Real Estate

Dealing with Real Estate Agents

Each time I buy or sell a house, I have to deal with real estate agents. There is no real way to avoid this. When I’m selling, I have to deal with one to sell my place and many more who show my home to prospective buyers. When I’m buying a house, I again have one who shows me the houses I’m interested in buying plus all of the ones who have the houses listed that I want to buy. When I’m selling my house, I have to select a real estate agent. Many questions come to mind. Do I choose the one I dealt with last? The one who helped me buy this place? Do I find someone new? Do I search for a real estate agent who is cheaper, that is, who doesn’t charge the full 7 percent commission? Do I throw an arrow at a picture and choose the unlucky sap that I pierce?

This has been a dilemma and it’s hard! I really have a problem with paying such a high commission. And when you’re the seller is when you pay the commission. The last time I sold a house, I chose a real estate agent I’d used before because he charged less than the 7 percent. Granted the 7 percent commission is split between the seller’s (my) real estate agent and the buyer’s real estate agent but still. I think a $7,000 fee when selling a $100,000 house is a boatload of money! I get angry when I think about this money that I lose so I simply choose to not think about it. It gets me nowhere after all. So I just pull a Scarlett O’Hara and think to myself “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” I could get my real estate license and save (or keep) my portion of the commission. I could have saved thousands of dollars over the years. Could-a should-a would-a.

 

When I’m buying a home, I have to choose someone who I want to sit in a car with and drive around looking at places that I frankly, will probably make fun of to a degree. “Did you see all of that crap stacked in the bathtub? Do they ever bathe?” Or “I really liked that condo but why would anyone paint a kitchen orange?” To which the real estate agent, defender of all decorating mishaps, might say “Oh, paint is cheap. You can always paint it!” Seriously, having to watch my tongue while viewing houses in the presence of a real estate agent, especially a prissy woman or a man who never says a negative thing, just adds to the stress of buying. And house hunting is stressful. For one thing, it’s a huge purchase. I take longer to pick out a good pair of shoes.

 

I try them on, walk around the store, look at my feet from all angels in those little tilted mirrors, feel my big toe, generally makes sure I can live with these things that cost, oh, around fifty to one-hundred dollars. But with a house, I walk in, make mental judgments about the throw pillows on the couch, wonder if they have a nice liquor assortment, open the medicine cabinets (to see how much room there is, not to snoop! Never to snoop!), and basically kick the tires like it’s a Big Wheels I’m buying. Why can’t we spend the night like on that one HGTV show? Take a shower and see if we really like that feature? Sit at the table in the morning and listen to the neighborhood waking up? But I have an idea that the real estate agents I’ve dealt with in the past would tell me I’m welcome to drive over in the morning to check all this out. “Just sit in your car. That’s a good idea. You’ll see what it’s like. Now, would you like to make an offer on this place we just spend ten minutes in?”

How to Buy REO Homes

REO means real estate owned by the bank; these properties are a great deal for investors, who are looking for cheap or low budget properties. Foreclosure and REO are two different terms – in foreclosure properties bank tried to sell the properties in an auction but didn’t find the prospective buyer. So, when foreclosure property is not purchased by new buyer then bank becomes the owner of the foreclosure property. Naturally, now bank is not interested in keeping the REO properties with them, this will make a great deal for investors. REO properties are really good way to make money for investors; bank does not earn any profit. If you are looking for properties to invest then it’s always better to invest and look for REO homes. REO is good deal, because you can get property at the lower rate than the market value. It helps you to cut hassles of searching down sales and dealing with lenders.

Why investors invest in REO’s?

 

REO homes when compared to other forms of real estate investments, serves as a better option for investors to invest as they can own a cheap property, later it would generate a lot of money. Today, the number of REO’s has increased vividly in numbers which allows prospective investors to hand pick properties that meet their specific needs and investment purposes. These properties have become a lucrative business deal for real estate investors.

 

Advantages of Buying Foreclosure Homes-

Risk is minimum- REO properties belong to the bank’s inventory, which is a non-performing asset. The bank wants to get rid of encumbrances of foreclosure homes, when some properties are unable to find any buyer at auction. Bank can’t keep these properties with them for longer period; they sell it off at very low prices than current market price.    Bank is open to negotiate- as when compared to foreclosure properties banks are not interested in negotiating the terms, they arrange an auction and sell the property to highest paid bidder. Whereas in REO properties banks are open to negotiate the terms and conditions attached to the deal with the investors. For REO properties bank offers better financing options than they would offer on foreclosure properties.    Flexibility is more- when buying REO homes it becomes an easy task as banks act as a lending institution it becomes flexible to settle the terms and conditions of the loan more efficiently and in a faster time frame.    Below market value- it’s a key benefit investment for buyers looking for homes, as they can own a good deal at lower rate than current market value. The REO homes are hot cakes because, taxes attached to the property are being paid by the bank and they want to get rid this non-performing asset as soon as possible.    Great returns- when you buy properties owned by the bank at low price, you can re-sell the property at higher rate than bank. You can generate more money and fetch higher returns on REO homes.    Availability- as when compared to foreclosure properties, REO properties are easy to locate and chances of availability is more. You just have to search on different banks sites- they have separate REO list of properties in your area or nearby area. If you require any help REO department and agents will guide you and solve your property matters.

