Short Sale for Luxury Homes

Some people are wondering if luxury homes can also be subject to short sales. The answer is yes. But it has to be done properly because it is sensitive. There are more factors involved. With the use of our technamicra and marketing strategies, we will find qualified buyers.

A short sale can work to the advantage of any property. But they vary in terms of the property situation and the goals of the owners. How?

  • It will not cost the seller. The bank will pay the realtors when the house is sold.
  • It’s probably the fastest way to sell your home if you’re trying to avoid foreclosure.
  • This proviees a way out from financial burdens and start anew.
  • You can still stay in the house for free while the short sale is still being processed.

Losing your home to a short sale may not be easy but it could solve your financial problem as long as it’s done right. Talk to us. We’re here to help you make informed choices.  

A House That Looks Good Will Sell

They say that if you want to sell a house, it should have curb appeal. What it means is that you chould make your house look captivating enough that homebuyers who drive by your house should be compelled to stop and take down the contact information for your agent.

According to the National Association of Realtors, curb appeal is the reason for the sale of 49% of houses. 

However, there are some things that you can’t control such as your neighbor’s houses and yards. You can do everything to make hour home and lawn tidy and beautiful but what if the other houses in the neighborhood are not as attractive as yours? Don’t worry. In fact you can use it to your advantage. This means your house will standout. If the other houses look as good as yours, they might be more interested in those houses or think that yours look inferior. If the houses are sprawling with toys, it gives the homebuyers an idea that there are many kids in the neighborhood. If they have children, they’ll be happy about it. Their children will have playmates. If however the neighborhood has a lot of junk, then it’s a problem.

Based on my experience on curb appeal, this is how you can beautify city and suburban (or semi-suburban) houses:

  • In the case of a yardless townhouse

    1987. A time when the real estate business is taking a downturn. There are many other townhouses for sale downtown. The house is located near a public-housing project which gives an impression of the area being high-risk for crime. On the other hand, it is home to beautiful townhouses, a school around the corner, streets with many trees and a close-knit neighborhood. Since their are many children playing in the street, crimes are prevented. There are no abandoned cars in the street.

  • What I did to prep it up

    I repainted the blue paint on the trim and on the front door. To give a feel of warmth and privacy, I added shutters to the windows in the living room. Then I set up a flower box on the window ledge. I also added a filled half-barrel on the side of the two marble steps up to the front door as well as the small area around the tree in front of the house. The front steps were bleached and scrubbed.

    To deal with the children, I treated them with ice cream so they’d be less rowdy on open house days.

    All my efforts yielded a favorable outcome. The succesful buyer was at the first open house. Prior to this, the house was on the market for five months with two real estate brokerages.

  • Golden rule:
    Give all the neighborhood kids ice cream. Unfortunately, I missed one kid who announced to everyone on open house that someone stole her bike. (It wasn’t true though)
  • In the case of a city house with front yard

    June 2001. The real estate market is booming. Houses in the $150,000-to-$300,000 range are a hot item. The house is located at a semi-suburban neighborhood. The flowers are in bloom; there are plenty of trees; and the street has reopened after a year of railroad-bridge replacement.

    On the downside, there’s a beer ditributor at the corner and they cause a lot of trash. And the street is busy since it’s a main route between two major city avenues.

  • What to do to prep it up

    Clean the facade of the house. Clean the porch columns and rails carefully to get rid of the mildew. Repaint the porch floor. Trim the hedges regularly and plant lots of pretty flowers. Touch up on the paint of the concrete bench under the dogwood. Repaint the stairs on the porch. Fix the sidewalk. Wash the windows.

    Water the lawn regularly and mow it once a week. When you pick up trash in front of your house, do the same with nearby houses.

Outcome: It only took one weekend to get the house off the market. As early as day 2, eighteen couples were scheduled for appointments.

Golden rule: Don’t risk selling your house at an ugly state. Do what you can to make it attractive. But don’t overdo it. Don’t spend so much to beautify the house. Your main goal is to get their attention, make them stop and give your house a good look. But keep their interest by making the inside of the house desirable as well.

