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BEWARE OF RENTAL and RENT TO OWN SCAMS!

You’ve probably seen several listings online (often posted on Zillow and Craigslist) that seem “too good to be true” because of how low the rent is or because you can rent to own the property with very little down, low rent and a less than stellar credit score.  They seem too good to be true because most likely they are. These scams have become much more prevalent over the last couple of years and though your head might be screaming “This is a scam” your heart may be saying, “Wow it would be great to live in that neighborhood and maybe it’s true that the owner is building a bridge in Nigeria or has already moved and just wants to know that someone will love the home as much as they did”  and is looking for a perfect renter/buyer. Below are some red flags to look for and hopefully wave you in the other direction!

* They can’t meet you in person and show you the home because they are out of town or out of the country BUT they trust you so as soon as you send funds via wire transfer or Western Union to cover the security deposit and/or first or first and last month’s rent, they will send you the keys. Note: If they send you a long heartfelt email about why they can’t be there or share a sob story, google search the first couple of lines of the email and you may find that it is one that is used over and over again in the scam market. Run!

* Don’t assume because the ad includes a realtor’s name that this is an actual listing. Research the name, agency and phone number to see if they exist and are actively working in the marketplace. Even if you discover that they do exist and are actively working, take the extra very important step to see if the home is listed differently on the realtor’s website. If so, and clearly their listing has been hijacked by a scammer, take a moment and call the agent to let them know so they can handle it on their end and protect their client. Good Karma!

* They will always ask you for your personal and financial information either via the internet, an email or over the phone. SCAM! Hang up or shut down. Never provide any financial information over the phone or online to anyone you don’t know, haven’t met or cannot verify as legitimate.

* If you cannot tour the home with an agent or the owner prior to committing to the rental, take a pass! This is Scam 101!

* If they try to rush you because there are so many others who want the property and it’s first come “with the deposit”, think twice. This might be the case sometimes, but never rush without doing due diligence.

* If you see a home with a big Rent To Own regardless of credit or Rent to Own this home for a few hundred dollars move on to the next listing. These are typically fraudulent. Don’t hesitate to notify the site or even local law enforcement of these scams so as to protect others who might not have read this blog!

KEYS: Be diligent. Do your research. Don’t rush into anything. Decide with your mind and not your feelings. And as always, remember that usually if it seems too good to be true, it is!

 

 

 

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Comparative Pricing: Set the Right Selling Price for Your Home

The most important thing to do when selling a house is pricing it correctly and fairly. You don’t want to overprice the house because you will lose the freshness of the home’s appeal after the first two to three weeks of showings. People will just not put an offer in if it’s not fairly priced. Pricing it low, on the other hand, will give you and the buyer wiggle room in the negotiations process.

While considering price ranges, we suggest that you take these rules of thumb and consider them as you come up with a price for your property. 

Basic Comparisons

It is important to know and understand the listing prices in your area. Why are some properties low and some high even if they are in front of each other? 

We suggest that you go through the history of the homes in your neighborhood and think about your home in relation to that data. 

Look at listings from your area in the past six months and look for the following:

-Distance and proximity to central locations. Are there homes close to major streets, freeways or railroads? Is your one them? Homes that are close to main intersections will have a much higher price that those that don’t.

-Compare the age of the homes. One neighborhood might consist of homes built in the 1950s and 1980s. Values between the two will differ. When was your home built? 

Market Dependent Pricing

After you have collected all your data, the next step is to analyze the data based on market conditions. 

In a buyer’s market… 

In a buyer’s market your sales price might allow some wiggle room for negotiation, but you’ll have to lower your price to do so. To sell in this market, you might need to price your home to go down to about a 10%. 

In a seller’s market… 

In a seller’s market, you might want to add 10% more to the last comparable sale in your area. When there are little homes on sale and many buyers, you can ask more than the last comparable sale, and likely get the deal. 

In a balanced or neutral market… 

In this kind of market, you may want to set a price in relation to the last comparable sale and then adjust to fairly priced homes around your neighborhood. 

Active Listings Comparisons 

Go around your neighborhood and check out the other homes on sale. To see things from a buyer’s perspective, tour these homes and put yourself in their shoes. What are these homes missing? What do they have that your house doesn’t? Try to apply those details that you did not find in the other homes. Whether it’s a matter of design or lacking essentials, set a budget and spend it wisely. 

