Easy Landscaping Ideas

You’ve heard the term “curb appeal.” You don’t need to have a green thumb to make some simple changes to your yard which will delight your potential buyers. A weekend project is all you need to make these easy landscaping and yard changes.

• Add color; seasonal flowers in pots by the front door or beds in the front yard add brightness to the home
• Native plants; create a lower maintenance environment with native plants who thrive in your area
• Outdoor lighting; with so many solar options, it’s easy to add a glow
• Garden accents; fountains, benches and garden art create interest and a sense of luxury
• Vegetable and herb gardens; consider a raised bed in a portion of the yard or large pots filled with tasty plants
• BBQs and furniture sets; while more expensive, adding furniture arranged to showcase the outdoor lifestyle will appeal to buyers and enhance your yard

As the weather becomes warmer, buyers naturally spend more time in the yard. Give them a reason to imagine themselves enjoying this summer in their new home.

Items to Check before a Home Inspection

Selling a home can be a stressful time, there is so much to think about; keeping the home clean, heading out on a moment’s notice to accommodate last minute showings, not to mention planning a move. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed.

Then you get that great offer and enter escrow. You’re relieved until you realize there’s a home inspection coming. Even a home meticulously maintained can have hidden issues. The good news is that you can prepare for the home inspection and make sure you pass with flying colors.

Items to Check before a Home Inspection

  • Doors, windows, cabinets and drawers – check that they slide smoothly
  • Run water in sinks, tubs and showers – snake any that drain slowly
  • Evidence of water leaks – Garage ceiling, under sinks, around water heaters, etc.
  • GFIs – check your local code and put GFI plugs where required
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors must be in working order
  • Gutters and Roof – replace any missing roof tiles and clean gutters
  • HVAC – Consider a HVAC servicing to replace filters and check for problems
  • Water Heater – is it properly strapped and vented
  • Deferred maintenance – anything that has been neglected should be addressed before the home inspection
  • Check out your crawl space, is there moisture issues, standing water anywhere?
  • Have your HVAC serviced if you haven’t done so recently.

The best defense is a good offense. This is true in home inspections too! The best way to ensure you have a great home inspection is to have a pre-listing home inspection. It could be the best couple hundred dollars you can spend – uncover the issues before the buyer does.

The A Team

How Appraisers Determine Value

Once a buyer and seller agree on a sales price, the contract is then sent to the lender for the loan approval process. One of the first things the lender will do is to order an independent appraisal. The appraiser will use local data to determine a value for the subject property. The main purpose is to protect the lender in the event of borrower default by ensuring that the
property is actually worth what the buyer is willing to pay, but this also protects the buyer from over-paying as well.

Determining Value
The process appraiser use to determine value is relatively simple. They start by searching for local comparable properties which have closed recently. They choose the 2 or 3 which most closely match the subject property and use them for comparison. Since these comparable homes have closed recently, they are assumed to represent market value.

Once the appraiser has the comparable properties identified, they will then compare the subject property to them. They will add or subtract value for size, location, amenities, features, upgrades and so on until they have a value for the subject property. This is then reported to the lender in the form of a final appraisal.

The A Team

8 Things Buyers Notice as Soon as They Walk In

Buyers notice everything – good and bad. From the moment they walk in the front door, they are trying to determine if this is the right home for them and their family. If you have your home listed for sale, paying attention to what the buyers notice can mean the difference between an offer and a missed opportunity.

8 Things Buyers Notice as Soon as they Walk In

  • Light – A bright home is inviting. Make sure you fill your home with lots of natural light or a soft evening glow.
  • Smell – Nothing is less inviting than a strong odor. Even candles and air fresheners can be overwhelming. Less is more and make sure nothing unpleasant is lingering.

  • Space – Remove any unneeded furniture and offer a spacious home which flows.

  • Ceilings – Of course you can’t make your ceilings higher, but make sure they are free from water stains because buyers will look up.
  • Pictures and Personal Items – Remove personalization as much as possible so the buyers can imagine their family in the home.
  • Outdated Furnishings and Fixtures – If your home is filled with hand-me-downs, consider a professional stager. Old wall paper or outdated paint colors should be replaced as well.
  • Dirty, Grimy Rooms – Most important, clean everything thoroughly. Nothing is less appealing than a dirty home.

Let’s make sure your home is move-in ready and staged to sell!

The A Team

Top Reasons you Need Your Own Agent When Buying New Construction

Have you ever walked into the model home showroom of a brand new housing development? There is nothing more exciting than the prospect of building a home from scratch and starting absolutely fresh in a new space. You get to pick the colors of the carpet, choose the countertops and flooring and watch as the home goes up. The nice sales people in the showroom are happy to help you through the process, but did you know that you can bring
your own real estate agent to represent you? Yes you can and here are the top reasons why you should have your own agent.

