5 Big Steps to Buying Your First Home

Hello Everyone,

Buying your first home is a major milestone in your life and being able to fully understand the process is the key. I came across this great article I wanted to share with everyone today.

Purchasing a home is a lengthy process—and for good reason. Not only is it one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make, it is also one that you cannot easily reverse. So it’s important to make sure that your finances are in order and you’re ready to commit to living in a particular location for several years before taking on such a responsibility.

In “4 Smart Steps to Take Before Buying Your First Home,” we identified what would-be buyers should do years ahead of time to prepare financially for the big purchase. Here are the steps to complete the home-buying process.

Find the Right Real Estate Agent for You

Once you’ve saved enough to make a down payment—stashing away at least 20% will help you lock in better mortgage terms—finding a real-estate agent you trust is your next step. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 12% of buyers purchased their homes in 2013 without an agent. And, indeed, there’s nothing stopping you from visiting open houses on your own. Keep in mind, however, that the agent at the home for sale represents the sellers and is working to get them top dollar. A buyer’s agent will work on your behalf to negotiate the best sale terms and price.

Start by asking family members or friends for recommendations, says Steve Brown, NAR’s immediate past president. When my fiancé and I purchased a new townhome last year, we sought an agent who was familiar with the neighborhoods in which we were looking, would respond quickly to our calls and texts and would make us feel comfortable asking rookie questions. My sister referred me to the real-estate agent who had helped her buy her condo a couple of years earlier, and we ended up working with him as well.

If you don’t know anyone who’s recently bought a home, find an accredited buyer’s representative in your area via NAR’s search tool. Or try contacting realty agencies in your city, says Michael Espersen, a Metairie, La.-based real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. Talk with the managing broker and ask to be connected with an agent who does a lot of business in your desired neighborhoods, he adds.

Find a Lender With the Best Rates

Your real estate agent will likely recommend a lender that he’s worked with before. While going with his recommendation may be convenient, it might not get you the best deal. “The only party in the transaction that cares if the mortgage is a good deal is the borrower,” says Keith Gumbinger, vice-president of HSH.com, a publisher of mortgage information and rates. “Everyone else just wants to make sure the transaction closes.”

That’s why it’s important to shop around and compare loan terms. When evaluating potential lenders, consider the following:

Interest rates, including whether they are fixed or adjustable.

Points, which are fees paid directly to the lender in exchange for a lower interest rate. Be sure to get those quoted as a dollar amount so you know exactly how much you’ll have to pay.

Additional costs you’ll have to pay at closing, such as loan-origination, underwriting and broker fees.

My fiancé and I got rate quotes from four different lending institutions, including a firm suggested by our agent, my personal bank, a commercial bank used by a trusted friend who’d recently purchased a condo and our builder’s lending company. We eventually decided not to go with our agent’s recommendation. We were able to get better deal with our builder’s lender, which included a lower interest rate, as well as the builder covering the cost of certain upgrades to our home.

Get Preapproved for a Mortgage

You will find it almost impossible to make an offer without proof that you are eligible for a home loan. During my search, every seller required a copy of the preapproval letter attached to the written offer. “Preapproval is important because it signals to a seller that you’re more likely to be able to get the deal done, as opposed to someone who doesn’t already have a financing source in their back pocket,” Gumbinger notes

In order to get preapproved, your lender will run a credit check and review your financial documents, including a few years’ worth of tax returns, recent pay stubs and bank statements. If everything checks out, your lender will provide you with an official document that states how much you’ve been preapproved for. A word of caution, however, for first-time home buyers: Don’t mistake the preapproval amount for your own budget. (Your monthly mortgage costs shouldn’t exceed 28% of your gross monthly income, according to industry lending guidelines.)

Look at Houses Online and in Person

Finally, it’s time for the fun part— actually looking at houses. You can search for properties on websites like Yahoo Homes, Trulia or Zillow, or through a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) search set up by your real estate agent, as well as by scouring your local newspaper for home-sale listings. Before setting foot in a potential home, however, be sure to research the surrounding community, school system and important amenities, such as proximity to shopping and public transportation, Espersen says. A simple online search might uncover deal-breakers such as a high crime rate or poor public school ratings.

During your in-person visit, keep an open mind. Cosmetic negatives, such as garish paint colors or dated door handles and light fixtures, are easily fixed and shouldn’t deter you from making an offer on a place that otherwise fits your needs.

In 2014, buyers searched a median of 10 weeks for a new home, according to the NAR’s report. My home search took somewhat longer—nearly four months. No matter how long it takes, you want to be sure the house you decide to buy is one you’ll live in for at least five years. That’s the time frame it usually takes to see any significant appreciation in value and recoup your out-of-pocket purchase costs including home appraisal, home inspection and broker’s fees. Those costs combined can range from 2% to 5% of your home’s final purchase price, according to the legal site Nolo. If you discover your home doesn’t fit the bill and decide to sell sooner or in a down market, you will likely take a financial hit, Gumbinger says.

Make an Offer on a Home

Once you’ve found a home that meets your requirements, get ready to make an offer. With your agent’s assistance, draft an offer letter stating your desired purchase price and any contingencies you’d like to include, such as a home inspection. You should also include your earnest deposit, which is typically 1% to 2% of the total purchase price. Sellers consider it a good-faith measure that further demonstrates you’re a serious buyer. If your offer is accepted, the earnest deposit will be applied to your down payment.

This step may involve some negotiating between you and the seller. For example, as part of your offer, you might ask the seller to help cover the closing costs or provide a one-year home warranty. The seller can either agree with your terms outright or come back with a counteroffer, which happens if they feel your initial offer was too low. If there’s a counteroffer and you accept, sign and return it to the seller and their agent as soon as possible. A counteroffer typically has an expiration date, according to Realtor.com; if you fail to respond by that date the seller can accept an offer from someone else.

