Ten AWESOME Reasons Why You Should List Your Home During the Winter

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Traditional school of thought dictates that selling a home during the holidays is a bad idea.  People are busy celebrating with their families and will hardly go shopping for a home, right?  Not so!  There are numerous advantages to listing a home during this season and below are ten great reasons to put a home on the market now. 

More serious buyers – Less time wasted

These are people who are interested in buying so there is a far greater chance of actually selling the property.  Nothing is more promising to a seller than a motivated and qualified buyer that knows what they want and is actively seeking to get it.

Fewer Homes On the Market

The less competition there is, the higher the chance there is for homes on the market to sell. Where during the peak season sellers might be dealing with some interest from buyers on their home, nonetheless there is more selection for buyers to choose from and they can stray to another property.

In January Inventory Increases – Chances of Selling Decreases

With so many homeowners assuming the holidays is a taboo time to sell there is a plethora of new listings in January, resulting in a diminished chance of your home selling.  Also, there is a risk that the price you may receive on the home can be less.

Decked Halls Look Great!

Homes are very appealing to prospective buyers when they are decorated for the holidays.  With all the festive d├ęcor, lights, greenery and added beauty of the season – the home shows very well and attracts buyers faster than if shown during other times of the year.

More Time To Browse Homes

Buyers have extra time off from work and are on vacation, which translates to a more aggressive buying pattern and more chances of your home being viewed.

Tax Advantages That Benefit the Buyer

Some buyers need to buy a property before the year ends so that they are able to claim a particular credit or exemption on their tax return.  The biggest tax benefit is filing for homestead. This requirement means that they are going to seek out a home and definitely purchase it prior to the New Year. 

Show The Home With Flexibility

Sellers that have their home listed prior to the holidays have the added advantage to be able to “pause” the process so they can celebrate the holidays, essentially not showing the home during a period of time during the break.  When the festivities die down, things can pick up again and the seller has not only managed to save potentially lost time but can also jump right back into the market.

Sell Now For More Money Then Delay Closing

Extended occupancy can be negotiated, leaving both parties the leniency to get through the holiday season and past the New Year so that all sides can rest assured the deal is done but it can follow through at a more convenient time.  For sellers this option is great because they are able to secure a higher selling price on the property before the market is inundated with new listings come January when the selling values drop.

Enjoy Non-Contingent Buyer Freedom

With the home sold, sellers can enjoy non-contingent buyer status during the rest of the slow season and take advantage of the market when there is a flood of new listings upon the New Year. 

Fewer Foreclosures On the Market

Many banks will suspend foreclosure listing during this time of year, especially on properties where there are still families occupying the home.  As a result of this, some of the competition that arises for sellers from low-priced foreclosures can be avoided during the holidays.
Keep in mind that the idea of your home’s value increasing significantly over the next several months is a myth.  The truth is that housing values likely only go up when consumer income rises.  Pay rates increase at a rate of three to five percent each year and that is about the maximum yearly increase we can expect to see in a home as well.  So if you are wondering whether or not to put your home on the selling market now, or to wait – one important factor is that waiting will not provide much benefit.

A Look at Buying Now vs. Buying Then; Why You Can’t Afford to Wait

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It is widely known around the world that real estate in the US is at the best point it has been in decades – especially from the standpoint of a buyer.  But when you look at how the numbers work out – it REALLY looks good and it is a great way to see just why buying now is the best it has been for the past five to ten years. 

Here are the facts.  We know that interest rates are so low that buyers are walking away with practically free mortgages.  We know that housing values have declined to a point that buying a home now is a surefire investment that will come back later and mature very nicely once the market bounces back.  We know that housing inventory is largely overstuffed because of the plethora of foreclosures on record the past few years plus other factors contributing to the fact as well.  But how does all this look when you plug in actual selling prices, interest rates, down payments and monthly payments? 

To help show you why buying now will yield the best ever deal quite possibly in your entire lifetime, we have put together a comparison of a home that was sold in 2002.  Considering the market environment in both 2006 and 2011, we see how the owners got very different results on each respective selling date.  The numbers are staggering! 

