How to Save Hundreds Annually on Home Ownership Costs – with Just a Stamp and a Few Minutes

With a simple call or a quick form, a presumed “fixed” cost associated with home ownership need not be quite so fixed. Other than a refinance to address the loan terms, the other pillar of assumed fixed costs is real estate taxes. And unlike a refi, the cost of pursuing this option is a 44 cent stamp and a few minutes of your time.


For the first time, I really looked at my bill and then the town’s on-line assessment database. I was surprised to learn that the taxes were based on an assessed value about $20,000 more than the current listing price I had on my property ‘” a price at which I was unable to sell! Most towns and cities have their assessment data bases on-line and all the data you need is just a couple clicks away. A simple Google search should bring you to your town’s site.


I assumed the tax assessment process would be confusing and mired in bureaucratic red tape. In reality, it was far simpler. After consulting the town’s website and downloading the form, I simply had to state what I felt the assessed value should be and why. My rational was simple: this property had been actively marketed for an extended period of time at a value $20,000 below the current assessed value. Given the current market and diligent efforts to sell, it was clearly over-valued. I filled out the form and mailed it in.


Though the response was not exactly what I suggested for the new valuation, it was significantly less than it had been. It was so quick and easy, I repeated the process with an additional rental property as well as my own residence. Some municipalities have a more complex process, but assuming so is a big mistake. It takes only a few minutes to find out and could save you big bucks.


It has become increasing common to see real estate advertisements for properties being sold “Well Below Assessed Value”. “Well Below Assessed Value” is simply another way of saying “Taxed Way Beyond Its Current Worth”.


But therein lies the problem ‘” the difference between assessed and appraised and the tendency for most homeowners to utilize them interchangeably. Appraised value is what an independent professional determined the home to be worth in the current market- taking into consideration recent sales, listings, etc. It is done sporadically ‘” generally at the time of applying for a mortgage. Assessed value is generally determined on a regular basis by a municipality, sometimes as infrequently as once per decade. It is used as the basis for determining a town’s total valuation and therefore the necessary tax rate to meet its obligations.


In determining the value, the town considers all data available on your property and may send out representatives to document specific features. Appraisals can be incorrect for a variety of reasons. The most common is just simply incorrect factual information ‘” the number of beds/baths, the square footage, property features, etc. In my case, these minor inaccuracies only strengthened my over assessment contention. I didn’t have a fireplace or hard wood floors — all things the town had assumed when determining the value.


If you intend to stay in your home and cannot point to an unsuccessful list price as justification for a lower valuation, there are plenty of other resources to help you prove your case. Starting with,, and your town’s database are all ways to provide factual data that shows your home is worth less than the town previously determined. Cite recent sales in your neighborhood and compare the features of those properties with yours. Always remember it is a fact-driven process, not an emotional one.


It is not in a town’s interest to make the process simple or to encourage property owners to contest their valuation. But by putting aside assumptions and focusing a few minutes of research, I was able to successfully drop the town’s valuation of my property and lower my tax bill, all the while making it more attractive to investors who know that a lower valuation simply means lower ownership costs.


Residential Real Estate Loans

Residential real estate a place where people reside may be a single family or multi family housing set up. A residential real estate may have commercial space for business, some such areas may even exclude the use of such commercial set ups.

To purchase such residential real estate, a huge amount of money is required. Money can be borrowed from banks/ financial institutions or brokers in the form of residential real estate loan.


Like any other loan, a residential real estate loan involves the borrowers and the lender. The lender initially pays a sum to the borrower which is paid back in installments. These installments may be regular or otherwise. With the home loan market booming with several loan products, it is easy to shop around for a loan product that suits our need and budget.


Another type of loan which is very similar to residential real estate loan is “reverse” mortgage. A reverse mortgage is generally available to elderly who have very little money for their needs but enough equity in their homes. It helps such retired people to get a steady cash flow from their homes without having to sell it.


Now that we have understood the means of a residential real estate loan we should also know the various disadvantages that such loans have. One such hiccup is a default in repayment. In case the borrower is unable to repay the loan installments for 30 days then the borrower would make a phone call to make their monthly payment. After a period of 60 days the lender sends a reminder letter along with a phone call to make the payment. After a period of 90 days the lender sends a “pre foreclose” letter explaining the terms of the mortgage agreement due to default. Here a lender can ask for repayment of the installment due plus interest along with any later fees applicable. In even of non-payment of all these dues the lender can file a law suit to repossess the house.


