Have you ever walked into an open house, or called a real estate agent about a listing, and within minutes, they’re asking you if you are “pre-approved” for a mortgage? If you haven’t, then you have never walked into an open house or called an agent. Or at least enough of them... Just wait. It’ll happen. And you’re going to feel like it’s pretty pushy for them to ask that.
It makes you feel like telling real estate agents this knock-knock joke… You: Knock-knock. Real estate agent: Who’s there? You: Nunya. Real Estate Agent: Nunya who!? You: Nunya business if I’m pre-approved or not! Just show me the house, and I’ll get pre-approved if I even like the house. I can definitely get approved for a mortgage. Probably way more than this stupid house anyway. So, stop asking if I’m pre-approved. Try it...maybe the agent will laugh! Or, maybe not. Depends...
It depends on the agent. Agents have different personalities. They all come across different ways. They all handle how they meet, greet, and chat with consumers in different ways. There’s no one way to “be”, as a real estate agent. But every single real estate agent should be asking you if you’re pre-approved. But many do not. Because they feel like it is a bit pushy and forward. Because he or she worries about offending you. But they should ask… ...because it’s entirely relevant for them to know. ...because it’s entirely important for you to be pre-approved. It might come across as a pushy, or invasive question. Maybe that is because of how an agent asks the question. Or when the agent asks the question. Or, simply because you don’t know that it’s a question that should be asked. But it is not a joking matter. And you should expect the question, be prepared to say that you are pre-approved, and...you should actually want the agent to ask you that question.
If you were going on a first date with someone, and one of the first things the person asked about was how much money you make, and can you afford the date, you’d feel like that was pushy and weird. Rightfully so. You don’t go in for a kiss the minute you meet each other, let alone ask for a hand in marriage. There’s some build-up. Beyond that, there’s some time that needs to be spent together before probing questions about finances are asked. That kind of stuff comes way after even the first kiss, because finances are a pretty private, intimate subject. Even more intimate than a kiss... Which is why it seems so invasive when an agent you’ve just met asks you if you’re pre-approved. It feels like they’re asking you some pretty private, intimate stuff that’s none of their business. But asking for a pre-approval isn’t like going in for a kiss. It isn’t a marriage proposal. And it isn’t probing on the part of the agent. It is a necessary question, and an important piece of information for the agent to know. And for you!
Agents aren’t asking you if you’re pre-approved because they’re looking to size up how much you can spend. (At least not most agents…) They want and need to know that you are serious, and qualified to buy a house. And they certainly have their reasons for wanting to know…
Real estate agents need to make sure they’re working with someone who can actually buy a house. They don’t get paid until and unless the person they’re working with buys a house. So, this is a matter of being careful about who they spend their time with. It might sound selfish…but you can’t fault them for that. They’re in business. Nobody cuts them a paycheck. And showing people houses is not a public service or charity work. Even working with someone who is pre-approved doesn’t guarantee them that they’re going to make any money. But at least it’s an indication that the person they are working with can do something.
Agents also need to know how much you’re pre-approved for in order to advise you as well as possible. Picture an agent showing you houses for weeks, and months. You finally find “the one”! You get all excited about the house, and you want to make an offer, only to find out then that there’s no way you could afford the house. This leads to heartbreak and aggravation...for both of you. It doesn’t do either of you any good to go through all of that only to find out you can’t afford the houses you were looking at...or even buy one at all.
And, to a degree, this is a safety precaution. You might not believe this, but agents are in a pretty risky position. If they just say OK to every person who calls and asks to go see a house, with absolutely no proof or verification of who the person is, that puts them at risk. Sure, a pre-approval won’t necessarily stop an evil person from doing something, but this is a pretty basic precautionary request.