Breaking Down the Offer

For a seller who has a house in the market for quite a while, it’s exhilerating to get a call telling you that someone is making an offer. You go through a series of emotions – intitially you feel ecstatic, the next moment when everything sets in, you start to worry thinking that the offer may may not be as good as you were hoping for.

Agents usually don’t tell you the price offer over the phone because there are other things to consider aside from the price – contingencies, seller concessions and real property requests.

Don’t stop at the price. Look at the rest of the offer. Focus on how much net you’re going to get.

Your agent should be able to explain to you the parts of the contract. But it’s better if you already have prior knowledge about real estate contracts. They could vary depending on your state but generally they should be similar.

Here are the basic parts you can expect in a contract: 

  • Earnest money deposit – As the name suggests, it is intended to show that the buyer is sincere. If the offer doesn’t seem favorable, the buyer sets a large earnest money. In most cases, the buyer is the one who decides where the money will be deposited – usually not to the seller but a third party like an escrow, attorney or sometimes a broker’s trust account. The earnest money is usually counted towards the downpayment. If for some reason the sale will not push through, the money deposited will be returned to the buyer. Typically, real estate contracts have a section on any disputes going to arbitration, and most of the time, sellers do not get even a portion of the earnest  money.
  • Purchase price – This is what you’re most interested in. This is most probably the first thing you want to look at. But don’t rejoice until you’ve given a thought on what the buyer wants to include in the offer.
  • Mortgage contingency – This is usually the first contingency you will see. This states that the buyer is acquiring a loan with a specific term and rate. You need to analyze this carefully. Some buyers use this to hold you down while they scout for better bargains. Make sure that the terms specified are realistic such as a 30-year, 5 percent fixed-rate loan with no points when that type of loan carries a 7 percent rate with 1.5 points in your area. Another thing you should be mindful of is the time limit. If not, the buyer might take as long as they want, leaving you tied commited to them and your house unsold. In this contingency, the buyer can also specify if they want you to carry back a first or second mortgage.
  • Seller concessions – The buyers could ask for anything – especially if they know that there isn’t much competition out there. But if the property is a hot item, you can expect the buyers not to ask much seller concessions because they know there isn’t much chance they’re going to get it.
  • Inspection contingencies – This states that the buyers can back out of the deal if the outcome of the inspections show that the house is too much of a problem. There is even a contingency that is dependent on the approval of their mother-in-law. So again, the contingencies should be realistic.
  • Personal property – The buyer can ask for anything that is physically attached to the house being sold. They are considered part of the transaction. It can be the book shelves, light fixtures, kitchen counter. So, those that are not attached to the house like appliances or furnitures still belong to the seller. So if there are things attached to the house that you want to keep, make sure you have them listed. On the other hand,buyers can state the items that they want removed from the house before closing; such as storage bins or boxes of useless items. 
  • Appraisal contingency – The buyer adds this contingency to ensure that they acquire enough amount for the sale price. There are some unlikely cases when the bank doesn’t give an appraisal high enough for the price of the house, usually it happens when there are more seller concessions. Example, the agreed upon price is $300,000 but includes up to $10,000 in buyer closing costs, the house may not appraise if it’s really worth $295,000.
  • Buyer selling property contingency – This applies when the buyer is also trying to sell their property. This means that they can only push through with the sale if they have already sold their house. There is a risk that the seller will let you wait for months. To protect sellers from this, there is usually a 72-hour clause, also known as a kick-out clause. This clause allows the seller to keep the house on the market. If there is another offer, the buyer has 72 hours to fulfill the agreement or the deal is off.

Clear the Clutter and Sell Your House

f you want to sell your house, aside from the washing and the scrubbing, you need to remove the clutter. This doesn’t only mean taking taking out the obvious trash like, empty cans of paint or boxes of unused items that have been sitting in the garage for as long as you could remember. It also means removing personal items from the house. To you, these things are special and looks part of the house. But to potential buyers, they are clutter.

When you show your house to buyers, they need to be able to visualize themselves living in it. But they can’t do this if there are too many personal things like souvenir items from your vacations or events, personalized wall decors and pictures. Instead of making them feel like this house could be theirs, it will make them feel like they’re intruders.

