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Avoid These Deal Killers!

by Samia S. Morgan

If you are selling your home, you are probably aware of the  challenges that sellers face due to the current real estate market. Once you have located a buyer and are ready to being the process,  the last thing you want is to have your deal fall through at the last minute.

 While things do happen and sometimes buyers will back out, below are some of today’s top deal-killers and what you can do to minimize fall-out.

  1. Buyer’s remorse – Everyone gets it; and while you can’t prevent buyer’s remorse, there are a few things you can do to lessen the chances that your buyers will change their mind. First of all, be totally up front with the flaws of the house. Don’t let an inspection reveal problems that you should address with potential buyers and offer to fix.
  2. Financing– Everything from stricter credit requirements to increased down payments has thrown the mortgage market into a tizzy and many buyers are finding that they can’t qualify, even if they have been pre-approved for a mortgage. Consider owner financing if you can, or offer to pay for repairs that give the buyers more cash for down payment options.
  3. Low appraisals – Make sure that you know the true market value of your home BEFORE you put it on the market and adjust accordingly. You may have to take a hit on the house, but it’s better than spending money on it through the sale process only to lose that money and the deal because you can’t get the appraisal up.
  4. Failure to communicate – Negotiations are a key part of a home sale and you have to be flexible if you really want to sell your property. Don’t automatically reject low offers and contract contingencies – be willing to work with the seller and keep communications open. You may be able to agree at the end of the day.

Stay on top of your current market – don’t let national headlines guide your decisions. You should have a good feel for your local economy, neighborhood comps and your home’s current value. Become the expert on your market and you’ll be better equipped to deal with the challenges and deal busters that come your way!

Do you have any other  "deal breakers" that we did not list here? Let us know your thoughts to help other home sellers.

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Tips on Staging Your Home With Children

by Samia S. Morgan

Selling your home can be a busy and stressful time. Many things must be done to prepare the home so you can have a successful sale. Showing your home is vital to making the sale, but if you have children it can be difficult to keep the house tidy and appealing to the buyers with toys and children's belongings.

Staging your home can help to better showcase your property and attract more buyers. You want to make sure everything is  clean, neat, well maintained, spacious and ready for move in. There’s just one problem – your busy family has turned your model home into a disaster area. How can you get your kids to clean up and cooperate?

Here are a few ideas on how to get your home picture perfect with your kids’ help…

First of all, involve them in the process and have a family meeting and explain to them what staging is and why it’s important. You may want to show them some pictures of staged homes or virtual tours to give them an idea of what you are looking for and use those examples to set goals for the family. Then you can guide them to participate in these activities with you:

  1. Go through their clothing and put everything aside that doesn’t fit or that they no longer wear. Gather it up and get it ready to donate to a local charity. Your kids can go with you to the drop off and stay involved through the whole process. It’s a great way to make their closets look better and give to others at the same time.
  2. Reduce the living space by bunking together. If your kids have their own rooms, consider letting them share a room for a while. Try to make it a fun adventure and let them know it’s temporary. Get their help in setting up the extra room as a  guest room or study.
  3. Share one or more baths. Get shower baskets or caddies for each child and personalize them with their names. Then they have all of their persona toiletry items together in a portable, easily stored container.
  4. Maximize the floor space in the kids’ rooms by storing toys in a container, closet, or attic. It may help to install some temporary shelving or use a wire basket or plastic tub system. Some items can also be stored under the bed.
  5. Bikes, scooters and skateboards need to find a home in the garage. Make special racks or use pegboard that has each child’s name assigned to the space. Help them create a new habit of always putting their bike or scooter in their rack each time.

Getting your kids involved in the staging process can help you focus on decorating and larger home maintenance projects. It can also help them form great organization skills and habits for many years to come!

If you have any ideas on staging your home with children, please comment on them. We would love to know your ideas!

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The Facts on The Real Estate Sales Tax

by Samia S. Morgan

Politics are everywhere it seems as the November mid-term elections are coming closer. You may have heard rumors about a possible 3.8% sales tax on real estate sales and have wondered what the facts really are. If you are like most homeowners and potential home buyers you are in shock and may be confused about this potential tax and want to know the real deal.

