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Monday, September 15, 2014

Visiting Open Homes

An open house can be an opportunity for you to get information about homes and the housing market. Open houses are a common real estate practice because they give an agent the opportunity to market the home and to meet prospective buyers.

Here are some questions you may want to ask:
Are you the listing agent for this house? Busy agents sometimes arrange for a colleague or assistant to conduct the open house. Don’t assume the person showing the home is knowledgeable about the house or has met the sellers.

How long has the home been on the market? Well-priced homes in good condition generally sell in a short period of time. Unless the local market is weak, you will want to know why a particular home is not selling. Are there hidden defects? Is it overpriced? Are the sellers requiring something that may seem unreasonable as a condition of the sale?

Have the sellers received any offers? If the sellers rejected offers that were too low or had contingencies or conditions, you should find out before you experience the same.

Is any furniture or fixturing being sold with the house? If you’re thinking of buying the home, there is no better time to ask whether the seller would be interested in including the patio furniture or the dining room chandelier.

Are there any special costs attached to the property? Is there a homeowner’s association that has dues or fees? Are there particular tax assessments? Are there any natural hazard issues to be aware of? Are there any hidden costs of owning the home?

How does this house compare to others on this street? The local agent may be able to speak about recent sales in the neighborhood as well as some interior ideas seen in other homes.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.


Monday, September 1, 2014

What You Need To Know

The homebuying process is one of discovery. Throughout, you will receive crucial information on the condition of the property – from its physical attributes to the condition of its title. Piece by piece, you will learn what you need to know to make an informed purchase. Following is an explanation of the most significant parts of the puzzle.

Transfer Disclosure Statement
The seller of your property is required by law to furnish you with a "Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement,” (TDS), in which the seller will make known to you important disclosures about that property, including any known existing conditions, any hazards or nuisances. For example, if the property drains improperly or if there are cracks in the chimney and the seller knows about it, he or she is required to let you know via the TDS.

In the TDS, the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent are also obligated to inspect the property and to provide results regarding any known existing conditions, any hazards or nuisances. If the TDS is delivered to you after execution of the offer to purchase, you have three days if the form is delivered to you in person or five days if it is delivered to you by mail, to use it to terminate the contract if you are not satisfied with its contents.

Home Inspection Report
Just as important as the TDS is the home inspection report. While the TDS documents the property’s condition, to the knowledge of the seller, a home inspection will provide you with the additional insight of a construction expert.

As a result, I advise anyone buying a home to first have it inspected by a professional home inspector who is:

  • a licensed general contractor
  • a member of a recognized home inspection trade group
  • has professional liability insurance
Your home inspector will provide you with a written report, which will advise you of the physical condition of the property as determined from the inspection of accessible areas. Generally, the cost is approximately $300-$500.

The report also will identify areas that could not be inspected and may recommend additional inspections by other experts in areas including roofs, foundations, soils, drainage or pools. Less usual, but also recommended from time to time, are inspections for health-related risks such as radon gas, asbestos or problems with water or waste disposal systems. While additional inspections will cost more money, they definitely are worth it if they uncover an expensive defect in the property.

A general inspector will focus on the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the house, and will make you aware only of repairs that are needed. Generally, an inspector checks (and gives estimated prices for repairs on): the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and ventilation, heating and cooling systems, water source and quality, the foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and roof.

The inspector does not evaluate whether or not you're getting good value for your money.

Usually, there will be an inspection clause in the contract. Sometimes, the seller will provide a report of a home inspection aid for by the seller. If conditions or defects are disclosed in the report you can:

  • Negotiate for the seller to fix the problems prior to close of escrow,
  • Receive a credit from the seller for an amount to make the repairs; or
  • Cancel the contract if your and the seller cannot agree on the repairs or their costs.

It’s not required that you attend the inspection, but it's a good idea and I strongly recommend that you do, since generally you will learn a great deal about your property. The inspection also provides a great opportunity to hear an objective opinion on the home you would like to purchase and it is a good time to ask general, maintenance questions of an expert.

