Florida Real Estate News

Fort Lauderdale News

Updated: Wednesday, May 22, 2019

What Happens When Tariffs Hit Home?

ldquo;Tariffs on goods traded between the U.S. and China have already increased in several stages since early 2018,rdquo; said CNBC. ldquo;Now, President Donald Trump has added a 25 tariff up from his original proposal of 10 on another 200 billion worth of Chinese imports, and China hit back with 5 to 10 percent duties on another 60 billion worth of U.S. goods.rdquo;

Experts say we could be seeing higher prices as a result of this escalation as early as this summer, and that has economists yelling, ldquo;Buy, buy, buy nowrdquo; in order to avoid what a report from Oxford Economics estimates will be an 800 hit to every U.S. household.

There is some question as to how the tariffs will play outmdash;after all, Trump said that China will suffer most of the economic impact. ldquo;Yet experts say the burden will land squa>

So what can you do? Ramp up future spending now, if possible.

ldquo;To get ahead of the next waves of tariffs, University of California, Davis, professor of economics and specialist in international trade Katheryn Russ recommends buying some items now, if possible mdash; such as backpacks and other back-to-school supplies mdash; rather than holding off until later in the year,rdquo; said CNBC. Ditto for things like iPhones; ldquo;The price for an iPhone XS would rise to 1,142, up from 1,000, if the White House implements a 25 tariff on the rest of China imports, J.P. Morgan said in a note to clients.rdquo; Expect a ldquo;similar impact on TVs and everyday purchases, ldquo;where consumers will be harder hit, such as frozen food and paper goods, including diapers and paper towels.rdquo;

Phil Crone, Executive Officer of the Dallas Builders Association, warns of the effect on the housing market. ldquo;From tile to countertops, laminates, lighting, and furnishing, about 450 products commonly found in new homes and remodeling projects are seeing tariffs rise from 10 percent to 25 percent,rdquo; he said. ldquo;According to the National Association of Home Builders NAHB, homeowners and homebuilders nationwide will be paying an additional 2.5 billion.rdquo;


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Dont Judge a House by its Photo

If you spend hours on the internet trying to find your dream home by searching through photos or video of properties, you may be overlooking important flaws in this superficial approach to evaluating real estate.

The big question is: What percentage of time are you incorrect in your decision to discard a property based on a photograph?

Judging a property by its photograph may prove expensive when you discard poor photos without knowing if they represent excellent real estate opportunity for you. Just ask yourself, how many selfies does it take to achieve a great and, therefore, accurate picture of you?

Even when you eventually find photogenic real estate to visit, how many better choices or better bargains did you miss out on because you did not approve their visuals?

bull; Have you studied photography and earned the advantage of knowing how to evaluate second-rate equipment or poor photographic technique that results in failure to present a homersquo;s good bones or reveal a hidden gem worth a closer look? Even a good photo may present poorly as an online image through bad decisions regarding lighting, resolution, cropping, coloration....

bull; What percentage of properties are discarded because the photo is unappealing? Listing photos are not intended as works of art. Was this a drive-by photo where the photographer did not get out the car because they had so many photos to take? Was it raining or snowing that day? Just like people, houses have a ldquo;good siderdquo; and a ldquo;bad side.rdquo; Which side is in the photo?

bull; Do you have a magazine or Instagram pic in mind that you are intent on matching? Houses that are beautiful from the curb earn high-value ratings >

bull; You canrsquo;t live in a photograph or even a video. Ideally, a photograph or short video of a property should reveal all the benefits of the buildings and the land. In reality, most photographic representations fall short of this goal. Some are more successful that others, but none are a substitute for experiencing ldquo;the big picturerdquo; first-hand: the feeling of being there, the volume of rooms, the acoustics of the building, the effects of daylight, the flow through the buildinghellip;the reality of inspecting the property yourself. In addition, street-face photos cannot reveal interiors that are in marked contrast to facades: a house with a renovated, ultra-modern interior may maintain its historic exterior.

bull; What percentage of the time are you attracted by a great photo of a house, which you later discover has ldquo;a lot of uglyrdquo; going on outside the photo i.e. beside the house is a high-rise building, auto body shop, shopping mall, night clubhellip;? Or, did you discard a property which, invisible to you, had wonderful green space around it? Since location is the most important value factor in real estate, how
can a photo of a property in isolation enable you to fully evaluate its location value without knowing context?

The above list of flawed reasons for discarding properties based on photographic representations explains how you may allow your lack of knowledge, on many levels, to limit your ultimate success identifying desirable real estate. Select only the ldquo;pretty picturesrdquo; and you may inadvertently eliminate properties that would be ideal and perhaps less expensive purchases for you and your family.

The Smart Approach

Wersquo;re not advising that you view every listed property. Instead, work with experienced real estate professionals whorsquo;ll process listings, visit properties using your criteria, and, therefore, save you time by selecting the best prospects for you to view.

Describe what yoursquo;ll want in a new home and the professional will converse with you to clarify that description for you and for them. Buyers are often surprised when these conversations reveal how much they had not realized about what they thought they wanted and needed.

Search out a professional who makes it their business to know area product from the outside in. Theyrsquo;ll share their insider view, so you wonrsquo;t miss out on what could be your dream home. This informed culling of properties will save you from having to view too many properties that are a poor fit for your needs and dreams.

ldquo;This house was a big surprise inside; from the outside, it looked much smaller,rdquo; is a common buyer observation. Most buyers, particularly first-timers or first-time-in-a-long-time buyers, are not experts at architecture or construction, nor have they inspected as many properties as experienced real estate professionals.

Your secret weapon is your real estate professional who makes it their business to keep up-to-date viewing area listings. They understand the advantages of knowing the whole property and its entire potential, not just its street face. They appreciate the difference between a real estate dream and a home thatrsquo;s a dream to live in.

Professionals are also aware of smart buying strategies based on poor photos or less inspiring facades. For instance, if yoursquo;d like to invest in the best location your budget will allow, there may be advantages to viewing properties in choice neighborhoods with less attractive street faces. When there is value in the location, interior, and backyard, over time the curb view can be improved on, increasing property value in the process.

