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The Home Gym: A New Gathering Hub

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Help buyers and sellers evaluate their home fitness needs with this guide to workout space design.

Source: houlihanlawrence.com
Source: houlihanlawrence.com

Sure, home gyms are great for avoiding driving to a club and paying membership fees. But there’s another motivation behind the transformation of basements, garages, and spare bedrooms into home fitness centers: They’ve become a way to gather family members for healthy activity that everyone can enjoy.

Atlanta businessman and avid cyclist Steve Cesinger remodeled his home’s basement so that his family of four can exercise together. Thanks to stays at upscale hotels with gyms, he knew what he wanted to include. He hired design firm HammerSmith in nearby Decatur, Ga., for the remodel, arranging equipment in distinct areas for cardio, weights, yoga, and boxing, as well as creating a place for a sauna, massage, and shower. Designer Eric Rothman aligned equipment with wall mirrors to maintain good posture, and flat-screen TVs were wall-mounted in several locations to help exercisers vary their routines. Because of the basement location, Rothman provided sufficient and evenly spaced lighting that cuts glare and doesn’t create too much heat.

Such renovations can act as a magnet to attract buyers, says salesperson Stephanie Mallios with Towne Realty Group in Short Hills, N.J. “I recently showed a home with a huge gym in a basement with mirrors, professional equipment, big-screen TV, and sound system, and the home owner was finishing a session with a personal trainer. My buyer was very impressed and considered it a huge positive,” she says.

For a variety of price tags, you can duplicate national training manager Matt Elsessner’s examples of home gyms; prices are estimates based on his company’s Life Fitness line of equipment. The company’s Web site also has a room planner to suit specific home owners’ needs.

Advanced Gym: $12,707
T5 Treadmill: $4,399
X8 Cross-Trainer: $4,699
G7 Home Gym: $3,499
Stretching Mat: $50
Exercise Ball: $40
Foam Roller: $20

Small Gym: $2,907
LifeCycle GX: $1,999
Weight Bench: $199
Dumbbell Set with Rack:  $599
Stretching Mat: $50
Exercise Ball:  $40
Foam Roller: $20

Bedroom Gym: $2,109
X1 Cross-trainer: $1,999
Stretching Mat: $50
Exercise Ball:  $40
Foam Roller: $20

Yet, fancy gyms aren’t a magic bullet for all buyers. Not everyone wants a space designated to this purpose, says salesperson Barb St. Amant, ABR, of Harry Norman, REALTORS®, in Atlanta. “Some may be excited seeing a gym, but others aren’t. In our area, there are many inexpensive opportunities for places to work out,” she says.

The key to the perfect balance is helping buyers and sellers understand what’s most important to meet their workout goals and the space and budget limitations. Here’s what the professionals advise.

Be honest about the level of interest. This is the first rule of thumb: Home owners should invest in equipment that will encourage getting started and staying motivated. If home owners are committed to working out regularly and think they’ll stay with a routine, it makes more sense to set aside a room or large area and equip it adequately. But if they’re not sure and may only exercise sporadically, they should start small in a room that can serve a variety of uses.

Set up a gym in the right spot. Out of sight can become out of mind, says Matt Elsesser, national training manager for Life Fitness, a manufacturer based in Schiller Park, Ill. A basement can offer more space than a spare bedroom, but if the bedroom will be more attractive because it’s above ground and has more natural light, that acts as a stronger lure, he says.

Home owners also need to leave sufficient circulation room, says Rothman of HammerSmith. Yet, even a small apartment can host some equipment if it’s arranged properly. Fitness expert Liz Neporent, author of Thin in Ten (Sunrise River Press, 2012) and emeritus board member of The American Council on Exercise, placed a treadmill behind a sofa in her New York apartment so that it faces a TV but isn’t visible when someone enters the room.

Focus on a three-dimensional approach.

