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How long does it take to go from accepting an offer on your house to settlement?

The time it takes from when a home seller and home buyer sign a contract to when the settlement date depends on whether it is a cash offer or if a bank is evolved to finance the home buyer.

Here is typically what to expect as far as time from signing a contract to settlement:

FHA: 30-45 days.
USDA: 60-90 days.
VA: 30-45 days.
Conventional: 30-45 days.

Cash: 5-30 days

If it’s a short sale: WHO KNOWS!

These results are typical, no guaranteed.

August 28, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

I need to sell my house fast. It has been listed 6 months with no real action. I was wondering what options I have?

The above title is a recent question from a Pennsylvania Home Seller and below is their situation:

The Pennsylvania Home Seller’s current listing is almost over and they were hesitant to sign again with the same Realtor because they felt that they haven’t really done much to “try to sell” the home. The Pennsylvania Home Seller lowered the price three times and they do not need to make one cent on their home, they just need to sell their home to be closer to work.  They have had about 8 showings with their Realtor saying that there was minimal feedback. Most of which is just the home buyer saying they were not interested.

I answered:

Start with your current Realtor and ask specifically what they are doing to market the property, how is your Realtor portraying the property (pictures, descriptions, etc), and have a new CMA done. I understand your situation but home buyers don’t care about that. They’re looking for a good value. If your home is priced higher than comparable homes, then home buyers are not going to be interested. And if you put your house on the market 6 months ago, you definitely need an updated CMA.

There are three specifics that govern the sale of a house:

Price
Condition
Location

There is absolutely nothing you can do about Location; Price and Condition, however, are within a home sellers control, and you need to make sure your Realtor is being completely honest with you regarding both. Houses need to show like a model home, and need to be priced correctly.

You should be looking specifically at every house that has SOLD within the past 3-6 months within a 1 mile radius of your home (0.3 miles in a city), that is the most SIMILAR to your home (i.e., if your house is a rancher, you should only be looking at ranchers) with the same square footage, approximate acreage, etc.  Then your Realtor should explain the home price adjustments needed for the differences between the comparables and your house. Once those home price adjustments have been made, you should be very close to what the actual market value of your house is.  Next you review the condition of your property to other recently sold homes to get to your final price of your home.

It’s also possible that your house doesn’t show as well as it could. That wouldn’t directly account for the low number of showings, but it’s also possible that your house doesn’t look appealing online.  Make sure you’ve got a lot of great photos online with your listing. A lot of real estate listings have terrible photos because the rooms themselves look unattractive. I would consider staging the property (contact a home stager for a consultation), then getting a GOOD photographer in to take new pictures.

To recap: the first steps are to make sure it’s priced right in today’s market, then make sure it shows well (in person and online), and then make sure it’s aggressively marketed.
Contact me for a Report on How to Sell Your Home when it Failed to Sell the First Time! .

August 25, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Is a Pennsylvania home seller obligated to sell their home if the listing price is met?

In Pennsylvania if the home seller doesn’t sign an Agreement of Sale, they do not hold an obligation to the home buyer to sell their house, even if the home buyer offers the listing price or even above listing price. It is the home seller’s property and it is the home seller’s choice whether or not they want to sell their house. However, if the home seller has signed an Agreement of Sale and changes their mind, the home buyer may have some recourse, but the rights of the home buyer can vary from situation to situation. Please refer to the Agreement of Sale and consult a Pennsylvania real estate attorney.

Until there is a fully executed agreement of sale (meaning signed and dated with changes initialed by both buyer and seller) the home seller or home buyer has the right to back out. No logical reason is necessary or illogical one for that matter. The person most frustrated by a home seller changing their mind is the listing agent who spent time and money promoting the property only to see it taken off the market just when it could have sold.

August 20, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Should we keep the furniture in our home until it sells?

In a conversation with a Montgomery County, PA home seller, they asked “Should we keep our furniture in the old house until it sells or can we show it empty?”

Having the home staged with furniture can help buyers visualize the space better. The main rooms people want to use to consider a home are the living room, kitchen, dining, family rooms and master bedroom. Be sure not to have too much and leaving some rooms empty is acceptable. So remove all personal items like photos, trophies or collections help to de-clutter.

