Definition and Obligations of a Dual Real Estate Agent

Another important step in their life togetherWhether you’ve decided to purchase a new home or list yours for sale, you’ll need to hire an experienced real estate agent. Selling and buying homes can be stressful, so you need to be able to trust and rely on your real estate agent to do what’s in your best interest, even if they’re acting as a dual agent.

While ‘dual agent’ might be a confusing term, it’s quite simple — the real estate agent is working for both the buyer and the seller of the home. As both parties will have a lot at stake, this could be perceived as a conflict of interest. Below are some of a dual agent’s obligations which are put in place to prevent a conflict of interest.

  • An agent should disclose dual agency – As soon as a real estate agent realizes that a buyer is seriously interested in a property on which they have a signed contract, they should immediately be honest with both parties about the possibility of dual agency.
  • Dual agents should represent both parties fairlyreal estate agents are ethically obligated to treat both the buyer and the seller equally should a dual agency occur.
  • Duel agents cannot disclose personal information – A dual agent cannot tell the other party about any personal issues associated with the selling or buying of the house, such as a divorce or financial distress. This is important because one party should not have the upper hand during negotiations.

If two agents within the same agency represent the buyer and seller, the transaction is still considered a dual agency.

It’s completely normal to be wary of a dual agency when it comes to selling or purchasing a home with a real estate agent. However, it is fairly common, and as long as all parties are treated equally, it usually works out quite well.

If you’re not comfortable with a dual agency arrangement, tell your real estate agent that you prefer to have him or her work exclusively for you. If he or she is unwilling to do that, find a new agent.

If you’d like to work with a professional real estate agent who always puts your best interests first, please give me a call or email me today.

Prepare Your Home For Inspection

Vent Pipe InspectionIf your home is on the market, you know there’s an inspection in your future. With that in mind, plan to spend a week or so getting ready for the inspection.

  1. Make sure the inspector has access to all areas of your home. Here are some of the most important places:
    1. Attic. If your attic is accessed through a closet, take time to clear away clutter so the inspector can get up there quickly and easily. Have a ladder at the ready if needed.
    2. Basement. Clear everything away from the exterior walls of the basement so they can be seen.
    3. Utilities. Clear around the furnace, air conditioner, water heater and circuit breaker boxes.
    4. Foundation. Clear brush away from the foundation.
  2. Keep electricity on. If your home is vacant, be sure to have the electricity turned on when the inspector comes. Otherwise many aspects of the inspection can’t be done, causing delay.
  3. Keep pilot lights lit. Again, if the home is vacant, make sure to have any gas appliances on to avoid delays in the inspection process.
  4. Print and copy documents of any mechanical upgrades and maintenance.
  5. Replace furnace filters.
  6. Replace burned out light bulbs.
  7. Check all receptacles. If any aren’t working, it could be a simple fix for a few dollars.

You don’t want any question marks on your home inspection report. This could be a perceived as a black mark against your home. Most sellers get nervous about the home inspection, but with these tips in mind, you can pave the way to a smooth, one-time process that is just another step in moving on.

Spring Clean for a Quick Real Estate Sale

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith the first day of spring rapidly approaching, get in the spirit and do a little spring cleaning — especially if you’re putting your home on the market. It’s important for real estate to be clean and clutter-free in order to show better and sell quicker.

Whether you’re still living in the home or have completely moved out, there are many things you can do before the first open house to ensure everything is showing at its best. Below is a list that every real estate agent would love to see when they first evaluate real estate. 

  • Paint walls neutral colors. If your house has a ‘clinically white’ feeling or is on a psychedelic color spree, you’ll need to paint the rooms a neutral beige, tan or gray. Even if your rooms are already neutral, you might consider a new coat of paint to hide marks and give it a fresh feel.
  • Remove clutter and stage your home. You hear this over and over when it comes to preparing a house for sale. Sometimes it goes in one ear and right out the other. Leave just a few of your children’s favorite toys and make sure even the closet floors are bare. Take this one seriously — rent a storage unit if you need to — it’s usually worth the cost.
  • Straighten everything. Take the time to align your bookshelves, organize your closet and clean out your pantry. You can clean and dust nooks and crannies as you go.
  • Wipe down EVERY surface. Sellers often get to the counters and windows, but usually miss the baseboards and window frames. Any amount of dirt reminds buyers of the people who currently live there instead of envisioning themselves in the space. Plus, everything will smell clean, which is very inviting!

While it may be hard to maintain some of these tips if you’re still living in the home, try your best and you won’t be living there long! If you’d like more spring cleaning tips or are getting ready to sell your real estate, please or email me for more information.

