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Property Requirements for Home Loan Programs: What to Know Before Your Sell Your Home

If you live in a low to moderate income area and are trying to sell your home, you may find that even though you have interested buyers, your home doesn’t meet the requirements for their loan program. Many first-time and low-income home loan programs, such as the USDA loan, have strict standards for the property being purchased.

While many of the most common issues are easy to fix, others can cost quite a bit – but any of them can seriously impact your chances of a sale. Check out these documents regarding property requirements for USDA loans for more information about what you may be up against.

Wells
If your home is in a rural area, you may run into issues regarding your well and septic system. Depending on where you live and what is considered “normal” for your area, your property may not qualify due to the type, size or placement of its water and sewer systems.

Make sure to have your systems checked by a licensed inspector prior to putting your property on the market. Be aware that you may need to re-drill your well or even excavate and replace your septic system before you can close on your sale.

Damages
Most buyers are looking for a home in great condition. Low-income home loan programs are looking for that too – but they aren’t prepared to budge and there is no negotiating when it comes to minor damages.

Make sure to patch and repair all walls, floors, windows, light fixtures, roofing materials, sideboards – you get the picture. Right on down to the electrical outlets, your house needs to be in good shape to qualify. It is common for a house to require extensive repair work before closing, even when it is in “fair” condition. Luckily, these repairs are fairly straightforward – paint, plaster, elbow grease and time can take care of most issues. Everything else, like shingles, siding repairs and re-fencing can be taken care of by a contractor for a fair price.

Safety
Your home doesn’t need to just be in great shape, it also needs to be safe. Missing or broken fire alarms and stair rails are common issues noted in inspection documents. Other issues you might expect to find are plastered over electrical junctions, old wiring and dilapidated exterior structures, such as your old shed, deck or carpark.

If your buyers are using a government backed or guaranteed loan, you will need to address these issues before you can close. Some of them can be simple to fix, others – like replacing decks or wiring, may require more work. Make sure you check with your city offices regarding permits before removing buildings, decks or starting any large renovation projects.

Basics Functional and legal electrical, water, sewer and HVAC systems inside the home and grounds are a must. The house must be structurally sound and free of any major defects, including water and smoke damage. There should be little to no damage to the foundation or basement and it is also worth noting that the house must also be clean and ready for move-in to pass inspection.

Unfortunately, for many sellers meeting these loan requirements can cost more time and money than they can afford to spend. Fortunately, these repairs are not required for all sales.

​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 Quick and Easy Ways to Save Money as a Homeowner

Owning a home is a wonderful privilege, but paying for maintenance and upkeep isn’t high on anyone’s list of joyful activities. The good news is there are many ways you can save money every month without expending a lot of money or effort.

Use these tips to save up to several hundred dollars on the expenses all homeowners face:

  • Insulate Your Water Heater
    You can buy an insulation blanket to wrap your water heater for under $30 in most places, but the savings on your energy bill can be substantial.
    Insulating your water heater can reduce the amount of energy you lose every month by 45%. This translates into a utility bill that is consistently 7%–16% lower. For the typical household, this means a savings of about $125 every year.
  • Monitor Your Electric Usage
    You can save on your monthly electricity bill simply by monitoring your usage. There are many affordable electricity monitors that track either the energy usage of a certain device or your current energy consumption and cost.
    Some monitors are designed so that you can plug a device into the monitor to see how much electricity it uses.  That allows you to determine which appliances or devices are energy hogs. Then you can gauge how often you want to use them or opt for a more energy-saving version.
    Other monitors monitor the usage on your outdoor electric meter and display real-time data about current consumption and cost on an LED screen inside your home. When you notice the numbers climbing, you’ll be reminded to turn off those extra lights or otherwise decrease your power consumption.
  • Install LED Light Bulbs
    LED lights used to be pricey, but the prices have dropped dramatically in the last few years. They are very affordable now. The savings they provide on your monthly electric bill are definitely worth it.
    According to the Department of Energy, a traditional light bulb would cost an average of $8.87 to use per year, but if you replaced each one with an LED light bulb, it would only cost you $1.95 a year. That’s a 78% savings on your lighting electricity consumption!
  • Use Programmable or Smart Thermostats
    Programmable thermostats can substantially reduce your monthly energy bills. They’re relatively inexpensive, and they allow you to turn your thermostat down automatically whenever you’re away or while you’re sleeping.
    Smart Thermostats take it a step further by allowing you to manage your thermostat anywhere using your phone, tablet, or computer. They “learn” about your behaviors and adjust themselves accordingly. They can even adjust themselves based on other conditions, like humidity.
  • Close Vents in Rooms You Don’t Use
    This tip is so simple, but how many people actually use it? Everyone has rooms that don’t get used very often, so it makes sense to close the heating vents in those rooms. This allows you to only heat the parts of the house that you actually use.
  • Use Surge Protectors
    Surge protectors are wonderful for protecting your electronics should an electrical surge occur, but they’re even more awesome at enabling you to easily unplug devices you aren’t using.Many appliances and devices will use electricity even when they’re powered off. However, if you plug everything into surge protectors, you can simply flip the switch on the protector to cut off power to your devices when you’re not using them. It’s a lot easier than walking around plugging and unplugging devices one by one.

