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How to Sell Your House For the Most Money In the Shortest Possible Time

Your imagination is the most powerful tool you have to improve the value of your property – and it’s free. Here’s how: Step out of your own shoes and step into your potential buyer’s shoes. Then take a good, realistic look at your house and property, and consider: Is it appealing? Can you imagine yourself living there comfortably? Or do you imagine yourself putting in a lot of work to make the house and property acceptable?

Most buyers are interested in three things about a property they’re considering

¨      Visual appeal (landscaping, spaciousness, cleanliness, color, lack of clutter)

¨      Maintenance (everything in working order, nothing to repair or paint)

¨      Safety (locks and deadbolts, burglar/fire alarm systems, busyness of the neighborhood)

 

If a potential buyer can’t form a good mental picture of living in your house – no sale! With this in mind, you’ll want to give your property a good, hard look from the outside in. You want to create a fabulous first impression so everyone will want to come inside.

 

What to Look For On the Outside

¨      Roof and gutters: When buyers look at your house from their car, about 30 percent of what they see is your roof. Be certain it’s in good repair.

¨      Landscaping: A well-manicured yard and a smooth, even driveway reassure potential buyers that you care about your property. A yard free of mud and weeds suggests a good sprinkler system and low maintenance.

¨      Paint and siding: Neutral colors and a clean appearance are important. Consider repainting or power-washing both your house and roof.

¨      Porch or covered patio: Make sure it’s clean and uncluttered.

¨      Fence: Fencing should be in good repair.

 

What to Look For On the Inside

¨      Kitchen: Regardless of your kitchen size, you can make it feel spacious: Remove appliances and gadgets from your counter tops and store them. Repair broken or cracked counters.

¨      Bathrooms: Replace faucets, medicine cabinet, and towel racks if necessary; be certain the bathrooms are spotless and fresh-smelling.

¨      Master Bedroom: Spaciousness and décor are important. Remove and store nonessential furniture.

¨      Flooring: An investment in new carpeting almost always increases the perceived value of a home. Select a neutral color of medium-grade carpeting and padding. Replace cracked and broken tiles.

¨      Wall covering: A fresh coat of paint can do wonders. Always use neutral or soft, warm colors. Avoid wallpaper.

¨      Personal touches: Eclectic personal touches may distract potential buyers.

 

Deciding What to Do First

The most important thing to think about first is this: Fix what you can see! Cosmetic changes, regardless of the cost, will make a world of difference when it comes time to sell. Whatever you saw when you put on your potential buyer’s shoes, that’s what you do first, from the outside in.

Keep in mind that you want the best return on your investment. When you make cosmetic changes, you maximize popular appeal. People will see what looks great, and they’ll picture themselves living there. Conversely if your home looks untended, people will imagine how much work they have to do – again, no sale!

The cost of such a project might frighten you; however, think about the cost of not doing it. If it costs $2,000 to repair your roof and gutters and you balk at the price, think again. The same roof repair will probably decrease your asking price by $4,000 when a buyer begins to negotiate. Ask your Realtor for guidance.

How to Buy a Home With (Little or) No Money Down

Of course you want to buy a home in Ottawa with zero down payment. Who doesn’t?

Here’s exactly how you do it:

Many people never buy the home of their dreams simply because they don’t think they have enough money for the down payment. They’ve been told through the years that they need 10 percent or 20 percent of the purchase price in order to buy a home. Well, this simply isn’t true.

So why have so many real estate companies told them this?

Quite honestly, it’s because selling homes to people with 10 percent or 20 percent down is easier than selling homes to people who have little or no money for a down payment. Most real estate salespeople would rather go after the “easy sale” than try to help people who have special needs.

As a By Referral Only Consultant, my mission is clear: To Help People. That’s why we’ve created this special report and sent it to you with no obligation.

This report is specially designed for people with good credit and a good income, but who just don’t have much money for a down payment.

 

Option 1: Seller Financing

Some sellers may be willing to hold a second mortgage for you as a seller “take-back.” In this case, the seller becomes your lending institution. Instead of your paying this seller the full amount for the price of the home, and then making payments, you would be making monthly mortgage installments directly to the seller. It’s not unusual to find a seller who is willing to help you out, and in this case, it’s a win-win situation for all parties.

 

Option 2: Using A Tax Refund For A Cash Down Payment

By borrowing money for certain investments to a specified level, you may be able to generate a significant tax refund for yourself, and then you can use that refund as a down payment on your new house. While the money borrowed for these investments is technically a loan, the monthly amount paid can be small, and the money invested in both home and investment will be yours in the end.

 

Option 3: Special Loan Programs

Special loan programs come and go quickly.

