Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

10 Things Sellers Forget When Selling Their Homes

These days most everyone who is preparing to sell their home knows that there are a basic set of things that you need to do to prepare it physically to be listed for sale. These things include decluttering, cleaning, painting and staging. However, there are many other details that can often be overlooked that can be just as important. Here is a list of things that you should pay close attention to when you list your home for sale.

Pressure Wash Dirt/Mold

Especially here in South Florida, roofs, driveways and even some portions of houses will need to be pressure washed to be free of mold or grime. Not only can pressure washing things make them look nicer, but it can also prevent things like a dirty roof looking older than it really is.

Focus on Your Entry Door

As this is the first thing everyone is going to see that previews your house, make sure it really shines, literally. Take a look at everything around it too, not only is the door freshly painted, but is the mailbox next to it clean? Do you need a fresh doormat? Are windows nearby washed?

Depersonalize the Outdoors

Make things as neutral as possible and remove anything that may be too personal such as seasonal decor, flags or lawn ornaments.

Open up Blinds

Let the sunlight in. Open up all blinds in all rooms to allow each to be bright. Brighter rooms always appear more inviting that dark, cavernous ones. Take a look at your window treatments too, do they need to be updated with some fresh new ones? There are some great cost effective options nowadays.

Fix Driveway/Walkway Cracks

Large cracks in driveways patios or walkways can be unsightly or even dangerous as a tripping hazard. If you cannot fix these yourself, consider hiring a handyman or mason to address them for you.

Deodorize

This does not mean that you should purchase smelly candles or plug-in air fresheners as they can be just as offensive as foul odors. Remove foul odor sources such as pet belongings or the like. Minimize preparing any strong smelling meals during showing times and leave windows open when you can for fresh air.

Organize Storage Areas

Yes, don’t forget your closets and storage areas. Well organized closets will always appear larger and more accommodating. Consider investing in better shelving systems or wall organizers if need be.

Warranties

Most appliances have manuals or warranties. For any that are newer and recently purchased, this can even be helpful as a selling feature. Gather all of these together for future owners.

Sweep Garage/Carport Areas

These areas are also important parts of the home and even though they are prone to getting dirty, doesn’t mean they should remain that way. You don’t want any prospective buyers to feel that any room or part of your home needs to still be cleaned.

Search Your Address Online

Check to see if your home is located on some major websites and that all information is accurate. Some sites allow you to claim your home as yours and update the info so it is correct.

 

Paying Off Your Mortgage for Retirement – Is it Always Best?

When you are planning for retirement, having to add in your monthly mortgage payment can be difficult when you are on a fixed income. For most people, not having a mortgage is ideal as not everyone will receive a tax benefit from it. However, paying off your mortgage in full is not always that easy or even possible by the time you celebrate your retirement. This is why many financial planners will suggest an alternative option so that you don’t put yourself into financial hardship.

Mortgage Free Retirement

The interest on your mortgage is still deductible technically, however you must itemize to get it. Now with the standard deduction being doubled, fewer people are going do this. Regardless of the tax reform, as one ages towards their retirement they are more than likely approaching the end of their mortgage term which is nearly all principal so there is less of an interest deduction anyway. According to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, 35% of households that are headed by those ages 65 to 74 still have a mortgage. Twenty three percent of people 75 and older also do as well. Although it may be optimal to not have a mortgage when retired, scurrying to pay it off may also not be your best option either.

Avoid Being House Rich and Cash Poor

While some people have enough money in their savings and investments to pay off their mortgages, others would have to use too large of an amount which would leave them short on money to pay for future living expenses. These withdrawals can also trigger larger tax bills or push people into higher tax brackets. Select financial advisors will suggest spreading the payments over time to keep your taxes down even if you have enough money to pay it off completely. Additionally, sometimes there are better options to invest this money elsewhere for a larger return rather than paying off your mortgage balance especially where mortgage rates are still fairly low.

Minimize Your Mortgage

For many homeowners that paying off your mortgage just isn’t possible, the good news is there are other options. Here are some of them:

1) Refinance

Some planners will suggest that you refinance before you retire as it is better/easier when you are still working with a larger income. While this won’t eliminate your monthly payment, it can help reduce it.

2) Reverse Mortgage

Homeowners with a large amount of equity in their homes can choose to do a reverse mortgage. This doesn’t have to be paid until the owner sells, moves out or dies.

3) Downsize

Another great option is to downsize into a smaller, less expensive home. Additionally, owning a smaller, more easy to manage property can be a better choice while you enjoy your golden years.

