Real Estate

WRITING AN OFFER LETTER: 4 THINGS TO AVOID

In a competitive seller’s market, it doesn’t hurt to set yourself apart from other home-buying candidates when making an offer on a home. Writing an offer letter can be the key to standing out. But be careful – evoking the wrong tone can be a deal-breaker. Here are four important mistakes to avoid when writing an offer letter.

Negativity

If you aren’t happy about the price of the home, your real estate agent should discuss it during negotiation. If you’re in a time crunch, avoid pressuring the seller. And if you have a sob story about your last home, tell it to a friend instead.

Sellers need to feel good when they’re reading your letter, and whining will have the opposite effect. As an alternative, connect with the seller and address commonalities you share. Do you both have dogs? Great! Explain how much your pups would enjoy their beautifully fenced-in yard.

Changes to the House

You may love everything about the home but think the kitchen needs some renovating. Be careful about sharing that detail – after all, the kitchen just might be the seller’s favorite room in the house. Expressing the changes you would make may come across as insulting or offensive.

Flattery is a much better approach. Be specific and authentic with phrasing like, “We love the antique hardware and the checkerboard marble tile in the kitchen; it reminds me of the house I grew up in.”

Desperation

This house is everything you could have wanted and more! You cannot imagine a life without it!

If you’re feeling this way, that’s great. Enthusiasm means you’re serious about the home. Excitement and all, you should still avoid a tone of desperation. A competitive “I’d do anything for this house” attitude may actually hurt your chances in negotiating power. 

Writing an Essay

Don’t beat around the bush – keep the letter short and concise. Avoid boring the seller with a never-ending list of why you want the home.

Lastly, bring the letter back to yourself by succinctly highlighting your favorite features and simply telling the sellers why you’d like to live in their cherished home.

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4 NEGOTIATION TACTICS YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT KNOWS

Negotiating the purchase of your new home is one of the most crucial aspects of your real estate journey. It’s also when your real estate agent’s experience can make the most dramatic difference during the process of buying a home. RE/MAX agent Tony Iacoviello with RE/MAX Escarpment Realty in Hamilton, Ontario, shares four ways an agent acts as a professional negotiator, helping to ensure you’ll receive a fair closing agreement for your new home.

Being in the Know

Your real estate agent is a scholar when it comes to the real estate market. With their niche industry knowledge, they can take lead when it comes to negotiating a reasonable closing agreement based on the appropriate value of the home.

“Knowledge is key in any negotiation, whether the real estate agent is representing the buyer or the seller of a property,” Iacoviello says. “Knowing the facts about a neighborhood, particularly sales history and current sales trends, is what helps to establish the value of a property, allows an agent to speak intelligently and confidently, and helps to ensure the client arrives at a fair and reasonable purchase or sales agreement.”

Objectivity

Your agent is trained to resolve conflict and knows how to remain cool, calm and collected during any intense moments of negotiation.

“Emotion and anticipated enjoyment of a property are huge factors for both buyers and sellers and often lead to overestimates of a home’s market value, especially in comparison to recent sales history,” Iacoviello says. “An agent’s role, like that of any trusted advisor, is to acknowledge those emotions while remaining objective. Agents keep a level head so they can protect their client’s best interests and keep them grounded in reality.”

Knowing What to Ask For

Agents are well-versed in the language that surrounds negotiation. As your advocate, they’ll request maintenance, like concessions and repairs, in a manner that’s appealing to the seller.

“Just like having knowledge of the neighborhood and local market conditions, facts are important when negotiating concessions and repairs,” Iacoviello says. “That knowledge isn’t limited to knowing what needs to be fixed, but also to the cost in time, money, and inconvenience of those repairs. Experienced agents can articulate what the buyer can expect based on what negotiations have yielded in similar situations.”

Building Bridges, Not Burning Them

Negotiation isn’t about working against the seller, it’s about working with the seller to get the best and most appropriate closing agreement for you.

