Category Archives for "Blog"

March 23, 2020

Should you have your Orlando home inspected prior to listing?

Today, many agents are recommending a pre-listing home inspection, for a few good reasons.

A pre-listing inspection:

  • Gives buyers an added level of confidence over and above the seller’s property condition report
  • Alerts sellers to problems that can or should be addressed prior to listing
  • Allows sellers to have repairs made less expensively
  • Can prevent “escrow fall out”

 

First, the confidence. 

When a licensed home inspector attests that prior repairs, additions, etc. were done correctly, or that the systems in the home are in excellent condition, it carries more weight than the homeowner’s assurance. If the inspector finds issues, the seller may either make needed repairs or simply disclose them. When repairs are made, the seller can attach documentation in the form of photos, invoices, etc. to assure the buyer that the work was done. On the other side of the question, if a seller discloses problems that he or she is not willing to correct, the buyer has even more confidence in the seller’s integrity. Some buyers will feel that the pre-inspection was “good enough” and will happily not spend the money on a second inspection. Others will hire a different inspector to verify the findings or to examine subsequent repairs.

 

Being alerted to problems is a benefit to sellers.

Things can go wrong that a seller doesn’t notice, so they cannot disclose or repair. It’s beneficial to know these things ahead of time so they can be addressed or so they can be disclosed and the price can be adjusted accordingly.

 

Making repairs ahead of listing is less costly. 

Repairs made in the period of time between the inspection and an already scheduled closing must be done in a hurry. They must also be done by a licensed contractor – often of the buyer’s choice. Thus, the homeowner has less chance of obtaining competitive bids or of making any of the repairs himself/herself.

 

A pre-listing inspection can prevent “escrow fall out.”

When the inspection is done just prior to closing and necessary repairs are extensive or time-consuming, some buyers won’t wait. Additionally, some won’t have confidence in repairs being made correctly, so they simply walk away. Repairs that were already completed will simply be noted on your property condition report and verified by the buyer’s inspector, should they opt for a second inspection.

 

Discuss a pre-listing inspection with your Orlando real estate professional.

If you decide to go forward, ask your agent to attend the inspection with you and to ask relevant questions. After the inspection, ask your agent for advice on what, if anything, you should do next. If repairs are necessary, he or she probably has a list or reputable contractors here in Orlando who can help. If no repairs are needed, your agent will know how to best use the information in marketing your home.

 

A pre-listing inspection is not a requirement to offering your Orlando home for sale, but in many cases, it is a wise idea.

February 18, 2020

Shifting the burden of closing costs when purchasing a home

Every home mortgage loan requires closing costs. These costs are separate from the money that will go to the seller at closing.
First, there are lender fees such as processing and underwriting fees. Then there are non-lender fees, which include title insurance premiums, appraisal fees, inspection fees, and perhaps attorney fees. They all add up, and they do have to be paid, one way or another.
You know that it’s wise to become pre-approved for a mortgage loan before beginning your search for an Orlando home. It is also wise to discuss your alternatives with regard to the down payment and closing costs.
Depending upon the market, the seller may be willing to pay some or all of your closing costs. In a buyer’s market, a seller might readily agree. However, in a tight seller’s market, you might have to increase the purchase price to offset this seller concession.
Since closing costs generally come in at between 1% and 2% of the selling price, the house should still appraise for enough to cover the price increase.
Another way to reduce the amount needed out-of-pocket at closing is to pay a slightly higher interest rate in exchange for a lender credit for closing costs.
Here’s how the alternatives will affect your monthly payment on a $300,000 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, assuming that your lender has offered you a 4.25% interest rate:
 
Option 1:
You pay your own closing costs on a $300,000 loan at 4.25%. Your monthly payment for principal and interest will be $1,476.
 
