Thursday, April 23, 2015

Buying new appliances for your Central Florida home? Word of caution!

Whether you're buying new appliances for the Orlando home you just purchased or buying to update your home before putting it on the market, heed this advice: Measure your space before you leave for the store. Then take both the measurements and the tape measure with you to the store. Measure the width between the cabinet sides, and measure the space between the counter-tops. If you're buying a kitchen range, look behind it. Is the electrical outlet recessed or does it stick out from the wall? 

As my neighbor learned not long ago, when it comes to kitchen ranges, 30" isn't always 30". The actual space needed between counter tops can vary depending upon the style of the stove. In addition, while most kitchen ranges allow space in back for the electrical outlet, not all do.
He happened to choose a new range that required the skills of both a carpenter and electrician before it fit in place. Another friend had to trim back a cabinet in order for his new, very expensive refrigerator to fit. That was an even bigger undertaking, since it involved cabinet doors, etc.

While you may have factored new appliances into the cost of selling or of moving in to your new Central Florida home, you probably didn't put the services of a carpenter or an electrician in your budget. So save yourself both time and money – take the time to choose appliances that will fit into the designated space without alterations.

One more thing… As a convenience to you, most stores will haul your old appliances away for disposal. But if they're still in working order, think about donating them instead and also receive a tax deduction. Some non-profit organizations help support their causes through the sale of used merchandise. Before your new stove arrives, give one of them a call to see if they'd pick it up.

If you haven't chosen that new Central Florida home yet, get in touch. I'll be pleased to show you homes that fait both your lifestyle and your budget.

And, if you're just getting ready to put your Central Florida home on the market, I'll be happy to provide you with a no cost, no obligation market analysis.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Looking for a Home in Central Florida? Don't Get Distracted by the Homeowner's "Stuff"

Most real estate agents in Orlando will advise his or her listing clients to stage their homes. If they don't actually hire a stager, they should at least clean, de-clutter, and de-personalize their home before it goes on the market. Unfortunately, not all homeowners take that advice.  The result: Homebuyers touring the home may be distracted by things like a messy living room, the homeowner's collections, family photographs, or even colors that don't please you. If you fall into that "distraction trap," you could fail to recognize a home that could be "just right" for you.

Here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you view homes:

  1. Worn carpeting or vinyl is not a drawback, but an opportunity. The price has either been reduced for this defect or you may be able to get a flooring allowance. Either way, it means you can live with brand new flooring in the color and style you choose.
  2. "Ugly" paint colors are another opportunity. Why? Because they discourage buyers who can't see beyond them. Thus, the home may not be getting other offers. Paint is inexpensive, and when you re-paint after closing, you have the opportunity to choose the colors that are most pleasing to you.
  3. Stay focused – Ignore the family photos, the trophies, the collections on display, and the interesting furnishings. The puppy may be cute, but don't let him capture your attention. None of those items comes with the house, and they're not why you're there.
  4. Look past decorating that's not your style. All those things will be removed – you'll be decorating in your own style. An ugly couch or bedspread has nothing to do with the house.
  5. Look past cobwebs and fingerprint smudges on cabinet doors – because most buyers can't. You may be able to get a bargain on the house in exchange for a couple of days' worth of cleaning.
  6. Do look at the size of the rooms and the placement of doors, windows, and built-ins. Even if the room is over-full, try to visualize how your own furnishings would fit. 
  7. View each room with an eye toward how you'll use it – not how the current residents are using it.
  8. Visualizing yourself living in an Orlando or Central Florida home that hasn't been properly prepared for sale isn't always easy. But do your best to focus on the home – and not on what's in it.
  9. You just might find a "diamond in the rough" at a price that will keep you smiling for years to come.

When you're ready to find a new home in Orlando, Kissimmee, Davenport and surrounding areas, get in touch. It will be my pleasure to help you find the one that's "just right" for you. 

Home Buying: The Features You Want vs. the Features You Need

Have you determined what features your new Orlando home absolutely must have?

Often, buyers approach the home search without a clear idea of what they're looking for. They think "they'll know it when they see it" so spend a lot of time viewing homes that just won't do. Others have a long list of "wants" and become frustrated because no one home offers all of them.

Save yourself time and streamline your home search by making two lists. The first is for those features and benefits that your new home absolutely must offer.

