Gunning Daily News

7 Steps to Help Speed Up Your Sale

March 19, 2011 9:13 am

By Barbara Pronin, RISMedia Columnist

RISMEDIA, March 19, 2011-Setting a competitive sale price, most REALTORS agree, is arguably the best way to speed up the sale of your home in today's market.

"In addition to pricing your home right, you need to do everything you can to make your home stand out from the competition," said Don Bucknam with Laguna Woods Properties, specializing in sales in the southern California senior community of Laguna Woods.

To do that, Bucknam suggests, try to change your mindset and look at the property from the point of view of the buyer:

Start at the curb What does the buyer see first? Keep the walkway neat, trim plants and hedges, replace worn front door or screen doors.

Focus on the entry Potential buyers entering the home should see as spacious an interior as possible. Remove clutter, even small pieces of furniture that 'close off' further entry instead of inviting it.

Remove the personal factor Shelves full of bowling trophies or your personal collections can be distracting to a buyer who is trying to 'see himself' in the living space.

Make small repairs Replace that cracked light switch cover. Repair or replace a broken tile or a chip in the bathroom sink. Even taping back wires from audio or computer systems can increase a room's appeal.

Make small updates Brighter light fixtures, new cabinet door handles in the kitchen, or updating to modern bathroom accessories can go a long way toward giving your home a fresh, new look.

Scrub, scrub, scrub New kitchen appliances, especially stoves, are a plus, but if you can't replace the appliance, make sure oven racks, broiler pans and burner surfaces are scrupulously clean and shiny.

Add some "bling" Brighter lighting, a shiny mirror in the hallway, fresh new towels, or a crystal vase of fresh flowers on the dining room table are small and inexpensive touches that can attract and please potential buyers.

If you need a reality check, Bucknam said, take a walk through an open house or two in your neighborhood and compare your home to the competition. Then adjust your price and/or make the small changes that make your home the best buy on the block.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Word of the Day

March 19, 2011 6:43 am

Private mortgage insurance (PMI). Required by most lenders for conventional loans with a down payment of less than 20 percent. Insurance is paid by the borrower and guarantees the lender will not lose money if the borrower defaults.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Q: When do foreclosure proceedings begin?

March 19, 2011 6:43 am

A: Usually after the borrower has missed three consecutive mortgage payments. The lender will record a notice of default against the property. And unless the debt is satisfied, the lender will foreclose on the mortgage and proceed to set up a trustee sale, where the property is sold to the highest bidder.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Personal Trainer

March 19, 2011 6:43 am

RISMEDIA, March 19, 2011-Get in Shape for Women recently polled 1,000 members and 100 personal trainers to present the most effective qualities in a trainer and their clients. Following are their "Fitness Bill of Rights"-universal expectations for both trainers and clients that make the biggest impact on a successful fitness partnership.

It's your right that your personal trainer:

Be accountable If you aren't showing up or are falling behind with your commitment, your trainer should call you. They're your partner in this effort and should hold you accountable.

Be the best Trainers need to update their skills regularly.

Be flexible Everyone has different capabilities; trainers need to accommodate those differences.

Be kind You're there because you want to improve your life. Trainers should celebrate that.

Be prompt Trainers should never be the last person to enter the room. They're leading this effort and should be there to greet you.

Be creative If something isn't working for you or you're losing interest, trainers need to change things up. Trainers must do everything they can to keep you motivated and committed.

Be present Trainers should leave everything in their life at home- 100% of their attention should be on you.

Be fair Trainers shouldn't focus on 'favorites.'

Be fit A healthy lifestyle is their biggest calling card. Trainers need to lead by example.

Be fun Even if the workout isn't- energy is everything.

It's a trainer's right to expect that you:

Be prompt When you're late, you start at a deficit and won't get the most of your experience.

Be honest With yourself and your trainer. If things are too tough or not right, speak up.

Be committed Limit the excuses and hold yourself accountable to a commitment you can stick with.

Be supportive Of yourself. Recognize that this is a process that will take time.

Be brave Leave your insecurities, inhibitions and vanities at the door.

