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Position Yourself For Success

Credit Inquiries: Why Lenders Care

FICO scores are calculated using an algorithm originally developed by The FICO Company. This algorithm considers five different characteristics of a credit file. Of course, payment history carries the most weight, contributing 35% to the total, three-digit score. The second most important relates to current account balances and credit limits. Scores need consumers to use credit before scores can be properly calculated so having a balance is important. 30% is attributed to this category and the ideal balance appears to be around one-third of credit lines. Keeping balances around this one-third target causes scores to improve.

How long someone has used credit is also a factor, making up 15% of the score and the final two of the five both contribute 10%. Types of credit used and credit inquiries. Types of credit boosts scores when consumers responsibly use different types of credit and credit inquiries logs in the number of times someone has requested credit. But about that 10% for a credit inquiry, if it makes up such a small part of the total score, why do lenders care about this category?

For one, requests for credit over the past year or so won’t hurt scores but making several requests for different credit accounts in a relatively short period of time can indicate the consumer is going through some sort of financial difficulty, perhaps being laid off or otherwise a loss of regular income. Such requests for credit can cause scores to drop, but still, it’s just 10% of the total score.

Each time a consumer makes a request for credit, that request is recorded in the credit file. Again, an occasional request is fine. What can cause a loan application to stop dead in its tracks is to see a recent credit inquiry on a credit report but no indication any account has been opened. It usually takes about 30 days. That can mean someone opened up a credit account or maybe bought a car and financed it but the amount borrowed and the terms haven’t yet made it to the credit bureaus. When a lender looks at a credit report with recent inquiries, there is no way the lender can properly determine a consumer’s new monthly payments. Someone with relatively high debt ratios could take out a new car loan which could push ratios so high they can no longer qualify.

When this happens, the lender will request the borrower to explain the inquiry and verify that no account was opened and if an account was opened, to send in documentation regarding the terms of the new account. That’s why loan officers tell you that once you apply for a mortgage, just sit tight with any other credit requests until and after your loan is ultimately funded and closed.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Why Price Shouldn’t Be the Only Driver in the Search for Your First Home

Buying your first house? You’re likely driven mainly by budget, but there are some other important considerations you may not have thought of that can help you find the perfect place. Not only can these tips help you find a home that really suits your lifestyle, but also helps you afford to live there comfortably.

Can you afford to heat and cool it?
You may only be thinking of home size in terms of the number of rooms or square footage you want. But, in many cases, a larger home costs more to maintain. More space means more space to heat and cool. Although, a home that’s newer or that has updated systems can help defray costs because it’s more efficient. Your real estate agent may be able to get an idea of the monthly utility costs so you can have this information up front.

Who’s going to mow the lawn?
If you’ve never had your own lawn or garden, you may not know if you have a green thumb or if you’ll regard the time it takes to care for it as a pleasure or a bummer. Then again, if you’re already dreading the idea of having to spend a couple hours out there each week, perhaps a single-family home isn’t for you. Yeah, you could pay someone else to do it, but you’re already stretching to buy your own place, right? Perhaps the lower-maintenance lifestyle offered by a condo or townhome is the best option for you.

What’s good for resale?
Are you thinking about how easy it will be to sell your home when you’re just about to buy it? Maybe not, but, the truth it it’s always a good idea to think like a seller when buying. Chances are, this starter home won’t be your forever home, and the same questions you have about the floorplan or location are likely the questions would-be buyers will be asking when you go to sell.

As it relates to the floorplan, it’s a good idea to think beyond what you think you might want and consider what’s popular in the area. If homes with downstairs master suites sell especially well and you haven’t considered that plan, this info may make you rethink your strategy.

How close are the schools?
Dying to walk your kids to and from school every day? That’s the dream for many a parent. But what you might not be envisioning is being able to watch—and hear—every kid in the school walk by twice a day, every day. What seems like a super-convenient location right on the walking path to the elementary school may just turn out to be too much of a good thing if it impacts your privacy and peace of mind.

