Follow by Email

Monday, March 16, 2015

Managing the Details

Once you have negotiated a contract and agreed on a sale price, the next phase of the home sale job begins.

Below is a list of some of the details your agent will manage through this process.

They will constantly check with the title company to assess when they need additional information and whether there will be any problems that could affect obtaining title.

They will ensure that both you and your Buyer receive copies of all documents pertaining to the transaction. They will have the Buyer sign to acknowledge that he/she has received his/her copies.

They will make sure that the Buyer meets and removes all contingencies within the time limit provided or get an extension, if needed, signed by both you and the Buyer.

They will keep you abreast of the Buyer's application for a loan and the progress of the appraisal on your home.

They will work with the appraiser to arrange for entry to the property and to answer any questions he/she may have about the home or neighborhood. I wil also provide the appraiser with the most recent comparable sales in the area.

They will make sure that the Buyer increases their deposit in a timely manner.

They will coordinate and attend as many inspections as possible and keep you informed of all findings.

Once the inspections are complete, they will negotiate for you if any problems arise.

They will cooperate with the Buyer and others involved ensuring that corrective work is completed according to the terms of the contract.

They will ensure that all documents are ordered and drawn, including your loan pay-off and insurance for the Buyer.

They will do their best to have your closing papers drawn one week before Close of Escrow (COE) so that if any problems arise, they can solve them while remaining within the time frame you expect.

If you prefer, they may be able to deliver your escrow check to you personally as well as coordinate move-in dates and key exchanges.

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, March 2, 2015

The Purchase Agreement

You've found a home you love and you're offer has been accepted. Now what?


Your agent will use a standard form of Purchase Agreement, developed by the Association of Realtors ® , a local Association of Realtors ® , or a private publishing company, depending on the custom in the area. You can make changes – but the seller must agree to each of the changes you make.

In the United States, oral contracts are not enforceable – real estate contracts must be in writing. Even if you give me, your agent, permission to bargain on your behalf, I must have a Purchase Agreement signed by all buyers before I can present your offer.

When you read the Purchase Agreement, try to imagine yourself as an independent party who has no knowledge of the transaction other than what’s included in the contract. Is the meaning of each clause clear? For example, to avoid miscommunication list all personal property you expect to be included in the transaction. Also, it’s a good idea to stipulate the exact date and time of possession – if you’re not specific, you and your moving van could arrive and find that the seller still inside the home!

Specify in the contract that the seller is obligated to repair any damage (along with the conditions causing such damage) noted in the pest control report and the reports of other inspections.

Elements in the Purchase Agreement


Sales Price
Self-explanatory, but still the most important term.

Earnest money
Along with your Purchase Agreement, you will submit earnest money to demonstrate your seriousness about the home.  “Earnest Money” is generally between 1% and 5% of the purchase price. If your offer is accepted, the earnest money becomes part of your down payment or closing costs. If the offer is rejected, your money is returned to you. If you back out of a deal against the terms of the contract, you may have to forfeit the entire amount.

Title
"Title" refers to the legal ownership. The seller should provide title, free and clear of claims by others not acceptable to you, the buyer. Title insurance will assure that the home is free of "unacceptable liens" or "encumbrances."  It’s negotiable who will pay for the title insurance policy.

Mortgage Clause
A clause which specifies that the obtaining of a mortgage loan on the property on terms and conditions acceptable to you is a condition of the sale, and provides for the refund of your deposit if you fail to get the mortgage loan.

Pest Inspection
This clause provides for a pest control inspection and report by a licensed pest control operator. Sometimes sellers will provide this report prior to the purchase agreement. If not, it provides for a method of allocating whether seller, buyer or both will pay for the repairs disclosed by the report. Your lender may require a certificate from a qualified inspector stating that the property is free from termites, pests and dry rot.