Residential Real estate loans are primarily used to improve, buy or to refinance a property which is of residential use. These loans are of help to people with poor or bad credit scores but with a lot of money on their hand. Such people can opt for this type of loan as the bankers will only look at its money making capacity rather than the credit history of the borrower. Residential Real estate loans are considered as commercial loans as the borrower can make money out of the property by renting it out.


Another important criteria in these loans is the ratio of cash reserves and loan to value.

For a residential loan, a buyer’s credit history, the ratio of loan-to-value and cash reserves is major criteria.


There are many advantages of residential real estate loans. It is a long term investment plan which is more viable than commercial loans which require a huge down payment and unpredictable rates. Residential real estate loans are easier to get as the it is easy to product proof of profitability.


Residential real estate loans are for those who want to get the best loans with low interest rates and even earn money from the investment.


Foreclosure Follies

There I stood on the steps of the Bronx County Courthouse one chilly day in February 2007. No one was there except me and the cousin of my brother’s professional real estate investor friend who had bought, refurbished and sold dozens of seized buildings throughout the city.

The situation was dire. My rent-stabilized apartment had been bought by a new landlord who was playing hardball, trying to remove the former tenants so that he could renovate the apartments and rent each one for $1,300 dollars or more. Little old rent stabilized me had simply outlived my usefulness.


Although my 1912 vintage 3rd floor walk-up had always been creaky, and I had tacitly accepted the responsibility of caring for things such as painting and plastering that technically were my landlord’s responsibility, I never knew real suffering until my latest landlord took over. In the year that I was his tenant, I had suffered complete turn-offs of heat on twenty degree days for days at a time.


I would call Housing Preservation and Development and they would promise a response within three days or so. Perhaps I would speak to them, if I did not die of exposure, that is assuming my arthritic limbs would carry me to the door. Men were working on the adjacent apartments night and day, and holes had been bored straight into my bedroom, which I covered with cardboard for decencies sake.


Now was the time for me to get a piece of the American dream while I was still above-ground to enjoy it. Like it or not, I was poised to become another bubble aloft in the bubble of the Century.


How to describe the madness of the last few years now that the fever has broken? Well, picture a bespeckled 40 something clerk. Few savings, low paying job, anteing up real money to buy something that I was not even allowed to see beforehand. Talk about a pig in the poke. There might be no floors, no ceilings, the aroma of 88 cats or an angry occupant with a shotgun waiting for me.


Yet here I stood, and winning this game was a fight for life itself. The auctioneer and attorney for the building appeared a few minutes after the official start time for the auction. They stalled while hoping that some red-blooded competition would emerge-but alas, I was the only pigeon. Having been briefed beforehand, I wagered $100.00 over the minimum bid and secured my prize. Not having expected the property to go quite so cheaply, we were short one certified check for the extra $10.00 representing 10% of the offered bid of $52,100. After a brief consultation, it was agreed that my certified checks in the amount of $5,200 plus $10.00 in cash were kosher.


So began a six month journey ending in heartbreak. Why was I here? Well, they say fools rush in where angels fear to tread, but so do the very desperate. With a middling clerical job and modest savings I could not even begin to look at $1,200 or 1,300 /month apartments. I feared being attacked and having my property destroyed as had happened to several unwary friends who had invited raving psychopaths into their lives in a vain attempt to stake their claim to a tiny New York apartment.


How about going the real estate agent route? Well I had looked at several tiny pied a terres, including some just large enough to be my coffin and conveniently located next to the road that every Hindu in Jackson Heights traversed daily in their pilgrimages from home into Manhattan. Even these losers were beyond my reach financially. I had set my sights on a peanut-sized apartment in Forest Hills, across the street from my brother, and after divesting myself of many cherished possessions, including my late mother’s favorite coat, I was informed that the Board would not accept such a low price. Offered an opportunity to participate in some hanky-panky to hide the real price, I decided to avoid a career in bank fraud and let someone else claim the prize. Face it. Good apartments in move-in condition started in the six figures.