For more information, visit www.GetInShapeForWomen.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


10 Appraisal Tips that Will Save You Time and Money

March 19, 2011 6:43 am

RISMEDIA, March 19, 2011-Mortgage rates are at near-historic lows, but sinking home values are often lowering appraisals as well. If you are considering refinancing your home, what do you need to know about the appraisal process to help ensure you get the best possible appraisal on your home? Seasoned loan officer and mortgage industry insider Len Finelli shares ten important tips on understanding the appraisal process. If you are a homeowner seeking to refinance, heeding these important tips on appraisals before proceeding can improve your refinancing options and save you time and money.

Top 10 Appraisal Tips to Help You Save Time and Money

1. Continuously research the value of your home and the other homes in your neighborhood; pay attention to foreclosures in your area; they may drive down the value of your home.

2. Since appraisers use "comps" (comparable market sales) of local properties sold within the last six months to value your home, make sure to work with a great loan officer who will leverage their knowledge to research comps in your area, before ordering the appraisal.

3. If you use your own appraiser, research them first and ask your lender to cross check them for any potential issues that may delay the process. Great loan officers will always confirm your appraiser's credentials.

4. Direct your loan officer to work with local, experienced appraisal companies. Local appraisers have a deeper knowledge of the surrounding neighborhood and will likely be more readily available for the home inspection, to speed your appraisal process.

5. The appraisal report is yours to keep. Find out in advance who pays for the appraisal-many times appraisal fees are the homeowner's responsibility and have to be paid up front.

6. New lending regulations require two appraisals in some situations-ask at the beginning whether you'll need one or two.

7. Commit to your lender before committing to an appraisal. Being comfortable working with your loan officer is imperative. They often will be the liaison between you and the appraisal company.

8. Make sure any major repairs are completed before moving forward with your refinance. Structural damages drive your home value down and jeopardize the approval process for today's popular government-backed FHA loans.

9. Don't overestimate the value of making cosmetic home improvements. The expense is rarely justified because in the appraisal world, only improvements that add square footage will significantly increase home value.

10. Rely on market value rather than tax assessments for a realistic appraisal value-in today's market, tax value and current market value may differ widely, but your lender can only go by appraisal value.

Finally, homeowners should expect their lender to explain the appraisal process and all of the steps for refinancing clearly and up front. "Homeowners have a right to understand the process fully before going forward with their appraisal and refinance," Len says. "Ask questions, and if they aren't answered to your satisfaction, find another lender that has the answers. Today's market offers many opportunities for homeowners to refinance, and a reputable lender can help homeowners find great options to consolidate debt, shorten terms and lower payments. And it all starts with an appraisal."

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Word of the Day

March 18, 2011 11:13 am

Principal. The amount of money borrowed; the amount of money still owed.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Q: My budget won't allow for expensive add-ons; is there another way to find and make space?

March 18, 2011 11:13 am

A: That space may be as close as the next room, particularly if there is unused or under utilized areas in your home. A garage, attic, side porch, large closet, or basement can all be converted to fit the use you have in mind. Or, maybe, a small area can be carved from a larger area like a kitchen or living room to create, say, a powder room. This concept of "stealing" space from a neighboring room is called space reconfiguration and it is much cheaper than a major remodeling job.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Make Reading Fun, Interesting and a Lifelong Habit

March 18, 2011 11:13 am

RISMEDIA, March 18, 2011-While it may be hard to believe, a recent study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation confirmed that millions of American children reach the fourth grade without being able to read proficiently at their grade level. Research has shown that children who do not learn to read at an early age are much more likely to fall behind in their studies or drop out of school. For young elementary school students, the key is to make reading fun and exciting. Here are a few simple steps parents and guardians can take to make reading fun, interesting and a lifelong habit.

Keep books, newspapers and magazines front and center. Why keep books and other reading materials tucked away on a dark shelf in your child's bedroom? Let reading be part of the atmosphere of your home. A recent study commissioned by the non-profit literacy organization Reading is Fundamental found that easy access to print materials improves children's reading performance and attitude about reading and learning. With a basket of books, magazines and newspapers by the couch in the living room, a few books accessible on a counter in the kitchen, you demonstrate that reading is an important part of your daily life and can be enjoyed by all members of the family.

