Where is Real Estate Headed?

Written by Phoebe Chongchua

Many have watched the real estate market with bated breath, wondering what lies ahead. The Norris Group, a California-based company that produces an annual report on the state of real estate and predictions, provides some insight. The company recently released the Tip of the Iceberg report by Bruce Norris, an active investor, hard money lender, and real estate educator with 29 years of experience. While the report focuses on California, there are many other national predictions included. Here’s a look at what Norris is predicting in the coming eight years.

“Real estate isn’t even the first domino. Everything that happens in real estate can happen because of other things,” Norris said at a conference earlier this year. In this report, I’m looking at all those other things and finally seeing that they play a big part, if not the biggest part, in how things work out,” said Norris.

The report shows the various government programs for delinquent and financially challenged homeowners and reveals a disturbing fact. “All the delinquency trends for all the types of loans are up,” said Norris. “It doesn’t matter if it’s prime or subprime.” “The national average is 13.2 percent for total non-current (both delinquencies and foreclosures). California ranks at 15 percent, Illinois at 14 percent, Pennsylvania at 10.7 percent, and Florida, the highest, at 23.5 percent. “My friend Alex lives in Florida in Orlando and houses that were selling for $180,000 to $220,000, he’s regularly buying for $20,000 to $22,000,” said Norris.

The national average for the total non-current FHA loans (including delinquencies and foreclosures) is 17.4 percent. California is at 9.7 percent, Illinois at 21.3 percent, Pennsylvania at 15.3 percent, and Florida is at 23.8 percent.

Norris thinks this will provoke more usage of the 203(k) Mortgage by HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). The “Streamline (K)” Limited Repair Program permits homebuyers to finance an additional $35,000 into their mortgage to improve or upgrade their home before move-in. “They’ll actually loan you more than the house is worth, intentionally,” said Norris. “Right now it’s only available for owner-occupants but I’m sure that’s about to change,” he said.

“All of us who thought that we were going to see REOs (real estate owned by lending institutions) all over the place for the last few years are quite surprised,” he said. “It’s because there was intervention.” But how will that intervention and the aging population impact us? The report states that having a Federal debt that is trillions of dollars (and growing) and the size of the baby boomer generation will cause big changes that affect finances and real estate. “You’re going to expect higher taxes,” he said. Norris predicts, maybe even up to 45 percent for top tax bracket in 2011 and possibly higher after that. “If we’re going to try to resolve some of our problems and pay for stuff that’s gone on in the past, I think you’re going to have to say ‘We’re going to have to pay some higher taxes.'” Norris also predicts higher unemployment, aging consumers buying less and saving more which he says will mean more burden on the government due to fewer tax revenues and greater expense for government.

Perhaps the good news is the prediction for consistently low interest rates. “This is one of the conclusions that I didn’t think I was going to come up with. I really thought that we’d probably have some scary interest rates but I just don’t think so. Without an overheated economy, I don’t see the big inflation risk for the next period of time. I see the big picture that it could be very scary but for the length of time that I’m trying to cover in this report, I’m not as afraid of it as I thought I’d be,” said Norris.

He thinks over the next eight years, interest rates will be under 8 percent “and you may have times where they are as cheap as they are now.” Norris anticipates milder price increases in real estate as well as a decline in ownership coupled with a constant inventory available. The report also points out something that buyers are already facing, “regulation of finance markets might make it harder to get finance.” He predicts the median price to increase for California to approximately $460,000 in the beginning of 2018 due to factors such as migration. And if the employment conditions improve in the state, Norris thinks migration numbers will do even better, helped in part due to retirees moving into the state. Norris expects more emphasis on housing for seniors, which seems to be a trend in many states.

“I view the next eight years as a pivotal time for us, as a country, to make sure that we don’t end with bigger problems than we’ve got,” said Norris.

The good news is that Norris predicts less volatility in the real estate market and expects increases, albeit, not as drastic as in the past.

– Copyright © 2010 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

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Appealing Your Property Tax Bill

Written by Broderick Perkins

If your property tax is aligned with or assessed based on the value of your home, a swing in property values could warrant close scrutiny of your property tax bill.

Some more progressive tax jurisdictions will make the adjustment for you — up or down — but most only move your rate up or they’ll wait for the property to change hands before adjusting the tax.

Even where adjustments are automatic, you still may not be satisfied and will need to appeal the deal.

Over valued or over assessed property is perhaps the most common and successful grounds for challenging your tax bill.

