It’s hard to believe it’s already been 3+ years since we did this:
Category Archive: ‘Tips, Advice & Links’
Everyone loves Tony, and he is prolific at using social media to inspire people. I respect what all three guys said below, and I’ll add: Do something!
For generations past, home ownership was a significant rite of passage that signaled stability, commitment, and, often, prosperity.
But, in this as in so many other cases, millennials are different.
As of 2015, adults under age 35 made up 19 percent of U.S. households but less than 10 percent of homeowners, according to a report released by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
Entrepreneur and bestselling author Tony Robbins says that, while millennials might be missing out on the social upsides of home ownership, real estate is not the best investment they could be making.
“One of the weakest performers [is] your own personal real estate, because it doesn’t provide much income,” Robbins says. “It’s an inflation hedge. You do a little better than inflation, and you can have your own home, so there’s a psychological, emotional benefit.”
Instead, millennials in a position to buy property should be considering how to do so in a way that will provide them additional cash flow, he says.
“If you can own real estate, real estate with an income is the one [form of] real estate that’s more valuable,” says Robbins.
Opinions on the imperative of millennial home ownership vary.
Self-made millionaire Grant Cardone tells CNBC that home owners are forced to continue to spend unceasingly, and that he regrets buying a house at age 30.
“Unless you have 20 million bucks in the bank, in cash, you have no business buying a house,” says Cardone.
In personal finance classic “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” author Robert Kiyosaki notes that houses should be viewed as a liability, as opposed to an asset, and points out that it’s not a given that a home will appreciate in value.
“I am not saying don’t buy a house. What I am saying is that you should understand the difference between an asset and a liability,” Kiyosaki writes. “When I want a bigger house, I first buy assets that will generate the cash flow to pay for the house.”
I’m not sure a buyer would pay more for a pet-friendly house, but they definitely wouldn’t pay any price for a house that was anti-pet (bad yard).
Are you thinking of selling and/or buying this year?
Here are some ideas to hopefully give you an edge in conquering what usually ends up being the 1% to 2% difference between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!
- Our listing agreement suggests getting a home inspection prior to hitting the market. It’s a good idea; fix what’s wrong in advance, and then give buyers a copy to demonstrate your pride of ownership.
- Know where you are going to move, and only hit the open market when you are 100% committed to selling. You might get an offer the first day!
- Showing the house is inconvenient but necessary – the more you do it, the better your chances. Be ready to show the house on the day it hits the open market – and expect dozens of lookers to visit in the first 7-10 days.
- Do two things to make a great first impression; spruce up the curb appeal and insist on top-quality photos.
- Be smart about price – make it attractive, and you’ll stand out.
- Ask agents about bidding war strategies, and recent experiences. Spreading out the offers on your coffee table and picking one isn’t a strategy.
- Avoid gimmicks like range pricing or ‘coming soon’. A clean, straight-forward approach is attractive to buyers.
- Determine if a company brand name is a benefit or a crutch.
- Real estate ‘teams’ means you get passed around. Make sure to identify who handles the buyer inquiries, and that they are top-notch sales people.
- The buyers you want to attract – the ones that pay too much – are represented by lousy agents who don’t know the difference. Get Good Help – hire a listing agent who can carry any agent to the finish line.
- See more houses in person. You have to keep your chops up, because low inventory causes complacency. If all you do is shop online, you’ll look for any reason NOT to buy, and stay home. But there are no perfect houses.
- Start looking at least six months before your lease is up.
- There aren’t many rules, and every listing agent is different. Work with an agent who has a track record getting buyers to the finish line.
- Don’t expect much from sellers regarding repairs.
- Be open to fixers. To get more comfortable, line up contractors in advance and ask for a sample quote so you know what to expect.
- Expand the target zone, but buy in a great school district.
- If affordability is an issue, compromise on size before location. You can always add on later.
- Properly evaluate the negatives, and the appropriate discounts.
- Know what to do in a bidding war.
- Your agent should suggest an offer price, and a strategy behind it.
These are some basic, general tips, but the best thing you can do is to get an experienced agent on your side – someone who is closing at least one sale per month (check at zillow).
I am available, and would love to assist you! JtR
Did you notice that the zestimate wasn’t listed in the Real Estate Online Tools?
It is wackier than ever!
Last year, we saw the zestimate be hundreds of thousands of dollars too high on a custom home west of the I-5 in Leucadia – and once I inputted the listing on Zillow, their zestimate went higher:
They claim to always be improving their algorithms, but this new example is hard to explain. On my latest listing in a very normal tract neighborhood in NE Carlsbad, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I just sold the exact same model for $810,000 in December, but maybe they are slow to update? The zestimate of my new listing was $744,222:
But once I inputted the listing on Zillow last Friday, the zestimate zoomed to $851,243!
