Monthly Archives: February 2019

6 Things in Your Bathrooms That Are Freaking Out Potential Buyers

supawat bursuk/iStock; realtor.com

Bathrooms are, by design, private spaces. After all, there’s a door and a lock for a good reason.

But when your house hits the market, dozens of strangers will suddenly be tramping through your bathrooms—and everything that once felt so private will now become painfully public. And those strangers will be passing judgment on what they see.

True, the nose hair trimmer you accidentally left on the counter or pile of sweaty running socks forgotten behind the door might not be a deal breaker to a potential home buyer. But they certainly won’t be forgotten.

Why chance it in the first place? We talked with the experts to lift the lid on the weirdest things buyers found in the bathroom during a home showing—some of which actually killed the sale.

1. Inappropriate art

When Elizabeth Williamsberg, a real estate and brand photographer in Boulder, CO, went into a quiet, suburban home to take photos, she didn’t register anything out of the ordinary.

Until she entered the half-bath.

“On the wall above the toilet was a 10-by-13 framed photo of a naked child peeing in an in-ground pool that we immediately recognized as the pool in their backyard,” Williamsberg recalls. “I ran out of the bathroom, and the real estate agent followed right behind me.”

They called the homeowners to come over and immediately remove the photograph. Even weirder was the reason the photo was there.

“It turns out that it was the couple’s now-adult son,” Williamsberg says. “The parents had placed it there when he was a teen to embarrass him when his friends came over. He’d long since moved out, and they had simply forgotten to remove it.”

Heads up: Your bathroom shouldn’t be an experimental art gallery. Remember: You want guests to imagine themselves living in your home, not picturing what went on before you got there.

2. Words

Justin M. Riordan, founder of Portland, OR–based Spade and Archer Design Agency, isn’t a fan of word art—and that opinion was only reinforced when he recently walked into a bathroom of a client’s home. Over the toilet was a poorly placed sign that read “DREAM BIG.”

“They hung it in a bathroom and then proceeded to leave the toilet lid up. The story it tells the viewer is not too far off from a very effective Metamucil ad,” Riordan says.

Heads up: If you love word signage, no one’s stopping you from putting it up throughout your house. But steer clear of the bathroom, where pretty much anything can turn into a poop joke.

3. Food storage

When Susanna Haynie, broker-owner of Co-Re Group in Colorado Springs, CO, took young, first-time home buyers to see a historic home, she expected some old-timey quirkiness. What she wasn’t prepared for was the small fridge placed within reaching distance of the toilet.

“The combination of the two, next to each other, got my buyers rolling,” Haynie says.

The mysterious toilet fridge apparently wasn’t a deal breaker—the couple ended up buying the house.

“But when my clients moved in, the fridge was removed,” Haynie says.

Heads up: Food storage only in the kitchen, please. And if there’s anything else in your bathroom that belongs in your kitchen, be it a microwave or your collection of spatulas, please put them back.

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Watch: Does Your Bathroom Decor Stink? 5 Surprising Looks Home Buyers Hate

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4. Cigarette butts

After listing a hoarder’s house, Candy Miles-Crocker, an associate broker for Long and Foster Real Estate in Washington, DC, poked her head into the crowded bathroom—and saw an enormous mound of cigarette butts in the sink.

“Why the owner did this, I never asked,” Miles-Crocker says.

Even worse, the seller wouldn’t allow her to clean them up—or move anything—to prep the home for a showing. Instead, he created a path through the home’s crowded contents from the front door to the kitchen and bathroom.

“Agents and prospective buyers could not see the bedrooms unless they climbed over the hoard,” Miles-Crocker recalls. “It was crazy.”

Heads up: If your house is in serious disarray, consider “extreme cleaning” professionals to help get your home show-ready.

5. Smart toilets

One of the weirdest bathroom encounters Lauren Cangiano, a licensed associate broker for Halstead Manhattan in New York, ever had was with a trendy, high-end Toto programmable toilet.

“Every time we walked past the bathroom during a showing, the toilet came to life and scared the daylights out of us,” Cangiano says. “The lid would open and close, and lights started flashing. I’m guessing it was set in such a way that someone could find the toilet in the dark. The zinger was when my client dropped something in the bathroom and water started squirting up out of the toilet. I think she activated the bidet setting!”

Heads up: If a fancy toilet floats your boat, hey, more power to ya. But if you’ve got a bunch of bells and whistles, try to figure out how to deactivate them before you show your home.

