Monthly Archives: April 2011

Staging Mistakes – 5 things to Think about when you are Selling a Home

Staging is not only the candles and scents.  The real meat and potatoes is creating the best look of a salable product.  You only have one first impression.  If a buyer thinks the room looks dated or small – they shut their minds to any possibilities.  Buyers buy what they see now.  If you want top dollar – don’t say “they can always change that.”  Don’t kid yourself.  Either they won’t do it or they will start deducting from their offer price.  And they will OVERdeduct.

With all the distressed properties out there, this is the golden opportunity for individual “move-in ready” sales.  Some people don’t want a fixer upper.  But be mindful of the price.  Don’t overdue for the area and the price.  Price is still a very very important thing. 

Here are a few of the biggest nonos that prevent sales or drive down the price.

1. That was Then.  This is now.  Your home is competing with new homes and rehabbed homes.  If you want to compete, you need to bring in the new.  Updating your home can include cosmetic items that can be economical and easy to replace.  Light fixtures, window treatments, bedding, even furniture needs to be considered. 

2.  “People will want to paint their own colors so why bother” or “My walls are white – everyone likes that – it’s a clean slate.”  WRONG.  Paint is cheap.  Labor is cheaper (do it yourself).  If you do nothing else before a sale – put on a fresh coat of neutral but warm paint.  You may love your colors – buyers may not.  Darker bold colors are great, but it makes rooms look small.  And white is not a neutral. You want your rooms to look fresh , clean and warm.  White is not warm – it is cold and institutional.  And white is rarely clean. It does not create the right look.  Light caramel colors, camels, any warm tan or beige family does the trick.

3.  Toooo much personality.  We all love our things.  If we didn’t – we wouldn’t have them.  But too much of your personality with picture frames, collectibles, mementos and just knickknacks can distract and even make buyers uncomfortable.  You want them to picture themselves in a home.  As a rule – box em up – put them away or get rid of at least 30% of the things you have out.  It makes for a lean and clean look.  Then the buyer can see what you are selling – the home.

4.  Square footage = money.  Floor space = square footage.  Too much furniture=no sale or less sale.  The way you show a home for sale is not the way you live.  You may need a dresser, armoire, and chest of drawers to accommodate your clothes, but if it stuffs the room – the room looks small.  You may need seating for 10 in your family room, but if the buyers can’t see the floor or move around – again the room looks small and awkward.  Streamline the room with the essentials.  Pack the rest away in a storage container or sell it if you don’t need it.  The more floor space you have and still be able to live in the home reasonably – that is the right balance for maximum sale.

5.  Put a little elbow grease in it.  It seems simple, but it is often forgotten.  Keep the house clean and tidy, clean out closets – don’t stuff them.  Clean the carpets.  Give the house the white glove test.  And above all – finish all those “honey-do projects.”  Unrepaired and unkept homes don’t sell.  It may not bother you, but you are not buying the home.  Don’t let something that small stand in the way of your goal – a successful sale.

I am a broker owner, but I also have merchandised and staged builder model homes for over 15 years to sucessfully sell them.  Call 888-788-9544.

Show Me The Money – Tips on Real Estate Investing

If you have thought about buying some foreclosure homes or short sales to flip – good idea – there are opportunities out there.  Check our blog on how to get into the market, but here are a few tips on how to Invest and Win.

1.  Get Some Help – First, get some help from professionals, Realtors are FREE to you to find you good deals and advise you on the process.  You can find a contractor who is willing to work with you and give you advice in or to get the work.  Or you can pay a minimal amount for inspectors to find out what is wrong with the house or how to fix it.  This way you can protect your interests.  You make the final decision, but why not consult and expert.

2.  Have a Plan and stick to it – You need to have a strategy to buy, strategy to fix and exit strategy in order to ensure your investment is protected.  Real estate investing is speculation.  You need a plan to ensure you know the best use of your money and how to get out.  More speculators have been stuck because they didn’t do their homework ahead, consult professionals and didn’t have an exit plan.  This is not a time when you can wing it.

 3.  Budget, Budget, Budget – Seriously, large corporations spend months coming up with annual budgets and regularly review it.  That is how you and they will make money.  Figure out what everything will cost – taxes, municipal and state fees, closing, attorney, etc. fees, interest on money, materials, labor, maintenance, etc.  Don’t leave anything out and then keep a spreadsheet and update to know how you are doing.  You have an exit strategy, so you know what you can get.  Stick to the budget and wait for the bottom line to turn GREEN.

 4.  Timing is Everything – You have a plan, but a big part of it is timing.  The longer you keep the property without money coming in from either rental or sale, you could be paying money (depending on how you got the money).  If you are paying interest, you need to factor that cost, plus taxes and maintenance into your overall budget.  The longer you stay, the more you pay.  So, just like you budget, you need to know your timetable and stick to it.

 5.  Not too much, not too little – just right!  Just like Goldilocks, you want to update and repair your investment home just right.  If you do too much or too little, you will not get the value and end up losing money.  And you only have one shot to do it right, unless you want to waste money.  Again, do your homework, get professional help from your Realtor who can assess the market and show you the comparable upgrading the area.  And remember, unless you plan to live in the house, what you like doesn’t matter.  Don’t upgrade to your tastes or wishes, different people have different tastes.  Know your market and get help to find out who that is. 

Call 888-788-9544 to learn more about how to make money in real estate.

