Hans Brings

Is Your Home Ready for the Spring Market?

Are you considering selling your home in Waltham, MA in the next six months? If so, the time is now to get it ready for the spring market. Spring market is a term used by real estate professionals for that time of the year that is especially busy when it comes to buying and selling houses. The spring markets for the last few years have been especially robust, so it is more important than ever to make sure your home stands out among all the others. Here are a few tips to help separate your home from the rest.

Spring Cleaning – This is the perfect time to get rid of clutter and really do a deep dive on getting your home sparkling. It is so vital to show potential buyers a home that is well taken care of and getting rid of extra junk will also accentuate the potential of space.

Minor Repairs – Take a walk around your home with a clipboard and make sure everything works. From changing burnt out bulbs to tightening up leaky faucets to everything in between. There is nothing worse than a potential buyer not seeing a room because the lights won't go on.

Get Out The Paint – How do your walls look? Do they need a little touch up? What is your existing color scheme? If it's somewhat bold or a little out of the norm, you may want to consider a different color. Neutral tones are best as they do not distract from the rest of the home.

Organize Your Paperwork – Make sure you have all your manufacturer's warranties and operating manuals in one place. This includes anything from your furnace to your dishwasher. Basically, anything that is going to stay with the house.

Less Is More – In your kitchen, make sure to have a minimum number of appliances on your counters. Get rid of all and any of your tchotchkes and other knickknacks. You really want to emphasize the counter space. Make sure your ovens and ranges shine! Do the same in your bathrooms; curling irons, shavers, and blow dryers should be stowed away. As with the kitchen, your bathrooms should be immaculately clean.

Bedrooms and living spaces need to look livable, not lived in – In the living room and other common spaces, get rid of clutter and make sure there's good flow and that the furniture is arranged to emphasize maximum space. Remove family pictures and knickknacks. It is so vital that the buyers don't feel like they are invading someone else's home. In the bedrooms, make sure beds are made and closets are spacious and organized.

Make a grand entrance! - First impressions do count. Make sure your yard is sharp and tidy. If there is still snow on the ground, ensure driveways and walking paths are cleared. If the climate has improved, ensure lawns are trimmed and think about planting a few flowers for color. Porches should be cleared of debris and swept. Make sure entry way is warm and inviting and welcoming!

Finally, and most importantly, find an established Waltham area Realtor. A Realtor is held to higher standards than real estate agent. You want a Realtor who is intimately familiar with Waltham and has a record of success.

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    Good Homes Are looking for Millennial's

    The sooner you start saving the better.

    Every little bit helps to put you in a better buying position. Set goals to have enough money saved up for more than the minimum down payment. Also make sure your income makes it possible to afford the monthly payments for a minimum of 5 to 7 years to lessen the chances of defaulting on your loan.

    Make sure you consider extra home purchasing costs that you may not initially think of.

    Often times through the inspection and closing processes, extras costs may arise. To keep yourself in your budget, include a bit of a buffer to ensure you don’t exceed your limit in those extras as well as any extra moving costs, or unexpected maintenance that may be required.

    Do your research.

    Make sure you are keeping up to date with mortgage interest rates. Calculate your current financial circumstances to figure out what you can and cannot afford. With all the information on the internet now, it is much easier to have access to information about homes, mortgage rates, and interest rates. Do your research, so when negotiating, you have points to back you up.

    Renovation costs.

    They are not exactly what they seem and can quickly become much higher than anticipated. It cannot be stressed enough to know the extent of repair needed on a property and how much extra money to include in your overall budget for things like this.

    Don’t rush into things, work with an experienced Waltham Realtor who knows the current market. 

    A Realtor with years of experience can help you determine things like which neighborhoods to aim for and what are fair and reasonable asking prices in a particular area. If a property seems overpriced, they can provide helpful negotiation skills to get you in the right home for your needs and budget. Realtors can also help you navigate the overwhelming amount of paperwork that is involved in a home purchase and they are able to explain some of the details that may seem like a foreign language to you. Realtors are there to answer questions you may have after the closing as well and are professional when handling confidential information. Working with a local Waltham Realtor is a great way to make sure you don’t end up making a big mistake through a very confusing process.

