$8000 Tax Credit Helps Sellers Too!

Hurry!  Your time is almost up.  The $8000 tax credit is only for first-time home buyers who close before December 1st.  Do the math…  If it takes 45 days to close after finalizing negotiations on a purchase agreement, that means you need to be in a contract by October 16th.  That's just fine if you are actively looking, but if you are still procrastinating meeting with a lender…uh…hurry? 

Should everyone run out and do this?  Well, probably not.  Don't make long term decisions like buying a home just to get your $8000.  Don't buy a home that you will out grow in two years.  Don't buy a home that you can't afford.  Don't buy a home if you might be moving to Washington D.C.

However, if it makes sense for you to buy a home in the next year, then I'm talking to you.  HURRY UP!  You might not find a home.  You might decide not to buy after meeting with a lender or real estate agent (I know a good one by the way).  But if you want to have the option, ACT NOW, or the decision will be made for you.

And if you're a seller, the time-line is even tighter.  Do you want the buyers rushing to find a home before the deadline to have your home to choose from?  Or do you want to miss the boat? 

Not sure what your home is worth (who is anymore?)?  Not sure if your home is in the price range first time buyers are looking in?  Not sure if you should replace that shag carpet and flocked wallpaper?  It's time to figure it out.  Call your agent this week.  Did I mention I know a good one?

Too Busy to Blog

Dear Blog,

I'm soooo sorry.  This Spring has been crazy busy, and you've paid the price.  Good homes in popular neighborhoods are being snapped up like it's 1999.  But really Blog, it's not my fault.  If more people with good starter homes would put their homes on the market at appropriate prices, then I could get my buyers into those homes and have more free time to spend with you.  We could blog about which businesses haves closed (Firefly, Isabel's, Re Gifts) and which have opened (Nokomis Yoga, Nokomis Pet Clinic, Pizza Joe's).  We could post pictures of the first blossoms of Spring.  But alas, more of my Nokomis and Longfellow neighbors will need to take advantage of this market first.

Housing Shortage?

What?  That's crazy!  Haven't you heard the news?  It's a buyers market, the market is flooded with foreclosures, and banks aren't lending money.

Well maybe not.  First, banks are lending money.  I've yet to have one qualified buyer turned down for a loan.  Underwriting is taking a little longer, and sometimes they are raising issues the day before closing, causing a delay, but they are still making loans.

Second, listings are down.  Plus a big portion of the listings that are out there are in foreclosure and in poor condition.  Because of changes in the lending industry, first time buyers are almost exclusively buying with FHA loans.  FHA has certain requirements for the condition of the homes it will back a mortgage on.  Most of the foreclosures don't qualify.  So the fanciable inventory is down even further.

Third, who wants $8000?  Any guesses?  Give up?  The answer:  everyone.  This means more buyers.

This is creating a situation where the number of qualified buyers is out growing the number of attractive fanciable well priced homes.  We are seeing homes sell in a week, in a day, in a few hours.  They are all well priced homes, so don't confuse this to mean that your home is actually going up in value.  Buyers still have high expectations for what they can get for the money.  But your chances of selling may be better than you thought.

I’ll List Your Home For Free!

Let's save money  Will_work_for_food 

There have always been choices when it comes to hiring a real estate agent.  From do it yourself brokers that put your home on the MLS with pictures you provide for an upfront fee, to full service companies that charge up to 7% of the sale’s price.  Then within each company there are many different agents with different styles, experiences, talents, and ethics.

It’s a lot for the consumer to sift through.

I want to discuss one of the options:  Free.

There are several companies and agents who are trying out a plan where they charge no commission to list your home.  In turn you must agree to work with them on the purchase of your next home, where they will be paid a cooperating commission from the listing broker of that home.

And they do everything a full service agent does, except for open houses.  But you are free to hold your own.

Yeah, right.

