They Are So Cute!

Shoes 1I love shoes, always have. I am embarrassed to say how many shoes I have owned over the years. I mean, you need high heels, mid-heels and flats in all the basic colors. Sandals, Espadrilles, tennis shoes, shoes for those dressy occasions. Shoes for working in the garden and boots to ride horses. And then there are those shoes that you just have to have because they are so cute!

I have reluctantly donated many shoes over the years, and worn out even more. I am a real estate agent, so I am hard on shoes. When showing property, I sometimes walk two to three miles in an afternoon. I walk in dirt, over rocks and wet grass to find lockboxes when other agents don’t put them in convenient places and when taking photos. I am constantly scuffing and dinging my shoes on my office chair.

Yesterday, my eyes were drawn to a pair of cute little high heels on the shelf. I hadn’t worn those shoes in a while, at least over a year. I couldn’t remember why, and they were so cute and went perfectly with my outfit. Why not? They were my shoe choice of the day!

I spent the morning in my office and met clients at a home inspection in the afternoon. You might think a home inspection is boring and that the Realtors spend most of our time sitting around. But I usually take the opportunity to do my Agent’s Visual Inspection if I am representing the buyer. Of course, my clients and I follow the home inspector around while he explains what he has found. Because I love gardening, I usually spend time walking around the yard planning what I would do to it if I were the new owner. When the inspection is over, my clients usually like to walk around the home again, measuring rooms, space for refrigerator and washer/dryer, visualizing where they will put their furniture. It is such fun to see their excitement and anticipation, so I tag along!

On my way home, I stopped at the grocery store and walked every aisle. Then went by the dry cleaners to pick up laundry. And stopped at a client’s home to drop some paperwork off. And, my feet were killing me!

I have to admit, I am just not 30 years old anymore and what my feet could take then and what they can take now just aren’t the same! I hate that. But it is my reality!

Reluctantly, these cute shoes are going in the donation box today. I hope someone will enjoy them as much as I have. THEY ARE SO CUTE!

Want To Make More Money When You Sell Your Home?

ImageSo, you have been pleasantly surprised by the increase in prices and you have decided to take the plunge and put your home on the market. You have watched the TV home improvement shows and know you should “get your home ready” or “stage” it, but what does that mean?

I can’t stress the value of “curb appeal” enough. When potential buyers arrive at your home and walk to the front door, are they making a list repairs that need to be completed? Or, are they drawn to the freshly painted and welcoming front door? The new door mat? The colorful flowers in the pot? It makes a big difference.

I recommend you stand across the street from your home and pretend you are a buyer…what do you see? Let your emotional ties to the home go and be honest.  Is the front door dusty and in need of paint? Can you see the trash cans? Are the walks clean?

Most homes show better with less furniture.  You have decided to move, so start packing! Rent a storage unit for furniture that blocks paths through your home and put them in storage. Do you need all the books on the book shelves – probably not, pack them. What about out of season clothes or toys your kids don’t play with anymore?

Now is the time to de-clutter – if you haven’t used it in a month, does it really need to be out on a counter? If not, donate it or pack it away!

You must de-personalize! Pack up those personal photographs. You want potential buyers to say “I can see myself living here” not wondering what kind of people live here now, looking at your family photos to see if they know you!

Your house needs to shine! Wash windows inside and out. Re-caulk tubs and showers if needed. Polish faucets and mirrors. Replace worn rugs. Hang up fresh towels. Keep the beds made!

Now is the time to make minor repairs. Even better is to have a home inspection that you can provide the buyer with a list of the items you have or will take care of.

Taking a couple of weeks to prepare your home for sale can be worth literally thousands of dollars…REALLY.  I would be happy to share more details for how to prepare your home for sale, just let me know how I can help you!

HOW TO PRICE YOUR HOME TO SELL: Obtaining the best price when selling your home while preparing for appraisal issues

You have decided to sell your home and have set an appointment to meet with your Realtor.  There are many things to discuss during the listing consultation, but one of the most relevant today is pricing.

You may think that is obvious.  After all, you will be looking at the comparable sales as a guide to determine the price you set for your home. But in today’s market, it’s even more important. Why? In most areas of San Diego County, we are experiencing an extremely low inventory of homes for sale – one to two months in many areas. This means that there has been a change in the market and not all appraisers are responding to that.

Appraisal issues are usually fueled by the difference between the price that buyers are willing to pay in today’s competitive market and the appraisals that are based on comparable sales that are two to three months ago. This is especially an issue for first time home buyers who are already competing with investors offering cash, over asking price, with no appraisal contingencies.

Sellers are often dealing with multiple offers in today’s market, giving them the opportunity to obtain the best price for their home, but also to negotiate the best terms. They may have the option to select between investors or first time home buyers; cash buyers, buyers obtaining conventional, FHA or VA financing.  Whether or not your Realtor thinks there may be an appraisal issue is an important discussion to have.

Your listing agent must take the lead when it is appraisal time. I recommend meeting the appraiser at the property and bringing information about the market. If there are multiple offers on the property, that is vital information to convey. The listing agent should be knowledgeable about the comparable sales – were the extenuating circumstances that brought a low price (death on the property, condition, school districts, distress sale).

