Top Reasons Why You Still Need a Real Estate Agent

With a lot of information readily available online, most people think that they can save a great deal of money if they don’t hire a real estate agent and just do things on their own. While some do okay, it can make the process of buying and selling a house a lot more difficult, time consuming and stressful.

If you are one of those people who have wondered the same thing, here are some obvious reasons why you need the help of a real estate agent.

Education and experience

By hiring someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in this field, you don’t need to know the ins and outs of buying and selling properties. The key is to find the right person.

With the assistance of a real estate agent, you can get things done faster. Plus, these people have the skills to locate the hottest buys if you are planning to buy and to attract buyers if you are planning to sell.

Help in the negotiation process

With the endless negotiations between sellers and buyers, keeping your cool can sometimes be difficult.

A real estate agent provides an emotional buffer between the potential buyer and the seller. Mind you, a seller can reject an offer for a variety of reasons, especially if they felt insulted on your comment about their decorating skills. An agent can speak on your behalf and smooth things over so as to keep things from getting too personal.

Unbiased opinion

A good real estate agent will not only help you highlight the best features of your home, he/she will also pinpoint what will turn buyers off on your current abode.

If you want to sell your house fast, you’ll need to have a good first impression with buyers. Home staging is the key to building a good first impression, and an agent can help you with that.

Inside scoop on the market

Most buyers go online to search for homes for sale. Unfortunately, some sellers don’t want their home publicized. So, you’ll have to talk to an agent to get you in for a tour.

Compared to the web, a real live agent is a much better searcher when it comes to specifics like prices, office spaces, neighborhood etc.

4 Ways to Make More Money on Your Rental Property

With interest rates at their lowest levels in 50 years, more and more people are venturing into the world of real estate investment. Investing on an income property is a huge commitment, but it can bring large financial rewards if handled properly.

Learn how a rental property can lead to big money in your bank account. Here are 4 ways to increase the value of your income property

Improve curb appeal

Just like buying a house, tenants would usually drive by the property before they commit to renting. If they don’t like how the property looks from the outside, they won’t be interested in renting the house.

Simple improvements such as repainting the front door, installing window shutters or replacing the house number can go a long way towards improving curb appeal. Not only will it make your property more attractive from the outside, it can also increase the value of the house.

Invest on energy efficient appliances

With the rising cost of monthly rent, tenants are looking for ways to save money elsewhere. Prospective tenants will be happy to know that they can save money on monthly utility bills since the rental property is equipped with energy efficient appliances.

Heating and cooling account for about 48% of the energy use in a typical American household. Investing on a newer, more energy efficient HVAC unit can cost you a huge sum of money upfront, but it will add value to your property. According to the NAA’s Amenities Survey, you can generate an additional 16% in rental income by investing on energy efficient appliances.

Update your pet policy

Nearly all pet owners consider their pets as family members. Unfortunately, most landlords do not allow pets in their rental property. If you allow pets, you’ll appear to a wider market. Because of the increased demand, you may be able to charge slightly higher rent.

Make sure the property is well-lit

Cramped, dark living spaces are a quick turn off for most, if not all, renters. Dark rooms will look smaller and less welcoming. Make sure that the house is well-lit inside and out. Don’t forget to turn on the lights on before it gets dark. During showings, open the blinds and curtains to let the natural light in.


Critical Questions You Should Ask Yourself When Buying a House

Buying a home is a big decision that should be given a lot of thought. A lot of people are thinking about buying a house, but even those people who can afford it and have a good credit score are still hesitant to take the leap.

If you wish to buy a home but aren’t quite sure if it’s the right move right now, these questions will help you reach the right decision.

Can you afford it?

Aside from your ability to cover mortgage payments on a monthly basis, there are still a lot of expenses you have to consider when contemplating whether or not you can afford to buy a home. Mortgage payments and other fees will most likely take 20-30% of your monthly income. Are you comfortable spending that much of your income to buy a home?

Is your income dependable?

Buying a property involves a long-term commitment. You may be able to afford a home on your current income, but are you confident that you’ll still be able to afford it in a few years time?

You might want to put off buying a home unless you have a strong sense of certainty about your financial future or are established in your line of work.

Do you plan to stay put?

Most first-time homebuyers do not consider whether or not they’ll be staying permanently when they buy the house. But buying a home wouldn’t make sense unless you are planning to stay there for at least 7 years. Most of the time, it takes this long to recover from all the costs of buying a home.

If you’re not planning on spending the rest of your life in the same house, then you should consider the resale value of the house.

Will you be able to maintain the house?

When you buy a house, the responsibility of maintaining the house comes with it. The hardwood floors you fell in love with are going to need basic maintenance. That floor to ceiling windows need to be washed on a regular basis. The backyard needs to be mowed and the list goes on.

