Nov. 29, 2017

5 Reasons Selling Your Home During the Holidays Can Pay Off

When this time of year rolls around, people start thinking about the holidays, getting together with loved ones, and wrapping up the year.  But what if you've been pondering a new home?  Is this a good time?  Absolutely!  Here are 5 great reasons that selling your home during the holidays can pay off!

Your new home!

1) Buyers are more serious during the holidays!

Let's face it, it's getting cold out, the days are shorter, and people have a ton of things on their plates.  If a buyer is out looking at homes, they are motivated to move!  Wouldn't you rather have the most motivated buyers looking at your home?  Of course you would!

2) There's less competition!

That's right, there are fewer homes available during the holidays for buyers to choose from.  That means less competition for you to get your home sold!  And the fact that there's less competition brings us to our next point...

3) You could sell your home for more!

Less competition, combined with motivated buyers, means you could get more for your home than if you wait for the market to get saturated with more inventory!  This is classic supply and demand, and you can make it work in your favor!

Holiday warmth

4) You can use the holidays to your advantage!

Homes look great during the holidays, and buyers can be more emotional as a result.  Let's use all those good feelings to find you the right buyer for your home!

5) Your celebrating doesn't have to be interrupted!

One thing I do for my clients is to give them the ability to pause showings on their homes.  That means that, if you are getting ready for a big celebration at your house, we can hold off on any showings until after your party is over and you've had a chance to clean up!  This means you can get the best part of the market, without having to sacrifice the best part of the holidays!

Time to celebrate!

And there you have it!

And there you have it!  Put some holiday spirit into your move, and you're sure to come out on top!  If you're thinking of making a move, give me a call at 908-705-5110, and we can talk about putting a plan together and making it happen!  Happy holidays to you and yours!

P.S. - Don't forget!

You can get a detailed Market Snapshot for your home, showing current inventory levels and a pricing analysis, by visiting www.MarkWhatsMyHomeWorth.com!

Posted in Blog
Oct. 11, 2017

Three Things That Made a HUGE Difference in Selling My Own Home

Last year, my wife and I decided it was time for a bigger house!  I used to use our dining room table as my home office, and she hated that I always had a laptop and papers all over the table.  She turned to me one day and said, "Listen we need a new home.  One where you can have your own office.  Where you can spread out, make calls, and I can SHUT THE DOOR."  I could tell it was time to move!

Being a real estate professional for the past 15 years has taught me a great deal about what it takes to get a home sold.  However, now I felt the like the doctor who's become a patient!  Here is what I confirmed WORKS to get your home sold in the quickest time with the least amount of stress.

1) Being as open as possible to showings is key

This is what I call Sales 101 - the easier you make it for someone to buy from you, the more likely they will.  Since the product you're selling is your home, it's important that you be as accommodating as possible with the people who would like to see it.

Here's a quick story.  I had a client years ago who wanted to see a two-family home.  I called the listing office to make the appointment, and they said, "That home is shown on the first Sunday of the month between one and two o'clock."  They had ONE hour of showings a month!  Do you think the home sold?  You're right, it did not!  Letting people see your home is key to selling it!

2) Keeping your home clean all the time is a pain, but 100% necessary

Do you remember when you were a kid, and you had relatives coming over?  And your parents made you clean like it was the president of the United States coming for a visit?  And you couldn't touch anything or sit anywhere or walk on any vacuumed rugs?  While it's not exactly the same, getting your home ready for buyers to see it is similar.

Every day, you have to wake up, make your bed, make sure there are no dishes in the sink, clean up the bathrooms, and address a whole other host of items before you can leave for the day.  And yes, it's a giant pain.  However, if a buyer wants to see your home and it's a last-minute appointment, you want to know that they can go in your home and be impressed with what they see.  As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression.  Keeping your home clean is how you do it!

3) The better you price your home, the less you'll have to clean it because you'll get an offer

This is one of those cause and effect things that many people don't always consider.  How do people buy homes?  By comparison shopping.  They look at the price of your home and everything you have to offer, and compare it with similar homes that are currently on the market.  If they feel that one home is a better value than another, they're going to make an offer on that home!  Simple!

