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Monday, July 11, 2016

Preparing Your Property for Sale

Fully preparing your home for sale can make a considerable difference in the time it takes to sell it. You can eliminate buyer objections before they arise by making necessary repairs and improvements, some of which are suggested in the article.

  • Spruce up your garden and lawn; trim shrubbery and replace dead plants.
  • Yard and patio should be neat; outdoor furniture clean and in good shape.
  • Manicure your front yard; make sure your driveway and entryway are free of clutter.
  • Kitchen Sinks, appliances and countertops should sparkle. 
  • Remove any clutter.
  • Wax the floor.
  • Clean the oven, range and other appliances.
  • Clean tile and grout. Replace if necessary.

  • Ensure the house numbers, mailbox and exterior lighting are in good condition.
  • Touch up with fresh paint as needed.
  • Inspect chimney for cracks and earthquake damage.
  • Repair loose trim, drain pipes and fencing.
  • Clean stains and window screens.

  • Clean mirrors, glass, chrome and porcelain surfaces.
  • Replace shower curtain if needed.
  • Fix any faucet drips or leaks.
  • Clean grout and caulking. 
  • Replace if needed.

  • Remove clutter and tidy up the shelves.
  • Clean the floor.

  • Doors and drawers should open and close easily.
  • Remove clutter, tidy up shelves and racks.
  • Shoes and clothes should be neatly arranged.

Living Areas
  • Paint if needed. 
  • Think about brightening interiors with neutral toned paint.
  • Clean draperies and carpets.
  • Replace burned out light bulbs.

  • Check basics: doors, windows, cabinets.
  • Clean fireplace and remove smoke stains from wall and mantle.
  • Clean your furnace and water heater.

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 |

Monday, June 27, 2016

How to Buy & Sell a Home at the Same Time

Ah, to be a first-time home buyer again: How easy it was to buy a home when you weren’t carrying another mortgage on your back!

If you’re looking to graduate from first-timer to repeat buyer, you know things are about to get much trickier. Unless you’re a bona fide house collector, you’ll have to sell your home in order to buy anew—adding a whole separate layer of anxiety to what you already know is a stressful home-buying process.

In an ideal world, you’d buy a new home, move, and then, and when all the dust settles, deal with the turmoil of selling. But for most people, that’s totally unrealistic. Not only does it cost significantly more, since you’ll be paying two mortgages, but sellers might be quick to judge if you’re holding on to your current home.

If selling and buying simultaneously is the only way to go, here’s what you need to know to make sure both processes go as smoothly as possible.

Know the market first

Before you start seriously searching for a new home—or put your current home on the market—make sure you have a solid understanding of the housing market in your area (and the area where you’re planning to buy). Is the market weighted toward buyers or sellers?

Only then will you be able to fully strategize. As is so often the case, the best plan of action may differ depending on exactly who has the power.

That doesn’t mean to find one house you like and call it a day: Find multiple suitable options. That way, you’re less likely to find yourself in trouble if your purchase falls through—your newly sold home won’t leave you stranded.

Similarly, make sure to hire an appraiser and price your old home fairly. Now is decidedly not the time for delusions of grandeur: Two extra months on the market because you couldn’t humble yourself to lower the price means two months you’ll be paying double mortgages. Two very long months…

Plan your schedule carefully…

Should you buy first, then sell—or vice versa? Both have their risks and rewards. Selling first makes getting a mortgage easier, but it also means you’ll need to find a temporary place to live. Buying first means moving will be easier, but it also skews your debt-to-income ratio, making it harder to qualify for a new mortgage—not to mention the difficulty of juggling two monthly house payments.

Whichever option you choose, make sure you’re prepared to accept the consequences: having to store your stuff and rent temporarily, or undergoing the financial burdens of dual mortgages.

… but don’t rely on timing

When buying and selling a home simultaneously, there are numerous external circumstances that play a part.

Remember: You’re not the only party in this equation. For every seller there’s a buyer, for every buyer a seller. While things might appear to be working smoothly when viewing your master plan from above, that doesn’t take into account the variabilities of other people. Closings are rife with delays. Your buyers might have difficulty securing their mortgage; your home inspector may bring up issues that need to be fixed before you can move in.

