Three Amazing Real Estate Tools That Will Change How You Buy (and Sell) Your Home in Palm Beach County



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As we move into the New Year and the “busy season” of real estate starts to kick in, there will be an increasing number of buyers and sellers looking to get the answers they need to help them in their real estate goals. In Palm Beach County, we want to make sure you have everything you need to get the most useful information, presented in the most optimum manner. So, to help answer some of the most frequently asked queries about real estate, we have provided the following three tools to make your experience the best it can be!

Customized Home Value Calculator
There has been a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace about whether or not a home is “up to par” in terms of value. Many homeowners do not realize that rather than other factors, the house’s value will largely be determined by factors in the current marketplace. These aspects of the property market are not static and they change regularly, so it’s important to be able to obtain an accurate snapshot of your home’s current value.

Visit http://www.palmbeachcountyrealestatevalues.com to learn your home’s value – and hear it directly from the professionals at the Treu Group.

Short Sale Readiness Roadmap
An unfortunate side effect of the economy going down over the past 5-6 years has been a plethora of homeowners with underwater mortgages. If you own a home that is worth less than what is owed on it, you may be considering a short sale. Designed to provide an alternative to foreclosure, short sales are set up where the lender accepts a lesser amount than what is owned, therefore forgiving or discharging the remaining debt.

To find out how long it would take for you to rebuild equity in your home and also to view a snapshot of the short sale process, check out http://www.shortorstay.com/thetreugroup.

Location-Specific, Instant Home Search
We’ve all seen the TV shows where people are driving around, looking at various homes and then choosing their favorites. But there is a new tool available that will allow you to drive around in your desired neighborhoods and do a location-based search, on the spot, for homes for sale in the vicinity. The website, which is mobile friendly and interactive where users can select the level of information obtained for each listing, is easy to understand and loaded with information about each home.

So the next time you are driving through one of your favorite neighborhoods, visit http://www.palmbeachcountypropertysearch.com to access For Sale properties’ photos, price information, square footage and more.

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As always, we look forward to helping make your real estate dreams become a reality and we are doing everything we can to make it an enjoyable process too! Contact us today at Lisa Treu’s personal cell number 561-352-3056 or email lisa@treugroup.com

Happy 2012 Holidays and Warm Season’s Greetings from the Treu Group!



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To all our cherished friends, neighbors, family and clients – we are so proud to have been able to work with you and be a part of your lives! As we end this year and turn to the exciting time and events that 2013 holds, we just wanted to take a moment to thank you for all that you bring to our lives.

We have some really great plans in the coming year to bring more success to all your real estate endeavors. And with each transaction that makes it to the closing table in the coming months and years ahead – we know that there will continue to be new and exciting things to follow for all of us.

On behalf of the entire group – Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, Peace and Joy!

~The Treu Group


Attracting International Buyers to the Florida Real Estate Marketplace



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You may have heard the phrase, “real estate is local” and this could not be truer for our marketplace here in Florida. Unlike many other markets across America, Florida is unique in that we have countless miles of coastal properties and we have real estate that is second to none in the global marketplace.

That is why we often attract international buyers to our region.

But the question is, as a seller, how do you specifically invite attention to your home to these buyers and why, in fact, would you want to do so?

International Buyers Are a Great Opportunity for Sellers

First of all, there are two important reasons to try and capture as many international buyers to your property as possible. Not only do these deals often yield cash offers but also we are seeing approximately 62% of all buyers from other countries engaging in cash transactions. In addition, international buyers tend to purchase token properties that are usually higher priced and often serve as their “trophy homes”.

Specialized Marketing By the Treu Group Geared Toward Global Buyers

How does one generate interest in Florida homes for buyers throughout other areas of the world and more importantly, how to know which areas and specific markets to target? Well, we came back from our trip to Europe recently and developed a campaign specifically geared to attracting international buyers’ attention to our homes in Florida.

At the moment, we are capturing about 26% of all the international buyers that are interested in our region and we expect to increase that number with our marketing campaigns.
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As I mentioned in the video, we did a 30-minute show with Chris Keller of Keller Williams Worldwide, discussing the dynamics of international buyers in real estate. To listen to the show at your convenience, click on the show and hear the very informative conversation we had with one of the biggest names in the real estate industry.

