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How to Get an Offer on Your Home

1. Price it right. Set a price at the lower end of your property s realistic price range.

2. Prepare for visitors. Get your house market ready at least two weeks before you begin showing it.

3. Be flexible about showings. It s often disruptive to have a house ready to show at the spur of the moment. But the more amenable you can be about letting people see your home, the sooner you ll find a buyer.

4. Anticipate the offers. Decide in advance what price and terms you ll find acceptable.

5. Don t refuse to drop the price. If your home has been on the market for more than 30 days without an offer, you should be prepared to at least consider lowering your asking price.

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

6 Reasons to Reduce Your Home Price

By: G. M. Filisko

While you’d like to get the best price for your home, consider our six reasons to reduce your home price.

Home not selling That could happen for a number of reasons you can’t control, like a unique home layout or having one of the few homes in the neighborhood without a garage. There is one factor you can control: your home price.

These six signs may be telling you it’s time to lower your price.

1. You’re drawing few lookers
You get the most interest in your home right after you put it on the market because buyers want to catch a great new home before anybody else takes it. If your real estate agent reports there have been fewer buyers calling about and asking to tour your home than there have been for other homes in your area, that may be a sign buyers think it’s overpriced and are waiting for the price to fall before viewing it.

2. You’re drawing lots of lookers but have no offers
If you’ve had 30 sets of potential buyers come through your home and not a single one has made an offer, something is off. What are other agents telling your agent about your home An overly high price may be discouraging buyers from making an offer.

3. Your home’s been on the market longer than similar homes
Ask your real estate agent about the average number of days it takes to sell a home in your market. If the answer is 30 and you’re pushing 45, your price may be affecting buyer interest. When a home sits on the market, buyers can begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with it, which can delay a sale even further. At least consider lowering your asking price.

4. You have a deadline
If you’ve got to sell soon because of a job transfer or you’ve already purchased another home, it may be necessary to generate buyer interest by dropping your price so your home is a little lower priced than comparable homes in your area. Remember: It’s not how much money you need that determines the sale price of your home, it’s how much money a buyer is willing to spend.

5. You can’t make upgrades
Maybe you’re plum out of cash and don’t have the funds to put fresh paint on the walls, clean the carpets, and add curb appeal. But the feedback your agent is reporting from buyers is that your home isn’t as well-appointed as similarly priced homes. When your home has been on the market longer than comparable homes in better condition, it’s time to accept that buyers expect to pay less for a home that doesn’t show as well as others.

6. The competition has changed
If weeks go by with no offers, continue to check out the competition. What have comparable homes sold for and what’s still on the market What new listings have been added since you listed your home for sale If comparable home sales or new listings show your price is too steep, consider a price reduction.

More from HouseLogic
How to ready your home for sale at little cost (http://buyandsell.houselogic.com/articles/5-tips-prepare-your-home-sale/)

How to review offers on your home (http://buyandsell.houselogic.com/articles/6-tips-choosing-best-offer-your-home/)

Other web resources
Setting the right price

More on setting the right price (http://public.findlaw.com/abaflg/flg-4-4a-1.html)

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who made strategic price reductions that led to the sale of a Wisconsin property. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Understanding Capital Gains in Real Estate

When you sell a stock, you owe taxes on your gain  the difference between what you paid for the stock and what you sold it for. The same holds true when selling a home (or a second home), but there are some special considerations.

How to Calculate Gain
In real estate, capital gains are based not on what you paid for the home, but on its adjusted cost basis. To calculate, follow these steps:

1. Purchase price: _______________________

The purchase price of the home is the sale price, not the amount of money you actually contributed at closing.

2. Total adjustments: _______________________

To calculate this, add the following:
Cost of the purchase  including transfer fees, attorney fees, and inspections, but not points you paid on your mortgage.
Cost of sale  including inspections, attorney fees, real estate commission, and money you spent to fix up your home just prior to sale.
Cost of improvements  including room additions, deck, etc. Note here that improvements do not include repairing or replacing something already there, such as putting on a new roof or buying a new furnace.