Pest Control Inspection Report
While you are in escrow, you should have the property inspected by a licensed pest control professional. While termites or other pest infestations are not common, pest control operators also are trained to look for dry rot, usually caused where wood comes into continuous contact with water. Dry rot can be serious and should be fixed immediately. If any condition is discovered in a pest control report, it needs to be corrected and the property re-inspected by a certified pest control inspector, before you close the sale of the home. Pest control reports generally cost around $200-$300.

Smoke Detector and Water Heater
During the escrow process, sellers are required to provide for you evidence that they have equipped the home with smoke detectors, and that water heaters are braced, anchored, or strapped to resist falling in an earthquake.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.


Monday, August 18, 2014

What Can I Afford?

There is a rule of thumb that says that if you have the capacity to repay the mortgage, you can afford a single-family house that costs up to two and one-half times your annual gross income. (Annual gross income is the amount you make before taxes are deducted.) Like other rules of thumb, this is a general idea of how large a mortgage you can afford. But, because it is so simple, it doesn't take into account all the information that will help you feel comfortable with your mortgage payments.

If you are buying a house with someone else (spouse, parent, adult child, partner/companion, brother or sister or other relative), you should consider your co-purchaser's earnings and existing debts as well. Remember, if you apply for a loan with somebody else, you and your coborrower are both legally responsible for repayment of the mortgage.

Your buying power depends on how much you have available for the down payment and how much a financial institution will agree to lend you.

Your down payment
If you are a first-time home buyer, the price you can afford to pay for a house may well be limited by your ability to come up with the required down payment and closing costs. If you haven't accumulated much savings, you may want to set aside funds for a down payment on a regular basis from your paycheck. Monies in your checking and savings accounts, mutual funds, stocks and bonds, the cash value of your life insurance policy, and gifts from parents or other relatives may all be suitable sources for a down payment.

Private Mortgage Insurance

Depending on the lender and loan type, you may be able to get a mortgage with as little as 3 percent or 5 percent down. However, putting less than 20 percent down often means you will be required to purchase private mortgage insurance. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) helps protect the lending institution in case you fail to make payments on your mortgage.

Avoiding PMI
It is possible to get financing with 0-10% down and not pay PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance). This is why 80-10-10 financing was created. It is called 80-10-10 because a lender provides a traditional 80% first mortgage, a 10% second mortgage, and makes a cash down payment equal to 10% of the home’s purchase price. The same principle applies if the borrower can only afford to make a 5% down payment: 80-15-5 financing is also available.

Your closing costs
In addition to the down payment, you will also need to consider closing costs. The closing is the final step during which ownership of the house is transferred to you. The purpose of the closing is to make sure the property is ready and able to be transferred from the seller to you.

Closing costs generally range from 3 percent to 6 percent of the amount of the mortgage. So, if you were to buy a $100,000 house with a 5 percent ($5,000) down payment, you could expect to pay between $2,850 and $5,700 on your $95,000 mortgage. Sometimes, you can negotiate with the seller of a property to pay some of your closing costs, which will reduce the amount of money you will need to bring to closing.

How much a financial institution will lend you
Apart from having available funds for a down payment and closing costs, the other major factor limiting how expensive a house you can buy will be how much you can borrow.

When you apply for a mortgage, the lender will consider both your earnings and your existing debts in determining the size of your loan. Lenders generally use the following two qualifying guidelines to determine what size mortgage you are eligible for:

The amount of money you owe for mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, and condominium or co-op fee, if applicable, should total no more than 28 percent of your monthly gross (before-tax) income. This is called the Housing Expense Ratio. The amount of money you owe for the above items plus other long-term debts should total no more than 36 percent of your monthly gross income. This is called the total Debt-to-Income Ratio.

Basically, lenders are saying that a household should spend no more than about one-fourth of its income (up to 28 percent) on housing and no more than about one-third of its income (up to 36 percent) on total indebtedness (housing plus other debts). Lenders feel that if they follow these guidelines, homeowners will be able to pay off their mortgages fairly comfortably.