So, how do you find out what type of loan programs are available for you right now? The best way is to work with an experienced mortgage consultant who keeps up to speed on these special programs. If you don’t know of one, I work with at least three such mortgage professionals and I would be happy to refer you to one of them, depending on your particular needs.

 

Option 4: Owner Financing

Owner financing means exactly that: The owner (or seller) finances a portion of your home purchase. For example, you might borrow 80 percent of the value of a home from a lending institution, and “borrow” the other 20 percent from the owner. In this situation, the owner “carries back” a second mortgage.

Owner financing can be advantageous, especially to investors who buy up properties and then rent them out. For the average home buyer, however, owner financing is difficult to find and requires some tricky negotiating. Even after successfully negotiating a transaction, it requires some detailed work by qualified attorneys in order to protect the interests of all parties involved.

While you shouldn’t rule out owner financing, keep in mind that by looking for someone who is willing to help finance your purchase, you severely limit your choices. There are a lot of houses for sale today, but not a lot where owner financing is an option.

 

Option 5: Lease-To-Own

With a lease-to-own, you essentially lease a home, but make larger payments in order to begin accumulating a down payment. For example, if a house would normally lease for $800, you might lease it for $1,000/month, with $200/month going into a special account. At the end of a specified period, you buy the home using the money in that special account as your down payment. However, if you decide somewhere along the line not to purchase the home, all of the money in the special account then goes to the seller.

Think of this option as renting with a forced savings account. If you can find someone willing to do this, it’s not a bad option. However, most people who are selling their homes need their money out of it in order to buy their next home, so finding someone who is willing to lease to you may prove more difficult.

 

Where To Begin

Now that you have five good options for buying a home for little or no money down, where is the best place to begin?

The first step is getting pre-qualified. And the best way to get pre-qualified is to let me refer you to a Mortgage Consultant who is dedicated to helping people like you get into the home of your dreams.

I do more than help you get financed!

Financing is only the first step in the home buying process. I am dedicated to helping you through the entire process, delivering world-class service all along the way. We can help you find the right home, negotiate the right terms, and then make sure that you actually get to the closing table. It’s all part of our Preferred Buyer’s Program, which you can join for FREE!

If you’d like to know more about your financing options and my Preferred Buyer’s Program, be sure to call me today.

Protect Your Home from Burglars

This article provides practical and effective techniques for securing your home and protecting your family from intruders. The report highlights the safety of doors, windows, alarm systems, and general security.

Doors:

  • Choose strong and sturdy solid wood or metal exterior doors.
  • Mount the hinges on the inside, so someone can’t remove your doors from the outside.
  • If there’s a mail slot in your door, make sure that it’s small enough to prevent a person from reaching in and grasping the doorknob or lock. If you have a pet door, investigate ways to secure the door. For example, there are now pet doors that open only when activated by a microchip in your pet’s collar.
  • For sliding glass doors, install a pin where the frames overlap to prevent the door from opening.
  • Change or re-key your locks when you move into a new or existing home. The former owners (or tradespeople) may have shared their keys with others.

Windows:

  • Don’t use crescent or “butterfly” latches to secure double-hung windows; they can be pried open easily with a knife.       Use a do-it-yourself nail or bolt window stop instead. Drill the hole for the stop at a slight downward angle to prevent a burglar from using pressure to jiggle the pin out of the hole.
  • Laminated glass windows (which can be cut only from one side) prevent an intruder from cutting glass to gain entry. Laminated security glass products can be customized for virtually any application, regardless of requirements for heat-transfer, visibility, or aesthetics. They are especially effective in front-door windows and sidelights.
  • Filming a window to reduce heat from direct sunlight does not make it stronger.
  • Lock windows when not in use.

Alarm Systems:

According to the FBI, homes equipped with centrally monitored alarm systems are 15 times less likely to be targets of break-ins. These guidelines will help you choose one that’s right for your security needs.

1. Determine how much protection you need.

The goal of a residential security system is to detect an intruder as early as possible, alert the home’s occupants to his presence, and scare him away before he does any harm. Progressive layers of protection accomplish this goal. Imagine four concentric circles around your house:

  • Center circle: Your family and your most valuable possessions.
  • Second circle: The interior of your home.
  • Third circle: The exterior shell of your home.
  • Fourth circle: The property around your home.

For most people, a system that protects the second and third circles is both effective and cost-efficient. This involves installing sensors on the windows and exterior doors, and interior motion detectors as backup to the point-of-entry protection. The additional cost of protecting the innermost circle adds spot protection for high-value areas, such as a security closet or safe, and may include a 24-hour panic button. At the outermost circle of protection, motion sensors let you know when someone enters your property. Unless you live in a remote or concealed location, this protection may be more than you need when balanced against the equipment and installation costs.

