How to Appeal A Property Tax Assessment

If you believe your home’s assessed value is greater than what you can sell your house for, then it is in your best interest to contest the value. The first thing you have to understand is that property taxes are one of the largest sources of revenue for your municipality, county, and state government. Tax assessments are made up of two components, they include: the value of your land and also your dwelling. The Ohio revised code and Ohio administrative code mandate the appraisal department to conduct a re-appraisal of each parcel every six years, or an update every three years if improvements were made to the dwelling based upon building permits pulled on your property. Understanding how to contest your home’s assessed value is critical to winning your appeal. You will need to consider many factors to determine the fair value of your home. The auditor will look at acreage, age of your home, square footage, recent improvements, outbuildings, decks or patios, and/or other areas of your property that have value.

To appeal your property tax assessment, you should contact your local county auditor to file a formal appeal of the assessed value of your property. You should start by requesting a copy of the property card from your local auditor’s office. The property card should include the information used to determine your homes assessed value, which includes: square footage, lot size, bedrooms, bathrooms, finished basement, etc. If there are any inaccuracies in this information, you should inform your auditor’s office in writing of the errors. You should also contact your local auditor’s office to fill out an appeal form or you can electronically file an appeal on their website. E-filing provides homeowners easy access to complete and submit a department of taxation form, which is a complaint against the valuation of real property online eliminating the requirement for a signature and a notary seal. Many of the county auditors in Ohio will only accept property valuation appeals during the first three months of the year. If you have recently purchased your home, you should provide the auditor a copy of your purchase agreement and a copy of your HUD statement or closing disclosure as evidence of the value of your property. If you have owned your home for more than a year, it would be in your best interest to contact a licensed appraiser to have your home appraised and valued. In addition to the appraisal, it would be beneficial to provide a list of recently sold homes in your area that are similar in age, square footage, amenities, and lot size to your own home. You should provide as much information and documentation as possible when you appeal your property taxes. When referring to your property, use your parcel number and address. This can be obtained from your tax bill. The more information you provide to the auditor, the greater the chances that your assessed value will be lowered, but be careful because the board of revision’s may use the information you provide to increase or decrease the total value of any parcel included in a complaint.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Top Ten Tips For the Best Road Trip Ever

There is nothing more fun than an old-fashioned road trip. I love taking to the open road and exploring our country. Now, I’ve been a „road tripper“ for some time and though I love air travel, I love the road trip because that’s how you can really experience the country. So it’s time to get your favorite tunes and munchies ready and plan your open road trip adventure with these ten easy road trip travel tips.

1. Plan your trip. First, you need to determine where you’re going to go and then plan your trip. Planning doesn’t have to take a long a time, but you do need to know the route you’re going to drive and points of interest along the way that you’re going to want to stop and explore. Half the fun of a road trip is seeing the sites along the way. I like to MapQuest my trip and have that as my main plan of attack for my road trip. GPS is very popular these days and I recommend them, but you can’t always rely on them when you hit construction zones or accidents on your journey. That’s why it’s essential that you have a real map with you for the areas you’ll be traveling to and to plan alternate routes if necessary.

2. Make your hotel reservations BEFORE you go. Part of the fun when traveling on the road is stopping wherever your heart desires, but there’s nothing worse than a „no room at the inn“ experience on a road trip. You may not realize that there is a „Comic Book Trade Show,“ „Strawberry Festival“ or convention in town while you’re visiting and there are no rooms to be had. If you do not book your reservations in advance, not only are you running the risk of having to sleep in your car but also you can’t manage your road trip budget effectively. If you’re traveling with your family or a group of friends, consider staying at an all-suite hotel or even renting a time share, a great option for families taking a road trip. Did you know that 90 percent of people who own a timeshare don’t utilize it on a regular basis? Many great offers can be found at some of the bigger hotel chains that offer timeshares and many of them even have a washer and dryer. For my road trip to Scottsdale, I booked a fantastic one-bedroom suite with a kitchenette at a time share property directly through the hotel for just $100/night including tax at the Sheraton Desert Oasis Villas.

3. Give your car a full tune up before you go or consider renting a car. One week before you go on your road trip, take your car in for a tune up and ask your mechanic to ensure the car fluids are topped, air pressure in your tires is at its best for highway driving, and any other necessary concerns regarding your vehicle are addressed. Should you need to get something fixed, it is best to do it at a place you can trust before your road trip. Plus, it can be more expensive when it is a have-to situation. Also, make sure you pack a roadside safety kit just in case of an emergency. For me that kit includes my American Automobile Association membership card (Premier Membership). If you have a car that is no longer under warranty or has automatic roadside assistance, then a American Automobile Association membership is a necessity as it will save you a fortune in the unfortunate event you have a break down and have to have your car towed. If you’re at all concerned that your current vehicle is not „road trip worthy,“ then you may want to consider renting a vehicle for your road trip. I did this for my trip to Arizona as I found a great deal on a rental car and had the peace of mind for my road trip.

