Tag Archive | real estate

7 Things To Do In December If You Want to Buy or Sell a home in 2013

True Confession: I set a handful of New Year’s Resolutions every single year. Why? They work for me – I’ve got probably a 75 percent success rate. Some of this is in the science of setting the Resolution the right way in the first place, including the preparation.

Here’s my secret: I always get started in December. I like to use my holiday down-time to plan things out, gather up the resources or do the research I need, figure out what my challenges are likely to be and make a plan to deactivate them, set appointments with any professional I need to get on board to make my goals happen and even get some momentum built up with my new eating program, workout plan, financial goals or career endeavors.

I aim to be like that old Marines commercial – by January 1, I’ve already done more than most Resolution-setters do all year!

moving lady
And I’d like to help you do the same. Let’s boost the chances that your home buying or selling goals for 2013 will be successful by devoting a little time in December to getting things lined up and in motion. Here is my short list of tasks I would put on my December to-do list if I wanted to buy or sell a home next year:

1. Handle your credit horrors. Maybe you don’t have any credit horrors – kudos to you! But let’s get real, this year will be a year in which many post-foreclosure, post-bankruptcy, post-layoff Americans will find themselves sufficiently recovered, post-recession, to get back into the real estate market and buy a home. If you count yourself among the number of 2013 wanna-be buyers who experienced a financial glitch of any degree during the recession, December is the right time to start pulling your credit reports and doing a damage assessement and control campaign.

  • Visit AnnualCreditReport.com (the only website through which you can access your government-mandated free reports) and order your own credit reports from all three reporting bureaus.
  • Review them all, line-by-line, checking for errors and discrepancies. It is extremely common for paid-off accounts to still be reporting as delinquent, for foreclosed mortgages to still be listed as open and past-due and for bills that were settled in collection to be reported as behind. Follow the instructions to dispute any such errors you see.
  • When you talk with your mortgage broker (see #4), go over the reports with them again, getting a read on precisely when your foreclosure, bankruptcy, delinquencies, gaps in employment or other credit woes will be sufficiently “seasoned” (i.e., long ago) to allow you to qualify for another loan, and get their advice on any action items, like paying a particular debt or set of credit cards down to $X amount will be important for you to complete before you try for a legitimate pre-approval next year.

In fact, this last point applies to everyone – whether or not you think you have any dings on your credit report. It’s essential to get clear on any of the work you’ll need to do to optimize your credit standing now, as the payoffs, disputes and other credit work that can move the needle on your score may take some time.

2. Purge. It’s time. Time to get rid of all that things you know qualify as clutter – all of the stuff you know buyers won’t want to see when they tour your home, and all the stuff that you won’t want to move to your next place. If you donate your junk before the end of the year, you might be able to get a receipt and deduction for the taxes you file in 2013. And tax break or not, getting all that stuff out of your attic, your closets, your shelves and your rooms will clear up loads of mental space and energy, minimize some of the overwhelm latent in the prospect of moving – and might even surface a few things you can sell to boost your down payment savings or your home staging budget.

Clutter clearing gets overwhelming when you simply lack the time, in the face of everyday urgencies, to invest a few hours or days to go deep, pull out all the minutae and memory-laden How better to spend those wintry days between Christmas and New Year’s than to clear out the clutter in your home – and your mind?

3. Plan your prep. If you’re thinking of selling your home in 2013, now is a great time to start organizing your list (or spreadsheet, or Evernote file) of home preparation tasks that need to get done before you put the place on the market. Things like painting, carpeting, landscaping and other preparation tasks can be less taxing and less disruptive to your life if you have plenty of time to collect bids, sock away the cash to cover the costs and arrange projects at your family’s convenience or during off-seasons, when contractors might be wiling to charge a bit less.

Talk with your agent before you put a plan in place; they can help you make good decisions which projects to do (and which to forego), as well as choosing finish materials and colors that will appeal to the broadest segment of buyers – to boot, they often can refer you to the most cost-effective contractors in your area for these sorts of pre-listing projects.

