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Do You Need a REALTOR?

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There are many benefits to working with a real estate professional when selling your house. During challenging times, like what we face today, it becomes even more important to have an expert you trust to help guide you through the process. If you are considering selling on your own, known as For Sale By Owner (FSBO), it is critical to consider the following items:

Your Safety is a Priority

Your family’s safety should always come first, and that is more crucial than ever given the current health situation in our country. When you FSBO, it is incredibly difficult to control entry into your home. A realtor will have the proper protocols in place to protect not only your belongings but your family’s health and well-being too. From regulating the number of people in your home at one time to ensuring proper sanitization during and after a showing, and even facilitating virtual tours for buyers, realtors are equipped to follow the latest industry standards recommended by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help protect you and your family.

A Powerful Outline Strategy is a Must to Attract a Buyer

Recent studies from NAR have shown that, even before COVID-19, the first step 44% of all buyers took when looking for a home was to search online. Throughout the process, that number jumps to 93%. Today, those numbers have grown exponentially. Most real estate agents have developed a strong internet and social media strategy to promote the sale of your house. Have you?

There Are Too Many Negotiations

Here are just a few of the people you’ll need to negotiate with if you decide to FSBO:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent, who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find challenges with the house
  • The appraiser, if there is a question of value.

As part of their training, agents are taught how to negotiate every aspect of the real estate transaction and how to mediate the emotions felt by buyers looking to make what is probably the largest purchase of their lives.

You Won’t Know if Your Purchaser Is Qualified for a Mortgage

Having a buyer who wants to purchase your house is the first step. Making sure they can afford to buy it is just as important. As a FSBO, it’s almost impossible to be involved in the mortgage process of your buyer. A real estate professional is trained to ask the appropriate questions and, in most cases, will be intimately aware of the progress being made toward a purchaser’s mortgage commitment.

Further complicating the situation is how the current mortgage market is rapidly evolving because of the number of families out of work and in mortgage forbearance. A loan program that was available yesterday could be gone tomorrow. You need someone who is working with lenders every day to guarantee your buyer makes it to the closing table.

FSBO’ing Has Becoming More Difficult from a Legal Standpoint

The documentation involved in the selling process has increased dramatically as more and more disclosure and regulations have become mandatory. In an increasingly litigious society, the agent acts as a third-party to help the seller avoid legal jeopardy. This is one of the major reasons why the percentage of people FSBO’ing has dropped from 10% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

You Net More Money When Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe they’ll save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Real that they main reason buyers look at FSBO is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save on the commission.

A study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBO’s don’t actually save anything by foregoing the help help of an agent. In some cases, the seller may even net less money from the sale. The Study found the difference in price between a FSBO and an agent-listed home was an average of 6%.

“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. An those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”

The more buyers that view a home, the greater the change a bidding war will take place.

KEYPOINT

Listing on your own leaves you to manage the entire transaction by yourself. Why do that when you can hire an agent and still net the same amount of money or maybe more? Before you decide to take on the challenge of selling your house alone, reach out to a local real estate professional to discuss your options.

How Clean is your Washing Machine?

Just because you fill your machine with laundry detergent doesn’t mean you don’t need to clean the washing machine itself. It sounds counterintuitive, but while your machine is ridding your clothes of dirt, it doesn’t always rid itself of that same dirt or a buildup of detergent residue. Plus, the new HE machines are especially prone to developing mold and mildew, especially if you live in an area of high humidity, which can lead to an odor developing both in the machine itsef and on your “clean” clothes. Here’s how to clean a washing machine.

How Often Should You Clean a Washing Machine?

Most manufacturers recommend cleaning the washing machine once a month. A quick internet search and survey of friends and family will confirm that the majority of us are still wrapping our heads around the idea of cleaning the machine in the first place.

Before Cleaning: Identify Your Machine and Select Your Cleanser

The type of washing machine you have will dictate which method you use to clean it. HE front loaders and top loaders need one approach; top-loading non-HE machines need a slightly different approach.

Before you start, decide what type of cleaner you want to use: white vinegar, bleach or a commercial cleanser. Using vinegar to clean a washing machine is nontoxic, and it’s readily available. Some manufacturers recommend bleach or other chemical cleansers, so check the manual for your machine. If you are using a commercial product, follow the label’s instructions for the recommended amount.