2. Decide how you want the system to respond.

At a minimum, include one interior siren to scare off the burglar and alert you to the situation. You may want to add an exterior siren so your neighbors will hear your activated alarm. Some systems include automatic, silent monitoring, meaning they send a signal to a central station where operators notify the police, fire department, or security company.

3. Choose an alarm system.

A basic alarm system consists of a low-voltage electrical circuit with sensors installed on doors and windows. When someone opens a door or window, it interrupts the flow of electricity through a sensor and activates a siren or flashing light. Many systems also include motion detectors. When something moves within the detector’s range, an alarm sounds.

Electronic alarm systems come in two basic types:

  1. Wired systems (with concealed wires in the walls and crawl spaces) require running low-voltage electrical wires from a master control panel to doors and windows, motion detectors, keypads, and sirens.
  2. Wireless systems use miniature radio transmitters instead of wires, and require very little drilling and no special tools to install. You can take a wireless system with you when you move. A wireless system is a better do-it-yourself choice.

Optional enhancements are available in both wired and wireless systems – from motion detectors that can’t be tripped by pets to remote access that allows you to check the system by phone from a distant location.

4. Compare prices.

Get bids from two or three reputable security companies in your area. Compare the installation charges, annual inspection costs, and monthly fees (for monitored systems). Also, check with your insurance agent to see if you’ll receive a discount for installing a certain type of system.

5. Use it right.

Alarm systems are only a part of good home security. Make sure that all the people who live in your home understand how to use your electronic system. Check your protective devices periodically to ensure they’re in working order.

General Tips:

  • Pay attention to equipment that allows easy access to second-floor windows or balconies. If you’re remodeling or painting the exterior of your home, put ladders away at the end of each day.
  • Make it difficult for an intruder to hide; trim bushes and trees to allow maximum exposure of windows and doorways.
  • Motion-detection lights on all sides of the house make your home less inviting to burglars.
  • Don’t hide your house key outside. If a family member habitually loses or forgets his or her key, consider giving a set of keys to a trustworthy neighbor, or hanging the key on a long chain that a child can wear around the neck.
  • Lower the ring volume of your telephone so someone can’t hear it outside your house. (An unanswered phone may indicate that no one’s home.)
  • Don’t enter if it appears someone has burglarized your home; call the police from a cell phone or neighbor’s house.

Content provided by Better Homes and Gardens from the HomeAdvisor.msn.com Web site.

Making the Move Easy On the Kids

Most often, a move represents an important step forward for the adults in the family because of a new job, promotion, transfer to a different office, or financial success has allowed them to buy a more comfortable house in a different neighborhood.

Moving from one house to another is seldom easy and enjoyable for adults (who chose to move), and can be especially troubling for children (who prefer to stay where they are). But if parents are mindful of their children’s concerns and needs, they can minimize distress and discomfort.

A Move Affects Children and Adults Differently

People typically live in a house for about five years and then move on as their jobs and incomes allow. Five years is a small percentage of an adult’s life, but it’s half the lifetime of a 10-year old: It includes almost all the years he or she can remember. It may be the only home the child’s ever known, and the place s/he feels most safe and comfortable.

A house is much more than a place to live to children. It’s the center of their world, associated with familiar activities, sights, and sounds. A move threatens a child’s security and leaves something unknown in its place. Their friends, and the familiar streets, schools, shops, trees and parks are gone. The new neighborhood is someone else’s world.

The impact of a move on a child starts about the time he or she first hears about it, and often continues until the new house becomes home. It’s not necessary to tell young children about this big change immediately, although they must hear about it from their parents before someone else tells them.

Expect that your children may be even more distressed after the move. The new house will not be comfortable or beautiful the night the moving van leaves, or for months after. The furniture won’t fit the rooms, and the floor will be covered with half-unpacked boxes. The children won’t know anyone at school and, if you move during the summer, they may have little opportunity to meet others their age. They’ll need your help: Plan ahead to support and comfort them and ease the stress of the move.

Easing the Stress of the Move

Young Children Have Special Needs

Describe the move in a truthful, positive way. Tell upbeat stories about the benefits of the new house and location. Plan together to make the new setting feel like home:

  • Ask about their favorite activities (e.g., soccer), and plan to investigate youth programs in the new community.
  • Ask what they like best about the present house (e.g., the swimming pool) and assure them that you’ll find a place for them to swim in the new town.
  • Ask what they like best about the neighborhood (e.g., their friends), and make plans to invite the children on the block to a Welcome To the Neighborhood Party once you’ve settled in.
  • Ask what they like the most about their school (e.g., their teacher), and let them know that you’ll request a tour of their new school and a chance to meet their teacher beforehand.
  • Ask what they like most about their community (e.g., the video game parlor), and assure them that those activities will be available in the new location.
  • Use children’s literature. Books can help children prepare for and understand difficult situations. Story characters who model successful coping strategies are an excellent resource for children.
  • If the new home is too far away for the entire family to visit, show the children pictures of the house, yard, and neighborhood. Videotape it if you can. Include pictures of each child’s new room.
  • Ask the children to name the house with an inviting description, like “Oak Hill,” for the big trees and sloping lawn.

