5 Inexpensive Steps to a Speedy Home Sale

If you’re a homeowner considering a move, you may be wondering what’s next. Do I need to renovate the kitchen? Repaint the exterior? Replace the flooring? Before taking on a costly remodel, consider this: these measures don’t always recoup the highest percentages in return. Many sellers have much more success by investing in upgrades that boost their home’s value in the process. The best part? Both sides of the transaction profit.

Consumer Reports recommends completing these updates:

1. Paint key rooms.
In the grand scheme of things, painting is one of the least expensive ways to freshen up your home for sale, but it can cost up to $300 a room if you’re hiring a pro to do your entire home. Save big by painting just a few select areas: high-traffic rooms, like the kitchen and bathrooms, and rooms with brightly-painted walls. You can save even more by doing the project yourself – a gallon of paint averages about $30.

2. Spruce up the exterior.
Your home’s exterior is the first impression for many buyers online and in person. Aside from keeping up with maintenance like mowing the lawn and trimming shrubs, assess the outside of your home for any repair work – a fading front door, cracked siding or a loose step – that needs to be completed before selling. And don’t forget about the roof. If it needs to be replaced, choose an inexpensive but durable option, like standard, three-tab asphalt shingles. They cost approximately $75 per 100 square feet, including installation.

3. Upgrade the bathroom.
Bathrooms can become a point of contention for buyers if they’re not in tip-top shape. Rather than taking on an expensive renovation, make minor upgrades that have an impact. Caulk the tub, re-grout tile, and install new fixtures. Larger, less costly fixes are also a possibility if you know where to look – a new vanity, for instance, can cost less than $1,000 if you shop around.

4. Make kitchen repairs.
Buyers want to be wowed by the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you have to fork over tens of thousands of dollars to make that happen. Focus on making repairs that cost well under $500, like tightening a leaky faucet or eliminating burn marks on countertops. For a cheap alternative to repainting your cabinets, consider updating your hardware in a modern finish.

5. Clean, clean, clean.
Even if the home has been renovated top to bottom, a messy appearance can be the ultimate deal breaker. Fortunately for sellers, de-cluttering and de-personalizing doesn’t have to cost a dime. A short list that will help buyers visualize living in the home:

– Vacuum, dust and wipe all surfaces regularly while your home is on the market.
– Pare down closets to the bare essentials.
– Replace family or otherwise personal photos with neutral wall art.
– Cut clutter in cabinets and on bookshelves.
– Keep counter and tabletops clear, especially during an open house.

If the project is overwhelming, consider hiring a professional cleaning service or organizer to cut through the chaos. A pro can cost anywhere from $600 to $2,500.

Source: Consumer Reports

Mike Spruell
Realtor®/Broker/ePRO
The Lake Norman Homes Team
Southern Homes Elite
www.LakeNormanRealEstate.pro
866-LakeNorman
704-907-7907

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

Federal Housing Administration Cut Mortgage Insurance Premiums

The number of first-time home buyers entering the housing market is at a 27-year low, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, but the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) took big steps this week to rectify that. Just last week, the FHA announced a 50 basis points reduction in mortgage premiums that, according to President Obama, will serve two important purposes: enticing new home buyers and encouraging existing borrowers to refinance at lower rates.

NAMB, The Association of Mortgage Professionals, led by CEO Don Frommeyer, has been pushing its Washington counterparts to make lower premiums a priority. “This is a great first step in helping to make homeownership more affordable for folks on Main Street,” says Frommeyer. “But there’s still plenty of work to be done.”

FHA borrowers will realize as much as $900 in savings annually on a $200,000 mortgage, which arguably will be filtered back into the economy to encourage ongoing recovery.

Frommeyer and the NAMB membership think this move makes sense from an industry perspective. Now, borrowers with better credit will consider FHA loans as opposed to mortgages financed solely through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

“We support anything that makes homeownership more accessible and more affordable for millennials and first-time homebuyers,” says Frommeyer. “The market simply is not going to recover at the speed it should unless we continue taking steps to recruit this demographic. This is excellent news for the industry.”

For more information, visit www.namb.org.

