Archive for the ‘Trulia’ Category

Homes on the Market in Billerica

While it was a slow but steady spring and summer, more homes are coming on the market as we head into fall.

This is the shorter season – ending when we turn the clocks back.

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Home for Sale

 

Joan Parcewski    Woods Real Estate  655 Boston Rd  Billerica MA

o 978-262-9665      c 978-376-3978

5 Buyer Turnoffs

This information comes from an article on Trulia.com.  As a real estate agent, I see reactions to these 5 all the time. 

1.  Pools – “ many home buyers are turning down homes specifically because they have a pool.”

2.  Your stuff –  “Yes – your taste is immaculate. But it’s your taste.

3.  Carpet –  “Concerns about the relative difficulty and expense of cleaning carpets, to the cost of replacing them when you want a decor change, to the tendency of carpets to hold pet hair, mites and other allergens that may impact family members with respiratory issues are, collectively causing carpet to fall out of favor with today’s home buyers.”

4.  Gold bathroom fixtures – “best described as things that are old, but not old enough to be vintage, retro, classic or historic.

5.  Elaborate gardens and/or vast landscaping – “ some buyers simply know they don’t or won’t put the time, money and water into their care, so would rather not take them on.”

For more details on each of these read the entire article at

http://www.trulia.com/blog/taranelson/2012/09/5_surprising_home_buyer_turn_offs?ecampaign=cnews201209C&eurl=www.trulia.com%2Fblog%2Ftaranelson%2F2012%2F09%2F5_surprising_home_buyer_turn_offs

 

5 Perks & Pitfalls of Old & New Homes – A Repost from Trulia (Tara) 6/19/2012

 

As you know, I live in the Bay Area. So I have occasion to wear (or at least carry) a lightweight sweater virtually year-round. A couple of years ago, I found what I thought was THE PERFECT SWEATER.  It was super-soft cashmere, and it was the just-right weight, so it was warm when I needed it to be, but just took the chill off when I needed that. It was black, but kind of flowy, so I could wear it all the time without looking too terribly much like a ninja.

Fast forward a year or so, and I actually ended up wearing the thing entirely out. There were holes in it from my purse rubbing against it, and it was pilling all over the place – not a good look. So I was forced – forced, I tell you! – to go back to the same shop and see what they had in the way of a replacement for my warm, fuzzy, ragged sweater. And I’ll be honest: I was not hopeful.

Until, that is, I saw their *new* version of the same sweater.  It had thumbholes – THUMBHOLES! – so even my hands would stay warm, without impeding my ability to text. It wasn’t quite as soft as my old sweater, but it was a next-gen washable cashmere, so didn’t require dry cleaning. It was the just right-weight, too, and long, like I liked it, but had a little cord you could pull and tie and, as if by magic, it became a shorter, snappier, less-Snuggie-like look.

The decision whether to buy an older home or a newer one can pose a similarly mixed bag of pros and cons. Some buyers have a strong inclination to an older home’s charms or a new home’s conveniences. Sometimes your area or your price range will dictate your decision for you, one way or the other.  In some areas, old homes are seen as worse because of their location or disrepair, while in other areas, like mine, older homes are often seen as better and can even be pricier than new-ish properties on the basis of their neighborhoods and school districts.

If you’re not a buyer who is completely clear on whether you want to buy an older home or a new-ish one, here are some of the factors to consider, pro and con, as you compare and contrast homes built in different eras:

1.  The Charm Factor. Obviously, “older” and “newer” are relative terms. If your area is one where “older” homes are those which were built in the ‘60s or ‘70s, you might not find them to be particularly charming. But many buyers do find there to be a particular charm and aesthetic detail in homes built in the early part of the last century – from the 1900’s to the 1940’s, say – that is uber-attractive and decidedly craveable. (To be fair, in some areas, the Eichlers and other modern styles of the mid-century are seen as having similar cachet as much older homes, especially when compared to 80s, 90s and later construction.)

The Tudors, Victorians, Craftsmans and other classic styles and eras tend to have strong appeal to large groups of home buyers, as do the maturity of the trees and other details, from lights to benches to outdoor staircases, lining the streets on which such homes were built.