When I meet with a homeowner, I bring a market analysis with me.  This shows what has recently sold in the area, and gives me an opportunity to show them how their home compares.  Pricing their home with the market means they will get an offer on their home sooner, which means they won't have to keep cleaning their home every day like the president is coming over!  It's a win-win, because not only will you get an offer more quickly, but you'll also have no problems when it comes time for an appraisal on your home (but we'll save that topic for another day).

How we made it work

When we were selling our home, our dream home hit the market.  We did NOT want to lose out.  I thought to myself, what can we do to make sure we can find the RIGHT buyer who can get to the closing table?  Losing our dream home was NOT an option!

Here is what we did.  We had already fixed up our home in the year prior to selling, so we knew the condition of our home wouldn't be a problem.  I made sure we had great pictures for the listing, and I wrote up the listing to get people EXCITED to come see our home versus the competition!  And we priced it RIGHT!  Our price was compelling, and that's why we got FIVE offers on our home, going over asking price!  This gave us the ability to choose the buyer we thought was the right fit for us, and the rest is history!  We were able to close when we wanted, and are now in our dream home.

If you're thinking of making a move

If you're thinking of making a move, and you need some help getting started, give me a call at 908-705-5110!  We can talk about what you should to do get your home ready to sell, and I can show you how your home compares to homes that have recently sold in your neighborhood.  Plus, we can put a plan together so you can make your next home a reality!  I'm looking forward to talking with you!

Posted in Blog
Sept. 26, 2017

You've Found Your New Home! What Happens Next?

You've taken my advice!  You've been prequalified by a lender to buy a home, you've researched communities and figured out where you want to live, and we've found you your dream home!  So now that you've found your new home, what happens next?  Let's take a look at how you go from finding your home to owning it!

Step Two: Make an offer

Making an offer on a home can be tricky.  You don't want to pay too much, but also don't want to lose your dream home.  What do you do?  There are three ways you can make sure you're not paying too much for your new home, and you can find out what they are here.

You've looked at comparable sales I've shown you, and now you've arrived at a price you'd like to offer.  We've also talked about when you would like to close on your new home, how much money you are putting down (and when the deposit money would be due), and any other considerations that need to go into the offer.  I will write the offer up based on what we discussed, and we can either get together to sign it in person, or I can send it to you electronically for you to sign.

Once you have signed the offer, I will present it to the listing agent.  The sellers may accept your offer, reject your offer, or make a counter offer.  Most times, you can expect a counter offer, unless you've come in really strong.  If we are able to come to terms everyone can agree on, I will revise the contract and send it to all parties to be signed.

Step Three: Attorney review

Once we have a signed contract, you have the right to have that contract reviewed by an attorney.  Since this is most likely the largest financial transaction of your lifetime, you want to have an attorney who can make sure your legal rights are protected.  While we have three days to get the contract into an attorney's hands to begin the review process, attorney review can last as long as it takes to work out the terms.  While some can go weeks or even months, most attorney reviews last three to five days.

Attorney review is one of the three hurdles to buying a home.  During attorney review, either party may cancel the contract for any reason.  If you find a home you like better during attorney review, you can cancel the contract.  If the seller finds another buyer with more money or better terms, they can kill the deal and take the other offer.

Once attorney review is completed, you are considered "under contract" - you have a binding contract of sale.  If the sellers get another offer for more money and better terms, they can't take it, because you now have a firm contract with them.

Step Four: You're under contract!

Now that you're under contract, a number of different things start happening.  Second deposits are due (and first deposits, if that's how the offer was written up), and you will meet with your lender to begin the mortgage application process.  Your attorney will be taking care of things behind the scenes, such as ordering a title search.

You will also have an opportunity to have a home inspection.  The home inspector will inspect the interior and exterior of the home, and will be able to give you a better idea of what shape the home is in.  They will also conduct a wood destroying insect inspection (for termites, carpenter ants, etc.) and can test for radon (radon is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced by depleting uranium in the ground.  It is believed to be a carcinogen.).  A typical home inspection will take two to three hours, depending on the size of the home.