Even if you have just started browsing for a home just a little bit, and haven’t gotten pre-approved (yet)...at least expect the question. Don’t be offended when you’re asked if you are. In fact, pay closer attention to the agents who do ask if you’re pre-approved! The ones who ask make it easy for you to find a great agent to work with. Because if they’re asking that question, it’s a good sign that they are thorough and thoughtful about how they do their business. That’s the type of agent you want to have on your side when you’re buying a house — one who’s careful from the get-go. One who pays attention to the details. One who isn’t going to waste your time any more than their own. Or allow your heart to be broken when you fall in love with a house you can’t do anything about. And if you want to get some really good attention and service from the best agents you come across, don’t even let them have to ask if you are pre-approved… Get pre-approved before you even start looking. And let the agent know you’re pre-approved before they even ask. You’ll set yourself apart from almost every buyer the agent has ever met.
You've probably heard lots of people scurrying to find solar eclipse glasses. There's going to be quite a few people who simply can't get a pair in time for the eclipse. People waited too long to get them. Perhaps because they weren't entirely in tune with how rare, and how big of an event the eclipse is. But also because they underestimated the supply, availability, and accessibility of the glasses compared to the demand for them. Who'd have thought they'd be about as rare as the eclipse itself?
This is similar to something seen in real estate... When people hear there's a great house on the market, they often wait to go see it or make an offer...until it's too late to do anything about it. By the time they motivate, the house has been scooped up by another buyer, and often there were even more buyers who were trying to buy it, but lost out.
The solar eclipse glasses were practically "a dime a dozen". They were all basically the same, inexpensive, and plenty to go around...yet still not enough for everyone who wanted a pair. Houses, on the other hand, are often one-of-a-kind... ...which makes it all the more likely that if you hesitate even the slightest bit, you're going to miss your opportunity.
Lots of people won't be able to look directly at the eclipse, since they don't have the glasses. They're going to miss the rare opportunity. There will be disappointment. But even though they're rare, another one will occur fairly soon in the U.S in about 7 years. Or, you can see one in a mere 2 years in other parts of the world. They're still rare, no matter how you cut it. But you can see an eclipse at other times if you're willing to travel. Same thing goes for houses... If you lose out on a house because you hesitated, it's disappointing, but it's not the only opportunity you'll have. In fact, you could probably find a similar house to the one you like pretty soon after losing the one you had your eye on...if you're willing to travel. But most people want to find the house of their dreams where they live, not somewhere else. So don't miss your opportunity when you see the perfect house, in the perfect location. Jump on it. Otherwise, you may be waiting a while for the next one to appear.
A kitchen remodel is the singular most cost-effective room remodel you can put into your home if you’re planning on putting it on the market. The ROI is usually more than 100% and very often much, much more. With the upswing in the real estate market these days, a full or partial kitchen remodel can help you sell your home faster and for a higher dollar amount.
You may have not heard of the term “tuxedo kitchen,” but you have likely seen the color-blocked images. The style is relatively simple, usually with white on the top, and a darker color such as black or dark gray on the bottom of the kitchen. When designing your tuxedo kitchen, remember that the small accents are absolutely essential to tying this look together and really making it pop. Think brushed gold cabinet hardware with matching faucets and light fixtures, or utilizing the identical style cabinets for both top and bottom, but white on top and navy below, with matte finishes on both. The little details will make or break this room, so pay attention to the subtleties!
Now, of course we’re not talking about 1970’s basement wood paneling… no, today’s wood paneling is rich in color and texture and nothing at all like the past. The prevailing trend over the next years will be towards light colored, even white, paneling and will be used on walls, ceilings, backsplashes...you’ll see lots of creative uses for paneling! While lighter colors prevail, faux weathered greys and brown inspire a rustic look without having to break the bank on reclaimed barnwood. Warm tones give depth to rooms where people gather such as kitchens and living rooms, or where we take sanctuary - bedrooms and libraries or den areas. Remember that you don’t have to panel an entire room, either. Using paneling in small spaces as an accent is a cost-effective and simple way to create a new look without investing a ton of work, time, or money. Utilize recent (say, last 10-15 years) paneling in new ways by painting it in a new color. In a kitchen or bath, consider painting the paneling in a shade similar to the existing walls. If you’ve got a cottage look or rustic decor, a bit of faux distressing will look fantastic, and breathe new life into the room!
