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Can a home depreciate in value? Generally, real property never depreciates in value, or more so, it is not very common for property to depreciate. This is why it's a great investment. Make sure you carefully consider location and community when choosing a home, it can effect the homes future value greatly. If you are in a newly developed area, do some research on the construction of the surrounding areas being developed to determine if they may effect your homes value.
How do I Find a good Agent? Good question! There are over 15,000 licensed real estate agents in Houston alone. Did you know that 90% of all real estate transactions are handled by 10% of the agents? Why is that you ask? There are a lot of short-timers in the business. Although it is relatively simple to get licensed, it is a very difficult to build a career. Because it is so difficult, many people drop out of the business within the first two years. You have heard that only the strong survive? It's especially true in the realtor world. Good news travels fast and bad news travels faster. A realtor who has withstood the test of time and has a sucessful practice is a safe bet. Have a friend or family member who just go licensed? Ask yourself this: Would I rather help my friend out or help myself out by hiring a top professional to assist me with the largest purchase I am likely to make. Take your friend or family member to lunch but trust your home purchase to a top professional. Of course, we would appreciate the opportunity to share our credentials with you when you're ready.
Is an older home as good a value as a new home? This is really just a matter of preference, but both newer and older homes offer distinct advantages, depending upon your unique taste and lifestyle. Older homes can generally cost less than new homes, however, there are many cases where new homes can also cost less then older homes. Most new homes will not have any backyard landscaping and some don''t include any front landscaping either. With an older home, the landscaping is normally already completed and could have 10''s of thousands of dollars in landscaping done, which is included in the purchase price. Taxes on some older homes may also be lower. Some people are charmed by the elegance of an older home but shy away because they''re concerned about potential maintenance costs. Consider a home warranty to get the peace of mind you deserve. A good Home Warranty plan protects you against unexpected repairs on many home systems and appliances for a full year or more after you move in. In a new house, you can pick your own color schemes, flooring, kitchen cabinets, appliances, custom wiring for TV''s, electrical, computers, phones and speakers, etc., as well as have more upgrade options. Modern features like media rooms, extra-large closets and extra-large bathrooms and tubs are also more attainable in ground-up construction. In a used home, you rely largely on the previous resident''s tastes and technological whims, unless you plan to farm thousands into a remodeling and rewiring. New-home designers can use new building materials such as glazed Energy Star windows, thicker insulation and other technology that will lower future energy costs for the owner. Most states now have minimum energy-efficiency requirements for new construction. Kitchens and laundry areas in new homes are designed to house more efficient energy-saving appliances. Older homes, unless they have undergone an energy retrofit, usually cost much more per square foot to air-condition and heat. Builders have to follow very strict guidelines in new-homes and additions, especially in the West and Northwest, where earthquake safety standards must be observed. In general, new homes are usually more fire-safe and better accommodating of new security and garage-door systems. Older homes can be better judged for their quality and timeless beauty. New homes that now possess a smooth veneer might reveal the use of substandard building materials or shoddy workmanship over time. As you can see there are advantages and dis-advantages to each, but it really comes down to what fits you and what you are looking for in a home.
What are closing costs? Closing costs are expenses incurred by buyers and sellers in transferring ownership of a property.
What are the steps that should be taken when buying a home?
What is a "One-Time Show" listing? With this type of listing the homeowner signs an agreement with the agent. What this agreement declares is the homeowner will provide the agent with a commission for selling the property. This agreement also states the homeowner cannot negotiate with the buyer at a later time to avoid paying a commission. This type of listing is most often used by agent showing FSBO (for sale by owner).
What is a broker? An agent who is authorized to open and run his/her own agency. All real estate offices have one principal broker.
What is a contingency? A contingency is a provision included in a sales contract stating that certain events must occur or certain conditions must be met before the contract is valid.
What is a debt-to-income ratio? A debt-to-income ratio is the percentage of a person’s monthly earnings used to pay off all debt obligations.
What is a Multiple Listing Service (MLS)? A multiple listing service is a computerized listing of the homes for sale in an area listed with a realtor. Agents are granted access to the MLS and can use it to find a house in a particular price range or area.
What is an escrow officer? An escrow officer is the person that walks you through the closing process. They are usually employed by the title company that you are working with. They are a neutral third-party, responsible for overseeing the escrow process. They typically perform the title searches, prepare final paperwork, witness the document signings as well as ensure that the transaction is executed properly and legally.
What is homeowners association (HOA)? Homeowners association is a nonprofit association that manages the common areas of a condominium or "planned unit development" (PUD). Unit owners pay a fee to the association in order to maintain areas such as a pool or playground that are owned jointly.
What is the difference between being prequalified and preapproved for a loan? If you're prequalified it means that you POTENTIALLY could get a loan for the amount stated to you, assuming that all of the information you provide to the bank is accurate and true. This is not as strong as a preapproval.