Buyers who are committed to having this “Charm Factor” in their lives and their homes are not likely to find this particular feel in newer neighborhoods, though many builders and subdivisions do make an effort to replicate the best qualities of older homes and neighborhoods with reproduction features.

2.  Neighborhood establishment.  Having hundred-year-old trees along the streets can be a critical plus point of living in an older home, but so are the many other upsides of an established neighborhood, from well-developed parks with great recreational programming to long-time standout school districts, to great neighborhood infrastructures for things like neighborhood Watch Groups, email listservs, annual block parties and farmer’s markets. That said, not every “older” neighborhood has these benefits; and many older neighborhoods come with longstanding issues like neighbor conflicts, eyesore or blighted properties and even ongoing challenges with crime, traffic and noise.

On other other hand, some newer neighborhoods haven’t “taken” yet, and it can be difficult to project how the neighborhood will evolve over time. But you can’t necessarily dismiss every newer neighborhood out of hand.  Some developers and cities have gone to great lengths to imbue newer subdivisions with some of what was great about – or missing from – older, nearby areas. You might find that “newer” neighborhoods in some towns are more likely than nearby older areas to have amenities like dog parks, newer clubhouse and recreational facilities, schools and stores interspersed well and walkably into the neighborhood and better infrastructure when it comes to lighting, street width, parking and public transportation.

3.  House history. Newer homes have little or no history – anyone who has ever bought a brand new home can attest to the relatively blank slate of disclosures they receive from the builder.  A blank slate sounds great, but also means you really don’t know about what glitches the property may have, and my experience has been that every home – even brand new ones – have glitches or quirks. The sun might create a funny bleach spot on the floor in one room, or the place might settle over the first few years to have an unexpected slope. A roof on which it has never rained might even turn out to have a design flaw or leak. And the fact that the home hasn’t been lived in means that no one can flag these issues – or fix them – for you in advance. (Most newly built homes do have warranties that cover the worst of such ‘lemon’ home issues.)

Older homes may come with a lovely family history or even just a detailed record of what has and hasn’t worked – and what has and hasn’t been repaired and replaced over time, with which newer homes can’t compete. But they also may come with the tough-to-erase remnants and consequences of historical occupants and their activities on the property, from lead paint remains in the soil that prohibit you from growing vegetables in the ground to the very unfortunate (and extremely toxic) consequences of illegal activities like the manufacture of methamphetamine.

4.  Conveniences. One would think that newer homes would almost always have conveniences that older homes lack, especially in the realm of newer appliances and mechanical systems like plumbing, air conditioners, heating and even insulation.  But there can critical periods at issue, here – while very new homes are likely to have the latest of everything, homes built 20, 30 even 40 years ago can be more out of date than homes built 70, 80 or 90 years ago – especially in areas where very old homes are very desirable, as the latter might be more likely to have been updated by a recent owner.  

However, as you look at and compare older homes with newer ones, also give thought to the less easily updated differences across the construction eras, like:

  • Layout: Older homes are less likely to have wide open floor plans, sky-high ceilings and the massive windows that allow in the natural light that more contemporary styles let in.
  • Size: Some eras of older construction simply didn’t focus on building homes beyond a basic 1,500 or 2,000 square feet – in areas where those homes predominate, it might be difficult to find a home much larger than that, if that’s what your household requires.
  • Room Size: Older homes tended to be designed around smaller rooms – and especially smaller bedrooms and fewer, smaller closets and storage spaces – than newer homes.
  • Accessibility: Depending on the era, older homes might not have the space and layout suitable for homeowners who are looking to ‘age in place,’ or care for an older relative; early-century eras of construction may include stairways, hallways and doorways too narrow for wheelchairs and walkers to easily fit through.

5.  Maintenance. Unless you’re able to find that best-of-both-worlds older home with recent upgrades, with an older home you should take extra care to understand the age and condition of all the home’s mechanical and electrical systems, and to get a good sense for the cost of any upgrades you’ll want to do – before you finalize the purchase. Also, be aware that some of the ornate classic home styles may have intricate woodwork, like the so-called gingerbread adorning many a Victorian home, that is both prone to damage (from water or termites) and costly or impossible to replace.