4. Pack your own food and plan a picnic. I used to be addicted to stopping at fast food joints on a road trip. There was something that felt fun about that on a trip but I’ve since learned that I prefer to pack my own food for my journey. It doesn’t just keep me eating healthier, but it also saves money, too, especially if you’re traveling with your family. Also, if you plan ahead, you may find that there is a great stop for a scenic picnic in your travels and packing a picnic is so much better than flying through the Drive-through. If you do make a stop, either for a picnic or to explore a cool sight along the way.

5. Bring great music or audible books with you! Music is truly the soundtrack of our lives and every road trip needs a soundtrack. I think of my trip to Seattle every time I hear a Phil Collins song from „No Jacket Required“ because that was the primary music I was listening to on that trip. I think of the Bahamas Harbor Island and the amazing walks on the Pink Sands Beach every time I hear Wilson Phillips music. It’s sort of like having a theme song for every vacation but hearing the music even today will evoke fun memories of wonderful trips. I also love catching up on books I’d like to read but somehow find it easier to listen to. That’s where audio books come in and you can download them to your mp3 player, iPhone, or other PDA device. !

6. Don’t forget to pack a boredom buster bag for the kids. One thing I’ve learned from producing for TV’s „The Travel Mom“ Emily Kaufman, is that if you’re traveling with kids, you need to make sure you have plenty to entertain them during your road trip. She calls this the boredom buster bag. Don’t forget to pack some kid music your children like along with fun travel games that include magnetic board games. DVD players are an option for really long trips and as long as your child isn’t prone to car sickness. Of course, electronic games will keep your kids occupied but I would encourage you to limit the time on these toys especially if you’re traveling through some great scenic areas. It’s an excellent chance to bond as a family and your child’s memory of the trip will be lost if they’re lost in a Game Boy.

7. Remember, a road trip is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. One of my all time favorite road trips was the day my niece, Jessica, and I drove 52 enchanting miles on the „Road to Hana“ on the island of Maui in Hawaii. I’ll never forget that the guide book said, „Remember, Hana is not a destination, it’s a journey.“ Hana is located about 52 miles from Kahului, however a typical trip to Hana takes at least three hours, as the road is very winding with approximately 620 curves over 59 bridges, 46 of which have only one-lane. This delightful road trip is a memorable journey that winds through a lush, tropical rain forest that is laced with tumbling waterfalls, black sand beaches, scenic lava cliffs, fresh fruit stands, and tropical hillsides. Jessica and I stopped at least ten times including one stop to picnic on that black sand beach. We took photos by waterfalls, delicious fruit stands and beautiful tropical flower gardens. You should treat your road trip vacation the same way we did our Road to Hana: Enjoy your road trip as a journey, not a destination.

8. Make good use of every stop. I like to plan my stops for fuel, food, and restrooms so that I utilize my time efficiently and don’t waste time making three stops instead of one. Probably the most important thing is that every time you do stop, make sure everyone in the car uses the restroom (even if they think they don’t have to right then). This will cut down on the stops you’ll make only for that purpose. Also, if you’re traveling with kids, and you just need to stop for the restroom, I recommend stopping at a Starbucks. Parents can get a coffee or an ice tea, the restrooms are clean, and there are not a lot of distractions for kids (like toys to buy) that a truck stop or gas station may have. Use the Starbucks store locator at their website to help you plan your stops before you go. Do be a „good egg“ and make a purchase at Starbucks while you’re there.

9. Avoid Trouble. When you’re on a road trip, you need to be street wise. Don’t be a target for crime by leaving your valuables on the seat in your car (DVD players, Game Boys, etc.) and don’t advertise you’re on a road trip with pillows and blankets every where. When you park your car, hide your valuables and road trip creature comforts. If you are proactive at keeping your „I’m on a road trip clues“ clearly hidden, any thief or troublemaker should just walk right by your car. Other street wise considerations is to always park where there is good light and foot traffic and make sure your windows are rolled up and the doors are locked whenever you leave your car. You may also want to purchase items like „the Club“ if you like that extra insurance for safety. Finally, when you’re driving, watch your speed. Speeding gives you the chance to get a ticket and more importantly, it decreases your time to react if the need should arise. If you are the driver, you are responsible for your passengers. When you see signs that say, „Speed limits are photo enforced,“ believe them. Other good driving tips include avoiding rush hour, especially in bigger cities, and whenever possible take turns driving with other people in the car. You’ll also want to avoid driving at night if you are not familiar with your surroundings.