Home Bought in 2002
Price of home when originally bought in 2002: $285,000
Interest rate: 6.5%
Conventional loan 20% down payment amount: $57,000
Monthly payment: $1,441 (principal and interest)
Loan payout for the life of the loan: $575,803

Sold to Another Owner in 2006
Selling price: $580,000
Interest rate: 6.5%
Significant remodeling changes made to the home
Conventional loan 20% down payment amount: $116,000
Monthly payment: $2,932 (principal and interest)
Loan payout for the life of the loan: $1, 171,800

Sold Again in 2011
Selling price: $245,000
Interest rate: 5%
Conventional loan 20% down payment amount: $49,000
Monthly payment: $1, 052 (principal and interest)
Loan payout for the life of the loan: $427,782

The savings are astronomical when comparing market conditions then to now.
If you bought this house ten years ago, the savings add up to over $148,000!
And if you bought the house while it was at the top of the market, the savings are an unbelievable $750,000.  That’s three quarters of a million dollars in savings alone.

This is the same home.  When you realize how much the prices, payments and payouts fluctuate – it makes you wonder why you haven’t gone out and grabbed the opportunity to buy now, doesn’t it? Either way you look at it, buying now will end up in a fantastic return on your investment.  What’s more is that there is no telling how long this phase in our real estate industry will last.  We are starting to see some upward changes in the housing market, with prices coming back up very slowly and the depreciation cycle beginning to level off.

Four Essential Components to a Successful Mortgage Pre-Approval

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Slowly but surely the real estate market is inching toward some sort of normalcy.  Still we are experiencing a soft market where there is plenty of inventory and some eager buyers who want to avail the amazing interest rates and other concessions being offered to buyers these days.

While interest rates remain the number one motivation for many buyers who are buying their first home, moving up into something better or investing in a property – the fact remains that the mortgage industry is tight.  Lenders are being faced with myriad regulations both in-house and through the government agencies that are largely insuring many of the loans today.

It is critical that you, as a prospective buyer, obtain prior approval for a mortgage.  Not only will this give you an extra edge over other buyers who many not have done so, but it will also provide you with a snapshot of exactly what you can afford.  Sellers like nothing more than to see a pre-approval letter along with an offer.  It demonstrates that the buyer is serious and it also shows that a lender has offered them a preliminary amount with which to work.

Credit Really Does Matter Most
At one point more than a few years ago there was a plethora of advertisements claiming to provide anyone and everyone with a home loan – regardless of bad credit.  Gone are those days, in fact, credit is the very first thing considered before a loan officer will even process a loan application.  The minimum FICO score for an FHA loan is now 620, with a preference of course to a higher score.  It also goes without saying that the higher a score is the better an interest rate or other terms one will likely enjoy.

Be sure to view your credit report before you embark on a home buying journey. Know exactly what items are on the report, dispute any errors well before you apply for a mortgage so that your chances of getting an approval are greater and rectify any bad credit concerns you may see on the report.

Past Income History Weighs In Heavy

Right up there with credit health is your financial health.  Lenders will require two years of income tax statements along with W2s and any other attached schedules if you are a self-employed borrower.  Your mortgage loan officer will carefully review all aspects of your income and whether you write off any specific expenses.  To help avoid the risk of mortgage fraud, more and more lenders are requiring the 4506t process to be completed, to verify income tax filing accuracy directly with the IRS.  Anything that goes against your income will be carefully weighed in making their decision.

Be Sure You Can Prove The Source of Cash
Large deposits are a major issue that many prospective homeowners do not realize comes up in mortgage loan applications.  Each and every dime must be accounted for when it comes to incoming cash and deposits that are larger than $1000. What this means is that you cannot dip into your secret stash of cash and suddenly present a down payment to your lender.  You must be able to prove the source of all large deposits – both those that appear in the two previous bank statements that will be provided as part of the application and also in case of any new deposits. 

Since cash gifts are allowed for down payments and closing costs, this same scrutiny will be applied to those who are providing the cash gift to the buyer.  This means that if friends or family members are helping you with your closing costs, there is a chance each and every one will be required to show the source of their funds.