    Stay motivated. 

    Don’t let little financial setbacks throw you off course. Make sure you stay informed about the current market and the neighborhoods you want to be in. Demonstrate that you are serious about buying and are ready to take on the challenges. Don’t forget to do your homework including finding a reputable Realtor that will be by your side every step of the way.

    Remember, buying a home is probably the biggest purchase you will ever make, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. If you have already saved enough for a conservative down payment and all the other miscellaneous cost outlined above and are staying up to date on the real estate market in your desired location, it may be time to contact an experienced agent in your area to begin the process. Finding that first dream home may take some time, but if you follow these tips and do your homework you will be on the right track and ready to become a first-time homeowner.

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      8 Reasons Your House Is Not Selling

      If you are selling your home on the market, then you know how overwhelming the process can be. This is especially so when your home is on the market for some time and it seems like all hope is lost at trying to sell your home. When it comes to selling your home in Waltham, MA, there are a lot of factors that go into the selling process to come out successful. While there are many reasons your home could be sold, there are also reasons why it may not be currently selling. Below are eight reasons why your home is not selling.

      You’re Overconfident

      When it comes to putting your home on the market, you believe you will find a buyer who will pay the absolute premium price for your home ASAP. However, this is a strategy you should not lean on. From day one you should be realistic and not over confident that your home will sell immediately. While you may love your home, it could be seen in a different light to others and you should prepare for your home to sit on the market for a little bit.

      The House Is Priced Too High

      When it comes to the real estate market, there is a bit of a supply and demand condition. If there is a high demand for houses but not a lot of listings, then you can probably sell your home for a high price.  Knowing this, many sellers feel comfortable with pushing the asking price too high and this is a big mistake. When selling your home, it is best to determine the best asking price for your home with your Realtor. That way, you can get the most money for your home based on the true value your home has.

      The Home Needs Touching Up

      Although home improvement can be costly, it is something you must consider if you are looking to have your home get taken off the market quickly. To sell, and sell for a great price, you will need to make sure your home is in the condition that buyers are looking for. Buyers want the most bang for their buck, so they will want a home with updated appliances and amenities. Some simple upgrades could include new kitchen cabinets hardware, painting some walls, or buffing hardwood floors. They may seem simple, but they can go a long way with showing value to your home.

      There Is a Problem with The Title

      One of the biggest factors that will spook a potential buyer from purchasing your home in Waltham, MA is that there is something wrong with the title. While most of these problems require just a little time to resolve, you should contact the title company to find out what you need to do to fix the problem. Some title problems include:

      • A paid-off mortgage hat is still showing up as valid linen on the house.
      • A mechanic’s lien that was filed for work done on the house by a subcontractor.

      Advertising Photos Are Subpar

      When it comes to almost anything in life, first impressions are everything, and this is especially true in the real estate market. About 90 percent of buyers will start their house hunting journey online which means the photos on your listing should be top notch. These photos will determine if potential buyers are to come to your home during an open house. If your listing is filled with bad quality photos, no photos, or photos that show clutter then buyers will likely move on to the next listing. To make sure your home sells quickly and catches the eyes of buyers, get photos staged and taken by a professional for the best results.

      Your Agent Doesn’t Seem to Care

      At times, your home could be in great condition with amazing photos to highlight the value and is priced correctly, but still is sitting on the market. Your home may still be sitting on the market because your agent could be turning buyers off. Just as it is important to have good photos for your home, it is good to make sure you pick an agent who will be helpful. Some agents seem to be burnt out, lack personality, or seem to have no social skills. So be mindful that your agent can talk to buyers and have a passion to get your home sold. Customer satisfaction is a huge aspect I take pride in as a Realtor as it makes the process for both parties much smoother.