Trust me.  Don’t expect them to do anything other than put your home on the MLS and put a sign in your yard.  And they may charge a fee for that much.

Here’s why I don’t like it:

1)        It’s not free.  You still have to pay the cooperating broker that represents the buyer.  That’s typically 2.7%.

2)       You’ve now entrusted what’s most likely your most valuable asset to someone who has told you that what they do is of no value.  If it was of value, they would charge you for it.  I’m willing to cut your hair for free.  Any takers?

3)       Saving $6,000 in commission and then selling your home for $10,000 less than a good full service agent could negotiate for you is hardly a deal.

4)       You have a no-value, limited-service agent on your side.  The buyer may have a full-service, full-value agent on theirs.  Good luck.

5)       The financial incentive of your agent is not connected to the price of your house.  It’s only connected to the price of the next home you buy.  Their best case is to under price your home and sell it quickly at minimal expense to them. 

And remember, I’ll LIST your home for free too.  But I will charge a commission when I SELL it.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Haunted_house Your haunted house is the prefect place for a Halloween party.  Other parties have to spend lots of money creating the illusions of ghosts and ghouls.  It takes lots of wires, motors, and smoke machines.  You, however, were lucky enough to end up with a truly haunted house.  Sure the spirits keep you up at night, but all your friends say you have the best Halloween parties.  I mean, no one is willing to spend Christmas at your place.  But once a year, October 31st, it's all worth it.

But now, you decided to take a job in Salem and you have to sell your home.  Do you advertise that it's haunted?  Perhaps people will pay a premium for poltergeist.  Or do you paint over the bleeding wall and keep it all a secret? 

I'm not going to tell you what to do, but you should familiarize yourself with the law.  The state of Minnesota requires a nine page disclosure.  In which, it is necessary to disclose any material facts that would affect the normal use and enjoyment of the home by any future buyer.  But you are in luck.  There are a few exceptions to this rule.  And one of them is haunted houses.

Page 9, lines 39-42:  There is no duty to disclose the fact that the property…was the site of a suicide, accidental death, natural death, or perceived paranormal activity.

But I assure you, after the new owners move in and meet the neighbors, they'll learn all about your paranormal parties.  And expect their lawyer to come knocking, regardless of duty to disclose.

Selling in the Summer?

Nothings worse than stepping in to an unheated home in January.  They may have just refinished the floors, but no way am I taking my shoes off.  My toes are cold enough in here with them on.  The homes that show well in January feel warm and cozy.  It’s a great time of year to try the old "bake cookies before a showing" trick.

Just the same, it’s really tough to show a hot stuffy house in the summer.  No one wants to stay long.

Cooling_off_2

If you have central air, now is the time to show it off.  Nothing feels better than walking into a fresh cold home during a hot afternoon of driving from one hot house to another.  Heck, if you’ve got a couple of showings scheduled in the same day, turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees.  Not only will the air conditioning show off the features of your home, it will make a buyer think twice about buying any home without it.  If your home is too comfortable, they may not want to leave…and that’s a good thing!

How to Make a Buyer’s Market Work For You

House_for_sale_4

It’s hard to miss the media’s coverage of the changes in the housing market. As real estate professionals we are more aware than anyone how the market is changing. With the currently record inventory of homes on the market, buyers can have a hard time determining which home will work for them. Instead of accepting that most homes will have small problems, we have found that many buyers tend to wait for one home that really says, "Wow" When a home does say, "Wow" it often says, "Wow!" to more than one buyer. Many competitively priced homes that show well are getting multiple offers, while other homes are sitting on the market for months and having to reduce their asking price in order to attract offers.

How do you position yourself to be one of the listings that get multiple offers? Start by seeking the advice of a Realtor. A Realtor has the market knowledge to determine what improvements can best help your home sell. What colors are popular with buyers? Is fixing a dripping faucet worth it? Should be buy new kitchen appliances? Should we leave our home as is and just price it lower? Every home has different answers.