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Bridget Alves                of Valencia

Blog - Full Service Real Estate Group, Inc

Tips to make money “flipping” houses

Bridget Alves - Monday, July 04, 2016


Of all the investment vehicles out there, real estate is arguably one of the most accessible. Everything around us is real estate, in one form or another, and investing in it simply requires that one obtain some measure of ownership. That being said, one of the more common ways people invest in real estate is through the practice of “flipping” houses. “Flipping” a house involves the age-old investment trope of “buy low, sell high” but applies it to houses instead of stocks. For those interested in the possibility of “flipping” a house, here are a few tips:


  • Try buying with cash as opposed to loans. Depending on the market in which you’re looking to invest, this can seem like a daunting task. While it isn’t entirely impossible to make money “flipping” a house you bought with a loan, the moment you buy said home you’re already in debt. 
  • “Buy low …” the further below market value you can purchase a home for, the more money you stand to make on the resale. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people know how much their home is worth and won’t be willing to let it go for less. So, how do you buy below market value? You search for that small percentage of people that don’t fit into the aforementioned category. Typically, these people will be what we refer to as “motivated sellers.” These folks, for whatever reason, are in a rush to sell their home. Maybe they have to move for a new job, or maybe they can’t afford the mortgage payment anymore. Either way, the more dire their need is, the more likely they will be to give you a good deal just to get rid of the home.
  • Be cognizant of the home’s location. Knowing where the home is on the map is one thing, knowing where it is regarding market trends in the area is something else. Houses are like stocks in that, if the area where the home is located is experiencing positive yearly gains in terms of home values, it isn’t unreasonable to bet on those gains continuing. The opposite is also true. If the area has been experiencing yearly losses in terms of market value – be very careful.
  • Make as many repairs and upgrades as you can by yourself. Look, finding a “motivated seller” can be a godsend, but it isn’t always going to happen. A lot of people who profit off of “flipping” houses do so by purchasing a home that needs work, putting in said work, and then selling the updated home for more money. In order to maximize the profit, you’ll want to minimize the expense; and that often means making what repairs you can yourself. Every contractor you don’t have to call is one less fee you’re going to have to pay.

Quickly enhance your home’s value with landscaping

Bridget Alves - Monday, June 13, 2016


The word “value” has a literal definition and an abstract one. The first, obvious definition of value is the amount of real, actual money your home is worth. The second definition is going to be how much appreciation a buyer holds in their mind regarding what they’re purchasing. It might seem like an increase in one always results in an increase in the other - but that isn’t always the case!

For example, let’s take two homes for sale right next door to each other. These homes are identical in every way with the exception that one has a swimming pool and the other does not. The home with a pool is likely going to be somewhat more expensive than the one without, because the pool makes it more valuable. However, a savvy buyer will look at a swimming pool and see the future increases in their monthly utility bills, and the amount of work it takes to maintain a pool, and may ultimately decide to purchase the other home. In this scenario, the presence of the pool raised the market value of the home, but decreased the mental value in the mind of the seller.

So, what can you do to increase the market value of your home and also make it more enticing to buyers? Landscaping! The great thing about landscaping is that it’s relatively easy to add things to your yard that make it more appealing, while at the same time being easy to change if the buyer isn’t too keen on your design. Removing unwanted shrubs, flowers, and even trees, can be done over the course of a weekend. The new owners can then replace the landscaping with something more appealing to them, or simply leave the front lawn as nothing more than green grass.


Removing an unwanted swimming pool, however, isn’t really an option. The removal of a swimming pool would be a nightmare and result in a giant, gaping pit in its place. Keeping the pool and not using it can still be a hassle because water and debris will collect in the bottom and, over time, turn into icky green sludge. Covering the pool can slow the process, but experience shows that water always finds a way in there somehow.

Common turn-offs for home buyers

Bridget Alves - Monday, May 30, 2016


So, you're getting a lot of attention from potential buyers who come in to see your home, but for some reason the offers just aren't following. What could be wrong? The answer to that, unfortunately, are a lot of things. Here are a few of the top turn-offs that home buyers encounter that are sure to send them running for the door.

Dirt
This issue is more common than you may realize, and there are few errors more egregious than showing a dirty home. The first thing you need to do is get your personal effects out of the home (you can leave large furniture like beds and couches). The second thing you need to do is scour the entire place from top to bottom. If you don't have the time or energy required to get your home looking new again, then hire a professional service. Seriously. Do it.