Online buyers of clothing who >
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What to Expect When Applying for a Jumbo Loan

A jumbo loan is one where the loan amount exceeds current conforming loan limits. Conforming loans are those that conform to standards issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. One of the many requirements for a conforming loan is the loan limit which is currently 484,350 in most parts of the country. In higher cost areas where home values are much greater compared to the rest of the country, the conforming limit can be as high as 726,525. Beyond that is jumbo territory. When applying for financing to purchase a higher end home, jumbo approvals are issued in much the same manner as other types of loans, itrsquo;s just a bit more difficult to qualify for one.

Conforming loans can ask for a down payment for as little as 5.0 percent of the sales price. With a down payment of less than 20 percent however, private mortgage insurance, or PMI, will be needed. PMI insures the difference between 20 percent down and the actual amount of down payment. with a 5.0 percent down payment, the insurance would cover 15 percent. With jumbo loans however there is no PMI available. That means the loan amount for a jumbo loan should be no greater than 80 percent of the sales price. This equates to a 20 percent down payment, but slightly better terms are offered with a down payment of 25 percent or more. There are some niche portfolio products that ask for a lower down payment but in general this is what you can expect.

Credit score minimums are also higher for most jumbo loans. Conforming loan programs can go as low as 600 or so but jumbo loans need higher scores. Minimum scores can vary from one lender to the next but not by very much. Many jumbo loans ask for a minimum credit score of 700 while a few programs need a score of 680. Better rates and terms are typically available with a credit score of 740. If there are two borrowers on the same application, the lender will use the lower of the two qualifying scores.

Finally, jumbo loans typically require a bit more documentation both from the borrower as well as third parties. For example, a jumbo loan program might need two appraisals instead of just one. Again, if there are two appraisals, the lender will use the lower value for approval purposes. Jumbo loan applications are also fully documented. There are no ldquo;statedrdquo; type loans where income or employment is not verified via third parties. There are a couple of programs out there that review 12 months of bank statements in lieu of paycheck stubs or W2s, but the bank statements must show regular monthly deposits from a verified source.

On these statements, there needs to be sufficient cash to close for the down payment, closing costs and cash reserves. Lenders can separately mail a Verification of Deposit to the financial institution asking the bank to verify how much cash is in the bank as well as an average of recent balances.

Jumbo lenders can set their own guidelines because theyrsquo;re not bound to conforming rules which means qualifying at one lender may be easier or more difficult compared to another. Your loan officer will tell you what types of documentation yoursquo;ll need to provide, but once submitted, your jumbo loan application will be processed just like any other.


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Top Pros and Cons of Real Estate Investing

The Positives:

Direct Control ndash; When investing in real estate, you have direct control over your asset. You select the property ndash; value, size, neighborhood. You decide what repairs to make. You select your contractors. You choose to flip or choose suitable tenants. hellip;. You get the picture? Itrsquo;s in your hands to control and not up to the fickle markets or what some talking head or politician said in a news conference yesterday.

Insurance ndash; You can insure your property. In fact, if you take out a mortgage, your lender will most likely require that you have property insurance. This easily mitigates potential losses from fire, theft, etc. Although the FDIC insures your money sitting in banks, there is no comparable insurance for monies invested in your employerrsquo;s 401k or other investment accounts. If your investment property goes up in flames, yoursquo;re covered. If the market and your 401k tank, your money is gone. You can even get insurance against loss of rents if you find yourself without a tenant for whatever reason.

No ups and downs ndash; Traditional stocks are known to shoot up one day and plummet the next, leaving your nest egg empty and your nerves fried. And to the first point, you have no control over what will happen next. Real estate tends to be steadier and more predictable. As long as yoursquo;ve done your research, you will know what to expect in your market. Property values do not usually plummet overnight; you see it coming as the market slows and can change course as needed. If your market is slowing, you can speed up your current projects and start making lower offers on new properties you are reviewing. If your market is growing, you can ramp up purchases at higher prices knowing yoursquo;ll be able to sell or rent at higher prices as well.

Tax Deferral ndash; When you sell a property, you have to pay taxes. However, using the 1031 Exchange program, you can sell one property and purchase another of equal or greater value and defer the tax liability. Think about the power in that If all you can afford today is a small house that generates 100 per month cash flow, buy it. It will probably appreciate over time. Sell it for more than you bought it, and buy a nicer house that generates 200 per month cash flow. Repeat, repeat, repeat increasing your cash flow and equity as you go.

Rentals have some special pros to highlight, specifically dealing with your income and wealth.

bull; You can increase your monthly income. As long as your rent covers PITI principal, interest, taxes, insurance plus a little for maintenance, the rest goes into your pocket. Use it how you want, but I suggest investing in more rentals.
bull; Your wealth increases via equity build up / principal paydown. A portion of each rent check goes towards principal which increases the equity you have in the house. You donrsquo;t pay your mortgage; the tenant does.
bull; You can decrease your taxes. You can spend a little or a lot to repair a house. The losses on paper that you make while renovating a property can be used to reduce your tax liability. Check with an experienced accountant who is familiar with real estate to find out exactly how this can be done.

The Negatives:

Time/Research ndash; Unlike your 401k or the stock market, you canrsquo;t just review a brochure of curated investments and buy something todayhellip; and you shouldnrsquo;t. Not to say you canrsquo;t get started quickly, but real estate investing takes a little time and research to get up to speed. You donrsquo;t need to know it all, but you should think about where you want to purchase property, what are the values doing going up or down, do you want to flip or rent, how big of a renovation are you willing to do? On the bright side, there are lots of books, blogs, and websites to peruse. An even better place to get started is your local real estate investing groups that can be found on-line. Just do a google search and go meet people who are already investing.

Contractors ndash; The saying lsquo;herding catsrsquo; is absolutely appropriate here. A fast, affordable, quality contractor can be difficult to find. Donrsquo;t get discouraged, but do prepare to go through several contractors before you find the right fit for you and your goals. Once you find them, be clear with what you want done, treat them well, pay them on time. You need them for your next job, too

Not liquid ndash; Real estate is, again, not like a 401k or stock. You canrsquo;t just click a button or sign a piece of paper to get your money out. You have to prepare it and then list it either for sale or renthellip; and wait. So, if you anticipate needing your money for something else at any given moment, real estate might not be for you.

To summarize, while real estate investing takes some work, the pros outweigh the cons. If you decide to dive in, do your homework, be patient, and watch your income and net worth grow. When you have questions or run into problems, network Someone else has already been through it and can help you along.


