Friday, March 6, 2015

Things to Do Before Listing

This article was originally posted by Lauren Wingrove from American Nationwide Mortgage Company, Inc. here in Chattanooga. You can see the original article by clicking here, and Lauren's profile by clicking here.

If you're thinking of selling your house, now is the time to get serious about the prep work. While the process can seem overwhelming, here's a getting-ready-to-sell checklist that'll take you through the most critical tasks.

Depersonalize the space. Start by taking the "home" out of your house: family pictures, kids' art, collectibles, toiletries and tell-tale signs of pets (toys, food, etc.) all need to go. You want someone to imagine themselves living there - without thinking about you.

Purge and declutter. Tackle one room at a time, breaking it into zones. Then, (ruthlessly) work each area with a trash bag. Do a second pass with a new bag, looking for anything donation-worthy. Give yourself a few weeks for a proper purge - clutter suggests a lack of storage.

Do a deep clean. A top-to-bottom cleaning is what's required. Focus on the kitchen and bathrooms first, taking a toothbrush to surfaces if you need to, and then move on to living and family rooms. Don't forget closets and cabinets (buyers have been known to peek).

Make small fixes. Ask your agent about fixes that have big impact. A new coat of paint goes a long way, as does cleaning the blinds, fixing leaky faucets, recaulking tubs and upgrading a lighting fixture or two.

Detail the landscaping. Focus on sprucing things up. In the winter, keep walkways clear of snow and ice. In the spring, trim back bushes, edge lawn and beds and touch up the mulch. Make fence or deck repairs, and clean the windows. Then add a seasonal planter as a final, welcoming touch.

Get the photos right. Use a point-and-shoot camera, and open curtains to bring in natural light. Remove counter clutter, tuck away cords, lower toilet lids, and shoot from the doorway to capture the most space. Take several shots and then take some more. Pick only the best ones. Listing photos matter - a lot.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Tax Implications of Selling Property

This is a guest post written by Andrea B, of Round Rock Real Estate in Austin, TX.

A Study of the Tax Implications of Selling Property

Selling your home or investment property can be an exciting experience, and there are plenty of numbers to keep in mind. From principal and interest payments to closing costs and moving expenses, the effect that selling your current home (and purchasing a new home) can have on your budget can be enough to make your head spin, but it’s also important to keep the tax requirements of making a sale in mind. In typical tax code fashion, the tax implications of selling your home can be difficult to comprehend, especially if you’ve never sold a home before, so it’s always a good idea to consult with real estate and tax professionals before listing your property. While there are plenty of ways to go about selling a piece of property, it is important to study all of your options before putting your home or property on the market. By following specific tax guidelines, you could be in line for some major savings when the time comes to file your annual return.

If the property you’re looking to sell has been your primary residence for at least two of the previous five years, federal tax law allows for a tax exclusion on the capital gains from the sale in many cases.

According to Fox Business, you are allowed to shelter up to $250,000 of profit if you’re single (or up to $500,000 if you’re married) when selling your primary residence. If you’ve lived in your home for at least two years and haven’t gone through the sale of another primary residence within the past two years in which you excluded gains, you can, most likely, exclude your capital gains from your annual tax return completely. If you have gains above the exclusion levels, the excess gains are subject to taxation, but any losses on the sale are not deductible. Be sure to consult with your tax professional in order to minimize taxable gains on the sale of your property.

Though you may able to exclude the sale of your primary residence, additional capital gains exceeding the exclusion level are still subject to taxation. Make sure you include every possible cost from the purchase of your home to minimize reported gains.

Capital gains that exceed exclusion ceilings need to be reported on form 1040, Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses, so it is in your best interest to add all available expenses to the original cost of your home in order to minimize reported gains. If you’ve kept great records, the closing costs from the original purchase of your home, as well as from any refinancing or equity line loans you’ve secured, are one source of added costs that can be deducted from your sales gains. Capital improvements to the residence, including a new roof, windows and landscaping, are also applicable expenses. Selling expenses including realtor’s commission, closing costs and other agreed upon costs in the sales contract are also deductible.

Investment properties require more finesse in order to avoid excess taxation. In many cases, efforts to quickly flip property can result in taxation at two levels that can seriously impact your potential profits.

With the growing popularity of flipping real estate, tax laws were molded to keep an eye on short term investors. According to Bankrate, tax rates depend on how long you own a piece of property. While long-term investments are rewarded by federal tax laws, holding assets for less than a year could cost you. If you sell an investment property after holding it for a year or less, you’re likely to face short-term gains, which are taxed at rates as high as 35 percent. In addition, the IRS has been known to recognize multiple real estate transaction in a short period as a business practice instead of an investment strategy. In this case, you’ll have no escape from paying escalated income tax rates.

If an immediate sale isn’t necessary, consider alternative tactics to keep your tax bill minimized. Moving into the investment property for a few years or completing a Section 1031 exchange are worthy of consideration if you’ve got time to wait.