As always, we invite you to contact us for all your real estate needs and we look forward to serving you. You can contact me directly on my personal cell at 561-352-3056 or email at lisa@treugroup.com.

Want to Meet Up With Us and Ask Us Questions?



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As members of the community, we love to support our local area by heading out to events as they take place here. We get to meet with so many great people while providing an opportunity for anyone to ask us their questions about real estate. The most recent event we attended was the Pet-A-Palooza (check out the video) but there are more events to come. To see what’s upcoming, “like” us on our Facebook page ... See you soon!

Palm Beach County Real Estate Update – End of Summer 2012



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After years of dealing with the aftermath of our country’s mortgage and housing crisis – it can finally be said that things are improving. And this is corroborated with numbers through the August 2012 period. Here is a look at how our marketplace has been performing:

Pending sales
With the most significant change in the number of pending sales, we are seeing a 65.4% jump in August 2012 versus the same time period in 2011, for single-family homes. The number is just as noteworthy for condos with a 43.1% jump in pending sales.

Closed sales
Looking at the number of closed sales in our single-family market through August, we had 1,247 this year versus just 1,150 in 2011 – representing an 8.4% increase year over year. Condos were down slightly at a 1.3% decline this year.

Average days on market
Though not too big of a gap, the promising news is that the number of days on average that properties remain on the market prior to sale has gone down from 117 to 107 for single-family homes and gone up by one day for condos this year, at 106 in 2012.

Average sales price
Single-family homes saw an increase of 14.5% in terms of the average sales price, with the 2012 number at $345,487. Townhomes and condos also experienced an increase of average sales price through August 2012.

List to sale ratio
We are reporting an upward trend in the percentage of original list price received, with a new list to sale ratio in August 2012 of 91.2% as opposed to last year’s 88.8% for single-family homes. For condos and townhomes, the increase was from 88.8% in 2011 to 90.5% this year.

Inventory
The biggest news of this quarter has been the huge decline in the number of homes available on the market. We have seen a 43.6% drop in inventory this year versus last with a total of 6,648 homes on the market in 2012 compared to the 11,781 single-family homes on the market in 2011. The same story holds true for townhomes and condos with a 42.3% decline in inventory this year versus last.
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All these statistics point to one very important fact: it seems we have shifted into a sellers’ market. What this means for you as a seller is that you can expect to sell quicker and for top dollar. For buyers it means that you are up against a fair amount of competition and that if you are interested in purchasing, don’t wait any longer!

For a customized look at your neighborhood to determine whether yours is experiencing the same sellers’ market we’re seeing, contact me today on my personal cell number at 561.352.3056.


Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act



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By now, chances are you have probably heard the term “short sale” – especially during the past five years with our housing market struggling to recover from the housing market crisis of 2007. Luckily, we have enjoyed a strong economy and have not seen too much of the same dire circumstances many homeowners across America have experienced. Still, if you owe more on the house than what it is worth and are looking to sell it, a short sale is likely your best option.

Everyone has a pretty good idea of how a short sale might impact one’s credit outlook. Though it may not have as heavy an impact on credit as a foreclosure might, a couple years after a short sale before the homeowner can consider buying a home again. There is, however, a tax implication of doing a short sale that many people are not aware of. The amount of debt that a bank agrees to forgive in order to allow a short sale to take place is forgiven debt and the IRS considers that amount as income. As such, all income is taxable, leaving the homeowner that opts for a short sale with a significant tax bill at the end of the year.

Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act
In light of our nation’s struggles with property ownership after housing values plummeted, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act was signed into action, allowing homeowners an exemption on discharged or forgiven debt from the sale of a primary residence.

This benefit has been around for some time now and has been extended by the government in the past, however its deadline is fast approaching with a program end date of December 31, 2012. This means that all homeowners considering short sales should complete their transaction before the end of the year.

Short Sale Process Can Take Months
At first, when countless Americans struggling with the economy and declining values, short sales were slowly began picking up pace. Then, when the 2010robo-signing scandal broke loose, banks again lacked confidence in doling out relief in this form to borrowers, ending up in short sale processes that could take up to a year or even more. 

