Weekly Real Estate

Welcome to our weekly blog, dedicated to the wild world of real estate! We've had many different adventures with our clients as we've helped them to achieve their real estate goals. Without a doubt, we've encountered some unique situations! We hope you enjoy our posts and that you will share your experiences with us, too.

 

Nov. 8, 2018

What is an open house?

What’s an open house about anyway? Generally, when you're going to an open house, the seller is not going to be there. You have an opportunity to view the property at your own leisure, and it gives you a little bit more time to look at the property more thoroughly. There are a few things you may want to aware of when viewing properties. Some of the things we're seeing currently with today's technology are that sellers are putting in audio or video in their home to be able to record what is happening in their home while they're not there. Sometimes this is to protect belongings, sometimes they just want to know what's going on. Most importantly, as the buyer, you need to be aware and know of this.

 

Sometimes your comments, things that you may say about the home or the decor can ultimately go back to the seller and may not have a positive opinion with them when it comes down to writing your offer. So, when you're out doing an open house, always be respectful of the home and keep in mind that you may be on audio. Therefore, you can always talk about these things once you leave the property and freely talk amongst yourselves.

 

When you sell your home there are also a few things to consider with an open house. A few things you can do for your open house with your agent are to remove a lot of your personal belongings that may not necessarily be the best idea to leave out for everyone. Make sure you're putting away any jewelry, firearms, medications, etc to make sure that it's safe for people to view your home. So, make sure that when you're preparing your house for the open house, put those belongings away in a more secure spot or even better if you're able to just remove them from the property altogether.

The last piece of advice you also want to consider is this will be the first impression for home buyers. You'll have a little bit of time to prepare for that open house so really make your home stand out. Make sure you do that last cleaning before you leave the property for your agent to hold the open house, just so that your home really shows its best. There's nothing worse than when you walk into an open house and you can tell that they left in a hurry and nothing has really been prepared. Whereas, if you walk in and everything is neat, orderly and looks nice, it really makes a significant difference to a buyer and gives a better opportunity to sell your home.

 

 So, if you are looking to go visit an open house or you're going to be holding an open house that your property, make sure you take these tips into mind.

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
Nov. 8, 2018

What's an EMD (Earnest Money Deposit)

What is the earnest money deposit anyway? It is the good faith deposit that you'll submit typically within three business days of an offer being accepted on a home. Typically this deposit is roughly 1% of the purchase price, sometimes a little bit lower, sometimes a bit higher depending on the individual situation. Generally speaking, the higher we make it, the more aggressive we're trying to be with our offer and it helps really stand out to the seller in general. Now, what happens with those earnest money deposit funds though? It's an important thought.

 

The point of having a deposit when we submit an offer is to safeguard the process of bidding and the time and resources spent during the process by all. If this is not done, any bidder will withdraw at any stage and the offer process would be taken much less seriously. With no such financial guarantee, the home buyer would not take the bidding process seriously in terms of time, process, offer and conditions. After the offer process is over and the contract is finalized, the home buyer also has to start working at their time frames noted in the contract. In short, an EMD is one type of guarantee that once the home buyer enters the offer process and the owner accepts the offer, the home buyer can neither withdraw nor change any terms of the contract of the bid and has to perform per the contract terms unless all parties agree.

 

Once the offer is finalized, escrow is opened and the funds are held by escrow. Escrow is a neutral third party. They do not work for the seller nor the buyer, they work for both. If anything were to change with the contract or anything changed with the finances, they need to have mutual instructions from both parties before they release any funds or make any changes. While they hold your deposit funds, we continue through the escrow period. If we end up canceling on the transaction and not proceeding with that home, then the deposit is actually returned back too you shortly after cancellation assigned.

