Foreclosures Halted for the 2011 Holidays

Great news for struggling homeowners in foreclosure! Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and some other big mortgage lending companies have promised not to foreclose on delinquent mortgage borrowers during the 2011 Christmas season.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) have agreed to delay foreclosures from December 19th through January 2nd of 2012. All of the legal and administrative work required for the evictions will continue during this time. But, according to a statement made by Fannie Mae, the physical evictions will cease. This will allow these families to remain in their homes until after the new year.

“No family should have to give up their home during this holiday season,” said Terry Edwards, an executive vice president for Fannie Mae.

Big Mortgage Lending Banks

Chase and Wells Fargo, major banks that offer home loans, are also allowing delinquent borrowers to enjoy their holidays in peace. Chase Mortgage has vowed to hold off on all evictions between December 22nd and January 2nd.

Wells Fargo has also agreed to not evict during that same time frame. But, this rule only applies to properties within their own portfolio. For loans that Wells Fargo services for outside lenders, foreclosures may still happen. That’s because these smaller lenders have not made this 2011 holiday season vow.

Bank of America, another big leader in the mortgage lending industry, has made a vow that is slightly vague. They said that they will, “avoid foreclosure sales or displacement of homeowners or tenants around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.” Although this statement does not give specific dates, it may help to give BofA’s delinquent borrowers a little peace of mind during Christmas time. Just a little…

Holiday Miracles

Halting foreclosures during the holidays could have a major impact on tens of thousands of homeowners. According to RealtyTrac, an average of 89,000 foreclosure auctions per month were scheduled for 2011. This is the final step in the eviction process before actual eviction occurs.

When we think about Christmas, we think about movies like “Miracle on 34th Street.” This is one of our all-time favorite Christmas movies because everyone wants to believe that miracles can happen. It’s the holidays. Miracles can happen. The foreclosure halts give homeowners a second chance to believe in miracles and the spirit of the holiday season.

You never know. You just may get the greatest Christmas gift ever, or scratch that perfect holiday lottery ticket. You just may get the miracle you need to save your home, because come January 2, 2012, the lenders will be getting back to business as usual.

Do You Need A Tech Savvy Agent To Sell Your Home?

That is the question, right? So I guess it would be rude to answer a question with another question, but I just have to. Why would you NOT want a tech savvy agent to help sell your home? With the National Association of REALTORS® reporting that the number of people who begin their home search on-line is now upwards of 80% and climbing every year, it is not a matter of if a buyer is going to find your home on-line, it is a question of when and how.

When considering agents, there is definitely something to be said for those that have been around to see the neighborhood grow and change. The knowledge that they possess is priceless. But, have they kept up with the times? Even if they have not personally, do they hire somebody to take care of the ‘techy’ stuff for them? If you are getting pressured into interviewing your friend’s great aunt who has been in ‘the business’ for 30 years, make sure you ask specifically what the plan for your listing will be technology-wise. If she brings a booklet for her listing presentation or asks you to fax back your listing papers, she may not be the one.

Taking this a step further, my definition of tech savvy includes a wide variety of things. Having your home listed in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is really just scratching the surface. There are literally hundreds of real estate websites it could be syndicated to, but the highest priority ones are; Trulia, Zillow, and Realtor.com. But I am getting slightly ahead of myself. Let’s back up and talk about the photography. It is so critically important. It stands to reason, if the web is where most people’s first impression of your home comes from, it needs to look good. So, either the photos need to be done by a professional, or at the very least a high quality camera. It is still appalling, in this day and age, to see dark, blurry, or shadowy photos of a house on-line.

Being tech savvy is also more than having tools or gadgets. It is the ability to connect with today’s consumers via several different means; text, e-mail, and social media. Some experts have said that increasingly, consumers are searching Facebook first to find information. With the depth of personal data Facebook records, it is typically able to offer more accurate search results to the searcher. In addition, e-mail blasts to other agents or target audiences (apartment dwellers), can prove to be highly effective in getting the word out about listings. It is all about getting your property in front of as many people as possible. For a REALTOR® with a good Twitter following, tweeting is another way to do that Think now about your sign. An empty flyer box and generic phone number will not satisfy today’s buyer. They are looking for instantaneous information. To that order, a real estate QR code or text-for-more-info number can answer that need.