For me to flee the grim fate of being frozen or buried under falling plaster I would have to mobilize my contacts and my blue collar birthright. So here I was with cousin on the steps with my new purchase wondering what the devil I would do next.


I began by visiting ACORN, a low-income advocacy group, in hopes of scarfing up a nifty subsidized loan featuring no closing costs, a break on points, and a grant toward down payments. This was a specialty item offered by one or two banks, and in my case the bank was Citibank. After I had spent days assembling the paperwork, I was told that I would have to have the house inspected before I could qualify for the loan.


Oh, my God, what was the point? If it could pass an inspection, no one would have let me have it. I knew that I would need Mr. Goodwrench, Mr. Goodhammer, Mr. Goodsaw and every other honest workman. I would be channeling the entire bench strength of my brother in law’s Electrician’s Local 3 as well as getting recommendations and labor from Mr. Knowledgeable Real Estate investor and Cousin. I was certainly the original dumbbell, and I put my trust in wiser heads.


I inveighed the Coop Management into letting me into the apartment with my chosen engineer, in spite of the fact that they were not required to let anyone into the place until the final check had cleared. After getting a checklist of things plumbing, electrical and structural to be repaired. I submitted the results to ACORN only to be told that I could only have the loan if I repaired the defects first. That’s right, the bank expected me to fix property that I did not yet own as a condition of buying it!


So much for that theory. So much for the weeks of work, paperwork, distraction from my job and cost of the engineer’s report, all to no avail. After my brief fit of apoplexy, my brother encouraged me to try again with a more aggressive division of Citibank versed in the vagaries of commercial investment.


Although I had given up the special perks, was perfectly willing to pay a higher interest rate, had fully documented my finances, savings, job stability, and credit, that original caveat came back to haunt me. Although irrelevant to a standard loan, the original conditions imposed by HUD were appended to the new loan and the bank thought it would be just dandy if I fixed it up before I bought it. Never let it be said that bankers lack imagination.


Fierce battles ensued and my more business-oriented loan officer was able to bring the dreamers back down to earth. They reluctantly concurred that it was unlikely that someone would agree to spend thousands to fix a property that they might never own.


Now came the fun part. My original attorney had fled the field of battle when he realized that I was trying to drag him into a foreclosure mare’s nest, so my brother enlisted a stalwart veteran of many deals to be my knight in shining armor. Now started the latest sally, the lien search. While the lawyers were searching liens, and I was writing checks for said research, I made arrangements to meet the coop board for my interview.


Even though I had agreed to lay out $52,100 on an uninhabitable hovel of an apartment in the Bronx, my entrance into the hallowed halls of coop owners would not be complete without their approval. Winning the right to enter into their esteemed presence required the writing of several other large checks so that my employment, criminal history and credit history could be independently ascertained . I was giving complete strangers carte blanche to stick their noses into my business and to sit in judgment of my finances and character, all for the privilege of handing over my life-savings and indebting myself to a 15 year mortgage.


I took another day off from work to match the day off I spent on the frigid steps of the Bronx County Courthouse, and the day I had spent with the engineer. I met with my prospective fellow owners, a perfectly amiable crew, and passed with flying colors.


Now it was time for my lawyer, and their lawyers, and the banks lawyers, and every lawyer on earth it seemed to reach an agreeable time for doing the deed. In the fullness of time, July 7th was agreed upon.

At last!


Hours before I was to sign the papers, I got the news. The deal was off. One of those apparently innocent liens which both my attorney and my lawyer brother assured me was nothing, sunk my ship. Apparently two liens had been placed on the property. The first was quickly disposed of, but the second hung on like the dead hand of fate. Although there was every indication that no true debt existed, the satisfaction documentation had never been filed and the lien never removed, even though it was in all probability paid.


Thousands of dollars and six months later, still no apartment. I would later narrowly escape being killed when my ceiling was collapsed onto my floor and forced to flee into a sister’s apartment while they rebuilt. I enlisted the help of a very kind and very powerful local politician and avoided homelessness by the skin of my teeth. Although I sympathize with everyone upside down on a mortgage and know I narrowly avoided being one of them, I pray every day for the housing market to come down just a little bit more so that I can buy through a real estate agent and never go through this again.


