Posts for Syndication

Hidden Expenses of Selling Your Home

By Virtual Results

Hidden Expenses of Selling Your Home

Is it time for you to sell your home? You’re no doubt thinking about all the money you can potentially make from your home sale. But it’s important to remember that selling a home can also cost you money. Not only will you be on the hook for commission fees and various closing costs, but there are also other hidden expenses associated with selling your home. Here are a few that you need to prepare for when you’re getting ready to sell.

Home repairs

If you have something more than a leaky faucet to repair, then you’ll probably need to hire a professional. When you’re listing your home for sale, you shouldn’t cut corners. Buyers can spot poor craftsmanship, and doing work on the cheap won’t help your home sale. Make a list of all the needed repairs and tally up the costs. You can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the work you need done. If you have a major repair, such as replacing the roof, it may make more financial sense to lower the price instead of completing the work yourself.

Listing photos

Most homebuyers begin their search online. Based on how your home appears in the listing, potential buyers will decide whether or not your home warrants an in-person visit. If you take a few quick photos on your smartphone, you may be missing out on a good sale. You want your home to look as good as possible, and that means taking quality photos. Expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000 for a professional photographer.

Staging

Another hidden cost you will need to consider is professional staging. When potential buyers are viewing your home, they need to be able to imagine themselves living there. Not only do you need to de-clutter and de-personalize your home, but you should also think about having it staged. According to a report by the National Association of Realtors, the median value of home staging is approximately $675.

Curb appeal

Not only do you need to focus on your home’s interior, but you should also spend some time sprucing up the exterior. Curb appeal is a big factor in enticing potential buyers to look at your home. If your exterior is in dire need of help, you may need to spend a few thousand dollars to hire a professional landscaping crew. But in most instances, you can spend a few hundred dollars and a weekend’s worth of time making the exterior look clean, cheerful and inviting.

Utilities

If you’ve already moved out of your home for sale, it doesn’t mean you are off the hook for regular maintenance costs. The home needs to have electricity and water and be heated and cooled properly during the time it’s on the market. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of utilities when you’re selling your home.

Mortgage pay-off

Finally, if you financed the purchase of your home, then you will need to take into account the money from the sale that will go towards paying off your mortgage. The money you ultimately receive will include deductions for all fees and costs associated with paying off that mortgage.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim

By Virtual Results

Filing a Homeowners Insurance ClaimA big storm causes a tree limb to fall on your garage. A pipe bursts and floods your kitchen. A burglar breaks in and steals your electronics. These are all unfortunate situations in which you might need to file a claim on your homeowners insurance. If you’ve never done it before, the process might be a little confusing. Here’s what you need to know when it’s time to call in a claim.

Contact the police

First of all, if a crime has occurred, then you need to report it to the police. Get a copy of the police report and the names of the officers you spoke to. You will most likely need to submit this information to your insurance company along with your claim.

Document the damage

Once you’ve notified the police, it’s time to document the damage. Photograph and/or video everything before you clean it up. In addition, put together a detailed list of what has been damaged, vandalized or stolen. Include the age of the items and their value. If an injury is part of the claim, record what happened, when, and who was involved. You will need to provide all of this important information to your insurance company.

Call your insurance company

Contact your insurance company as soon after the incident as possible. Make sure you have your policy number handy as well as the details of the incident as described above. You may want to ask your insurance company the following questions:

  • Does my policy cover this incident?
  • Will the amount of the claim exceed my deductible? If the answer is no, then there is no need to file a claim.
  • How long will it take for the claim to be processed?
  • Will I need estimates for the cost of repairs?

Fill out claims forms

If you’ve determined that you will file a claim based on the answers to the questions above, then your insurance company will send you claims forms. Complete and return these forms as soon as possible so your claim is not delayed.

Meet with the insurance adjuster

When you make your claim, the insurance company will assign a claims number to your case and appoint an insurance adjuster. The adjuster will inspect the damage to help determine how much you will be paid for your claim. Have a list ready of the all the damage and be ready to show all the evidence to the adjuster.

Make repairs

If necessary, make temporary repairs so that your home is livable. Keep all your receipts, as you may be able to submit them for reimbursement later. If you have to relocate as a result of the damage, also keep your receipts for accommodations and other living expenses.

Be patient

After you’ve submitted all your information to the insurance company, it may be several weeks before you receive your settlement. This is especially true if many of your neighbors have filed claims at the same time in the event of a natural disaster.