Flip side: new homes *can* pose a lower maintenance cost, but the fact is that new home buyers still face the ‘potential lemon’ problem of being the first to discover any glitches or design/construction flaws. In densely populated areas, new homes may be built on fill or what some see as less sound ground; by the same token, in earthquake or tornado-prone areas, some see older homes and neighborhoods as having proven their ability to withstand natural disasters due to the quality of classic construction.

Ultimately, there’s no one right answer to the older/newer home decision. It’s really a matter of fit. But in any event, whether you buy an older home or a brand new one, work with your agent to make sure you have an appropriate home warranty policy in place before your home purchase closes escrow.

7 Springtime Home Spruces to Boost Buyer’s Interest – Reprint from Trulia 4/26/2012

Each of us thinks are home is perfect and we take such pride.  But when we get ready to sell we need to take a look from a buyer’s perspective.  Does your home reflect your pride of ownership.  Here are some great ideas to spruce up your home as you get ready to sell – thanks to Trulia.com

One of the first things many homebuyers look for are the unmistakable signs of something called ‘pride of ownership.’ As a whole, it’s a relatively intangible concept: there are just homes that have it – reeking of their owners’ love and meticulous care for the property — and homes that, well, don’t.

I’ve watched firsthand as buyers who like a cute home that is in generally good shape literally talk themselves into looking at a more homes once they start to notice one rickety gate, which snowballed into a nitpicky laundry list of little, tiny fixes the seller had left undone. The challenge is that between deciding whether and when to sell, staging, interviewing agents and determining a list price, it can be tempting for homeowners to fall into the trap of deferring maintenance on a home they might sell soon.

Whether you plan to put your home on the market next week or next year, here is a short list of  home maintenance items you should put on your Spring to-do list, stat, if you want to attract qualified buyers and let your home sweet-talk them into making a sweet offer:

1. Banish chips, scuffs and the like with a fresh coat of paint. I believe that eliminating nicks, scuffs and scratches on any painted or finished surface is one of the cheapest, easiest and most impactful spruces a seller-to-be can do.  That’s because these little tiny blemishes create a shabby appearance on a home that might otherwise be in great shape, but can be entirely banished with a good washing and some fresh paint.

This goes for interior and exterior walls, floors, and especially any sort of trims that are painted white, as is common with crown and floor moldings – scuff marks and blemishes seem to pop out from these items. Also, the edges of cupboards, doors and drawers are places where chips and nicks are so common that homeowners overlook them, but can be super visible to buyers who visit your home for the first time.

2. Brighten, polish and replace all trims.  One day, I’ll do a scientific study, and I predict the results will reveal that if you put two identical homes side-by-side and give one a set of tricked-out trims – exterior shutters, front door, eaves – even your house numbers, door knockers, kickplates and other exterior hardware – people will rate the house with the beautiful trims way higher on the ‘pride of ownership’ scale than you’d expect.

Go stand on your own curb to get the buyer’s-eye view of your home, and then drive around your own neighborhood or the nicest part of town and flip through some home improvement mags or websites for ideas.  If you can add attractive trims, freshen up the ones you have or paint them to create an unexpected but attractive color combination with the body of your house, you can skyrocket your home’s standing on my (newly invented) ‘pride of ownership’ scale.

3. Furry, drippy, noisy or broken HVAC systems. Maintaining your heating and air conditioning systems is not that expensive, but buyers think it is. In fact, your furnace  and AC are precisely the sort of major household machinery that intimidate first-time home buyers.  So, if they show up to the open house or a private showing of your home in June and the AC is making a funny knocking sound or just flat out doesn’t work well enough to keep the house cool, buyers might perceive that as a more serious red flag than it truly is.

Does your AC has that furry ‘science experiment’ look to it? Not only are you paying for the energy it’s probably wasting to push the air pass all that dust and dirt, the gross-out factor will have even the hardiest buyer wondering what else might be wrong with your home.

On the flip side, letting prospective buyers know that your home’s HVAC systems have been recently maintained or upgraded is a nice touch that makes itself obvious during showings and allows buyers to breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to concerns about short-term repair bills and the comfort level of family members who may have allergies and asthma.

Side note: if your AC does make a funny sound you might be so accustomed to you can’t hear it anymore – check in with your agent unless you know as a matter of fact that your AC is in tip-top shape. One more side note: if you live someplace where it gets cold around the holidays and you don’t plan to list your home until wintertime, right now may be the ideal time to have your heating system serviced. Off-season repairs and maintenance are often discounted.