My Own Experience with the Housing Market Crash

The housing market crash has affected countless people throughout our country and it continues to do so. There is some recent evidence that the market may be turning around and that is good news. I have been impacted by the real estate crash in two different ways. We had purchased a home in an “up and coming” area. We made renovations and improvements to the home and felt confident that we would make a profit when the time came to sell. A job opportunity 13 hours away that was too good to pass up forced the sale a little sooner than we had expected. My family was separated for 4 months while the house sat on the market with little or no activity. We finally received a horrible offer that we took because we were tired of living so far apart and many real estate agents will tell you that the first offer is often the best offer. We had to bring $25,000 to closing on a house that we had turned from outdated to like new again, so we lost all the money we had put into renovating it as well. The second way we’ve been affected by the housing market slump is still happening today. We bought a house to “flip” during the time when buying a house to fix up and sell quickly was a popular thing to do. The market had already been slipping by the time we finished the home and when we got it on the market it just wouldn’t sell. We couldn’t afford to lower it to a price that would have probably brought a buyer so we were forced to rent itout. The home has continued to loose value and so we own a home 13 hours away (that we sometimes receive rent for and sometimes don’t) that we might be upside down on for a long time. The good news is that if you’re buying, this is a great time to capitalize on some really good values on homes. The good news if you’re selling is that there are a few things that can be done to help make your home more appealing, even in an unpromising market.



Staging is a relatively new concept in real estate but it is rapidly gaining popularity. Staging has been proven to increase the sale price and also shorten the amount of time the property is on the market. When you stage your home you put your homes best foot forward. The best way to start is to go room to room and clear out all the clutter and all non essential furniture. You’re moving anyway so start by packing up anything that you don’t use or haven’t used in a long time. Removing everything extra will make each room look and feel bigger. Also, remove family pictures so that buyers can picture themselves in the space instead of picturing your family. Also, make sure everything is as clean as possible and make any minor repairs that need to be made such as painting rooms, fixing trim or any other inexpensive updates that will freshen up how your home looks. Go room to room and look at it like you’re seeing it for the first time, as if you’re the potential buyer. Make sure each room is neutrally decorated, clean and free of clutter. Also remember to open all the blinds to let in as much light as possible and turn on all your lights during showings, light makes everything feel warmer and more inviting.


Correct Pricing


It is really important to price your house correctly when you first put it on the market. Your real estate agent can help you determine the right price. Your house is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it, no matter how much you think you should be able to get for it. It is better to set your best price at the beginning rather than continue to lower it to try to pick up more traffic. Buyers will wonder how low you’ll go since you keep reducing your price.


If you are looking to buy, keep in mind that the market has started to rebound and it will go back up eventually, so there is no time like the present. There are many incentives for buyers right now and there is no shortage of properties for them to choose from. There are a few things to keep in mind to help you get the best deal possible.


Shop for the Best Interest Rate


Interest rates are low right now in an effort to help stimulate the real estate market. Shop around for the best rate, one good website for that is Get all the facts and make sure you know all the fees involved to be sure that you are looking in the price range that you can afford. Foreclosures can also be a really good value, just be sure you are aware of the exact condition of the home and take note of repairs that need to be made.


First- Time Home Buyers Incentives


The government is offering an $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers who purchase a home before December 1, 2009. Most states are offering incentives of their own so make sure you look into that as well. Some are helping with down payments and other options may be available as well.


If you are selling your home don’t be discouraged, there is a buyer for every home. If you are buying, enjoy looking for the right home for you in an excellent buyers market!




Mountain Island Lake NC Real Estate and Homes

Why are people coming to the Mountain Island Lake area properties to build their homes and live their lives? The answer is simple – elegance! This elegance is two fold. The first is found in the homes that are being constructed and the second is in the nature surrounding them. Architectural guidelines assure a continuity of theme throughout with homes in the $300,000 to $1,000,000 range. Deed restrictions and other protocols protect the homeowners by assuring a consistency throughout the area.

If you have always had the desire to be a part of a waterfront community, Mountain Island Lake area real estate is the right choice for your and your family. There are docks and boathouses reaching down to the shoreline. This lake is approved for all recreational activities including boating, jet skiing, water skiing, swimming and tubing among others. There are also lots of fish just waiting for you to wet a line! The water traffic is rated low to moderate so your peaceful moments on the back deck will be undisturbed. You can have a home constructed by one of the area’s custom builders or contact a Mountain Island Lake area Realtor to discuss your plans.