Why does the bank sell an REO at low price?

 

Basically, a bank is a lending institution and is not set up to buy or sell properties. They provide loans to the people, but they are not equipped to buy and sell properties. The bank is not familiarized to deal with buying and selling properties. As this is not their regular course of action it takes time for them to proceed. When an owner of the property is not able to pay the installments, bank forecloses the property. But, it becomes difficult for the bank to meet repair expenses or any other miscellaneous cost. First, the bank loses out the money over a bad-debt and then federal government penalizes them on each and every REO homes. As the bank is loosing so much money on REO, they decide to sell it quick and at low value.

 

REO homes are profitable investments, as buyer owns a low priced property which can be sold at much higher price in the future. Before buying REO homes remember to research well about the property.

Real Estate Investments: Take Time to Weigh Investing Options

Real estate investments can be a blessing or a curse, especially in today’s market. Buyers, sellers and investors are constantly weighing their options and planning strategies. Few people want to lose money on investments or pay more than necessary. After all the definition of investment is the act of contributing money in order to gain profit.

Numerous real estate investments exist. Investors can purchase physical properties or paper real estate notes. Properties can range from a tiny parcel of raw land to a multi-billion dollar resort that caters to the rich and famous.

 

Many individuals are opting to purchase distressed properties such as foreclosure, bank owned and short sale homes. These properties generally require elbow grease and hours of physical labor to return them to their original luster. Some people prefer the hands-on, do-it-yourself approach, while others hire contractors to perform necessary tasks.

 

Distressed properties can make exceptional real estate investments as long as buyers fully calculate the true costs. This is particularly true for DIY people because they rarely factor in the cost of their time. If the job becomes larger than anticipated and contractors must be brought in, the buyer is already losing money on their investment.

 

Foreclosure homes are oftentimes purchased for the purpose of house flipping. Rehabbing and flipping houses is not for the faint of heart. Very few auction properties are in perfect condition. Most are in need of serious repairs or total renovations. Weigh this real estate investment option carefully unless you are exceptionally skilled in home repairs or able to purchase the house significantly under market value.

 

A lesser known, but generally lucrative real estate investment is that of probate properties. Probate is the legal process used to sort out and finalize matters when a person dies. If the decedent executed a legal Will and beneficiaries are in agreement, probate typically lasts between six and nine months.

 

If the decedent died intestate (without a Will) or family disputes erupt, probate can drag on for years. During probate the decedent’s estate is responsible for paying outstanding debts. If the decedent owns real estate with a mortgage note, the estate must continue paying toward the loan or face losing the property to foreclosure.

 

Many probate homes are owned outright. Oftentimes, beneficiaries do not want to be saddled with the responsibility of maintaining the home throughout probate. In some instances, the estate cannot afford to pay utilities, homeowners insurance and property taxes.

 

Probate properties can be profitable gems, but locating them requires a bit of detective work. Last Will and Testaments must be filed through the probate court. These documents are public records and can be viewed by anyone who wishes to see them.

 

The last will contains information about the estate administrator and real estate holdings. By locating the property address, additional information can be discovered by reviewing property deeds and tax records.

 

If the estate is small and few assets exist, this is a sign the estate could be in financial straits. Contact the estate administrator to discuss the option of purchasing the property. Most people do not realize they can sell real estate held in probate. Estate administrators are oftentimes relieved to learn they can sell the house and relieve financial burdens from the estate.

 

These are but a few real estate investment opportunities. The Internet provides a wealth of information about the various types of investment properties, along with financing techniques and investing strategies.

 

Take time to become educated about the opportunities available. Start small and learn as much as you can. Doing so could allow you to own a private island, beach bungalow or penthouse condo where you can spend your golden years doing whatever you desire!

Staging Your Home For Sale

Staging is what you do after you’ve de-cluttered, cleaned, repaired, painted and before you list your home for sale. Staging is all about small details. It adds emotional appeal, the spark that says “buy me.”

Before you list your house, look at it objectively. What features do you want to highlight? Decide on the desirable feature or focal point for each major room, then decide how you can draw the eye that direction when someone enters.

