Simple Tips for Better Home Showings

1.Remove clutter and clear off counters. Throw out stacks of newspapers and magazines and stow away most of your small decorative items. Put excess furniture in storage, and remove out-of-season clothing items that are cramping closet space. Don’t forget to clean out the garage, too.

2.Wash your windows and screens. This will help get more light into the interior of the home.

3.Keep everything extra clean. A clean house will make a strong first impression and send a message to buyers that the home has been well-cared for. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, mop and wax floors, and clean the stove and refrigerator. Polish your doorknobs and address numbers. It’s worth hiring a cleaning service if you can afford it.

4.Get rid of smells. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Open the windows to air out the house. Potpourri or scented candles will help.

5.Brighten your rooms. Put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms and basements. Replace any burned-out bulbs in closets. Clean the walls, or better yet, brush on a fresh coat of neutral color paint.

6.Don’t disregard minor repairs. Small problems such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression that the house isn’t well-maintained.

7.Tidy your yard. Cut the grass, rake the leaves, add new mulch, trim the bushes, edge the walkways, and clean the gutters. For added curb appeal, place a pot of bright flowers near the entryway.

8.Patch holes. Repair any holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.

9.Add a touch of color in the living room. A colored afghan or throw on the couch will jazz up a dull room. Buy new accent pillows for the sofa.

10.Buy a flowering plant and put it near a window you pass by frequently.

11.Make centerpieces for your tables. Use brightly colored fruit or flowers.

12.Set the scene. Set the table with fancy dishes and candles, and create other vignettes throughout the home to help buyers picture living there. For example, in the basement you might display a chess game in progress.

13.Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light. Show off the view if you have one.

14.Accentuate the fireplace. Lay fresh logs in the fireplace or put a basket of flowers there if it’s not in use.

15.Make the bathrooms feel luxurious. Put away those old towels and toothbrushes. When buyers enter your bathroom, they should feel pampered. Add a new shower curtain, new towels, and fancy guest soaps. Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight.

16.Send your pets to a neighbor or take them outside. If that’s not possible, crate them or confine them to one room (ideally in the basement), and let the real estate practitioner know where they’ll be to eliminate surprises.

17.Lock up valuables, jewelry, and money. While a real estate salesperson will be on site during the showing or open house, it’s impossible to watch everyone all the time.

18.Leave the home. It’s usually best if the sellers are not at home. It’s awkward for prospective buyers to look in your closets and express their opinions of your home with you there.

ttp://realtormag.realtor.org/sales-and-marketing/handouts-for-customers/for-sellers/simple-tips-for-better-home-showings

Here are some simple tips to help you with tax season.

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes” and come this April, the citizens of our country will be hustling to get their taxes done on time. Tax season doesn’t have to totally stress you out every year. Proper planning and the right attention to details, you can be done before that “famous” day gets here. Here are some tips on how to “keep calm and keep moving,” while avoiding headaches during this hectic time.

1. It’s the 21st Century – E-File
E-filing is one of the best routes to take when doing your taxes on your own. In the US, there’s Turbo Tax and in Canada there’s EFILE. In both cases, you can get professional input on some of your burning questions. It also saves a tremendous amount of time – and you can save a tree or two in the process.

2. Pay attention to your exemptions
Exemptions are the government’s way of giving a little back to the hardworking citizens of our country. If you’re married, have children, or are a contributing member of society you qualify for exemptions, you can save thousands of dollars.

3. Be sure to file the proper status
Your status when filing is extremely important to the Government. It lets the taxman determine your filing requirements, standard deduction, eligibility for credits and deductions, and your correct tax rate. Filing under the improper status could cost you thousands of dollars in improper taxes and even keep you from getting the proper deductions.

4. Learn from Last Year
Mistakes become less painful when we don’t repeat them. A quick look at last year’s tax documents will ensure that you don’t miss out on any opportunities that you may be missing. Each year’s tax paperwork leaves clues and you should use them to ensure that you don’t miss an important deduction, or worse, pay more than you’re supposed to.

