Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

Top Tips for Competing in a Hot Real Estate Market

Although some of the real estate market has cooled compared to the recent past, select markets still remain hot. Regardless of the market you may be looking in, some properties will be “hot buys” and are still receiving multiple offers at the same time. So the big question is how do you position yourself as being most competitive when you are submitting an offer on your next home? Here are some helpful tips to follow.

Prepare Yourself and Your Finances

Getting all of your ducks in a row for finances and aligning yourself with a strong team are good places to start. Here is a closer look at a checklist of action items. 

Finances – Make sure you have saved for both your down payment as well as your closing costs. Check your credit score as well to see how it fairs as this will impact your borrowing power. 

Records – Collect all of your supporting documents that will be required for your home loan. This includes things like pay stubs, bank statements, savings account information, proof of additional income as well as any alimony or child support you may have to pay.

Research areas – Check out some areas of interest for what they offer you and your lifestyle, but also how much homes with your criteria cost. This will help you narrow down your official search and act quickly on a property that arises and is a good fit.

Choose the Right Lender – Working with a local and reputable lender can sometimes be helpful in a competitive deal. Local agents know local lenders and those with good reputations and are known for smooth transactions may give you a leg up in a deal. 

Strengthen Your Offer

There are some other ways to craft your actual offer to make it as competitive as possible and stand out from the rest. Here are just a few things to consider.

Pre approval – All offers should be accompanied with a pre approval letter, but some lenders will go further with underwriting ahead of time to make your offer even stronger.

Down payment – Another idea of how to sweeten the deal is to increase your down payment. This will show good faith to sellers that your deal is more secure with more cash down towards the transaction. 

Strong first offer – If you aren’t offering full price or over asking, make your first offer as strong as possible. Show the sellers what level of serious that you really are with the amount you offer.

Be accommodating – The sales price is only one part of what makes an offer ideal. Being accommodating on other things like the seller’s time frame to close, where and when to close and even limiting contingencies all will be attractive to most sellers. 

Write a letter – Last but not least, consider writing a letter. This can help appeal to the emotional side of the seller by telling them in a short, but sweet note why you love the home and why it is a perfect fit for you. Most homes have great memories for sellers and there can be value in the sellers knowing that it will be enjoyed and that they will be a courteous new neighbor. 

6 Tips for Buyers to Avoid Closing Delays

Once you have found the home that you want, you have made an offer and have had a satisfactory home inspection, then you need to focus on finishing up all paperwork and work towards getting to your closing date. In most cases your closing date will be met, however, there are some cases where things can get delayed. In fact, the National Association of Realtors has reported that 32% of buyers face delays at closing. Here are 6 tips to pay attention to so that you can avoid delays with your deal.

Downpayment and closing costs

Most everyone is well aware these days that you need to have a downpayment when you buy a home. Having 20% down is great as you can avoid paying PMI, but many people are getting away with 5 or 10% too. However, closing costs are a whole other thing. These are all of your prepaid expenses and associated loan costs. The best thing to do is to consult with your mortgage broker to get a good idea of what you need to have on hand for funds. 

Pre-approval

Loan snags are a common delay for closings. Even if this is your second home and even if you have the same job as when you bought your first home, you still need to get pre-approved. Rates change, your credit can change and the only way you can safely enter contract is if a mortgage agent checks everything out and provides you with a pre-approval letter.

Divorce decree

Yes. If you have gotten a divorce, you will need to have the supporting paperwork to show it along with any child support or alimony. All of this plays a role in your financial status. 

Mortgage application

First, you should get pre-approved. Second, once you have made your offer on a home then you need to proceed with the mortgage application immediately. The average application takes 30 days, but can take longer during busier markets. Begin this as soon as possible so you have ample time for processing. 

Home appraisals

Another common issue is the home appraisal. Sometimes the home gets listed for more than it will appraise for which is troublesome for financing. According to the National Association of Realtors, this accounts for 20% of closing delays. When you are submitting your offer, check the local and recent comps with your agent and make sure the price is aligned with the market. 

Patience

Sometimes there are delays but for good reason. Perhaps at the inspection some damage was discovered and the seller is going to remedy it and needs more time. While this can be disappointing, it will be less of a headache down the road and well worth pushing the closing date out a bit. It is best to have everything the way you want it before you take possession. 