4. Mend and tend to your fences, gates and screens. These items may not jump out at us in our own home – in fact, these are things I often see sellers skimp on or run out of time and money to tend to. And it’s easy to rationalize your way out of dealing with them, as they seem like relatively inexpensive fixes for buyers to make themselves.  But screens with holes in them and gates that don’t budge or hang off their hinges are precisely the sorts of things I’ve seen make buyers walk back through a home looking for other flaws; and anything to do with fences makes them envision neighbor disputes over bills.  You have the power to avoid sparking these concerns in the minds of house hunters by mending these items this Spring.

5. Doors, cupboards and drawers. One creaky door or squeaky cupboard does not kill a deal. But keep in mind that in some homes, other than the lights, these are the only functioning systems of your home that house hunting visitors will almost certainly use during the course of a viewing. Making sure your entry, interior closet and cupboard doors are in good cosmetic shape and that they work well and don’t stick is an easy, inexpensive way to position your home as a (literally) well-oiled machine.

One point of clarification – it’s less the case that buyers will notice, ooh and ahh over your smoothly sliding drawers than that they will notice and grow concerned if they don’t.

6. Have everything cleaned and washed. Even the most immaculate of housekeepers can realize a massive refresh to the look, feel, smell and the overall air quality of their homes by having professional cleaners come take a tour through the place. Springtime is a great time to ask your agent for referrals to the best local vendors to power wash your house, windows and driveway, as well as to have your carpets, rugs and window coverings cleaned. For those who are on a tight budget, many vendors offer Spring cleaning promotions for these services right about now (and if your budget is even tighter, there are products you can buy and machines you can rent to do these things yourself – just make sure you account for the value of your time).

7. Shred it up.  Some might say this is more like Spring cleaning than home maintenance, but I’ve noticed that the clutter of boxes and boxes of paperwork, old file cabinets and the like have a tendency to contribute to the sense that a listed property might be unkempt, the aura of  stagnation. If you have no cash to do anything else on this list, one thing you can do for free is to go through all your files and boxes, get rid of old papers and shred anything with sensitive information.

Just think – you’ll have to do it anyway when you move, so this is like giving yourself a head start and your attic, basement office or other rooms a fresh start. You can count it as a staging tactic as well, as it gives the rooms at issue some added visual white space, making them seem larger!

 

Tara-Nicholle Nelsen   tara@trulia.com    broker from CA

Greening Your Home – A Reprint from Trulia.com – 4/18/2012

I found this article on Trulia.com written by Tara Nicholle Nelson.  It is great advice to everyone, but especially to those who may be considering selling their homes
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On Earth Day, much press is given to all the altruistic reasons we should watch our energyconsumption and carbon footprints.  From those baby polar bears stranded on icecaps to visions of our grandchildren’s grandchildren living on the Atlantic Coast of Montana, the unselfish reasons for going green, so to speak, abound.

Reality check: greening up your home does not have to be a pious experience, or a lifestyle downgrade. You don’t need to cut back on showers or go all Birkenstock, all the time. (Although, hey – I went to Berkeley. I’ve got nothing against the occasional sporting of the ‘stocks.)

In fact, I’ve realized over the last few years that there are some rather fabulous, somewhat selfish perks to making green changes to your home and your lifestyle.  Here are a handful of them, in honor of Earth Day.