Hidden appliances are those that are made to look as if they are cabinets, with the same design in doors and hardware. The trend will be towards hidden appliances, even small appliances such coffee makers and microwaves, and certainly bigger items like refrigerators and dishwashers. Nearly every appliance but the stove can be “hidden” and disguised as cabinetry, and this creates a clean, uncluttered looking kitchen overall. This look will be especially attractive to those who spend a great deal of time in the kitchen and are looking for a cozier, more relaxing feel.
Out with the subway-inspired tiles, and in with eclectic patterned tiles. Use many different patterns within a color range for a really funky look, or stick with a more traditional, yet still colorful, look of alternating patterned tiles. The options here are truly endless, and you’ll find patterned tiles to fit every room, use, and budget. Go for a simple project like a new kitchen backsplash, or do an entire bathroom! Mix patterned tiles with solid-colored tiles or go all-out with one style/pattern. A simple online search for “patterned tiles” gives enormous inspiration!
Faucets with sensors - great for kids who can’t yet reach. Lights that go on when we enter a room and automatically go off when they stop detecting motion. Meat thermometers that notify your smartphone when your roast has achieved the correct temperature. These are but a few of the quickly increasing options when it comes to automating your home. In 2017 and future years, we’ll see more of these automation trends, and many of them will allow you to run your home from your smartphone or device. Exciting times, indeed! And here are some trends that are on their way out!
2016 is coming to a close, and with the new year just around the corner, people across the world are gearing up to set their intentions for the upcoming year in the form of New Year's Resolutions. And while you're bound to make at least one standard resolution (like "finally get in shape" or "eat more vegetables"), as a homeowner, there are some home-specific resolutions you'll want to think about to get the most out of your property and the experience of owning a home this upcoming year. Here are 5 New Year's Resolutions every homeowner should make for 2017:
If you have any sort of expendable income in 2017, you might want to think about putting it towards your mortgage. Making extra payments on your mortgage can have a huge impact on the total you end up paying out over the course of the loan. It can also shorten the amount of time you'll be saddled with payments and can have you owning your house free and clear sooner than you expected. The more you can contribute, the better. But even if you can only make a few extra payments per year - do it. Those extra dollars will add up and end up saving you serious dollars in interest over the course of your mortgage. Create a 2017 budget and look for any areas where you can shave a few dollars, like your daily trip to the coffeehouse or an expensive gym membership. Then, re-purpose that cash and put it towards paying down your mortgage faster.
2016 saw near record low interest rates on mortgages, and while they've slowly crept up towards the end of the year (current rates are around 4%), they're still HALF of the average interest rates over the past 40 years (which averaged at 8.45%). If you haven't refinanced your mortgage recently, now is the time to do it. With a new president taking office, the economy may shift, and interest rates may rise. Talk to your loan officer about refinancing and getting a lower interest rate. And if you're in a variable rate mortgage, shift over to a fixed rate mortgage and lock in the low interest rates while you can.
A lot of homeowners roll over their insurance year to year, but if you haven't reviewed your policy in a while, you might be missing out on some money-saving opportunities. Shop around and get quotes to see what rates are competitive in the current market and if you're paying more, see if your current company will match the lowest quote. If you have a stand-alone policy, think about bundling your auto and homeowners insurance with one company. Insurance companies will often offer discounts for customers who hold multiple policies. If you've made any major improvements to your home that could impact the insurability of your house (like clearing trees, installing a high tech security system or adding storm reinforcements), let your agent know. Improvements can often lower your premiums.