If you're preapproved, it means that you have undergone the extensive financial background check, which includes looking at your credit history, previous tax returns and verifying your employment - and the lender is willing to give you a loan, basically meaning you're approved!
You will usually be provided an accurate figure which shows the maximum amount that you are approved for. Most sellers prefer buyers that have been preapproved because they know that there will not be any problems with the purchase of their home.
What is the quickest way to find the right house for me? The quickest and easiest way to find the right home for you is to form a partnership with a good agent. A good real estate agent should be able to interview you to determine your needs and match those needs to the homes available. The agent should be able produce a report showing all homes that qualify. A good agent will also make sure your time is not wasted looking at homes that don't meet your requirements for pricing or schools. This is a partnership. Your role is to keep your eyes open for homes that interest you. If you see one, jot down the address and phone number and give this information to your agent to research.
Who pays the agent commission? Good news here! Except for a small transaction fee at closing, the Seller pays 100% of agents commissions (including a buyers agent!). Take advantage of this free representation!
What is title insurance? Title insurance is insurance that protects the lender and buyer against any losses incurred from disputes over the title of a property.
What steps can be taken to protect the buyer? A great question! Make sure your agent structures your offer so that it is contingent on a structural, mechanical, and termite inspection. This is done by paying a nominal option fee for the unrestricted right to terminate the contract whithin a short period of time. Usually 7 to 10 days. If you terminate the contract within this option period, you lose the option fee but get your earnest money back. Get your inspections right away after signing the purchase agreement. That way, you will have a few days to decide if you wish to go forward with the purchase. Keep in mind, you do have the right after inspections to negotiate which repairs the seller will make, or you can simply ask for a price reduction to cover the repairs. Make sure your agent structures your deal this way and you will be less likely to experience unknown problems with the home.
What's the Difference between a "Listing Agent" and "Selling Agent"? "Listing Agents" usually deal with sellers, and are the ones who will list a property for sale on the Multiple Listing Service. "Selling Agents" (also Buyers Agents) mostly deal with the homebuyers, usually only listing just a few homes for sale. They will sell the homes (which have been placed in the MLS) via the listing agents. The majority of agents will focus on one or the other. Some agents will also divide their time between sellers and buyers and are usually regarded as the best ones since they are dealing with both sides of the coin. If you phone an agent from a magazine or newspaper ad, you are usually contacting the listing agent. These agents will place ads to show the seller that they are making an effort to sell their home. Also their advertising efforts can draw others who may decide to sell their homes.
Why should I use a real estate agent? A real estate agent is more than just a sales person. A real estate agent may act on your behalf, providing you with advice and guidance when buying or selling a home. Due to the constant changing of the market, the information available on listings is not always 100% accurate. There are times when you need the most current information about what has sold or is for sale, and the only way to get that is with a real estate agent. If you are in the market to buy, it would be advisable to use a Buyer's Agent. They can make recommendations on what terms and prices to offer as well as negotiating a deal with your best interest in mind.
Can I back out of my contract with one buyer and accept a new, higher offer from a second buyer? It would be very unwise to try to back out of the contract because a purchase offer that's accepted is a legal contract that the buyer can seek legal remedies to enforce.
Is there a "best time" to put my house on the market? Along with economic factors such as supply and demand, the time of year you choose to sell can impact both the length of time it takes to sell your home and its ultimate selling price. Typically, the real estate market picks up around February, continues strong through late May and June, and tapers off during July and August. The summer is usually the busiest time for moving since school is out and buyers may be looking to get their children in school before the new school year. September through November generally marks a rally not as strong as late winter and spring, followed by a slowdown from Thanksgiving through and beyond the Christmas and New Year holiday period.
During showings on my home, should I stay or should I go? When agents are showing your home to a prospective buyer, sellers often wonder should they stay or should they go? Some reasons sellers want to stay are because they think agents and buyers won't be able to find everything, that they must be there to point out important features. Truthfully, most just want to be present to see buyer reaction firsthand. Perhaps You Should Go...Sellers should be aware that at the very least buyers feel uncomfortable when they are present, and that it can actually kill a sale. Buyers often won't even open closet or cabinet doors when the seller is home, and when they cannot view a house comfortably, they'll hurry up and move on to the next one. Sellers want to talk, and not just about the house. You never know when a buyer will be turned off by the mood of the seller, or by a statement the seller makes. Buyers are there to look at the house, not chit chat about hobbies or the weather or worse--politics and other controversial topics. If you (the seller) must be home during a showing, perhaps just go outside, take the dog for a walk or stay put in one location, do not wander around with the agent and buyers.