These lender ratios are flexible guidelines. If you have a consistent record of paying rent that is very close in amount to your proposed monthly mortgage payments or if you make a large down payment, you may be able to use somewhat higher ratios. Some lenders offer special loans for low- and moderate-income home buyers that allow them to use as much as 33 percent of their gross monthly income for housing expenses and 38 percent for total debt.

Don’t Despair, There is a Loan For You
When you go to apply for a mortgage, the lender will use all the relevant data -- your income, your existing debts, the purchase price of the house, your down payment, the interest rate on the loan, and the cost of property taxes and insurance -- and calculate whether you qualify to borrow the amount of money you need to buy the house.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Zillow’s going coast-to-coast shining the spotlight on some of the best agents in cities across the country

A few days ago, I received an email to the Zillow Pros blog. Much to my surprise, when I clicked the link, I found Zillow had done a feature on me! Wow!

Below is the blog, or you can also click here to see it on Zillow.

Top Real Estate Agent: Julie Wyss, San Jose, CA
DATE:AUGUST 12, 2014 | CATEGORY:REAL ESTATE PROS | AUTHOR:ALENA PILICHOWSKI

Zillow’s going coast-to-coast shining the spotlight on some of the best agents in cities across the country. These Zillow Premier Agents are successful in their community and have used Zillow to help grow their business.

Today’s San Jose, CA agent uses her entrepreneurial spirit and understanding of the unique Bay Area housing market to get the best deals for buyers, sellers and real estate investors alike. And, in return for their trust and business, she hosts biannual parties for her clients and vendors as a way to show her appreciation.


Introducing:

Name: Julie Wyss

Brokerage: Keller Williams Los Gatos Bay Area Estates

Years in business: 13

Years as a Zillow Premier Agent: 4

Favorite home style: Mediterranean

We asked Julie what makes her successful. Here’s what she had to say:

Zillow: Why are you successful as a real estate agent?
Julie: I have a team of very talented professionals providing the ultimate level of service and seamless support for every transaction. I earn client trust by demonstrating commitment and high values, communicating completely and clearly, and making transactions excitingly enjoyable. I am passionate about achieving the best possible price for both my buyers and my sellers.

Zillow: Who or what inspired you to work in real estate?
Julie: I’ve been an entrepreneur for many years, and I also worked in the mortgage business. I’m exceptionally driven and detail-oriented, understand the Bay Area housing market, and generally love helping people. All of these things led me to the real estate industry.

Zillow: What is the best part of your job?
Julie: I love working with both buyers and sellers in the Bay Area because each listing is a new challenge, and it’s always rewarding to help my clients get the best possible price for their property. The “residential matchmaking” process is exciting as well; helping buyers find a home that is just perfect for them. I also have a few real estate investors I work closely with. Finding them that next “diamond in the rough” is great fun!

Twice a year, I hold appreciation events to thank all of my clients and vendors. I thoroughly enjoy being able to hold parties in honor of all of these wonderful people.

Zillow: What are three pieces of advice you have for success on Zillow?
Julie:

1. Follow up with all valid leads.
2. Be sure to get reviews.
3. Contribute to the Zillow platform to boost your visibility by boosting theirs.[Julie Wyss picnic]Hosting appreciation events for her clients is one of Julie Wyss’ favorite parts of her job as a real estate agent.

Zillow: What real estate time-saving tips do you have?
Julie: Find capable, talented people to be a part of your team. Let them manage certain aspects of transactions (marketing, project and document management, etc.) so you, as the agent, can focus on bringing in new business.

Zillow: How do you manage your to-do list?
Julie: I use Evernote to keep track of individual listings and I use checklists for both buyer and seller transactions.

Zillow: When you’re not selling real estate, what do you enjoy in your free time?
Julie: I enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and generally staying fit. I also enjoy great restaurants, wine tasting, traveling, and spending time with my family and friends. Most of all, I love having a happy home life with my husband and three children.

Zillow: How do you stay active in the local community?
Julie: I stay active in the local community by participating in local trail running events, supporting local schools, and hosting music festivals.

To learn from top agents, be sure to attend one of the free Zillow Agent Events, coming to a city near you. Know someone who deserves to be in the spotlight? Tweet @ZillowForPros with your nomination. View past pros featured in the Agent Spotlight here.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.