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10 Reasons Why Your Home Isnt Selling

Here are the top 10 reasons why your home isnrsquo;t selling and donrsquo;t worry, most of them are fixable.

1. You Lack Marketing

ldquo;If we build it, they will come.rdquo; This doesnrsquo;t prove true for many new and sometimes, useful products. And same goes for when you put your home up for sale. Just putting it up on the market isnrsquo;t enough. You need to post your listing in as many places as possible. Most of these places are online. Online is the first place potential buyers check out.

Real estate agents can also be great resources for this. If you havenrsquo;t hire one, think about it. If you have, make sure they are doing their job. Ask questions regarding where your house is listed. And if they arenrsquo;t doing a good job, it might prove best to switch agents - Find someone that knows what they are doing and has ample experience.

2. Your House is Priced Too High

This is a common mistake. Too high of a price wonrsquo;t exactly woe any buyers. It can deter people from even viewing your home - Itrsquo;s not in their budget. And it may be obvious that the home isnrsquo;t worth the price tag. You should do your market research before determining a price for your home. Compare your home to others currently on the market. Again, a real estate agent can help you out with this

3. Your Home is In Serious Need of Repairs

A lot of people donrsquo;t want to buy a home that needs work. It isnrsquo;t ideal. So, what can you do? You could have someone come in and do a pre-listing inspection. From there, fix the problems. It will help you sell your house faster.

4. Your Home Isnrsquo;t Prepared For Showings

That first impression matters If you havenrsquo;t done it yet, get an expert to set up or make suggestions to switch things up so your house shows better. You might have to move furniture around. But it is enti>

Other ways to make your house show worthy? Make sure it is tidy and clean. If you have pets, clean up after them. Pay attention to the temperature. If itrsquo;s winter, make sure it feels warm and inviting. If itrsquo;s summer, make sure you have the A/C on and working.

5. Your Location is Anything But Ideal

This is a tough one to fix. If the location isnrsquo;t exactly sought-after, be prepared to play the waiting game. It might just take more time to find that perfect buyer.

6. It Smells

We get used to the smell of our own home. And unfortunately, it can be hard to detect. Some of the most common odors that throw buyers off include cigarettes, pets, food, and moisture. Do a smell test. Have a friend or neighbour come by to make sure you are good to go.

7. Bad Timing

In real estate, there is a good time to sell and a bad time to sell. If the market isnrsquo;t looking good to sell, it may be best to wait and there are tons of reasons that this may be the case. Do your research. Ask your local real estate agent. Find the right time for your area and location.

8. The Local Market is Working Against You

Itrsquo;s not just timing you have to worry about. Are a lot of people selling around you? Is it a buyers market in your area? That might be why your home isnrsquo;t selling. Again, your real estate agent should be able to point you in the right direction for this one. The time of year plus the number of houses on sale play a huge role in whether your house sells or not.

9. You Hired The Wrong Real Estate Agent

This can be a major problem. You want someone with experience, who is >

10. You Arenrsquo;t Flexible

You stand your ground on your asking price. But everyone is putting in offers that are lower. You donrsquo;t bother with repairs even though itrsquo;s the main reason your home inspection fell through. These could potentially be reasons why your home isnrsquo;t selling. Get those repairs done. Be flexible and realistic when it comes to pricing and offers. Or else yes, it will take a lot more time for your house to sell.

Go through the above reasons and be honest with yourself. Determine why your home isnrsquo;t selling - then, find ways to fix the problem. Or at least come to terms with it. Donrsquo;t make selling your home more of a hassle or process than it has to be.


Kurtis Forster is a real estate agent for Team Forster in London, Ontario. He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise about buying and selling real estate.nbsp;

Resources:

https://www.rochesterrealestateblog.com/reasons-why-your-home-isnt-selling/

https://www.thebalance.com/why-isn-t-my-home-selling-1799029


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Preparing Your Home For Long Term Travel

Set Your Thermostat

If you will be leaving your house unattended during the winter months, make sure your thermostat is set to 55 degrees. This will keep your house warm enough to prevent freezing and bursting water pipes, which can cause severe flooding and water damage. If your travels take you away from home during warmer weather, you should leave the AC unit on in order to prevent mold, mildew, and other conditions caused by heat and humidity. Adjust your thermostat to 85 degrees or less to regulate usage of the air conditioning. If you can, invest in a smart thermostat, which can be controlled via a handy smartphone app wherever you are. This is a great, convenient way to make sure your home is always protected from weather->

Turn Water Off

When you are going to be away for an extended period of time, its a good idea to turn off your main water line. This can prevent plumbing leaks from occurring in your absence, which can result in significant water damage and costly repairs.nbsp;After shutting off the main water valve, let your kitchen and bathroom faucets run dry, ensuring that no water is left in the pipes.

If you have a sprinkler system that needs to run while you are away, or if your heating system works with steam radiators or hot water, it is not a good idea to shut your water off at the main valve. However, anyone who doesnt have these special considerations should turn it off to avoid future problems upon your return. By turning off the water before you leave, you are saving yourself a potential headache when you get back

Wrap Toilet Bowls With Plastic Wrap

No, this isnt an elaborate prank for your family and friends By wrapping your toilet bowls, you are preventing sewer fumes from entering your home. Leaving your toilets unwrapped can result in a less-than-pleasant "welcome home" when you walk in the door. Just be sure to mark the cling wrap with a big black "X" or other warning symbol to prevent anyone from accidentally using the toilet with the wrap in place.

Empty the Fridge

Apart from the main reason of not wanting the food in your refrigerator to turn into a moldy, stinky science experiment while youre away, its also a good idea to empty the fridge of all perishables in order to completely defrost and unplug it if youre going to be gone for a very long time. This will save energy and not force the fridge to keep running when its not in use.

Travel is one of the most enriching things we can do in life- an ideal opportunity to meet new friends, share new experiences, and learn new things. By knowing how to properly take care of your home in your absence, you can have one less thing on your mind while you are away from home having adventures


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9 Practical Tips in Handling Plumbing Emergencies

Plumbing affects several areas in your home from the bathroom to the kitchen. Plumbing problems can arise suddenly, without warning. While some minor issues are easily fixed, some difficulties can quickly escalate into a major crisis that causes damage to your home. If this isnt taken care of immediately, you can suffer thousands of dollars in loss, with lasting consequences.

