We collaborate with real estate agents all across the US in an effort to analyzes trends in the residential real estate industry, promote cross country referrals, and network on behalf of our seller clients. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2017, we've curated the best real estate articles for home buyers and home sellers.
1. Paul Sian - United Real Estate Home Connections
Your offer has been accepted, inspections are complete, and it is time for your final walkthrough. Paul Sian of United Real Estate Home Connections provides some great tips on the purpose of a final walkthrough when buying a home. A final walkthrough is not required, but is highly recommended to ensure that the condition of the home is satisfactory to the buyer and no major damage has been done prior to closing. Once the home closes escrow or if the seller did not disclose certain material facts, any unsatisfactory conditions are the responsibility of the buyer. Sian recommends that the buyer have a checklist and perform the walkthrough once all items inside have been vacated, and test all the major systems. If there is anything faulty, the buyer may delay the closing, request repairs, or request credit from the seller. To ensure a smooth closing, Sian recommends sellers to make repairs as needed, be prepared to have funds in escrow for buyer credits, cancel the listing if the costs for repairs exceeds their break even amount, sue the buyer which can take years to settle, and ensure movers can cover cost of repairs for any damage they do. In conclusion, final walkthroughs are important for both home buyers and property investors. This ensures that the buyer is investing in a purchase intelligently and there are no major issues after the fact.
2. Anita Clark - Coldwell Banker
Flood damage has major complications and is expensive to address. Anita Clark of Coldwell Banker highlights the top flooding complications homeowners should know about, how to deal with them, how to prevent them, and also provides a great infographic for quick information. Evidence of foundation damage from floods include cracks, doors not closing in a flush line, and sloping floors. To ensure your home is safe to occupy, consult a professional to diagnose and resolve the issues. To prevent foundation damage, some tips include installing water drains away from your home, utilize gutters, waterproof your garage, and repair any cracks. Mold damage can be caused from floods and present a number of health issues. These will need to be addressed safely and legally. To prevent mold damage, provide ventilation, reduce moisture, limit your humidity levels to 50% or lower, have filter fans, and also keep porous materials at a low level. Electrical damage is dangerous and it is highly recommended to hire a professional to help address the damage. Some noticeable damage include electrical outlet damage, electrical shocks, loose connections, frayed wires, and hot receptacles. In conclusion, there are different complications that can happen due to floods, and it is best to take preventative measures to avoid expensive repairs and costs. If you live in a flood zone, look into obtaining flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
3. Bill Gassett - Maximum Exposure Real Estate
Today, there are about 30% of home buyers utilizing the FHA loan to make their first home purchase. Due to the FHA requirements, Bill Gassett of Maximum Exposure Real Estate Market highlights several tips on how you can make your house FHA mortgage eligible when you sell. If your home has serious effects such as a leaking roof, structural damage, or infestations, an FHA buyer will not get their mortgage approved. Other issues that may raise a flag include peeling paint in homes built before 1978, exposed electrical wiring, detached gutters, damaged screens, foundation defects, and rotted wood trim. Be proactive and address the issues beforehand, and it you will also be able to get more money from your home. Another thought to consider is the loan limit set by the FHA. If your home will be listed above that, it may not be worth pursuing. In regard to home inspections, Gassett explains that sellers need to provide documentation explaining the difference between a home inspection and appraisal. An FHA approved appraiser is required to be used in order to make the final loan decision. Because FHA buyers are only required to put a low down payment, most will need help with closing costs. As a seller, there may be some consideration to assist and pay up to 6% of the sales price of the home for closing costs. Gassett also mentions that if your home is within a condominium association, the complex must be FHA approved. Otherwise, an FHA buyer cannot purchase with an FHA loan. Lastly, Gassett touches on the FHA 203K loan, which allows a buyer to enter a loan and make certain improvements, such as replacing the plumbing, roofing, and make energy efficient improvements.
