Posts for Syndication

What Do Real Estate Attorneys Do?

By Virtual Results

What Do Real Estate Attorneys Do?In some states, you are required to have a real estate attorney in order to buy or sell a house. And while in other states having an attorney is optional, it can actually be a real benefit. Spending money on legal fees can help you avoid breaking the law unintentionally or having your closing delayed. If you’re unsure what a real estate attorney does and how it can help you, then read on.

They prepare documents

One of the most important things that real estate lawyers do is prepare documents. The real estate process can generate tons of paperwork, and having an attorney available to deal with that avalanche can be a real stress-reliever. They will draw up purchase contracts, financing agreements, and lease agreements. While your real estate agent can help you fill out this paperwork, only a lawyer can actually draft and revise them.

They review transactions

Another service that real estate attorneys can provide is to review transactions and give advice about them. They will look at title issues and examine any documents or contracts that are part of the closing process. A lawyer can help you spot potential problems that may otherwise go unnoticed to an untrained eye. This can help you avoid any unforeseen legal problems down the line.

They help you negotiate a better deal

Negotiating skills are another reason that real estate attorneys can be so helpful. They have expert experience with all types of transactions. A buyer or seller can ask a real estate attorney to negotiate terms for a deal, which often involves working with brokers, developers, or other lawyers. If you feel unsure of your negotiating skills, then having a licensed attorney on your side can be your ace in the hole.

They handle foreclosures

Dealing with a foreclosure can be a daunting experience. That’s why some real estate attorneys specialize in foreclosures. They can represent either the lender or the borrower in a foreclosure. Those that assist lenders will make sure that they proceed with the process correctly. They also may file a lawsuit on the lender’s behalf. When a lawyer represents a borrower, however, they can challenge mistakes made by the lender. This can make it more difficult for the lender to foreclose. They can also negotiate on your behalf with the lender to try to avoid foreclosure by making a settlement.

They represent you in a lawsuit

Finally, although it may seem obvious, real estate attorneys can represent you in a lawsuit. Unfortunately, not all real estate transactions happen smoothly. Some can end up in court. If you find yourself in this situation, then hiring a real estate attorney is advisable. They will draft legal pleadings that will be filed with the judge. They will also be present at hearings and at trial in front of the judge. Attorneys can also file an appeal on your behalf if necessary. Their negotiating skills also come in handy when they bargain with the other side to try to work out a settlement agreement.

As you can see, while you may not be required to hire a real estate attorney, having one on your side can ease stress. Having someone on your team who understands all the legal ramifications of your real estate transaction can go a long way toward a successful outcome.

Compliments of Virtual Results

How to Vet a Real Estate Agent

By Virtual Results

How to Vet a Real Estate AgentBuying or selling a home is a huge financial transaction — one of the biggest you’ll make in your lifetime. It can also be one of the most complicated transactions you tackle. That’s why it can be so beneficial to work with a professional real estate agent. But not all agents are created equal. That’s why, like any large or important purchase you make, you should shop around. These are the questions you should ask when interviewing agents to find the one that’s right for you.

How long have you been an agent?

Agents that have experience are going to be better at anticipating potential problems and will have tried-and-true negotiating skills. But don’t just ask how long they’ve been an agent. Ask them how long they have been working as a full-time agent in your market. Working with someone who has established relationships and expert knowledge of your community will set you up for success.

How many homes do you close a year?

You want to choose an agent who has a proven track record of closing on homes. Look for someone who has closed more homes than the majority of agents in your area. In most places, that’s about 35 closings a year (representing both buyers and sellers).

What sets you apart from other agents?

Agents who stay current on the market will be dedicated to their ongoing education. That means they’ll likely have certifications and credentials. Ones to look for include being a REALTOR, a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), an Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR), an Accredited Seller Representative (SRS), or a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES).

What’s your commission fee?

Sellers usually foot the bill for commissions, so this is an important question to ask if you’re going to list. The typical commission rate for agents is about six percent of the purchase price, which is split between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent.

