Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The best inheritance: A succession plan for family real estate

You had the foresight to invest in real estate. But have you had the fortitude to plan for its future?

Most real estate and legal experts will tell you that a plan for family-owned property is essential—for the family and the value of the investment. Often, it is not an easy conversation to have with family members. That’s where the fortitude comes in. Whether transitioning to a new owner or an outright sale, these five steps should be part of your discussion.  

  1. Plan for real estate tax liability. You don’t want your family to be forced to sell the property to pay real estate tax debt. Planning gives your heirs more options.
  2. Consider tax-friendly ways to transfer assets. Gifts and trusts are among the tools that offer owners significant tax benefits.
  3. Tell heirs your plan and don’t wait to resolve any issues that arise. Let them know how you arrived at your decisions and share your vision. This conversation can help preserve the relationship between the children or grandchildren, and it gives them an opportunity to ask you questions and for your advice
  4. Revisit the plan regularly. Some tools require more regular monitoring than others.
  5. Introduce your heirs to your advisers. Let them know who you trust for financial, tax and legal advice.

The recurring mantra is: It’s never too early to plan for when you can no longer make the decisions regarding the family’s assets. The biggest gift you can leave your family may be a legal document on how you give it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Why Do You Need a Realtor?

Of course, as real estate agents, we think a realtor on your side can make your real estate transaction more successful in terms of money, time and headaches. An increasing number of home buyers agree. About 88% of home buyers purchase their home through a real estate agent or broker—a share that has steadily increased from 69% in 2001, according to the National Association of REALTOR®’s 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. 

Here are just a few of the ways a realtor can help you:
  • Save you time in searching for the right home.
  • Help you identify and eliminate properties that are not worth pursuing.
  • Find homes that are not yet on the market.
  • Help you find a neighborhood that suits your needs.
  • Refer you to the best lenders in the area and help you get pre-qualified for a loan.
  • Help you figure out how much home you can afford. 
  • Guide you on the best price to list your home.
  • Detail all of the costs involved in buying or selling a home.
The terms
You may find it helpful to know some of the industry terms.  To sell real estate in Missouri, you must be at least 18, pass the real estate examination and have a real estate agent or broker license. Agents have to work for brokers. Murney Associates is the broker for The Stenger Group. You can check to see whether any disciplinary actions have be recorded against your agent or broker through Missouri's real estate commission.

If an agent uses Realtor with a big "R," that means he or she is a member of the National Association of REALTORS. The main advantage to you is that this means they have agreed to abide by a code of ethics. 

Whether buying your first home, downsizing or building your investment portfolio, a good real estate will provide expertise and guidance all through the process. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Many Dangers of Overpricing Your Home

All of the home sellers we’ve worked with wanted to get the most they could out of their homes. No big shock there. And for many, time was also a factor. They didn’t want their homes to sit on the market for months, which often decreases how much you can get for your home as well.

Our goal is to help you set a list price that will get you the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle. If your home is listed at a price that is above market value, you will miss out on prospective buyers who would otherwise be prime candidates to purchase your home. (See the chart.) If you list at a price that is below market value, you lose out on potential profit and diminish the value of your home. 

More buyers purchase their properties at market value than they purchase above market value. The percentage increases as the price falls even further below market value. Therefore, by pricing your property at market value, you expose it to a much greater percentage of prospective buyers. This increases your chances for a sale while ensuring a final sale price that properly reflects the market value of your home.

Timing is of the essence

Another critical factor to keep in mind when pricing your home is timing. A property attracts the most attention, excitement, and interest from the real estate community
and potential buyers when it is first listed on the market. If your home is improperly priced initially, it can miss out on its peak interest period, which could cause it to languish on the market. This may lead to a below market value sale price or, even worse, no sale at all. 

Your home has the highest chances for a successful sale when it is new on the market and priced reasonably. This is where we can help. We can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms, and condition of competing properties. With these analyses and our experience, well help you find the right price for your home.