Did anything weird happen there?
Yes, the seller will be required to disclose physical defects and also defects that create the potential for stigmatization. “What you’re talking about is the issue of ‘psychological damage’ to a property, to be distinguished from ‘physical damage,’” said NOLO. “In some cases, the psychological damage is so great—such as after a violent or highly publicized murder or suicide, or widespread reports of haunting—that the house is considered ‘stigmatized’ and therefore less valuable. In most states, the owner would indeed be expected to disclose a defect causing the house to be stigmatized, so that buyers could adjust their expectations and purchase price accordingly.”

A natural death in the home, however, is not generally something that needs to be disclosed. If that’s the type of thing that could keep you from wanting to live there you, just ask. “If a prospective home buyer asks you outright about whether anyone has died in the home, you cannot lie (unless you want to risk being later sued for fraud),” they said. “Also, be prepared for any buyer who is interested in this issue (or shall we say obsessed by it?) to find out the information online, at a site like DiedinHouse.com.”

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Decorating Tricks for Hiding Kids’ Messes While Selling Your Home

Keeping the house together during the selling process is a challenge. Making sure everything is just right for showings and open houses can be exhausting and overwhelming Throw kids into the mix, and things can get downright chaotic. Fortunately, a few small decor choices can help conceal kid clutter—changing your “for sale” sign to “sold.”

Hide in Plain Sight
With overflowing toy boxes and tea-party set-ups overtaking the living room, it may be unrealistic to banish all kid stuff to other rooms. Instead, make use of your furniture’s built-in compartments and drawers. Have a storage ottoman next to the sofa? Fill it with everything from action figures and dolls to coloring books, art supplies, stuffed animals and more. Divide the credenza in the family room so that your little ones can store toys behind its closed doors. Accent the open shelves with ceramic vases, family photos, decorative carafes and other appealing decor items.

If your built-in storage is already in use, opt for two or three woven baskets with lids instead. Place them wherever you want, whether it’s next to the loveseat or on the bottom shelf of a console table. Buyers will be too busy appreciating your home’s cleanliness and open floor space to think about what’s inside.

Hide Within Reach
Families in smaller living spaces might consider another strategy—underbed and attic storage. While the underside of your child’s bed may be already home to all sorts of tchotchkes, encourage kids to neaten it up with rolling plastic or rattan storage bins. Discreetly stow away everything from dress-up clothes to seasonal clothing in multiple containers. Slide them out of sight, then help your little one make the bed with an oversized quilt that conceals what’s hidden below. The best part? These containers can still be used after moving into the new bedroom or playroom.

For toys that are too big to fit in this space, such as kids’ teepees and play tents, consider collapsing them and stowing behind a dresser. If the dresser has legs that makes it easy to spot what’s behind it, opt for a chest instead.

Rotate Toys in Longer-Term Storage
Consider storing bins of toys longer-term and swapping them out every few weeks. In addition to the attic and basement, the back corner of a deep closet is a great place to stack storage tubs filled with everything from building blocks and board games to miniature cars and pull toys. Strategically hide them behind long coats so a quick peek inside the closet doesn’t give anything away. Better yet, switch out the storage tubs for suitcases. Rotate the toys in storage every few weeks–kids will have renewed interest when they come out of hiding.

Minimize and Add Some Style
Rather than attempting to conceal every toy, consider downsizing. Prior to the first showing, help your little one sort through toys, determining what still gets played with and what doesn’t. Sort into “keep,” “donate,” and “throw away.” This streamlines the cleanup process and makes it easier to stow away what remains. Bonus? You’ll have less to move when the time comes. For every item your children give up, consider rewarding them with small change or a trip to a favorite restaurant or ice cream shop.

For kids’ areas like bedrooms and playrooms, embrace the playful nature and just add a little style. Choose bookcases and desks with useful cubbies and shelves, and dress up the space with vibrant and unique artwork. Inspire imagination in potential buyers (and keep the space useful while your home is on the market) by choosing a few colorful supplies and knick-knacks to display.

