Harsh Truths about Selling Your House

Selling your home is a big deal.  It’s probably your biggest asset, so you need to be as prepared and educated as possible.  Oh hey, that’s where I come in!

There’s a LOT of resources out there about how to sell your house, what to do before, what to do during, etc.  But there are some things that might be hard to wrap your mind around.

  1. It’s not your home anymore.  It’s just a house. – This is now a business transaction.  All of that baggage (good or bad) does not matter to the buyer of your house.  Real estate is emotional, but it’s business and thus your decisions cannot be made based on emotion and sentiment.
  2. Your opinions don’t matter. – The buyer of your house does not care about all of the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve put into the kitchen renovation.  They do not care about your design taste.  They do not care if you think your house is the best one on the market.  All they care about is whether your house will work for them and what they are willing to pay for it.
  3. Your stuff is ugly! (maybe) – When you put your house on the market, you should be living in a magazine.  Image matters.. and the more it looks like a magazine, the better a potential buyer can imagine themselves living there.  Best advice: take grandma out of the house.  Anything that’s tired, outdated, or less than pleasant to look at should be taken out of the house.  Donate, sell, or store – doesn’t matter as long as it’s out of sight.  Same goes for personal photos.  It’s a lot harder for a potential buyer to imagine themselves living in your house if you’ve left out your wedding photos, family photos, etc.
  4. It’s not about you, boo! – Yes, it’s your house and you own it.  But someone still has to be ready, willing, and able to buy it from you.  There are only so many things you can control.  Price, condition/presentation, and availability are a few.  You cannot force someone to buy your house, control market value, market conditions, your competition, the buyer’s opinion, or the price they’re willing to pay for your house.  You need to be flexible and remember that the ultimate goal is to sell your house for the best possible price in the shortest amount of time.
  5. Market value is a moment in time. – Price is here today and changed tomorrow.  Like I mentioned earlier, you cannot control market conditions and trends.  Your neighbor’s house could go on the market tomorrow and affect (positively OR negatively) the value of your house.  It’s my job to stay on top of that and keep you informed, so don’t be surprised if I suggest adjusting your list price based on what’s happening in the market.
  6. It takes work. – Yes, selling your house is my job and I handle almost all of it for you.  You still have some responsibilities of your own.  You’re responsible for decluttering, taking care of all of those maintenance things you’ve been putting off, deep cleaning, and getting your house to magazine-level.  Of course, I’m here to guide you and help you figure out what to do and what not to do but market preparation takes effort.

 

I didn’t scare you did I?  Selling your house doesn’t need to be scary as long as you’re prepared, educated, and working with a professional who’s there to guide you every step of the way.  *insert shameless plug here*

 

Questions?  Thoughts? Conundrums? Crises?  Contact me directly or post in the comments below!

Written By: Elissa Laderach. A designer, crossfitter, swimmer, biker, triathlete, dog mom, coffee lover, and REALTOR®  currently in Alexandria, VA with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty.

8 Things to Know: Holiday House Hunting

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…. to buy a house?  Well, yes and no.  Moving during the Holiday Season has its pros and cons, but whether it’s a good idea is totally up to YOU.  Here’s what you need to know about house hunting during the end of the year:

  1. Less competition – The spring and summer real estate frenzy is over!  The majority of the year’s home buyers are already getting settled in their new homes.  The rest of them are either in a “Black Friday Panic” (and therefore are your biggest competition) or they’ve traded house hunting for gift shopping, holiday parties, and time spent with their families.  Overall, demand is less than it was before Thanksgiving.
  2. Motivated sellers – You could even say they’re desperate.  It’s the end of the year, tax season is coming, maybe their home has been on the market for longer than the area’s average.  Bottom line, they’re ready to MOVE.  Your negotiating leverage is looking pretty good.
  3. Better deals – Because of the previous two things, you have more negotiating leverage.  There is less supply and demand during winter and you might just score a better deal.  Sellers have a sense of urgency, maybe because there’s less competition and they want to sell before year’s end.
  4. Focused real estate agents – A real estate agent’s client load is often significantly lighter during the holiday season.  The agents that are still active during the holidays have much more capacity to focus on YOU.
  5. Lower inventory – Several sellers wait to list and/or take their homes off of the market until after the New Year.  This means it could be slim pickings for you and your house hunting may take longer than expected.
  6. Weather – Winter is cold and dreary (at least it is here in the DC metro area).  It’s not always fun to go outside, and it get’s dark much earlier.  If you do your house hunting after work on a weekday, you might not even get to see the outside very well.  Curb appeal might also be less appealing because the foliage is gone, but on the flip side this helps you be more objective about the home you choose.
  7. Checking heating & cooling systems – This one is a double-edged sword.  Once you’ve found your home and it’s time for inspections, you can get great insights on the condition of your heating system.  However, testing the cooling system can harm it and most home inspectors won’t do it if the temperature is too low.
  8. Busy busy busy – The Holidays are a busy time of year for most people.  Hopping from one thing to the next, getting all of your shopping done, the obligatory visit to your crazy relatives, etc.  Adding in house hunting on top of ALL THE THINGS could be a lot to handle.  Purchasing a home is one of the greatest decisions of your life, so make sure you have enough room on your plate to truly focus on your house hunting.