3. Your home s adjusted cost basis: _______________________

The total of your purchase price and adjustments is the adjusted cost basis of your home.

4. Your capital gain: _______________________

Subtract the adjusted cost basis from the amount your home sells for to get your capital gain.

A Special Real Estate Exemption for Capital Gains
Since 1997, up to $250,000 in capital gains ($500,000 for a married couple) on the sale of a home is exempt from taxation if you meet the following criteria:
You have lived in the home as your principal residence for two out of the last five years.
You have not sold or exchanged another home during the two years preceding the sale.
You meet what the IRS calls  unforeseen circumstances, such as job loss, divorce, or family medical emergency.

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Does Moving Up Make Sense ?

These questions will help you decide whether you re ready for a home that s larger or in a more desirable location. If you answer yes to most of the questions, it s a sign that you may be ready to move.

1. Have you built substantial equity in your current home Look at your annual mortgage statement or call your lender to find out. Usually, you don t build up much equity in the first few years of your mortgage, as monthly payments are mostly interest, but if you ve owned your home for five or more years, you may have significant, unrealized gains.

2. Has your income or financial situation improved If you re making more money, you may be able to afford higher mortgage payments and cover the costs of moving.

3. Have you outgrown your neighborhood The neighborhood you pick for your first home might not be the same neighborhood you want to settle down in for good. For example, you may have realized that you d like to be closer to your job or live in a better school district.

4. Are there reasons why you can t remodel or add on Sometimes you can create a bigger home by adding a new room or building up. But if your property isn t large enough, your municipality doesn t allow it, or you re simply not interested in remodeling, then moving to a bigger home may be your best option.

5. Are you comfortable moving in the current housing market If your market is hot, your home may sell quickly and for top dollar, but the home you buy also will be more expensive. If your market is slow, finding a buyer may take longer, but you ll have more selection and better pricing as you seek your new home.

6. Are interest rates attractive A low rate not only helps you buy a larger home, but also makes it easier to find a buyer.

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Fielding a Lowball Purchase Offer on Your Home

By: Marcie Geffner

Consider before you ignore or outright refuse a very low purchase offer for your home. A counteroffer and negotiation could turn that low purchase offer into a sale.

You just received a purchase offer from someone who wants to buy your home. You’re excited and relieved, until you realize the purchase offer is much lower than your asking price. How should you respond Set aside your emotions, focus on the facts, and prepare a counteroffer that keeps the buyers involved in the deal.

Check your emotions
A purchase offer, even a very low one, means someone wants to purchase your home. Unless the offer is laughably low, it deserves a cordial response, whether that’s a counteroffer or an outright rejection. Remain calm and discuss with your real estate agent the many ways you can respond to a lowball purchase offer.

Counter the purchase offer
Unless you’ve received multiple purchase offers, the best response is to counter the low offer with a price and terms you’re willing to accept. Some buyers make a low offer because they think that’s customary, they’re afraid they’ll overpay, or they want to test your limits.

A counteroffer signals that you’re willing to negotiate. One strategy for your counteroffer is to lower your price, but remove any concessions such as seller assistance with closing costs, or features such as kitchen appliances that you’d like to take with you.

Consider the terms
Price is paramount for most buyers and sellers, but it’s not the only deal point. A low purchase offer might make sense if the contingencies are reasonable, the closing date meets your needs, and the buyer is preapproved for a mortgage. Consider what terms you might change in a counteroffer to make the deal work.

Review your comps
Ask your REALTOR® whether any homes that are comparable to yours (known as “comps”) have been sold or put on the market since your home was listed for sale. If those new comps are at lower prices, you might have to lower your price to match them if you want to sell.

Consider the buyer’s comps
Buyers sometimes attach comps to a low offer to try to convince the seller to accept a lower purchase offer. Take a look at those comps. Are the homes similar to yours If so, your asking price might be unrealistic. If not, you might want to include in your counteroffer information about those homes and your own comps that justify your asking price.