No matter how clean your house is, if there are many things, it will look crowded and it will be unappealing to buyers. I know, these things are important and special to you, so removing them from where they’ve always been will be heartbreaking. But you don’t have to get rid of them, you just need to move them away from the house you’ll eventually part with too. Consider renting a warehouse where you could still keep them.

You need to clear the house from clutter but it doesn’t have to be empty. Just aim to make the house look neutral.

Classify your things according to things you’re going to keep, donate and throw away. It might actually be high time for you to go over your stuff – especially those you haven’t even seen for years and say goodbye to them for good. You can think about selling some of your things in a yard sale or online but it will take time and effort – two things you usually don’t have enough of when you’re in the process of selling your home. If however you are intent on selling some of them at a later time, eBay and Craigslist are the most popular sites to turn to. But you’d be doing yourself and a lot of people a big favor if you just give away as much as you can.

Here are some tips for clearing the clutter:

  • Take out unnecessary furniture to make the room look more spacious.
  • Clear the foyer or mudroom of shoes, coats, umbrellas and other outdoor items.
  • Remove big equipment like a drum set or treadmill.
  • Take out your photos so the buyers can imagine their own photos in the house.
  • Throw away old magazines, newspapers and books. If you have time and creativity, recycle.
  • Arrange your wires neatly. Make sure it doesn’t look messy and won’t cause accidents.
  • Remove everything you have in your nightstand – tissue, medicines, magazines. But you can keep the lamp, clock and a book to add to the look.
  • Organize your bookshelves so they look orderly. Add a decor like a vase or an artwork to make it look pretty.
  • Clear your kitchen countertops. But you can leave important items like a microwave and toaster. Don’t forget to clear the fridge from personalized magnets, pictures, your children’s drawings, coupons or whatever you always stick there.
  • Put away plants that look unhealthy.
  • In the bedroom, take out shoes, clothes and toys off the floor and make sure the bed is done.
  • Tidy up your bathroom by hiding razors, toothbrushes and shampoos in a cabinet. Prep up your room by putting fresh soaps, towels or maybe plants.
  • Take out some clothes in the closet so they don’t look too full.

Determining Your Net Profits

When you sell your home, you can’t expect to take home all of the sale price. There are many fees to pay – commissions, taxes and miscellaneous and they can take out up to 7% of the sale price.

How do you determine your net profit? When you receive an offer, your real estate agent will give you a Seller’s Estimated Net Proceeds worksheet, which will give you an idea of all the costs that will be deducted when you close.

Here are some of the costs that could are usually deducted from the sale price. They may vary depending on yoru state.

  • Mortgage payoff balance.
    They can include your own home loan, second mortgages and home equity lines of credit.  
  • Loan payoff fee.
    Some lenders charge an administrative fee to pay off your loan.
  • Lien release document.
    If you need to pay for a contractor, court judgments or for property taxes, you’ll need to settle them first before you could close the sale.
  • Prepayment penalty.
    Ask your lender if you’ll need to pay for a prepayment penalty if you pay for your loan early.
  • Recording fees.
    If you previously loaned on the house, you’ll need to pay this fee to show that you’ve paid for it already.
  • Commissions for agents.
    This is the fee you pay to both your agent’s brokerage and your agent’s brokerage. Usually this takes off 6% from the sale price. This amount is split by the two brokerage and they are in charge of paying each agent.
  • Notary fees.
    You pay a notary to confirm your identity and verify the documents.
  • Escrow fees.
    The escrow serves as a third party. An escrow ensures that the money is protected while negotiations and processing of necessary documents are still ongoing. You could split the escrow fee with the buyer.
  • Title search fees.
    Before the sale of a home could be finalized, a title company does a search on public records to verify if the property is free from any issue and can be sold.
  • Seller concession. 
    You and the buyer might agree to the price of a house but the buyer asks for a 3 percent closing cost concession.  3% is given back to the seller to pay for the closing costs.
  • Repairs.
    If repairs are necessary, you’ll need to set aside a portion of the sale to spend for it. Sometimes it’s the buyer who requires it and sometimes, the lender.
  • Home warranty.
    There are times when the buyer asks the seller to pay for a home warranty which offers protection for the buyer’s first year in the house.
  • Termite letter. 
    Some states require this. It indicates that the house is free from termites.