3. Save. More. There’s no such thing as saving too much cash up for your down payment. If you have a home to sell, you have no idea how much you’ll take away from that transaction until it closes. And even if you’re currently renting, having maximum savings set aside allows you maximum flexibility in terms of selecting homes, competing with other buyers, covering closing costs (which can run as high as 3-4% on average for an FHA loan) and even handling post-closing repairs, appliances and property personalization.

4. Collect your gift money. Buyers who get gift money from a relative to apply toward their down payments are often subject to seemingly strange and definitely invasive documentation requirements – the most onerous of which is to produce copies of the gift GIVER’s bank accounts proving the source of the funds. If you know Mom, Dad, Granny or Aunt Bernie is going to chip in some cash toward your down payment in the Spring, consider asking them to go ahead and give it to you now, so you can put it in your own accounts and begin “seasoning” it as yours, which will help you avoid all those documentation demands.

Your benefactor should check with their financial and tax advisors to be sure the gift is structured so as to avoid any tax implications, before they give it.

5. Connect with an agent and a mortgage broker – stat. Don’t wait until the month before you want to buy or sell to ring up your trusty agent and initiate the conversation. Pick up the phone and {give me a call} ask questions like:

  • Whether your market is a buyer’s market or seller’s market, and how that translates into what you can and should expect when you plan to buy or sell next year
  • Whether there are any area-specific timing issues you should factor in as you map out your timeline
  • What – given the specifics of your financials, your savings, any past credit or other issues you have – you should be doing now in terms of paying bills down, settting savings targets, and such
  • What changes, if any, you should plan on making to your property before listing it
  • What sort of property you can get for your money in the areas you’re targeting as a buyer, and what kind of money you can expect to command for your property in your local market (this, obviously, will change over time – even over the few months or so between now and the time you list your home, but it still helps to have a general ides of the current market values).

6. Go Open House hunting. If you’re selling next year, it’s essential to get a real-life read on what the competition’s like, everything from what sorts of houses in your area are listed at various price points to what your target buyers are going to be seeing on their way into or out of your house. There’s no reality check on your own home’s preparation and staging – its overall readiness for listing – like putting on a buyer’s shoes and taking a tour through similar homes in your area. And there’s no time for this reality check like right now: when Open Houses are still a-plenty, you have more time to attend them, and you still have plenty of time to process your takeaways and incorporate them into your own property preparations.

Open House hunting is also helpful for those who have home buying on their 2013 to-do lists. It’s the only way you can start understanding how to decipher the listings you see online into a reality-based set of expectations about a property. It’s also the best way to get indoctrinated deeply into the realities of what you get on your local market at various price points, and it’s the most impactful strategy for starting the process of negotiating compromises with your co-buyers.

7. Think hard about your deductions, if you’re self-employed. In the wake of the recession, most mortgage guidelines for self-employed borrowers changed, so that your income for purposes of qualifying is assumed to be the average of your last two years’ Adjusted Gross Income, as reported on your federal income tax returns. That means lenders calculate your income after all your business-related and other deductions, not before.

So, yes, this does mean that maximizing your deductions may impact your ability to qualify for a home loan in 2013. But them’s the breaks – better to know this before you file your tax return, in the event it might change something about how you file. Loop your tax advisor, business bookkeeper and mortgage broker into your decision-making process about your 2012 taxes before filing, if you’re self-employed and plan to buy or refinance your home next year.

 

All: Follow the Real Estate Wonder Woman on  Twitter

 

 

Last day of the State Fair in Raleigh NC

The North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh North Carolina has come once again. And in case you’ve been living under a rock and didn’t know the dates, it was from Oct 14- Oct 21. If you haven’t been to the fair yet, I suggest getting a move on. I personally have been avoiding it like the plague. Long lines, horse poop, pig races… It just hasn’t done it for me. I will admit though as a city girl, the idea of seeing pig races is one that is intriguing, but it hasn’t been enough to make me want to get up and drive the (1mi) distance to the fair. I’ve put it off long enough though. If I don’t make it today I will be in deep pig poop because my 8 year old will be on me like white on rice. The 2 year old could care less ( I like that kid :) but Zoe, O she’s another story. Not to mention I managed to finagle my way out of it last year. I am absolutely positive once I get there we will have a blast. It’s just getting that motivation to go is the hard part. I’ve got exactly 2 hours before we head out so wish me luck :) I plan on eating as much deep fried nasty as my body can handle :) If you’ve gone to the fair you should post some pics. I know I will as soon as I get back.