  1. Cardiovascular workouts, which increase blood flow and lung capacity, can be achieved with numerous items such as an elliptical cross trainer, treadmill, or stationary bicycle. Consider equipment with built-in tracking options and a TV, or at least an outlet for an iPhone or iPad and headset. If home owners have no room or funds for those items, a staircase in a house or apartment building can provide a good workout, says Eugene Reynolds, a trainer with Equinox in New York. It’s most important that home owners figure out what they like to do, so they’ll keep doing it, he says.
  2. Strength or resistance training, to build muscles, can also be done with numerous items such as elastic bands, dumbbells, and kettlebells. All are inexpensive and can be stashed easily; bands can be purchased for $12 to $16, while an exercise ball can cost anywhere from $40 to under $100, says Alycia Kluegl, exercise physiologist and owner of Empower your Body in New York.
  3. Flexibility training, to improve the range of motion, can be done with a simple mat, jump rope, or medicine ball. Techniques and routines can be learned in just a few sessions with a personal trainer or by purchasing exercise videos. “There are hundreds [of videos] to consider from experts such as Richard Simmons and Jillian Michaels,” says Neporent.

Add in upgrades and frills as space and dollars permit:

  • Different pieces of equipment from each category will help vary routines.
  • Wall-mounted mirrors aid in checking positioning.
  • A wall-mounted TV, if there isn’t one built into equipment or the home owner doesn’t have a workout buddy.
  • Exercise apps can be downloaded onto iPhones and some Android platforms to provide workouts such as Life Fitness’s LFconnect, which syncs with specific Life Fitness cardio equipment to provide preset workouts and track results.
  • Heart-rate monitors allow home owners to keep tabs on exertion levels.
  • Occasional or regular sessions with a certified trainer will help improve skills and accountability.
  • Wood and cork floors and skid-proof and electrostatic mats stay cleaner and won’t absorb sweat as much as carpeting does, while padding can add bounce and cut noise transfer.
  • A bathroom, or at least a shower close by, is a big bonus.
  • A tack board with photos and sayings will serve as greater inspiration and motivation.

Remind home owners not to forget to…

  • Invest in footwear that’s safe rather than just trendy and decorative, says Kluegl.
  • Buy the best equipment in their budget. Specialty sports stores with knowledgeable salespeople are a good place to start, says Neporent.
  • Check that any workout area on a second or third story can support the weight of heavy equipment.
  • Be sure the room or area offers sufficient head room—at least 7’8”—and the higher the better, says Rothman.

This article was originally published by Barbara Ballinger on reatormag.com. See the original article here.

9 things you learn when you sell your home

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By Brett Martin of Popular Mechanics

We put our house on the market recently. This was our first home, which we’ve lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing and making some minor repairs that we’d been putting off. Here’s what we didn’t see coming.

White and bold wall colors are no-nos

Hearst Communications, Inc.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

We worked with a stager — a person who specializes in making homes more sellable. Walking through our house with her was humbling and a bit exasperating. In the past four years, I’ve painted every single room in the house and applied a decorative finish in the kitchen. I’d repaired any problems with the walls and filled all nicks, cracks and holes to make the walls look smooth. I used paints that were easy to clean to keep the walls looking fresh.

The problem? The colors. The white in the foyer and family room (too bland), the green in the dining room and the ocean blue in the kitchen (too bold), the blue-gray in the basement (too dark) and one bright red wall in our older son’s bedroom (too bright) were all the wrong choices to entice buyers. We ended up having to paint nearly every room in the house a neutral color.

What ‘cut the clutter’ really means

9 things you learn when you sell your home
Hearst Communications, Inc.

We knew the real-estate mantra that having the house tidy and organized, with only the minimum amount of furniture in each room, makes the space appear larger and more enticing. So we knew we’d have to clear out plenty of clutter. We didn’t expect to have to take out almost everything.

Three bookshelves in my office, one apiece in three bedrooms and one in the basement all had to go. That meant packing up and carrying about 600 books to the garage. We also had to remove sofas, chairs, dressers, cabinets, lamps, televisions, a desk, kitchenware and one-third of the clothes in our closets. Our garage is now filled to the limit with furniture and full boxes. Be prepared to park your car outside.

It’s not your home anymore

We put our house on the market last month. This was our first home, which we've lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and making some minor repairs that we'd been putting off. Here's what we didn't see coming.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

We’ve lived in this home for more than a decade, so the walls are covered in plenty of family pictures. Our stager wasn’t impressed. She told us that almost every picture had to go. To show the house, the walls had to be almost bare, with the exception of a strategically placed mirror or two and a couple of small scenic pictures in nice frames. This removes personality, allowing potential buyers to see the house as theirs, not yours.