In essence, the number of different ways to use all the available technology is almost limitless. This is absolutely a more-is-more scenario. So, when selecting an agent to list your home, remember that marketing is that agent’s number one responsibility. Make sure that they have at least a handful of ideas that involve more than the typical MLS, sign in yard, and faded flyers. It only takes one good buyer to accomplish your goal of selling your home, so the more people that know about it, the sooner you’ll be home free!

Your Guide to Painting Before Selling

We love the idea of painting before selling because it is one of the most inexpensive ways to update, freshen up and add value to your Boston home. Heading to the paint store and standing in front of hundreds (if not thousands!) of colors of paint, however, can be quite overwhelming.

Here is a list of do’s and don’ts that will help you through the painting process:

  • Avoid white – Many sellers automatically assume that white walls make the most sense; but, in reality, they are quite stark and do nothing to make your home more appealing. Instead of white, choose a warm, neutral color (think taupe or beige) that will appeal to the masses. Avoid bold colors, as they are often too subjective, and never wallpaper any room in your home. In fact, if you have wallpaper, it is almost always a good idea to remove it before listing your Boston property for sale.
  • Choose a satin or semi-gloss – Flat paint will show the flaws in your walls and is difficult to clean, while a satin or semi-gloss paint is much more forgiving and easier to clean.
  • Take your time – If there’s one thing that buyers will immediately notice it is a bad paint job. Take the time to properly prep your work area and make sure your paint job is neat and attractive. Freshly painted walls will get you nowhere if you’ve slopped paint on the floor or on the light switches.
  • Don’t forget the front door – If you have a painted front door, take a moment to consider whether it would benefit from a fresh coat of paint. Because your front door is one of the first things buyers will see when they approach your property, it is always a good idea to make sure it looks beautiful.
  • Your deck – if your deck has seen better days and is looking worn or weathered, it is probably a good idea to clean and seal it. A fresh coat of stain on your deck will immediately make it look fresh and new.
  • Don’t forget the tri

Top 3 Selling Mistakes

Selling a home for the right price is a process that takes dedication and a great deal of know-how. With the help of the right real estate agent, you will likely get your home sold quickly and at a price that is fair. Still, in order to get the results you are looking for, it is best to avoid making these three common mistakes made by sellers.

Mistake #1: Asking Too Much

Many sellers get hung up on the amount of time and money they have invested in their home. As a result, they come up with an unrealistic asking price for their homes. Unfortunately, setting a price that is too high will drive away many potential buyers who will never give your home a second look. Furthermore, the longer a home sits on the market, the more difficult it is to sell. On the other hand, setting a price that is too low is likely to raise suspicion among potential buyers. For these reasons, it isimportant to discuss the price with a qualified real estate agent in order to come up with a price that is fair and reasonable. Some of the factors a qualified real estate agent will take into consideration when determining a price include the current market climate and neighborhood statistics. Don’t overlook the importance of this step in relying on an agent knowledgeable in your area – since we all know market conditions in Denver will vary greatly from those in Bethesda MD real estate.

Mistake #2: Failing to Realize the True Condition of the Home

As a homeowner, it is easy to grow accustomed to the flaws that you see every day. As a result, itcan be difficult to see the true condition of the home. Rather than focusing on the home’s highlights,concentrate on the problems and invest the time and money it takes to repair them. Otherwise, you willlikely need to reduce the asking price significantly. Remember, most buyers are not looking for a fixer-upper. Rather, they want a home they can move into right away and enjoy. Again, an experienced realestate agent will know what buyers are looking for and can help you make the necessary repairs andupgrades to get the home sold.

Mistake #3: Poor Marketing

Implementing a solid marketing plan is essential to getting a home sold. A professional real estate agent will create an aggressive marketing campaign that will get your home seen by those buyers who aremost likely to make an offer. In addition to guiding you through the process of staging the home so itwill be attractive to potential buyers, the real estate agent will hire a professional photographer who willtake pictures that showcase the home in the best possible light. When searching for a real estate agent,be sure to discuss his or her marketing plans before signing any paperwork. After all, the right marketing campaign makes a world of difference when it comes to getting a home sold.