How to Clean a High-Efficiency (HE) Washing Machine (Front or Top Loader)

A monthly cleaning is especially important if your HE machine has developed an odor. Wiping down the inside of the washer will do nothing to elimate the odor. Many newer high-efficiency machines have a clean cycle, which makes the process even simpler, but the basic procedure is the same whether you have that or not.

  1. Chose the “clean” cycle. If you machine doesn’t have this, select the hottest water setting.
  2. Choose the added rinse cycle if it’s available.
  3. Fill the bleach dispenser with your cleanser choice
  4. Fill the tub to the highest level (this will probably be automatic with the clean cycle) and run the machine.
  5. If you don’t have a second rinse cycle, run the rinse cycle again manually.

Once the cycle has ended, us a microfiber cloth dipped in vinegar to clean the gasket that seals the door and the area around it. Finish by wiping down the controls and the outside of the machine with a microfiber cloth dipped in vinegar or an all-purpose spray.

How to Clean a Top-Loading Washing Machine

Although older top loaders don’t generally have a cycle for cleaning, you can easily create your own version. It involves a bit of a wait time between beginning the cycle and ending it, so use that time to clean other areas that won’t be reached by the water in the tub.

  1. Choose the hot water setting and the longest cycle.
  2. Fill the tub to the maximum level, then pause the machine.
  3. Add 4 cups of white vinegar or 1 cup of bleach to the water and let the machine agitate for a minute or two.
  4. Pause the washing machine and let it sit for an hour. Dip a microfiber cloth into the soaking solution, wring it out and use it to clean the top of the drum and agitator and the inside of the lid.

If you can remove the bleach and fabric softener dispensers, do so and clean the areas beneath them with the cloth and cleaning solution as well. If they are fixed in place, clean them and the area around them. Finally, clean the control panel and the outside of the machine with the cleaning solution or an all-purpose spray. Use a dry microfiber cloth to dry and polish the surface.

5. Restart the machine and finish the cycle.

Daily (or Almost Daily) Care

The experts also have some advice for preventing a buildup of dirt and odors between cleanings. If mold and mildew are a problem, leave the machine’s door or lid open after you finish a load of laundry so that the interior will dry out completely. Before you do this, make sure curious children and pets can’t get into the machine, especially if it’s a front-loading one. Some machines have latches designed to keep the door ajar without leaving it wide open.

As a final tip, be sure to use the correct amount of detergent for your loads!

Here’s to clean clothes and washing machines. We hope this was helpful.

Marianne Lipanovich, contributor for Houzz

How Important Is Getting Pre-Approved?

pre-approved-v-pre-qualified

We have previously posted that pre-approval is a great first step in the homebuying process. But why is it so important? When you are looking for a home, the temptation to fall in love with a house that is outside your budget is very real. So, before you start shopping around, we recommend you know your price range, what you are comfortable paying monthly, and ultimately how much you can borrow for your loan. Getting a pre-approval letter from a lender is the only way to do this!

According to a recent survey from realtor.com, “…only 52% obtained a pre-approval letter before beginning their home search…”

This paperwork shows sellers you are a qualified buyer, something can really help you stand out from the crowd in the current ultra-competitive market. How competitive is today’s market? Extremely — especially among buyers! With limited inventory, there are many more buyers than sellers right now, and that is fueling the competition and causing bidding wars. Pre-approval shows homeowners you are a serious buyer. It help you stand out from the crowd if you get into a multiple-offer scenario — which is very likely. When a seller knows you are qualified to buy the home, you are in a better position to potentially win the bidding war and land the home of your dreams.

In addition, todays housing market is also changing from moment to moment. Interest rates are low, prices are going up, and lending institutions are constantly updating their standards. You are going to need guidance to navigate this process, so it is important to have a team of professionals (a loan officer and a real estate agent) making sure you take the right steps along the way and can show your qualifications as a buyer at the time you find a home to purchase.

In A Nutshell

In a competitive market with low inventory, a pre-approval letter is a game-changing piece of the homebuying process. If you’re ready to buy this year, reach out a local real estate agent (who can also connect you with a trusted lender) before you start the home buying search.

Shower Curtain or Shower Door?

So you don’t have the space for a separate shower enclosure and bath and have decided on a combined shower-bath. But should you go with a shower curtain, or choose a glass shower door or panels to enclose it? To help you make that decision, here are five benefits of each:

Shower Curtains

They soften surfaces – Great fabrics (waterproofed or backed with a water-resistant liner) can temper the overall look of a bathroom thanks to the beautiful floor-length curtain that runs the length of the bath. An added bonus is that the fabric section ca be washed at home

They add personality – Simply put, shower curtain can instantly inject a blast of color, print and personality. And as a bonus, when you get tired of the looks, the curtain can be replaced with a different style.