The walls are in worse shape than you think

We put our house on the market last month. This was our first home, which we've lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and making some minor repairs that we'd been putting off. Here's what we didn't see coming.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

Once you start removing the clutter, you’ll find all kind of unpleasant surprises. Once we removed those dressers, we found myriad nail holes, gouges and cracks that were easily visible in the naked walls. They required filling the holes and fixing the damaged spots, then sanding the walls smooth and then vacuuming up all the dust. It proved to be a time-consuming project that we hadn’t planned to undertake. On the plus side, the new homeowners are going to have perfect walls.

Those large items might not come back out so easily

We put our house on the market last month. This was our first home, which we've lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and making some minor repairs that we'd been putting off. Here's what we didn't see coming.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

You may tell yourself that anything you got in a room in one piece will come back out in one piece. But as anyone who has ever moved can attest, getting a large item, mainly a sofa, through tight doorways can be like trying to solve a puzzle that weighs several hundred pounds.

Our absurdly heavy sofa with a hideaway bed refused to come out of a room. No matter how we twisted, flipped or contorted the couch, it jammed against the wall opposite the doorway before we could get it out. I ended up taking it apart and removing the bed to get it through the door.

Some cleaning projects will be frustratingly stubborn

We put our house on the market last month. This was our first home, which we've lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and making some minor repairs that we'd been putting off. Here's what we didn't see coming.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

A decade’s worth of hands running up and down our handrails had caused the brown-stained wood to turn dark and ugly. The wood grains were nearly black. We had cleaned the railings periodically with a wood cleaner, but it didn’t remove or prevent what looked like black stains running the length of the rails. Finally, we used a liquid dishwasher detergent mixed with water to cut through the grease. Then we used a lemon-based furniture cleaner and a lot of vigorous scrubbing to get the wood clean. There are going to be projects that won’t come clean with just a sponge, soap and water, especially if you’ve lived in a home for many years.

Fix those nagging problems — but don’t expect them to be easy

We put our house on the market last month. This was our first home, which we've lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and making some minor repairs that we'd been putting off. Here's what we didn't see coming.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

The pop-up sink stopper in the bathroom sink hadn’t worked in awhile. It was a problem we could live with — the water still drained just fine — but I wanted to fix it before listing the house; even small, neglected problems could put off buyers.

What should have been a simple fix turned into a major project. The replacement stopper wouldn’t work either. Since one of the faucet handles was cracked anyway, we decided to replace the whole faucet and drain assembly. After three trips to the home center — one for the stopper, one for the new faucet and then one to replace the shutoff valves that decided to start leaking after being turned off for the first time in years — and spending plenty of time working in the tight quarters behind the pedestal sink, the faucet and drain worked great. But it shot an entire afternoon.

Everything will take longer than you think

We put our house on the market last month. This was our first home, which we've lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and making some minor repairs that we'd been putting off. Here's what we didn't see coming.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

We made the decision to sell our home in early April. My kids and my wife, who’s a teacher, were on spring break, and I took the better part of the week off to get the house in order. With all four of us working, we expected to have the house ready for listing by the end of the week. And by working 12-plus hours a day, we almost made our goal.

We ate up four days filling nail holes, sanding and giving each room two coats of paint, which put us behind schedule. We also ran into the common problem most people face when they prepare to move: We had a lot more stuff than we thought, and it took a long time to pack it up. It also made us wonder why we didn’t have a garage sale a long, long time ago.

The house won’t stay clean

We put our house on the market last month. This was our first home, which we've lived in for more than a decade, so we expected to invest a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and making some minor repairs that we'd been putting off. Here's what we didn't see coming.
Hearst Communications, Inc.

With the house freshly painted, thoroughly cleaned and filled with just a minimal amount of furniture in the rooms, our mission of making the home look large and inviting was accomplished. It actually looks better now than when we bought it. But maintaining that clean and organized look is a challenge that we have to answer every day because of constant showings.

Despite a new family-wide policy of not wearing shoes indoors and not touching the walls, the house won’t stay clean. The floor in the foyer seems to magically attract mud, the carpet constantly needs vacuuming, schoolbooks and backpacks appear throughout the house and the walls get dinged and need to be touched up. Some of this is unavoidable: You can’t live in a house without kicking up a little dirt. It’s what we’ll be dealing with until the house sells.

This article was originally published on MSN Real Estate. To see the original article, click here.

