Here are 10 of the very best home improvements you can make right now, ranging from small jobs to big ones.
Remodel the Kitchen
Updating the kitchen is one of the best ways to give your home some additional value. Adding some modern appliances and touching up the cabinets to make them look more modern too is always a worthwhile investment. Add a fresh coat of paint to change up how the kitchen looks too.
Get a Garage
Homes that have a two car garage are much more appealing to homeowners. A small garage could is basically as good as no garage at all. New homes tend to have garages that have a little extra room to give people a place to work or use as storage.
Remodel the Bathroom
The bathroom is one room that really shows off how old a home is. Painting the walls, adding a jacuzzi, and having appropriate flooring in the bathroom contributes a great deal to the value of your home. A bathroom with outdated fixtures makes a home feel old and dated.
The modern homebuyer is looking to invest in a home with wood, ceramic, and other natural materials. Another good option is laminate flooring, which creates the natural look without any of the problems and hassles of natural flooring. There are products out there designed to give the look and durability of laminate, known as PVC wood flooring.
Install Quartz or Granite Countertops
Quartz and granite countertops are a solid choice in either the kitchen or the bathroom. They don’t take a lot of maintenance, they look good, and they can give your remodel some extra value. Many people consider granite to be the better choice between the two. Quartz certainly looks and feels like granite, but it has a cheaper price tag.
Improve Curb Appeal
Everyone enjoys the feeling of driving down the road to their home. Improving the landscaping of your property and adding some color makes this experience that extra bit enjoyable. Adding some flowers and shrubbery makes your home look brighter and gives it some cheer.
Increase Natural Light
Getting more natural light to the property leads to energy savings and can improve your health. Find more places to add some windows and patio doors to house to welcome more natural light. Consider getting sun tubes or sky lights as well.
Open Up Some Extra Space
A home that has an open floor plan is a home that feels bigger than it is, especially compared to closed-up houses. It’s not difficult to open up extra space either. You might need to just adjust your furniture to avoid sectioning off rooms. It can also be more difficult; including knocking walls out. One of the most obvious walls to remove is the wall between your dining room and kitchen.
A Fresh Coat of Paint
Something as simple as a fresh coat of paint can make a home look brand new and change how a space feels.
Cluttered homes feel dirty and small. Ensure that you clean up all the clutter inside and outside the home. Rearrange – or even remove – furniture to open up the house and make it less cramped.
If you rent your property then there’s likely a good chance you’re already aware of the rising cost of renting, and have felt the effects of it on your bank account. It seems that landlords around the nation are increasing their rents alongside the increase in property prices. As one goes up, so too must the other. The situation is summed up quite nicely by the saying that no matter whether you rent your home or own it, you’re paying someone’s mortgage. Either you’ll be paying your own, or your rent will be paying off your landlord’s. Seeing how you’re going to be stuck paying a mortgage either way, doesn’t it make sense to be paying a mortgage of your own and enjoying the benefits that come with it?
The National Association of Realtors forecasted recently that the landlord’s market is going to continue into 2017. Not only is rent increasing, but it’s growing at a rate that is higher than overall inflation. The result is that the market is prime for buying. If you’ve already purchased your first home, then now is the time to consider getting an investment property and seeing where it can take you.
Let’s say you’re paying $1,600 a month for your rent. This equals $19,200 a year. All of that money is going to the assets of another person; essentially money of your own that you’re just throwing at someone else. There are many cases where the price of rent is higher than the cost of the mortgage, taxes, and insurance. With such cheap mortgage rates, you should at least consider having a look at how much money you could qualify for. You’d probably be surprised at the amount the bank is willing to lend you.
Let’s look at things another way. You want to own your car, right? Who would lease their car forever? The same principle can be applied to housing. Why should you lease your house forever and be a renter, when you could own your own home? Some people are put off of buying a property because of the cost of the mortgage. Mortgage rates right now are very affordable and, as we discovered earlier, the cost of the mortgage could end up being less than the current cost of your rent. You also have the freedom and security that comes with owning your own home, so what are you waiting for?
A study undertaken by the National Association of Realtors a few years ago discovered that only 17% of homebuyers are able to find everything they want in their new property. These are the people who were lucky enough to not have to compromise on the location or quality of the property. This means that a whopping 83% of all homebuyers had to make such a sacrifice. This is incredible, and it leaves us wondering how things could – and should – be.