Here are the facts:

1. Starting in 2013, not only will you pay the closing costs and real estate fee when you sell your house but you may be required to pay a 3.8% Sales Tax

2. You are only subject to the tax if you make over $200K a year, $250K married filing jointly.The Internal Revenue Service says that to qualify for the $250,000/$500,000 exclusion, a seller must have owned the home and lived there as the seller’s "main home" for at least two years out of the five years prior to the sale.

3. If you are fortunate enough to bring in $200K, the tax still does NOT apply to the first $250,000 on profits ($500,000 if married)

4. This new tax was implemented under the new health care bill that was signed earlier this year

5. On the bright side, in today’s economy and with home values falling, you most likely will have no tax burden if you sell your home. A typical home sale would not incur any tax. In March, for example, half of all existing homes sold for $170,700 or less, according to the National Association of Realtors.

If you’re still concerned about this possible tax, it is a good idea to check with your accountant if you are planning and selling your home and you think you will have a large profit.

 

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What Today's Homebuyers Are Looking For

by Samia S. Morgan

Potential homebuyers in today's market are much more specific with their amenities list. Many are looking for efficient, sustainable materials and features for their new home. Oversized “McMansion” style living are a thing of the past and has now has given way to thoughtfully planned living areas that combine indoor and outdoor lifestyles along with energy efficiency. Below are some of the top trends that homebuyers are looking for:

  1. Green building and sustainability – from recycled materials to water wells and water collection systems, today’s home buyer is concerned with organic, sustainable features. While green building can sometimes be expensive up front, even the cost conscious know that the results may save money in the long run.
  2. Energy efficiency –buyers want energy efficient appliances and the latest in insulation techniques using spray foam and gels. Going green can not only reduce current energy costs, but energy efficient homes help with resale.
  3. Outdoor living areas – more people are staying home these days, and one of the hottest trends is outdoor living areas that create a seamless indoor to outdoor space and include living room style features. From comfortable sofas to televisions and sound systems and creative outdoor cooking areas, the right outdoor space becomes a natural extension of the interior.
  4. Main floor master suites with luxurious baths – now more than ever, home is an oasis for hardworking homeowners, and large masters on the main floor (away from kids rooms or play areas) are key to a homeowner’s satisfaction. Along with the master, buyers are interested in soaker tubs, walk-in showers with seating and dual showerheads.
  5. Home offices – more and more people find themselves telecommuting or working from home in the evenings, and space for a home office has taken priority over traditional home features like formal dining and living and even media rooms. Home buyers seek that unique space that separates work from family living areas.

Home buyers priorities have shifted to reflect changing economic times. The top trends reflect a new desire for comfort and flexible lifestyles, along with an ever growing concern for sustainability and efficiency.

 

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Inspections For Termites

by Samia S. Morgan

In most states a termite inspection is a necessary requirement in the home sale process. If a home has termites, they can create significant damage and even destroy a home if left untreated.

In most cases if  evidence of termites is seen, there’s a good chance the infestation is already quite advanced.

If you are a homeowner and have any concerns about termites in home, the best course of action is to locate a pest control or termite inspection to confirm any problems.. Of course, pest inspections are an important part of the overall inspection process, so make sure you hire an expert in the field:

  1. Check out online or yellow page listings under Pest Control for a licensed, bonded inspector. Your real estate agent can also be helpful in location a company for you.
  2. Request estimates for the inspection cost and compare rates.
  3. Make sure that you get a copy of the inspection report and course of action needed before signing any contract papers.


As mentioned above, most states require a clear pest control if you are buying or selling a home. The inspector looks for termite infestation as well as other pest infestation, plumbing leaks, obvious roof leaks, dry rot and water damage. Make sure that all areas of the home are accessible for the inspector. Try to stick with companies that do inspection and treatment only – and leave any wood repair to carpenters or contractors.

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Selling Your Home - Tips Looking Forward Two Years

by Nancy Linebarier - Stager & Feng Shui Consultant

I recently did a staging consultation on a house that was going on the market. My clients were a young couple and they were expanding their family and buying their second home.

Because of their busy schedule they had left many repair and simple mini upgrades undone thinking they would get to them and not sure where to start or what issues to address.

Now because of this competitive market they need to address these” hanging” items right away.