“While a real estate agent is bound to act in the client’s best interest and negotiations can become heated at times, negotiating isn’t a war or a battle,” Iacoviello says. “There are two groups of people, buyers and sellers, who want to work together to complete the sale of the property. The purpose of negotiating is to determine if there are terms like pricing, repairs, etc. both parties can agree to that will make the sale possible. It’s more about building bridges than blowing each other up. That’s it, really. It takes a lot of perseverance, patience and skill.”

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It's Back to School Time: Top Tips to Stay Sane

(RE/MAX Blog)- Going back to school is an exciting time. Kids get to see their friends, have a new year of field trips to look forward to and, with any luck, get the teachers your neighbors rave about. However, with homework and extracurricular activities, going back to school can be stress-inducing for both parents and children. Here are some tips to keep calm, cool, and collected.

Parents:

  • Consolidate school-related items: Have a space in your home, such as a section in your mudroom or home office, that is just for hanging backpacks and storing school supplies. This will help you and your kids know where everything is during the morning scramble to catch the bus.
  • Keep a calendar handy: Between soccer practices, ballet lessons and art classes, it can be hard to keep a schedule straight. Keep a monthly desk calendar with your children's activities in a central area so that you are all on the same page. The fridge or a bulletin board are great options. A magnetic dry-erase version makes it easy to update when plans change.
  • Have low-stress mornings: Helping your kids get ready for school while you're getting ready for work can be a challenge. Formulate a routine that both you and your children are comfortable with to take the chaos out of mornings.

And a few tips to share with your kids:

  • Write things down: During the school day, a million things can happen. Recording due dates and taking notes on the specifics of an assignment will help you forego the stress of forgetfulness and earn a higher grade. On the bright side? Doodling in your notes has been shown to help with memory and focus. Sharpen your pencil!
  • Do the reading: Pop quizzes are the worst. Avoid anxiety by staying current on your reading assignments. Reading a couple chapters at a time, as your teacher assigns, is much easier than trying to tackle the Odyssey the night before a test.
  • Keep everything together: Stay organized with a folder or binder for each class with all of your notes and the handouts given. Adding a date to the top of your pages and keeping them in order will be helpful when it comes time to prepare for a test.
  • Don't accept bullying: Bullying can occur at any age but is never acceptable and should not be tolerated. Let your teacher or an adult you trust know if you are being mistreated or teased by your classmates. This will definitely save you stress, and will help you focus and feel safe in school.

Questions about the school district in the area you live in? Contact us for assistance today. 

Own It: 5 Tips for Staging Your Home Yourself

(RE/MAX Blog)- By Carriann Johnson, interior designer and TV personality

So you've decided to sell your home. While you're preparing for this next chapter in life, keep some of your attention and energy on the importance of preparing your home to outshine all others on the market. Selling your home in the shortest amount of time, receiving your asking price and having an all-around flawless sale can be achievable if you properly prepare this (very large) item you're about to sell. Here are my tips to ensure that success. 

1. Emphasize the idea of move-in ready
A neutral palette (regardless of how boring you may think it is) will always be a timeless choice when it comes to paint, furniture and window coverings. And you don't need to be a professional interior designer to arrange things within your home – visit some model homes in your area and take note of how they're staged. Simple DIY projects go a long way. 

2. Declutter and depersonalize
Potential buyers want to see themselves in your home; need to envision how they can make it theirs. Simplify spaces (including entryways) by removing everyday items such as TV remotes, schoolwork, piles of laundry, to-do lists on the fridge, personal photos and excessive amounts of pet toys. Clean out closets and begin boxing up items. If you know you're moving, why not get a head start on your packing anyway? Clean, well-organized and minimal closets showcase space potential, not your personal items. And adding fresh flowers, plug-in air fresheners, a foyer table, simple décor and a nice rug can give buyers that well-needed hug when they enter your home!