Job History Shows Responsibility

Lenders need to know that you are reliable and that your income is stable.  The standard method is through an analysis and confirmation/verification of your work history.  It is essential that any and all gaps be accurately reported though lenders prefer to see at least two years on the same job.  Unknowingly to many home loan applicants, things like overtime, shift differentials and self-employment or business income are things that affect the income calculation used to determine eligibility and approval.
It is not as easy as pie to get a mortgage loan anymore but these days there are still many buyers that are successfully getting into new homes and at historic rates.  It’s more important than ever to be fully prepared going into the process, providing your loan officer with anything they need – in a timely and efficient manner.  This will ensure a smooth transaction for the seller, Realtor – and most importantly, the buyer.

Client Appreciation Day

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Get a FREE iPad 2!


With the holiday season here, I have a special gift for you. An extended Black Friday Blow out!!!! Home prices are at their lowest levels right now and mortgages are possible below 4%. Buyers are busy shopping and spending time with their families. This means you'll be able to get the best deal on your new home, right now.

So, to get you out of the mall and into your next home, I will give you a free iPad 2* ( Or, donate the cost to a charity of your choice) when you list or purchase your home through me by Dec 31st 2011. That's right,sell or purchase your next home with me and you'll receive a FREE iPad 2 - no strings attached. But hurry this special promotion only runs until the end of the year.

Click here to search all homes available for sale in Louisville >

Win an iPad 2!

Call me and I'll help you negotiate your best deal, no matter whether your looking to buy or sell.

If you are not in the market to buy or sell a home currently please pass this email along to your friends or family members as I am always happy to help.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Todd Martin
Real Estate Agent
RE/MAX Metro
2200 Dundee Road
Louisville, KY 40205
(502) 220-4663

* iPad 2 to be given 24hrs after a successful purchase or sale of property. Listing and/or purchase contracts must be signed prior to Dec 31st 2011. If your home is currently listed or you are currently working with another Realtor this email is not a solicitation for your business. This offer excludes short sales and bank owned properties.

Five Simple Things That Will Be The Ticket To Successfully Selling Your Home

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If you put your home on the market, for whatever reason, be it that you are going to seize the great opportunities out there for buyers these days or if you need to relocate for a job or are ready to move into a condo for your retirement – obviously, you want your home to sell.  With so many properties on the market for sale these days, buyers have a host of choices to choose from.  Here are some easy steps to take to make sure your house sells and sells well.

Put Away The Personal Stuff 
(Strangers Have No Need to See Your Grocery List)

The one surefire way to get buyers to want your home is to get them to visualize themselves living in it.  Never mind the purple fluorescent walls you may have installed in the basement or the bright green kitchen tiles – to begin with you need to remove traces of your own personal lives that serve as a distraction to buyers.  It is important to provide a blank enough slate that potential residents can imagine themselves living in it while at the same time leaving enough elements of the home to show that the place IS livable. 

Get Rid of All The Clutter 
(Buyers Don’t Care About Your Magazine Collection)

Clutter hides the real stuff.  If buyers want to gauge where they may put their own furniture and belongings, it will be next to impossible for them to do it if they can’t see past the junk and clutter lying around while you live in the home.  Try to keep it as neat and clean as possible.  If you must have pockets of things around the house then make an effort to organize them in an appealing manner. 

Make It Squeaky Clean

(Pretend Your Mother-in-Law’s Coming Over)

If something is not clean as a whistle, the first instinct a buyer will have is to get out of there and find another, better place.  Even though things can be cleaned later on, you need to show buyers your home at its best potential.  Make a solid effort to make fixtures shine, bathrooms sparkle, getting rid of long-term stains and build-up wherever possible.  Think of a high-end hotel and set things up in a clean way that will appeal to many tastes.  In the kitchen, your appliances should be spotless.  Windows are also an important aspect that should not be ignored. 