1. Save Money Now.  When it comes to the economics of most home improvements, homeowners spend hours and hours trying to project the return we’ll recoup on the upfront costs of our granite countertops and built-in theater equipment years down the road. And for the most part, the numbers look grim. Except for the basic upgrades that are essential to moving an older home, real estate insiders generally advise homeowners to avoid even trying to find an investment return on home improvements, and to simply execute improvements they can both afford and enjoy in the time they plan to live in the home.
However, many so-called ‘green’ home improvements turn this entire concept on its head. Studies show that utility bills are one of the highest monthly expenses for most households, and that green home improvements can bring those bills down by as much as 20 or 30%.  I did the math – on the average American home’s energy bill of almost $2,000/year, that would represent a savings of $400-$600 – potentially much more if you live in an area with temperature extremes!
If you install a tankless water heater, insulate your pipes and walls or even do something as simple as weather-stripping your doors and windows, you will begin to save money on your utility bills immediately. And, depending on how indulgent you really want to be, that’s cold hard cash you can redirect to the college savings fund, your own retirement accounts, or a tropical adventure.
2. Sell Faster.  Green homes simply sell faster than comparable homes without energy efficient features. Today’s home buyers want to save money (that’s why they’re buying now!) and are willing to prioritize homes that allow them to do this by way of energy efficient systems and upgrades.
The data particularly bears this out when it comes to homes with solar energy systems. The US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy recently released reported that solar homes sell twice as fast as a home without solar panels – even in a down market. (As an aside, don’t believe the old hype that going solar requires a big investment; in some states, homeowners can sign up for something called ‘solar power service’ and get solar savings without ever having to pay for panels.)
If your home isn’t currently on the market for sale, you might scoff at the notion of a speedy sale as a selfish aim. But if and when the day comes that your personal, career, family and financial plans are hanging in limbo, making the ability to move forward with your life and your vision contingent upon the sale of your home, you’ll understand what I mean!
3.  Boost Your Net Worth. Not only are buyers willing to bestow a preference on ‘green’ or energy efficient homes, they are willing to pay more for them. And remember – the value of a home at any given time is based on what a buyer would pay for it.
The Appraisal Journal recently published data to this effect: for every $1 green home improvements decreased the property’s annual energy bills, the home’s value increases by $10-$25. That might not seem impressive on such a small scale, but these numbers translate to an increase of $8,000 to $25,000 to the market value of a greened-up 3,000 square foot home. Same goes for solar homes; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory compared solar homes to similar homes without solar panels, and found that a solar system can add around $17,000 to a home’s value.
If you are like the average homeowner, your home may be your largest asset – or your largest liability.  One of very few ways you can reliably bulk up the value of this asset – and your net worth in the process – is to implement any number of green home improvements.  If this is a big motivator for you to go green, talk with an experienced local agent about what green features local buyers most value.
One more thing: think very broadly about what it means to ‘go green’. You could go solar or tankless, install insulation and weatherstripping, convert to low-flow toilets, and shower heads, switch out old aluminum windows for dual-paned – the options are limitless, and vary widely in cost.
4. Look better and live longer. There are green homes, and there are green households. I’m going to make the argument that if, in the process of greening your home, you take the next step and engage in the lifestyle activities that make for a green household, you can lose weight, feel better and possibly even avoid some of the chronic diseases that plague our society.
The green home element of this includes planting a kitchen garden and minimizing the water that is wasted just keeping your lawn green. Then you’ll have a back-yard (or front-yard, for that matter) harvest to reap and eat. Your household garden will attract birds, bees and, if your street is anything like mine, squirrels, deer or wild turkeys – fauna which all participate in the circle of life. (Hakuna matata.)
But maintaining a kitchen garden and implementing other green household practices like taking walks or public transporation may also increase you’re the quality of the air you personally breathe and help you shift the balance of your family’s diet from focusing on meat to the plant-based diet doctors now say minimizes the risk of heart disease and cancer, increasing lifespan. Plant-based, by the by, does not mean vegetarian or vegan; Wikipedia defines a plant-based diet as “an eating pattern dominated by fresh or minimally processed plant foods and decreased consumption of meat.”
If digging and planting is more than you can take on, you can support those who do this for your community on a larger scale and still get the benefits of a plant-based diet by subscribing to a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program or walking to and shopping at your neighborhood farmer’s market on the weekend.
5. Live more comfortably. In the fifteen years since I moved from my scorching-hot hometown to the very mild climes of the Bay Area, I have developed an issue I call my ‘thermoregulation challenge.’ I’m fine when I go visit my parents or vacay in Arizona, but it’s tough to stay warm at home when dressed like a normal person.  (This explains my penchant for wearing sweaters right around the calendar.)
So, I recently undertook a campaign to stop up all the drafts in my house, and wouldn’t you know it: life got way more comfortable – and fast.Call me a weatherstripping evangelist, but I can think of very few home improvements this inexpensive that make this much of a difference in the comfort level of your life. Drafts, begone!
And this increase in comfort from green home improvements was not a one-off, in my experience. I’d already noticed a major reduction in noise from installing dual-paned windows a few years back. The next thing I have my eye on is swapping out the big old vat of water that I pay to keep warm 24 hours a day for a quake-proof, tankless water-heater.  Sure – the energy-efficiency sounds great. But so does unlimited hot water, no matter how long a shower I take or how many dog baths I give.
I say there’s a reason why so many A-list celebs who are used to living in luxury live green lifestyles. The good deed piece of it makes for great PR, but make no mistake: the green life can also be the good life.
All:  What green living practices or home improvements have you undertaken?  Did you any of them turn out to have selfish upsides?