4. Conor MacEvilly - Re/Max On Market
Buyer cold feet happens more often than sellers expect, and most of the time homes are perceived differently once it goes back on the market from this. Conor MacEvilly of Re/Max on Market highlights the ten potential home buyer cold feet symptoms to watch out for. One of the first warning signs of buyer cold feet is when one of the spouses has seen the home. This adds pressure to the spouse who has seen the home and poses as a risk in case the other spouse is not happy with the decision. This can cause buyer cold feet and they may back out of the offer. If the buyers are not familiar with the neighborhood and put in an offer on a home, this can be another warning sign of buyer cold feet. They love the home but are unsure or unfamiliar with the area. If there is an offer review deadline, and a buyer is pressured to see a home and put in an offer, this is a sign of buyer cold feet. Pressure and emotions are never a good idea when making a large financial investment. On the other hand, if a buyer has seen the home multiple times before writing an offer, this can indicate that the buyers are unsure and could be extremely picky. When writing an offer, if there are many contingencies, this can indicate buyer cold feet since this can mean that the buyers are overly cautious. If you a meet a buyer who sees a home at an open house but does not come back for a private showing with an agent, this can indicate buyer cold feet. An agent will help the buyer point out issues, advise them to make a sound decision. If a buyer does not have their own agent and comes to an open house, this can indicate buyer cold feet and show that they are not serious. If a buyer asks too many picky questions before making an offer, this can indicate that the buyer will be difficult during inspection and escrow. If an offer is submitted without any prior contact from a buyers agent, this can indicate that the buyer’s agent is not as competent and is possibly a weak offer. If a buyer has only started looking “yesterday,” and they want to write an offer, this can indicate buyer cold feet. The new enthusiasm from home searching is fun, but the buyer may get cold feet once they dive into the process. A home purchase and escrow is almost never smooth, but as a seller you can watch out for any warning signs to prevent difficulties during escrow. MacEvilly provides clear tips and resources for sellers to be more cautious.
5. Dan Barcelon - Evergreen Properties & Investments
Smart home technology has become one of the leading essentials and will surely make a huge impact in 2018. Dan Barcelon of Evergreen Properties & Investments highlights the top smart technology gadgets to consider in the new year to give your home a selling advantage and create a persona control center. One example is the search hub and home assistant that helps integrate other smart home accessories. Smart appliances, such as a smart thermostat, allow you to control the items from your phone. Wi-fi extenders or a gaming grade router will help connect your devices and lower the risk of losing connection. Barcelon also suggests getting smart lighting and security features. LED bulbs are efficient, save energy, and lower the replacement costs while security features such as Nest and Simplisafe protect your homes’ belongings while you are away.
6. Debbie Drummond - Simply Vegas
Debbie Drummond of Simply Vegas, known as the Las Vegas Luxury Home Pro, highlights the most popular home flooring options that you should consider when changing the flooring in your home. Hardwood flooring is the most popular type because it is durable and long lasting. It takes work to maintain and is expensive, but quickly wiping up spills, preventing moisture from warping the wood, and protecting the floor with area rugs will keep the hardwood in good condition. Tile flooring is also popular, versatile, and comes in a wide range of prices. It is also durable, resistant to scratches, but can create extra noise since sounds bounce off. Laminate flooring is a cheaper option, but high quality grade laminate flooring can be durable. It can look like hardwood or tile flooring and will fit most budgets, but it will not last as long. Finally, carpet flooring is a good option, easy to maintain, and soft. Drummond states that they are best for low traffic rooms and bedrooms due to its coziness and need for upkeep.
7. Joe Boylan - Springs Homes
Today, most American homebuyers require a mortgage to purchase a home, but also do not understand the mortgage process. Joe Boylan of Springs Homes in Colorado gives insight on everything you need to know about mortgages. Boylan explains how the money flows through the mortgage industry and the three tiers of mortgage lending. The three tiers of mortgage lending are the loan origination, the middleman, and the secondary market. The loan origination portion is familiar to most buyers and requires the most involvement. The different types of lenders that buyers can work with include correspondent lenders, direct lenders, mortgage brokers, and portfolio banks. The middleman is the party that the loan originators sell the loans to and package them to be sold in the secondary market. An example of a middleman is a direct lender such as Wells Fargo and Chase Bank. The secondary market is where the mortgage loan portfolios and servicing rights are bought and sold. They are sold to mortgage originators, mortgage aggregators, securities dealers, and investors. Boylan emphasizes to the buyer that more knowledge on the mortgage industry will make the home buying process much easier.