                                       
                 408.687.2026 |  Julie@JulieWyss.com | www.JulieWyss.com

Monday, August 4, 2014

What Happens When You List Your Home

What Happens When You List Your Home  

If you list your home with me, be assured that, a high priority of mine, is keeping you informed of all interest and market activity. Whether by phone, by e-mail, or by written notification, I will report regularly to you and keep you apprised of all relevant information including:
  • Broker feedback from broker tours and open houses
  • Client feedback from showing appointments including broker feedback
  • Advertising notifications
  • Any new market data or trends affecting the sale of your home
  • Review of your home’s marketing activities
  • Suggested adjustments to your marketing plan or pricing strategy

If you are interested in selling your property but have not listed yet, it would be my pleasure to show you all the ways in which I can effectively market your property through a Listing Presentation.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.




Monday, July 21, 2014

Selling Your Home: Where To Begin

Selling Your Home: Where To Begin

First Impressions

Remember what first attracted you to your house when you bought it? What excited you about its most appealing features? Now that you're selling your home, you'll need to look at it as if you were buying it all over again.

A spruced up house makes a great first impression on potential buyers. An attractive property grabs their attention and makes them excited about finding a house that looks and feels well-cared for. Because buyers know they’ll encounter fewer problems if they buy it, your house becomes more appealing and stands out from the competition. So if you prepare your home correctly, you’ll save time selling it when it’s on the market.

A good first impression makes an impact on a number of levels. It’s not just the way your house looks to potential buyers, but how it feels and smells to them, how their friends and family will react, how they imagine it would be to live there.
With simple improvements you can grab the attention of potential buyers and help them see why your house is right for them.

Curb Appeal

The "Wow" factor — that first visual, high-impact impression your home makes on potential buyers — can turn a looker into a buyer. To determine your property’s curb appeal, drive through your neighborhood and note other properties; then approach your own house as if you were a potential buyer. How does it look? Does it "wow" you? Will its curb appeal attract buyers? Note what needs improving, such as trimming trees, planting shrubs, or painting gutters. Little things convey that you’ve cared for your home, and this is your opportunity to sell that important message to buyers who are shopping from the street, simply cruising neighborhoods just looking for houses for sale. To get them through your door, do what you can to make your property look like someone’s dream home.

Paint/Stain

If it’s peeling or blistering and you can’t remember the last time you painted it, your house needs some attention. That also goes for stain that is significantly faded. A newly painted or stained exterior will help sell your house faster. And whether you do it yourself or hire someone, you’ll also increase your home’s value.

In the Yard

Grab people’s attention by enhancing your yard and landscaping. If your house looks inviting and well-maintained from the street, people will imagine that it’s attractive on the inside, too.
  • Prune bushes and hedges; trim trees.
  • Keep your lawn looking healthy and green by mowing it often, fertilizing it, and keeping it edged and trimmed.
  • Clean up and dispose of pet mess.
  • Weed your gardens; add fertilizer and mulch; then plant colorful flowers.
  • In winter, keep your driveway and sidewalks shoveled, de-iced, and well-lit.
  • Stack firewood, clean out birdbaths, repair and paint fences.
The Front Door

An attractive entry catches a buyer’s eye and says, "Welcome," so highlight this area of your house with decorative touches, such as a wreath on the door or new shrubs and flowers around the steps. For an even grander entry, clean and paint your front door, or replace it with a new one for a few hundred dollars. Don’t forget to fix and polish doorknobs, repair torn screens, and then put out that new welcome mat.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.






Monday, July 7, 2014

We've Launched Our New Website!

We've Launched Our New Website!

A few weeks ago, we launched our new, robust website to better serve our clients.

In addition to real-time inventory in all local towns and neighborhoods, an MLS search, my listings, testimonials from past clients and an introduction to all of the Team Wyss players, the site now includes a fantastic school locator application powered by School Scout!


We welcome you to visit our new site and put the school search app through its paces.


If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.




 408.687.2026 |  Julie@JulieWyss.comwww.JulieWyss.com