Once an offer has been accepted by both sides, the seller’s agent will draft a purchase contract. When it’s in your real estate agent’s hands for review, make sure that it lists the agreed-upon selling price; identifies any items, such as major appliances, to be included in the sale; and clearly states when closing will occur, Brown advises.

Closing on a Home

In advance of going to settlement, make sure you have copies of important documents such as the purchase contract, proof of homeowners’ insurance and inspection reports in case you need to reference them during the actual proceeding. When the big day finally arrives, you’ll need to have a certified or cashier’s check in-hand that covers your closing costs. Your mortgage lender will provide an exact amount ahead of time.

Remember, there are lots of documents that have to be signed including the mortgage agreement and the deed to the home. If anything is unclear, do not hesitate to ask questions of your agent, the seller’s agent or the lending representative on hand. Once you’ve signed your life away (just kidding!) and you have the keys in-hand, the home is officially all yours.

Next up is packing and moving—but you’re on your own for all of that, dear reader. Good luck!

Remember to give us a call to speak to one of our Agents today!

Sincerely,

Scott Myers, Century 21 Scott Myers Realtors

(210) 479-1222

It’s A Buyers Market

Hello Everyone,

A home buyer does not want to be caught off guard in a seller’s market . It’s one of the reasons that the most important thing a home buyer can do is trust his or her real estate agent to advise on market conditions. If it is a seller’s market, it could very difficult, if not almost impossible, to buy the first home a buyer wants to buy.

Because home buyers generally have very little interest in the real estate market when they are not buying a home, they don’t always know how the market moves from one season to another, much less from month to month. It is often uncomfortable for a buyer to be told the market is a seller’s market when the buyer may believe otherwise — especially a buyer who is trying to buy in a down real estate market.

Markets can change almost overnight. When the market changes to a seller’s market, a buyer’s home buying strategy needs to change with it. In a seller’s market, a home buyer is unlikely to be successful using the same techniques practiced in a buyer’s market.

Preparing the Home Buying Offer in a Seller’s Market

Time is of the essence. Multiple offers happen with more regularity in a sellers’ market than a buyer’s market. That’s because by its very nature a seller’s market is defined in part by low inventory and lots of home buyers. A beautiful home that is priced well can attract more than one offer. Remember, you might not be the only buyer.

  • Price. Price is not always the most important factor. But do not offer less than list price. Realize you may need to offer more than the amount the seller is asking.
  • Earnest Money Deposit. A larger earnest money deposit might look very attractive to a seller. Ask your agent for advice on the deposit; then consider doubling or tripling that amount. You’re going to pay it anyway at closing.
  • Don’t Request Favors. This is not the time to ask the seller to give you the refrigerator or washer and dryer, or part with fixtures, or paint the front door.
  • Delay Buyer Possession. If it is customary for the seller to move at closing, give the seller a few extra days to move. Another buyer probably won’t think of this maneuver, and the seller will look more kindly upon an offer that lets them move at leisure.
  • Submit Preapproval and Proof of Funds Documentation. If your preapproval letter is from an out-of-area broker or lender, get a local preapproval instead. Match your preapproval letter to your sales price and date it the same day as your offer

Ask Your Agent to Call the Listing Agent for Tips

Listing agents are often very busy. If your agent can save the listing agent some time by preparing the offer correctly, the listing agent might be inclined to recommend your offer over an offer from another agent who did not complete the offer the way the seller expects.

Think of it this way. Say a listing agent has two offers. One is exactly the offer the seller would like to sign. The other offer is not, and the other offer would need a counter offer from the seller to compensate. Should the listing agent prepare a counter offer or should the buyer’s agent revise the offer?

In this situation, it is better for the buyer’s agent to revise the offer. It is faster. During the time it would take the listing agent to prepare a counter, send the counter offer for a signature, and then deliver the counter offer to the buyer’s agent, another full price could arrive. If you want to be the first offer, the best offer and the only offer the seller will accept, your offer needs to match the seller’s expectations.

If you wait for the seller to sign a counter offer, your offer could fall by the wayside. Your buyer’s agent can find out what the seller wants by calling the listing agent or by reading the verbiage and instructions in MLS. Ask to see the agent’s MLS information sheet. The agent’s MLS printout is probably different than the information a home buyer receives.

Jump on that Seller’s Market Showing

Don’t be that buyer who wants to wait until the weekend to view a home in a seller’s market. By the weekend, that home could be sold. Try to be one of the first showings. Sellers usually don’t enjoy having buyers come through their homes at all hours of the day, so most would like to see their home sold quickly.

If you write a good offer, a fast offer and a clean offer, your chances of acceptance are far better than those of a buyer who is unprepared. It may astonish you to know how many buyers are often unprepared.

Please give us a call to speak to one of our agents today!

Sincerely,

Scott Myers, Century 21 Scott Myers Realtors

Home-Selling Tips for Spring Buyer’s Market

Hello Everyone,

Learn how you can help your sellers prepare their homes for the spring selling season.

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If you have sellers who are planning to put their homes on the market in time for spring, now is the time to get it ready to show.

But wait, it’s still a buyer’s market. What can you do to catch the buyer’s eye and get them to make an offer?

It’s going to take more than a fresh coat of paint and a new welcome mat. A buyer’s market raises the stakes, and your sellers will need to do a lot more work on their homes to get the highest price possible. Cleaning, painting, and repairing may not be enough.

Understanding today’s buyers and their preferences should help you pick which updates are most likely to help your sellers sell their homes faster.