10. Get a Go City Card and save up to 55% on attractions and theme parks at your vacation destination. Last year, I flew my 8-year-old niece, Alexis, and 10-year-old nephew, Tyler, out to Los Angeles for their spring break (using Southwest Airlines Reward Miles, of course) and we took a road trip down to San Diego. That’s when I discovered the money saving Go City Card for San Diego. With this card, I saved hundreds of dollars in admissions to Legoland, the Wild Animal Park, the San Diego Zoo and other attractions including a Whale Watch on the Pacific Ocean just by purchasing a Go San Diego Card.

Instead of paying individually for each local attraction, you pay one price for up to 40 attractions (depending on the city your visiting) and you get to create your own experience, tailoring your activities based on what you like to do, while also enjoying tremendous savings. For example, with the Go Los Angeles Card, you can choose one, two, three, five, or seven day cards at a low, pre-paid price to gain access to 40 included attractions. This saves up to 55% compared to buying tickets directly at Universal Studios Hollywood, LEGOLAND California, Knott’s Berry Farm, Paramount Studios, the Queen Mary, and many more attractions. Go City Cards are available in many cities and vacation destinations in the U.S. including Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, Honolulu, Orlando, Miami, Seattle, Blue Ridge and even Toronto.

Final Tips: Don’t forget your cell phone and make sure you’re „hands free“ when you do use it while driving. In many states, it’s the law, but it’s also down right dangerous. Always use your cell phone „hands free“ when you drive. Don’t forget to update your software on your mobile before you leave because you don’t want to be charged higher rates for roaming charges. Finally, it’s a real good idea to email a copy of your itinerary to other family members or friends in case of an emergency – this is especially a good idea for women traveling together. Now, drive safe and have fun!

You can get more details at my website at Best-Travel-Deals-Tips.com.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Real Estate Leads – How To Get Free Real Estate Agent Leads

Real estate leads are vital to any agent or brokers business. Home sale and home buyer leads have always been an important part of keeping a real estate business moving forward. With the advent of the internet and more than 80-percent of home buyers going on-line to look for their next home, internet leads are one of the most important marketing avenues realtors and brokers need to be using to increase their listings and income.

What many real estate agents don’t know is that there are a handful of real estate lead generation companies that generate the majority of leads on the internet. In fact they generate so many leads that they don’t have enough real estate professionals to sell them to. In order to help the home buyer or seller who went to the businesses website the lead generation companies have been giving the leads away for free, at least no up-front cost.

To get the free leads the real estate agent has to agree to pay a referral for any closed translation. The reason many agents don’t know about these leads is because only one or two of the large on-line lead generation companies offer this free referral service because it requires them to have a licensed broker within the company.

These business leads are very helpful for a realtor starting in the business or a broker who has multiple agents under them. Also, agents who want to increase their marketing and number of closings each month can use these leads to increase their business. Typically the lead generation company wants 1 to 2 years of experience representing home buyers or home sellers but if they don’t have any agents in your area then they will most likely take any agent. For home seller leads it is helpful if the agents have a network of investors who can buy houses fast. Many home sellers who go on-line and complete home seller forms need to sell a home quickly for many reasons. Some have large amounts of equity which allows them to sell price their home for a quick sale. Others are behind on their mortgage and would love to have an investor buy their home so they don’t lose it to foreclosure.

If you are a broker or realtor and looking to increase your business I suggest signing up with one of the lead generation companies who offers a no cost real estate referral program. Typically these companies do not charge you any sign-up fee, monthly fees or cancellation fees, just a fee for closed transactions.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

German Shorthaired Pointer – Pros and Cons of Owning This Versatile Pet

Pluses and Minuses of Owning a German Shorthaired Pointer

The German Shorthaired Pointer is going to be a great pet as well as a good hunting buddy. It is an especially good hunting dog as they will retrieve both on land and in the water. This well balanced dog is perfect for someone who is looking for an outdoor companion as well as a family pet. Consider the information below when choosing whether or not one of these versatile dogs will be the right pet for you and your family.

Pros:

If you have a very active, happy family, the German Shorthair may be just the family pet you are looking for. This breed of dog is one that likes to be active and is going to have a high amount of energy on a daily basis. You will need to have room for your pet to run free and burn some of its energy every day. If you do not have this type of space, another breed will probably be more to your lifestyle. Without lots of exercise this pet will get bored which leads to destructiveness or escapism. They can clear a 6 foot fence so make sure they have plenty of room to run or if you can frequently take them where they can.