Make It Smell Fresh and Inviting
(Fresh Smells = A Home That Sells)

Again, just like a high-end hotel, if someone walks in and the first thing that hits them is a nasty smell or even a subtle but unpleasant smell, they are not going to want to stay.  If there are smokers in your home, or if you have indoor pets – first ask a friend or relative to walk around your house and give you an honest opinion of how it smells.  Then be sure to treat any problem areas and potential pitfalls that could hinder your sale.  Having carpets steam cleaned is an investment worth making; removing drapes and bedding to have them dry cleaned is also not a bad idea.  Some sellers put a pot of apples, cinnamon and sugar on the stove and cook it for a few hours before showing the house, giving the space a ‘fresh baked’ aroma.  Be sure not to mask bad smells though, rather treat them.

Make Sure There Is Outdoor Appeal
(People stop in their tracks when they see a gorgeous exterior)

If you can get people to say “wow!” when they see your home from the outside, there is a good chance they will be compelled to see the inside too.  Curb appeal is the first opportunity to generate interest in your home and it also lets you provide a glimpse of what you may have to offer inside.  Make sure there are no ugly areas of peeling paint, faded wood or unkempt and poorly maintained areas in the lawn and garden areas. The outdoor space should be inviting, have lots of nice potted plants or trees and shrubbery that is watered well while surrounded by fresh grass. 
The best way to get OFF the market with a nice red “SOLD” sign out front, is to provide buyers something appealing.  By following these five easy steps, your property will likely not last long in the selling circuit and sellers will grab it in no time.  Not only does the property sell easily, your efforts also yield top dollar for the house!

Is a Real Estate Investment a Smart Move Right Now?

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Here’s a quiz…


1. Home prices have come down over 50%.
2. Over 6% of households are in foreclosure.
3. The suspension of foreclosures by major financial institutions will delay recovery of the real estate market.

The answer for each is – IT DEPENDS.

Prices of homes have come down considerably in the last few years. Foreclosures are also increasing by an alarming rate. This does not mean, however, that there a large amounts of foreclosures today. The numbers are still relatively low overall.

What does this mean? Because foreclosures make up such a small percentage of households in our market, if some were suspended the impact would be insignificant.

It is important to recognize that real estate markets are local, that prices all over the country haven’t taken a complete nose dive, and that the market isn’t flooded with foreclosures.  

We, as consumers, have been inundated with a continuous stream of negative news from the press because extremes, whether booms or busts, get attention. Five years ago, good news about the real estate market was exaggerated. 

Now the statistics from the worst market in the country are generalized as if they were occurring everywhere. That’s why it’s so important for understand the complete real estate picture to separate fact from fiction.

Here’s another quiz:


Now is the best home buying opportunity of a lifetime.

The answer for the real estate marketplace is TRUE!

Here’s why:

1. The Market
We have clearly seen the bottom of the market. Unit sales have dropped after the April 30, 2010 expiration of the home buyer tax credit, but annual sales have been stable for three years.

2. Interest Rates

Interest rates are at generational lows. It is hard to believe they will go much lower, and they will definitely rise as the economy begins to improve. We would normally think of 5.5% as a terrific interest rate but at the current rate of 4.25% is outstanding. A buyer borrowing $250,000 over 30 years will save $2,700 each year over the life of the loan. That’s a total savings of $68,000!

3. Quality of Life

It’s not unusual to hear conversations about the rent versus buy scenario. There are some advantages to renting but in reality, but buying is usually the best choice. The best communities are made up of owners who care about their properties. Owning a home is one of the best ways to take control of our future.

Houses are more affordable than they have been in years
. Stable prices and incredibly low interest 
rates allow buyers to purchase more for their money so they can enjoy living in a house that better meets their lifestyle needs.

4. Long-term Investment

Right now, many people are carefully considering whether or not to buy a home. Lack of confidence in the economy and the job market are holding them back. But there is only so long to wait before this opportunity ends. If life circumstances dictate a move, it’s best to act now. I can’t imagine that conditions will improve for potential home buyers in this area!

In five or seven years, you will probably be glad you bought a home, or be sorry you didn’t. It’s best to make sure you to provide them with the expertise and knowledge to make the right choice now, or else they will look back and say,“I should have.” After all, the true value of what you do goes beyond showing houses or writing contracts. It is in helping people make their dreams come true.