The idea is to get as many offers as possible because you own the best home on the block!

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Four Renovations to Consider Before You Sell

Whenever we think about remodeling homes, we think of creating the perfect home for yourself and your family. Shows like HGTV’s Property Brothers make us fantasize about spending less to have more cash for dream renovations. As a home seller, the last thing you want to do is spend your savings on making a better home for someone else. It seems unintuitive to remodel a home you will not be living in, but did you ever stop to consider the benefits of selling your home at a higher price and getting your remodeling investment money back? 

Today is the time to add the essentials that you were missing before…

The Basics 

We are not talking about adding pools or Jacuzzis; please save that money and spend it on your new home. When we talk about basic renovations, we refer to the very fundamentals that your current home is missing or needs some fixing. Do you have a leaky roof? When was the last time you gave your walls a fresh coat of paint? 

Make sure you budget this money appropriately. You don’t want to spend too much money and then not get it back when you sell your home. Having your house appraised is very important before you even consider the basic renovations. The current selling price of the house should influence how much money you should be using for renovations. Want to sell your home for another 20 grand? Spend at least 7 or 10 on making it safer and more appealing to potential buyers. 

Some other basic renovations to consider: 

-Updating gutters and downspouts 

-Replacing A/C Unit 

-Updating floors

The Kitchen 

The kitchen is one of the most important features of a home. If yours is not up-to-par, its time to make some changes; your buyers will notice them! 

Complete kitchen remodels can be complicated and costly; consider a small remodel with a small budget, instead. We recommend focusing on small “face-lift” projects, such as painting your cabinets, switching out the fridge or stove, installing a tile backsplash, or replacing the countertops. These tasks don’t require a contractor, and you can easily get it done with little money, and in a very small amount of time. 

The Bathroom 

Are you worried that your outdated bathroom will scare buyers away? An easy, cheaply fix is a must. You may be able to install a one-piece vinyl floor, or replace the vanity, sink, and faucet by yourself. These types of projects can often be completed by the handy DIYer for about $1,000 or less. A new coat of paint and some sophisticated design aspects (for the house showing) is always a good idea, too. 

Curb Appeal: First Impressions 

Let’s face it, no one wants to buy a home with a neglected front porch/yard; it looks messy, and it speaks volumes about what the home might look like on the inside. 

Curb appeal items include a nice green lawn, attractive landscaping, fresh paint inside and out, new carpet and new appliances. These are worth the investment as this will be the first impression a buyer will get from them home as they walk into a showing. Bake a pie or cookies if you are expecting prospects; let them associate warm, happy feelings with your home as soon as they walk in!

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Two Reasons Not To Skip a Home Inspection After Purchasing a New Home

After the thousands of dollars you’ve spent on a new home, you may be tempted to skip the home inspection to save some cash. But let’s face it, an inspection can save you a lot of grief and help you get the most out of your investment (oh! And a happy and healthy home, too). 

Here are some of the reasons why it’s important to perform a home inspection after you’ve acquired your new home. 

Reveal the bad and the ugly 

Your new home is rocking some new cabinets and a newish kitchen; overall, you think your home is ready to rock! Although all of this might be true, chances are that your home hides some unwanted issues that you are yet to discover. A home inspection may reveal whether rooms, altered garages or basements were completed with or without a proper permit, and if they are up to code or not. A home that fails to abide by the legalities of the state will suffer from a drop in value, and obviously you don’t want that if it is that you want to sell in the future. 

A home inspection may also detect safety issues like radon, carbon monoxide, and mold. 

Use it as an investment 

Take your home inspection to be a very important investment. If you decide to perform an inspection and fix whatever may come back negative, you’ll be adding value to your home from the very start. Whether you are buying for investment or personal reasons, updating a home in bad shape will always give you peace of mind— that is an investment well worth it! 

All in all, the truth will set you free…

We know how much you want to avoid spending that extra cash. But keep in mind, that a thorough inspection will diagnose the current condition of the wiring, plumbing and even the structure of the home itself. Knowing the truth will give you a better understanding of renovation budgeting, insurance consideration and anything else that may help you maintain your home in good condition for years to come.