If you don’t know what a rehab mortgage is, then buckle up and prepare to learn. These come in conventional mortgages and FHA mortgages. We’ll start out with FHA, which has a product known as a 203k. The HUD defines section 203(k) insurance as a mortgage that allows homebuyers and owners to finance not just the purchase of a property, but also the cost of rehabilitating it, all in a single mortgage. There is one warning; the cost of purchasing and repairing the property has to be less than the FHA loan limit. Renovations must also have to cost at least $5000 in order to qualify. You can expect a down payment of between 3 and 5% of the total cost of the property and renovations.
This is what an FHA allows for:
- Altering and reconstructing the structure of a property
- Modernising and improving the function of the home
- Eliminating any health and safety hazards
- Improving the appearance of the property and eliminating obsolescence
- Reconditioning or replacing the plumbing, along with installing wells or septic systems
- Adding or replacing roofing, downspouts, and guttering
- Adding or replacing floors or treating existing floors
- Site improvements including major landscaping work
- Enhancing the accessibility of a property for disabled people
- Energy conservation improvements
Keep in mind that an FHA doesn’t allow you to buy luxury items such as outdoor kitchens, hot tubs, swimming pools, etc.
The conventional rehab loan on the other hand offers buyers a lot more breathing room. For these loans, the total price of the property and the renovation has to be less than $424,100, and you need to offer a down payment of at least 5% of this total cost.
The following is what a conventional mortgage allows for:
- Everything included with an FHA rehab
- Outdoor kitchens
- Swimming pools
- New appliances
The rehab loan is a great choice that allows you to turn the mortgage and the cost of renovation into a single loan. A rehab line of credit typically comes with a higher interest rate than a mortgage; making it better for consumers to put everything into one loan and use it in one go.
There’s no such thing as a real estate transaction that goes perfectly. There are too many problems that can arise during the process of selling your home, and each of those problems has their own problems. Some of them can be unavoidable, but many of them can be avoided. The following are the most common mistakes people make when selling their home, and how you can avoid making them.
It shouldn’t be surprising that overpricing is the first on our list. This is the easiest and most common mistake made. Even when selling on a seller’s market, overpriced homes will never sell, merely becoming stale and remaining on the market forever. Eventually their price will be reduced and, while they will sell, it will typically be for less than market value. Homes are usually overpriced due to emotional attachment from the seller, who believes that the home is worth more than it really is. Sellers like this typically hire realtors who have no problem listing the property at whatever price the seller wants, even if it’s above or below the market value. No one wins in these situations.
Start by removing all emotional attachment to the property and listen when your realtor talks. They may not give you the price you want to hear, but they are able to back up their decision with reasons and research. Going with a realtor simply because they offer the highest price is a mistake. Far too many realtors are desperate enough to have a property listed on the market that they’ll offer for whatever price the seller asks for without considering comps and appraisals. Remember that your home is an investment – because it is – and stop thinking of it as the place your family was raised. Thinking about it emotionally means you won’t think about it rationally.
Wanting to Be a Part of Every Showing
This is nothing short of a really bad idea. A potential buyer is less likely to give the home a real chance if they are not allowed to look and explore freely because the seller is around them. Everyone who visits your home will be there with the realtor. There are records of all the realtors scheduling showings for your home, when they were there, and who they were with. As the seller, you might find yourself divulging information the buyer can use to their advantage, which would be bad for you. It’s fine for you to be present at the house and introduce yourself, but you should leave when the showing starts. The single biggest deterrent for buyers is having the seller around.
The solution for this problem is pretty simple. You’ll always know when the buyer is going to be there for the showing, so just make yourself scarce and plan something to do ahead of time. It’s best for all involved.
Giving the Home Your Preferred Upgrades Before Listing
This can be a major issue. It’s important to understand not every buyer wants the same upgrades. You should avoid putting in the upgrades that you’re a personal fan of, especially if they don’t have mass appeal. The home needs to build traffic before it can sell. Having mismatched appliances or overly bright walls can discourage a buyer from wanting to see the property. The home should be buyer friend in order to generate showings and eventually sell.