Let’s take the most basic selling suggestions and explore why these are such important mantras.

  • Boost your curb appeal. According to real estate franchisor Coldwell Banker, a clean house with cosmetic upgrades like painting and planted flowers can help form a good first impression of your listing. Why? Eighty-four percent of home buyers use the Internet to search for homes. One-third of home buyers use the Internet first, before any other source. That means that people are making decisions whether or not to even drive by your listing based on how it looks in video, virtual tours, and photographs.
  • Make big fixes where you can. If your sellers’ budget allows, encourage them to invest in bigger improvements. Focus on “make or break” rooms like bathrooms and kitchens, because nothing says “uninviting” like an unattractive cooking space, according to Coldwell Banker. Why? The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® found in 2007 that a whopping 59 percent of home buyers remodeled or made improvements to their homes within three months of purchase. Forty-seven percent made improvements to the kitchen, another 45 percent remodeled or improved a bathroom, and 43 percent remodeled a bedroom. Keep in mind that the rate of new-home building accelerated during the housing boom, and buyers are used to seeing as much as 25 percent of available inventory as new. That’s your competition, and the closer you can get the buyer to new, the likelier you are to sell your listing.
  • Be upfront with disclosures. Don’t wait for the buyer to get a home inspection, or the buyer could find a reason to wiggle out of the deal. Encourage your sellers to get a seller’s inspection, so that they can improve the condition of their home before a buyer sees it. You can keep receipts of recent improvements and provide estimates on optional upgrades to potential buyers. These actions will reinforce the trustworthiness of the sellers and help overcome objections from potential buyers. With new homes, buyers have some guarantees that systems will be fixed by the builder if they fail, but they have no such guarantee with an existing home. Providing a home warranty will go a long way in assuring potential buyers.
  • Be realistic. Your list price should be competitive with nearby comparable homes with similar features and approximate condition that have sold or are on the market within the last three months. You may find that homes are taking longer to sell and that buyers are more selective. Your potential buyers may be using the Internet to find home valuation sites, so search those sites yourself and be ready to defend your sellers’ price with proper comparables.

Remember, your listing is competing with new construction and with the buyer’s idea of what a home should look like. More than 33 percent of home buyers prefer a home less than 10 years old, yet the typical home purchased by all buyers was 12 years of age. That suggests that condition is very important.

If you can ease buyers’ fears about the condition of your listing, you’re much more likely to strike a deal.

Please give us a call today to speak with one of our professionals.

Sincerely,

Scott Myers, Century 21 Scott Myers Realtors

(210) 479-1222

The Home Inspection

Buying a house is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, so it’s important to be sure your potential new home has a proper home inspection before you sign the papers. Getting a qualified home inspector can be an important first step.

A home inspector is a qualified professional who visually inspects the structure and components of a home and looks for any immediate or potential problems. They provide a written report to you with a description of problem areas and may also include recommendations for further evaluation.

You can go over the report with your real estate agent to decide how the results may affect the purchase of your potential home.

What They Inspect

Home inspection requirements vary greatly from state to state, but the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) has a Standards of Practice page that outlines minimum and uniform standards that you should expect from an inspection. They include the following:

  • Structural elements. Construction of visible foundation; evidence of sagging or bowing of the structure; and window alignment.
  • Grounds. Leaks from septic tank; proper drainage; and condition of driveways, fences, and sidewalks.
  • Roof. Condition of shingles; any repairs/patches to flat roofs; clear vents; damage to chimneys; and properly working gutters.
  • Exterior surfaces. Correct clearance between ground and siding material; condition of exterior paint or siding; and properly working lights and electrical outlets.
  • Attic. Sufficient insulation; proper ventilation; and any sign of leaking or water damage.
  • Interior plumbing. No damaged or leaking pipes; proper hot water temperature; and functioning toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and showers.
  • Electrical system. Up-to-code condition and type of visible wiring, and proper function of circuit breakers, outlets, light fixtures, and fans.
  • Appliances. Proper function of stove, dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, washer and dryer, and all other appliances.
  • Heating and cooling systems. Condition of furnace, air conditioning (temperature permitting), water heater, chimney, and fireplace.
  • Basement. Solid foundation, walls, and floors, with no signs of water intrusion or damage.
  • Garage. Solid foundation, windows, ceiling, framing, and roof; working garage door opener; up-to-code electrical system; and proper function of outlets.

What They Don’t Inspect

Again, while there is variation of what home inspectors look for, there are areas that are generally not covered by a home inspection. If you suspect any problems or concerns in the following areas, you may want to schedule an evaluation by a certified specialist:

  • Pest control
  • Swimming pools
  • Asbestos
  • Radon gas
  • Lead paint
  • Toxic mold

Finding a Home Inspector

Be sure you are comfortable with your choice of home inspector. They are extremely important and can help you detect and avoid major pitfalls in the home buying process.

Making a major purchase such as a house requires a dedicated team. Besides your real estate professional and lender, a home inspector is critical to helping make sure you are covered. Be sure to educate yourself about the process and find a home inspector you can trust.

Please call one of our sales professionals today!

Sincerely,

Scott Myers, Century 21 Scott Myers Realtors

(210) 479-1222

Selling Your Home Fast

Hello Everyone,

In a declining real estate market where supply outstrips demand, a person can generally sell a house faster by lowering the price. But there are other ways to enhance a home’s attractiveness besides lowering the asking price. If you’re looking to sell your home in a cooling real estate market, read on for some tips on how to generate interest and get the best price possible.