When the economy is faltering and spawning foreclosures, short sales and homeowners otherwise bailing out of homeownership, consider it a red flag — it’s time to scrutinize your property tax bill.

Many homeowners bailout, accept the foreclosure or take the short sale way out because their mortgage is more than the value of the home, which may have fallen for a variety of reasons.

The incidence of incorrectly calculated property tax bills may also warrant a close inspection of your property tax bill or an appeal.

Many errors in calculating your property tax bill also stem from clerical mistakes according to the American Homeowners Association (AHA) which, along with the National Taxpayers Union, offers a low-cost kit to help you check our property tax’s accuracy and, if necessary, attempt to lower your levy.

Visit the Federation of Tax Administrators (http://www.ntanet.org) to pinpoint your property tax jurisdiction, records and procedures.

Tell-tale signs your property tax could warrant an adjustment include:

  • Errors in the description of your property on the tax bill.
  • Compatible homes in the area that have sold for less than your appraised value.
  • Neighbors with lower assessments on similar houses. Keep in mind some homes retain the same assessed value for years and assessed values often don’t rise or fall in step with market values or home sale prices.
  • Value reducers in your home or area, including drainage problems, easements, re-zoning, heavy traffic, nearby railroad tracks, freeways, industry or toxic waste.
  • Depreciation factors, including the quality of materials, inefficient heating, structural cracks, deterioration, or chronic defects.

When you examine your tax records in the local assessor’s or property tax office to make sure the information is complete and accurate also ask yourself:

  • Did you buy your home in a bidding war? An overvalued property is an over assessed property.
  • Are there errors in your tax records? Look closely at your records and make sure there aren’t reporting errors. A condo listed as a single-family home, square footage that’s off, too many rooms and more can falsely boost assessed value.
  • Do the math. Many states put a cap on how much above the market value an assessment can be and how much it can rise each year.

If you need to appeal the assessed value and related property tax, prepare yourself for a time-consuming ordeal.

In most cases the process is free for taxpayers, but you may want to enlist the aid of a licensed professional to assist you.

Typically, you’ll have to find three, five or more comparable homes in your neighborhood that have lower assessments. Obviously, the lower the better. Also, the more comparables, the stronger your case. Truly comparable homes are homes nearly identical to your home’s floor plan, age, lot size, improvements and other factors.

The information is largely public and available, with some digging, from your tax assessor’s or property tax office, but you can hire a real estate agent or other professional with access to your local multiple listing service. They can quickly generate a comparable market analysis of homes both recently sold and those in escrow to hone in on your home’s true value.

An appraiser with multiple listing service access can do the same, as well as perform an appraisal of your home.

If you hire a professional you could be out a few hundred dollars. Don’t make a case if you don’t think it’s worth the cost to appeal.

Approach the appeal objectively, not with an adversarial chip on your shoulder. You only want your due, not to incite the property tax system.

If at first you don’t succeed, be prepared to appeal to a higher authority.

– Copyright © 2010 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

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It’s a Good Time For a Home Inspection

Written by Broderick Perkins

In today’s housing market, a home inspection can wake up buyers to what “as is” really is and give them a negotiating edge that could lead to cash or repair concessions.

For sellers, a home inspection serves as an anti-haggling tool and keeps the dickering down to a roar.

An inspection is also for new homes, given new home defects aren’t just incidental.

It’s also a good tool to use to assess a home’s integrity after a natural disaster, including flooding, an earthquake, a wind or rain storm.

Finally, a home inspection by home owners who aren’t listing their home for sale can let them know every few years what maintenance or upgrades they need to perform.

It’s always a good time for a home inspection.

For $350 to $500, a professional home inspector will review the major, visible and accessible components of the home and provide a detailed written report rating each element. Typically included are the heating system; central air conditioning system (climate permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components.

The inspection isn’t intrusive and it may not include swimming pools, septic tanks, and other systems that require an inspection by a specialist.

The objective report should include detailed information in a way that allows the customer to make informed decisions about the findings.

The inspection also can be a learning opportunity for the buyer or seller who should attend the inspection. The inspection is an opportunity to see the inspector demonstrate systems and to get acquainted with necessary maintenance chores.

The inspection also sees through the veil of misleading staging and other cover-ups and it can help buyers uncover building permit and code violations.

Sellers can likewise use the inspection to determine what they need to do to put the home in competitive shape or price it fairly to sell as-is.

While a home inspection, purchased by the buyer or seller or both, is more common than it’s ever been, too many home buyers skip the process.