Being a homeowner is great, but being a smart homeowner is even better.  Use these tips to make sure you’re not throwing away your money on unnecessary household expenditures.

And, if you decide to sell your home, you can save time by contacting Seller’s Advantage online or calling 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.  After all, time is money.

Selling Your Home in the New Year? Get Ready Now!

Selling your home might be one of your New Year’s resolutions, but keep in mind, there are dozens of steps involved and many details to attend to before your home is ready for the market. These include repairs, some of which can cost you thousands. So if you own a home and are considering selling in the New Year, make sure to assess the condition of the items in the list below to be sure you can afford all of your needed repairs, and to learn how to prevent having to make large repairs so often.

  1. Foundation. Water is the enemy of concrete and especially foundations. Because foundation repairs are one of the most costly repairs, you want to prevent this damage before it can occur, which means ensuring that water is directed away from the foundation rather than toward it.
  2. Roof. Just like a foundation, roofs are highly susceptible to rot and water damage. And because a roof is one of the first things that people notice when looking at a house, it’s vital that your roof is in good shape before selling. You should regularly check for leaks, holes, and wear on your roof. If you don’t, water will seep into your house and wreak havoc that can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $12,000.
  3. Deck. One of the easiest ways to preserve your deck for longer is to keep the wood protected from the elements. This means applying stain or sealant every year or two, to extend the life and health of your deck.
  4. Septic system. Which would you rather do, pay $15,000 to fully replace your septic system, or spend a fraction of that to have your tank inspected annually? Chances are good that you chose the second option. Septic systems are complicated to replace, so it’s worth it to have it inspected regularly to prevent such a large expense from becoming necessary.
  5. Driveway. Like anything that sits outside constantly, driveways experience a lot of wear and tear. When they’re not being strained by the weight of vehicles, they can crack and crumble from water damage or too much sun and humidity. To prevent having to pay up to $5,000 to re-pave your driveway and haul away the old one, take care to protect your driveway from excessive wear by applying driveway sealer. It’s a simple process and relatively inexpensive, especially compared to the price of replacing your driveway entirely.

If you’d rather sell your home without the time and expense of repairs, contact Seller’s Advantage today.Seller’s Advantage will buy your home in AS-IS condition and will give you a cash offer in as little as 24 hours. Contact them online at Seller’s Advantage.com or call 1-800-208-3243 to get a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your home. If you’re ready to sell, Seller’s Advantage is ready to help.

Why the New Year is a Great Time to Sell Your Home

Traditional wisdom says winter is an unwise time to sell your home. The open house was once a very powerful tool for selling, and no one wants to go out when it’s miserable January cold. That was how it was, but the real estate business has changed dramatically. We’ll give you three excellent reasons why January is now a great time to sell.