Your 10 Last Minute “To Do’s” When Selling

When it comes time to move most sellers are thinking about all of the big picture things like packing up your belongings in time, scheduling a moving truck and forwarding their address. However, there are a lot of little things to do and with some helpful tips they can help make your move more smooth. Here is a list of 10 things to check off when you prepare your move.

Lock all windows

This can very easily be overlooked. Most people focus on making sure all doors are shut and locked, but don’t forget about the windows! There could be a gap of time that the home is left vacant and you don’t want any uninvited visitors. 

Check secondary areas

Do one final sweep of all closets and even your attic space. You may have left some holiday decorations or the like hidden away that were “out of sight, out of mind.” One final look in all cabinets and drawers is a good idea too.

Keys and codes

A nice thing to do is to gather all keys, garage remotes, mailbox keys and have them all together for the buyer. Also, record any pass codes for alarms or gates so that the buyer has all they need when they move in.

Smart devices

If you represented your home with these items, then you will need to leave them if you didn’t explicitly exclude them. For any that remain in the home, clear them and untether them from your control so that things are reset for the new owners. 

Purchase home protection items

Even if you are hiring professional movers, chances are you will be doing some preparation yourself. Make sure you have some essential things like padding or blankets so that when you move things around you aren’t damaging floors or walls. Any significant damage that occurs will be seen by buyers in the final walk through. 

Utilities

Don’t pay for what you don’t have to or be left without service at your new home. Make sure you communicate to utility companies what your closing dates are for both the home you are selling and the one you are buying so that things go smoothly for you.

Photos

It is a wise idea to take photos of the home when you are leaving it. After all items are moved and it has been cleaned it is smart to document how you left it. You never know what can transpire after with the buyers movers, etc. and this can help cover you.

Set aside closing paperwork/docs

Most of your things will be packed away for your closing day, but keep some of the essentials handy in a folder or binder. Things including closing paperwork, your driver’s license, all remotes, keys and pass codes, information on any home devices or warranties, as well as your checkbook in case any last minute costs arise. 

Basic cleaning supplies

Keep just some cleaning essentials handy until the last minute. Things like rags, sponges, a bucket, the vacuum, all purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, mop and trash bags should cover the basics. 

Move date coordination

Keep your agent and the buyer in the know about your moving plans. You should be out by the time of closing, but keeping everyone on the same page will help avoid any potential snags. 

5 Ways to Add Value to Your Home When You Don’t Know Where to Start

When you prepare to list your home for sale, some home improvement projects are obviously needed while others may not necessarily be. You may think one project may be best to take on before listing your home, but not all projects will be worth the investment from an ROI standpoint. Here are 5 tips as you take a look at your own home. 

Refresh, instead of replace

Just because your cabinets are worn doesn’t mean you need to replace them. Sometimes painting cabinets can really make them look great for a fraction of the price of new ones. Also, updating the hardware to more modern day pulls and knobs can also work. Other ideas include fresh paint on the walls and a deep clean of grout work. 

Focus on the core rooms

Kitchens and bathrooms are always among the top buyer-focused rooms. Be sure yours are standing the test of buyer discernment and meeting current demands. As discussed earlier, painting cabinets can be a great option. Alternatively, upgrading your counters or adding a back splash are other ways you can really improve the look for less money than a complete remodel. 

The front of your home

While it doesn’t have to be perfect, it does require your attention. The actual house should be in great looking shape and the grounds should be too. Make sure the paint is in good condition on the front facade and entry door. Then, focus on making sure the landscaping is both tidy and inviting. Freshly mulched beds, trimmed trees and bushes as well as pots of flowers are all good ideas for things you can do on a small budget. 

The right materials

Who doesn’t want a low maintenance home these days? Most everyone does, especially millennials who are among the largest segment of buyers as they have student debt to pay and don’t wish to be spending extra money on repairs or renovations. Making your home as move-in ready as possible will make it most desirable to this group. 

In a recent study by NAR more than 50% of buyers were willing to pay more for hardwood floors as they are more durable and clean so replacing your worn carpeting with them may be a good move. Energy efficient appliances also rank high on the wish list as well. It is one thing to have newer appliances, but it’s an added value if they are costing you less to run. 