Today, however, many banks have streamlined the process and even prefer the short sale route versus a foreclosure. Compared to the lengthy process times and extensive legal fees involved in a foreclosure, banks are even willing to pay out cash in some short sale cases.

Window Of Opportunity Will Not Last Long
Since the halfway mark of the year has passed, we strongly advise any homeowner looking to sell their home despite owing more than its current value, to contact us today. Timing is key and with just a few months before the end of the year to take advantage of this benefit, now is the good time to start the process.

Ten Facts the IRS Wants You to Know About the Mortgage Debt Relief Act

1.  Normally, debt forgiveness results in taxable income. However, under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, you may be able to exclude up to $2 million of debt forgiven on your principal residence. 

  
2.  The limit is $1 million for a married person filing a separate return.
3.  You may exclude debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in a foreclosure. 

  
4.  To qualify, the debt must have been used to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence and be secured by that residence. 

  
5.  Refinanced debt proceeds used for the purpose of substantially improving your principal residence also qualify for the exclusion. 

  
6.  Proceeds of refinanced debt used for other purposes – for example, to pay off credit card debt – do not qualify for the exclusion. 

  
7.   If you qualify, claim the special exclusion by filling out Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness, and attach it to your federal income tax return for the tax year in which the qualified debt was forgiven. 

  
8.  Debt forgiven on second homes, rental property, business property, credit cards or car loans do not qualify for the tax relief provision. In some cases, however, other tax relief provisions – such as insolvency – may be applicable. IRS Form 982 provides more details about these provisions. 

  
9.  If your debt is reduced or eliminated you normally will receive a year-end statement, Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, from your lender. By law, this form must show the amount of debt forgiven and the fair market value of any property foreclosed. 

  
10.  Examine the Form 1099-C carefully. Notify the lender immediately if any of the information shown is incorrect. You should pay particular attention to the amount of debt forgiven in Box 2 as well as the value listed for your home in Box 7.

Home Inspection to the Rescue!



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You Better Give Sherlock Holmes a Ring!

No, you don't need the fictional detective inspector. However, you do need a home inspector! Think of this as a "pre-emptive strike" to maintain or increase your home's value before you put it on the market. Here are the benefits an inspector provides you:

Benefit 1: The inspector can uncover any problems that need fixing, and you can correct them before any potential buyers enter your home. Such an inspection can prevent your sale from falling through!
Benefit 2: With an inspection, you can show prospective buyers receipts to prove the work has been done. Buyers love proof! In reality and in their eyes, it underpins the value of your home and the asking price.
Benefit 3: You may be able to factor the cost of the inspection into the asking price for your home!
Benefit 4: When you have a pre-sale home inspection completed, you're able to estimate if the discount the prospective buyer is asking is reasonable. In other words, you can refuse unreasonably low offers if you know the value of your house, including the degree of its defects.
So, How Do I Find a Qualified Home Inspector?
I can recommend a certified home inspector who will do a great job for you. However, if you decide you want to do it on your own, make sure he or she is qualified!
Con artists sometimes pose as home inspectors, taking your money and giving you nothing but grief in return. Here's how to know if an inspector is the real deal:
Ask your friends for referrals. If they've had a good experience, go with that home inspector. I’d recommend you interview a minimum of two or three inspectors before choosing one. Make sure they’re full-time professionals conducting several inspections a year.
If possible, select a home inspector who’s a member of The American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors.These association members follow a stated code of ethics. In addition, they’re prohibited from having a professional interest in the sale, repair or maintenance of a property they inspect. They’re also forbidden from using their inspection business as a way to find customers for a handyman service that they “happen” to own. You may want to go on the Internet and use ASHI’s “Find a Home Inspector” link to identify potential candidates in our locality.

As part of the interview process, ask for samples of comprehensive reports (about 20-50 pages in length). The samples should be painstakingly done and backed up with complete details, including photos and diagrams. If an "inspector" refuses to give you a report or provides only a sloppily written 2-to-5 page sample, run the other way!

