Emergency Preparedness in the Home [Infographic]

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Disasters can strike at any moment. Luckily there are things you can do around the home to be ready for some unexpected phenomenon. This infographic takes a look at where the safest places are inside the house, and how to prep your real estate for whatever Mother Nature sends your way. Take a look at all these tips and you’ll improve your emergency preparedness in the home.

Emergency Preparedness Emergency Preparedness in the Home [Infographic]

The first thing you need to know is to have an emergency preparedness kit around the house. This kit should include first aid, back-up food supply, a flashlight, candles and a lighter, and anything else you think you may need for an extended stay in the home. If someone suffers from asthma or allergies, have the necessary precautions in the kit, as well.

Fire

There were 369,500 house fires in the United State last year. In case of a fire in your own home, evacuate outside. To prepare, check your fire detectors routinely.

Tornado

In case of a tornado, go to a hallway or closet. This would be a good time to have that disaster prep kit.

Earthquake

If you live in a quake-prone area, secure water heaters, book cases, household electronics, and any large furtiture. Make sure any wall decorations are secured as well. Make sure piping in the house has flexible connectors that can sustain a bit of a bend. Stand in a doorway, the most secure place where nothing can fall on you.

Flood

In case of this common household emergency, you’ll obviously want to move to the attic or second story. Turn off utilities before the worst of the flooding. 

Hurricane

For a hurricane, you’ll want the family to report to the bathroom, hallway, closet, or some other windowless space to ride out the storm. A great way to prevent broken glass is to install storm shutters. You can also get straps from a hardware store to help hold down your roofing and wall panels in high winds.

This information came from sources NFPA.org, our friends at HouseLogic.com, and of course, this blog!

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10 Ways to Make More Money Selling Your Home

by Pete Miller

Selling your home is no longer a simple business. According to the National Association of Realtors existing home sales as of August were down better than 5 percent when compared with 2013. Regardless, you want the best price on your house no matter how the market is moving. Here are 10 steps to make more money selling your home by leveraging your local marketplace:

10 Ways to Make Money Selling Your Home 10 Ways to Make More Money Selling Your Home

1. Be Viral Friendly. It’s tough out there. Every home for sale competes with your property so how do you stand out? It’s estimated that 92 percent of all buyers search the Internet for a home so that’s a medium where you have to excel. Good pictures and strong videos are a must.

2. Take Care of Maintenance. You may not need marble countertops and gold faucets for kitchens and baths but you do need everything to be in perfect condition. This means all appliances work, nothing leaks, walls are painted and papered and all surfaces are clean.

3. Focus on Cleanliness. The time to clean out a home is before you sell. The reason? Less stuff creates a sense of more space. See if a local charity might be interested in old furniture or clothing. Libraries often appreciate used books.

4. Don’t Over-Improve. The general rule in real estate is that buyers seek the least expensive home in the most expensive neighborhood they can afford. Translation: If you have the cheapest home on the block the odds of a quick sale go up. Have a home which is consistent with the neighborhood.

5. Shop Around. The National Association of Realtors reported in 2013 that “two-thirds of home sellers only contacted one agent before selecting the one to assist with their home sale.” A better idea is to speak with several brokers who are active and successful in your neighborhood and let them compete for your business. Beware of the broker who offers an unrealistically-high price, a valuation which is likely to mean your property will lag unsold on the market for months – at which point the price will come down.

6. Look for Experience. Althoughyou may have a friend who is casually “in the business,” a broker with a lot of experience and success is the person you want to market your home and represent your interests. Also – and this can be important – a broker with a lot of local experience can be seen as an “authority figure.” When they set the price of a home there’s a credibility that may not extend to someone who has sold fewer homes.

7. Set a Reasonable Price. This must be consistent with the neighborhood. It can be helpful to visit open houses before you place your home on the market to see how other properties compare. This is also a good way to meet local brokers to see how well they represent client properties.

8. Have Faith in the Open House. Real estate professionals debate the value of open houses and to a large degree it depends on the particular property. That said, the goal is to get as many people to see the property as possible so when considering a broker ask about their experience with open houses and what they recommend for your home.

9. Look at More Than Just Offer Price. When you get an offer realize that it’s just part of the process. Does the buyer want “seller contributions,” money to off-set closing costs? Are you required to make repairs? Does the buyer have the finances to readily get a mortgage? Have the broker show how much you will get at closing if the buyer’s offer is accepted and look carefully at the buyer’s financial capacity.

10. Leave Some Wiggle Room. Always have a little room to bargain more. It’s not uncommon that some adjustments are required to close the deal – maybe a specific repair to overcome an inspection or a willingness to let the buyers move in before closing with a pre-settlement occupancy agreement. Whatever the case, remember that the point is to sell the house and don’t let little issues distract you from your goal. Letting a home sale fall through because it takes an extra $500 to close the deal is a false economy. The better option is typically to finish the sale and move on – otherwise you have to go through the whole process again and there’s no way to know what issues a new purchaser will raise.

Author bio:

Peter Miller is a nationally-syndicated real estate columnist and the author of six books published originally by Harper & Row. He blogs regularly at OurBroker.com. He is also a contributor to Auction.com

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BASICS Series: What is a Good Faith Deposit?

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Welcome to HouseHunt’s BASICS Series, where we take a look at the questions of every homeowner and potential homeowner.

If you’re a first-time buyer, you can get very far into the process before you first hear the term ‘good faith deposit.’ This can be frustrating because it’s basically extra money you spend on the front-end (when you’re already tight on finances) in order to be taken seriously as a new buyer. This post will take a look at what you need to know about this often overlooked term.

good faith deposit BASICS Series: What is a Good Faith Deposit?

What is a Good Faith Deposit?

