Tuesday, January 31, 2012

10 Steps To Preparing Your Home For Sale - Step 10

Check Curb Appeal

If a buyer won't get out of her agent's car because she doesn't like the exterior of your home, you'll never get her inside.
Does your home have curb appeal?
  • Keep the sidewalks cleared.
  • Mow the lawn.
  • Paint faded window trim.
  • Plant yellow flowers or group flower pots together. Yellow evokes a buying emotion. Marigolds are inexpensive.
  • Trim your bushes.
  • Make sure visitors can clearly read your house number.

Monday, January 30, 2012

10 Steps To Preparing Your Home For Sale - Step 9

Scrutinize your home
  • Go outside and open your front door. Stand there. Do you want to go inside? Does the house welcome you?
  • Linger in the doorway of every single room and imagine how your house will look to a buyer.
  • Examine carefully how furniture is arranged and move pieces around until it makes sense.
  • Make sure window coverings hang level.
  • Tune in to the room's statement and its emotional pull. Does it have impact and pizzazz?
  • Does it look like nobody lives in this house? You're almost finished.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

10 Steps To Preparing Your Home For Sale - Step 8

Make the House Sparkle!
Make your house sparkle!
  • Wash windows inside and out.
  • Rent a pressure washer and spray down sidewalks and exterior.
  • Clean out cobwebs.
  • Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks.
  • Polish chrome faucets and mirrors.
  • Clean out the refrigerator.
  • Vacuum daily.
  • Wax floors.
  • Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades and light fixtures.
  • Bleach dingy grout.
  • Replace worn rugs.
  • Hang up fresh towels.
  • Bathroom towels look great fastened with ribbon and bows.
  • Clean and air out any musty smelling areas. Odors are a no-no.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

10 Steps To Preparing Your Home For Sale - Step 7

Make Minor Repairs
Make Minor Repairs
  • Replace cracked floor or counter tiles.
  • Patch holes in walls.
  • Fix leaky faucets.
  • Fix doors that don't close properly and kitchen drawers that jam.
  • Consider painting your walls neutral colors, especially if you have grown accustomed to purple or pink walls.
    (Don't give buyers any reason to remember your home as "the house with the orange bathroom.")
  • Replace burned-out light bulbs.
  • If you've considered replacing a worn bedspread, do so now!

Friday, January 27, 2012

10 Steps To Preparing Your Home For Sale - Step 6

Remove/Replace Favorite Items

Robyn Seymour is your short sales specialist!

 If you want to take window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with you, remove them now. If the chandelier in the dining room once belonged to your great grandmother, take it down. If a buyer never sees it, she won't want it. Once you tell a buyer she can't have an item, she will covet it, and it could blow your deal. Pack those items and replace them, if necessary.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

10 Steps To Preparing Your Home For Sale - Step 5

Rent a Storage Unit

Almost every home shows better with less furniture

Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Remove pieces of furniture that block or hamper paths and  walkways and put them in storage. Since your bookcases are now empty, store them. Remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room appear larger. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room's purpose and plenty of room to move around. You don't want buyers scratching their heads and saying, "What is this room used for?"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

10 Steps To Preparing Your Home For Sale - Step 4

Rearrange Bedroom Closets and Kitchen Cabinets 

Buyers love to snoop and will open closet and cabinet doors. Think of the message it sends if items fall out! Now imagine what a buyer believes about you if she sees everything organized. It says you probably take good care of the rest of the house as well. This means:
  • Alphabetize spice jars.
  • Neatly stack dishes.
  • Turn coffee cup handles facing the same way.
  • Hang shirts together, buttoned and facing the same direction.
  • Line up shoes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

10 Steps To Preparing Your Home For Sale - Step 3


People collect an amazing quantity of junk. Consider this: if you haven't used it in over a year, you probably don't need it.
If you don't need it, why not donate it or throw it away?
  • If you don't need it, why not donate it or throw it away?
  • Remove all books from bookcases.
  • Pack up those knickknacks.
  • Clean off everything on kitchen counters.
  • Put essential items used daily in a small box that can be stored in a closet when not in use.
  • Think of this process as a head-start on the packing you will eventually need to do anyway.