Now that you’ve had time to reflect, is it time to start house hunting or do you need to wait until January?  Either way, let’s talk.

 

Wire Fraud – It’s a thing.

Wire fraud in the real estate industry is a really scary thing.  It’s so real and is happening in markets across the country.  The Washington D.C. Metro area is no exception.  In summer 2017 cyber criminals stole more than $14 million from unsuspecting home buyers.  Some of them lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in one fell swoop.

Real estate transactions often involve wiring large amounts of money for earnest money deposits, down payments, closing costs, etc.  The wiring instructions are often sent via email, and one of the most common scams has been to convince an unwary buyer that the instructions for wiring funds have changed at the last minute “for security reasons.” The email, which appears to come from the title company or other settlement service provider, asks the buyer to wire their funds to a different link than previously agreed. The unsuspecting buyer who falls for this deception will discover, too late, that their money has been diverted to the scammer’s offshore account and is gone forever, along with the scammer.

So how can we be smarter and avoid falling prey to these scams? Never EVER under ANY circumstances wire funds without personally verifying with the title company or real estate closing lawyer that any change is genuine.  I’d even call to verify the original instructions just to be safe.  If you think you may have fallen prey to a scam, there are some immediate actions that may offer a slim chance to recover the misdirected funds.  The faster you act, the better because often times once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.

  • Contact your bank from which the funds were sent. They may be able to stop the transfer.
  • Contact your Realtor® so they can notify all parties to the transaction.
  • Immediately contact the FBI. You can file a complaint at www.ic3.gov. This should be done as quickly as possible. Like I said, once it’s gone, it’s gone for good and some criminal just got a nice donation.

Buying a home is sometimes stressful and confusing, and is almost always emotional. This makes buyers prime targets for criminals because they know the right buttons to push to pull a fast one.

Stay informed, always be vigilant. There is no such thing as being too cautious when it comes to sending money.  ALWAYS call to confirm instructions for wiring money.

As always, for anything real estate and beyond please contact me any time.

 

Source: TBWS

Based on an article by Jason Banks of Presidential Bank, used with permission.

Down Payments – What’s the deal?

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You need 20% down to buy a house.  That is what I have heard in many places and what I thought was truth for many years.  That chunk of cash is a lot, especially if you’re a first time homebuyer.  What if I told you that saving up 20% to put down on a home is NOT the only path to homeownership?

The truth is, coming up with a 20% mortgage down payment is not the only way to buy a house via financing.  That number is still a benchmark most often used by lenders and mortgage experts, but that doesn’t mean it’s required.  More than 70% of noncash, first-time home buyers — and 54% of all buyers — made down payments of less than 20% over at least the last five years, according to the National Assn. of Realtors.

The typical down payment for 60% of first-time home buyers is 6% or less, according toNAR’s latest data. But the association’s research finds few adults ages 34 and younger (just 13%) realize they can buy a house with a down payment of 5% or less.  What?!

These low-down-payment programs aren’t new. The FHA has backed home loans with 5% down or less since the 1980s. The programs have been available for conventional loans, mortgages that aren’t directly backed by the government, since the 1990s.

I am not a mortgage expert, but I do know some great people who are and I would love to connect you with them.  And don’t forget to ask me how you can take advantage of the promotions provided by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty!