6. Poop

Marie Bromberg, a licensed real estate salesperson for Corcoran in New York, had a harrowing bathroom moment at her very first listing.

“It was a lovely studio apartment that was so beautiful and well-priced that it was swarmed,” Bromberg recalls. “We had easily 20 people in less than 500 square feet at any given time.”

At one point, an elderly lady stepped into the bathroom and shut the door.

“She didn’t even ask! She just went in to do her business,” Bromberg says.

She was in there a long time, and once she exited, Bromberg realized there were two problems.

First: “The smell was awful, and now everyone at the open house could smell it because it’s a studio,” Bromberg says.

“And, some of it had missed the toilet.”

Before other visitors could complain, Bromberg hastily opened a window and turned on the exhaust fan. Then, she found some paper towels, closed the door, and cleaned the toilet.

Heads up: While the blame for this one can’t possibly fall on the seller, there are some things you can do to prevent poop-related problems that might arise during a showing: “Never have toilet paper at an open house, so as to discourage people from doing the deed,” Bromberg says.

The post 6 Things in Your Bathrooms That Are Freaking Out Potential Buyers appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

5 Big Reasons to Sell Your Home This Year (Because It Could Get Tougher)

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It’s no secret that life’s been pretty good to sellers for the past several years. Even if you had no need—or desire—to move, the housing landscape might have seriously tempted you to put your house on the market anyway. After all, it’s hard not to see visions of dollar signs when your neighbors are unloading their homes for tens of thousands over asking price.

But as they say, all good things must come to an end. And you’ve probably heard that the white-hot housing market of years past is finally beginning to cool.

So if you haven’t listed your home before now, did you miss the boat? Absolutely not. But with each passing month, the experts say, you can expect the housing climate to shift a bit more in buyers’ favor.

“It’s definitely still a seller’s market in most of the country. But it’s not the same seller’s market that you saw in the last couple of years,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist of realtor.com®. “You might have to think about how your home compares to the competition that buyers are going to see when they’re shopping. And you might have to price a little bit more competitively, or think about other enticements to attract buyers.”

There’s still a chance to cash in for top dollar, though, if you move quickly. Here are the biggest reasons to sell ASAP in 2019.

1. You won’t be the only listing for long

The top reason sellers have been in the catbird seat for the past several years? Inventory. There simply weren’t enough homes on the market to keep up with buyer demand. And when a “For Sale” sign did go up, you can bet a bidding war would soon follow.

“You might have been the only listing in your neighborhood, and you could put your home up at a certain list price and you would be likely to see multiple offers at or above that list price,” Hale explains.

That tide is turning this year, Hale says. That’s because the number of homes for sale is finally increasing, albeit slowly. For now, buyers still outnumber inventory. But if you’re thinking about selling and don’t want to compete with your neighbors, it’ll pay off (literally) to list earlier rather than later. (This is particularly true in pricier markets, where inventory is increasing at a faster rate than more affordable areas.)

“It’s going to depend on what neighborhood you’re in, but we expect it to be more common this year that you won’t be the only listing,” Hale says.

2. You still stand to make a ‘handsome profit’

Home prices have been on a meteoric rise for the past seven years. In January 2012, the U.S. median home price was $154,700. Today, that figure has nearly doubled—to $289,300—and sellers have rejoiced.

Now comes a twist: 15% of all home listings saw price cuts in January, according to realtor.com data.

That might sound like bad news if you’re thinking of selling. But hear us out: Those moderating prices, combined with today’s mortgage rates (more on that below), mean increased buyer demand for your house.

Plus, it’s not that home prices aren’t still increasing—they’re just not increasing at the frenzied pace of previous years, which often featured multiple offers at or above asking price, Hale says. So even though you might have some more competition as a seller, things are still looking pretty sweet for you when it comes to cold, hard cash.

“Even if you don’t get an offer above your asking price, you’re probably still going to come away with a handsome profit from being a seller in 2019,” Hale says.

But again, it’ll pay to put your home on the market as soon as you can—before conditions change.

“Sellers who list their homes earlier in the year tend to get a higher sales price, often above list, and shorter days on market,” says Ali Wolf, director of economic research at Meyers Research.

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Watch: This Totally Ordinary House Sold for $782K Over Asking (Yes, You Read That Right)

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3. There’s high demand for homes under $300K

There’s more good news if you own a home below the national median price of $289,300. Not only is that inventory increasing at a slower rate than its luxury counterparts, but there are more buyers shopping at those price points.