Differentiate From the Neighbors
In order to attract attention and to make your home more memorable, consider custom designs or additions, such as landscaping, high-grade windows or a new roof. This can help improve the home’s aesthetics, while potentially adding value to the home. Any improvements should be practical and use colors and designs that will appeal to the widest audience. In addition, they should complement the home and its other amenities, such as building a deck or patio adjacent to an outdoor swimming pool.

However, while it can pay to spice up your home, don’t over-improve it. According to a 2013 article in Realtor Magazine, some renovations, such as adding a bathroom or putting new shingles on a roof, might not always pay. The data suggests that the nationwide average amount recouped for a bathroom remodel is about 58%. For a new roof, it’s even less. If you’re going to invest in home improvements, do your research and be sure to put your money into the things that are likely to get you the best return. In addition, if you have added any custom features that you think buyers will be interested in, make sure they are included in the home’s listing information. More than ever, in a down market you should take every small edge you can get.Clean the Clutter
It is imperative to remove all clutter from the home before showing it to potential buyers because buyers need to be able to picture themselves in the space. This might include removing some furniture to make rooms look bigger, and putting away family photographs and personal items. You may even want to hire a stager to help you make better use of the space. Staging costs can range from a couple hundred dollars for a basic consultation to several thousand dollars, particularly if you rent modern, neutral furniture for showing your home. Many people feel that stagers can make a home more salable, so hiring one deserves some consideration.

Sweeten the Deal
Another way to make the home and deal more attractive to buyers is to offer things or terms that might sweeten the pot. For example, sellers that offer the buyer a couple of thousand dollars credit toward closing costs, or offer to pay closing costs entirely will in some cases receive more attention from house hunters looking at similar homes. In a down market, buyers are looking for a deal, so do your best to make them feel they’re getting one.

Another tip is to offer a transferable home warranty, which can cost $300 to $400 for a one-year policy and will cover appliances, such as air conditioners and refrigerators, that fail. Depending on the policy, other appliances and house gadgets may be covered as well. A potential buyer may feel more at ease knowing that he or she will be covered against such problems, which could make your home more attractive than a competing home.

Finally, it’s important to note that some buyers are motivated by the option to close in a short amount of time. If it is possible for you to close on the home within 30 to 60 days, this may set your deal apart and get you a contract.

Improve Curb Appeal
Sellers often overlook the importance of their home’s curb appeal. The first thing a buyer sees is a home’s external appearance and the way it fits into the surrounding neighborhood. Try to make certain that the exterior has a fresh coat of paint, and that the bushes and lawn are well manicured. In real estate, appearances mean a lot. What better way to set your home apart than to make it attractive at first glance?

Get Your Home in “Move In” Condition
Aesthetics are important, but it’s also important that doors, appliances and electrical and plumbing fixtures be in compliance with current building codes and in working order. Again, the idea is to have the home in move in condition and to give potential buyers the impression that they will be able to move right in and start enjoying their new home, rather than spending time and money fixing it up.

Pricing It Right
Regardless of how well you renovate and stage your home, it is still important to price the home appropriately. Consult a local real estate agent, read the newspapers and go to online real estate sites to see what comparable homes are going for in your area.

It’s not always imperative to be the lowest priced home on the block, particularly when aesthetic and other significant improvements have been made. However, it is important that the listing price is not out of line with other comparable homes in the market. Try to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and then determine what a fair price might be. Have friends, neighbors and real estate professionals tour the home and weigh in as well.

The Bottom Line
Selling a home in a down market requires a little extra work. Do everything you can to get the home in excellent shape and be prepared to make some small concessions at closing. These tips, coupled with an attractive price, will increase the odds of getting your home sold.

Please give us a call to speak to one of our Real Estate professionals today!

Sincerely,
Scott Myers, Century 21 Scott Myers Realtors
(210) 479-1222

Why Waiting Until Spring Could Cost You Tens of Thousands of Dollars Extra When Selling Your Home!

Hello Everyone,

Why Waiting Until Spring Could Cost You Tens of Thousands of Dollars Extra When Selling Your Home!

At the risk of sounding cliché, the old adage “The early bird catches the worm” definitely applies to selling your home. Those who get started early tend to sell for more money in a shorter time.

There are three basic reasons.

Reason #1 – Buyers doing research in the winter months are generally more serious about buying soon. As the weather gets nicer, it tends to pull a lot of daydreamers into the process. On sunny days people like to drive around and “window shop.” It’s a pleasant way to pass the time, but unfortunately a lot of these folks don’t have serious intensions or can’t afford to buy anytime soon.

Reason #2 – Sellers who get started early tend to generate a higher sale price because they have more time to get their home in tip top shape for showings.

As most good agents will point out in their listing presentations, the typical home has anywhere from 5-15 items, ranging from minor issues to major improvements that need to be addressed before putting a home on the market.

So get focused on knocking these things out, because the last thing you want is to be working on your home while the best buyers are buying and being taken out of the market.

We’ve all heard, “Timing is everything.” Well, in selling a home that’s often true. The best buyers, the ones who will offer you highest sale price, tend to be drawn out of the market early.

So prepping your home for sale sooner than later, is a good idea.

Reason #3 – Getting started early allows you to research, educate yourself on market conditions, and find out who’s doing a great job of listing and selling houses in your area.

You’ll gain understanding of the market and narrow your list of potential agents, enabling you to mentally and emotionally prepare. Selling your home can be a rollercoaster ride of emotions and choosing a quality agent, someone who will be your trusted advocate, goes a long way towards smoothing out all the potential bumps in the road.

So to recap, getting started early will help you in many ways. You have time to knock out all the prep work. You give yourself time to do your research. And most important, it positions you to have the best possible chance to sell your home quickly and for the most money.

As always, if there is anything at all I can do to help you, please feel free to call me at 1-555-555-5555. The conversation is always free and you’re under no obligation of any kind. My entire objective in our conversation is always to help you in any way that I can.

