into a space and completely transform it in one day for a tiny budget of only $500. The homeowners then return home to see how much could be improved for so little money and some creativity. The professionals talk through the way to do each project making it easy to understand for the viewer who probably has no experience at all.

Another helpful home improvement show that addresses how to make your home for sale more appealing and ways to get more money for the house you want to sell. This show is called, "Designed to Sell" and is very helpful to people watching at home because of the incredibly slow real estate market that is happening in the country right now. It takes a $2000 budget, a real estate professional to assess the home's initial value and a designer and construction crew to get the home ready for an open house.

All of these shows inspire home owners to not be afraid to take on these projects themselves in order to improve their homes. The information from these programs as well as help from home improvement stores has really empowered people in this area.

In Selling Your Home In Florida Real Estate, You Have To Do Home Improvements

If you come up to the decision of selling your home at Florida real estate, you have to make sure that you take time to make some home improvements. In doing so, it would be easier on your part to attract potential buyers.

Preparing your home for sale is very important; this is the best way you should do in order to make a sale. It would be advisable to make some preparation before putting any sign that your home is for sale in order to prevent those frustrating situations that others encountered. There are other people who put for sale sign into their home without making some preparations and improvements into their homes, reasons why they just see their homes in the market without any offer at all. This happens because they do not even give a little time to make their homes attractive enough for buyers.

You see, if you really want to have a quick sale, you have to make some improvements in order to attract potential buyers. It would be better if you put paint into the wall, ceiling, windows and doors. You do not necessary need to buy the most expensive paint. It is advisable that you clean up the wall before you paint it. You can clean it with water and soap to remove the dirt, in order for you to put even only one coat of paint. In painting, you can start with your ceilings, move to your walls, then to your windows and doors. As soon as you are done, you will definitely see the difference.

After that, you have to clean up the rest of the house; it would be advisable to search every part of your home. Remove the clutter in every part of your home. Clean the bathroom and kitchen make the tiles sparkling clean. Remove unnecessary equipment and furniture at your home, in order to make the home comfortable to live in. But of course, you still have to maintain certain décor in order to attract the buyers, decors that are modern and simple. Never empty any part of your home, better to put furniture and some décor at your home, for the buyers to have idea on how to redecorate the home as soon as they bought your home. In decorating your home, you have to take into consideration that you want the buyers to feel and imagine that they are living at your home.

It would also be helpful if you take the expertise of a real estate agent, in order to assist you with your selling process at Florida real estate. But in hiring a real estate agent, you have to hire someone who is best with this type of job, someone who can help you out and understand your situation.

A great real estate agent will truly help you out in the process of selling your home. The real estate agent will help you out to find the necessary value of your home. The agent can help you out in coming up with the right asking price for your home in Florida real estate.

If you follow all the tips in making your home preparations and improvements in Florida real estate [], soon your time and effort will be worth it, since you will be able to sell your home as soon as possible and with the right price.

Dangerous Decorating: Improvements that Lower the Value of Your Home

Reality television home improvement shows are no doubt fun to watch. It is amazing to see a small room or entire home transformed into a show place. Some of the most unbelievable transformations are on children's rooms. They will take a theme like the racecars or princesses and make a child's dream come true.

As a Realtor, my favorite part of the show Trading Places: Boys vs. Girls, is at the very end when the parents arrive to see the redecorated room for the first time. Whether there are ropes hanging from the ceiling, a psychedelic paint job or artificial grass on the floor, the reactions are priceless. Sure they are saying "awesome" for the television cameras, but are they really happy with the new rooms? As a parent, I know how quickly kids grow out of favorite toys, colors and activities. A theme-based room could be hard to transform back to a normal room when the fad passes or child grows. And what if you have to sell your home? How will potential buyers view that boat on the ceiling or the chalkboard walls?

This isn't just something that happens on television. People really do crazy things to their homes and it's not always for their children. Whether it is a unique wall treatment or an indoor hot tub, some people's individualism hurts the value of their homes.

Here are some of my favorite, unbelievable things I have seen in people's homes and how the remodel deteriorated the estimated value.

Playground Swings in the bedroom. This family removed a wall from two adjoining bedrooms to create one large room and bolted two playground swings to the ceiling. This home was 1700 ft.., split level home with 3 bedrooms prior to removing the wall. It is now an odd two bedroom. Combined with the possible extreme damage to the structure of the home depending on the weight of the persons using the swings this home would have lost thousands of dollars of market value.

