Skip to content

Blog

Seller’s Advantage has purchased thousands of houses and we can buy yours in just a few days. There is no obligation, so contact us today!

Review our blog for tips on selling your home fast!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Should You Fix Your Home or Sell It? : A Good Estimate Can Help You Decide

It happens to every homeowner–what appears to be a simple fix turns into a huge expense in both time and money. When you’re the one with the clogged gutter that turns out to be a bad roof, here are five tips that will help you manage the repairs without breaking the bank.

Get Several Estimates

Getting estimates on home repairs is a lot like taking your car to the mechanic–you go in for an oil change and ten minutes later are worried your car will explode if you don’t spend a thousand dollars on new filters and belts and tires and whatnot. Only contractors deal in much bigger numbers, guaranteed to cause heartburn, and unless you’re a builder yourself it’s hard to know what’s necessary and what’s padding. Ask at least three contractors for an estimate. If the problem is clearly electrical or the roof or plumbing, have three electricians, roofers, and plumbers come over and review the problem.

Get Your Estimates From Different Size Companies

Take a Goldilocks approach to estimates. Get one from a large corporate source, one from a middle sized local company, and one from a guy who works out of his pickup truck. Compare the scope of work and cost from each one–you expect the one from the big company that runs ad on TV to be the most expensive and the one from the solo guy to be the cheapest, but look closely at the estimates to figure out what’s different. Aside from the first guy having a lot more overhead, how do the estimates differ? How are they similar? Find the common ground on each one–that’s what’s crucial to repair.

How Comprehensive Is Each Estimate?

Let’s assume you have a cracked heat exchanger. If this is your first home and you’re not an HVAC expert, you’d be right to assume that fixing the crack would solve the problem, and that won’t be such a big deal, right?

Wrong.

The heat exchanger in your furnace is the thing that keeps the nasty fuel byproducts out of your house–carbon monoxide, caustic condensation, and water vapor. A cracked exchanger can’t do the job, and at best drastically decreases the efficiency of your furnace. Carbon monoxide getting into the house is the worst case scenario, so clearly if your heat exchanger is cracked you have to fix it. Usually this means a whole new heating system–no small expense.

So assuming you have a couple of estimate for a new system, from reputable companies, how can you tell if it covers all the expenses? It helps to have a basic understanding of construction, so you know what’s really involved with the project, to know if the estimate is turn-key (everything is covered) or the just the main component of a multi-layered project.

Going back to the heat exchanger, have you or the HVAC companies considered the following:

  • is your wiring up to code
  • are your ducts clean, straight, and functional, or do they need to be replaced
  • is the HVAC unit sufficient capacity to heat the house

A good estimate will allow for electrical work, duct repair, and an upgraded system, if that’s necessary. If you have a particularly low number from the contractor, review it carefully to ensure the work proposed will completely fix the problem. A solo guy might tell you he has a new, efficient unit he can sell you cheap, and that may well be a great deal. But does it have the capacity to heat a house as big as yours? Is your electrical system up to the task of handling a highly efficient new system, how much are any wiring upgrades? The big company will take all of the possibilities into account and manage the installation of the system, sub out the electrical, and repair or replace and inefficient ducts–lots of manpower that translates into lots of zeros.

This is why it’s so important to compare estimates, so you can figure out what’s absolutely necessary and what you can defer for awhile.

Factoring Time Cost

It’s February and you’ve got to completely replace your heating system, including ducts. You’ve managed to finance the unit and the work, and it’s scheduled to start in a couple of days. Can you live in the house during the project? How many days does the contractor expect he needs to complete the work? Do you have a backup plan in case there’s bad weather and they can’t work for a few days? If you have to move in with friends or into a hotel, have you budgeted for that, and for pet boarding?

Lots of home repairs seem to be fairly non-invasive on the surface, but once you’re living in a work zone the incessant hammering, drilling, and other construction noises get on your nerves fast–and if you’ve got kids it’s exponentially annoying. Unless your repairs are a day or two of outside work, make a plan for where you’ll live during the work.

A Better Way

At this point, nobody would blame you if you threw up your hands and walked out the door. Large home repairs are expensive, time consuming, and inconvenient. You’d like to sell the house and move, but a prospective buyer would want you to fix the problems or drastically reduce the price, and it could be months before that buyer appears. A realtor would want you to fix the roof, or HVAC, or whatever, which is what you’d like to avoid altogether, since the point of selling is to not have to spend the money to fix the house.

In a perfect world, you could sell the house without dealing with a realtor, and do it quickly and without the hassle of the fickle buyer. Before you walk out, leave the door open for Seller’s Advantage to come in and buy your house, in as-is condition. You can have cash in hand for a new house and a moving truck in the driveway in a couple of weeks. Seller’s Advantage will give you a binding offer right away, sometimes in 24 hours or less. So take the easy way out of expensive home repairs, and call Seller’s Advantage today.

Got Mold? A Complete Checklist for Home Sellers

It is nearly impossible to sell a home that has a mold problem, and removing mold from the walls and carpets of a home is a big task. Unfortunately, any flooding or water damage to a home can be the trigger for extensive mold infestation. While small patches of mold c

an be cleaned up safely with mold cleaners and scrubbing, larger scale mold remediation can take days, thousands of dollars, and put you at risk of mold spore exposure. Mold spores can cause anything from allergy attacks to certain kinds of cancer and the last thing you want to do is expose yourself to more spores than you have already been breathing.

However, it may also be necessary to get up close and personal with the mold in order to restore the home that you plan on selling to livable conditions.. And this will require some supplies. While mold remediation services will take on the entire project for a fee, many home sellers decide to take on mold removal on their own to save money. If you do this, there are some things you’ll want to have handy for anyone else who helps you clean up. Whether you’re tackling mold on your own or helping your team move moldy items out of the house, here’s what you’ll want to have on hand:

Protective Gloves
Skin contact with mold is among the least harmful ways to expose yourself to this dangerous plantlife but it is something you should be exceedingly careful about anyway. Mold remediation teams always wear gloves and you should too any time you are dealing with more than a few specks of mold. The reason for this is that some people are highly sensitive to contact with mold and stronger molds may have negative health effects some time after skin exposure. Wear thick latex, plastic, or rubber gloves at all times to keep your skin safe when cleaning up mold.

