Tag Archive for real estate

Improvements That Increase Your Home’s Value

Asian Chinese little girl playing in toy house
This year, if you’re looking to increase the value of your home but are unsure what home improvements to make, think curb appeal.
According to a recent report from Remodeling magazine, curb appeal projects, such as changes to windows, siding, and doors, lead to a higher return on investment (ROI) than interior improvements.
Over the past 30 years, Remodeling has compared the average cost of improvement projects with their value at resale, based on the experience of real estate professionals. The magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report supports the generally held opinion that today’s home buyers, while still enthusiastic about the bells and whistles, want to ensure their homes are structurally sound with all systems functioning efficiently.
Remodeling’s projects include a basement remodel, an entry door that was replaced with 20 gauge steel, and the addition of stone veneer. All of the 29 projects tracked returned on average 64.3 cents per dollar spent.
Among the trends, the higher return of curb appeal projects and projects that required the replacing of windows, doors, etc. Replacement projects generally scored higher than remodeling projects; the ROI of replacement was 74% and of remodels was 63.7%.
As in the previous year, adding loose fill insulation to the attic returned 107.7% and was the only project on the list whose value exceeded its cost. Steel door replacement and addition of stone veneer also paid off, at 90.7% and 89.4% respectively. Interestingly, these are among the cheapest projects, although their costs were up over the previous year.
Those who want to tackle an interior project might do well to consider a basement remodel, providing it’s done well; a high-end basement remodel was perceived as high value, returning 7.4% more than the same project last year, while a mid-range basement remodeling project only increased in value by 3.3% over the previous year.
Something to consider when you’re planning your next home improvement project.
 

Home Shopping? Ask the Right Questions

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When shopping for a new home, it’s easy to fall in love. You can find yourself dazzled by the sprawling backyard, trendy kitchen, or sky-high ceilings, and want to make an offer right then and there.
But it’s important to take a step back and take the time to evaluate the perhaps less-exciting details. These often overlooked details may ultimately lead to significant, costly issues. Here’s what to look for and how to get beyond the WOWs:
  • Windows: Does every window open? For emergency reasons, every room needs a window that can be opened. Do they close and lock securely? Is the glass intact? Is there a tight thermal seal (which is important to regulate temperature)?
  • Flooring: Look for cracks, stains, holes, and warping. Ask if there’s another layer of flooring under carpet, tile, or laminate. Is the floor level? If not, it might be an indication of water, or worse, structural problems.
  • Basement: That beautifully finished basement could be hiding a plethora of problems, from leaks to mold to holes to critter infestations. Use a powerful flashlight to carefully examine corners and walls and look behind and under finishings.
  • Roof: Roof replacements are costly. Find out when the roof was last addressed, and whether it was a patch or a replacement. Look for signs of damage from the street.
  • Neighborhood: Look beyond the obvious into the details: Is local traffic a nightmare in rush hour? Is there reliable transit nearby? Is the home near green space, schools, and recreational facilities?
  • Parking: If the house doesn’t have a garage, will the driveway accommodate your vehicles? Is there good on-street visitors’ parking?
Even after you’ve checked the details, make your offer contingent on a home inspection. A reliable home inspector can dig deeper into the details. Isn’t your peace of mind worth it?

What A Beautiful Outside Can Do For Your Home’s Inside

GRH_BlogPost_How Great Landscaping Says Come Inside

Creating an inviting landscape not only ensures a positive first impression with buyers, but may also increase your home’s value and lead to a quicker sale. You don’t have to spend a lot to make big improvements in your home’s curb appeal. Keeping your lawn manicured – mowed and edged – and trimming bushes and trees is an inexpensive way to make a positive impression on buyers. You’ll also want to remove any dead or diseased plants and ensure beds are weeded and freshly mulched.