How does a good first impression help sell your house? It can't be overstated—when it comes to buying a house, the first impression is everything. If you're selling or getting ready to sell in the coming months, one of the easiest and most dramatic ways to enhance that first impression is through paint. Fresh paint makes your house look clean, bright, and inviting. Painting your house's exterior and interior before you put it on the market give the biggest bang for your fix-up buck. Agents agree that sellers shouldn't take curb appeal lightly, especially when so many buyers are doing their homework and looking at the exterior of houses before they even contact an agent. If nothing else, paint at least the door, door frame, and foyer or first room the would-be buyers will see.
How much commission is charged and when is that paid? Although fully negotiable, the customary commission paid in Houston, Texas is 6%.Some agents charge more because they are worth more, and some charge less because they should! The commission is not normally paid until the house is sold and is usually paid from the seller's proceeds at closing. Most brokers are also charging a small transaction fee (usually less than $200) which is also charged at closing. This fee helps offset the costly practice of maintaining your sales records for many years to come. There are other payment programs available such as flat rate listing services and per hour charges. Ask your broker if you are interested in these plans.
How should I price my home? You must take into account the prevailing state of the real estate market and especially local market conditions. The real estate market continually changes, and market fluctuations affect property values. So it is critical to determine your listing price based on the most recent comparable sales in your neighborhood. It would be a good idea to get a Home Value Request, or CMA, also known as Comparable Market Analysis.
What are comparables or comps? These are referred to as recently sold properties that are similar in size, location, and amenities to the home for sale. These properties help an appraiser determine the fair market value of a property.
What are disadvantages of pricing my home on the high end? Well, several factors may come into play:
It is not recommended to sell your home any higher than the appraised value unless demand is high in your area. Ask you real estate agent which price would be right for your home. Also make sure you get a Home Value Request to assist in determining the best sales price for your home.
What are some tips on showing my home?
What home preparation tips get the most bang for the buck? The following things listed in order of importance will help you sell the home. You must absolutely do items one thru four. If on a limited budget, do as many of the next few things you can.
What is a counteroffer? A counteroffer is an offer made by one party that makes changes to the original or latest offer of the other party.
Who is responsible for making repairs, if any, as a result of home inspection reports conducted for the buyer? Because the buyer orders one or more home inspections doesn't obligate the seller to make repairs or modifications as a result of those inspections. Typically, however, inspection reports are used to negotiate repairs of major problems, or environmental or safety hazards that may be noted. The purchase contract should provide guidance for these negotiations.
Why should I use a real estate agent? A real estate agent is more than just a sales person. A real estate agent may act on your behalf, providing you with advice and guidance when buying or selling a home. Due to the constant changing of the market, the information available on listings is not always 100% accurate. There are times when you need the most current information about what has sold or is for sale, and the only way to get that is with a real estate agent. You don't need to use a commissioned real estate agent to sell your home, but you may want to consider the benefits of having a real estate agent versus not using a real estate agent. In addition, many people would rather use an Agent due to the complexities of modern Real Estate transactions since they usually incorporate legal and financial attributes, which takes them well beyond more simple transactions, such as the sale of an automobile. There are several advantages when using a real estate agent to sell your home, such as - your listing will be added to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so that large numbers of buyers will have access to the seller's property. In addition, your real estate agent absorbs all of the cost of advertising and marketing, and the screening that will be done of potential buyers by Agents. The Agent will also handle the details of negotiation. Deciding whether to use an Agent or not depends on if you feel fully confident that you can handle all of the details, then you may well want to attempt selling your house on your own. If not, you most likely will want to use a real estate agent and leave the details to them.
Will you list my home for a lower commission? I normally answer the question with a hypothetical question of my own. Let's suppose Joe's boss came to him and said 'Joe, I've got a special job for you. Now Joe, I want you give me 150% on this, or else! And oh, by the way, you will be paid half your normal salary on this job. What do you think Joe? Will you take it?' Now we all know how much motivation Joe is going to have for this special job. Is this the level of motivation you want your marketing specialist/negotiator to have while selling your home?
Another thing to consider. If your agent can not even defend the value of his own services, how do you expect this agent to defend the value of your home? Is this agent willing to give his money away just before he give yours away? Do you think an agent could cost you thousands more than he saves you on commission? You bet! You deserve someone that has strong marketing and negotiation skills. Someone who will be able to get your home sold even when problems arise. When you are faced with moving your entire household, and your life is upside down, you will be glad you went with top line services instead of trusting the task to a less experienced agent for a few dollars less. If the commission is the most important issue for you then perhaps you should consider a discount broker who will put your home in the MLS for a flat rate. If the going gets tough, however, (70% of the time it does) don't expect the discount broker to bail you out. A top professional can actually help you net more in your pocket than the incremental cost of service. Give us a call and we will be glad to share our credentials and proven marketing strategies with you.