How will we communicate?

Real estate transactions can happen quickly, and in some markets you need an agent who is very responsive. Find out how they prefer to communicate and whether or not they’ll be your primary point of contact. Many agents work with a support staff, so find out who you will be dealing with on a day-to-day basis.

Can you provide me with a reference?

Any good agent will have many happy past clients who are willing to speak on their behalf. A good agent will have several people you can contact to get the scoop on what it’s like to work with them. Contact a few of these references before making your final decision.

Will we sign a contract?

Most agents will have you sign an exclusive contract that is good for a specified amount of time. Ask if you’re able to cancel the contract if you aren’t happy with the service you’re getting. And be cautious of an agent who makes it hard for you to get out of the contract, but easy for them. Be aware that some contracts may include a termination fee should you cancel before closing.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Appraisal Vs. Home Inspection – What’s the Difference?

By Virtual Results

Appraisal Vs. Home Inspection - What’s the Difference?

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, an inspection and an appraisal will be part of the closing process. They are both important steps that help to evaluate your home before the transaction is finalized. If you’re new to the real estate process, then it can be unclear how these two steps are different from each other. Let’s break it down.

What is a home appraisal?

Let’s begin with the appraisal. When you buy or sell a home, a home appraiser will determine the value of the home. These experts use several pieces of data to arrive at that number. They will look at where the home is located, how big the home and the lot are, and the condition of the property. They will also look at the recent selling prices of comparable homes in your neighborhood. During the appraisal, they’ll be looking for signs of neglect like damaged flooring, broken windows, and cracked walls. While the overall cleanliness of the home is not an issue, underlying problems caused by neglect can affect a home’s value. If a home is appraised for less than the purchase price, it can determine whether or not the transaction can proceed. The seller may need to reduce the price, or the buyer may need to increase their down payment to offset the discrepancy.

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is somewhat similar to an appraisal in that it also evaluates the condition of the home. A home inspector will look at various elements of the home including the HVAC system, plumbing, electrical work, and sewage. They will also look for signs of fire, water, or insect damage. Home inspectors are hired by the buyer and the buyer receives a written report of the inspector’s findings. The inspector will make suggestions of needed repairs and any other concerns that they have about the condition of the home. Home inspections are typically conducted after the sales contract has been signed. These contracts will often contain inspection contingencies that give buyers leverage for further negotiations or to cancel the sale if need be.

What are the real differences?

While these two steps in the closing process have many similarities, they also have key differences. An appraiser’s main function is to determine what the value of the home is. It helps the lender evaluate the terms of your loan and to make sure you haven’t agreed to pay more than the home is worth. On the other hand, an inspection helps to educate the buyers about the condition of the home they are purchasing. It lets buyers know what problems currently exist within the home and repairs that may need to happen in the near future. Buyers are often present during a home inspection. However, home appraisals tend to happen behind closed doors.

What’s the bottom line?

When you’re buying or selling a home, the closing process can be confusing — especially if you’re doing it for the first time. That’s what it’s so helpful to work with a real estate professional. Having an expert on your side will give you the knowledge and confidence you need to successfully close on the home. Contact us today!

Compliments of Virtual Results

Short Sale FAQs

By Virtual Results

Short Sale FAQs

Short sales were fairly common during the Great Recession. Although there are fewer short sales on the market today, it is still one strategy for selling a home. If you’re buying or selling a home, then you may be wondering if this is an avenue you should explore. Here we’ll answer some of your frequently asked questions about short sales.

What is a short sale?

In short, a short sale happens when the lender allows the mortgage to be paid off for less than what is owed on the home. The lender then forgives the remaining amount of the loan. It can only happen with the lender’s permission and when the property value has declined and the owner is financially distressed, resulting in negative equity. It often happens as a way to try to avoid foreclosure.

How is a short sale different from a foreclosure?

