$7,500 Home Buyer Tax Credit

October 8th, 2008

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act bill. In that bill there’s a provision that will help to spur home buying by targeting first time home buyers. A first-time homebuyer can take advantage of a refundable tax credit that works like an interest-free loan of up to $7,500. A first time home buyer is classified as someone who hasn’t owned a home in the pass three years.

 

To qualify for the tax credit:

 

  • A homebuyer needs to have purchased a home on or after April 9, 2008 and before July 1, 2009.
  • A single homebuyer needs to have an income of up to $7,500 to qualify for the full tax credit
  • A married couple needs to have an income of up to $150,000 qualify for the full tax credit
  • The interest free loan must be repaid over a 15 year period

For more specific questions, I encourage you to consult with a qualified tax advisor about your specific situation, or go to Federal Housing Tax Credit for more information.

10 Successful Home Staging Ideas

September 22nd, 2008

Staging your home prior to selling is one of the smartest decisions a seller can make, especially in a buyer’s market. I started seeing the benefits of staging back in 2005 when the real estate market was slowing down. It was becoming more and more difficult for Realtors including myself to sell our listings. After reading some articles on staging I decided to try it on one of my listings. A few weeks later I received an offer on that listing, so naturally I wanted to stage more of my listings. The problem I ran into was convincing my sellers that staging was a viable option for them. I believed in it so much that I decided to take some classes and get my accreditation in home staging. Since getting my staging certification my sellers have been more cooperative and open about staging their homes knowing that I have taken some classes. Let me make something clear, I don’t mind helping my customers move a few pieces of furniture around but most of the time I recommend a full time staging professional. It’s important that I keep my focus on the selling aspect and leave the staging to the professionals.

Staging is about making a house more appealing to a larger base of buyers. You can take a cold and lifeless looking house and turn into a warm and inviting home. The challenge staging presents is working with a small budget, that is done by utilizing items around the house. Staging is about preparing a house for sale, so it needs to be viewed through the eyes of potential buyers. To see what potential buyers are going to see you need to walk in their shoes. I suggest you get into your car, drive around the block and pull back into your driveway as though you are seeing the house for the first time. Make sure you take plenty of notes during your walk through. Be very critical about what needs to be done. I made a list of some important things to consider when staging.

Work on the curb appeal – Stand back and look at the house as if you were seeing it for the first time. Curb appeal is important because it’s the first impression a buyer gets to make of the house. Plant fresh flowers, fresh paint, and remove anything that obstruct the buyer’s pathway to the house such as overhanging branches.

De- clutter – The purpose of selling your home is for you to move, so it would makes sense for you to start packing your personal items ahead of time, wouldn’t it? You’ll have that much less to do after you sell. Start by removing all loose items from the flat surfaces, put any unused appliances out of sight, clean out your closets and remove all attached items from the surface of the refrigerator.

Depersonalize– In some cases sellers have personalized their home soo much that it’s difficult for the average buyer to visualize themselves in that space. You need to ask yourself, how comfortable do I feel moving into a stranger’s home? Buyers are very snoopy by nature and will spend most of their time and energy focusing on your personal items instead of focusing on your house, if you give them the opportunity. The goal is for the buyer to leave remembering your house, the floor plan, and not what type of family you come from.

Clean, clean, clean – It’s the #1 rule and I am not talking about a surface cleaning, I’m talking about a deep hard to reach crevice cleaning. It tells potential buyers that you must have taken really good care of the house and it helps put them at ease.

Think about traffic patterns - Arrange the furniture into smaller more natural conversation areas and keep the furniture to scale with the room. Remove furniture from areas that don’t have a purpose or that stop the natural flow of traffic.

Accentuate the positive - Highlight your home’s best architectural features by cleaning, de-cluttering, and highlighting

Define the spaces – Give very room a specific purpose. A dining room should only have items that be belongs in a dining room and nothing else.

Clean out the garage –Oversized garage is the #1 feature in just about every buyer need to have list.

Turn on the lights & open blinds - when you have a showing, it gives the home a sense of life.

Create the illusion of space - The illusion of space can be created by painting walls in a lighter color, by bringing furniture closer together, by using lots of lights to make the room brighter and by removing unnecessary furniture items.

Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

September 22nd, 2008

It’s always a good idea for anyone buying a home to first check their credit report. That’s a good way to see if there are credit issues that needs to be addressed or resolved. Having unresolved credit issues, such as clerical errors could end up costing you thousands of dollars more in mortgage payments each year. The smartest thing for a buyer to do whenever possible is to improve their FICO score before applying for a loan, which can be done once every 12 months. Anyone with a credit history is entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. To get your free annual credit report, go to FREE CREDIT REPORT or call 877-FACTACT. Order all three reports from here; DO NOT go to the three individual agencies to order your free report. Check the reports very carefully for errors and make corrections when necessary. Any credit issues reflecting over seven years should be removed from the report, except for foreclosures which will be on your report for ten years. In time your credit issues will be removed from the report. If you can’t wait for seven years, I’ve written down some simple ways for you to improve your credit scores.

1. Don’t give anyone the authority to check your credit score unless it’s absolutely necessary. Too many unnecessary inquiries can negatively affect your credit score. However, personal inquiries should not affect your credit score.

2. Pay-off as much outstanding debt as possible, new as well as old, because the less money you owe, the better your credit score will be.

3. Try not to have more than 30% of your credit cards limit outstanding.

4. Add a family member or someone with good credit standings to your credit card accounts

5. If nothing else, make sure your house payments or rent is ALWAYS PAID ON TIME. This can directly determine the conditions of your home loan.

6. Don’t open a lot of new credit card accounts, especially if you haven’t had credit for very long. Having too much available credit can lower your credit score.

7. Don’t close out any unused or old credit card accounts, instead cut up the unused cards and try to bring your balance down to $0. The length of individual credit history is important when figuring your FICO score. When you close an account, it terminates that outstanding history.

8. If you are rate shopping among various lenders, do all your credit inquiries within a short 45-day period. This tells the credit agencies that you are shopping for rates, instead of opening a lot of new accounts.

9. Wait 12 months after credit difficulties to apply for a mortgage. You’ll be penalized less for problems after a year.

10. Make sure negative information more than 7 years is not reported

11. If you have a negative mark on your credit report that is an error or you feel should be different, write in and tell your side of the story.

Don’t pay for credit rebuild service these are steps that you can do on your own!

The Best Agent To Sell Your Home

September 22nd, 2008

With so many Realtors out there positioning themselves for your business, it’s difficult to figure out which one will do the best job at selling your house. Hiring the right agent is the most important component to selling. After all, hiring the right agent could mean the difference between selling or not selling. In order to help you I came up with what I think is a pretty good way to find the right agent to market your property.

 

The easiest and best way is to contact your family and friends to see if they have recently worked with a good Realtor, one that they would recommend. If your family and friends can not help you, then I suggest you follow the simple steps below.

 Start by going online to Realtor.com, that’s where 80% of home buyers start their search online. Before I get started, I want to mention that I’m not affiliated with Realtor.com. Matter of fact, I have issues with the way they pick my pockets every year. It’s important for me to use Realtor.com, because it helps me show you which agents are putting their time and money into promoting their listings.

When you get to the front page of Realtor.com start your search by just entering your zip code, then spend some time looking to see which agents are doing the best job promoting their listings. Keep in mind that when you find listings with multiple pictures on Realtor.com those agents are paying a lot more money to promote their listings in that manner. I’ve written down a few things to think about when you are searching for the right Realtor to promote your property.

 Here is a list of thinks you should asked yourself:

 Who’s featuring more than one picture? If 80% of home buyers are going to search here I would want to know why that agent is not reaching into his pockets to promote his listing. Maybe that agent has more issues with Realtor.com then I have or maybe he’s figured out a better place to spend his money, either way, I would want to find out why? As a seller it would be important for me to have multi pictures on that site.

How’s the picture quality? I would look for the agents that are featuring the brightest and sharpest images. Selling homes is like selling anything else. If you want someone to go out of their way to see your product when there’s so much to choose from, you better give them a good reason to do so. That’s probably why big companies spend so much money hiring expensive photographers and Advertisement Company.

What is that picture saying? Look for the agents that put some thought into their picture selection. Ask yourself what is that picture selling me?

