Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Essential Tips to House Selling Success

There is no question that selling a home is an important event. A home sale represents transition, movement and change. Big money is involved.

Households move from the known and comfortable to the unknown and a period of adjustment. There may be job changes, new schools, distance from old friends and the possibility of new ones.

No less important, a home sale by itself can be complex. There will be people looking at your house, documents to sign and issues to be negotiated.

Because a home sale involves an array of both personal and business concerns, it's important to get it done right. You need to carefully prepare your home, understand the market and see what alternatives are realistically available. The old motto "be prepared" is a good guide in such circumstances.

What's an acceptable offer?

The goal of every seller is to have a line of buyers outside the front door, each clutching higher and higher offers. And while this has been known to happen, in most markets there is some balance between the number of buyers and sellers.

A number of factors determine whether a buyer's offer is acceptable. They include:

  • Is the offer at or near the asking price? Is the offer above the asking price?
  • Has the buyer accepted the asking price or something close? Has the buyer then buried thousands of dollars in discounts and seller costs within tiny clauses and contract additions?
  • What is the alternative to the buyer's offer? If a home has not attracted an offer in months, then sellers need to determine if a better deal is possible -- recognizing that each month costs are being incurred for mortgage payments, taxes and insurance.
  • Does the owner have enough time to wait for other offers?
  • What if no other offers are received?
  • What if several offers are received? Do you choose the high offer from the purchaser with questionable finances who may not be able to close, or a somewhat lesser offer from a buyer with preapproved financing?

In each case, owners -- with assistance from REALTORS® -- will need to carefully review offers, consider marketplace options and then determine whether an offer is acceptable.

What is a counter-offer?

When a home is made available for sale the owner is essentially making an offer to buyers: For a given number of dollars and other terms you can acquire this home.

Buyers, in turn, can respond with several options:
  • Not interested.
  • Yes, we'll buy on the owner's terms.
  • We're interested and here's our counter-offer.

A counter-offer is nothing more than a new offer. And just as the buyer had three options in response to the owner's original price and terms, the seller can now choose one of three reactions: accept the offer, decline the offer or make a fresh counter-offer.

Offers and counter-offers reflect the back-and-forth activity of the marketplace. It's an efficient and practical process -- but also one that may contain tricky clauses and hidden costs. The REALTOR® who lists your home can explain the local bargaining process in detail and assist in the actual negotiations.

How do you negotiate?

It's sometimes argued that negotiation must produce one "winner" and one "loser." Others suggest that a "win/win" situation is possible where each side gets something of value.
Real estate bargaining typically involves compromises by both sides. It's not war; it's not winner-take-all; and it's not the time to take personally any comments made by purchasers.

Instead, negotiating should be seen as a natural business process; buyers should be treated with respect; and owners should never lose sight of either their best interests or their baseline transaction requirements. These are the standards unique to each owner, which must be met before the home can be sold.

For more information, go to

To contact Sussy Deleon, email or call (401) 331-8855.

Your Residential Appraisal Questions Answered

What is an appraisal?
An appraisal provides the lender, who is processing a loan application for the purpose of purchasing or refinancing a home, a comprehensive report written according to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices and containing a licensed appraiser's expert opinion of current market value of the home that will be used for collateral. 

Appraisal is an expert opinion, not an exact science. It is date specific and does not provide a value guarantee. While the appraiser may observe and factor visible structural problems into the opinion of value, an appraisal is not a home inspection. You are encouraged to seek the advice of applicably licensed experts if you have questions about the structural or mechanical aspects of a home.

How does the appraisal process work?
The appraisal includes: preliminary research, site visit at the home, external viewing of comparable sales, additional research and analysis, reconciliation of value indications and the final estimate of market value. The appraiser is charged with calling the property contact within one business day of receiving the assignment to set up the home visit. Typical property conditions and ready access to the home result in appraisal completion in about five business days. A copy of the appraisal is sent to you by the lender following the lender's underwriting review of the appraisal content. In the event of an update to the appraisal, a revised appraisal report is sent to you by the lender.

