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Monday, August 22, 2016

How to Price Your Home


Pricing will determine, among other things:
  1. How quickly your home sells
  2. How attractive your home will be to buyers
  3. How you will reach your financial goals regarding the transactions

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as your property’s being located in a high-risk, undesirable or unusual area, the listing price of your home will set the tone for your entire transaction.

That’s why my expertise and knowledge of your local marketplace is so helpful. I will gather statistics that quantify the prices of comparable homes in your neighborhood:
  • That have sold
  • That have not sold
  • That are pending
  • That currently are on the market

I will compare aspects of those homes against the unique features of yours. I will also analyze market conditions, the availability of mortgage funds, neighborhood reputation and characteristics, among other considerations, to create a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). The CMA provides objective information that will enable us to make an educated, informed pricing decision designed to yield a speedy sale for the most advantageous price possible.

Philosophically speaking, put yourself in a potential buyer’s shoes when considering pricing. Buyers’ main considerations will be location, age of property, its condition and style and of course, price. Thinking objectively about these matters will help you and me determine a price based on fair market value -- what your house is worth in the current market, not the amount you or your buyers would like it to be.

Other key aspects to consider include the following:

1. How soon do I want to sell my property?
Statistics show the narrower the gap between the asking price and my estimate of value, the sooner an offer will come in.

2. How does my home compare to others in the area?
As a real estate professional, I have access to details about current listed and sold properties through the Multiple Listing Service. You will be able to see how much competition there is and what effect market conditions have had in your area. You can then determine your price by analyzing homes comparable to yours in age, size, condition and location.

3. What are buyers willing to offer?
Buyers are interested in your home’s comparable worth, not what you might need to get out of the property. The buyer’s perception of the value of your home will not be altered by the cost of your next home, your need to pay off an existing mortgage, or your hope for a dollar-for-dollar return on home improvements. Remember that sellers and Realtors© are not appraisers...buyers are. In the end, it is the buyer's evaluation that matters. Buyers make their assessments by comparing your property with others that offer similar features and are in a similar condition to yours.

4. Is there any harm in overpricing property, then dropping the price if it doesn’t sell?
Yes. To effectively price your home, you must establish a solid correlation between the asking price and the fair market value. A realistic asking price will result in a fast, lucrative sale. If your price is out of sync with the market, you’re likely to turn off a large group of potential buyers. Contrary to popular belief, a buyer usually makes an offer on a fairly priced property before making a lower offer on a listing that is seen as overpriced. Also, overpricing your home often helps sell your neighbor's home faster than yours.

5. But my house is worth so much more...
Emotion and pride should have no place in the pricing process. Sellers speak of value, amount invested and what they can afford "to take." Buyers consider only price, condition and other properties offered.

6. Should I leave room for negotiating?
Experience has shown that the closer your listing price is to the supporting comparable sales data, the greater your chances for a quick sale at or near your asking price. As a result, we recommend pricing as close to that figure as possible. If you list your home at an unreasonably high price and receive a full-priced offer, the price will be tested during the appraisal and lending process. As a result, it’s important to price your property at something statistics and the experience of the local brokers can justify. In fact, agents will miss showing your property to potentially qualified buyers simply because, at face value, your property is out of their clients' price range.

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



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Monday, August 8, 2016

Seller Disclosure Requirements

During the escrow process, you must inform the buyer of specialized conditions that affect your home. These may include the following conditions:

Lead Paint
Sellers of properties built prior to 1978 have the following obligations:
  • Provide buyers with a HUD pamphlet entitled "Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home"
  • Disclose all known lead-based paint and related hazards and provide any available reports
  • Include a standardized warning as an attachment to the contract
  • Complete and sign statements verifying that requirements have been met
  • Retain the signed acknowledgement for 3 years
  • In addition, you must provide the buyers with a 10-day opportunity to test for lead

Natural Hazards
California law requires sellers to disclose, via a "Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement" or NHD, if properties are located in one of six predetermined "natural hazard" zones. (If the property is not within one of these zones, you, of course, have no such obligation.)

The six zones are:
  1. A flood hazard zone as designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  2. An area of potential flooding after a dam failure (also known as an inundation area)
  3. A very high fire hazard zone
  4. A wildland fire area, also known as a state fire responsibility area
  5. An earthquake fault zone
  6. A seismic hazard zone

If an NHD is delivered to the buyer after both parties have signed the Purchase Agreement, the buyer will have three days to rescind the agreement. However, if the buyer received the NHD before they signed the Purchase Agreement, then they cannot use the NHD to rescind.

Mello-Roos Districts
Especially (but not exclusively) if you are selling a home in a newer area, you may be within a Mello-Roos tax district, and you must provide to the buyer a "Notice of Special Tax." If this notice is delivered to the buyer in person, they have three days to rescind their offer. If it’s delivered via U.S. mail, they have five days to decide.