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4 Reasons to Shop Around While Hunting for Homes

We all know that buying a home can be a very long and stressful process. Prolonging it is out of the question. When you keep taking time off your free-time or work to make every house showing, then that’s when you start questioning your willingness to start looking for a new home. We happen to think that taking time to find a home is worth it, however. In fact, the average homebuyer looks at least ten homes over an eight-week period before making any decisions. 

There are countless of reasons why investing some time into finding the right home is worth considering. Here are just a few of those reasons: 

Re-Sale Value. Shopping around can help you get a sense of the neighborhoods that you like and what is worth more as an investment. Figuring out which areas are up-and-coming and which styles of homes are a better buy is important. Lots of options give you a chance to look at things with perspective, especially from a financial standpoint. 

If you buy the nicest home (esthetically speaking) on the block without inspecting it properly, you may find yourself regretting your purchase after figuring out all the structural or electrical problem you may find later on.  

A strong and long pro and con list is always a good idea. Doing the research on all the homes you are interested in calls for an extensive compare and contrast list. And again, to do this you need to take that time to shop around. You can’t have a good list if you’ve only seen two homes. 

Thorough reviews. Rushing to close on the first or second home you’ve seen can derail you from understanding everything about the home. You don’t want to deal with a faulty roof after the fact; those are very expensive to fix. Surprises are a new homeowner’s nightmare. 

There will be no doubts at the end of your journey. Surveying your options will also help you avoid buyer’s remorse. If you buy without looking at several homes, you could end up feeling as though you’ve made a mistake. Avoid that at all costs! 

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What to Expect During a Home Appraisal

Having a home appraised can be a confusing part of the mortgage process for buyers and sellers alike. Both parties must rely on the expert opinion of a stranger and this opinion can potentially make or break the entire transaction. So what exactly does the home appraisal process look like? Read on to find out.

When a buyer applies for a mortgage, the bank will typically require an appraisal be performed by one of their approved appraisers with the cost (typically around $300-$400) to be incurred by the borrower. This is fee is usually included in the mortgage costs at closing, but could be required to be paid up-front, prior to the appraiser starting the job.  The main purpose of the appraisal is to ensure that the bank is not lending more money for a property than it is actually worth and will be able to recoup its losses if the borrower defaults.

It should be noted that while an appraiser will look for obvious issues with a home, they will not usually do a thorough check of the condition of the plumbing, HVAC, and other components of the home. Those things are examined during a home inspection, a different but equally important step in the home-buying process.

First, the appraiser will consider several factors to arrive at the value of a property. The appraisal includes a valuation of not only the actual home, but also the land it is located on. Some of the considerations an appraiser will base their opinion on are an inspection of size, condition, function, and quality of the property.

Next, the appraiser will research comparable homes to determine a fair market value. Comparable homes are ones that are similar in size, nature (ranch, two-story, basement, etc.), and vicinity. Typically, the appraiser will look at market activity of similar homes to the subject and will narrow it down to the three closest comparable sold units. Additionally appraisers may note homes which are actively on the market as well as home which may have a pending sale.  Some lenders may require the report to include more than three comparable properties.

Finally, the appraiser will use all the data gathered during the process to arrive at a final appraisal report stating their expert opinion of the value of the home. This report is a detailed explanation of how and why the appraiser arrived at their conclusion along with an analysis of how each of the other homes used in the report compare to the subject.

Although the appraisal process can be confusing, it is an important to protect the lender and borrower during the home buying process. Armed with this knowledge of what to expect, you can be confident that you won’t be caught off guard by the home appraisal process.