Source: Murney Associates, Realtors

Monday, September 21, 2015

Simple (and Inexpensive) Ways to Spruce Up Your Home recently posted this great article, "6 Sneaky Ways to Make Your Home Look Expensive." It is worth reading. The tips are:

1. Declutter.
2. Eliminate grunge.
3. Addor rearrangelighting.
4. Upgrade your hardware.
5. Repaint.
6. Focus on the devil in the (decor) details.

We agree with these tips and are huge proponents of decluttering. It has shown up in several of our other blog posts. And we also tell our clients that painting is one of the least expensive and easiest ways to change the look of your home.

Another worthwhile tip not included here is repainting or restaining your front door. Holly just painted her door black. She said it really helped it pop and provided a nice change.

Holly recently repainted her front door,
shutters, and garage black.
Stacey liked the darker staining of her front
door and garage.

For Stacey, restaining her front door (and shutters) provided the face-lift her home needed. "I really struggled with the decision," she says. "But I ended up going darker and love it."

We would love to hear about any other ways you've spruced up your home. Feel free to post a comment.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

5 Ways Buyers Can Make the Most Out of Open Houses

Open houses are a great entrĂ©e into the home-buying process. They help you figure out what features are important to you in a home. Finding out what you don't like is just as important. Here's how to make the most of your time spent visiting open houses.

We have three open houses this Sunday.
Make sure they are on your route!
Here's info on the first one
at 3934 Eaglescliffe.
  1. Figure out your price range. If you are visiting open houses with an eye toward buying eventually, it really helps to figure out how much home you can afford. Of course, it is always fun to visit homes you hope to have one day. But you want your expectations to be in line with your budget. Check out this blog post for tips on finding how much home you can afford.
  2. Plan your route. Consider focusing on a neighborhood or section of town that interests you each Sunday. You can go to this website to get an overview of popular subdivisions in the Springfield area. Open houses are posted here at 4 p.m. on Thursday for the upcoming Sunday. Zillow also compiles open houses each week. Murney's mobile app will give you the location of homes for sell based on your geographical location. Very handy!
  3. Talk to the real estate agent hosting the open house. Use the agent as a resource. Ask any questions you may have and see what he or she thinks are the strengths of the home. It's also a great way to "interview" agents if you are looking for an agent to represent you. 
  4. Weigh the home against your needs. No home is going to meet all of your needs. But you do want it to meet your most important needs. Think about whether this home does that, whether those needs involve the floor plan, a big backyard for kids to play in, a large kitchen or a hobby space. 
  5. Experience the neighborhood. Find out as much as you can about what it is like to live there. The people create the neighborhood's personality. Are people out in their yards? Are they approachable? Do you like that? Would you prefer a more anonymous feel in your neighborhood? Do people take care of their homes? Look at the community amenities within the neighborhood and nearby. Again, evaluate the amenities according to what you think is important or would like to have nearby. Other neighborhood considerations include traffic amount and patterns, smells and home owners associations' involvement.

5229 S. Stonehaven in Highland Springs

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What Determines Your Credit Score?

We all know that a good credit score is important, especially if you’re looking to buy a house. But how is your credit score determined? How do you improve your credit score, and what matters the most when it comes to maintaining a good credit score?

Your credit score is made up of five different factors. Generally, a good credit score is in the mid-700s and higher. Here are the factors that determine your credit score in the order of their weight and importance (these are approximations):

35% Payment history. Payments more than 30 days late can negatively affect your score.

30% Amount owed. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t borrow. But if you’re in a lot of debt, it shows you’re overextended financially. To prevent this category from being a negative factor in your score, make sure you don’t charge over half the limit on all of your credit cards.

15% Length of credit history. A long payment history is important for showing lenders you have paid your bills on time. Don’t cancel old credit cards because that deletes all of your credit history with that card.