  1. The internet. Vast resources and information available on the internet make an open house far less necessary. Pictures and descriptions are easily viewable online. When someone comes to look at a home, they almost always have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to see. Pictures will also give them a good idea of what the house will look like with green grass and flowers.
  2. The crowd. Most people still follow this old wisdom and wait until the spring to list their house. Selling in winter gives you a distinct advantage as there are fewer houses for buyers to choose from.
  3. Buyers with cash. Many people get bonuses and monetary gifts from family over the holiday season. Particularly first time home buyers also often file for their tax returns as early as possible, so most at least know what kind of return they will be getting, and many have access to the cash through tax return loans offered by tax preparation companies.

Sometimes it is wise to follow traditional wisdom. Sometimes it’s smarter to follow new trends and pay attention to how the world is changing. If you are ready to sell now, we are ready to buy. Please contact us to see if you are interested in getting a cash offer for your home in as little as 24 hours.

Design Your Bedroom for the Best Night’s Sleep

Unless you build a new home, you probably have little control over the shape of your bedroom or location of its closet or dressing room. You can still create a cozy, comfortable room by combining light, view, layout and circulation.

Built Just Right
A bedroom with an efficient design and of well-organized space provides an enjoyable environment for a good night’s sleep. If you build new or remodel your home, first, think of the room’s circulation when designing it. Circulation refers to the paths of travel in a room. Strive for a circulation design like that of a hotel room. It provides one clear path from the adjacent bathroom to the bed and further to a writing-table or dining table. The television sits across from the bed and nightstands flank either side of the bed. This provides a clear, straight path of travel through the points of the room. A closet across from the bathroom creates an efficient design.

Provide yourself a lovely view. Include a window or two overlooking the backyard or a more exciting view if you have it. Try to make the view, not the bed, the first thing you see upon entry. If you can, connect the room to the outdoors with patio or French doors. Placing your bedroom on the corner of the house provides at least two walls of window space. Windows provide ventilation and light.

Design with privacy as a priority. Don’t site bedrooms across from family rooms, great rooms or kitchens. Remove the bedrooms from high traffic areas using a foyer or hallway. Design with a designated bed wall. Also, design for the furniture you’ll need to place.

Working with What You’ve Got
In an existing home, you work with the space you’ve got. Organize your furniture as efficiently as possible. Layout the room for optimal circulation with the bed against one wall. Leave space on either side of the bed for night tables. Think about hanging your television. Both static and adjustable mounts are available. This saves space in smaller rooms and makes viewing from bed easier.  Try to provide yourself a view upon entry, but if it’s not possible to see a window upon entry, hang a painting on the wall opposite the entry.

At night, close blinds, curtains or shades, so you maintain a darkened room until your alarm sounds. Open window covers let light in as the sun rises which may be before your alarm. Open the window dressings upon waking to enjoy a healthy, natural light.

Organizing your bedroom and controlling light entry can help you enjoy time spent there, especially sleep hours. You can get a better night’s sleep in an optimally designed room. Contact us to sell your home and find the perfect place to lay your head.

Things you Should Know Before Becoming a Landlord

The term ‘Rental Property’ can make your second property sound a bit like a cash cow. You would have to be crazy to turn down a solid chunk of passive income, right? If you’ve recently inherited or otherwise came into possession of a second house, becoming a part-time landlord can sound like a pretty tempting idea. Here are a few things you should know before you become a landlord.

Passive Income
Passive income, or income that comes about without any substantial investment of time or effort on your part, is an attractive reason to invest in rental properties. Much like investing in stocks, in order to generate truly passive income off of your investment, you will need to hire someone with a portion of the rents to keep an eye on them while you go about your business. Rents collected are used to pay for repairs, wages and fees and the remainder is returned to you in the form of passive investment income.

Single Unit Ownership
Owning a single rental unit does not carry with it the benefits of a large rental investment portfolio. Less income means you cannot pay for someone else to handle your property. There are no managers to take care of your tenants, maintenance employees to repair your units or an accounting department to keep track of expenses and prepare tax documents at the end of the year – you don’t even reap the benefit of volume purchase discounts at the local hardware store.