Medical Grade Face Masks
As you may have heard, the most dangerous aspect of mold in your home is what happens when you breathe the spores. Some people just have respiratory problems from the irritation in their lungs while others can develop chronic infections and other very serious health problems after too much spore exposure. The best and only way to protect yourself and anyone helping out is with medical grade face masks worn properly whenever you’re near the mold. In fact, if there’s a lot of mold in your home, face masks are a good idea until you can find alternate lodgings during remediation.

Eye Protection
Mold spores don’t just get inhaled through your nose and mouth. The membranes of your eyes can also be exposed to mold spores with some negative consequences. In general, eye exposure to mold is more likely to result in an allergic-type reaction but it’s generally not a good idea to shake hands with danger or try to fight mold with watery eyes. Keep your eyes protected with well-fitting safety glasses or goggles. Technically, even swim goggles make an okay makeshift eye protection for mold remediation.

Large Sturdy Garbage Bags
If there is a chance that drywall, carpet, or personal possessions may be too mold-infested to save, you may need to carry them out of the house to dispose of. Of course, you don’t want to be carrying your biggest concentrations of mold spores directly through the house and neighborhood, risking infesting everything else. Instead, have a lot of large sturdy garbage bags ready to isolate the problem the moment it is ready to remove.

Xacto Knife
Sometimes, mold will take over a portion of an item while the rest can be saved. A padded aluminum chair, for instance, might have a mold-proof frame but the built-in cushions can be infested. A safely built sharp knife like an Xacto knife or box cutter can help you strip away infested upholstery so that non-porous furniture frames can be saved. This may also help you do things like section up and remove installed carpets.

Strong Non-Toxic Cleaner
At every stage of the mold remediation process, you are going to want to clean absolutely everything. Technically, the more you can splash around a strong mold-killing cleaner, the better. But of course, you don’t actually want to cover your house with bleach and fill it with those dangerous fumes while you work. Instead, look for a large container of strong non-toxic mold cleaner to ensure your home will be safe and harsh-chemical-free when you can finally return.

Dehumidifier
Dehumidifiers after a mold problem are an absolute must. Pulling the moisture out of the air is a lot like starving a mold colony which needs moisture to get started and moisture to continue growing. If you can stand it, throw on some Chapstick and make the house like the Sahara for a while with heat and dehumidifying to make every surface much less hospitable for mold.

Space Heaters
The best friend of the dehumidifier when fighting mold is a portable space heater. Your HVAC system can only do so much but space heaters can be used to concentrate the drying powers of heat and dehumidification to finally get the last drops of moisture out of a room that flooded or experienced a major leak.

Box Fans
Unless you live in a very humid temperature, a simple box fan can be an incredibly useful addition to your mold remediation efforts. These can help you dry out your home faster after a water-based disaster and keep your home dry if humidity tends to build up inside. Simply place the box fan pointing out a doorway to channel air out or in through a doorway to bring fresh air inside.

Mold Test Kits
Finally, never underestimate the importance of confirmed data. If you suspect there is mold in your house and have simply begun cleaning everything, pick up a few mold test kits or talk to your mold remediation team about testing areas as you go along. This will help you hunt down hidden colonies of mold and confirm just how high the spore concentration has been.

Mold remediation is no laughing matter, and for many homeowners, the task is simply too great. The need to cleanse structural beams, replace drywall and carpets, and handle everything with care is a huge hassle. One you may not have the time and resources to pursue. But never fear. If removing the mold from a home you want to sell is too much, we can help. Seller’s Advantage will buy your house for a fair price and handle all the cleaning, staging, and market hassle for you. If you’d like more information on how to escape your moldy house for a good price, contact us today or call us at 1-800-208-3243 to get a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your home.

Selling vs. Renting Your Property: The Challenges of Being a Landlord

While many people believe that being a landlord is an easy way to make some extra money, it isn’t always simple. You won’t just be sitting around and collecting rent money every month. In fact, it can be a lot of work, especially with some places.

Here are some challenges that you may face as a landlord.

Choosing the wrong place can really make or break the experience. Some places are great for rentals while others are not. Older homes, though beautiful and great in their own way are not the best places for rentals. Whether or not you remodel them, it seems like there is always something that needs to be fixed.

Older homes are going to need new roofs, pipes may break, and you may have to replace some appliances and even hardware (like doorknobs and sinks) that quits working properly. If you do end up remodeling, you could be spending a lot of money to fix it up. You may or may not be able to make up this cost with the monthly rental fee.

In fact, if you pay too much for your property, it might be too stressful for you. Most people either rent out their own home when they decide to move somewhere else or they buy a single family home or a small duplex to start making money through real estate. If you are renting out your current home, most likely you still have a mortgage to pay on it. If you buy another single family home or small duplex, you are also going to have a mortgage payment.

Because of this, you have to charge a certain amount of money for rent every month. It has to cover the cost of your mortgage. There are times when your mortgage payment is so high that you can’t really get anything more than that from your tenant.

You also have to think about when the unit is empty. You have to have some extra money to cover the months where your rental is sitting empty, whether you are remodeling or you are just trying to find someone to fill it! Even one or two months without a tenant in your unit can really set you back money-wise.

Choosing the wrong tenants can really hurt your experience. Bad tenants don’t always pay on time. You could end up spending a lot of your valuable time checking in on tenants who don’t pay. This can really start to become annoying if it is something that you have to do every month.

Bad tenants can also wreck your apartment or home. Not everyone is going to take care of the place like it was their own. Even if they clean it, they might not get upset if they put a hole in the wall or anything similar. Though this is why you should ask for a security deposit to cover the repairs, it can just be messy when you have to clean up and fix it up so it is ready for the next tenant. Doing this on a regular basis can be a lot of extra work for you.

Regular maintenance is important, as well as time-consuming and sometimes costly. Though you might not think about it, you are going to have to maintain the property. It is your job, not your tenants so you could be putting in plenty of work. Not only do you need to make sure that the roof is working, you are going to want to look at the windows, see how the electric and plumbing is working, and much more.

By checking your house or apartment over on a regular basis, you are able to find problems before they become much bigger (and more expensive to fix)!

The phone calls can get to you. Some tenants call very little and others seem to call about every little thing. There can be days when all you do is field phone calls from your tenants who probably have something to complain about! The never-ending phone calls can really get to you.