10% New credit. Opening numerous accounts in a short amount of time can be seen as risky, particularly if you have a short credit history. Each application for a credit card is an inquiry on your credit report and too many in a short amount of time can negatively affect your overall score.

10% Types of credit in use. Make sure your debt is spread out between different types of loans. For example, it’s better to have some debt in credit cards and the rest in a mortgage, car loan and student loans, than it is to have all of your debt in credit cards.

First, find out what your score is. You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) once every 12 months. See where you stand. Then decide which of these factors you can change to raise your score.

Source: Murney Associates, Realtors

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

'What’s that smell?' Dealing with odors when selling a home

Man's best friend can be a home seller's enemy.
The last thing you want buyers to think when they walk into your home is “What’s that smell?” Odors contribute to first-impressions and usually in a negative way. We’ve had buyers walk away from homes they otherwise love because of smells. You don’t want buyers to think about smells at all when they walk in the door. No odor is the goal. Here’s how to get there.

The first step is to borrow someone’s nose. Ask someone who doesn’t live in your home—and someone who will tell you the truth—to assess its smell. We all get used to our own smells, making us incapable of noticing them. Remember how your grandmother’s house smelled? We all need an unbiased nose. In addition, a good real estate agent will let you know in her own way that odor is an issue during the listing appointment.

Common culprits
The major odorous causes are no big mysteries. Here are some solutions you may want to try.

Smoke: Sadly, the only real remedy for homes where smokers have lived for a long time is new paint and new carpet. We have not found many other ways to get rid of the smoke smell. Some people recommend squeezing fresh lemons into small amounts of baking soda and placing them on plates around the house for a few days. Other people recommend doing the same thing with vinegar instead of baking soda and lemons. We have not had any clients try these approaches, but they are worth a try.
Pets: Cats can be the biggest problem when it comes to pet odors. We encourage our clients to empty litter boxes morning and night. We also recommend cleaning and deodorizing carpets. In some cases, you may need to ask a friend to keep your cats until your home goes under contract. With other pets, make sure you clean cages frequently.
Teenage boys: Any experienced real estate agent knows if teenage boys reside in a home as soon as she walks in the front door. You can’t do much about the hormones they exude, but you can address their clothes, sports equipment, and shoes. We recommend bagging the odorous equipment and shoes and storing them in the garage or even the trunk of a car. To take care of the smelly clothes, you may have to do laundry every night. We also suggest you do a deep cleaning of teenagers’ rooms. You never know what you may find under the bed!
Food: As you know, some food odors can linger, especially if you cook similar dishes with similar spices several times a week. Steaming cauliflower and broccoli is a great way to clear everyone from the kitchen! This is one area when an unbiased nose can help, too. You may not notice the odors of your favorite cuisine. Try lighting a few candles well before buyers preview your home.
Candles and potpourri: This is an instance in which you can have too much of a good thing. You can light a candle or two to try to rid your home of some odors, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want your home overpowering people with bad—or good—smells. Even overpowering good smells can make buyers wonder what you are trying to hide. If you do choose to light a candle, use more neutral scents like fresh linen and steer clear of flavors like strawberry.

If these measures don’t help, you might consider hiring a professional company that specializes in odor removal. We would love to hear if you have had success with odor-removal companies or with any other home remedies. Please let us know what has worked for you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

3 Simple Ways to Get Your Home Ready to Sell

We've got three super-easy ways you can make your home ready for buyers to view. They are simple and don't cost you a cent.
1.     Organize your closets. Sort, stack, and store. Pack away your seasonal clothes. Get rid of shoes and belts you never wear. Make what you have look neat and tidy. You’ll make your closets look bigger and just better.
2.     Organize your garage and driveway. Again, pack away what you don’t need. Store what you can in your parents’ garage or get rid of what you don’t need. Keep your driveway clear of cars, both working and nonworking vehicles. A well-organized garage gives buyers the impression that you take pride in your home. They are likely to think that if you take time to care about the little things like your garage, you are likely to take care of the bigger things related to the home as well.
3.     Take note of how your house smells. You’ll need a non-resident to give you an objective assessment of your home’s scent. You are used to your smells; buyers will not be. So you need to know if your pets or teenage boys or your gourmet cooking is making an aromatic impression. The goal is for no one to notice a smell when they walk into your home.
Decluttering is the biggest way you can spruce up your home. If you can’t part with things, pack them up and store them away until you arrive in your new home. Spending a little time doing these three things will help your home make a great first impression.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