A good faith deposit is often called an earnest money deposit. This is money that is submitted at the same time as the contract with your proposal and offer. The reason for this extra cash is to show that you are serious as a buyer. It says, “I want your property, and I’m willing to prove it by putting up some cash (in good faith) before we even get around to the down payment.”

Sure, you’ve already been pre-qualified and pre-approved, but frankly that only matters to the banks and brokers. For the people actually selling their home, all they care about is green. Putting some money in view right off the bat is a customary step that will make your offer as appealing as possible.

The good faith deposit is not to be confused with a down payment. There are probably ways to sneak into the contract that your earnest money is a portion of a down payment, but that likely won’t work in your favor. Both will ultimately go towards paying off that house, but they are viewed by the seller as two separate entities.

How Much is It?

As with a down payment, there is no set amount for a good faith deposit, but there are recommended amounts to a) appeal to the seller, and b) protect yourself.  It is also important to remember that this amount varies greatly depending on if you’re operating in a buyer’s or seller’s market. If there is more inventory than there are buyers, your good faith deposit becomes a lot less significant!

1-3% of the cost is customary for an earnest money contribution, although you could technically offer as little as a dollar. Your real estate agent will know the best offer given the market conditions. Since the seller is required to handle closing costs, they are often looking for a good faith deposit that will cover that portion.

How to Go About It

The name “good faith” indicates that you are good for the money you’re offering on the home. However, it also implies you’re being vulnerable with this money. Don’t worry! That is not the case!

The earnest money does not go directly to the seller. It goes to a reliable third party, usually the escrow office. As the buyer, you are also advised to obtain a receipt for your deposit. This ensures that if, for any reason, the contract doesn’t go through, you can get your money back!

Because it tends to be a smaller amount, the good faith deposit is usually overlooked in the real estate transaction discussions. Regardless, we don’t want it to sneak up on you when you already have so much going on to try to close on a home! We hope that this brief overview of the subject empowers you to go into the process more aware. Once this is on your radar, you can let your Realtor handle the details, and you’ll be in your dream home in no time.

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How a Closing Can Go Wrong [Infographic]

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If you think everything will run smoothly once the closing date has been scheduled, then we need to talk! Anything can still happen. Let us tell you how a closing can go wrong.

Closing 2 How a Closing Can Go Wrong [Infographic]

What Could Go Wrong at a Closing?

1. Financial Problems: The buyer may not have the funds available to cover the closing costs.

Tip: Ask your lender to give you a rough estimate before closing day.

2. Your Loan: The loan can be denied due to changes in income, credit or missing documents.

Tip: Avoid big purchases and changing jobs. Also, be sure to bring all of your documents with you.

3. Title issues: The title may not be cleared because of existing liens, unpaid taxes or another claim on the property.

Tip: Do a title search and buy title insurance.

4. Closing in Escrow: There could be a hold up on the closing date if the transfers are not done immediately.

Tip: Arrange for money to be transferred to the closing agent the day before.

5. Final Walk-Through: The buyer notices recent damages or missing items.

Tip: Don’t sign any papers until you’ve checked everything.

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Does Homeownership Really Offer Social Benefits?

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Every few years, the National Association of Realtors releases a study about the social benefits of homeownership. It is a comprehensive study that looks at homeowners versus renters in regards to their education, civic engagement, and overall well-being. The study proposes, as you see in the infographic below, courtesy of the California Association of Realtors, that owning real estate improves socioeconomic standings in almost every way.

In this article, we intend to delve into those social benefits and open discussion as to whether the relationship between homeownership and status is as dependent as the study suggests.

SocialBenefitsIG ColorPaletteC alex.edits 12 7 11 Does Homeownership Really Offer Social Benefits?

The Supposed Social Benefits

The first item the graphic looks at is the education of children in of homeowners. They have higher achievements in math and reading, fewer behavior problems, and a lower dropout rate.

In terms of civic participation, homeowners are more likely to vote, volunteer, and get to know their neighbors.

Lastly, those who own their own real estate report a higher quality of life, self-esteem, and a feeling of control over the direction of their lives.

All these things sound great, but is it possible that they’re not consequences of homeownership? Perhaps it’s even the other way around? Could homeownership be a result of civil engagement and a high quality of life?

 

A Shift in Perspective

It may be unnecessary that real estate professionals feel the need to sell the idea of homeownership at all. Many studies indicated that, even after the burst of the housing bubble and the subsequent recession, owning real estate is still very much the American Dream. Even with millennials – often referred to as the renter generation – 93% of people plan to own in the future, even if that’s not a feasible present reality.

So why don’t those wannabe-homeowners just go buy a home? It’s a culmination of a bunch of different factors. Many don’t have a spouse or family, so they lack the urgency to make such a hefty investment. Many haven’t settled down geographically in order to feel confident in a purchase. Or lastly, many are younger in the job market and lack the financial means to accomplish such a long-term goal.

For example, people who are constantly travelling won’t invest in real estate and also won’t engage as much in their neighborhood, since it’s only temporary.

Sure, the social benefits are perfectly legitimate. The statistics certainly aren’t fudged and the pros are obvious. It’s worth considering, however, that they are not benefits of homeownership. They are simply supplemental facets of a stage in life when homeownership is a reality.

Here at HouseHunt, we love homeownership as an goal and homeowners as people. But instead of viewing ownership as the fountain of all things good in your life, it could be healthier to view it as a result of many other wise choices and investments. If you take away all the lofty ideals of homeownership, it could be less intimidating to new buyers and give young people a sense of direction for where they should be heading in order to achieve their goals.

What do YOU think? Is this approach too cynical? Or are real estate professionals just subject to skew perspective in order to benefit the nationwide dream of homeownership?

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