Many landlords don’t get as much insurance as they need in order to save a little money. However, that can be a big mistake. Besides having insurance for the building itself, you may want to consider landlords insurance and rent guarantee insurance. These will help with personal injury cases and late rent. The more insurance that you can get, the better off you will be in the long run, even if it costs you a little more every month.

You are probably going to have to deal with evictions at some point (if you are dedicated to being a landlord). Not only can they be expensive, they can also take a lot of time. The process doesn’t seem too difficult. All you need to do is file paperwork through the court system and wait for them to leave. However, many tenants get angry. They can trash your home quickly before they leave. Sometimes the cops need to be involved!

Evictions also mean lost income for several months, especially if you have to make costly repairs to fix the unit back up.

In the case of a lawsuit, the law will usually take the side of the tenant. Tenants have more rights than landlords so it is important to know the rules. There are some things that you can do and others that you can’t. If you ever get into a legal battle, there is a good chance that you will lose.

It can be challenging to be a landlord. Not only do you have to find the perfect place for the right price, but your tenants can also make a difference. To top it all off, you are the only one who can choose who lives there. You could choose wrong and have someone unpleasant to deal with for the next year.

Even worse, you may be trying to save as much money as possible so that you can increase your profits. However, one place that you should never skimp out on is insurance. If you don’t have enough and something happens, you could land in real financial trouble. You may also want to look into rent guarantee insurance to help you when your units are sitting empty.

Contact us if you want your house sold quickly instead of dealing with landlord drama.  We can give you a cash offer in as little as 24-hours and take the stress out of the rental game.

 

Seller’s Advantage currently purchases homes in “AS-IS” condition in Southern California, Arizona and  the greater Chicago area.  Their A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau demonstrates a history of satisfied clients.  Find our more by visiting Seller’s Advantage at www.SellersAdvantage.com .  

5 Ways Time Can Kill Home Deals

“Time and tide wait for no man” (or woman) and that old saying goes for house sales too. The most upsetting call a seller can get is when they are told, “Sorry, the buyer walked away.” Apart from the disappointment, the plans crashing down, and the loss of immediate and depended-on money, the whole process of advertising, holding open houses, and keeping everything ready for showings has to start all over again. And some sellers even have that happen twice. Time really is the enemy. Time can kill homes sales for two common reasons:

  • The buyer gets what people call “buyer’s remorse.”
  • One of the professionals involved in the post-contract process discovers a problem. For example, one of the home inspectors discovers an unknown and unexpected problem. The appraisal may come in low or the mortgage lender discovers a problem caused by the buyer. The title company may discover a problem that, at first sight, does not seem to have anything to do with the property, itself.

Let’s look at each one, and see how “time” allowed the problem to happen.

Buyer’s Remorse

Many buyers walk into a house and it “speaks” to them. They make a spur-of-the-moment decision, and their real estate agent sees dollar signs, says the right things and the offer is written up and presented.

Let’s break that down. Many people love their new home, and all goes smoothly. The little hiccups that inspectors discover are accepted or ignored. But, and it is a big but, the second most common reason a property goes on the market is that the owner bought the “wrong” house. Real estate professionals know that, but most buyers do not because they do not buy homes often enough. That statistic would be even higher if buyers realized their mistake sooner. After buyers write the offer and it is accepted, things happen. The buyer feels good about choosing their new home, then:

  • They speak to someone who pours cold water on the idea. An elderly relative worries that it may be too far away if they need help in time to come. The children speak to their friends and worry they will lose them or have to go to a new school.
  • The buyer recalculates commute time or how much more after-school time they will spend ferrying children to sports games and practices (so they can keep playing for their old teams.)
  • One of the buyers loses their job so cannot get a mortgage, or gets a promotion, so they decide they can buy a bigger property, or they get transferred to a new job and must leave town. Or the other thing happens and new job falls through so they can’t move to the new town and buy this home.
  • The buyers just see another house they prefer.
  • The buyers realize what a big decision they have just made, and perhaps they should rethink it for a while.

As many as one house sale in ten falls through just because the buyer slept on it, met someone, had a change in circumstances, or they saw a different property that had just come on the market or that their agent hadn’t shown them before.

Every one of these examples is real and almost every one (genuine emotional remorse being the exception) happens after more than a week of signing the contract. The more time they have the more likely time will kill the sale.

A Professional Finds a Problem

The Home Inspector

Most buyers have at least one home inspection to check the safety and functionality of the property. Older properties have more problems than newer ones, especially to do with things most owners never check. The roof, the HVAC system or the electrical system being three obvious examples.

A buyer may, as well as a mechanical inspection, have a wood destroying organism (WDO) inspection, that most people just call a termite inspection. The inspection includes more than termites, hence the name – anything that destroys wood. They may also have a radon inspection and a mold inspection. Some buyers, or the mortgage lender, may want lead paint or “Chinese drywall” inspections done just in case dangerous materials were used at some time.

On top of that many buyers get an FHA or a VA mortgage. Both of them require the property appraiser to carry out a safety and mechanical inspection, to meet government guidelines. Few sellers understand these government guidelines, so cannot prepare for them ahead of time.

All inspections take time and they can all throw up a problem which results in the buyer either wanting to drop the price or get the seller to pay for repairs and replacements. Or they just walk away because this problem may just be the last straw.

The Appraisal is Low

Lenders agree to lend a certain percentage value of the property, so they have an appraisal done. Many real estate agents know that to get the listing, the seller will go with the agent who gives them the highest listing price based on the comparative market analysis (CMA.) The appraiser does not care what the agent did, they have their own software to do a very detailed market value calculation based on actual, recent home sales and predetermined features.

Sometimes, in a short space of time, markets do collapse because of an unexpected neighborhood event, but sometimes the appraiser just comes up with a true and fair valuation that kills the sale because it kills the mortgage.

Title Problems

Lenders and buyers want title insurance to cover themselves against unseen and unknown problems of ownership. The title agent carries out detailed searches that go back to when the land on which the house is built was first acquired. Most negative discoveries can be fixed (and may take more time than anyone expected) but some cannot be fixed in time to meet the buyer’s move-in requirements.