3 Biggest Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers Make

All home owners were first-time buyers at one point. And you can learn from their mistakes. These are the most common mistakes we see first-time buyers make:

  • Buying more home than they can afford.  
  • Not getting pre-approved for a loan.
  • Not using a real estate professional.

We have several homes listed that would be great for
 first-time buyers, like this one at 844 S. Kickapoo near MSU
and the one below at 310 N. Marie in Nixa.
The first two mistakes go hand-in-hand. Actually, all of these go together. When you are ready to buy a home, a good real estate agent will help you figure out how much home you can afford and encourage you to get pre-approved for a loan. Avoiding all three of these mistakes will save you time, money, and mental anguish.

Several factors determine how much home you can afford, mainly the down payment, closing costs, and monthly mortgage payments. See
our previous blog for more about determining how much is realistic and manageable for you. 

Getting pre-approved for a loan forces you to go through the process of how much home you can afford if you haven’t already done that. Most lenders require that your home mortgage payment fall between 28% and 34% of your gross monthly income. The mortgage payment and all your other monthly debt payments should range between 36% and 50% of your gross monthly income. The lender will take into account your income, your assets, and your credit report when determining whether and how much you qualify for. (A good real estate agent can steer you to reputable lenders.)

Going through the pre-approval process helps you start looking in the correct price range. You don’t want to look at 30 houses and then find out all are out of your reach. When you have been looking at $200,000 homes, it’s hard for homes in the $150,000-range not to be disappointing.

Of course, as realtors, we think real estate professionals can help buyers. But if you talk to your friends and neighbors who have bought homes, they are likely to agree. Like getting a loan pre-approval, a good agent can also save you time and money and mental anguish.

You are likely to look at lots of homes on the Internet before you even contact an agent. But an agent can put that home into context for you. You benefit from the agent’s knowledge of the area and neighborhoods.  She can turn you onto areas you may not have considered—or even get authorization to show you homes you love but are not even on the market.

A good real estate agent can also take you to look at many houses at one time—much more efficient than waiting on open houses or making arrangements on your own. She will quickly know your likes and dislikes, helping to filter out the homes that would be a waste of your time for you to visit.

One more reason to use a real estate agent: A realtor is free representation for the buyer. She is your advocate in the process and serves as your personal expert in one of the major purchases of your life.

As always, we would be happy to walk you through the home-buying process. We want to help you avoid the pitfalls many first-timers make.

Monday, July 13, 2015

First Impressions Part 2: Tips to Improve Your Home’s Appeal Inside

At the seller's request, Holly rearranged a few pieces of furniture
at 932 S. Caliburn in Nixa to make sure buyers experienced
 the home's great light and floor plan
In the previous post, we talked about making a good first impression as soon as buyers see your home. The goal is to create such an appealing picture, buyers want to see the inside. We want them to stop and come in.
Tidiness reigns supreme inside as well as outside. Here is what we tell our sellers:
Declutter…everywhere. Pick up shoes, hide stacks of paper and mail, put away coffee table detritus, clean off bathroom counters, and hide nightstand clutter. Take a critical assessment of your home and address those places things tend to gather.
Go easy on aromatherapy. We usually tell people not to burn lots of scented candles. That often makes buyers wonder what smell the seller is trying to hide. A subtle, fresh scent is fine, just don’t overpower the buyer.   
Clean. Devote some time to a thorough and deep cleaning of your house. Clean baseboards, dust ceiling fans and blinds, and wash walls and doorways—all of the tasks that don’t make your weekly to-do list.