The Five-Year Rule for Home Ownership

Property investmentWhen considering whether you should purchase a new home, you want to take into consideration the five-year rule. That’s the minimum number of years many experts believe you need to own a home in order to break even on it when you sell it. Some experts are now suggesting seven years, but in this article I’ll be talking about the five-year rule.

What happens if you own your home for less than five years? Often, you’ll lose money because:

  1. You pay thousands of dollars in closing costs each time you buy property. That money does not build equity or increase the value of your home in any way.
  2. In the first five years of your home loan, a much higher percentage of your monthly mortgage payment goes toward interest than toward paying down the principal of the loan balance.

How do you beat the five-year rule?

  1. Purchase a property you intend to fix up and rent it out at a rate equal to or higher than the mortgage payment.
  2. Buy towards the lower end of what you can afford, and make extra payments to pay down the principal.

Why own for five years minimum?

  1. After five years, due to the structure of amortized mortgages, the cost of owning a home equates to the cost of renting.
  2. The five-year mark is where you typically start to build equity in your home.
  3. Rental prices continue to rise; eventually your mortgage payment could be less than a rent payment.

Six Home Staging Tips

Modern bathroom corner decoratedIf you are about to put your home on the market, it’s worth investing some time and a small amount of money in staging. It not only helps your home sell faster, but it can also help you get a higher price for your home.

Here are six staging tips:

  1. Banish clutter – Removing excess clutter is the single most important thing you can do when staging your home. Clean, open space will sell your home. Non-descript, non-threatening décor allows people to envision living in your home and putting their individual stamp on the place. Ogling your collection of troll dolls, no matter how much they may be worth, will interfere with this process. Consider putting excess possessions in storage and keeping out only what is absolutely necessary.
  2. Clean living – It should go without saying; scrub every inch of your home. Nothing kills a sale faster than roaches scurrying across the floor.
  3. Mirror, mirror on the wall – Mirrors add light and space to small dark rooms and literally allow buyers to see themselves living in the home.
  4. Repaint in neutral colors – When you move into your new home, feel free to paint every room chartreuse and fuchsia if you’d like, but for staging purposes, stick with muted, light colors. White in bathrooms is particularly recommended, as it suggests cleanliness.
  5. Don’t forget the yard – Twenty dollars’ worth of mulch and a few fresh plants can give a clean look to shabby flower beds and save you weeding time. And don’t forget to declutter the yard as well – that battered old swing set the kids used 20 years ago isn’t adding to the curb appeal of your home.
  6. Disguise detracting elements – Some elements you can’t fix – your neighbor’s dreadful rusting car collection, for instance. But you can put up fences or blinds that block less appealing views and make your home a peaceful oasis that buyers are anxious to purchase.

If you’re looking for more information on selling your home, I can help. Give me a call or email today.

Six Home Staging Tips

Modern bathroom corner decoratedIf you are about to put your home on the market, it’s worth investing some time and a small amount of money in staging. It not only helps your home sell faster, but it can also help you get a higher price for your home.

Here are six staging tips:

  1. Banish clutter – Removing excess clutter is the single most important thing you can do when staging your home. Clean, open space will sell your home. Non-descript, non-threatening décor allows people to envision living in your home and putting their individual stamp on the place. Ogling your collection of troll dolls, no matter how much they may be worth, will interfere with this process. Consider putting excess possessions in storage and keeping out only what is absolutely necessary.
  2. Clean living – It should go without saying; scrub every inch of your home. Nothing kills a sale faster than roaches scurrying across the floor.
  3. Mirror, mirror on the wall – Mirrors add light and space to small dark rooms and literally allow buyers to see themselves living in the home.
  4. Repaint in neutral colors – When you move into your new home, feel free to paint every room chartreuse and fuchsia if you’d like, but for staging purposes, stick with muted, light colors. White in bathrooms is particularly recommended, as it suggests cleanliness.
  5. Don’t forget the yard – Twenty dollars’ worth of mulch and a few fresh plants can give a clean look to shabby flower beds and save you weeding time. And don’t forget to declutter the yard as well – that battered old swing set the kids used 20 years ago isn’t adding to the curb appeal of your home.
  6. Disguise detracting elements – Some elements you can’t fix – your neighbor’s dreadful rusting car collection, for instance. But you can put up fences or blinds that block less appealing views and make your home a peaceful oasis that buyers are anxious to purchase.

If you’re looking for more information on selling your home, I can help. Give me a call or email today.

Where Are Home Prices And Interest Rates Headed

Is it a good time to buy or sell a home? In this video, I will discuss my opinion on this topic as well as some statistics that will help you make an educated decision.