Consult with the realtor before listing the property if you’re interested in getting some upgrades on the home. They will be able to check recent sales data to find out what other sold homes looked like to give you a good idea of what needs to be done. It’s also possible to just forget about the upgrades and sell for a lower price. It can depend on your own price range and how much you’re hoping to make.
Leaving the House Messy for Showings
This is one of the most avoidable mistakes there is. You will be provided with the date and time of every showing. You can be told up to an hour or two ahead of time as well. If the home isn’t ready to be shown, then you can reschedule the showing; the showing company even accept this as a reason to reschedule showings. Buyers should never be shown a messy home. Nothing turns them off more. They are also listed in pristine condition if they have been staged. A buyer expects the home to look like this, so don’t let your home disappoint them.
Ensure that you have advanced warning about the showing and are able to get the house clean. If you’re someone who spends all day at the office, then make sure that the home is clean before you head out for work. If you’re going to have a party or a get-together, and you know the house needs to be cleaned after, then arrange showings at a time the house will be cleaned by.
Good realtors will be there for you to help avoid making these mistakes, along with all the other potential mistakes that can occur during the process of selling your home. I can help you if you want to know the current market value of your home. Knowing the value of your home makes it easier to decide if you should sell or not. I guarantee to do my best for you to make the process as simple and easy as possible.
When buying or selling a home, particularly a pre-owned home, there will almost definitely be some issues opened up by the inspection report. There are some minor ones, and some major ones, and there are even problems that could kill any chance of selling. Any repairs will be listed on an amendment from the buyer, requesting that sellers correct the problems discovered during the inspection. The buyer may also request compensation instead of repairs, or that the seller reduces the asking price. Sometimes it might be better to accept an offer of compensation rather than paying for the repairs. What you need to know is Paragraph 7, Part F of the One-Four Family Contract.
This states, in full:
So what does all this mean for those of us who aren’t lawyers? Well, it means a lot of things. We’ll itemise and explain these things below.
- Unless the amendment that the buyer files gives sellers the chance to make their own repairs, the repair has to be completed by a skilled trader who is licensed in the state of Texas to perform such repairs. The same applies to treatments the property needs.
- The seller needs to make sure any warranties that can be transferred to the buyers, such as appliances, foundations, etc., goes through before closing. The buyer is the one responsible for transfer costs.
- Any failure by the seller to complete the agreed repairs or treatments can lead to the contract defaulting. In the case of default, the buyer is given the chance to extend the closing date by up to 5 days, completely terminate the contract and have their money returned to them, or seek relief afforded to them by law.
The unfortunate reality of the situation is that some sellers are going to attempt to make the repairs themselves without the qualifications or understanding of building codes necessary to do so. If a repair isn’t done properly, it could be costly for everyone involved. Ensuring that repairs are performed by qualified professionals ensure that buyers and sellers alike are protected during the process.
Some people believe that after an offer is accepted – either as a buyer or a seller – that it’s smooth sailing ahead. It isn’t. Contracts can come to pieces in a number of ways, for a number of reasons. Each contract is unique, so individual experiences may vary. With that in mind, here are some of the ways that you could still be left negotiating even after accepting the contract.
Buyers reserve the right to have an inspection performed during the option period. It could be considered a kind of CAT scan of the house. After the buyer receives their inspection report they may (or may not) file an amendment asking for repairs to be made, the sales price to be lowered, foregoing repairs for closing costs. It could even be some combination of these. Repairs and treatments are the thing most commonly negotiated after a contract is accepted. These repairs must also be undertaken by licensed professionals. Failing to do so will result in repercussions.
A house may not appraise for the contract price. In the event that this occurs, there are four things that can happen: The buyer will have the right to back out of the contract until the closing date and have their money returned; the buyer can file amendments to reduce the sale price to the value of the appraisal; the buyer and seller can agree to meet in the middle and pay an amount between the appraisal and contract price; or the buyer can bring the extra money to closing and use it as additional down payment.
I’ve personally seen all four happen at some point. This can be common in a hot market where there are more buyers than houses to go around. People will offer more than the asking price to secure the home and beat out any other offer without worrying about appraisals; which they certainly should do.