If the buyers don’t include comps to justify their low purchase offer, have your real estate agent ask the buyers’ agent for those comps.

Get the agents together
If the purchase offer is too low to counter, but you don’t have a better option, ask your real estate agent to call the buyer’s agent and try to narrow the price gap so that a counteroffer would make sense. Also, ask your real estate agent whether the buyer (or buyer’s agent) has a reputation for lowball purchase offers. If that’s the case, you might feel freer to reject the offer.

Don’t signal desperation
Buyers are sensitive to signs that a seller may be receptive to a low purchase offer. If your home is vacant or your home’s listing describes you as a “motivated” seller, you’re signaling you’re open to a low offer.

If you can remedy the situation, maybe by renting furniture or asking your agent not to mention in your home listing that you’re motivated, the next purchase offer you get might be more to your liking.

More from HouseLogic
6 Tips for Choosing the Best Purchase Offer for Your Home (http://buyandsell.houselogic.com/articles/6-tips-choosing-best-offer-your-home/)

6 Reasons to Reduce Your Home Price (http://buyandsell.houselogic.com/articles/6-Reasons-To-Reduce-Your-Home-Price/)

Marcie Geffner is a freelance reporter who has been writing about real estate, homeownership and mortgages for 20 years. She owns a ranch-style house built in 1941 and updated in the 1990s, in Los Angeles.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

5 Property Tax Questions You Need to Ask

1. What is the assessed value of the property Note that assessed value is generally less than market value. Ask to see a recent copy of the seller s tax bill to help you determine this information.
2. How often are properties reassessed, and when was the last reassessment done In general, taxes jump most significantly when a property is reassessed.
3. Will the sale of the property trigger a tax increase The assessed value of the property may increase based on the amount you pay for the property. And in some areas, such as California, taxes may be frozen until resale.
4. Is the amount of taxes paid comparable to other properties in the area If not, it might be possible to appeal the tax assessment and lower the rate.
5. Does the current tax bill reflect any special exemptions that I might not qualify for For example, many tax districts offer reductions to those 65 or over.

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Make Your House FHA-Loan Friendly

By: Terry Sheridan

Know the basics of FHA loan rules and you stand a better chance of selling your house or condo.

Make your house FHA-friendly, and it will appeal to more homebuyers. Why Because the Federal Housing Administration is insuring the mortgage loans used by about 30% of today’s homebuyers.

If your house passes the FHA rules, it will appeal to buyers who plan to use an FHA-insured mortgage. If your house doesn’t qualify for an FHA loan, you’re cutting out 30% of potential buyers.

FHA is especially important to first-time homebuyers and those with small downpayments because it allows borrowers with good credit to make a downpayment as low as 3.5% of the purchase price.

Here’s how to make your home appealing to FHA borrowers:

Know the FHA loan limits in your area
Start by checking to see if your home’s listed price falls within FHA lending limits for your area (https://entp.hud.gov/idapp/html/hicostlook.cfm). FHA mortgage limits vary a lot. In San Francisco, FHA will insure a mortgage of up to $729,750 on a single-family home. In the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the loan limit is $271,050.

Home inspections
Most buyers will ask for a home inspection, whether or not they’re using an FHA loan to buy the home. You must give FHA buyers a form (

http://www.ncradon.org/docs/foryourprotection.pdf) explaining what home inspections can reveal, and how inspections differ from appraisals.

How much do you have to repair
If the home inspection reveals problems, FHA will not give the okay to buy the home until you repair serious defects (

http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/letters/mortgagee/files/05-48ml.pdf) like roof leaks, mold, structural damage, and pre-1978 interior or exterior paint that could contain lead.

Dealing with FHA appraisers
Help the lender’s appraiser by providing easy access to attics and crawl spaces, which usually must be photographed, says appraiser Frank Gregoire in St. Petersburg, Fla. Your buyer can hire his own appraiser to evaluate your home. But FHA only relies on reports by its approved appraisers. If the two appraisals conflict, the FHA appraisal preempts the buyer’s appraisal.