6 Ways a Home May Turn Off Buyers

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Bankrate.com recently featured a list of the top ways buyers back away from a home listed for sale. Its list includes these items, among others:

by varandah, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
by varandah | freedigitalphotos.net

1. Dirt: “The No. 1 biggest mistake is not getting the home in the best possible condition. That’s huge,” says Chad Goldwasser of Goldwasser Real Estate in Austin, Texas. “I won’t even represent sellers at this point unless they are fully aware of how important it is to get their home in the absolute best condition that they’ve ever had it in.” Goldwasser suggests also steam-cleaning tile and grout and carpets and replacing carpets if necessary.

2. Odors: “Odors are a big one, especially kitchen odors,” says Julie Dana, co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell. “I advise my clients not to cook fried food, fish, or greasy food while the house is on the market. … Interestingly, next to the kitchen, the smelliest room in the house is actually the living room. That’s typically the room that has the most fabric, so that is where odors get absorbed.” She recommends having curtains and upholstery cleaned, particularly if someone in the home is a smoker, and taking steps to eliminate any pet odors.

3. Old fixtures: “You need to change out old fixtures in your house,” Goldwasser says, adding outdated ceiling fans and light fixtures should be replaced prior to listing a home. “New cabinet hardware and doorknobs will probably cost all of $400 or $500, but it makes a huge difference.”

4. Wallpaper: When buyers see wallpaper, they think of another thing to add to their to-do list, says Dana.  “Wallpaper is extremely personalized. You’ve spent hours looking over books to pick out the wallpaper you want,” she says. “What are the odds that the person walking in the door will also like that wallpaper that you picked out?”

5. Popcorn acoustic ceilings: These ceiling were popular in the 1960s and 1970s but now can date a home. Still, it can be a mess and costly to remove, so real estate professionals say sellers may need to be prepared to credit a buyer in certain markets if they decide to keep the popcorn ceiling when selling a home.

6. Too many personal items: Cluttered homes make it difficult for buyers to see past the home owner’s belongings and start envisioning themselves there. “Anything that makes your house scream ‘you’ is what you don’t want,” Dana says. “I tell all my clients that how we decorate to live and how we decorate to sell are different, and right now, we’re decorating to sell.”

Source: “10 Ways to Turn Off a Would-Be Homebuyer,” Bankrate.com (June 10, 2013)

This article was published on realtormag.com. See the original article here.

Why Didn’t The Realtor Show Up To Show My Home?

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What happens if a Realtor doesn’t show up for a showing? Today’s question comes from Knoxville, TN.

Image

Q: Today this was the second time this has happened to me. A Realtor was supposed to show my house between 6:15 and 7:15 pm.

I spent my day off preparing the house for the showing, including turning on extra lights and extra heat. It was another no show with no phone call advising me of this. Is this something I can report to the local board of realtors? I feel this was very rude, inconsiderate and extremely unprofessional.

A: I can understand your frustration. I’m sure you understand that there is nothing that your listing agent can do, other than letting the agent know about your frustration.

You do however have the right to know which agent was supposed to be showing your home. You should also expect feedback from your listing agent as well, with the positive and not so positive comments about your home. This allows you to make adjustments, to make your home more marketable (if they are feasible and cost effective). Although I agree that being a no-show with no phone call is rude and inconsiderate, I don’t think you would get any justice by calling the board. There isn’t much they can do in a situation like this as circumstances can vary widely as to why an appointment is cancelled. Good luck and hopefully your next showing will be ‘THE ONE.”

– Troy Stavros, REALTOR® Gables & Gates, Realtors

This post was published by Deidre Woollard on realtor.com. See the original post here.

9 Simple DIY Weekend Decorating Projects

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As you look around your home, you’re probably wishing you had some extra time on your hands to make a few renovations or to handle a few extra redecorating projects. But, you already have the time – it’s called the weekend!

ImageIn that short 48-hour time span, there’s a lot of work you can get done. Even if you pick one task per weekend, that’s four decorating projects completed a month!

Don’t think it can be done? Well just check out these nine simple weekend decorating projects that can each be started Friday evening and wrapped up before you go to bed Sunday night.

1. Organize and Beautify Your Bookcases

If you have a lot of books, videos and collectibles clambering for space on your bookcases, taking a Saturday afternoon to remove, sort and organize everything will instantly make the room look cleaner and tidier. Sometimes successful redecorating isn’t about changing the way things are but more about cleaning up and organizing what you already have.

This is also a good time to de-clutter your bookcase. Tossing out old magazines or storing books you no longer want in the garage can go a long way towards making the most of your bookcase’s capacity.

