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Saving for tomorrow, tomorrow

Check out this great TED talk about how to save for the future

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How to Choose a GOOD Mortgage Broker

Buying a home can be a very scary process. It is probably the most money you will ever spend on any one thing.  Choosing a good mortgage broker who fits your needs can make all the difference.  A .5% difference of a mortgage rate on a $500,000 loan over 30 years could cost you an extra $50,000! I have provided below 4 simple steps on how to choose a mortgage broker. (It’s easier than you think)

  1.  Analyze what type of buyer that you are and locate a broker who is an expert in that area. Examples could be if you are a first-time buyer, have a bankruptcy on record, or be making an investment purchase.  Different lenders can help you in different ways, some may not offer loans to bankruptcy clients but yet another lender may have a program to help you rebuild credit.
  2. Ask friends and family who they have used. Ask your realtor who they would recommend. Good recommendations are always a great start but just because your best friend had a wonderful experience doesn’t mean that you will (step 4 comes in handy here)
  3. Check Yelp, Zillow, and Realtor.com for reviews of brokers in your area.
  4. Now that you have done your homework on brokers in your area it’s time to get out there and meet some people.  Interview the lender and discuss your personal situation. While you are there see what programs they can provide to you and your unique situation.  I am sure you will be amazed at what you can learn by getting out and shopping around.

Hopefully, on your home buying journey, you find an honest lender who cares about their clients and not their wallet.  Ultimately, you want an advocate that will work for you not against you. In doing so, hopefully, you will be the one getting a little extra to put in your wallet.

Granny Units

On January 1st a new law went into effect in California.  What?  You didn’t hear about this….. Along with the other millions of laws that took effect this January,  two amending laws (AB2299 and SB1069) slipped right on through. Making it easier to build a second unit (aka The  Granny Unit) on a lot with an existing dwelling. The laws aren’t really anything new but it changes restrictions previously placed on building a second unit, making it easier for a homeowner to build.

With home prices increasing and California having a constant shortage on housing this could be a game changer.  Depending on your local building codes, you could add a 1200 sqft unit for a relative, a rental or even an Air B&B.  If you are thinking about moving to accommodate a  family member or make a little extra cash check into adding a unit to your existing home site, it just might be worth it!

Giving Thanks

In real estate, as a salesperson, you are encouraged to build trusting relationships with clients. This is kind of hard when clients know that your making a deal equals you getting paid. Many clients are reluctant to befriend a new salesperson knowing that the relationship is more than likely a superficial transaction. I by nature am an honestly caring person and I get a little emotionally involved with my clients and believe me, real estate can be an emotional rollercoaster. Most people look at you as a “salesperson” and cringe at the thought of even talking with you. It is hard to build that trust. For one thing, it takes some really thick skin. You can’t take it personally when a client wants to have nothing to do with you and avoids your calls and visits, it is their loss, and you move on. While on this real estate quest I met a truly remarkable man.  He is the one who taught me that just because you are a truly caring person it means nothing, show your gratitude and make it a mission to show them that you are a great person not just a salesperson.  This includes never giving up and leaving little impressions that show you care.

I met John Isreal about 2 years ago while I was doing real estate. He actually is a salesman for Cutco Cutlery, he wanted to meet with me to help me choose buyers gifts. I reluctantly set up a meeting figuring I would meet another “typical” salesman trying to make a buck. (See, I have that stereotypical impression of sales people that I was complaining about earlier, too) John was an amazing person, he genuinely cared about what I was doing and cared about me appropriately choosing a package. He wasn’t in it for the big sale. He was in it to make a lasting relationship. I purchased my knives and went on about my business until I went back to school and left real estate.  One day I stumbled upon an article on Pop Sugar about a man who set out to write 1825 handwritten notes in a year. To my surprise, it was John Isreal.  I read the article and immediately went to his blog. Wow. What an inspiration. This guy proposed to write five handwritten thank you notes a day for an entire year. He has written notes to Uber drivers, pilots, and even his grandmother. People that you are grateful for but never actually say it to them.  The challenge was based on a bet originally but he says it is really more for personal growth. John is more than half way through and still going strong. He has not ever missed a day yet. He has not used the excuse that “I don’t have time” or “I forgot”, he does it every single day. I try to write one thank you a day in honor of John. Sometimes it gets done, sometimes it doesn’t, but I figure it’s better than the none that I used to write.  Today, I am giving credit to John Isreal for challenging me to be a better person, to take a leap of faith and do something crazy and showing me that expressing gratitude is great for the heart and soul. Thank you, John, for helping me make myself a better person. I guess I found the person who I need to send my next thank you to…..