      The Home Smells Bad

      When things smell bad, it is usually a turn off and this goes with selling a home. All homes after a while develop a certain smell based on a multitude of factors, but when you are selling your home, you will want all the smells to go away. Nothing is better than entering a home with a nice refreshing smell to it. Be sure to take care of and mold issues or pet urine issues if you have any pets. As these two factors can cause permanent bad smells to your home. On the day of the showing or days prior, try using incense to freshen up the smell of the home. You can also bake some cookies to give a warm welcoming smell of baked goods to your home.

      Your Appliances Are Old

      Just like with touching up your space with home improvement, it is always better to have the latest and most updated appliances in your home. A home with a stainless-steel refrigerator is more likely to sell than an old, yellowing-white refrigerator.  If you have appliances that seem to be outdated, buyers may think that there is a lot more that needs to be replaced which will cost them. This in turn, will make the buyers want to look at other houses instead of yours. Be sure to update your appliances so they do not look like they are on their last legs.

      If you have any questions about buying or selling a home in Waltham, MA or are interested in my Realtor services, please feel free to contact me

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        Three Benefits of Putting 20 Percent Down On A Home

        When it comes to buying a home, buyers need to be prepared for every aspect of the process. From finding a reliable Realtor, to settling on a price and closing the deal, there are a lot of important pieces of the puzzle. One of these is deciding how much money you will be using for the down payment of a house. A downpayment on a home is money that the homebuyers provide for the house upfront. This is separte from the mortgage they will be paying monthly after they have compelted the buying process. Determining how much to put as a downpayment is always a challenge as you have to examine your finances to make the best possible solution. Just like with anything you need to pay off, the more you put down upfront the less you will pay later on. It is good to put 20 percent of the sales price as your down payment. While the general rule of thumb is between three and 20 percent, putting down 20 has many benefits.

        Three Benefits of A 20% Downpayment 

        1. You'll Have A Small Loan - By having a large down payment, you borrow less money from the bank in loans. In turn, you will then have to pay less on your monthly payments. If you have a smaller downpayment then you will have a much higher monthly mortgage rate. 
        2. Lower Overall Costs - When you borrow less, by having a 20 percent down payment, you will pay less interest on your loan. This is because your interest will be calculated using a lower loan amount. In addition, with a 20 percent down payment you will typically not have to pay for mortage insurance which usually increases the monthly rate.
        3. You Start With More Equity - By putting down a larger down payment, 20 percent, you not only save yourself on monthly payments, you also save yourself in the long run. When you make a larger down payment, you have a cushion in case home prices decline. If you have a smaller down payment then you end up owing more than your home is worth which will make it harder to sell or refinance your home. 

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          5 Strategies for Pricing a Home To Sell

          Whether you are buying or selling, any part of the real estate market can be stressful and overwhelming if you do not know the proper strategies. With selling, one difficult aspect is determining a price range that works for both you and your Realtor while being true to the home’s value. To have a better grasp on how to set a price range for your home, you will need to talk with your agent and determine the true value of your home. In addition to this, you will want to make sure the house can get off the market soon as we know that the longer a house is on the real estate market, the less likely it is to sell at a good price. Here are some strategies to keep in mind when pricing your home to sell.

          Appeal To the “Heard Mentality”

          With the real estate market having high stakes a buyer does not want to be the only one interested in a house. If they feel they are the only ones, they may start to question why is there something wrong with the house? Am I missing something that everyone else is seeing? To avoid this, try pricing your property on the lower end of the value range.  This will stimulate interest among more than one buyer and create a herd mentality. This strategy is also a good one if you are trying to sell your home quickly.

          Price your home to Be Found in Real Estate Searches

          When it comes to buying a house, buyers will tell their agent that they want a certain type of home in a neighborhood under $500K or any other amount. Their Realtor will then set up an automated buyer search in their local database for homes with the qualifications asked for. However, if a home is listed at $510K in that example then that buyer will miss out which is why I recommend that you don’t have a high list price out of the gate. Knowledgeable and experienced agents will help set these search parameters but include properties that are listed somewhat above the price ceiling set by the seller. Sellers should know that buyers believe home prices are flexible, and buyers consider homes that are slightly above their looking range if they are a good match. By listing slightly higher or lower than intended you will attract more interested potential buyers which you can help you negotiate down the line.

