Help! My House isn’t Selling (even though the market’s hot)!

If you List it, it Will Sell! Or Not?

The sign is in the yard. Your home is live, online. Now, everyone and their cousin say we should just stand back while the buyers come beating down your door with a contract in hand. And watch them offer “above asking price” and waive the inspection. Let them help your neighborhood break a record for the highest price-per-square-foot sold.

And yet, crickets! So what do you do when the fast sale doesn’t happen?

It’s true that mortgage rates and market listing numbers are low, and demand is through the roof. But just because the real estate market is hot doesn’t mean you’ll sell the next day. (And just because you don’t sell right away doesn’t mean you won’t ever.) 

If you feel stuck in listing limbo, don’t despair. We’re sharing some common issues with manageable solutions to help you take advantage of the current buying frenzy. And hopefully, earn that coveted “SOLD” sign!

THE PROBLEM: You’re too optimistic

THE FIX: Is your home overpriced? Start with a check of the average price-per-square-foot in your area. Are you in the middle of the pack? Your agent should be able to check comparisons on recently sold houses and evaluate the market. You’ll want to share how much work you’ve done on the home (and how much you still have yet to do!) and adjust accordingly.

THE PROBLEM: Your book’s being judged by its cover

THE FIX: Stand in the street in front of your house. How’s your curb appeal? Is your lawn tidy, and are the edges trimmed? Does the landscaping look fresh and green? Do the siding and sidewalks look clean? A fancy bathroom renovation isn’t going to count for much if your buyers can’t get past the moldy siding and cracked front porch bricks. Outdoor upgrades are one of the easiest ways to boost your home’s value: well-landscaped homes are worth up to 10% more than homes with no landscaping.

THE PROBLEM: You’re a unicorn

THE FIX: If your house is unique (or maybe even a tad odd), you may expect that it could take longer to find the perfect fit with the right buyer. If your house is the most expensive in the neighborhood or the largest among relatively small homes, this can also add to the length of list-to-sale time. Someone might love the quirky features, so don’t be tempted to reduce your price too soon. Or they could love the area enough to overlook that your home is different from others nearby. However, a price adjustment could be in order, bringing you more in line with the other houses on your street.

THE PROBLEM: You need some TLC

THE FIX: The fix is THE FIX. You need to fix what’s broken, update what’s dated, and make sure you can come through your inspection with flying colors. Every house has “its thing,” but a home in evident disrepair will scare off buyers more than a next-door neighbor with a pit bull. And if things are obviously broken, it’s an easy guess that there could be a ton of hidden problems, too. And while you’re at it, make sure to clean and nicely stage the whole house. Pack away excess photographs and your silver spoon collection. You want a buyer to say, “Wow, I could see myself here!” right as they walk in the door.

THE PROBLEM: You need to up your online game

THE FIX: It’s an era of open concept plans, Pantone paint, and HGTV-worthy listings. Shadowy or blurry pictures won’t inspire buyers. You want the most high-definition, brightly lit, gleaming photographs you can afford so you can spotlight the very best of your house. Check your photos for blur factors, and make sure you’re not accidentally displaying grimy windows or your neighbor’s overgrown backyard. Write a description that points out the unique features and not just what you can see clearly in the photos. Set yourself up for faster success: create a crackerjack listing that’s much more likely to motivate buyers to want to look at it right away.   

THE PROBLEM: You stink

THE FIX: As the saying goes, “if they can smell it, you can’t sell it.” This one’s hard to hear, and if you’ve been living there a long time, hard to detect, too. Ask your realtor or a friend if they smell anything when they walk into your home. Then try a few remediation remedies. It might be as simple as burning a few candles or turning the air conditioner too low for a day to dry it out. But if you have carpet and a lot of cloth furniture, you might need a deeper clean. Finally, be sure to get to the heart of any moisture issues that might create an aroma that makes potential buyers turn up their noses. 

The longer a listing sits, the more likely its sale price will go below the list price. Studies show that after 120 days, the sale price dropped to an even smaller percentage of the asking price. Buyers likely see a long-term listing as a potential poor-quality home. While that isn’t always true, don’t you want to do all you can to try to avoid the long-listing pitfalls?

As always, ask your realtor (or research a new one!) for more information and help.

When you do finally land that sale, keep Clean Title, LLC, in mind. We’re researching the past to protect your future!

