Monday, August 18, 2014

Due Diligence vs. Repair Requests...What's the BIG Deal!?!

If you have been involved in a real estate transaction within the past two years or so, you probably have heard the term due diligence.  Prior to that, you may even have the mental acumen to remember repair request periods in our old contracts.  Most folks who aren't in the real estate industry (and some who are) don't really know or take the time to understand the differences, challenges and advantages between the two.

First, due diligence is a time period.  One agreed upon by buyer and seller, not agent and agent.  During this period for an agreed upon amount of non-refundable money, (again, agreed upon by buyer and seller), the buyer has the opportunity to inspect, think about, mull, brood or whatever he or she wants to do in order to determine that it is the right property for them.  The seller must, during this period, make the home available to the buyer to investigate.  That does not mean that it should be a revolving door of inspections and visits or late-night stalking, but it does mean that the buyer should have reasonable access to have inspectors, surveyors, etc. out to the property.

During this period, not only are inspections made, but it is up to the buyer to make sure they can obtain financing.  There is no longer a financing contingency.  This period is it.  Not only should a buyer have full loan approval prior to the period ending, but this means that the appraisal is complete and satisfactory, the cost of insurance is satisfactory and that any and all info you might want on restrictive covenants, HOAs, etc. is obtained.  Now the list above is NOT all-inclusive.  If you want to see if there are sex offenders, ghosts, take soil samples, check flight patterns, lights from stadiums, noise from trains or anything else you can dream up...this is the time to do it!  If for any reason, something doesn't suit your fancy and you just can't live with it or the seller can't fix it, you can get out of your contract and only forfeit your due diligence money.

That's right!! During this period the buyer can "walk" from the property for any reason or no reason whatsoever.  This means that the negotiated amount of money put down for the negotiated period of time needs to make sense for buyer and seller.  Again, all of this is negotiable.

Before you think that this favors the buyer or seller, one over the other let's look at some scenarios.

A)  If the buyer is getting a 100% loan, then they may not have a lot of "extra" cash laying around to bring to the table for due diligence, so maybe the time period is shorter to investigate the property.  The buyer and seller could ask that the inspections to be performed in the first week or two so that anything unusual in the "typical" inspections could be addressed.  The period of time could still allow for full loan approval which usually takes a little longer than two weeks BUT the buyer now has "skin in the game" since they are out of pocket with the cost of inspections, which on the low side would be $400+.

As the buyer has more of their own money, the likelihood they walk away for something petty, is typically decreased.  By the time the buyer has the minimum inspection, appraisal and survey, they are in well over $1000.  Usually, it is not easy to walk away from that amount knowing that you are going to have the same out-of-pocket expenses on the next home you purchase.

B)  Let's say a buyer is looking at house that has just come on the market and it is HOT!  The buyer knows they need to get their financial ducks in a row, because they weren't even planning on buying this soon.  If they can get the seller to accept their offer, they can use the due diligence period to get their loan in place but the seller is skeptical to take the home off the market for these buyers knowing they are not quite ready to close.  The buyer in this situation may offer the seller a larger due diligence amount, showing that they are serious, knowing that the house is in good shape and is desirable to other buyers.  Their money may be non-refundable, but they also know it's a credit to them at closing and they love the house and intend on buying it barring something major.  This also, provides a little cash to the seller in the event something does come up during the inspections that needs correcting.

The due diligence period is also the time to negotiate repairs.  If the buyer and seller cannot come to terms during the due diligence period as to what will and will not be repaired, the buyer can terminate the contract.  Usually, buyer and seller do come to terms and there is a give and take.  This is an appropriate place to note that repairs do not have to be completed before the end of the due diligence period, only before closing and with adequate time for the buyer to re-inspect the repairs to confirm quality of workmanship.

Due diligence is a great tool that works for both buyers and sellers as they navigate the purchase of real estate.  If you have questions about the process, would like more information on local real estate or need a first-hand referral to an agent in our worldwide network, don't hesitate to reach out to me via email, phone or text.



Tuesday, June 03, 2014

School's Out for the Summer...

Well for some of us.

My daughter's last day of school was this past Friday and I know that many of our friends are also rounding out the school year in the next couple of days.  This begs the question, what to do with your kids this summer so that the break is just that and not a prison sentence for you or them.