Should we proceed forward with that home, let's say we put down a $5,000 deposit. You'll be required to come up with $5,000 less of your total out-of-pocket cost to purchase the home once we close. Let’s say you owe $40,000 for the out of pocket costs, you’d now bring in $35,000. All your final costs are going to be at the end. This is when you need to bring in the final funds for the home and at that time your deposit amount will be reduced from those.

 

If you do have questions, if you are looking to submit an offer, make sure you reach out and be happy to point in the right direction on how to best handle the deposit portion.

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
Sept. 24, 2018

What’s The Point Of An Appraisal?

Why do we really need an appraisal? We've already run the comparable sales. They’ve already accepted our offer and we've already seen the home. What's the point of the appraisal? The main point of the appraisal is to have a base value for the bank of how much they should be willing to lend on that specific property. This will enable the bank to make an educated and intelligent decision on whether or not to purchase the home using their loan. They will also know the approximate amount to pay for it. When you get a pre-approval from the bank, they lend you up to a certain amount, subject to the actual property and that’s where the appraisal comes in. It’s the bank's last opportunity to make sure what they are lending, makes sense for the home.

 

Once you're in escrow the bank will actually send an appraiser out to view the property. The appraiser conducting the study analyzes the condition of the property, ensures size is correct and the cost of the renovations. The appraiser will then prepare an estimate of what the property's value will be after the improvements are made. They're going to be looking at the condition of it, the size, the lot size, things like that to help determine the value in comparison to other recent sales in that direct area. It's important because if the appraisal comes in lower, then the bank is only willing to lend up to that specific amount which makes it a little bit tougher from the buying side. This is because those additional funds need to come out of the pocket in addition to your down payment and closing costs or from the seller with reducing the overall price of the property. This does not always happen though so it’s important to not count on that alone.

For a seller, that's also difficult because then the value is not what you anticipated and you may have to lower and do a price reduction in order to meet a buyer in order to have them continue forward with you through escrow and close. This can also have a significant impact when you go to purchase a property as well. If we have comparable sales that have a lower average price than the home that we're looking, there are no other real properties that justify that extreme of a difference and there's nothing in the property that really shows that extreme of a difference should be justified, then there may be concerns that are ultimate with the appraisal and further down the road. These can all be indicators of what to watch out for before getting too far into escrow.

 

If you are looking to have an appraisal done during your escrow, make sure that you’re looking at the comparable sales well in advance and make sure that you understand and you're comfortable with the values that are presented.

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
Aug. 14, 2018

Home Buying With Appliances

Imagine, you're walking through a home, you're viewing it for the first time. Somebody still lives there, but you see all the appliances there. Dishwasher still in the counter, the stove is still in its place, a refrigerator is still there, and then you have the washer and dryer of course. Just because those appliances are there though, does not mean that they're necessarily included with the home. A dishwasher, were it is built in, is going to be left with the property, and won’t be as much of a concern since it is a build in appliance, but the stove, refrigerator, washer, and dryer are going to be something you will want to address in your offer to make sure that they either are included with the property or that they're excluded from the property once you close. If there are any doubts, be sure to put it in writing — and be specific. Make sure that "existing" appliances are their included, or excluded in your original offer to avoid confusion later on.

This can oftentimes be a concern at the time of closing where someone thinks appliances are again being included or excluded and it turns out they are or not. These things can raise a concern and create a less than exciting closing time. When writing your offer, there is a point in the offer agreement that you can write in what appliances will be included and which not be included in. When you do a counter offer, make sure you also keep an eye out for the appliances because those can be countered out or included in a typical negotiation.

Typically when we're viewing a vacant home where we see all the appliances installed but obviously nobody is living there or they've already removed out of the property, those appliances are generally included with it upon closing. However it's always good to clarify which appliances are going to be included or excluded, and they can always be negotiated in your offer.