So if you see your Raleigh Real Estate Wonder Woman walking around… be sure to say “Hi” and point me in the direction of a great food stand.

5 ways to Kill the sale of a home

It’s early morning. I’ve got my coffee and chocolate donut ( yeah… I’m not a very healthy person lol) and I sit down at my computer to start my day. First things first. I head over to the MLS and check the hot sheet. I like to see what the newest listings are, who expired, and who just sold. But as I sit there reading, I find myself rolling my eyes at times….

“Seller says sell!”  (Really?? I would never have guessed. Why else would the seller list their home? Just to have random people walking through their home, peering into their closets and opening kitchen cabinets to see what kind of stuff they have?) My favorite is “MOTIVATED SELLER!” hooked on to a listing that is more than likely overpriced by about $20,000 – $40,000.  How motivated can you possibly be? And if you really did have a motivated seller (i.e one that just commited a crime and needs to get out of dodge tomorrow lol) then as their agent you would legally be obligated to keep that to yourself… Ok.. I’m sure it doesn’t extend to crimes but still you know what I mean. If you have information on your seller that would cause them to be at a disadvantage you wouldn’t tell.

Truth is, while many sellers are ready to sell, some here in the Triangle are simply not motivated to do anything but KILL the sale of their home.  Here are just five ways sellers commit murder when it comes to selling their Raleigh/Durham home.

#5. Hindering Showings.  This seems silly. Why hinder showings?  I have no idea. But there are plenty sellers out there who: refuse to have a lockbox on their home, or demand the listing agent be present at all showings (making it very difficult to coordinate schedules for both agents plus the buyers and any other clients the listing agent may have), or who want an extremely narrow time frame.  Truth is, when taking buyers to multiple homes over a large geographic area like Raleigh, or anywhere in Wake and Durham County, it is impossible to peg down exact times; be satisfied when agents give a 2 hour window.  Inflexible sellers will discover their listing has gone into the circular file in lieu of easier homes to show.

Puppies are cute, but when selling your home, keep them confined…and odor free!

#4. Being a Stinky Pete. Homes that smell are generally not homes that sell.  Sellers who smoke, have pets, who need a dehumidifier, and have a love affair with Febreeze are not helping their cause. First step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. So fix it before Buyers walk in, plug their nose, and say “NEXT!”

#3. Thinking All Buyers Are Pet Lovers.  Benji and Lassi need to be restrained when buyers come.  Buyers who are greeted at the door with barks or hisses may wish to skip and go to the next home. Also realize some buyers may have allergies. So do what you can to help ease their fears. ( Like offering a carpet cleaning allowance or even better… NEW CARPETS (gasp!)

#2. Hiding Behind Door Number 3.  If a door is locked, and buyers can’t see behind it, they are going to assume something horrible and catastrophic is behind the door.  When someone is contemplating spending a $100,000 or more, they want to see what they are buying.

#1. Auditioning for the Next Season Of Hoarders.  Seriously, buyers do not want to tiptoe around your junk – and that is how they see piles of personal belongings. They do not see treasures, memories, and keepsakes. They see overwhelming piles of junk and may make the conclusion that the home lacks enough storage space.  The problem is escalated in the case of damp basements and storage: if your junk smells bad…you are not only a hoarder, but a Stinky Pete, too…a double whammy.

Nobody expects your home to look like Martha Stewart just left the building.  But by the same token, nobody wants to buy a home if all they see are mountains to overcome: mountains of mess, mountains of odors, mountains of challenges.

In this challenging real estate market, do all you can to make sure your home is neat, tidy, and available to buyers. And if you ever want an honest opinion of if your home stinks 😉 give your Real Estate Wonder Woman Kalyn Ringwold a call!

My Picks for Affordable Family Fun in the Triangle

Fall is winding to a close for most kids on the traditional school calendar here in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding areas…and really everywhere else in the country truth be told. Just a couple of weeks left to play outdoors, ride that new bicycle you got for your Birthday (or last Christmas). Thank God we live down south, and we still have 70 degree days in our future, but those days are rapidly coming to an end. Soon all the leaves will be gone from the trees, the weather will be chilly, and you will be sipping (spiced?) hot chocolate from the comfort of your home. So, what is a family to do in the final days of fall freedom? I’ve got some picks for you!