How can you potentially limit a plumbing disaster? Here are some helpful tips that you can apply to protect your home:

Shut off the Water

As soon as emergency strikes, turn off the source of water immediately. It can be as simple as turning off the valve at the base of your commode. However, if larger emergencies like flooding occur, turn off the main valve in your home. Most water valves usually have to be turned off clockwise.

Turn Off the Electricity

Electricity and water will always make a deadly combination. If there is any chance that the flooded water does come into contact with any electrical circuit, then, stay away from the leaking or flooded water. If you can reach for the main switch without touching any of the water, the better. The next thing you can do is to turn off the power switch and disable the circuits.

Check Your Water Heater

After youve stopped the flooding and flow of water into your home using the main switch, you will have to turn off your water heater as well. Its crucial to note that once the all the water in your home is shut off, there is a tendency that the pressure and the water levels inside your water heater will start to rise. This situation is potentially dangerous once the pressure increases above the heaters limit, the unit can burst, making the whole situation even more hazardous.

Wear Protective Rubber Gloves

For your safety and protection, wear rubber boots and gloves if the leak is contaminated by the sewage or is in a drain line. Even after the whole area is cleaned and dried, you still need to disinfect it after thoroughly.

Assess the Damage

Before you call a professional, try to asses the damage first. Providing the plumber with sufficient information over the phone gives them a good idea of the problem at hand. As a result, they can quickly fix the problem.

Open Drains and Spigots

You have to understand that there will still be water in the pipes even after youve turned off the main valve. To move this water away from your home, turn on spigots and open drains. Also, give the hose in your garden a few extra squirts to ensure that you clear out the water as well. If youre experiencing a small clog, open the drain using >

Avoid Using Chemicals on Pipes

Try not to use chemical cleaners in your pipes as it can make the situation worse. If youre experiencing a backed-up drain, avoid using a bottle of drain cleaner. Drain cleaners will erode the pipes, and if your home is older, this can cause lasting devastating effects. While these chemicals can usually wash away debris and dirt, they still cause significant problems. As an alternative, try using a plunger. If it still doesnt work out, its time to call an expert.

Handle Small Leaks

Small leaks are quite easy to identify. The best thing that you can do about it is to stop them as soon as possible. You can try stuffing rags and towels around the pipes. Also putting buckets under those dripping leaks can help as well. Let your plumber know about these leaks the moment they arrive so that they can be addressed in the safest order.

Call a Plumber

When youre facing a plumbing crisis, its essential to call a plumbing professional or a plumbing company. Doing so gives you peace of mind that your safety and the overall condition of your home is well-taken care. Call a plumbing company that offers 24-hour, emergency service. Try to give the plumber as much information as you can about what fixtures are affected and what you have done to fix or stop the problem.


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Garage Organization: A Chore No More In 5 Easy Steps

1. Plan of Attack

Dont enter alone. And use the buddy systemmdash;if for no other reason than you may get overwhelmed and lost in your own sea of debris. Friends, family, and the kids can all lend a hand to get the job done quicker and to help keep you on track: its easy to get distracted rooting through the objects of your past.

The first goal of any garage organization is to create more floor space, so thats where you should begin as well. Get all the knick-knacks, the holiday decorations, and any other indoor->

2. Divide and Conquer

Give each helper a section to cover. This should help the garage organization run smoother. And dont be clingy. If you havent used something in over a year, or if you forgot it even existed, its time to say goodbye. Give your stuff to charities, thrift stores, or maybe even make a trip to the dump. Or, better yet, make a separate pile for a future garage sale, allowing you to reap all the awards of your excavation. However, dont procrastinate on this chore either. Its easy to say youll have a garage sale and not follow through so as to keep putting off the inevitable. Then, divide up the remaining possessions into categoriesmdash;sports items, seasonal deacute;cor, gardening tools, car maintenance, etc.mdash;to help with the next step.

3. Get Vertical

Once everything is cleaned and categorized, now its time to rearrange. The best way to store your things is to make use of your vertical space.

  • Get a pegboard for your tools.
  • Put up some shelves for boxes.
  • Heavy-duty hooks are great for shovels and rakes.
  • Buy a magnetic strip for stray metal items, such as steel rulers or chisels.

If you have bikes, skis, or ladders, put them overhead in the rafters or if you have a drywall ceiling, once again, heavy-duty hooks are great for hanging these heavy-duty items.

Remember that a garage is mainly used to store or work on your car or other vehicles so make sure you clear enough space to make this possible. Garage car lifts provide a great way for you to store a vehicle whilst still giving you floor space to move around in. You can get 2 post lifts which make it easy to work on your car and 4 post lifts which allow you to store 2 vehicles in one space.

4. Compartmentalize

Once you have as much as you can off the floor, its now time to find additional storage. The easiest answer to this dilemma is a garage organizer.

  • A multiple tier shelving unit is great for storing paint or varnishes.
  • A cabinetry system for miscellaneous items is always handy.
  • Maybe buy several Rubbermaid baskets to hang on the wall to help separate the recycling.
  • Buy a crank to roll up that hose.
  • Use garbage ties or bungee cords to keep your extension cords in line.

Whatever the need, investing in some form of garage organizer helps to maintain the floor space youve just created.

5. Items Big and Small Dont forget the little things.

If you save glass baby-food jars, clear film canisters, or milk cartons to be cut in half, youll now be able to store smaller items, such as nails, screws, or tacks. If these small containers arent see through, they can also be easily labeled with masking tape. Another alternative garage organizer is an inexpensive tackle box to help contain the confusion. But what if its your bigger items that are getting in the way? What if its the necessary tools, such as snow blowers, lawn mowers, or edgers creating the clutter? Then consider building an extra shed in the backyard or a lean-to against the outside of the garage in order to produce additional square footage.

Donrsquo;t Let It Happen Again

The main thing to keep in mind is never let it get to this point again. If you take these steps, you should be able to keep up with your garage organization in the future. This is not to say that you wont have some occasional maintenancemdash;some sweeping, scrubbing, or washing. But by simply taking the time to arrange the space, at least youll no longer dread entering into it.


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To Roommate or Not to Roommate? Things to Consider Before Bringing Another Person Under Your Roof

Defraying the cost of a mortgage is great, and, in some cases, taking in tenants can be lucrative, more than covering your entire payment and putting money in your pocket every month. But, inviting roommates into your home also comes with its share of potential downsides. Here are a few things you may want to weigh before you hand over the keys.