8. Kevin Vitali - Exit Group One Real Estate
What does days on the market mean to a home buyer?. Kevin Vitali of Exit Group One Real Estate Group provides great information on this piece of data and how it can help you buy a home and negotiate an unbeatable offer. Days on the market indicates how long a home has been active on the market for sale and can help buyers gauge the popularity of the home. It also shows how well the home is priced based on the real estate market. Vitali indicates that the first two to four weeks of a listing will indicate high showing activity and the seller will be less likely to negotiate an offer. Once the home has been on the market for 30 days or more, the confidence wanes, and there is more negotiation room for buyers. Vitali also explains how other home buyers react and what types of buyers are looking at homes. In conclusion, a home that has been on the market for a short amount of time most likely means that the home is priced competitively and the buyer should not play any games. However, if the home has been on the market for a longer period of time, it is easier to negotiate and there is less competition.
9. Kyle Hiscock - Re/Max Realty Group
Kyle Hiscock of Re/Max Realty Group in Rochester highlights the best mortgage blogs of 2017. These blogs include the top reasons why home buyers cannot qualify for a mortgage, such as a poor credit score. Should a buyer go with a mortgage broker or bank? Hiscock links a great article that highlights the main differences and the pros and cons. FHA mortgages are popular with homebuyers, and Hiscock links an article to Anita Clark, a realtor in Georgia, who provides a great article on the potential FHA mortgage quirks to look out for. Other articles include how you can buy a home with a VA loan, which can be found on our blog, different mortgage options for first time home buyers, how to get a home loan after a foreclosure, how you can lose a mortgage approval, the most common causes for mortgage delays, VA mortgage facts, and mortgage myths to be aware of.
10. Luke Skar - Inlanta Mortgage
Statistics show that home staging will help sellers sell their home quickly. Luke Skar of Inlanta Mortgage provides over forty tips on home staging. This includes curb appeal, making your porch inviting with colorful plants, a new doormat, lighting, and clean windows. Remove clutter by investing in a private storage facility to store belongings. Inside your home, clean anything of debris, move your furniture around to make the space functional, paint walls with neutral colors, and remove odd smells and odors. When staging your home, emphasizes any features that will stand out to buyers, limit the amount of furniture you have, and touch up any scuffs and scratches. Skar also has feedback from professionals who give home staging tips and the importance of home staging. Some of the highlights state that home staging will make your home more welcoming, attractive, and functional. Depersonalize your space, update your home with any needed repairs, have a color scheme, and appropriate home lighting.
11. Lynn Pineda - Keller Williams Realty
Buying a home is a large investment, and Lynn Pineda of Keller Williams Realty highlights the top things that home buyers wish they knew before buying a home. Some of these include the credit score. Home buyers will want to improve a bad credit score by paying bills on time, paying more than the minimum, and reviewing their credit report. Another item that home buyers wish they knew was that they may not have been required to put 20% down on a home since there are other loan programs out there that allow them to put as little as 3.5% down. Homebuyers must be educated that home inspections will most likely reveal issues. No home is perfect, and home buyers wish that they were aware and prepared to expect potential issues during an inspection, such as a faulty roof or air conditioner. Another thing is that no real estate market is the same as the news may report since all cities and neighborhoods are different. In addition, when a home is priced correctly, it will sell fast so sometimes homebuyers may not get a good deal that they expect to get. Some home buyers believe that buying a home directly from the listing agent will benefit them, but that is not always the case. Lastly, Pineda points out that home buyers should not make big purchases while they are buying a home since it will increase their debt to income ratio, which may prevent them from getting their loan funded.
12. Xavier De Buck - Chas Everitt International Property Group
Social media has made a major impact in the real estate world, especially Twitter. Xavier De Buck highlights the 202 must-follow real estate professionals on Twitter in 2018. The real estate professionals on De Bucks list have a proven track record of providing great, consistent information. These include our own Joy Bender of Aumann Bender & Associates at Pacific Sotheby’s who has also been featured in Inc. Magazine and provides great detail on the San Diego luxury lifestyle. Others include Michelle Gibson, a Wellington Florida real estate agent, Joe Manausa, a Tallahassee realtor and broker, HouseHunt, BHG Real Estate, and Tyler Zey.