How to Stay Within Your Means When Shopping For a Home

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Too often when homeowners work out the numbers to buy a new home, they neglect to consider all the factors at hand.  Sure, there is a payment – and most listing sites online will calculate and show the home mortgage payment estimate at a very reasonable level.  But what many people fail to realize is that the mortgage payment shown on those sites does not take into consideration a lot of other expenses as well.

When buying a home, it is absolutely essential to know exactly what you can afford and to buy only within your means.  In fact, had many homeowners bought within their means several years ago when it was very easy to obtain a mortgage, we might not have millions of people facing foreclosure and short sales nowadays.

Looking Beyond Your House Payment

It is critical for homeowners or prospective buyers to consider what they can afford before shopping for a new home.  A visit to the Realtor of your choice will help guide you in terms of matching the homes that fit your requirements with the budget you have in mind. Keep in mind that aside from the actual house payment, owning a home entails homeowners insurance, maintenance costs, housing taxes, utilities and monthly private mortgage insurance for those who do not have enough for a 20% down payment.  This can add up significantly and though it may look on paper like the monthly payment is the same as if you were to be renting, the truth is the costs can be much higher than renting.

Know Where Your Credit Stands

With the heavy regulations and guidelines placed on lenders these days, banks are even more careful about handing out loans to applicants who have borderline credit ratings.  It is very important for you, as a consumer, to know and understand your credit rating.  Nowadays, for an FHA loan, banks require a minimum FICO score of at least 620 to even accept an application.  Conventional loans have an even greater minimum credit score requirement.  If your credit suffers from some damage, be sure to actively repair it before applying for a mortgage so that the chances of approval are greater.

Bring Income-to-Debt Ratio To a Good Level

The amount you earn versus the amount you owe and the corresponding ratio is called the Income-to-Debt ratio.  Banks expect that you should owe no more than about 28 to 30 percent of your income.  The types of debt they take into consideration here are student or personal loans, credit card debt or other monthly payouts such as car payments.  Here is a calculator to help determine your current ratio.

Don’t Forget the Initial Cost to Buy the Home

Too many prospective homebuyers forget to factor in the expenses needed to actually purchase their home.  From paying for home inspections, appraisals, closing costs and down payments, to lending fees, documentation fees plus the real estate agent commission, things can add up fairly quickly.  Unless you have the amount needed to get through the transaction using cash on hand, it may be useful to reconsider the purchase until you do have the funds available.

Moving and Set-Up Costs Often Get Left Out of the Equation

After all is said and done, there is the cost to move into the home.  Depending on where you are moving from these costs can get pretty high.  For some homeowners, the need for additional furniture, more household items, expenses to repair or renovate some areas of the new home and of course the cost of moving – wipes out their entire savings.  Be sure to incorporate the cost of the move-in stage into the overall equation when deciding how much you can afford.
At the end of the day, you will need to be able to afford all costs in order to get into the house and then all expenses needed to be able to maintain living in the home.  As long as you can comfortably afford it, plus other expenses of life, you can safely go ahead and sign that dotted line.

Why Wait? Buy Up, Move In and Live It Up – Before This Year’s Holiday Season

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Almost everyone is aware of the ever-present news about real estate and how prices are falling, interest rates are at their all-time low and inventory levels far exceed demand.  Traditionally the peak season to sell homes, regardless of whether it is a down market or in an upswing is during the spring months and into the summer.  As we head into winter and leave autumn behind, for most people the thought of buying a house just does not occur to them.

But think again.  This is one of the best times ever to buy a home and why not seize the opportunities that exist as an extra edge by buying during the off-peak season? Here are some great reasons why now is the perfect time to be considering a new home, a buy-up, an investment property or even a first-time starter house.

I See Your True Colors

During the warmer seasons it is easy to camouflage a host of issues that may exist with homes on the market such as leaking roofs, inadequate heating and cooling systems or structural issues that are not commonly visible to most people.  But a house’s true colors are often visible when it is viewed during the cold, wet winter months because there are the elements to contend with and faults that otherwise would not show up if viewed during warmer times.