Repairing doors, painting a ceiling stained from an old leak, broken kitchen door hinges.

The older bathroom that had a cracked and damaged counter top and sink.

Anyway you get the idea.

By doing just a couple of things differently they could have enjoyed their home more, spent less money, and they would have avoided a lot of stress.

Many of us know or have an idea when we may want to sell our home. So whether it is moving to a larger home, retiring or relocating, planning ahead is key.

Spend money where and when it makes sense;

  • Call in a design and or staging professional. It’s only needs to be a 1 hour consultation so that you have a good advise and a solid starting point and a style to work with. A designer will advise you how to spend wisely now, let you know expected costs and often has resources to share as well.
  • Look for and build a relationship with a handyman now.  It is especially important if you do not have the time or expertise to handle items as they come up. There are many great people in the profession that are willing to do very small jobs and can fill their schedule with your items. Work with someone who does “time and material”. Keeping your home in good order allows you to live more comfortably now and pays off later with fewer things to do in the midst of buying and moving.
  • Update small things. You do not have to wait for large projects. For example, replace outdated light fixtures (one room at a time is fine), paint one room, touch up baseboards.
  • Plan ahead with an “update” budget and account. Set aside a few dollars just for these types of expenses. Allow for design time, handyman costs, materials, fixtures. Doing some small things incrementally helps avoid sticker shock
  • Schedule. Plan that every month you accomplish tasks that need to be addressed. Stay disciplined. With busy career and family schedules if you are doing some of the projects yourself only plan what you have time for. ie. If you have only one hour Saturday morning only do a small item, change one fixture and feel good about that accomplishment.

Nancy Linebarier
Interior Designer and Stager
Feng Shui Consultant
Habitat Enhancements
Email Me 

Author and Business are endorsed by Samia Realty Group
Move2CA - our website
San Francisco Bay Area Home Search  - find San Francisco Bay Area properties for sale
What’s Your San Mateo - San Francisco Bay Area Home Worth? - get current market information for your San Francisco Bay Area home

Sharing Closing Costs

by Samia S. Morgan

Once a seller has closed on their home and the paperwork has been completed, most will figure on deducting the remaining mortgage balance and the agent's commission from the sales price. Many, however don't figure in the closing costs that are involved as well. 

Closing costs refer to all of the taxes, fees and costs required to close a real estate transaction. The amount and who will be responsible can vary from state to state.

When selling your home, it is important to ask your agent for a breakdown of what you are expected to pay in closing costs as well what the buyer will pay. In most states the buyer and seller split closing costs but some states consider the buyer to be responsible or both parties can be required to pay the costs. 

Typically the person responsible for paying closing costs can be dependent on the market. For example in a market that is plentiful, the seller could have more of a chance in having the buyer pay the majority of the closing costs. But in a market that is struggling such as now, buyers tend to have the upper hand and many sellers will pay the majority of the closing costs in order to complete the sale.

Below are some of the common closing costs faced by sellers and buyers:

Escrow/attorney fees: Some states require third-party escrow companies handle real estate closings, while others dictate attorneys perform the function. Title companies, title agents, lenders, brokers and even real estate agents are allowed to handle closings and/or escrows depending on the state. These fees are usually split between the buyer and seller.
Title insurance: There are usually two types of title insurance that must be purchased – the lenders’ policy and the owners’ policy. Usually either a title company or in some states a lawyer will research the title to make sure there are no liens against the property or unidentified owners. These policies protect the lender and new owner for the full value of the property. Usually, the seller pays for the owner’s policy and the buyer pays for the lender’s policy. This is often referred to as clearing title.
Transfer or documentary taxes: These are paid either to the state, county, city or a combination depending on the state. This is where the government agency gets their share of the transaction. This is also known as a reconveyance tax.
Recording fee: Usually paid to the county for recording the deed, which shows ownership of the property.
Mortgage tax: This is an additional tax collected by some states. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia are the states that collect this tax.
Brokerage commission: The fee you contractually agreed to pay for the selling of your home.


Aside from these costs, the seller may be responsible for costs such as any credits that were promised to the buyer for repairs or home warranties. Don't forget that Federal law requires that sellers and buyers receive a copy of a
HUD-1 form outlining all charges in a real estate transaction.