          Don’t Get Creative with Your Asking Price

          When selling a house, some sellers can get ahead of their selves and try to get an exact price amount of what they want. For example, you can have a home that is valued between $750K and $800K, a seller could ask for $787,777. If a seller is asking for a specific price, then it will bring attention for no good reason. Buyers will question why the seller chose that figure and then wonder who the seller is and further investigate which could hurt the chances of your home being sold.

          Work Out a Pricing Contingency Plan

          The best-case scenario for selling a home is to sell at top dollar, and some sellers believe this is a possibility, so they set that high expectation. All Realtors have a goal of selling a home at a higher price or close to the seller’s desired range. They realistically know that those cases don’t always happen so a contingency plan should be made.  By having a plan B on pricing, you will save time and help set appropriate expectations for selling your property.

          Pricing Is an Ongoing Discussion

          If you are selling your house, you should listen carefully to your agent's pricing strategy, as they have the experience and knowledge of what works and what fails. In addition, no matter what the strategy is, be prepared to have an ongoing discussion about pricing. The process is not a “set and forget” procedure as a lot of factors come into play and nothing can be anticipated. Whether you are buying or selling a home there will be obstacles you are not prepared for. If you can be flexible and react quickly to the market's fluctuations, you are more than likely going to get the best price with the least amount of stress.

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            Tips to Keep in Mind for Buying a House in 2018

            With the new year quickly approaching it’s time to start thinking about the future! A year can bring a lot of surprises, both good and bad, to the way we buy homes. Hans Brings, a Realtor from Waltham, Massachusetts, offers a few tips and tricks to make sure you kick off the new year the best way possible, and get the home you want!

            December is the time to start planning! Get yourself primed and ready for the new year by checking off a few necessary to-do’s.

            Suggest monetary gifts for the coming holidays

            Buying a house will of course cost a lot of money. Keep in mind there are a few fees that that not be as obvious as the price tag shows. There’s the down payment, as well as any incurred costs involved with physically moving!

            Check your credit score

            Credit scores are one of the most important tools when it comes to buying a home, so checking early can help ensure a safe transition in the buying process. Scores range from 300 to 850, and the higher the score the better! Higher credit scores mean that your rates will be lower.

            Considering potential agents
            While there are many real estate agents out there, not all of them are Realtors. A Realtor® is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of Realtors®. Realtors® are held to a higher ethical standard than licensed agents and must adhere to a Code of Ethics. You also want a Realtor who is intimately familiar with the area in which you want to buy. The details of the local community are an important part of any home buying decision. By making sure you choose a Realtor who lives and works in Waltham and knows about local schools, events, politics, etc., you know that you can trust them to provide the most comprehensive picture to help you make the best buying decision.

            Always be checking interest rates
            Don’t forget that the market’s rates aren’t entirely the same as yours will be. Everyone has rates that may fluctuate based on many factors, one being your credit score! Though it’s hard to predict the future, but keeping tabs on the trends of rates can help you make more well-informed decisions that will save you time and money.

            Find a lender
            Go to a mortgage lender before getting to deep into the home buying process to make sure you’ll be able to buy the home! The question then arises, where can you find a good lender? If you’ve been with a bank for a long time, ask them! If not, your realtor should be able to offer some potential lenders. After researching lenders, and before choosing, find out important information like their rates and how long to close.

            Get approved early
            After completing the above steps, talk to your lender about getting preapproved for a loan. Doing this can speed up the home buying process and will demonstrate to home sellers that you can really afford to buy.

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              10 Additional Holiday Home Selling Tips

              Earlier this month I explained three advantages of selling your home during the holiday season. With fewer homes being marketed during this “off-season” you can get the attention of serious buyers during the holidays. Here are 10 additional tips to implement to successfully sell your home this winter.

              Deck the Halls

              Decorating for the holidays is always a rewarding and exciting activity. While it can show how great the property can look for the holidays, try not to go overboard. As too much décor can be distracting as well as potentially turning off buyers if the decorations are religious themed.