Scheduling camps and structured activities are an important part of the summer experience. It gives kids something to look forward to and gives parents a bit of break from the inevitable "I'm bored" mantra.  Camps can be expensive but don't have to be and our area offers several reasonable options for all budgets.  It may be that some are full or on a wait list but keep searching and something will present itself.  If  not, work with other local parents to make up your own camps. Each of you take a day or two to plan and organize activities and field trips.  Listed below are links to some area camps that I have had wonderful personal experiences with and some that my daughter has also enjoyed.

Camp DonLee
NC 4-H Camps
Camp HanesYMCA
Old Salem Summer Camps
Sawtooth Summer Art Camps
Children's Theatre Greensboro
Children's Theatre Winston-Salem

With all of those opportunities available, it's tempting to schedule every minute and every day.  However, you don't want to take away the beauty that is truly summer.  Those lazy days of sleeping in, late breakfasts in front of the t.v watching the Price is Right or lounging by the neighborhood pool.  These unstructured days are what summer is all about!  Again, it's tempting to allow the kids this freedom to lounge and relax, but make sure that the iPhone isn't the focal point of this time.  Having specific times for phone usage is more critical than ever, especially in an age where kids are "hiding" in their phones as a way not to have to interact with other kids and adults.  I could write on this topic forever, but let's save it for another day--maybe a good winter post!

Apps to Monitor Phone Usage

It's also a great time for kids to catch up on reading, take a class in an area that interests them or get some additional tutoring for a subject that is challenging for them.  Preparation for upcoming courses, as painful as it can be, is a great gift to bestow on your child. The Duke TIP program, some local school boards and organizations such as Sylvan offer new course study and tutoring.

Duke TIP
Sylvan Learning Centers

Earning money, as my daughter gets older, has become more and more important to her.  She is interested in having her own "stash" for shopping and sports.  This time of year presents itself to establish additional chores, allowing the kids to organize areas of the home that you've been putting off all winter or putting together photo albums that have been stored on memory sticks and in phones.  Giving them the opportunity to earn a little of their own cash is a great way to start an understanding of money, its value and a healthy appreciation of how quickly it goes. :)

Money Saving Tips for Teens

Have a wonderful summer break and I would love to hear from you as to what you and your family plan to do with your free time this summer!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Good is Good and Great is Better!

With first quarter's difficult numbers behind us, the real estate market has put the petal to the metal!  Coming up to catch a breath to even write this piece, has been difficult at best.  That's the bad news...that you haven't seen this article earlier.  The good news is, that the subject applies even more today than it did several weeks ago when I was planning on publishing the post.

We are listing homes like crazy and they are selling in record times and some with multiple offers.  Then why, you might ask, has your home gotten little activity or lackluster feedback coupled with no offers?  In most cases these homes that are selling have the perfect combination of great pricing and great condition.  What exactly does that mean?

Pricing your home realistically is of course, important.  Having your home clean and organized is important.  However, just being good, is well, good but being great, is GREAT!  Sure, good homes sell everyday but GREAT homes shine and command what they want in terms and pricing.  Most of this is about realistic expectations when it comes to where the market is today and the perceived recovery of the market.  Sellers who understand that market recovery doesn't mean the peak prices of 2006 are the ones benefiting from the uptick in activity.  They, along with the guidance of their agent, are realistic as to what homes are selling for in their area today, not yesteryear.  They are pricing to sell, within the range of other homes in their area and are doing the pre-sale work such as serious de-cluttering, staging with the assistance of professionals and some are going as far as pre-inspections, making repairs and professional landscaping.  Other little gems include adding home warranties, always being show-ready and do most anything that it takes to bring those buyers into a near-perfect situation.

I certainly understand that not everyone feels that they can up-end their household to get their home in this condition, but the folks that are making these sacrifices are getting paid in the end, not only by their homes selling but by being able to take advantage of those interest rates that are still on the historically low side.

If you would like your home to be a SUPERSTAR home, give me a call or shoot me an email and let's talk!


Monday, January 27, 2014

Why Advertising Sells Homes...

Advertising in real estate has changed dramatically over the years and even more so through the "Great Recession".  Where agents and real estate firms typically filled the pages of newspapers and the voids of mailboxes, the tide changed when expense began to outweigh income.  However, a successful agent knows that staying relevant and continuing to advertise even through economic downturns is key to capturing market share and to successfully selling homes.