There may be more costs not mentioned here. It’s best to ask your real estate agent so you can anticipate and prepare for it.

Exterior Improvements Give You More Bang for Your Buck

The outside of your home is the first thing that buyers will notice. It’s what gets them interested in your home. If you’re thinking about improving your home, you’ll be getting your money’s worth if you do a good job on the exterior.

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2009-10 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, six out of the top ten remodelling projects were all related to outside improvements. The report surveys realtors across America. Based on the report, even a simple move like replacing a steel door for about $1200 can recoup more than 120% of your investment when you sell the house. An attic bedroom which costs $49,350 yielded $40,990. It brought back about 83% of what was invested. Adding a deck returned about 80% of the cost.

One of the primary reasons why people invest in outdoor improvements is that it doesn’t cost much and the investment will surely pay off. Usually, exterior improvements costs less than $15,000 but it can do a lot for your home’s curb appeal. Curb appeal is important because it holds the key to selling your home. Midrange outdoor projects in the report’s top 10 are a deck addition, vinyl siding replacement, wood and vinyl window replacements and steel and fiberglass door replacements.

Another reason for exterior improvements is energy efficiency. Plus, homeowners can get tax credits for weatherizing their houses under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Improvements like upgrading windows, roofs and siding can be counted towards it. In the process of doing this, homeowners are also making their houses marketable.

It’s also a good investment to improve your kitchen and bathroom, but don’t spend too much. A small kitchen remodelling in a midrange house that costs $21,410 can yield about $16,775 or about 78 percent of its cost when you sell. If you decide to do a major renovation that costs $57,215 you can expect to recover $41,260 or 72 percent.

In an upscale home, a major kitchen remodelling at $111,800 can give you about 63 percent of your investment while a bathroom costing $52,300 would give you a little more than 61 percent.

Improvements in a home office or sun room can only yield about 50 percent of construction costs.

Fireplaces Will Help Sell a House

Buyers in general are more attracted to houses with fireplaces. They give a warm and cozy feel. They usually become the centerpiece of a room. Fireplaces add to the aesthetic appeal of a house.

They also keep houses warm during cold times. Even though there are already other possible sources for heat, it can still come in handy when there is no power during storms.

There are other states like California where a house a house needs to have a fireplace in order to be sold. But Gopal Ahluwalia, director of research for the National Association of Home Builders, says, “you probably don’t need one more than three days a year.” He says, “lifestyle is guided by the conditions of the economy. When you have money left over, you want to spend it on things you don’t need.”

Now that houses have become expensive and people are looking for ways to be cost-effective, are houses with fireplaces still popular? Is it worth the investment? According to experts, a fireplace can be paid for over time in a 30-year mortgage. And there are lower interest rates available.

Kira McCarron, marketing director of Toll Bros, which builds luxury houses in almost 20 states says, “The concept of fireplaces has changed. The shift from masonry to prefab designer boxes has put fireplaces in bathrooms, dining rooms and bedrooms, as well as living rooms and family rooms.” You can even find fireplaces on walls of entertainment rooms, below big-screen televisions, “so that you have your choice of what you want to see,” she says.

This is all made possible by technology. Now we have gas fireplaces because it is already possible to vent gas outside through a wall without a traditional chimney. Flexible pipes allow gas to go to the units. Usually houses have both – a wood fireplace in the living room and gas on the other rooms.

Burning wood can cause health and environmental problems. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wood-burning appliances and fireplaces can release large quantities of air pollutants like nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, organic gases, and particulate matter. They can cause serious health problems particularly to children, pregnant women and those with respiratory problems. These chemicals have properties similar to cigarette smoking that are associated with cancer. Many areas consider smoke from wood burning as one of the major cause of air pollution.