I am all about facts and statistics, so what are the home staging statistics you might want to know when selling a home?

  • The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development reports staged homes sell for 17% more than their counterparts on average
  • The National Association of Realtors puts the ROI on home staging at 8 to 10%, with some sources putting the return on individual items as high as 586%

So according to the data home staging results in selling a home faster, for more money and delivers a high return of any home improvement. This certainly suggests home staging is a savvy move for home sellers selling a home as well as real estate investors flipping houses.

If you do not have the budget to afford a professional home stager, then I have 4 tips for home staging on a budget:

  1. Accessorize – Lamps, curtains, pictures, changing hardware and fixtures can all make a huge difference in home appeal.
  2. Rent – stage with couches, recliners, flat screens and even appliances from as little as a few dollars a week and which can be returned when your home sells.
  3. Do It Yourself – make improvements yourself my watching videos online or taking free classes at a hardware store. Keep costs down by renting or borrowing the tools instead of buying them
  4. Don’t overdo it – Don’t gamble on home renovations for selling a home. It is never a sure thing till you have closed. Consider selling your home for cash as-is instead.

Now let’s talk about the key rooms. Here are a few tips for beginners who want to stage their home to sell:

  • Pack up your personal items. Box up your family photos and other family-specific memorabilia because they’ll distract potential buyers. You want home buyers to envision their personal belongings in the space.
  • Use baskets in the bathroom to make it look airy and open. Put a large wicker basket full of white towels next to the shower, and place a basket of luxurious bath products on the edge of the tub.
  • Put up window treatments that are luxurious fabrics. Make sure the curtains are open to let in as much light as possible when home buyers are viewing your house.
  • Place cookbooks and kitchen utensils on the counters. A big bowl of fresh fruit adds visual appeal. Make sure the cabinets are clean.
  • Purchasing a simple white cover to place over current bedding can make the room genderless and make it look more open and airy.

As home staging evolves virtual home staging is gain popularity. Since 90% of home buyers search for their next dream home online, virtual staging offers a way for home sellers, real estate agents, and real estate investors to make their homes look great online, attract more potential home buyers and increase offers for less and with less hassle.  There are apps out there that allow home sellers to snap images on their mobile devices and virtually stage spaces in seconds on the go.

August 18, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

If you are a home seller what paint color should you use for you interior rooms? Is it best to stay with one neutral color all through the home?

I often get the above question from home sellers, real estate investors, and real estate agents on what is the best interior paint color to sell a house?

I don’t know if it needs to be the same neutral color throughout the whole house, but neutral colors in general are good to go with. It helps the buyer be able to have an imagination about what they could do with the room. Remember that home buyers already have furniture to bring into the home, and they are unlikely to paint or buy new furniture to accommodate bold colors. If the rooms are painted certain colors then it limits the buyer’s thoughts about what they could do with the room.

Determining what colors to use also depends on the interior style of the house and check to see what colors were used at recently sold houses at the top price range of your neighborhood.

For living rooms I like to use neutral colors such as creamy whites, muted beiges and light gray (my favorite) tones.  I have also seen trending in some neighborhoods Earth tones, including shades of brown, green, blue, orange, and tans depict the colors in nature, and they’re warm and inviting colors for living rooms and dining rooms.

For kitchen colors it depends on your cabinets and counter tops but some colors to try are pale yellow, light olive and warm beiges.  Bedroom colors should be mild, soft tones. Beiges, lighter grays, light yellows and light olives work well in bedrooms.  Recently I have seen trending is light blues.

Bathrooms are often relatively small spaces, and a small bathroom can turn many buyers away. Warm whites are great for making bathrooms look larger than they are. Stay away from darker colors. Deep reds, browns, yellows and blues make room look extremely small.

Since you are painting to sell, make sure that you do high-quality work. If you are not an experienced painter, hire a professional.   

August 13, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Common Home Selling Question: What would closing costs (settlement costs) be on a home in Pennsylvania?

