Category Archives: Buyer Info

Yuck, Ouch Inspections!

I just saw this sad article about a woman in Canada who bought a million dollar home.  She thought that having an architect and engineer walk through the home would be enough to verify that it was safe for habitation, so she didn’t get a home inspection.  After closing, she discovered that the walls were totally and completely infested with mice.  Yuck!

Worse still… the damage from their droppings and urine is so severe that the house has to be gutted.

Enough said, right?  Here’s a link to the article – don’t be shy if I can help you with anything!

Best,
Irene

Advertisements

A realtor’s guide to improved client relationships

Do you know what your customers really think about the home-buying process?

According to the 2011 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey conducted by the National Association of REALTORS, here are the five biggest expectations:

A real estate salesperson should:

  1. Help find the right home to purchase.
  2. Help in negotiating the price.
  3. Help negotiating the terms of the sale.
  4. Determine what comparable homes are selling for.
  5. Assist with the paperwork.

Many buyers do not understand the home-buying process.  Buying a home can be very stressful.  A real estate agent plays many roles during this process – adviser, counselor and friend.  Here are some suggestions to better assist today’s buyers for improved client relationships.

How quick is your response time?  Response time is rated as a very important quality in real estate professionals according to the NAR survey.  It is ranked behind honesty and integrity.  Are you ignoring customer leads?  Are you responding too late?  Today’s internet consumer is expecting a response within the hour. 

Do you have a web presence?  The important determining factors in choosing an agent are trustworthiness and reputation.  With that said, online search is a go-to method to find out more about a real estate practitioner’s business.  Client reviews are important as well as photos and detailed property information.  If you are on social networking pages such as LinkedIn and Facebook, be sure they are up to date and represent your business.

Do you follow the three E’s?  A realtor wears many hats during this process as I mentioned.  You need to be ready to educate, empathize and encourage.

Educate on the area, what comparable homes are selling for, average price per square foot and every stage in the buying process.

Empathize throughout the whole process.  This is a big, scary step where something as simple as the color of the walls becomes a huge obstacle.  Keep calm, listen to them and propose a practical solution or compromise.

Encourage your buyers once they make a decision.  They are looking to you for validation – they want to know they made a good decision.  Review the priorities they stated in their home search and how the home measures up.  This will help lead them all the way to the closing table.

Can you answer their questions?  Of course there are certain questions you can’t answer due to the fair housing laws, but if you ignore the question or gloss over it, you inadvertently make the buyer lose faith in your knowledge about the market or feel like their question didn’t matter.  Keep pertinent data with you, available on your Web site or even in a special buyer packet. 

Are you present through the entire process?  After your buyers have selected a home, don’t disappear until closing day.  They will feel abandoned!  They need your help understanding the entire process and part of that is recommending service providers.  Find an excuse to call – share an article, tell them you drove by and the house looks great.  Help them get information on their new community.

The end of the transaction can be the beginning of a relationship with your clients.  By proving you will be there every step of the way and beyond builds your reputation and a lasting awareness of your services – for the next time they need you, or when their friends and family need you.

 Until next time, Irene

Five Habits of Highly Productive Real Estate Agents

I’ll let you in on a little secret.  You could take the title of this blog and replace “Real Estate Agents” with your profession and you would increase your productivity!  But Real Estate is my business and time management is a real challenge that I want to address from the perspective of being a Real Estate Agent.

With so many distractions, it is a wonder that real estate agents are productive at all.  Working to become a highly productive real estate agent is an ongoing process.  Creating habits that produce consistent results allows you to achieve your maximum potential.  Between phone calls, emails, listing presentations, prospecting calls and buyer appointments, how do I stay productive?

I keep myself focused, alert and on tract with these five habits:

  1. Focus on the Most Important Tasks.  Be mindful to focus on income generating tasks and tasks that produce results.  Schedule time on your calendar and list out everything you will work on.  Number each item and work through your list.  Complete what you can during your scheduled time without any interruptions or distractions (see #2).  Do this every day.
  2. Remove Distractions.  The day can quickly get away from you between the phone, email, Internet and any other interruption.  Turn it all off and stay focused on your task at hand.  Don’t allow yourself a quick vacation on Facebook or getting off track by answering emails.  Cut yourself off from all distractions, work down your list and take a break once you are complete.
  3. Use Positive Affirmations.  Crazy, I know but they actually do work!  They can take a negative attitude and turn it around just by repeating a few constructive, upbeat words. 
  4. Take a Cat Nap.  Making time and grabbing a few z‘s might seem like an odd productivity tip, but studies have shown that feeling refreshed after a nap can significantly improve concentration and performance.  30 minutes is all it takes.
  5. Set Daily Goals.  Wake up each morning with your goals outlined.  These should be incorporated into your daily tasks.  Setting your sites on a goal each day offers clarity and promotes a more sustained drive.