Your home inspector will give you a written report of their findings.  You can review it with me and with your attorney, and then decide if there are items you would like addressed by the seller.  Your attorney will write a letter to the sellers' attorney with your request.  You can ask for things to be repaired, or you can ask for a credit at the closing so you can take care of the items yourself.

The home inspection phase is the second hurdle to buying a home.  Since the seller is under no obligation to make any repairs, and you are under no obligation to proceed with the sale if you are not satisfied with the home or with their response to your request, the deal can fall apart.  Typically, we are able to work things out, but contracts do get canceled.

Step Five: Your mortgage commitment

The third and final hurdle to buying a home is a part of the contract called the mortgage contingency clause.  This is the date by which you have to have your mortgage commitment from your lender, typically a month after you are officially under contract.  If you do not have your mortgage commitment by this date, either party can cancel the contract.  This is why it is so important for me, as your agent, to keep track of these dates and make sure everything comes in on time.  If there is a delay, your attorney can send a letter to the attorney for the sellers requesting an extension.  In most cases, though, the lender is able to get everything together on time.

Step Six: Clear to close!

Once the bank has everything it needs, and they've put your loan through underwriting (these are the people that check everything and make sure the bank is prepared to give you a mortgage), you will be clear to close.  This means that you are ready to head to the closing table and buy that house!

Before the closing, you have the right to a final walk through, either the day before or the day of the closing.  This is an opportunity for you to make sure the home is in the same condition as when you first toured it, that nothing was damaged while the sellers were moving out, and that nothing else has happened to the house since you were last in it (like the basement flooding).  Some buyers take a quick look through the house to make sure it's still standing, while others turn on appliances to make sure they're still working.  The choice is yours.

If everything is to your satisfaction, you head to your attorney's office at the scheduled time, sign a ton of papers, give your attorney the remainder of your deposit money, and the house is yours!  You're officially a homeowner!

Step One: Let's talk!

You may have noticed that the list of steps began with step two.  That's because the first step in buying a home is putting a plan together so you can get exactly what you want without a lot of stress along the way.  Call me at 908-705-5110, or email me at mark@MoveMeMark.com, and we can set up a time to speak about what you're looking for, and how we can get you there!  And don't forget, you can start your search for a home by registering on my website.  Home listings are updated every five minutes, and homes matching your criteria will be emailed to you automatically.  You can get started by clicking here.  Best of luck with your move!

 

Posted in Blog
Sept. 7, 2017

Can You Sell Your Home "As-Is"?

There are times when a homeowner who is selling their home might want to try to sell "as-is".  When a homeowner sells as-is, they expect the buyer to take the home in the condition that they found it, and be responsible to repair any issues that might be uncovered during a home inspection.  Is it a good idea to sell your home this way?  And what are the pros and cons of doing so?

When is it a good idea to sell your home "as-is"?

If you know the home you're selling needs a lot of work, and you neither have the time nor the resources to address what needs to be fixed, then you might want to sell as-is.  This works well if you are reasonable about your price.  For example, if homes similar to yours in your area are selling for $350,000, and your home needs approximately $50,000 worth of repairs to it, then it would be reasonable to price your home at $300,000, as is.

When is it NOT a good idea to sell "as-is"?

Many sellers want to sell their homes as-is because a) they don't feel like going through the hassle of making repairs, and b) they don't want to give up any more money in the home inspection phase of the sale.  However, if there is really nothing outrageously wrong with the home, this strategy can backfire on a seller.  Unless the home is priced substantially below the market already, a seller offering an as-is sale can expect to get lowball offers from buyers.  Many buyers assume that, since you're looking to sell as-is, there might be something wrong with your home, and they want to leave themselves room in their budget to make repairs.  Thus, you may get even less than you would have if you had priced your home with the market and agreed to be open to repair requests.

A hidden pitfall

There is a hidden pitfall with selling as-is that many people are not aware of.  Unless there is some pretty strict language in the contract, a buyer will have the right to have a home inspection, and they will be able to back out of the contract if the home is in worse shape than they thought.  But that itself isn't the problem.