In a short sale, the owner voluntarily initiates the sale process. However, in a foreclosure, the bank assumes ownership of the home after the owner fails to make payments. The lender then forces the sale process in order to recoup as much of the loan as possible.

Do I qualify for a short sale?

Whether or not you should sell your home through a short sale depends on many factors. If you can’t make your mortgage payments and your home is worth less than what you bought it for, then a short sale may be the best choice. A short sale can help you avoid foreclosure and somewhat preserve your credit.

How long does it take to close on a short sale?

Short sales are complicated transactions. They can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete. While the process is initiated by the seller, the lender must review everything about the agreement, and ultimately they are responsible for deciding whether or not the sale will go through.

What should I know about short sales as a buyer?

It’s important to understand that there are many variables when buying a short sale. While you could score a great deal on a home, you should be aware that these transactions fall through pretty regularly. Much depends on the seller and their financial situation. The lender will also weigh whether or not they’d recoup more of their money through a short sale or a foreclosure. Short sales are sold “as-is” so don’t expect a price reduction if your home inspection uncovers any major problems. While some buyers will purchase a short sale for their primary residence, most buyers of short sales are flippers or developers.

Does a seller make any money on a short sale?

When a lender agrees to a short sale, they will take a loss on the loan. For this reason, unless it is federally sanctioned through a program like HAFA, the seller will not make any money from the sale of the home.

How should I proceed with buying or selling a short sale?

If you think buying or selling a short sale is right for you, then talk to a real estate professional. While this process is typically complex, our experts can help guide you through the process. Contact us today!

Compliments of Virtual Results

Don’t Sabotage Your Mortgage Application

By Virtual Results

Don’t Sabotage Your Mortgage ApplicationGetting pre-approved for a mortgage is one of the first steps toward homeownership. But a lot happens after that initial pre-approval, and things can derail if you aren’t careful. Staying consistent is important when you’re closing on a home. Changes to your income, debt, credit, or assets during that process can sabotage your mortgage application. Here are the things you need to avoid before closing on your home loan.

Don’t make big purchases

While you may need furniture and appliances for your new home, don’t buy them just yet. Accruing more debt will change your debt-to-income ratio. This can be a red flag for your lender, and they may deny your loan as a result.

Don’t miss payments

Your credit history is an important part of determining whether or not you qualify for a loan. Make sure to keep current on all your payments while you’re waiting to close. Missed payments are another red flag for lenders.

Don’t change accounts

Your lender will be tracking your assets and your bank accounts during the closing process. If you change bank accounts midway through the process, this can make their job much more difficult. If you must change accounts, then talk with your lender before making the switch.

Don’t apply for new credit

Another thing that could sabotage your mortgage application is applying for new credit. Your credit score can take a hit when you apply for new credit, which can change the interest rate you qualify for on your mortgage. It can also affect your eligibility, so don’t apply for a new credit card or take out a loan for a car.

Don’t close lines of credit

In addition to not opening new lines of credit, you should also not close existing lines of credit. While it may seem like you’d be less of a risk if you closed accounts you aren’t using, it actually can hurt you. Your lender will be evaluating your credit history so they can see whether or not you make your payments on time. Keeping these unused accounts open actually helps to establish your creditworthiness.

Don’t get a new job

Your lender wants to know that you’re going to be able to make your monthly payments. Any changes to your employment can set off alarm bells and sabotage your mortgage application. If your income changes during the approval process, it may result in adjustments to how much you’re approved to borrow.

Don’t deposit cash

Lenders need to be able to trace your money. When you make a large cash deposit, there is no way for them to trace where that money came from. They might assume that you took out another line of credit. Any money that is deposited during your loan approval process must have a paper trail and a clear explanation. When in doubt, talk with your lender about how money should be deposited.

