Saturday, February 28, 2009

Any Ghosts in the Closets? The Neighbors Will Talk

”Do you think I will get top dollar for my home,” my seller paused before adding, “ even after what happened here?”
From the tone of her voice, my instinct told me that this wasn’t good. “What happened here?”

My seller shared the story of how after they had moved into their beautiful home that the neighborhood children began to tease their children “that they lived in a haunted house”. There was much more to a last minute disclosure of a “death” in the house than had been told. Unfortunately, they had not met the neighbors before the close of escrow to share the tale of the house. While they bought the house at a reduced price, moved in and lived there happily for many years without any problems, knowing the history may have affected their decision to buy the house and should have been disclosed more thoroughly since it will live on with the house.

I have had numerous encounters with neighbors before helping buyers purchase a home and while some neighbors may have a vendetta again the seller, most often the information is helpful.

For example, while looking at a piece of land with a buyer, the neighbor stepped over to share that she wondered why anyone would buy a piece of land you couldn’t build on, because it was in a flood plain. While this wouldn’t necessarily stop me, if I loved the land, just because a neighbor says something doesn’t make it fact. However, I would definitely heed the warning and check it out with the government agency that issues building permits.

In this day of foreclosures, neighbors can be a great source of information since the banks are exempt from certain disclosures, since they have no knowledge of the house. Recently, I approached a neighbor with a potential buyer for the house next door. With a friendly introduction, we asked the neighbor about the sewer that was noted “available” in the listing information. The kind neighbor shared with us about the home being on septic, as well as, the questionable addition had been there since the house was built. While again, I would still recommend checking out the building plans at the government agency, the neighbor’s information gave my buyers the information they needed to feel comfortable enough to proceed with an offer.

So the moral of the story is, it is a good idea to meet your new neighbors before you make an offer or as soon after, while doing your inspections…to find out if there are any ghosts in the closets.

--Virginia Hall

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Grab That Golden Housing Ring!

The NEWS is out! While the Economic Stimulus Package waits for President Obama to sign the bill, the Senate has passed the Economic Stimulus Bill, which included some good news for Home Buyers.

The President of the National Association of Realtors announced this morning, "So here's what we have achieved: 1) the loan limits will be raised to $727,000 in high cost areas, 2) the tax credit will be raised to $8,000 with NO payback [a true credit], 3) interest rates have come down 125-150 basis points, and 4) the bill has over $50 billion in it for foreclosure mitigation, with Geitners Treasury plan signaling that the second half of TARP and TALF will be used to mitigate foreclosures through a government guarantee, drive down interest rates by buying another $200-300 billion of mortgage paper from the GSES's thereby freeing them up to do the same with new mortgages, and Fannie has just agreed to lift the cap of 4 investment properties eligible for loans and raise it to 10."

While most people have ambivalent feelings about the costly Economic Stimulus Bill, it is almost here and you or someone you know might as well take advantage of it. There are certain qualifications first time homebuyers need to meet, but what an opportunity for new as well as move up buyers. Grasp that golden housing ring and run with it!

--Virginia Hall

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Unleashing the Economic Stimulus Package on the Housing Market

Last week, Buyers asked me excited about the $15,000 Home Buyers' tax credit. Wouldn't that give the housing market a shot in the arm?

However in regards to the Economic Stimulus Package and the Home Buyer Tax Credit, the New York Times reported vaguely, "In driving down the total cost — from $838 billion for the Senate stimulus bill and $820 billion for the House-passed measure — lawmakers also reduced the Senate’s proposed tax incentives for buyers of homes and cars, which hold big public appeal." So it appears it will be a bit before we find out the rest of the story, the exact amount of the credit.

So while we wait for the details on how much Buyers will get, the government has already previously passed a nice incentive for qualified first time home buyers--at least $7500 in tax credits if you buy before July 1st. So while Interest rates are down, what are you waiting for? If you plan to stay in San Diego, now is the time. Time to get a hold of a qualified Realtor®, such as myself, to start a search.

Homes in good condition are already getting multiple offers in San Diego County. Once they unleash the full details of the Economic Stimulus Bill and expose the exact amount of the credit, the smart people who have been sitting on their money waiting for the housing market to bottom out will act, investing their money and getting back a tax credit, to boot. Don't get left behind. Why not join them?

--Virginia Hall

Thursday, February 5, 2009

4 Basic Tips Guaranteed to Sell Your Home Faster

What do I need to do to get my home ready to sell? I am asked this all the time when owners are preparing to sell their homes. Selling a home is not an easy task. You may need to start preparing months in advance. Visit a model home in a new development, or even other homes that are selling to see what works and what doesn't. Notice how the model homes makes you feel. The sparse, non-personal decoration generally appeals to everyone and is easy on the eye. Keep in mind, you are preparing the house to sell not to live in.

1. Remodeling. While remodeling definitely adds value and helps a home sell quicker, exactly how much money do you get back in return? According to Realtor Magazine, while the Kitchen and Bathrooms are the rooms most recommended to remodel, you can expect 94.1% of the money you spent on an average kitchen remodel and 87.5% on a bathroom remodel back in the sales price. So if you plan to do any remodeling it is important that you use a budget, and stick to it, in order for the remodel make sense. This is not the time to use the top of the line accents or features unless you plan to enjoy the remodel for a year or two before selling. Be practical.

2. Paint. At the same time, some very low cost affordable things can be done to help sell your home more quickly. Touch up the paint or if it beyond this, then paint the home a nice neutral color. "Realtor®" Beige is good. Right now there are multiple offers going out on homes that may be dated, but are clean and well maintained.

3. Clean…Clean…Clean… The most important cost effective task to make your home more sellable is to deep clean and de-clutter the home. While one person's clean is another person's dirty, is important to ask for feedback from friends and your Realtor®. An objective by-stander can see when your love-worn chair has to go. If you refuse to put it out of its misery, then at least put it into storage. Look at your furniture, see if you can remove any of it and then rearrange to open up the room. Nothing yells out "small room" quicker than too much furniture. Pack up all those personal photos and other knick knacks. Oil scent diffusers or other types of light air freshers add a nice touch, filling the room with a safe, pleasant fragrance.

4. Landscaping. Another important item is the yard. Curb appeal is what will often get someone in the door. Even though we have heard "don't judge a book by its cover" a million times, it is our nature. Landscaping accounts for 15%of the price. A ragged, weed ridden yard with junk thrown about warns the buyer of what’s to come inside. Clean up the yard, keep the weeds mowed, edge the lawn, trim those over-grown bushes, and plant a few bright color flowers in the entrance to lure them in. If your grass is brown, sprinkle some ammonia sulfate and water well for a quick green. Also the yard should be free of old cars, engine blocks, empty plant pots, and trash.

With a glut of ghastly foreclosures on the market, these simple, yet vital steps, are guaranteed to help you sell your house quickly and at a higher price.

--Virginia Hall