Let's say a buyer has a contract on a home, and during the home inspection, it comes out that there is an issue with the foundation.  They don't feel the home is worth what they're paying for it with a foundation problem, so they cancel the contract.  Now, since the seller knows they have a problem with the foundation, they have a duty to disclose it to future buyers.  You can't sell a home with a latent (or hidden) defect and not inform buyers of it.  This will not help that seller get a strong offer from the next buyer, because buyers don't typically put big offers on homes with big problems.

So how do you sell your home and not lose during the home inspection phase?

When my clients want to sell as-is, and my professional experience is telling me this will result in them taking less money for their home than they could, I tell them that we shouldn't market it is an as-is sale, but we should address it when negotiating offers.  As part of the negotiating process, I let the agent for the buyers know that we will agree to a price, but when it comes to home inspection issues, my clients will address safety or health-related issues, but that we expect them not to nitpick over minor issues that might come up, like a leaky faucet.  Most times, this does the trick.

Questions?

If you're thinking of selling your home and you're not sure the best way to position your home to get the most money possible, give me a call at 908-705-5110, and we can talk about your options.  And find more great information on home buying and home selling here at MoveMeMark.com!

Posted in Blog
Aug. 24, 2017

Questions from Clients: "Do You Stage Homes to Sell?"

Last night, a friend reached out to me on Facebook.  She is planning on selling her home (more on that later), and likes to reach out to me with questions from time to time.  Here's what she wrote to me last night:

I wrote her back and said absolutely!  I want every home I bring to the market to be in the best shape possible, so that buyers will be WOWED when they walk in.  Home staging is key!

She asked if that meant the whole works - buying new furniture, etc?  I told her no, it doesn't mean new furniture.  I like to offer my clients low- and no-cost ways to stage their homes, which means making sure what you have looks its best and is presented in the best possible way.  This includes decluttering, repositioning furniture, painting, setting the dining room table, and anything else that will make your home shine.

Have you considered this?

You want to get started as early as possible with getting your home ready to sell.  My friend who reached out to me on Facebook said she is selling her home in 2021!  She's getting a head start on things!  Now, you may not have your life as mapped out as she does, and that's okay!  The earlier you can get started, the better.

There are a few reasons why getting started early is so important.  First, if there are any big projects you need to take on, you'll have more time.  Second, if you need to get your home on the market more quickly than you had anticipated, you'll be able to do so.  And third, if you're going to fix up your home to sell, you should be able to enjoy some of the upgrades you're making to your home before you put it on the market!

Getting started

If you're thinking of making a move and selling your home, and you need some help getting started, call me at 908-705-5110.  We can schedule a time when I can look at your home, give you a professional opinion about how to get it ready for the market, and help you put a plan together to get you where you want to go.  Having a plan is key, so call today!

Posted in Blog
Aug. 17, 2017

3 Ways to Make Sure You Won't Pay Too Much for Your Next Home

One thing that home buyers do not want to do is to pay too much for their new home.  But how can you be sure you're not overpaying?  Here are three ways you can make sure that doesn't happen!

1) Look at homes

As a buyer in today's market, you have access to a tremendous amount of information.  You can go online and search for homes, research schools, and see what people think of the areas you're considering.  What's even more important than that is to actually go out and LOOK at homes for sale.

Previewing homes that are on the market accomplishes a few things.  First, it gives you a much better idea of what you can get for your money.  When you look at a few homes, you can compare how those homes rate against each other, and see what one home offers compared to another.  Second, you can see things when previewing homes that you can't see online.  Things like how the rooms are laid out, what the neighborhood looks like, and even how the house smells are all things you can't get online.  Third, what you see online might not be what you see when you get there.  Pictures taken with wide-angle lenses make rooms look huge, when they might actually be quite small.  So it's important you get out and take a look!

2) Get recent comparable sales

When I'm working with a buyer, it's important that they have a sense of what the market looks like in the neighborhood where they are interested in buying.  That's why, when we find the house they feel a connection to, I send them listings for properties that have recently sold, so they can see exactly what prices are like.