Home Inspection
I strongly recommend an inspection and written report by a home inspector who is a licensed general contractor to determine the condition of plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical systems, the structure of the home, the grading, roof, siding, windows and doors. Most buyers prefer to pay for inspections (generally between $300 - $500) so that it’s clear that the inspector is working for them, not the seller. I also strongly recommend that you request any such additional inspections as may be recommended by your home inspector, such as a separate roof inspection, foundation or soils inspection, pool inspection, etc. These additional inspections may reveal conditions or defects beyond the ability of a general home inspector to ascertain.

Other Disclosure and Inspection Terms
See the section on "What you need to know" for a detailed discussion of these disclosure and inspection items.

Contingencies
You can specify, in your Purchase Agreement, that certain conditions must be met before the sale goes through. Contingencies are crucial, so be sure to speak up and tell me what’s important to you, so that all of your concerns are reflected in the offer. They may include:

Your ability to obtain specific financing from a lending institution. This contingency will ensure that if you can’t find the loan, you will not be bound by the contract.
That the home inspector you hire provides a satisfactory report within 10 days (for example) after the seller accepts your offer. With the proper contingency, if the report does not satisfy you, the contract becomes void.

The sale of your existing home.

Obviously, in a slower home sale market, sellers are more willing to accept contingencies than they are during more active circumstances. Too many contingencies in a strong real estate market may prevent your offer from being accepted. Make sure your contingencies are clear.
Earnest Money
This is a deposit that you give when making an offer on a house. A seller is understandably suspicious of a written offer that is not accompanied by a cash deposit to show "good faith." The real estate agent usually holds the deposit, the amount of which varies from community to community. This amount will become part of the down payment.

Escrow Company
In most instances, the buyer will select the escrow company which is also the title company providing the title insurance policy after close of escrow. In some counties where the custom is for the seller to pay for the title insurance policy, the seller will select the escrow and title company.

Closing Costs
You can negotiate which closing costs you will pay and which will be paid by the seller. However, be aware that longstanding custom regarding the handling of the allocation of these costs makes many of them hard to negotiate on terms different from local custom. If a seller was obligated to pay a certain closing cost when he or she bought the property, they will expect you, the buyer, to pay the same cost on your purchase. See the section on "Who Pays What?" which details these cost allocations in the area we serve.

Withdrawing an offer
In most cases the buyer may withdraw an offer right up until the moment the offer is accepted. Consult us as to the best and safest way to withdraw your offer.

The seller’s response to the offer
You will have a binding contract if the seller, upon receiving the written offer, signs an acceptance just as it stands, unconditionally. The offer becomes a firm contract as soon as the signed offer is delivered to you or me, your agent. If the offer is rejected, then the offer is no longer valid. If the seller likes everything except the sale price, or the proposed closing date, or the terms of your offer, you may receive a written counteroffer, with the changes the seller prefers. You are then free to accept or reject the counteroffer, or even to make your own counteroffer.

Each time either party makes any change in the terms, the other side is free to accept or reject it, or counter again. The document becomes a binding contract only when one party finally signs an unconditional acceptance of the other side’s proposal and that final, unchanged document is delivered to the other party or their agent.

How the seller may counteroffer
The buyer and seller can negotiate and agree about any of the terms, conditions, costs and who pays for them. Some terms and conditions that are negotiable include:

  • Termite inspection fee and costs to repair any damage
  • Closing costs
  • Points to the buyer’s lender
  • Buyer’s broker
  • Repairs required by the lender
  • Repairs of conditions or defects disclosed by the seller, uncovered by inspectors, or required by governmental agencies
  • Date for the close of escrow
  • Date and time for possession by buyer
  • A holding over, or rent back, by seller after close of escrow
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, February 16, 2015

9 Steps To Take Before Selling Your Home

The home selling process differs from state to state, but there are some important steps that you should take before you put your house on the market--all steps that protect your interests and help you get the most return from your investment.


1. Get Pre-Approved for a Home Loan

 

I've known sellers who signed a contract to sell their house before they knew if they were qualified to buy another. Either their financial circumstances had changed since their last purchase, and they could no longer qualify for a loan, or they weren't able to sell at a price that allowed them to buy the type of replacement house they wanted. They ended up renting or buying something that was far from ideal. 