For instance, you might work from home and require an office or an extra bedroom to turn into an office. Put that on the list. You might be a gourmet cook and would be miserable without extensive counter and storage space in the kitchen. Put that on the list.

You might be a musician and own a grand piano – your list needs to note that you need a room large enough to accommodate that piano.

Once your list is made, share it with me. Using it, I can narrow our search to homes in Central Florida that meet your most important requirements.

Next, make a "nice to have" list.  These are the features and benefits that appeal to you but aren't absolutely vital. For instance, a bay window, cathedral ceilings, or a river rock fireplace.

After we’ve eliminated the choices that won’t work, we’ll have a list of possibilities that match your “must have” list - and can focus on viewing homes that include the items on your “nice to have” list.

Once we begin viewing homes together, we can further refine the search by paying attention to how you feel about the details in each home. You might notice features that you hadn't thought of before and want to add them to your list.

Paying attention, sorting through the listings, and saving you time in your home search are some of my functions as a buyer’s agent. Your lists will help that process go smoothly. 

The Value Of Your Agent's Reputation

When you choose a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a house, you probably don’t think very much about his or her reputation in the real estate community. But it is important to your success either in buying or selling. Here’s why:
Most of the time, the agent who lists a home or land will not be the same agent who brings a buyer. In fact, in some agencies, it is against company policy for one agent to work with both the buyer and the seller in a given transaction. That’s why cooperation and trust between agents and agencies is vital.
For Sellers:
When your listing agent has a reputation for dealing fairly with buyers' agents, those buyers’ agents will be more eager to show your home.
To maintain a good reputation, your listing agent must:
  • Return all phone calls from agents – either with questions about the home that aren’t answered in the MLS information or with requests to show
  • Make it easy to show your home – preferably with a lockbox and through convincing sellers that it is unwise to restrict times and days when a home can be shown.
  • Enter complete and accurate information in MLS – Some agents leave blank spaces and even enter incorrect information.
  • Keep MLS information up to date, especially with regard to homes under contract. No agent wants to take time to arrange a showing on a home that is already under contract.
  • Present all offers fairly and quickly. Some agents have a reputation for holding on to offers from competitors while they attempt to get an offer from their own buyers – it’s illegal, but some do it.
  • Present counter-offers within the time limits specified in the offer
  • Present complete counter-offers – no blanks left unfilled and open to questions. 
  • Cooperate with buyer’s agents when its time to arrange inspections, and throughout the closing process
  • Communicate. Short sale transactions can take many weeks or months to negotiate with the banks – buyers and their agents want to know what progress is being made, so it’s good for the listing agent to communicate regularly.
  • Be polite. Such a simple thing, and yet some agents are simply rude to other agents.
When listing agents develop a reputation for failing in any of these respects, buyer agents try to avoid showing their listings. They may get there eventually, but only if the buyer has specifically asked to see the home, or after they’ve shown all the properties listed by agents who are pleasant to deal with.
For Buyers:
While all agents will allow even an agent with a bad reputation to show their listings, an agent’s bad reputation can harm their buyer’s chances of a successful purchase.  This is especially true in situations with multiple offers on a home. But in any case, if a listing agent has had a few bad experiences with a certain buyers’ agent, he or she will warn the seller to be wary.
To maintain a good reputation, a buyers’ agent must:
  • Be on time for showings…or call if there’s an unavoidable delay. This may not harm chances once an offer is made, but raises a question about how the agent will conduct business throughout the transaction.
  • Work with pre-qualified buyers. When listing agents know that a buyer’s agent doesn’t require pre-qualification, their offers get shifted to the bottom of the pile. No one wants to tie up a listing on an offer with low probability of closing.
  • Present complete offers. There can be no questions caused by spaces left blank.
  • Respond to counter-offers on time
  • Complete inspections and other contingencies on time
  • Behave reasonably after the inspections. Some agents routinely use this period to begin re-negotiating the price – even if the inspection didn’t reveal expensive problems.
  • Communicate willingly – keeping listing agents in the loop regarding the buyer’s loan process, any anticipated delays, etc.
  • Be polite –  Again, it matters if an agent is pleasant to work with.
Reputation matters in all areas of life, but in real estate it can affect results for buyers and sellers – not just the agent.