What Does a Home Inspector Cost?
Frankly, the rates vary. On a national level, the rates fall in the range of $200 to $400. As part of the interview process, I recommend you ask several inspectors for their rates so you can get an idea of the price range. In the end, keep in mind that while the cost of an inspection may seem high, it can actually add several thousand dollars to the value of your home! So, don't think of it as a cost; think of it as an investment!

What Exactly Does a Home Inspector Evaluate?
In general, he or she will look at the following areas: 
- Electrical System Wiring, Service Panel and Service Capacity
- Energy Conservation/Safety Items
- Exterior Walls, Siding, Trim
- Floor, Wall, Ceiling, Roof Structures
- Foundation, Footings, Crawl Space, Basements, Sub-flooring, Decks
- Gutters, Downspouts
- Heating & Cooling Systems
- Insulation & Ventilation
- Interior Floors, Walls, Ceilings
- Moisture Intrusion/Mold 
- Overall Structural Integrity
- Plumbing Systems
- Property Drainage/Landscaping
- Roof & Shingles, Chimneys, Attic
- Walks and Drives
 - Windows, Doors, Cabinets, Counters, etc. 

Should I Be Present During a Home Inspection?
You bet! A typical inspection takes three hours or more, so I recommend that you be present for at least the first 30 minutes to make sure the job is being done thoroughly. At the end of the inspection, the home inspector should give you a point-by-point summary of what needs to be corrected in order to add value to your home!
Hope you enjoyed this very useful information about home inspection! If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to contact me!

Good News For the Palm Beach County Real Estate Market – Mid-Year Recap



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As we study our statistics and continue to report the news as it’s happening, we have seen some pretty incredible activity happening lately. In fact, when you look at the number of homes available on the market last year versus this year at the same time, the change is almost unbelievable.

The number of available single-family homes on the market has decreased a very significant 58% this year as of June as compared to the same period in 2011. This huge dip in inventory has a direct impact on sellers and buyers alike.

For sellers, homes are selling faster and they are able to yield top dollar on the sale – for the first time in a long while enjoying a seller’s market. Lower inventory means that buyers are facing increasing competition when they go to get their dream homes.


Multiple offers have been coming in for most listings and in some cases these can be as many as 5 or even 10 offers per property. What does this mean for the seller? It means there is likely going to be a bidding war and the homeowner will be able to get at least asking price or even more in some cases. Buyers will need to be quick on the draw and move efficiently if they want to avoid getting into a bidding war that might end up in disappointment.

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Whether you are a buyer, seller or investor – we know exactly how to get you to the closing table. Contact me today on my personal cell phone at 561.352.3056 so together we can help achieve your real estate dreams of living in beautiful Palm Beach County, Florida!

Hurricane Preparedness – What NOT to Do



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One of the most harrowing experiences people in hurricane zones face is staring a hurricane directly in the face, head on and not being ready to handle it. Being caught off guard has led to many unfortunate outcomes and the last thing we want to happen is for you or your family to suffer any losses as a result.

Don’t Fall Into the Trap of Taping Windows For Protection

A very commonly made mistake is taping up windows. The truth is that tape simply does not hold up to the strong gusts of wind and other elements produced by a hurricane.  The most adequate form of protection for both your family and your property comes from using wood panels to board up the windows. Aluminum hurricane panels or accordion shutters are also good alternatives.

Make Sure You Have A Well Thought-Out Evacuation Plan

Too many people neglect to fully plan out their evacuation in case it is needed, only to be left hanging with no where to go. Not only is it critical to know exactly where you will be going, but also it is also very useful to have multiple routes in mind in case the storm is approaching from the direction of your chosen safe haven. Ideally, a shelter is a good place to remain until the storm passes. Though it can be uncomfortable, remember to pack all your family’s supplies and make alternate arrangements for any pets since they are not usually admitted into hurricane shelters. It is a good idea to make advance arrangements for your pet so that you are not left in a panic should a hurricane hit your area.

Stay In Groups; The Old Adage “Safety In Numbers” Holds True

Though hurricanes are usually destructive through massive force of wind, rain and other natural elements – keeping your family and friends together is good for many reasons. Not only is it better to have more people managing the situation together but it is also more manageable when there are more helping hands in case things get difficult. It is easier to have someone go call for help if needed when there are more people and it is useful in containing calm in a group.
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Here is a great resource for information about hurricanes from the NOCC and the National Weather Service. And another website administered by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) offers some great tips.