If you need help seeing your home objectively, ask your agent to help. Our sellers often turn to Holly to stage their homes. She has a great eye and can help you present your home in the best light possible. We consider this just a part of our service to sell your home successfully. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

First Impressions Part 1: Tips to Improve Your Home’s Appeal Outside

When it comes to blind dates and homes, first impressions matter. Before you list your home, you want to step back and take a look at how your home will come across to a buyer.
Even a seemingly simple thing can make a lasting bad impression (think bad breath). Take a minute to reduce the factors that might cause buyers to drive on by:
The yard: Keep the grass short. Trim bushes and weeds. Bag leaves. Clean up after your dogs. A well-tended lawn sends a message that the owner takes pride in keeping the home tidy. Remove any items from the yard, even things you consider ornamental. Less is more when it comes to the front yard.
The driveway: If possible, keep your driveway clear of cars, boats, and any other equipment. Park in the garage or down the street. Temporarily relocate any broken vehicles. Make your home seem approachable. Put trash cans and other equipment in the garage or out of sight…or move those items offsite until your home sells. You don’t want a junky first impression.
The porch: Create a tidy, welcoming stoop. Sweep the porch, brush away cobwebs, wash light fixtures and the front door, and remove trinkets that crowd the space. A potted flower is a nice touch. But if you choose to have potted plants, tend to them. A dead plant detracts from the pleasant appearance you’re trying to create. 

Here's a photo of the front of one of our current listings at 4008 E. Wilshire. Doesn’t it make you want to step in and see the rest of the home?
And this garage area of 5331 S. Virginia is clean and elegant. The landscaping makes it feel part of the whole house, adding to the homes overall appeal.

Just a little effort and attention to the outside of your home can create a good impression—one we hope buyers take with them when they see the inside.

Monday, June 8, 2015

What Will Your House Sell For?

Figuring out at what price to list your home is crucial in selling it successfully. Obviously, you want to get as much money as you can for your home. But often, sellers want to price their homes according to how much they want or need to get out of the sale—prices that have nothing to do with the home’s market value.

A few things to keep in mind:
  • Realistic pricing will achieve the maximum price in a reasonable time.
  • Your cost or profit is irrelevant; the market determines the price.
  •  The cost of improvements is almost always more than the added value those       improvements confer.
  •  Houses that remain on the market for a long time do not get shown.
  •  A house that is priced right from the beginning achieves the highest value. 

What does affect your home’s value? Buyers. Specifically, what the buyer is willing to pay in today’s market based on comparisons to sold properties in your area.

To find the value of your home, we’ll do a comparative market analysis, assessing the location and characteristics of your home and comparing those to similar homes that have sold in your area. The market analysis takes into account the amount received from recent sales of comparable properties and the quality of comparable properties currently on the market.
The goal, of course, is to find a price that will attract a willing and able buyer in a reasonable time.

Once the value of your home has been determined, we can decide on the listing price. Generally, the price should not exceed the home’s value by more than 5% or potential buyers may not even make offers. Naturally, if you want to sell quickly, your asking price should be very near the value.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What Features Help Sell Homes: Part II