2. Tile the Kitchen’s Backsplash

If you really want to give your kitchen an updated look but you can’t afford a complete renovation, install ceramic tile to the backsplash for an instant update. It may take some time to get up and running, but once you find your swing, you’ll discover this job moves along at a smooth pace. Both weekend days will be required for this job, and you might have to extend the finishing touches over to next weekend, but you’ll be able to get the bulk of the heavy lifting done in one weekend.

3. Transform the Fireplace

The fireplace is the focus of the room during the cold, winter months but what do you do with it for the other eight months out of the year? Once winter’s chill has left, clean out the fireplace and decorate the hearth with a variety of low-maintenance plants and add a touch of vibrancy to the room. Succulents work nicely because they don’t require a lot of watering or sunlight. Use tiered plant pot holders for a truly beautiful look that will also cover up the unsightly cinder stains on the inside of the fireplace. Or, for a complete re-do, you can even consider painting the fireplace!

4. Install Some Molding

Crown molding makes a room feel and look larger than it really is, and it’s not really that difficult to install, especially when you use specially-made corner pieces that eliminate the need for cutting perfect mitered edges. In fact, once you get the hang of it, you might be able to install it in all of your rooms before the weekend is over.

While you’re at it, you can also install chair railing or update your baseboards with a newer, more modern style.

5. Unify Your Picture Frames

Odds are the picture frames that adorn your walls have been purchased over a long period of time, so no two probably look alike. But, if you take them all down and paint the frames all the same color, they will suddenly look as if they all belong together. In addition, this will help give your room the color accent it’s been missing.

6. Update the Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

Forget about the old brushed nickel cabinet knobs. Today, hardware stores have a ton of different varieties to choose from. Pick a style that best reflects your home and replace the knobs in your kitchen for a quick and easy kitchen makeover.

7. Makeover Your Lamp Shades

Adding some fabric, beads or ribbons to your lamp shades will turn them from drab to fab. Choose a color scheme that compliments the room and your friends won’t stop asking you, “Where did you purchase those beautiful lamp shades and how much did they cost?”

8. Redecorate the Bedroom

All you need to redecorate your bedroom is some fresh paint, some new curtains and a new comforter and voila – you have a freshly redecorated bedroom. The bulk of your time will be spent re-painting the bedroom and that won’t take that long at all, so go ahead and start planning your bedroom’s new look.


9. Add Some Fresh Flooring

If you have hard surface floors, add some color and style to the room by incorporating a few area rugs and/or carpet runners. This is an especially good idea come winter time as the carpet will help keep your feet off the cold floor and help insulate the room.

This article was originally published by  on realtor.com.

Finding Foreclosures Online: The Truth About Princes, Frogs, and Phonies

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There’s an old adage that says women searching for their true love may have to kiss a few frogs before finding their prince. If those women are also searching online for a foreclosure today, they might just be kissing a whole lot of frogs, or something worse altogether. Someone should tell them that there is a frog-free market full of princes right at their fingertips.
foreclosureThe landscape of “foreclosures” in online real estate search is unnecessarily confusing. Real estate websites use a vast array of terms to draw potential buyers in to their claws: Foreclosures, pre-foreclosures, auctions, bank-owned, REO, ORE, defaults, and sheriff’s sales, just to name a few. While these terms mean many different things, they’re often used to draw buyer traffic, but not necessarily educate the consumer about their meaning.

So, for that frustrated frog-kisser, here is a straightforward guide to what foreclosures really are, and where you can find one online that you might actually be able to buy:

Princes: Bank-Owned Homes

The vast majority of home buyers searching for a foreclosure are actually looking for a bank-owned home. These properties are sometimes called REO (Real Estate Owned) or ORE, and they are homes that have already gone through the entire foreclosure process. They are now owned by a lender, and that lender wants to sell them.

These homes will usually, at some point, be listed by a broker on the local MLS. A buyer can get a mortgage to finance the home. Most of the regular home buying transaction applies to buying a bank-owned home. Buyer protections, including most seller disclosures and contingencies, are available to a buyer who wants to purchase a bank-owned home.

The best part: these homes are easy to find. Consumers don’t have to scour county records or subscribe to foreclosure-tracking services. They’re listed on sites like Realtor.com, and your local Realtor’s website, directly through the MLS.