“If you’re a below-median-price seller, you will see a seller’s market that is as good as what you saw in previous years—maybe even better,” Hale says. “You might still see multiple offers coming in quickly, maybe even above asking price.”

4. Mortgage rates are at a new low

Something strange has been happening over the past few months. Experts predicted mortgage rates would rise—and at the end of 2018, they were indeed ticking upward as expected.

But since the start of the year, rates on a 30-year fixed mortgage (the most popular home loan) have been falling, sliding last week to a new 12-month low of 4.37%. And of course, those historically low mortgage rates mean you stand to have more buyers knocking on your door.

Plus, this temporary dip in rates creates an opportunity for trade-up buyers as well. After all, if you’re selling your home, there’s a good chance you’ll need to buy another one.

Bottom line: Now’s the time to hustle and get both transactions done.

“Sellers need to take advantage of low rates as much as buyers do,” Wolf says. “Sellers don’t want to get stuck in their homes when rates go up and the math no longer makes sense to move.”

5. Millennials are flooding the market

Historically speaking, people tend to buy their first home around age 30. And guess what? We’ve got a whole bunch of people turning 30 in the next two years—nearly 5 million, in fact, according to realtor.com data. So you can count on those millennials to be a driving force in the housing market.

“Millennials want to own a home as much as prior generations,” Wolf says. “We saw millennial shoppers scooping up homes in 2018—and 2019 will be no different.”

What’s more, Hale adds, is that you won’t just be seeing demand from first-time buyers. Older millennials in their middle to late 30s have already owned a home for a few years, and could be looking at now as a prime time to trade up.

“From a seller’s perspective, you’re going to have possibly more interested buyers,” Hale says. “So that’s motivation to put your house on the market.”

The post 5 Big Reasons to Sell Your Home This Year (Because It Could Get Tougher) appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

What Is a Short Sale? The Benefits for Buyers and Sellers

what is a short sale

Gary Alvis/iStock; Andy Dean Photography/iStock

What is a short sale? Let’s break it down. Say you’re selling your home; however, the offer you get is so low, it won’t cover the total amount you owe on your mortgage. But you need to unload it, so you’ll take it. This is a short sale—simply put, you end up “short” on paying back your lender, and your lender agrees to accept less than what’s owed on the loan.

Short sales aren’t the norm, but they aren’t all that uncommon, either. According to recent data from real estate information company RealtyTrac, about 5% of all single-family home and condo sales are short sales.

Often homeowners are pushed into a short sale by personal financial troubles that make it impossible to pay their monthly mortgage to their lender. At the same time, they find it hard to sell at a price that would enable them to pay off their entire loan—especially if local real estate market trends have driven down their home’s value. This happened in many communities across the nation during the housing bust of 2011.

Foreclosure vs. short sale: What’s the difference?

While selling a home as a short sale is hardly ideal, many experts argue it’s smarter than pursuing more drastic measures like foreclosure. Foreclosure is when a homeowner falls so behind on the mortgage, the lender repossesses the house, often against the homeowner’s will, then tries to sell it.

Foreclosures are less common than short sales. Even during economic downturns like the housing crisis of 2011, foreclosure rates rose only up to 3.6%. Right now, the foreclosure rate hovers under 1%.

People often confuse foreclosures with short sales, and while they share some similarities in that both typically happen to homeowners in distress, the process and consequences are very different. For one, foreclosures typically happen very quickly, since lenders are eager to recoup the costs incurred by the unpaid mortgage.

Foreclosure also negatively affects an individual’s credit score and credit report. As a result, individuals who undergo foreclosure typically have to wait at least five years after a foreclosure before they can qualify for a new mortgage and purchase a new home.

Bottom line: Foreclosure is scary for good reason. People facing foreclosure will want to approach their lender and discuss their options—one of which might be to do a short sale instead.

How sellers benefit from short sales

Here are a few of the benefits of a short sale for distressed home sellers, and why they might want to consider it over foreclosure:

  • A short sale does way less damage to a homeowner’s credit report and credit score than a foreclosure. This means the homeowner will be in better shape to apply for a mortgage and buy a new home down the road.
  • Homeowners have the dignity of being able to sell their own home. This is no small thing.
  • A short sale enables homeowners to stay in the home until the sale is completed. A foreclosure forces homeowners to vacate.
  • While a seller typically pays all real estate agent commissions and other closing costs, in a short sale the seller pays nothing; the lender or bank foots the bill.

