FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT – BAD LISTING PHOTOS

Browsing through real estate listing photos I’ve come across plenty that leave me scratching my head.  Why is there a green_poolpicture of only an exercise bike?  Why is the photo upside down?  Was there not a clean corner of the room to snap a photo?

I am not the only one to be amused by bad listing photos.  There are websites dedicated to photos that are funny, puzzling, and just plain awful.  If you want to waste some time online enjoying bad listing photos, here’s a fun site Terrible Real Estate Agent Photographs.

 

 

 

WHY YOU SHOULD USE YOUR OWN AGENT WHEN BUYING A NEW HOME

Home buyers are often surprised to find out that they can use their own real estate agent when buying a bnewhomerand-new home,
and that doing so is even to their benefit. “Why do we need an agent?” they often ask. “Don’t you just go to the sales center and have the associate there show you floor plans and options?” While yes, the floor associate showing you the model home will be more than happy to help you, it is good to remember that the associate is working for the home builder. Their job is to sell you as many upgrades as possible. While they should treat home buyers fairly, they are acting as a salesman for the seller and not the buyer. Having your own agent will ensure there is someone who is solely repres
enting your best interests in this big purchase.

Bringing your own real estate agent along when new home shopping benefits you in several ways. One big one is that your agent can help you stay focused on the budget you have to work with. A trick new home builders love to use is to advertise home models at a certain price (“From $199,000!”) but the model home you look at is filled with upgrades. That home you fell in love with and think is in the $199,000 range is probably closer to $250,000 after you factor in the extra bedroom, upgraded counters, cabinets, flooring, square footage, and accessories. When you see what you can actually get for the $199,000 price it looks much less impressive in comparison. Your agent knows to anticipate this and can help point out upgrades in model homes and help you figure out realistic pricing on models. They can also steer you towards new home builders that are more within your budget.

Your agent can also help you decide what upgrades to buy now and what can wait for later. Some features might seem nice to you but will not increase resale value down the road (or could even hurt it). If your budget is approaching its limit, your agent can recommend what features to leave out and what to splurge on now. For example, flooring is something that can be upgraded or replaced easily at any time by any good contractor. No need to spend extra money on it upfront if it stretches your budget. Other features though might be worthwhile, such as adding on the breakfast nook. Your agent can tell you what features other buyers will expect to see in a comparable home when it comes time to sell.

One final important note, if you find yourself visiting model homes without your agent and are asked to register your information, be sure to mark down that you have your own agent and provide their name. Home builders pay your agent’s commission, however if you have not registered them on your first visit many builders will refuse to pay the commission and you might find it coming out of your own pocket. You can avoid this by securing your own agent to work with before you go home shopping and letting the builder know you are working with them.   Ideally your agent accompanies you but at very least let the home builder know you have your own representation.

Bad Real Estate Listing Photos

I recently had a real estate agent friend send me a link to a website that specializes in displaying bad real estate listing photos.  It was a collection of photos from actual real estate listings, that were published and advertised online.  I will admit that the site was hilarious, and it is hard to believe that agents found some of the images acceptable to post.

Examples of bad photos included blurry images, poor lighting conditions, or off-centered shots.  Others were amusing because the content of the photo was bad, such as photos of rooms filled with trash, pets in the background, or the homeowners appearing in the background of the shot (in their underwear in some cases).  Still other photos showed unflattering views, whether it was a corner shot that showed nothing but the wall of the room, or a pile of laundry was front and center.

To me, if you post these types of photos online you are doing your client a disservice.  You are not presenting their home in a good light and are not going to be attracting buyers with poor or unflattering photos.  You do not want to misrepresent a house, and if there are glaring defects in a property it is ok to note them.  This is especially true in distressed homes or fixer-uppers, where the buyer needs to get an understanding of if a property will require significant repairs.  Otherwise, poor photos show that an agent is not doing a good job selling your house.  Even in properties with difficult homeowners it is still possible to take passable photos.  Keep this in mind when looking for an agent to sell your house.  If their other listing photos are bad, odds are they will not take good ones for you either.

Open for a Cause

openforacauseOpen for a Cause 

Sunday, January 18th
2:00PM – 4:00PM

6010 Beufort Way, Spring, TX 77389
Everyone Welcome

 

Open for a Cause is an open house event benefitting the Montgomery County Animal Shelter.  For each family unit that shows up to the open house and signs the guest register, I will be donating $20 to the shelter.  There are no strings attached – I simply want you come out and enjoy viewing this beautiful house while helping to make a difference to a worthy cause.  I will be donating up to a maximum of $1000, so hope to see a huge turnout!