Financing is a very broad category and things can go a number of ways. Perhaps the buyer loses their loan qualification during the process, but are eligible for a different kind of loan. This requires filing an amendment that will then be signed by the seller to authorise the change. An amendment will also be needed if the buyer wants to negotiate in the event the house doesn’t appraise.
It can be a common occurrence for a buyer to sell their home in order to buy a new one. This is what is known as a “contingent offer”, and they can quickly become complicated. The buyer might use an option period to include a contingency in the purchase that wasn’t on the contract before. The seller has to agree on the sale being part of the deal or not.
Let’s look at a scenario to see how this works. The buyer puts an offer on a home that interests them, but it is contingent on them selling their current home. The contingency would be listed in an addendum called the “Addendum for Sale of Other Property by Buyer”. This form includes the address of the property that needs to sell and a date it needs to be sold by to keep the contract valid. Even so, sellers retain the right to accept other offers, even after accepting a contingent offer.
Accepting a new offer forces the original buyer to decide if the contingency should be part of the sale or not. If they decide against it, then they can offer additional money to have the contingency removed. If they do, then they are free to back out of the deal and receive a refund. This is a complicated process, which is why it should always be handled by qualified realtors.
There are other circumstances that could lead to things needing to be negotiated; including extending the close date or option period, or requiring additional repairs following poor repair work. The process isn’t over just because you signed the contract. That’s why you should always keep yourself covered by bringing in a professional realtor. Might we suggest ourselves?
You probably hear from a lot of people ‘wait till the Spring to sell’. Those people generally are not in the real estate industry. While it may be true the Summer brings about more buyers than any other time of the year, the Fall may be one of the best times to actually sell. With school now back in session, here are some reasons why the Fall is a great time to list your home (with us, of course).
So many people wait till the Summer to list, and that could be due to school or work. That’s not a bad thing, but it can work in your favor. Those who buy and sell in the Summer are usually on a short time line for a job transfer, moving school districts, etc. With there being not as many sellers in the Fall as there are in the Summer, the buyers who missed out on homes in the Summer months are longing for something to call their own. Less competition, coupled with ready, willing, and able buyers, makes for a great selling season.
Summer Comps Help Your Price
To help better explain this, we need to get into appraiser mode. Appraisers use 6 months worth of comps when figuring out market value. So we as realtors have to do the same thing. Listing your home on September 1st allows you to use comps going back as far as March 1st. That lets you use the hot Summer month comps to potentially get you a higher value on your home. A home listed on June 1st, traditionally a hot summer day, goes back to December 1st. That only leaves them with the Spring months. This can greatly work in your favor.
Better Curb Appeal
The Fall brings out some beautiful colors in the trees, and can add some wonderful curb appeal to your home. It’s widely known if a buyer doesn’t like the look of the home from the front, they won’t look inside. This includes curb appeal, so what better time than when nature starts painting its own canvas.
Texas Temperatures Cool Off
Yes, this is Texas. Parts of our wonderful State will be hot enough to cook eggs. It’s easily 95+ degrees in July and August. But it’s in the 70’s and 80’s during a good portion of the Fall. Wouldn’t you rather move when it’s not so hot?
A showing will often take place while the original owner still lives in the property. If it’s been a long time since you last bought a house – or this is your first time buying one – then you might not know which items will still be in the house per the contract, and what the seller is legally allowed to take with them. There’s no need to worry though, as we have all the answers!
Paragraph 2, section B and C of the Contract (this only applies to Texas) clearly defines what is considered to be staying in the property:
This means that you shouldn’t expect to get the fridge, the washer and dryer, or that lovely freestanding grill. However, this doesn’t mean to say that you can’t have them if you really want them. With the “Non-Realty Items Addendum” you can file an addendum telling the property owner which items – if any – you would like to have with the house. If you fall in love with the great couch in the home, for example, then you can ask the sellers to let you have it.
Now what if – as a seller – you wanted to keep things that were listed in the above section of the contract, such as something sentimental or expensive? The best thing to do is to remove them before listing the property. If you forget to do this then you must ensure they are listed in section 2, Part D of the contract, which lists exclusions:
You shouldn’t hesitate to ask about something inside the home as you walk through it. Sellers might have the item listed on the Realtor version of the MLS sheet as something they want to keep. Even if something is in the MLS, they will still have to request the right to keep it through the contract.