If possible, it’s always a good idea to look at alternative ways to limit your tax burden. Converting an investment property into a primary residence can be accomplished in two years and, potentially, eliminate your tax bill. On the flip side, 1031 exchanges could be a great idea if you plan to continue investing in property following the sale of your current investment. In any case, be sure to consult with your real estate and tax professionals in order to maximize your tax savings.

Andrea B. loves Round Rock real estate, the round Rock Express, and new restaurants in the Austin, TX area.


Friday, January 2, 2015

So you want to sell your home in 2015...

Five Crucial Home Selling Decisions if You Want to Sell in 2015

If you’re planning on selling your home in 2015 there are five crucial decisions that can help you maximize your sale price, get your home sold quickly and do it all without the mountain of stress that often comes with the sale of your home.
Decision #1 – Decide to prepare sooner than later. Home sellers who wait until spring to get their home “ready” are already behind the curve. The real estate year is in full swing by March 1st and homes that sell quickly and for top dollar during the “selling season” are the homes where the owner had a plan, got their home ready, staged, and listed early in the year.
Decision #2 – Decide to prepare yourself emotionally. Selling your home can be very emotional. When you receive an offer for less than you think your home is worth, it generates a whole host of negative emotions. You can feel angry, frustrated, and think everyone is trying to steal your home from you.
Well, they’re not. Buyers just want to know they’re getting the best price. We all feel similar when we make a big purchase. So be careful to manage your emotions. And if you get a “low-ball” offer rely on the help of a trusted professional. A good agent can often gently negotiate the price into a range where everyone wins. The key is to keep your emotional swings in check.
Decision #3 – Be realistic and price your home accordingly. One of the big keys to getting your home sold quickly, for the most money, is pricing it correctly. If you price your home too high, thinking you’ll “test the market,” it can be costly. Your home can sit on the market too long and get labeled as a “no-need-to-show” because you’re viewed as being unrealistic.
You see it all the time. Sellers think they are going to “hold out” and get a better price. Well, you need to consider how soon you want to sell? The reality is you can get just about any price you want if you’re willing to wait long enough. If you wait 5-7 years your home will very likely sell for a more than it will today. But if you want to sell in 90-120 days for top dollar, pricing is a crucial issue that you should discuss at length with a trusted real estate professional.
Decision #4 – Reconcile reality quickly. This is somewhat similar to decision #2, but it’s actually more practical and actionable. Emotions can be hard to define and control, like in point #2. But what is fairly easy to judge is your market’s numbers, and the realities of value.
Agents always hear things like, “But my home has this, this and this. Therefor it should be worth a lot more.” In theory that’s somewhat true. However, the reality you have to be prepared to reconcile is, if people won’t pay more for those things, it doesn’t make your home worth more.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to soften you up so you give your home away. The goal is to help you get the highest possible price, in the shortest time, with the fewest hassles. But something that’s very important to deal with is reality, not wishful thinking. Wishful thinking backs tens of thousands of home sellers into very difficult positions every year.
Having a clear objective view of reality, as well as a trusted professional to help guide you through the emotional ups and downs, can help you avoid a massive mountain of emotional stress, while your home just sits on the market.
My encouragement is, prepare yourself for the true realities, while maintaining high standards throughout the process. It’s a balancing act that with the help of a trusted professional can be far easier to navigate.
Decision #5 – Trust your gut. When interviewing agents there are few things more important than a deep level of trust between you and the agent you choose to represent you. And trust comes in two crucial parts. The first is professional competency.
To trust someone with what is likely the single biggest financial transaction of your life, you need to have confidence that the agent you choose has the skillstechnology and ability to fight hard and win what’s in your best interests. That’s why choosing someone just because they’re a “friend of the family” isn’t always the best choice.
The second layer of trust is personal. When you work with someone on something as important as the sale of your home, you need to know you can trust that person personally.
You need to feel a deep sense of confidence that your agent puts your needs in front of their own. It’s not about flash and glitter, or how many homes that agent sold. What’s important is, “Can I trust this person with my financial future?”
That’s where “listen to your gut” comes in. most of us can sense authenticity and integrity. It comes out in many ways and generally when you’re in the presence of it you know in your gut. Sometimes the person might be a little quirky, other times they’re not, but again it’s not about flash and charisma.
The bottom line, choose someone you trust on both a professional and personal level and “go with your gut.”

This content originally comes from Gary Elwood of Proquest Technologies. You can find the original post by clicking here.

Friday, October 31, 2014

How to Find a Real Estate Agent

7 Tips for Finding the Best Real Estate Agent for Your Property

Real estate agents are a dime a dozen these days, but the good ones are few and far between. Before choosing an agent, do your research. It will pay off tenfold in terms of maximizing the selling price of your home, minimizing listing time and ensuring that the selling and closing process will go smoothly. Choosing the right real estate agent is a crucial part of the selling process. Here are seven tips to help you make the most intelligent decision for your property and your needs:

1. Don't hire a realtor just because a friend recommends them.

Many people hire someone based only on a friend's recommendation and wind up with poor representation.

2. Find an expert

To best serve your needs, find someone who demonstrates knowledge of your area, expertise in the process, and strong marketing skills.