Strategically rearrange home decor to hide kids’ messes while your house is being shown, and potential buyers will see a clean space that they’ll want to make their own.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

New Chinese Tariffs to Raise Renovation Costs

Renovation demand has been growing as homeowners tap their home equity to make updates and improvements. “This year, the National Association of Home Builders’ Remodeling Market Index (RMI) revealed that in the fourth quarter of 2017, the RMI reached 60 for the second time since 2001,” said HousingWire. “Although the demand for home renovation has continued to increase in 2018, recently imposed tariffs are expected to reduce affordability for homeowners seeking renovations.”

So, could the higher costs associated with renos be enough to slow their roll? To be clear, the first round of new Chinese tariffs took effect on September 24, hitting “about $10 billion worth of Chinese products exclusive to homebuilding and remodeling, according to the National Association of Home Builders,” said CNBC. The tariff is expected to rise “to 25 percent by the end of the year. That would be equivalent to a $2.5 billion tax increase on the industry.”

That’s putting pressure on an industry that has been thriving even under a labor shortage, and that could bend to uncomfortable levels under higher materials costs. In addition, “Clients and contractors are having to set contracts with escalation clauses for projects that are being scheduled for six months from now, largely because we’re not sure how far prices are going to go north,” Washington, D.C.-based contractor Justin Sullivan told CNBC.

So, if you were getting ready to add a bathroom, redo your kitchen, or create a killer outdoor area, should you proceed? That all depends.

“Trump’s trade tariffs will drive up the cost of some home renovations, so you might need to speed up your plans to finish a remodel before the supply chain impact hits you directly,” said GOBankingRates. “On the other hand, some costs are already up, so it might be worth postponing your renovation until prices stabilize.”

Specifically, they recommend moving forward with new kitchens and bathrooms. “If you’ve got a new kitchen or bathroom in mind, don’t wait. The new tariffs aimed at Chinese imports will raise the prices for tile used in bathrooms and kitchen backsplashes, cabinets, wallboards and floorboards, light fixtures, and heating and cooling equipment.”

Popular countertop materials like quartz are especially tenuous, facing a “double whammy,” with the U.S. “imposing import duties on quartz, which an investigation found was being illegally ‘dumped’ into the U.S. by Chinese exporters, capitalizing on subsidies from the Chinese government. Quartz prices are already rising and will likely continue to do so,” they said.

Nonetheless, updated kitchens and bathrooms are among the most-wanted features in a new home, so if you’re renovating to sell now or even a few years into the future, by all means, don’t change those plans. GOBankingRates also recommends moving quickly if you want to “convert a basement or mudroom into a laundry room.”

As for what projects to skip until costs head back down? Adding a room or garage can wait. “Some of the first tariffs President Trump imposed were on Canadian lumber, charging that Canadian companies were being unfairly subsidized by their government,” they said. “Canadian lumber prices have also risen in response to a supply decline due to tree disease and slower transportation. Wait for lumber prices to stabilize before you build a new home, add a room, add a garage, convert a basement into an in-law unit.”

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Five Tips For The Best Granite Countertops

The interior design industry has been trying for years to break homeowners’ addiction to granite counters. They’ve introduced stainless, concrete, glass, quartz, wood, marble and other ideas to wean people away, but the alternative surfaces just don’t have the luxury look that granite does.

If you’re getting granite counter tops for the first time, here are five things you need to know:

Choose the right stone. Granite is a general term that describes a type of granular igneous rock formed by cooled magma and indigenous minerals. Depending on where the granite is quarried, it can be stunning with streaks of gray, pink, red, green, blue or gold. The rarity of the vein of granite can drive up the price considerably, as well as the thickness and the type of fabrication you choose.

When you shop for granite, don’t choose from a sample. You’re basically buying the whole slab so that’s how you should shop. Look only at whole slabs, as the fabricators will use as much as possible to match sections and to minimize waste. Sometimes it’s possible to buy two or more slabs from the same lot. They are sliced just like pieces of toast so they can accommodate large kitchens. If they’re put back to back, they form butterfly or mirror images of each other.