5. Deductions are your friends!
Like exemptions, deductions are the Governments way of reducing your total taxable income. Your filing status and your type of employment govern what deductions are allowed under the law. Be sure you are aware of every deduction available to you when you file by checking www.irs.gov for those in the United States and www.cra-arc.gc.ca in Canada. Even a little bit of research could save you money.
While this list is certainly not all-inclusive of year-end tax planning strategies available, you should check with a tax professional regarding your own, personal situation. A little planning can go a long way in helping you save money. Please note that the information provided here is not intended as tax advice.

CLEAR LEADERS: remax.com was the most visited U.S. real estate franchise website in 2012.

Averaging more than 4 million consumer visits a month, remax.com remained the most visited U.S. real estate franchise website in 2012. And that’s good news for RE/MAX agents who have received more than 12 million free leads from the site since 2006.
Data provided by Experian Hitwise shows that remax.com attracted 52.5 million visits – nearly 28 percent more than the nearest competitor, century21.com, and more than twice as many as fifth-place kw.com.

The remax.com traffic was up nearly 6 percent over 2011 when it also outdistanced all other U.S. real estate franchise websites.

Clear Leaders

Consumer visits to remax.com are bolstered by RE/MAX advertising, principally on TV. The visits, in turn, generate free leads for RE/MAX agents that are distributed through LeadStreet.

Since Hitwise introduced the total-visits metric in November 2009, remax.com has been No. 1 among real estate franchise websites 36 of 38 months through Jan., 2013. Experian Hitwise has the world’s largest sample of online consumer behavioral and search intelligence, and monitors more than 10 million U.S. users.

RE/MAX Affiliates may share this article, provided they do not charge for it and this notice is included. All other rights reserved.

How did February only get 28 days?

How did February only get 28 days?

Seems unfair, doesn’t it? Every other month in the calendar has 30 or 31 days and February gets a measly 28…at least 2 days shorter than all the other months.
As a child you may have heard this rhyme to help you remember which months had which number of days, too, to remind you that February only had 28 days: Thirty days hath September, April, June and November; February has twenty eight alone all the rest have thirty-one except in Leap Year, that’s the time when February’s Days are twenty-nine.
Nonetheless, it’s always been a bit puzzling to us, so we decided to do some research for you and pass it along. Oddly enough, the answer is way longer than you would think and it’s the subject of this week’s Monday Morning Mojo.
Makes for fun reading and…good trivia for you trivia buffs.

As you may know, there are lots of groups that claimed their own calendars for use in their daily lives. The Romans, Mayans, Aztecs, and Hindi all relied on their own version of how the days, weeks and months of the year should pass.
The gold standard used today is the Gregorian calendar and it is the “gold standard” used for civil purposes almost everywhere.
How the calendar we use today ended up the way it is as we know it is explained very well in this article from Slate online magazine.

Enjoy:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2007/02/28_days.html

Why relationships are important!!!