As a small-time landlord, you will need to cover these bases on your own. You will also need to keep abreast of all local, state and federal laws regarding your unit, your tenant and your income.

Tenant Management
One of the biggest surprises to new landlords is how difficult it can be to find and keep good tenants. It is an unfortunate reality that many tenants, regardless of your screening process, will damage your property and skip town without paying their bills. Where a real estate investor with a large portfolio can absorb the occasional speed bump, spending thousands of dollars repairing your rental property can be hard to swallow for your average homeowner.

Legal Concerns
Being a landlord will require you understand and obey a variety of regulations regarding your property. Depending on where you live, this may be as simple as ensuring your home has a functional fire safety system. However – most areas also have rules that will require you upgrade the structural and building materials to meet local guidelines regarding natural hazards (earthquakes, fires and floods), health hazards (asbestos, pests and air quality) and safety standards – such as fire and carbon monoxide sensors, egress windows and handicap accessible bathrooms. Failure to follow these guidelines can result in substantial fees.

You will need to be prepared to deal with legal matters regarding your tenants too. In many areas, you cannot remove a renter without a court ordered eviction and before you can collect damages you will need to plead your case in conciliation court as well.

Renting out your second property sounds fairly simple – you register it as a rental property, put up an ad and someone gives you money to live there. However, there are a variety of federal, regional and local laws that govern you, your property and your tenant that must be obeyed at the risk of substantial financial and legal damage to yourself.

Sellers Advantage can offer you an alternative that will provide you with money now – with none of the time, costs or risks involved in maintaining a rental unit. 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.

There’s Still Time to Sell Your Home Before The Holidays

If you want to sell your home before the end of the year,  you need to be prepared to take an active role in getting buyers through the door. Trying to beat the market is an uphill battle, here are a few strategies to help you sell your house fast.

Blast Your Listing
If you’re trying to sell your home on the traditional market one of the best ways to save time is to blast your listing. Some realtors only list on their own website or not at all, trying to “double-end” the deal to keep 100 percent of the commission for themselves.  This limits competing bids on your property. It’s often up to you to make sure your listing is EVERYWHERE. There are plenty of real-estate listing websites out there and if you want your house sold fast you want to be on all of them. Make use of the local papers and community bulletin boards, and inquire about feature listings at kiosks in shopping centers and malls. The higher profile your listing is, the more people will see it and the faster your house will sell.

Focus Your Listing
Don’t waste time on the wrong buyers. Every location has a buyer focus. Figure out what type of person is looking to move into your area and focus your attention on locating these buyers. Make sure your listing is designed with them in mind. Pinpointing their voice and dreams will go a long way toward closing the deal quickly.

Networking
Everybody knows someone who knows someone else who is in the market for a home. Networking isn’t just for business. Get your name out there, be seen. Many houses are sold on word of mouth alone – make sure your listing is screaming, not whispering. Getting your face out there may seem daunting, but if you want your home sold quick your friends and neighbors can be an invaluable resource.

Go for the Quick Sale
The traditional market isn’t the only game in town. If you need to sell your house fast there are less intensive, pain-free methods available. Selling your house to through Seller’s Advantage can mean a cash offer in as little as 24 hours. If you’re in a serious hurry and don’t have time to play the market a quick sale is your best bet.

Seller’s Advantage is a real estate broker in your area. Contact us online or call us at 1-888654-AS-IS (888-654-2747) 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.

Renovation Projects When Selling an Older Home

Unlike your grandmother’s powder set and storage crocks, your house is never going to become an antique. Older homes, especially those made prior to the 1950’s, can have significant difficulties being sold on the open market. However, you can improve your chances of making a sale with a few renovation projects that will increase the value of your home and make it more attractive to potential buyers.

Rewiring
Up until the 1950’s, houses with electrical service used knob-and-tube wiring. Unfortunately, if your home still relies on knob-and-tube you will likely experience a lot of pushback from buyers and lenders regarding the need to renovate the property. Because of the age of your electrical system, it is in your best interests to have your house rewired before putting it on the market.