Don’t co-sign a loan

Finally, even though you may want to help out a loved one, don’t co-sign any other loans during your approval process. Even though that is not your debt, you are on the hook for the payments should the primary borrower default.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Retro Features Buyers Love

By Virtual Results

Retro Features Buyers Love

Are you worried about some features of your home for sale that buyers might consider dated? Well, it’s time to rethink that point of view. In fact, in real estate today, what’s old is new again. Many buyers are flocking to homes that have vintage details you can no longer find in newer homes today. Let’s take a closer look at retro features that homebuyers actually love.

Separated floor plan

Open-concept homes have been all the rage for many years now. But the pandemic has changed how we live in our homes. Many of us now need privacy in order to work from home or attend school online. Open concept homes are great if you’re throwing parties. But when everyone is at home all day, it can be tough to find a private, quiet place to work. That’s why many of today’s homebuyers actually prefer a more retro floor plan where each room is divided into its own separate space.

Fireplaces

Another retro home feature that is coming back into favor is a fireplace. Just a few years ago, many homeowners were covering up their older brick and stone fireplaces with paint — or taking them out altogether. However, many of today’s buyers are actually looking for fireplaces with those original details, including mantels that can be styled. Just make sure your fireplace is clean and is in good working order.

Lighting fixtures

If you browse online retailers, then you’ll see that there are countless lighting fixtures available that are new takes on old designs. But nothing really beats the original lighting fixtures in a home — especially if they’re in good working condition. Retro fixtures are often made with higher quality materials and can withstand the test of time. If you’re concerned about the safety of any lighting fixture, then talk with a professional about having them rewired to preserve the original features.

Appliances

While home chefs may pine for a commercial-quality oven at home, there are still many who appreciate the charm of a vintage appliance. In fact, older appliances like stoves and refrigerators were made to last and many of them are still completely usable today. You can make sure they are functioning at their best by having a professional restore and preserve all their best vintage features.

Woodwork

Vintage woodwork can add so much character to a home. Original hardwood floors are on the wish lists of many buyers. Even if your floors have seen better days, they can be refinished instead of torn out or covered up. Another wood feature that buyers are asking for is beamed ceilings. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing homes that have no real ceiling details, unlike homes that were built in earlier decades. Wood beams are iconic, draw the eye up, and are in-demand today. Even knotty-pine paneling that was popular in the 1950s has made a comeback, especially in the midcentury homes that are hot right now.

The bottom line is — don’t assume that details of your home that you feel are “dated” are going to be undesirable when it comes time to sell. When in doubt, talk to your real estate agent about any retro features in your home and how they might be perceived by today’s buyers.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Throw a Virtual Super Bowl Party

By Virtual Results

Throw a Virtual Super Bowl Party

One of the joys of owning a home is being able to throw your own Super Bowl party! With the big game just a few days away, it’s time to start making your gameday strategy. This year poses a new set of challenges, though, with most of us isolating at home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a fun party! Here are our best tips for throwing an amazing virtual Super Bowl party that you can share with your family and friends.

Get your tech ready

Even though many of us have been Zooming through meetings for the better part of a year, it still helps to get prepared ahead of time. If you’re planning to host your virtual party through Zoom, get yourself familiar with the platform (if you aren’t already). Send out links ahead of time and have the link handy during the game for last-minute additions. Get your space set up so that you have your Zoom device easily accessible in the same room where you’ll be watching the game. And remember the lighting! Zoom parties are more fun when it’s easy to see all the participants, so be sure there’s enough light to illuminate your face.

Create a mutual menu

While it’s always fun to watch the game, let’s be honest — the star of any Super Bowl party is the food. Gameday snacks are a must. If you want your Zoom party to feel more like a shared experience, then create a mutual menu. Share with your guests some (easy) recipes that everyone can make. Create a signature cocktail you all can enjoy during the game. While you may be physically apart, eating and drinking the same things will help you feel more together. So browse online for your favorite nacho recipe, get the martini shaker ready, and don’t forget to make a yummy dessert or two!