Odors
Odors are a huge issue; they're like dirt that you smell. Usually, opening the windows during the cleaning process will remove any odors. If they persist, you need to track down the source. Pets stinking up your carpet? Replace it. Musty smell coming from the vents? Get an HVAC technician to take a look and make sure there isn't mildew or mold.

Fragrances
A fragrance is the opposite of an odor, but it can have the same effect. Whether you love the scent of lilacs, lavender, or cigarettes and motor oil is entirely up to you (hey, I don't judge). However, people react to fragrances differently. If a person enters your home and find the fragrance unpleasant, they'll associate that unpleasantness with your home and are far less likely to place an offer. You want it to smell neutral and clean. You want it to smell “new.”

Old “stuff”
If you're selling an older home, you may want to take a look around and see if there's anything that seems dated which you can easily replace. You'll want to look at ceiling fans, light fixtures, doorknobs and even the little knobs on your cupboards. Things like this can usually be replaced pretty inexpensively, and will help give your home a more modern look, which, again, will help give it a feeling of being “new.” Guess they just don't make things like they used to, eh? No. They don't.

People are all different, and buyers will like and dislike a variety of features in your home throughout the course of the viewing. The items listed above, though, are pretty much universal turn-offs that you'll want to avoid at all costs.

Easily avoidable home-selling mistakes

Bridget Alves - Monday, May 23, 2016


Whether it's your first time selling a home, or you're a real estate veteran unloading a project house for a tidy profit, mistakes can be made that lead to increased costs on your end – if not the loss of the deal. Below are 4 easily avoidable mistakes people make when selling homes, and what you should do instead.

Not hiring a real estate agent
Some folks think that by not hiring a real estate agent they can save some money. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of time and effort, along with the complexity of the real estate business, often makes working without an agent an incredible headache. Do yourself a favor and hire a real estate agent.

No inspection
You need an inspection of your home if you plan to put it on the market. The inspector is going to be able to make sure any and all improvements you've made are up to snuff, and also will be able to alert you to any repairs you need to make. If you don't hire an inspector, but the buyer does and repairs are necessary, you're going to look bad. Real bad.

Dishonesty
Suppose there are some issues with the home that need to be addressed. Perhaps the plumbing needs some work and the roof isn't in the greatest condition. If you know that work needs to be done on the home, and you don't intend to do it yourself, you absolutely must inform prospective buyers of the issues. Sometimes, a buyer will insist the repairs be made before they even think of purchasing the home, while others will be ok with doing it themselves. The latter will want the price of the home to reflect the cost of the repairs, though, so be ready for that.

Showing an empty home
You absolutely want your home to be sparkling clean and clutter-free when you show it to prospective buyers. Some folks, though, take this to mean that they need to have the place completely emptied out to do so – which isn't the case. Remove all personal items like picture frames, book shelves, end tables, etc. but leave some of the bigger stuff like the living room couch, beds, a lamp or two, etc. When a house is cleared of personal items and clutter, but still contains some furniture, it will allow prospective buyers to see the potential of the space. Doing so will allow them to fill in the blanks with their own items or ideas. Showing them a completely empty home has less of an effect and doesn't typically lead to the best offers.

The appraisal process: How does it work?

Bridget Alves - Monday, May 16, 2016


When you want to set the asking price for your home you can either have the bank appraise it, have your real estate agent help you, or both. Regardless, arriving at an accurate price is absolutely vital. Too high and you'll easily price yourself out of the market, too low and you'll get less than you could have. Your real estate agent can provide you with a comparative market analysis that will provide you with very accurate information in regards as to where you should price your home. However, if you want something a little more in-depth, an appraisal couldn't hurt as well.


The first step in getting your home appraised is – finding an appraiser! An appraiser isn't necessarily going to be a know-it-all home-pricing guru, but they are trained analysts that will collect a variety of data on the home and be able to put it all together and arrive at the home's value.

The appraiser's visit can take anywhere from 30-minutes to a couple hours, depending on the size of the home and which – if any – issues they encounter during the appraisal process. They'll record the floor plan, record any improvements made to the home, measure the outside of the home, and will probably ask some questions. Then, they will utilize statistics that can be found in public records and listing services to find similar homes to yours that have recently closed.