3 Easy Ways to Sell Your Home Faster

Selling your home in any market can be an exercise in patience for sellers. While the real estate market might finally be stabilizing around the country (with some local markets far ahead of others), buyers are taking their time making decisions about what to buy.

If you’re looking to sell your home and you want to encourage the process along, take a few extra steps to make your home look more appealing to potential buyers.

Fix Your Flooring
If you have carpet in your home, it had better be brand new or look brand new. Buyers don’t ever want to walk into a home with dingy or smelly carpet. If you can, replace the carpet with an inexpensive new style. You don’t have to spend a fortune on the carpet, but being able to advertise that you have brand new carpet makes buyers more comfortable.

If you can, consider upgrading to hardwood or tile flooring. It’s a balancing act, however, when you upgrade your flooring. In certain areas, having new flooring will make your home sell much faster, but then you have to consider the cost of the upgrade to determine if you’ll be getting an advantage in fewer holding costs or increased sales price after paying more for installation.

If you already have hardwoods, consider refinishing the floors to give your home a brand new shine that accompanies sanding and resurfacing.

Update Paint and Fixtures
Look at your doorknobs. Do they look old and dated? Check out your light fixtures and ceiling fans – do they belong to a past decade? New buyers want to move into a home that is updated and truly move-in ready. New fixtures like door knobs and lights can be reasonably priced and easy to replace. While it’s not in your best interest to spend thousands on new lighting in your home, it can be worthwhile if you have fixtures in your home that are obviously dated and make your home look uncared for.

The same can be said for paint in your home. If your walls are scuffed and dingy, repaint them. If your trim paint is nicked, scratched and flaking off, fix it. Selling your home can be a lot of work, but it’s far better to invest the time now and get it ready for the market properly than waiting for it to sit on the market for months before you start actually trying to make it more appealing to buyers.

Remove Clutter and Stage Your Home
When buyers walk in, they should be able to imagine your home as theirs. Take down all of the pictures of your family and remove the collections and personal items that are so uniquely yours. Leave only the bare essential decorations and the pieces of furniture that distinguish each room. For example, in your bedroom, all you need is a bed and perhaps a dresser.

You want your rooms to appear large and spacious. Filling them with bookcases, chairs, toys and boxes makes your home appear messy, small and unattractive to buyers. It can be a challenge to do without many of your favorite things for a few months, but packing up as much as possible before trying to sell, makes it easier for buyers to see the beauty or charm of your home, not your messes.

While I’m working in the Houston real estate market, the same can be said elsewhere, selling a home requires a greater investment on your part. Fortunately, you don’t have to invest much money if you’re willing to invest time and energy instead.

How To Maintain Hardwood Floors

If you have decided to add hardwoods to your property, you’ve made a wise decision – just keep in mind you’ll have to also plan on maintaining them.Hardwood flooring is created from mature trees, then treated & finished. Maintaining them can be difficult, however, because they can scratch easily and also absorb moisture.

Leaving a puddle of liquid on your hardwoods for any longer than necessary is not a good idea. The cracks between the hardwood can absorb the moisture and swell. Any amount of liquid that happens to be spilled, even in a small area, can still become damaging should it stay there for any lengthy period of time.

If you spill something on your hardwood floors, clean up the fluid immediately. Use a damp mop only when you clean your hardwoods. There are floor cleaners that are specifically formulated for hardwoods that you can use. Whichever route you go, use the minimum necessary to keep your mop damp.

Dents and scratches can occur to hardwoods over time. For some types of flooring, especially softer woods, high heels can leave indentations – you might contemplate taking them off and leaving them at your door to reduce wear. Over time the legs of your furniture can also damage the floor. A smart idea is placing area rugs underneath the furniture in order to protect the floor, or placing felt underneath the furniture legs. You may also want to add area rugs in any areas that are highly traveled in your home.