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Moving In Checklist for your New Home

So you’ve found the perfect fit for you and your family, signed the papers, and sealed the deal. Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a new home just waiting for you to move in and make it your own. Feeling a little overwhelmed on where to start? Check off these five items for a seamless transition to your new abode:

  1. Clean. A thorough cleaning will likely be necessary and will definitely be easier to manage before you start hauling in furniture. Break out an industrial size bottle of elbow grease and get to mopping, scrubbing, and dusting to prepare your new home for your arrival.
  2. Paint. Now that your home’s every surface is spic and span, consider slapping some fresh paint on some of them. Whole rooms, accents walls, kitchen cabinets, and doors are all prime candidates for a fresh look to suit your unique style. And, again, this is a task much more easily accomplished while the home is still empty.
  3. Fix. Spend a little time and money to correct any maintenance issues before you start to unpack. Give your home a final once over for the little things that need addressing. Minor repairs will be easier to spot and correct before your home is filled with furniture and can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
  4. Unpack. Now it’s finally time to bring in your belongings and get to unpacking. Start with the fundamentals; bedding, food, and toiletries will get you through the first night, so begin there. As you move on to the rest, organize as you unpack. You’ll never have a better chance to find a place for everything and get everything in its place than right now!
  5. Relax. It’s been a long journey, but guess what? You’re done! Now, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. A small get together with close friends and family, or a bigger housewarming party to show off your new home and meet some neighbors are both great ways to celebrate.

Moving can be a taxing endeavor, especially so soon after you’ve finished the process of shopping for and buying a new home. The good news is, you’re almost there and following this checklist will take some of the stress out of your move. Again, congratulations from the ByOwner team on your new home!

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10 Ways to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Picture this: you’re driving through a neighborhood shopping for a new home. You pass a house with a large for-sale sign standing just a little taller than the grass growing around it. The yard is neglected, there’s rust on the windows, and the mailbox looks like it couldn’t stand up to a strong breeze. Turning to leave, you notice another home on the market right across the street. This home’s outside is well lit with ornamental lamps and its for-sale sign sits in a meticulously manicured yard. Which one do you imagine you’ll want to see the inside of?

While this scenario is admittedly a little over the top, the view from the curb is your home’s one and only first impression. Are you starting to get a sense of the importance of great curb appeal for a house on the market? Great! Here are 10 tips on how to improve your home’s curb appeal:

Check your mailbox. As it has your address on it, the mailbox is one of the first things that a potential buyer evaluates when they arrive at your home. It should be tidy, upright, and in good working order.

  1. Pay attention to your landscaping. A clean, presentable yard should be maintained while your home is on the market. You can edge the grass and add plants or flowers for an added touch. If there are unsightly patches of dirt in your yard, use mulch or gravel to cover them.
  2. Replace or upgrade anything that is rusting. Your doorknob, doorbell, gutters, window frames, and all other areas on the outside of the home should be completely rust free.
  3. Use a pressure washer to remove stains from your driveway, sidewalk, and even on the sides or bottom of your home. Also, remove any weeds from cracks in the sidewalk or driveway.
  4. Clear obstacles from your walkway. Form an obvious path using a sidewalk, stones, lamps, or railings to ensure that your front door is visible and easy to get to.
  5. Add a fresh coat of paint. If your home still appears a little drab after you have cleaned the outside, exterior paint can help brighten the appearance.  
  6. Adding color can enhance the exterior appearance of your home, but be sure the colors you choose are pleasing and complementary. Done correctly, this grabs the buyer’s attention and interest. One fantastic eye-catching detail is when the color of your door complements the color of your home. For example, picture a navy blue home with a door painted yellow with white trim.
  7. Pay attention to the outside décor of your home. Porch furniture, assuming there’s room for it, can add a much needed touch of flair. Also, consider changing the color of your front door and/or replacing curtains or blinds in the front windows.
  8. Bring balance to the front of your home. Incorporate symmetry to the decoration of your door, your walkway, and/or your yard for a more pleasing aesthetic.
  9. Finally, add your personal touch. Statues, lawn ornaments, fountains, bird feeders, porch swings, and wind chimes can all enhance the appeal of your home. Just make sure you don’t cross the line from tasteful to tacky.

Most likely, your home does doesn’t need all 10 of these tips addressed. Still, even just one improvement (or lack thereof) can make a big difference in the eyes of a potential buyer. Make sure you’re sending the right message with great curb appeal!