In our previous blog post, we talked about the features that are becoming less common in new homes according to Let’s turn our attention to the features you are most likely to find in new homes. (Again, our comments about what we find in the Springfield market are in parentheses.) If you are getting ready to sell your home, this list may give you some ideas of how to improve your home’s appeal.
1.      Walk-in closet (Although walk-in closets are not expected in every room, storage is always a concern.)
2.      Laundry room (Laundry rooms seem to be getting bigger to accommodate front-loading machines. People love having sinks in their laundry rooms. And an area where families can dump backpacks and shoes like mud rooms is a popular feature, too.)
3.      Low-emissivity windows 
4.      Great room (Open floor plans with great rooms and hearth rooms remain appealing to Springfieldians.) 
5.      Energy Star appliances (We haven’t had many buyers commenting or requesting energy-saving features. But usually, the greener the home is the more attractive it is to buyers.)
6.      Energy Star windows
7.      9-foot ceiling on the first floor (Higher ceilings do give a home a more open, upscale feeling.)
8.      2-car garage (Most Springfield buyers want three. Again, storage is always a concern. The more the better.) 
9.      Programmable thermostat.  (We don’t have people requesting them much, but new homes in Springfield are likely to have them.) 
10.  Granite countertop (Granite remains popular but we are seeing more and more people wanting marble.)
Do you agree with this list? Are these the features you would want in a new home? Let us know.

Friday, May 15, 2015

What Features Help Sell Homes: Part 1 put together a list of features that are disappearing from new homes—things that are becoming less and less popular nationally. We took a look at it from a Springfield perspective. Here’s what posted (and our comments).
1.      Outdoor kitchen (We don't see a lot of these in Springfield, only in some higher-end homes. We do think an outdoor living space is a plus for buyers, but an outdoor kitchen is not expected or necessarily desired. )
2.      Laminate countertop (This really dates a home. Granite is still popular as is marble.) 
3.      Outdoor fireplace (This still seems popular in Springfield. An outdoor fireplace does add to the ambiance of the outdoor living space and is more likely seen in higher-end listings. We see lots of homes with smaller pits, too.)
4.      Sunroom (This remains popular with buyers in Springfield, especially if it has heating and air conditioning. It is a real plus.)
5.      Two-story family room (Ditto in Springfield.)
6.      Media room (We usually only see media rooms in higher-end listings.)
7.       Two-story foyer (With the newer, open floor plans, formal foyers in general are becoming less common in Springfield.)
8.      Walking/jogging trails (We still find being near these nature-related amenities a real asset for sellers.)
9.      Whirlpool tub in master bath (In new home construction in Springfield, we see larger walk-in showers instead of whirlpool tubs. Higher-end homes, however, continue to have both.)
10.  Carpeting on main level (Hardwood floors continue to be the most coveted flooring on the main level. Bedrooms still tend to have carpeting though.)
What once-popular features do you find less appealing or unnecessary? We would love to hear your take.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

How Much House Can You Afford?

Sometimes what you want and what you can afford are two different things. To figure out how closely they align, you need to assess how much you can actually put towards a new home.

Here are the factors your lender will consider to determine this:
  1. The down payment
  2. The closing costs associated with your transaction
  3. Your monthly mortgage payment
Down payment requirements
Most loans require a minimum down payment of between 3 and 5 percent of the total loan, depending on the type and terms of the loan. If you are able to come up with a 20 to 25 percent for the down payment, you may be eligible to take advantage of special fast-track programs and possibly eliminate mortgage insurance. There are a variety of loan programs available for buyers and even some that don't require a down payment. We can help you find a qualified lender who can help you figure out which loan is best for your financial situation.

Closing costs
In addition to the down payment, you have to pay fees for loan processing and other closing costs. They can include fees for home inspection fees and title company. These fees must be paid in full at the time of the final settlement, unless you are able to include these in your financing. When you apply for a loan, your lender will provide you with a good faith estimate of all settlement fees and an estimated total house payment based on an anticipated sale price. Of course, these numbers are only estimates.Your lender will let you know an exact figure closer to the closing date.

Your monthly mortgage payment
Most lenders require that your monthly payment be between 28 and 34 percent of your gross monthly income. They also figure in how much your mortgage payment along with all of your other expenses and financial obligations will be each month. In general, they want your total monthly expenses to fall between 36 and 45 percent of your gross monthly income. 

The goal is to figure out how much you can afford realistically. Just knowing this will save you countless hours in your search for the perfect home. We can put you in touch with a competent lender and walk with you through this process. Just give us a call.