The GSP is an intelligent dog with exceptionally good temperament. This makes it an ideal choice as a pet that will get along well with children and other pets. They love being around people and are eager to please. If you want a dog that will learn tricks this one will fill the bill.

If you are looking for a great family pet that doubles as a good watch dog look no further than the German Shorthair. They adapt to their living conditions easily and with minimal training, will adapt to the needs that you have. While these dogs have too much energy to be good house dogs they will be somewhat happy to be inside if they are able to get plenty of exercise by running with you or with your bicycle. They are happiest when they can run when they want so try to have a large yard to put them in.

The grooming of the GSP is minimal as it sheds occasionally which keeps you from being too occupied with brushing of a long haired dog. The best thing for your dogs coat is to wash it every few months as well so there is no need for constant bathing. They like water so a dip occasionally will take care of most of the need for bathing.

Cons:

The trouble with owning a German Shorthair is that you are in need of constant exercise for your dog. If you are someone who lives on their own and who is at work the majority of the time, you will find that you have an unhappy dog who is not satisfied with being locked up in a home by itself all day long. If you are looking for a dog that enjoys being inside and is not too energetic look at getting another breed of dog.

If you don’t have a large yard you will doing this pet a great disservice as they like to be in almost constant motion. If you let them in the house be sure you have a fairly large one as these as fairly good sized. They like to play and often forget they are inside which can cause a lot of damage.

The GSP is not a pet that you can leave in the house by itself for any length of time as they get bored and can be quite destructive. If you do have to leave it indoors you should teach it to stay in a crate or better yet put it in the garage. If it likes to play with toys be sure they are put in with it along with plenty of water. Dog proof it as much as possible first though.

The German Shorthairs are ordinarily hardy dogs but some are prone to several problems such as epilepsy, and hip dysplasia along with a few other minor ones your vet can make you aware of and can be watched for.

If you are looking for an intelligent, active family pet that likes to hunt and roam the outdoors you won’t go wrong with a German Shorthaired Pointer. They are very high energy so make sure you can provide them outlets for this or they won’t be very happy.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Huge Profits From Short Sales – Fantastic Pre-Foreclosure Tool For Savvy Investors

Louisville realtors, investors and debtors facing foreclosure ask me from time to time how short sales work. Consider this a primer.

I recently brokered the sale of a house for $85,000 to an investor. The house appraised for $120,000, giving the investor substantial immediate equity. The lender took a $60,000 loss. The owner/seller was forced to sell his house, for which he received not one red cent, and had to move into rental. How is it that all parties walked away from the closing table satisfied?!

In the beginning…

When a home owner owes his lender more than he has borrowed, he’s said to be „upside down on his mortgage“. This can come about in many ways, the principal amongst them occurring when he simply stops making mortgage payments, often because he is in serious financial difficulty. If his mortgage payment is $1,000 per month, and he stops paying, or pays intermittently, the fines, interest and principle can rack up pretty quickly. And if the owner can’t pay the mortgage, chances are he hasn’t been able to make necessary repairs to his home. This situation is almost invariably accompanied by despondency, which again leads to neglect of the house.

Stir into the mix bankruptcy, and perhaps divorce, and you’ll understand it’s not surprising to find the homes of these owner/debtors are often seriously degradated. That leaky roof is probably the last of the owner’s problems.

The „F“ word

Foreclosure. It’s not a happy prospect for the lender or the borrower. Lenders have different tolerances for late payments. However by the time the debtor is late for the fourth consecutive month the vast majority of lenders begin foreclosure proceedings. In Kentucky the foreclosure sale of the home by public auction takes generally anywhere from 6 months to a year from the time the foreclosure procedures began. It can take longer – I saw one artful debtor drag on the foreclosure proceedings for more that 20 months! Her mortgage payment was $1,300 a month. After 20 months that became a significant debt compounded by late fees, interest, legal costs, and the potential cost of selling the property at a public foreclosure sale. To say nothing of the continuing, moment by moment deterioration of the property. By the time she moved out the bank had written off in excess of $80,000.

The lender’s and borrower’s conflicting interests

Capitalism is a wonderfully contrived system. It hands not only the power-barons a potent array of weapons with which to fight, but also the poor and destitute. Though the battlefield is nowhere near even, double digit interest thrust too deeply down an indigent debtor’s throat may precipitate his „nuclear“ retaliatory option – Chapter 7 bankruptcy. And so these two, symbiotically entwined, are locked in an elegant dance, teetering between dividends and disaster, profit and poverty. One serious mis-step, and the band stops playing.