Say goodbye to your privacy

Having someone else in your home probably means you canrsquo;t walk around naked unless yoursquo;re in that type of thing. It also may mean there will be people making noise in the living room when you want peace and quiet or making a mess in the kitchen when you just want to make a sandwich.

About that messhellip;

Speaking of messes, how another person lives should be a consideration before you invite them to live in your home. Have you seen their current place? Did it lookhellip;normal?

If yoursquo;re a neat freak and your potential roommate like to leave behind items of clothing like breadcrumbs, you could have an Odd Couple situation. On the other hand, if yoursquo;re a little more casual about how you keep the house and your potential roommate likes things just so, you might end up feeling out of place in your own home.

Someone elsersquo;s romantic life

Arenrsquo;t you a little old to be living by the ldquo;sock on the doorrdquo; rule? Bringing in a roommate may mean compromising your privacy in even more egregious ways, or having to tiptoe around in order to avoid an uncomfortable run-in.

Financial issues

Ultimately, itrsquo;s your finances and credit at risk no matter who you invite into your home because itrsquo;s your name on the mortgage. If yoursquo;re taking in a roommate to help make your mortgage payment, you need to know you can depend on this person to pay his or her share. No matter how well you think you know this potential roommate, itrsquo;s imperative that you do a background check and check their credit. What you donrsquo;t know could hurt you.


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May Real Estate Roundup

Freddie Macs results of its Primary Mortgage Market Surveyreg; shows that "despite the recent rise in mortgage rates, both existing and new home sales continue to show strength ndash; indicating the lagged effect of lower rates on housing demand. This, along with improved affordability, should push housing activity higher in the coming months."

bull; 30-year fixed-rate mortgage FRM averaged 4.2 percent with an average 0.5 points for the week ending April 25, 2019, up from last month when it averaged 4.06 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.58 percent.

bull; 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.64 percent with an average 0.5 points, up from last month when it also averaged 3.57 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.02 percent.

bull; 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage ARM averaged 3.77 percent this week with an average 0.4 points, up from last month when it averaged 3.75 percent. A year ago, at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.74 percent.


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Are You Grown Up Enough to Be a Homeowner?

Do you know the true costs of homeownership?

Yes, you have a handle on what your principal, interest, taxes, and insurance are going to cost. But have you factored in the other costs? Homeownerrsquo;s association fees, tolls, gas, and other commuter costs, landscaping help, and increased utility costs could all add to your monthly expenses and push the affordability factor out of reach.

Are you aware of closing costs?

Many first-time buyers arenrsquo;t prepared to pay thousands of dollars on top of their down payment. Getting an estimate upfront is key to making sure you have what you need to close.

Are you being realistic about home appreciation?

Homebuyers love to look at home appreciation over a period of time and then use those numbers to project how much their home value will increase in the next few years. Itrsquo;s human nature. But it can also be dangerous if yoursquo;re counting on that appreciation to move up or on in a few yearsrsquo; time.

Itrsquo;s important to remember that the real estate market is cyclical, and, while short-term gains are great, historical long-term gains also make real estate one of the safest and most successful investment strategies. ldquo;Housing was the worldrsquo;s best investment over the last 150 years,rdquo; said Quartz.

If your home does increase in value, what will you do with the equity?

Hope your answer wasnrsquo;t, ldquo;Go shoppingrdquo; or ldquo;Buy a new carrdquo; That kind of thinking can get you in troublemdash;in fact, it did get a lot of people in trouble during the last downturn. Responsible use of home equity is key to remaining financially stable. When you use your equity for things other than home improvement, yoursquo;re increasing your monthly costs but not your home value. Now it costs more to live in your home, and itrsquo;s at risk if you get in over your head and default on your loan.

Are you planning to run out and furnish every inch of the home right away?

Doing so could put you several thousand dollars in additional debt just as yoursquo;re transitioning to homeownership. Financial experts recommend easing into your new home and making sure the monthly output is what you expect and can manage before taking on too much additional debt.

Do you pay your bills on time?

There are those of us who like to pay bills right when we receive them and those of us who pay them when we get a notification that wersquo;re about to incur a late fee. Wersquo;ve been both of those people. If yoursquo;re not used tomdash;or fond of or good atmdash;managing your bills, you may find yourself with no water or electricity. Investopedia has some great tools to help you get more organized.

How good are you at facing your issues?

We can procrastinate with the best of lsquo;em and we have. We can put off fixing a problemmdash;personal, professional, or otherwise and we have. We can wait too long to take care of a little problem in the house and turn it into a big, huge, much more expensive problem and we have. Being a homeowner means stepping up when the house needs you. And it will need you at some point. Are you ready to make it a priority?

Would you rather take a bucket list vacation or fix up your kitchen?

A trip to the see the Northern Lights would be amazinghellip;but would it be better than being able to run your hands over your new Quartz countertops every day? You may need to make some hard decisions as a homeowner. Whether or not itrsquo;s worth depends on how important the goal of buying a home is.

Do you have a solid support system?

Sometimes you just need someone you can vent to, sometimes you need someone to come fix a smoke detector 20 feet up thatrsquo;s going off in the middle of the night. If yoursquo;re used to living at home, where parents take care of everything, or in an apartment where you can call the manager, the realization that this is all your responsibility now can be a shock to the system. There are a few things you can do to make sure yoursquo;re prepared for whatever comes your way:

bull; Mine Nextdoor ahead of time for resources plumber, electrician, garage door expert you can reach out to when needed
bull; Find a good handyman as soon as you move in
bull; Meet and exchange contact information with your neighbors
bull; Consider getting a home warranty, especially if your home is older and yoursquo;re concerned about the large expense of a new hot water heater or air conditioning unit


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How Transit-Supported Development Could Solve Affordability Issues

A recent survey of young urban families in Canada found that proximity to public transit is one of their top considerations when purchasing a home. The survey found that 28 per cent of families rank transit-friendly neighbourhoods as a priority, while 17 per cent considered car-friendliness is a priority. Four per cent cited cycling-friendly neighbourhoods.

ldquo;Transportation and housing have always been inextricably linked. Investments into any transportation infrastructure, whether rapid transit, bus lines, roads or bike lanes, not only have a direct impact on a communityrsquo;s quality of life, but often, real estate values,rdquo; says Brad Henderson, president and CEO of Sothebyrsquo;s International Realty Canada, which conducted the survey with Mustel Group.

ldquo;The importance that many of todayrsquo;s young families are placing on neighbourhood public transit access when home buying reflects changing attitudes and values, the strains of cost of living, as well as improvements to transit infrastructure made to date,rdquo; says Henderson.

ldquo;These priorities also point to what this influential group of buyers will deem prime real estate locations in the future.rdquo;

The young families cited safety as the No. 1 priority for their neighbourhoods. Transit-friendly neighbourhoods were a priority for 30 per cent of respondents in Vancouver, 29 per cent in Toronto and Montreal and 21 per cent in Calgary. Having a location that was car-friendly was most important to Calgary residents at 20 per cent, followed by 19 per cent of Montreal families, 17 per cent of Toronto families and 13 per cent of Vancouver respondents.