 

The short sale process

A short sale starts off like any other home sale: You contact a real estate agent (ideally one who specializes in short sales), list your home (mentioning that it’s a “short sale/subject to lender”), then wait for an offer to come in. But once you accept an offer, things get tricky. You’ll need to get your lender’s blessing—and since lenders lose money with short sales, they’re rarely eager to hop on board.

“Some banks may even prefer to pursue a foreclosure, since they not only assume ownership of the property but may receive bailout money from the homeowner’s mortgage insurance policy,” says Marlene Waterhouse, a real estate agent and the owner of Short Sale Solutions.

On the other hand, a short sale may appeal to a bank, since owning and selling real estate are hassles it may prefer to avoid.

To assess whether to approve your short sale, banks will require you to submit some paperwork, including your offer letter as well as a “hardship letter” explaining why you can no longer make your mortgage payments, along with financial documents such as income statements or medical bills to back that up. At that point, they will most likely have your home appraised to determine if the offer you’ve received is fair. If it is, they may allow the deal to go through, although they may have some stipulations (more on that next).

Short-sale benefits for buyers

Short sales can be bargains for home buyers, but prepare to jump through many more short-sale-buying hoops than you’d find in a foreclosure or even a typical home sale.

“I wouldn’t recommend short sales for first-time buyers, who may get frustrated with the extra paperwork and long waits,” says Waterhouse. “A traditional sale takes 30 to 45 days to close after the offer is accepted. A short sale typically takes 90 to 120 days, or even longer.”

The reason for these holdups is that the lenders—which are stuck paying for closing costs that a seller would typically cover—will often counter with their own demands in an effort to raise their bottom line. So, short-sale buyers might hear, “We’ll accept your offer, but you’re responsible for all repairs, wire transfers, and notary fees.”

Our advice: Go ahead and negotiate, or walk away if you aren’t satisfied with the terms of the deal. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth it to absorb these extra costs. When in doubt, ask your real estate agent to help you crunch the short-sale-buying numbers.

Should buyers buy foreclosures instead?

While foreclosures can also be bargains, buyers should know that a foreclosure also comes with a lot more risk than a short sale. For one, keep in mind that a foreclosure home is sold at a courthouse, sight unseen. So, there’s no time to inspect the foreclosure house for structural problems; you also inherit all liens tied to a foreclosure. In this sense, a short sale might be a safer bet.

Bottom line: When a short sale is done right, sellers, buyers, and the bank can all walk away happy.

The post What Is a Short Sale? The Benefits for Buyers and Sellers appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

What Is My Home Worth? The Number Every Homeowner and Seller Should Know

what is my home worth

malerapaso/iStock

Have you ever wondered “How much is my house worth?”? If you’re hoping to sell your home, knowing your property’s value is essential for pricing it right to make buyers bite. Or, maybe you don’t want to sell your home right now, but are just curious whether your real estate investment has risen in value (which would merit some much-deserved back-patting).

In either case, having an accurate grasp of your home’s estimated market value can come in handy. And there are a variety of ways to do that, many of which are free and easily within reach online. Here’s how to find that magic number, and why having an accurate estimate matters whether you want to sell your home or own it for the long haul.

How to find home value estimates online

One easy starting point with a home valuation is to enter your address into an online home value estimator, which will, within seconds, present you with a free estimate of what your home is worth, based on data such as its square footage and recent home sales in the area.

While this free valuation will help you get a general idea, remember, it’s just a ballpark figure. For a more accurate estimate, there’s no substitute for the expertise of a Realtor®, who has access to a vast database of information with recent sales to help you home in on that number.

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Watch: 3 New Rules That Can Make or Break Your Home Sale

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How real estate experts determine their own home value estimates

Real estate agents specialize in answering the question “what is my home worth?” for their clients, which they do by running a comparative market analysis. This process involves finding similar properties (“comps”) that sold within the past 90 days.

The most accurate comp is a home that’s nearby, similar to yours in square footage, and has the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms. (Ideally, the lot size is also equivalent, but that’s more important in rural areas, where homes are set on multiple acres.) Once your agent finds a few comps, then she averages those figures to come up with a baseline of your own home value.

“You should always look at the sale prices of other listings in your community,” says Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis.