If you are a busy person, it might be extremely difficult to look after those things. So, before you decide if it’s the right house for you, you also have to consider the maintenance.


Home Buying Myths You Need to Stop Believing

Most first-time home buyers tend to seek advice from their family and friends about the process. As a result, a number of home buying myths may have found refuge at the back of their minds.

Here are 4 home buying myths you need to stop believing.

Buying is always better than renting

This actually depends on a number of factors including the price of the home and how long you intend to stay in it.

Generally, it takes 5 to 7 years to break even with the cost of buying, owning and selling a house. So, if you are planning to buy a house, make sure that you intend to stay for at least that long.

A 30-year fixed rate mortgage is always the best choice

Fixed rate mortgages come with a low foreclosure rate, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always the best choice. Mind you, the longer you stay in debt, the more interest you pay.

Paying interest over a span of 30 years, this can easily translate to hundreds of thousands of dollars. That said, there is a great chance that you may not be able to prepare for your retirement.

You need perfect credit to buy a home

It is a well-known fact that your credit score can have a great impact on the mortgage loan approval process. But, you don’t need to have a perfect credit in order to secure an approval. Keep in mind, though, that the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to get the best deal.

Choose the lender with the lowest interest rate

For most people, cost is always a factor to consider but in this case, your lender’s reliability is what matters most. In a competitive buying market, this could make a big difference.

Also, you’ll want a lender who can work well with your real estate agent. So, don’t hesitate to ask your agent for referrals.


4 Tips for Painless Closing Day

Between the number crunching, mortgage paperwork, home inspection and negotiation, we can safely say that the home buying process is an enormous time-suck. The entire process may take several months. You don’t want to make it any longer by facing some problems during closing.

Preparation is the key to a successful closing. There are certain steps that must be completed to ensure that closing goes off without a hitch.

Here are 4 things you should do for a painless closing day.

Contact all parties involved

Talk to your real estate agent, your loan officer and your attorney a week before closing. Feel free to ask any questions you may have about the process. Make sure that all your concerns are addressed well before the closing date. Knowing what to expect and communicating with all parties involved are the key to a successful closing.

Hire a real estate attorney

Since closing is a legal transaction, you need the services of a lawyer. A few days before closing, you’ll need to meet with your lawyer to review the sales contract before you sign it.

Acquire certified funds

Your real estate agent or closing agent can provide you a copy of the closing statement. Here, you’ll find the amount you owe at the closing table.

Since personal checks will not be accepted at closing, you’ll need to go to the bank to get a cashier’s or certified check a day before closing. Alternatively, you can arrange a wire transfer from your bank account to the closing agent’s account.

Go on the final walk-through inspection

The day before the closing, buyers typically do a final walk through of the property. This is done in order to ensure that the property is in the same condition as when you ratified the contract to purchase it.

4 Tips for a Stress-Free Moving Experience

One in five American families makes a move each year. This year, you and your family will be on the road and move into your dream house.

Whether you’re going across town or across the country, it would be best to begin the planning process as soon as you know that you’ll be moving. This way, you can be sure that everything will go smoothly and minimize stress.

Listed below are a few sanity-saving ways to get ready for the big move. Read on for a stress-free and organized move.

Get organized early

Start as early as 30 to 60 days to make a plan in order to ensure that everything will go as planned. In order to make sure that you won’t leave anything behind, we suggest creating a countdown list. This list should include the things that you have to accomplish every week until the day of the big move comes.

Choose the right transportation

How are you going to get from point A to point B? If you are moving a short distance, you may either rent a truck on the day or assemble some very nice friends with trucks.

Choosing the right transportation is of great importance, especially when moving farther away. You have to make sure to get the right size of truck to cart all your belongings in one go.

Streamline your belongings

Moving is a perfect opportunity for you to organize your belongings and let go of the stuff you no longer use. If time permits, feel free to hold a yard sale. Or better yet, take the time to sort through your stuff and donate some of them.

Take inventory

If you are hiring a moving company, this is an absolute must. Keeping a record of all your household items is beneficial so you would know if something is missing. Create a list of all the contents of each box. Assign a number for each and make sure that the boxes are labeled properly.

3 Ways to Build Equity in Your Home

Although most people’s situation varies, for most people, their home is their biggest asset. For such a major investment, your goal is to get the most out of your money and build equity in your home.

Home equity is the market value of your home minus the amount of money you owe on your mortgage. Having more equity is a good thing as it is an asset that can be used later on in life.

Here are 3 ways to build equity in your home.

Price appreciation

Believe it or not, you can build equity on your home without doing anything. How? Your equity increases over time when your home gains value.

