3 Things Before Calling A Realtor®

It might seem strange that I would write a blog post telling people not to call a Realtor® when I am a Realtor®. Maybe, but I think it is important to educate my clients. If this helps, then I’m ok with it. If nothing else, it gives you a headstart on things you can look at when getting ready to sell.

What A Realtor® Should Be Telling You To Do

If they’re decent at what they do, a Realtor® is going to tell you these things anyway. Might as well do what they are going to suggest before they ever get there. It saves time. After all, if you’re calling a Realtor®, it’s because you want some help getting your house sold.

Selling your house can be a stressful thing. Will you get the price you want? What happens if it doesn’t sell in the time frame you want it to?

Here are three things you can do with your house before ever signing a contract with a Realtor®.

The First Thing

Before Calling - Get Packing

Get To Packing!

It’s a good idea to remove at least half of what you have in your house before it goes on the market. You may love your collections and sentimental items throughout your house but the people coming to buy it don’t care. Make sure all horizontal surfaces are bare so people can see the “house” instead of your stuff. Buyers need to be able to see themselves living there, picturing their stuff in the kitchen, living room and bedrooms. If your stuff is there, they won’t be able to see it.

The Second Thing

Before Calling - Make Minor Repairs

Fix the small, inexpensive stuff. Whether it is replacing a cracked outlet cover, light bulbs, or cleaning and painting, the idea is to make your house look cared for. Do you need to paint some rooms to get rid of those blaring colors? People generally want to see neutral colors throughout the house. If you aren’t painting, go through and clean around doorknobs, handrails, and any place the kids have been playing.

This goes for the outside too. Make sure the yard is kept. There are usually outlets on the outside too so make sure the covers are in one piece. The garage is an area that can be cleaned and organized. Many garages end up being a disorganized pile. If you have it organized, with proper storage arrangements, it not only looks cared for but shows how well things will fit, even with cars there.

The Third Thing

Before Calling - Appliances Work

Make sure everything is in working order. Appliances, fixtures, switches, outlets, etc. It may require having someone come in to fix some things but it is a small price if you want to get the maximum money for your house.

Keep this in mind. If a buyer comes in to look at your house and sees that there is work to be done, even if it is minor, they might go after the house down the street that has those things fixed already. Not only can it affect the price, but it doesn’t take long for the word to get out that the house hasn’t been cared for.

A Few Examples To Ponder

As a Realtor®, I hold open houses for various properties. Of course, I won’t indicate which houses however, I can describe some conditions that I have seen.

  1. A house that has been painted, however, they did not paint behind the place where the flat screen TV hung on the wall.
  2. The kitchen cabinet doors weren’t hanging straight and the kitchen sink was dripping.
  3. The bedroom that included a rather strange mural on the walls.
  4. Light bulbs burned out in the living room and bathroom.
  5. Not a clear spot on the kitchen counter and the beds were not made.

It’s amazing how the little things can make a big difference.  

Comment below with things you see in your home and what you did to correct them.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

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3 Things That Affect Your Mortgage Payment

If you are looking for a house to purchase, the best thing you can do to help yourself is to get pre-underwritten. I’ve written another post speaking to pre-qualification, pre-approval, and pre-underwriting.

The reason pre-underwriting is important is the contract can be affected. The contract has two approval processes built into it.

The first is the approval of the borrower. This is where the pre-underwriting comes in. If you are pre-underwritten, it means that the people involved in the loan are fully approved. Their credit, income, employment, debts, etc. has been verified and the lender is confident that the loan is affordable.

What Is Your Home Worth Button

The second approval is for the property. This is where the inspections, appraisal, and general condition of the property is considered and approved. If something comes up during inspections, it doesn’t appraise, or even if a storm comes in and damages the house and it cannot be fixed, the contract could be affected or even terminated.

After you have finally closed on a house, there are many things that can affect the mortgage payment.

Appraisal Value Of A New Construction Home

Every city places a value on your property based on the market conditions in the area. When you purchase a new construction home, sometimes the first year taxable value of the property is based on the price of the land.

Many people get surprised the second year when their mortgage payment goes up several hundred dollars because the city has now attached the house to the appraisal. The year after that, it can happen again.

If you aren’t careful, you can become mortgage poor.

Appraisal Values Go Up

Mortgage Appraisal Values

There haven’t been many times when the value of your property goes down. In 2008, during the housing crisis, property values tanked. People walked away from their properties instead of dealing with the dramatic decrease in value.

Since then, property values have been on a continuous increase in value. The city increases the appraised value of the property. You have an opportunity to dispute the value after notification and then the new value generates additional tax income for the city. This can also contribute to making someone mortgage poor.