The appraiser will then compare your home to the homes they've researched, making sure to take into account the age of the homes, numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms, any improvements made to the home and issues that may require work. The appraiser will add and subtract value to the home as they go through the comparing process until they finally arrive at the market value of your home.

It's important to note that the value of anything, no matter how well it has been scrutinized and analyzed, is ultimately going to be what people are willing to pay for it. As such, it can be possible to get a little more (or a little less) than market value even after it has been appraised.

Do I need a real estate agent?

Bridget Alves - Monday, May 09, 2016


Selling your home isn't like selling your car. If you've decided to move, slapping a “For Sale” sign on the front of your house, taking some pictures and throwing an ad up on craigslist isn't going to get you very far. Selling a home requires a great deal of time, effort, and expertise in several areas – some of which you may find surprising! So, what does a real estate agent know, and how can it help you sell your home?


  • Real estate agents make a living off of the buying and selling of homes, and they know a ton. They can provide you with a comprehensive market analysis of the area in which you live that will assist you in the pricing of your home. Additionally, they can provide you with similar information on the neighborhood in which you intend to move.
  • They can provide invaluable assistance when it comes to the paperwork. The buying and selling of a home requires the filling out of a lot of detailed, complex paperwork that you may not necessarily understand. As you fill the paperwork out, your real estate agent can answer any questions that may (and probably will) come up, and provide expert guidance throughout the entire process.
  • They're with you every step of the way, and will shoulder most of the load. When someone makes an offer on your home, the selling process doesn't end there. Your real estate agent will communicate with the sellers or their agent until a set price can be agreed upon. Plus, your real estate agent will assist you with managing the home inspection, the mortgage period, appraisals, and also be there to deal with any and all issues that may arise during the course of the sale.

Ultimately, selling a home without a real estate agent is kind of like going to court without a lawyer. Few people ever do, and of those, even fewer have had favorable outcomes. Your real estate agent's knowledge and expertise will prove invaluable over the course of your experience, whether you're buying or selling a home.

Why you shouldn’t set your asking price too high

Bridget Alves - Monday, February 08, 2016


In any purchasing situation in which a price isn’t set in stone, asking for a higher price than the merchandise is worth in order to give you some wiggle-room isn’t the worst strategy one can employ. After all, setting the price high leaves you with a chance to get even more than the home is worth, so why not give it a go? This strategy can sometimes be effective, but it can also be disastrous in a number of ways. Here are a few things to consider before you set the price of your home.

 

Pricing high can lead to a dearth of offers

If you live in a neighborhood with several other homes for sale, you want to be very, very careful with how you set the price of yours. Intentionally setting a high price for your home may well send potential buyers to your neighbors’ homes with prices closer to market value.

 

Potential buyers know what you’re up to

Savvy home buyers are going to do their due-diligence when it comes to looking for a home. As such, most of them are going to have a ballpark figure, at the very least, of the value of the homes in your neighborhood. When they see one home with nothing special to offer that’s priced significantly higher than the surrounding ones, it can be a significant red-flag that sends a message telegraphing your intentions to get as much as possible for the house.

 

Your strategy works against the buyer’s
For every seller looking to get top-dollar for their home, there are at least ten buyers looking to get a great deal. When a seller sets the price of a home high, it usually indicates that they’re looking to get, at minimum, market value, while buyers are hoping to get the home at something below that. If you’re looking to get market value for your home, sometimes it’s just best to set the home at the price you’re asking and remain firm when buyers attempt to lowball you.

Some advice to help sell your home fast

Bridget Alves - Monday, January 25, 2016


The decision on the part of a buyer to purchase a home can depend on a number of things like the home’s location, its relative value, and the phase of the moon (hey, we don’t judge!). With so many things out of your control, there are only so many things that you, as a home seller, can do to speed up the sale of your home. That being said, here are a few things you can do that are designed to help your home sell as fast as possible.

 

Price the house right from the outset

Those who price their homes for more than they’re worth, with the intention of playing the haggling game with prospective buyers are shooting themselves in the foot if they want to sell their home quickly. Savvy buyers (or those with the help of a real estate agent) are going to notice that the home is priced higher than it should be, and be able to see right away what the seller’s strategy is. In cases like this, some buyers will either attempt to lowball the owner, or forego making an offer altogether. When you price your home for what it’s actually worth from the get go, you’re not only offering the home at a fair price, but it creates an air of trust and honesty between you and the would-be buyer.

