Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

6 Reasons Why Decluttering Sells Homes

It happens to the best of us. Over the years we all accumulate more and more belongings as we fill our garages, closets and sheds with items that we feel we need. However, when the time comes to sell your home for whatever reason it may be, some “spring cleaning” should be done as you rid your home of the things that you really don’t need anymore. Here are 6 reasons why it is very important to declutter your home before you list it for sale.

Buyer vision

Keep your decor to a minimum. Essentially you want just enough for the home to feel warm and inviting. Rid your rooms and walls of too many decorations, photos and certainly anything too personal. It can be hard enough for buyers to envision how to use a space, but it makes it even more difficult if they are seeing family photos and memorabilia. 

Create the illusion of space

Rooms and closets that are jam packed with furniture, clothing and belongings will always appear smaller and less accommodating. Thin everything out as you declutter even if this means removing some of your bulky clothing that you may not need right now and storing it elsewhere or simply donating it if you don’t need it anymore. This will only lighten the load when moving!

Staged homes photograph better

Simply put, well-staged homes sell faster and it all starts with great photography to gain the interest of buyers. The better your home is staged, then the better it will translate when photographed which can only help increase your buyer traffic from the get go. 

Maximize counter space

This can be challenging. Especially for those who use their kitchens for lots of cooking or as a catch all place for all mail, paperwork and daily items. However, keeping those counters free of items and clean for all showings can really help show off your counter space. Keep all unnecessary appliances stored away and pick a drawer or cabinet to file your mail away in.

Set the tone for buyers

Perception is reality, let’s face it. If buyers see that your home is messy and unkempt, you are only begging them to think “what else has been neglected?” A clean and orderly home will provide the illusion that it is very well maintained from soup to nuts regardless of the truth!

Showcase the home, not your possessions

This holds true especially if your furniture or decor is “taste specific.” In the end, buyers are purchasing your home, not your couch and wall art. It is best to keep everything as neutral as possible as you want them to to envision living there and not be distracted by personal items. If any rooms are painted loud or daring colors, it may be best to invest in a quick paint job to freshen things up and create more of a neutral palette.  

 

Facts All Buyers Should Know

There are many moving parts in the process of purchasing a home. Some things may be obvious while others may not be, especially if you are a first time buyer. Here are 9 things that you will want to be aware of as you plan to buy your home.

Some conditions may not be met

Sometimes conditions are placed into a deal like having carpets professionally cleaned. These smaller types of things are hard to do anything about if they weren’t completed by the seller by closing time unfortunately. However, if a large repair was supposed to be made and wasn’t then you can either not take possession of the home or you can have funds placed in escrow until work has been completed. 

Something will happen

Moves are never perfect, just like life. You may forget to do something, some valuable may get broken by your mover or the like. Preparing yourself up front and setting expectations can help you deal when and if it does.

You must have closing fees

When you do your budget, be sure you have money allocated for your closing fees in addition to your down payment. Your lender should be able to give you a more firm cost estimate. 

Good schools have a positive effect on value

Homes located in a good school district will often cost you more. However, the good news is when you decide to sell you will be able to reap these benefits too. 

Neighborhoods can change

This can be a good or a bad thing and sometimes that can be dependent on your own lifestyle. Check with the local administration for upcoming plans in the area. See if parks, playgrounds, new developments and the like are in the works. 

Read all documents

While your lawyer will review all documents, it is wise for you too as well. For example reading meeting minutes of the HOA can alert you of any plans in the works such as assessments, increases in fees or the like. These are good things for you to know about your future.

Refrain from spending

Just because your offer was accepted doesn’t mean you have the new house. You were pre qualified for the loan based on your financial status at that time so don’t go opening new credit cards or buying a brand new car just yet. Wait until after your closing so you don’t jeopardize losing your loan.

Neighbors may be your best resource

When you are researching your new home it is a good idea to walk around the neighborhood, observe and talk to some of the residents. You can get a feel for the neighborhood history and how things are to see if it is a good fit. 

Check for rebates or financial assistance

Check for any rebates that you may qualify for. This applies to any utility or appliance programs to any mortgage or financial assistance that you could be eligible for. Ask when setting up utility accounts as well as when you first reach out to your lender.