13. Sharon Paxson - Arbor Real Estate
Internet and social media have created a stronghold in every aspect of any market in a short amount of time. Sharon Paxson of Arbor Real Estate highlights the five important facts about internet marketing and selling your home. One popular believe that home sellers believe is that all listing agents have the same marketing tactics. However, there are real estate agents who have more leverage on the Internet and social media. Prior to selling your home sellers should investigate several realtors prior to making a decision on the listing agent. Determine if the realtor has an epic website, such as information on the neighborhood, school districts, homes for sale, and contact information. Blogging is also another important aspect. Realtors who generate new and valuable content reveal that they take the time to educate themselves on new information about the real estate market, their market area, and neighborhoods. Similar to blogging, sellers should see if the real estate agent has a social media presence and if they are providing consistent content. Lastly, Paxson states that realtors who present higher organic search engine results will have the most presence on the Internet.
14. Wendy Weir - Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
Home staging is one of the most important aspects when selling your home since it has proven to help sellers sell their home for top dollar. Wendy Weir of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices provides twenty six low cost home staging tips that will help sell your home for top dollar. Weir emphasizes that cleaning is the most essential, and sellers can purchase basic cleaning materials, dust, depersonalize, and reduce clutter. On the exterior, manicure your outdoor space by cutting grass, clearing pathways, and freshening up areas with flowers and decorative items. Power wash patios, decks, the driveway, and sidewalk. Weir also suggests turning on lights and opening the shades during showings, create an organized entryway, and set the tone in different rooms with furniture and artwork. Repaint any rooms that need a change, replace old drawer pulls, freshen up the bathroom, and provide adequate lighting.
15. Ryan Fitzgerald - Raleigh Realty
Ryan Fitzgerald of Raleigh Realty provides a great infographic on the eleven reasons to hire a buyer’s agent when buying a home. These reasons include determining if the agent has local knowledge, is free, has the local resources, knows other agents, and experience. Emotional control and ability to negotiate are also vital. Lastly, an agent should be available to schedule showings at any reasonable given time.
16. Andrew Fortune - Great Colorado Homes
Marketing a home for sale is one of the most vital aspects to gain a home’s exposure and ability to sell. Andrew Fortune of Great Colorado Homes highlights the top marketing elements that will help home sellers sell their home for the most money. Video marketing has become a powerful marketing selling tool and great attention grabber. 3D tours have a high impact for homebuyers because they allow a buyer to virtually see the home. Social media is also powerful and a free marketing tool to gain exposure on homes for sale. Professional photography has always been an important element. Having HDR (High Dynamic Range), a wide-angle lens, and Adobe Lightroom will help photograph the home well. In conclusion, Fortune emphasizes that sellers must choose the best agent for the listing, who knows how to market, and will maximize a home’s potential.
17. Nathan Garrett - Garretts Realty Group
Nathan Garret of Garrets Realty Group provides a great infographic on the ten things to remember when selling your home in the winter. For those living in colder climates, the winters can be unbearable but it should not deter sellers from selling their home. The ten things to remember include having seasonal pictures of the home, limiting holiday decorations, turning up the heat during showings, clearing walkways by shoveling sidewalks and driveways, adding more light for later showings, cleaning the exterior of the home, and pricing the home accordingly. Other topics include adding winter smells such as fresh pine, gingerbread, and cinnamon. Lastly, Garret also highlights that an advantage of selling your home during the winter is that there will be more serious buyers and less competition between sellers.
18. Joe Samson - Joe Samson & Associates
Over 90% of home buyers start their home search online, which indicates how much of an impact the Internet has today. Joe Samson of Joe Samson & Associates provides a great list of tips on how buyers can search for a home online. Recognize a great website by looking for community information, market information, real estate blog, and determining if it is easy to use and up to date. Determine if the website has a customized MLS search option, which allows users to set up alerts for new homes and ability to narrow down their search results based on their needs. Lastly, understand that photographs may look better online. Bad photos may present an opportunity because most buyers will deter themselves from seeing them.