 

If there’s an attractive fireplace, add an interesting vignette of artwork, candles, or unique pieces on the mantel to draw attention to it.

 

Paint can also make an element “pop.” Whether it’s a mantel, the woodwork, or the back of built-in bookshelves, a different paint color draws attention.

 

Are there elements to which you don’t want to draw attention, like an awkwardly sized window or a poor view? Consider covering the window with blinds or drapes. Small rooms can be expanded with mirrors. Put one above a fireplace or over a table. A mirror on the wall facing the door of a small bathroom can give the room depth.

 

Look at each room with a fresh eye. Move furniture around until you have a pleasing arrangement. A wall lined with couches and chairs is typically not an appealing grouping. Perhaps place the couch in the center of the room facing the fireplace, or put the bed on an angle in the corner of the bedroom. Remove some furniture if the room seems crowded. Smaller furniture pieces will make a room seem larger.

 

Arrange vignettes of conversation areas. Use an area rug to pull pieces together.

 

Slipcover the sofa and chairs to freshen them if necessary. Buy pillows, particularly made of soft fabrics and in complimentary colors, to make the room pop. Place lamps in dark corners.

 

Instead of placing all the books upright in rows on the bookshelves, stack some on their sides, grouped by color and top them with a piece of pottery or a picture. Use baskets to hide things you don’t want seen. Group decorative items in odd numbers.

 

In the kitchen, oil wood cabinets to restore their luster. Consider buying new knobs and drawer pulls. Clear counters, except for a few decorative accents, like an attractive bowl of fresh fruit, a vase of fresh flowers, or a few attractive cookbooks.

 

Take an objective look at the bathroom faucets and replace if necessary. Vanities and counters can be a relatively inexpensive replacement if a bath needs to be updated.

 

Buy new towels for the baths and put them out only during showings. An attractive basket or stack of towels on the tub or counter looks nice. Add a basket of decorative soaps or spa-type lotions.

 

When showing your house, open blinds and curtains and turn on the lights. Make the rooms as light and bright as possible. Have fresh flowers in several rooms, especially the entry.

 

Be aware of scents. Put cinnamon sticks in a bowl of water in a warm oven. On the other hand, make sure odors that might be objectionable aren’t apparent. Don’t use heavily scented air fresheners. They don’t appeal to everyone.

 

By taking a thoughtful, objective look at your house before listing, you can move your home from “for sale” to “sold” in a crowded market.

Green Building and the Faltering Mortgage Market: Environmentally Sound Homes in a Recovering Economy

The following is a guest post from Houston, Texas real estate developer and entrepreneur Tracy Suttles.

Green building became a strong selling point for many condominiums and apartment buildings during the height of the real estate markets. The additional $500,000+ of construction costs were passed on to consumers, who readily paid for an investment in the environment. Not only could they feel good about themselves for supporting green Building, but they could also expect significant appreciation on that investment. Fast forward to today’s real estate market and environmentally friendly buildings seem challenged to make a case for long-term viability.

Green Building and LEED Certification

While not all green buildings are LEED certified, LEED certification provides a set of guidelines that ensure a building meets a set standard for environmental efficiency. In late 2007 and early 2008 consumers could expect to pay a premium for a LEED certified building; however, these consumers could also expect to benefit from these buildings in numerous ways. First, consumers expected to be able to charge future buyers the same premium, if not more, that they paid. Second, LEED certified and green buildings tended to be more energy efficient, saving consumers substantial money on heating and electric bills. Last, consumers were able to generally feel good about doing something positive for the environment.

Today consumers can still expect LEED certified buildings to save them significant dollars in utilities; however, they can also still expect to pay a premium. Builders must not only pay for the additional design and construction of these buildings, but they must also pay for consultants to certify the buildings.

Green Building and the 2009/2010 Real Estate Market

For many builders, it did not make sense to reverse course and redesign a cheaper, non-environmentally friendly building. As they struggle to compete with cheaper buildings that did not cater to the environment, many have found that consumers now place very little value on green building. Falling home prices do not seem to mix well with environmentally-friendly building. Even though finding low mortgage rates has never been easier, consumers are not willing to pay an additional $10,000-$30,000 for a green building.

It is important to note that as real estate price increased many municipalities began to mandate greener building. States, like California, at the forefront of this movement created substantial building mandates. Perhaps this also speaks to why consumers have very little willingness to pay substantially more for LEED certified buildings.

In the long run, green building and LEED certification will certainly save consumers money and be a valued asset to many builders. However, consumers have stated with their consumption patterns that in tough economic times, they will sacrifice the additional bells and whistles for a sound affordable home. Expect green building to make a comeback when the housing market recovers.