How to Know if a Neighborhood is Right for You

Neighborhood

Before you buy a home and make what’s likely to be one of the biggest investments of your life, you owe it to yourself to receive quality information on your new neighborhood. Getting a deal on your dream home can quickly turn sour if the neighborhood doesn’t meet your expectations. Here’s how to research a neighborhood before you buy a home.

LOOK INTO THE CRIME RATES

In addition to the U.S. Census Bureau’s city profiles that list crime statistics, you can try sites like CrimeReports. com, which offers local maps where you can access crime data in near-real time (the site has partnerships with more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies). You might also visit the local police department to ask about crime statistics and what neighborhood watches or alerts are in operation.

CHECK SCHOOL REPORT CARDS

Even if you don’t have children, you should spend some time investigating the area schools (school districts are typically the largest beneficiaries of your property taxes). The reason for this is simple: good schools tend to attract a higher demand for homes, which can affect the value of surrounding properties. One way to research schools in your new neighborhood is to visit the GreatSchools website, a non-profit national organization, where you can find valuable information from local preschools to colleges.

REVIEW MUNICIPALITY AND PUBLIC SERVICES

It can be easy to focus on the condition of your prospective home, but you should also consider the general condition of the streets, sidewalks and parks in your new neighborhood. Take some time to research your new municipality (start with the official website) and the services offered. Don’t be afraid to call your local clerk’s office and ask questions if you can’t find answers on the website. Things like trash collection, street cleaning and general public maintenance can affect your property’s value over time, especially if these services suffer a sharp decline due to budget cuts.

WALK THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Visit the neighborhood at various times of day and on different days. The nature of a neighborhood changes from day to night and from weekday to weekend. Make sure the activity and noise levels are to your liking. If you see residents out doing yard work or walking their dog, ask how they like the neighborhood and tell them you’re considering buying in the area. Sometimes “insider” feedback can give you the real sense of a neighborhood.

When you’re in the market for a new home, it can be easy to get distracted by what lies within the walls. By following these home buying tips, you’ll be much better prepared to make an informed decision about your new neighborhood. That way, a sweet deal is less likely to turn sour. Please call me if you’d like help in further exploring a new neighborhood.

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Tips for Selling Your Home in the Fall

Summer has ended, the weather is cooling, leaves are changing and, you may be surprised to learn, homebuyers are out in force. Fall is a popular time for corporations to relocate associates – creating a pool of buyers who need to make quick decisions about housing. They’re serious about purchasing and, with fewer houses on the market this time of year, your house may soon be getting more attention. What can you do to make sure your home sells before all the leaves fall off the trees? Here are a few helpful tips.

Highlight the location. Bring the benefits of your location front and center. Establish a list of perks that your property offers, such as proximity to public transportation, schools, shopping, recreation or entertainment.

Use the season for curb appeal. Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of year and by using that to your advantage, your home can stand out from others in the neighborhood. Leaves turning shades of crimson and gold can add extra appeal, but be sure they don’t get out of hand. Keep trees and shrubs properly groomed and pick up fallen leaves before they suffocate your front lawn. Add pumpkins, gourds or a fall display to your front porch to invite in potential buyers.

Stage your home. Buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in your home before they will consider buying it. You can help them by de-cluttering, de-personalizing and thoroughly cleaning the entire house. Brighten your rooms by bringing the outside indoors with vases or displays of twigs, leaves or acorns from your yard.

Get everything in tip-top shape. Your buyer will most likely hire an inspector before closing, so pay close attention to elements around the home that are important in the fall. For example, make sure gutters are cleared of fallen leaves and that fireplaces are in working order.

Know your home. Access to real estate information on the Internet means that buyers are walking into your home more educated than ever. Take the time to review homes similar to yours on real estate websites like http://www.californiamoves.com or http://www.realtor.com. I can also let you know of the conditions and price ranges of other homes for sale in your area. This will allow us to better negotiate with potential buyers.

Despite what you may have heard, this time of year offers plenty of opportunity to sell your home. By taking a few simple steps to make sure you and your house are ready to hit the market, you can better prepare yourself for what is to come. After all, the more welcoming your home is to possible buyers, the more welcoming it will be to offers.

 

REOs vs. Short Sales: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

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It can be argued that the best deals in real estate are REOs and short sale properties, with many offers being made days or even hours of becoming available. Why are they so appealing? Quite simply; they are priced to sell. But it’s important to really understand these properties and what you’re getting into if this is the route you decide to take.

REOs REOs are properties that banks have foreclosed on after the homeowners have not been able to make payments. Banks are left with the burden of maintaining the properties and selling them in a down market. In areas where thousands of properties have foreclosed, the expense can be enormous. In order to unload the homes, banks often price them below market.

SHORT SALES – These are properties that a homeowner owes more than the value of the property and the lender has agreed to sell for less than the amount owed on the mortgage – forgiving the seller their remaining debt. If a bank believes it can avoid less of a loss, they will sell the property short rather than putting it into foreclosure. Buyers usually have the opportunity to purchase these at current market prices or a little below.

REOsand short sales can absolutely be some of the best deals out there, but they are more complicated to buy than traditional homes. If you’re thinking of looking in this market, here are some suggestions that might help your search:

  • Know where and how to look – REOs and short sales are usually listed on the Multiple Listing Service and can be found on the majority of websites that feature properties for sale, including CaliforniaMoves.com. Many lenders also have their foreclosed properties listed directly on their websites.
  • Hope for the best, prepare for the worst – In all likelihood, you will not be “wowed” when touring a foreclosed property. It’s often the case that in the months leading to foreclosure, homeowners disregard maintenance and let the condition of the home deteriorate. You might have a better chance of finding short sale properties in good condition because once the bank decides to sell it short, it’s listed on the MLS and buyers are able to tour it. Homeowners tend to move out more quickly, giving the home less time to deteriorate.
  • Be patient – Transactions usually take longer when working with banks. Normally, you may hear back on an offer from the seller the next day. But with banks, an offer may have to be passed around for several people to review and approve. Expect a few days, weeks or even months to hear back on whether your offer is accepted.
  • There are other fish in the sea – Don’t worry if you don’t get the first or second property you make an offer on. There will be others. Foreclosures can come and go quickly, especially those in good condition. Be ready to pounce, but don’t be too disappointed if you miss out.

A foreclosed property could be one of the best investments you make, but also the most complicated. If you take time to do the research, you will likely find yourself reaping the benefits of your investment for years to come. Please let me know if you have any questions while beginning your search.