I’m Tired of Waiting

For many homeowners who might have been trying to sell their house for many months during this down market, there is a good chance that the days on market is significantly high at this point of the year.  For a buyer this presents the benefit of a worn out seller who may be willing to offer just about any concession under the sun to get that house sold.  By carefully timing your purchase, you may be able to get some great deals on your dream home – all because of buying during an off-peak time of year.  Keep in mind, the people who are selling are usually those who are in the market to buy another home and the idea of moving during the dead of winter is simply not appealing so they too want to sell before the holiday season approaches.

Things Sure Are Getting Tight Around Here

The more time that goes by the harder it is to obtain a mortgage.  This is mainly because lenders are extremely wary of potential litigation in case of default, seeing the exacerbated number of foreclosures and short sales during the past 18 months.  Lenders are exercising stricter guidelines and extremely detailed underwriting processes to make sure all the t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted. Buying now only ensures that you are getting in on the mortgage process before things heat up even more.

They’re HOW Low?

Yes, interest rates remain to be one of the strongest motivations for buyers to buy no matter what time of year it is.  And with the last reported month’s figures showing a significant increase in home sales from the previous year to this one, it only further demonstrates how many people are cashing in on these very low interest rates.  Not only that, as Freddie Mac recently reported, due to the current economic situation in the US and Europe, interest rates dropped two weeks in a row.  There is no telling how long this will last – so naturally if you are even remotely in the market to buy a new house or upgrade from an existing one, now is definitely the time before the mortgage rates start to climb back up again.

New Memories in a New Home

Imagine celebrating the holidays in your new home.  And imagine celebrating the great deal, buying more house with less money.  For savvy homeowners and prospective buyers who seize these opportunities that only come around once in a lifetime, nothing could be greater than to be able to focus on the real things that matter in life – life and living in a happy home.

Making the Decision To Sell For a Better Price Vs. a Faster Sale

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There are different approaches to selling a home and depending on your goal a couple different ways you can go about achieving that goal.  For homeowners looking to sell quickly so that they can relocate for a job, for instance, the option to sell as quickly as possible would be a viable one.  For families who have invested in their home for the long haul and had hoped to carry this investment through to the next property, hoping to maintain equity in their asset – selling with price in mind seems the better choice.

Either way, as we are in a current economic downturn that has lasted more than several years now, it is no secret that selling will not be as easy as it used to be.  By following some of the strategies listed below, you can count on an edge over other sellers who many not be savvy on the ins and outs of selling successfully.

Selling Your Home to Yield a Better Price


The single biggest mistake sellers make during a soft market is to price their home too high.  Working with me we will investigate market trends in the immediate vicinity of your home.  In this link you will find information regarding a CMA.  (Comparative Market Analysis) As always I am happy to supply you with a personal CMA to gain an in-depth look at what other sellers are selling like kind homes for in your area, average Days-On-Market statistics, housing values and more.

Click here for your own personal CMA. >


Very surprisingly, a significant number of sellers have no idea that they should prepare the house for sale by highlighting its attributes.  Beginning with curb appeal, then the entrance of the home and finally throughout the rest of the space – any and all noteworthy features should be highlighted.  The home should be attractive; everything in working order and it should be set up in a way that potential buyers can imagine themselves living in the home.


Taking care of any outstanding concerns with the home, whether functionally or aesthetically, is a sure-fire way to get a better price.  Start with the major issues and then work your way down.  Unless you are willing to accommodate the price of repairs on a major problem such as a leaky roof, ineffective plumbing or an old furnace – resolve these issues. Remove all clutter that is in plain sight and “depersonalize” the space so that buyers can imagine their own things in the home.  A fresh coat of paint and replaced carpeting in neutral colors can go a long way as an effective selling tool.  Remember, the less a seller has to do once they move in, the better price you will achieve.

Selling Your Home Faster 


Anyone can put a house up for sale – but not everyone can get the word out and market it as effectively as needed to sell it fast.  One of the traits of a successful Realtor is going above and beyond the traditional methods of marketing real estate and actually selling the home.  Working outside the box will have a huge impact on your success – and it goes without saying that the more people know about your listing, the more likely it is to sell.


