Are your offers getting rejected? Avoid these four common buyer mistakes!

Housing market collapseIt’s no secret that the market is hot, hot, hot right now! While not always ideal, buying in a sellers market is sometimes unavoidable. Read below to make sure you aren’t making one of these common buyer mistakes!

Coming to the table unprepared

In today’s market it is not uncommon for one home to see an upwards of 10 offers. Aside from low-ball offers, the first offers to get rejected are those that don’t seem ready and or qualified. If your finances aren’t in order, sellers will likely move on. This is because a seller (generally) doesn’t want to accept an offer just to have the financing fall through and be in the same place a few weeks later. To strengthen your offer, get pre-approved and let the seller know that you are serious about purchasing the home.

Taking too long

Although it’s never a good idea to buy a house on a whim, waiting too long is a surefire way to lose out on an opportunity. There simply isn’t room in today’s market to spend exorbitant amounts of time pondering putting in an offer. Set yourself up for success by knowing what you want and what you can afford. This way if the right property comes along, placing an offer is a no-brainer.

Placing a weak offer

Placing a low-ball offer, or an offer with a ton of contingencies simply isn’t going to fly in this market. Not only are you lessening your chances of having your offer accepted, many sellers will write you off because you don’t appear to be a “serious buyer”. Oftentimes these offers don’t receive a second glance, let alone a counteroffer.

Buying at the top of your budget

In some instances it is okay to place your best and final offer first, in a seller’s market this may not always be ideal. As prime markets draw bigger and bigger crowds, bidding wars are becoming increasingly more common. Setting your search under your budget enables you to remain competitive if a bidding war breaks out.

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Five Signs It’s Time To Move

time-to-moveThinking about moving but haven’t made the final jump? Here are a few signs that it’s time to pack up and move on this year.

Your family size is changing.
Whether you’re moving in with a significant other, starting a family, or downsizing after your kids have moved out, this transitional period is the perfect time to relocate in order to more appropriately meet your current needs. If you’re suffering from an empty-nest, downsizing may be a sensitive subject but it will save you money in the long run and energy spent on upkeep. Whether or not kids are involved in the picture, it’s always a good idea to be located near a great school district or park.

Your commute is a hassle.
If you absolutely hate how long it takes you to get to work each day or to get your kids to school, relocating will save you time and stress. Maybe you just got a new job that’s further away from your current residence. Not only will this save you time during your precious mornings and evenings, it’ll also save you gas money and toll fees (if applicable). Especially in the Puget Sound region, commute times are extremely long; ranging from 20 minutes to an hour compared to the national average of 25.4 minutes. Long commute times can affect your mood, weight, stress level, and contribute to pollution. Interested in seeing how long your commute is? Visit: http://project.wnyc.org/commute-times-us/embed.html#9.00/47.4366/-121.8594.

Your current home is a money pit.
If you’ve reached the point where repairing your current place would cost more money than it would to move, it’s time to get a new place. Additionally, if you find yourself making repair after repair or still haven’t finished that remodel project from last year, now’s the time to either hire a contractor or move.

Your current place can’t live up to your dreams/needs.
If you’ve been dreaming about a house with an additional level, larger storage spaces, or special amenities like a corner tub in your bathroom but your current home can’t support these dreams- consider moving to a home that can. Alternately, maybe you avoid using the stairs in your home due to an injury or overall ability. In this case, a single-level home would improve your accessibility throughout.

Your current neighborhood is declining.
Surroundings change from time to time. Your favorite things about your neighborhood may not be there anymore or your neighborhood may no longer fit your lifestyle. These are all good reasons to relocate before things get worse.

Of course money is the biggest factor of all. If you can’t afford to relocate, start saving for a future down payment or look into financing to make your dreams a reality.

Looking to sell your home? Give us a call at 206.832.0325

Five New Years Resolutions For Your Home

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Each year we create resolutions for ourselves in order to encourage a better lifestyle. However, we often forget to create resolutions for our homes, which can also positively impact our daily lives. Here are a few resolutions you can make for your home this year!

Lose weight (Cut the clutter!)
In order to feel good about your home without costing you a fortune, start with cleaning out the clutter! Most of us have a heap of things we don’t use, but consistently justify keeping- only to continue not using them. It’s time to cut the cord and realistically look at what we don’t use, don’t like, or don’t fit into and donate these items to charity. A good way to go through these items, especially on counter tops, is to clear out anything you don’t use on a daily basis. Organize other items, like DVDs, into cute bins in order to maintain organization.

