Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pre-Sale Renovations: Do's and Don'ts

To get right to today's market, expensive pre-sale renovations, for the most part, are not worth it! According to the National Association of REALTORS, the numbers bear this out: "In general, a home remodel will cost quite a bit more than you'll get back when you sell; remodels done in 2010 will only recoup 60% of their price when the house is sold".

What are the two areas that often are remodeled before selling? Right, the kitchen and the bathroom. So lets talk about what to do and what to avoid when considering a pre-sale renovation.

DON'T...Put in expensive professional-grade cook's appliances. How do you know the buyer is a cook? They might be take-out addicts.
DON'T...Replace your cabinetry, well not completely. People have different tastes.
DON'T...Go granite crazy. Or marble. Or etched-Murano-glass-accented tile. Get the point yet...People's tastes are different. It's impossible to find one that pleases most people.

DO...Service the appliances you have. If you do have to replace some seriously outdated appliances, replace with those that are $1000 or less. However, if there are any appliances that you don't have that most buyers feel are a must, for example, a dishwasher, then it would make sense to buy one.
DO...Invest in cabinet refacing, IF they are seriously outdated. Many refacing companies will give you a fresh face for well under $2000.
DO...Hire a professional cleaning company to come in and make what you have sparkle, for example, tile floors. The company will not magically make the tile look magazine-worthy, but it will certainly help with discoloration that has occurred from age.

A few more kitchen tips:

Declutter your counter tops. I know from many years of experience, that if the buyers come in and see clutter...they can not look past it, which means they will shake their heads no and move on.

Keep your pantry and cabinets clutter free. Can you imagine a buyer opening a cabinet and something falls out on their head? No thank you....

Give your kitchen table or breakfast bar some life please. It's simple...placemats, a colorful vase, flower arrangement, something
to reinforce the idea that the kitchen is the heart of the home.


DON' expensive tub/shower repairs or replacements. Just like the kitchen, this is going to be a matter of taste

DON'T...Replace your smallish vanity with a new, built-in model. It can be quite beautiful for sure, but it's also risky and again, a matter of taste.

DO...Replace dated bath and shower fixtures because this can be done relatively inexpensively. For example, your shower head. If you have a 30-year old, tiny little shower head, do replace that. You can replace it with a large, rainwater-style model that has a subtle spa-like quality without costing a lot.

DO...Freshen up the vanity area. Invest in a big mirror with lights above it. And a few hundred dollars spent on a nice faucet is well worth it also.

A few other tips for the bathroom:

Do you want to add a little life to the walls? Try floating shelves with a few candles. It creates an elegant, boutique touch without the cost.

Want to add color? Throw down a colorful floor mat to add a little warmth.

Please, clear clutter, even your beauty essentials. They should not be left on the counter, especially during an open house.

So, here we have it. It's all about basics. In most homes and markets, this is all you really need to update. Just focus on these items. If you do these few simple tips, they will help in the sale of your home. Of course, you have to have your house priced correctly as well. So, if your ready to put your home on the market, follow these steps and then give me a call. I specialize in Stevensville and surrounding cities. I am a certified residential specialist. Allow me to provide you the skills needed to assist you to sell your home quickly and for top dollar. I'm waiting...Lisa Longest, 443-786-4200. Or visit me at 1241 Shopping Center Rd, Stevensville, MD 21666

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tips For Buying Foreclosures

You know that there are many foreclosures on the market, but you may not know or understand some practical rules that could save you money if you are interested in buying one.
I'm going to list just 5 tips you may want to consider:

1. Work with an agent who has access to foreclosure information. Don't assume that all agents have access to foreclosures, because they don't. Ask the agent if they have experience with them.

2. Bank owned properties generally close faster than short sales. That's because banks will prioritize foreclosures over short sales. They have already repossessed the foreclosed home, thus the name "bank owned". They want to liquidate these properties, which brings us to

3. Always offer less than the asking price. The price listed on a foreclosure price is the same as the asking price for most properties for sale...that is the asking price. Don't assume the prices are firm. Most banks will consider a lower offer.