This is a home selling question I get asked a lot so I’d figure I’d address it on this blog.  The short answer is it depends.  If I buy a house and there are no real estate agents involved but just a real estate attorney you can expect to pay:

  1. A title service fee equal to 0.85% -1.25% of the sale price
  2. A 1% transfer tax (depending on the Pennsylvania County and I am assuming you are splitting the transfer tax with the home buyer)

Now if you decide to use a real estate agent then the closing costs will be higher by another 5-7%.  While closing costs vary throughout the United States, a home buyer or home seller who is knowledgeable about closing costs may well be able to reduce their closing costs by prior planning.  Below is a list of likely closing costs in Pennsylvania:

  • Real estate commissions – real estate commission are negotiable and you will pay a percentage of the sales price at closing. This is how the real estate agent and their office get paid.
  • Transfer tax – think of this as sales tax when buying/selling a home. The chart below has transfer taxes by Pennsylvania County.
  • Deed Preparation – the home seller is expected to prepare this for the home buyer. The title company or real estate attorney handles this and the cost is $50-150.  The real estate attorney, Title Company, or real estate agent will contact local municipalities for this additional information:
    • Tax certification letter – The real estate attorney, Title Company, or real estate agent will contact the municipality for this information. It makes sure the home seller’s real estate taxes are update to date.
    • No liens – Does the municipality have lien on the home?
    • Occupancy permit – varies by municipality. Some require it, some it is buyers responsibility.
  • Document preparation – real estate attorneys or title companies could charge a document preparation fee in addition to the deed preparation fee. Assume a cost around $150-$250.
  • Closing Fee – real estate attorneys or title insurance companies could charge a settlement fee for conducting the closing. This fee ranges from 0 – $200.
  • Dye Test – this is only counties in the Pittsburgh area, notably Allegheny County. A dye pack is flushed down the toilet and gutter and either a plumber or the municipality will open up the sanitary sewer and storm water access to see if the dye is entering either system. If there is discharge into these systems, the home seller will be required to correct the discharge. This cost will vary.

Additional costs to the home seller could be:

  • Home Warranty – cost around $400-$650
  • Home Seller helps home buyer pay some of the home buyer’s closing costs.

Below is a chart of transfer taxes by Pennsylvania County:

County Local Tax School Tax Pennsylvania Total
Adams County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Allegheny County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
– Bellevue Borough 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
– Bethel Park Municipality 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
– Greentree Borough 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
– Hampton Township 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
– McCandles Township 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
– Mckeesport City 1.50% 0.50% 1.00% 3.00%
– Monroeville Municipality 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
– Mt. Lebanon Municipality 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
– Mt. Oliver Borough 1.00% 1.00% 1.00% 3.00%
– O’hara Township 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
– Penn Hills Municipality 1.50% 0.50% 1.00% 3.00%
– Pine Township 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
– Pittsburgh, City Of 2.00% 1.00% 1.00% 4.00%
– Upper St. Clair Township 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
– West Deer Township 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
– Whitehall Borough 0.750% 0.50% 1.00% 2.25%
Armstrong County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Beaver County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Bedford County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Berks County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
– City Of Reading
School District Is Included In 4%
4.00% 1.00% 5.00%
Blair County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Bradford County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Bucks County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Butler County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Cambria County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Cameron County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Carbon County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Centre County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
– Ferguson Township 1.25% 0.50% 1.00% 2.75%
– State College Borough 1.25% 0.50% 1.00% 2.75%
– Taylor Township .050% 0.000 1.00% 1.50%
Chester County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
– City Of Coatesville 1.50% 0.50% 1.00% 3.00%
– Tredyffrin Township 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
Clarion County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Clearfield County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Clinton County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
– Colebrook Township 0.000 0.50% 1.00% 1.50%
– East Kating Township 0.000 0.50% 1.00% 1.50%
Columbia County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Crawford County - 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
– Borough Of Edinboro 1.00% .500 1.00% 2.50%
Cumberland County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Dauphin County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Delaware County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
– Randor Township 0.75% 0.75% 1.00% 2.50%
– Upper Providence Township 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
Elk County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Erie County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Fayette County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Forest County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Franklin County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Fulton County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Greene County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Huntingdon County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Indiana County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Jefferson County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Juniata County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Lackawanna County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
– City Of Scranton 2.80% 0.50% 1.00% 4.30%
Lancaster County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Lawrence County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Lebanon County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Lehigh County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Luzerne County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
– City Of Wilkes Barre 2.00% 0.50% 1.00% 3.50%
– Kingston Borough 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
Lycoming County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Mckean County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Mercer County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Mifflin County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Monroe County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Montgomery County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Montour County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
North Hampton County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Northumberland County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Perry County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Philadelphia County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
– City Of Philadelphia
* School District Is Included In 3%
3.00% 1.00% 4.00%
Pike County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Potter County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Schuylkill County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Snyder County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Somerset County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
– Wellersburg Borough 0.50% - 0 - 1.00% 1.50%
Sullivan County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Susquehanna County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Tioga County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Union County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Venango County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Warren County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Washington County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
– Peters Township 1.00% 0.50% 1.00% 2.50%
Wayne County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Westmoreland County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
Wyoming County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%
York County 0.50% 0.50% 1.00% 2.00%