Create a new habit. Having reading materials readily accessible also means you are more likely to be reading in the same room with your child. Reading is a great habit to create-both for you and your child. Remember, children love to imitate their parents-so be a good reading model. Take every opportunity to read with your child. No matter where you are, words are everywhere. Ask your child to help you read labels at the grocery store, or to look for a certain road sign. Take a few minutes while cooking dinner to help your child as he stumbles over a word while reading at the kitchen counter. Each time you read aloud together, you are engaging your child's mind and instilling the importance of the written word. Be careful not to criticize, but gently correct mispronunciations. Remember, reading should be fun.

Have technology-free Tuesday. In addition to family movie night, have a family reading night or a technology-free night. Spend part of the evening reading your own reading material and part of the evening reading something together. Reading together is not only educational for children, but it also helps establish a bond between parent and child.

Visit the library. Make a trip to your local library a part of your family's regular weekly routine. Allow children to pick out their own books and help them understand the importance and responsibility of returning them to the library so that others can enjoy them. In the 2010 Kids and Family Reading Report, the researchers found that the power of choice is a key factor in nurturing a young reader. Nine out of ten children are more likely to finish a book they choose themselves.

For more information, visit www.familyfeatures.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


5 Home Security and Safety Tips for Seniors

March 18, 2011 11:13 am

RISMEDIA, March 18, 2011-Americans who reach age 65 are living an average of 18.5 more years-a four-year increase from 1960-according to a recent federal Aging Forum report. Friends and family can't always stay with individuals who remain at home and require caregiver help, so home security is of high concern for this growing segment of the population. Security Choice, a leading online resource for home alarm systems and home security monitoring, offers these tips to help keep seniors secure at home.

1. Light the outdoors: Motion-activated outdoor lights can discourage potential intruders and alert seniors to potential emergencies. Standard, constant lights should also be installed at home exits like porches and garage doors, and turned on each night.

2. Install a security system: Many home alarm systems offer remote access through key chains that allow seniors who have trouble moving around to arm or disable a system from any room in their homes. Make sure the chosen system covers burglary, fire and medical emergencies. Some providers also offer personal emergency monitoring systems that seniors can use to alert medical professionals in case of an emergency like a fall.

3. Check IDs: Scam artists may promise money and prizes in exchange for payment or personal information like a Social Security number. Ask for identification from anyone that comes to the door. Checking with the affiliated business before letting a service or delivery person in is also a good idea. The website Snopes keeps track of circulating scams and hoaxes. Police should be alerted to any suspicious individuals and activity.

4. Use locks on a regular basis: Existing locks on all entrances and exits of a home are useless if they aren't routinely used. Make a habit of keeping them locked and replace any in poor shape. Locks should be accessible to seniors from the inside in case of an emergency.

5. Schedule routine check-ins: Whether it's with a hired caregiver or a loved one, seniors should check-in at least once a day in person or via phone to ensure that all is well.

For more information, visit www.securitychoice.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


4 Home-Staging Trends to Help you Compete in Today's Market

March 18, 2011 11:13 am

RISMEDIA, March 18, 2011-Staging a home before listing it on the market is a crucial step that many homeowners often overlook. The International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSPR) offers four home-staging tips to help homeowners compete in today's market:

1. Home staging is not just for houses for sale. Traditional home staging involves working with sellers to prepare houses for sale; but today's successful Accredited Staging Professionals have a multi-faceted business that allows them to serve clients with staging to live, staging to work and for a myriad of events-from small parties to large, corporate parties.

2. Home staging helps foreclosure, REO and short sale properties sell. With the increase of foreclosure, REO and short sale properties in many markets throughout the U.S., the need for presentation of these properties as a product that can sell is imperative.

3. Home staging becomes greener. As of late, IAHSPR has seen a trend toward eco-friendly home staging. Home stagers have specific inventory they can provide that is "green" to help a seller, builder or investor that wants to put their "green" foot forward and achieve their goal of marketing a product that truly has the environment at heart.

4. Home staging captivates mainstream media. There are currently no less than eight shows on HGTV devoted to the process of preparing a house for sale, and this trend will continue as long as the public finds value in learning what to do both inside and outside their home when getting ready to put it on the market.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.