When you're writing the contract, you're viewing the home, make sure that you keep in mind that 'yes you do want these appliances' or 'no you do not want these appliances'. For sellers, make sure that you understand where your new home will be, will you need a new refrigerator, stove, washer, and dryer at your new home or would it be easier or more efficient to purchase those at the new location? These questions can be helpful to understand before you put your home on the market! If you are looking to buy or sell a home and you're trying to figure out the appliances, make sure you reach out and I'd be happy to point you in the right direction. 

 

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
Aug. 5, 2018

What is Escrow?

What is Escrow about anyway? When you are about to sell a property, oftentimes it's suggested that you may want to open pre-escrow. The reason you want to open pre-escrow is to help clear up any title concerns, any differentiation between names, if it's a property in a trust corporation, and other things like that can aid to make the process a little bit simpler once you're actually in escrow with your buyer. For buyers, escrow will be basically the entire length that you are purchasing the property, from the time that you have accepted to offer until the time the home is actually closed, and you get keys.

Escrow is a neutral third party who does not work for neither the buyer nor the seller. They work on mutual instructions from both parties, if it's not agreed upon by both parties, escrow will not proceed. So, what's the main reason that escrow is there how do they help? They often time help with preparing the preliminary title report which gives us a good idea of the property any liens against the property.  Any restrictions on the property in terms of building easements, things like that, that will help make sure that the property is fully usable for what you would like to use it for. 

Escrow also helps with getting the CC&R's for the neighborhood as far as what their restrictions may be, and they also order the HOA documentation for us when a home is located in an HOA. They order directly from the homeowners association, they collect the documents and will transfer them to all parties. Once we have them and we're able to review, we make sure ultimately what the buyer would like to do with the property, they can in fact do. This will all happen during our inspection contingency period and allow us to have time to review these things and address any concerns we may have. They have a few other items they order for us as well such as a natural hazard disclosure and different loan documents as needed.

In terms of how escrow proceeds as we close, they are the wheelhouse with getting everything signed, bringing all the loan documents together and getting the deed recorded in the new owner's name. Escrow will help coordinate with the actual signing of loan and title documents, the actual closing and the recording of the deed. Escrow has a huge part in what we do and they are very vital for the entire process. It ensures that all buyers and sellers are protected equally and that one party can not override the other.

If you are looking to open up escrow here soon and want to make sure that you have any concerns straightened out beforehand, make sure you reach out, I'd be happy to point you in the right direction.

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
June 18, 2018

3 Ways to Make Your House Hunting More Efficient


Let’s be honest, house hunting can be tiring! You’ve been thinking about buying a home and you think you are ready for it, but buying a house is a huge financial commitment as you’ll need to take steps to make sure it is right for you. When you're going out looking at homes, there are a few items you should really consider before you buy, more specifically your financing options, secure financing, and the process itself.

First, when you're going to get pre-approved, ultimately know where your monthly payments are going to sit in comparison to the overall approval amount. Oftentimes we have clients approved for a really high amount to buy for their overall pre-approval amount but the monthly payments will ultimately be a more significant number when reviewing the budget and what price range we want to stay within. We need to make sure we stay within the approval amount, that we're comfortable with for the monthly payments, and not push higher to find better homes. This can lead to long-term finical strain if you are not prepared. 

The second main thing are your “must-haves.” These are the items you've got to make sure that you're very strict on what you absolutely must have. If there are things you're flexible with, make sure you understand you're flexible with them. If there's something you must have such as needing to have a backyard because you have a big dog, looking at the small condo with little backyard will not make a whole lot sense and it may not be the best use of your time compared to looking a home that has a bigger backyard. If you are expecting to have a growing family in the future or perhaps having children move out, prepare for that in advance as well.

The third and last main thing is to make notes when you're actually out viewing homes. Sometimes when you're looking at quite a few homes they all blend together. We have a tendency to forget which features, upgrades, and positive features were at different homes. It can be tough when you view the home that has accepted your offer but you realize the main feature was actually at another home. Make sure you're writing down these general notes about the home and anything specific that stands out to you, give it a big cross off if it's a no-go for sure, and also during the house visit, make sure to ask questions and don’t be shy to ask anything.