 

10 Simple Steps That Will Get Your Home Sold

Here are a few simple tips to get your home sold quickly, at the price you are asking.  It is a mental game that you can win. Follow these simple steps that equal less time on the market and more money in your pocket.

  1. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. If your Realtor comes in and snaps a picture with their cell phone. FIRE them! It is worth the few extra dollars to pay a professional photographer. According to the National Association of Realtors, 90% of home buyers began their home search online and they sate that 83% of home buyers want to see photos. You need a photo to get their attention and reel them in.

Below are a few Realtor photos from the MLS

lion-and-agent

Does the dog come with the house?

Realtor Photo

This pool table is probably perfectly functional...

Professional Photo

But it looks way more inviting when you aren't being blinded by a glare.

2. Now that you have their attention, make sure you keep it.  Most home buyers complete a drive by before they ever even call a Realtor. Before you even put your home on the market make sure it is in tip-top shape. Replace broken light bulbs, repaint your home, remove dead or unsightly plants. Plant some flowers and refresh wood chips. “People who prepare their homes—inside and out—before they put them on the market are the ones who have quicker sales and who receive top dollar,” says Mary Harker, ABR®, CRS®, a broker-associate with Keller Williams Realty in Dallas.

3. Clean your home. Clean your home inside and out. Get down on all four and scrub. Make your windows sparkle. Take down curtains and clean them or remove them all together. Keep your home clean and tidy throughout the duration of your listing. Have your home show ready at all times. Make sure you complete this step before you have your photos taken.

4. While you are cleaning de-clutter and clean out your closets. Get a storage unit if you need to and clean out excess furniture and stuff. Overstuffed closets convey the message of a home that lacks space and storage. It is suggested that you leave 20% of your closet space open to give the appearance of spaciousness. 5. Stage your home. This means when you are in

5. Stage your home. This means when you are in the clean out mode of step 4, clean out excess furniture, repurpose furniture, and rearrange to make the best impression. Even an empty home can benefit from home staging.

This photo is an example of the miracle of staging, neutralizing, and de-cluttering.

Image result for room staging before and after

6. Don’t over upgrade. Simple fixes that are budget friendly work great to help sell a home. Fix broken door knobs, cabinet hardware and fix faucet leaks. It isn’t necessary to spend $10,000 on a bathroom upgrade. If you do feel that an upgrade is in order, spend the money in the kitchen. It has shown that a kitchen upgrade has a 90% return.

7. Neutralize and de-personalize the entire home. Paint over any less than desirable paint colors. Remove any personal items such as family photos, memorabilia or items that identify the home as yours. This helps the buyer visualize them living in the home.

8. Remove any sign of pet ownership. Dog beds, litter boxes etc. are a real turn off for home buyers. Don’t forget to clean up all of the land mines in the yard

9. Let there be light! Open all of the window coverings. Turn on lights if needed. No one wants to buy a drab, dreary and dark house.

10. Price your home to sell. Price your home too high it will sit on the market. Price it too low it will sit on the market. Find out what your home is worth by having your Realtor a comparative market analysis. Once you find your market value take off about 15%. This reduction increases internet in you home. More often than not it creates an environment in which there is so much interest the seller will receive multiple offers, bringing the price back up to the original market value and sometimes higher! It is a risky maneuver but it works.

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