Montrealrsquo;s families were most interested in cycling-friendly neighbourhoods at seven per cent, followed by Vancouver and Calgary at five per cent and Toronto at two per cent.

A shortage of housing options in Toronto and Vancouver, in particular, continue to price young families out of the downtown real estate markets and push them further to the suburbs. Several recent studies suggest that building more transit-supported development ntilde; homes within a 10-minute walk of public transit ntilde; could help provide more affordable housing options and >

A report from the Pembina Institute says that the population in the Greater Toronto Horseshoe Area is expected to grow by 110,000 people every year, to more than 10 million by 2041. The City of Toronto will get about 20 per cent of this growth, but the outlining suburbs will grow the most dramatically.

The Pembina report has three examples of how people living in transit-supported developments could save significant money.

A young professional making 75,000, which includes most first-time home buyers, could lower housing and transportation costs by 10 per cent to 11 per cent by getting rid of their car and taking transit instead, says the Pembina report. Families with a 120,000 yearly income could save 40 per cent to 45 per cent by moving from a detached home to a two-bedroom condo and from two cars to one, replacing that car with transit use. A retiree with a 25,000 income could go from a detached home to a one-bedroom condo and get rid of their car, resulting in a saving of 50 to 56 per cent.

A study by the Centre for Urban Research amp; Land Development CUR identified almost 200 existing or under-development major transit modes across Ontario. It says there is almost 1,500 square km of land within 800 metres of a major transit mode that could support more development.

ldquo;Outdated city bylaws protect much of it from higher transit-supported density development,rdquo; says CUR. ldquo;Carefully implementing as-of-right zoning along transit corridors is likely to be an effective action governments in Ontario can take to make room for additional housing supply.rdquo;

The study says, ldquo;A conservative estimate would suggest that re-zoning could encourage yearly construction around under-zoned transit nodes and lines by up to 25 housing units per square km at a minimum. That could translate into a minimum of 20,000 more units per year along transit corridors in Ontario,rdquo; says the CUR report.

The CUR and Pembina report both recommend that municipal bylaws and zoning be reviewed to allow for transit-supportive zoning.

ldquo;Public policy interventions are needed to ensure equitable transit-supported development, which means ensuring there are housing options to meet the needs of low-and moderate-income households,rdquo; says the Pembina report, adding that providing mixed-income housing near transit stations ldquo;can give families with low and moderate household incomes an equal opportunity to live near work or commute by transit, thereby saving money on both housing and transportation.rdquo;

Recently the Ontario government introduced a housing action plan that includes ldquo;making it easier to transform commuter parking lots at transit stations into places with homes and businesses.rdquo;

It says it has already introduced development plans for two Toronto transit hubs ldquo;and this is just the startrdquo;. But there has already been opposition to the governmentrsquo;s plan from municipal councillors, who say the plan is just a way for developers to make more money and wonrsquo;t provide more affordable housing.


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One Story or Two Story? The Advantagesand Disadvantagesof Each.

Are you open to either? Do you feel like the right home will ldquo;speakrdquo; to you regardless of the number of floors? Letrsquo;s take a look at some of the realities of living of both, with a few things you may not have thought of.

Cost-per-square-foot

A one-story home may seem more expensive if itrsquo;s priced against a larger two-story home, but you have to take the price-per-square-footage into account to see the value. They typically ldquo;cost less per square foot to build,rdquo; said Bensonwood. ldquo;Thatrsquo;s because the most expensive elements of home-buildingmdash;excavation/foundation and rafters/roof installationmdash;are being built on a smaller footprint. Plus, yoursquo;ll have less roof area to maintain.rdquo;

Containing the mess

Kids may be more likely to keep their mess contained to the second level, where guests wonrsquo;t see it. When their rooms are on the main level, their stuff has a way of migrating into main living areas.

Stairs are dangerous

Yes, people do fall down the stairs. In fact, the National Safety Council ranks stairway falls ldquo;second only to motor vehicle accidents as a leading cause of accidental injury,rdquo; according to USClaims. Injuries can include bruises, sprains, and bone breaks, as well as more serious traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries leading to paralysis.

If the potential for injury is of concern, especially with young children, there are precautions you can take to make stairs safer, including carpeting the surface and making sure the area is well-lit.

The health benefits

Stairs give you a built-in butt workout, but theyrsquo;re actually good for the whole body. ldquo;Climbing stairs is a great form of cardio exercise,rdquo; said Truweight. ldquo;While climbing stairs, you work against gravity lifting your entire body. This activity strengthens your leg muscles making it a rather strenuous exercise.rdquo; It can also ldquo;improve your heart rate and healthrdquo; as well as strengthen joints and muscles.

Let the fresh air in

If you have a one-story home, you likely keep the windows locked up tight, especially at night. But therersquo;s a sense of security that comes from being upstairs. And, as Shayan Jalali, a sales associate for Keller Williams in Boston, said on Realtor.com, ldquo;A thief is unlikely to shimmy up your drain pipe just to check out your goods, and far less likely to shimmy down it with your flat-screen TV.rdquo;

You may be safer in an emergency

You should have an evacuation plan for everyone in the household to follow regardless of what type of home you live in. But, some buyers prefer to have a single-story because it can be easier to evacuate in an emergency.

ldquo;Unfortunately, natural disastersmdash;and some manmade disasters such as firesmdash;do happen,rdquo; said The Balance. ldquo;This can be a primary consideration depending on your location. You might have to think about the possibility of tornadoes in the Midwest, tidal flooding on the Eastern seaboard, or earthquakes in California. In any case, youll want to be able to evacuate your home quickly and efficiently under the worst circumstances, maybe even while youre still half asleep. This tends to be easier in a one-story dwelling.rdquo;

Defined spaces

Bedrooms upstairs, gathering spaces downstairs. Thats the way it should be, right? Thatrsquo;s what many families lean towardmdash;hence the enduring popularity of these plans.