Option 2:
Your lender increases the interest rate to 4.5% and gives you a 1% credit ($3,000) for closing costs. Your monthly payment for principal and interest will be $1,520.
Option 3:
The seller agrees to pay 1% of the loan amount ($3,000) to assist with your closing costs. Your interest rate remains at 4.25% with a monthly payment of $1,476.
Option 4:
You increase the purchase price by 1% ($3,000) and the seller pays $3,000 in closing costs. Your loan is now $303,000 with an interest rate of 4.25%, and your monthly payment will be $1,491.
Your true closing costs will be more or less than the 1% used in this example, and a seller may be willing to pay some but not all of your closing costs without raising the purchase price.
Once you’ve shopped for an Orlando home and know the approximate price you’ll pay, go over these details once more with your lender and your agent. Understanding your alternatives will aid both in writing your home purchase offer and in negotiating with the seller.
February 18, 2020

When you want your Orlando home to sell quickly

You know that when you want your home to sell quickly and for top dollar, you need to fix-up, declutter, and clean everything until it sparkles. You may even want to stage the home. But that’s not all you need to do.

The final step, which is the easiest, is to get out of your Orlando home while it’s being shown.

Many sellers argue that they need to be there to answer questions. While it’s true that there may be questions, you still need to leave. If the buyers are truly interested, the questions will come after the showing.

Meanwhile, staying in the house could cause you to lose a sale because buyers can be shy. Many will hesitate to open closet doors or turn on faucets to check the water pressure. They won’t sit down in the living room to “see how it feels” or make comments to each other about the home’s features. They won’t walk through the rooms trying to decide if their furniture will fit.

When sellers are present, they feel uncomfortable and may not stay long enough to realize that yes – this could be the perfect house for them.

 

The second problem is that sellers who get into conversations with buyers or their agents can destroy their own bargaining positions. 

For instance, the potential buyers or their agent may ask why you’re moving, and your answer might indicate that you’re in a hurry and really need to sell. Thus, their offer will be lower than it might have been.

It really is no one’s business why you’re moving. It has nothing at all to do with the value of the house. But if someone asks you a direct question, you may find it difficult not to answer. If the buyers are truly interested and have a valid question, their agent will contact your agent.

 

Next, you could be drawn into a verbal negotiation that’s not in your best interests.

Some buyers, rather than being shy, are pushy. These buyers don’t want to wait to write an offer and have it presented. Instead, they’ll approach the seller with “Would you take…”

Answering that question without knowing all the details that go into an offer could clearly be against your best interests. “X dollars” could turn into “X minus many thousands” in seller concessions by the time the offer is written.

 

Lastly, a personality conflict could prevent a sale.

You (or the buyers) could let personal feelings get in the way of a successful purchase and sale. Sometimes people simply don’t like each other. There may be a silly reason such as their clothing or hairstyle or manner of speaking. One of you might remind the other of someone you don’t like. In today’s climate, a political remark might set one of you against the other.

There could even be no reason – but the negative feeling is there.

You could decide you don’t want your house to go to those folks. Or – they could decide they don’t want a house filled with your “energy.”

All things considered, it’s always in the seller’s best interests to be out of the house when buyers arrive. So, don’t question it – just do it.

February 18, 2020

You want to sell your Orlando home, but don’t want holiday showings…

That’s understandable, especially if you had houseguests or if you have children with vacation activities to juggle with your own work and holiday preparations. It can all become a bit “much.”

But now… the New Year is only a few days away. If you’re serious about selling, it’s time to get moving.

As the guests leave and the holiday decorations are packed away, take a critical look at your house.

  • Do you need to do some fix-up and clean-up?
  • Do you have too much furniture for the size of the rooms?
  • Are your closets and cabinets overflowing?

Rent a storage unit, get some sturdy boxes, and begin to de-clutter, cleaning as you go. Pack those holiday things away, along with the extra furniture, summer clothing and toys, dishes you only use on holidays, and the extra linens that are making it hard to shut the door on the linen closet.

Rid your kitchen and bathroom cabinets of outdated items and pack up the appliances you thought you would use, but never do.

Some of your competitors will have gotten ready before the holidays, so they’ll be ready to “go live” immediately after Christmas or New Year’s. It’s wise to join them or follow as soon as possible because there will be those people who are being transferred and need to find a new home here in Orlando in January.

When you’d like a fresh set of eyes to take a look and let you know what you need to do to get your Orlando home ready for market, call me. I’ll be glad to share what I’ve learned about what appeals to buyers – and I’ll be glad to do a market analysis to let you know your home’s value in today’s market.

February 18, 2020

To Decorate Or Not To Decorate For Holidays When Selling A Home?