I have structured my advertising to bolster my sellers' home's exposure, create brand-awareness, to stay top of mind and to make sure that both buyers and sellers are receiving the best, the most current and the most accurate information as it pertains to the local real estate market.  The advertising drives consumers to the website which not only allows them to search ALL homes on the market, but it also features a wide-array of bonuses such as mapping, virtual tours, local blogs, links to facebook and twitter and means to communicate with me on the client's time frame.

As new buyers and sellers are entering the marketplace, broader advertising such as the billboard, helps me to meet clients not yet working with an agent or not yet sure of our market, it's inventory and it's opportunity.

More targeted advertising, such as the Triad Business Journal focuses on being a resource to established decision-makers in the community, who know that they need an agent who takes their profession seriously and can get the job done from the first timely introduction to the last signature on the settlement statement.

Marry these sources of advertising to other marketing resources such as the targeted mailers, the yard signs and our company's amazing marketing campaign and you then have a formula which sells homes on a regular basis, normally out-performing the marketplace on a whole.

That doesn't mean that a great agent only needs to understand marketing. That's a topic for another day. :) The ability to follow-through after the listing presentation is where top agents know the "rubber meets the road".  All of the advertising in the world is worthless if at the end of the day the home doesn't sell or the buyer doesn't find what they are looking for.

Where do you go to find agents and homes? I'd love to hear about your experiences with real estate advertising!


Friday, January 24, 2014

How to Make Existing Homes Better than NEW!!

If you have ever looked for a home, you have probably looked at existing construction.  This is not new construction that has been built as a spec or part of a community, but for our intent and purpose we'll define "existing construction" as homes who have had someone living in them.  Easy enough-right?

Well, we also know that with someone or several someone's living in a home come those scrapes, dings, scuffs, stains, dirt and grime that are a very real part of our day to day living.  We also know that someone else's choice of turquoise carpet or that orange "accent" wall just might not be the perfect match for our furniture or style.  You don't care for the black toilet, the brass hardware or the carpeted bathroom but you love the style, the lot, the location and everything else about it.  If only you had the extra money to make the improvements and updates and have money for a down payment!  You know the area is perfect for your family and the construction is quality--too bad right?  Nope!  There is a possible solution!  You may or may not have heard of renovation loans, sometimes referred to as 203k loans.  These nifty loan programs allow you have work quoted by your choice of licensed contractors and include the improvements in your loan with as little as 3.5% in a down payment!

This is a  great solution for older homes in established neighborhoods that just need some updating in master baths, kitchens, and d├ęcor OR maybe the home needs new windows, a roof or more systematic improvements because the cosmetics were completed recently.  Either way, this loan is an option but certainly needs the guidance and advice of a trusted team in order to coordinate getting the job done in a timely and professional manner. 

Should this sound like  a product that you might be interested in, contact me and I will put you in touch with our renovation loan specialist, LuAnn Davis at Premier Commercial Bank.  We will both guide you through the process including assistance in contractor selection and interior designer selection for larger projects.  We will then work with our team to expedite the process through closing to bring you the home that you want, where you want it, in the condition you love!

Never look at existing homes the same way again!  Listed below are a few of my listings that would be great candidates for the renovation program!  Also, below the photos you will find LuAnn's contact information as well as mine should you have questions or would just be interested in additional information. 

593 Doe Run Drive Kernersville NC 27284

6043 Marion Point Belews Creek NC 27009

436 Meredith Way Winston-Salem NC 27107

5075 Toucan Lane Kernersville NC 27284
LuAnn Davis-Premier Commercial Bank
Brooke Cashion, GRI, ABR, Realtor

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Float a Little Float...

Not down a river and not with a boat, it's 1000 pounds of salt, a capsule with a lid, pitch black and silent with the exception of your heartbeat and your breathing.  If this sounds like something science-fiction, well, it kind of is.  Studies using sensory-deprivation or floatation therapy began in the 1940's as a way to study the brain, essentially trying to see if the brain could be forced into a meditative state for a variety of reasons including therapeutic and medical reasons.  Today, floatation is used mainly for relaxation and meditation though it seems effective for certain medical conditions by alleviating anxiety and promoting healing.