3. Appeal to the senses
Walk your home and ask yourself (or others), "What do you see, smell, touch and hear?" Deep clean your home or hire a professional cleaning company to make it sparkle – it gives buyers the impression the home has been well cared for. Remember, sticky floors and filthy light switches appeal to no one. If you have pets, consider confining them to one area of the house while your home is on the market. Barking dogs (or chirping smoke detectors) can hurry a potential buyer along during a showing. Consider leaving on some instrumental music during showings to appeal to your buyers' ears.

4. Remove the eyesores 
Look around your home and ask yourself these questions: "Would I purchase this home today? Do I like the overall style? Is my home dated? Is my backyard a sanctuary for a family?" The answers to these questions will help you identify the eyesores. Look for items in your home that are dated, have harsh patterns or edgy colors, are too small to fill a wall or are too large on a small one. Styles that clash with one another, aged wallpaper, broken items you can't repair, rusted car parts or clutter in your yard or patios all create eyesores. It's better to have an empty wall, an empty room or nothing at all than something that doesn't work for the space or is unappealing. Mirror your space after current styles and trends found in design magazines.

5. Consider using my checklist
Here is my checklist when I am staging a home. This list has never failed me and keeps me accountable – and sets my Realtor up for success!

  • Exterior: 
    - Grass is cut, edged and looks healthy.
    - Weeds are pulled.
    - Any dead bushes or trees have been removed.
    - Simple flowers or wild grasses are added on patios and porches.
    - House itself is cleaned and/or power washed. 
    - Toys, yard hoses, dog leashes, dog waste, yard statues are all cleaned up and put away. 
    - Back patio and yard are "lightly staged" with plants, cushions on chairs, and rugs under seating areas 
    and patio table. Add outdoor lanterns and candles. 
    - Patio or deck is cleaned. 
    - DIY projects are completed. To include: freshly stained deck, repaired broken floorboards, loose 
    banister railings, exterior lights, sheds or outbuildings organized and cleaned. Any landscaping 
    projects are not left incomplete. Large cracks in driveways or sidewalks are repaired. 
  • Interior: 
    - Home smells clean, looks clean, is decluttered and appeals to the senses. 
    - Eyesores are removed. 
    - Personal photos and items are put away. 
    - Daily messes and countertop items (in both the kitchen and bathroom) are put away.
    - Toiletries, perfumes and jewelry are not left on vanity counters. 
    - Small appliances, dishes and kitchen needs are not cluttered on kitchen counters
    - Fresh flowers or artificial plants are placed throughout the home to add life
    to spaces. 
    - Color palettes and themes in each space are transformed to a more neutral palette. Bold patterns in décor or too many colors are minimized. 
    - Themes and prominent styles in home are minimized as to not assume the home is exclusively Santa Fe style, Tuscan style, Western, etc.
    - DIY projects are completed. To include: replacing dated textures, fixtures, wallpaper, window coverings, faucets, general household repairs, etc. 

Keep these items in mind when staging your home for resale, and you'll enter the selling process with the confidence your home deserves!

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RE/MAX Realty Group 100 crea y apoya a los mejores productores.

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6 Decisions to Make Before Your Home Search

(RE/MAX Blog)- In the market for a new home but have no idea where to start? There are several decisions you should begin to make before you even start your home search. By asking yourself the right questions, you can quickly pinpoint what you want – and can afford – in your next home.

1. What's your budget? See how your finances stand up to the 28/36 rule, which lenders use to see what you can afford to pay each month. A financial adviser or your real estate agent also can help you crunch the numbers. Going through the mortgage pre-approval process lets you know how much lenders will allow you to borrow – plus it helps you show sellers that you have the funds to backup your offer.

2. What do you need in your new home? How many bedrooms or bathrooms do you need? What about a large kitchen, a home office or a playroom for the kids? How many cars need covered parking? It's critically important to ensure the home you select meets your family and lifestyle needs.