We’re almost into the holidays, hard to believe! How can that affect the presentation of your Orlando home for sale?

You have the opportunity to make your house stand out on the block with some colorful décor. Who doesn’t stop for a beat and think “That’s nice” when they see corn stalks, pumpkins, and mums clustered around a gate post or an entry door?
Inside, holiday décor can lend a festive air and create a joyful atmosphere – something everyone wants to feel in their own home. It could be just the thing that makes a prospective buyer think “This is home.”

Each holiday presents that opportunity – but do be cautious.
Homeowners who go “all-out” in decorating could be harming, rather than helping the presentation of their homes.
Why? Because when it’s over-done, visitors will focus on the decorations instead of the house. In some cases, décor can even hide some of a home’s best features, while making rooms appear small and over-crowded.
So decorate. Add some lively colors and create a festive mood. But keep a light touch. You want those visitors to focus on your home, not your decorating skills.

February 18, 2020

First time homebuyers – Are you ready to begin viewing homes?

You are if you’ve covered these first important steps:

  1. Your finances are in order. You’ve put your credit in good shape, and you’ve saved some money for a down payment, closing costs, and moving in.  Yes, it’s true that some loan programs will get you in with no down payment. And in some cases you can combine that with seller-paid closing costs, so you have zero out of pocket to acquire the house.
  2. But don’t forget that even at that, you will have expenses.  They might be as minor as a gallon of paint, a new doormat, or some shrubs to grace the front yard, but there will be expenses. Yard and lawn care tools, garbage cans (if not provided by the city). Remember also that some utilities may require deposits.
  3. You understand your own budget and your own spending habits. Your lender will tell you what you can spend on an Orlando home based on your income and current debt.  However, he or she has no way of knowing about other non-debt expenditures that are important to you. For instance, you may enjoy attending concerts or eating out once a week. You may spend all year looking forward to a week at the beach or on a ski hill. You may believe your children will be deprived if they can’t spend two weeks each summer at an expensive camp.  Leave room in your budget for these important expenditures, and leave room to set a bit aside each month as a safety net or for future investment.
  4. You’re well aware of the costs of homeownership and you’re prepared for them. Taxes and insurance may be included in your monthly mortgage payment, but you’ll still have utilities, possible HOA fees, maintenance costs, and if your new home is farther from work,  commuting costs beyond what you have now.

You’ve sorted out the difference between your needs and your wants.  You may actually need a set number of bedrooms, space for an office, or a yard for your dogs. Your “want” list will likely be much longer.  Speaking of dogs, if they’re part of your family, make sure your agent is aware of the fact. Some communities do restrict the number and/or size of dogs that are allowed.

Before you begin your search for a home in Orlando, know what your future home must have and don’t bother looking at houses that don’t qualify. From there you can work on finding a home with features you simply want.

You’ve chosen a neighborhood, based on your own research. A house is just one small island in a neighborhood. Make sure you’ll be happy thereby meeting a few of the neighbors, checking the crime statistics, researching the schools, and checking the distance to amenities and services that are important to you. (If you must visit the gym every morning before work, you won’t want to drive 30 miles to get there)!

You’ve chosen an agent to help you find the right home and to guide you through the process. Real estate transactions today can be complicated, so don’t try to go it alone. Remember that it costs the buyer nothing to have representation, so choose an agent who will be your ally from start to finish.

Are you ready to begin your search for a home in Orlando? If so, get in touch. I’d love to help you find that “just right” home, and to protect your interests as you navigate the process from offer to closing.

February 18, 2020

Sellers… Are You Ready For That Home Inspection?