Sometimes, the issue is an appraiser coming from out of the area. It’s impossible for an appraiser coming from Orange or Riverside Counties to have knowledge about the individual communities in San Diego. Yet, we still see out of area appraisers completing appraisals in San Diego. This was brought about by the initiation of appraisal management companies (AMC’s) that most lenders are now using. These AMC’s often keep half of the appraisal fee charged (the fees used to go directly to the appraisers), and many appraisers are saying they can’t afford to work for half of the fee. So, you may be getting the cheapest and fastest appraiser.  You may not be getting the best appraiser, one who knows your local market.

My advice, price your home based on the most current market data and keep in mind that there may well be appraisal issues in today’s market. Be ready for that possibility and have a plan to deal with the situation if it does happen.  An experienced listing agent can help you every step along the way.

I LIKE What I Do!

I like what I do….I mean, I really like what I do.  I have always liked looking at homes, all types of homes. The homes I dreamed of owning and living in one day.  The quirky and unique homes.  The homes that needed work….but, oh, what they could be!  The homes that were too modern for me.  The homes with too many stairs or with the yard that was too small.  Homes with the great views. Even the homes I hated!

I even like going on home inspections!  Boy, what you can learn on a home inspection!  I have almost never had a home inspector not find problems with the electrical system…home owners have this thing about “I can do it myself “when it comes to the electrical systems in their homes. Really, unless you are an electrician, not a good idea! I have learned about foundations, the good, bad and ugly. HVAC systems, how they work and why they don’t. I have learned a lot about how to maintain your home.

Of course, I love looking at the gardens, vegetable gardens, flower gardens, any kind of garden. You can tell a lot about someone by looking at their garden! I have noticed many more vegetable gardens in the last few years; people are beginning to find the joy of growing their own veggies. I love our vegetable garden and am always looking for new ideas. Of course, I love flowers. Having fresh cut flowers in my home makes me happy.

So, I guess its natural that seeing a client’s face as I hand them the keys to their home, or their settlement papers when they sell a home, is so rewarding. What a high to see a young couple walk through the door to their first home. How bittersweet it is to close the door after helping an elderly client sell their home of many years as they go on to the next phase of life. How exciting to help investors make a great investment and reap the reward, or help a family move into their long anticipated dream home.

I just love it!

Home Inspections for the Home Buyer

When a buyer finds the home they love, their offer is accepted, and escrow is opened, the next step is having the home inspection.  Most home buyers have no idea how to select a home inspector, and will often make their decision on price. But, this is definitely NOT the time to shop for the least expensive inspector. You need a reputable inspector, one who is a member of the professional organizations for home inspectors in your area, one with experience, and one who has references.  In our area, an inspection of a home will run from approximately $450 to $600.

A home buyer usually pays for three items up front…the appraisal, the credit report, and the home inspection.  If the transaction does not close, they will not be reimbursed for the appraisal or home inspection (in most cases).   Home buyers need to remember that the purpose of the home inspection is to make sure the major components of the home are operating correctly….is there something that would cause you not to purchase the home if not corrected?  It is not a time to start asking for cosmetic repairs.  The inspector’s job is to find things wrong with the property, and they will!  Buyers are usually buying a previously lived in home. Some are lived in “considerately”; others are lived in a bit “rougher”.

I have rarely had an escrow fall out because of inspections.  A seller wants to sell the home and a buyer wants to purchase it, so we usually work out any issues that may arise.

Should a seller have a home inspection?

In most transactions, the buyer obtains a home inspection once a property is in escrow. This is at the buyer’s expense.  In California, our contracts state that the buyer is purchasing the home in its current and as-is condition, subject to buyer’s inspection rights.  In theory, this is great. But what often happens is that two weeks into a real estate transaction, there is a new round of negotiations.  The buyers usually ask for some repairs, even if they are minor.

For years home inspectors have encouraged sellers to obtain a home inspection prior to putting their home on the market.  Most sellers don’t and this has been the “norm” for years.

When I have clients who are selling a home they have not lived in, say for a family trust, I advise them to have a home inspection up front, at their expense. These sellers usually have very limited knowledge about the condition of the home.  We make the inspection report available to the buyer for their review, we can actually post it as an attachment in the Multiple Listing Service (and encourage them to have their own home inspection once in escrow).  The beauty of it is that the buyer can make an offer based on much more knowledge about the home.  After all, buyers don’t usually crawl up in the attic, or under the house, or get on the roof prior to writing an offer.

This helps both the seller in properly pricing a home, and a buyer in making an offer based on more information about the property.  For instance, when the seller has provided a home inspection and it indicates that the water heater is near the end of its life, the buyer can adjust the price of the price offered, or ask for the water heater to be replaced prior to close of escrow.  Alternatively, the seller can price a home at a realistic price, higher or lower, based on the condition of the home, having taken into account items discovered during the inspection.

Even for traditional sellers who live in their homes, I think it is a great idea to invest in a home inspection up front. If there are items that need attention, the seller has the opportunity to take care of them up front and make note that those items have been remedied.