Young children need protection from fear of the unknown. Listen carefully to their concerns and respond quickly to relieve their apprehensions. It’s normal, for instance, for a young child to worry that his or her toy box and shelf of stuffed animals might be left behind. Uncover those anxieties by actively involving your children in the process.

  • Don’t just promise to let them decorate their own rooms – take them to the paint store and let them bring home color swatches. Shop together for bedspreads and towels and carpets.
  • They must leave old friends behind. Plan a going-away party and let them invite their own guests to bring closure to that parting.
  • Take pictures of everyone and make a photo album. If a child is old enough, send him or her out with a roll of film in the camera and the assignment to photograph the scenes he’ll want to remember.
  • Give each of them a long-distance telephone call allowance so they can keep in touch with people who are important to them.
  • Buy a stack of picture postcards that show positive views of your new community and encourage them to write messages to the friends and relatives they left behind.
  • Try to pack children’s things last and include them in the packing process.
  • Keep security objects such as a favorite teddy bear or blanket close by. Keep your routine as normal as possible. Regular eating and nap times are important.

Encourage children to get outside and get to know the people and the neighborhood. Encourage older children to distribute fliers for babysitting, lawn care, or car washing. Encourage them to participate in school activities that appeal to them. Get them on sports teams and into clubs. Throw a housewarming party for yourselves and invite all the adults and children on the block.

Teenagers

Most teenagers see themselves as adult members of the family, and may feel disrespected if they don’t hear about the move early in the process. Also, they’ll need time to work through the ordeal of leaving their friends. Ending relationships and saying goodbyes takes time, and is best done before the move. Some relationships will be extremely difficult to bring to an end, and these will require thoughtful, personalized planning. How, for instance, do you move a 17-year-old a thousand miles from her steady boyfriend?

Even though teens seem more advanced in their social skills, they may worry a lot about making friends and fitting in. Visit their new school and check out local activities and employment opportunities for young people.

Communities have their own culture and way of doing things, and this is often reflected in the way teens dress. How they look is really important to teens. Before spending money on a new school wardrobe, your teen may want to observe what’s “in.” Purchasing a few new outfits can often help a teen feel more comfortable.

It’s particularly important to let teens known that you want to hear about, and respect, their concerns. Blanket assurances may seem to your teen like you’re dismissing his or her feelings. It may help to explain that the move is a type of rehearsal for future changes, like college or a new job.

At any age, get help if emotional problems arise. Ask a teacher for assistance. Consider professional counseling. Don’t let a serious problem slide.

Eventually, the strangeness and temporary discomforts should diminish. New friends will become good friends. The new house may become the family gathering place that your grandchildren will visit on holidays. In the long run, everything will work out fine.

How Sellers Price Their Homes In Ottawa

How Much Should I Offer?

Clients often ask, “How much under the listing price should we offer?”

The best way to understand market value is through comparative research. Professional real estate consultants review and study at least 40 to 60 listings, visit 10 to 20, and inspect 5 to10 properties to develop a sense of relative worth for properties in a given area.

Additionally, a professional appraisal factors into determining the fair market value of the home. An appraisal protects you because Lenders want to make sure that you don’t overpay for a home. If the home value does not meet the sale price in the eyes of the appraiser, they’ll let you know. At that time, the Realtor can renegotiate the sale price or void the agreement and refund your earnest money deposit.

There are four basic factors that influence how sellers price their homes.

1. Sellers Get Poor Advice

Some real estate agents inflate the value of the seller’s home in an effort to obtain the listing. There’s a natural tendency on the part of sellers to list with the real estate agent who gives them the promise of the highest selling price.

When homes are overpriced, they

  • Stay on the market longer
  • May not sell
  1. Sellers Set an Unrealistic Price for Emotional Reasons

These sellers believe their home is worth every penny of their asking price for personal reasons. Sometimes they lose their objectivity and focus on features that seem more valuable to them (rather than to the buyer). For example, the suede wall-covering in the master bedroom may not appeal to potential buyers.

Additionally, some sellers, anticipating reticence to buy, feel it’s a good idea to leave a little “negotiating” room in the asking price.

3. Sellers Price their Home at Fair Market Value

These sellers carefully and realistically study other homes for sale, and may consult with a real estate professional. They price their home competitively, and it usually sells quickly at (or very near) the asking price.

4. Sellers are Motivated to Sell

When sellers want a fast sale, they price their home below fair market value. These homes usually sell right away, at or above the listed price. There are usually competing offers.