Your Orlando / Central Florida home is under contract. Now you get to wait (and possibly worry) until the home inspection and appraisal are complete.
Are you ready for that home inspection?  If you’re like most homeowners, the answer could be “No.”
Even if your home is sparkling clean, it may not offer access to everything the home inspector needs to see. Since home inspectors do NOT move furnishings or go in search of access, that could result in an inspection report with items listed as “not tested” or “unable to access/not inspected.”
Then what? The buyers could disappear, or you could be asked to pay for a second inspection since you did not provide sufficient access. Neither is an attractive option.
The common trouble spot is access to the attic and crawl space. Attic access may be hidden in a closet or located in a garage above a storage space where access is impossible until stored items are moved.
The crawl space access might be beneath stairs or under the carpet. It could even be under a dresser or a washing machine. It could also be outside the house, via a door in the foundation.
If the inspector doesn’t know where to find these access spots, or if they are blocked by furniture, boxes, etc. they won’t be inspected. And, as you might assume, attics and crawl spaces can be the source of problems ranging from mold, to termites, to water damage, to structural problems. The inspector needs to see them.
So be sure to let the inspector know where to find access, then remove all obstacles to getting there.
Access is just the beginning. If the crawl space or attic is crammed full of stored items, the inspector still might not be able to do a complete job, so be sure to remove excess “stuff” before the inspection.
Next, move any furniture or obstruction away from radiators, heating elements, heating vents, air conditioning vents, water heaters, breaker boxes, electrical panels, and electrical outlets. (Yes, he or she will test each outlet.) Replace all burned-out light bulbs so the inspector can see that those fixtures are in working order.
Now get to work on the kitchen and bathrooms. You might want to bring in some sturdy boxes, for this, because you need to remove everything from under the sinks and the top of toilet tank lids.
Empty the fireplace of everything but faux gas logs. Empty the dishwasher. If the kitchen range and/or the washer and dryer are staying, empty them as well.
Trim shrubbery and other plants away from hose bibs, dryer vents, the air conditioner, and outdoor lighting and electrical outlets.
Move all vehicles out of the garage.
Have all keys and codes available so the inspector will have easy access to the entire house – inside and out.
Before you leave your Orlando / Central Florida home for the inspection:

  • Turn off your computer. The inspector may be turning the power on and off, and that could cause data loss or damage.
  • Put your pets in the car with you, or in kennel cages.

If you’ve already moved out:
Be sure that the utilities are turned on and pilot lights are burning.
If your appliances use propane or fuel oil, be sure there is enough in the tanks to keep things running during the inspection.
A bonus for you: Since you’ll be moving soon, look at the things you’ve moved for the inspection with an eye toward putting them in storage or packing them in boxes for the move right now. You’ll be one small step ahead when it comes time for the move.

February 18, 2020

Will The Right Paint Color Help Sell Your Home?

It might. And the wrong paint color can certainly make it harder for you to sell.

First, look at the exterior. If the paint is in good condition, consider power washing to remove the dust and give it new energy. Can you tell if you need a new coat of paint? If your hand is chalky after swiping the paint, it’s definitely time. If a new coat of paint is called for, consider your choices with three things in mind:

  • Will this color appeal to the masses?
  • Does this color “fit” the neighborhood?
  • Will this color complement the color of my roofing?

Studies show that white is preferred by about 40% of homeowners. It has the added advantage of flexibility because you can add other colors to the door and to the window and door trim.  The drawback is that white shows dirt more than other colors do, so it may need to be power washed more often.  Grays and other neutrals are also fairly safe, while pastels such as peach, and vibrant colors such as purple could make your house stand out like the proverbial “sore thumb” in the wrong neighborhood.

 

If your house is already a neutral color and doesn’t need to be repainted, painting the front door a bright and lively color can add new vibrancy. The color you choose might not appeal to everyone, but since a door is small, buyers won’t dismiss the house based solely on the color of the door.

 

Inside, it’s a good idea to add a fresh coat of paint and to stick to neutrals. Fortunately, neutral no longer means white or beige. The “New Neutrals” include shades of gray, pale blues, and sage greens. Some decorators recommend using a vibrant color as an accent wall in a room or two but do so with caution.  Unless your potential buyers love the color, it could be a drawback. And, unless they’re planning to buy new furniture, they’ll be looking at the house with an eye toward how their own furnishings will look in your spaces. Earth tones can be a good choice for accents.

 

Whatever you do, resist going wild in every room with a color that may appeal to only a few. You want agents and their buyers referring to your home as the one with the beautiful rock fireplace, the well-appointed gourmet kitchen, or some other appealing feature – not as “the turquoise house” or “the electric purple house.”  Yes, buyers can repaint, but many buyers today are looking for an Orlando / Central Florida home that is “move-in ready.” Few will want to repaint the entire house before they move in, and those who are willing will likely want a price reduction to cover the time and expense.