August 10, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pennsylvania Home Sellers Question: Do I list with a Realtor or sell to a cash home buyer?

Below is an example of a recent home seller’s situation where a cash home buyer’s offer (our offer) was better than a Realtor’s higher listing price.

To view pictures, click this link kitchen & bath

The dated property: Kitchen updated in the 1980s and bathroom in the 1990s

Houses in the neighborhood that were in new, modern, and excellent condition were selling for $300,000.  The condition of the subject property we went to see was dated. What dated means is imaging going back into a time machine and going back to 1980s and 1990s because that was the houses style.  The kitchen and bathrooms were update in the late-1980/early-1990s.  The house colors were not what the $300,000 house colors had, it had carpet throughout the entire house and not hardwood flooring anywhere, etc.  Now the house was clean, but it was dated.

Using actual home sales data of houses similar to the subject property, the dated houses were selling for $180,000 to 220,000.

Our offer was $190,000 cash with a settlement date of 30 days.   The home owner’s were also thinking of using a Realtor and the Realtor wanted to list the property for $230,000.  The home owners decided to go with the Realtor and this is how it played out.

No B.S. Home Selling Process vs. List with a Realtor No B.S. Home Selling Process  Realtor
Our Cash Offer: 190,000
Realtor listed property at: n/a 230,000
It took 7 months to get house under contract at $220,000: n/a 220,000
It tooks another 2 months to go to settlement, so 9 months of paying mortgage principle & interest, real estate taxes, and home insurance ($1,920 * 9 months): n/a 17,280
9 months of paying utilities: water, electric, gas, lawn service: n/a 2,725
Realtor commission is 7% of $220,000: n/a 15,400
Net Amount of Money to home seller: 190,000 184,595

 

Our offer of $190,000 cash today was the right decision.  Don’t make the same mistake these home sellers made. 

WOW!  The home sellers went with the Realtor at a higher listing amount BUT waited 9 months until they sold the house and walked away with less money in their bank account.  That is 9 months of living in a house you no longer want to live in thinking you are walking away with more money, but no one ever explains to you all the costs during that time.

I will gladly walk you through all of these options with you so that you can make the best decision for you.  Fill out a home sellers form at http://www.cmtrealestate.net.

August 9, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

US Rents Hit Record Highs As Homeownership Plunges To 18 Year Lows

The percentage of Americans who own a house is 65.1%: the lowest since 1995.
Chart of US homeowner %

Homeownership Rate_0

Rent are on the rise

Avg Rental Price_0

To read more…

 

 

July 30, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

HAMP: Audit Reveals More than a Quarter of the Borrowers have Re-Defaulted

Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) may lower your monthly mortgage payments in order to make them more affordable and sustainable for the long-term.  Well a recent audit shows more than a quarter of the borrowers in this federal mortgage workout program have re-defaulted, costing taxpayers at least $815 million.  The audit found that struggling borrowers who entered the program in 2009 and 2010, who make up more than half of all HAMP participants, had re-default rates of 46 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

to read more…

 

 

July 24, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

June existing home sales miss. Are Investors are moving out of housing?

CNBC’s Diana Olick reports that sales of existing homes were down 1.2 percent in June. They had been up 3.4 percent in May. Inventories were up, too, though they were lower year-over-year.  http://www.cnbc.com/id/100903814

 

June existing home sales miss.  Are Investors are moving out of housing?

July 23, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

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