Please give us a call today to speak to one of our agents!

Scott Myers, Realtors

11830 Wurzbach Rd, San Antonio, Tx  78230

210-479-1222

8 Smart Projects to Increase the Vaule of Your Home

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to share these great tips to consider when thinking about selling your home,

If you’re smart and dedicated, homeownership can be a lifelong, extremely valuable investment. And while repairs, updates and renovations can help to improve this investment, how do you know which ones will yield the biggest return? Remodeling Magazine recently released its annual Cost vs. Value Report, a useful resource that examines 36 of the most popular remodel projects across 102 U.S. markets, and compares how each stack up in terms of retained value. Based on this data, here are eight of the most valuable, yet practical home improvement projects you should consider investing in this year.

(Credit: Iriana Shiyan/Bigstock.com)

1. Replace Your Front Door

Your front door is probably the most utilized and therefore, weathered part of your home. For a quick and relatively inexpensive improvement project, consider swapping out your wood door for a steel one, which will provide you with a 101.8% return on investment. At an average cost of $1,230, a steel door is sturdier and will last longer than a wood one, will require much fewer repairs, and can be customized according to your color and finish preferences. If steel is not your thing, you may also consider a fiberglass door, which while almost double the price, will provide you with many of the same benefits, and a 72% return on investment.

(Credit: Michael Shake/Bigstock.com)

2. Incorporate Stone Veneer Into Your Home’s Façade

Natural stone veneer siding is a beautiful way to enhance the look and feel of your home. With this alternative to traditional masonry work, you’ll get the same authentic beauty and color variation that you would with the more expensive marble or slate. At an average cost of $7,150, you’ll see a 92.2% return on investment by adding stone veneer siding to your home’s facade. While you’ll probably need to hire a pro, an added bonus with stone veneer is that it’s quick and relatively easy to install.

(Credit: flashygal/Bigstock.com)

3. Install a New Garage Door

With an average cost of $1,595, you’ll see an 88.4% return on investment with a new garage door. Depending on your style, you can choose from a wide range of materials that include steel, fiberglass, glass and wood. No matter your choice, a new garage door is the perfect and affordable way to immediately improve the curb appeal of your home.

(Credit: Enka Parmur/Bigstock.com)

4. Install New Siding

Vinyl siding is one of the most practical updates you can make to your home. A relatively new innovation on the home-building front, vinyl siding installation averages $12,013 and sees an 80.7% return on investment. Not only can it withstand extreme hot or cold weather, it is virtually resistant to rot and decay. Vinyl siding comes in a wide range of colors, does not fade, and if insulated, can be extremely energy efficient.

(Credit: rodho/Bigstock.com)

5. Build a Wooden Deck

Whether you are looking to enhance the front of your house with a wraparound style or your backyard with a freestanding variety, a new deck is well worth the investment. On average, decks cost $10,048 and provide an 80.5% return on investment, depending on style, and wood species. Remember that whatever material you choose for your deck, in order to preserve its color and longevity, you’ll want to make sure you actively apply a finish for extended protection.

6. Do a Kitchen Facelift

If you were to make any one improvement to your house, it should be to your kitchen. And while this may sound like a big and expensive endeavor, there are plenty of ways you can make meaningful updates without too much pain and suffering. At an average cost of $19,226 with a 79.3% return on investment, a kitchen “facelift” that includes one or two new appliances, refaced cabinetry, and new countertops, will make a world of a difference, without completely breaking the bank.

(Credit: Wollwerth Imagery/Bigstock.com)

7. Replace Your Windows

Whether it’s for function or aesthetic reasons, after years of use, your windows will need to be replaced. With an average cost of $11,341 and a 78.8% return on investment, you should consider upgrading to wood window frames. In addition to their visual appeal, including the ability to customize color and design, wood windows provide great insulation and are energy efficient. The one drawback to wood window frames is that they do require ongoing maintenance. At an average of $11,198 with a 72.9% return on investment, you could alternately consider vinyl window frames.

(Credit: dbvirago/Bigstock.com)

Renew Your Roof

If you inspect your roof regularly, you will have a good sense of when it needs to be replaced. And although it may seem like a hefty expense with an average price of $19,528, you will see a 71.6% return on investment if you add a new roof to your list of projects this year. While there are a number of materials you can choose from for your new roof including wood, clay and metal, the best and most affordable bet is asphalt shingles.

Thank you for reading these great tips and remember to give us a call to speak to one f our agents today!

Sincerely,

Scott Myers, Century 21 Scott Myers Realtors

(210) 479-1222

Five Crucial Home Selling Decisions if You Want to Sell in 2015

Hello,

If you’re planning on selling your home in 2015 there are five crucial decisions that can help you maximize your sale price, get your home sold quickly and do it all without the mountain of stress that often comes with the sale of your home.

Decision #1 – Decide to prepare sooner than later. Home sellers who wait until spring to get their home “ready” are already behind the curve. The real estate year is in full swing by March 1st and homes that sell quickly and for top dollar during the “selling season” are the homes where the owner had a plan, got their home ready, staged, and listed early in the year.

Decision #2 – Decide to prepare yourself emotionally. Selling your home can be very emotional. When you receive an offer for less than you think your home is worth, it generates a whole host of negative emotions. You can feel angry, frustrated, and think everyone is trying to steal your home from you.

Well, they’re not. Buyers just want to know they’re getting the best price. We all feel similar when we make a big purchase. So be careful to manage your emotions. And if you get a “low-ball” offer rely on the help of a trusted professional. A good agent can often gently negotiate the price into a range where everyone wins. The key is to keep your emotional swings in check.