Get financially ahead (Shrink your bills)
Start making extra mortgage payments in order to reduce the money you waste on interest payments. Just doing this once a year can make a significant difference! Another way to save money in the long-run on your home is to ask your insurance agency if there are any new discounts you are eligible to receive. Your insurance company isn’t required to check your eligibility for you, so you could be missing out on savings!

Reassess your home’s value
Since the county only assesses the property value of your house every few years, you may be spending too much money in taxes if the market value of your house has dropped! In order to request an assessment, you can go online and get one for free!

Spend more time with family
Start home improvement projects together! This can include fun DIY projects to spruce up your home or planting a vegetable garden. Kids will love the opportunity to play in the dirt and see the results of their work later on.

Drink less
Reduce your water usage and save money on water and sewer costs each year with a few simple upgrades. Getting low-flow shower heads and toilets will maintain the pressure you currently enjoy, while saving gallons of water overall. These models use less than one gallon of water, as opposed to lower efficiency models that can use up to eight gallons. Make sure you aren’t wasting unnecessary amounts of water by leaving the shower or sink on when you’re not using it.

How Lying to Your Landlord Can Cost You

3344771391_e73b2404ed_oLying on your rental application or while being a tenant may feel like it’s saving you money and potential rejection, but those lies can cost you! The “costs” may not always be monetary, but can cause a bigger burden to your future rental attempts than you’d expect.

The most common lies revolve around hiding a pet, subletting your space without letting your landlord know what’s going on, faking your job (or references), and whether you smoke or not. Getting caught in a lie obviously has consequences, but how far can these lies bring you down? The list below is classified by ascending severity:

Don’t expect to receive a friendly rental reference if you have lied to your landlord. On the flip side, you shouldn’t lie about who your landlord is when applying to rent other properties because they will catch on and see through what you’re doing.

If you have broken your rental agreement, it is very likely that fees will follow. This may include a pet deposit fee, a fine for hiding this from your landlord in the first place, or a fee to cover any damages that may have incurred.

Any unpaid fees that result from lying to your landlord and breaking your agreement have the ability to affect your credit score. For example, if you defy your landlord’s trust to the point of eviction, future unpaid rent can damage your credit score by around 50 points!

When you break the rules and lie to your landlord, it is within their rights to evict you. This is especially true when you have let a new roommate move in without letting your landlord know, not paying your bills on time (if at all), or having a pet that you aren’t allowed to have. In the pet case, if you are found out, the landlord could make you to get rid of your furry friend in order to maintain residency.

In the case of withheld money or property disputes, a small claims lawsuit may ensue. A lawsuit could also become an issue if your hidden pet inflicts damage on someone, or your secret roommate causes damage to your rental property.

Though it may add more charges to your monthly bills, it is much smarter in the long-run to find a rental place that accommodates all of your needs without having to lie. What may seem like a small white lie now, could impact your credit and future in many different ways.

How to Survive Living in Your “On-Market” Home

Annual open house event for the Wayata Community Sailing Center, Wayzata, Minnesota U.S.A.

Putting your current home on the market isn’t the most relaxing task in the world, especially if you’re still living in it. Since your home needs to be showing-ready at a moment’s notice, here are a few tips to alleviate your stress and keep a somewhat normal routine:

Pack up and organize your belongings now

Assuming everything goes to plan, you’ll be moving out soon so it’s best to pack up your belongings now. While you’re going through this process, organizing similar items and donating/dumping what you no longer use anymore can save you time and space in the future. Buyers will be turned-off by a cluttered home, so only leave out the belongings you’ll need until the potential sale of the house.

Rent a storage unit

While you’re clearing out any clutter you may have, take this time to invest in a storage unit if you have excess furniture as well. Buyers are willing to spend more for open space, so any extra furniture that may hinder that appearance should be removed. Storage units are a great place to put furniture with sentimental (but not essential) value while staging.

Secure your belongings

Since people will be looking through drawers and cabinets during showings, it’s a good idea to lock up or hide any valuables. This will include, documents, passports, jewelry, electronics, prescription medication bottles, check books, etc. Check bedside tables for any additional belongings you may have forgotten about. Your listing agent can insist that agents accompany their buyers throughout a showing. If you don’t have a safe place to lock up these items in your home, temporarily storing them in the trunk of your car can work as well.

Pamper your pets

Send your furry friends on a vacation to family or friends’ houses! If showings last an extended period of time, boarding your pets may be the best option. It’s hard to be apart from your pets, especially during a stressful time period, but you wouldn’t want a prospective buyer to let them get out! Don’t forget to hide their toys and food bowls as well.