Maximizing Your Home’s Sales Potential Through Staging

by Nancy Linebarier - Stager & Feng Shui Consultant

Habitat Enhancements

Nancy Linebarier
Stager/Designer

Maximizing Your Home’s Sales Potential Through Staging

In today’s challenging market conditions, most Real Estate professionals and savvy sellers recognize the importance of Staging and properly preparing a property for sale.

In order to maximize your homes sales potential there are several very important things for you to consider:

Whether you are selling a $300,000 starter home or a $3,000,000 executive estate it is critical that your home captures the interest of your targeted market One of the most important things to accomplish this is for your buying demographic to see your property in the best possible light

• Staged homes will generally command top dollar
• Staging of your home highlights the more positive and sought after aspects of a home and softens and diverts attention from the less desirable aspects
• Staged homes will generally sell faster and spend fewer days on the market .
• Staged homes increase the likelihood of generating multiple offers even in today’s challenging market conditions.

Remember; “You only have one chance to make a good first impression”.

In follow up articles I will go into detail on how to implement a successful stage.

Nancy Linebarier
Interior Designer and Stager
Feng Shui Consultant
Habitat Enhancements
Email Me 

Author and Business are endorsed by Samia Realty Group
Move2CA - our website
San Francisco Bay Area Home Search  - find San Francisco Bay Area properties for sale
What’s Your San Mateo - San Francisco Bay Area Home Worth? - get current market information for your San Francisco Bay Area home

First Time Homeseller Tips

by Samia S. Morgan

Buying a home for the first time can be a stressful experience but the same is true if you are selling your home for the first time. Homeowners who are selling for the first time will have many questions. Will my home sell? How should I price it? What do I need to do to prepare to sell my home?  Below are some tips and answers to these common questions.  

Hire An Experienced Agent.  When selling your home for the first time it is a good idea to have someone on your side who can answer your questions and provide you with the guidance you need. Selling your home on your own, especially for the first time can be a very difficult process.  By using an experienced real estate agent that you feel comfortable with, you can set a fair and competitive selling price for your home that will increase your odds of a quick sale. Another benefit in working with an agent is that they will work with potential buyers so you don't have to. Agents will also have more experience negotiating home sales.

Prepare Your Home Properly. It is vital to prepare your home for sale and to show your home at it's best. A clean, uncluttered house is the first place to start, Also all repairs need to be addressed, from major to minor. It is not wise to try to hide any problems as they will be found when the potential buyer does the home inspection. Failing to do these things will not only reduce your sale price, but may also prevent you from getting a sale at all.


Be Flexible On The Asking Price. It is important to prepare yourself that you probably wont get the asking price. Most all buyers will negotiate to get the best price, especially in a buyers market. And if you want to sell your home you will have to work with them, especially in a soft market where competition is stiff. It is important to list your home at a price that will attract buyers but you will need to leave some breathing room for negotiations. A successful sale is one where the buyer feels like they aer getting a good deal and the seller feels that they received an amount that they needed as well. 


Because this is a buyers market and competition is tough, it is a good possibility that your home may not sell quickly and may sit on the market for far longer than you expect. Do your research and work with an experienced agent who can help you avoid costly mistakes and help you to achieve a seamless, lucrative sale every home seller hopes for!

The Basics Of Green Real Estate

by Samia S. Morgan

Going Green is more than just a buzz word, it's a way of living. The Real Estate Industry has adapted to these changes as well in the last few years. From Eco-Friendly financing to green moving companies there many aspects to green real estate.

Buyers can 'buy green' and sellers can make home improvements that are green and that can help to increase the value of their home. There are many benefits and reasons to go green if you are selling or buying. HGTV has listed the top 10 reasons here

A major benefit to going green is the financial rewards, for both buyers and sellers. If you are buying a home there are many energy efficiency tax credits available, and this is an added benefit to the monthly reduction of costs that are associated with such green items like solar panels or energy efficient water heaters.

There are many resources out there for you to learn more about green services and how you can benefit. Increase your eco-friendly vocab with these green terms and tidbits. Feel free to contact me if I can help to answer any questions about how going green can help you buy or sell a home.

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Samia S. Morgan, Inc.
dba Samia Realty Group
BRE# 00967165
San Mateo CA 94403
650-678-3633