How long does a site visit at the home take?
The length of time physically viewing the home being appraised varies depending upon the size and complexity of the property. The time required at the home is typically twenty to thirty minutes but can be as much as two hours for very large or complex homes. The visit includes an interior walk-through of all levels, an exterior walk around the property, interior, exterior and street photos, and measurements of the home's exterior.

Following the home visit, the appraiser drives through the neighborhood. The purpose of the neighborhood drive is to assess neighborhood factors that impact value, and to locate and photograph selected comparable homes that have recently sold. The appraiser typically completes the report in a couple of business days after the site visit and submits it to the lender, who is the appraiser's client.

Why do I have two appraisers calling to set up a home visit?
Many lending transactions require two appraisals. However, if your mortgage lender who is processing the loan has not advised of a need for two appraisals, you should contact the mortgage lender to find out whether there is an inadvertent double assignment of appraisers or an oversight in telling you of the second appraisal requirement.

Does the home have to be spotlessly clean when the appraiser visits?
No. Housekeeping practices are not considered when an appraiser is valuing a home. However, if the appraiser is not able to access any portion of the home or determine the condition of interior surfaces, a return trip may be required to obtain necessary information to complete the report.

What is the appraiser looking for when they make the site visit to the home?
The appraiser documents the general condition of the interior and exterior of the property. This includes but is not limited to the floor plan, any recent updates/remodeling, and the overall quality of construction. The appraiser will calculate the gross living area (GLA) of the home by measuring the square footage of the exterior. Non-living areas, such as garages and covered porches, are not included in GLA, but are considered and reconciled in the value estimate. Below grade/ground square footage is not included unless it contains a finished basement. Finished basement GLA is calculated separately from the above grade/ground GLA. Local market analysis will dictate the contributory value of the finished basement area, which is typically determined by the level of finish and the utility of the area. Only permanent fixtures and land are addressed in an appraisal.

How can I assist the appraiser completing the appraisal?
You may provide pertinent information regarding the home such as a survey of the house and land, a copy of the original plans and specifications, or a list of recent improvements, date(s) of improvement and their costs.

What is market value?
Market value is the most probable price that a property would sell for in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeably and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus. Implicit in this definition is the consummation of a sale as of a specified date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby: (1) buyer and seller are typically motivated; (2) both parties are well informed or well advised; (3) a reasonable time is allowed for exposure to the open market; (4) payment is made in terms of cash in U.S. dollars or in terms of financial arrangements comparable thereto; and (5) the price represents the normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special or creative financing or sales concessions granted by anyone associated with the sale.

What is the market comparison approach to value?
The market or direct sales comparison approach to an estimate of value compares market data, prices paid for similar properties, prices asked by owners and offers made by prospective purchasers. These sales are listed in the comparison grid on page 2 of the 1004 Single Family Uniform Residential Appraisal Report (URAR). Adjustments are made to each of the comparable sales used for major differences between the comparable and the subject property. These adjustments may address such items as location, gross living area, lot size, condition, age, market conditions, degree of updating, construction quality and significant amenities, i.e.: fireplace, deck, patio, porch In the market approach, the appraiser must gauge and reflect the anticipated reaction by a typical buyer to differences between the subject property and the comparable sales.

What is a comparable sale?
A comparable sale is a home that is similar to the home that is being financed, in terms of location within the defined neighborhood, recently sold in an arm’s length transaction, age, condition, square footage (GLA-gross living area) and amenities. Selecting appropriate comparable sales in most residential appraisals is the single most important factor in establishing value. It is the appraiser's responsibility to fully research and analyze the local real estate market and determine which comparable sales best represent the value characteristics of the home that is being financed.

What is an arm’s length transaction?
An arm’s length transaction is one in which both seller and buyer act completely independently of each other and have no connection or relationship to each other.

Where does an appraiser get all of the information to complete an appraisal?
There is a wide variety of information or data sources available to appraisers. This includes, but is not limited to, the local Real Estate Multiple Listing Service, local tax assessor's records, local real estate professionals, county courthouse records, third party public record data vendors and the appraiser's own personal knowledge or files from previous appraisals. An appraiser is required to utilize the data they deem to be the most reliable as it relates to the property they are appraising.