So even if you’ve planned to sell your home first and are prepared to rent while buying, know that even the best-laid plans go awry—and you might end up juggling both mortgages. Preparing yourself for this (however remote) possibility ahead of time will ensure a smooth transition.

Know your financial solutions

For those who choose to sell first, the process is relatively straightforward other than the additional cost of a rental between homes. However, there is the option of a rent-back agreement, where you negotiate with the lenders and buyers to be able to remain in the property for a maximum of 60 to 90 days—often in exchange for a lower selling price or rent paid to the buyers. This can relieve some of the pressure of finding a new home, giving you additional time to house hunt.

But if you’re buying first, talk to your Realtor about ways to decrease your financial burden and risk. Here are the two most popular options for buyers:

Contract contingency: Buyers can request that their new home purchase be dependent on the successful sale of their old home. If you’re looking in a competitive market, this may not be a good option; however, if the seller of your intended home has had difficulty attracting interest, this may be a good deal for all parties involved—assuming you can convince them that your home will sell quickly.

Bridge loans: Bridge financing allows you to own two homes simultaneously if you don’t have deep pockets for a second down payment. This option is especially attractive if you’d planned to sell your home first and use the proceeds to buy the second. It functions as a short-term loan, intended to be repaid upon the sale of your original house.

Don’t let fear rush you

If your home has sold but you haven’t found a new place to live, don’t let anxiety push you toward a bad decision. DiMauro usually recommends that his clients pre-emptively plan on a short-term rental “so they don’t feel stressed or pushed into something that they would not normally be interested in,” he says. “They shouldn’t make a purchase because they felt like they were pressured from the time constraints.”

Found the perfect home right on schedule? That’s great. But don’t feel like you have to compromise on things that are important to you just because you need to find a home. Conversely, don’t accept a bid that you feel is too low just because your finances are strained by two mortgages. If you have a temporary apartment set up, you’re less likely to compromise.

Certainly, selling and buying a house simultaneously will be stressful—but carefully considering and planning for the risks and hurdles can mitigate the stress.

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 |

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

8 Things To Do When You Move Into Your New Home

1. Change the locks
Before moving even one tiny piece of furniture into your new home, change the locks—or at least have them rekeyed. It’s not that you don’t trust the sellers but there are numerous people who've had contact with those keys over the years, any of whom could have copied the keys for some unsavory purpose.

2. Change the alarm batteries
Making sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries may not seem like a pressing issue while you’re in the middle of a stressful move, but it’s the kind of thing that gets ignored and then forgotten. Better to deal with it now, when the home is empty and you can make a quick sweep of the house—without lugging a ladder around furniture.

3. Review your home inspector’s report
Inspection reports are often filed with the escrow papers—but don’t wait until something goes wrong to pull them out. A good home inspector will outline the most important issues in their report, so use their expertise as a guide for your first few days of ownership. If they’ve marked anything as particularly pressing that wasn't addressed by the sellers, make sure to handle it before moving in.

4. Find the circuit breaker and water shut off
If you were there during inspection, you should know where your junction box is, but if you don’t, finding it should be top on your list.  During a move, when you’re plugging all sorts of electrical doodads into the wall, you don’t want to be lost in the dark hunting for that elusive metal box. Its a wise idea to also find the water shut-off, too.

Then, get familiar: If the panel is not already well-marked, have your spouse or another family member stand in different parts of the house while you flip different switches, and make a note of which ones handle different rooms.

5. Deal with any water problems
Deal with water-related issues immediately called out in the inspection report. These tend to be troublesome because they’re so easily ignored.  A leaky toilet might seem minor, but the steady drip can damage internal structural components.

Check your roof, too: If the rubber vent boots on your roof are leaking, you might not know it for a while.

6. Caulk everything
This one isn’t mandatory, but caulking is a whole lot easier if you do it when the house is empty, letting you see all the nooks and crannies that might need a little sealing—and don’t forget the exterior. Caulking issues occur in just about every home and while they might seem minor, it doesn’t take long before cracking gives way to leaks and even more water issues.

7. Plan your emergency exits
Before you begin bringing in furniture, walk through every room and decide how you would escape in an emergency. This can help you spot problem areas or rooms that need some adjustments—say, removing bars or adding egress windows to a basement.

