Real Estate Corner

Q. I’m thinking of buying a home soon.  Should I get a Buyer’s Agent, or should I go it alone?

A. I recommend getting a Buyer’s Agent because the agent will be specifically representing you, and, because a Buyer’s Agent generally gets paid by the seller, you pay no commission.  A Buyer’s Agent will take time to help you find the type of home you want, in the location you want, and the properties that fit your particular needs and desires.  Research by the National Association of REALTORS® reveals that buyers find their home faster when they use a Buyer’s Agent.

A Buyer’s Agent can also help you with financing your home.  The agent will determine how much you can afford and help you become pre-qualified to purchase a home.  Getting pre-qualified puts you in a stronger negotiating position by letting the seller know you are serious and able to purchase the home.  You hire a Buyer’s Agent by signing an agency agreement, which is legal and binding. If you have questions about Buyer Agency, or if you are buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 541-441-8930.

Real Estate Corner…

Q. My wife and I are interested in investing in real estate.  What should we know before we jump in and put down our money?

A. Investing in real estate can be a very profitable investment, but there are a few things you should know. • Financing investment properties may have a higher interest rate than in a home where you reside.  You also may be required by the lending institution to have a larger down payment. • The secret to making money is to buy right.  Choose a property that will appreciate over time.  You want to buy an “average” home in a very strong neighborhood or area – then improve the property.  Be particularly careful about the location of the property, and any future changes to the area. • If you are handy at making repairs, and available to make them, buying a fix-up property can be profitable.  Make sure you choose a neighborhood where the houses are well-maintained at a higher value. • Lastly, you’ll need to become knowledgeable about landlord tenant legal issues whether you lease the property yourself, or enlist a management company to handle your property.

Real Estate Corner…

Q. I’d like to do a makeover on my house and make it the look more luxurious, but I don’t have a lot of money to spend.  What do you suggest?

A. 1) You can make your home look more luxurious with a fresh coat of paint and a little bit of creativity.  Try the new faux treatments and other new painting techniques.  Your local home improvement store-brand paint usually runs about $30 per 5 gallons. Give your kitchen cabinets a clean, quick makeover by applying a coat of flat primer. After it dries apply a top coat of semi-gloss latex enamel.  Another trick: add crown molding where the wall meets the ceiling for a elegant style. Kits are available at home improvement stores.

2)  Ceramic tile flooring can add luxury to your entryways, kitchens and bathrooms for $2-3 per sq. ft. If you’re handy, you can do the work yourself; otherwise installation is usually $2.50-3.50 per sq. ft.

3)  New overhead lighting fixtures can change the look of a room and create a luxurious ambiance.  Shop for off brands or contractor packs at home improvement stores that’ll save you money.

Real Estate Corner…

Q. I’m looking for a larger house and will be selling my current home.  I keep seeing “Value-Range Pricing.”  I’m confused.  What is Value-Range Pricing, and what should I know about it?

A. Value-Range Pricing is a relatively new pricing strategy that is popular in some parts of the country.  Typically, most houses are sold when the seller lists their home with a fixed price based on an analysis of similar properties in the area.

Some real estate agents now use Value-Range Pricing as a marketing strategy when selling a home.  Instead of a fixed price, a house is listed within a particular price range. For example, a range price of $260,000 to $290,000 would bring in more potential buyers (and potentially more offers) than a fixed price listing.

There are additional terms that can be negotiated beyond the price:  closing dates, costs, home warranties, or title insurance.  One word of caution: homes that are Value-Range Priced don’t necessarily sell more quickly, or at a higher price, than fixed priced homes.

Real Estate Corner…

Q.  I’m in trouble with my mortgage. How can I get help? 

A.  If you don’t know where to turn for reliable answers or need to sort through your options, turn to these experts for advice:

1. Your REALTOR® can determine the current value of your home and review your options if you owe more than the home is worth.  Knowledgeable agents can also explain more about government programs available today. 2. A Foreclosure Counselor will help you evaluate your current financial situation by reviewing your monthly expenses and income.  They can also identify assistance programs and serve as an advocate with your bank, free of charge. 3. A Tax Expert may be needed if you decide to do a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure as forgiveness of debt is sometimes considered taxable income. 4. A Credit Counselor can help develop a plan to avoid future financial difficulty and work to repair your credit score if you’ve already missed payments. 5. An Attorney can help if your lender has filed a foreclosure lawsuit.  They can review the lender’s paperwork and see if the loan servicing company made a mistake in applying payments or assessing fees.

Real Estate Corner…

Q.  Should I buy a short sale property?

A.  In a short sale, a buyer pays less than the amount a seller owes the lender. When home values are dropping, homeowners might find they owe more on their mortgage than their home will sell for.  In these cases, lenders will sometimes accept less than the amount owed on the home, assuming the homeowners don’t have other assets that can be sold.

The question you have to ask yourself is: Are you really getting a great deal?  If the house was purchased at the peak of rising home values, the homeowners might have paid a premium price for the property.  If values are dropping, the lender may only be able to discount the property to current market values, so you wouldn’t be getting a bargain at all.  Here are some tips:

• Know what similar houses on the market are selling for. • Find out how long the home has been on the market and make sure you get good inspections.  A seller in financial trouble often can’t keep up with repairs. • Remember the lender will be looking for a better deal than a short sale so he or she probably will not instantly agree. • Make sure you have an attorney experienced in this sort of sale.

Real Estate Corner…

Q.  What do I need to know about buying “As Is” property?

A.  An “As Is” property could be a foreclosed property, part of an estate or a house where the owner can’t afford to make repairs.

Your first step is to work with a good real estate agent. The agent can set up a home inspection, which is particularly important with an “As Is.” You need to know if the place just needs carpet and paint or if mechanical systems like heating or plumbing need to be replaced. The roof’s condition is also a factor.

Arrange to be present when the home inspection is made so you can talk with the inspector. Make sure the utilities are on for the inspection.

If you’re still interested after the inspection results, it’s time to make an offer. Because a defect could be found after the inspection and before closing, have your agent include a statement that says you have the right to withdraw your offer and have your earnest money returned if a defect becomes evident before the closing date. Be cautious in each step of the buying process, and you could get a valuable property for a bargain price.

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