If you would like more tips on how to prepare for a hurricane or would like some insight on buying, selling or investing in a property – contact us today!

Top 10 Things a Buyer Can Do to Get the Home That They Want with the Market Today



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1. Be sure to hire an agent that understands the market conditions for the price range and product you are purchasing in.

2. If you are obtaining a mortgage, be sure to have a pre-approval.  We see a lot of items missed on pre-approvals so Treu Group buyers always have one of our lenders take a 2nd look.  It gives the other agent confidence that the buyer is solid and can get to the closing table.

3. Hire an agent that is well known in the realtor community. In multiple offer situations, reputation and relationships matter.

4. Understand that bank owned homes will have multiple offers. You have to be competitive to win.  If you don’t like that environment, then bank owned homes are not for you.

5. Be sure your agent gets you into deals first.

6. When you find your new home, make an offer IMMEDIATELY.  It is like Costco, if you wait and go back later, it might be gone.

7. Use a search site like PalmBeachCountyPropertySearch.com that will allow you to get a real picture of what is for sale.  Realtor.com, Zillow, and Truila can be frustrating because over ½ pf the properties are under contract.

8. If you’re considering a short sale, be sure your agent really understands which deals can get done.

9. Make sure to structure the deal in the most attractive way to the seller. It is not always the price that is the most important factor to the seller. Closing date, down payment amounts, and inspection periods can also be crucial factors.

10. Be reasonable about expectations.  We ask our clients what their 3 must haves are.  These are the deal breakers.

Keep in mind that the right home always works out if you take the right steps.

Keep Your Home Safe While on Vacation



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With summer fast approaching, you might already have vacation on your mind...so I wanted to share with you on this little video clip my favorite safety tips. In fact, I have multiple critical steps to prepare your home for safe keeping while you're away, to keep your nest safe and secure.

This is exactly what I did to prepare my home while I'm on vacation:

The best way to keep your home safe in your absence is to make it appear you are home, leaving absolutely no clue you're actually away. Light, time and noise are your greatest weapons to accomplish this. Follow these tips to ready your home and keep it safe:

- Ask someone you know and trust to keep an eye on your house.

For short trips, ask one of your neighbors to pick up your mail and your newspaper. If you are going to be gone longer, however, be sure to stop by the post office and have your home mail delivery stopped until you return.

Be sure to provide neighbors, friends and family members with emergency phone numbers so you can be reached quickly. It's a good idea to leave a spare house key with a relative or neighbor as well.

- At least a couple of weeks before you leave for vacation, decide what to do about your pets. You may want to have a friend or neighbor stop by each day to provide food, water and exercise. Or you may want to hire a professional pet sitting service or take the pets to a reputable kennel. This decision should be made well in advance so that proper arrangements can be made.

- Use timers on lights, televisions and radios to provide sound and illuminate the inside of your home.

- If you still have a home phone, change the setting on your answering machine so it picks up on the first or second ring—or just turn down the ringer. A constantly ringing phone is also a good sign no one is home.

- For long absences, you may want to turn off the main water valve. This will help avoid problems with frozen pipes in winter and leaking pipes in the warmer months as well as other plumbing issues.

- Keep shades up and blinds and curtains open to make it appear you're home.

- Keep bushes and shrubs near your home's entrance and walkway well trimmed. This will eliminate hiding spots for burglars.

- Keep the outside of your home well lit. Burglars won't go where they can be seen.

- Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway, occasionally moving his or her car indicate your coming and going.

- Leave the air conditioner on. A silent compressor on a hot day is a good indication you aren't home.

- Have the lawn mowed my a friend or lawn service if you are away longer than a week in the warmer months.

- This one is tough for those addicted to Facebook but posting to Facebook where you are at all times you are not only sharing this with your 'friends'. Those posts and photos allow others to find out when you are away and where you are. This isn't as concerning when you are local as you could post a comment or photo as you are ON your way home or just arrived but when your, say, at Disney World, those with ill plans regarding your trip away from home.