8. Clean your gutters
Don’t let the dullness of this 'out of sight' task push you to procrastination: If the previous homeowners didn’t clean the gutters, you need to do so ASAP.

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 |

Monday, March 14, 2016

When Should You Walk Away From a Home Purchase?

Finally, after months of looking and making offers, you've found a house and are in contract. But even when you are in contract, there are things that could pop up and make the house seem less appealing.

Below are 5 things that should serve as red flags, warning you that maybe you should reconsider.

1. The appraisal comes in below contract price
Though this is not uncommon in active markets, some buyers won't have any additional funds to make up the difference. You can try getting a second appraisal from another lender or renegotiating with the sellers for a lower price (though if there were multiple offers, that's probably not realistic.) But, if you've talked it over with your agent and it doesn't feel right, you might be wise to let this house go.

2. The inspections discover a multitude of issues
Inspections often uncover serious repairs, like foundation issues, major plumbing or electrical problems. If the list is longer than you expected or want to deal with, or if the repairs will cost much more time and money than you have, talk to your Realtor. They may counsel your to renegotiate with the sellers or even to walk away.

3. You feel like you're settling 
Before you began your home search, you created a list of the things you need and those you want. But in this crazy market, buyers can lose sight of their requirements just to make a deal work. So, you'll have a house but it doesn't meet any of your criteria. If you don't think you'll be happy, it's time to break ties and keep looking.

4. You're at the very top of your price range
It's a seller's market and often buyers are faced with bidding wars. This can quickly get you to the peak of your price range. This can leave you feeling financially strapped, especially when you factor in property taxes, homeowner's insurance and all the other things a new home brings. If the cost is making you lose sleep for fear of overextending yourself financially, it might be time to walk away.

5. You're buying with another person who isn't 100% on board
Purchasing a home is a major financial decision and all parties involved must agree. Discuss your requirements in advance and prioritize them. If one or the other of you feels uncomfortable with a specific house, move on.

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 | |
Ranked #21 out of over 16,000 Realtors in Santa Clara County-2016

Monday, February 29, 2016

Do Neighbors Affect Property Values?

One of the best things about a home can be wonderful neighbors. But sometimes, neighbors can also be an issue.

Loud noises, unkempt yards and barking dogs can have an impact on property value. When you tour a home, make note of more than just the house, be sure to consider your potential neighbors as well.

The discussion about neighbors and the community is an important conversation to have with your real estate agent, whether you are buying a house or selling. As a buyer, make sure your agent understands your wants and needs so your agent can help you find the home and the neighborhood of your dreams. As a seller, enlist your agent's help to identify potential neighborhood challenges to address before your home goes on the market.

What Buyers Can Do

If you're thinking of buying in a certain area, your agent can do  research on the neighborhood. It also is beneficial for you to visit the neighborhood at different times of the day on your own or with your agent so you can see what kind of atmosphere exists at night, in the early morning and other times of the day. Walk around the neighborhood and if neighbors are outside, talk to them. This will help you gain some first hand knowledge of the neighbors themselves and how they enjoy living in the area.

What Sellers Can Do

If you're planning to sell your home, talk with the owners of neighboring properties. Let them know you are selling your home and want to present the neighborhood in the best possible light.

Don't conceal real problems or create a facade during showings. But working with your neighbors to help get the neighborhood ready to show along with your home is perfectly acceptable.

As you're packing up your  belongings and trashing collected junk, offer neighbors the use of your collection bin for free to dispose of their unwanted items, especially those items in front yards or driveways that are unsightly.

As you're working on your own landscaping, consider buying a nice outdoor potted plant for the neighbors to place on their doorstep. Or go a step further and offer to help them tend their yard.

General Neighbor Relationship Tips

Have you already moved in and then discover a problem?  Here are a few tips that can help diffuse and resolve issues with your new neighbors.

1. Let the neighbors know about the situation and how it is causing a disturbance. Be courteous in your approach. It could very well be that your neighbors don’t realize the issue. By giving them the benefit of the doubt, you will be kinder in your approach, as well as received on a good note.

2. If your neighbors are hard to contact by phone or won't answer their door, leave them a short, polite note.

3. Addressing the issue is the first step. As a priority, offer to compromise and also offer solutions. This shows that you have thought this through and understand that to peacefully co-exist, both parties must be willing to do some work.