19. Debbie Gartner - The Flooring Girl
Debbie Gartner, known as The Flooring Girl, provides insight on the best colors for selling your house that will create a positive return on investment. Choose a light, neutral shade of paint, which will make your space look larger and more cohesive. These colors will appeal to most buyers, adds a little bit of personality, and warmth. Based on paint sales, the most popular color with homeowners today is gray. Choose the correct neutral color that will match your floor color. Gartner emphasizes the colors to avoid are dark colors, bright and saturated colors, gender specific colors, linen white, and taste specific colors. She also lists the best brands of paint to be Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore because they are high quality and not thin. Gartner provides a list in her article of the exact paint swatches from these brands. Although white is neutral, it can make rooms look stark and too sterile. However, it will work for extremely modern homes and rooms that are dark. Gartner suggests that the best paint finish is flat with no sheen. It makes the room look fresh and new. When painting, two coats of paint will suffice if you are changing the paint color, and one coat will work if you are keeping the same. Paint two coats if you are making repairs or else the repair will show.
20. Michelle Gibson - Wellington Florida Real Estate
Michelle Gibson of Wellington Florida Real Estate highlights the pros and cons of buying a home in a gated community. The top four reasons why home buyers purchase a home in a gated community include the added security, amenities, limited traffic, and rules and restrictions. Some gated communities will have a 24/7 guard or roving security throughout the neighborhood. Most gated communities will have at least one amenity, and they can range from pools to fitness centers, spas, recreation rooms, and an on-site property manager. Gated communities will have less traffic due to its exclusivity. The rules and restrictions of a gated community will help maintain property values. The top four reasons why home buyers deter themselves from purchasing a home in a gated community include the HOA fees, waiting, false sense of security, and the rules and restrictions. Some HOA fees may be extremely high in some gated communities and may prevent buyers from qualifying to purchase a home in one. The gate to and from the community may have a line of cars waiting to enter and exit, which may be an inconvenience. Gibson also highlights that gated communities may not necessarily be 100% secure and the rules and restrictions may not be a good option for some buyers who do not want to be restricted.
21. Karen Highland - EXP Realty
Each year there are new decorating trends, and Karen Highland of EXP Realty highlights the top decorating trends for 2018. Some trends will continue from the previous year, but there will new colors and combinations. Minimalism has been a trend for several years and will get an update and be less structured with softer elements. Paint manufacturers have released their colors of the year. Dutch Boy has chosen the Quest palette, Benjamin Moore has chosen Red Hot!, Sherwin Williams have released Oceanside, Behr has released In the Moment, and Dunn Edwards has introduced The Green Hour which is a blue-green color. Black is the new neutral color of 2018. Neutral paint colors that are being added include green. Highland also gives insight on the top fixtures and finishes for home decorating in 2018. The style trends include simplicity, mid-century modern, hand-made, nature-inspired, the new modern, geometric design, metallics, textures, and velvet. Outdoor rooms create an additional living space, and its trend include comfortable, colorful, and engaging. Lastly, Highland emphasizes that hardwood floors will continue to be a popular trend and they add value to the home compared to other flooring types.
22. Ellen Pitts - Harmony Realty
Ellen Pitts provides a great article on the four types of homes available in the real estate market and if a buyer should buy a fixer upper, new construction, single family home, or townhome. Fixer uppers are fit for buyers who want to personalize all aspects of their home, like to work with their hands, see the benefits of a lower home price, and like the neighborhood that the home is located. Most fixer uppers are older homes in established neighborhoods and have tons of character. However, the cons of purchasing a fixer upper include the higher cost of ownership and discomfort during construction. On the other hand, single family homes may be desirable to other homeowners. They are move-in ready and limits the future spending that home buyers will face. However, they will be priced much higher and may have colors and features that the new owners may not like. An attached home or townhome provides a unique lifestyle and has some pros and cons. They require less maintenance since the HOA fees will cover the cost, neighbors will be closer, and the price of attached homes are less than single family homes. Attached homebuyers may see unexpected fee increases, be more susceptible to noise, will share outdoor play spaces, and may have difficulty finding parking. Lastly, new construction is another type of home buyers will see in the real estate market. Homebuyers who purchase new construction will get to choose their colors, countertops, cabinets, and fixtures. There will be low upfront maintenance costs because the home is new, and everyone in the neighborhood will be new. However, there are some cons to buying a new construction home. The location may not be ideal and will be at a premium cost. The cost of new construction homes are much more expensive, and the resale value will make it difficult for a seller if they are looking to sell in a few years. Lastly, the completion dates for new construction will almost always have delays due to permit issues, weather, or shipping delays.