If your claim is denied

If your claim is denied or you don’t receive what you think is a fair settlement, talk to your insurance agent. You may be able to provide more information that can help document why you believe you deserve more money. You may also be able to appeal your claim denial.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Ignore These Home Selling Tips

By Virtual Results

Ignore These Home Selling TipsIf you’re selling your home, then you’ve no doubt received lots of advice (some of it unsolicited). While those offering advice may have good intentions, the information they are sharing isn’t always correct. In fact, there is some advice that could actually hurt your home sale. When it’s time to put your home on the market, make sure you ignore these home-selling tips.

Price your home high

There’s no denying you want to sell your home for a great price. But those who tell you to price your home too high in the beginning are setting you up for problems. If your home is priced higher than the comps in your neighborhood, it is unlikely to sell quickly. In fact, your home could languish on the market and cause your listing to become stale. It is essential to price your home correctly from the beginning.

Don’t make any updates

It can be tempting to listen to those who would tell you not to make any updates to your home for sale. Who wants to spend time and money upgrading a home they aren’t going to live in? However, you need to be realistic and look at your home through the eyes of potential buyers. Many buyers are looking for homes that are move-in ready. They don’t want to spend time and money getting the house fixed up before they can move in. If you have any needed updates or repairs, make them.

Always take the first offer

We understand that you want your home to sell quickly, and that it’s tempting to take the first offer. But if you live in an area with a good housing market, you may be missing out on better offers. You don’t have to take the first offer, especially if it’s a low-ball offer. There is no harm in waiting after you’ve first listed to see what other buyers may come forward.

Paint over your problems

Nobody wants to admit that their home has a mold problem or is in need of a major repair. Yes, it would be easier to simply paint over those problems and pretend like they don’t exist. And you may get away with it – at first. But if your buyer discovers that you did not disclose these issues, you could have a serious problem on your hands. You need to address these repairs before you list, and make sure you disclose them to the buyer.

The outside of the house doesn’t matter

We’re not sure who is giving you this advice, but you definitely don’t want to take it. Curb appeal is one of the most important characteristics of a home when you’re selling. Buyers will always see the outside of your home before they see the inside. If the exterior needs work, they are less likely to want to see your home in person. It doesn’t take much money or effort to spruce up your curb appeal, and it will make your home much more attractive to potential buyers. It’s an easy way to boost your chances of a quick sale.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Why Is My Closing Delayed?

By Virtual Results

Why Is My Closing Delayed?

When you’re buying or selling a home, the closing day is seen as the finish line. Everything you do is in preparation for that day, and it’s the goal that you’re striving for. But what happens when your closing day is delayed? Here are some common reasons why your closing date may get pushed back, and what you can do to keep things on track.

Unrealistic timeline

A buyer may want to make their offer more appealing by stating that they can close quickly. But those dates need to be realistic. Expect the closing process to take anywhere from 45 to 60 days on average. Trying to close any earlier than that could cause a series of delays, especially if there are any contingencies or the buyer is obtaining an FHA loan.

Appraisal issues

One of the biggest reasons that your real estate closing may be delayed is because of issues with the appraisal. If the home appraised for less than the buyer’s offer, then it could cause your closing date to be postponed. The buyer may need to secure new financing, or the buyer and seller may need to agree to new terms. Make sure your agent is staying current on the appraisal status, so that you can avoid learning of problems late in the game.

Inspection issues

Another reason that your closing date can be delayed is because the home inspection reveals problems that need to be addressed. If the buyer wants these issues to be fixed before closing or to renegotiate the purchase price, it may require the final closing to be postponed. Try to schedule your inspection as quickly as possible to avoid delays.

Title issues

When you buy or sell a home, the purchase will need to be reviewed by a title company. They will research the property to discover whether the seller has the right to sell the home, and that there are no unpaid liens. If the search does turn up liens, the seller must pay them or fight the liens in court. This could delay your closing day by weeks or months. You can help to mitigate this problem by hiring an attorney to perform a title search as soon as an offer is accepted.

Lender issues

Sometimes it can be the lender that causes delays. In some cases, lenders may require additional financial documents at the last minute. The review of these documents may push the closing date back a few days. If your closing is scheduled for the end of the month, this could also cause delays. There are more transactions at the end of the month, which could cause a backlog.

Personal issues

Finally, it’s not unusual for personal issues to cause a delay in your closing date. Perhaps the buyer or seller has had a family or a medical emergency. Sometimes there are problems with a moving company. It’s also possible that other professionals involved in the process, such as your agent or attorney, have emergencies that they need to deal with. In situations like these, it is best to go with the flow as much as possible, as these circumstances are beyond your control.