5 Next Steps When the Appraisal Comes In Too Low – A Reprint From Trulia

While low appraisals can be particularly potent deal killers, their danger to your deal can be neutralized in some cases. If you find yourself facing an appraisal lower than the sale price in the contract, add these five steps to your immediate action plan.
1. Appeal errors or bad comps to the appraiser. Read the entire appraisal report, cover to cover. See if you spot any errors – it’s not at all unheard of for an appraisal report to miss a bedroom or underreport the home’s square footage. The trouble is that what starts out as a clerical error can often result in the application of the wrong “comparables” when it comes time for the appraiser to pick the properties to use as benchmarks of your home’s fair market value.

Whether or not you find actual errors in the details about the home you’re buying or selling, check in with your agent about whether the comparable properties used by the appraiser were reasonable, especially if they are from a different neighborhood, school district, town or construction era than the home you’re trying to buy or you are aware that much more similar or nearby homes have been sold in recent times than the comparable properties you see in the appraisal.
In my town, for example, within a half-mile radius you can find vast variations in property values based on neighborhood and schools and city limits that change almost imperceptibly. Changes in the mortgage industry over the last few years have created situations in which appraisers are sometimes assigned who have little or no familiarity with these hyperlocal types of nuances which you, as a party to the transaction, might be more readily able to detect and appreciate.

If you find errors or feel that there are much more comparable recent sales that justify a higher price for the property, work with your agent to send the correct information and the applicable comps you would propose to your mortgage professional, who can relay that information to the appraiser or Appraisal Management Company and request that the appraiser revise their report and estimate of value. The appraiser has no obligation to make the change, but the more glaring the error, the more likely it is that they will.
2. Ask for a second opinion. Particularly in cases of error or bad comps, if the appraiser ignores your request to revise the report, you might need to escalate your request to the lender itself. Here’s where it’s important to be working with an expert agent and mortgage pro with a great reputation; if they believe strongly in your case, they may be able to plead it to the underwriter and request that a second appraisal be done. The idea here is that if the second appraisal backs up your arguments, listing the correct property details or more accurate comparables, the lender is much more likely to exercise its discretion to deem the first one a dud and go with the second opinion.
3.  Renegotiate.Low appraisals disappoint everyone around the negotiating table. If the sellers have the leeway (read: equity) or their bank agrees (in short sales), they might agree to bring the price down to the appraised value or near enough that the buyer feels comfortable putting some extra cash into the deal to close the purchase price-to-appraised price gap.  Some buyers refuse to ever do this on general principal, as they feel like it’s overpaying for the property.  Others realize that appraisals may come in low for reasons less indicative of the property’s value, like a dearth of comparable sales in the area, and figure that to get the home they want, they’re willing to kick in a little extra dough.

Of course, ‘little’ is relative, and neither position is right or wrong for everyone.

And the decision for sellers is just as personal. When the differential between the purchase price and the appraised value is small, it can seem like a no-brainer to bring the price down if mortgage considerations allow, but it can also seem sensible to request the buyer to make up such a small difference – especially in markets where properties are getting multiple offers.  On the other end of the spectrum, when the differential is big, it is less likely that the buyer will want to come up with the cash to close the gap, and also less likely another buyer will come along and offer the appraised price.

You would think these things would make a seller more willing to slash the price where the gap is big, but it also may make their moving plans less feasible, and tempt them to stay put and wait on the market to be more active and bear better comps.

Work with your agent to figure out what re-bargaining position really works for you.