Subfloor Support
As your house ages, it settles and building materials buckle and slide. For your floors, this can mean noisy creaking and awkward bowing. Unfortunately, while these things are to be expected in older homes they give prospective buyers the impression that the house may not be structurally sound. Older houses generally need to have their subfloors shimmed or replaced entirely to repair damage caused by aging prior to going on the market.

Siding
Mice and bats are extremely common pests to find in older homes that have not had an exterior renovation. These pests enter through small holes in siding, casing and dirt access in your basement or crawl space and can make selling your home difficult on the traditional market. Replacing your siding is the best way to ensure that above ground access to your walls has been sealed off. You should also consider having your basement, eaves and overhangs inspected and resealed by a professional.

Selling an older home on the traditional market is hard, but it is not impossible. Hopefully, the amount of time and money you invest in your home prior to sale will help you attract buyers. If you are unable or unwilling to invest the time and money needed to improve your property before it hits the open market, a private sale can significantly reduce the length of time and amount of effort you will need to put into getting your house sold.

​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.

Dreaming of Downsizing? Expect the Unexpected

Bob and Suzanne had lived in their home since the 1970s. They had always said that when the nest was empty, they’d move to the beach, or maybe get a loft uptown. They had taken great care of the house over the years, and had updated so that when the time came to sell their realtor thought they would get a great price, and quickly.

The house, in an established neighborhood with lots of trees, a neighborhood park, and great schools, went on the market and they were overwhelmed with people coming though. They were lucky enough to have several people make offers, and they were thrilled when they had a contract in just a week. They made an offer on a condo, without any contingencies since they had such a great offer and so many people wanting their house.

The buyers wanted an inspection, and that was the beginning of the end for Bob and Suzanne’s dream of downsizing. The inspection found wiring that was not up to code, and insufficient amps for the power needed to run the house. It turned out that when the house was built, there was a copper shortage and builders used aluminum wire. They went back to copper when prices came down, but houses built in the early to mid 1970s have aluminum wires. They had never had a fire, and had no idea that this was even an issue.

The mortgage company would not approve a loan unless the wiring was replaced, and the buyers couldn’t get homeowners insurance, even if they could get the mortgage. Bob and Suzanne were hit with a repair that they couldn’t really afford, and another contract they were bound to. So they were faced with tens of thousands in repairs, and losing their deposit on their new condo.

​Bob and Suzanne found for a less traditional way to sell their home in “as is” condition–they called Seller’s Advantage. They even went online for a quote on the sales price, and had the money to get into their dream retirement condo within the week. If you’re afraid of what’s in your walls, contact us today.

Horror Stories of Home Sales Gone Wrong–GoFundMe Is Not An Acceptable Down Payment

Chances are, when you bought your house, you had saved enough money for a down payment and closing costs, and your bank gave you the mortgage. Financing is a little bit Wild West these days, and lots of homebuyers are getting their loans through more unusual channels, like online lenders, and peer-to-peer lending sites. And buyers can get a little crazy and kill the sale without having any idea what they’re doing wrong.

When you sign the offer to purchase contract, the person buying your house is no longer the anonymous buyer, but a real person with a name. And in this age of the internet, most sellers will do a little social media stalking to find out more about the people buying their home. Buyers do the same thing, by the way….

What one seller found online created a tidal wave that ultimately terminated the contract–in about an hour.

The buyer, moving from out of state with a large family, had set up a funding page online. They had posted pictures of the house they were buying, and were asking for money to help with moving costs. Two things blew up the contract right then–not knowing the language of lending, the buyer was asking for money to pay for the “closing costs” and the “deposit”. They meant the deposit on the moving trucks, but the seller found this on social media and was not only upset about the photo his house being used for online panhandling, but concerned about the buyer’s ability to get the financing.

The buyer had the funds to close, but the online appeal for closing costs and the deposit was enough for the lender to deny the loan.

Seller’s Advantage eliminates the middlemen and the drama. We’ll give you a quote for your house, and have the sale closed within a couple of weeks. We pay cash, so we move quickly and easily through the process. Contact us for more details on the Seller’s Advantage.