              Hire a Reliable Real Estate Agent

              In Waltham, MA seeking out a reliable Realtor is extremely important. During the holiday season especially, you will want an agent who will not disappear. Find an agent, either by your own search or through recommendations, that will work hard to get your home sold to serious buyers. This will take the most stress out of the selling process during the holidays.

              Seek Out Motivated Buyers

              As mentioned in earlier blogs, buyers looking at the market during this time are very serious to close on a home. This is where you and your agent can strategize to seek out buyers with a deadline, such as people relocating jobs, investors on tax deadlines, college students, etc.

              Price to Sell

              No matter the season, a home that is priced low on the market will make buyers interested. Instead of gradually making reductions to the price, many Realtors suggest that sellers slash their prices before putting their home on the market. This way, during the holiday season, you will be one of the few on the market and listed at a price that will attract buyers.

              Curb Appeal

              Just like with any season for real estate, adding curb appeal before showings makes a huge impact on the success of your home being bought. Especially during the winter as plants and trees start to lose their leaves. Touch up the paint of your home, clean the gutters and make the yard look welcoming. Make sure all walkways and stairs are free from any debris, snow or ice.

              Quality Real Estate Photos

              First impressions are everything, and during the colder months, buyers will be looking at online listings first. This is where you can make your mark by highlighting your home with high-quality photos of your home. Make sure to include photos of all the season of the year so buyers can see how the home looks in the spring as well as the winter.

              Video Tour or Interactive Photo Floor plan

              Selling your home during the holidays runs the risk of having very little foot traffic for showings. To solve this problem, and to sell your home quickly, create a video tour or photo floor plan of your home that you can post on the internet and on listing sites. That way buyers can have their own showing without dealing with the colder climate.

              Give Potential Buyers a Place to Escape the Cold

              For showings, crank up the heat and make your home feel cozy and inviting for buyers to come in to take a tour. Play soft comforting music and offer holiday treats to make house hunters feel right at home. The longer they stay in your home, the longer they must admire and visualize their families in the home.

              Financial Holiday Cheer

              The holiday season is meant for giving right? If you know you have serious buyers on the table, why not offer a home loan? You can get a good rate of return on your money!

              Relax

              Holidays are stressful enough with all the shopping, planning, and decorating. Take a moment to remind yourself that if you don’t find the right buyer during the holidays there is always next year. The new year is right around the corner and you will have generated more interest as more buyers start to look on the market after the start of the new year.

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                Pros & Cons of Decorating Your Home to Sell During the Holidays

                As I mentioned in a previous blog, the real estate market does not close during the holiday season. It may slow down, but it is a great way to attract serious buyers looking for a home this holiday season with little competition. The question on selling your Waltham, MA home during the holidays is whether to decorate your home or to leave it empty for showings. Here are some pros and cons of decorating for the holidays while you are trying to sell your home in Waltham, MA.

                Why You Should Decorate

                Decorating your house during the holiday season can be beneficial for both your family and potential buyers. This is because your family will be able to celebrate the season while offering any buyers a festive experience. As they tour the house during the showing, they can envision how the home will look for the holidays if they were to purchase.

                In addition to your home, if your neighborhood dresses their properties up for the holidays, it is a great selling point to show potential buyers how festive and friendly the neighborhood is.

                Here are some home staging suggestions for when you are decorating during the showing period:

                • Avoid putting off potential buyers of different religions, keep it secular.
                • Stick to neutral colors and decorations that enhance your current décor.
                • Do not go overboard with the decorations as it could make your home appear cluttered.
                • Avoid blocking important features of your home with decorations.

                Why You Shouldn’t Decorate

                As beautiful as holiday decorations are, they can have a negative effect on your home’s appeal during showings. Your home could seem small and cramped with all the decorations or the decorations become a distraction for buyers who are trying to envision themselves in the house. Be mindful of your potential buyers and decorate accordingly.

                Reasons to not decorate while showing your home during the holidays:

                • Religious décor could potentially alienate buyers.
                • Protecting our privacy, as personalized decorations or cards could show personal information.
                • Decorations, or trees, could block off areas of the house while also showing a mess with shedding pine needles.