I recently had a buyer looking at a home that she was considering buying.  The seller was asking $270,000, and she asked if an offer of $240,000 would be insulting.  I told her, "Let me send you some recent sales from the neighborhood before we start jumping in with offers."  Here's why - if the seller is asking $270,000, but other similar homes in the area are selling for $300,000, then she would want to go in strong - that's a great price!  But if they are asking $270,000 and the rest of the neighborhood is only going for $230,000, she might be $10,000 over the market!  So it's crucial you look at comparable sales before submitting an offer.

3) The appraisal

What is an appraisal?  An appraisal is when a licensed appraiser comes to the house you're looking to buy and determines the market value of the home.  They compare the home to similar homes that have sold recently, and after making adjustments for differences between the properties (for example, the home you're looking to buy make have two and a half baths, but one of the comparable properties only has one and a half), the appraiser comes up with a value.

If you are taking out a mortgage to buy your home (and most people do), the lender will send the appraiser out to determine the home's value before they will agree to loan you the money.  They don't want to give you more money than the home is worth, because that's bad business.  They also want to know that they will be able to sell the property should you default on it and they have to foreclose.

What does this mean for you?  It means that it is virtually impossible to pay too much for a home.  If the home doesn't appraise, the bank won't lend you the money, so you have a great safeguard to protect you.

Now, what if you still want to buy the home?  There are four things that can happen to your purchase if the appraisal comes in short.  I did a great video about this for this year's Mark Madness.  You can watch it by clicking here.

Any questions?

If you have any questions about the home buying or home selling process, please feel free to email me at mark@MoveMeMark.com, or call me direct at 908-705-5110.  And don't forget, you can register here at MoveMeMark.com and get notified automatically when your dream home hits the market - home listings are updated every 5 minutes!  Thanks for reading, and I hope to hear from you soon!

 

Posted in Blog
Aug. 3, 2017

Check Out This Sneak Preview of This Colonial Gardens Home!

You've got to check out this fantastic home in the Colonial Gardens section of North Brunswick.  It even backs to woods!  Take a look at this sneak preview! 

For more details and more pictures, just click here.  For a private tour, call Mark at 908-705-5110!

Posted in Blog
July 25, 2017

You Want to Cancel the Contract on the Home You're Buying - What Happens to Your Deposit Money?

You're buying a home!  It's an exciting time, and you've got a lot going on to make it happen.  But what happens if you decide you don't want to buy the home anymore?  What happens to your deposit money at that point?  Do you get it back?  Does the seller get to keep it?  Read on to find out what the process is like here in New Jersey!

How do deals fall apart?

There are three hurdles you have to overcome when buying or selling a home, and any one of them can be the reason why you might not proceed with the purchase.  Let's take a look at them.

  1.  Attorney review - Once you have a signed contract, you and the seller have the right to have an attorney review the contract, and make sure there is nothing in there that would work against you.  During the attorney review period, either party can cancel the contract for any reason.  That means that, if you decide you don't want to buy anymore, you can cancel the deal.  It also means that, if the seller gets a better offer, they can kill the deal with you and sell to the new buyer.
  2. Home inspection - You have the right to have a home inspection when buying a home.  A standard home inspection includes checking out the roof, the grading of the property, the major systems of the home, and typically includes a wood destroying insect inspection and a radon test.  You can also have extra inspections performed, for such things as mold and lead based paint, as you see fit.  Once the inspection is complete, the inspector will give you a report detailing their findings.  You can then ask the seller to make certain repairs, or give you a credit.  If you can't come to terms on the home inspection issues, you can walk away.
  3. Mortgage commitment - There is a section of the contract called the Mortgage Contingency Clause.  That is the date by which you have to have your mortgage commitment.  If you don't have the commitment by that date, either party can cancel the contract. 

So what happens to your money if you walk away?