 

Enhance the curb appeal

The first thing a prospective buyer is going to see is the outside of your home, so make that first impression a good one by giving the lawn a little TLC. Whether you decide go the distance by re-sodding the grass, planting flowers, and adding new paint and fixtures will be up to you, but unless your yard is already immaculate, giving it some attention may go a long way.

 

De-clutter and de-personalize the interior
You don’t necessarily need to get all of your things out of the home before you sell it, but make it a point to get rid of the unnecessary pieces of furniture. Things like end tables, bookshelves, night stands, dressers, etc. All of these can go. Additionally, remove personal items like photographs, paintings or whatever else you have decorating the home. You want to give prospective buyers the opportunity to envision their own items in the home, not yours.
No matter what you do, there’s no guarantee that a home will sell fast, but by following the examples above, you won’t be hurting your chances any. Also, make sure you’re familiar with the local market and speak with a real estate agent if you have any questions.

Sell your home faster by “going green”

Bridget Alves - Monday, December 14, 2015

 

In the past, home sellers have highlighted features like walk-in closets, modern kitchen appliances, and spacious bathrooms in order to entice prospective buyers. This day and age, these features are still big sellers, but the increased attention on “going green” these days provides sellers with a wealth of new opportunities for making their home even more appealing to the masses. You want your home to stand out, and one of the best ways to do that is to tout the fact that it’s environmentally friendly, as well as cost-efficient.


Below are a few key changes you can make if you want to market your house as “green” or simply save yourself some money in the long run:

  • Save water by changing out the old toilets to new, high-efficiency toilets that use less water. If you really want to go the distance, you can change out the faucets and shower heads to high-efficiency models as well.
  • Change out old light bulbs and replace them with new, energy-efficient lights. Additionally, adding dimmer switches will allow people to adjust the fixtures to allow just the right amount of light in, saving money on electricity.
  • Replace any drafty windows with new fixtures. Drafts don’t mean cold is coming in, they mean heat is getting out. The more heat your home loses, the more you’ll have to run your furnace, and the more energy will be wasted.
  • Speaking of the furnace, make sure all of the HVAC components are well-maintained. Additionally, opting for allergen-free filters or whole house air cleaners can provide you with another selling point that’s highly regarded by those who “go green.”
  • Installing solar panels can be a bit costly up-front, but if you plan to keep your home for a while, they more than pay off in savings down the road. Also, the sight of solar panels on a home is often a major perk for the environmentally-conscious home buyer.

These are just a few of the many changes that can be done to make your home more marketable, and therefore more valuable, as well as potentially save you some money in the long run.

Staging a home on a shoestring budget

Bridget Alves - Monday, November 23, 2015


So, you’re ready to sell your home. You’ve read all the home selling tips you can find, you’ve gotten yourself a rock star real estate agent to help you out, and you’ve got several thousand dollars available to put toward staging your home and potentially netting a quick sale. 


What’s that? 


You don’t have thousands of dollars in liquid assets to spend on staging your home? Well, you’re in luck, because it isn’t necessary.

 
The first thing you’re going to look at is your home’s curb appeal. A new, professionally landscaped lawn is great, but you can do it yourself for a fraction of the cost. Start by mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes and removing any debris from the yard like branches or dead leaves. If you have the space, planting some flowers yourself can greatly increase your home’s curb appeal while not costing you very much at all. Remember to get something colorful but hardy. The plants won’t have to last long, but you don’t want something that requires a ton of extra care, either.


As far as the interior of your home goes, remove the clutter and unnecessary pieces of furniture. Doing this will not only get you a jump on your packing once your home sells, but it will create the perception of a larger space inside the home. People don’t want to buy a home in which they feel cramped, and removing unnecessary bits of furniture like bookshelves, end tables, dressers, etc. will go a long way to making the place seem more spacious.


Finally, clean it, and clean it well. You want to remove every speck of dust and dirt, every fingerprint on the wall, errant hairs and window smudges. An impeccably clean home looks newer and less lived in, even if it’s 50 years old. 


With some hard work and know-how, you can get your home staged for viewings for a few hundred bucks. However, if the home needs some serious work done (such as replacements or repairs), and you’re not qualified to do it yourself, you may need to bite the bullet and shell out the dough for a professional.


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