The beauty of granite is the movement of color and the pattern of streaks and dapples, so choose wisely. A strong graphic pattern will be highly energizing, while a softer color and pattern will be calming.

Hold the Dumb End of the Tape. Granite is sold by the square foot. You can get an idea of the number of square feet you need by multiplying length by width for each section of the kitchen, such as counter tops, back splash, and an island. Then add the square feet of each section together.

But that’s not all there is to measuring. There’s an edge allowance, seam allowance, sinks and other things to consider. You can tell your salesperson how many square feet you think you’ll need, and he or she can direct you to slabs and lots that are large enough to fulfill your order. Once you choose, the salesperson will “hold” the slab with a deposit, until the fabricator can come out to measure exactly.

Meanwhile, your cabinets should be installed before the fabricator comes out. Most appliances fit under the countertops, but if you’re installing a new sink or cooktop, the fabricator will need those measurements, too. Let the fabricator take the measurements. That way the fit is guaranteed.

Be aware of slab thickness. Not all granite slabs are sliced the same, so expect to pay more for a three-inch thickness than a one-inch thickness. If you choose a thick granite, make sure your cabinets can support that much weight.

Next, you’ll choose an edge that is bullnose, ogee or beveled, or raw-edged. The finish can also change the look of the granite. Polished granite is glossy and reflective. Honed granite is a smooth matte finish. Leather is a textured finish.

Ask for as few seams as possible. If you’re doing a large area like a kitchen, you want to use as few seams as possible so that the flow of the granite pattern and color is less interrupted. A seamless slab in a kitchen looks beautiful and holds more value than seamed pieces because it’s like a work of art. Ask the fabricator if any parts of the job can be done without a seam. Sometimes it’s very possible, depending on the design of your kitchen.

To save money, you can choose granite tiles, which is like a tile, so there will be no seams, but they add little value to your home. You can also order from scraps the dealer may have leftover from other jobs, but they’re only be suitable for small jobs where you don’t have to match another granite, such as a powder bath or laundry.

Granite requires care. Granite is fairly heat-resistant and easy to clean, but you should keep in mind that it’s also porous. It can crack, chip, stain and show scratches.

Don’t put hot pans directly on the surface; use a trivet or hot pad. Use only granite-safe cleansers. Don’t use bleach, ammonia products, scouring pads, or anything acidic such as lemon or vinegar to clean. Don’t use dish soap to clean as it can leave a dulling film on the surface. Spills of wine, juice and tomato sauce should be cleaned up quickly.

Some finishes such as polish act as more of a seal, but you can also purchase granite sealers at your local market. Just wipe it on once a year or so to keep your countertops looking their best.

If you’re wondering whether your countertop needs sealing, spill some clean water or the surface and cover it with a paper towel. If it leaves a stain, it will go away eventually, but you’ll know it’s time for sealant.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

6 Surefire Ways To Get Your House Sold

Whether you’re just getting ready to list your home or haven’t had any bites on your existing home for sale, these tips will get it – and you – moving.

Price it right

This is the most obvious, but also the most contentious, tip when it comes to selling a home. Everyone wants top dollar. But rule No. 1 about a house that isn’t selling is to lower the price. (Likewise, listing a house now at an unreasonable price likely won’t get you the sale you’re looking for, especially when kids go back to school and sales naturally slow down.) ABC News has a good piece on how to tell if your home is overpriced, but…if it’s not selling, and your showings are limited, and your real estate agent has already talked to you about this (maybe more than once, including when you first discussed the list price), you probably already know why it’s not selling.

Here’s how to get past the disappointment of having to list your home at a lower price than you want or lower it when it’s sitting on the market: Your ultimate goal is to get the home sold and get on with your life, right? Maybe that means buying a larger home. Perhaps you’re looking to downsize or even move out of state. Whatever your plans, you’re delaying them by letting your home stay on the market.