Time can kill a home sale in a different way. Some homes have been owned for many years. Today’s title searches are computer- and internet-based so they are often more detailed than before. As a result, they can expose an error dating back to the early chain of title. These errors must be corrected and may take a long time, especially if, the error concerns an owner who has died or cannot be found.

Mortgage Problems

The mortgage lender has the property appraised, and also double-checks on the borrower. If the seller insisted on a high price but the house doesn’t appraise, as mentioned above, then the sale collapses. If the buyer is pre-approved for the mortgage, then has time to go and max out their credit card, or starts buying furniture on credit, that can affect their credit score or the pre-approved income-to-expenditure ratio, so the lender can cancel the mortgage, and the sale falls through.

In summary, then, time gives buyers a chance to think and rethink, sometimes they just need “one more little problem” to help them change their minds. sometimes time gives the professionals time to do their jobs properly, and they discover problems that kill a sale.

The Solution

The best solution is to cut out the “time problem.” One way to do that is to work with a professional who can handle everything quickly, simply and get you to the closing table ASAP. If you would like to learn more, then please click this link to contact Seller’s Advantage online or call us at 1-800-208-3243 to get a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your home. We purchase homes in AS-IS condition and can give you a cash offer in as little as 24 hours.

The Biggest Hassles of Selling a Home: The Sale Falls Out of Escrow

5.51 million homes were sold in 2017 according to the National Association of Realtors. Most homes that went under contract were sold, but about 606,000 did not. Apart from the disappointment, delayed plans, great inconvenience, and added costs when a sale falls out of escrow, there is also the matter of what happens to the good faith, or escrow, deposit?
Many buyers assume that the contract failed for a “good” reason, or for no one’s fault, and because it is their money, they should get it back. Many sellers believe that because the buyer made the deposit in good faith, and the buyer has shown “bad faith” by not completing the transaction, then the money belongs to the seller. After all, if the buyer showed bad faith by not completing the transaction, then how can they be entitled to the good faith deposit?

Sometimes sales fall out of escrow because, for example, the home did not appraise, so the lender refused the loan. Again, that is not the seller’s fault; the listing agent came up with the list price, and the buyer agreed to it. Regardless, the seller is disappointed and wants some compensation to pay them for the biggest hassle of them all – a failed contract.
The Added Hassle of an Escrow Dispute

When a sale does fall out of escrow, what happens to that good faith deposit? Of the many problems associated with a failed sale, one that few sellers think about is how much time, effort, and possibly, extra cost, they will have to put into handling the escrow dispute.
Sellers can avoid the dispute, of course, by just accepting that the buyer should get all the money back, and the seller is not entitled to any compensation. But that is not how most sellers see it. So how do you handle an escrow dispute? Time and effort will go into handling the dispute, so it makes sense to have a basic plan in place just in case your sale is one of the 600,000 plus contracts that fall through.

In any real estate transaction, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to protecting yourself, as the seller. The prospective buyer deposits this money with an independent company or agent to show their “good faith” when they write their offer to purchase.The amount the buyer deposits is to persuade you to take your home off the market while they carry out the inspections, the title agent searches the chain of title, and the mortgage lender arranges the property appraisal and fully qualifies the buyer for the loan money, etc.

Sellers should remember that escrow deposits, and how they are held, managed, and released are subject to the state law. Each state is different, so it is wise to understand the basics in your state. Many sellers and buyers assume their real estate agent will know what to do. But what if this is only the second or third home sale they have ever handled and have never been involved in an escrow dispute? Or what if you, the seller, have gone FSBO, as they call it, and you decide to handle everything yourself? In that case, you may need to spend time and money on a lawyer to explain what to do or to pay them to do it for you. Or you need to understand your state’s law.

The Contract Governs Escrow Deposits

The particular terms of the contract determine how the escrow agent, the person responsible for holding the escrow deposit, will manage the money and they what they will do in case of any dispute. It, therefore, always pays for both parties to understand the small print. The escrow deposit does not “belong” to the buyer anymore, and it does not yet “belong” to the seller. The deposit is held in trust on behalf of the contracted transaction. If everything is completed in accordance with the contractual terms, then there should not be any dispute to handle. If there is a dispute, state law determines what actions the escrow agent should take. The escrow agent may only release escrow money when:

• All terms of the contract are met, and both parties complete the transaction.
• Buyer and Seller agree between themselves how to distribute the money. Given that the sale has fallen through, it is unlikely that seller and buyer will have a friendly chat about who gets what, how much, and by when.
• A mutually-agreed independent mediator helps the two parties to reach an agreement. Again, this takes time and costs money. Mediators rarely work for nothing.
• A court of law decides the matter and issues an order to the escrow agent with instructions on how to distribute the money. Again, this process takes time and money.

State Laws Govern Escrow Disputes

Let us take three examples of state law – one from each coast, and one from the center of the country.
Pennsylvania State Law says such money is governed by State Statute Chapter 73 and that mutual agreement or mediation can settle the problem. If not, then depending on the size of the escrow money deposited, the dispute must be settled by either a magisterial district justice or a court of common pleas. The seller must initiate the lawsuit. It can take up to 180 days for resolution.

Illinois State Law Title 68 Chapter VIII Subchapter b governs escrow disputes. Interestingly, in Illinois, the real estate brokerage may claim costs and attorney fees to be paid out of the escrow money before either the seller or buyer see a penny.
Southern California is different from even Northern California on this subject. All legal decisions are made following an interpleader action sought by the escrow agent, and their fees come out of the escrow money. California also warns sellers and buyers to check the credentials of any escrow agent before money is given to them because unlicensed and internet escrow agents have been known to commit fraud, and then no one gets any money back.

It is clear that, on top of disappointment, frustration and wasted effort, when a sale falls out of escrow, either the seller can just accept the problem try to agree compensation direct with the buyer who has just defaulted, pay for mediation or pay for a law case. And because each state has its own laws, there is no “one size fits all” solution.
How to Avoid Escrow Disputes Altogether

The obvious way is to sell to a ready, willing and able buyer who will give the seller a fair market price with minimal contractual conditions, and who will close as speedily as possible. If that is the route you prefer, then please contact Seller’s Advantage online or call us at 1-800-208-3243 to get a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your home. We purchase homes in AS-IS condition and can give you a cash offer in as little as 24 hours.