Compliments of Virtual Results

House Flipping Mistakes

By Virtual Results

House Flipping MistakesAre you considering buying your first home to flip? While house flipping can be a great way to make money, it can also be full of challenges. In fact, there are many ways in which your first home flip could go wrong. While that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in a home to rehab and resell, it does mean that you should be aware of common pitfalls. Set yourself up for success by avoiding these house-flipping mistakes.

Not having enough money

When you flip a home, you need to consider more than just the purchase price. Obviously, you will need to factor in all the renovations that need to be made. But those aren’t the only costs you will incur. You also need to be prepared for taxes, inspection and appraisal costs, permit fees, agent fees, title searches and other closing costs. Do your research so you know approximately how much each of these items will cost. And then add an additional 10 to 15 percent on top of that. There’s nothing worse than coming up short when you’re in the middle of a project.

Skipping the home inspection

While it may be tempting to forgo the home inspection, that would be a rookie mistake. Getting a home inspection alerts you to all the potential issues in a home. By getting a home inspection, you will better understand the costs involved for the renovations. You may also be able to negotiate with the seller for a lower price. All of this can and will affect the profit you can potentially make when the home sells.

Lack of skills

There are some home renovation projects that can be fairly easy for a novice to undertake. And there are some that are not. Don’t overestimate your skills and what you’ll be able to reasonably handle. Know when to call in a professional to get the job done right. And remember – for each professional you need to hire, it will mean less money in your pocket in the end. So choose your projects wisely.

Choosing the wrong partners

House flipping is difficult to do all on your own. Because of the investments of time, money, and skill, you’re better off working with partners. A partner can help with the investment or the renovations – but be smart about choosing your team. This is especially true if you are partnering with friends or family. You don’t want to ruin a relationship over a real estate investment.

Not knowing the market

Finally, it’s essential that you understand the local real estate market when you’re flipping a house. Take time to research current trends and know what comparable homes in the area are selling for. You also need to understand who your potential buyers may be when you’re making decisions about renovations. Choose amenities and décor that will appeal to them. Don’t make the mistake of making choices that appeal to you, since you are not the one who will be living in the home.

The bottom line is that house flipping can be a great investment if you know what you’re getting into. When you’re first starting out, it helps to know what problems may arise so that you can avoid them. Follow the tips above to help make your first house flip a success!

Compliments of Virtual Results

Clean Your Windows Like a Pro

By Virtual Results

Clean Your Windows Like a ProCleaning windows is one of those chores that most people would rather ignore. However, if you’re selling your home then you’ll need those windows to sparkle. Clean windows let in more light and help to enhance the view – both of which are very important when potential buyers are visiting. Here’s what you need to know to clean your windows like a pro.

What NOT to do

First of all, let’s finally dispel the myth that you need to use glass cleaner and paper towels to clean your windows. Not only does this require a ton of energy on your part, it doesn’t actually clean your windows very well. Paper towels tend to spread the dirt around. They also can create an electric charge, which will attract more dirt. So let’s ditch the old method and try something better.

Equipment you’ll need

You don’t need anything fancy to clean your windows. In fact, you can find everything you need at your local home improvement store, market, or dollar store. To clean your windows like a pro, you’ll need:

  • A 10 or 12 inch squeegee
  • Scrubber or sponge
  • Five-gallon plastic bucket
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Several small rags (microfiber works well)

If you’re purchasing a squeegee, then you should also pick up some extra rubber blades. These are easy to replace, and having a smooth blade will result in a streak-free window.

Make your cleaning solution

As we said before, you don’t need to buy glass cleaner to wash your windows. Instead, use a solution of a couple of gallons of cool water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. The fewer suds you have, the better, so there’s no need to use more than a few drops. If you happen to be washing your windows in below-freezing temperatures, you can add some windshield washing fluid to your solution, to keep the water from freezing.

Wash with the sponge

After making your solution, you’re ready to wash. Dip your sponge in the cleaning solution and squeeze out the excess. Then simply scrub the glass. If your windows are particularly dirty, you can use a scrubber. But be careful not to scratch the glass. Make sure to get into the corners and cover all the glass. It works best if you go from the top of the window to the bottom.

Clean with the squeegee

Once you’ve soaped up the window it’s time to clean with the squeegee. You can work from top to bottom or from side to side. Draw your squeegee tightly against the glass to avoid streaks. After each pass, dry the blade of the squeegee with a clean, dry cloth. Once you’ve finished the window, wipe a dry cloth over the bottom to pick up any drips. Also wipe the sill.

That’s all there is to it! If you think that cleaning your windows is a labor-intensive job, then you’ve been doing it wrong. By simply following the tips outlined above, you will have clean and sparkling windows in no time. This small investment of time and energy can pay off in a big way when it’s time to sell your home!