If a big company like Starbucks or McDonald’s opens a branch near your home, then you’re in luck. There is no denying that America’s love affair with coffee is going strong. In a study that was conducted by Zillow, they found out that homes that are within a quarter mile of Starbucks increased in value by as much as 96%. Meanwhile, home that are near Dunking Donuts have appreciated in value by 80%.

Home improvement

Another way to increase your home’s equity is by doing some home improvement projects. Keep in mind, though, that not all home improvement projects are created equal. Some will help boost the value of your home, while others may not. To get the most bang for your buck, make sure that you choose projects that will help increase the value of your home.

Kitchen and bathroom renovations, curb appeal improvements, lighting fixtures upgrade, as well as repainting the walls can add significant value to your home.

Monthly repayment

One of the easiest ways to build equity in your home is to pay your monthly amortization. In order to reap the benefits, make sure that you pay your dues on time. Otherwise, you will incur penalties for not paying your mortgage on time. The penalty could have been used for extra payments that can help increase home equity.

If you have extra money, we encourage you to pay more toward the principal. Overtime, the extra payments will add up and help you build equity on your home.

5 Signs It’s Time to Remodel Your Bathroom

The bathroom is one of the most important parts of the house. It is where you start and finish your day. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much attention as much as the bedrooms, kitchen, and living room.

Has your bathroom worn out its welcome? Maybe it’s time to update it and bring it back to life.  There are telltale signs that it’s time for a bathroom makeover.

Here are 5 signs it’s time to remodel your bathroom.

Planning to sell your home

If you’re considering selling your home, a bathroom renovation can benefit you in a number of ways. Not only will it increase the value of your home, it also makes your home more attractive to potential buyers.

Bathroom renovations can be expensive, but studies suggest that you can recoup about 58% of the cost in resale value. If you are on a tight budget, don’t worry. Simple updates like getting new fixtures, repainting the walls, cleaning the grout, and adding clean lines of caulk around the sink and tub can help transform your bathroom.

Outdated design

Is your bathroom old and outdated? If so, a bathroom is in order. Today, people are coming back to that white, timeless look. White, gray, and black palettes will lend an element of ageless beauty to your space. Installing new lighting fixtures, cabinets, mirrors, and towel holders are also a great way to improve the look and feel of your bathroom.

Poor lighting

Of all the rooms in the house, bathrooms are given the least considerations when it comes to interior lighting. If you can barely see yourself in the mirror, this requires action.

Use lighting fixtures that provide 75-100 watts worth of illumination for the master and guest bathroom. Installing proper task lighting is also important as this is the light by which you can best see yourself.

Bathroom smells bad

You walk into the bathroom and crinkle your nose as you smell a noxious sewer-like odor in your bathroom. This could be an indication that sewer gas is escaping from the drainage system. This is a prime indicator that you need to update your bathroom.

Adding better ventilation to a windowless bathroom, fixing that persistent leak that is building up mold, and replacing a toilet’s wax seal are all smart fixes to get rid of bathroom smells.

Lack of storage

Don’t have enough space to store everything you want? Your bathroom may be due for an update. Make use of the vertical space and under the sink for storage. Come up with creative ways fit everything in the cabinets and closets.

Real Estate Listing Tips That Will Get Your Property Noticed

According to studies, 90% of home buyers begin the process of searching for a home online. If you want to sell your house quickly, then you need to put some thoughts into your online listing. In today’s competitive market, you need your listing to standout. Anything that can spark a buyer’s imagination can ignite a sale.

Here are some real estate listing tips that will get your property noticed. Use these tips to give potential buyers a reason to fall in love with your home.

Take good quality photos

As mentioned above, home buyers start looking for home online. Listings without pictures are often passed up. If you want to get your listing noticed, make sure that you take good quality photos and showcase the best aspects of your home. The goal is to make a good first impression among potential buyers. Listing photos provides the perfect opportunity to make a great first impression.

Today’s smart phones take decent photos. But if you want to sell your house fast, it is best to use a DSLR. Listing photos attract a lot of attention. If you can provide good quality photos, the better.

Write compelling listing description

Your words can be extremely powerful when it comes to selling a house. Write real estate descriptions that will get their attention. Describe the property in an inspiring and compelling way. Talk about the primary features of the property such as location, size of the property, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, and any recent updates or renovations.

Share your listing on social media

Living in the digital age, social media is now a part of our daily lives. Millions of people from all over the world use log in to their social media accounts on a daily basis. If you want to reach more people, we recommend that you share your listing on social media.

By simply posting on Facebook and asking for leads on who might be interested can be an effective way of finding that elusive client.

Create a virtual tour

Living a fast paced life, people are always busy. They want to make sure that the property they are eyeing on meets their expectations before visiting in person. Creating a virtual tour allows potential buyers to see all aspects of your home. It gives potential buyers an accurate, comprehensive preview of the property.