Population Increase

Mortgage Appraisal Values

The economy is based on scarcity. The more of something there is, the less expensive it becomes. At least most of the time. When there are not enough of something, the prices go up. This is true for housing also.

Currently, in the DFW Metroplex, many companies and people are relocating to the area. As a result, the inventory of available homes is low which has been raising the prices of homes.

That can be good news or bad news depending on where you are in the market. If you are someone who is selling their home, higher prices means more money in your pocket. If you are buying a home, it will cost more for the home you want to purchase.

Bonus Tip – Interest Rates

Mortgage Interest Rates
St. Louis FED Graphic

Most people are familiar with interest rates – at least a little. It is the cost of borrowing money to purchase something. With credit cards, the interest can be as high as 30% depending on your history. For houses, the interest rates are historically low at this time.

Interest is what it is but you have some control over the amount you pay. Keeping your credit healthy, living within your means, and saving some money for later are all ways you can help get the best interest rates when it comes to purchasing a home.

Remember, there is a difference between a need and a want.

Honoring Our Military

Military - Peace Flag

Thank You

Thank you for your service to our country.

Thank you to your family who has sacrificed their lives as well as you served.

Thank you for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for people they don’t even know.

Thank you for putting yourself in harm’s way for us.

Thank you for moving every few years, up-ending your family to get to a new duty station either in the United States or anywhere else around the world where you are needed.

Thank you for taking those temporary duty stations without your family because the area was too dangerous to have them near.

Thank you for the deployments you went on where you were gone from your family for anywhere from three months to a year.

Thank you for the thankless efforts you provide for some who don’t respect any of that but you do it anyway.

Thank you.

Military - Blue Angels

Let Us Honor You

As a Realtor® with Ebby Halliday, REALTORS® there is an opportunity to offer a thank you to you for your service through a program called “Military on the Move.”

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This program offers rebates to those who have served our country, when they purchase a home in Texas. For information on the extent of those rebates, email me and I can send you a brochure about the program and the range of rebates available.

My partners at Texas Premiere Title have also generously offered to waive their title fees for active duty military and veterans. That’s a considerable savings when purchasing a home.

Military - Ship Mast

There’s More

I have a standard giving offer from every transaction I am involved with regarding the sale or purchase of a property, that I will give $200 to Agape Resource & Assistance Center, Inc. Agape is an organization that offers housing for women and their children who are escaping domestic violence situations and find themselves homeless. There holistic approach allows these women and their children to rebuild their lives.

Let’s make a deal today!

New Construction: Where to Look

The Pros of New Construction

Let’s face it – new homes are nice. No one has lived in them before you. If you are involved in the actual construction process, you get to make it like you want it. Even if you aren’t there are many upgrades a builder will place in a spec home that are really nice.

Here are a few things that are nice about a new construction:

  • The latest gadgets are installed
  • Insulation is the best to date
  • They are wired for the latest technology
  • Light fixtures are modern
  • Some are even built in master plan communities

The Cons of New Construction

New construction homes are really nice but there are some things to consider

  • It may take years to finish out the neighborhood. That means constant construction.
  • The first years on the home may be met with unexpected repairs
    • Sometimes construction items are not done correctly. I had a situation where the main water line at the meter was not properly glued and had separated causing a big water leak.
  • Home values can change dramatically. The market is always moving and in particular, the Dallas area seems like it will continue to go up for a while.
  • Taxes go up. Typically, when you purchase a new construction home, the property is taxed for the land value the first year. The second year, there is a huge increase in taxes. It’s the same for the third year and then market value drives the taxes. This can increase your mortgage payment by hundreds of dollars.
  • Trying to sell can be limiting. Who’s going to pay more for your house than the next new house being built in the neighborhood? If you have a new construction home build in 2011 and the neighborhood does not get finished until 2015, the newest house may have more modern conveniences built-in which can make them more attractive.

It’s Your Choice

What is the most important thing to you?

Only you can decide based on the knowledge you gain in the process. The more knowledge you can acquire, the better the decision you can make.

If you want to search for a new construction home, check the link below for a site that will help you locate new builds in your area. Then reach out to me and let’s make a deal.

New Build ButtonWhat Is Your Home Worth Button

Renting When You Want To Buy?

Problem!

Rental House

You Don’t Have the Down Payment?

So you want to buy a home?

You’re spending as much on rent as you would be by owning your own home. Maybe you only need a few months and you’ll have enough for a down payment through FHA.

Solution!