Before beginning any landscape project, make a plan. And if you live in a neighborhood with restrictive covenants requiring approval by a landscape committee, be sure to follow proper procedures to avoid spending money on projects that you may be forced to undo later. A project plan will also help ensure that you make wise choices and stay within your budget.
Use color and depth to create visual interest, and select a variety of plants that bloom or change color throughout the year so your yard will be attractive regardless of the season. If your yard is open to your neighbors’ yards, a street, or public areas, consider screening to create a more private space. This can be accomplished naturally with evergreen trees and bushes, or with an attractive fence.

Sometimes what you remove from a yard can be as important as what you put in. If the front of your home is obscured by overgrown trees or bushes, remove them or trim them back to help buyers get a clear view of your home. Remember that the goal is to create a welcoming first impression that says, “Come in!”

Trends in Landscaping:

  • Low maintenance vegetation: less lawn to mow, helps keep weeds in check.
  • More trees: enhance beauty and provide shade.
  • Decks, patios, and terraces: an outdoor living space for entertaining and relaxing.
  • Outdoor lighting: provides enticing views of your home and landscaping at night.
  • Irrigation system: costs more but simplifies lawn care and is attractive to buyers.

How an ‘Open House’ Can Sell Your Home

Asian Chinese little girl playing in toy house

With the popularity of online shopping and virtual tours, some people are of the opinion that an open house is a waste of time. However, sellers should think twice before discounting this time-tested strategy. Here are some things you need to know about hosting an open house!

 

What Is an Open House?

Unlike an individual showing, an open house allows anyone to view the home, whether they currently work with an agent or not. It’s an excellent way to attract buyers new to the market or just beginning a search, those without an agent, and even sporadic buyers who aren’t necessarily in the market but share the information with family and friends.

Who Should Host an Open House?

Hosting an open house is not for the novice. Real estate agents not only provide the marketing, scheduling and even security advice, but make sure the home is properly presented to prospective buyers who decide to drop in and see the home.

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How Do Open Houses Sell a Home?

Higher-Priced Homes: An open house is often effective in helping to sell homes priced above the median average for a given location, especially when used in combination with the Multiple Listing Service and online listings.

Tough Market: In 2005, more than 50% of sellers used an open house, with various degrees of success. However, that rate has declined in part due to the numerous foreclosures on the market. Unfortunately for sellers, trying to compete on price alone is difficult – and costly. Instead, use an open house to showcase the property and the neighborhood. It’s one more way to help your house stand out from the crowd in a buyer’s market.

Unique or Uncommon Features: Without doubt, one of the most important reasons to hold an open house is to showcase a unique property or special features that are difficult to communicate or conceptualize. Sometimes it really is necessary to see a property to believe it, and an open house allows the buyer to fall in love at first sight by experiencing it firsthand.

Agents: Learn How To Boost Your Referral Network

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This featured Article from Realtor Magazine by Ian Grace covers how you can grow your referral network to expand your reach and market. As a registered agent with Guidance Realty you are already one step ahead. Our program’s premise is to help build your referral network and increase your closings. Read more

Thinking of Buying a Fixer-Upper? How to Do It Right

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With proper due diligence and the right real estate agent, buying a fixer-upper can be a satisfying and lucrative experience. Buying a bad one, though, can lead to disaster. Here are some tips to help you avoid problems:

Location: A bad house in a desirable neighborhood is almost guaranteed to pay big dividends for the savvy buyer. Here’s where a good real estate agent – as a specialist in local neighborhoods – can be worth his or her weight in gold.

Mass Appeal: You’ll want to look for a home that appeals to the largest number of buyers. That means three or more bedrooms and more than one bathroom.

Sensible Layout: Look past the current floor plan and figure out how the home will work. Today’s buyers look for openness and rooms that flow seamlessly.

Bang for Buck: Avoid costly makeovers like shoring up sagging foundations. Instead, think cosmetic fixes. Plaster and paint, new bathroom fixtures, and even a new roof and energy-saving windows are relatively inexpensive and can turn your ugly duckling into a beautiful swan.

