Sunday, March 26, 2006

How To Sell Your Home Quickly

     When you put your home on the market your agent assumes that you want to sell your home as quickly as possible for the highest amount of profit. If this not what you have in mind, you need to tell your agent up front what you want.

     A home that sits on the market for a long time doesn’t do you or your agent any good. The best way to sell your home quickly is to price it accurately from the start! A lot of people think that you should price your home high and then come down over time. This is not a good strategy to get your home sold for top dollar. There are two reasons why it is not a good idea to employ this strategy: First is today’s buyers are far more educated and know what a good price is and will just skip your home and move to one that is priced right. The second reason this doesn’t work is that as a home sits on the market for a long time you are paying for the mortgage every month that it is on the market and a buyer will end up offering you a lot lower amount for the home than you originally wanted, knowing that you may be getting impatient and may just accept any offer that comes in. Homes that are overpriced from the start end up selling for 2% lower than the homes that were priced properly from the time they went on the market. (Information obtained from the National Association of Realtors.)

     The second problem that can keep a home from selling is curb appeal. Curb appeal can be as simple as putting a few flowers in the front yard to spruce up how a home looks. But it can be much bigger of a problem, like a neighbor with a yard that you are embarrassed by every time your friends come over. The messy neighbor may be a smaller problem to solve than you may think. If you hire a landscaper for you and your neighbor’s yard, at your expense, it will only cost you a couple hundred, but net you thousands and also a quicker sale. Just explain to your neighbor that you want to sell your home and that you are offering the neighbors on both sides of your home free landscaping to bring about a quicker sale and they probably will not say no.      

     Remember, a home that a buyer falls in love with before they even enter through the front door is one they are more likely to purchase and forget what is inside. Remember when you found your home? You remembered what the outside looked like, but you couldn’t tell your best friend if it even had a closet in the master bedroom. The curb appeal is what sells a home; it is rarely what is on the inside. So buy a new door handle and mailbox, and cheers to a quick and profitable sale.

For more information on how to sell your home more quickly and for the highest possible price, please contact me anytime.

Todd Clark – broker
Kastings & Associates

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Investing in the Numbers Game

Every successful investor knows what the numbers are before purchasing an investment property. You might say to yourself, “that is easy, does the rental on the property pay for the mortgage?” That is a good start, but there are so many other numbers that you need to know about. That is where an experienced Realtor can help you find out what ALL the numbers are and if you can make a profit.

When you buy an investment property, most first time investors think that once they have purchased the property there are never any more costs. So let me go through with you some other things you need to consider before putting an offer in on an investment property. Is this a multi-plex unit or a single family home? If this is a single family home you need to look at the appreciation over time. Is the property in a neighborhood of mostly owner occupied homes? More owner occupied homes in an area mean higher resale value and more community involvement.

Does the property come with long term renters or is it vacant? This can either add value to a property or decrease the value. An owner of an investment can say they charge $800 a month in rent a month, but if it is vacant they might as well charge $0. No renters means no money. If the investment property is vacant you need to consider the cost to fill it, such as newspaper ads, signs, internet, flyers, and so on. Also, if it is rented you need to consider these same costs if someone should move out. Plus if you have a tenant move out you need to consider that you will have the cost of at least one month without rental income, and also carpet replacement, painting, etc. These are all things that need to be considered when planning your budget on an investment property.

Another way to save on costs is to manage the property yourself. If you plan to do this, make sure you get a property within 10 miles. You don’t want to spend all day driving to units clear across town; Remember time is money! Management costs vary, so if you are planning to use a management company shop around and get references.

Who pays for the everyday maintenance and utilities? These can add up to thousands per year in incremental costs. Who waters and mows the lawn? Who pays the water, electric, sewage, garbage etc? These are all things you need to ask before you purchase a property. There are also the maintenance costs that will have to be covered by you like a new roof or a failing exterior of a property.