Compliments of Virtual Results

Moving Into a Bigger Home

By Virtual Results

Moving Into a Bigger HomeHave you recently upsized? Moving into a larger home can be an exciting transition. But you may have discovered you suddenly have a lot more space to fill. While it can be fun to daydream about how you’ll use all this new space, you also need to be realistic about how much money and time you have available. Here are some great tips to help you figure out how to deal with all that empty space.

Wait until you’ve closed

Once you’ve found a home you love and made an offer, it can be tempting to hit the stores. But don’t buy anything just yet. There are many ways that a home sale can go south, and you don’t want to be stuck with furniture you don’t have space for. Wait until the house is officially yours before making any big purchases.

Think long term

After living in a smaller space for many years, you may be anxious to use all of your new space as soon as possible. But remember – chances are you’ll be in your new home for some time. There’s no need to rush into anything. Take time to get to know your new home, and see what it’s like to live there. You may have ideas about how you’d like to use a spare bedroom when you move in. But after a few months you may change your mind. Have some patience, and know that you’re in it for the long haul.

Don’t overspend

We all want our homes to look Pinterest-perfect. But are you willing to go into debt for that privilege? Buying a home is a serious investment. If you’ve upsized, chances are your bills have increased as well. Don’t put yourself in a precarious financial position just to get new furniture for your home. And don’t rule out the beauty of secondhand furniture.

Don’t be afraid to change things up

Moving into a new place gives you a chance to change things up. Just because you’ve always used that one chair in the living room doesn’t mean you can’t move it to a different place in the house. Give yourself permission to change things up, especially when you first move in.

Concentrate on the most important spaces

Maybe you’ve chosen to upgrade to a larger house because you’ve always wanted a craft room. Or perhaps you’re excited to turn your basement into a home theater. While it can be fun to daydream about those spaces, you should first concentrate on the rooms where you spend the most time. Get your main living area and your bedrooms into great shape before moving on to the rooms that won’t be used as often.

Have fun

Most importantly, it’s time to have some fun! Buying a bigger house can be a dream come true, and you’re still allowed to daydream about it after you’ve moved in. Take time to visualize how you want to use each space, how you’d like to decorate, and how you want to live in your new home. Turning your home into your dream home means knowing what you want. If you give yourself time to daydream, you’ll be ready to transform those empty spaces without hesitation when the time comes.

Compliments of Virtual Results

How to Schedule a Home Inspection

By Virtual Results

One of the most important steps in the home-buying process is scheduling a home inspection. A home inspecition gives you the opportunity to find out if there are any issues or concerns with the home, especially any that the seller did not disclose. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, it may be confusing to know when and how to schedule an inspection. Here’s what you need to know.

What is an inspection?

First of all, let’s be clear about what a home inspection is. It’s a visual inspection of the property that will alert you to any problems or potential issues. This gives you valuable information that you can use in negotiations with the seller, especially if any expensive repairs may be required.

What happens during an inspection?

During your home inspection, the home inspector will be looking at several things including:

  • Roof and chimney
  • HVAC systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Plumbing
  • Major appliances
  • Fireplaces
  • Foundation and crawlspaces

If you’re unsure what will be examined during the inspection, just ask. The inspector can give you a rundown of what they will be looking at, and you can let them know if there are any additional concerns you may have that they should evaluate.

How do you find a home inspector?

The best person to ask for a recommendation for a home inspector is your real estate agent. No doubt your agent has worked with many home inspectors and can supply you with several recommendations. Follow up with each one to determine who will provide the best service at the best price.

When do you schedule the inspection?

As the buyer, it is your responsibility to schedule the home inspection. You must wait until you are under contract with the home. But as soon as your offer is accepted you should start the process of scheduling the inspection. You will need plenty of time to go over the inspection report with your agent to determine if there is anything that needs to be addressed with the seller. You may also find an issue that needs further evaluation, and you’ll want to have time to schedule those services.

How do you schedule the inspection?

Once you’ve decided which home inspector you’re most comfortable with, call them and schedule an appointment. Be aware that you should attend the home inspection, and leave yourself plenty of time to evaluate the property. On average, you should expect a home inspection to take between two and three hours. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if there is something you don’t understand.

What happens after the inspection?

Once the inspection is complete, you and your agent will review the report. If there are issues to address with the seller, they may be willing to negotiate on the selling price or agree to make repairs before closing. In some cases, you may determine that you do not want to follow through with the sale based on the report.

The home inspection gives buyers a chance to understand what condition a home is in so that you know you are making a good investment. Talk with your agent today if you have any questions about the home inspection process.