That’s especially true for new homes, but they also need a once over. There could be subcontractor issues missed by the contractor as well items missed by the local jurisdiction’s harried building inspector.

Studies have exposed newly built single family homes with construction problems related to the building envelope; framing and structural elements and in the plumbing and electrical systems.

As homes age, given the life expectancy of certain systems, the home inspection grows in importance.

Within 10 years, foundation settling could create drainage problems; by the age of 20, appliances are well outdated and the roof and wood components exposed the weather or moisture could need replacing; at 40 years the HVAC system will likely need replacement. Older historic or architecturally significant homes can develop structural problems and need restoration.

Safety hazards that crop up in older homes include old sliding glass windows that are not tempered safety glass, missing smoke alarms and missing pressure relief valves on water heaters.

Neglect plays a role too, as the lack of preventative maintenance takes it toll. Some homeowners take better care of their car than their biggest investment.

The American Society of Home Inspector’s (ASHI) “Virtual Home Inspection Tour” online (www.ashi.org) can give you a sense of what a professional inspector sees, what areas he or she can’t see and won’t inspect and what the inspector is likely to find and where.

– Copyright © 2010 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

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Seniors Looking to Downsize, Seek Opportunities to Socialize in Urban Areas

Written by Phoebe Chongchua

Aging baby boomers want to feel connected. As many decide to downgrade the size of their current home, they search for a new one. However, it’s more than just their living quarters that makes them want to buy.

“I think previously there was this preconceived idea that senior citizens retire and they move to Florida or Arizona or they move somewhere to a senior citizen community,” says Steve Matthews, a real estate industry expert and chair for the Montclair Senior Citizen Advisory Committee in New Jersey. But he says there’s a changing mindset emerging. “Senior citizens no longer want to be in an isolated place.”

Many are selling their homes and looking for a community connection in the location where they plan to purchase their next home. “Like the rest of America, there was this movement going out toward suburbia. Now, there’s a movement going back toward more urban areas and towns are starting to be challenged,” says Matthews.

His town, Montclair, is a 30 – minute train ride from New York City. “So, it becomes a commuter town for people who work and it’s always been known as a town where young families go and buy. But now we’re seeing seniors who would previously move down to South Jersey or move somewhere else, choosing to stay closer to home,” says Matthews.

And that means that towns like Montclair need to understand the changing needs of its residents.

There are multiple factors causing the desire for urban living. Extended family living under one roof and caring for each other, low – maintenance condos, and social connectivity are a few reasons that top the list.

“Towns aren’t used to having to provide other services for seniors. Many towns have always focused services toward children – school systems, park systems, and things like that. Now, towns are being challenged to provide support systems for seniors who are choosing to retire in place,” says Matthews.

As more seniors shop for smaller, easy – to – maintain homes, that puts them in the same market as first – time buyers. However, seniors often have one distinct purchasing advantage. “A lot of them are selling their home, so they’re cash buyers and that makes them a stronger buyer in this market,” says Matthews.

Some seniors tend to be interested in homes that are completely renovated or upgraded. But Matthews says he encourages seniors to look at homes that might need some remodeling because they may get a better deal. Then the buyers can renovate the home in a way that is most suitable for their needs.

For sellers looking to market their property, Matthews says there are some specific items that tend to appeal to this group such as, buildings with doormen and onsite maintenance staff, alternate transportation such as a senior shuttle or bus stop nearby, and ‘lock and leave’ homes (baby boomers are adventurous and like to have the ability to easily leave for travel). Studies show this group also likes smaller quarters. They’re willing to get rid of extra stuff and live freely, yet comfortably which is why condos, active adult communities, and city apartments are highly appealing.

According to the Over – 50 Council of the National Association of Home Builders, as much as 6 percent of people between the ages of 55 and 64, move every year.

– Copyright © 2010 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

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Green Your Home with Cost-Saving Remodeling Tax Credits

Written by Realty Times Staff

As the 40th anniversary of Earth Day was celebrated last month, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reminds home owners that they can use fewer resources and save money by taking advantage of federal energy efficiency tax credits through the end of the year.

Home owners who purchase qualifying water heaters, windows, air conditioning units and other appliances, insulation and roofing can be eligible for tax code section 25C tax credit, equivalent to 30 percent of the cost. There’s a $1,500 overall limit for purchases made in 2009 and 2010.

“You can save money, save energy, and be a good steward of the Earth’s resources,” said NAHB Remodelers Chair Donna Shirey, a remodeler in Issaquah, Wash. “I can’t think of a more appropriate way to commemorate Earth Day.”