One of the best advantages you can have over other sellers is to realize that it is a buyers market at the moment.  If there are issues that you cannot resolve, be prepared to offer a rebate for the amount of repairs. Be wiling to contribute to closing costs – a feature of FHA loans – financing that many homebuyers are tapping into these days, home warranties are also helpful.  If you have an assumable loan, communicate it to the prospective buyer as this is an excellent tool to help sell quickly.  Provide as many amenities as possible so that the home is move-in ready; leave appliances that are already hooked up and include as many appliances in the deal as possible.  Some sellers even offer to pay the first year’s homeowners’ insurance.


If your primary goal is to sell your home as fast as possible, one possibility is auctions.  Though not the best way to yield the best financial return on the sale, auctions definitely provide the peace of mind that your home is sold almost instantly.  There are some disadvantages to auctioning a home – and other than price they are mostly restrictive to the potential buyer.  You must be very clear on your contract that the sale is “as is” since there will likely be no time for inspections.  Maintaining buyers’ expectations can be difficult in an auction but on the other hand you can present your home and expect an answer almost immediately.
Not sure which approach you want to take?  Now that you have some tools and techniques – making the decision based on your needs should be an easier one.  Keep in mind you can also try to accomplish both, of course.  Regardless of the choice you make, it is essential to have a solid team backing you and one such pivotal member of your team will be your Realtor.  Be sure to choose a Realtor with whom you can feel comfortable, trust to take on the approach you feel is best for you – and one that will not be afraid to be honest with you in all ways to ensure the most success.

To Sell Or Not To Sell – Which Side of the Fence Are YOU On?

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With so much talk about this being the best buyer’s market our real estate industry has witnessed in a long time, there hasn’t been too much focus on whether one should consider selling right now. And if they choose to do so, what benefits or liabilities do they face in the wake of today’s economic downturn?

We take a look at both scenarios, so that if selling your house is an absolute must and waiting out the market is not an option – you can gauge the potential ramifications. Likewise, if you can wait the market out, what exactly can you expect to accomplish and in how much time?

When In Need, All Else Doesn’t Matter

The majority of home sales on the market today are those of people who are in an impossible situation. This could mean that they have to relocate for their job, the local economy has caused job loss, medical emergencies have arisen leading to the inability to manage the home or worse, total financial breakdown for any or all these reasons. Distress sales have recently become a growing phenomenon that is hardly possible to avoid during this current economic state.

Given that the national home prices outlook is bleak at the moment, this is a very difficult position to be in for these sellers. Often, they are people who obtained mortgages during the “golden years” of real estate when almost anyone could easily be approved for a home loan. Though not always the case, a lot of families who got themselves into homes thinking that economy would last forever – have now found themselves in an impossible situation.


Keep in mind that eventually property prices will rebound – so whether through creative financing, alternative arrangements with lenders, or even converting your property into an income-generating one, seek out ways to avoid selling.

If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, it is safe to say that selling is unavoidable:

• Do you need a significant amount of cash?
• Are you finding it harder to maintain your rental property?
• Is the estate in question an inheritance where all parties do not agree on what to do with it?
• Has a partnership dissolved, resulting in the need to split the assets?
While there are alternatives [http://thecincyblog.com/2008/01/18/three-alternatives-to-selling-your-house/], if property owners are unable to avail those opportunities, then there is no option to wait for the market to recover and the property in question must be sold.


It is a buyers’ market after all – which means that homes are being sold. So if you do need to sell, you must stand out from the rest of the competition to find success.

Keep in mind that with inventory levels as high as they are in most markets (an average of about 8 months currently), buyers have a lot to choose from. This means that sellers have to offer many incentives for buyers to choose their property on top of existing factors such as neighborhood and schools system, area amenities or the type of housing community.

What’s Stopping You From Upgrading Into Something Bigger and Better?

As mentioned above, the majority of home sales these days are those surrounded in unavoidable circumstance. The rest of the home sales taking place nowadays are for people who want to seize the buying opportunities out there right now, getting in on historically low interest rates and equally as historic low housing prices. Combine both these factors and it makes good sense for many Americans who can afford it to move out and move up. The primary advantage for these people is of course that they save tens of thousands of dollars on mortgage interest and they get to live in a better home for about the same that they are already paying.