Source: Murney Associates, Realtors

Sunday, May 3, 2015

8 ‘Don’ts’ When Applying for a Home Loan

Finding the right home is half the battle. Getting the loan is often the other. The loan process—from the time you apply for a loan to the time you close on your home—is usually 30 to 45 days. During this time, you want the variables that affect the loan, such as your income and your credit card balance, to remain constant. Even the smallest changes can cause your loan to fall through. To improve your odds of getting a loan approved—and keeping it approved through the closing, take a few precautions:

1.      Don’t change your employment status. If you’ve been in a salaried position for 10 years, don’t switch to a job with a commission structure while you are waiting for your loan to get approved. Many loan programs require that people show at least a two-year history of the same kind of work or similar pay structure.
2.      Don’t make any major purchases, such as cars or furniture. Doing this can affect your debt ratio and cause the loan to no longer qualify. Your credit picture at closing needs to be the same as the credit picture you had when the loan was initially approved.
3.      Don’t apply for a credit card, new loan, or co-sign for another loan. Applying for new accounts requires a credit rating report. Credit checks lower your credit rating, even if your rating is high. In addition, mortgage bankers have to count the new debt in the ratio, which can cause delays or change an approval to a denial.
4.      Don’t change bank accounts or make undisclosed deposits or withdrawals unless you have a complete paper trail.
5.      Don’t delay in providing all paperwork your loan officer asks for. Each step in the process has a deadline. Missing even one can cause a delay in closing and potentially put you at risk of losing the contract. 
6.      Don’t pay off collections or charge-offs before discussing it with your loan officer. Even paying off a negative debt can cause a credit score change. Again, you want your credit status to remain constant through the process.
7.      Don’t close credit card accounts or increase credit card debt. Wait until after the loan closes to make these types of changes. Changes in credit limits and scores, even positive ones, can have negative consequences before closing.
8.      Don’t pay cash for home or termite inspections. Often, these are costs paid by the seller at closing. To get reimbursed, you have to show more than a paper receipt. You have to show a canceled check or cashier’s check to prove payment.
Source: Robin Schilling, senior mortgage banker at Flat Branch Home Loans, in Springfield, Mo.
Office phone: 417.720.2007

Monday, April 27, 2015

Selling Your Home: 5 Tips to Keep Your Home in Showing Condition

You know the drill. You haven’t had a showing in a few days, and then, just when you are racing out the door to get to work, while you are juggling backpacks and herding kids into the car, you get that call. A friendly agent wants to show your home in 20 minutes.

 If you get into the habit of doing a few simple things every day, that call won’t throw you into a tailspin. Instead, you’ll be able to wish the agent a successful showing and head out the door.

No notice? No problem. Here’s how:

  • Allow your listing agent to put a lockbox on your door. If agents don’t have to make an appointment to show your home, they are more likely to show it. And selling is the priority. The sooner your home goes under contract, the faster you can go back to sub-showing-condition living.
  • Pick up before you go to bed. Spend about 10 minutes every night (after the kids have gone to bed), picking up toys, clothes…whatever clutter has accumulated during the day. The before-bed check should include taking out the recycling and putting away homework, mail and other paper that lands on the counter.
  • Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher after every single use. Dishes create clutter.  And if everyone gets in the habit of putting them away after every use, you will have one less thing to check before you leave. And who knows, maybe this will become a habit for your kids and spouse.
  • Make a 5-minute sweep before you leave in the morning.  This circuit should include opening blinds to let in the light and checking bathrooms to make sure toilets are flushed. Consider strapping the kids in the car and putting the dog in the kennel before you do the last-minute check. It is much more efficient this way.
  • Empower your people. Put each family member in charge of certain tasks or certain areas. Kids can make the bathroom rounds in the morning or be in charge of collecting laundry every night. Bribes, I mean rewards, are always effective. Set up a simple system the kids can track (one less thing for you to do).