Carolyn Taylor of Columbia, S.C., enjoyed Earth Day with a new tankless water heater that supplies plenty of hot water for her active family of four. Remodeler and NAHB member Pete Williams of ATherm Remodeling in Columbia suggested the switch because it was less expensive than relocating her existing gas water heater during a whole-home renovation project.

When Williams told her about the energy-efficiency tax credit the family would also enjoy, that was the icing on the cake, Taylor said. “Any time you can do something that makes a home more energy efficient and saves you money, of course you should do it,” she said.

Remodeler Shawn Nelson in Burnsville, Minn., helped home owners combine the federal credits with a state program that offered rebates for qualifying windows as part of renovation projects he completed over the winter. Home owners can visit www.dsireusa.org for a list of incentive programs where they live.

In a statement last week to the House Ways and Means Committee, NAHB urged Congress to extend the section 25C credit past its December expiration date and to reinstate the section 45L $2,000 tax credit for builders of energy-efficient homes, which expired at the end of 2009.

A more generous credit for appliances that use renewable energy is in effect through 2016. The section 25D credit applies to 30 percent of the total cost of solar panels for electricity or hot water, wind power equipment and the installation of geothermal heat pump systems. This credit can be used in conjunction with new or existing homes.

“These renewable systems are more expensive up front, but may offer significant savings in the long term,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a builder in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. “Both the 25C and the 25D credits are worth investigating, and you’ll get helpful information from the NAHB Web site, your local home builders association or the NAHB Remodeler member you choose to help you with your renovation and improvement plans.”

– Copyright © 2010 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

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Homeowner Advice: Housewarming Party Etiquette

Written by Carla L. Davis

Buying a home can be the single largest purchase of a lifetime. And in our society, celebrating that purchase is a common and happy occurrence.

But questions arise as to what are the proper procedures and etiquette regarding a housewarming party. Can you throw the party yourself? Are gifts mandatory? When should the party happen? And can renters throw a housewarming party? These are a few of the questions that we’ll cover in this article.

The first tip from the experts is to wait to have your party until you are actually settled into the house. Sometimes new homeowners are so excited to share their new life that they jump the gun. You don’t want to be searching for a serving spoon or a mixing bowl when your guests are arriving. And you also don’t want them walking a maze around boxes and disorganized furniture.

The next consideration is who plays host and organizes the party? You should feel completely comfortable in hosting your own housewarming party, if done with the right intentions. Housewarming parties shouldn’t be done with the intention of getting gifts, just as a wedding shouldn’t take place in order to get presents. If there are items you’d like to have, you could consider registering for gifts. Gifts, however, should probably not be requested or suggested as mandatory. And registry information should not be included on the invitation. There will be guests who will bring offerings, regardless if you register, request, or not.

Along those same lines, if you have a good friend or family member that has settled into a new home, you may consider stepping up to the opportunity to play host. This should be considered an honor. Whoever plays host will send out invitations, or e-vites, and plan the festivities, including cocktail menu and food. A low key affair can be just as fun as something more involved. Consider throwing a fair weather barbecue as one option.

Should a renter have a housewarming party? Sometimes buying just isn’t in the cards. In this instance, it may be better to throw a simple party, without the pretenses of it being a housewarming party. Your friends and family can still bring gifts if they want, but without feeling the obligation of buying a present for a landmark experience.

What make a good housewarming present? This can be tough, especially if the host hasn’t registered for gifts or if you don’t know the host’s taste. Some great gifts that have a hard time going wrong are: candles, wine or champagne, potting sets (seeds, trowel, and pot), or even gift cards to local home stores and home improvement stores.

As a guest to a housewarming party, it would be good manners to gift the new homeowner. Even a simple gift like those outlined above would be perfectly suitable. If you can’t afford a gift at this time, consider writing a handwritten note congratulating the new homeowner.

A housewarming party is a great time to celebrate one of life’s greatest joys, owning a home

– Copyright © 2010 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

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Does Moving Up Make Sense?

Written by Realty Times Staff

The following are some questions that will help you decide whether you’re ready for a home that’s larger or in a more desirable location than your current one.

If you answer yes to most of the questions, it’s a sign that you may be ready to move.