There are 62 miles of shoreline with Mountain Island Lake area homes awaiting your arrival. Almost half the area is designated parkland so you are sure to keep the privacy and natural setting during your home ownership. Wildlife abounds with deer, turkey, raccoons and all our feathered friends. This is great exploration territory for the young and old alike. The lake is man-made, created in 1924, and is 3,281 acres in size with a 58 foot maximum depth. The waters are clear and kept at a constant level. Mountain Island Lake area real estate agents will tell you that these properties are excellent homes for young families, empty nesters and retirees alike.


The waters of the Catawba River feed the Mountain Island Lake area. This river has a length of 220 miles and is managed by a series of dams throughout North and South Carolina. The Mountain Island Lake area is one of three lakes in the area including Lake Norman and Lake Wylie. Mountain Island Lake is the smallest most intimate of the three. If you would like to make an investment in your future and pass a legacy to your children or grandchildren contact a Mountain Island Lake area real estate agent and set out for your new home on the water!


Davidson NC Real Estate and Homes

Davidson College opened its doors in 1837 and began leasing to businesses that are now Davidson, NC properties. At that time, there were no Davidson, North Carolina homes for sale as the location was not yet officially a town. It was not until 1879 that the town incorporated as Davidson College and later changed its name to simply Davidson in 1891. Around this college was built a population of Davidson, NC homes. Then social and economic changes began to take place in the area when a cotton mill entered the area providing jobs and attracting more residents.

A Davidson, North Carolina real estate agent of the time would have seen an influx of people looking for the promise of economic stability. People moved into the town from farms to find work as the farming industry saw a steady decline in prices of crops. As people moved into the area, Davidson, NC listings would have included homes near the cotton mill. Workers soon discovered that the small town could not compete with nearby Cornelius and Mooresville in the industry. Davidson, North Carolina real estate reached a peak and stood still for a period of time as the town experienced very little growth after its initial spurt of prosperity.


Today, a Davidson, North Carolina Realtor would experience a different scenario. As Davidson College is still the central attraction of Davidson and its most valuable asset, values of Davidson, NC homes have greatly improved. Many college students who attend school there decide to remain in Davidson due to its relative closeness to many of the major cities of North Carolina such as Charlotte. This has increased the population of Davidson and created a boom in the Davidson, North Carolina real estate market. With this type of growth, the town is experiencing much change.


Deeply rooted in its historical ideals, the town of Davidson has a population of only about 7,000 residents. The small town atmosphere is hugely attractive to some and may be a turn-off to others. Of the approximately 2,400 Davidson, NC homes, many have been passed down to family member from previous generations. Some may find these residents to be of an “old school” mentality and resistant to change. Others, however, may find a bit of charm in the close communities built around the family homesteads. However you see it, one undisputed fact is that the town of Davidson, NC is rich in Southern Heritage.


Matthews NC Real Estate and Homes

Matthews, North Carolina has a population of 22,000 and Matthews properties are located a short ten miles from downtown Charlotte. The pleasant suburb has a median household income of $67,000 living in primarily low-density single-family homes. This translates into ample opportunities for homeowners to landscape their Matthews properties with the lovely variety of native flora available in this area. The residential sections are committed to beautification and improvement of the surroundings in Matthews, North Carolina.

The town is equally dedicated to the “greening” of Matthews real estate. There are Community Gardens where residents volunteer to plant and tend 100 to 150 square feet of soil with flowers and vegetables. This practice is a new endeavor with a long history dating back through time in communities around the globe. This is representative of the community spirit of the residents in Matthews homes. One specific residence among Matthews homes is the Reid House. This property is unique in that it is one of the very few Victorian Queen Anne homes in the whole county. With its gingerbread porch woodwork, rounded turret and 12-foot ceilings, this restored beauty will be a stop on your visit with a Matthews Realtor.


Along with these gardens, the Arbor Day Foundation has named the town “Tree Town USA” for nine years running. This honor is bestowed to cities that dedicate funds and efforts toward the planting and maintaining of all trees within its borders. Originally a cotton farming community, almost all the native trees were cut in preparation for growing fields of cotton. This resulted in Matthews real estate being given the inglorious historic name of Stumptown. In reparation for the past practices the town is on a quest to repopulate the flora. Matthews, NC real estate reflects these efforts as you travel about town.