Mike Spruell
Realtor®/Broker/ePRO
The Lake Norman Homes Team
Southern Homes Elite
www.LakeNormanRealEstate.pro
866-LakeNorman
704-907-7907

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

Full Disclosure: How Pre-listing Home Inspections Even the Score for Sellers

By Jay Gregg

When we were kids, we stuffed our closets full of our toys in lieu of putting them neatly away, hoping that our parents would never find the mess we made. We thought we could spend as little time as possible on chores to maximize the amount of time for fun. But eventually, we would come to learn that, time after time, our parents would soon enough find our mess, negating any time saved—and then some.

That lesson is just as germane for those looking to sell a home. Unfortunately, many fail to translate that knowledge to the process of putting a house on the market, with sellers often deferring the home inspection process to buyers. In doing so, sellers are making the same mistake we made as kids, hoping that any surprises won’t make themselves known to buyers. Only now, the consequences of their inevitable discovery are far more serious than earning a grounding.

For the small price of a pre-listing inspection like that offered by Pillar To Post, sellers stand to save big when it comes time for a buyer to put pen to paper and complete the transaction. Below are just a few of the many benefits of having a pre-listing home inspection done.

You stand to earn a return far closer to your initial asking price.
When a buyer invariably performs his or her own inspection, should he or she find undisclosed flaws, you stand to lose more money off your initial asking price than you might assume. In fact, for every flaw a buyer finds that would cost $1,000 to fix, you stand to lose $3,000-$5,000 off your asking price. In truth, the average buyer doesn’t really know what it would cost to fix an issue found. Yet the fact of the matter is, flaws that are not made apparent to buyers before their own inspections are performed are seen as far more egregious than those disclosed beforehand, even if you bring an issue to their attention and make it known that you won’t fix it. It really comes down to a basic cost-benefit analysis: For a $500 pre-listing inspection, a seller could stand to save thousands more than the costly perception of an undisclosed flaw.

You become the most knowledgeable person about your listing.
It may seem self-evident, but a pre-listing home inspection report will make you the most educated person on a listing. Yet sellers often fail to see the value of being completely aware of a home’s condition before trying to sell it. While a seller might be legitimately ignorant of a home’s flaws, that ignorance is no excuse to initiate the selling process blind to a home’s condition. Should a would-be buyer’s own inspection turn up hitherto unknown flaws, the seller appears incompetent at best and as though he or she is taking part in deceptive obfuscation at worst. By having a pre-listing inspection performed, you can be the authority on your property, conveying both credibility and expertise to a buyer.

You gain considerable leverage in the negotiating process. Beyond connoting competence and professionalism, you stand to gain considerable leverage during the negotiating process by having a pre-listing home inspection. With Pillar To Post, for example, you are given a full report on the condition of the property, leaving you to determine which changes are worth fixing on your own, and which are better left to the future owners. Many changes that need to be made are inexpensive, affording sellers the opportunity to nip them in the bud before they can become known to others. But if you find some issues that would cost more to fix than you care to spend, you can get your own direct quote from a respected home repair professional about how much it would take to fix them. You can, in turn, pass them onto a would-be buyer, saving them time by giving them an accurate, upfront assessment of their potential costs.

Moreover, Pillar To Post prints a hard copy of a completed summary—including pictures—that sellers can leave sitting on the table at an open house, for example, which goes a long way in conveying transparency and integrity within the process. This helps to build trust and ensures a smooth, open transaction. Save for meeting disclosure requirements, a seller is not obligated to share the pre-listing report with potential buyers. But in the event that a seller wishes to leave found issues to the would-be owners, it’s entirely possible to convey that fact in a way that suggests you’re still providing a service—issues that would necessitate having to repaint a wall, for example, could be articulated by suggesting that the buyer would probably want to paint it in his or her own preferred color.

When it comes down to it, we’ve found that homes that have had a pre-listing inspection sell faster and at a price far closer to the listed price relative to homes that have only had a home inspection performed by a buyer. Pre-listing home inspections make you better informed, give you control over issues that are found, and make it so that you stand to make a far greater return on your investment. It’s a worthwhile step that should be an integral part of any real estate transaction.

Jay Gregg is Pillar To Post’s director of Marketing, as well as a certified home inspector based in Orangeville, Ontario, Canada.

For more information, visit www.pillartopostfranchise.com.

Mike Spruell
Realtor®/Broker/ePRO
The Lake Norman Homes Team
Southern Homes Elite
www.LakeNormanRealEstate.pro
866-LakeNorman
704-907-7907

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

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