Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mistakes Home Sellers Make

Orange County Realtors, Drew and Linda Hartanov, have a great post on their Blog... 4 Common Mistakes Home Sellers Make and How To Avoid Them.

Take a look and then contact us, 866-222-0158 #302 with any questions you might have about how these mistakes relate to the Hampton Roads housing market.

You can receive a Market Valuation of your home by visiting:

Thursday, May 25, 2006

5 Powerful Buying Strategies

1. Don't Get "Pre-Qualified!" Get "Pre-Approved"

Do you want to get the best house you can for the least amount of money? Then make sure you are in the strongest negotiating position possible. Price is only one bargaining chip in the negotiations, and not necessarily the most important one. Often other terms, such as the strength of the buyer or the length of escrow, are critical to a seller. In years past, we always recommended that buyers get "pre-qualified" by a lender. This means that you spend a few minutes on the phone with a lender who asks you a few questions. Based on the answers, the lender pronounces you "pre-qualified" and issues a certificate that you can show to a seller.

Sellers are aware that such certificates are WORTHLESS, and here's why! None of the information has been verified! Unknown problems can surface for example: recorded judgments, child support payments due, glitches on the credit report (due to any number of reasons both accurately and inaccurately), down payment funds that have not been in the clients' bank account long enough, etc.

So the way to make a strong offer today is to get "pre-approved". This happens AFTER all information has been checked and verified. You are actually APPROVED for the loan and the only loose end is the appraisal on the property. This process takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on your situation. It's VERY POWERFUL and a weapon we recommend all of our clients have in their negotiating arsenal.

2. Sell First, Then Buy

If you have a house to sell, sell it before selecting a house to buy! Let's pretend that we go out looking for the perfect house for you. We find it and you love it! Now you have to go make an offer to the seller. You want the seller to reduce the price and wait until you sell your house. The seller figures that's a risky deal, since he might pass up a buyer who DOESN'T have to sell a house while he's waiting for you. So he says OK, he'll do the contingency but it has to be a full price offer! So you see, you paid more for the house than you could have because of the contingency. Now you have to sell your existing house, and in a hurry! Otherwise you lose the dream house! So to sell quickly you might take an offer that's lower than if you had more time. The bottom line is that buying before selling might cost you TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars. We always recommend that you sell first, then buy.

If you're concerned that there is not a house on the market for you, then go on a window-shopping trip. You can identify possible houses and locations without falling in love with a specific house. If you feel confident after that then put your house on the market. Another tactic is to make the sale "subject to seller finding suitable housing". Adding this phrase to the listing means that WHEN YOU DO FIND A BUYER, you will have some time to find the new place. If you don't find anything to your liking, you don't have to sell your present home.

3. Play the Game of Nines

Before house hunting, make a list of nine things you want in the new place. Then make a list of the nine things you don't want. We call this "NINE OF THIS AND NONE OF THAT". You can use this list as a score card to rate each property that you see. The one with the biggest score wins! This helps avoid confusion and keeps things in perspective when you're comparing dozens of homes.

When house hunting, keep in mind the difference between "SKIN AND BONES". The BONES are things that cannot be changed such as the location, view, size of lot, noise in the area, school district, and floor plan. The SKIN represents easily changed surface finishes like carpet, wallpaper, color, and window coverings. Buy the house with good BONES, because the SKIN can always be changed to match your tastes. I always recommend that you imagine each house as if it were vacant. Consider each house on its underlying merits, not the seller's decorating skills.

4. Don't Be Pushed Into Any House

Your agent should show you everything available that meets your requirements. Don't make a decision on a house until you feel that you've seen enough to pick the best one. Review the Multiple Listing printout with your agent to make sure that you are getting a COMPLETE list. In the last few years, homes were selling quickly, usually a few days after listing. In that kind of market, agents advised their clients to make an offer ON THE SPOT if they liked the house. That was good advice at the time. Today there isn't always this urgency, unless a home is drastically under priced, and you'll know if it is.

Don't forget to check into the SCHOOL DISTRICTS of the area you're considering. Information is available on every school; such as class sizes, % of students that go on to college, SAT scores, etc. You can get this information from your agent or directly from the school.

5. Stop Calling Ads!

A word of caution - agents create ads solely to make the phone ring! Many of the homes have some drawback that's not mentioned in the ad, such as traffic noise, power lines, or litigation in the community. What's not mentioned in the ad is usually more important than what is. For this reason, we want you to be very careful when reading ads. Remember that the person writing the ad is representing the seller and not you! The most important thing you can do is have someone on your side looking out for your best interests. Your own agent will critique the property with an eye towards how well it meets your needs and will point out any drawbacks you should know about.