Here’s a bonus.  Break out of the norm.  Don’t be afraid to branch out and try something that makes you a little uncomfortable.  Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be an amazing place that offers growth potential you never believed possible. Whatever your profession, these habits will contribute to your productivity. 

Until next time, Irene

Is the Economy Encouraging Home Buying?

There seems to be a shift in several key housing market indicators, according to Fannie Mae’s March 2012 consumer attitudinal National Housing Survey.  More Americans now expect both home rental and home purchase prices to increase over the next year.  In addition, confidence in consumers’ views of their own finances is stabilizing.  Are these trends providing Americans with an increased sense of urgency to buy a home?

73% of Americans now believe it is a good time to buy a home.  This is up from 70% in February.  “Conditions are coming together to encourage people to want to buy homes,” says Doug Duncan, Vice President and Chief Economist of Fannie Mae.  “With an increasing share of consumers expecting higher mortgage rates and home prices over the next 12 months, some may feel that renting is becoming more costly and that homeownership is a more compelling housing choice.”

A number of factors seem to be contributing to Americans’ Expectations:

  • Home prices are expected to increase over the next year.
  • Mortgage rates are expected to go up over the next year.
  • People feel “it is a good time to buy”.
  • Home rental prices are expected to increase over 4% – a significant increase.

There appears to be good news about the economy in general and Americans’ household finances.  There was a rise in confidence in the overall economy this month.  35% of respondents think the economy is on the right track.  A very low (12%) of respondents think their personal financial situation will worsen in the next 12 months.  This is good news for everyone.

For more information, visit http://www.fanniemae.com.

Until next time, Irene

Why Buying a Home Is Better Than Renting in South Central Vermont

The economic state we’re in at the moment has certainly affected the real estate market. Now more than ever, many of us have concerns about the future and whether or not to buy a home. If you are ready to move from your current residence, you may be asking yourself if it is better to buy or to rent a home. Questions like “Should I take the leap and buy a home now while interest rates and home prices are at an all time low”

Low Home Prices and Interest Rates

If it is economically feasible for you, you should consider a home now while home prices, including interest rates, are at fantastic lows. Not only will you get a whole lot of home for the price, it is possible that you could benefit from potential tax breaks. Also, if you take the time to itemize your federal income tax return, your mortgage interest and real estate property taxes could be deductible.

Better Sense of Community, Stability, and Security

Something to consider if you’re thinking about renting instead of buying a home is that most popular neighborhoods and their communities have limited rentals available and more often no rentals at all. By now you should have done your homework and have a good idea of the community you’d like to live in. Be it because of the schools, the small town feel, the city life, the amenities or the commute, you may have no other choice but to buy to have the opportunity to live in the area of your choice.

Another thing to keep in mind if you are considering renting is that rental properties are a transitional part of their communities. Your neighbors more than likely change frequently making it impossible to create a community bond. If you buy a home you automatically become a permanent member of your community. You can build relationships with your neighbors; your children can make life long friends and you will connect with community businesses.

Better Deal to Own than to Rent

With the current all time low interest rates and spectacular home prices, the amount of money you would pay as a renter could often times be around the same or sometimes even more than the amount your mortgage payments would be if you were a homeowner. With the tax benefits that may be available to you, the savings could be significant.

Homeownership is a smart choice if you have arrived at a stable place in your life. You’ve chosen a life path and are choosing the actions you will need to achieve it. You have amassed a sufficient amount of savings or have gotten to a point in which your cash flow is secure, and the dangers of defaulting on a loan and damaging your credit rating is minimal. If this is where you are, the advantages of owning a home far outweigh the disadvantages, and you are prepared to begin shopping for the perfect home and the right loan for you and your family.

Buying South Central Vermont Real Estate In a Buyers Market

In real estate terms this is, indeed, a buyer’s market–a time when the supply of South Central Vermont real estate for sale far exceeds the demand. And that is good news for those of you who are house hunting, for you may well find just the deal you’ve been looking for. You can certainly make an offer that is below the asking price and ask the seller to add upgrades, pay closing costs, or otherwise provide incentives for you to purchase that particular piece of South Central Vermont real estate. Even if you may be holding most of the cards, however, here are some tips to make your search easier and more successful.

THE PREPARATION:

  • Get pre-approved for a loan
  • Be knowledgeable about prices. Spend some time with a Realtor looking at comparables and recent sales in your target area so you’ll recognize a fair price.
  • Check out property taxes in the area. High taxes can sometimes add hundreds of dollars to your monthly payment, something you need to know in advance.

THE IN-PERSON SEARCH:

  • Ride with your Realtor. It’s better for you to concentrate on curb appeal and surroundings than on traffic.
  • Dress comfortably and practically. Be prepared to remove your shoes, trek up and down stairs, tour the outside grounds, inspect corners, etc.