Our first experience floating was encouraged by our herbalist and a living social coupon that was emailed to me. I purchased one for both Jake and myself.  We scheduled our sessions separately, as you typically don't float together.  Each session was booked for two hours to include prep time but our actual floating time was 60 minutes.  Upon arriving, you shower in a very spa-like setting that includes fresh towels, a spongy bath mat and sensory lights for each room so you don't worry about turning lights off and on. Once you enter the floating capsule you have control depending on your comfort level.  There is an intercom if you have questions, otherwise, you are alone to experience the process as you feel comfortable.  I was concerned about being claustrophobic, so I rolled up a towel and inserted it between the lid and the chamber giving me about 6 inches of air and space until I felt adjusted.  After what I believe to be 10 minutes I was comfortable enough to close the lid completely.

Because you are in 1000 pounds of Epsom salt, it is impossible not to float and it is effortless, unlike floating in the ocean or a pool.  With your arms in candlestick position, opening up your heart chakra, you immediately feel muscles relaxing and your body sinking into a comfortable and pressure-free state.  After a few more minutes you can't even tell where the water begins and the air and your body end.  The water is at your body temperature so there is no fear of getting too hot or cold. 

Each person's actual experience in the chamber is different and I don't want to artificially impose my experiences on you but I will say that I reached what I considered a low end meditative state that was still more intense than any dream or sleep that I had encountered.  I also feel that if I go back for future sessions that I will be more comfortable with the process and could reach a deeper state of meditation and relaxation.  I found this a great time to release thoughts, to pray, to be still and quiet.  All of which I rarely do. 

Upon exiting, there is one thing that Jake and I agreed was most overwhelming and that was the sensation of well-being.  Whether it's sitting in the salt an hour, absorbing magnesium, or just the passive relaxation without hands on you or music playing or light or other worldly distractions, it did seem to put things in perspective for a while.  Both us of see ourselves going back for future sessions.

I would definitely encourage anyone interested in trying this form of relaxation to give it a try. Locally, you can go to Kernersville Hot Yoga and use their chamber.  They sell individual floats and packages.  You might also want to check LivingSocial and Groupon for deals.  I leave you with the words from a sign in the chamber room that really touched me. As you consider whether or not this is for you, ask yourself, how often do you practice the following?

"Be Still and Know that I am GOD"

Spring Market is Starting to Bud...

You've talked about since October but it was too late, too cold, too many holiday plans, too much family in town, too much to do.  Now it's time.  Yes, it's that time of year when the seeds you planted in the late fall have started to bud.  You know that you need more (or less) house and that while rates are still reasonably low, you know that it's a good time to purchase.  Even better, it appears that prices have stabilized and buyers have become more rational as to pricing expectations.  You might not have to give your house away in order to move on.  Let's talk about what you can do to transform that bud into a flower to picked in the upcoming Spring Real Estate Market.

*Interview Agents- a) choose your agent based on productivity in the previous year b) make sure they have a marketing plan that complements your expectations c) make sure you agent is FULL-TIME d) talk about communication expectations--don't settle for an agent who puts a sign in the yard and never calls or emails again

*De-Clutter and De-Personalize- a) put up your holiday decorations b) cull closets and cabinets down to half c) go ahead and pack up collectibles and personal belongings that you don't use every day (remember, you're moving)

*Clean- a good deep clean which includes ceiling fans, baseboards, windows and air vents/returns. Don't forget to have carpets professionally cleaned if they are excessively dirty or stained.

*Landscaping- have a plan to spruce your landscaping and budget for it so that when you are one week from putting the home on the market you don't have a panic attack as to how many bails of pine needles you need or if the front stoop needs planters.  A good agent can assist with this.

*Sign paperwork- don't wait until the day that you want to be on the market to reach out to your agent regarding paperwork and getting the house on the market.  An experienced, successful agent knows that it may take a week or two to prepare the home for it's big market debut.  A professional agent will many times use a professional photographer, stager and others to make sure your home has it's best "footing" forward.  Our team employs several professionals that allow our listings to stand out from other homes on the market.

*Breathe- selling a home is not easy for sure, but worrying too much about things out of your or your agent's control can set you up for disaster.  Use the time you are out of your house for showings to enjoy something as a family that you might not have had time for before.  Grab a cup of coffee, visit the bookstore or unique, local shops.  Make the best of the situation.  You'll appreciate it, your agent will love you for it and the buyer will sense it as they look at your home and being negotiations with you.