If the lender’s appraisal comes out higher than the tax assessed value, could the real estate taxes go up?
No, at least not related to the appraiser establishing a market value. The appraiser is required to maintain confidentiality with his client, the lender. Because the tax assessed value has no relationship to an appraiser's market value, the taxable value may be higher or lower than an appraised value. These two values are established using entirely different methods at different points in time. For example, an assessor's value may use public records that treat all square feet the same such as the finished basement area that is not applicable in an appraisal as part of the gross living area.

What improvements add value to the home?
The impact on value of a home improvement or update varies widely from market to market depending on each market's perception of the value of the work completed.

Generally, routine upkeep such as replacing the roof on a thirty year old home is expected with no increase in the market value; while an updated kitchen or bath is more likely to add value.

Can I ask the appraiser questions about the appraisal once it’s completed?

The appraiser is legally bound by client confidentiality to the lender and cannot discuss specifics of the report with you, the borrower. If you have questions not addressed here, you may bring them to your mortgage lender for assistance.

For more information, go to
To contact Sussy Deleon, email or call (401) 331-8855.

How Much Is Your Home Worth?

Looking At several Sources Helps to Determine Home Valuation

Your home's market value is an important factor in a long list of financial decisions, including selling the home, refinancing your mortgage, borrowing against your equity, estimating your annual property tax bill, buying homeowner's insurance, calculating the expected return on remodeling costs, managing your other investments, estate planning and so on. The trick is figuring out how much your home is worth -- and remembering that how much you paid for it months or years ago isn't relevant to its current market value. It's not a bad idea to gather information from several sources and compare the findings, rather than relying on just one approach to home valuation.

Here are four suggestions to start:

Call a couple of REALTORS®. Even if you're not planning to sell your home right away, many REALTORS® will be willing to prepare a comparable market analysis (CMA) for you as a marketing service with the goal of getting your business whenever you decide to move. A CMA shows the prices of recently sold homes that are comparable to yours and the prices of comparable homes on the market. A market-savvy REALTOR® can give you a rough idea of what your home would be worth, given its size and condition and local market conditions.

Purchase a professional appraisal. Unlike a CMA, a professional appraisal is rarely free. However, the several hundred dollars you'll pay for an appraisal, depending on size of your home and the complexity of the work, could be money well spent if you're making a major financial decision that hinges on the value of your home. Appraisers rely on an in-person inspection of your home, recent sales of comparable homes and other data to arrive at an opinion of value. The appraiser's report is a full-blown description of your home and the criteria used to formulate the valuation.

Go to neighborhood open houses. Open houses are a good opportunity to view comparable homes for sale in your neighborhood and chat with real estate professionals about the local real estate market. Two caveats: It's not easy to be objective about your own home and you shouldn't assume that the listing price on a for-sale necessarily reflects the home's true market value. If you keep those points in mind, information gathered at open houses can be worth considering along with data from other sources.

Do research online. A number of Web sites offer home valuation information free or for a fee. The Home Values tool on can show you what houses around yours have sold for recently.

Tip: Price per square foot is a time-honored method of real estate valuation and not a bad rule of thumb. However, it doesn't account for a choice location, a move-in-ready home or personal criteria and you should factor in how the property was measured and whether the square footage includes the garage or other detached buildings on the property.

For more information, go to
To contact Sussy Deleon, email or call (401) 331-8855.

Are You Prepared to Sell Your Home?

Valuable Information for Home Selling Success at Your Finger Tips

Millions of existing homes are sold each year, and while each transaction is different every owner wants the same thing -- the best possible deal with the least amount of hassle and aggravation. Unfortunately, home selling has become a more complex business than it used to be. New seller disclosure statements, longer and more mysterious form agreements, and a range of environmental concerns have all emerged in the past decade.

More importantly, the home-selling process has changed. Buyer brokerage -- where REALTORS® represent homebuyers -- is now common nationwide, and good buyer-brokers want the best for their clients.

The result is that while hundreds of thousands of existing homes may be sold each week, the process is not as easy for sellers as it was five or 10 years ago. Surviving in today's real estate world requires experience and training in such fields as real estate marketing, financing, negotiation and closing -- the very expertise available from local REALTORS®.