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                  3 Advantages of Selling Your Home During the Holidays

                  Everyone knows that spring and summer are the ideal times for the real estate industry. In an earlier blog we explained how buying a home in the fall can be beneficial. This is also true for selling your home during the holidays. Below are the top three advantages of selling your home during the holidays.

                  Less Competition

                  Much like buying a home, selling a home during the holiday season means there will be less competition. Most sellers will decide to take their homes off the market as this is considered the off-season, while others would rather wait until the new year. This is a great opportunity for you to get ahead of the curve and have your home in the “show” condition on listings. The smaller number of listings on the market means that you will have all the potential holiday buyers to yourself.

                  Motivated Buyers

                  Anyone who decides to shop for a new home aside from all their holiday shopping is serious about purchasing a new home now. No matter what reason they have for looking during this time, it is important for you to take advantage of the opportunity and get your home shown on the market. Be flexible with your showing times to accommodate the buyers so buyers can get a good look at your home. You will also want to be open to negotiating contract terms that work with their schedules.

                  Your Home Looks Great

                  When it comes to buying a home, a big factor in to the purchase is emotion. This factor can be capitalized on during the holiday season by making your home cozy and cheering during showings. Holiday decorations and a clean house removed from clutter will allow buyers to visualize their own families celebrating the splendid holidays in your home. The key with decorations is that you want to make sure they enhance your homes best features rather than distract.

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                    7 Advantages About Buying a House In The Fall

                    Most Realtors and home owners know that the most popular time to purchase a new home is in the spring and summer time. In recent years, more homes are being bought during the fall season. Aside from beating the heat and scheduling showings between your busy spring schedule, here are seven advantages on why you should consider a fall real estate purchase.

                    Less Competition

                    Competition for homes in Waltham, MA decline in the fall season as many people believe this to be the off-season in real estate. However, there are still homes on the market. These homes are usually re-positioned old homes that did not sell during the prime season or new homes being added. This puts you in great position to add start looking for homes to buy as you will be one of the few looking to purchase a home. A great opportunity to get a great deal!

                    Sellers Are Worn-Out

                    Everyone has a dream price for their homes, and they usually try to shoot for this as a closing price during the busy season in real estate. The truth of the matter is that, a home’s true value is much different than what the owner thought they could receive. If they failed in the prime season, then they are more likely to make a deal and lower their price during the fall. With less competition and sellers eager to make a sale, they are also willing to consider lower offers than they originally hoped. Get your check books ready to make an offer!

                    Sellers Are Serious

                    Not all fall listings are leftovers from the spring. Some people feel that the timing in the fall is perfect for them. They are looking to make the sale this season and as quick as possible, and they are willing to negotiate prices. If you see a home on the market during the fall season, keep in mind that these sellers are serious about getting their home off the market.

                    Tax Breaks

                    Paying income tax is inevitable, but you can make a dent in what is owed when you become a homeowner. Any payments that are made prior to the closing of a loan are tax-deductible, which could make a big difference in the amount you own to the government. For instance, property tax and mortgage interest are both items you can deduct.

                    Fall is Safer

                    Just like with real estate, burglaries have a prime season and it is during the months of July and August. If you are thinking of buying your home in the fall, you can rest assure there will not be any disturbances to the homes on the market. Finally, a good reason to have cold weather.

                    You’re the Center of Attention

                    When it comes to any facet of the moving or real estate industry, the busy time is in the spring and summer. While this may be a popular time to look for homes, you may experience delays in response by your Realtor or service provider. With it being the peak season they are going to be a lot busier to give you the attention you want. With fall being considered the off-season, you will have a much higher response and attention rate with your Realtor. Leading you to get in contact with sellers quickly and make the purchase.

                    Take Advantage of End-Of-Year Sales

                    After buying a home, you are going to want to add your own style as well as make improvements. If certain appliances were not part of the deal, then you will need to get items to maintain your home. If you buy your home in the fall time, then you can take advantage of all the end-of-year sales for the items you need. For example, September is a great time to buy carpet or paint, October means lawn mowers are on sale and cookware is cheaper in November.

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