Does it mean that Zillow has finally jumped on the bandwagon and are supporting their Premier Agents with zestimates that come in around the list prices!!! If their primary concern was placating their paying customers, the Premier Agents, this would be a good way to do it!
Here is today’s zestimate – back where we started, with 5s instead of 2s – how can it fluctuate up and down 14% over five days??
I guess when you look at a zestimate, you can only hope you are looking on the right day! 14% swings over 5 days? Could it be any more unpredictable?
Eddie89 suggested another innovative website for home shoppers – a website that assigns a score to each house based on sound quality. Scores are 1-100, and the higher the score, the quieter:
Other tools include:
Mello-Roos (need APN)
Supplemental Property Tax calculator (need APN)
and the closest Starbucks!
At city-data.com, you can search by zip code and find all the demographics you have ever imagined (though some of it is dated).
The more-analytical folks could draw up their own scorecard!
Anyone who has looked at homes lately can attest to the surprising conditions in which people live. The lack of maintenance transcends all price points too.
But it’s nothing money won’t fix.
Buyers should surrender early on……and expect to spend at least $25,000 to $50,000 on any house they buy. It’s easier than trying to find the perfect house that doesn’t need anything.
But looking at houses then turns into a job of making lists of the repairs required. Is there a way to short-cut that process, and just use one simple gauge to know if the house could be a money pit?
When I enter a house, I still walk straight to the backyard first. It is there that you will find the items that are hard or impossible to fix; yard too small, road noise, neighbors looking in, over-sized pools, etc.
Once we’re past that test, and everyone is getting comfortable with the interior layout, I make my way to the place where you can find the most clues about the seller’s pride of ownership.
The Master Bath – a place where the sellers spend time every day. The most extreme conditions exist too – high use of hot and cold water, steam and mold conditions, multiple plumbing functions, venting, several appliances in use, laundry processing, etc. There’s a lot of action going on in the master bath!
With all the action, is somebody keeping up with repairs?
If any room is going to be well-maintained, it is the master bath. It’s not that big, and the moving parts are simple – a towel rack, a toilet-paper roller, lighting, fan, grout, window, sinks – easy stuff.
Plus, every guy wants to keep his wife happy – so if he is going to fix anything, it will be here.
No need to get into any personal items – just checking the hardware:
- Are the towel racks secure?
- Toilet-paper roller intact?
- Drywall outside the shower or tub wet or damaged?
- Adequate electrical outlets?
- Toilet secured tightly to floor?
- Toilet works properly?
- Sinks drain normally? (two sinks are a must)
- Adequate water pressure at sinks and shower?
- Fan is quiet? Window works well?
- Any sign of biological discoloration?
- Baseboards are dry and tight?
- Mirrors look good?
- Ample lighting?
- Mineral deposits on glass doors?
- Shampoo bottles have a home?
- Solid coat of semi-gloss paint?
- Crisply-applied caulk, especially around the shower faucet?
- Solid and tight grout lines?
- Door that locks easily?
- Is the floor of the sink cabinet dry?
If you are in a hurry or tend to get caught up in the excitement of looking at houses, then just concentrate on what you see in the master bath.
If you check off every item above, then the rest of the house should be in good shape too. But if the sellers aren’t maintaining this room that has complex features but simple fixes – especially when on the market – then they probably haven’t done much to keep up the rest of the house either.
This can be overwhelming, and everyone puts it off as long as possible. Start early, and heave at will – note the last paragraph below.
8 Tips for Home Unfurnishing
What else can you do to avoid finding yourself forlorn in your late parents’ home, broken up about the breakfront that’s going begging? Some suggestions:
1. Start mobilizing while your parents are around. “Every single person, if their parents are still alive, needs to go back and collect the stories of their stuff,” says Kylen. “That will help sell the stuff.” Or it might help you decide to hold onto it. One of Kylen’s clients inherited a set of beautiful gold-trimmed teacups, saucers and plates. Her mother had told her she’d received them as a gift from the DuPonts because she had nursed for the legendary wealthy family. Turns out, the plates were made for the DuPonts. The client decided to keep them due to the fantastic story.
2. Give yourself plenty of time to find takers, if you can. “We tell people: The longer you have to sell something, the more money you’re going to make,” says Fultz. Of course, this could mean cluttering up your basement, attic or living room with tables, lamps and the like until you finally locate interested parties.