We tend to take for granted our relationships with others. We get too busy to spend the needed time as we seek to get ahead in the “rat-race” of life. But, if we can stop for just long enough to think about this, do the other things matter if we don’t have relationships? Does success in finances, career, material things, etc., really matter if we don’t cultivate relationships with others who can share in those successes?
We’re all familiar with Charles Dickens’ classic tale A Christmas Carol. In watching the wealthy yet miserable miser Scrooge, we’ve probably all wondered the same thing: Why? What’s the point? Why pinch, scrimp, save, and reach financial success, to be miserable all by one’s self?
I don’t know about you, but I rarely enjoy eating out by myself, especially at a nice restaurant. While it’s definitely a nice break sometimes in between appointments to go over my goals and get back on-track, it’s definitely not the type of thing I like to do all the time. Have you ever been to a fancy restaurant, maybe on a business trip, ordered the filet mignon, and felt very hollow and alone as you looked at couples talking over a nice meal? Some things are meant be enjoyed and shared with others. In fact, most things are best enjoyed in the company of friends and family!
So how do we keep from subconsciously undervaluing relationships? The truth is, nurturing those relationships usually doesn’t take as much time as we think. We blow relationship building out of proportion! It doesn’t mean we have to quit our careers, sell all of our belongings and give up all of our personal goals. It does mean that we need to be more thoughtful in our approach. Here are some pointers that have helped me:
– Date your family members. I think it’s very important to take close family and/or dear friends on “dates” every so often. What little kid won’t remember that special one-on-one fishing trip, road trip, visit to the local ice cream shop, for the rest of his life? What spouse won’t remember that “date” that was specially crafted with their favorite interests in mind? What dear friend won’t remember an out-of-the-blue dinner or lunch invite?
– Take friends or acquaintances out for coffee. For those people who aren’t connected quite as closely, it never hurts to sit down over a cup of coffee. Just the thoughtfulness of asking is a big sign that they matter to you.
– Make a phone call. Have you called that old friend from college in the last several years? What about your aunt in Pennsylvania? When’s the last time you thanked a past customer? The fact that you took the effort to dial their number will mean something to them.
– Send something special. I know it’s old fashioned, but a handwritten note means a lot. Even a quick e-mail means something.
In real estate, there are three ways of getting business: new customers, past customers, and referrals. We love all sources of business, but we cherish the business that comes from past customers and referrals! They’re easier to talk to. Referrals have been introduced by a friend
In order to get referrals, we have to constantly realize that we are in the business of cultivating relationships. Our goal has to be to provide such a high level of service that our customers want to refer friends and family. It takes a long-term approach rather than a short-term perspective.
We are grateful for the relationships we have with you and are anxious to serve you and anyone you know at the highest level. Please let us know what we can do for you today.

Monday Morning Mojo!

Heading into the “spring market” it is important to understand in what capacity your agent will represent you.

Understand Agency Relationships

It’s important to understand what legal responsibilities your real estate salesperson has to you and to other parties in the transaction. Ask what type of agency relationship your agent has with you:

Seller’s representative (also known as a listing agent or seller’s agent)

A seller’s agent is hired by and represents the seller. All fiduciary duties are owed to the seller. The agency relationship usually is created by a listing contract.

Buyer’s representative (also known as a buyer’s agent)

A buyer’s agent is hired by prospective buyers to represent them in a real estate transaction. The buyer’s rep works in the buyer’s best interest throughout the transaction and owes fiduciary duties to the buyer. The buyer can pay the licensee directly through a negotiated fee, or the buyer’s rep may be paid by the seller or through a commission split with the seller’s agent.

Subagent

A subagent owes the same fiduciary duties to the agent’s customer as the agent does. Subagency usually arises when a cooperating sales associate from another brokerage, who is not the buyer’s agent, shows property to a buyer. In such a case, the subagent works with the buyer as a customer but owes fiduciary duties to the listing broker and the seller. Although a subagent cannot assist the buyer in any way that would be detrimental to the seller, a buyer-customer can expect to be treated honestly by the subagent. It is important that subagents fully explain their duties to buyers.

Disclosed dual agent

Dual agency is a relationship in which the brokerage firm represents both the buyer and the seller in the same real estate transaction. Dual agency relationships do not carry with them all of the traditional fiduciary duties to clients. Instead, dual agents owe limited fiduciary duties. Because of the potential for conflicts of interest in a dual-agency relationship, it’s vital that all parties give their informed consent. In many states, this consent must be in writing. Disclosed dual agency, in which both the buyer and the seller are told that the agent is representing both of them, is legal in most states.

Designated agent (also called appointed agent)

This is a brokerage practice that allows the managing broker to designate which licensees in the brokerage will act as an agent of the seller and which will act as an agent of the buyer. Designated agency avoids the problem of creating a dual-agency relationship for licensees at the brokerage. The designated agents give their clients full representation, with all of the attendant fiduciary duties. The broker still has the responsibility of supervising both groups of licensees.

Nonagency relationship (called, among other things, a transaction broker or facilitator)

Some states permit a real estate licensee to have a type of nonagency relationship with a consumer. These relationships vary considerably from state to state, both as to the duties owed to the consumer and the name used to describe them. Very generally, the duties owed to the consumer in a nonagency relationship are less than the complete, traditional fiduciary duties of an agency relationship.http://realtormag.realtor.org/sales-and-marketing/selling/understand-agency-relationships

Why You Need a Home Inspection

In your excitement to buy a home, it’s easy to miss a small crack in the foundation, some leaky pipes under the house, or a roof that needs to be replaced.