There are times when it can be difficult to tell the difference between fact and fiction. Think of all the fake quotes out there, particularly the ones seen during the last Presidential election. This is the way that rumours and lies are started and spread. Someone says something, and then they keep saying it. Or they put it online, making everyone think that it’s true. That doesn’t make it true, however.
Even the real estate industry isn’t safe. There are a lot of myths about real estate. They are primarily spread by investor seminars, FSBO (For Sale By Owner) websites, buyers who haven’t researched properly, and sellers who feel they know more than a realtor does about real estate. Today we’ll be debunking the myths of real estate.
I Don’t Need to Pay a Realtor If I Buy The Home By Myself
This is easily one of the biggest myths there is about buying and selling property. The truth is that the realtor is only person that ISN’T PAID BY YOU during the process. Realtors work for you at no cost. Sellers are the ones paying commissions to the realtors as part of the transaction. You may find yourself assuming that we encourage people to pay more because the seller is paying us (which would mean we get paid more) this isn’t the case either. We aren’t sure about other realtors, but we can assure you that Lone Star Housing Tips work on referrals. We know that if we fail to do a good job, then you won’t refer us to your friends and family. We also know you’ll never work with us again. We understand that doing a great job – even if it means earning a little less – is the best option because it increases referrals and brings more business to us. It pays off in the long run. Also keep in mind that calling the agent on the sign outside the property you’re interested in might not be a good idea. Every homebuyer needs to understand that they don’t pay us – the realtor – and having us on our side will only work to your advantage.
Pricing the Home for More than It’s Worth Allows Room for Negotiation
Please don’t do this. A home that is properly priced will sell much faster – and often for more money. Overpricing the home will require you to offer a reduction, or even a second reduction, to match the actual value of the property. The result is that you end up getting lowballed on your offers because the property sits on the market for too long and goes stale. There are some realtors that will deliberately overprice a home to have a listing on the market and have their face out there to generate leads. This does sound unethical – and it is – but people will fall for this trick. If someone suggests a price higher than the value of the property, then make sure they can justify it. An appraisal is an important part of the process, so make sure you price the home accurately.
I Should Wait Until I Find My New Home to Speak to a Lender
The reality is that the first step of buying a home is getting approved for your mortgage. If you don’t have that approval then you won’t know how much money you have to spend, and you won’t be able to prove that you can actually pay for the home when the offer is written up. Many realtors will not even show homes to people who haven’t gotten a mortgage yet, let alone write them an offer. If you haven’t qualified for a mortgage then a lender will often be able to tell you why you didn’t qualify and the steps you can take to rectify the issue. There are lots of reasons why meeting the lender is the first thing to do, and every lender can be different. Always ask your realtor for a recommendation.
All a Realtor Does is Place a Sign and List the Home Online. I can Do That and Save Money on Commission
It’s certainly true that not every property on the market is sold by realtors. For Sale By Owner properties sell all the time. Many buyers hire realtors of their own – given that it’s free – so it’s a good idea to have your own representation. There’s a lot more to being a realtor than just putting a sign down in the yard and listing a home on the MLS.
For a start, FSBO sellers are unable to list their home on the MLS by themselves. IT is possible to do it through a third party, but you won’t get on the MLS. As the MLS is the biggest and best websitethat home buyers use, it’s kind of important that you be listed there. Every website out there, from Zillow to Trulia, and even Realtor.com get all the information they have from the MLS. Realtors also get professional pictures of the house taken – or at least we do – and stage the house ready for a showing. We can pre-market the property by getting in touch with other realtors and we can have all the paperwork ready before the home is even listed.
There is more that realtors do, but to explain it all would mean having to write a novel. Even after listing the property we continue to market the home to other realtors and prospective buyers. We follow up on showings, negotiate the best deal for you, and take care of all the paperwork. Even then, there’s more!
Some websites out there, such as OpenDoor, have convinced people that it’s easier to sell the property to cash investor buyers and get it over with. While this can be the case, you’ll end up with a smaller payout and higher fees than if you had gone with a realtor. Real estate is a very litigious field. Given the lawsuit-happy nature of the modern world, you could end up losing everything you made – if not more – should you fail to get everything filed properly and disclose things correctly.
We don’t think you want that.