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7 Steps to Hold a Great Open House

No one knows your home quite like you do, so it stands to reason that no one can sell your home quite like you can. Staging an open house will allow you to showcase your home in person and is one of the most valuable strategies in your marketing toolbox. Check out these seven great steps to having a memorable and successful open house:

  1. Get the word out. Create and place advertisements in your local newspapers. Also, strategically place signs around your neighborhood listing the time and date of your open house. On the day of the event, arrange signs directing buyers toward your home. After all, you can’t complain that no one showed up if you don’t tell people about your event and make it easy to find. 
  2.  Piggyback on your neighbors. If possible, try to schedule your open house on the same day as others in your neighborhood. When communities have multiple garage sales in one day, they often see more traffic; this applies to open houses as well. Potential homebuyers are often more inclined to head to an area where they can see multiple properties in a short amount of time.
  3.  Create a comfortable atmosphere. Make a clear pathway through your front yard all the way to the front door. Keep interior doors open to maximize access throughout the home; potential buyers will want to leave no stone unturned. Finally, make sure the home is well lit, smells nice, and is a comfortable temperature for guests.
  4.  Put your best décor foot forward. Rooms should be organized, clean, and visually pleasing. If you have empty or sparsely furnished rooms, consider renting furniture for the event, such as a stand up lighting fixture, desk, chair and/or bed. Give the room some life and enable the buyer to form a clearer idea of how they can personalize the room. 
  5.  Always be friendly and hospitable. Engage buyers in casual conversation by introducing yourself and inviting them to ask questions. Offer refreshments and a map of the property, and politely ask them to sign in to a guest book.
  6.  Be prepared to answer questions. Do some research and prepare yourself to be able to respond to inquiries about things like appliances, plumbing, the community, local schools, and any other pertinent information about your property.
  7.  Collect leads. Use a guest book to make a note of interested buyers. Afterward, send a thank you email for attending the open house or even follow up with individual phone calls to interested buyers. This is an easy way to politely keep your home top of mind and increase the chances of closing the sale.  

Now that you’re armed with the know-how, open up your home and show it off! And don’t forget that when you are ready to close, ByOwner.com can help you save thousands in transaction costs and commissions!

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Things to Consider Before Investing in Boca Raton

Investing in Boca Raton Florida real estate is an ideal way to make money as long as investors are crafty about this. Currently, in this region, the average price per square foot is $149. This shows an increase of 1.4% when compared to the same period last year. For June 2013 to August 2013, the median sales price for homes in Boca Raton was $236,750. This price is based on the sale of 1,130 home that took place in that period. If you compare this to the same period last year, you will see that the median home sales price has increased by $38,750 or 19.6%. However the number of home sales has decreased by 13.1%. It is important not to be deterred by a slow trend in this market, but to grab this opportunity. Ideally, you should be able to sell the same property for a substantially higher amount after a few years as the housing market is predicted to grow as a result of continual development. Here are some of the factors that should predict a strong real estate market in the coming years:-

Living Style

This city is home to affluent individuals and high income earners. It is a popular tourist destination, albeit an expensive one. Here the cost of living is 10.70% higher than the U.S. average. It is visited year round and is known for its splendid beaches, pristine parks and other entertainment opportunities. Rental prices are also high for this region, reflecting the fact that it is frequented by travelers. The Forbes has stated that three of the ten most expensive gated communities in the U.S. are located in Boca Raton. The Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club holds the top spot and the remaining two are taken by The Sanctuary and Le Lac.

Area Selection

You can find plenty of premium residential communities in Boca Raton that are famous for their residential qualities such as privacy, elegant structures, and proximity to schools and synagogues. Some of these include:-

  • Bristol-Pointe
  • Fieldbrook
  • Grand Orchid Estates
  • Le Lac
  • Mizners Preserve
  • Woodfield Hunt Club

Explore Your Financing Options

At the very least, you should be able to afford the down payment and monthly payments easily. One other thing that works in your advantage in this city while renting or financing a house is that Federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of color, race, religion, gender, handicap or familial status, or national origin.

Research Your Options

You will find soon after beginning your search of a dream house that there are many accommodation types to choose from. It could be an unassuming single family home, a retirement villa, king-sized mansion or a spacious beachside condominium. Whether you are moving with your family or purchasing a house for resale, you can find a property that is molded to your requirements. Getting professional help is recommended, however, most realtors and real estate agents will cost you an arm and a leg. You can now get the same service free of cost through our website ByOwner. Sellers can also post their ads for free and contact buyers who are interested in their property. No more middleman hassles.