If you do find yourself renegotiating price due to a low appraisal, remember that this is real estate, so everything is back on the table. For example, when the appraisal gap is only $1,000, a buyer might be willing to close the gap if the seller agrees to leave the lawn mower and do some small repairs.
4. Pay the difference or split the difference. On the flip side of renegotiating is reconsidering your personal position. If you’ve been house hunting for two years, forgoing low rates and the tax and lifestyle advantages of owning your home, and you’ve finally found ‘the one’ – in great condition, not a short sale, perfect location – you might think long and hard about whether you are willing to pay the difference between a low appraisal and the purchase price. This is especially so when the gap is small and you have the cash, or when you know the seller is barely breaking even on the deal or has offered to split the difference with you, or the short sale bank refuses to go any lower.

And sellers, this goes for you, too: if you’re committed to trying to close the deal, it behooves you to consider whether you can reduce the price on the home. Consider that in some states and loan situations, a low appraisal report in a deal that dies may become a disclosure the seller must provide to future buyers (ask your agent whether this will apply to you). The fact is, if you don’t agree to a price reduction of some sort, the buyer could very well walk, limiting your options to selling at a lower price, doing a short sale or staying put anyway.
5. Change lenders. Mortgage banks have more control when it comes to choosing appraisers than mortgage brokers do. (Fortunately, many experienced local mortgage brokers work for companies that also have banking divisions, and may be able to process your loan through that division in an effort to get your transaction a fresh start and work around a low appraisal.  Ask your mortgage broker if their office has a banking division, if you’re not sure.)

Mortgage brokers are no longer able to hand-pick appraisers for a given transaction like they once could, but unlike broker-only firms (who are forced to work through a middleman company that may pay a cut rate, attracting less experienced appraisers), mortgage banks and hybrid broker-bankers are allowed to pick the set of people included on their own short list of appraisers. I’ve found that lenders use this short list for good much more often than to try to exert any sort of inappropriate influence.

My experience has been that, when compared with the appraisers national lenders and the middleman companies put to work on brokered transactions, small mortgage banks and local, hybrid broker-bankers tend to fill their lists with appraisers who have more local experience and can appreciate the uber-important local nuances like those described in #1, above

Why Consumers Still Need An Agent – A Reprint from Trulia

While there is no question that today’s consumer is computer savvy and uses the internet to find homes and make decisions on how much a house is worth, these points from Trulia (an online website for home listings) points out the important role that the agent still plays in the home buying and selling process:

 

In a world where the Internet makes marketing miracles possible and  home data seems to flow free, every once in a while you’ll hear of  someone attempting to buy or sell without an agent.

While some stories speak of success, they also reveal the time,  expertise, and energy that go into a sale and the indisputable benefits  of having an agent.

Here are four ways a recent story of an Australian owner taking charge of his property marketing showed that marketing and managing a home is a time-consuming  undertaking and why now, more than ever, smart consumers need to use a  real estate agent. The story was that, thanks to social media, a  homeowner sold his Californian bungalow for $A1.05 million, $135,000  above the asking price.

1) Online marketing takes time and expertise

According to  various Down Under news sites, the owner set up a website, blog,  Twitter feed, YouTube videos, and a Picasa photo page for the home.

This  story illustrates two things – both that online marketing works, and  that it takes hours of effort. This home sold above its asking price as a  result of the interest generated by a professional’s online marketing  efforts — Opray is a professional online marketer who spent many hours  every day promoting his home through these multiple channels. Most sellers don’t have this level of expertise or the time to spend on the  effort.

 

2) A home’s information alone is not enough – every home lives in a market

Opray was quoted in the National Business Review, “I know my house better than any agent. Who better to sell the house than me?”

This  comment is typical of someone who doesn’t realize that knowing about a  home is just the first step. The real key to moving a listing is knowing  how that home fits into the market – and only a professional brings  that kind of focus and real experience.

 

3) Showings and connections sell homes

From TheMoveChannel.Com: “Opray aimed to bring as many buyers to the home’s blog as possible, giving them a personal insight into the house.””

To  sell his property, Opray had to develop a following and create  connections online. This is easy for agents, who are already tapped into  a network of people buying and selling.

 

4) Even the smartest use an agent for expertise

Even with all of Opray’s social media efforts to help sell his home on his own, in the end he hired an agent.

 

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