Are they using a wide angle lenses? Most Realtors do not use wide angle lenses, so if you happen to find pictures that where taken with WAL keep that agent in mind, it’s a big bonus. A good WAL will take sharper pictures and shows off a lot more of the area, which give buyers a better understanding of furniture placement and so on…

How does the property description sounds? Compare property description, some Realtor’s put more thought into it than others. The listing enchancement feature that Realtors pay for on Realtor.com lets you add more inviting description on Realtor.com.

Is there a virtual Tour? Buyers want to see virtual tours.

Is the agent’s contact information there? You want an agent that can easily be reached by a potential buyer needing additional information.

Is the property address showing? Buyers love to drive by the property before calling a Realtor to show them the property

 Before you log off Realtor.com write down the addresses of the ones you picked to do a drive-by of those properties. When you are in front of the property see if there are well stocked on property information sheets and see if the yard sign has a rider with the agent’s name and phone number attached to it, you might want to call that number too. It’s a good idea to see how quickly a Realtor will respond to a sign call. There’s a lot for you to do here, but that extra work up-front could mean the differences between selling or not selling and making a little bit of money or a lot of money.

 

What Home Buyers Should Avoid

September 22nd, 2008

Buying a house is a financial obligation that can be overwhelming for first time homebuyers. There are many things to consider when buying a house, there’s a need to: come up with the down payment, figure out how much or how little to borrow, get approved for the home loan, figure out how many years you are intending to live in the house for, come up with the closing costs, look for insurance, get an inspection and much, much more. During these daunting times, it’s easy to understand why so many first time home buyers are susceptible to mistakes. That is why I’ve put together a list of common mistakes that first time home buyers should avoid.

1.  Doing it on their own – A Realtor’s service is FREE for home buyers. When you work with a professional buyer’s representative buying a house can be exciting and satisfying.

2.  Exceed their financial limits –Borrowing the maximum loan amount and having high outstanding credit card debt is not a good way to enter homeownership.

3.  Did not get the financing together –Many first time homebuyers start looking at homes long before they check-out their borrowing leverage.

4.  Buying what they want instead of what they need – Buyers are driven by their emotions when making a decisions to buy a home.

5.  Understand “re-sale-ability”- A common mistake made by first time home buyers is failing to understand the importance of re-sale-ability when purchasing a house. Most buyers insist on having certain features when they buy a home. If the home being purchased today doesn’t have features that the majority of buyers look for then they’ll have trouble selling at a later date.

6.  Being too picky – Buyers tend to overlook some great buys in the early stages before realizing that there’s no such thing as a “perfect home”.

7.  Failed to research the area –Unforeseen issues can get over-looked when a buyer gets emotionally attached to a house. Due diligences is on the buyer to find unforeseen problems. It’s important to consult with a Realtor before buying a house.

Are You Ready To Buy A Home?

September 22nd, 2008

Buying a home is the largest purchase most people make in their lifetime. According to the National Association of Realtors, about 63% of all Americans are homeowners.Still many Americans don’t realize that homeownership is within their grasp. Home ownership is one of the best ways to realize the American dream. There are some disadvantages to owning a house, but in my opinion the advantages far outweigh the risk and efforts required in obtaining one’s own house. Here’s a list of the advantage of owning your own home: pride of ownership, borrowing power, appreciation, stability, mortgage interest deductions, property tax deductions, capital gain exclusion, building equity, and equity loans. The biggest advantage is that it can create a security blanket for your family and you can pass your home down to your children, and their children, creating security for generations to come

 My own personal story is evidence as to why I believe home ownership gives you an advantage in life. At age twenty three I purchased my first home for a whopping $55,000. I lived in that house for over 10 years and during that time I took advantage of most of the benefits that comes with home ownership. My wife and I thought the time was right to move into a bigger house, because the house we lived in at that time was too small to raise a family. In late 2005 when the real estate market was changing we sold that house for $280,000; that was a $225,000 profit in 10 years! One of the best part was that after living there for 10 years we were only paying a couple of hundred dollars a month on mortgage payments. We took the profit we received from the sale along with some savings we had and paid down our next mortgage. Now we live in a better neighborhood, bigger house, which is structurally sounder and our children will have more room to grow. I truly believe that being where I’m at today would never have been possible without owning that house. I encourage anyone I can to purchase instead of renting and the sooner you get started, the sooner you can reap the benefits.