Assuming that your home is sold, this could not be a better time for families to upgrade. When one home is vacated – the next one is occupied – those people then have to find a home, only for it to be vacated and those people have to find a home. This process is one of the driving forces of a well-oiled real estate machine that begins to affect local markets and eventually stabilize prices, contributing toward market recovery.
Put very simply, if you have to sell and have no choice – you will suffer the consequence of yielding less than what you had anticipated. And if you can afford it, selling now is one of the best decisions you can make for you and your family because it will translate into a sizable investment once the market does recover.

Shop Around Until Interest Rates Drop when Buying a Home

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When you're in the market for a home, I'm here to help you find the best mortgage terms around. But I also want you to be a fully-informed consumer! 

As you already know, buying a home may be the largest purchase of your life so you should go into it with eyes wide open! In this article, I'd like to provide you some proven and common-sense guidelines that can save you time, money and hassle during the mortgage-hunting process. 

Guideline 1: Look Beneath the Surface of the Interest Rate! 

If you're like most prospective home buyers, you call lenders or use the Internet to shop for the best interest rates. That's a good first step, no doubt about it! But, the mistake many buyers make is that they stop there and don't consider the fees that may be added on to the loan later by the cheapest lender. 

In other words, it's the lenders' game, and they may want you to play by the rules you're not even aware of. The answer, of course, is to know those rules ahead of time so you know exactly what you're getting when you buy that mortgage. More on this subject later! 

Guideline 2: Chose the Type of Lender That Works Best for You! 

There are several different sources of lenders - banks, credit unions, mortgage brokers, etc. They all have their advantages and disadvantages in terms of the rates and services they can offer you. For example, credit unions often provide the best value and service, but, of course, you have to belong to one in order to receive their services. 

Regular banks and "big lenders" (Bank of America, Citigroup, etc.) also provide competitive rates and services. Of course, they only offer products their companies provide. You can also use a mortgage broker. This person is a "wholesaler" who uses several lenders to give service to their customers. The advantage of a broker is that he or she offers a greater selection of rates and products. However, they also tend to be more expensive than regular banks and big lenders. 

Brokers make money in two ways. One is origination fees ("yield spread" or "rebate"). Essentially, the origination fee is a commission paid by the bank to the brokers to encourage them to use their firm. The second way is by selling a higher interest rate to you. This means there's room for you to negotiate that interest rate down! 

When a broker quotes you an interest rate, ask him or her to tell you what the origination fee, rebate or yield spread on that rate is. For a broker, a reasonable amount would be a total of 1% of the loan amount from yield spread, origination or combination of the two. Most brokers usually want to make at least 2%. 

Tip: Don't pay an origination fee unless the broker informs you that he or she isn't getting anything on the back end of the deal. 

The bottom line: you can (and should) shop among all these lenders to find the lowest rate. It can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage. 

Guideline 3: Review the Good Faith Estimate with an Eagle Eye! 

By law, lenders are required to provide you with a Good Faith Estimate or GFE. In essence, the GFE gives you a general summary of all the costs and expenses you'll incur at the time you close on your new home. The document should cover closing costs and the amount of cash you need to close on the agreement. It should also spell out which if any prepaid expenses must be handled and the average monthly payment you'll have to make in order to keep up with the loan. 

Most lenders provide complete and straight-forward information on these forms; however, there's no reason for you to accept the GFE at face value. Comb through the information and if you don't understand a particular item or fee, ask for an explanation. If you still don't understand them, you may want a lawyer to review them for you so you have complete understanding. 

Remember: A GFE is only an estimate. Changes may occur through no fault of the lender. A reputable lender will let you know if fees are going up substantially. In general, however, if those fees go up by more than approximately 16%, then a red flag should go up in your mind. 

Guideline 4: Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate! 

When confronted with the expertise and "prestige" of banks, we all have a tendency to think they know best, and we should, therefore, agree to their terms. Never think this way! Banks are like any business; you can and should negotiate with them! 

Want more information on banks and other lenders? Contact me today!