  • Have you built substantial equity in your current home? Look at your annual mortgage statement or call your lender to find out. Usually, you don’t build up much equity in the first few years of your mortgage, as monthly payments are mostly interest, but if you’ve owned your home for five or more years, you may have significant, unrealized gains.
  • Has your income or financial situation improved? If you’re making more money, you may be able to afford higher mortgage payments and cover the costs of moving.
  • Have you outgrown your neighborhood? The neighborhood you pick for your first home might not be the same neighborhood you want to settle down in for good. For example, you may have realized that you’d like to be closer to your job, relatives, or live in a better school district.
  • Are there reasons why you can’t remodel or add on? Sometimes you can create a bigger home by adding a new room or building up. But if your property isn’t large enough, your municipality doesn’t allow it, or you’re simply not interested in remodeling, then moving to a bigger home may be your best option.
  • Are you comfortable moving in the current housing market? If your market is hot, your home may sell quickly and for top dollar, but the home you buy also will be more expensive. If your market is slow, finding a buyer may take longer, but you’ll have more selection and better pricing as you seek your new home.
  • Are interest rates attractive? A low rate not only helps you buy a larger home, but also makes it easier to find a buyer.

– Copyright © 2010 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

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Sell Faster When You Understand The Buyers Mindset

Written by Phoebe Chongchua

When most sellers list their home for sale the first thing they think about is how much will I get and that is usually followed by how soon will I get the money. It’s certainly understandable that those two concerns are, most often, top of mind. After all, you’re likely selling your home to buy another one or invest the money in something else.

But, if as a seller, you can get into the buyer’s mindset, the sale of your home can come faster and for more money.

Understanding the way buyers think involves seeing things not from your perspective but from your potential buyer’s mindset. It can sound easy but actually it’s often harder to do than most sellers think. The psychology of buying is driven by emotional experiences, money, and timing. With that in mind, sellers can help create optimal circumstances that literally help walk the buyer through the process and completion of the sale of your home.

It starts with a feeling. When you meet someone for the first time, you form a first impression based on a feeling. That’s exactly what happens when buyers set foot into your home. Work with an experienced agent to learn exactly what kind of impression your home is giving off. If it’s a small home, make sure it’s not overfilled and cluttered.

Pick up all the loose clutter that’s floating around. Throw out old magazines. People like to see things that are streamlined or clean or fresh looking. There’s nothing worse than walking into a place and seeing a stack of magazines all over the place or an unmade bed.

Go the extra step and take care of items that might have been overlooked for quite some time. Steam clean the carpets, the upholstery, the furniture, if that’s what’s needed. Have the windows cleaned, light fixtures cleaned. Make it feel clean when you walk in.

Go back to basics. You may love your turquoise carpet but do you really think buyers will? Getting inside the buyers mind will help you answer these questions. You can also pick up home décor magazines and see what appeals to the masses. You don’t have to change everything in your home, but going back to basics in a few areas will help buyers see how your home can become their home.

As soon as buyers see a really loud red, orange or lemon-green color they automatically think about re-doing. That, of course, means the buyers are already beginning to calculate the amount of money they need to take off of the sale price in order to get the home in the condition they would like it.

If instead you stick with neutral colors such as painting the walls off-white, light beige or Navajo white, you have a better chance in preserving the sale price.

Repair anything that looks torn, worn or broken If you walked into a retail store and saw a garment that you liked but it was torn or missing buttons, chances are you’d search for another one or ask for a discount if that were the only one of its kind.

That’s what buyers will do with your home when they spot torn screens, garage doors that don’t open, or broken light fixtures that are hanging out of the wall. Buyers, if at first they don’t get completely turned off and walk away from the sale, will first begin to think that there is more damage to the home than what they’re able to see and then they start to calculate the cost of repairing those damages. But buyers often exaggerate the amount of money needed to fix the repairs.

In today’s market people are looking desperately to find out what’s wrong with a home so that they can lower the price.

In the buyers’ minds, they come up with some kind of incredible price to fix repairs. In their mind, they go way overboard and eventually it affects the bottom line price for the seller.

Don’t miss an opportunity to get the word out about your home being listed for sale. It only makes sense to let your neighbors know. By doing this your neighbors can sometimes become great facilitators and supporters of the sale.

Most people are visual buyers. If the home doesn’t look clean, spotless, and repaired then the buyer thinks what’s behind the walls, how much more money do I have to put into this home.

Remember understanding the psychology of the buyer’s mindset can help you sell faster and for the price you really want.

– Copyright © 2010 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

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30-Year Rates Down For Third Consecutive Week

McLean, VA –Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) in which the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.99 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending January 21, 2010, down from last week when it averaged 5.06 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 5.12 percent.