3. Do an online search to see whether there’s a market for your parents’ art, furniture, china or crystal. If there is, see if an auction house might be interested in trying to sell things for you on consignment. “It’s a little bit of a wing and a prayer,” says Buysse.
That’s true. But you might get lucky. I did. My sister and I were pleasantly surprised — no, flabbergasted — when the auctioneer we hired sold our parents’ enormous, turn-of-the-20th-century portrait of an unknown woman by an obscure painter to a Florida art dealer for a tidy sum. (We expected to get a dim sum, if anything.) Apparently, the Newcomb-Macklin frame was part of the attraction. Go figure. Our parents’ tabletop marble bust went bust at the auction, however, and now sits in my den, owing to the kindness of my wife.
4. Get the jewelry appraised. It’s possible that a necklace, ring or brooch has value and could be sold.
5. Look for a nearby consignment shop that might take some items. Or, perhaps, a liquidation firm.
6. See if someone locally could use what you inherited. “My dad had some tools that looked interesting. I live in Amish country and a farmer gave me $25 for them,” says Kylen. She also picked out five shelters and gave them a list of all the kitchen items she wound up with. “By the fifth one, everything was gone. That kind of thing makes your heart feel good,” Kylen says.
7. Download the free Rightsizing and Relocation Guide from the National Association of Senior Move Managers. This helpful booklet is on the group’s site.
8. But perhaps the best advice is: Prepare for disappointment. “For the first time in history of the world, two generations are downsizing simultaneously,” says Buysse, talking about the boomers’ parents (sometimes, the final downsizing) and the boomers themselves. “I have a 90-year-old parent who wants to give me stuff or, if she passes away, my siblings and I will have to clean up the house. And my siblings and I are 60 to 70 and we’re downsizing.”
This, it seems, is 21st-century life — and death. “I don’t think there is a future” for the possessions of our parents’ generation, says Eppel. “It’s a different world.”
With the rain we’ve been having, water is on the move! We see the evidence in concrete and block walls, where the water evaporates, and leaves a white powder behind:
A. Efflorescence is a condition where white (salt) deposits form on the surface of the masonry. The formation of salts is usually a sign of excessive amounts of moisture in the masonry. Salt deposits on the masonry surface may develop from:
- Soluble compounds within the masonry or in the soil.
- In the presence of water, these compounds gradually migrate to the wall surface, where they remain when the water evaporates.
- These types of surface deposits are water soluble and can usually be removed by washing the wall with water from a garden hose supplemented by scrubbing with a stiff bristle brush.
- Improper or insufficient rinsing of masonry after chemical cleaning or repointing.
- The penetration of rain into the masonry through deteriorated mortar joints and other failures in exterior envelope (lack/failing flashing, expansion joint caulking missing, etc.).
- Exposure to air pollution, which can result in the formation of thick sulfate (salt) crusts on the underside of moldings and eaves, areas not regularly washed by rainfall.
- Capillary movement of moisture through masonry, the drying out of walls associated with a damp proofing treatment or the elimination of a ground water source may increase the amount of salt at or near the wall surface.
B. These deposits are generally not harmful to the building, just unattractive. However, they should be washed from the surface as soon as possible. Some salt deposits are water-soluble for only a brief period after reaching the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually converts these salts into water-insoluble carbonates, which are impossible to remove without the use of acids.
More on removing it:
What can a home seller do to help make a sale?
Respond to an offer in less than 24 hours.
Here’s what happens if you don’t:
- Once a buyer signs a contract, buyer’s remorse starts to set in. If allowed to fester for a day or two, buyers will talk themselves out of buying just because of the anxiety.
- There are just enough other new listings coming to market that the buyer’s wandering eye gets distracted easily.
- The longer it takes to get an answer, the lower the buyers want to counter.
- After about three days of waiting, buyers give up altogether.
On the other hand, when a seller does respond quickly, it gives the buyer the impression that the seller cares, and wants to make a deal. Buyers respond more favorably to those!
I had buyers make an offer on Monday that was within 4% of the new list price (sellers raised their list price – our offer was $250,000 over their original list) and here we are on Friday with no answer.
In a different case this week, my buyers offered more than twice what the seller paid in 2002, and three days later it wasn’t good enough – the sellers had to have another $10,000. This is a house that has been on the market for 100 days with no offers.
In both cases, we were sick of waiting around, and even a more favorable response wouldn’t have gone over that well.
Listing agents are notorious for not preparing their sellers on how to respond to offers. You can predict the chances of a deal coming together purely by how quick the sellers respond. If they are adequately motivated and the listing agent has their act together, you will get a response within 24 hours.
If not, there probably wasn’t much of a chance of buying it anyway.