Take the Stress Out of Homebuying

Buying a home should be fun, not stressful. As you look for your dream home, keep in mind these tips for making the process as peaceful as possible.

1. Find a real estate agent who you connect with. Home buying is not only a big financial commitment, but also an emotional one. It’s critical that the REALTOR® you chose is both highly skilled and a good fit with your personality.

2. Remember, there’s no “right” time to buy, just as there’s no perfect time to sell. If you find a home now, don’t try to second-guess interest rates or the housing market by waiting longer — you risk losing out on the home of your dreams. The housing market usually doesn’t change fast enough to make that much difference in price, and a good home won’t stay on the market long.

3. Don’t ask for too many opinions. It’s natural to want reassurance for such a big decision, but too many ideas from too many people will make it much harder to make a decision. Focus on the wants and needs of your immediate family — the people who will be living in the home.

4. Accept that no house is ever perfect. If it’s in the right location, the yard may be a bit smaller than you had hoped. The kitchen may be perfect, but the roof needs repair. Make a list of your top priorities and focus in on things that are most important to you. Let the minor ones go.

5. Don’t try to be a killer negotiator. Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to “win” by getting an extra-low price or by refusing to budge on your offer may cost you the home you love. Negotiation is give and take.

6. Remember your home doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Don’t get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself — room size, kitchen, etc. — that you forget about important issues as noise level, location to amenities, and other aspects that also have a big impact on your quality of life.

7. Plan ahead. Don’t wait until you’ve found a home and made an offer to get approved for a mortgage, investigate home insurance, and consider a schedule for moving. Presenting an offer contingent on a lot of unresolved issues will make your bid much less attractive to sellers.

8. Factor in maintenance and repair costs in your post-home buying budget. Even if you buy a new home, there will be costs. Don’t leave yourself short and let your home deteriorate.

9. Accept that a little buyer’s remorse is inevitable and will probably pass. Buying a home, especially for the first time, is a big financial commitment. But it also yields big benefits. Don’t lose sight of why you wanted to buy a home and what made you fall in love with the property you purchased.

10. Choose a home first because you love it; then think about appreciation. While U.S. homes have appreciated an average of 5.4 percent annually over from 1998 to 2002, a home’s most important role is to serve as a comfortable, safe place to live.

How to find those great foreclosure deals!

Have you recently been hearing people chatting about the great bank owned and foreclosure deals that are out there but can’t quite seem to get a grasp on where to find em?  It’s actually very simple. When a home is going to foreclosure it will first show up on the public auction list.  Not too many homes sell in this phase of the foreclosure process as buyers must have the funds available to purchase the home by 1pm the day of the auction.  When the house fails to sell at public auction, it then returns to the lender and becomes bank owned real estate or REO.  These are then re-listed with a real estate agent on the MLS.  This is where most buyers find these great deals and you can too.  As a real estate agent, I have several tools at my disposal.  I can create a current list of foreclosed bank owned homes from our local MLS and simply print this or email it to you.  Since these properties sell rather quickly, the list obviously changes from day-to-day.  I can also go into the MLS and set an email alert for my clients based on specific criteria such as: bank owned, 3 bed, 2 bath in the city.  My client would then receive a daily email straight from our MLS system with the most updated bank owned homes currently available.  The email would include pictures, details about the property and lending available.  When you see a property you are interested in, simply shoot me an email or give me a call and we will go and see it.  Or we can also set up a day and preview a number of bank owned homes.  It’s really that simple.  So what are you waiting for?  Let’s get you set up today.  Call the Real Estate Super Diva 970-201-3578

10 Big-Impact, Low-Cost Remodeling Projects

10 Big-Impact, Low-Cost Remodeling Projects

Working with sellers who have some—but not unlimited—cash for upgrades? Here are budget-minded enhancements you can suggest to make their home stand out.


1. Tidy up kitchen cabinets.

“Potential buyers do open kitchen cabinets and look inside,” says Morrissey. “Home owners can add rollout organizing trays so when buyers peek in, they feel like there’s lots of room for their stuff.”


2. Add or replace tile.

“By retiling very inexpensively, you make a room look way cleaner that it was,” says Javier Zuluaga, owner of Home Repairs and Remodeling LLC in Tempe, Ariz. “Every city has stores that offer $1 to $2 tile, so home owners have to pay only for the low-cost tile and labor to replace a dated backsplash or add a new one. We also use inexpensive tile to upgrade bathrooms.”


3. Add a breakfast bar.

When a wall separates a kitchen from a family room, suggest cutting out an opening to create a breakfast bar. “In one home, there was a cutout in the wall between the kitchen and living room,” explains Matthew Quinn, a sales associate at Quinn’s Realty & Estate Services in Falls Church, Va., who handles estate and real estate sales for family members whose loved ones have passed away. “We left the structure of the cutout, added an oversized granite breakfast bar, and put chairs in front of it. That cost about $600.”