Are you ready?

The home-selling process typically starts several months before a property is made available for sale. It's necessary to look at a home through the eyes of a prospective buyer and determine what needs to be cleaned, painted, repaired and tossed out.

Ask yourself: If you were buying this home what would you want to see? The goal is to show a home which looks good, maximizes space and attracts as many buyers -- and as much demand -- as possible.

While part of the "getting ready" phase relates to repairs, painting and other home improvements, this is also a good time to ask why you really want to sell.

Selling a home is an important matter and there should be a good reason to sell -- perhaps a job change to a new community or the need for more space. Your reason for selling can impact the negotiating process so it's important to discuss your needs and wants in private with the REALTOR® who lists your home.

When should you sell?

The marketplace tends to be more active in the summer because parents want to enroll children in classes at the beginning of the school year (usually August). The summer is also typically when most homes are likely to be available.

Generally speaking, markets tend to have some balance between buyers and sellers year-round. In a given community, for example, there may be fewer buyers in late December, but there are also likely to be fewer homes available for purchase. So, home prices tend to rise or fall because of general demand patterns rather than the time of the year.

Owners are encouraged to sell when the property is ready for sale, there is a need or desire to sell, and the services of a local REALTOR® have been retained.

How do you improve your home's value?

The general rule in real estate is that buyers seek the least expensive home in the best neighborhood they can afford. In terms of improvements, this means you want a home that fits in the neighborhood but is not over-improved. For example, if most homes in your neighborhood have three bedrooms, two baths and 2,500 sq. ft. of finished space, a property with five bedrooms, more baths and far more space would likely be priced much higher and likely be more difficult to sell.

Improvements should be made so that the property shows well, is consistent with the neighborhood and does not involve capital investments, the cost of which cannot be recovered from the sale. Furthermore, improvements should reflect community preferences.

Cosmetic improvements - paint, wallpaper and landscaping - help a home "show" better and often are good investments.

Mechanical repairs - to ensure that all systems and appliances are in good working condition - are required to get a top price.

Ideally, you want to be sure that your property is competitive with other homes available in the community. REALTORS®, who see numerous homes, can provide suggestions that are consistent with your marketplace.

For more information, go to

To contact Sussy Deleon, email or call (401) 331-8855.

How to Ensure a Smooth Purchase

The Essential Step to Ensuring a Smooth Transaction Is To Get a REALTOR®

More than 2 million people in the United States have earned real estate licenses. However, real estate is a tough business with a steep dropout rate, and the result is that only a small percentage of those with licenses actively help buyers and sellers.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) includes 1 million brokers and salespeople, individuals bound together with a strong Code of Ethics, extensive training opportunities and a wealth of community information. NAR members are routinely active in PTAs, local government committees and a variety of neighborhood organizations. Being actively involved in community affairs provides REALTORS® with a better understanding of the area in which they are selling.


Buying and selling real estate is a complex matter. At first it might seem that by checking local picture books or online sites you could quickly find the right home at the right price.
But a basic rule in real estate is that all properties are unique. No two properties -- even two identical models on the same street -- are precisely and exactly alike. Homes differ and so do contract terms, financing options, inspection requirements and closing costs. Also, no two transactions are alike.

In this maze of forms, financing, inspections, marketing, pricing and negotiating, it makes sense to work with professionals who know the community and much more. Those professionals are the local REALTORS® who serve your area.

How do you choose?

In every community you're likely to find a number of realty brokerages. Because there is heated competition, local REALTORS® must fight hard to succeed in your community.

The best place to find a local REALTOR® is from's® extensive listing of community professionals and properties. Other sources include open houses, local advertising, Web sites, referrals from other REALTORS®, recommendations from neighbors and suggestions from lenders, attorneys, financial planners and CPAs. The experiences and recommendations of past clients can be invaluable.

In many cases buyers will interview several REALTORS® before selecting one professional with whom to work. These interviews represent a good opportunity to consider such issues as training, experience, representation and professional certifications.
What should you expect when you work with a REALTOR®?