When considering Matthews homes for sale, be aware of the numerous employment opportunities located in the town of Matthews, NC. The headquarters for Family Dollar and Harris Teeter grocers are among the Matthews listings of business and industry. Also, Charlotte is right down the road if you do not mind a 15-minute commute. The school system is part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg system and is rated among the highest quality in the state of North Carolina. This lovely town has a unique sense of community that will welcome you and embrace you if you choose to make Matthews, North Carolina your next relocation destination.


Albemarle NC Real Estate and Homes

Albemarle is located in Stanly County, North Carolina and hosts the county seat. It has a population of about 16,000 people, spread over an area of slightly less than 16 square miles creating a density of approximately 1,000 people per square mile. Originally settled by tribes of Mound Builders, the area is rich in archeological history dating back 10,000 years or more. More recent history shows that the current population of Albemarle consists of many descendants of German, Dutch and Scotch-Irish heritage. Of its many assets, Albemarle, NC properties boast a number of natural and recreational sites.

One such recreation site included in the Albemarle listings of recreational resources is the first public park created in the town. Built in the late 1930’s, Rock Creek Park is located on Highway 52 South. Since that time, the park has expanded its facilities to include an athletic field, three tennis courts, two bocce courts, a walking trail and picnic area. In addition, the park serves as host to a Challenge program consisting of an obstacle course complete with rappelling tower for the adventurous minded. The Rock Creek Park is conveniently located near many Albemarle homes and is an added feature for Albemarle, NC homes for sale in the area.


Other significant Albemarle, North Carolina real estate includes the Albemarle Soccer Complex, Morehead Park, Ingram Park, Montgomery Park and the City Lake Park. The 100-acre lake within this park provides a variety of recreational and gathering opportunities. Fishing is permitted in the lake and tackle can be checked out at the park office. In addition, a number of meeting places are available with reservations for weddings, family reunions, picnics and other special events. And for water enthusiasts, the lake amenities include two boat docks. The park has approximately 75 acres of land for public use.


As is the case with many towns in this North Carolina area, the early economic development of Albemarle was widely based on agriculture. When the country began to industrialize, the textile industry provided jobs for residents of the town. The manufacture of textiles is still very much a part of the local economy, but the Albemarle of today is much more diverse with a multitude of manufacturers operating plants in the town. Within Albemarle you will find the production and manufacturing of carpet, cable, knitting fabrics, manufactured homes and metal components among others. Retail stores also employ a number of workers in the town.


Fort Mill SC and Charlotte NC Real Estate and Homes

Nestled in the northern-most reaches of South Carolina, the municipality of Fort Mill, South Carolina has a population of 9,400 in a township of 35,000. Fort Mill, SC properties have witnessed significant events in the history of the country. The last meeting of the Confederate Government Cabinet was held here in 1865. Also, Fort Mill’s Confederate Park is the site for the only monuments honoring slaves who fought in the Civil War. Also, Fort Mill, South Carolina real estate has provided residence for WWI flying ace, Elliott White Springs who is a South Carolina Hall of Famer.

When on the hunt for Fort Mill, SC homes for sale consider that the educational system of the area is rated among the highest in the state. There are numerous family activities in the community including three parks with recreational equipment and festivals to attend. The climate is friendly year-round with an average in the 90’s for the summers and in the 50’s for the winter. The average median income is $42,400 making the Fort Mill, SC homes for sales very affordable. The town is also in the process of annexation that will provide many new opportunities in Fort Mill, South Carolina.


If sports are your fancy, the Charlotte Knights, a AAA Chicago White Sox farm team, make Fort Mill their home. Other Fort Mill, SC listings will place you near the town’s famous Greenways. The Anne Springs Close Greenway is an amazing 2,300 acres of protected forests, sparkling lakes and gently rolling hills. Full of the diversity of trees and wildflowers, furry animals and birds, this retreat is a jewel for the town. You will spend countless days making memories with your family in these wondrous surroundings. These dedicated natural zones add privacy and attractiveness to the Fort Mill, SC homes and properties.