Before you decide to sell the house, get pre-approved by a lender you trust and research the housing market in the area where you wish to live so that you have a good idea how much it will take to buy a replacement. 

2. Check Your Mortgage Payoff

 

Call your lender to check the payoff for your current home mortgage. You'll need the figure to complete Step 6. 

3. Determine How Much the House Is Worth

 

Determine your home's fair market value. Real estate agents will usually help you determine value as a courtesy, but you might take it a step further and order an appraisal.

4. Estimate Your Costs to Sell

  • Real estate commission if you use an agency to sell.
  • Advertising costs, signs, other fees if you plan to sell by owner.
  • Attorney, closing agent and other professional fees.
  • Excise tax for the sale.
  • Prorated costs for your share of annual expenses, such as property taxes, home owner association fees, and fuel tank rentals.
  • Any other fees typically paid by the seller in your area (surveys, inspections, etc.).
  • Real estate agents deal with transactions every day and can give you a very close estimate of seller closing costs. 

5. Determine Your Costs to Acquire a New Home

  • Total your costs to acquire a new home: moving expenses, loan costs, down payment, home inspections, title work and policy, paying for a new hazard insurance policy--all expenses related to buying a home. Your lender should give you a disclosure of estimated costs when you apply for pre-approval.

6. Calculate Your Estimated Proceeds

  1. Deduct your mortgage payoff from your home's fair market value.
  2. Deduct your costs to sell from the remainder to get an estimate of the proceeds you will be paid at closing.
  3.  Will your closing proceeds cover your costs to acquire a new home? If not, do you have cash or other funding to make up the difference? 

7. Make Necessary Repairs

 

Make all needed repairs unless you want the house to be regarded as a fixer-upper. I'm not referring to cosmetic updates, but to items in need of repair. Anything that's obviously broken gives potential buyers a reason to submit a lower offer. 

For a preview of several repair hot spots that worry buyers the most, read Passing Your Home Inspection

8. Get the House Ready to Show

 

Most houses need at least a little spiffing up before they are shown to potential buyers. Great curb appeal, fresh paint indoors (and sometimes out), organized closets and cabinets, sparkling clean windows and appliances, and a clutter-free atmosphere are essential if you want the house to appeal to buyers. 

Read: The Importance of Curb Appeal and Getting the House Ready for Showings for more prep advice. 

9. Get Psyched Up to Let People In

 

If you're listing with a real estate agent, she'll no doubt ask you to leave when the house is shown. Why? Because lurking sellers make buyers nervous--they don't feel comfortable inspecting the house when they feel they are intruding. 

Unless there's a real reason for it, don't ask your agent to be present for all showings. That's the kiss of death for showing activity. Other agents want privacy with their buyers and they don't usually have time to work around your agent's schedule.
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.
  www.JulieWyss.com   |   Julie@JulieWyss.com   |   408.687.2026

Monday, February 2, 2015

Analyzing Your Debt To Income Ratio


The ratio affects your buying power...

Your debt to income ratio is a simple way of showing what percentage of your income is available for a mortgage payment after all other continuing obligations are met. The ratio is one of the many things a lender considers before approving your home loan.
You may see conventional loan debt limits referred to as the 28/36 qualifying ratio. Those numbers refer to two percentages that are used to examine two aspects of your debt load.

The First Number, 28%
 
This number indicates the maximum percentage of your monthly gross income that the lender allows for housing expenses. The total includes payments on the loan principal and interest, private mortgage insurance, hazard insurance, property taxes, and homeowner's association dues. (Often referred to by the acronym PITI.) 

The Second Number, 36%
 
This number refers to the maximum percentage of your monthly gross income that the lender allows for housing expenses plus recurring debt.
Recurring debt includes credit card payments, child support, car loans, and other obligations that will not be paid off within a relatively short period of time (6-10 months). 