Because of the availability of vent-free fireplaces, homes can now enjoy having several units instead of just one. However, vent-free appliances also come with safety concerns. In fact some states ban the use of vent-free fireplaces. And even in states where it can be used, some county government prohibit its use.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the key to reducing health risks linked to vented and unvented heating appliances is proper maintenance.

Contractor John Burke puts a priority on safety when he installed a vent-free fireplace in his house. “There had to be a constant supply of fresh air in that house to guarantee safe operation,” Burke says. “Fortunately, the house was old and drafty, and there was never an issue.” The unit he bought came with a carbon monoxide monitor and an oxygen-depletion sensor. Once the level of oxygen in the room reaches a dangerous level, the fire turns off immediately.”Never leave a gas fireplace running when you aren’t in the room,” Burke says. “And make certain that you shut it off when you go to sleep for the night.”

Usually a gas fireplace costs between $600 to $3,000, excluding installation. Electric fireplaces usually cost between $1,200 to $1,500, but you can expect it to generate enough heat to take the edge off one or two rooms.

When you have an older house, you’ll have a problem with chimney lining, says developer Mark Wade. He rehabs older city homes. Home inspectors suggest that stainless-steel liners be installed in old chimneys. However, it will cost a lot. A stainless steel installed from fourth floor to the basement typically cost $3,000 for about 1 1/2 hours’ work.

Five Tips for Getting Your Home Appraised Before You Sell

Determining the price of your home is crucial to the sale. Wrong pricing could either cause your house to stay longer in the market or could mean getting less from the actual value of your home. This is why sellers opt to pay $300 to $400 to have their homes appraised before putting it on the market, says Alan Hummel, past president of the Appraisal Institute and chief appraiser for St. Paul, Minn.-based Forsythe Appraisals LLC. He said presale consultations in their firm increased in the first quarter while the real estate market for residential properties slowed down and properties in the market increased.

Real estate agents can also do the appraisal for you. But going to an appraiser will give a more accurate and unbiased assessment. Usually, agents also turn to appraisers or suggest this to this clients especially if the house has stayed in the market for quite some time.

The appreciation for a more accurate pricing came just a few years ago. Gone are the days when you can just quote a price and see how it goes. “Now you’ve got to be competitive and you have to know that the offers coming in are reasonable,” Hummel said.

He adds, if a property spends too much time on the market, the price it will be able to command often decreases, some buyers will question the reasons for the property’s inability to sell.

An appraiser will assess your home from a objective view, based on several factors like its location and the condition of the house. “We’re trying to react the way a typical purchaser would,” he said. The appraisal also will analyze the health of the local real estate market, giving homeowners more personalized expectations for selling their home—a feature especially important with the plethora of national news stories generalizing the real estate market, Hummel pointed out.

Appraisers sometimes use a cost approach where they determine the price of the house by comparing it to a new house with similar specifications. This approach is beneficial to sellers with newer homes because this gives them an idea of where their home stands in the new-construction front.

It will also be a good idead to look for the appraisal report before you bought your home, says Michael H. Evans, president of Evans Appraisal Service Inc. in Chico, Calif., and a fellow of the American Society of Appraisers. According to him, only a few people actually take time to review the paperwork when it’s done. Most buyers are just focused on buying the house. “They don’t go back and review that paperwork unless there’s a significant issue that needs to be addressed,” says Evans.

But reading through the report can actually save you from problems. It’s also a good idea for sellers to address this before putting the house in the market.The American Society of Appraisers shares with us some things you should know about home appraisals.

The appraisal report includes the following information

  • The appraisal. It will give details about the house, a description of the neighborhood and comparison with other similar properties in the area.
  • Evaluation of the area’s real-estate market;
  • Major damage or possible problems that will affect the value of the house;
  • An estimate of the length of time that the house will stay in the market

An appraisal report versus a home inspection

An appraisal is an opinion of the value of the house. It compares your house with similar houses that were sold. A home inspection report on the other hand, is on the lookout for flaws and damages in the structure.

Securing a copy of the appraisal

It is your right under federal law to have a copy. When you bought your home you paid for an appraisal. If you don’t have a copy, you can ask for it from your lender.