The sellers worked hard to make the home look as desirable as possible, but looks don’t tell the whole story. That’s where your home inspection comes in.

What about inspections for sellers?

For sellers, a home inspection is also a good idea prior to listing the home for sale. An inspection can help you turn up issues ahead of time so there will be no surprises when serious buyers start inquiring. Knowing in advance means you’ll be able to consider all your options – either making repairs before listing or pricing your home to account for anything you’re not going to fix.

For more information about inspections for home sellers, see the Tips on Selling a House.

What does a home inspection include?

A general home inspection will evaluate the house and adjoining structures from top to bottom, inside and out, including but not limited to:

Outside
Roof, porches, driveways, garage, drainage, retaining walls, grading, and plants or vegetation that may impact the home’s condition

Inside
Electrical and plumbing systems; foundation; heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; water heater, septic system, electrical system, windows, doors, floors, ceilings and walls

What a home inspection doesn’t cover
The home inspector can’t make any alterations in the course of inspecting a home – so there’s no digging up the ground, lifting carpets, knocking out walls, etc.

Also consider that a home comprises tens of thousands of parts, pieces, nooks and crannies. An inspector will look at a representative sampling, but there’s simply no way to check every single element.

RE/MAX Home Inspection Tip: Many home inspectors know about major appliance recalls, but do your own research by noting model numbers and then checking for trouble online.

RE/MAX Home Inspection Tip:If an area of the house is not accessible because of barricades, such as boxes piled in front of a door, request that the seller remove these to allow for a thorough inspection.

Specialized Inspections –
When Do You Need One?

Some states and cities require additional inspections on top of a general inspection. Beyond that, you may just want a specialized inspection due to a special circumstance or particular concern you or your general inspector may have.

Examples of specialized inspections:
——————————————————————————–
• Sewer inspection
• Chimney inspection
• Mold inspection
• Lead inspection
• Asbestos inspection
• Pest inspection
• Inspection of a special feature such as swimming pool or hot tub

RE/MAX Home Inspection Tip: Check with your agent to see which inspections are required in your area and which may not be required, but are standard.

RE/MAX Home Inspection Tip: If a home inspector tells you not to attend the inspection, find someone else. This is a classic red flag.

http://www.remax.com/c/real-estate-advice/guide-article/home-inspection-advice

You may not want to wait til spring……

Monday Mojo ImageWaiting ‘till spring…may want to rethink that.

We live in a counter-intuitive society. Rather than buy stocks when they are low, we jump into the market when we hear the stock is hot, missing out on the best part of the growth. Instead of selling when things are high, we wait until the ship is already sinking before we jump off. And for many of us thinking of selling our home, we wait until the newspapers, radio and television let us know the market is heating up and it’s time to sell, rather than selling when the time is best for us.

In virtually every market across America – and even in our market here – 15 to 20% of the homes that sell will do so in the first three months of the year, before the spring market gets a good head of steam going. And the best part of that is those who sell during the first part of the year usually face way less competition than those who wait until after March has gotten here.

If you are open to selling at this time of the year, you’ll have a stronger pool of motivated buyers knocking at your door to see your home. That is for sure.

Here are a few things to consider if you are open to selling now:

  • Best foot forward: The first showing on your home, believe it or not, is the pictures that people see when they go on line. Make sure you have professional-looking photographs of your home on line so buyer prospects get a great first impression of your home.
  • Christmas is over: Packing up the Christmas decorations is a hassle, let’s be honest. Sometimes we can let them linger a little longer after Santa has dropped off the goods. Make sure that you’ve returned your home to its every day look and keep is spotless. It may even be worth it to invest a small amount of money to have your home professionally cleaned so that it shows extremely well to prospective buyers.
  • Make small improvements: Sometimes that toilet-paper roller falls off and we let it linger longer than it should. Occasionally, the wall gets marked and we don’t wash it or paint over it right away. From time to time, a stain gets on the floor and we don’t call in the
    flooring people to get it squared away. Unfortunately, these seemingly insignificant issues can detract from the saleability of your home. Take the time to fix the little things to make your home shine.