Crinkled grocery bags glued to the wall instead of wallpaper. It is a nice unique look but since it will be difficult, if not impossible to remove, you will need to find a buyer who likes the look as much as you did.

Multi-colored hand painted murals and stenciling painted on walls throughout the home. This can be beautiful to the owner but because it is uneven, it is difficult to repaint. Often sanding and several layers of special primer are required to remove.

Indoor hot tubs. Unless you are installing in a four-season porch, think twice about this, especially if you live in a cold weather state. It just doesn't make any sense. I have seen them installed in bedrooms and family rooms. Many were professionally installed. Most buyers still didn't like them because they took away living space. Often buyers were concern about the installation. What if it leaks? Will it wreck the foundation? Does the steam cause mold? Even if the sellers offer to remove the hot tub prior to the closing, buyers have so many concerns that they will walk away from the home. Again your improvement reduced the value of your home buy tens of thousands of dollars.

So does this mean a person shouldn't personalize their home at all? Of course not!
It is your home after all.

What I am suggesting is that when you are considering a home improvement or trying the next decorating trend, remember that your home is your biggest investment and asset. Put the hot tub on the patio, deck or four-season porch. Swings belong in the backyard. And wall treatments need to be removable and easy to repaint. Make your decisions with this in mind and your home will be beautiful and pocketbook will be protected.

Copyright 2006 Teri Eckholm

Cheap and Easy Ways to Increase Home Value

Increasing home value is especially important for homeowners that need to receive top offers for their property. Fortunately, there are several cheap and easy ways that can make homes more appealing and valuable to potential buyers.

People need to realize home value is not the same thing as fair market value. Rather, it means how much buyers are willing to pay for amenities. For example, one buyer might find an in-ground pool to be a valuable feature while another might perceive pool maintenance to be an added burden.

People that desire a swimming pool will be more willing to offer the asking price. People that love the house, but hate the pool will generally want to reduce the price. Attempting to figure out what buyers find valuable can be difficult, but can be accomplished by hiring a seasoned real estate agent.

Realtors talk to buyers all the time and understand the amenities many people are interested in. They can take a tour of your home and provide recommendations for receiving better offers. Common fixes include cleaning, painting, and repairing items both inside and outside the house.

It's rarely a wise financial choice to spend a lot of money on home renovation. Property owners almost never get back as much as they put in. A better idea is to let buyers make their own renovations and offer the property at a reduced price. With that said, only you know what is best for your personal situation.

Cheap and easy renovations can substantially improve real estate values. Tossing out junk and debris and giving the house a deep cleaning is a good place to start. Use a power washer to clean exterior siding, fences, doors and windows to perk up the outside. Apply neutral color paint to interior and exterior walls.

Realtors recommend keeping the house in showing condition at all times so prospective buyers can drop by at a moment's notice. Believe it or not, clean houses speak volumes about the overall care provided to the home and can help sellers get a better price. Eliminating unsightly clutter allows buyers to give attention to details of the house instead of being distracted by furnishing and knick-knacks.

Cleaning up the exterior of the property is as essential as taking care of the interior. Showcase features that can be seen from the curb by adding flowers, lighting, or subtle yard ornaments. Make certain pathways and entryways have adequate lighting and are free from debris and clutter. Consider adding a plantar box or decorative sculpture at the front door.

Spend time clearing weeds from flower beds and trim shrubbery. It is believed that people are attracted to the colors of red and yellow, so considering adding a few flower pots along the front of the house. Just be certain to select flowers that don't attract stinging or biting insects.

If your property has metal or wooden fencing make sure everything is installed correctly. Replace or repair loose or broken planks and thoroughly clean the fence. If needed use a power washer or apply a fresh coat of paint.

Get rid of debris, dead leaves, and fallen tree limbs. Eliminating yard waste and creating a beautifully landscaped yard can increase home value without breaking the bank. Consider hiring a landscaping crew to clean up and maintain the property until the house is sold.

Last, but not least, keep in mind there is plenty of real estate for sale so it is essential to take extra steps to make your house stand apart from the rest. While it is sometimes challenging to figure out which amenities people perceive as valuable, nearly everyone appreciates a sparkling clean house that has been taken care of.

Deep cleaning the interior and exterior; adding features to landscaping; and applying new paint are cheap and easy ways to improve home value and can help sellers get better offers.