Thus, from years of bitter experience, lenders have learned that it’s often better (cheaper) to attempt to gain the cooperation of the owner and have him agree to voluntarily sell and vacate his home, rather than evict him under foreclosure. Lenders also understand that the chance of ever recovering the money owed to them by the debtor is slim. But many debtors choose not to sell because, around the time they realize they will never catch up on their payments, they often have another „Ah Ha!“ flash of insight: that if they stop paying their mortgage and just wait for the foreclosure axe to fall (or better yet, engage in a hatfull of tricks to keep that axe at bay) they can live „rent free“ for at least 6 months. So now the debtor turns from borrower to squatter, perceiving it to be in his best interest to prevent the foreclosure for as long as possible. And if the house, the lender’s „security“, should fall apart in the meantime, so be it.

The solution

The lender is in a position to offer the borrower a very important concession for his cooperation: to write off the entire debt if the borrower finds a buyer to buy the house at a price and terms acceptable to the lender, within the time stipulated by the lender. This is the essence of a short sale. Lenders set their own guidelines for what they will accept. They may say they need to get fair market price, but will in fact often be prepared to sell for much less. They do not want to chance selling this house at auction and risk receiving a very low price. Or worse yet, receive a bid so low that the property does not meet their reserve price, and they end up owning the property. In this case the property is administered by the lender’s REO (real estate owned) department, which will then list the property with a realtor. And the cycle begins again……

The Lender initially said The Willows house was worth $120,000, and wanted it sold at about that price. It got the $120,000 figure from someone it had hired to do a BPO. BPO is short for „Broker’s Price Opinion.“ It is similar to a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) and serves the same purpose: to arrive at a fair market value for a property. Most are done as a „drive-by,“ meaning that the „driver“ (usually a realtor, maybe an appraiser) drives by the outside of the property, takes one to three photos and leaves. He then completes the lender’s BPO form on-line and e-mails it with the picture. Sometimes an „internal“ is requested, in which case the realtor goes into the property, takes about 3 internal and 3 external photos and sends these through to the lender with the completed BPO form.

When the debtor had realized he would not be able to save his house in The Willows, he contacted me to see if I could help. He did not want a foreclosure on his credit report, which would have prevented him from getting a conventional mortgage for three years. Even with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the wait period is only 2 years from dismissal. He also wanted to have his debt forgiven. I was able to accomplish both these goals, saving him about sixty thousand dollars.

The short sale process

As a Realtor, the first thing I did was explain to my client all his theoretical options, including deed in-lieu of foreclosure, loan renegotiation and others. He settled on short sale. I listed The Willows property, and had him sign an authorization for me to contact the lender to see if it would agree to a short sale. Remember, when I list the property, the owner/debtor is my client (not customer). This means I must always act in his best interest. The lender is not my client and I owe it no such duty. In a normal sale the seller and buyer have greatly divergent interests: the seller wants to sell at the highest possible price, and the buyer wants to buy at the lowest. In a short sale there is no such contest between the parties: the seller wants to sell at any price the lender will accept, and will generally agree to any price offered, contingent upon the lender’s acceptance. So in a short sale, the lender takes on the mantle of „seller“ vis-a-vi the buyer and these are really the parties who negotiate the contract. Now get your head around this one: as listing agent in a short sale I am often in the peculiar position of actively attempting to negotiate for the sale at the lowest possible price acceptable to the buyer! (But always with the caveat that this is in the seller’s best interest, and does not jeopardize the sale). This anomaly has many ramifications for the way I conduct and negotiate these transactions.

Price, Terms and Timing

Price: So how much will the lender lop off that price? I’ve generally found that as the day of auction approaches, lenders become more malleable. Pretty inefficient, because they loose a lot of time and money that way. I supplied the lender of The Willows property with objective material indicating that the drive-by BPO was inaccurate, given the condition of the house. The lender then had an internal BPO done. That was key to getting this particular deal done. I also sent off photos and comps of my own. In some cases I’ve sent the lenders well over 100 photos. Pictures speak louder than words, and it’s critical, when the property is damaged, that the lender understand the shape it’s in. Remember – the BPO realtor may be doing up to 50 BPOs a week – he could care less about this one deal. But as listing agent I need to keep the lender informed of all issues that coincide with my client’s best interests. The second Willows BPO came back at $100,000, and the lender initially tried to obtain that figure. Ultimately, with the foreclosure sale due to occur the next day, it reduced that amount to 80% of the $100,000 plus $5,000 to pay off non-mortgage related liens. At 4.50 pm the lender agreed to stop the foreclosure sale scheduled for 11.00 am next morning.