For instance, “if your neighbor’s home is listed for $400,000 and you want to list yours at $500,000, you’d better be able to clearly explain the difference to prospective buyers.” Or else adjust your number accordingly.

What is my home value to a buyer?

Sellers need to consider how home buyers search for properties online. Let’s assume your home’s fair market value is $503,000. Yet Dossman points out that many people search for homes on the web using $20,000 or $25,000 increments. The upshot? Listing your home for $503,000 could prevent your listing from being seen by buyers who are searching for homes in the $475,000 to $500,000 bracket, so asking for $500,000 might generate more traffic—and maybe even a bidding war to push that final number well above your expectations.

Also, avoid listing your home at an odd dollar figure (e.g., $999,000 instead of $1 million). While retailers and as-seen-on-TV purveyors of the Miracle Mop effectively present product prices ending in $0.95 or $0.99, Dossman says the same approach doesn’t apply to real estate.

“It’s hard to justify awkward pricing,” Dossman adds. “It’s just confusing to buyers.”

Try to remain objective

“Sellers always think that their home is worth more than it is, because of their personal attachment,” says Dossman.

Indeed, it’s hard to boil down years or decades of memories in a home to a number. It’s also hard to accept that your home is worth less than what you paid for it, or that you can’t just tack on the full dollar amount of the renovations you’ve made. On average, renovations will reap you only a 64% return on investment, although that varies based on the type of upgrades you’ve made.

Why it’s important to know how much your house is worth

Estimate your home’s value as too high, and it could wind up sitting on the market. That’s a big problem, because a property that goes unsold for an extended period of time (e.g., more than 30 days) often becomes stigmatized.

“Buyers get suspicious when they see a house that’s been on the market for a while,” says Dossman. “They think that something is wrong with the home.”

If that’s the case, the seller may have to make a significant number reduction—sometimes dropping the number below market value—in order to nab a buyer.

Pricing your home below market value in an attempt to stir up interest and generate multiple bids can also backfire. Granted, that strategy could work in a hot seller’s market, but underpricing your home frequently leads buyers to assume that your home is worth only its list price, says Dossman.

Your best bet: Know what your home is worth, and list your home close to that figure—aka its market value. When in doubt, turn to your real estate agent to help you cut through the haze and help you pinpoint the right price.

Watch: The Secret Formula to Estimating Your Home’s Value

The post What Is My Home Worth? The Number Every Homeowner and Seller Should Know appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Foreclosure vs. Short Sale: What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between a foreclosure and a short sale? Foreclosures and short sales are both options for homeowners who fall behind on mortgage payments, but it’s important to understand the difference between these two processes.

So if you’re struggling to pay your mortgage and aren’t sure what to do, allow this primer on foreclosures vs. short sales to set you straight. Here’s what these things are, their pros and cons, plus how to tell whether a short sale or foreclosure is the better option for you.

What is a short sale?

short sale happens when a homeowner owes more on the mortgage balance than the market value or sale price of the property at the point the owner wants to sell. For a short sale, the homeowner is essentially asking the mortgage lender (typically a bank) to accept a lesser amount than the total mortgage owed. For example, if the homeowner sells the house for $250,000, but the remaining mortgage loan balance is $300,000, the seller is essentially $50,000 “short” on paying the lender back. That’s a short sale.

If the lender accepts the short sale terms, the loan debt will be settled and the borrower released from any further liability once the short sale has closed, says Paola Martinsen with Equity Real Estate in Murray, UT.

Like other homes for sale, a short sale property will be listed by a real estate agent (typically one who specializes in short sales).

For the seller, one thing you’ll want to watch out for is a deficiency judgment. A deficiency judgment is where, after a short sale ends, the mortgage holder seeks to recover the “deficiency” (the money it lost in this home sale) through a court order placing a lien on the debtor for further money (so in this case, a mortgage lender acts as a lien holder). Some states outlaw this practice, but you should ask, just so you aren’t blindsided by it later.

What is a foreclosure?

Foreclosure is a legal process that happens when a homeowner (although “borrower” might be a more appropriate term from the perspective of the lender) is unable to make mortgage loan payments for a significant period of time.

After three to six months of missed mortgage payments, a lender will issue a Notice of Default with the County Recorder’s Office. This notice is to let the borrower know he is at risk of foreclosure—and when they foreclose, the current owner will be evicted.