Compliments of Virtual Results

After Your Home Sells

By Virtual Results

After Your Home SellsIf you’ve just sold your home – congratulations! Selling a home can be stressful, and making it to the finish line deserves a celebration. But just because you’ve made it to the closing table doesn’t mean it’s time to wash your hands of the whole affair. There are smart moves you can make to get the most out of your recent home sale. Here’s what you need to know.

Review your paperwork

After you close on your home sale, review all the paperwork you receive to check for errors. Even if everyone involved in the sale is a trusted professional, mistakes can happen. Be sure the mortgage payoff amounts are correct. Check all the fees to make sure there are no surprises. If so, follow-up with your agent to have them explained to you, and talk to an attorney if needed.

Keep your paperwork

Yes, selling your home generates a mountain of paperwork. Though it may be tempting to shred it all, you should hold onto it. You’ll need these documents to prepare your taxes for the year. You will be required to show proof of your expenses and of the proceeds from the sale, so keep those papers in a safe place. You’ll need to have them on hand for several years just in case the IRS audits you. You’ll also want to hang on to any paperwork that has to do with improvements you made to the home. This is also important come tax time. You may or may not be eligible for tax breaks because of them, but you’ll lose out no matter what if you don’t keep receipts.

Be aware of tax laws

It is not unusual for tax laws to change, so pay attention to those that have to do with the sale of your home. The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made several changes to tax laws that affect homeowners. If you’re unsure of how they affect you, talk to a professional tax accountant.

Invest your proceeds wisely

If you aren’t ready to buy a new home immediately, then invest your money wisely. A money market account is a great choice. These types of savings accounts allow you relatively easy access to your money and provide a decent return. It’s a safe place to keep your money while you’re deciding on your next steps.

Take your time

Now that your home sale is complete, you may feel some pressure to buy a new home quickly. It’s perfectly acceptable to take your time with your new home purchase. Don’t be afraid to rent for a period of time, especially if you’re moving to a new neighborhood. This gives you time to decide what you need in your new situation.

Strategize your down payment

If you have significant proceeds from the sale of you home, it may be tempting to make a bigger down payment on your next home. Look over your finances carefully and decide if this is truly the best decision for you at this time. It might make more sense to pay the standard 20 percent down and use the remainder of the money in a different investment with a potentially bigger payoff.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Open House Etiquette for Buyers

By Virtual Results

Open House Etiquette for BuyersIf you’re house hunting, then chances are you’ll attend at least one open house. Open houses are a great way to view a property, get a sense of the neighborhood, and learn more about the local market. They are convenient because you don’t have to set an appointment – you can just drop in at your convenience during the open house hours. Be aware, however, that there are some rules when attending open houses. As a buyer, here’s what you should know before you attend your first one.

Have a plan

When you’re going to an open house, you should have a game plan. Since you’re giving up an hour or two of your time, you might as well make the most of it. Plan to check out the neighborhood. See if there are other open houses nearby that you can attend. You can cover a lot of ground in one afternoon.

Dress appropriately

If you’re a serious buyer, then you need to dress the part. You can still dress casually, but avoid looking sloppy. This is a chance to talk with the agent hosting the open house, and first impressions count. You’ll probably be doing a fair amount of walking, especially if you want to check out the neighborhood, so wear comfortable shoes.

Be on time

An open house will usually take place during a set period of time – for example, from 1 to 4 pm on a Sunday afternoon. Plan to arrive on the early side, but not before it begins. Give the agent the time they need to prepare, and give yourself enough time to thoroughly evaluate the home. You should also avoid arriving late. If you think you will be late, call the agent and ask if they will stay for you. If not, make arrangements for a private showing on another day.

Sign in

There will most certainly be a sign-in sheet at the door, and you should sign it. Obviously, this is a way for the agent to contact you after the open house. But it’s also a way to know who is coming and going to keep the home secure during the open house.

Talk to the agent

It is appropriate for you to ask questions of the agent who is hosting the open house. You can find out if any offers have been made and how long the property has been on the market. If the open house is busy, don’t monopolize their time. You can always follow-up with them afterwards. You should also let an agent know if you already have representation.

Keep negative opinions to yourself

Your mother was right – if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. You never know who may be listening, whether it’s a friend of the seller or a neighbor from down the street. If you do decide at a later date to make an offer on the home, it could get back to the seller. If you’re competing with other buyers, your negative comments will reflect poorly on you.

Don’t loiter

Finally, be efficient when you’re attending an open house. Explore the home, chat with the agent, have a cookie and be off. The open house will give you a taste of what the home is like. If you’re serious about putting in an offer, follow-up to schedule a private showing.

Compliments of Virtual Results