Home Partners of America

Work with me and my partner agency, Home Partners of America and we may be able to get you into the home of your dreams while you work on that down payment. Here’s the three-step process:

  1. Get pre-approved. Email me for the specifics of what it takes.
  2. Work with me to find your ideal property that is on the market for sale. Home Partners of America will purchase the home and rent it back to you.
  3. Save up your money for a down payment while you rent that home and purchase it from Home Partners of America when you are ready. No need to worry about breaking a lease. They will waive that if you buy the house.
  4. Decide you don’t want the house after all? No problem. You can finish your one year lease and leave. No problems. No hassles.

Next Step

Patrick O'Connor

Email me to receive a brochure about the program. Then call me to set an appointment, go over the whole thing, get you pre-approved, and start looking for your ideal home.

What Is Your Home Worth Button

Problem!

Credit problems?

Home Partners of America can work with you if your credit score is above about 550. Even if you have had issues in the past, Home Partners of America may be able to work through those issues and get you approved anyway. It’s not a guaranty but may be worth a shot to find out.

Solution!

Home Partners of America

Work with me and my partner agency, Home Partners of America and we may be able to get you into the home of your dreams while you work on that down payment. Here’s the three-step process:

  1. Get pre-approved. Email me for the specifics of what it takes.
  2. Work with me to find your ideal property that is on the market for sale. Home Partners of America will purchase the home and rent it back to you.
  3. Save up your money for a down payment while you rent that home and purchase it from Home Partners of America when you are ready. No need to worry about breaking a lease. They will waive that if you buy the house.
  4. Decide you don’t want the house after all? No problem. You can finish your one year lease and leave. No problems. No hassles.

Next Step

Patrick O'Connor

Email me to receive a brochure about the program. Then call me to set an appointment, go over the whole thing, get you pre-approved, and start looking for your ideal home.

New Build Button

Problem!

I just went through a divorce and need to sell my existing home

Divorce can be tough. No one really wins. It’s hard enough getting a divorce but then having to sell the home you lived in adds even more stress.

Home Partners can work with couples who are in this situation. Get with me to find out how we can sell your existing home and get one or both of you into your own house. Selling your existing home requires both parties in most cases but not the buying part. Home Partners of America will work with you while you are selling the existing home so you aren’t worried about where you are going to live.

Solution!

Home Partners of America

Work with me and my partner agency, Home Partners of America and we may be able to get you into the home of your dreams while you work on that down payment. Here’s the three-step process:

  1. Get pre-approved. Email me for the specifics of what it takes.
  2. Work with me to find your ideal property that is on the market for sale. Home Partners of America will purchase the home and rent it back to you.
  3. Save up your money for a down payment while you rent that home and purchase it from Home Partners of America when you are ready. No need to worry about breaking a lease. They will waive that if you buy the house.
  4. Decide you don’t want the house after all? No problem. You can finish your one year lease and leave. No problems. No hassles.

Next Step

Patrick O'Connor

Email me to receive a brochure about the program. Then call me to set an appointment, go over the whole thing, get you pre-approved, and start looking for your ideal home.

Keep In Mind

You only get one shot at this program. Once you get into a home, if you decide to leave after the lease period, you won’t be able to use the program again on another home. Therefore, it’s really important to take the time to look for the home you want in the process. The beauty of it is that if you decide it really isn’t the home for you, you can get out of it.

One final thing

If the market tanks like it did in 2008 and the house is now worthless, simply finish your year lease and move on to another property. Hopefully, we won’t have to worry about issues like that.

Frustrations When Selling Your Home – Part 3

Who’s ready for more?

Don’t start reading here. If you missed the previous posts, they are titled Frustrations When Selling Your Home – Part 1 and Frustrations When Selling Your Home – Part 2. Read them and then come back for even more frustration.

But I like it!

When I was living in my first house, I was raising kids and wanted them to “own” their rooms. One of my daughters decided she wanted to paint her room “Tiggeriffic Orange.” It has got to be the brightest orange available. When the light was on in her room at night, from the outside, it looked like the room was engulfed in flames. Other kids’ rooms in the house were painted with blue. However, they also wanted feathered paint of a different color throughout. Finally, the playroom had murals that covered the entire room complete with flowers, clouds on the ceiling and a bright yellow sun in one of the corners.

Home Paint Colors

It would take someone really special to buy the house that way. Before selling it, I painted the whole house in earthy, soothing tones. It’s what most people expect. Besides, it gives the house a neutral look so that people coming in can start to envision their idea of what the house would look like with their added touches.

Why does my REALTOR® want me to change the price?

It’s really frustrating when you have an idea of what your house is worth and someone else comes along and tells you the price is not realistic if you want to sell your house. REALTORS® have experience figuring out the best price for your property so that it doesn’t sit on the market for months and months. Sites like Trulia and Zillow don’t help a whole lot because their pricing can be radically different than what the market says it is worth.