Basically, a "Mello-Roos Community Facilities District" is formed by a local government, district, or agency to finance public services and facilities including police and fire departments, ambulance and paramedic services, parks, schools, libraries, museums and cultural facilities.

Condominiums etc.
If you’re selling a condominium, townhouse or other planned development (for purposes of this discussion, we will call them all "condominiums"), there are the buyer needs to know about common areas (such as greenbelts and recreational rooms) and the homeowner’s association.

The buyer will be required to make monthly payments, known as regular assessments, to maintain common areas, as well as special assessments to replace a roof or repair the plumbing, as determined by the homeowner’s association (HOA.)

Condominiums also may have regulations regarding architectural requirements, limitations on pets, and age restrictions (i.e., senior housing). These must be formally disclosed to the buyer during escrow. You may provide this information via the following documents, to the extent that they exist and are available:

Declaration of Restrictions:
  • Commonly known as "CC&Rs", or Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions
  • Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Association
  • Bylaws
  • All current financial information and related statements, including operating budget, estimated revenue and expenses, HOA reserves, estimated remaining life of major components (including roofs, plumbing etc.), and regular and special assessments
  • A statement describing the HOA’s policies and practices in enforcing lien rights or other legal remedies for default in payment of its assessments
  • A summary of the HOA’s property, general liability, and earthquake and flood insurance policies
  • On existing HOA’s, a statement describing any restrictions on the basis of age, such as authorized senior citizen housing

Many smaller HOAs will not have all of these documents, but must provide what they do have.
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



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Monday, July 25, 2016

How to Help Sell Your Home

Let your home smile a welcome to buyers when the agent shows the house...

Three's A Crowd

Avoid having too many people present during inspections. The potential buyer will feel like an intruder and will hurry through the house.

Music is Mellow

But not when showing a house. Turn off the blaring radio or television. Let the salesman and buyer talk, free of disturbances.

Pets Underfoot?

Keep them out of the way-preferably out of the house.

Silence is Golden

Be courteous, but don't force conversation with the potential buyer. He/she wants to inspect your house-not pay a social call.

Be It Ever So Humble

Never apologize for the appearance of your home. After all, it has been lived in. Let the trained salesperson answer any objections. This is his job.

In the Background

The salesperson knows the buyer's requirements and can better emphasize the features of your home when you don't tag along. You will be called if needed.

Why Put the Cart Before the Horse?

Trying to dispose of furniture and furnishings to the potential buyer before he has purchased the house often loses a sale.

A Word to the Wise

Let your Realtor discuss price terms, possession and other factors with the customer. He is eminently qualified to bring negotiations to a favorable conclusion.

Use Your Agent

Show your home to prospective customers only by appointment through your agent. Your cooperation will be appreciated and will help close the sale more quickly.

First Impressions are Lasting

The front door greets the prospect. Make sure it is fresh, clean and scrubbed looking. Keep lawn trimmed and edged, and the yard free of refuse.

Decorate for a Quick Sale

Faded walls and worn woodwork reduce appeal. Why tell the prospect how your home could look, when you can show him by redecorating? A quicker sale at a higher price will result. An investment in new kitchen wallpaper will pay dividends.

Let the Sun Shine In

Open draperies and curtains and let the prospects see how cheerful your home can be. (Dark homes do not appeal.)

Fix That Faucet

Dripping water discolors sinks and suggests faulty plumbing.

Repairs Can Make a Big Difference

Loose knobs, sticking doors and windows, warped cabinet drawers and other minor flaws detract from home value. Have them fixed.

From Top to Bottom

Display the full value of your attic and other utility space by removing all unnecessary articles.

Safety First

Keep stairways clear. Avoid cluttered appearances and possible injuries.

Make Closets Look Bigger

Neat well organized closets show that you have ample space.

Bathrooms Help Sell Homes

Check and repair caulking in bathtubs and showers. Make this room sparkle.

Arrange Bedrooms Neatly

Remove excess furniture. Use attractive bedspreads and freshly laundered curtains.

Can you See the Light?

Illumination is like a welcome sign. The potential buyer will feel a glowing warmth when you turn on all your lights for an evening inspection.

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



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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.

Outdoors
  • 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.

Exterior
  • 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.

Bathrooms
  • 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.

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

Closets
  • 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.

Overall
  • 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 |  Julie@JulieWyss.comwww.JulieWyss.com

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 |  Julie@JulieWyss.comwww.JulieWyss.com

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 |  Julie@JulieWyss.comwww.JulieWyss.com

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 |  Julie@JulieWyss.com | www.JulieWyss.com
Ranked #21 out of over 16,000 Realtors in Santa Clara County-2016