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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 | |

Monday, January 18, 2016

Remodeling Projects with the Biggest Return

Home improvements can increase home value and make your house feel like a home but they are not all created equal. Learn which remodeling projects will work for you when it comes time to sell.

The Top Three

Replace Your Front Door
The top home improvement, replacing your entry door with an updated, steel exterior door costs only $1,366 but recoups 123% of the cost.

Garage Door Replacement
Another exterior upgrade that offers significant ROI, replacing your garage door runs about $1,756 and offers 110% resale value.

Wood Deck Addition
A much more significant cost outlay at $11,685, adding a wood deck addition provides desirable outdoor living space and recoups 101% of the cost.

Other home improvements that have a respectable return include window replacements (wood) with a 95% ROI, vinyl window replacements at 90.5% return, creating an attic bedroom, which recovers almost 92% of the $60,675 cost and a mid-range bathroom remodel that has an ROI of about 86% of its $19,436 cost.

If you're considering home improvements that are quick, fairly easy and low cost, replacing your front and garage doors give the most bang for your buck. Many other improvements may not offer the same return on investment but can add an increased level of pleasure and enhanced lifestyle while living in your home.

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, January 4, 2016

Getting the Best Value for Your Home

A strategic sales plan, coupled with a smart buy in your new location will ensure that you recoup the maximum value for your home.

Plan Strategically
Consult with a local real estate agent to ensure your house is priced competitively and shows its best. There are three key factors to getting a home sold—location, price, and condition and only two are under your control: price and condition. Of the two, price is more significant. Remember that if a home is priced properly, it will compensate for poor condition, but whatever the condition, it will never overcome a incorrectly priced home.

The best price you’ll get in today’s market is the one you get now. Don’t worry about where the market has been, keep your focus on where it is going. The price your neighbor down the street got six months ago is not relevant in a market where your house is competing with others from all across town. A local, knowledgable real estate agent will be able to help you decide how to pinpoint your price with precision.

Buy Smart
Whether you are moving to an area where prices are in a downturn or have plans to move up to a nicer home in the same town, selling your house now can get you into the home of your dreams. Whether home prices are on the rise or on the decline, either presents a great opportunity for a savvy homeowner looking to move up. Even if your house price may be lower, the loss at sale can be made up by greater savings at purchase because generally, if home prices are declining, that tends to occur across the board.

By teaming with an experienced local agent who knows how to work with the current market and who can assist in showcasing your home, you'll will get the most from the sale of your home.

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, December 21, 2015

6 Staging Tips for Sellers

Professional stagers are designer/decorators charged with making your house more marketable.

Prepping your home for getting the best offer possible means decorating rooms, walls, floors, and ceilings in a way that encourages potential buyers to imagine themselves in your home. Stagers favor neutral walls, simple layouts, and minimal artwork.

“There’s a big difference between designing for someone’s tastes and remerchandizing a home to appeal to as many people as possible,” says Kathy Burke of Sensational Home Staging in Danville, CA. Getting it right is a critical and enigmatic art. Don’t panic! We got some stagers to reveal their secrets to help you navigate the process.

1. Don’t take it personally

We know you love the way you set up your living room. That eclectic collection of wicker baskets from all your European travels stacked up in the corner? It’s the perfect detail for you—but not for your stager. Not even close.

So here’s the thing: When they tell you what to change (and they absolutely will), don’t be offended. It doesn’t mean they think your style is awful. Not necessarily, anyway.

“It’s not about whether I like something or not,” Burke says. “It’s about how we’re going to present it. I know what photographs well and what looks dated.”

Her favorite clients are the ones who know tough feedback is coming and don’t care: “I walk in and they say, ‘You can’t hurt my feelings. Do whatever you want.’”

2. Toss your stuff, and disconnect emotionally

For many sellers, home staging will be the first time they realize they’re really, actually moving. Family pictures come down, the sofa goes into storage, and suddenly this place you called yours is looking less and less like you.

If you need to do some emotional processing, we understand: It’s hard to put your family home on the market. But don’t subject your stager to your stress. Detach. Chill out. Help the process, don’t hinder or fight it. Keep your eye on the prize: selling your home at the right price, to the right buyers, within the right time frame.

What does that really mean? Try removing as much of your stuff as possible before the stager comes. By tackling spring cleaning you’ll not only accomplish some necessary decluttering before your move, but you’ll also get used to the idea that this is no longer your home.

“We need to make sure that they’re truly ready to sell their house,” says David Peterson of  Synergy Staging based in Portland, OR. “That’s a big part of emotionally disconnecting.”

3. Move out (if you can)

Both Peterson and Burke find staging a home vastly easier when it’s vacant. If you can afford to move out when the home goes on the market, do it.

“It’s easier for them, it’s easier on their pets, and it’s easier on the buyer,” Burke says. “We can create one cohesive look and don’t have to blend anything.”

Occupied houses present more of a challenge (and take substantially more time): Stagers have to accommodate daily living, as well as risk the homeowner not preserving their layout (or any rented furniture).

Occupied homes can even cost more to stage. “It’s just a lot more work, timewise, when the owners are still living in the place,” Burke says.

4. Stay out of the picture(s)

According to the 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 92% of buyers use the Internet to look for homes—meaning the pictures posted alongside your home’s listing are wildly important.

“Much of what I’m doing is to appeal to people through photographs,” Burke says. “I hope that photo will touch people and they’ll say, ‘That’s going on my short list.’”

Peterson aims to be the “last person in before the photographers. We want those pictures to look great.”

But no one wants the buyers to be disappointed with the home’s real-life presentation after seeing photos online. So here’s a bonus: If you’re staying in the property, make sure to keep it in tiptop shape.

5. Get your money’s worth

Staging isn’t a last-minute addition before your home officially goes on the market. Stagers work far in advance and can’t always fit in last-minute work. Costs start around $1,250, depending on your state of residence, square footage, and what—if any—furniture you rent, according to the Real Estate Staging Association.

That might seem like a lot of money to spend on a home you’re about to sell, but both Burke and Peterson say staging is an investment with a very high return. “Anything we put in, we want to make sure you’re getting your money back,” Burke says. Some realtors include staging as part of their budget to market your home.

6. Stay on schedule

Don’t dillydally on making the recommended changes for your stager, who can’t begin rearranging until you’ve finished renovating. Usually the requested changes are small (new paint, fixing chipped tiles in the bathroom, etc.).

Not finishing small jobs on time can push the entire project back.

“If we get there and a place hasn’t been cleaned, or there’s still a painting crew, we can’t do our jobs. Then we have to charge them a fee, leave, and then reschedule,” Peterson says. “If we’re booked out several weeks, it really makes it hard.” And maybe even more expensive. So get moving.

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 | |