You will enjoy seeing this beautiful house that is full of features.  It is in the desirable Northampton neighborhood, centrally located near The Woodlands and the Spring/Tomball area.  Downtown Houston is a quick drive down I-45, and the completion of the Grand Parkway will make commuting even faster.  The house itself boasts extra large bedrooms, two private upstairs balconies, two downstairs covered porch areas, a downstairs bedroom suite with dual-head shower, and a large kitchen with a center island and gas stove.  Outside the home sits on a private cul-de-sac street.  The lot is huge and has an oversized two-car garage along with a bonus golf cart garage that could double as extra storage space.  The backyard has extra parking room, a basketball area, dog run / garden area, and still plenty of room leftover for a pool.  You will love this house once you see it!

Price: $360,000
Sq Ft: 3658
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 3.5

MLS Link:  http://search.har.com/engine/6010-Beufort-Way-Spring-TX-77389_HAR37009714.htm

 

*$20.00 for each family unit who comes to the open house and signs the guest register will be donated to the Montgomery County Animal Shelter with a $1000 maximum donation.  This event benefits, but is not sponsored by, the Montgomery County Animal Shelter.

What To Do Before You Move

Before you move into a new home, there are a few things you can do that will make your move much more pleasant.  New homeowners tend to overlook some of these simple steps in the excitement of buying a new home and packing everything up from their old home.  These are things to do before you start bring your first boxes over to the new place. 6518753_orig

  • Have all utilities turned on ahead of time.  This includes electricity, water and gas.  You will want internet and cable too if you plan on staying in the new place right away.
  • Go to the new home and turn on the air conditioning (or heater if it is winter) ahead of time.  You will thank yourself later if you are moving into a place that is nice and cool already.
  • Pack a box that has toilet paper, paper towels, bottled water and snacks.  Take this box on your very first trip to the new place.  These are items you will not want to find yourself suddenly needing but not having.
  • Have the phone number to a local delivery place (think pizza or Chinese food).  You will not feel like cooking after a long day of moving.
  • Forward your mail to your new address.  You can do this online or through your local post office.  This is especially important if you are no longer living at your old address.
  • Write down your new address and give it to important people – your parents/siblings/children, employer, friends, etc.  It is a good idea to put your new address in your phone or somewhere easily accessible.  You might draw a blank when asked for your new address and want to be able to provide it quickly (such as when ordering delivery food or giving someone the address for directions).

Doing these simple things will help make life easier for you as you move.

 

 

 

Home Buying Mistakes

Buying a new home is a fun and exciting process.  You are choosing a place where you will spend the next several years (or maybe even decades) of your life.  A home is also a major purchase, and is the largest purchase most people will make.  This means you want to be smart when buying and avoid making costly mistakes.  Below is a lit of common mistakes that buyers make when shopping for a new home. buyhome

1. Focusing on the color – Buyers tend to get caught up on superficial details such as room color.  Color is easy to change – you just need to do some painting.  Look past the color of rooms and imagine your favorite colors on the walls instead.  Painting is relatively cheap and easy to change.  Don’t overlook a house over something as trivial as paint.

2. Not doing the research – Don’t buy a home on an impulse.  Do your research before putting in an offer, and certainly during your option period.  Research things such as the school districts, number of foreclosures in the area, flood zones, future construction projects, crime statistics, taxes and insurance.  Talking to neighbors is a great way to get inside information on a neighborhood.

3. Making a list of likes and dislikes – An extensive list can cause a buyer to eliminate great properties and never see the potential of others.  It is fine to have a list of one or two things you absolutely must have and one or two that you cannot have.  Other than that be flexible.  It is difficult to find the perfect house that fits all of your wants exactly.  Keep an open mind and think about how you can make a house perfect for you instead.

4. Getting emotionally attached – Sometimes buyers will find a house and fall in love with it.  This makes you become attached, which can be a bad thing.  Being attached to a house means you are more likely to overlook problems that the rational part of your brain would object to.  Being emotional about a property can make you pay too much and can make you more likely to overlook or justify defects.  Try and stay objective, and be prepared to walk away from the house if the deal becomes bad.

5. Making an offer based off list price and not home value – In a perfect world every house would be listed for sale at fair market value prices.   Most are, however there are many out there that are listed at too high of a price.  The seller might think the house is worth more than it is, or may owe more money than the house is currently worth, thus pricing the house higher that it should be.  Unless the house is truly unique and there are no comparables to it, do a market analysis first and make sure the asking price is in line with what other similar homes are selling for.

