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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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Bay Area Halloween Fun!

by Samia S. Morgan

Halloween is just around the corner, is your costume ready? The Bay Area is a great place to be for spooky fun this time of the year. Make your plans now for trick or treating, pumpkin carving and all the fun that is Halloween!

Nicasio Valley Farms Pumpkin Patch, (Lafranchi Pumpkin
Patch)

5300 Nicasio Valley Rd (1/4 mile north of Nicasio square),
Nicasio, Open Daily 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., FREE

Family Days at Nicasio Valley Farms
October 2 to October 31, 2010
• October 2, 17, 24: Children’s musician Tim Cain (11a.m.)
• October 17, MALT MALT(Marin Agricultural Land Trust) Day
Open 10-4: Kids’ games and contests along with wood-
fired pizza by The Baker, Mexican food by Delicias de Marin,
Iron Springs Brewery Beer. Educational booths by Marin
Organic and Agricultural Institute of Marin.  Pumpkin sales
this day support MALT!


Adobe Pumpkin Farm

2478 East Washington Blvd., Petaluma
Open daily through October 31st from 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Adobe has tons of parking and over 30 acres of space.  The space
includes farm equipment to climb on, haunted houses (one for the
little kids), corn maze, animals, hay rides, pony rides, hay bale
mazes, jump houses, and reasonably priced merchandise.  We
like this place because it is on the OTHER side of the 101 from the
mega-patch (the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch) and has a more
relaxed vibe. 


The G&M Farms Cornfield Maze & Pumpkin Patch

487 East Airway Blvd., Livermore
Open daily through October 31st
If you have never been to a cornfield maze, the G&M corn maze is unbelievable.
The maze is huge but manageable for the whole family.  For older kids, there are ten clue stations where you are asked questions in a number of categories of varying levels of difficulty.  The right answer puts on you on the path to the next clue.  The wrong answer leads you to a dead end.  Not far away is the pumpkin patch, farm animals, a cow train, a hay bale maze, and lots of other activities.  One of our favorites this year was the corn box.  That is, a box about 20 feet by 40 feet by 1 foot or so deep filled with about 9 tons of corn (there is another box nearby with about 7 tons of corn).  Sounds crazy but after a minute, you will be considering dumping the sandbox and replacing it with a couple of cubic yards of corn.  The only down side to this place  is that the pumpkin patch is a grassy lot with pumpkins laying in neat rows.:

 
Sinister Science Trick or Treat

Come in your costume and  receive a treat, drink some spooky punch and participate in hands-on sinister science activities. Enjoy guest appearances by special costumed friends. There will be Discovery Lab activities for tots with costumes, spooky read-alongs and much more. Fly a simulated space mission and experience some spooky space encounters in the Challenger Learning Center(1 pm and 3 pm) ; 11:00-4:00 pm Tickets $10 plus general admission, $5 plus general admission for members. For more info or reservations visit http://www.chabotspace.org

 

 What are you doing for this Halloween? Be safe!

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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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Home Improvements that Pay Off

by Samia S. Morgan

What is the most common misconception about the value of home improvement? That your investment translates dollar for dollar into added value. When investing in remodeling – from small updates to major renovations, take a good look at the real impact of the project on your home’s value.

The state of the market, the homes in your neighborhood (‘comps’), how long you hold on to your home and the kind of improvement all play a role in determining what you will recoup out of the initial investment. Sometimes remodeling pays of and sometimes it does absolutely nothing to increase your home appraisal.

Here are some of the home improvement winners:

  1. Kitchens: Updates to cabinets, appliances or flooring can really make a difference in both the appeal and actual value of your home. Kitchen makeovers rate an A+ for adding value.
  2. Additions:  These are great as long as the addition doesn’t take your home out of the neighborhood comps, well thought out square footage adds a value approximate to the investment you put into it.
  3. Extra bathroom:  An extra full bath, well done can come close to paying for itself, but gets only a percentage back of the actual cost.
  4. Decks: A great way to add square footage cheaply and create outdoor living space, which is a hot trend right now.
  5. Windows: As long as the windows are a standard size and you make the extra effort to get double pane, energy rated glass and trim, you will save money on utility costs while waiting to sell and they will make the home more appealing.

One home improvement that likely won't bring a return on investment is a swimming pool. Only put one in if you love to swim and plan to use it, don't install one on the assumption you will get your money returned. In some markets such as warmer clients a pool may be expected, in others it can be a wow factor if well done, but pools add no resale value to your home and may even be considered a liability.

A good piece of advise is to keep your home well maintained, make sure all the basics are take care of before you add any new features.

 /kh

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!

Tips For Selling During The Holidays

by Samia S. Morgan

Although some sellers are might be reluctant to put their home on the market during the holiday season, selling your home during this time of the year is actually a great idea with many benefits that can help you make the sale. Selling your home during the holiday season affords you many advantages such as the amazing staging options you have at this time of the year. During the holidays you have a chance to show your home at its very best.  You can use all the holiday decorations to stage your home with all that the season has to offer. Below are some tips to help you sell your home during the holidays!