Debt to Income Example
 
Yearly Gross Income = $45,000 / Divided by 12 = $3,750 per month income
$3,750 Monthly Income x .28 = $1,050 allowed for housing expense
$3,750 Monthly Income x .36 = $1,350 allowed for housing expense plus recurring debt.

Not All Loans Are the Same
 
FHA loan ratios are typically 29/41, allowing a higher debt load for both housing expenses and recurring debt.
  • For the above example, FHA would allow $1087 for housing and $1538 for housing plus recurring debt.
  • For a VA loan, the debt to income ratio should not exceed 41% of your monthly gross income. 

Get Pre-Approved
 
Staying within the lender's debt to income ratio limits is only one part of qualifying for a home loan. 

If the overall picture looks good, a lender may allow you to carry more debt. It's always best to be pre-approved before you begin home shopping, so that you'll know exactly what price range (and loan payment) fits your budget.

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.



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

Monday, January 19, 2015

Home Seller's Checklist

When selling your home, its helpful to have a handy checklist so you'll remember what items should be repaired in advance or maintained while your home is being viewed by potential buyers.


Keep yourself organized with the following checklist.

Clean and Maintain

  • Windows, sills, and screens
  • Walls and floor
  • Tile
  • Ceilings
  • Cupboards and drawers
  • Kitchen
  • Bathrooms
  • Light fixtures
  • Ceiling fans
  • Carpet and rugs
  • Mirrors
  • Garage
  • Attic
  • Basement
  • Laundry room
  • Yard
  • Gutters
  • Replace furnace filter
  • Dust furniture, TV and computer screens
  • Closets
  • Remove clutter
  • Pack personal items

Repair

  • Leaky faucets and plumbing
  • Torn screens
  • Slow drains
  • Gutters
  • Loose doorknobs
  • Deck boards
  • Broken windows
  • Electrical fixtures
  • Water stain damage
  • Broken appliances
  • Damaged walls and ceilings
  • Worn carpet and rugs
  • Damaged sidewalks and steps

Improvements

  • Stain or paint deck
  • Store tools
  • Roll up garden hose
  • Paint or stain exterior
  • Prune bushes and hedges
  • Trim trees
  • Mow lawn, fertilize, edge, and trim
  • Weed gardens, plant flowers
  • Shovel driveways, de-ice
  • Stack firewood
  • Clean out birdbaths
  • Caulk windows and doors
  • Repair and paint fences
  • Seal asphalt driveway
  • Make sure doors close properly
  • Enhance entryway
  • Replace 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. 


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

Monday, January 5, 2015

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 throughout your house, you can grab the attention of potential buyers and help them see why your house is right for them.


Plan Ahead

Create a plan to enhance your property. Keep a notebook for your selling project, and as you stroll through your yard, make a list of what needs to be done. Consider what your property looks like to people driving by or walking through your door. What will they like or dislike? What needs fixing, painting, cleaning? What can you improve? Whether you paint your house or fix up the yard, your efforts don’t need to be costly; even inexpensive improvements and minor repairs go far toward attracting serious buyers. But remember, those seemingly insignificant problems you’ve learned to live with can actually discourage potential buyers. Here are ideas for increasing your home’s appeal in order to sell it quickly at the best price.



Interior


Clean Everything

Buyers expect a spotless house, inside and out. So clean everything, especially your windows and window sills. Scrub walls and floors, tile and ceilings, cupboards and drawers, kitchen and bathrooms. Wash scuff marks from doors and entryways, clean light fixtures and the fireplace. Don’t forget the laundry room. And put away your clothes.


Cut the Clutter

People are turned off by rooms that look and feel cluttered. Remember, potential buyers are buying your house, not your furniture, so help them picture themselves and their possessions in your home by making your rooms feel large, light, and airy. As you clean, pack away your personal items, such as pictures, valuables, and collectibles, and store or get rid of surplus books, magazines, videotapes, extra furniture, rugs, blankets, etc. Consider renting a storage unit to eliminate clutter in your garage and attic.