6. Not budgeting for extra house needs – Buyers tend to think that their monthly house costs will consist of the mortgage payment, insurance and taxes.  There are always extra costs that you don’t think of, particularly when moving in to a new place for the first time.  These hidden costs might be minor, but they will add up, so you need to be sure to have extra space in your budget for extra expenses.  Some extra expenses include light bulbs, shelf paper, lawn equipment, curtains or blinds, paint, door locks, and furniture.

7. Thinking a personal home is an investment – A house is an investment, but most people have to live in their home for a long time before they see the value increase to over the purchase price and expenses, if ever (depending on current market conditions).  If your sole reason in buying a house is hope of profit one day, you are doing it wrong.  Buy a home wisely so that you will not lose a massive amount of money quickly, but also buy it for the comfort and convenience it will offer you.  Also, negotiate a good deal, but don’t torpedo your dream house over a few thousand dollars just to try to “win” the negotiation.  That amount won’t matter much over the long term anyway.

8. Not planning to stay for 5 years – If there is a good chance you will need to move in under five years, buying might not be the right option for you at this time.  You will incur a lot of fees when selling your house, and unless you bought it way under-value, you will likely lose quite a bit of money selling it within a few years of purchase.

9. Skipping the important inspections – Always get an inspection done on a home before you buy it.  An inspector can help identify problems with the house that are not quickly visible to the untrained eye.  Since a house is a large purchase, don’t skimp out on other inspections either such as a termite inspection or a pool inspection.

10. Buying based on your old market-area prices, not the new market-area prices– House prices vary wildly – from state to state, city to city, and even neighborhood to neighborhood.  If you are moving to a new area, spend some time researching house prices in the new area first.  You want to be sure your expectations are in line with what houses in your new area will cost.

How Not to Submit a Repair Request – Fun Friday Stories

This week’s Fun Friday Story is about a tenant that took the wrong approach to submitting a repair request. Stove

The tenant in this story had lived in the house for maybe three months when I got a call one day from them, demanding that we replace the stove. I asked what was wrong with it, and they said it was crooked and their pots wouldn’t stay on the burners. I had never heard of this problem before, so I started asking questions about what they meant when they said their pots were sliding off.

I guess they took my questions and skepticism the wrong way because the next thing I knew they were screaming at me about how the pots always slid off the stove and it almost splashed hot water on their foot and could have burned them and now they were going to sue if we did not replace the stove with a new one. Well, that escalated quickly.

There are a few things wrong with this demand approach they decided to take. The first is that they had apparently been living with this issue for three months but had not said anything about a problem before this dramatic phone call. If the problem was that serious, I should have been notified of it much sooner. Secondly, they demanded a brand new stove. If an appliance has to be replaced, I will replace it. However, if it is a simple repair then I will always try to do the repair first. Crooked burners sounded like an issue that fit in the repair category. The tenants aimed too high in their demand, making them sound unreasonable. And finally, they threatened a lawsuit. This is never a good tactic unless it is truly a last-resort option and all other communication has broken down. This was not the case here, as this phone call was literally the first time I had heard of any problem with the stove. Threats do one of two things – they make you seem unreasonable and overly dramatic, or if it appears legitimate, it will get your complaint forwarded to my lawyer and/or police to handle. Neither one gets the hoped for result.

I knew this tenant fell into the overly dramatic category, so I sent a repair person out to look at the stove. It turned out the burners were just put in crooked, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with the stove at all. This cost me a $20 repair visit, which is much better than replacing the appliance with a new one. What made this story more fun was that the tenant regularly paid their rent late. Fun fact – if you are late on rent a landlord is not obligated to make any repairs. It is usually bad idea to call your landlord and threaten with lawsuits when you cannot even follow the basic procedures for paying rent on time and providing notice of repair requests.

Moving Checklist

There are so many last minute things to think of when moving to a new home.  Here is a Checklisthandy checklist of items that will help make your transition as smooth as possible:

  • Go through storage areas and toss out unneeded items.  Hold a garage sale if needed.
  • Hire a mover.
  • Ask friends to return loaned items.
  • Ask your doctor and dentist for recommendations in your new town.
  • Ask doctors for copies of renewable prescriptions.  Refill any prescriptions that are due.
  • Arrange to have children’s school and medical records transferred.
  • Find a bank and open checking and savings accounts.
  • Close out old bank accounts before you move.  Clean out your safe deposit box.

Services

Sign up for the following services – and be sure to discontinue them at your old house:

  • Water
  • Gas
  • Waste removal
  • Electric
  • Phone
  • Cable
  • Newspaper

Change of Address

Make sure to change your address on the following:

  • Post office
  • Magazines
  • Credit cards
  • Vehicle registration
  • Employer
  • Insurance – life, fire, house and health