  • It is easy to get carried away when decorating but try to be tasteful. Too many trimmings may distract buyers. Keep your visuals tasteful, a few twinkling lights and greenery bring out the charm in a home. Simple touches like a festive wreath on your door can work wonders!
  • Brighten and warm it up. When showing your home be sure to turn on all lights so your home will look bright, cheery and welcoming. If the weather is cold, turn up the temp a couple of degrees. Don't overdo it, you want it warm and cozy not hot.
  • Make your home welcoming. Make your home feel cozy and inviting during showings by lighting a fire, playing soft holiday music and offering homemade holiday treats. If buyers feel welcome they are more likely to spend more time admiring the home.

Holiday staging can help to sell your home around this time of the year but there are also other advantages. 

  • November and December buyers are usually serious due to the fact that January tends to be the biggest transfer month so home buyers shop at the end of the year.
  • Buyers want to receive the tax benefit of purchasing before the new year.
  • There tends to be less competition with fewer homes on the market and showings will be fewer and less intrusive, but more likely to be fruitful with motivated, qualified buyers.

 

Get Pre-Qualified before Moving

by Samia S. Morgan


How much home can you really afford? The first step in buying a home is to have a budget and figure out how much you can actually afford. Your agent or lender can help you with this in a couple of ways:

 

  •  Pre-qualifying process This process will give you a general "estimate" of what you will be able to afford.

  • Pre-approval process This process will allow your lender to review your finances in more detail in order to determine the amount of money they agree to loan you for your home purchase.

Your lender will review your finances and focus on a few main areas such as:

  • Gross monthly income
  • Credit history
  • Amount of outstanding debts
  • Source and amount of money available for down payment and closing costs
  • Interest rates, etc.

All these things put together will help your lender determine two important qualifying ratios.

  1. Debt-to-Income Ratio Generally the amount of debt you pay each month should not exceed 36 percent of your gross monthly income
  2. Housing Expense Ratio Most lenders will not approve your loan if the mortgage payment exceeds 28 to 33 percent of your gross monthly income

These are the first steps in determining how much you can afford when purchasing a new home. For more mortgage and finance information feel free to contact me at any time or visit my Finance Information page.

The Buyer's Responsibilities

by Samia S. Morgan
Your role during the escrow process should be an active one. Don’t wait for the seller to volunteer information – stay on top of it yourself and take reasonable care, along with me, your agent, to protect yourself.

For example, when you review the Transfer and Disclosure Statement, TDS, keep an eye out for questions answered "unknown" or left unanswered. Ask about them until you are satisfied with the answers.

Let's talk about your specific concerns or plans for the property. Concerned about the open parcel behind the house? Ask about it!

You may also wish to investigate the following non-physical conditions, including:

  • Governmental zoning, requirements and limitations
  • Governmental permits, inspections or certificates
  • Limitations, restrictions and requirements affecting use of the property
  • Rent and occupancy control
  • Schools
  • Proximity and adequacy of law enforcement, crime statistics, proximity of registered sex offenders (see section on Megan’s Law) and other criminals
  • Proximity to fire, police and other services
  • Proximity to commercial, industry or agricultural activities
  • Existing and proposed transportation, construction and development, which may affect noise, view or traffic, airport noise, or odor
  • Wild and domestic animals, other nuisances, hazards or circumstances
For Further Protection – Home Warranties: Home warranties have become a more popular option on homes for sale. For protection you may wish to have a home warranty that either you or the seller pays for. (It’s negotiable.) Warranties range in price from $300 - $600 and, for a fixed rate, generally cover limited aspects including plumbing, electrical, pest control and a host of other related areas. If you have a problem, generally you’ll pay $35-$50 to have a professional come out inspect and fix problems that are covered. Warranty agents typically are on hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your calls in emergencies.

How to Make Small Rooms Look Bigger - Top Ten Tips

by Samia S. Morgan

When deciding to sell your home it is important to take the steps necessary to ensure that the rooms in your home are properly “staged” to appeal to prospective buyers. This may harder than expected as we all have rooms in our home that may be on the smaller side and hard to decorate. What can really be done with a small room?

 

Below is a list of ten tips to help you open up the small spaces in your home to appear larger and inviting to prospective buyers.

 

 

  1. The use of light colors such as pastels, neutrals and white are a better alternative to “bright” or dark colors.

 

  1. For your furniture, rugs, etc. you should select different shades and textures of the one color you select from above.

 

  1. Lighting is critical when trying to create an illusion of a larger space. Recessed lighting is ideal for smaller spaces. In the event that this option is too costly, torchiere lighting is a viable alternative as the light bounces off the ceiling and back into the room.

 

  1. Declutter the room.

 

  1. A light colored floor and ceiling will open up the room and make it appear larger.

 

  1. Mirrors are a must as they add dimension to the room by reflecting images, light and colors. Mirrors provide a “see through” feel to the room.

 

  1. Remove large bulky furniture from the room. One or two smaller pieces placed closer to the walls are better than one large piece of furniture in the middle of the room.

 

  1. Don’t clutter the walls with a collection of pictures. Replace the many pictures with one larger picture or painting.

 

  1. Take advantage of the view of your yard and bring the outside in by allowing prospective buyers to see out into your flowerbeds or gardens.

 

  1. Glass tables such as a dining table, end table or coffee table will maintain the “open” and airy feel in a small space.

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