Monday, January 23, 2012

10 Steps To Preparing Your Home For Sale - Step 2

Rid your home of personal artifacts
 De-Personalize Your Home
Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. Buyers can't see past personal artifacts, and you don't want them to be distracted. You want buyers to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they can't do that if yours are there! You don't want to make any buyer ask, "I wonder what kind of people live in this home?" You want buyers to say, "I can see myself living here."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

10 Steps To Preparing Your Home For Sale - Step 1

Disassociate Yourself With Your Home
Envision having already left your home
  • Say to yourself, "This is not my home; it is a house -- a product to be sold much like a box of cereal on the grocery store shelf.
  • Make the mental decision to "let go" of your emotions and focus on the fact that soon this house will no longer be yours.
  • Picture yourself handing over the keys and envelopes containing appliance warranties to the new owners!
  • Say goodbye to every room.
  • Don't look backwards -- look toward the future.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Preparing Your Home For Sale

Staging your home

Home staging is about illusions. It's how Chris Angel would sell a house. It's beyond decorating and cleaning. It's about perfecting the art of creating moods. Staging makes your house look bigger, brighter, cleaner, warmer, more loving and, best of all, it makes home buyers want to buy it.
Contrary to what you might think, it's about more than preparing the house for sale. Staging is what you do after you've cleaned, decluttered, painted, made minor repairs; it's all about dressing the house for sale.
It's about adding the small details: the lipstick, mascara and, for simplicity, a stunning, single strand of Tahitian pearls.
Staging makes your house look bigger, brighter, cleaner, warmer, more loving and, best of all, it makes home buyers want to buy it.
What is a Professional Home Stager?
Professional stagers are highly skilled artists. They can take a blank canvas and paint a sensuous portrait without ever lifting a paint brush. Stagers possess the skills of a top-level designer and they create dramatic scenery that appeals to all five senses. Here are some of their secrets:
  • Arrange sparse pieces of furniture in an appealing grouping known as a vignette
  • Showcase a generous usage of soft fabrics such as silk, lambswool, satin
  • Display unusual knickknacks in units of 1, 3 or 5
  • Drape window coverings with simple lines
  • Add unique elements to shelving, bookcases and fireplace mantels, which draw attention to predetermined areas

Thursday, January 19, 2012

12 Steps To Buying A Home - Final Step #12

Robyn will make sure that you are happy in your new home.
Step 12: Show up at the closing and sign the papers. Don’t forget to bring lots of blank checks: you’ll usually have to write separate checks for each of the closing costs. If you’d like, you can also ask to hold the bank check for the purchase price before handing it over to the seller. It’s probably the biggest check you’ll hold in your life.
Congratulations! You’re now in debt beyond your wildest dreams! If after a few days or weeks you find yourself thinking you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life, don’t worry: it’s called “buyers remorse” and lots of new homeowners contract this disease. Give it time, watch your mortgage principal go down, figure out how much you're tax deduction is saving your and enjoy the freedom of not paying rent into someone else’s bank account.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

12 Steps To Buying A Home - #11

Step 11: Submit your mortgage application, along with an application fee. If possible, get the lenders to “lock” your rate until the closing date. By law, lenders are required to give you an estimate of all closing costs. All in, these can run anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. Review all the fees before you sign the loan contract. Some common closing costs include: attorney fee, title insurance (in case the title proves faulty), appraisal fee (for the lender’s benefit, not yours - to make sure you’re not overpaying with their money), home inspection, partial property taxes (if you close in the middle of a month), courier fees, mortgage “points” (a percentage of the loan amount), government recording fee, transfer taxes.
After a week or so, call the mortgage company to confirm that they have all the pieces of paper they asked for in the application. If you’ve locked in a rate, you want to make sure the process isn’t delayed by some missing document; don’t expect them to call you if it’s not there.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

12 Steps To Buying A Home - #10

Step 10: The Down Payment. If it all checks out, sign the contract and hand over a big check – usually at least 10 percent of the cost of the house, depending on the terms of the mortgage. You maybe able to find a lender who will hand you a "no money down" loan but we don't recommend it. Because this is a riskier loan, lenders usually have to charge you a higher rate to cover that risk.
You give the down payment check to your lawyer - but they don't get to keep it. Your money goes into escrow – neither you nor the seller own it until the deal closes. If something goes wrong, you may or may not get it back. If the sale is canceled because one of your contingencies wasn’t met, you should get it back. If not, be prepared to lose all or part of your down payment – even if you don’t buy the house. You may have cost the seller another buyer by signing a contract and then not following through.

Monday, January 16, 2012

12 Steps To Buying A Home - #9

Robyn is well-versed in real estate law.