​Don’t miss our popular Title FAQs for tips that will give you the peace of mind only a clean title can.  See us on our Facebook page and check out the details of our services on our website. Or call 985-277-5095 to speak to one of our title professionals today!

Don’t Break the Bank: 4 Tips to Rehab a Home for Less

Last month we talked about the BRRR method for creating real estate wealth. Buy, Renovate, Rent, Refinance, Repeat is a way to stack investment properties by building value in one to create funding for another. But for newbies, it’s often that critical second step–renovation–that becomes the biggest obstacle to making money. Check out these tips to avoid cost overruns and max out your profit.

Don’t blow out the budget

When renovating a home, you can’t do it all. (And if you don’t plan to live there yourself, why would you want to?) So start with a list and stick to it. Come up with a budget that includes up to a 20% cushion for unexpected costs that crop up.

Remember the biggest return on investment comes from roof repairs, landscaping, bedroom additions, and kitchen and bathroom upgrades. But if you aren’t flipping the home, rental value can be a lot more about the way the home looks. 

Try DIY

We aren’t suggesting you watch an internet video and then lay new tile on your kitchen floor, but think about how much you can save doing the basic work yourself. Remove cabinets, tear down a fence, pull up old carpet, and probably easiest and most cost-saving of all, plan to do all the paintwork. 

Unless you’re super handy (and frankly, somewhat skilled), you’ll want to hire a contractor for some of the technical work. Ask what’s included in the contractor’s fees and get a good estimate for total costs. If the price is prohibitive, act as your own contractor and start getting good recommendations for hired labor. And then get on the phone. You’ll be there awhile… but you’ll save money, too!

Skimp on supplies

This area, especially with supply low in this current market, is likely to be the most challenging to keep within the budget. You’ll find decent savings with used fixtures, recycled (or rescued) items, and building supplies from the Habitat Humanity Re-Store. Or try one of several building wholesalers or bargain stores with partial pallets available for purchase. 

And ask your contractor. He may have items left from another remodel. He might even be willing to discount your total costs when you let him know there could be other home renovations in your future. 

Take a shortcut

Ask yourself what work is critical to rehab and what could be touched up for the maximum benefit. Maybe the kitchen cabinets are quality wood but just need a fresh color to brighten the space? (New knobs are a nice touch, too!) A contemporary light fixture in a wide-open space can really make it shine. Don’t count out peel-and-stick flooring, especially in low-traffic areas like the laundry room. 

Especially if you’re renovating with the plan to rent the home to tenants, basic options and affordable swaps can often cover your needs and improve your property

Don’t forget that anything you remove can potentially be donated (see Habitat for Humanity Re-Store above). Donations mean a tax write-off, something you should covet as you Buy, Renovate, Rent, Refinance and Repeat!

At Clean Title, LLC, we’re researching the past to protect your future! We’re very proud of our track record and the recommendations our clients have shared. (Check out some of our reviews on our Facebook page.)

Check out our home buyers’ Clean Title FAQs and reach out at 985-277-5095 anytime with questions!

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to give legal advice. Keep in mind that each state has different real estate laws and that throughout Louisiana, rules, and customs can vary among parishes and regions. If you’re buying or selling a home, please check with your local Real Estate professional or Real Estate Attorney on the specifics of all Real Estate matters.

 

So you want to be a landlord? Buy, Renovate, Rent, Refinance, Repeat

 

The BRRRR Method.

Interested in building real estate wealth? Try BRRRR! No, you don’t need a sweater… in fact, you need a little sweat! Sweat equity that is. 

The BRRR method–better known as Buy, Renovate, Rent, Refinance, Repeat–is a way to stack investment properties by building value in one to create funding for another.

In simple steps, here’s what BRRR investors do:

  1. Purchase a property at a cost they can afford to rehabilitate
  2. Rent out the newly revitalized property to tenants for an extended period
  3. Use the rental income to pay the mortgage, earn profits, and build up equity over time 
  4. Purchase a second property through the funding that comes from refinancing the first home
  5. Return to step one, repeat the actions and slowly build an empire 

And, here’s some basic advice on each step of the method:

Buy

This might well be the hardest part of the process since an overstep can result in the whole plan losing money. When searching listings, a buyer has to balance property vs income, making sure a property represents a sound investment in a desirable area that promises to perform well as a rental property.