In real estate transactions in New Jersey, the buyer will typically give an earnest money deposit, either when the offer is made or when the offer is accepted by the seller.  Once attorney review is over, the second deposit is then due.  This is a portion of the total down payment.  For example, say you were buying a home with 10% down on a purchase price of $200,000.  You could give a $1,000 earnest money deposit, $9,000 for the second deposit, and bring $10,000 with you to the closing to complete the down payment.  All of this money is held in a non-interest bearing account, either by one of the attorneys or by the buyer's real estate agency.

Now here's the good news - if you walk away from a purchase for one of the reasons listed above, your deposit money is returned to you.  Whether you cancel during attorney review, if you and the sellers can't agree on home inspection issues, or if you can't get a mortgage commitment, you get your money back.  Many years ago, it was common practice for the seller to keep any deposit money given, but that is no longer the case.

There is something to consider though.  While you can get your money back if you can't come to terms on those items, if you haven't acted in good faith and breach the contract, the seller can take you to court to recover damages.  Thus, it's always a good idea to speak with your attorney about these issues before making any final decisions.

If you need some guidance

If you are thinking about buying a home and are looking for some guidance, please feel free to call me at 908-705-5110, or email me at mark@MoveMeMark.com.  I'm happy to answer any questions you may have, and help you put a plan together to make that new home a reality.  And feel free to take advantage of the advanced home search we have here on MoveMeMark.com, with home listings updated EVERY five minutes!  You can find it by clicking here.  Best of luck on your move!

Posted in Blog
July 18, 2017

Is Your Home Sale Going to be Sabotaged by this Invisible Enemy?

This invisible enemy sabotages home sellers all the time, and they have no idea it's working against them!  Find out what it is and don't let it mess up your move! 

 

Do you know how easy it is to find your next home on MoveMeMark.com?  Find exactly what you want with automatic searches and home listings that are updated every 5 minutes!  Get started by clicking here.

Posted in Blog
July 12, 2017

Do you know where your money is going (and the negative consequence it's having on you)?

It's easy to find your next home on MoveMeMark.com, with automatic searches and home listings that are updated every 5 minutes!  Get started by clicking here.

I read a very interesting article today.  It was about a woman who spent $453 in one month on Uber rides.  When she took a more in-depth look at what she was spending her money on, she saw that she also spent over $200 in one month on a food delivery app, and she spent nearly $100 over the course of a few months on buying extra lives in Candy Crush!  (You can read the article by clicking here.)

One of the takeaways from the article was how easy it is to spend money using the apps on your phone.  This, of course, is just a new take on an old problem - what are you spending your money on?  Do you know where your money is going?  And how is that affecting your future (for example, your ability to buy a house)?

What are you spending your money on?

There are a number of ways you can track what you're spending your money on.  You can go high-tech and use an app like Mint, or you can go low-tech and hang onto all of your receipts every month.  You should also go over your credit card statements every month to see where your money is going.

Once you've taken a look at where your money is going, ask yourself this question - did I really need to spend that money?  Take careful note of all the little purchases you keep making over and over, because you'll notice that they add up to a lot.  It's truly the small habits that seem inconsequential that can have the biggest impact on you.

How are your spending habits affecting your ability to buy a house?

Let's say you're spending $100 a week on eating out.  That's $5,200 a year you're spending!  That money could go toward a down payment on a new home, it could pay for closing costs, or it could pay to decorate your new home when you buy it!

And I'll bet there are other areas where you're spending money you don't need to.  All of this can add up to big money you can bank!

Of course, you can keep spending your money on things that aren't necessities, and you can put off your ability to buy a home.  Or you can tighten your belt a little (not even a lot), and put yourself in a position to buy your dream home now, instead of having to wait even longer!

One last thing (and this one's a keeper)

Darren Hardy, author and speaker, once said something that holds very true for saving money, and for many other areas of life.  He pointed out that short-term pleasure brings long-term pain, and short-term pain brings long-term pleasure.  It's fun to spend money on eating out and buying things, but it puts you farther away from buying a home.  And while it's not always fun to save money, it does get you closer to having your own place!

If you have questions about buying or selling a home, or if you need some help putting a plan together, give me a call at 908-705-5110 and we'll get you on the right track.  Your new home is waiting for you.

Posted in Blog