Step 9: Call your lawyer. The seller’s lawyer will send the contract to your lawyer for review. Read it carefully yourself. There are “standard” clauses, but there’s no such thing as a “standard” real estate contract. (You may hear many people try to tell you this.) Understand what each clause says even if you don’t follow the language in it. This is why you want an attorney who takes the time to explain things. If he can’t or won’t, that’s not a good sign.

Go over the “contingencies” very carefully. The contract is not the final sale: it says “if all goes well” you agree to buy the sellers house at the closing. The “all goes well” conditions are the contingencies. What if you don’t get a mortgage? Without a contingency, the contract says you have to buy the house anyway. (This is a common contingency.) Others: The house has to conform to local zoning laws, the seller has to have clear title, there are no “major” problems like a faulty foundation, etc. These are negotiable: you can try to put whatever you like in the contract and the seller is free to cross them out before they sign.

The contract will also set the closing date, which is also negotiable. You need time to get your mortgage approved and close up your old home, the seller needs time pack up and to move.

Friday, January 13, 2012

12 Steps To Buying A Home - #7 & 8

Step 7: Wait for a reply. If you’ve bid lower than the asking price, expect a “counter offer” higher than your bid. This can go a few rounds until you settle on a price.

Step 8: Once your offer is accepted (congratulations, by the way), you may be asked to put down a “binder” (a deposit of, say, one percent) until the contract is signed; some states give you a grace period of a few days to change your mind and walk away form the deal. Or you may go straight to contract. This process varies from state to state, something you want to ask your lawyer about before you get started.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

12 Steps To Buying A Home - #6

Let Robyn help you find the home of your dreams!
Step 6: Now find your new home. (Pick up at Step 3 were you left off.) When the time comes, don’t fall in love with the house. You may not get it. Based on the other houses you’ve seen and recent sales of comparables, make a reasonable offer. You don’t have to offer asking price, but if you "lowball," the seller may tell you take a hike. And this is where having a good realtor comes in - find out, if you can, what the seller’s circumstances are. If they’ve been waiting for years and are holding out for the best price, you may not have much room to negotiate. On the other hand, if they’ve already bought another house, they may be more “flexible.” Tailor your offer accordingly.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

12 Steps To Buying A Home - #5

Robyn Seymour - Short Sales Specialist

Step 5: Find an agent. An experienced one. While Robyn puts a priority on making people feel comfortable and excited about the real estate process, she also brings a wealth of experience to the table. She’s been in the business for more than 20 years and is passionate about staying educated on the latest industry trends, laws and innovations. In addition, she also has put together a support team of dedicated professionals to ensure every aspect of your move is handled efficiently and to provide you with increased responsiveness.

Whether you are interested in buying or selling a primary residence or finding the ideal second home, you can count on Robyn Seymour to help you succeed. This dynamic professional believes in exploring every option to ensure her clients attain the ultimate results .

Robyn has a passion for getting more out of life each and every day. From volunteering in local charities to traveling with her daughters Cortney and Kelsey, she sees life as one big adventure. With more than 20 years of experience in South County real estate, Robyn’s knowledge, insight and dedication make her a valuable asset for home buyers, sellers and investors alike. “I have very big peripheral vision and believe in looking at every option and exploring every possibility. It’s a perspective that allows me to find the extraordinary opportunities for my clientele.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

12 Steps To Buying A Home - #4

Step 4: Come up with a down payment – usually 15-20 percent of that price. (This is the hard part.) You may not have to put that much down (see step 1) – some lenders will go for 10 percent or even zero. But these loans are riskier and usually more expensive. Besides, without a down payment, you don’t own even a piece of the house. The bank owns the whole thing.

Monday, January 9, 2012

12 Steps To Buying A Home - Installment 3

Step 3: Find out what houses are selling for in your area –
and how much you’ll have to pay for what you’re looking. Look at selling prices – not asking prices. You can get these from a real estate agent or from your local paper or town/county government. When you find a house roughly like the one you want, as for three “comparables” – recent sales of houses that are roughly your target house.

Friday, January 6, 2012

12 Steps To Buying A Home - Installment 2

Step 2: Find a good lawyer. Ask around. Check them out on the Web. Make sure you at least talk to them on the phone and ask them how much they charge: this should be a fixed fee. Ask as many questions as you can, but you probably away won’t get more than 5-10 minutes. Lawyers bill by the hour, so they don’t like to give time for free. You’re looking for someone who is honest, direct and takes the time to explain things.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

12 Steps To Buying A Home - Installment 1

Step 1: Go shopping for a mortgage. It may seem backwards to shop for a mortgage before you shop for the house, but there are several reasons for doing this. First, you’ll find our how much you can borrow, which has a lot to do with how much house you can buy. Be careful not to let the lender you push you into a monthly payment you don’t feel comfortable with. There are no “rules” here – only you know how much you can comfortably handle.