Cost-saving Tips for Insuring Your South Central Vermont Home

As every South Central Vermont homeowner knows, property insurance is a necessity. The cost of adequate insurance may seem daunting initially, but there are certain steps you can take to reduce your costs to a reasonable level.

1. Shop around for the best value. Check online for quotes from at least three reputable agencies. Be aware that some companies offer a discount of 30% to 40% if you buy online. Other possible discounts can result from insuring both the home and the contents or by insuring your home and your car with the same firm.

Also know the replacement value of your home, taking into consideration any unique features that will be expensive to replace. Keep in mind probable inflation increases at renewal time. Does your insurer automatically adjust your coverage or do you have to request the change?

2. Make periodic updates to your South Central Vermont home or property. Ways to reduce insurance costs include the following:

A) replacing the existing heating system to one which is safer and more cost-efficient.

B) keep plumbing in good working order and protect it from freezing

C) replace fuses. Inspectors are looking for circuit breakers and a safe wiring system

D) install fire detectors or even a central alarm system. Be sure to keep a record of all repairs/replacements and inform your insurance company of each one.

Continue reading →

South Central Vermont Home Buyers Master the Mortgage Maze

A simplified guide for buyers of South Central Vermont home.

To a South Central Vermont home loan shopper, there may seem to be an endless–and confusing–array of mortgage types. Of course you want to choose the option that is best suited to your current and future financial situation, but understanding the terminology, types, and monetary ramifications is not always easy. Mortgages generally fall into four categories (fixed rate, adjustable rate, step, and balloon) according to the interest rate and duration of the loan.

Basic terminology;

Fixed rate–The interest rates do not change during the life of the loan, thus allowing you to know the amount of your payments.

Adjustable rate (ARM)–the interest rate is tied to certain indexes plus a margin and can fluctuate up or down, thus affecting each payment,

Step–the interest rate and monthly payment remain the same for a specified period of time. After that the interest will change to the prevailing rate and will remain there for the duration of the loan.

Balloon–a loan payment that expands after a certain amount of time. Basically it functions similarly to a fixed rate mortgage in the earlier months/years with a delayed steep increase at the end,

The following information, courtesy of Mortgages.Interest.com, outlines the type of mortgage, the loan characteristics, and the situations most appropriate for each one. If,  for instance, you plan to live in your South Central Vermont home more than 10 years and desire stability in payment amounts, then a fixed rate mortgage is for you. If, however, your finances are currently strained, but you know that in 5 to 10 years your monetary situation will improve or that you will most likely move within 10 years, then an ARM or balloon mortgage may be better for you. Being familiar with these options allows you to discuss them intelligently with your real estate agent and/or lender and then select the type which best fits your circumstances.

Continue reading →

Basic Steps for First-time South Central Vermont Home Buyers – PART IV

A simplified guide for painless purchasing of your South Central Vermont home,

Be patient. You’re getting close to the finish line and will soon be the owner of your first home. Just a few more steps to go…

1. Homeowner’s insurance policy

Adequate homeowner’s insurance is a requirement of all lenders, and it is certainly in your best interests to protect the investment you’ll be making in your South Central Vermont home. To find the policy that is right for you, you should shop around for the best value. Check online for quotes from at least three reputable agencies. Be aware that some companies offer a discount of 30%-40% if you buy online. Other possible discounts can result from insuring both your home and the contents or by insuring your home and your car with the same company. Check to see if you need flood insurance, as many properties in South Central Vermont do. Know the replacement value of your home, taking into consideration any unique features. Think about probable inflation increases at renewal time. Will your insurance agency automatically adjust your coverage, or will you have to request a change?

2. Preparations before closing

Continue reading →

Basic Steps for First-time South Central Vermont Home Buyers – PART III

A simplified guide for painless purchasing of your South Central Vermont home.

Okay, you’ve made your lists of: must have” and “would be nice” features, and you’ve identified desirable neighborhoods with the schools and amenities that meet your needs. Now it’s time to seriously shop for your first-time South Central Vermont home.

Before you even step outside to begin the search, your agent will email to you listings which meet your criteria, and you can “visit” many of them online via a virtual tour. Once you have narrowed down your choices, your agent will arrange for you to look at–in person– your selected properties. A few bits of advice here:

1) Take notes on each home you tour. Too often individual details blur after you’ve seen four (or more) houses in a day.

2) Look past the owner’s furnishings and décor. Concentrate on the features you have identified as important and try to picture yourself actually living in the space.

3) If you have decided that you don’t need a “move-in ready” residence, look at the potential of the property. Would simple cosmetic changes make a considerable difference?

4) Listen to both your head and your heart. Sometimes a property really does “speak” to you, and you know you have found your new home.

Continue reading →