But hey, it ain’t over ‚til the fat lady sings! Because the loss on this loan was $60,000, and because the lender had authority to settle up to $30,000 only, we had to wait for final word from the mortgage insurance company, which we eventually obtained, but not without many hours additional work.

As you see, the price of The Willows property was determined by the lender looking at the bottom line – how much net it would receive. And in order to get this number, all lenders in short sales request a „fake HUD-1“ or a „net sheet“ submitted simultaneously with the offer. In a normal real estate transaction the HUD-1 is drawn up at the end of the transaction, after agreement is reached. – in a short sale the title search is performed immediately upon listing, even before there’s an offer, so that the figures can be applied to the net sheet as soon as needed.

Terms: The most common terms distinguishing these deals are that the lender often requires terms such as „sold as is“ and „proof of finance or funds required with offer“, and to protect the seller, the realtor should insert terminology indicating seller’s acceptance is subject to release from all liability for debt. None of this is carved in stone, and I’ve negotiated repairs and other concessions from lenders. Each case is unique. Paper will suffer any indignity – write the offer!

Timing: The REO, Foreclosure and Bankruptcy departments often appear to be understaffed and overwhelmed, so don’t expect instant responses. Some will take weeks to reply. Make sure the buyer and seller understand this. But once a deal is struck, the lender will often expect an unreasonably quick closing, and will attempt to penalize you with days interest for closing after a certain date. This all goes back to the net sheet calculations; because you have informed the lender how much it will receive by a certain date, it then attempts to hold the line at that date, even though they are generally very slow to respond. The Willows lender, after having not responded to multiple contacts, gave us just 2 days within which to close! Fortunately we well prepared, but it was very close.

Closing Note

The tax consequences of short sales fall outside the scope of this article. If you want info on how to handle competing offers, dual limited agency within this environment, or need a copy of the net sheet I use, you may contact me.

Update

Here’s a new twist. A couple of weeks ago I submitted a $235,000 offer to a lender on a short sale, (Seller owes about $275,000) which the lender ultimately accepted. However, in it’s acceptance letter, at the very bottom of the sheet, the lender stipulated that it retained its right of recourse against the seller/borrower (my client)! And this despite seemingly contrary language in the main body of the letter. I explained to the lender that the ONLY reason my client had agreed to the short sale (and not to jerk the lender around in the bankruptcy proceedings) was because he expected to obtain a complete release from all liability at closing. After a weeks or so of wrangling, attorneys etc, the lender „saw the light“ and agreed to the release.

CMA

Though the information provided is considered reliable, it is not complete, nor warranted accurate. Always consult your broker or an attorney.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Save Dinero With These Pro Staging Tips

I’m not sure if I told you yet, but a HUGE thing for me is how to stage a house on a budget. Staging can be an investment, but I get a sense from my clients that they or their friends and family watch HGTV–which I love, by the way!–and have a reality TV image of staging and stagers and not a realistic one. I have actually saved my staging clients money, time and energy because they were under the false assumption that when staging a house, they needed to do work or make changes that just weren’t necessary. Not to mention how much cash they saved by getting their house on and off the market superfast!

As a Stager, I do my best to understand who your target buyer is, what your strengths and weaknesses are in the market, to work with what you have all while being as minimally invasive to your house as possible. Here are some true tricks of the staging trade that can really help you save money and stage a house like a pro!

Don’t Paint Trim

If your trim is in good condition or only slightly warn, save yourself time and money but only painting walls if necessary. If there are a few chips here and there in your white trim, good old fashioned whiteout (that’s from the typewriter days, kids!) is great for touching up.

Don’t Refinish Hardwoods

Hardwoods are a HUGE selling point even if they are not in the best shape. Giving them a good cleaning and minor touch ups with stain are all that you may need.

Don’t Buy New Furniture

I had a client that lived in a house that had last been decorated in 1984. To say there was tons o‘ formica and polished brass is an understatement! The house had been on the market 3 times with no offers so the seller thought that she would need to buy new furniture to update the look of the house. I completely disagreed with her and we worked with her 80’s finery adding updated artwork and accessories. After we staged the house for a quick sell, the house sold in under 3 weeks with a bidding war! The seller saved on both ends of the selling equation–nice!

Don’t Replace Outdated Appliances

If your appliances are in good condition and look OK, don’t update them with thee newest, stainless steel variety. When we moved into our house, one of the selling points to me was that I got to put in exactly what appliances I wanted to rather than paying for what someone else had put in. If they are worn, or old, ignore this advice and head to Lowe’s immediately!