10 Things You Can Negotiate in a Real Estate Deal

The real estate market is always a competitive landscape and especially at times like these when inventory is on the leaner side of things. For many buyers it can feel like there are not many options out there. However, when the day comes that your luck has changed and you find a property to put an offer on, one of three things is going to occur. The seller will either accept the offer, reject it or begin negotiations with a counteroffer. 

If your offer is accepted then congratulations, you bought a home! However, if it is not accepted and you have the opportunity to continue to negotiate, then you may have more options than you think. Here is a list of 10 things that you can negotiate into your deal. 

Price

This is the obvious – how much you are willing to pay for the home.

Repairs or fixes

Is there work that needs to be done to the home that require repair? When negotiating you could ask if the sellers would consider taking care of these items for you.

Closing date

Might you be able to select at a date that is more ideal to the seller given their goals and time frame?

Possession Date

Timing is another thing that can be negotiated. Maybe the sellers need more time before they move or maybe as a buyer you need to get in earlier. This can all be negotiated as part of the terms of the deal you put together. Sometimes a lease situation can be devised. 

Closing costs

Would the seller consider paying some of these costs for you?

Closing location

Might there be location to meet that could be more convenient for the seller?

Contingencies

Are there things that you would be willing to negotiate that the deal is contingent upon? Home inspection, sale of current home, mortgage approval are all items that could be considered or forgone. 

Home Warranty

Is there a warranty on the home if it is new construction or is there one for all of the major appliances? Would the seller transfer it or potentially include one for you?

Credits

When you work through the deal and if there are items that need to be fixed, maybe the seller will credit you towards them if they are not willing to fix them before closing. Perhaps a window needs repair or there is a severely worn carpet that needs replacing. 

Things left in the property

As you negotiate your deal you could consider asking for certain items to be left in the home. Maybe it is the outdoor furniture or the dinette in the kitchen that fits so perfectly. These things can all be negotiated as well. 

In the end no two deals are the same but the most important thing is that through the negotiation that each party will walk away feeling like they got what they wanted. As stressful as negotiating a deal may be, it can result in having both parties feel like they have agreed on a satisfactory compromise. 

 

Renovate or Just Sell? 6 Reasons Why Selling As-Is May Be Best

Once you have decided that you want to make a move, then you need to take a hard look at your home and begin preparing it for sale. There are the obvious tasks for anyone of decluttering and cleaning, but what about any projects that may be in need? Certainly any functional issues such as leaky roofs, plumbing or the like should be fixed, but what about updates? Here is a closer look at why renovations may not be best before selling.

ROI may not be realized

Many times a renovation may not pay off right away. A kitchen or bathroom renovation are the ones that typically have the most impact, yet they are expensive, time consuming and can interrupt your lifestyle. Chances are that you may want to put your focus on making sure they are in tip top shape rather than redoing them. 

Renovations are stressful

Even if you have more than 1 bathroom to use while you renovate one of your others, the mess and organization of it all can really be a headache. Especially when you are hiring a contractor instead of doing it yourself, you are at the mercy of their time frame. Historically speaking, contractors are not noted for finishing jobs early either!

Remove guesswork

Renovating will require you to make certain decisions about a space, its function and aesthetics. However, it is hard not to put some of your own spin things as you plan. This may not always be best as instead of the new counters you may replace, a future buyer may have preferred building in a breakfast bar for their family’s needs instead. 

Move on

There may be some projects or improvements that you always wished to have done. Maybe it was changing out a plain interior door with a French door, or adding a larger window to your eating area. Whatever it may be, focus on doing these personal projects in your new home instead.

Curb appeal

While the inside of your home needs to be clean and presentable, none of that is going to matter if you don’t address the outside. Especially here in Fort Lauderdale, the outside of your home is additional living space all year round so be sure it is looking perfect and inviting. If you decide to do anything other than sprucing up the landscaping, consider something you can take to your new home like a nice new outdoor patio set. 