4. Ask the bank to pay your closing costs. Why not? The worst that can happen is that they will say no. Like I said, the banks want to liquidate these properties, so you may find that they are very accommodating.

5. Get pre-approved from the right bank. If you are making an offer on a bank owned house, it would be good if you could be pre-approved by the same bank. During negotiations, this may tip the scales in your favor.

So there you have it. I hope this helps you in your decision. If I can be of further assistance, please contact me, Lisa Longest, at 443-786-4200 or visit me at Exit Gold Realty 1241 Shopping Center Rd, Stevensville, Md. 21666. I am a short sale and foreclosure representative who specializes in Stevensville and surrounding cities.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is It A Good Time To Sell Or Should I Wait?

Is now a good time to sell my house or should I wait until house prices go up again? I hear this question often. But this is the answer you should hear from an agent that you pose this question to: Home selling potential always comes down to the nuances of local markets, specific zip code and even specific blocks.

A great location can trump factors like the unemployment rates, low and high mortgage rates,mortgage access, etc. For example, a classic home on a tree-lined block near a school(s) will always be in demand, despite the economy.

Now, are you perhaps concerned about losing more equity if you wait? Odds are good at this point in the cycle that your home has lost most of the value-and equity- it's going to lose, give or take a few percentage points. But again, the value is only what someone is willing to pay for it, not market averages. So, i wouldn't let the anticipation of further losses force your hand. However, if you are planning to hold on to your house and wait for the market to turn to what we saw 5-6 years ago, you're going to be disappointed. Not going to happen.

Now you ask: "When should I sell then?" The stock response is still spring because that's when most buyers emerge. This is largely because it gives families time to plan moves that won't uproot kids from their schools in the middle of the term. However, please note this fact: Today, spring really means "late winter".
If you want to sell next year, have your house on the market and ready for showings by mid-to-late February at the latest. Many potential buyers actually begin their search in this time frame because now they have to consider putting their house on the market so they can buy your house. Everything is relative. It's a fine line to walk, I know.

There is one more option: If you're happy where your living and you don't have to sell, you could simply sit tight for another year or two for additional clarity. After all, a home is a shelter first and an investment second.

With all this said, I am here for you. I specialize in the Stevensville, Md and surrounding areas. If you have any further questions or concerns, either call me, Lisa Longest, at 443-786-4200 or visit me at Exit Gold Realty located at 1241 Shopping Center Rd, Stevensville, Md. 21666. I am certified as a buyers representative, sales specialist, and a short sale and foreclosure representative. Let me be there for you.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tax Time

As tax time approaches, the more prepared you are to file, the better. So I'm giving you 6 facts the IRS wants you to know about dependents and exemptions that will help you file you r 2010 tax return.

Exemptions reduce your taxable income: There are two types of exemptions: personal exemptions and exemptions for dependents. For each one you can deduct $3650 on your 2010 tax return.

Your spouse is never considered your dependent: On a joint return, you may claim one exemption for yourself and one for your spouse. If you're filing a separate return, you may claim spouse only if they had no gross income, are not filing a joint return and were not the dependent of another taxpayer.

Exemptions for dependents: Generally, you can take an exemption for qualifying children or qualifying relative. You must list the social security number of any dependent you claim.

If someone else claims you as a dependent, you may still be required to file your own tax return: This depends on several factors including the amount of your unearned, earned, or gross income, your marital status, and special taxes.

If you are a dependent, you may not claim an exemption: Period.

Some people cannot be claimed as your dependent:
They must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national or resident of Canada or Mexico for some part of the year. There is an exception to this rule for certain adopted children.

For more info on exemptions and dependents, you can call 800-829-3676 or see IRS Publication 501.

Now, that I showed you how you might bring home extra money, why not use that money as a deposit on a new home, whether it's your first home, or you're ready to upgrade or downsize.

I would love to be able to assist you in this. So either give me a call at 443-786-4200, stop by Exit Gold Realty, or visit my website at