Buying a home is the biggest purchase of your life. Before making a leap, make sure you do a research and careful planning in terms of money and time. This is not easy especially to those first-time homebuyers but the key to get there is to know the efficient way for house hunting and it will be all worth it.

 

So if you are going out viewing homes and you're trying to get your house hunting started, make sure you need to remember these 3 tips and take them into consideration.

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
June 11, 2018

What Will Happen During Inspections When Selling Your Home?

“What's going to happen to my home?!" A lot of home sellers often do not understand what’s going to happen during the inspections period of their Escrow period. Once you have an offer accepted, generally speaking, the buyer is going to have a certain time period to be able to do inspections and investigate the property further. This will include the general area and neighborhood, to find issues that you may not aware of and most home buyers are going to do anywhere from one to perhaps four or five inspections, depending on the type of property and area it’s located.

With that being said, each different type of home will require different type of inspections. Most homes are going to require at minimum a home inspection. This is one of the more intense inspections and an inspector will come out from anywhere from about an hour and half to about four hours sometimes longer depending on the size of the home. They're going to go through all the electrical systems including breakers and panels, as well as all of the plumbing. If there's any leaks, water pressure, certain valves, things like that that will impact the plumbing as a whole. They’re also going to inspect the roof, going up on top make sure there are no substantial issues and typically taking a picture to add to their report in case anything stands out as a concern.

One last thing we’re going to inspect is the overall exterior of the home to see if there are major issues such dry rot, siding, windows, any of the doors that are malfunctioning things like that. If the home has a crawl space, inspectors are going to go under the home and they're also going to be looking at the attic as well. That is usually going to be the more time-consuming inspections that we’ll have. From there, we’ll have pest inspection which is usually about a half hour to an hour.  The pest inspectors will look through the exterior of the home and interior of the home, they look at plumbing, the attic, and crawl spaces to look for any dry rot, termite or other pest issues. Depending on the age, area, and any concern with underground roots, there’s a sewer inspection. A lot of buyers will often opt for it especially with older homes or home a lot of trees on the property. This inspection can typically take a half hour or an hour.

Overall these are the main inspections you can anticipate and if you have the more unique property, there will be different and additional inspections, but overall, those are the ones you can expect to be able to have going into your escrow. These inspections are paid for by the buyer unless there are pre-negotiated contract to be paid for by the seller. Some loans will require inspections to be paid by certain parties as well so just make sure you communicate that with your agent.

If you have any question about the inspection process, please feel free to reach out.

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
June 4, 2018

How To Make Your Home Show It’s Best

   

Have you ever gone out to view a home and something felt off? Something just didn’t quite feel right when you went out to view the home, it may not have been the home itself, but something just kind of turned you off immediately.

These are the things that make a huge first impression and there are a few key things the seller can do when they're going to put their home up on the market for a buyer when they come in and view your home. In many markets, it is customary for the buyer's agent to tour a listing without the listing agent present, and they expect the seller to leave the house. If you are selling your home as a For Sale by Owner, though, you may need to show the home yourself. The primary item that is overlooked is the front yard being properly landscaped or just manicured well. A nice curb appeal will always stand out to buyers who are looking for a house.

One of the other main things you can do is being able to have some sort of scents in the home, whether that’s an air freshener or a plug-in perhaps. Things like that will really help out if you have any odors in the home or perhaps pets. Oftentimes, and I’m a pet owner myself, we will get used to the smells of our home but when someone else comes in your home, they may smell odors right away that we typically do not. That’s because we live there, it's our home, that's what we’re used to, but it really does make a big impact to a buyer. It helps them to fall in love with the home and makes it a more positive effect when we walk in and they are not put off by animal smells or chemicals from cleaning or things like that.