As far as minimizing risk to the buyer, allowing for mortgage financing, confidence in the sales process, and ease of finding the foreclosure inventory, bank-owned homes are by far the preferred foreclosures of most consumers. There will still certainly be buyers competing for bank-owned homes, but they’re sold in a much more transparent playing field than other types of foreclosures.

In short, bank-owned homes on the MLS are princes–ready, qualified, and able.

Frogs: Foreclosure Auctions

Buying a foreclosure at an auction is a strikingly different process. In most cases, all-cash purchases are necessary. This rules out a lot of buyers.

More importantly, there are much higher risks to the buyer in an auction, or sheriff’s sale, scenario. The title or lienholder may selling the home, but the home could still have other outstanding associated liens that the buyer may not be aware of. Buying a home at auction requires detailed research of a property’s title history to ensure there are no other outstanding debts that the buyer might automatically take on if he/she purchases the home.

Furthermore, homes sold at auction can often not be entered by the buyer until after the closing the transaction. Since the current owners retain property rights until the sale takes place, the tenants can not only forbid buyer tours, but also trash the home before leaving. Auction buyers often have to pay the former owners or tenants a “cash for keys” bribe to get them to move out of the home peacefully after the sale has concluded.

There are definitely some diamonds in the rough that can net a foreclosure auction buyer a princely profit. There are a whole lot of plain old frogs in the pond, too.

Pre-Foreclosures: Phonies

Imagine this scenario for a moment: A hospital administrator goes to a headhunter and says, “I need to hire a new doctor. Find me one.” The headhunter comes back to the administrator with 10 college freshmen and states, “These are all pre-PhDs. They’ll be doctors soon.”

This, in a nutshell, illustrates the validity of the term “pre-foreclosure.” The term encompasses a wide range of properties in a vast number of situations, and attempts to market them as homes for sale. They are useless to most consumers.

Pre-foreclosures are simply homes that, at some point, had owners who missed mortgage payments and received some sort of default letter from their lenders. They very well may be:

Homes that are now back on track, current with mortgage payments
Properties with a loan modification in the works
Houses that will be transferred to a family member
Homes that will actually go through foreclosure–1 to 3 years from now
The reality of pre-foreclosures is that there are only a small fraction of them that will ever be available to the public who are viewing them online. These homes are not “for sale”, and most never will be foreclosure sales. Even the few that do go through the foreclosure process will often not be made available at auction until a couple of years down the road. This is in no way useful to a home buyer who is trying to purchase a foreclosure now.

So, why would a website advertise these kinds of “pre-foreclosure” listings? Simply put, to sell subscriptions to foreclosure data companies, and more ad space to their partners. These listings generate traffic, generate home buyer leads, and drive revenue. The two things they don’t generate: foreclosure purchases and education for the buyers.

It’s cynical. It’s a disservice to consumers. Wasting hours searching through these phony listings only to find out they were never even for sale might make you feel like you kissed something far worse than a frog.

Trust The Sources That Align Their Goals With Yours

You want to buy a foreclosure. You want clear options, and you want them quickly. Focus your foreclosure search on a real estate site that displays the integrity to only list properties that are actually worth your time. Whether that is Realtor.com on the national level, or your local Realtor’s MLS-fed site in your city, you’ll find only bank-owned foreclosures that are available now.

Now that you understand how to discern the princes from the frogs and the phonies, go find your foreclosure and pucker up.

Sam DeBord is a Realtor® and Managing Broker at Coldwell Banker Danforth & Associates. Find him on SeattleHome.com.

This article was originally published by Sam DeBord on realtor.com. 

Top 10 Tips: How To Write A Homebuyer’s Offer Letter To A Seller

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Homebuyers trying to stand out from a crowd of offers in today’s competitive market are often told to write a personal letter to accompany their offer.

Top 10 Tips: How To Write A Homebuyer’s Offer Letter To A Seller
photo from realtor.com

Buyers who are financing a home, or have a smaller down payment, often have trouble competing with all-cash buyers. Appealing to the seller as a person, as opposed to a contract, can sometimes give a buyer an emotional edge.

What isn’t often explained to buyers is how exactly to write that letter. The best ideas are often squandered by poor execution. Here is a quick guide to framing the home buyer letter and leveraging your best attributes by thinking from the seller’s point of view:

1. Flatter First
This is an emotional pitch. You’re attempting to tell the seller, “I’m such a good person that you should ignore the numbers.” They need to like you. Tell the seller how great their taste in color is, how much you’d love to have their lifestyle, and what an amazing neon bottle cap exhibit they have over the fireplace. Lay it on thick, but keep it sincere. You’re selling, but you don’t want them to feel like they’re being sold a used car.