Once you select a REALTOR® you will want to establish a proper business relationship. You likely know that some REALTORS® represent sellers while others represent buyers. Each REALTOR® will explain the options available, describe how he or she typically works with individuals and provide you with complete agency disclosures (the ins and outs of your relationship with the agent) as required in your state.

Once hired for the job, the REALTOR® will provide you with information detailing current market conditions, financing options and negotiating issues that might apply to a given situation. Remember: Because market conditions can change and the strategies that apply in one negotiation may be inappropriate in another, this information should not be set in stone. During your time in the marketplace REALTORS® will keep you updated and alert you to each step in the transaction process.

For more information, go to

To contact Sussy Deleon, email or call (401) 331-8855.

Valuable Investment Information for Home Ownership at Your Finger Tips

One of the keys to making the home-buying process easier and more understandable is planning. In doing so, you'll be able to anticipate requests from lenders, lawyers and a host of other professionals. Furthermore, planning will help you discover valuable shortcuts in the home-buying process.

Do You Know What You Want?

Whether you are a first-time home buyer or entering the marketplace as a repeat buyer, you need to ask why you want to buy. Are you planning to move to a new community due to a lifestyle change or is buying an option and not a requirement? What would you like in terms of real estate that you do not now have? Do you have a purchasing timeframe? Whatever your answers, the more you know about the real estate marketplace, the more likely you are to effectively define your goals. As an interesting exercise, it can be worthwhile to look at the questions above and to then discuss them in detail when meeting with local REALTORS®.

Do You Have The Money?

Homes and financing are closely intertwined. (Financing is the difference between the purchase price and the down payment, commonly referred to as debt or the mortgage.) The good news is that over the years new and innovative loan programs have evolved which require a 5 percent down payment or less. In fact, a number of programs now allow purchasers to buy real estate with nothing down.

In addition to a down payment, purchasers also need cash for closing costs (the final costs associated with closing the loan). Several newly emerging loan programs not only allow the purchase of a home with no money down, but also underwrite closing costs.
Not everyone, however, elects to purchase with little or no money down. Less money down means higher monthly mortgage payments, so most home buyers choose to buy with some cash up front.

As to closing costs, in markets where buyers have leverage, it may be possible to negotiate an offer for a home that requires the owner to pay some or all of your settlement expenses. Speak with local REALTORS® for details.

Is Your Financial House in Order?

Those great loans with little or nothing down are not available to everyone: You need good credit. For at least one year prior to purchasing a home, you should assure that every credit card bill, rent check, car payment and other debt is paid in full and on time.

For more information, go to

To contact Sussy Deleon, email or call (401) 331-8855.

What Not To Do After Applying For A Mortgage

Any of these actions could lead to a delay or cancellation of your closing or a denial of your loan.

Avoid changes in debt.
  • DO NOT take on new debt.
  • DO NOT use credit cards to make purchases that will increase your debt.
  • DO NOT start purchasing furniture.
  • DO NOT apply for a new loan.
  • DO NOT co-sign a loan.
  • DO NOT purchase or lease a new car.
  • DO NOT pay off a car loan.
  • DO NOT close major credit card accounts.
  • DO NOT open new credit cards or store accounts.

Avoid changes in employment.
  • DO NOT change your job or career.
  • DO NOT quit your job.
  • DO NOT go on disability if avoidable.
  • DO NOT take maternity leave if avoidable.

  • DO NOT file new tax returns.
  • DO NOT make unusually large bank deposits.
  • DO NOT have any major surgeries if avoidable.
  • DO NOT legally change your name.
  • DO NOT change your social security number.
  • DO NOT spend your down payment.
  • DO NOT stop making credit card payments.
  • DO NOT stop making payments such as rent or utilities.

If you are going through a divorce, please consult your attorney before entering into an agreement.

Avoid any actions that negatively impact your ability to qualify for your mortgage loan, or initiate a new round of paperwork.  If you have any doubts about doing something that may affect your ability to qualify for your mortgage loan, consult your loan provider before you do it.

For more information, go to
To contact Sussy Deleon, email or call (401) 331-8855.