Some homeowners can appreciate the character that scratches and dents give to their wood floor. If you’re not one of those individuals and you have lots of dents and scratches, then one good option is to get them refinished. If you have your wood floors refinished every decade and stay on top of protecting them, they can stay in great condition throughout your entire lifetime.

About the Author – Josh manages an Austin real estate website, where users can learn about the Austin market, look at current market statistics, and search all active listings, including Rosedale homes for sale.

Put Your Personal Items Away

The two things that most sellers want is top dollar for their property and a quick sale. Careful planning on what to do with your home when you put it up for sale will lower the number of days on market. One very important step is to put all your personal items away including family pictures. Try and disconnect yourself from the home or condo and realize this property will not be yours for very much longer. Buyers want to imagine their own items and pictures in the home, making it feel like a home to them. You don’t want buyers to focus on who lives in the home or condo now, but what will it be like for them to live there in the near future. Putting your personal items away also helps the home appear larger since there is less clutter.

All counter tops and dining room tables need to be kept clear. Think of a model home you walk into, you don’t see any clutter or personal items. Everything is clean and clear of all newspapers, magazines, knickknacks and food items. No dirty dishes in the sink. A cluttered home makes the buyer feel uncomfortable and will potentially push them out of the showing quickly. It also sends a message to the buyer that you may not be taking care of the rest of the home if you can’t keep it clean – what else is wrong with the home?

As part of de-cluttering, don’t forget the closets and kitchen cabinets. Buyer’s love to open up closets.  Make sure shoes are nice and neat and boxes are not stuffed to the ceiling – nothing makes a closet look smaller than boxes from floor to ceiling. Kitchen cabinets should be nice and neat as well, rearrange and straighten food items, dishes and glassware. Think of how a buyer would feel coming into a sparkling clean and neat home. They want to live there!

About the Author: Eric Miller is a broker associate /owner with Keller Williams Realty in Fort Lauderdale with over 10 years of experience. Eric Miller and Associates is an award winning team of Ft. Lauderdale realtors and can be found online at FortLauderdaleGroup.com, where you can view every Fort Lauderdale condominium listed for sale.

When Selling, How Much Should You Repair?

If there are no repairs or upgrades needed in your home and if it is in spectacular condition, you may expect to get very close to your selling price – and you probably will! If your home is in top shape and all that the buyer needs do is bring his or her toothbrush and unpack their belongings, your house will attract a great deal of interest, and many buyers will realize that there is not much room to maneuver on price.  Essentially, this is the goal that every seller is working towards.

However, most homes that go up for sale are not in near perfect condition, or in top shape, and sellers must decide whether to fix a lot or fix a little – keeping in mind that research shows that sellers who do make repairs to their homes only receive a percentage of that cash outlay back at the closing table in the form of a higher priced sale (i.e. return on investment is not oftentimes 100%). You may spend a lot of money on installing floor tiles or re-carpeting the whole house and find that some potential buyers find your choice of flooring not at all to their liking.

If you do decide to make a major upgrade or expenditure, here’s some advice to you that will help you recoup as much of that investment as possible.  Keep the style and colors neutral. Soft, muted colors do not make a strong decorating statement and will allow potential buyers to project their own sense of taste and design on the house. It’s often shown that bathroom and kitchen remodels bring the greatest return on investment.

Don’t forget that a buyer will more than likely perform an inspection on your home, which will oftentimes uncover basic repairs. Please realize that making basic repairs is simply going to bring your home in line with average price per square foot in the neighborhood, rather than inflate the price like some upgrades may allow. Sellers may want to consider obtaining a professional home inspection before you sell.

If you have the skills and are able to make repairs or upgrades on your own without hiring professional help, you will make your money go farther and be more competitive with similar homes in your area, but be careful on what projects you take on, don’t go over your head only to find out that the “upgrade” is actually a “downgrade” because the final product does not look well done.

And finally, keep in mind that you do not want to pay to upgrade your home so that it is the highest priced home in the neighborhood, you’ll have a difficult time maintaining that high price point during negotiations because the neighborhood will provide you little assistance in supporting the price per square foot that the home warrants, perhaps in another higher end neighborhood.