Decorate your background

Just because your party is virtual doesn’t mean there can’t be decorations! The best part is that you can confine them to one small space if you want. Concentrate on your Zoom background to get the biggest bang for your decorating buck. You can choose to use a virtual background with team logos or even a picture of a stadium. Or hang real decorations in the space behind you to get in the spirit. Decorations may seem like a small detail, but it will take your virtual party to the next level. Of course, you can add to the fun by dressing in your team’s colors and painting your face, too!

Play virtual games

Super Bowl parties are multi-hour events. You can keep the energy up by playing virtual games with your guests during downtimes. You can create all kinds of fun games that are easy to play via Zoom, such as NFL Trivia or Super Bowl Bingo. You can even plan to give prizes to the winners, like emailed gift cards. This is a great way to keep everyone engaged, and you can choose your games based on the ages of your guests.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Fall in Love With Your New Home

By Virtual Results

Fall in Love With Your New HomeIt’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and emotion of buying a new home. But what happens when it’s actually time to move in? While you’ve no doubt had daydreams about living in your new place, the reality of getting settled can be a little daunting. It’s like any new relationship — it might be a little awkward at first. It takes time to feel relaxed and comfortable, and you may feel overwhelmed by all the projects you want to do. That’s why we think it’s so important to take a little time when you first move in to fall in love with your new place. Here’s how.

Clean

Even if your home is brand new, chances are it could still use a little cleaning. This is, of course, especially important if you’re moving into a previously owned home. Get out the cleaning products and give each room a once-over. It’s hard to feel like a home is truly yours if you’re living with someone else’s grime. This will give you a clean slate to start from.

Unpack

Next up — it’s time to start unpacking. When you’re surrounded by moving boxes it can be challenging to feel “at home”. For that reason, unpacking should be a high priority. Start with the rooms you use most often, like the bedroom and kitchen. Dispose of the empty boxes as soon as possible. The transitional feeling you have when you move will be easier to overcome once all that cardboard is out of the way.

Decorate

It can take time to fully style your new place, but don’t let that stop you from displaying some of your favorite items. You can lean art against the wall until you figure out its permanent home. Framed photographs and travel souvenirs can adorn table tops and shelves. When you begin to surround yourself with the things you love, that feeling will spread outward to your home as well.

Go green

Nothing brightens up a space quite like a plant or a vase of flowers. Don’t be afraid to splurge a little on some fresh greenery for your new space. You don’t even have to leave home — there are many great options for ordering plants and even fresh flowers online. Treat yourself to a bouquet of your favorite blooms, or get yourself that giant cactus you’ve always wanted.

Take a walk

Although we may be spending a lot of time at home right now, your home isn’t an island. It’s part of a neighborhood. Take a walk and start to get to know your new community. Find out what amenities are nearby and do a little exploring. Take the “long way home” so you can really see everything that your new location has to offer.

Celebrate

Though we would typically advise throwing yourself a housewarming party, that isn’t really feasible right now. But you can still introduce your family and friends to your new pad through the magic of the internet. Schedule a Zoom housewarming where you walk your loved ones through the house so they can see it, too. There’s nothing quite like hearing the voices of your favorite people echoing through the halls of your new home to make you fall in love.

Compliments of Virtual Results

5 Best Apps to Help With Your Move

By Virtual Results

5 Best Apps to Help With Your Move

Moving can be stressful. But thanks to modern technology, it can be made simpler and easier. Whether you need help getting organized or selling your belongings before your big move, these apps can help.

Make lists with Google Keep

Lists, lists, and more lists! Between your home buying wish list, your packing list, and the list of people to contact for your change of address, it can be a challenge to stay organized. That’s why Google Keep is so helpful. With this app, you can create notes and lists and share them with others, record voice notes, search your notes, and sync your notes with all your devices. It’s available for both iOS and Android systems, and best of all it’s free.