Decision #3 – Be realistic and price your home accordingly. One of the big keys to getting your home sold quickly, for the most money, is pricing it correctly. If you price your home too high, thinking you’ll “test the market,” it can be costly. Your home can sit on the market too long and get labeled as a “no-need-to-show” because you’re viewed as being unrealistic.

You see it all the time. Sellers think they are going to “hold out” and get a better price. Well, you need to consider how soon you want to sell? The reality is you can get just about any price you want if you’re willing to wait long enough. If you wait 5-7 years your home will very likely sell for a more than it will today. But if you want to sell in 90-120 days for top dollar, pricing is a crucial issue that you should discuss at length with a trusted real estate professional.

Decision #4 – Reconcile reality quickly. This is somewhat similar to decision #2, but it’s actually more practical and actionable. Emotions can be hard to define and control, like in point #2. But what is fairly easy to judge is your market’s numbers, and the realities of value.

Agents always hear things like, “But my home has this, this and this. Therefor it should be worth a lot more.” In theory that’s somewhat true. However, the reality you have to be prepared to reconcile is, if people won’t pay more for those things, it doesn’t make your home worth more.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to soften you up so you give your home away. The goal is to help you get the highest possible price, in the shortest time, with the fewest hassles. But something that’s very important to deal with is reality, not wishful thinking. Wishful thinking backs tens of thousands of home sellers into very difficult positions every year.

Having a clear objective view of reality, as well as a trusted professional to help guide you through the emotional ups and downs, can help you avoid a massive mountain of emotional stress, while your home just sits on the market.

My encouragement is, prepare yourself for the true realities, while maintaining high standards throughout the process. It’s a balancing act that with the help of a trusted professional can be far easier to navigate.

Decision #5 – Trust your gut. When interviewing agents there are few things more important than a deep level of trust between you and the agent you choose to represent you. And trust comes in two crucial parts. The first is professional competency.

To trust someone with what is likely the single biggest financial transaction of your life, you need to have confidence that the agent you choose has the skills, technology and ability to fight hard and win what’s in your best interests. That’s why choosing someone just because they’re a “friend of the family” isn’t always the best choice.

The second layer of trust is personal. When you work with someone on something as important as the sale of your home, you need to know you can trust that person personally.

You need to feel a deep sense of confidence that your agent puts your needs in front of their own. It’s not about flash and glitter, or how many homes that agent sold. What’s important is, “Can I trust this person with my financial future?”

That’s where “listen to your gut” comes in. most of us can sense authenticity and integrity. It comes out in many ways and generally when you’re in the presence of it you know in your gut. Sometimes the person might be a little quirky, other times they’re not, but again it’s not about flash and charisma.

The bottom line, choose someone you trust on both a professional and personal level and “go with your gut.”

I hope you found these suggestions helpful. Selling your home is a life altering series of decisions. The better prepared you are to make those decisions effectively, the better the end result.

And as always, if there is anything at all I can do to help you, please feel free to call us at 210-479-1222, or toll free, 888-868-1222. The conversation is always free and you’re under no obligation of any kind. Our entire objective in our conversation is always to help you in any way that I can.

  Cordially,

Scott Myers, GRI
Broker-Owner
Century 21 Scott Myers, Realtors
11830 Wurzbach Rd. (The Elms)
San Antonio, Tx. 78230
Phone # 210-479-1222
Fax # 210-479-1981
Toll free Phone # 1-888-868-1222 Scott.Myers@Century21.com
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Check out our Blog: Living in San Antonio http://www.century21.com/pressRelease.c21?id=169

Top 10 Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Hello Everyone,

Happy Holidays! Here are some great tips on selling your home during the best time of the year!

Attract homebuyers even during the holidays with these useful tips!

The holiday season from November through January is often considered the worst time to put a home on the market. While the thought of selling your home during the winter months may dampen your holiday spirit, the season does have its advantages: holiday buyers tend to be more serious and competition is less fierce with fewer homes being actively marketed. First, decide if you really need to sell. Really. Once you’ve committed to the challenge, don your gay apparel and follow these tips from FrontDoor.

  1. Deck the halls, but don’t go overboard.
    Homes often look their best during the holidays, but sellers should be careful not to overdo it on the decor. Adornments that are too large or too many can crowd your home and distract buyers. Also, avoid offending buyers by opting for general fall and winter decorations rather than items with religious themes.
  2. Hire a reliable real estate agent.
    That means someone who will work hard for you and won’t disappear during Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s. Ask your friends and family if they can recommend a listing agent who will go above and beyond to get your home sold. This will ease your stress and give you more time to enjoy the season.
  3. Seek out motivated buyers.
    Anyone house hunting during the holidays must have a good reason for doing so. Work with your agent to target buyers on a deadline, including people relocating for jobs in your area, investors on tax deadlines, college students and staff, and military personnel, if you live near a military base.
  4. Price it to sell.
    No matter what time of year, a home that’s priced low for the market will make buyers feel merry. Rather than gradually making small price reductions, many real estate agents advise sellers to slash their prices before putting a home on the market.
  5. Make curb appeal a top priority.
    When autumn rolls around and the trees start to lose their leaves, maintaining the exterior of your home becomes even more important. Bare trees equal a more exposed home, so touch up the paint, clean the gutters and spruce up the yard. Keep buyers’ safety in mind as well by making sure stairs and walkways are free of snow, ice and leaves.
  6. Take top-notch real estate photos.
    When the weather outside is frightful, homebuyers are likely to start their house hunt from the comfort of their homes by browsing listings on the Internet. Make a good first impression by offering lots of flattering, high-quality photos of your home. If possible, have a summer or spring photo of your home available so buyers can see how it looks year-round.
  7. Create a video tour for the Web.
    You’ll get less foot traffic during the holidays thanks to inclement weather and vacation plans. But shooting a video tour and posting it on the Web may attract house hunters who don’t have time to physically see your home or would rather not drive in a snowstorm.
  8. Give house hunters a place to escape from the cold.
    Make your home feel cozy and inviting during showings by cranking up the heat, playing soft classical music and offering homemade holiday treats. When you encourage buyers to spend more time in your home, you also give them more time to admire its best features.
  9. Offer holiday cheer in the form of financing.
    Bah, humbug! Lenders are scrooges these days, but if you’ve got the means, then why not offer a home loan to a serious buyer? You could get a good rate of return on your money.
  10. Relax — the new year is just around the corner.
    The holidays are stressful enough with gifts to buy, dinners to prepare and relatives to entertain. Take a moment to remind yourself that if you don’t sell now, there’s always next year, which, luckily, is only a few days away.