It’s okay to be a little stretched, at least at first. Most people “grow into” their mortgage payments. But it’s also very easy to get in over your head. Stay away from “alternative” loans – like interest only mortgages. If the value of the house goes down after you buy it (not unreasonable in today’s market) you’ll end up owing the bank more than the house is worth.

Shopping for a mortgage will also help if you can get “pre-approved” for the amount you’d like to borrow. This means the lender has looked over your credit and financial statement and agreed to lend you the money. Sellers like pre-approved buyers because there’s less risk the deal won’t go through.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Construction Spending Increase Sparks Hope For Market Recovery

A upbeat November for the construction business may not signal a major recovery for the long-suffering industry.
According to the Associated General Contractors of America, construction spending totaled $807 billion in November — highest level since June 2010. The Associated Press reports that the Commerce Department said spending on construction projects rose 1.2 percent in November — largest jump since a 2.2 percent rise in August.
AP notes:
Construction spending rose 1.2 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $807.1 billion. While that’s barely half the $1.5 trillion that economists consider healthy, home construction has begun a gradual rebound and likely added to the nation’s economic growth in 2011. Spending jumped 9.5 percent on home improvement projects in November. It rose 1.5 percent on single-family home construction and gained 1.3 percent on apartment building.
“While spending on single-family construction still remains extremely depressed, it has now increased for six straight months and looks consistent with other indicators signaling some improvement in the housing market,” said Daniel Silver, an economist with JPMorgan Chase.
Nomura Economics noted that 2011 construction spending will still fail to eclipse 2010: Through November, construction spending has totalled $724 billion — 2.5% less than the year earlier. Private construction spending increased 1% in a month in November.
“The rise in starts and permits, largely concentrated in multifamily housing, should lead to increased spending going forward,” Nomura stated.
Public construction increased at a strong monthly rate of 1.7%, Nomura said, as highway construction rose 1.9% education construction rose 0.5%.
“The November jump in construction spending is by no means a bad sign, but it must be understood in the context of being a historically volatile series – especially from month-to-month when revisions can be significant – and in light of a secular downtrend in construction activity, Nomura said.
Economists at IHS Global Insight choose to subtract residential improvements, “because this category is badly estimated.” Still, minus improvements, spending “was up a solid 1%.”
IHS notes that “recent strong gains in multifamily housing starts point to solid increases in multifamily construction throughout 2012″ but “private nonresidential spending made strong broad-based gains earlier this year—but these gains are petering out. The anecdotal evidence is that much of the first half growth was from companies improving and retrofitting existing facilities, not new projects. Our view is that nonresidential construction will face rough times this year, mainly because of difficulties funding new projects.” Plus, IHs laments: “Spending on infrastructure and on public construction to decline moderately over the course of 2012.”
AGCA’s chief economist, Ken Simonson, adds: “Several segments of construction appear to be climbing out of a hole. The new year should reinforce recent year-over-year gains in apartment, power, manufacturing and private transportation construction. But November’s upturns in single-family homebuilding and public construction may not be sustainable. … Public construction segments face stiff spending cuts in 2012.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Orange County’s median home selling price in mid-December fell below $400,000

While this is definitely not good news for the real estate market in Orange County as a whole, it is quite a "silver lining" if you are looking to purchase a home.
  • $399,000 median selling price is 38% below June 2007′s peak of $645,000.
  • Current price is 11.3% below 2010′s peak (May and July) of $450,000; 3% below end of 2010′s median ($410,000.)
  • The most recent median is 8% above the cyclical low hit in January 2009 at $370,000 — so the median has recouped 11% of the $275,000 price drop from the peak.
  • Compared to cyclical low, single-family house median is 8% higher ($418,250 in January 2009); condo median is 3% higher ($252,000 in March 2009.) Builder prices for new homes are 25% above June 2009′s $424,000 bottom.
  • The median selling price of a single-family home is 38% less than their peak pricing (June ’07). Condos sell 45% below their peak in March 2006. Builder prices for new homes are 39% below their February ’05 top.
  • Single-family homes were 74% more expensive than condos in this period vs. 75% a year ago. From 1988-2010, the average house/condo gap was 57%.
  • Builder’s new homes sales were 7% of all residences sold in the period vs. 11% a year ago. From 1988-2010, builders did 14% of the Orange County homeselling.