First you’ll need to calculate cost of renovations + estimated monthly rental expenses. Are you able to ask for high enough rental income to cover those expenses and ensure a tidy profit? 

A few things to consider for best outcomes: 

  • Research the lower end of the listings in the strongest rental markets
  • Ensure the purchase price leaves enough in your budget for renovation costs
  • Verify the rehab work will add value to the home 

Rehab

It’s easy to hit cost-overruns on upgrades. Renovations that exceed what a property owner can produce through rental charges means lost funding. And opportunity. Shoot for livable, functional and clean ahead of elegance and decadence.  

Rehab projects with the highest return on investment include:

  • Roof repairs
  • Kitchen and bathroom upgrades
  • Landscaping
  • Bedroom additions

Rent

While extended vacancies, bad tenants, and needed repairs can cut into profits, once you’ve found a trustworthy renter, your income should start to flow.

To avoid the pitfalls, you want to start back at step one to ensure your market is viable. And that the population can support–if not drive–demand for a rental. To stay above water, it’s critical to vet your tenants carefully and leave a cushion for maintenance and repair.

Refinance

Once your property starts to accumulate wealth and you’re starting to pay down the mortgage, you can devise a plan on how to refinance it. Most banks require you own a property for a specific amount of time before they’ll consider refinancing against the appraised value of the property. 

Cash-out options are typically considered the better refinancing situation versus banks that want to pay off outstanding debt. A cash-out refinance offers additional advantages, like favorable interest rates and control over your timing.

Repeat

You’ll know you’ve made it when you can use the cash-out refinance from their first rental property to fund the purchase and rehabilitation of a second. Return to research mode and weigh your cost-benefit analysis as you decide on your second property. 

 

BRRR can have a pretty steep learning curve at first. As long as you’re careful to make sure mistakes don’t sink you, the wisdom you gain will serve you well with each additional property. As always, do your research. The pride you’ll feel leveraging a freshly rehabbed home into improved property value and steady income from monthly rents just can’t be beat!

 

At Clean Title, LLC, we’re researching the past to protect your future! We’re very proud of our track record and the recommendations our clients have shared. (Check out some of our reviews on our Facebook page.)

Check out our home buyers’ Clean Title FAQs and reach out at 985-277-5095 anytime with questions!

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to give legal advice. Keep in mind that each state has different real estate laws and that throughout Louisiana, rules, and customs can vary among parishes and regions. If you’re buying or selling a home, please check with your local Real Estate professional or Real Estate Attorney on the specifics of all Real Estate matters.

3 Signs That Say it’s a Good Time to Buy a Home

There’s one thing we can always predict about the real estate market. It’s unpredictable!

Any good real estate professional will tell you that trying to “time the market” when buying or selling a home is like trying to win your down payment at a casino slot machine.

But it doesn’t take an expert to see that mortgage rates are slowly creeping higher. So while it’s impossible to predict exactly what might ultimately happen, many market watchers believe we’ll continue to experience rising mortgage rates as 2021 goes on. For that reason alone, now could be the best time this year to get shopping. 

Read on for details. And check out a few other notable reasons that this year might be a good one to buy a home. 

1. Rising rates are still low. We aren’t seeing the record lows home buyers enjoyed this past winter, but they’re still great compared to what we’ve seen historically.

According to the Mortgage Banker’s Association, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will likely reach 3.4% by the fourth quarter of 2021. That’s still a great rate for most borrowers so don’t let rising rates scare you off home shopping.

2. Potential for foreclosures could boost supply. President Biden’s COVID-19 mortgage forbearance expires this summer (late-year for those who were granted extensions). As the pandemic payment pause comes to an end, cash-strapped homeowners could be unable to cover their housing costs. That typically means more banks taking over homeownership. And for you? That means more deals.

In addition to foreclosures, as the economy starts to slowly rebound and people go back to their offices, we could see more people moving for work. So that could put more homes on the market in the upcoming season. 

3. Rising supply will help stabilize prices. With supply low in early 2021, some agents reported a huge increase in listing prices. Some houses had multiple offers and a very quick turnover. But rising rates plus more homes on the market can be a formula for leveling the balance in home listing prices. And obviously, more houses at better prices increase a buyer’s chance to get a better deal. 

Also, tighter credit restrictions can put a dent in the number of people home shopping. Buyers who can still get a loan might just find themselves in the driver’s seat.