One of the other main things that you can do on the interior is just organize so they look cleaner. Oftentimes we'll walk into a home, we’ll see everything kind of shuffled and it looks like someone just tried to run out of the home. There are many cases where the showings can be on short notice but if you really organize those things in advance, it really does make a bigger impact overall. It's something that is pretty significant to a buyer.

The last thing that I recommend for showings is to leave your home. Oftentimes when a seller is there they want to be able to make a good impression of the home, point out different features and give a grand tour of the home. I can tell you nearly every time buyers are a little bit nervous about this. They want to be able to walk and view the home freely, not rushed or feeling pushed to one direction or the home or another, while not necessarily feeling like they're being hovered over. As a seller, you may not be doing that at all because you're trying to point out the features and benefit of the home. But this can have a little bit different perspective from the buyer and you may see or point out different parts of the house that they may have a different vision for.

So when you're looking at listing your home for sale, make sure to have everything set up well for the showings and that will definitely help once you are in escrow for both of you and the buyer.

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
May 28, 2018

Some Moving Tips For Sellers At The End Of Escrow

As a seller, when you finally get to sell your home and you're finally at the end of the escrow process with your home about to close, you're going through the moving process and you're trying to get all of your belongings out trying to get them perhaps to your next home of course; but one thing that often is asked is what really needs to be done before they closed the deal and hand over the keys to the house.

In the contract for every transaction, when a home buyer is purchasing your home they're expecting to close in on the home that is in substantially the same condition as when they made the original offer. They expect to see no major differences, damages or anything like that with the house. When you are moving and you do cause those kinds of damages as you are packing, try to be polite and repair those in advance knowing that that's going to be an issue for the incoming buyer. Also keep in mind that having to deal with those problems is not something you would want to run into in your next home either. It just makes it a little bit easier for the buyer to keep that in mind.

Something else you can do as you begin to pack up your belongings and are exiting the home is to just generally clean the home. Although oftentimes buyers come in and have the home cleaned before they move in as well. While not required, cleaning the house before would leave a great impression on the buy and make things that much smoother as they move in.

If you are looking to sell your home and you're trying to get to that last little bit moving out and wondering what you really need to do just, make sure you're correcting any damage of the home and repair anything that goes wrong and then just clean the home to make sure it's a nice first impression for the next buyer. If you have additional questions, make sure you reach out and I’d be happy to help!

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
May 21, 2018

When You Sell Your Home, How Soon Do You HAVE To Move?

 

“How soon do I really have to move out of my home?” This is the question most first time home sellers ask.

Often times when we successfully go through the home selling and escrow process, the seller will wonder when is the absolute last day they have to move out of the house. It is convenient for a buyer to be able to coordinate everything with the seller concerning their moving day and that is something we, as realtors, along with a seller try to put into careful consideration when we're also accepting an offer.

Typically, if you’re the seller, your home is going to be on the market anywhere from a few days to a few weeks or months depending on the market. In that length of time, it can be anywhere from maybe a couple of days of to a couple weeks to get that offer and then once your home has accepted an offer, you are already in escrow! Most offers are going to take about thirty to forty-five days from the time of accepting that offer to the time you need to move out and turn over keys. Now the end of that thirty forty-five day escrow period is when you're going to be giving the keys to your house over to the buyer, the new homeowner, and that's when you need to vacate the property and have all of your belongings packed up and transported to a new location or middle ground you plan to stay at.

One main item you can do in advance is to negotiate a rent back period when you are reviewing offers. This will allow you to stay in the home longer if you are needing the time to move or if you're looking for another home and you need to sell your home in between. This can be negotiable, however, it's not always guaranteed. When you're looking at selling your home, if you're not going to be moving for quite some time, you may want to line up the selling of your property a little bit closer to the date of your purchase just so the timing goes a little bit smoother. You can try to negotiate a rent back or a longer escrow but that's not always the case so make sure that you're keeping these things in mind and always playing it smart with your next move.

 

 

Posted in Weekly Real Estate