I really hope this article helps and remember to give us a call to speak to one of our Agents today!

Sincerely,

Scott Myers, Century 21 Scott Myers Realtors (210) 479-1222

13 DIY Tips

Good Afternoon,

It’s tempting to disregard the steep price tag and hire a contractor  rather than doing them yourself. Home repairs can seem complex and intimidating to the uninitiated, and fear that your own attempts at fixing that leaky faucet or drafty window will cause further damage may further discourage you from going DIY.

However, having a home maintenance plan can make a huge difference in your bank account. And, fortunately, performing proper home maintenance does not require a lot of specialized know-how or training, nor does it require a lot of time or money.

Simple Home Maintenance Tips

1. Toilets

Water leaking from your toilet tank will not only cost you money when it comes to your utility bill, but it can also cause water damage to your bathroom floor and premature wear of your toilet’s internal workings. To find out whether your toilet tank is leaking, add some red food coloring to the water in the tank. Come back in about an hour and see if the water in the bowl is pink. If it is, you have a leak.

If you find that your toilet is leaking from the tank to the bowl, the flapper needs to be replaced. To change your toilet’s flapper, first shut off the water supply to your toilet. To do this, simply turn the water valve located directly behind the toilet. Remove the tank lid and flush the toilet in order to empty the tank. Use a towel or sponge to mop out any excess water left in the tank. Remove the flush chain from the lever, and then slide the old flapper up off the overflow tube. Slide the new flapper in place over the overflow tube, reconnect the chain, and turn the water supply back on.

toilet cistern

2. Faucets

The main cause of leaky faucets is worn out washers. The washers inside of the faucet handles are rubber and tend to wear out quickly. Replace them by turning off the main water supply, unscrewing the leaky handle that controls the flow of water to the spout, removing the old washer, and dropping in the new one.

leaky faucet

3. Washing Machine & Dryer

It is important to regularly inspect your washing machine water supply hoses for leaks. One of the top reasons for insurance claims is for water damage caused by leaky washing machine supply lines. Inspect washing machine water supply lines at least annually and replace them every three years if they are plastic. If you notice that the metal ends of your water supply lines are discolored or rusty, replace them immediately.

Faulty washing machine drain hoses are as important as water supply lines when it comes to keeping water off of your floor and in your drain where it belongs. As with supply lines, regularly inspect the ends of your washing machine drain lines for discoloration or rust, and replace them immediately if you find evidence of leaking.

Additionally, check the snugness of the drain lines by using a crescent wrench or a pair of pliers. You should not be able to tighten the line any further if the line is properly tightened. Plastic lines should be replaced every three years.

When it comes to your dryer, it is important to make sure that you regularly clean your lint screen in order to prevent fires. Not only will a clean lint screen prevent fires, but it will also increase the life of the heating element. Physically remove the lint from the screen between each load of laundry. Also, be sure to remove fabric softener residue by washing the screen with warm water and dish detergent once per week.

fix washing machine

4. Water Heater

There is nothing more frustrating than turning on the hot water in your shower and instead receiving cold water. Water heaters, like other appliances, need maintenance to increase longevity and reduce the possibility of damage.

Water has sediment suspended in it, and as the water sits in your water heater, these particles will often settle to the bottom of the tank, causing damage to the floor of your water heater. At least once per year, drain the water from your water heater and clean the inside surface of its floor.

To drain your water heater, first turn off the water supply and power to the water heater. For electric water heaters, turning off the power means that you simply flip the circuit breaker to the “off” position. For gas water heaters, turn the thermostat setting to the pilot position.

Next, connect a water hose to the drain fitting at the bottom of the tank and put the other end in a place, such as your driveway, where the draining hot water won’t cause any damage. A typical garden hose is a direct fit to the drain fitting. Turn on all the hot water faucets in your home and then open the drain valve on the water heater. Turn the water supply back on with the drain valve still open to remove any built up sediment in the bottom of the tank. Then close the drain valve, refill the tank, and turn the power back on.

water heater

5. Plumbing

In order to keep water flowing freely through your pipes, keep the following things in mind:

  • Accumulating fats and oils are the main cause for clogs, so never pour fats or other oils down your drains. This includes oils that are not solid at room temperature. If you accidentally spill oils or fats down the drain, run hot water down your drain along with a healthy serving of dishwashing liquid. The soap will emulsify the fat or oil and move it on down the pipe, preventing a clog.
  • Get a hair strainer for the bathtub drain. If fats and oils are the main source of clogs in the kitchen, hair is the primary culprit in the bathroom. If you have a strainer, make sure that you remove any accumulated hair from it following each shower. This will reduce the amount of hair that finds its way through the strainer and into your plumbing.
  • Skip the Drano. Though the acids it contains can help unclog a drain, they also cause significant damage to your plumbing, including premature leaking. This can lead to costly repairs later on. If your bathtub or toilet is completely clogged, use a small drain snake – which you can purchase at any hardware outlet – to pull the offending clog to the surface. If your kitchen sink is clogged, try plunging it before trying to snake the drain. If you cannot remove the clog using a drain snake, call a professional.
unclog drain

6. Air Conditioning

Air conditioners are among the most overlooked appliances when it comes to performing regular home maintenance. However, they can be one of the most costly appliances to repair.

