Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why You Owe it to Yourself to Get Pre-Approved...Before you Start Looking

Just about the most fun you can have is to dive into house shopping on the internet. I'm not going anywhere anytime soon, and every once in a while, I do a quick search and get dreamy eyed and excited about houses that are on the market. It's wonderful - all those possibilities waiting out there...

Some women window shop for clothes. I window shop for houses.

If you're moving beyond the "window shopping" phase, however, you owe it to yourself to call a reliable mortgage broker or bank and get pre-approved so that you know how much you can afford. Now, sometimes it will be a welcome surprise, and others a reality check. At the end of the day, though, real estate is best faced with a dose of reality.

There is nothing more heartbreaking than falling in love with a house and then finding out you cannot afford it. Really. It's devastating, and it instantly takes all the fun out of what should be a very joyful process. Instead, you find something you love, only to have it ripped away from you. You start to think, "I'll never find another house as great as that one." It's the "one that got away" syndrome, and you'll build that house up to the epitome of every dream you've ever had, whether it actually is or not.

Secondly, it makes all the houses in your price range look bad. And they aren't. No matter what the price range: a great $200,000 house cannot compete with a $250,000 house. A fabulous $1,000,000 house cannot compete with a $1,250,000 house. It doesn't mean the house is less than, or a junker. But you've spoiled your perception of a good house by unfairly comparing it to houses to which it has no business being compared. Apples to Apples, folks. It's the only way to find the best of the bushel.

I know many people say REALTORS push Buyers to get pre-approved because they don't want to "waste their time" with unqualified Buyers. The truth is that I want you to enjoy your experience, to appreciate what you can afford, and to be happy (and on good financial footing) at the end of the process. Let's have fun, not heartache!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Relishing the Spring Weather

It's gorgeous out today. I'm blogging from a back patio that I haven't seen since about September, and listening to the happy sounds of mowers and weed wackers. Spring yard cleanup may be the only time I look forward to manual labor. (I don't shirk it, but let's just say it ain't exactly my deal either!) I wanted to share with my readers this great find:

Hortulus Farm Nursery & Gardens

I am deeply ashamed to admit that, while I can walk to this hidden treasure, I've never taken a tour of the gardens. I need to. I have no idea how to garden in my soil.

I've moved one tree to three different locations in my yard because it always "looks stupid" a year or two after the move.

I once planted 200 tulip bulbs (while 7 months pregnant!) only to have them be clear cut by a herd of deer.

I had large flower gardens that required the equivalent of one year's college tuition spent in annuals.

We've gone with the dirt and weed landscaping since our rehab ripped up the front of our yard. Although I'm leaning towards hiring a company to landscape, there's that inner artist (ego-ist) in me that thinks I can do it on my own. I want a naturalistic look, with ferns and perennials that look more beautiful as they age.

Maybe I can actually swing it with a tour of the Hortulus Farm under my belt.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Where are all these smart people coming from?

I just had the absolute pleasure of meeting with my friend Lindsay about selling her home. Again, I'm so pleased with how darn SMART she is! How am I meeting all these smart Buyers and Sellers? I love it!

Here are some of the things she's doing that are going to pay off for her:

  • She spent 13 hours painting her pretty crimson red room a soft neutral color. Backbreaking, thankless work that will pay off (Promise Lindsay!)

  • She's replacing some windows that won't stay open (they'll only come up on the home inspection anyway, and it's a good pre-emptive strike against inspection issues).

  • She's repainting her ceilings and has banished all smokers outside.

  • She's cleaning out and cleaning up, and when her house goes on the market, it's going to be ready to go!

I can't wait to show her house - it's going to knock Buyer's socks off.

Want some more tips on how to prepare your house for sale? Shoot me an email, and I'll be happy to give you all my secrets!

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Internets...

So, how important IS you web-based marketing strategy? The following statistics are taken from the 2007 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers:

84% of buyers used the Internet to search for homes in 2007 compared to 80% in 2006.

73% of Internet home buyers drove by or viewed a home they found on the Internet.

57% of Internet home buyers walked through a home viewed online.

You absolutely NEED the following:
  • Great photos and a virtual tour
  • Enhanced realtor.com listing with custom verbiage
  • RSS feeds to other real estate websites: trulia.com, oodle.com, google.com, etc.

I always provide a custom website for my sellers to fully utilize and enhance the online presence of my listings. Want some examples? Check out the following:



Want more information? Shoot me an email and I'll be happy to talk online marketing strategy with you!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"How's the Market?" - What's it Matter?

I've gotten a few emails from potential Buyers and Sellers, and they all want to know, "What do you think of the market?"

I think they should forget about the market, and live their life.

Do you want to sell your house? Price it appropriately, get it sold, and move on with your life. For whatever reason - you've outgrown it, it's too much for you, you don't like your neighbor next door - all those things aren't going to be put on hold until the market "recovers." Do your research, figure out your next steps, and then take them.

Do you want to buy a house? Figure out your price range, what you want, and then go buy one. Don't pay rent for the next two years so that you can time the "absolute BOTTOM" of the market. Sit on your own back deck this summer and pay off your own mortgage, rather than someone else's.

Deal with the reality in front of you. Live your life. Move forward. Make yourself happy.

Don't put your life on hold trying to "outsmart" the market. Be happy, rather than "clever."