Get prepared with MoveAdvisor

Another helpful app when it comes time to move is MoveAdvisor. This comprehensive app pretty much does it all. It can help you take inventory of your possessions, create a moving timeline, and even find movers in your area. You can have the app send you reminders, estimate shipping supply needs, and even calculate your total moving costs. MoveAdvisor is available on iOS and Android. It is free to download, although any services booked through the app will need to be paid for.

Hire help with TaskRabbit

Need help with any tasks relating to your move, like picking up groceries, fixing a leaky faucet, or packing up your stuff? Then TaskRabbit is the app you need. You simply state the task you need help with and the app will match you with a freelancer that can help you with the job. All the freelancers on the site go through a background check so you can feel safe when using this service. TaskRabbit is available on iOS or Android.

Sell your stuff with LetGo

Was decluttering part of your moving plan? It makes sense to get rid of the things you don’t need before you move into a new place. But what should you do with all that stuff you don’t want anymore? You can make extra cash to help pay for your move by selling some of your stuff on LetGo. This app is one of the fastest growing online marketplaces to buy and sell goods in your local area. It’s easy to post your items directly from your phone, and buyers can message you if they’re interested. The app is free to download on iOS or Android, though you can pay to “boost” your listing.

Design your new place with HomeByMe

Finally, get a jump start on designing your new place with HomeByMe. Create floor plans in 2D and then convert them to 3D renderings. You can then furnish your new place from the catalog by adding items like furniture, rugs, and lighting fixtures uploaded by various brands. If you like, you can even purchase these items to use in your new home or hire the help of a designer. The app is free and can be downloaded to an iOS or Android device.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Your Decluttering Cheat Sheet

By Virtual Results

Your Decluttering Cheat SheetDid your New Year’s resolution of getting your clutter under control never materialize? Or are you getting your home ready to sell, and you need to declutter before listing? Whatever your reasons for wanting to tidy up, it can feel like an overwhelming job. The key is to break down the chore into smaller tasks. If you’re gearing up to declutter your home, then’s here’s the cheat sheet you need to get started and to stay on task.

Create goals

First of all, you need to make a plan and set a timeline before you begin your decluttering project. This will help to keep you focused and reduce your frustration. Make of list of all the rooms or areas you want to declutter. Decide how challenging each area will be and determine how much time you want to spend in that area. Look at your calendar and plan out times that you can devote to decluttering, and reward yourself when you reach each goal.

Make a sorting system

Next, you need to create a sorting system for your clutter. The most popular method is the Four-Box Method. Take four large boxes or bins and label them “Keep”, “Donate”, “For Storage”, and “Trash”. As you work, put items in the correct box, and empty each box after you finish each area.

Figure out how you’ll decide what to keep

The hardest part of decluttering can be determining which items you want to keep and which items you will give away. There are many methods you can use to figure this out. These include:

  • The KonMari Method — Hold each item. Does it spark joy? If it does, then keep it. If not, then it’s time to let it go.
  • The 80/20 Rule — We generally use about 20 percent of our things 80 percent of the time. If the item is not in your 20 percent, then you can let it go.
  • The Value Rule — Unless an item is particularly valuable and can be resold, don’t use the price you paid for it to determine whether or not you’ll keep it. If you’re not using it, then it has no value to you.
  • The Duplicate Rule — Do you have more than one of a certain type of item? Then there is no reason to keep them all. Choose the one that works the best and donate all the others.

Get rid of the items

Once you’ve decided which items to let go of, you need to figure out what to do with them. This can be a huge roadblock for many people, so we’ve compiled a list of ideas:

  • Sell the items — Whether you hold a garage or estate sale or list the items online, selling your unneeded things will help you earn a little money back.
  • Donate — If you don’t want to go to the trouble of having a sale, then donate items that are in good condition. Here’s a great list of places that will accept your household donations.
  • Recycle — Items made of paper, plastic, and glass can often be recycled so don’t throw them in the trash.
  • Rent a dumpster — If you’ve got a big project and many items are not in good condition, then it may be time to rent a dumpster.

Compliments of Virtual Results