Get ready for show time! 

Once you’ve finished preparing for a showing, leave your home as clean and as soon as possible. The goal is to have the prospective buyer see your house as their own, which will be hard if you’re still around. The nicer you make your home look, the fewer days you’ll have to deal with it being on the market!

6 Tips to Speed Up the Sale of Your Home

From proper phrasing to curb appeal, each detail you put into your listing impacts how quickly your house will sell. The buyer market is currently transitioning to appeal to the millennial generation, who will be ready to purchase homes in 2018. These tips will provide you with the knowledge you need to sell your home as quickly as possible!

  1. De-clutter and clean your home
    This step will make your home appear larger and more appealing to buyers. A home full of junk indicates to buyers that there will not be enough storage space for their items, so organizing and cleaning up will make a huge difference in perception.
  2. Lighten up your space
    By utilizing an open concept, adding mirrors, extra lighting, and light paint colors you can create the illusion that your home is larger than it is. Using framed art to decorate, rather than canvas, also helps to bounce light throughout your home.
  3. Having a backyard deck
    According to a survey conducted by Trulia, 59% of millennials included a backyard deck as a must-have feature for their dream home. Creating a cozy and cohesive backyard space can fulfill this need, as long as it is visually appealing.
  4. Focus on ROI rooms: Kitchen and bathroom
    If you’re going to remodel any portion of your home before putting it up for sale, focus on updating the kitchen and bathrooms. These two rooms are major selling points for most home buyers and will have the largest return on investment.
  5. Be word conscious in your listing
    According to a study discussed on MSN, these phrases can impact the sale speed of your house:
    -“Beautiful” or “gorgeous”: sold 15% faster
    -“Landscaping”: sold 20% faster
    -“Move-in condition”: sold 12% faster
    -“Motivated” or “must sell”- sold 30% slower
  6. Enhance your curb appeal
    To create a great first impression, start by cleaning up and landscaping the outside of your home! Millennials are interested in being healthy and giving back to the environment, so starting a vegetable garden will attract 40% more home buyers.

Remembering to fine tune the details of your home and to consider the target market will make your home selling more efficient overall!

5 Home Upgrades that Won’t Payoff

5 Home Upgrades that Won’t Payoff - Customized design

When does an upgrade lose you money?

Unless you plan to live in your home forever, it’s worth considering other buyers when renovating your home. Below are five upgrades that won’t add value to your home when it comes time to sell.

  1. Overspending on minor details5 Home Upgrades that Won’t Payoff kitchen

When renovating your home consider its ARV, after repair value. What is the highest price your home could sell for? Look at prices of other homes in the neighborhood. Get a feel for common materials in these homes. Upgrading a kitchen can add a lot of value to your home if done right. For instance, when upgrading your kitchen consider budget items that sell well in your neighborhood. Unless you live in a million-dollar home, you don’t need all marble counter tops, and the buyers looking at your home probably won’t want to pay for them either.

  1. Adding small amounts of square footage to your home.

Say you want to add more square footage to your home, great! Each additional 1,000 square feet of living space increases selling price by about 3.3% according to a 2005 study by the National Association of Realtors. However, if you choose to do so without making major changes you could disrupt the floor plan and it could be costly. Square footage additions become less costly the more square feet you add. Therefore, adding just a few feet here and there is less likely to pay off.

  1. A Pool

Depending on where you live a pool can add value or detract from the sell-ability of your 5 Home Upgrades that Won’t Payoff - Poolhome. Pools come with a significant amount of upkeep and extra costs. Maintenance and safety are two large factors to consider when considering whether or not to add a pool to your home. If pools are common in your neighborhood and city adding a pool may be worth considering. If not, we recommend putting money into other aspects of the home like the kitchen or bathrooms.

  1. Specialized Rooms

A movie theater, recording studio, and home office all sound like positives to add into your home right? Wrong. To appeal to the mass amount of buyers stray away from putting in “hobby-like” rooms. Or when crafting these rooms make as many of the changes easy to remove when you are ready to sell. Typically buyers like to see 2-3 bedrooms and 1-2 baths and maybe a bonus room that they can convert into a room of their choosing.

  1. Customized Colors, Materials, and Designs

Material and color selection is an upgrade that can end up costing you when you sell your home. If your choices are deviant from neutral and typical colors seen in homes today, you could end up losing buyers when you sell, or paying extra to re-paint and re-tile, etc. For example, when selecting counter top colors or trim colors, bold reds are generally not a good idea. Keep in mind that unless this is your forever home, it will belong to someone else later down the road.