 

You may love one of the new colors of the year, but remember you’re not painting for you. You are painting to give your home the greatest appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers. Stay neutral even if you personally consider it boring.

 

If you’d like to know what colors buyers here in Orlando / Central Florida seem to love this year, call me. I’ll be happy to share what I’ve learned.

February 18, 2020

How Much Are Regal Palms Resort And Spa HOA Fees And What Is Included?

What you should know about Regal Palms Resort:

  • Regal Palms Resort & Spa is located in Davenport, Florida and a well-known destination for Central Florida vacations/Disney visitors.
  • Until October 2017 – there was a monthly HOA fee and a separate monthly club fee. In October 2017 the HOA bought out the Club and all paid to the HOA. This transition has been excellent for the community, owners, and buyers. 
  • Depending on where the townhome is located within the community will determine the HOA fee. Most of the units fall under the Regal Palms Owners Association and 2019 HOA fee of $541/month. However, there are 106 homes that are with the Villas at Regal Palms Association (a separate association), which are in the back section of the resort. The addresses for these with the higher HOA fees are 2806 Calabria to 3846 Calabria and also 10 properties on Bergamo. The Fees for these specific units are $616.52 for the 3 bedrooms and $752.32 for the 4 bedrooms.
  • All owners have to pay their own electric and water. For the Regal Palms Owners Association,  the HOA also pays for is the painting of the outside and the roof. The owner is responsible for the walls etc, just like a regular home. For the Villas at Regal Palms, they are setup as condominiums and include other items.
  • When selling/purchasing a home, at times there’s a one-time capital contribution or transfer fee to the buyer. There’s no fee to the buyer when purchasing in Regal Palms. The seller is responsible for the required $50 Estoppel fee. 
  • Owners do not have to pay a resort fee. Every rental guest, however, needs to check-in at the front desk and pay the nightly resort fee of $15 plus tax = $16.80.
  • The HOA fee in Regal Palms Owners Association includes: Ground maintenance of common grounds and around townhomes, building exterior, roof, exterior pest control, security, trash removal, basic cable, basic phone, internet, and phone.  Amenities covered are community pools, lazy river, slide, sand volleyball court, games room/Banana Jacks, fitness, inside/outside spa’s, sauna, steam room, playground.  For more information on Regal Palms and other vacation homes in the Disney area, please contact me directly:

 

February 18, 2020

De-cluttering: It’s Not Just For Orlando Home Sellers!

Yes, homeowners who are planning to put their Orlando or Central Florida homes on the market do need to de-clutter as the first step in preparing their homes to be photographed and shown. But those who are thinking of buying soon should also de-clutter, simply because it will make the move far easier and less stressful. When the time comes to move you’ll only need to pack those items that you use every day. Whether planning to buy or planning to sell, the key to success is starting early, and not trying to do it all at once. If you wait, the task becomes overwhelming and you’ll be tempted to just dump everything into boxes to “deal with later.”  Instead, take it one room at a time – or even one closet, pantry or drawer at a time.

The first step is to get five sturdy boxes. 

Label them:

  • Keep (for the occasionally used items you’ll put in storage until they have a place in your new home)
  • Throw away
  • Give away
  • Sell
  • Not sure

Financial expert Suze Gorman says “If you don’t use it or love it, get rid of it,” and that’s a good sentiment to use as you’re pondering the items in the “not sure” category.  If you haven’t worn that shirt or used that casserole dish in two years, give it away. If you haven’t gotten around to repairing that broken clock for so long that you forgot you owned it, throw it away. As you fill each “give away” or “throw away” box, get it out of the house. The next time you’re out and about, drop the give away box at a local non-profit thrift store. Put the throw away box out to be collected with the trash or drop it at the landfill. Pick up replacement boxes on your way home.  When you have enough “sell” boxes, hold a yard sale. Turn some of that unneeded “stuff” into cash and buy yourself a treat – or save it for an extra-special celebratory dinner when you move into your new home. We’re aboutto hit the Fall season… which is a terrific time for yard sales in Orlando!!!!

 

A bonus to getting this done early: It feels really good to live in a de-cluttered home.