After receiving the Notice of Default, borrowers can try to settle their loan debt with their lender either through a short sale or by paying the mortgage balance they owe. This period is called pre-foreclosure and can last anywhere from 30 to 120 days after receiving the Notice of Default.

If the debt is not recouped, lenders will step in and foreclose on the property. To foreclose, they’ll schedule a foreclosure auction to sell the house to a third party. Foreclosure auctions will be advertised in local newspapers and are typically held at either the property or the local courthouse, says Cathy Baumbusch, a real estate agent with Re/Max Allegiance in Alexandria, VA.

If no one buys the home at auction, the lender becomes the owner and it’s considered a bank-owned or REO (real estate–owned) property.

Another option to avoid foreclosure is to do a deed in lieu of foreclosure. A deed in lieu of foreclosure is a transaction where a homeowner transfers title or ownership of the property to the lender in exchange for being released from their loan debt-free and clear.

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Watch: Don’t Fall for These Down Payment Myths

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What is the difference between a short sale and foreclosure?

Short sale and foreclosure are similar in that they’re both financial options for individuals who own homes but find themselves in financial distress. Both also have a negative impact for your tax return, credit score and credit report, and future prospects getting a loan.

But short sales and foreclosures differ greatly in process. A short sale transaction occurs when mortgage lenders allow the borrower to sell the house for less than the amount owed on the mortgage. The foreclosure process occurs when lenders repossess the house, often against an owner’s will.

Timing also differs: Short sales can take up to one year to close, while foreclosures generally move along much faster because lenders are intent on recovering the money they’re owed.

Furthermore, a short sale is far less damaging to your credit score than foreclosure. In fact, people who go through the short sale process can usually buy another house without having to wait, although securing a second mortgage might be more challenging. Foreclosure, on the other hand, will stay on your credit report for seven years. You’ll also have to wait five years to buy another house.

If paying your mortgage has become a real challenge, the smartest step to take is to talk to your lender to discuss your options. Chances are, your lender will be able to offer the best plan of action based on your unique situation and the laws in your state.

How short sales and foreclosures work for buyers

Short sales can be a good deal for bargain house hunters, but buying a short sale can be a headache.

“I wouldn’t recommend purchasing a short sale for first-time buyers, who may get frustrated with the extra paperwork and long waits,” says Marlene Waterhouse, owner of Short Sale Solutions.

The average short sale takes around 90 to 120 days, and sometimes even longer. Why? Mortgage lenders often won’t approve the sale without buyers agreeing to its demands like paying for many additional fees such as repairs, wire transfers, and closing costs. These are all costs the seller would typically be on the hook for, but in a short sale, the bank is stuck with the bill. Therefore, to reduce its costs, the bank may try to negotiate these costs with the buyer.

Other than the involvement of the bank, a short sale will proceed much like other sales. Buyers can get a mortgage and have the opportunity to seek an inspection.

Foreclosure sales, however, are different. For one, foreclosure properties can be purchased only with cash; no traditional loan will be granted for a foreclosure.

While a foreclosure can be a great deal for home buyers (particularly foreclosures that have been taken over by the Federal National Mortgage Association, better known as Fannie Mae), they also come with some risk, says Baumbusch.

“Keep in mind that a foreclosed home sold at the courthouse is bought without warranty and sight unseen,” she adds.

That means you will not be able to have a foreclosed home inspected for structural problems, mold, infestations, or other issues with the house. You will also assume all liens that might be tied to the property.

The post Foreclosure vs. Short Sale: What’s the Difference? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Yes, You Can Even Feng Shui Your Yard for Maximum Curb Appeal—Here’s How

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We’re sure you already know that using the tenets of feng shui can result in a home that hums with harmony. But while you might think of this ancient Chinese philosophy as a way to improve your indoor space, you might not realize it can be directed toward your home’s exterior, too.

Good feng shui outside allows you to welcome visitors peacefully—and even entice potential buyers.

“Curb appeal is an important feng shui principle because the energy that a house exhibits from the outside can attract prosperity and good fortune—such as buyers,” explains Anjie Cho, a feng shui educator and author of “108 Ways to Create a Mindful and Peaceful Home.”

Ready to take the feng shui outside? Here are seven spots to focus on when it comes to your home’s curb appeal, and the feng shui reasoning behind each one.

1. Front door

Photo by Rachel Greathouse 

A focus on your entryway is key because this spot is the main portal for energy to enter your home.