Potential Problems: An investment in a good home inspector can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. You can try requesting a home inspection and a roof certification as part of the deal. Ask your real estate agent about any nearby landfills, reports of contamination and other conditions that could affect resale value. You may even want a structural engineer to examine the property as a condition of sale.

Now that you’ve gathered more information, how do you begin?  Let Guidance Realty Homes guide you toward finding the latest information about neighborhoods. Our real estate agents are valuable sources of information that can help you decide between two neighborhoods that on the surface, may seem very similar. Finding the right neighborhood definitely requires some homework, but it definitely will be worth it. If your future home happens to be in Orlando, FL, NY Metro area, Northern Virginia, Maryland or Chicago, Guidance Realty Homes can help. Guidance Realty Homes’ buyers receive a commission rebate of the purchase price by using our agents. Plus, buyers can also receive an additional $350 appraisal credit when financing online with Guidance Residential.

Real Estate Resolutions: Tips for Homebuyers

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Planning to buy in 2016? Preparation is the key to getting the best deal when shopping for a new home. Following are some tips to help you get started:

Define Needs Versus Wants: Make a list of your needs versus wants in the new home. For example, if you have a large and growing family then four bedrooms might be a necessity, while a pool might be negotiable.

Select a Location: Spend some time driving around town, researching schools and local amenities, crime rates, and other safety considerations. Select three to five areas to focus your search on.

Get Pre-Qualified: Find out how much you will be eligible to borrow and begin the paperwork so you are prepared to move quickly should a great deal arise.

Contact an Agent: Ask family and friends, perform a search for real estate agents that specialize in your target area, or consider using the services of a buyer’s agent. Let them know the price range you have been approved for, the type of home and zip codes of interest.

Read, Set and Search: Sign up for automatic listing notifications and begin viewing prospective properties online. Ask your agent for additional photos, virtual tour links and a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange report, if available, which gives the insurance claim and loss history for residential properties. Once you find a property of interest, take a few minutes to google it before actually driving out in person. It’s often easy to see areas of concern from an aerial view as opposed to in person.

 

If the areas that you are looking to purchase your dream home is within Greater Orlando, NY-metro and Northern Virginia area, start the step now at Guidance Realty Homes. Our agents will be able to help you prepare to become a home owner in 2016!

 

Telltale Signs That Make a Home a Great Buy

If you’re looking for the perfect house in a good neighborhood at a great price, you may have to compromise to get what you want. Following are some things to consider:

Décor: You may cringe at the ’60s shag rugs, flocked wallpaper and lime green living room, but cosmetic changes cost very little and can transform the total look of a home.

Appliances and Fixtures: The avocado-colored appliances and brown bathroom fixtures may cost more to replace, but if this is your dream house it’s a sound investment. An addition will also boost the value of your property while making it more livable for you and your family.

However, there could be unseen problems to be concerned with, like mold, critters or cracked foundations so make sure you have a professional carefully assess your potential purchase.

Following are some things to look for before you sign on the dotted line:

  • Signs of water damage
  • Out-of-date fuse boxes
  • Recent – and badly done – wall or ceiling patching jobs (inside and out)
  • Signs of neglect such as cracked walkways and sagging decks
  • Sagging roofs, shingle loss or chimneys with bricks missing. In the attic there may be traces of animal life, damp patches or recent stains.
  • Ill-fitting windows, outside walls that feel icy in winter and other possible signs of insulation problems

A professional real estate agent can help you throughout the process of finding your home and guide you through a home inspection. For knowledgeable agents in Orlando, FL, NY-Metro, Northern Virginia, Maryland or Chicago, call a Guidance Realty Homes agent today. Guidance Realty Homes agents can help you navigate the waters and can show you a variety of choices that fit your unique needs. Buyers who use our agents receive a commission rebate off the purchase price plus an additional $350 appraisal credit when financing online with our affiliate Guidance Residential.