Fix it, but only if you can comfortably afford it

Anything that is an obvious and smaller repair like a leaking faucet, broken hinges on doors and the like should be fixed, but you will need to give larger items more consideration. For example, a new HVAC system may cost you $5,000 and if you can easily swing that it may be a larger asset to have for achieving a higher sale price. Something like a new roof may be significantly more and out of your comfortable reach so that might be best to price the home accordingly for. 

If you are unsure about what home improvement projects are worth tackling on your home, feel free to contact me today. I would be happy to help!

 

Advice for Buying a Second Home

As a homeowner you most certainly have experienced all of the excitement of going through the motions of purchasing a home. This includes all of the chaos of organizing paperwork, going through inspections and closing, but also all of the joy and pride of owning your own home as you build wealth. At a certain point you may begin to debate the purchase of a second home for several reasons including a vacation spot as well as another place to invest your money. Here are a few things to consider as you ponder the move.

Affordability

First, consider how comfortably you could afford it. Rates are still very low, but second homes are somewhat of a different animal. Most often you may need to put more down on a second home and you may get a slightly higher loan rate than that of your primary residence. Your best bet is to consult with your mortgage lender on this so that you can do some firm calculations on costs.

Identify How You Will Use it

Before you begin your search, consider how you intend on using the home. This means, how often do you anticipate using it yourselves and do you plan on renting it out at all. When you decide on your own personal use, make sure you are realistic with your current lifestyle such as how much vacation time you get, how your kids fit into the plan and the like. If you decide to rent out the home at all make sure you investigate all of those details from whether or not the place can be rented as some HOAs have restrictions to how you set things up with your mortgage. There can be a difference in logistics between a second home or an investment property.

Taxes

Similar and related to how you will use the second property, you will need to do some calculations for income and tax purposes. Plain and simple if you plan on renting out the home, consider the income received that you will have to pay tax on. You can take certain deductions in this case, but they are more complex which your accountant can advise you on. If you don’t rent it out and use it strictly as your vacation home then you will want to pay close attention to what the property tax is like in that area as you won’t be eligible for a primary residence lower rate. 

Top 10 Tips for Packing

Whether you have moved once or numerous times it is always cumbersome to devise a strategy in your packing so that things make sense on the other end when unpacking. In order to try to make things as smooth and seamless as possible, here are 10 tips to follow that will make the transition into your new home easier.

The Dresser

While it may be your instinct to remove all items from all drawers, that may not be best. Leave your lighter belongings in drawers such as some clothing or even clean sheets so you know exactly where they are when you arrive at your new home. Making the bed is one of the first essentials!

Books

With books weighing a good amount, try packing these in smaller boxes. Also, pack those of similar size together for space efficiency. 

Group “like” items

Always pack similar items of size and shape together. For example linens and clothes go well together while books and pictures do too. 

Secure small items

When you can, try using some tape to not lose some smaller, loose items. For example you might want to tape the remote to the TV or place the screws from your bed in a sandwich bag and tape it to the headboard. 

Fitted sheets for many uses

Fitted sheets are great for wrapping up your items. You can put them on both sides of your mattresses for the move to keep them protected. You can also wrap other items such as small furnishings. They are easy to wash too after your move is complete.

Always include padding

Sometimes you need to keep things from moving around in boxes during your move to keep them secure. Before you spend on packing peanuts, use what you have. Clothing items, towels or linens and even stuffed animals can all be great things to fill spaces in boxes. 

Labels

Get a Sharpie handy. First label your boxes with the room they go in, then name the items. For example “Kitchen – Pots & Pans” will allow you to quickly place boxes in the right room when you arrive, then unpack them in the proper order. 

Dishes

Dishes stand a better chance on their edge as opposed to stacked believe it or not. Be sure to wrap them each so they are well padded and use towels or similar to cushion all around them in the box. Special packing is also available for dishes as well if you want to be extra cautious. 

Boxes

Using boxes for everything will be best as they stack easily and will keep your truck and move well organized. Keep all like items together and avoid using too many larger boxes as they can become heavy very quickly. 

Miscellaneous Box

Keep one box for some essentials. This box should include some basic tools, tape, pens, perhaps some snacks, utensils and maybe even your coffee maker. This will be your one “go to” box when you move in.