Spend an afternoon hiking at Raven Rock State Park

Located about 45 minutes from downtown Raleigh and just over an hour from Durham, is one of the most beautiful state parks the Piedmont region of North Carolina has to offer – Raven Rock State Park in Lillington (Harnett County). With miles of trails of varying difficulty (including some for horses!), options for picnicking, canoeing, or fishing, there’s something for every nature lover in the family. For the price of a few gallons of gas and a priceless journey, this might be one option to take the family to.

Go for an adventure at Adventure Landing in Raleigh or at Wheels Fun Park in Durham

If mini-golf, go karting, laser tag, and perfecting your baseball swing at the batting cages are your thing, check out Adventure Landing, especially on Friday nights. Their Friday Night Family Fun Night is a GREAT deal. For $24.99, a family of four can enjoy unlimited mini-golf, unlimited laser tag, and a large pepperoni pizza to curb the hunger after playing all those games! Not bad….and inexpensive too.

Don’t feel like trekking into Raleigh for all you can play mini-golf? Well, if you live in or around the Durham area, check out Wheels Fun Park. There you get all the same attractions and then some! Try your hand at skateboarding in the skateboard park, strap on some skates for some old fashioned roller skating, or check out their indoor play gym. Prices are relatively inexpensive. The smiles on the faces of your children …priceless.

Take the family to a NC State or UNC football game!

Grab your grill’s and head to either of the two college football teams we have in the Triangle. Whether you live in Chapel Hill or Raleigh or somewhere in between there’s some fantastic football to be had. Each stadium has its own schedule for additional family fun promotions so be sure to check each link.

Take your family (including the pooch) to Lake Benson Park in Garner

Being that the park is located just 10 minutes from downtown Raleigh and 30 minutes from the Durham or Wake Forest areas, Lake Benson Park is easy to get to and full of all kinds of options for family fun.

With 3 miles of trails spanning the park and its sister location, White Deer Park, you can jog, walk, or bike to your hearts content. There are two playgrounds for the little ones and an expansive field covering several acres for you Frisbee® throwers, football tossers, or if you just want to throw a blanket down for a picnic.

There you have it – a few of my favorites for family fun as the summer winds down. Of course, there’s plenty more to do in the Triangle. Please, if I missed your favorite activity/attraction, share your thoughts in the comments below.

In the meantime, you can catch me tailgating at the football games, enjoying a nice picnic at the lake, and looking out at the scenic vistas.

 

As always feel free to contact your Real Estate Wonder Woman for any other suggestions on things to do :)

www.RealEstateWonderWoman.com or kringwold@yahoo.com

Get that home sold!

Here’s the setting. You’re living in a home. You want out. You don’t just want out but you NEED out. It’s time to go because the cops are after you… o.k I hope that’s not the case, but I know there are situations when you’re trying to get out of there as if the cops were after you! 😉 So what do you do? You don’t know the first thing about getting your home sold. All you know is that it’s a buyer’s market and you’re scared. Let me try to ease your fear a little bit… Here are a few helpful tips. Best tip being to USE YOUR REAL ESTATE WONDER WOMAN! I’m here and it’s what I do :)

Negotiating the sale of your home is not just a one hit kind of thing, but a step-by-step strategy that begins long before the first potential buyer walks through the front door.Following strategic steps not only increases the salability of your home, but it may increase the net sale as well.

· The first and most important step you must take is getting the house ready to sell. That’s right I said it. You actually need to dust those cobwebs from the corners… pick up the laundry from the floor, spruce up the paint job, and maybe put a flower pot outside.– Looks are everything in selling your home and you want the buyer to fall in love. The more they love your home, the more negotiating power you retain. Which = more $$ in your pocket at the end.