4. Install granite tile instead of a slab.

“Everybody is hot for granite kitchen countertops, but that can be a $5,000 upgrade,” says John Wilder, a general contractor and owner of Fence and Deck Doctor in New Castle, Ind. “Instead, home owners can put in 12-inch granite tiles for about $300 in materials and get very high impact for little money.”


5. Freshen up a bathroom without retiling.

“With a dated bathroom, I recommend putting in a new medicine cabinet for $100 to $150, light fixtures for about $100, a faucet for $50 to $75, and a vanity for $200 to $300,” says Wilder. “And instead of replacing the tile, the existing grout can be lightly scraped and regrouted, which leaves a haze that can be buffed out and will make the tile look brand new. Also install glass shower doors. A French door adds a lot of panache and elegance for $250, and people will notice the door, not the tile. With all that, you’ve done a bathroom remodel for $1,000 to $2,000.”


6. Freshen up the basement.

“If home owners have cement block or poured concrete walls in the basement, suggest they have a contractor fill in cracks with hydraulic cement and then paint with waterproofing paint,” recommends Wilder. “They can then add a top coat to add color. They can also paint the basement floor with a good floor paint, which spiffs it up. The basement may not be finished, but it’s no longer a damp dungeon.”


7. Add a room.

Look for large spaces that can be enclosed to create a new bedroom for just the price of creating a wall. “One time, we closed off a half-wall to an office and added a door to the other side of the room, thus creating another bedroom,” says Quinn. “That $400 procedure, which took a contractor one day, netted about $40,000 in the sales price.” Zuluaga has also added bedrooms inexpensively. “In a two-bedroom house, there was an archway that led to a third room that was used as a den,” he explains. “It had a dry bar where there would have been a closet, so we took out the dry bar and created a closet so the owners had a third bedroom.”


8. Spruce up cabinet fronts.

Suggest home owners update tired-looking kitchen cabinets. Reconditioning is the least expensive move for under $1,000. “If the wood is starting to look shabby from use or contaminants in the air, we take out the nicks and scratches, recondition it with oil, and put new hardware on,” explains Heidi Morrissey, vice president of marketing and sales at Kitchen Tune-Up in Aberdeen, S.D. For $1,500 to $4,000, owners can replace the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, and for $4,000 to $12,000, they can have all the cabinets refaced. “With refacing, owners can change the color of the cabinets by replacing the door and having a new skin put on the boxes,” says Morrissey. “If they have oak cabinets today, they can have cherry the next day.”


9. Replace light fixtures.

“In a foyer and in bathrooms and kitchens,” says Wilder, “replacing overhead light fixtures provides a lot of pop for a little money.” If the kitchen has track lighting, Zuluaga suggests the home owner spend $450 to $600 to have an electrician replace it with recessed canned lights on a dimmer switch to add ambience. For about $700, Zuluaga also suggests installing pendant lights over a kitchen island or peninsula.


10. Tech-up the garage.

“Sometimes we replace the garage door opener with a remote touchpad entry system,” says Zuluaga. “That costs about $425 and makes it look like a high-end system.”


Download a PDF version of these 10 big-impact, low-cost ideas.

G.M. Filisko is a freelance writer for REALTOR® magazine. You can contact magazine staff at narpubs@realtors.org.

What will 2010 bring for home sales?

One of the million dollar questionRcolumn_investorss for this year is what’s going to happen with the real estate market? Many wonder if home prices will still decline, plateau or actually rise?

My thought for this coming year, especially in the first couple of quarters is that we will see a slight increase in home sales. With the extension and expansion of the Home Buyer Tax Credit till April 30, 2010, I think those who are buying are doing it now rather than later this year.

Traditionally the winter months tend to slow down, however home buyers, especially those that can qualify for the tax credit cannot wait till this spring to start looking for a home. They need to be doing it now.

In the Grand Junction area we have seen 5 consecutive months of declining inventory. Meaning less homes are listed on the market. It certainly is still a buyers market, however the market is not as saturated as it once was. If this trend continues we will start to see a balanced market in our area.

Below are some comments about what 2010 will bring for home prices. I don’t know about you, but I’m a glass half full kind of person, so I expect to see great things for 2010!

Some real estate researchers are forecasting that home prices will fall again in 2010.

· Fiserv Lending Solutions, a financial analytics firm, predicts that prices will decline an average of 11.3 percent in 342 of the 381 markets it covers.

· Moody’s Economy.com foresees another 8 percent drop, with Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada feeling even more pain.

· Shari Olefson, author of Foreclosure Nation: Mortgaging the American Dream, predicts a national average decline in prices of about 10 percent in 2010.

· Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital and the most bearish of the bears, says real estate prices could possibly fall another 30 percent before they hit bottom.

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun sees it all differently. He predicts home prices will rise more than 3 percent in 2010.

“The headwind we face is rising mortgage interest rates,” Yun says, “but the compensating factors will be the home buyers tax credit in the first half of the year and increased job creation in the second half.”

Source: CNNMoney.com, Les Christie (01/01/2010)


Why Real Estate is still a great investment in an economic downturn.

“Let history be our guide” as the old adage says, and that’s exactly what we need to do when it comes to our current economic situation and more specifically our current real estate market.