 To find out if you are ready to buy a house, I’ve written down some pre-qualifying questions that you can ask yourself:

Am I ready to buy a house?

1.  Have I been with the same employer for the past two years? A steady source of income superceeds the two year employment requirements. 

2.  Have I been self-employed for the past two years?

3.  Do I have a credit history?

4.  Do I have 3% to 6% of the homes purchase price saved for the closing cost?

5.  Do I have at least 5% for down payment?

 If you answered, “yes” to all the questions above than you are ready

 Where do I begin?

 Start by checking your credit history for errors that can negatively affect your credit score. You can get your FREE credit report once every twelve months from each of the three major credit companies by going to www.annualcreditreport.com

How much can I afford?

To answer that question you’ll have to sit down with a mortgage lender. Before you do so, I suggest you purchase your FICO/Beacon score from the three major credit companies which are:

Experian

TransUnion

Equifax

Bring a copy of your FICO score in with you when you sit down with a mortgage lender to get pre-approved for a loan. The Mortgage Banker/Broker will be able to help you figure out how much house you can afford. Make sure that you receive a pre-approval letter from the Banker/Broker before you leave, you’ll need it when you submit an offer.

How to find a real estate agent?

First, I would suggest to call family and friends to see if any of them knows or have used a good Realtor recently. Other than the obvious which is experience, I would look for a Realtor that you can trust and can easily communicate with.

A good place to interview agents is to stop-by their open house. Don’t let them know they’re being interviewed. Check your local newspaper on week-ends for the location of open houses in your area.

I wish you a good hunting trip!

6 Mistakes Sellers Should Avoid

September 22nd, 2008

Emotions play many important roll in our lives, it’s what drive us to succeed and what drive us astray. Emotions get in our way when it comes to real estate. Buyers can’t negotiate in their favor because they get emotionally attach to the house they want to purchase and sellers can’t close a deal because they are to emotionally connected to the property they are trying to sell.

 

When it comes to negotiating the person that has the greatest control of their emotions will have the upper hand and the person with the most knowledge will come out on top. That is why it’s important for a seller selling FSBO to have a professional involved in the sale of their home. A Realtor will help put everything into perspective and can help you avoid costly mistakes.

Here are some other common mistakes to avoid.

 

Decided to do it FSBO – A 2007 study by the National Association of Realtor’s shows that when selling FSBO (a.k.a. private sale), those sellers will typically net an average of 16% less, then if they where to sell with the assistance of a real estate Broker.

Established their own value- If a property is not priced correctly when it’s put on the market that property will spend more time on the market and result in a lower sales price.

Rejected the first offer- There are many sad stories about sellers regretting to accept the first offer that was presented to them.

Seller is not motivated – In a buyers market non-motivated sellers tend to saturate the market with more homes, ultimately bringing home prices down. 

Failing to interview more than one agent- Like doctors and lawyers there are good and bad Realtors out there. In order to eliminate your chances of working with a bad agent it’s good practice to interview at least three.

Putting the home on the market before its ready- The first month or two is when a new listing gets its most activity. In order to take full advantage of that window of opportunity the property needs to be ready to sell prior to being put on the market. In order to do so it needs to be cleaned, de-cluttered, and de- personalized

Sarasota, Florida Real Estate

September 14th, 2008

I hope you find this home buying and selling guide to be a central resource in your search for the most current and relevant local real estate information, while spotlighting the many distinctive communities and exceptional properties the Sarasota real estate market as to offer. Here you’ll discover valuable homebuyer and home seller information, as well as search the vast MLS listings data base for all the residential homes and condos for sale. The principal focus of this website is to empower the buyer and seller, by providing the essential information needed to get started in this sometimes confusing journey. When you are ready, give me a call, I’ll gladly put my local knowledge to work on your behalf.

Post 2 Categorized to blog

September 5th, 2008

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POST CATEGORIZED TO “BLOG”

September 5th, 2008

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