- Be sure to turn down the temperature on the hot water heater and unplug televisions and other appliances. These appliances will be drawing electricity whether they are on or not. Unplugging them will help lower your electric bill.

- Turn your thermostats down (or up) before you leave. There is no reason to spend money heating or cooling the home when you are not there.

- Don't forget about the plants. If you are having a friend or pet sitter care for your pets, ask them to take care of your plants as well. Simply soaking the plants with water before you leave is not enough. A better idea is to create a self watering system if you cannot have someone care for the plants. For small plants, make a self watering system by filling a plastic container with pebbles. Then fill the bottom of the container with water. This allows the plants to slowly absorb the moisture they need, without the danger of their roots becoming waterlogged. Larger plants can be mulched with a damp towel or newspaper to prevent the loss of moisture.

- When the day to leave for vacation finally arrives, try not to make that departure too obvious to those passing by. If you have a garage, be sure to pack the car with the garage door closed. If you do not have a garage, you may want to pack a couple of items a day in order to avoid broadcasting to the world that your home will be unoccupied.

- This last tip isn't a security measure for your house but for your credit (you know I always care about that as well) as you need to keep tight check over your credit in order to purchase or refinance your home!

With all the excitement of the upcoming trip we sometimes get carried away, plan only for the trip and security of our home for while we are away and leave for our stress-free trip. But wait!! You suddenly realize the day before you return the date! You've missed your mortgage payment, car payment, credit card, and utility due dates by a week or more! This happens more than I'd like to hear and the credit company doesn't accept this as a viable hardship excuse. :-) So ensure you plan ahead. Go on and sit down to make all the payments needed to be made in advance before your trip and all those due up till a few days after your return for good measure to ensure you don't get tied up with the return home and forget this very important task to protect your credit rating!

As you can see, there is a lot to think about before you jump in the car or on a plane for vacation. Use this checklist as a way of bringing peace of mind to you and your family. Enjoy your vacations without worrying about the safety of your home while you're away.

Post-Wedding Bells Bliss – How to Move In Together Without Losing Either of Your Styles



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Here we are in the middle of wedding season!  So many couples are tying the knot and we are there to witness the beginning of what will hopefully be years of happiness and bliss!  Before they get to that state of wedded bliss though, they will need to move in together. So the big question is “how do you tackle that?”  And we have the perfect answer. Here are four tips on how to seamlessly move in together so that you can focus on enjoying newlywed life instead of stepping on each other’s toes.


“Should We Love It or Lose It?”


The process of combining two homes is definitely harrowing and at times really stressful. One of the things you should do is to decide whether it is necessary to keep it all. Go through all your stuff and ask the question “should we love it or lose it?” then systematically purge the things you do not see useful. Set up three large cartons and label them “Keep”, “Throw” and “Donate”. This will not only make you feel lighter but it will also make your move easier since there will be less stuff to have to cart around.


Compromise on Color Schemes and D├ęcor


Yes, it is the beginning of years of compromise and it starts right here with deciding on the surroundings of your home together. Discuss what styles, themes and color schemes you each find attractive and come to some consensus about how you want to design your new married life home’s interior.


Invest In Quality Pieces of Furniture


For years, you have heard Grandma talk about investing in quality and the same holds true for the furniture of your new home. If you have two old pieces and neither agrees on which to hold on to, pick up a new one but make sure it is a quality piece. Not only will these items last you for years and years, they will also mark the beginning of your new life together.


Personalize the Space to Both Your Personalities


Of course you will be bringing in things from each respective former home but the key to establishing a homestead that suits both of you is to incorporate characteristics unique to you as a couple. Make the space your own by adding some new items whether it be artwork, some new furniture or other things suited to your new space.


Bonus Tip:
If you have not gotten married yet, FHA allows buyers to receive gift funds towards a downpayment so your family and friends can help you get your new home. Unlike conventional mortgage loans, FHA makes it affordable and possible for newly married couples to be able to afford a new home. With today’s record-setting low interest rates it is an excellent time to invest in a home and a perfect way for friends and family to be a part of it!
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Keep in mind that the tips we have shared above are designed to make your move easy and as smooth as possible. They are also perfect for anyone you may know that is moving on to college or someone looking to move into a roommate situation. We wish you and your partner years of success and happiness!