Buying That First Home? Here’s What You Should Know

First Buyer New House

Taking that initial step towards becoming a homeowner can be an exciting experience. This is probably one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make and also likely to be one of the best long-term investments. It also signifies change and a new beginning. However, there are some things that first-time homebuyers should keep in mind.

Contact a home financing provider to find out what you can afford before you start to look. Being realistic from the beginning of the process will enable you to set expectations appropriately.  An experienced real estate agent will be able to put you in touch with them – some of whom will even provide you with a $350 appraisal credit, such as Guidance Residential.

Plan on putting down between 3.5 and 5% of the purchase price. This can come from either your own funds or be in the form of a gift from a close relative. You should also be prepared for other up-front expenses such as closing costs. Two ways you can potentially offset some of these upfront costs is to first inquire with your local city government about any first-time home buyer credits that may apply.  Second, talk with a Guidance Realty Homes agent about commission rebates that are offered to buyers and sellers.

If you’re looking at either foreclosures or short sales, allow extra time to complete the process, as these sales need to be approved by the holders of the mortgages on the properties. These lenders are undoubtedly overwhelmed at this point in time, so they might take several weeks or more just to respond to an offer submitted on a property.

Getting those keys to your first home can be exciting but make sure that you are prepared before you dive in. If you’re a first-time home buyer, be realistic and know that you won’t find your perfect dream home, but if it’s 80% of what you imagined, you have a winner. When you’re ready to take that first step, reach out to us here at Guidance Realty Homes to help you pick out the place that shouts, “Home Sweet Home” to you.

Q&A with Featured Broker: Sami Kabir

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Sami Kabir is the Broker Manager of Guidance Realty Homes’ New York Metro branch. With more than a decade of real estate expertise under his belt, Sami brings a diversified real estate background that includes experience in the mortgage business as well as a keen ability to excel in creatively marketing properties. Having lived in New York for over 30 years, Sami has experienced much of the highs and lows the Big Apple’s real estate market has to offer. His knowledge of the New York Metro Area includes Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, and Brooklyn.

What advice do you have for first-time homebuyers?

The process of purchasing your first home can be daunting. Working with experts who are knowledgeable about the local real estate market, knowledgeable about the mortgage industry and can effectively negotiate on your behalf is the key to avoiding any last minute surprises. My team and I are fortunate to have all three skill-sets.

What is it about working with buyers and sellers that excites you the most?

What excites me the most is when I receive a phone call from a client thanking my team and I after they have moved into their new home and/or after the successful sale of their property. Those two things are my motivation to keep going.  In addition, I really get excited when I receive a call from a friend or family member of a client requesting that I assist them in finding or selling their home.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about selling their home?

Do not decide on a selling price prior to collecting all the facts about your home and the market at that time.  We only begin working with sellers when we’ve captured enough data to support our pricing. The information that I will share with you will not only sell your home fast but it will put more money in your pocket. I take pride in serving my sellers by informing them of the do’s and don’ts ahead of time. Our 15 point marketing plan prepares home sellers for a smooth and stress-free sales process.

Can you describe what a successful sale means to you?

A successful sale to me is when a buyer and seller are both happy with the transaction in front of them at the closing table. Nothing short of smiles and a jovial environment at settlement will satisfy me and say to me that we have a successful transaction.

Can you describe a situation in which you informed a potential buyer that a home was not right for them?

My opinion is that a buyer must be ready, willing, and able to purchase before moving ahead on a property.  In today’s market, buyers are more educated than ever and know what they want. I have only discouraged a buyer in instances where the financial risk involved are too high.  For example, I will discourage a buyer if after analyzing their monthly mortgage payment, I realize that their financial commitment is too big of a stretch for them.  I will also discourage buyers in situations where the financial risks associated with the purchase (e.g. fixer-uppers) far outweigh the potential gains that may be expected.