Real Estate Agent Acronyms

Group Of Businesspeople Holding Model HouseWhether you’re looking to buy or sell a home, finding the perfect real estate agent can be tough. The process is often overwhelming and you want to ensure that you have the right person by your side — someone who’s trustworthy, hard-working and knows what they’re doing!

That is why it’s extremely important to do your research thoroughly when it comes to real estate agents. You need to interview several agents, follow through on referrals and ensure they have the proper credentials.

All the acronyms after agents’ names can be confusing, so here are a few that describe specializations you might need:

  • SRES – This stands for Senior Real Estate Specialist. The SRES designation is for agents who work with buyers and sellers over the age of 55. If you’re over the age of 55 or are helping your parents who are over the age of 55 buy or sell, you may want to find an agent with an SRES designation.
  • NAR’s Green Designation – This designation means the agent has had training in green building qualifications and sustainable business practices. Look for an agent with these acronyms if green living is on your home checklist.
  • SFR – This acronym stands for Short Sale & Foreclosure Resource – As the certification indicates, these are agents who specialize in short sales and foreclosures. With the economy forcing many homeowners into one of these categories, it could be valuable to have an expert with this designation to help you successfully navigate the tricky processes.
  • CDPE – This acronym stands for Certified Distressed Property Expert. These agents specialize in short sale and bank owned properties.

Just because agents have an acronym or two or three after their names doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right fit for you. However, the designations can give you some clues as to their level of knowledge and areas in which they specialize.

If you have more questions about real estate acronyms and designations or are looking for a qualified, professional real estate agent, please call or email me today.

Setting the Stage to Sell Your Home

Modern Bedroom with hardwood floor - Stock Image_iStock_000046614628_MediumReal estate professionals call it staging, or showcasing, the best features of your home to get top dollar when you sell. Selling your home is a lot like romance; it pays to set the mood.

Here are some tips to make your home show ready:

  1. Clear out as much furniture as you can: Donate it, put it in storage, or have a garage sale. Your home needs to look spacious, not cluttered.
  2. Nix the cigarettes: Buyers are sensitive to cigarette smells. Many buyers will not even tour a home if they smell cigarette smoke.
  3. Let there be light: Open the blinds and turn on the lights. If the whole house is dark, that’s a problem.
  4. Get a home inspection: Do it now so you’re aware of any problems and can make any necessary repairs — before you put it on the market.
  5. Learn to love white walls: Color is popular, but the next buyer may not like your colors. Stick with neutrals that allow the potential buyer to picture their furniture in your home.
  6. Look closely at the carpet: Have carpets shampooed to get out any stains and smells. Replace it if that does not work. Don’t forget to keep colors neutral as well.
  7. Clean out closets: Partially empty closets and cabinets spell “roomy” and sell space to potential buyers. Sell or put in storage any clothing that is not being worn. Donate extra clothes or surplus food and you won’t have to move it to your new home.
  8. Keep it clean: No dust, cobwebs or trash. Potential buyers of your real estate are very observant.
  9. Harness flower power: Plant bright colored flowers outside and put flowers inside in vases, on a kitchen table or on the mantle. Flowers make buyers think the home owner is someone who cares about the small things.

Thinking of selling your home? Call or email me today.

Real Estate Contract Contingencies

Sale of real propertyWhether you’ve bought and sold a dozen homes or you’re a first-time home buyer, you probably know that after you purchase real estate, there is usually no option to return or exchange it. Because of this finality, you need to be sure your contract spells out all the conditions you want met before the deal can close. In real estate contracts, these conditions are called contingencies.

Contingencies are the requirements that both the buyer and the seller must meet in order for the closing contract to be valid. If something does not meet specific criteria, the contract must be renegotiated or it becomes null. Below is a list of contract contingencies every buyer should include in their bid — so that you don’t end up with an unexpected fixer-upper on your hands!

  • Home Inspection Contingency – This is a really important contingency because you want to make sure there are no problems with the real estate. If any serious problems are discovered, such as wood-destroying pests, lead-based paint or a damaged roof, you can renegotiate your contract to account for the costs you’ll incur during repairs.
  • Loan Contingency – This allows the buyer to shop around for a loan so they can get financed under a particular interest rate and not get locked into high mortgage payments they cannot afford. If a buyer can’t secure a loan that meets the contingency parameters, then the contract can be voided.
  • Home Insurance Contingency – This means that you’re asking the seller to provide proof that the home is currently insured. This is needed because, in recent years, homeowners living in states with a history of toxic household mold, earthquakes or hurricanes, have been surprised to receive a flat out “no” from insurance providers. You want to make certain that the home is insurable before you buy it. If there are serious issues with the home, insurance companies might reject it or charge astronomical rates.

If you would like to know more about contingencies or need help buying or selling real estate, please call or email me today.