Home Paint Colors

There are a lot of factors that go into the price of your home and one of the biggest one’s is what other houses, comparable to yours, have sold for in the last three months.

Sure, you can find a REALTOR® who might promise that they can sell your house for more than someone else. I would challenge you to look at other houses they have sold and see how long they were on the market. Also ask them about the houses that didn’t sell and why.

Some final thoughts

What Is Your Home Worth Button

Sometimes, there are things associated with your home that you cannot do anything about. This can be really frustrating like when they installed high power lines right behind your house two years after you bought it. Maybe it is because that empty field behind your house is suddenly a shopping mall or a natural gas fracking system. Although there is nothing you can do about that, if you take some steps to make reasonable upgrades and show the house in its best light, the right buyer will come.

Conclusion

Thanks for joining me on this frustrating journey. In my opinion, if you stick with these ideas and the time your house is on the market could be shortened. If you have any questions, contact me or visit my business page.

Frustrations When Selling Your Home – Part 2

This post is part two in a three-part series.

In Why Won’t They Buy Your House? Part 1, we began a discussion about the ways you can sabotage the sale of your home.

There are a lot of reasons for it and knowing how to address some of them can help sell your house quicker than you think.

I’ll get to it one of these days

I know I am guilty of this myself. Those little things that could easily be fixed, yet they sit there broken for months or even years. The cracked outlet cover; The light switch that doesn’t work all the time; The window that fogs over with condensation; The gutter downspout that has separated from the side of the house; The chipped paint on the corners of the hallway.

 

Home Issues
Minor repairs that are delayed can affect the sale of your home

 

So many repairs that need to be done.

Who would you rather make those repairs?

These kinds of repairs are pretty easy to accomplish. The problem is that if you don’t do these repairs before you accept an offer on your house, you could end up spending a whole lot more to get them fixed. Why? Because after a contract is accepted, you will need to hire a licensed professional to do the work. That’s right, once a contract is in effect, any repairs must be hired out. Anyone care to guess what the hourly rate for an electrician is? How about painters or someone to work on gutters?

There are probably better ways to spend your money than to have to hire professionals to do this type of work.

Are you stopping people from seeing your home?

People need to look at your house if they are going to buy it. That requires that you have the house ready for people to come through and take a look.

A REALTOR® will make sure that people find out your house is for sale. There’s really no hard, fast rule to this but if it’s advertised and the price is set right, people will come. Don’t forget to clear out the clutter, mow the grass, and make those small repairs so your house shines.

The problem comes when the homeowner doesn’t want to vacate the property so the house can be shown. I know – sounds crazy right? Why wouldn’t someone leave their house so it can be shown?

Actually, there are a lot of reasons for this to happen. Maybe you have a three-month-old and it’s nap time. As exhausted as new parents are, the last thing they want to do is prevent their new baby from getting a nap. Maybe 30 minutes notice just isn’t enough time to get ready to get out of there. Maybe you’re in the shower and can’t respond to the request.

The point is that there are times when you can’t but if you plan things out the best you can, at least you can be ready to move quickly. Not in every case but maybe in most cases. After all, the primary objective is to sell the house. Don’t prevent people from seeing it and forcing your house to be on the market longer than it should be.

What Is Your Home Worth Button

But there’s more…

What Do You Do When Your REALTOR® Tells You That You Did Too Much?

You put a lot of time and money into making some improvements to your home. The kitchen is ultra-modern with the best appliances, the best cabinets, the backsplash is really expensive and the flooring is to die for. You have a custom bathroom too with marble. Your REALTOR® then has the nerve to tell you that you’ll only get about 50 cents on the dollar for all those upgrades.

Why?!?

There’s this thing called over-improvement. Houses sell for their market value. This means that the price is based on what all the other houses in the area are selling for. If no one else in the area put high-end appliances and such in their kitchen, meaning that maybe they upgraded but installed “middle of the road” equipment, then why would someone pay extra because you went all out? What if the house down the road with the same floor plan and regular upgrades was selling for $20,000 less than yours? If someone can get the same house for a lot less, why wouldn’t they buy that one instead? Unless of course, they HAD to have the upgrades you put in. In that case, the right person needs to come along. The other side of that is that a lot of people won’t pay extra.

Selling a home can be frustrating. If you have any questions, contact me or visit my business page.

Stay with me while we are talking about the frustrating aspects of selling your home. There is one more post on this topic coming up and I don’t want you to miss it. Then we can talk about other stuff. See you in the next post.