6 Things That Can Make Flipping a House Harder Than it Looks on Television

Let’s face it, pretty much everyone likes watching shows about home renovation and the like. There is something in the brain that flips, usually around your 30s, that makes us all real-estate obsessed even if it’s not something we broadcast and pretend our family members are the ones who leave HGTV on all the time. Of particular fascination is the ability to transform a “Fixer-Upper” into a stunning home that could be the envy of the neighborhood, or at least a really nice place to live.

So when you came into possession of an extra house, perhaps as inheritance, a “gift”, or because you just moved out of it for an even better home, it seems like the perfect opportunity. You and your buddies will get to do your very own episode of Flip This House or Good Bones. But it’s a lot more complicated than you might think. Not only do houses chosen for these shows go through an audition process for ‘suitability’, they also have all the expertise, help, and budget that Hollywood can provide.

Before you dive head-first into major home renovations, take a good long look at the house you’re considering flipping, the changes you think would be necessary, and what it will take (in the real world) to get from Before to After pictures. Consider with us just a few things that can make flipping a lot harder than it looks on television:

1) Actually Getting the Place Clean

The first step to a successful flip is getting absolutely everything that is not structural out of the house. Every pile of old junk in the closets, basement and attic. Every square-foot of clothing (you know what we mean) and every heavy, cumbersome piece of furniture. Not to mention the semi-essentials like curtains, wall decor, throw-rugs, etc. etc. etc.

For some homes, this is easy. You may have even lucked out and been blessed with an already empty home, except for the few lingering gems in the attic. There’s always something forgotten in the attic. However, if you have inherited a relative’s house that is still full of their life’s possessions, from heirlooms to cat-sweater collections, or if your old house is still full of all the stuff you didn’t take with, this can be a surprisingly taxing ordeal.

Truly emptying a house that has been accumulating stuff for decades can take weeks. And it’s only the beginning. Oh, and don’t forget that to renovate, you’ll also need to remove the appliances. Think washer/dryer, fridge, stove, dishwasher. Which means uninstalling them and reinstalling them when you’re done.

2) Underlying Mold / Termites / Structural Damage

Do you know what the vast majority of HGTV flipped homes don’t have? Unbelievable extensive mold behind the walls or in the carpet padding. Termites eating at the structures and a foundation that cracks and is slowly pulling the house apart. Only the shows tailored to those of us who like a little horror in our real-estate drama even hint at these terrible structural flaws that can stop a flip dead in it’s tracks. Flip or flop? When it comes to mold, termites, foundation problems, massive water damage, and similar issues, it is always going to be a flop.

It’s not that the house doesn’t have potential, or that remediation and repair isn’t possible. It’s that suddenly “A few coats of paint and replacing those 70’s era floors suddenly turned into tens if not hundreds of thousands in simple recovery processes. And in case you didn’t know, mold inside the drywall means you’re going to need all-new drywall.

3) Your Realistic DIY Capabilities

In DIY home flipping shows, your main characters and their support teams always seem like nice, average people who suddenly manifest super-human home rebuilding capabilities. How many times have you seen sped-up and time-lapsed clips of these people miraculously building new structural features, installing beautiful new floors, or reinventing the plumbing and lighting fixtures to transform a house from dud to dream home?

Well, we hate to break it to you, but you and your buddies are not going to manifest these master-builder skills overnight. Unless you have a history in construction or have done a lot of flipping-style projects in the past, it takes time, effort, and a decent amount of learning from mistakes to lay a perfect new wood-panel floor, install a fancy light fixture (safely) or significantly change built-in aspects of a home.

Amuse yourself for a moment by checking a few DIY fails on Pinterest to get an idea of just how hilariously bad it can go when amateurs take on projects that TV pros make look easy. Before you pick up the power drill.

4) Your Budget for (and Ability to Hire) Professionals

Okay, so you’ve accepted that maybe you’re not the right person for some of the flipping job and have started to think about hiring contractors for at least part of the project. This is a great idea, in theory, but you are essentially creating a new home renovation project with all the ups and downs that this endeavor traditionally entails.

Just to hire contractors is a big ordeal. You need to find a trustworthy team with the right skills. You need to make sure the contract protects you from contractor mistakes and faulty materials. And you need to prepare yourself for some serious sticker-shock. Hiring an HGTV-worthy construction team costs a lot more than you think it does, and final costs are almost always higher than the estimate.

5) The Time it Takes!

We mentioned sped-up clips and time-lapse videos before in passing, but now really stop and think about it. Exactly how many days does of fully dedicated labor does it take to flip a house? Even with the shows that emphasize working quickly – how many energetic, professionally trained young people are really working on each project? Flip on your favorite renovation show and actually count them. Including all the people in t-shirts in the background doing the painting, prep, and finishing work.

Now count your team, the hours you have to dedicate during the week and weekends, and how much of your free time over the next year you really want to pour into this project. Even if you do have all the skills necessary to take on your envisioned renovations, the amount of time it will take can boggle the mind. This is why so many home renovations go half-finished and why many people who DIY have ongoing projects that never seem to end in a beautifully complete home.

6) Buyer Demands

Finally, let’s say you do put in the time, have the skills, and manage to complete every renovation you feel is needed to sell the house. You even reinstall the appliances or go the extra mile and replace them with new ones. Believe it or not, you aren’t done yet.

The next phase of the project is actually trying to sell the house. If you’ve never sold a house before, or only sold one that was already officially ‘market ready’, then brace yourself once more. Because buyers make demands. You find a great couple who “Love” the house except… before they sign the contract, they need you to fix X, Y, and Z. Sure, they adore the cozy home you’ve renovated and would love to pay you a hundred thousand dollars or more. But they actually hate the new tile backsplash you put in and need it replaced. Or they could only live in a home with a glass-top stove. Or the classic wallpaper in the stairwell you thought was good enough to keep simply has to go.

Back to the DIY drawing board, hire contractors, or throw up your hands and let the place stand vacant after all your hard work? Fortunately, there’s a better way.