How Real Estate Can Pay for Your Retirement and Make You Money

Foreclosures, short sales, many people are hearing these buzz words and wondering how they can get in the market and make the most of the real estate deals. Many people say – I don’t need a new home or want to move. And I am not a contractor. Plus, I don’t have a lot of extra money to spend. How can I get into the real estate market?   Anyone can get into real estate today. You don’t have to know anything, be a contractor or a wealthy investor to make money in real estate.

Why get into real estate? Rampant foreclosures and short sales have presented the opportunity to buy properties, fix them up and rent them or do a popular rent to own option renting to buyers while they fix their credit.   These distressed homes can be purchased at below market prices, fixed up for sometimes very little and with the correct exit strategy, money can be made.   If you are working with those who know better how to buy, fix and exit, there is money to be made. But How?

1. Investor Groups – If you just want a piece of the action, I have worked with investor groups who have knowledgeable real estate brokers and contractors at the helm who can offer people a 20-30% or more return on investment (ROI) for a minimum $10,000 investment. You can be a partner in a house or group of houses that either flip, rent or have a built-in rent to own buyer. You don’t do any work, but get updates and make money. You can get into a group with people you do or don’t know and have little or total involvement in the group.

2. On Your Own – If you are handy and have some time, you can do a lot of the work yourself and make even more money. This is very popular with tradesman or handy people who are unemployed.

3. Show me the Money – How do you get the money – can you get a loan? Loans for these properties are few and far between, possible – but not probable. But there are a few ways to get it.  Home Equity Line of Credit – These pay interest only, not principle. And yes – ha ha, who has equity. But there are people who still have equity in their homes. If your credit score is good and you have equity, you can get a low interest loan.  Retirement Funds – Most people put their money in and IRA or 401k, look at the statements every quarter and hope for the best. Some even get involved in trading in stocks and spend time researching and different markets. You can self-direct your IRA through third-party companies and get money to buy and fix up houses. And you can either defer the taxes on profits or pay less taxes on profits. You won’t get your money now, but the ROI is more than a mutual fund and can help pay your way to a nice retirement.

Call 888-788-9544 or see our website  See the blog for other tips on investing in real estate.

Buying a HUD Home – a Deal or No Deal?

Rarely does dealing with the government make you money.  But in the case of HUD-owned properties, you can get a deal on a home now, get a low downpayment and make money. 

HUD properties convey all kinds of negative images – this is NOT today’s HUD home.  HUD properties today can be found in any area, any price, new houses, old houses, some need work and some practically move-in ready.  With the amount of foreclosures out there, HUD has reluctantly been forced into the real estate business, just like banks and others.  But unlike banks, they are not for profit, which positions them well to have some of the best deals out there.  Here is what you need to know about buying a HUD foreclosure home.

1.  You can get a real deal.  You do need to bid on the property, but most times, HUD foreclosure homes are priced below appraisal and market value.  Again, HUD is not for profit.  They can do deep discounts.  Plus, they will come down off list price and list the homes very agressively.

2.  You have to follow HUD procedures and contracts.  It is their way, but it is clearly provided and understood. Once you understand their ways, it is pretty smooth.

3.  You will find out if you get the property right away – within a day or two.  That beats all the banks who take sometimes weeks to get an answer.  You can wait 2-3 weeks to get a contract signed by HUD and another few weeks to close.  But typically from bid to close is less than 60 days.  And you can close even earlier.   

4.  IT IS EASIER to get a loan on HUD properties, because most are already FHA insured.  And if they need some work and you need money above the sale price to fix it up, if the property is designated, you can get a 203k FHA loan for above the sale price to fix up the home on most HUD homes.  Also, some HUD homes can be purchased for $100 down or 3-3.5% down.

5.  You can buy the home as a investment or as an owner-occupant.  There are certain times when you can bid on the property.  HUD gives owner-occupants the first 30 days before they let investors in the game.

6.  You can inspect the home – if you are an owner occupant – after the contract and still get your money back.  Plus, HUD gives you all kinds of reports, appraisals, property conditions to review.  These are not a substitute for your own personal inspection and viewing of the home, but it gives a little more information.  If you are an investor, you can inspect the property, but you can not get your earnest back if you back out of the deal.

7.  HUD is an “as is” purchase.  No matter what you find at an inspection or viewing, they will not fix anything, negotiate or reduce the price.  You can merely cancel the contract if you are an owner occupant if you do so within the timeframe the contract indicates. 

8.  There are extra charges that you will normally not incur in another sale transaction.   You will have to absorb all the title fees (but HUD gets huge discounts on this.  And as with many foreclosures, you need to pay for village inspections.  If you want to get an inspection, you will need to pay HUD’s field manager to dewinterize and rewinterize the property.

9.  HUD properties are always title clear.  HUD and their agents are very good about paying all the past bills, assessments, etc.  You never get stuck with anything you don’t know about. 

10.  You must use a HUD certified buying agent.  There is no cost to you for that as HUD pays commissions.  I would recommend that you use one that has some experience buying HUD properties.  HUD contracts and rules are a little tricky, but once you have mastered them, it is no problem . 

There are goods and bads in buying a HUD foreclosure home, but buying a HUD home can be a very lucrative investment and/or get you a great home in record time with the lowest down payment available.  I have had a few customers successfully buy HUD homes for personal or investment and of the homes we saw, they were by far the best deal.

If you are interested in investing in or buying a HUD home, call 888-788-9544 for more information.