When the economy is uncertain, home builders, developers, and families selling their houses often need as much cash as possible. Borrowers can take advantage of the opportunity to negotiate for a better deal on their home sale and–until rates go back up again–more affordable monthly mortgage payments from mortgage lenders. 

Be patient and take the proper steps to get your dream home this year.

And–everyone’s #1t house-warming gift to themselves–don’t forget to get a Clean Title, too!

Clean Title, LLC, is researching the past to protect your future!

We’re proud of our track record and the recommendations our clients have shared. (Check out some of our reviews on our Facebook page).

With a blend of exemplary service and professionalism, we ensure our clients know exactly what’s happening every step of the way. We want you to feel confident that when you sign on the dotted line, you’ll be turning a house into a home.

Check out our home buyers’ Clean Title FAQs and reach out at 985-277-5095 anytime with questions!

5 Ways to Protect Yourself as You Close on Your New Home

You’re so close to finally getting those keys. You’ve circled the closing date on your calendar and you’re headed toward the finish line. You feel ready. But ARE you?

Grab a pen and paper and get set to check off the final to-do list. (Be sure to check with your real estate agent and closing company for full details.) We’ve included some tips to protect you and your investment in the home stretch! (Get it? HOME stretch?)

 1. Clear your title

Your mortgage lender will require a title search, and you’ll need to purchase title insurance. This protects you from ownership claims by another party or any hazards on the property itself.

PRO TIP: Read our blog, “What exactly IS a clean title (and how do I get one?)” As always, we at Clean Title are here to help!

 2. Check-in with your loved ones

Buying a home is one of the biggest (and costliest) life decisions a family makes. It can be really challenging for a relationship. 

PRO TIP: Take a minute (and a deep breath!) and confirm you’re on the same page. You should both be feeling confident about the process. If not, check out our blog, “Can I back out of a home purchase before closing?

3. Check off that pesky paperwork 

When you entered due diligence after signing the contract, you got a whole list of things to do to move forward with the sale of the home. How’s that going? 

PRO TIP: Don’t be afraid to check often. Asking a lot of questions and being forceful with your requests can save you a lot of time if things look like they’re stalling out. Here’s just a smattering of what you need to verify:

  • Is the appraisal completed?
  • Is your financing and mortgage paperwork moving forward? 
  • Has your home been inspected and are repairs underway? 

Taking care of these contingencies also protects you from losing money in a home purchase. See our blog post “5 things to expect after your offer is accepted (and how to avoid pitfalls)” for more details. 

 4. Review the closing disclosure

This official document, also known as the settlement statement or HUD-1, states your exact mortgage payments, the loan’s terms and closing cost fees you’ll be expected to pay.

PRO TIP: Your lender gave you an estimate for your loan. Make sure to put the estimate side by side with the closing disclosures to look for any differences. This will let you know how much money to bring the closing and in what format (Certified check? Cashier’s check? Sometimes even a credit card!)

 5. Do a final walk through

The last thing to do, usually the day before closing, is to revisit your soon-to-be home. Verify the required repairs are completed and there hasn’t been any damage since your home inspection. Is everything the seller agreed to leave still in place?

PRO TiP: get all your paperwork together the night before closing. You’ll need:

  • Proof of homeowners insurance
  • A copy of your contract with the seller
  • Your home inspection reports
  • Any paperwork that the bank required in order to approve your loan
  • A government-issued photo ID
  • Your funding for closing costs

BONUS TIP

Three more things you’ll need at a closing: your real estate agent, your patience, and a strong hand. (You’ll be signing so many documents!) But since you’ve prepared carefully—thanks to your diligent research and a little advice from this blog—this part is a walk in the park. And right afterward, it’s a walk through your new front door. Congratulations!

 

At Clean Title, LLC, we’re researching the past to protect your future! We’re very proud of our track record and the recommendations our clients have shared. (Check out some of our reviews on our Facebook page.)

Check out our home buyers’ Clean Title FAQs and reach out at 985-277-5095 anytime with questions!

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to give legal advice. Keep in mind that each state has different real estate laws and that throughout Louisiana, rules, and customs can vary among parishes and regions. If you’re buying or selling a home, please check with your local Real Estate professional or Real Estate Attorney on the specifics of all Real Estate matters.

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