23. Eileen Anderson - Berkshire Hathaway,
Eileen Anderson of Berkshire Hathaway provides useful information on how sellers can get their home ready for a smooth sale. Anderson highlights that curb appeal is important and needed to provide a positive first impression. Add a fresh coat of paint, repair broken windows, and wash your windows. Decrease clutter in your home by depersonalizing, staging, and adding fresh linens. Landscape your backyard by adding a garden, rake leaves, add fresh paint, and plant flowers. Update patio furniture, trim trees, and help buyers visualize the outdoor living spaces. Anderson suggests Home Goods and Marshall’s for inexpensive material. Hire an exterminator, clean the roof and gutters from dirt and other particles, reseed bare spots in the lawn, and have professional photos taken of the property. Lastly, Anderson states that if sellers do not have the funds to update their home to sell, they will have to pay the price later by price reductions and inspection requests.
24. Jeff Nelson - IXL Real Estate
Jeff Nelson of IXL Real Estate provides a great article on how sellers determine a price to sell their home. The price you believe your home should sell for may not necessarily be the price the market tells it is worth. Your listing agent will examine comparable properties in the neighborhood and research the market conditions. They will provide a comparative market analysis of homes that have sold, homes that are in pending status, and homes that have been withdrawn or expired. The analysis will highlight the list price versus sold price, if the homes have been priced high, days on the market, and more. Withdrawn and expired properties can show that homes were priced too high. Using the comparable properties, evaluate the square feet, homes with similar upgrades and age, and the proximity of nearby homes.
25. Maria Mastrolonardo - Re/Max Realty
Energy efficient and green homes have become a popular trend in recent years, and Maria Mastrolonardo of Re/Max Realty highlights the four energy-efficient upgrades home buyers will love and will help increase your home’s value. One energy efficient upgrade is a metal roof. They are environmentally friendly, energy efficient, and are made from recycled material. They are reflective and may decrease your energy bills. Insulation is also an important aspect. The different options include cellulose, wool, and spray foam insulation. Cellulose insulation is made from 85% recycled newspapers that are treated to deter insects, mold, and resist fire. Wool insulation is sustainable, controls moisture, is fire-resistant, long lasting, and does not have any harmful chemicals. Spray foam insulation is air-tight and fills every crack in the wall. Energy efficient windows, such as double pain windows, will be filled with air or argon gas and have Low-E coating. Mastrolonardo also suggests getting a smart thermostat, which will allow homeowners to remotely adjust the home’s temperature using a smartphone.
26. Dustin Brohm - Equity Real Estate
Home renovations always increase a home’s value, and Dustin Brohm of Equity Real Estate highlights the top six home renovations to do and how to do them properly. A kitchen upgrade is one of the best investments a seller can make. Brohm suggests sellers to make minor repairs, ensure the kitchen is in good condition, change cabinet hardware, paint, replace decor, and update kitchen appliances. For bathroom upgrades, update the mirror, add decorative accents, and install new appliances. Brohm also states that a fresh coat of paint will liven up the home. Select neutral colors because they are easier to work with among different types of people. Other suggestions that Brohm makes is improving curb appeal and installing energy efficient appliances. Repaint the front door, trim overgrown bushes, and add fresh plants. Energy efficient upgrades include LED lighting and smart home technology. Lastly, when selling a home and renovating, it’s best to depersonalize. Remove posters, bold wallpaper, and photos.
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Joy Bender is the co-founder/owner of Aumann Bender & Associates, La Jolla real estate agents with Pacific Sotheby's International Realty. She has a passion for digital marketing and helping clients discover San Diego's lifestyle. Joy Bender specializes in San Diego luxury real estate in La Jolla, Coronado, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, and beyond.