There are scores of other hints, tips and tricks we’d love to discuss with you if you’re thinking about putting your home on the market.

Please call us today at 207-553-7371 for a no-cost, no-hassle consultation on what to do to prepare your home for sale in the next few months.

 

Here are some New Year’s quotes that you’ll surely enjoy in 2013:

Hal Borland Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.

John Burroughs One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things.

Mark Twain Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Benjamin Franklin Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.

Ellen Goodman We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.

Edith Lovejoy Pierce

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.

What is Title Insurance??

Title insurance is a policy that protects against financial loss stemming from problems found in a property’s title, or legal ownership.

Think of it this way: As the buyer, how do you know the seller really owns the property? How can you be sure there are no liens, such as from unpaid taxes and lawsuits, or undisclosed heirs who might claim ownership? The answer lies in the title search.

A good title search generally turns up these types of issues. And a good title insurance policy will protect you should they arise during your ownership.

A real estate agent can answer your questions on title insurance and direct you to a title company. But at the same time, it’s good to understand some of the basics.

Although you have the right to shop around for title insurance, most people follow the recommendation of their loan officer or real estate agent. One note: Because insurers generally follow the same pricing guidelines within each state, discounts can be elusive.

Two Types of Policies: Lender’s and Owner’s

There are two policies for title insurance – one protects the lender, and the other protects you, the homeowner.

Lender’s title insurance
This insurance protects the lender, who technically owns the home until you pay off your mortgage. You’ll pay a one-time premium at closing, which protects the lender for up to the full amount of the loan as long as you have the mortgage.

Owner’s title insurance
This policy protects you. You’re probably thinking: “I bought title insurance for the lender, and a search showed the property title was free and clear of any problems. Why do I need an owner’s policy? It seems like a waste of money.”

The answer is that no title search is perfect. Without an owner’s policy, someone could show up on your doorstep one day and say, “Hey, this is my house. The person who sold it to you never got the proper signatures from my now-dead relative, and according to his estate, I own this place.”

Your owner’s policy covers you for any losses in this case. Although a lender’s policy is required for closing, the owner’s policy is not – and you may not be asked if you want it. Speak to your agent about buying one during the escrow process.

You can always back out of the deal if issues come to light in the title report. Just be sure that there’s a contingency written into the Purchase and Sale agreement to cover this.

Title Insurance FAQs

What time frame does title insurance cover?

It’s important to understand that insurance covers the buyer and lender only for events that occurred before the purchase date. It does not cover future events, or any clouds or defects that arise after the purchase date.

In other words: If the buyer does something that causes a lien to be put on the house, the title policy will not cover the loss.

What kinds of claims are covered?

Standard policies differ by provider, but most cover:
• Undisclosed prior mortgages or liens
• Improperly recorded deeds
• Forgeries or impersonations
• Undisclosed easements or use restrictions
• Errors in legal paperwork

You will need to buy a new lender’s policy if you refinance your mortgage. The lender will want to make sure no new claims have come up since you purchased the home.

What should I look for in the preliminary title report?

Generally, keep an eye out for the following:

Liens: A lien is a legal claim of ownership. Anyone the homeowner owes money to – such as unpaid contractors or tax authorities – can put a lien on the home. The most common type of lien is the one your lender will have on your home for as long as you have a mortgage.

Encroachments: An encroachment is something that crosses the neighboring property line. The best example would be a fence that has been placed improperly.

Easements: An easement is a legal right to use another person’s land for a specific use. For example, you might have an easement to run your sewer line through part of your neighbor’s property. An easement doesn’t give right of possession; just the right of access.

Time is of the essence with your preliminary title report. Go over it with your agent immediately, as you have only a few days to address any concerns.

An easement isn’t always cause for alarm, but if you discover one, be sure to investigate it with your agent.

How do I address problems that arise in the title report?

Your agent can help. Some issues, like easements, can be worked out, while others may be enough reason to walk away. The key is in understanding the issues and talking them through with your real estate agent.

REMAX – Outstanding Agents, Outstanding Results

FROM THE RE/MAX BLOG      http://www.remax.com/c/real-estate-advice/guide-article/title-and-escrow