Every month it doesn’t sell is another month you’re in a holding pattern. And, it means you’re spending more money on carrying costs if you’ve already moved to a new home before your old one has sold. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself what your happiness or peace of mind is worth. Chances are it’s more than the money you’ll miss out on if you sell for less. Once you’ve come to that realization, it should be easier to make a price adjustment.

Choose the right REALTOR®

Another “Duh” statement here. But the reality is that the right agent can make or break your sale. You may be inclined to list your home with a friend who’s just getting into the business or a cousin twice removed due to family pressure, but consider this move carefully. When you’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars, you want to make sure you have someone in your corner who has the knowledge and experience to navigate professionally and successfully through every step of what can be a very complicated process. While your pal or relative may be eager, they might not have the depth of understanding of sales trends to strategize the best listing price, or the negotiation skills to get the deal done. The relationships a seasoned agent has with other industry professionals is also key to a quick and profitable sale.

Paint your front door

We all know the value of curb appeal, so getting your front yard in order is a must-do when listing your home. (If it’s not selling, perhaps a little more sprucing up out front is in order.) But don’t skip your front door while you’re trimming bushes and laying down new mulch. A refreshed (or new, if needed) front door regularly tops the list of improvements providing a good return on investment on the annual Cost vs. Value Report. It’s an easy DIY update, too.

But, before you run off to buy paint, carefully consider the color. Choose wrong and you could turn off buyers. Choose right and you could actually get more for your home.

“When it comes to paint color, homeowners may have reason to go back to black. Houses with front doors in shades of black – from charcoal to jet – fetched $6,271 more than expected when sold, said MarketWatch. “Pops of color are especially important for front doors. It often forms the first impression in a prospective home buyer’s mind and can determine how they will view the rest of the property when touring a home. A door paint in a popular color can help make buyers feel that the property is well cared for.”

Take half the stuff out of your closets

Yes, your overstuffed closet can kill a sale. If a potential buyer feels like they won’t have enough space for their stuff, they won’t be a potential buyer for long.

Put your personal stuff – and your personal taste – away

“Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. You’ll have to do it eventually anyway when you move, and buyers tend to have a hard time seeing past personal effects. You don’t want your potential buyers to be distracted. You want them to be able to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they can’t do that if yours are there,” said The Balance. “This goes for furniture items, too, painful as that might be. Not everyone will share your taste, so if you have your bright red sofa screams, “I’m unique!” you might want to remove it for the time being. Try to stick with your more understated pieces.”

Keep your emotions out of it

Selling your home can be an emotional experience, especially if it was your first home or it’s otherwise filled with memories. But emotions can get in the way of a home sale, and waylay your objective, which is to move up or move on.

“Once you decide to sell your home, it can be helpful to start thinking of yourself as a businessperson and a home seller, rather than as the home’s owner,” said Investopedia. “By looking at the transaction from a purely financial perspective, you’ll distance yourself from the emotional aspects of selling the property that you’ve undoubtedly created many memories in. Also, try to remember how you felt when you were shopping for that home. Most buyers will also be in an emotional state. If you can remember that you are selling not just a piece of property but also an image, a dream and a lifestyle, you’ll be more likely to put in the extra effort of staging and perhaps some minor remodeling to get top dollar for your home. These changes in appearance will not only help the sales price, but they’ll also help you create that emotional distance because the home will look less familiar.”

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Five Tips for Staging Your Home

If you’re in a tough seller’s market or just looking to get top dollar for your home, you want to do any little thing you can to make your house stand out in a potential buyer’s mind. Staging is one of those things that can make the difference between a sold sign and a house that lingers on the market.

The National Association of Realtors suggests that staging has a real impact on home sales. In fact, a majority of realtors report that staging increases the sales price of a home anywhere between 1 and 10 percent. However, the real impact of staging seems to be how quickly a home is sold, with 39 percent of Realtors stating that it greatly decreases the time spent on the market. Buyers’ agents confirm the positive impact of staging, stating that 77 percent of buyers were better able to picture a home as their own when it was staged.