The change a tub into a shower-tub – Claw-foot tubs with a shower can be difficult to pull off. Glass panels are generally a no-go where curves and awkwardly shaped tubs are concerned. In this case, your best bet is to install a ceiling-mounted rail and finish with a shower curtain that can be swept all the way around the tub.

They “prettify” the room – If you like founce and fuss, then choosing a shower curtain is for you. It will “prettify” the room and make you want to stay there all day!

They can make a design modern – Some bathrooms are traditional in nature, but you want a more modern look. A shower curtain can be just what you need. A bold stripe or other geometric pattern can change things around very quickly.

Glass Doors and Panels

They give you full enclosure – There’s no fear of water escaping from the bath as you get full enclosure. Side panels of glass are also a good option where space is at a premium, as there are no hinges or pivoting doors.

They help you utilize tricky spaces – If you put a bath in an unused space like a nook or alcove, how do you cope with sloping ceilings? One option is a custom shower panel, which can get your around those recesses or angled ceilings.

They expand the space – A fixed panel of frameless glass looks the part in any style of bathroom, especially in a compact scheme where fuss-free lines and classic materials win out. This is the best option if your bathroom is compact and a curtain or glass door would break up the space and visually shrink your room.

They keep it simple – if you have a lot going on in the rest of the bathroom, then perhaps plain no-frills glass is the best solution.

They give you options – A shower curtain give you style of entry – you pull the curtain to one side to open and then pull it closed. With glass enclosures you have a choice of several types of entry. Besides a fixed panel of glass with an opening on one side, you can choose among various doors types – sliding, hinged and folding.

Houzz, Lara Sargent, September 9, 2020

Have You Ever Seen a Market Recovery Like This?

The year 2020 will certainly be one to remember, with new realities and norms that changed the way we live. This year’s real estate market is certainly no exception to that shift, with historic highlights continuing to break records and challenge what many though possible in the housing market. Here’s a look at four key areas that fundamentally defining the market this year.

Housing Market Recovery

The economy was intentionally put on pause this spring in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. Many aspects of the common real estate transaction were placed on hold at the same time. Thankfully, technology and innovation helped the industry power forward, and business gradually ramped back up as shelter-in-place orders were lifted. The result? Total transformation of the market from rock-bottom lows to exceptional highs. Today, the housing reovery is being called truly remarkable by many experts and is far exceeding expectations. From pending home sales to purchase applications, buyers are back in business and homes are selling — fast! According to the Housing Market Recovery Index by realtor.com, the market has surpassed pre-pandemic levels, and has regained the strength we remember from Februaryof this year:

Have You Ever Seen a Housing Market Like This? | Keeping Current Matters

Record-Breaking Mortgage Rates

Historically low mortgage rates are another 2020 game-changer. Today’s low rate is one of the big motivating factors bringing buyers back into the market. The average rate reach an all-time low on multiple occasions this year, and it continues to hover in record-low territory. When rates are this low, buyers have a huge opportunity to get more for their money when purchasing a home, something many are eager to find while continuing to spend more time than expected at home this year, and likely beyond.

Continued Home Price Appreciation

One of the key drivers of home price appreciation this year is historically low inventory. Inventory was low going into the pandemic, and it is still sitting well below the level needed for a normal market. Although sellers are slowly making their way back into the game, buyers are scooping up homes faster than they’re coming up for sale. This is a classic supply and demand scenario, forcing home prices to rise. Selling something when there is a higher demand for what is available naturally bumps up the price. If you’re ready to sell your house today, this may be the best time to make your move.

Increasing Affordability

Even as home prices continue to rise, affordability is working in favor of today’s homebuyers. According to many experts, rates this low are off-setting rising home prices, which increases buyer purchasing power — an opportunity not to be missed, especially if your family’s needs have changed. If you now need space for a home office, gym, virtual classroom, and more, it may be time to reconsider your current house.

So What Does this Mean…?

With mortgage rates hitting historic lows, home prices appreciating, affordability rising, and the market recovering like no other, 2020 has been quite a year for real estate — perhaps one we’ve never seen before and may never see again. Are you ready to take advantage of this year’s record breaking opportunities>?

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