The 15-year FRM this week averaged 4.40 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 4.45 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.80 percent. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 4.27 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 4.32 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 5.24 percent.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4.32 percent this week with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 4.39 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 4.92 percent.

“Fixed mortgage rates followed bond yields lower for the third consecutive week, pushing 30-year mortgages below 5 percent once more,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “Similarly, ARM rates eased along with shorter-term rates, as the federal funds futures market indicates no increase in the Federal Reserve’s target rate following its upcoming committee meeting on January 26th and 27th.

“Because of reduced sample sizes and work disruptions that occur with severe weather, housing starts tend to be more volatile during winter months. And, indeed, housing starts declined 4.0 percent in December, falling short of the market consensus of no change. Building permits, which are less vulnerable to weather interruptions, unexpectedly jumped 10.9 percent.”

– Copyright © 2010 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

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How to Repair Your Home Without Damaging Your Wallet

Written by Phoebe Chongchua

Some homeowners have a long laundry list of to-do repairs and, interestingly enough, many of those items don’t get addressed until (or if at all) it’s time to sell the house. In hot real estate markets, repairs are sometimes not done before the sale. Remember bidding wars over properties that needed work? Well, today sellers are looking for the advantage that makes their home stand out. Even though housing inventory declined toward the end of last year, it’s expected to rise as more foreclosures tumble into the marketplace this year.

While fixing up a home to sell can be costly, there are some ways to reduce the damage to your wallet. Cheryl Reed from Angie’s List spoke to me about important repairs that shouldn’t be overlooked. They are: changing your furnace air filters regularly, fixing leaky faucets/toilets, repairing caulking issues in the bathroom and defective electrical outlets/wiring.

“Our experts in the heating ventilation air conditioning industry tell us that 60 percent of all their service calls start because it’s a dirty filter issue. If you have a dirty filter, it affects the efficiency of your furnace,” says Reed. She says that it’s a simple and easy repair that improves the air quality and saves you money.

“You can save about $100 a year if you just change those filters when you should.” She recommends checking your air filter every time you get your energy bill. “If it’s dirty and you can tell, you can see it; just switch it out. You can buy a number of air filters ranging from moderately good to really expensive and high efficiency, in terms of cleaning the air. You have a number of different options, depending on your budget,” says Reed. She also says, depending on health conditions of those living in the home, changing filters more frequently might be necessary. The second repair is annoying and easy to spot. “If you’ve got a leaky faucet or running toilet, that’s going to cost you,” says Reed. “If you don’t get it fixed you’re going to be paying more and more. It can also lead to mold damage. It can lead to a loss of your cabinetry—the flooring in your cabinetry can be rotted away and that can affect your floor underneath and the walls. So you can have a big issue if it’s not fixed soon,” says Reed.

If there are problems with your home when you begin to show it, buyers will spot them. Reed says, “People who come to your house to check out whether they’re going to buy it or not are looking really closely and they’re listening really closely too.” With plenty of housing inventory on the market, buyers are likely to move on if they feel the house needs a lot of repairs.

“You have to put forth your best impression. These small relatively inexpensive fixes are really important,” says Reed.

Dirty tiles and damaged caulking can send a message to buyers that the house may be in need of even bigger repairs. “You’re first going to have an aesthetic issue and second that’s an indication that you’ve got a problem that could lead to mold and nobody wants mold in their house anywhere at all—it will grow if you don’t have proper seals in your bathroom,” says Reed.

“Those are things that you can see every day—sometimes we get so used to seeing them that we forget about them,” says Reed. However, buyers don’t.

Reed offers this advice, “Pretend you’re going to try to buy your own home; what do you see that you wouldn’t tolerate?” She says it’s worth it to take the steps to fix the problems. Buyers don’t want to fix those problems any more than sellers do. Check for defective outlets. Electrical problems are not only irritating but also can be very hazardous. “An electrical fire can destroy your home,” says Reed.

Who should do the job? Of course, saving money is always key. Reed says some of these repairs might be suitable for a handyman but she cautions homeowners to be sure that the level of the repair matches the expertise of the person you hire.

“You’re going to pay more in the end if you don’t check out the person you hire to help you. Make sure that person has a good reputation and if it’s required for him or her to be licensed in your area, you really should [use] a licensed person, even if it’s more expensive,” says Reed. Reed says, you may pay more but you’ll get the job done right the first time.

– Copyright © 2010 Realty Times. All Rights Reserved.

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