Five Tips for Staging Your Home

Are you trying to get your home sold as quickly as possible? If so, it is essential that you present your home to potential buyers in the most favorable way possible. After all, if your home makes a good impression on potential buyers, you will be more likely to get offers that you will be happy with. Here is a look at 5 simple ways you can stage your home to draw more buyers.

Staging Tip #1: Increase Curb Appeal

First impressions are lasting ones, so make sure to take the steps necessary to increase the curb appeal of your home. Things you can do to increase the curb appeal of your home include:

• Make minor repairs to the home’s exterior
• Apply a fresh layer of paint to the exterior, if applicable (be sure to choose a neutral color)
• Repaint the shutters, door and trim
• Remove clutter from the driveway and yard
• Keep the lawn and landscape neatly mowed, trimmed and edged
• Add fresh mulch to flower beds
• Place potted plants outside the door

All of these steps will make your home more appealing and inviting to potential buyers, which will make them more interested in seeing what else the home has to offer.

Staging Tip #2: Create a Welcoming Entryway

After seeing your home from the curb, the next thing potential buyers will see when viewing your home is your entryway. Therefore, you want to be sure your home is inviting to potential buyers as soon as they open the door. Two ways to accomplish this goal is to make sure the entryway is free of clutter and well-lit. Applying a fresh layer of paint can also create a fresh look that buyers will find appealing. Choose lighter colors to help make the space look bigger.

Staging Tip #3: Update Wherever Possible

Making simple updates to your home will help increase buyer interests while also potentially increasing the value of your home. Some simple updates that will leave a meaningful impression on buyers include installing water-efficient faucets and toilets as well as other eco-friendly features. Updating cabinets with new knobs and handles is also a quick and simple way to increase your home’s appeal.

Staging Tip #4: Remove Personal Items

When it comes to selling a home, removing personal items is one of the most important things you can do. After all, if your home is filled with pictures and personal mementos, it makes it difficult for the buyer to see anyone but you in the home. Since the goal is to get the buyer to see him or herself in the home, you want to remove as many barriers as possible.

Staging Tip #5: Make the Home Appear Comfortable

Most buyers are looking for more than just a house – they want a home. Therefore, you should take steps to make the house feel “homey” to the potential buyer. You can do this by making the home look comfortable and inviting. You can accomplish this by moving the furniture around so it is easy to walk around. Placing the furniture so it is conducive to conversation is also a good way to add appeal to your home.

3 Tips for Sellers to Fight the Boston Shadow Inventory Trend

Per CoreLogic, a property information and consulting firm out of California, Shadow Inventory rose 10% nationwide in the past year.

Yes, 2.1 million distressed houses are still not on the market through August. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic said “The weak demand for housing is significantly increasing the risk of further price declines in the housing market. This is being exacerbated by a significant and growing shadow inventory that is likely to persist for some time due to the highly extended time-to-liquidation that servicers are currently experiencing.”

So how does Boston rank?

Boston has a 19.3 month supply of distressed homes – ranked 14th of the largest markets. Massachusetts has a 14.7 month supply of distressed homes – ranked 17th in the states.

Sellers, you can dwell on the stats or use the end of the year to re-evaluate your selling strategy. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself as you prepare to sell your home in 2011.

1. Be honest and realistic – are you priced appropriatly? Check with your agent and get updated comps for the last 6 months – the only comps that matter. If you haven’t already, you must take distressed properties into consderation.

3. Does your house pop? I show a lot of properties and it amazes me how unprepared sellers continue to be. There are a million lists online about cleaning, de-cluttering, de-personalizing, painting, crub appeal etc. to prepare your home for sale. Doing those are just the start. Your house needs to WOW buyers! Take another look at those lists again, and ask for feedback.

3. Are you and your agent maximizing your marketing plan? Has your agent asked you to do something that you haven’t followed through on? Have you asked your agent to do something he promised and it hasn’t happened? Now is a great time to reevaluate your online and print marketing plan and get the first quarter action plan in writing.

There is no doubt the housing market is very difficult right now. Leave NO stone unturned to get your house sold.