Help with FHA closing costs
Most FHA buyers need help with closing costs, says mortgage banker Susan Herman of First Equity Mortgage Bankers in Miami. So a prime way to make your house FHA-friendly is to help with those costs. FHA currently allows sellers to pay up to 6% of the sales price to help cover closing costs, but is considering lowering that limit to 3% in the fall of 2010.

If you’re selling a condo
FHA also has to approve your condo before a buyer uses an FHA loan to purchase your unit. Be sure your condo is FHA-approved for mortgages (

https://entp.hud.gov/idapp/html/condlook.cfm). The list has been updated, so if your association was approved a year ago, check again to make sure it’s still on the approved list.

FHA generally won’t insure loans in condo associations if more than 15% percent of the unit owners are late on association fees. Ask your property manager or board of directors for your association’s delinquency rate.

Other rules cover insurances, cash reserves and how many units are owner-occupied (

http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/letters/mortgagee/files/09-46aml.pdf) and the types of condos that can be purchased with an FHA mortgage

(http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/letters/mortgagee/files/09-46bml.pdf).

FHA sometimes issues waivers for healthy condominiums that don’t meet the regular rules. If your condo isn’t FHA-approved, it doesn’t necessarily have to meet every single rule to gain approval. Ask your REALTOR® to consult with local lenders about getting an FHA waiver for your condo if it doesn’t meet all the requirements.
FHA also limits its mortgage exposure in homeowners associations. With some limited exceptions, no more than 50% of the units in an association can be FHA-insured (

http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/letters/mortgagee/files/09-46aml.pdf).

FHA loans for planned-unit developments
FHA no longer requires lenders to review budgets and legal documents for planned-unit developments.

More from HouseLogic
Show Your Support for FHA (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/show-your-support-for-FHA/)

Other web resources
Why Ask for an FHA Loan (http://www.hud.gov/fha/choosefha.cfm)
Find a State Program to Help Homebuyers Afford Your Home (http://www.hud.gov/buying/localbuying.cfm)

Terry Sheridan is an award-winning freelance writer who has covered real estate for 20 years, and has owned and sold three homes.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Sellers and Buyers Cities Requiring PreSale PreInspection

You don’t want to get stuck at closing. Many cities in Los Angeles County have certain requirements in order to close escrow. These may include anything from a fee and an inspector doing a drive by to full interior inspection reports in some cities. They may include fees, taxes and even pulling permits or waivers and credits

Be aware of the requirements in the city you are considering buying or selling in to make sure your not surprised and your closing goes off without a hitch

Azusa
Bell
Beverly Hills
Carson
Compton
Cudahy
Culver City
El Monte
El Sereno
Gardena
Hawaiian Gardens
Hermosa Beach
Huntington Park
Inglewood
Laguna Beach
Los Angeles City – 9A Report
Lynwood
Manhattan Beach
Maywood
Monterey Park
Newport Beach
Orange
Oxnard
Palos Verdes Estates
Pasadena
Port Hueneme
Rancho Palos Verdes
Redondo Beach
Rolling Hills
San Diego
San Marino
Santa Monica
South Gate
Signal Hill
Torrance
Thousand Oaks

 

Watch out for the presale preinspection. Call me for details 323-215-9836

7 Tips for Staging Your Home

By: G. M. Filisko

Make your home warm and inviting to boost your home’s value and speed up the sale process.

The first step to getting buyers to make an offer on your home is to impress them with its appearance so they begin to envision themselves living there. Here are seven tips for making your home look bigger, brighter, and more desirable.

1. Start with a clean slate
Before you can worry about where to place furniture and which wall hanging should go where, each room in your home must be spotless. Do a thorough cleaning right down to the nitpicky details like wiping down light switch covers. Deep clean and deodorize carpets and window coverings.