If you’re having second thoughts about a DIY flip but know that the house needs more than a little TLC before it’s ready to be someone’s new “Dream Home”, don’t despair. You can still get a good price without all the dedicated time, elbow grease, and pizza bought for helpful friends. Let us buy your house as-is and our HGTV-worthy teams here at Seller’s Advantage will take care of the rest. You get a good price, no DIY disasters, and you don’t even have to put up with realtor hassle and fees. And we get another great property that someone will love! For more information or to get a no-cost, no-strings assessment of your property, contact us today!

The Challenges Of Selling A Hoarder’s Home

Whether you live with a person with hoarding disorder or have a loved one who is a hoarder, life can be complicated. According to the American Psychiatric Association, hoarding is a mental disorder which affects an estimated 2-5 percent of the population. The impact of hoarding extends beyond the individual. Family and friends are also affected by the consequences of hoarding. In particular, there are challenges presented by selling the home of a hoarder.

Understand Hoarding

Hoarding is more than just clutter. Individuals with hoarding disorder have an ongoing problem getting rid of possessions. They believe they need to save them, regardless of actual value. The thought of getting rid of possessions causes extreme distress. As a result, items pile up over a period of years, often making it difficult to function in daily life. A 2015 survey showed that seven percent of Americans consider themselves to be a hoarder and half of Americans know a hoarder. All kinds of people are hoarders, but sadly, many people mistakenly consider hoarders to be lazy, dirty, greedy, or selfish.

Putting a hoarder’s home on the market presents some possible difficulties. Today, most home buyers shop for a new house online, so photos are extremely important. Pictures of a hoarder’s home are not likely to entice buyers. Another common sales tool, the open house, can be hard under the best of circumstances. In the case of a hoarder’s home, an open house may be impossible. People may be unable to walk around in the house, reluctant to bring their children inside the house, or even unable to open the door. In the event that prospective buyers come inside the home, they may make disparaging or disrespectful comments which may be very upsetting to the owner.

People with hoarding disorder fall on a spectrum, from mild to severe. The more severe the problem, the more impact it has on an individual’s life. Over time, it may affect their health, finances, and relationships. When it becomes necessary to sell a hoarder’s home, many challenges present themselves. It is vital for the hoarder and those helping to have a realistic understanding of the potential hurdles, and that despite the condition of the house, the house can be sold.

Establish ownership

If you are assisting a friend or family member with selling the home, first make sure they have a legal right to sell the home. In some cases, a hoarder may be only living in the house because family members are trying to provide lodging. Or, the house may be tied up in a trust. Such circumstances need to be dealt with before the house can be sold.

Cleaning challenges

Do not underestimate the amount of cleaning that needs to be done. It probably cannot be accomplished with a group of family, friends, and neighbors, no matter how intentioned. Usually, even local home cleaning services will not and should not take it on. Only extreme cleaning professionals will have the skills and equipment to tackle the job.

When you first see a hoarder’s home, you are probably just seeing the top layer of trash. But beneath the piles of trash or newspapers, there are layers of problems that have accumulated, probably for years. Laundry, moldy food, black mold, animal droppings and even animal remains. Both the surfaces and the air are unhygienic, to say the least, and probably toxic. Because everything needs to be handled with caution and disposed of properly, only cleaners who specialize in these types of hazards can do the job. It will cost more than using volunteer helpers, but it will be worth it.

When cleaning out a hoarder’s house, everything might look like trash, but there may be valuable items hidden in the trash piles. These may be family keepsakes, or they may be items of monetary value. If there are items which can be sold, the money can be used to help the owner or facilitate the sale.

When setting goals for the cleanup, it is best to set several smaller, reasonable deadlines. A general deadline, such as it must be done in the next two weeks, is likely to fail.

Be aware of damage and repair costs

Cleaning will only address surface issues. Most people need to do some repairs when selling a house. Most people with hoarding disorder, however, need many repairs done. In most cases, a hoarder has probably neglected to do even basic maintenance to keep a house in good condition. It is impossible to know the extent of the damage until the cleaning process reveals it. Maintenance issues that have been ignored can be dangerous to the individual’s health. Broken bathroom facilities can lead to mold and other problems. Damaged or missing smoke alarms can be deadly if there is a fire. Inspections may also reveal structural damage, as well as plumbing and electrical problems.

No matter how much they need the help, unfortunately, most individuals with hoarding disorder refuse to let anyone, including repairmen, into their home. They may be embarrassed, ashamed, or just intensely private. So repair problems continue to mount up, existing problems get worse, and the cost of repairs increases. Avoid hiding or ignoring damage. Potential buyers for a hoarder’s home will be anticipating damage, and it is best to handle the necessary repairs upfront. This also means you will have paperwork or other proof of recent repairs.

Time

Time is essential when it comes to selling a hoarder’s home. Based on the condition of the house, the owner may need to move out as soon as possible for health reasons. He may be behind on his mortgage payments or under threat of eviction by the city. The individual may need the money badly. It takes a huge amount of time and effort to get such a house ready for sale.

Selling a home and moving is hard for anyone, but even harder for a hoarder. Someone with hoarding disorder may be overwhelmed and unable to make decisions. In some cases, people simply choose not to invest the time and money in preparing the house. They just want a quick sale with minimal stress.

Contact  Seller’s Advantage online (http://www.sellersadvantage.com/contact/) or call us at 1-800-208-3243 to get a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your home. We purchase homes in AS-IS condition and can give you a cash offer in as little as 24 hours.

Common Ways Time Can – and Does – Kill Home Deals

Millions of homes are bought and sold each year where the seller and buyer work together, and where a real estate agent works with or for a seller or buyer. The way everyone – buyer, seller, and professionals – work together has a massive impact on whether a home sells or the sale falls through. Sales fall through for many different reasons, and time is often the cause of many. Time can kill home deals, for example, because:

  • The buyers have time to change their minds about the home, the neighborhood, the school district, or the commute time. Sometimes because between writing the offer and completing the sale, the buyer loses their job or gets a job transfer into another area.
  • The buyer and seller have enough time to have an argument over something, and the buyer walks. Buying and selling homes is stressful, and people can argue over the smallest things. Any Realtor with at least a couple of years’ experience will quote instances of a buyer walking away from the contract – and losing their escrow (or good faith) deposit. That deposit does not necessarily go to the injured party, in this case the seller, because the contract may stipulate it is used to cover, say, appraiser fees if the appraisal has been done, or it goes to the real estate companies to cover their costs. The seller may lay claim to the good faith deposit, the buyer may challenge it, and everything gets put on hold until the legal dispute gets settled.
  • The buyer’s loan falls through. That can even happen a day before closing because, for example, the buyer celebrates by buying new furniture on credit, and that results in them not qualifying for their mortgage anymore.
  • The title agent, handling the post-contract legal work, or the mortgage lender misses a deadline. This is not common, but with the changes made to the Truth in Lending Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act in 2016, post-contract work got more complex. The new rules introduced by the law are being modified again, and even though they are in force, they do not become mandatory until October 2018. To quote the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) the new ruling “also makes a limited number of additional substantive changes where the Bureau has identified discrete solutions to specific implementation challenges.”Briefly, this means lenders must tell buyers of any changes to their loan criteria with enough time for the buyer to know about them, and to try to improve on them if possible. If the buyer does not have enough time to review and understand the changes, they can delay buying the home or the sale can completely collapse. Time can be critical, here, especially if the buyer is using an online lender based in a different time zone. The lender may issue the paperwork by their time zone’s deadline, but the buyer may not receive it by their time zone’s deadline.
  • One of the agents, working with either the seller or the buyer, fails to do their job properly.

These five different situations can be catastrophic to a sale. Most buyers and sellers rely on their real estate agent to “ride shotgun” and either manage the technicalities or liaise with all the people involved to keep everything on track. The longer the time between contract and completion, the more likely it is that something will go wrong.

Time really is of the essence in a home sale. And hoping the real estate agent will stay on top of everything may not be possible. Let us discuss that one in more detail.

Many real estate agents are also Realtors, but others are not. Many agents are hardworking, experienced, deliver high-quality service, and more often than not, produce good results. It is a sobering thought, though, that the average number of homes sold in a year is, six or seven per agent

One closed sale every two months is not all that frequent when you think about it. When you also consider that successful agents may sell 20, 50, or 100 homes in a year it begs three questions:

  1. How knowledgeable, skilful, and able to handle problems are the thousands of agents who only sell two or three homes in a year? These agents are often working part-time in real estate and have regular employment elsewhere or are retired. They use real estate to supplement their other income, so may not be available to deal with an important or a last-minute problem.
  2. How much time can a very successful agent give to each contract if they are handling two or three sales in any one week, especially if they are also showing homes to other buyers, marketing properties for other sellers, looking for new business, and attending all the meetings and mandatory educational courses, etc? Many of these successful agents rely on office staff to manage their business once a contract is in place, so they are not personally involved day-to-day.
  3. How do you know the Realtor who wants to sell your home or who brings a buyer to view your home is going to give enough time and effort to solve problems, handle the complex project of getting from contract to completion, manage the interactions between the parties, the home inspectors, mortgage company, title company, title attorney, repair contractors, etc? This may be a bigger question if the agent is new to the business, only works part-time or has bigger and more lucrative contracts to handle.

The longer a contract is worked on, the more likely something will go wrong. Time is the enemy in a real estate transaction. Some buyers get pre-approved but later on, they fail to get fully approved for their loan. A home inspector may find a problem (remember the inspector is working for the buyer) that frightens the buyer off or which is too expensive for the seller to pay for. Or, something simple may just not get completed by the date set out in the contract, so the contract automatically fails.

Every seller wants to sell in as short a time as possible and with as little hassle and disappointment as possible. If this is how you see your property selling, please click here to contact Seller’s Advantage or call us at 1-800-208-3243 to get a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your home. We purchase homes in AS-IS condition and can give you a cash offer in as little as 24 hours.

8 Ways Tenants can Take Advantage of Inexperienced Landlords

There are a lot of different ways to wind up with an extra home on your hands. For most people, this seems like a dream situation: a whole house just to rent out or sell as you please. Maybe recently sized-up and bought a new home but haven’t sold the old one. Maybe a dear relative recently passed away and you inherited their home. Maybe you helped a relative get a home and they left you holding the bag. No matter what the circumstance, the next question is always “Now What?”

If you, like most Americans, like the idea of passive income, renting it out can seem like a pretty good plan. But wait. Becoming a landlord is a lot more complicated than it sounds on the surface. Before you dive into becoming a novice landlord, take a moment to consider eight of the many ways that bringing a stranger into your property can go wrong. Even if you weren’t that invested in the property to begin with. While most rental tenants are good people who uphold a lease, there are more than a few out there who can spot an inexperienced landlord and know how to take advantage:

1) Hiding Property Damage

The most innocent and common of tenant advantage-taking is, unfortunately, also dangerous for both parties. Tenants who cause damage, or their pets or kids or guests cause damage often don’t want to face the music. Whether they’re manipulative or just cowardly, they will put a poster over a gaping hole in the wall, put a couch over ripped-up or badly stained carpets, and you won’t find out until they move out. Sure, you can dock their security deposit, but repairs can easily exceed the few hundred you took up front, if it hasn’t already done permanent damage to the home’s structure.

2) Indoor Smoking

Thirty years ago, people smoked all the time. Indoors, outdoors, in their cars, and around their kids. No doubt, you remember the smoking sections that have since disappeared from restaurants and lobbies. But today, cigarettes are despised and many people simply won’t move into a place that smells like smoke. This is why most rental properties ban smoking inside, but inveterate indoor smokers know how to spot a rube landlord who won’t be able to stop them. And to rent the home again, you’re going to have to scrub and sanitize every surface of the house first.

3) Unauthorized and Uncontrolled Pets

Pets are the bane of every landlord’s existence. Even landlords who like pets and delight in seeing friendly little critters when they stop by have had experiences that are the reason there are so many seemly too-strict pet clauses in rental leases. But your lease can’t stop the determined pet-owner tenant who loves their little Tasmanian devil dog who rips up or pees on every inch of a home. Or their eight cats. Or their unusual pet that will take over an entire room and make it smell bizarre for years afterward. No matter what your pet clause says, tenants can and will sneak in pets or simply deceive you about how dangerous their pet really is to your home. Then hide and excuse the damage.

4) Hosting Disruptive Parties

An entirely other kind of unpleasant tenant is the type that throws wild and disruptive house parties. Not only does this bother the neighbors and potentially get you, the owner, in trouble with any local HOA, they also have a bad tendency to lose control of their guests. Holes get punched in walls. Cabinet doors get ripped off. Carpets can become stained with substances you don’t even want to identify. And if you don’t live nearby, you might not know that one of these ragers has taken place for weeks or even months unless someone finds a way to call you and report it.