Now for the nasty word that everyone hates to hear…TAXES! This is a number that changes every year. It isn’t a fixed cost like a mortgage payment. So if you run the numbers and they look good, will the taxes going up next year and you not giving a rent increase change your mind on this property? It is a good idea to talk to your tax professional before deciding. Remember even if you buy a property that has a zero cash flow in every month, it will still give you tax benefits that at the end of the year will put money in your pocket.

So if you decide to get into investment property to increase your net worth, sit down with a Realtor and run the numbers with him/her and find out what type of property will best suit your needs immediately and in the future.

Todd Clark – broker
Kastings & Associates

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Making a House a Home

You started prepping your home to put on the market. This is the time to consult a Realtor®. Why, you may ask? The professional Realtor® will help you with hints that will make your house a home to a potential buyer. A competent professional Realtor® will not try to list the home until it is ready. They want to see you get the most for your home and not worry about losing it to another agent, because they wanted to do what was right for you.

The thing I do with most of my clients is I take them out to the street in front of their home and put them in my car. I then tell them, “OK, you are a buyer who I have just pulled up with. Now let us get out of the car and evaluate your home and tell me if you would buy it?” This really scares most sellers immediately because they realize that the curb appeal that was there when they bought their house is no longer there. They thought they were selling their home, when what they were really selling is a picture. A buyer wants something that they can take a picture of and show their friends. “Look what we just bought!”

When you have lived in a home for a long time, clutter happens. No avoiding it! But now you want to move. Why not pack everything up except the essentials? Empty the closets, the garage, and even the kitchen. You are going to have to do it anyway, why not do it now? A buyer wants to see a home that has plenty of storage for all their clutter, but if you have every space filled to the roof in the home, they look at it and say, “This house doesn’t have enough room for all our stuff.” The sad part is, they end up buying the house 2 blocks down for $10,000 more that has 200 less square feet.

Time to have a painting party! Invite all your friends over for pizza and pop, and have them help you paint your home in record time! Paint your walls in white or off-white colors. The reason for this is it makes the home more inviting and seem more open.

This is a big one and is the most difficult for most sellers. Take down all the personal photos and colorings from all walls and the refrigerator. When potential buyers come into a home they look at that stuff and comment. Yes they like it, but it takes their mind off the purchase of you home. They see you in it, instead of trying to move themselves in mentally.

Finally, go to a new housing development and take a look at the model home. Does your home look like this? The reason model homes sell is because the home is staged. This means that they took the home and made it look livable, but not lived in. This is a major difference.

Remember a buyer needs to feel welcome, like they were walking into their own home. If they feel like they are home, it will be easier for them to imagine themselves living there.

Todd Clark – broker
Kastings & Associates

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Thinking Of Moving

This is the best time to get a free copy of your credit report. As a Real Estate agent I can’t count the times that I’ve seen people find their perfect home and then lose it when they couldn’t afford the payments because of an error on a credit report. They can’t figure out why they didn’t get the interest rate that they wanted. Then they get the credit report and see mistakes on it, but it is too late to fix anything. By getting your credit report early, you can fix the errors that do appear on it in plenty of time, and not have it hold up the purchase of your dream home.

If you own a home already, this would be a good time to call me and get my “Home Sellers Checklist”. This is a list of all the things you should do to your home, prior to putting it on the market, that will help insure a faster sale and net you the most money. Most people put their home on the market and then try to fix things. This is the incorrect order to do things if you want to get the most out of your home. First, you lose a lot of potential buyers. They saw the home prior to the fixes and will not come back again. Second is you may lose thousands of dollars in the price of your home to a buyer that may put in an offer, but not for what you are asking. A desperate agent will tell you to list now! I advise my clients to wait, do the repairs, and net the profit later. Why lower the price by $15,000 when in less than 2 weeks, the home could be show ready, and sell a lot quicker than if you just listed it immediately. For more tips on what to do prior to buying or selling a home, please feel free to call me anytime or visit my website for other helpful tips.

Todd Clark – broker
Kastings & Associates