“Feng shui dictates that a welcoming doorway calls both energy and opportunity into the home and the lives of those who live there,” says Trisha Keel, director of education at the International Feng Shui Guild.

If your entrance can’t be easily found from the street, try to figure out why (you might need to get bigger house numbers or trim back some bushes). If good energy, or qi, can’t find your door, a buyer won’t either, Cho adds.

“Paint the front door red, which is an auspicious color in feng shui that attracts the eye,” Cho suggests.

And don’t forget about the walkway or sidewalk that leads to your home, points out Katie Weber, a feng shui practitioner and creator of the Red Lotus newsletter. Both should be in good repair because, like a flowing river, they bring beneficial energy to the house.

2. Plants and flowers

Photo by Mirage Landscape 

To boost your curb appeal, you probably already know some of the old tricks—like adding lush plantings, blooms, and colorful trees to your yard and front stoop. But following these tips does more than pretty things up.

“Flowers are the yang [positive] expression of a plant, which indicates its health and confers it to the home,” Weber says.

In fact, if you focused on feng shui only outside your home, it would be enough to raise your house’s overall energy and bring in growth and vitality, she explains.

Not the season for planting where you live? Keel recommends bushes and grasses in front, with seasonal color in pots at the door.

But a word of caution: Nix any kind of cactus in your planters.

“Avoid pointy plants at the entrance, as they foreshadow pain within.”

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Watch: 5 Genius Landscaping Tricks That Will Pay Off in Spades

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3. Exterior paint

Photo by Vic’s Masonry LLC

“Peeling paint indicates problems coming to light,” Keel says, so make sure to tackle any problem areas before an open house.

Good feng shui depends on a house that’s in the best shape, so be sure to keep up with small—but significant—maintenance tasks.

4. Lawn care

Photo by Tom Howard Garden Design and Landscaping 

A pristine lawn that’s mown, with healthy plants and free of leaves and branches, says, “I care about my home.” But it also adheres to feng shui principles.

“An unkempt lawn indicates that the home does not cultivate good energy,” Cho says.

5. Garage and driveway

Photo by Doug Abbott

We’ve got news for you: House hunters will peek inside your garage—and traverse your driveway to get there. Clean up these hot spots before it happens.

“If you have a lot of clutter or your pathways are blocked, potential buyers will feel heavy, scattered, and overwhelmed—and this is not what they want to feel in their new home,” says Kim Julen, a certified feng shui practitioner.

And don’t get us started on those garbage bins haphazardly sitting in your driveway. Your refuse has negative energy (plus, it stinks). Leaving those bins out in the open can bring down your entire home’s qi, Cho says.

“Garbage is only attractive to flies, so create a trash can corral and you’ll sell easier than if you just throw the bins in the garage,” Keel says.

6. Exterior windows

Photo by WA Design Architects 

It may sound hokey, but windows are the eyes of your house—and sparkling-clean ones are critical to feng shui curb appeal.

“Clean windows represent clear thinking and understanding, and dirty ones can make buyers wonder what else isn’t maintained,” Cho says.

Plus: “Dirt doesn’t reflect light, and it’s light that attracts people,” Keel adds.

7. Fixtures

Photo by Pillar & Peacock 

Got a sticky door or wobbly hinges? These point to carelessness and may deter a buyer.

“When things fall into disrepair, it indicates stagnant energy and it pushes life away, rather than bring it in,” Cho says.

Take note of rust around your home’s exterior, too.

“Rusty doorknobs point to a challenged career or difficult, untended relationships,” Keel says.

A wise buyer may pick up on these vibes—and move on.

The post Yes, You Can Even Feng Shui Your Yard for Maximum Curb Appeal—Here’s How appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Quiz: Are You Really Ready to Sell Your House?

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Are you ready to sell your house? Sure, you may think you’re ready. In fact, you may be dying to move right now, either because you outgrew your space, got a sweet new job in another city, or are tired of condo life and have always dreamed of inhabiting a huge Victorian instead.

Whatever your reason for feeling good and ready to sell your house, that doesn’t mean you’re really ready. Meaning: Do you know everything you need to in order to orchestrate a successful sale, in your desired time frame, and for a fantastic price?

To find out, take our home-selling quiz below to see where you stand—and what areas of your know-how may need some brushing up before you plant a “For Sale” sign on your lawn.

The post Quiz: Are You Really Ready to Sell Your House? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.