Real estate has long been a strong investment. Throughout history we can see those that invested in buying up real estate have set themselves up in an advantageous position for their future. How can you try to do the same?

As many Americans are taking their money out of the stock market, because of the failure of the financial market many more are taking advantage of investing their money in real estate.

I have spoken with many individuals that are so scared about the economy, that they cannot see the forest through the trees. When I tell them that they should invest in real estate they seem a bit confused, the reason being with home prices falling, they think that it is a failing market. The funny thing about real estate is that it is a finite commodity. We cannot make more land, and everyone needs a place to live, so individuals will either buy a home or rent a home.  And even if property prices fall dramatically, as the old adage goes, “time heals all wounds when it comes to real estate.”

Learning from History

Take for example John D. Rockefeller Jr. During the Great Depression developed land and was the sole financier of a vast 14-building real estate complex in the geographical center of Manhattan, Rockefeller Center, and as a result became one of the largest real estate holders in New York City. *

I know here in Grand Junction, CO that some of the wealthiest people are ones that bought up a lot of real estate in the Grand Junction area in the 1980’s when the oil shale industry closed up shop and moved out of town. The local economy as well as the national economy was in a downward spiral at that time, similar to today. As the market started to recover they started to develop the land or sold it off and are now financially set.

What a Deal

Let’s take a look at a great deal. In Tolleson, Arizona, just outside of Phoenix, there is a 4 bed, 2 bath, single family home listed for $110,000. What a steal. Even better are the 4-plexes for sale near the colleges and universities in Phoenix that are listed around the same price as this home, and are fully occupied with renters. Naturally this equates to immediate cash flow.

Obviously invest in areas that are desirable for people to live in. Waterfront property is always sought after, as well as warmer and more temperate climates.

Make sure you have investment goals for the real estate you buy. Is this setting you up for retirement, helping you build up your portfolio by attaining more assets. Then when you are looking at purchasing property you can have a gauge to go by.

*(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._Rockefeller,_Jr.)

Tips for Sellers: Make your home show the best!

No matter if the market is hot or cold it is important that your home shows well. Below are some great tips for helping your home show better.

1. Remove clutter and clear off counters. Throw out stacks of newspapers and magazines and stow away most of your small decorative items. Put excess furniture in storage, and remove out-of-season clothing items that are cramping closet space. Don’t forget to clean out the garage, too.

2. Wash your windows and screens. This will help get more light into the interior of the home.

3. Keep everything extra clean. A clean house will make a strong first impression and send a message to buyers that the home has been well-cared for. Wash

fingerprints from light switch plates, mop and wax floors, and clean the stove and refrigerator. Polish your doorknobs and address numbers. It’s worth hiring a cleaning service if you can afford it.

4. Get rid of smells. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Open the windows to air out the house. Potpourri or scented candles will help.

5. Brighten your rooms. Put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms and basements. Replace any burned-out bulbs in closets. Clean the walls, or better yet, brush on a fresh coat of neutral color paint.

6. Don’t disregard minor repairs. Small problems such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression that the house isn’t well-maintained.

7. Tidy your yard. Cut the grass, rake the leaves, add new mulch, trim the bushes, edge the walkways, and clean the gutters. For added curb appeal, place a pot of bright flowers near the entryway.

8. Patch holes. Repair any holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.

9. Add a touch of color in the living room. A colored afghan or throw on the couch will jazz up a dull room. Buy new accent pillows for the sofa.

10. Buy a flowering plant and put it near a window you pass by frequently.

11. Make centerpieces for your tables. Use brightly colored fruit or flowers.

12. Set the scene. Set the table with fancy dishes and candles, and create other vignettes throughout the home to help buyers picture living there. For example, in the basement you might display a chess game in progress.

13. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light. Show off the view if you have one.

14. Accentuate the fireplace. Lay fresh logs in the fireplace or put a basket of flowers there if it’s not in use.

15. Make the bathrooms feel luxurious. Put away those old towels and toothbrushes. When buyers enter your bathroom, they should feel pampered. Add a new shower curtain, new towels, and fancy guest soaps. Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight.

16. Send your pets to a neighbor or take them outside. If that’s not possible, crate them or confine them to one room (ideally in the basement), and let the real estate practitioner know where they’ll be to eliminate surprises.

17. Lock up valuables, jewelry, and money. While a real estate salesperson will be on site during the showing or open house, it’s impossible to watch everyone all the time.

18. Leave the home. It’s usually best if the sellers are not at home. It’s awkward for prospective buyers to look in your closets and express their opinions of your home with you there.

If you have questions about real estate in Grand Junction, CO, e mail Andrea with any questions. The market is stable in Grand Junction, but it is still importatnt to make your home stand out amongst your competition.


If you need some staging tips, let the Real Estate Super Diva come by and give you some pointers on your home. ;o)


Andrea Haitz, Broker Associate
“Taking Real Estate to New Heights”
Keller Williams Grand Junction Realty LLC
970-256-9100 office
970-201-3578 cell

Reprinted from REALTOR® magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.





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