Of course, there is an art to staging a home, and a poorly staged home can have a negative impact on a potential sale. Here are five tips for staging your house that will have you putting up that “SOLD” sign in no time.

1. Declutter and Clean

Before thinking about decorations or furniture placement, the No. 1 suggestion of realtors is to declutter and deep clean. Clear countertops and other surfaces, and pack away anything that is not essential. Your goal is to remove anything that will distract buyers from seeing the positive aspects of your house, which is why realtors often suggest removing family photos and overly personalized decorations (like your giant bobble head collection). Remember, decluttering includes removing excess furniture, which help make your rooms feel bigger.

2. Group Furniture

Once you’ve removed furniture that is unnecessary or too large for the space, group furniture into conversational groups away from the wall, instead of pushing sofas and chairs to the corners. You want there to be a flow to each room, and keeping the walls clear of big furniture will actually make the room feel bigger, says HGTV.

3. Accessories in Odd Numbers

Although you’ll need to declutter, you still want your space to feel like a lived-in home. Do this by decorating with groups of accessories like vases, books or plants. Staging professionals often recommend grouping similarly hued objects in odd number pairings of varying heights and shapes.

4. Add 1 or 2 Bold Accents

While you want to keep your staging décor fairly neutral, adding one or two bold accent pieces will help highlight a particularly great feature of your home. Adding a dramatic chandelier that matches the style of your home to a dining room, entryway or even a fabulous bathroom will not only add light to a room, but bring architectural interest to the space as well.

5. Use Mirrors

Mirrors can help brighten a dark hallway, bring light into a room and make a room seem larger, says Forbes. For a big impact, get a cheap mirror and add a decorative frame, or group a lot of small mirrors in differing shapes and sizes. In a room with a window, place mirrors across from the window to reflect the sunlight.

Staging is all about helping potential buyers create an emotional connection with your home. Help buyers picture themselves living in the house by decluttering, grouping furniture and accessories, adding one or two bold accents and using mirrors. Now get ready for the offers to roll in.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

When Is The Best Time to Sell Your House?

It’s summertime and you’ve been thinking about selling the house. The weather is great which makes it easy to show your home, and the kids are out of school to help you pack everything up (or just eat ice cream and watch you do it).

If you’re wondering the best time to sell your house and want to take advantage of the current sellers market, then we’ve got the answers for you below.

When to List to Get the Best Price and Sell the Fastest
Every day real estate surges forward with a new abundance of real estate tech tools. These tools are the building blocks of the future of real estate and help to predict the temperature of the market.

We’ve used one of these tools to give you the best time to sell your house based on cold, hard numbers.

If you need to put your home on the market now, you’re in luck. Nationwide housing market data shows August as the best time to list a house in order to get the highest sale price. August was the best time to list overall from 2014 – 2017. Real estate transactions often take a few months to close, which means that homes listed in August will most likely close in November. Homes that closed in November over 2014 – 2017 sold for 4.04% higher than the national average.

If you want your home to sell quickly, aim for a close date this month or a close date in August. Overall from 2014 – 2017, homes that closed in July and August closed 7 days faster than the National average.

You can also predict the best time to sell your house in your local market by searching your city and state in this tool and state in this tool. For example, the best time to sell a house in Las Vegas is the Summer, aiming for a Fall close date.

Current State of the Market: Sellers Hold the Cards
If getting out while it is good is your goal, then it may be in your best interest to sell your house now. Currently the nation is in a sellers market, which means that the demand for homes exceeds the number of homes on the market. Basically, there are more buyers in need of homes than there are people selling.

The problem is that some people are predicting a cooling of the real estate market in 2018. According to USA Today, home buying may be less accessible in 2018 because of higher interest rates and rising home prices. The National Association of Realtors predicts interest rates around 4.5-4.6% for this year.