Don’t Automatically Update Outdated Lighting

When you start getting into changing light fixtures, it can totally put you into more work than you think. You never know what you are going to find when you take down a fixture so a lot of times it is just best to work with what you have and update the look of everything around the room so that the outdated fixture isn’t the only focal point. Spray paint is also a wonderful thing and now that it comes in metal finishes, you can really take a dated fixture into the new millennium easily and inexpensively. One big exception to this rule–If you live in a luxury home/community and you still have builder’s grade fixtures on your first floor and the „first impression“ rooms, change them out! It will totally be worth it!

Don’t Change Out All of Your Brass

A quick fix for polished brass is Brass and Bronze Aging Solution. For under $10 you can update your bathroom fixtures and with way less hassle

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Wallpaper – The Bugaboo of Realtors Trying To Sell Your Property and Home Buyers Buying

The greater population of the United States moves on average every five to seven years, according to Fanny Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD, and other agencies tracking these statistics, unlike Europeans and others where the family home is a legacy passed from generation to generation. With those statistics, you might want to reconsider hanging wallpaper.

Wallpaper is a personal statement and even the mere fact of having any style limits the sales value of your home. Home buyers can’t see through the personality of others and place themselves in someone else’s home when their stamp is so heavy-handedly placed on it. If they can see through that handicap, they think about the work of removing wallpaper and paint.

Home buyers cringe at the idea of painting over wallpaper. They have heard the horror stories of patterns bleeding through the paint, seams showing, edges peeling. Not a pretty picture in the mind of prospective home buyers and realtors.

Wallpaper rarely opens up a space. It usually makes it more difficult to hang art that doesn’t compete with the paper’s pattern. When it grows old, it tends to look shabby–not shabby chic. It often dates a place.

But there is a solution if you insist on having pattern on your walls. It’s an old trick that is rarely used. Hang fabric with starch rather than wallpaper paste. The fabric peels off as easily as contact paper. All the rules for hanging wallpaper are the same for hanging fabric, except it’s done with starch. You will still have to paint when you remove the fabric, but removing the fabric is a snap. You don’t have to steam, soak, score, or scrape. Just peel!

When your realtor suggests you remove wallpaper, do it. Or don’t be surprised when home buyers low-ball their offer because they are anticipating the work involved to depersonalize your home. You may not understand why home buyers don’t love your selection, but you can wallpaper–oops, fabric–your new place and make memories there. After all, you are moving on. How would you like to move into other people’s memorabilia?

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Tips for Getting New Clients As a Realtor

Admit it or not, finding clients on the vast real estate market is very challenging. It is challenged by the existence of big real estate firms which employ hundreds of experienced real estate agents on their teams. If you are a newbie, you could easily be swallowed by the efforts exerted by the established firms. But have you ever think that they also started out as rookies in the field? If you are in this situation, here are some tips to at least give you a leverage on finding the right clients for you.

Create your own circle of offline connections and influences. As much as the online world is essential to widen your connections, the offline connections and influences is equally essential. Start with your family and friends. Then add your past classmates even those from your elementary days whom you still remember. Your teachers can be great additions. Move on to those whom you are tapping services as professionals such as your doctors, dentists, hair stylists, pet groomers and fitness coaches. The parents of your children’s classmates and friends can also expand your offline connections. If you have business contacts, add them as well. Don’t forget your neighbors. They can be great sources of referrals.

Build a better online network of friends. Through social media, you, as a real estate agent is bestowed greater power to enhance online connections. Your network can be a greater web of interconnected persons starting with your family members down to their own friends, acquaintances, friend of friends, and so on. Before you notice it, your network has expanded to include professionals of diverse titles not only in your locality but also in adjacent towns and nearby cities. If you think they are not relevant, you may be wrong with the impression. Anyone in your online network of friends can always be a great source of referral even those who you seldom see to be adding activities in their social media accounts.

Send mailers, both online and offline. Now that you have established both your online and offline connections, it is time to introduce yourself as the rookie real estate agent. For offline mailers, be sure to have a formal tone. Give your full name, license number, the firm you are connected too, its address, and contact numbers of you and the firm. Inform them of the services you are offering.

For online mailers, the same can be followed. But since it is an electronic form, you may want to add some enhanced graphics and video.