Developing Your Own Core Family Values



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Recently, we were in Las Vegas and had the chance to tour the Zappo's company facility. One of the things that we were most impressed with was that Zappo's developed their own set of 10 core values that their company operates under.

As a company, we also have our own core values that we strive to follow each and every day.  Our most important core value is to be determined and passionate.  We use that mindset when dealing with all of our prospects and clients.  In other words, we refuse to take no when yes is possible.  We use our core values to make sure that we do the best for our clients no matter what the situation.

In this blog post and video, we decided to share with you the 10 core values that Zappo's has set forth for their company.  We recommend that you create your own set of 10 core values for your family or yourself.  Use these values as a guideline, but you don't have to copy them.  Instead, think about what's important to you for your family, your business and yourself.  Use these 10 core values as a starting point for your own.

Here are the 10 core values for Zappo's:

1. Deliver WOW Through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More With Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble

As you can see, some of these values may or may not apply to your family life or your business.  Use them as idea is to create your own core values roadmap.  We think that you will see tremendous value in doing this exercise in your own life.

I want to give you my personal cell phone number so you can call on me anytime you have questions about the real estate process in our area.  That direct number is 561-352-3056.

Why Getting An Appraisal Before Selling Your Property Makes Sense; Plus Some Prep Tips



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At a time when all transactions from the seller’s perspective are a welcome occurrence, it only makes sense to do anything and everything we can to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible.  One area to be wary of is when it comes to the selling price of the home.  It is definitely a buyers’ market these days and buyers know it.  Their savvy comes to the surface when the most important part of the transaction occurs – settling on a price.  

Preparedness on the seller’s part is one way to make sure that there are no surprises for either party.  By making sure that the home is accurately priced to begin with, there will be less time wasted in going back and forth, the home will be sold within fewer Days On Market and all sides of the transaction will be happy.

What Exactly is an Appraisal?

An appraisal is when a professional visits a home or property and through a series of steps, observations and comparisons makes an assessment as to what the fair market value is for the property.  Typically this is done at the request of a bank that has been sought to provide a loan to homeowners wanting to purchase the home in question, however more and more often existing homeowners are having their homes appraised prior to listing the property on the market.

Among factors that are considered when determining the fair market value of a home are the physical condition of the home, its structure and functionality – plus also the performance of other homes on the market or those that recently sold in the neighborhood.  A comparison is made based on other, similar homes in the area. 

It is important not to confuse a home appraisal with a home inspection.  A home inspection is a detailed account of every last working aspect of the home and its condition, whereas an appraisal is more general. The cost of having an appraisal done is on average anywhere from $300 to $500, with the end result being a detailed report outlining all the factors looked at by the professional appraiser. 

What is the Benefit of Getting An Appraisal Done?
In most cases the buyers’ lending institution will have its own appraisal done on a property they have been asked to finance.  However as a seller, if you have had one done in advance, it will give you the advantage and edge of knowing the ballpark range that your home is currently valued at so that you can accurately price your property to sell.  The greatest advantage is that you can go into a transaction with potential buyers knowing that your price is realistic.  There is a growing occurrence of bank-appointed appraisers coming in with values that run less than the listed price and also less than what the buyer and seller had agreed on. To avoid the unnecessary waste of time, loss of interest in the property on the buyers’ part or the potential loss of sale altogether, it makes sense for the seller to know what to expect in advance. 

How to Prepare for an Appraisal
Our tips on how to get ready for an appraisal can potentially yield a better result.

  •  Complete all maintenance (interior and exterior) including correcting any problems plus maintaining the yard and home’s exterior
  •  Share with the appraiser all new installations and improvements made to the home
  •   Be aware of selling prices of other homes in the neighborhood
  •   Be ready to explain and demonstrate why your home is different than others in the area
  •  Maintain up-to-date knowledge of your real estate market prices
  •   Keep a polite attitude with the appraiser and provide them full access to all areas of your home
  •   Treat your appraisal day as if it were an open house day, keeping your home in tip top shape, neat and clean so they can see the home for what it is rather than have their judgment be clouded by distractions