2. Stow away your clutter
It’s harder for buyers to picture themselves in your home when they’re looking at your family photos, collectibles, and knickknacks. Pack up all your personal decorations. However, don’t make spaces like mantles and coffee and end tables barren. Leave three items of varying heights on each surface, suggests Barb Schwarz of www.StagedHomes.com (http://www.StagedHomes.com) in Concord, Pa. For example, place a lamp, a small plant, and a book on an end table.

3. Scale back on your furniture
When a room is packed with furniture, it looks smaller, which will make buyers think your home is less valuable than it is. Make sure buyers appreciate the size of each room by removing one or two pieces of furniture. If you have an eat-in dining area, using a small table and chair set makes the area seem bigger.

4. Rethink your furniture placement
Highlight the flow of your rooms by arranging the furniture to guide buyers from one room to another. In each room, create a focal point on the farthest wall from the doorway and arrange the other pieces of furniture in a triangle around the focal point, advises Schwarz. In the bedroom, the bed should be the focal point. In the living room, it may be the fireplace, and your couch and sofa can form the triangle in front of it.

5. Add color to brighten your rooms
Brush on a fresh coat of warm, neutral-color paint in each room. Ask your real estate agent for help choosing the right shade. Then accessorize. Adding a vibrant afghan, throw, or accent pillows for the couch will jazz up a muted living room, as will a healthy plant or a bright vase on your mantle. High-wattage bulbs in your light fixtures will also brighten up rooms and basements.

6. Set the scene
Lay logs in the fireplace, and set your dining room table with dishes and a centerpiece of fresh fruit or flowers. Create other vignettes throughout the home-such as a chess game in progress-to help buyers envision living there. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light.
Make your bathrooms feel luxurious by adding a new shower curtain, towels, and fancy guest soaps (after you put all your personal toiletry items are out of sight). Judiciously add subtle potpourri, scented candles, or boil water with a bit of vanilla mixed in. If you have pets, clean bedding frequently and spray an odor remover before each showing.

7. Make the entrance grand
Mow your lawn and trim your hedges, and turn on the sprinklers for 30 minutes before showings to make your lawn sparkle. If flowers or plants don’t surround your home’s entrance, add a pot of bright flowers. Top it all off by buying a new doormat and adding a seasonal wreath to your front door.

More from HouseLogic
Spring cleaning guide (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/spring-cleaning-guide/)

Green cleaning products for the bathroom (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/green-cleaning-products-for-the-bathroom/)

Green cleaning products for the kitchen (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/green-cleaning-products-for-the-bathroom/)

Other web resources
How to make a small room look larger (http://www.lowes.com/cd_Ten+Ways+to+Make+a+Small+Room+Look+Larger_506205068_)

How to arrange bedrooms (http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/arranging-your-bedroom-furniture.html)

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who occasionally rearranges her furniture to find the best placement-and keep her dog on his toes. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Common Closing Costs for Buyers

You ll likely be responsible for a variety of fees and expenses that you and the seller will have to pay at the time of closing. Your lender must provide a good-faith estimate of all settlement costs. The title company or other entity conducting the closing will tell you the required amount for:

Down payment
Loan origination
Points, or loan discount fees, which you pay to receive a lower interest rate
Home inspection
Appraisal
Credit report
Private mortgage insurance premium
Insurance escrow for homeowner s insurance, if being paid as part of the mortgage
Property tax escrow, if being paid as part of the mortgage. Lenders keep funds for taxes and insurance in escrow accounts as they are paid with the mortgage, then pay the insurance or taxes for you.
Deed recording
Title insurance policy premiums
Land survey
Notary fees
Prorations for your share of costs, such as utility bills and property taxes

A Note About Prorations: Because such costs are usually paid on either a monthly or yearly basis, you might have to pay a bill for services used by the sellers before they moved. Proration is a way for the sellers to pay you back or for you to pay them for bills they may have paid in advance. For example, the gas company usually sends a bill each month for the gas used during the previous month. But assume you buy the home on the 6th of the month. You would owe the gas company for only the days from the 6th to the end for the month. The seller would owe for the first five days. The bill would be prorated for the number of days in the month, and then each person would be responsible for the days of his or her ownership.

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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