Create your own website. For personal branding, having an own website is an essential. This is where you can provide listings, value added services, frequently asked questions, and even informational articles that can help spark the interest of your potential clients. Support it with a blog, and connect it with your social media accounts in different real estate online platforms.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

8 Important Ways Homeowners Benefit From Using Real Estate Agents

Whether, you are a homeowner, who has decided, it’s time to sell his house, and relocate, or a potential buyer, seeking for the so – called, home of your dreams (the American Dream of home ownership), you will have the choice, of either, doing so, on your own, or using the services of, and being represented by a quality, experienced, professional, real estate agent. Some believe they will get a better deal, when they do so, on their own, because, there will be no, or fewer commissions. However, according to the National Association of Realtors, or NAR, homeowners, generally, net more, even after considering these, than those who do so, alone. Buyers also benefit because the right agent, has the local knowledge, to properly provide you, with relevant, professionally prepared, Competitive Market Analysis (or CMA), so you have a better idea of market value and the competition. With that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly, examine, review, consider, and discuss, 8 important reasons, homeowners benefit from using the right real estate agents, for their specific needs, and situation.

1. Local knowledge: Although markets, and times, change, in the vast number of circumstances, you will get your best offers, in the first few weeks, after it’s listed on the market. Therefore, pricing it right, from the start, often makes the difference, in a significant, major way!

2. Marketing expertise: The right agent, will create a customized, personal marketing plan, which addresses your specific residence and property, location, etc, as well as your priorities, needs, etc. There is no, one – size – fits – all, marketing process, so using a quality real estate professional, often makes a significant difference.

3. Agent’s network: Those who try to sell their house, on their own, often discover, they fail to attract as many potential buyers, as those using a professional. This is referred to, as an agent’s network, which includes the important tool, of listing the property, on the Multiple Listing Service, etc.

4. Hold client’s hand: The process of selling one’s house, is often, a stressful one, so using a professional, who has been through it before, and has a better idea of what to expect and anticipation, eases many of these stresses. Seek someone who patiently, is willing to, hold your hand, through the entire process.

5. Explanations/ expectations/ modifications: Rather than assuming or guessing, wouldn’t it help, to have clear explanations? Many homeowners have excessive or wrong expectations, and the individual, who represents you, must have the inner strength, to explain fully, his reasoning, and strategies. In addition, modifications, in terms of marketing, strategies, and pricing, are necessary, and someone with more experience and expertise, is far better positioned to guide you properly.

6. Convenience: Do you want to have to stick around the house, to show, the property, or wouldn’t it make sense, to hire someone, to do so, professionally? Open – houses, are only a small component in the overall strategy!

7. Negotiating: Professionally negotiating, on your behalf, benefits the client! Wouldn’t a professional, do a better job, in most cases?

8. From transaction stage, through closing: Hire someone who will be there for you, from the initial listing stages, showings, marketing, service, to the transaction stage, and then, until the closing, and house transfer is completed!

These are only 8 of the advantages of hiring the right person to represent your real estate needs. Focus on your needs, interview several, and choose, the right agent, for you!

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Real Estate Advertising Ideas – 5 Unique Advertising Options

When building customer-base for real estate, success is not an overnight feat. It will involve a lot of hard work. Letting other people know of your business or about the property you sell does not totally mean that you have to place lots of text-based ads all over. You have to be creative to excite your potential buyers. Here are some tips for your next real estate advertising goal.

  1. Create a video walk through of the house. Take advantage of the technology offered by smartphones and drones. Using them plus your creativity, you can shoot at different parts of the house to present realistic view of what you are selling.
  2. Build free offers to collect email addresses. If you are observant, you probably can see that a lot of websites and blogs have pop-ups offering free trials, free newsletters, pdf downloads of articles, and a lot more. By simply filling out the electronic forms, users can give you email addresses which you can later use to send out your offers of real estate properties being sold.
  3. Be a resource person for local TV networks and radio stations. By being an expert person on real estate, you can actually gain the attention of local TV networks and radio stations. It’s like applying for a job but if you’re able to hook with them, you will have a great venue to advertise the properties in your portfolio. You can email them to send either a letter stating your endeavor or a short video presenting yourself as an expert and willing to be their resource person on subjects related to real estate.
  4. Take advantage of the trending internet memes. Admit it or not, you are also among the bunch of internet users who are enthused with the trending memes we see. They carry a range of graphics ranging from animation characters, Hollywood stars, animals, and a lot more. Depending on the graphics and the texts that go with them, they become instruments to send-off messages to those who see them. With this said, then you can have memes that actually persuade people to buy the property you are selling or call them to action to avail your services as a real estate agent.
  5. Have video testimonials done by previous clients. Go beyond the usual testimonials which are fully textual and placed on specific sections of the website or blog. Instead, ask for video testimonials from your past clients. Aside from presenting their real experiences, you present real people to potential customers.

Go unique. Go beyond the usual. Exhaust your creative juice to excite your clients. Real estate marketing is tasking and will need you to work your way to become a brand and an authority.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

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