While spring is traditionally the time for organizing (in the form of "spring cleaning"), there's no better time for a fresh start - and a more organized home - than the New Year. Cleaning out closets, getting rid of things you no longer want or need and taking a more minimalist approach to life can have huge benefits. Not only will your home look better, but you'll also FEEL better as a result. Messy, cluttered homes can cause increased stress and anxiety, making it much harder to relax and enjoy your space. Clutter has also been shown to decrease creativity, productivity and focus, so if you want to have a happy and productive 2017, it's time for the stuff to go. Plan a day to go through all of your closets, cabinets and storage space. If you're not actively using something, get rid of it. The benefits you'll reap from decluttering will far outweigh the value of the things you get rid of.
The new year is the perfect time to review the current state of your property and take any precautions necessary to ensure that you're safe in the upcoming year. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace them if necessary. Check your house for radon, a common, carcinogenic gas that can increase your chance of lung cancer (you can pick up a radon testing kit at the hardware store for less than $10). Meet with your family to review emergency evacuation plans in case of a fire, flood or other emergencies. With these 5 resolutions, you'll get the most out of your property - and of owning your home - in 2017 and beyond.
Over the past few years the world of technology has become increasingly more popular with home buyers.
In a world of instant gratification it is easy to peruse the internet and pick and chose which homes you want to look at. Gone are the days of placing an ad in the newspaper or local real estate magazine and expecting results.
So, what are the avenues that real estate agents have today to market and sell your home?
We have at our disposal social media sites such as:
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn which all allows us to get the word out quickly and locally that your house is on the market. Most of my friends and associates I have on Facebook are right here in town and with a quick boost of a post I can showcase that listing to them, their friends and their friends friends to boot.
You can add videos, text and links to these sites for quick access to the listing information and photos. You want to use marketing avenues that are visited by the masses such as friends and family and most people are glued to these sites on a daily basis.
There are hundreds of internet sites that are both fee based and free that specialize in marketing homes for sale. Starting with your local MLS and spreading to Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, Homes & Land, Yahoo, Ebay, Google, Frontdoor, Cyberhomes, HouseLocator, and Craigslist to only mention a few. Some sites are better than others but, the key here is exposure. You're marketing the property, so you want to get it in front of as many potential buyers as possible.
Marketing your home on the internet is not rocket science but, it does take a skilled knowledgeable agent to get it done and to get your home in front of those buyers who would be interested in your home.
To sell quickly and for top dollar, it is important to set your home apart from the competition in the neighborhood and that includes online marketing. Working with your agent you must properly prepare a home to appeal to prospective buyers. Home staging is a very good tool that will accomplish this. Once you have prepared your home you can start the online process by taking the highest quality photos available that will showcase your home at its best. Most people will pass up an online listing that has few to no photos. Their thought is, there must be something wrong with it not to have photos. Max out those photos! Get every angle of every room possible. Showcase different features that the home has such as granite counter tops, wood flooring, spas and pools etc. These are things you won't find you can place in newsprint!
Another tool is to allow reverse prospecting of your property. This is something that is not available to you in news or home magazine ads. Within our MLS during submission we can allow for reverse prospecting. This means that if someone else has set up a search for their buyer and it happens to match the specs on your house an email is sent out to that agent and/or potential buyer. Modern technology is great, isn't it?
The most experienced agents will stay on top of technology and embrace it as it changes. Making sure they are staying on top of the latest marketing tools available to them to help you sell your home quicker, smoother and efficiently
Sometimes we need a little direction when we are buying a home. From appraisers to pest control you'll find my preferred list of vendors here. (Not listed in any particular order.)
O: 800.814.1130 ext. 3530
Equity Prime Mortgage
Appraisers Real Estate Appraisal Services of GA, IncMarvin Broomberg (VA CERTIFIED)(229) firstname.lastname@example.org Plantation Creek Real Estate Company, LLCRobert Thompson (VA CERTIFIED)email@example.com Henderson Appraisal ServiceKip Henderson(229) 253-1175www.valdostaappraisers.com