2. Get To The Point
You may have 10 great ideas that you’d like to tell the seller. They will only remember two. The seller may have 10 other letters to read. If you mix in your best points with your lesser points, they may all just become a jumble.

Pick two or three reasons why you will be the best buyer for this home, and make them distinctly recognizable. The more streamlined you make your message, the more memorable it will be.

3. Paint A Picture
People remember what they’ve read at a far higher rate when they can see a picture of it in their head. “I really love this neighborhood because I’ve lived here and gone to school here,” doesn’t resonate.

On the other hand, “I spend half of my time walking the cobblestone streets around this block, dropping my daughter off at Gilman School and volunteering at Schnitzelfest every summer,” will trigger a visual memory for a seller. Think “I’d be so happy in the summer to be cooking Neapolitan pizza for friends and neighbors in your outdoor wood-fired oven”.

4. Don’t Remodel The House
Planning on adding a second story or changing the landscaping? Don’t mention it. You might be correct that the seller’s sewing room would make a great workout room for you, but this isn’t the time.

If you’re going to expand to create more bedrooms, you might be changing the seller’s favorite eyebrow windows in the roofline. They may have buried their dog under the tree you’re planning to pave over. he sellers may have awful taste, but homeowners are very protective of their homes.

5. Show Stability
Present yourself as a stable buyer who will have no problem closing the purchase. Whether that is a reference to your lack of contingencies, stellar employment record, or commitment to moving in as soon as the sellers are comfortable, ease the sellers’ fears of a shaky transaction.

6) Show Humility
At the same time, be humble and ask for the sellers’ blessing on your offer. “We would be so honored to live in your home,” goes much further than “We are confident that you will accept our generous offer.” The ball is in their court, and your letter should acknowledge that.

7. Don’t Whine
The emotion of your letter must be upbeat and high. It needs to make the seller feel good. Everyone wants to play with a winner.

The seller doesn’t care how many other homes you’ve lost out on. They don’t care that your rent just doubled. They don’t want to know about your wife’s sad condition that requires you to have a home like this. They just feel uncomfortable now. In fact, they’re already tossing your offer in the round file as they finish this paragraph.

8. Close With Clarity
Remember the five-point paragraphs and five-paragraph themes you had to write in school? While those formulas are too long and rigid for this letter, their closing advice should be noted. Your excitement, motivation, and ability should be reiterated at the end of your letter in a quick recap.

Remember that the sellers could be reading a few letters. Make sure that the closing of your letter reminds them of your best qualities and reinforces them.

9. Sign with Appreciation
The feeling your sellers will leave with can live or die on the signature line: “Sincerely”, “Cordially”, “Best Regards”, and “Yours Truly” do not apply. This is not a business correspondence of equals. Thank the sellers for spending their valuable evening reading the ode that you wrote about your unworthy self.

“Thank you so much for your time,” “Thank you for the opportunity,” “Your consideration is greatly appreciated,” or even “We are honored to have the opportunity,” will leave the seller understanding that you value their time and are grateful for it.

10. Spell Check. Grammar Check. Buddy Check. Do It Again.
As the recovering son of a former Catholic school English teacher, there is a dark secret I’d like to let you in on. We’re prejudiced. We look down on people who aren’t like us. There is a heinous belief ingrained in us from birth that says people who misspell and use incorrect grammar are lesser beings and not worthy of our respect.

Truthfully, though, there is an unbelievable amount of weight that some sellers will put on the preciseness of the letter. Right or wrong, the buyer’s personality will be judged from their attention to detail, ability to follow-through, and level of care in the letter. Buyer reliability is often gleaned from how well the rules of grammar are followed. If grammar isn’t your thing, find someone whose thing it is. You never know: the house you want to buy just might belong to my mother.

Write The Letter, Check It Twice, and Send It Off
There are many tactics being used by home buyers to stand out from the crowd. While not all sellers will read them, personalized letters are the most-accepted and popular form of unique buyer strategies available. Don’t rush the letter. Take the time to write it correctly. It just might be the most valuable single page of text you ever write.

This article was originally published by Sam DeBord on realtor.com. See the original article here.

Sam DeBord is a Realtor® and Managing Broker at Coldwell Banker Danforth & Associates. Find him on SeattleHome.com.