· You will need to eliminate any attachment to your home. Do not      allow any emotional ties to linger as you fix, clean, scrub, paint, update, and stage your home. Let the importance of selling your home override any memorable moments of your life associated with it. This way, you won’t be offended if the myriad of agents, appraisers, and potential buyers put anything in a negative light. Some use negative input as a negotiating tactic, so try to be impervious to blunt comments or criticisms. Remember that buyers, no matter their behavior, are making one of the biggest decisions of their lives.

· Keep Quiet! During the sale process, you will be communicating with many people. If they are not your agent do not let any person troubles slip. It CAN and WILL be used against you during the negotiations. Your agent is the only one on your side, do not be fooled by friendly potential buyers or buyers agents. Their job is to get the best deal for their client.

·  Find a great Realtor, that has your best interests at heart. Make sure they are available to you, and communicate with you on a weekly basis. Realtors that provide effective ways to market your home or show you staging techniques to make your home stand out are generally willing to work to get the best price. Find yourself an innovative real estate agent who will come up with great ways to bring buyers to your property. Make sure your Realtor has them prequalified first so that you don’t waste time on people who can’t purchase your property. When selling your home time is of the essense.

· When the final stages of negotiation are on the table, respect the buyer’s efforts to purchase your home. Especially with it being a buyers market you will more than likely have to make some concessions. Be prepared. Expect to contribute to closing costs at the very least. At the same time they should be willing to work with you as well. Respond quickly to offers, keep your emotions out of the game, and keep the lines of communication open.

When an agreement to purchase is made, the negotiating does not stop. Houses generally take about 30-60 days to close with the inspection, the appraisal, the purchase contract, and financing process to consider. Your active involvement is helpful to all of those working to finally close the deal. At the end of the day, if both the seller and the buyer walk away satisfied, the real estate transaction will be considered a success.

Lastly CELEBRATE you have gotten your home sold. Your run from the cops can proceed. 😉

Tuesday Food Day!!

Good Morning… Good Morning… How are you?!( In my head this was done in a sing song voice. If you didn’t sing it to yourself please re-read and apply :) )I hope everyone has gotten over their case of the Mondays, because we have officially begun (drum roll please…) TUESDAY FOOD DAY! A day that I’ve decided to dedicate to something we (literally) could not live without! Each week I will present you with a new food related item. It might be a restaurant that I have tried, might be a recipe that I have decided to share, might be just a picture of a burger… Ok it probably will always be more than that, but still anything goes! Why?? Because it’s TUESDAY FOOD DAY!

When I’m not out there being your Real Estate Wonder Woman, and fulfilling all of your real estate needs. I am out hunting for hidden gems within the Triangle.

With this being the start of an epic saga I figured we should kick it off right (football reference in case it went over your head lol), by telling you about one of my favorite hidden gems in the area.


Cloo’s Coney Island-2233 Avent Ferry Rd, Raleigh

In the Mission Valley shopping center

Hidden Gem


Ok here’s the deal. If you haven’t been there before, then you’re wasting time. Stop reading and go NOW! NOW! NOW!

I found this place a while back when I was having a craving for a Chicago style hot dog. Being a Chicago native but living in the south; It’s like finding the Holy Grail for me. Lots of places advertise “Authentic Chicago” but very few deliver. My first time going in I thought I was in heaven. I ordered the Chitown hotdog, cheese fries, and a cheesesteak with everything. :) O it was yum. It was Delcious. It was Outrageous. It was like a little piece of happiness with each and every bite…. Ok maybe I’m overexaggerating a bit but still it was honestly good enough for me to come back every day that week, and I’ve been going there at least 3-4 times a mt since then. The only downside that I know a lot of people complain about is the fact that you have to wait a little bit of time for your food. I myself am O.K with waiting so long as my food tastes great. I mean there is one cook (normally the owner), everything is made to order, and when the line gets long he is doing the best he can!

So if you (like myself) enjoy hot, yummy, greasy food :) This is the place to go! And if you go make sure you come back and let me know. I would love to hear what others have tried. Even though I’ve been going there for a while I have yet to order anything else because my go to is so great lol.

And Remember if you ever need help buying a home or selling your current home within the Raleigh/Durham area, Your Real Estate Wonder Woman Is Just A RINGwold Away!! (get it ring…ringwold…ring…ringwold… ehhh I think you get it) 😉