  • Choose the Right Development – It’s not enough to find a lovely development; understanding the neighborhood and schools play a big part of home values.
  • Choose the Right Lot – You might love the corner lot, but your agent can help you consider resale before you buy.
  • Consider the Cost of Upgrades – Not all upgrades should be handled through the sales office; your agent can help you understand customary costs for upgrades.
  • Contract Negotiation – Did you know that the price and terms of new construction homes can be negotiated? Your agent can get you the best deal.
  • Contract Review – Your agent will ensure everything is written correctly in the contract.
  • Home Inspection – Your agent will arrange a professional home inspection.
  • Your Agent is Free – All this representation and help, yet the home development pays their commission.

New home construction is fun! Take advantage of all the benefits having your own agent representation brings and let the housing development pay for it.

The A Team

What is Dual Agency and When is it Ok?

What is Dual Agency?

Dual agency is a situation to describe when a real estate agent works with both the buyer and the seller. Most people familiar with the housing market know that a buyer’s agent works for the buyer, a listing agent for the seller, but there’s a third category that’s much more mysterious: the dual agent.

Dual agents, also known as transaction brokers, work for both the buyer and the seller, combining both roles into one. Buyers might stumble across this scenario when they fall in love with a home where the agent they’ve hired to represent them also happens to represent the seller. It’s rare, but it happens, especially in smaller markets where there aren’t a whole lot of properties to go around.

Dual agency can also mean that the buyer and seller have separate agents at the same real estate firm, which most often happens with large brokerages with lots of listings. This is better known as Designated Dual Agency.

Certain states (but not all) permit dual agency as long as it’s disclosed to both buyers and sellers. But is dual agency a good idea? Well, yes and no. There are both advantages and disadvantages to buying a house through dual agency. Here are the pros and cons.

Benefits of dual agency

Dual agency can certainly streamline the home-buying process. Think about it: If both buyer and seller have their own separate agents, there will be four people’s schedules that must be consulted before the property can be shown. Cut one agent out, and it makes scheduling 25% easier. Or thereabouts.

Another potential perk of a dual agent is it can save you on the commission—the money home sellers pay their agent for all their hard work (typically 6% of the sales price of a home), which is then split with the corresponding buyer’s agent for all their hard work. A dual agent, however, keeps the whole kit and caboodle. (Good for them!) As a result, dual agents may be more open than usual to lowering that commission a bit.

Downsides of dual agency

A dual agent is supposed to be neutral, helping clients on both sides of the deal equally. But staying truly neutral can be difficult. For instance, since an agent’s commission is a percentage of a home’s sales price, it’s inherently in an agent’s best interest to get a high selling price, because he’ll make more money. That’s good for the seller, but not so much for the buyer.

Also, since a dual agent works for both buyer and seller, he must tread carefully not to betray the confidence of either party. So, he might stay mum about juicy tidbits that you might have more easily learned if you’d had your own agent in your corner.

For instance: A listing agent might know his clients are desperate to sell. If the buyer’s agent finds that out, he can inform his clients of their added negotiation power. A dual agent, on the other hand, might be compelled to keep mum about all personal matters.

When to use a dual agent

In states that allow this practice, agents are required by law to inform clients if they’re facing a dual agency scenario—and they can’t move forward without all parties’ informed consent. What’s more, both buyers and sellers have the right to opt out and use another agent so both parties have their own representation.

There are situations where using a dual agent makes sense. An example would be if you and your neighbor struck up a deal to sell your home and have already negotiated the terms, price, etc. You might want to use a transactional Realtor (dual agent) to assist both parties toward the closing. (This is also a case where you may want to ask for a lower commission, since so much of the deal is already ironed out.)

The A Team

What to Look for in a New Home Builder

You’ve found the perfect patch of land and now you’re ready to build your new home, from scratch. The right home builder is the key between a beautiful custom home and a project filled with delays and extra costs – a money pit. If you don’t have a great builder on speed dial, how can you find a good new home contractor? Here are a few tips for making sure you get the best builder for your project.


• Build a List of Options – The first step is to find local builders who create homes which suit your lifestyle and taste.
• Do Your Homework – Ask for references and take your time in doing your due diligence. Ask for past clients who will be willing to meet with you and show you the actual homes they have built. Ask about the process and if they finished on time. Ask about problems and find out how the builder solved them.
• Learn About the Subcontractors – A strong builder works with the best craftsmen in the area. Ask about the subcontractors and interview them and check their references as well.

Learn all you can about the builder and their projects. Make sure the homes are built with solid materials and construction techniques. Before you choose anyone, you should feel completely assured they will create a great home and completely understand your vision.

The A Team