If you need to sell, it might be best to list the home now for fear of the market leveling off and a big loss of buyers in 2018.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

9 Silly Little Things That Could Be Sabotaging Your Home Sale

If your home is in pretty good shape (i.e. it’s decently updated and not in need of a total overhaul), you might think it’s ready to go on the market as is. But little things you wouldn’t expect can end up being deal breakers. And, when you’ve got competition, you need your home to stand out for all the right reasons. Give your home a good look and address the little things now before they become big problems when buyers are balking.

Cords hanging from your mounted TV

This is one of those things that tends to fade into the background in a home we live in every day. But don’t be surprised if new eyes go right to those dangling cords and wonder why you didn’t take the next step and hide them in the wall. Anything that makes a potential buyer question whether you cut corners or were lazy elsewhere could spell bad news for your home sale.

An unkempt yard

So, you had your landscapers out to clean out your flower beds, trim the bushes, plant colorful new blooms and mulch everything. And then, the night before a showing, a storm blew a whole mess of leaves into your yard. Grab that rake and make it a family affair out on the lawn at dawn. You know what they say about first impressions. Buyers likely won’t be forgiving of a messy lawn, and your house may stand out if they can see the effort made to clean it up when the neighbors’ yards are still 15-deep in leaves.

A dingy front door

Again with the first impressions. Your home may look great inside, but if the front door is chipped or faded, or the hardware is worn, your potential buyers may never get past it. This is an easy fix, and one that consistently rates high on the ROI scale.

Animals

While homebuyers in general may not mind if animals live in the home they are considering purchasing (unless there are severe allergy issues), they don’t want to see – and, especially, smell – evidence of them. You have probably gathered up and stowed away the overflowing box of toys and balls. But have you considered the smell? You might not notice it, but first-time visitors likely will.

You don’t have to rehome your pets; Use these tips from petMD to make your home smell pet-free.

Cobwebs

Even if you keep a pretty clean home, there may be areas that need attention, like ceiling fans or windowsills that are out of reach. You may not have a housekeeper on a regular basis, but doing a one-time, super deep clean before your home hits the market is a good way to make sure potential buyers don’t nitpick and find a reason to question the home’s condition.

Poor furniture arrangement

If you’re rolling your eyes at the idea that the way you have your living room laid out could make a difference in whether or not your home sells, remember back to when you saw the home for the first time. Were you picturing your own furniture in the space? That’s what real buyers do, and if they can’t picture how it will work because you have too much stuff in the space or it’s oddly configured – blocking a fireplace or doorway, for instance – you’re keeping them from doing the thing that could make them buy the home.

“Square footage is important to homebuyers, so when you’re selling a house it’s important to maximize the space to appear bigger and highlight each room’s dual functionality to enhance buyer appeal,” said U.S. News & World Report. “A home seller can do this by decluttering, lighting up the room and especially by having your furniture strategically placed to show off the square footage. The layout will determine the visual size and flow of the room.” You can learn more staging tips for arranging your furniture here.

Junk drawers and crammed cabinets

Buyers who are genuinely interested in your home are likely going to open everything and look everywhere. It’s not snooping (at least, we hope it’s not snooping!) – it’s an interest in how much storage there is in the home. You may be forgiven for one “junk drawer,” but the neater and cleaner you can make everything else, the better. You want people to see the space, not your stuff.

Overfilled closets

The need to showcase the space, not the stuff, goes double for closets. “Whether it’s a hallway coat closet or a master suite walk-in, your home’s closets will have a major big impact on prospective buyers,” said Apartment Therapy. “Box up off-season apparel – or better yet, donate it – and remove extra hangers so yours looks spacious and streamlined.”

Cluttered countertops

Eliminating, or at least cutting down on, clutter in your home is key to getting it sale-ready, and this is especially important in kitchens and bathrooms. While people may be impressed by your professional mixer and juicer, they’re much more interested in knowing they have ample countertop space for their own stuff.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

6 Don’ts When Buying Your First Home

These are exciting times. You’ve finally outgrown apartment life or living with your parents or sharing a place with waaaaayyyyy too many roommates, and you’re ready to take the leap to homeownership. Now it’s time to prepare. As you embark on this journey, beware of six important don’ts that could potentially derail your purchase.