3. Find out how the agent plans on marketing your property

Gone are the days when a home can just show up in MLS and be sold. Top real estate agents actually have a marketing process and their sales volumes speak for themselves. Realtors that are good at marketing and selling homes have strong track records, minimum listing periods and maximum selling prices.

4. Find out how many properties the real estate agent you are considering has actually listed and sold in the past year

How many properties similar to yours have they personally sold in the last year? (Beware real estate "team" statistics, as the lead agent might be taking credit for the production of several junior agents.)

5. What is the agent's market list time?

How long do similar properties stay on market with this agent compared to the market average?

6. Find an agent that knows how to use the internet and social media to market your home

Make sure your agent is active on the top online home shopping web sites and has experience using technology to market your home (e.g., Twitter, Facebook).

7. Get a first hand feel for the agents

Interview several agents in person and find one you feel you can trust and will enjoy working with, and that will best represent you as a seller before making a final decision.

Grace Frank is a million dollar/top 10% Chattanooga real estate producer, Accredited Buyer's Representative and certified Green Real Estate Agent specializing in Waterfront Property, Real Estate Investing and Chattanooga Green Real Estate in the Chattanooga region. She holds an MBA in marketing and puts her exceptional negotiating skills to work on behalf of her clients to exceed expectations. To learn more, visit Grace on Facebook.

Friday, June 20, 2014

How to choose a real estate agent

The decision to buy or sell a home is one of the most important financial decisions most people make, yet many give little thought to finding the real estate agent best suited to their needs.

Agents are often chosen solely on the recommendation of a friend or an ad in the newspaper. But choosing the right agent can save you time, effort and aggravation in finding the perfect home at a price you can afford or selling your home quickly for top dollar.

"Real estate has always been a mark of independence and freedom in this country," says Donald R. Brenner, professor emeritus at American University. "Owning property is very important, and when you deal with someone who is going to help you buy or sell a piece of property, you'd better find someone that knows what they're doing.

"If you pick up the phone book and choose from the yellow pages, you won't make a better decision than if you picked up the telephone book to choose a brain surgeon," says Brenner.

Realtor Grace Frank isn't interested in hearing the odds, only in beating them. For example, when she took her plan to build South side Village to the banks, they told her she was nuts. She showed them they were wrong.
"It took us a year to negotiate the land deals, and then we started building last May. We've sold nearly an entire street, and we did it when no one thought it was possible," she says.
The banks not only underestimated Frank's ability to build and sell the South side project, also her entrepreneurial spirit, Read More...

Friday, June 6, 2014

Secrets for Staging Your Home!

HGTV recently published an article detailing 15 tips you can observe in order to properly stage your home for sale.

Of course, the goal is not to lie about the condition of your home, there are certain steps you can take to ensure that the strengths of your home are highlighted while making sure that any faults are not the only thing prospective buyers see. Simple things like proper lighting and making use of vertical space can make all the difference to someone interested in buying your home.

Click here to go to the article and read all of the tips. If you're looking to sell your home anytime soon, check out these tips, and contact us if you have any specific questions of concerns!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Moving is Complicated and Difficult: Let's Make It Less So

After all the marketing, price reductions, paperwork, and meetings, you've finally sold your home. But now that the property is sold, you've got to get your stuff out of there! That can be another ordeal in itself, and might just tempt you to reconsider this whole selling-your-home business. What's the insurance like, are there things they won't touch, will they pack for you or would it be easier to just do it yourself, the list goes on.

This seems counterproductive, Sharon.

But it doesn't have to be such a pain! There are steps you can take to help relieve some of the uncertainty and confusion that goes along with moving, and cut through some of the tape holding up the process.

The article below comes from Melinda Duncan, a Re/Max agent based in Kentucky (check out her website). She's provided us with a checklist of things you can ask the movers or moving company before you decide to work with them. While not exhaustive, this list serves as a good guideline for what to ask and look for when it comes to movers.

  • What is the charge for packing?
  • Does it include boxes? If not, what do they cost and will you deliver them?
  • Is there an additional charge to deliver some items to a storage unit?
  • How is a damage claim handled? 
  • What insurance do you provide and is there a cost? 
  • Does the insurance cover items packed by the owner? 
  • Can additional insurance be purchased? 
  • If items are covered by my Homeowner’s insurance, whose insurance pays first?
Unusual Items 
  • Can you ship my car(s)? Will they be in the moving van or towed? 
  • What are the charges for shipping cars, lawn tractors, etc? 
  • What items cannot be shipped? 
  • If a shuttle truck is needed because of the location of my house or size of the drive way, is there an additional charge? 
  • If packing and loading are on different days, can you leave the beds and other basics out for us to use?
  • What dates are available for our move?
  • What date will you pack and how long will this take? 
  • What date will you load the van? 
  • What date will the van arrive at my new location? 
  • If my new home is not ready for delivery, how many days can it be delayed before there is a charge? 
  • What is the charge for additional days or weeks?
  • Are there any additional fees that I’m responsible for that have not been discussed? 
  • What are the terms of payment? 
  • Is a down payment required? 
  • When will the balance be due and who is authorized to accept it?