Thanks to Jason Banks with Presidential Bank for always sharing valuable (and sometimes life changing) mortgage information!  Also for permission to pass it on.

 

Ready to discuss your options?  Let me know below!

Key West… The Land of Fun & Sunsets

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Key West is known for being a safe haven, an escape from the hustle and bustle of the mainland, and to some, for Key Lime Pie…  KW has found a special place in my heart and also found its way onto our calendar of adventures yet again.

This round we not only wanted to hit up some of our favorites from the last two visits, but also had a few new items to explore.  As many of you know, hurricane Hermine was a baby storm moving through the waters between FLA and Cuba… i.e. direct KW hit.  Despite this daunting reality, we decided to venture out anyway and make the best of it.  We’re really glad we did, because Hermine made her first wiff on her way through the keys (the second being through JAX)!

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Almost too perfect

Every visit to KW should include the following:

  • A brunch at Blue Heaven (lobster eggs benedict, anyone??)
  • A selfie at the “Mile 0” sign on US 1
  • At least a drive-by photo of the “Southernmost Point” buoy
  • Enjoy a piece of Key Lime Pie (on a plate or on a stick)
  • Observe the crazy antics of the street performers at Mallory Square, followed by
  • Watching a sunset at the Sunset Celebration
  • Walk down Duval Street at midnight and get a cookie as big as your face @ Mattheesson’s bakery

If you do all of these things, you’re sure to have a FANTASTIC Key West vacation.  My grandmother asked a few questions about KW that I’d like to answer for everyone to clear up some confusion:
The KW waters are caribbean blue and clear!
You don’t go to KW for the beaches, but if you can’t resist a white sandy beach, you can find one (you may have to share it with some seaweed).  The main beaches on KW are Higgs Beach, Smathers Beach and the one at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.  The first two are free and have free parking, the latter has an admission fee (state park).  Higgs has imported caribbean sand, Fort Zach has pebbles.. wear water shoes.  Snorkeling is adequate from Higgs or Fort Zach, but for better snorkeling, head up the road about 45 minutes to Bahia Honda State Park, or take the ferry ride to the Dry Tortugas State Park.

There are of course a few other important things to fill your precious hours in this little paradise.

For history buffs, the Hemingway House and Truman’s Little White House are two places you don’t want to miss.  Also, read up on why the keys are known as “The Conch Republic.”

For those interested in botanicals and nature, head on over to the FREE West Martello Tower by Higgs beach, the butterfly house, Hemingway House grounds, or stop by the Sea Turtle Hospital on your way back on US 1.  If you enjoy kayaking, we highly recommend Lazy Dog – check it out!

Our favorite way to end an evening in KW is to make a reservation at Latitudes on Sunset Key… yes, the ultra exclusive ex-Navy island just off the coast of KW.  Multimillionaires have bought up the real estate here and placed their beach houses on their paradise parcels (rumored to have maintenance fees of upwards of $75,000 a year!).  Amidst these pricey homes is a restaurant with PRIME views of the sunsets… it is Sunset Key after all.

I could go on and on, but the take away is that KW is a favorite getaway of ours and is always tugging on me to return.  Until next time!

– T

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Capitol Idea.

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It’s time for a LIFE UPDATE!!!! What the what?? I know, it’s been a hot minute.

SO some close friends and family know already, but for those of you who missed the memo… we are moving TO THE CAPITAL next April!!!!!!!!!!!  Yes, that place right up there with the pretty lights. And we could not be any more excited about it.  If we could move next week we probably would because we cannot wait.

We decided to sell our home here in Jacksonville, FL so if y’all know anyone looking… it will be available probably by January 2017. (wait…20…17? wut how did that happen?)  So I get to practice my real estate skillz with the worst client ever – me.

Where will we live?!  Well that’s up for debate, and that’s ok because we have 8ish months to figure that out.  Alexandria, VA is #1 so far, specifically Del Ray or Old Town neighborhoods.  T is gunning for the hill (that’s Capitol Hill for those of you who don’t know my slang) buuuuut I’m not convinced.

Family and friends in the OH are happy because it cuts the travel time in half, and I can’t really complain because 16 hours is a long ride.  8 hours is totally manageable, PLUS we know people there.

Stay tuned for some travel recaps (if I can get T to actually do them) and eventually house hunting updates!! – E