Mobility issues

Young families arenrsquo;t the only ones who prefer single-story homes. If yoursquo;re approaching retirement age, you may be thinking about whether or not itrsquo;s smart to buy a home with stairs. The truth is mobility issues may be many years away or they may never affect you at all. There are also ways you can adapt a two-story home, like adding a chairlift or elevator. Or, you can choose a single story for your forever home and forgo the hassle or expensive renovations.


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Bitcoin vs. Property Investment: The Risks

However, if you are looking to invest some money but either have enough property already, or just fancy something a bit different, could Bitcoin be the answer yoursquo;ve been waiting for?

Investing in Bitcoin comes with a mighty element of risk, but then this could be true of investing in anything as you can never guarantee a positive return on that investment, no matter what yoursquo;re buying into or how calculated you think yoursquo;ve been with weighing up the pros and cons.

External factors in all investments

Bitcoin has been compared to commodities such as gold, but how does it compare to property? Is it really riskier that buying property?

All investments, whether it be cryptocurrencies, property or almost anything else you can think of, come with a whole plethora of external factors which cannot be controlled or predicted by you as the investor. Whilst you have some control over your investment, e.g. by deciding how much money you want to invest, and what you want to invest in, the truth of the matter is that no matter what you decide to invest in, there will always be factors that dictate changes that may affect your investment which you will not be able to prevent. In terms of property, such factors can include fluctuating prices of the property market, consumer demand and other costs associated with buying and letting property taxes, stamp duty etc.

So, with this in mind, is it less risky to invest in Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin?

Bitcoin: the additional risks

Unlike the physical commodity of property, the online based cryptocurrencies are far more exposed to fraud through hacking issues. Unfortunately, too many hackers are able to commit crimes when it comes to the theft of cryptocurrency, as letrsquo;s be honest, it is far easier for someone to steal Bitcoin off of you than it is for someone to steal an entire property from you, especially as a lot of the time you will not know that you have been stolen from until you next login.

With this is mind, many people would argue that investing in Bitcoin poses a far higher risk than property, although it must be bared in mind that with Bitcoin you do not have the other risks that come with investing in property, especially if you intend to rent this property out to tenants.

So, what should I invest in, Bitcoin or Property?

Ultimately, all investments carry potential risks, and there is not a clear answer to this question. In terms of both, ensure never to invest when the price is high, keep an eye on fluctuations and make your move when the time is right. Regardless of what you choose to invest in, remember that your security and the safety of your assets and investments should be the top priority. Carry out your own research and you will soon find that investment in property and bitcoin are just as risky as each other, it is simply down to the choice of the investor.


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Requirement Differences Between Conforming and Jumbo Loans

Yet while both are approved in much the same manner, there are some approval differences that need to be pointed out. This can be especially important if the sales price on a home is very close to either choice. Perhaps a home is listed at 600,000. With a 20 down payment the loan would be 480,000. With a 10 down payment, it would fall into the jumbo category.

One of the requirements >

It used to be, up until the late 1950s, that mortgage lenders would cap the loan amount at 80 or lower. This extra equity cushion was needed should the loan go into default. Foreclosing on a property is costly for the lender and without this cushion lenders could be automatically ldquo;upside downrdquo; with a property, losing money upon sale. This meant home buyers had to come up with more money for a down payment, meaning buying later after saving more or being kept out of the home buying process altogether.

PMI on the other hand offered a solution. PMI would compensate the lender the difference between the buyerrsquo;s down payment and 80 of the value. If the buyers put down 10, PMI would cover an amount that would compensate the lender the difference. Remember, PMI is indeed an insurance policy.

But there are no PMI policies available for jumbo loans, only conforming ones. This is a big requirement difference between the two.

This translates into a jumbo down payment of at least 20 of the sales price and borrowers with a 25 down payment get slightly better terms. There are programs where lower down payments are accepted but must be accompanied by secondary financing to keep the primary mortgage at 80 of the propertyrsquo;s value.

Another >

Debt ratios, the percentage of debt compared to gross monthly income, are also a bit more restrictive with a jumbo loan. Conforming loans can accept debt ratios approaching 50, which means total monthly credit obligations approach nearly half of qualifying monthly income. Note however, when a lender approves a loan with such ratios, there will be other compensating factors in the file such as high credit scores, a large down payment, significant cash reserves and other positive features. Jumbo loans on the other hand will ra>There can be other differences as individual jumbo lenders have the ability to require more documentation of income, employment and assets, but in general, these are the main difference you need to know about.


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How Much Does a Pool Add to the Sale Price of a House

Thatrsquo;s because whilst homes can appreciate in value, pools do not. A pool is like a motor vehicle ndash; once it has been used, its value starts depreciating, and a pool that is more than 10 years old would have almost no value at all in a real estate transaction.

Of course, there are exceptions to that general rule. A well-constructed concrete pool using high-quality materials in a high-end property, and which has been well maintained throughout its life, is still going to have value after 10 years.

Mr Pool Man, a leading supplier of high-quality pool pumps and filtration equipment, says the condition and quality of the pool fixtures and fittings that have been used also has a big impact on whether an older pool can hold its value. But the average quality pool in a suburban home is likely to depreciate at around the same rate as a motor vehicle ndash; a large drop in value the first year, and then steadily decreasing until there is not much resale value left at the end of a decade.

So the answer to the question as to whether the cost of installing a pool can be recouped in a property sale is almost certainly no.

As to the question of how much can be added to the sale price to reflect the value of the pool depends on a range of other factors aside from age:

Type of pool

Only professionally constructed in-ground pools with a shotcrete, gunite or tiled finish are capable of holding much value beyond 10 years. Even then, the value is going to be largely dependent on its condition and the quality of fixtures and fittings.

Any noticeable cracks in the surface of the pool - even without any evidence of leakage - is going to reduce its value.nbsp;

Many manufacturers of fiberglass pools claim their pools can hold their value as long as concrete pools. Technically that is true at least for the first 10 years, but in practice most homeowners donrsquo;t keep the water quality at an optimum level throughout the year, and this often results in premature discoloring of the gel coat finish on the fiberglass.