Clean versus new

It is one thing if you have older flooring or appliances. However, if they are clean and in good working order then they will be far less offensive to any potential buyer. Not everyone will have the funds to renovate when they first buy your home, but if everything is clean and in good shape, they will feel that they could easily live with it until they can afford to do a project. 

15 Top Real Estate Terms Defined

Whether you are new to the real estate game or it has been a while since your last transaction, you will hear many terms referenced throughout the transfer of property that you may not know what each means. Here are 15 of the top terms that are outside of the more obvious that you will hear and may wish to have clarified. 

Approved for short sale 

This term means that the homeowner’s bank has approved a lowered price for the home and it is ready to be sold.

Back-end ratio

This is one of the ways that a lender uses to qualify a homeowner’s eligibility for a loan. This takes the monthly debt payments including the proposed housing costs, any car or loan payments, child support etc. and compares it to the gross income.

Capacity

This is simply the amount of money a buyer can afford to borrow for a loan.

Cash-value policy

This is the insurance policy that pays the replacement cost of a house less depreciation in the event that any damage should happen to the property.

Closing disclosure (CD)

This is the multi-paged document that is provided to the buyer a few days prior to closing. This identifies the terms of the loan including the interest rate, monthly payment, mortgage insurance escrow amount on a monthly basis as well as all closing costs.

Compliance agreement

This document is signed by the buyer upon closing which states that they agree to cooperate should the lender need to fix any mistakes within the loan documents. 

Conventional loan

A conventional loan is one that is not guaranteed by a government agency like FHA or VA.

Earnest money

This is a security deposit provided by the buyer to show intent to purchase.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

This is a government agency that insures loans made by private lenders. 

Housing ratio

This is one of two debt-to-income ratios that a lender will use to identify a buyer’s eligibility for a home loan. This compares the total housing costs to the gross income. 

Jumbo loan

This is a loan that is beyond the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac limit which is usually $425,100 in most areas in the United States.

Mechanic’s lien

This is a lien against a property that was filed in the county by an individual or entity who had done work on a home but was not paid. Should the homeowner refuse to pay, the lien allows for a foreclosure.

Origination fee

This fee is charged by the broker or lender to initiate and complete the loan application process.

Principal, interest, property taxes and homeowners insurance (PITI)

These are the primary components that make up your monthly payment. 

VantageScore

This is a model some lenders use to make their decisions for lending. The borrower’s score is based on things like bill paying habits, outstanding debt balances, credit accounts, number of inquiries on credit reports and age.

 

4 Ways to Make a Buyer Interested in Your Home

Once you prepare to list your home for sale, it is important that you have it be in perfect condition from cleanliness to curb appeal. However, what can you do to make your home stand out among all of the other homes for sale in Fort Lauderdale? Here are some tips on how to pique a buyer’s interest when they see your home. 

Write a Compelling Description

First, get their attention when they see your home online. Make sure that your home has professional photos and your description highlights all of the key points that your home has to offer. Be sure to list all of the basic items like bed and bath count, but also reference any significant improvements that you have made that may not be obvious. Items like a new roof, HVAC systems and high impact windows are always good to point out. Finally, add things like how you can enjoy the home and its outdoor spaces to add value.

Address Deferred Maintenance

Not everyone has the ability to see past faded and chipping paint, missing pieces of trim or a broken door hinge. Additionally, if buyers see items that need repair, it can make them think that the home was not well maintained and that there may be other significant items that may need repair. Marketing your home when in perfect condition will convince all that it has been well cared for and it is in “move-in” condition.

Curb Appeal

The front of your home and yard are the first and last things that every buyer will see so you will want to make it inviting. Replacing worn or dated fixtures, freshening up paint on the front door or adding potted flowers will help create more of a positive impression for buyers. Tidy up the landscaping so bushes are nicely trimmed and beds are freshly mulched. 

Home Staging

Homes that are vacant or have too much furniture oftentimes do not sell as quickly. An empty home is challenging for those who don’t have the imagination or vision to see how it can accommodate furniture. Alternatively, too much furniture can pose the opposite problem – it can be hard to see the size or potential of the rooms with too many things in it. Stage your home with the right amount of appropriately sized furniture to remove the guesswork. Keep your decor neutral and remove all personal photos so that you appeal to all.