4. Be informed. Know the ordinances and regulations on noise, trash and curfews that govern your homeowner's association, municipality, county and/or state. Often times, if a home is in an HOA managed community, the association can handle the issue.

5. Don't forget the golden rule. If you want good neighbors, you should be one as well. By approaching the issues with empathy and understanding, you are most likely to have a successful dialogue and solution.

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 | | 

Ranked #21 out of over 16,000 real estate agents in Santa Clara County.

Monday, February 15, 2016

5 Tips from Real Estate Photographers

Contrary to what you might have heard, a buyer’s first impression is no longer the moment when they drive up to check out your curb appeal. In fact, more often than not, they’ve already seen your home inside and out online.

Most buyers spend weeks perusing online listings, texting must-see homes to their agent, and making judgements about homes purely based on images they've seen on the Internet.

Photos are the curb appeal of the digital age, and those shots have to be good.

Here are 5 tips from real estate photographers to ensure your home has online curb appeal.

1. Don't take your own photos

To get a good photo, you need the right equipment, including a high-end camera and some full-featured editing software  results in richer, more flattering photographs.

2.   Go for a simple and decluttered look

Your home will appeal to more people if it is depersonalized and has a 'model home' feel. Pack away family photos, knicknacks, counter clutter and small appliances. Go for a sleek, simplified look.

3. Dirt does show

A missed stain on the kitchen floor, dust on the mantel, slight discoloration in the carpet—it’s all going to show in the photos. The good news is, a pro can edit most of those things out, but your house should be as clean as possible before the shoot.

4. Check the weather

If a big storm is due to hit on the day of your photos, it may be wise to reschedule, especially if your newly tidied yards take a hit. A good photographer can turn a cloudy sky blue with editing software but can't easily remove leaves, branches and other debris littered across your lawns, or enhance a photo to remove a downpour. Having your yards in perfect condition for the photographer is definitely key.

5. Do a final sweep

Now that you've packed those extra items away and had your house and yards tidied, it's wise to do a final sweep. Pay extra attention to blinds, curtains, bedspreads, and shower curtains, making sure they are in place and smooth. Make sure the toilet lids are closed. Refresh the toilet paper rolls. All those little touches make a big difference.

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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 | |

Ranked #21 out of over 16,000 real estate agents in Santa Clara County.

Monday, February 1, 2016

7 Things Your Realtor Does Behind Your Back

For every hour an agent spends in your presence, he or she will spend an average of nine hours out of eyesight working on your behalf. Why? Because agents don’t get paid if they don’t close the deal!

So if you’re wondering what their commission is actually going toward, we’ve compiled a list of things agents do when you’re not watching.

They shop property online

Your agent's real estate research includes looking up flood zones, gathering property-specific data, researching schools and much more.

Plus, listings come and go fast in the real estate world, so agents need to check their multiple listing service database constantly. Sometimes the process of matching up properties with clients can take a lot of time.

They go prospecting

Many Realtors spend time driving around checking out new listings. This is a great way to preview properties, and network with other agents about your listings.

They spend their own money on marketing

In addition to not getting paid until a deal is done, selling agents also spend their own money on marketing: email marketing campaigns, newspaper ads, fliers & brochures, staging, photography, and placements on listing sites.

They write up offers and counteroffers

Offers and counteroffers are an extremely important part of the transaction, as they can save or net you thousands of dollars on a sale. Yet getting to the right price requires written offers and counteroffers every step of the way.

They stick around for inspections

You might not be present when it’s inspection time, but often your agent will be. This gives the agent an immediate knowledge of what issues a home may have. They will then make recommendations to their sellers on what to repair or to the buyer's on how to negotiate.

They smooth bumps in the road

Not every sale goes smoothly but good agents try to shield their clients from the high drama unless there’s a reason to fill them in. Agents put out fires, fixing issues that buyers and sellers don't need to be bothered with.

They keep you calm when the pressure’s on

Good agents don’t just hand you a house. They can also act as a therapist, making your sale much less stressful. Your agent  problem-solves and keeps a positive approach, coming up with positive solutions. 

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 | |