Ten Dos and Don’ts When Selling Your Home

Similar to selling something on Craigslist or even setting up an online dating profile, you should use current images that tell an accurate story when listing your home on the market for sale. Buyers will eventually visit it in person and then conduct a home inspection with any offer, so it is best to present and disclose things as they truly are. Here are 10 “Dos and Don’ts” as you get ready to list your home for sale.

Thorough Cleaning

Before the photographer is lined up you should give your home a deep cleaning and declutter each room of your extra belongings while you stage the furniture. This process can take time, but it will be worth it in the end. You will have better photos, smoother showings and it can even save you time when it comes to packing!

Do Write a Good Description

Other than mentioning all of the important basics like bed and bath count, make sure you list some of the best and less obvious facts. Include major updates, improvements or inform buyers of the close proximity to desirable area amenities and services.

Don’t Distort Your Photos

Professional photos are essential so that you get composition, lighting and quality correct. However, avoid using any lenses that can misrepresent or distort your home’s interior like a fish eye lens. These can oversell a home online where buyers will be disappointed when they come to see it in person.

Do Pricing Research

Always research your pricing with a comparative market analysis. This is the best way to arrive at the most appropriate list price. Review recent solds in the neighborhood that are most similar and adjust accordingly for how your home fairs by comparison.

Don’t Overprice

Avoid overpricing your property by selecting a list price by using an online valuation tool, sentimental value or how much money you have invested in it. Buyers are well educated today and will be doing the same math on their end using recent comps. They will usually base their offers off of this data as well.

Don’t Hide Obvious Issues

It can happen where some significant flaws will be left out of the property descriptions and it becomes a surprise to buyers when seeing it in person. While you don’t need to list every flaw, you may want to prepare buyers with a note such as “seller will provide $500 repair credit for damaged front door.”

Do Call out Improvements

Keep your photos in sync with the home’s description. Promote renovations, new roofs, upgraded windows or similar. Bigger ticket items go a long way with a buyer’s interest.

Don’t Forget Documentation

It is great that you may have replaced that HVAC system, but be sure to have all of the receipts readily available for your agent to share. Aside from proving that you did the work, there may be key details and warranty information to share.

Do Virtual Staging if Necessary

If your property is vacant, virtual staging can be a cost effective marketing enhancement. Paying for actual furniture staging is best, but can get expensive. Virtual staging can be a great alternative to provide buyers with a better idea of possible room function and layout. However, be sure to clearly label these photos as virtual images to avoid any surprises.

Don’t Doctor Photos

If you decide to do virtual staging photos you will want to notify buyers of this on them. You may even add in to the description that the home is vacant just to be clear. Also, never alter photos like removing power lines where they are as it can be a misrepresentation issue.

 

Is 2019 The Year to Buy Your New Home? Watch These 2 Facts

We are officially into the new year and many people are embarking on their new years goals whether it be joining the gym or kicking bad habits. For another large segment of the population, buying a new Fort Lauderdale home may be on their list of accomplishments for 2019. If this is your goal, here are two factors that play a large part in the real estate market that you will want to pay special attention to this year.

Interest Rates

Now might a good time to fall in love with a home as mortgage rates resume their slide.

The benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate dipped to 4.57 percent, down from 4.62 percent a week ago, according to Bankrate.com’s latest survey of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders. Meanwhile, the average 15-year fixed mortgage rate inched up two basis points to 3.98 percent and the average adjustable mortgage rate fell five basis points to 4.22 percent.

Although rates are moving lower, mortgage activity is waning after a brisk start to the year. Total mortgage applications fell 2.5 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s applications survey for the week ending Feb. 1.

Refinance applications pulled back slightly by 0.3 percent from the previous week, but a 5 percent drop in purchase applications led the overall decline in activity, the MBA reported.

Inventory

In a healthy and “normal” real estate market, there should be 6 months worth of inventory for home prices to increase in line with inflation. According to the National Association of Realtors, there is only roughly 3.9 months of inventory supply which is still far below the normal level. What this means is that there will still be pressure on home prices potentially causing them to rise more rapidly.

The trend for inventory over the past handful of years has been on an downward decline, but in the last 6 months there has been a slight shift where more homes are becoming available. This is an interesting trend to keep an eye on as if we continue to see more homes on the market for sale, then we can be moving towards more of an even keeled or normal market as opposed to a seller’s market that we’ve been experiencing for quite some time now.

If you have any questions about the local Fort Lauderdale real estate market, contact me today.

Four Real Estate Market Trends for 2019 That Everyone Should Note

As we embark on the new year of 2019 we can all speculate on what will transpire in the real estate market. While we cannot predict what will happen, we can however get a sense of what is in store based on a few factors. The economic research team at Realtor.com has recently analyzed data in order to best forecast things for the year. Based on their findings it appears as both buyers and sellers will each face some challenges. Here are the top 4 things that were noteworthy.

Luxury Inventory Will Increase

The trend for inventory has been showing slim for years now. While homes have been coming on the market intermittently, not enough have been listed to keep up with buyer demand. In 2018 we did see inventory slightly increasing and it is expected that this will continue into 2019, but probably still at a low rate of growth.

“More inventory for sellers means it’s not going to be as easy as it has been in past years—it means they will have to think about the competition,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com’s chief economist.

Home Affordability Challenges

Buyers have had their challenges of limited stock to choose from coupled with rising prices, but will this change much?

“In some ways, life is going to be easier for home buyers; they’ll have more options,” Hale says. “But life is also going to be more difficult for home buyers, because we expect mortgage rates to continue to increase, we expect home prices to continue to increase, so the pinch that they’re feeling from affordability is going to continue to be a pain point moving into 2019.”

Millennials Will Dominate Buyer Pool

These buyers are among the largest group of buyers out there and are accounting for 45% of mortgages according to Realtor.com. Some are first time buyers while others are already trading up to larger homes. The year 2020 is going to be the peak year for millennial home buying as the majority of them will be 30 years old.

New Tax Law

As far as the revision of tax code goes, the jury is out on that still.

“I think the new tax plan will affect mostly homeowners and home buyers in the upper parts of the distribution,” says Andrew Hanson, associate professor of economics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. “Those who either own or are buying higher-priced homes are going to pay a lot more.”

Hanson also predicts that the biggest change here will be in mortgages where people will be less likely to take out larger ones. More revelations will become apparent after April 2019 where most will have completed their tax returns.

Last Minute Closing Issues and How You Can Avoid Them

The process for a real estate sale transaction requires a lot of moving parts where everything needs to go smoothly so that a deal can actually close on your agreed upon date. However, there can be some hurdles that arise during the process and even up to the last minute. Some of these things are within your control, while others are not. The bottom line is to be aware of what can possibly happen so that you are best prepared. Here is a closer look at some issues that can arise.

Financing Issues

While every buyer should get prequalified before searching for homes, most do but financing issues can still arise. A buyer could lose their job or make a significantly large purchase like a new car or the like that can jeopardize their qualification for a home loan. All sellers should make sure their offer is accompanied by a prequal letter at the very least.

Liens or Debts on Title

The title to your property allows you to rightfully own, use or sell your home. The title company will search and review any issues with the title so that a sale can be made. However, sometimes issues arise where there may be an unpaid debt that needs to be taken care of before the property can change hands.

Moving Day Mishaps

In most instances sellers will be all moved out by the time of closing as they should be. Buyers should also plan on moving in after the closing as well. However, it has happened where each party gets their signals crossed and move-in day timing creates some conflict. If one party needs to schedule any alternate arrangements, they need to clearly communicate this verbally and in writing.

Missing Closing Docs

There are countless documents to prepare and sign for every closing, but one of the most important is the closing disclosure form. The buyer must receive this ahead of time of the closing so that they know exactly all terms including what they are required to pay on the day of closing. It is a good idea to be in regular contact with all parties to ensure this gets delivered on time.

Incorrect Closing Docs

Issues can arise on closing docs where there can be mistakes whether it’s wrong addresses, unit numbers, misspelled names or the like. If possible, you may want to preview these docs prior to the closing day. Most real estate attorneys will help you avoid these issues when you hire them.

Final Walk Through Issues

One of the last things to be done before the closing is a final walk through of the property. These are usually conducted once the seller has moved out and the property is in the condition that it will be once conveyed at the closing. At times there can be a few issues that come up during this event. Missing appliances, unexpected damages or the like are examples of what may transpire.

Buyer’s or Seller’s Remorse

There is not much you can do if someone changes their mind about buying your home. However, ever buyer will put money into escrow as earnest money towards the closing. Should they change their mind they will lose these funds as a penalty. For sellers with cold feet, there is less to lose, but they should do a self check and ask themselves if staying is really the best financial, physical and emotional decision. There was a reason they originally chose to sell and should ask themselves why that has changed.

Death of a Buyer

You may think it won’t happen to you, but it does happen. In the event that it does occur, remain in regular contact with the buyer’s representation as the sale can still go through, but just anticipate a closing date to happen later on.

Do you have questions about the buy or sell process? Feel free to reach out and ask. I am happy to assist you.