So whether you decide to work with us or not, pick an agent you feel comfortable with and enlist the services of that agent as a buyer's broker. Then you become a client with all the rights, benefits, and privileges created by this agency relationship, and you're no longer just a shopper. Did you know that many homes are sold WITHOUT A SIGN ever going up or an AD EVER BEING PUT IN THE PAPER? These "great deals" go to those people who are committed to working with one agent. When an agent hears of a great buy, who do you think he's going to call? His client, who he has a legal obligation to work hard for, or someone who just called on the phone and said "keep your eyes open"? So, to get the best buy on a property, we always recommend that you hire your own agent and stick with him.
If you would like to get pre-approved for a loan, either visit our website and apply online or contact us and we will refer you to an excellent lender.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Encroachment Is The Downfall Of Oceana

The Inspector General has ruled that Virginia and the city of Virginia Beach have failed to meet a federal demand for controlling development around Oceana Naval Air Station resulting in the ultimate closure of Oceana Naval Air Station.

Virginia Beach refused to permit condemnation of homes and businesses in a high-risk “accident potential zone” along Oceana’s flight paths and is in violation of requirements established by the BRAC Commission.

What do you think about this decision?

Thinking of buying or selling a home? Visit our website. You can view all real estate listings here.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Pay-Per-View Going Away

In June 2006, Hampton Road's MLS, Real Estate Information Network (REIN), instituted a program which required consumers to pay for detailed information on homes for sale. This information had previously been available at no cost and the pay-per-view program alienated both the consumer and agents, as the fee was charged on all agent's individual websites, not just the MLS site.

We have been part of a group of agents fighting the REIN policy to charge consumers for information and were gratified this morning to learn that the REIN's pay-per-view is going away.

Who says you can't fight city just have to be persistent!
Thinking of buying or selling a home? We will use the same persistence and tenacity to get you the best possible deal that we used to fight consumer fees. Contact us, 866-222-0158 #550. We are here to help!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hampton Roads Real Estate Market In Full Bloom

The Hampton Roads real estate market is in full bloom this spring with appreciation up 11% in April compared to April 2005. The average sales price last year at this time was $253,113 and this year it is $277,065. This is great news for local sellers and makes this spring an excellent time to put your house on the market.

Spring is usually our busiest market time. Folks are house hunting, hoping to find their perfect home so they can move during the kids summer vacation. And this spring is no different.
Now is the time when you will want to be represented by an experienced professional. Why would you settle for less?

We are Accredited Buyer Representatives and CRS's, Certified Residential Specialists. These two designations are the top in our industry. So, give us a call. Let us put our experience to work for you.

Statistics are based on information from REIN. They are deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.

Wanting to buy or sell a home in Hampton Roads? Visit our website. Here you can view all homes for sale.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Norfolk Cuts Real Estate Tax Rate

The Norfolk City Council has voted to reduce the real estate tax rate by $.08, bringing the rate down to $1.27 per assessed value from $1.35. Even with this decrease, most Norfolk homeowners will still see an increase in ther real estate taxes this year due to a 25.8% increase in assessments.

The Council also approved the state's first tax deferral system. This system will allow homeowners with incomes of less than $100,000 to defer all real estate tax increases of more than 10 percent until the home is sold.

If you would like to know the current market value of your home, click here. Your valuation will be e-mailed to you...without speaking to an agent.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Virginia Beach Planning Commission endorsed a plan for a new high-end waterfront community even though the proposed developement is twice as dense as the city guidelines for the location.

City Council will make a final decision on this developement within the next 30-45 days.

Click here for the complete story.


Want to buy or sell a home in Hampton Roads? Visit our website. Here you can get the current Market Value for you home and search all homes for sale.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Post-Contract Pitfalls

Selling a home is like climbing Mount Everest – getting a signed contract is a great accomplishment, but that's only half the journey. The typical home sale today involves more than 20 steps after the initial contract is accepted to complete the transaction.

Much of what needs to be done before the closing is the responsibility of appraisers, loan processors, attorneys, and inspectors — my role, as your REALTOR®, is to coordinate those responsibilities, helping to ensure that others do their jobs promptly and correctly and that the closing isn't jeopardized.

Many steps between contract ratification and closing involve the cooperation of both buyer and seller, and it takes attentive REALTORS® on both sides of the transaction to troubleshoot and keep everyone on track. When things go wrong, closing can easily fall behind. Here's how much time to expect on particular delays:

One-Week Delays
1. Buyer submits incorrect information to lender.
2. Source of down payment changes.
3. Escrow fails to notify parties about missing documents.
4. Principals leave town without signing all necessary papers.
5. Unknown defects are discovered in the property.
6. Last-minute liens discovered.
7. Cloud on title.
8. Move-out date changes.

Two-Week Delays
1. Lender decides at the last minute it doesn't approve of the borrower or the property.
2. Lender raises interest rates.
3. Lender requires last minute reappraisal or repairs.
4. Appraisal too low.

We have extensive experience in handling problems that may arise during the time between contract and closing; we can anticipate difficulties and address them in time to ensure a smooth settlement for all involved. To ensure a smooth settlement when buying or selling your home, give me a call, 866-222-0158 #550. We're here to help!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Join us for Monday Morning Coffee.