What to look for in the report

Pay attention to items on the report that have a negative adjustment. Those are the things you’ll need to change or replace to get a good offer. It could be an outdated kitchen or bathroom; adding another bathroom; or adding more space in the garage to fit another car.

The value of getting an appraisal before entering the market

The appraisal will help you pruce your house more accurately. If a seller’s askig price is more than the actual value of the house, it will cause the house to stay long in the market, which will eventually force the seller to sell their home at a very low cost just so they could already sell it.  

Smart Questions to Ask Your Realtor

  • Do you work full time as a real estate agent? How long have you been working full time in this field? What professional associations do you have? By asking if they’re working full time allows you to determine how commited you can expect them to be in your transactions. The length of time they’ve spent on this field can give you confidence knowing that they know what they’re doing, but it is not guaranteed. And tenure does not guarantee a good service.
  • Do you have an a staff or assistant? Or a team that can take care of the various parts of the process? What are their roles in the transaction? What are their names and contact information? Brokers usually work with other people to carry out all the necessary work and achieve a succesful transaction. The more clients they have, the more staff they’ll need to have. It’s okay to ask if you want to find out who are the people wotking with them and what their roles are. You could also ask questions like: To whom will I give the payment? Who will be there in closing?
  • Do you have a website where properties for sale are listed? Can i have the web address? Does it have a hotline or customer service email? Who responds to them and how quickly are they handled? Being online does a lot to marketing. Most people turn to their internet when they look for something. It can give them a lot of information in their convenience. Try searching for your agent’s website and see how visible they are online.
  • How often will you contact me? How will you contact me? Establish a communication system with your agent so you will have an idea on how often to expect to hear from them. And ask how they will contact you – by your home phone? mobile? email? So you can be ready for them.
  • What sets you apart from other realtors? Is there something you do that other agents don’t that can give me the best deal for my home? Sometimes the key to selling a home in a short time is dependent on your agent’s research, marketing skills and delivery.
  • Can you give me names of past clients? Selecting an agent is like hiring an employee. Asking about them from references can give you an idea of how they are in their profession.
  • Do you have a performance guarantee? Can I terminate our listing agreement if I am not satisfied with your service? It can be difficult for an agent to offer a performance guarantee. But this does not mean they are not capable of providing a high quality service. The agent should however be able to tell you what you could expect from them.
  • How will you get paid? How are your fees calculated? Can I have this in writing? In most cases, the seller has the responsibility of paying agent commissions. There may be other small fees, such as administrative or special service fees, that are charged to clients, regardless if they are the buyer or seller. Before you hire an agent, ask for an estimate of costs.
  • How will you develop pricing strategies for our home? The price of a house is one of the major factors in selling it quickly. Current property information is important. Ask your realtor how they made the market analysis, and if they included For Sale by Owner homes, foreclosed homes and bank-owned sales in that list.
  • In terms of advetising and marketing, what do you plan to do to sell my home? Who determines where and when my home is marketed? Who will pay for advertising? Ask your agent for a clear plan on how money for marketing and advertising will be spent. Ask for samples or case studies of the types of marketing strategies that your agent has in mind (such as Internet Websites, print magazines, open houses, and local publications).

Focus On Your Kitchen

If you’re thinking of selling your home, prep up your kitchen. Homebuyers put a premium on the kitchen. Families do a lot of things in the kitchen – preparing meals, sharing meals, sorting through bills, and just hanging out.

According to a recent survey by SieMatic Corp., 85% respondents said that the condition of a home’s kitchen is a major consideration when making a purchasing decision.

You don’t have to give your kitchen a major overhaul. There are other things you can do to make your kitchen look attractive without tearing it down.

Give it a fresh paint. Painting your kitchen new is one, inexpensive way to prep it up. Choose a neutral color since potential buyers have different preferences.

Give your countertops a fresh look. Take a good look at your countertop. Does it need new tiles? Find inexpensive ways to improve it. It won’t cost much especially if your counter is not big. In terms of the color, again, keep it neutral.

Update the faucets. Nowadays, there are so many faucets to choose from. You can pick a stylish faucet to add a pretty and modern touch to your kitchen.