It’s hard to get rid of possessions, but cleaning and clearing out the clutter can really pay off in the end. Packing away your clutter also gets you started packing for your next move. Make your garage and basement as tidy as the rest of your house. Simple little tasks such as storing your tools and neatly rolling up your garden hose suggest that you take good care of your house. Don’t let anything detract from making your best first impression.


Closets

They’re an important consideration to many buyers. By storing clothing you won’t use soon, you’ll make closets look spacious.


Paint

A new coat of paint cleans up your living space and makes it look bright and new. To make rooms look larger, choose light, neutral colors that appeal to the most people, such as beige or white.


Carpet

Check its condition. If it’s worn, consider replacing it. It’s an easy and affordable way to help sell your home faster. Again, light, neutral colors, such as beige, are best. If you don’t replace it, you can suggest to potential buyers that they could select new carpet and you’ll reduce your price; buyers like to hear they’re getting a deal. At the very least, have your carpet cleaned.

Repairs and Renovations

It’s best to avoid making major renovations just to sell the house since you’re unlikely to recoup those costs from your selling price. Make minor repairs to items such as leaky faucets, slow drains, torn screens, gutters, loose doorknobs, and broken windows. Make sure repairs are well done; buyers won’t take you seriously if your home-improvement efforts look messy, shoddy, or amateurish.


Leaks and Moisture

Water stains on ceilings or in the basement alert buyers to potential problems. Don’t try to cosmetically cover up stains caused by leaks. If you’ve fixed the water problem, repair the damage and disclose in writing to the buyer what repairs were made.


Exterior

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.


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

Monday, December 22, 2014

Common Myths About Working With Real Estate Agents

It is important to understand the buyer-agent relationship.  Get started by avoiding these common myths about working with a Real Estate agent.

Home Buying Myth Number 1
I'll get the best deal on the house if I call the agent listed on the For Sale sign.

Maybe, maybe not. That agent represents the seller and is contractually bound to get the best deal for the seller. That doesn't mean the agent can't work with you in a fair and professional manner as a dual agent, but it does mean you should not disclose confidential details to the agent, until you are assured that the agent will keep your information confidential.

Bottom Line
If you tell a seller's agent the top dollar you will pay for a house, the agent must pass that on to the seller.

A dual agent cannot do that. Agency laws differ in every state, so take time to learn about agent duties and loyalties before you enter the home buying market.

Home Buying Myth Number 2
The agent told me I had to sign a Buyer Agency agreement before he would work with me, so I did, and now I'm unhappy with the relationship.

You might know you are a good match with an agent on the very first day you meet, but what if you aren't sure? If an agent asks you to sign an agency agreement before you feel comfortable about it, try one of these alternatives:

·  Ask the agent to work under a verbal buyer agency agreement for a short time. Some states allow this, giving you time to become familiar with the agent before you sign a formal agreement.
·  Ask the agent to write a buyer agency agreement that covers a very short period, a day or a week.
·  Find out if the agent can offer a non-exclusive buyer agency agreement. The agent would be your buyer's agent, but you would not be tied exclusively to her.
·  Let the agent continue to be a seller's agent--just don't disclose confidential information.

Bottom Line
If the agent will only work with you if you immediately sign a lengthy buyer agency agreement, you might be better off seeking another agent.

Home Buying Myth Number 3
I can find more homes for sale by calling lots of agents.

Maybe--but maybe not. If you are home shopping in a specific area, and the agencies belong to Multiple Listing Services, it means they all have access to the same properties.

Ask agents what areas they cover. Small-town agents might work a multi-county area. Agents in a city might restrict themselves to certain neighborhoods or subdivisions.

If you sign agreements with more than one buyer's agent, make sure the contracts are worded so that areas and duties do not overlap. For instance, Agent X works for you only in County A. Agent Y works for you only in County B.

Bottom Line
Researching and showing properties is time-consuming, so you'll get better service if you find an agent you like (within a given area) and stick with that agent.


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