With historic growth that was spurred by the textile industry of the late 1800’s, Fort Mill, South Carolina continues to experience growth due to it proximity to metropolitan areas of Charlotte, NC. If the hustle and bustle of urban life is not for you, contact a Fort Mill, SC Realtor to experience the quality of small town living. Fort Mill, SC listings are excellent destinations for those who must work in the city but choose to live in a peaceful and safe environment. Historic homes abound, as do modern stylish constructions sure to fit every taste.


Selling a House in a Buyer’s Market: Getting the Best Price for One’s Home

In today’s housing market, selling a home for a decent price isn’t easy. Since the housing bubble burst, prices for homes, both new and existing, have been in a tailspin. In fact, according to a report released by Demographia, from July 2014 to January 2015, the national median house value decreased by twenty-nine percent; and “this loss, over a 2.5 year period, is comparable to the Great Depression house value loss of twenty-seven percent over a four year period.”

As things stand, the outlook for the near future is far from promising since economists foresee still more homeowners facing foreclosure as the result of toxic loans, resulting in a continued decline in property values. So, the question is, what can homeowners do to help ensure they receive top dollar for their homes when there are so many bottom-dollar houses for sale?

Price It Right

According to David Hemenway, a realtor in Cottage Grove, Oregon, who’s been in the business since 1968, starting too high is the worst thing a seller can do (Max) And why is this the case? Hemenway says it’s because the greatest opportunity to sell one’s house is “immediately after it goes on the market,” since that’s when the majority of serious buyers will see it (Max). Moreover, even if sellers lower the price to reflect the market, they will have fewer people coming through than if they had priced it right to begin with (Max).

Use Elbow Grease

Scrub the house until it glistens. Wash windows inside and out, remove pet and coffee stains from carpets, wax floors, scour bathrooms, dust ceiling fans and baseboards, clean electrical plates, scrub appliances, and polish mirrors and doorknobs. In other words, sellers should complete all those tedious chores they’ve been putting off until another day, either that, or hire a cleaning service. The important thing is that a clean house makes a far better impression than a pigsty.

Clear Out Clutter

Clutter makes a house look smaller, as well as dingy. So, take one room at a time and purge it of clutter. This doesn’t mean a seller has to throw away that hideous lava lamp he’s been saving for sentimental purposes, but he should at least put it in storage. Remember, when potential buyers enter a home, they want to envision themselves living there, which is next to impossible if the rooms are filled with stuff to remind them it’s someone else’s home.

Repair, Repair, Repair

Mend or replace tattered screens; replace cracked bathroom grout; repair loose cabinet knobs and drawer pulls; fix leaking faucets; replace burned out light bulbs; patch holes, including nail holes, in the walls (preferably before painting); repair broken steps (inside and out); and replace or remove torn and/or faded wallpaper. In other words, if something is worn out, damaged, or broken, fix it; and if it cannot be fixed, replace it.

Paint the Walls

It is amazing what a coat of paint will do for the interior and exterior of a house. It makes everything look new and fresh. Even if the paint job is recent, however, if the walls are colors that may not appeal to everyone, paint them a neutral color, preferably within the cream or beige family. Stark white is, well, too stark, whereas soft creams and beiges make rooms look more spacious. Plus, it’s much easier for potential buyers to picture their things against a neutral canvas than against one that’s chartreuse, burgundy, or cobalt.

Create Curb Appeal

Take a long, unbiased look at the outside of the house. Does the grass need mowing? Are the flowerbeds more weeds than flowers? Are toys strewn hither, thither, and yond? Have the neighbors’ cats and dogs used the lawn as a litter box? If the answer is “yes,” then cut the grass, pick up the toys, weed the flowerbeds, and scare away the neighbors’ pets.

Another way to enhance curb appeal is by practicing the teachings of the ancient art of Feng Shui; for example, place large attractive flowerpots containing healthy, colorful plants on each side of the main entranceway. Paint the front door a dramatic, vibrant color, for example, deep red, dark charcoal, or rich chocolate.

Turn on the Lights

When showing the home, open the drapes, blinds, and curtains, but also turn on the lights. The more light the better because light makes rooms look larger, as well as airy. Remember, no one wants to live in the dark, well, that is unless he or she is a vampire, so sellers should light up a house for potential buyers.

Selling a home in today’s market is not easy, but it is possible. It’s also possible to sell it for what it’s worth. It simply takes a little foresight and preparation on the part of the seller.