Regularly inspect the condensation hose to make sure that water can flow freely from the line. If there is standing water where your condensation line drains, create a drainage path using a small garden trowel and line the path with gravel to keep mold and algae from forming, which can be a serious health hazard when the spores are drawn into the appliance and blown into your home.

Additionally, keep the screen around your air conditioner free from debris to keep air flowing easily. This will prevent your air conditioner from using more power than necessary to keep your house cool and keep the internal parts from wearing out too quickly.

fix air conditioner

7. Humidifiers

Some climate control systems have in-duct humidifiers that help keep air moist and healthy during the winter when artificial heat systems are in use. But when these systems aren’t working properly, they become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, which can cause serious air quality issues.

At the end of each winter season, it is important to drain the unit and close the water valve to keep water from stagnating in the system. Also, cleaning the reservoir with a mixture of water and white vinegar helps to keep mineral deposits to a minimum.

8. Air Filters

Change the air filter in your central heat and air unit often, especially during peak usage months. Thirty days is the absolute longest you should ever leave an air filter in place; two weeks is maximum for high-usage months.

Using cheap fiberglass filters is actually preferred as opposed to more expensive HEPA filters for two reasons: First, replacing the more expensive filters often isn’t cost-effective. Second, the fiberglass filters actually allow for more air to flow into your climate-controlled unit, reducing the amount of energy needed to effectively heat or cool your home.

replace air filter

9. Paint

You can easily give your house a facelift by repainting the interior. However, repainting the entire interior of your house can be costly and difficult to accomplish. You can save both time and money by strategically touching up your paint job every so often. The first thing you need is a spot-on color match. The only way to get this is to save paint from your current paint job for future touch-ups. If you have leftover paint, simply roll the paint over the dirty spots on your walls. When the paint dries, it will dry perfectly, leaving you with a wall that looks as though you just painted it.

If you don’t have any leftover paint, you can still touch up your walls, though your efforts will be more labor intensive than spot painting. Take a sample of your color to your local hardware outlet and have your paint tinted to match. When you are ready to touch up your walls, paint the dirty wall from corner to corner, being careful to keep the new paint off any surface you aren’t looking to touch up. If there is a shade difference, you won’t notice it, even if the wall you are painting butts up against another wall.

If you are trying to cover up nicotine-stained walls, you will need to apply a stain blocker to the walls before applying paint. Nicotine will prevent your paint from adhering properly to the wall surface and will cause bubbles. Additionally, if stale smoke or other odor is an issue, add a few drops of vanilla to your paint. This will help combat odors that have seeped into your drywall.

painting

10. Refrigerators

The main component of your refrigerator that should get your attention is the door seals. Keeping your door seals tight will reduce the amount of energy it takes to keep your food cool or frozen, but will also keep your refrigerator working efficiently, preventing premature wear on internal parts.

To test the door seals, close the door on a dollar bill and attempt to pull it out with the door closed. If you cannot easily pull the dollar bill out from the door, your seals are in good shape. However, if the bill slides out without much resistance, it’s time to replace the seals. You can purchase new seals from any home repair outlet store.

Also, if you have a refrigerator that has coils along the back, periodically vacuum these coils to remove dirt and dust build up. These coils contain the coolant the refrigerator uses to keep the internal temperature cold. If they become dirty, they won’t work efficiently and your refrigerator may stop cooling altogether.

As a general tip, keeping your refrigerator full uses less energy than trying to cool when it’s empty. Therefore, keep as many items in your refrigerator as possible to help reduce energy costs.

refrigerator door

11. Drafty Windows

Drafty windows are a major culprit of high energy bills in the summer and winter months. Periodically check the condition of the caulk line that holds your windows in place. If the caulk appears to be dry, cracked, or otherwise weathered, remove the old caulk with a box cutter or other sharp knife and run a new bead of caulk along the seam.

For added utility bill savings, you can further insulate your window by applying an insulating window film over the glass. These methods cost much less than the price of replacing your windows and implementing green energy technologies in your home.

windows caulk

12. Gutters

While gutters may go practically unnoticed when you look at your house, they are the main line of defense between your foundation and siding and the elements. Gutters are designed to capture water and debris runoff from your roof and divert it away from your foundation, and one of the main causes of water accumulation in basements is a lack of gutter maintenance and proper water diversion.

Clean your gutters at least once per year by physically removing debris from the channels and rinsing them thoroughly by using a garden hose. Avoid installing gutter guards – not only do these not adequately prevent debris from entering your gutters, they also make it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to properly clean your gutter system.

Also, be sure to regularly check that your gutters are properly affixed to your fascia boards, and replace any sections that appear to be damaged or leaking.

cleaning gutter

13. Roof

Periodically check your roof for damage. Damaged, discolored, or gravel-less shingles should be quickly replaced to prevent the need to replace your roof, water-damaged trusses, or drywall when you finally discover a leak. During the inspection of your roof, pay special attention to shingles that surround skylights, vents, and chimneys, as these areas are the most leak-prone.

Please give us a call to speak to one of our agents today!

Sincerely,

Scott Myers, Century 21 Scott Myers Realtors

(210) 479-1222

small roof repair