Any discoloring of the surface of the pool is going to result in the pool looking older than it might really be, thus having some impact on the amount that can be added to the selling price of the property.

Pools that have a vinyl liner are the cheapest to install and this is reflected in the fact that they have the lowest resale value. Vinyl liners have to be replaced every five years or so, so unless the liner has been fairly recently replaced, it is unlikely that the value that a buyer would place on this type of pool would be anything close to its installation cost.

Buyerrsquo;s needs

After the age and the type of the pool, the factor that has the most influence on the extent to which the selling price of the property can be inflated to recoup some of the installation costs of the pool is whether the buyer is actively seeking to buy a property with a pool.

This is where the issue of how much to add to the selling price becomes very subjective because whilst some buyers ndash; families with children for example ndash; may be actively seeking a house with a pool, others may be ambivalent about whether the property has a pool or not.

In fact having a pool may even turn away some buyers who do not want a pool because whilst a pool may enhance the look of a house and garden, if the new homeowners have no intention of using it, they will need to still spend money on keeping it maintained to avoid it becoming unsightly with green algae.

Rule of Thumb

So with one of those factors being so subjective, how is it possible to estimate a figure to add to the sale price of the house to account for the value of the pool? A good rule of thumb is to work out what the cost of installing the pool represents as a percentage of the cost of building or buying the house. Generally that figure is around 10-15 percent. Then take half that figure and apply that percentage to what would have been the sale price of the house. So, for example, if the cost of building the pool was 12 percent of the cost of building the house, then increase the selling price of the house by 6 percent.

Of course, that price needs to be compared with the market price of similar properties that may have been sold in the same area, and for older houses with older pools, that figure may end up only being a starting point from which you will have to negotiate, but at least you will have a figure that represents the maximum likely return from a house and pool sale.


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Creating a Home Workout Space Without Sacrificing Style

The Workout Space

Maybe you have already thought about or tried a temporary workout space. This would be a multifunctional space like a yoga mat that can be set up in the living room then put away. Itrsquo;s quick and easy and there are plenty of workout routines that can be done in a fairly small space including lifting weights or doing squats and lunges. Afterward you can roll up the mat and put it away. Yoga mats have the added benefits of providing cushion on wood or tile floors and muffling the sound of your feet. If your mat or area rug slips, use rug grippers under them to keep them in place.

If you are able to set aside a space that can always be used as your gym, you can decorate it in a way that inspires a good workout. First, pick an open space such as an extra bedroom, loft, or patio that is low-traffic and uncluttered. Avoid putting objects here that are breakable or hazardous because you could run into sharp table corners or knock over vases during active exercises like jumping and dancing. Make sure that your area is light and well ventilated. Natural light is ideal but you can add other lighting to brighten it up. Keep a fan nearby or make sure your space has AC or windows so you wonrsquo;t overheat. If you want large exercise equipment, measure your space first to make sure you have room for it.

Stocking Your Home Gym

You will want to make sure you have everything you need but you can still add >

Give It A Theme

Try finding a theme to compliment your workout. For a bohemian yoga sanctuary, use a large tapestry in warm tones and add a few crystals, an oil diffuser, a salt lamp, or perhaps wicker storage units. You could create a more organic space with plants and a small, calming fountain or a few flowers. Conversely, you might not want this room to stand out so much. Make it flow with the rest of house more and still hint at its purpose with ballerina art by Degas, inspirational quotes, a cork board to post your goals, progress, and workout schedule, or even a bookcase if yoursquo;ve created a space that is >

nbsp;However you express your >
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Find The Right Agent For You

Finding the right Realtorreg; to help you with buying or selling a home can seem daunting. Your best friends sisters cousin may be an agent referral but does that mean that theyre the right agent to fulfill your needs? Getting referrals from friends and family is great but sometimes those referrals dont work out and can lead to strains in >

Credentials Matter

Your family doctor or kids teacher required education to do their jobs. A good agent requires specialized training and knowledge for their job as well. Agents may have acronyms after their name on the business card which can represent a few different specialties or areas of expertise:

  • SRES Seniors Real Estate Specialist - trained to assist buyers ages 50 and older to buy and sell a home.
  • CRS Certified Residential Specialist - trained to help buyers in the home buying and selling markets
  • ABR Accredited Buyers Representative - trained to represent buyers in transactions
  • GRI Graduate, Realtorreg; Institute - the National Association of Realtorsreg; most comprehensive training on a broad range of subjects, including all the ones mentioned above

The right credentials will ensure that the agent has received proper training in the field to help you.

Experience and Referrals

A seasoned agent with an excellent track record is the type of agent that you would want to represent your sale. Someone who has been actively and successfully working in the local market for at least 5 years is a good suggestion. Also getting the detailed information on the agentrsquo;s experience and track record can be a key indicator to the type of success that you can expect. You can request a list of recent sales and client contact information from the agent to find out about past customer experiences. Finding out how long the properties were on the market is a great question to ask as well.

Passion For The Job

Finding an agent that loves what they do can make or break a sale. Their passion in the field and the reason for working in real estate can be a motivating factor to go above and beyond to help a client with the sale of their property. Ask your agent why they decided to enter this field to see if their values align with your own. If the agent is only concerned with walking away with money at the end of the day, then you know their love is not in what they do but the paycheck for their wallet.

Communication

One of the biggest things that anyone in the customer service industry can do is provide outstanding communication. This applies to buying home as well. The agent should communicate promptly whether its by phone, e-mail or mail. If a phone message is left with the agent, a return call should be expected within 24 hours or less. E-mails should receive the same turn-around time. Dont be afraid to ask the agent how promptly they return communication requests to set expectations from the beginning. If the agent does not meet the expectations, dont be afraid to discuss this with your agent and request improvements.

Customer Service

In line with communication, customer service is huge when it comes to buy a home. If youre selling a property and your agent is having an open house, find out what theyre doing to prepare for it. Do they advertise? Do they give you tips to help stage the house properly? Anticipating the needs of the buyer and seller and being attuned to their individual situation can show the difference between just a mediocre agent and an outstanding agent.


Full Story >




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Welcome to the Atlantic Properties International Blog
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Updated: Wednesday, May 22, 2019

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Copyright ©2019Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved