Monday, March 26, 2007

Putting Zeal In Your Curb Appeal

Curb appeal, the first impression your home conveys to prospective buyers, should create an emotional desire to own the home and enjoy the lifestyle and status it represents.
Putting the best face on your home also should give a lasting impression that motivates buyers to cross the threshold and take that first step toward closing the deal.
Experts advise, more like a home improvement or exterior staging job than a cosmetic makeover, curb appeal that sings is particularly crucial now that more and more buyers are calling the shots.
Give your house model home level curb appeal for that "new" look and feel and buyers will beat a path to your door. That's because there's nothing like moving into a home that's ready to go, free of the need for initial touch ups and free of the ghosts of owners past.
So how do you put a new face on your old home? With lots of attention to detail, in not one, but all the components that make your home stand out on the block.
New paint. There's nothing like a fresh coat of paint to begin to give your home that "newly built" look, provided you don't rush the job. Choose a contemporary color scheme that doesn't clash with the neighborhood, but sets your home apart. Don't just slather on a new coat over the old. Remove built up layers of paint before applying a new one. If you don't need to remove existing paint, you do need to prepare the surface.
Exterior surfaces attract dirt and grime from dust and pollutants in the air and that will prevent new layers from adhering properly and cause peeling.
New landscaping. Well-manicured landscaping is the frame for your home's curb appeal. The approach should be tidy, simple, healthy landscaping that's proportional to your home. Know how your landscaping will appear once it's matured.
From a practical sense, the plants and trees provide shade and passive cooling as they control erosion and pollution. They also provide privacy, especially if it's a single-level home adjacent to two-story houses.
New roof. Some real estate agents advise against adding a new roof when sales are brisk, but topping off a complete curb appeal remodeling job, mandates a new roof, gutters and downspouts.
Today's roofs can add contrasting color and textures to your home's look. Affordability comes with multi-dimensional composition asphalt shingles in decorator colors. For something cheaper than the real thing, but just as unique, try simulated slate shingles to turn a bland tract home into a more appealing abode.
New paving. New sidewalks, driveways and other non-landscaped surfaces help pave the way to curb appeal. The choices are endless and inexpensive -- concrete stamped with the impressions of cobblestones, interlocking concrete paving bricks, and more.
New doors, windows. Purposeful portals should make visitors feel welcome. New double doors, new energy-efficient windows framed with shutters, sectional garage doors with half moon or other interesting windows, all add the final curb appeal touches. Written by Broderick Perkins

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Check out my NEW Listings!

26240 Millstone Dr., Denham Springs, LA 70726 USA
Wonderful NEW subdivision just off I-12. Almost one year old home with many updates. Ceramic tile thru-out except bedrooms. Upgraded carpet in bedrooms. Built-in microwave, backsplash with ceramic tile, custom blinds through-out. Open floor plan for entertaining, large island and corner sink in kitchen, walk-in pantry, wonderful master suite. Great yard for those cookouts. Double garage.
For more info and Virtual Tour visit!

3152 Grassy Lake Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70816
Secluded, one street subdivision in fast growing area of Baton Rouge. Across from Runnels School. Only 5 years old in immaculate condition with designer colors thru-out. Formal Dining, fabulous Living Room with corner fireplace overlooking backyard with covered patio and large decked area. Office could be 4th bedroom. Wood, ceramic tile and carpet floors. Kitchen has NEW Granite slab counters, backsplash and NEW stainless steel appliances. You'll love coming home to this one!
For more info and Virtual Tour visit!

711 Voorhies Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70815 USA
For more info and Virtual Tour visit!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sellers Face Contingent Dilemma

Sellers Face Contingent Dilemma
Contingencies in contracts will always exist. It is a rare thing to find a written contract which satisfies both parties right up front without a contingency.
In a sellers market, even if the buyer writes it with no contingencies, the seller will tack on a few of his own -- must find home of choice, comes to mind. Even so, when sellers add contingencies, it's usually only a couple that are easily remedied and which don't cost the buyer much money. When buyers add contingencies, on the other hand, it means the seller may face delayed expenses (such has home inspection defects) or have the chance that the house may not sell at all.
For example, a Washington, D.C. area seller writes that he has "drastically lowered" his price, has a great agent and is "very realistic about the market," but that he's turned down two contingent contracts with unrealistic buyers. Having lowered the price to 30 percent below appraised value, the two contracts have both been contingent on the buyer selling his or her home first before completing the sale.
In further discussion, both buyers, according to this seller, are very unrealistic about the value of their own homes, and want to put them on the market way overpriced.
"They think my house is a great deal because I have lowered my price," Tired Seller writes. "Then they write a contract based on the equity they 'assume' they have in their home. They want to list it way overpriced ... . My plan is to just keep lowering the price until it sells. Any advice?"
First of all, if you've already drawn two contracts, then you may have hit the low-enough point. Now, work on the marketing and seller subsidies up front. In addition, before rejecting an offer outright, I would write a counter that the buyer can only list the property for a certain amount. Don't say, "market value price," go ahead and have your agent draw up a comparative market analysis on the buyer's house and base the price on that CMA.
In addition, ask the buyer to follow the same modus operandi you have -- be willing to drop the price every other week until it draws a contract. Write all this verbiage in the "Other Terms" section of the contract. Remember, in real estate everything is negotiable.
When a contract comes through, in a buyers market a seller needs to remember to keep his or her cool. You don't need to roll over and play dead, accepting any terms the buyer offers. Remember, you have a contract in your hand. While the buyers may have dozens of other homes to choose from, they have chosen yours because it obviously fits their housing needs. They also obviously like your price, so now concentrate on the terms. In today's market, if your house is priced right, then you only have to focus on terms to get a winning contract on the board.
The challenge of accepting a contingent contract in many MLS's around the country, is that the status changes from Active to Under Contract/Contingencies. The problem with that is with so many homes on the market, 99 percent of buyer agents search only Active listings for their buyers -- they rarely seek out UC/Contingencies status. Why bother? They are obviously in negotiation with a buyer already.
So switching the status may mean your home lingers toward closing while waiting for the buyers' home to sell. On the other hand, the buyer becomes much more motivated to sell and may be willing to drop the price right away to elicit a quick sale.
The No. 1 contingency in contracts today is the home inspection. Instead of fearing this contingency, the astute seller will conduct his or her own home inspection and fix the problems before the buyer finds something later. Be tough on your own house. If it has an old air conditioner -- have it worked on and serviced. Make sure all the plugs work properly.
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, make sure you have the permits or at least professional inspections necessary to show you did the work right. I've seen sellers redo the plumbing and/or electrical work of the previous owner who was a DIY because they just didn't know if it was done wrong.
In other words, the seller who anticipates the challenges from a buyer will be ahead of the game. Don't wait till you "find out" that you have termites -- look it up and uncover the defect before it's a surprise. Be willing to accept contingencies, but also be willing to negotiate to make it work for you as well. Written by M. Anthony Carr
Wondering What Your Home Is Worth? -- Let me show you.

Friday, January 12, 2007

New Year's Resolutions for The Home

Whether you're a new homeowner or you've been in your house for years, why not resolve to make 2007 "the year" you whip your house and household finances in top shape? It could prevent you from encountering costly problems down the road - and assist you in getting top dollar when it comes time to sell.
The first thing you should do is develop and then implement a maintenance plan.
"A homeowner who makes the necessary yearly investment will end up saving in the long run because routine maintenance can help avoid larger, more expensive repairs that can add up to the tens of thousands of dollars or more," said Mike Kuhn, director of technical services for Housemaster, a New Jersey-based home inspection company. "It is just like giving your home its annual physical."
The Insurance Information Institute, the American Society of Home Inspectors, and the National Association of Home Builders offer a host of maintenance tips - tips that you should resolve to adopt wholeheartedly in the year ahead.
Water. Check visible water pipes and sewer lines for cracks, rusting and leaking; turn on faucets to test water pressure and volume; and look for clogged or sluggish drains or dripping faucets. If pipes are galvanized or steel and the house is old, be sure to check carefully along the entire length of the pipe. Wrap your pipes with heating tape every winter and insulate unfinished rooms such as garages if they contain exposed pipes. Also check for signs of leaking or rusting on your water heater.
Electricity. Check your electrical system's load center and see if there are fuses or circuit breakers; also check its age and look for signs of wear or exposed wires.
Heat. Check your heating system for gas leaks and cracks in the heat exchanger. Maintain your furnace, fireplace, boiler, water heater, space heater and wood-burning stove and have your heating system serviced every year. Clean and vacuum dust from vents, baseboard heaters and cold-air returns.
Gas. Check smoke and fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and change your heating and air conditioning filters. Have your appliances inspected for gas leaks and adequate ventilation.
Insulation. Your attic should be five to 10 degrees warmer than outside air. Check weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors and replace or repair it as needed. Also repair broken glass and loose or missing putty on windows.
Basement/Attic. Well-insulated basements and crawl spacers will protect your pipes from freezing. Check the basement for signs of water leaking, dampness, flooding, dry rot and termites. Check the attic for signs of leaks and any rodent or insect infestation.
Exterior. Remove all debris from gutters. Maintain your steps and handrails. Inspect your roof for damaged or loose shingles; gaps in the flashing where the roofing and siding meet vents and flues; and damaged mortar around the chimney (especially at the joints, caps and washes). Inspect your home's exterior walls, looking for possible weather-related damage like cracks and loose or crumbling mortar.
You should also resolve to get your finances in order. Eric Tyson and Ray Brown in their book Home Buying for Dummies say it's especially important to build up your reserves and get your financial house in order after you buy a home.
You should begin by resisting the temptation to splurge. Refrain from using a credit card and keep your other financial goals, like retirement, in mind. You should have at least three months' salary in your emergency fund. Try to stay away from unnecessary spending until you reach this goal.
Think about E-payments, which ensure that you never pay late, and late payments can tack on an extra five percent late payment fee.
You'll also want to think about taxes and refinancing options.
If home prices have dropped in your neighborhood since you've moved in, you may want to consider appealing your assessment since the tax is based on your home's value in most communities. Also keep your financial documents organized so you'll be more prepared at tax time.
If interest rates go down, think about taking out a new loan at the lower rate to replace your original loan. Be sure to consider how much refinancing the loan will cost you. Refinancing won't benefit you unless you plan on staying put for at least five years.
Also, plan and budget for any major repair, remodeling or decorating projects you'd like to pursue in 2007. Take your time, shop around for the best prices, and if you're hiring a contractor, get plenty of references.
If you've been putting off landscaping your house, make plans to do it now. The right landscape can increase the value of your home by 15 percent, allowing you to recoup 100 to 200 percent of your investment, according to the Association of Landscape Contractors of America.
And if you do any home improvement projects, keep your receipts. You may be eligible to minimize the capital gain that may come your way when you eventually sell. The improvement must be one that permanently increases the value and useful life of the house (like a new roof).
By keeping your house and finances in order in 2007, you're sure to thank yourself at this time next year. Written by Michele Dawson

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Buying Houses Just One Way To Invest In Real Estate

Everyone generally understands that as a real estate investor, the concept is to let someone else's rent payments pay for your mortgage and to hopefully come out with a positive cash flow at the end of the month.
There are plenty of ways to get started in real estate investing. Here are some one-line descriptions of how to do it including the pros and cons of each alternative.
How it works: Purchase the property at a courthouse auction -- hopefully for less than it's worth. Fix it up, sell it or rent it out.
Pros: This is a common sense approach to getting started in real estate investing. If you can get the property for a wholesale price and then rent it out for more than your mortgage, you're on your way to building wealth one month at a time.
Cons: You get into the property and find out it has major problems costing a lot more than you'll ever recover. Ever heard of concrete being flushed down the drain (usually out of spite from the former owner)? It means having to remove all the sewage drains. Hidden defects can run costs up and give you a red ink bath before it's done. Since the bank/note holder is selling the property as-is, there's not much recourse.
How it works: Purchase a property that needs major repairs. This is not a property that just needs paint and carpet. This type of property usually has rot, flooring, roofing, basement and just overall problems. But that's what makes it so enticing.
Pros: For investors with their repair ducks lined up in a row, this can be a good money maker. The key here is to hammer on the seller early in the negotiating process. Get the house for as low as possible and know what your bottom line really is.
Cons: For those wanting to flip the property, if you can't make $30,000 -- $50,000 on the projected profit, then you may want to pass. Why? An unseen defect can run into the tens of thousands of dollars really quickly.
Retail Investment
How it works: Keep your eye open for under-priced properties in an area where rentals are brisk. This would be a house that really does just need paint and new carpet. Be sure you know what the rents are before going into the property. You want a positive cash flow before you even walk into the property.
Pros: A house that is in good shape can rent for years without any major expenses if it was taken care of early on.
Cons: Good rental properties -- say, in a college town or near a military base -- don't come on the market often, so you could be waiting a while before you find one. (Experienced investors usually scoop these up before the novices even know they're on the market.)
Paper Real Estate
How it works: This one is where you invest in the mortgages of real estate instead of the real estate itself -- financing second trusts, purchasing mortgages at a discount, wraparound mortgages, etc.
Pros: For those who have cash, this one can give major returns on your money. For example, if you can pick up a $20,000 note at 12 percent for $15,000, your return on the note jumps to 16 percent. This is not going to fluctuate like the stock market is sure to do.
Cons: Your mortgagee (the borrower) could skip town, leaving you to foreclose -- right behind the first-trust note holder who usually gets paid first in a foreclosure.
These are just a few of the ways you can get started in real estate investing. For more education, find a good REALTOR® to start working with who can show you the ropes and help you avoid the pitfalls. Written by M. Anthony Carr
Wondering What Your Home Is Worth? -- Let me show you.