5) Subletting

Subletting is when the tenant you are renting to decides to rent part or all of the house to someone else. This could be anything from a cozy Airbnb’d spare bedroom to cramming students into shared rooms. Even if you have no problem with your tenant making a little spare cash with the extra space they are renting from you, the problem is that these new guests aren’t held to the lease and may even get out of control. They aren’t legally held to your behavior requirements and even vacation rental guests can go horribly wrong despite a good tenant’s best efforts. Subletting or short-term rentals might also be illegal in your city, putting you in legal hot-water if your tenant violates the law without your knowledge.

6) Hot-Swapping

Sometimes a tenant wants to get out of their lease early, and they don’t always go through the propper channels to do this. Hot-swapping is when one tenant gets another to ‘take over’ their lease and occupancy of the house while they disappear to goodness-knows-where. Once again, you are faced with someone who is not on or bound by the lease, even if they continue to pay rent on time (which they often do not). Hot-swapping is also something that can happen if a tenant gets away with unauthorized subleasing for a while and gets the bright idea to simply leave their subletter behind.

7) Lease Squatting

And, of course, sometimes tenants just stop paying rent. More often than not, this happens because they fell on hard times or spend their rent money irresponsibly rather than simple spite. It’s not unusual for tenants who fall behind to catch up the next month or two if you are lenient, but sometimes they decide that living rent-free is pretty nice and they stop paying entirely. They may be bound by contract, they may have seemed nice and reliable at first, but you’re back to paying the full expense for the house with a hostile tenant inside. And after they live a few months rent-free, the worst of the worst may decide to refuse to leave after the lease term is over and become hostile squatters. At this point, you may need to call on the police and a lawsuit just to get them out and get your rental payments.

8) Forcing You to Evict Them

And on the topic of police and lawsuits, the biggest nightmare for most amateur landlords comes when you have to evict a tenant for the first time. This isn’t as simple as posting a pink slip on their door. An eviction is a lawsuit you must file, then defend your claim that the tenant has warranted eviction. Tenants who have already gone so far as to force this action are also much more likely to lie in court, say vicious things, and even try to frame you for negligence or abuse and sue you back.

 

It takes a lot of hard work to be a successful landlord of just one residential property. And even the pros with a dozen houses in three local counties sometimes have to deal with the horrors of a nightmare tenant who slipped past the screening process. For most people who aren’t ready to take on landlording like a second job, you’ll get a lot more monetary value and a lot fewer headaches just from selling the place. Fortunately, that’s where we can lend a hand! If you just want to get a home off your hands without hassle, lawsuits, or major clean-up projects, contact us today!

The Cost of Selling Your Home: Time vs. Money

When you list your home on the market, selling it quickly is the ultimate goal. If your house is not renovated or does not compare to similar homes on the market, you’ll need to invest some time, money and labor to make it market ready. Here are four tips to keep in mind before listing your home.

1. Class Up Your Kitchen

A complete kitchen renovation could cost $5,000 or more, but if you want to keep your updates around (or under) $1,000, choose one big area to focus on updating in the kitchen such as replacing the counter tops, or paying a professional to refinish your existing cabinetry. You might also consider redoing your kitchen floors… a nice vinyl or laminate is inexpensive, looks nice, and could play a huge role in modernizing the look of your kitchen. Some other things to help revamp that kitchen include:

  • Matching Appliances: A matching set matters, even if it is not the most luxurious set.
  • Less is More: Clear of those counters and show potential buyers the space that’s available.

2. Enhance the Bathroom

Again, this is an area in a home that does matter. It is such a small room and can be easily remodeled by potential buyers but it, visually, looks like the most work. Easy updates to help beautify your bathroom include replacing old and outdated hardware and fixtures. This can really give a more modern appearance. Update those bathroom floors… many vinyl floors can be laid directly over old tile. Maybe you can replace those bathroom counters. Because bathroom counter tops are typically smaller, consider splurging on the quality and material of a new counter top replacement. Lastly, be sure you are taking care of the easy updates in the bathroom like re-caulking the bathtub or re-grouting the tiles!

3. Declutter & Clean

Oh, so cliche … we know. But also, so important!

A potential buyer does not want to picture your house as your house. They want to envision their life there, as well as all of the changes they might have in mind. Eliminate any dirt, smells, or cluttered areas within your home. Vacuum every nook and cranny, dust the hard to reach spots (even between those blinds, ugh— we know) and clear the clutter off of those floors, counter tops, and dressers. This is an “update” that is FREE but requires time and thoughtfulness. When you think you are done, ask a friend to walk through your house as if they were a potential buyer, and have them tell you what still needs attention.

4. Quality Photos Matter

Have you ever looked at homes online? What do you look at first – the photos or the description?

The National Association of Realtors said that 90% of buyers look at photos online before considering a walk-through of any home. There are many instances where a beautiful home gets passed up because of the photo quality. Below we have included a few important things you want to make sure you are doing when you snap photos of your home.

Be sure to…

  • Use a quality camera to take photos.
  • Include pictures of every single room in your home.
    • If the description says 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms- take pictures of 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.
    • Include additional photos of “special features” such as built-in storage or luxurious appliances.
  • Include photos of your backyard and garage.
  • Declutter before taking your photos.

If you want to skip the time and the hassle and sell NOW then contact us at Seller’s Advantage, or call us at 1-800-208-3243 to get a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your home. We purchase homes in AS-IS condition and can give you a cash offer in as little as 24 hours.

 

Don't leave!

Please call us at 1-800-208-3243 to speak with us immediately or finish your form to receive an offer within 24 hours!

Seller’s Advantage is a BBB Accredited Business with an A+ Rating and have been in business for over 12 years.  We've purchased more than 10,000 properties from homeowners just like you!

OK, let's finish!

Don't leave!

Please call us at 1-800-208-3243 to speak with us immediately or finish your form to receive an offer within 24 hours!

Seller’s Advantage is a BBB Accredited Business with an A+ Rating and has been in business for over 12 years.  We've purchased more than 10,000 properties from homeowners just like you!

OK, let's finish!