Don’t think it’s too early to get prequalified

So, you’re just going to go out “looking” at houses, you say? The time when you just expect to drive around a little and maybe visit an open house or two is obviously the time when you’re going to fall in love with a house and want to make a move on it right away. If you’re not already prequalified with a lender, you may not have a chance at it. Competition is fierce across the country thanks to low inventory, and well-maintained, move-in ready homes do not sit if they’re priced right. Talk to a lender now to make sure you can qualify – and learn your max budget – even if you just think you’re casually looking (because that can change in a hurry!).

Don’t wait to the last minute to check credit

As a continuation of the casually looking conversation…you want to check your credit the second you start thinking about buying a home. You never know what’s going to be on there. Even if you’ve never missed a payment and have always done a good job of managing your outstanding debt, there could be errors on your report that you’re unaware of or even something from many years ago that you didn’t realize had been reported to a credit agency. Those little boo-boos, accurate or not, could be hurting your score, and a low score could keep you from getting a mortgage at all. Give yourself time to correct errors or fix blemishes; every tick upward can help you get a better rate and make your home more affordable.

Don’t forget about PMI when calculating your monthly expenses

The idea of putting as little down as possible on your new home is attractive, especially if you’re not a natural saver. Today, that can mean just three percent of your purchase price, depending on the loan. For FHA loans, it’s three and one-half percent. The problem with making the minimum down payment is that you then have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

“PMI is a fee you pay on your mortgage until you owe 80 percent or less of what your home is worth. It’s one reason why so many experts advise homebuyers make a 20 percent down payment; if you do, you avoid the evils of paying PMI,” said Student Loan Hero. “PMI can cost between 0.3 percent and 1.15 percent of your loan annually. Depending on how much you borrow, that can mean thousands of dollars in extra costs until you can cancel your PMI.”

Don’t ignore the closing costs

Many of us micro-focus on the down payment when getting ready to buy our first home, but there is another important expense related to the purchase: The closing costs. Closing costs encompass a wide variety of fees, some or all of which may apply to you depending on where and what you’re buying. They can include everything from the application fee and appraisal to the escrow fee to the home and pest inspection to the recording fees. You’re looking at between two and five percent of your purchase price for closing fees, which can definitely add up. Many first-time buyers fail to factor this in when getting ready to purchase, and you don’t want something that could amount to a few thousand dollars or more to come as an 11th-hour surprise.

Don’t forget to factor in all the monthly expenses

New-home communities often quote a monthly payment that looks quite affordable and that can entice buyers who don’t look more closely. That’s because the payment is based on principal and interest only (Typically, you’ll see a star next to the payment that tells you there’s a disclaimer at the bottom of the page.). If you take a look at the small print, you’ll see that there are also taxes and insurance to factor in. In some cases, there is also a homeowner’s association fee. That monthly payment may not be looking so good anymore.

If you’re buying your first home and coming from an apartment or other rental property, you may not have worked things like a gardener into your monthly budget. You’ll also want to consider that if you’re going up in square footage, there could an increase in your utilities, and you may be taking on payments for things like water and trash that were covered by your rental. It’s best to have a true idea of what your monthly expenses are going to look like when buying your first home so you don’t end up in over your head.

Don’t think you can go it alone

Can you buy a home without an agent? Sure. Is it a good idea? Not usually. It could be that you are looking to buy a home that is for sale by owner. “In the industry, we call these types of sellers unrepresented,” said The Balance. “Beware if you are trying to buy a home directly from an unrepresented seller. Odds are the seller won’t know what she is doing or she might be taking advantage of you; either way, it could be problematic.”

Unless you are a real estate attorney or are otherwise connected to the industry and aware of the laws, contract issues, etc., it’s best for you to have representation, regardless of what type of home you are buying.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

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