3. Do you want a condo or single-family home? Condos come with much less maintenance. You typically won't be shoveling snow in the winter or replacing the roof, but you'll likely pay monthly association fees to cover services and repairs in the community. Houses, on the other hand, come with more privacy and freedom to customize. They also come with full responsibility for maintenance.

4. How do you feel about living under covenants? Depending on where you buy, you may have to pay homeowner association (HOA) fees in addition to your mortgage. There are benefits to HOAs, such as maintenance, community centers, and maybe even a pool or gym. But you also could be faced with more restrictive rules about the look of the outside of your home, down to the color of your front door, types of window coverings, and whether you can plant flowers in your yard.

5. What school district do you want to be near? Even if you don't have children in the house, local schools will affect your property value. Prospective homebuyers tend to search with education in mind. Do your research on the schools in the areas you'd like to live in.

6. Should the home be move-in ready? Ask yourself how much elbow grease you're willing to put into a home – or how much you'll pay someone else to do the work. Fixer-upper homes can be great after the work is done, but you'll want to figure out your renovation budget before you start your home search. A203k home-renovation loan might be the right resource for you. If you're not ready for the extra financial commitment of rehabbing a home, or you can't or don't want to wait for remodeling projects to finish up, then a home that's move-in ready might be right for you.

After considering all these factors, you'll be ready to start the home search with a clearer picture of where you're headed. 

Top 5 Home Maintenance Tips

(RE/MAX Blog)- Trying to save money? Home maintenance is so much more affordable than emergency repairs. Here are five routine maintenance projects that can help prevent unexpected costs and save you money year round.

1. Clear out gutters

Water from clogged gutters can overflow and leak into your home. Heavy, ice-packed gutters can tear away from your house in the winter. Grab a ladder, gloves and hose and clear them out while the weather is still warm.

2. Re-caulk windows

Drafty windows and doors can suck money right out of your budget from high energy bills. Check the caulk and weatherproofing strips around doors and windows to make sure they're not dried and crumbling. If they are, they're easy (and cheap) to replace.

3. Clean the fireplaces

Have your chimney professionally inspected and potentially cleaned annually to prevent creosote, a flammable byproduct of wood burning, from building up. It can create a fire hazard and elevate the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Before each use, make sure your damper closes tightly and clear remaining ashes from the bottom of your fireplace.

4. Check your filters

Clogged furnace and air conditioning filters not only make your HVAC system less efficient, they also can spread unhealthy pollutants and allergies in your home. Dark and mucky filters should be replaced. You don't even need tools.

5. Flush the water heater

Neglected water heaters have a way of getting back at you when you least expect it (and that way is usually soggy and expensive.) Clear out sediment particles that collect over time by regularly flushing out water through the drain valve.

Looking for your own home you can maintain with tender-loving care? Start your search today!

Drastically Improve Your Home With These DIY Projects

(RE/MAX Blog)- Looking for some dramatic home improvement inspiration? Here are a few suggestions for projects that won't break the bank or steal more than a weekend or two.

1. Make an entrance

The entrance to your home is a focal point and a few simple changes can leverage its impact. Sand and repaint your front door or invest in a brand new one. Add some bling with new address numbers, knobs, doorbells or knockers. Frame the door with planters to help complete the picture.

2. Class up your cabinets

You don't need to buy new cabinets to give your kitchen a new look. Add a fresh coat of paint, or try out new cabinet hardware (buy knobs and pulls that are the same size as the ones you have to save installation time) for details that give the upgrade an added level of elegance.

3. Make a splash

You don't need to be a pro to install a new kitchen backsplash. Many home stores offer quick classes, or you can cruise YouTube for "how-to" videos. Customize your kitchen with ceiling tiles, glass or ceramic tiles, wood or stainless steel.

4. Crown yourself

Crown molding around your walls is a simple addition that can add a ton of character. If you don't have woodworking tools, don't panic. Home improvement stores can cut strips of molding to your measurements.

5. Look to the little things

You'll be surprised at how much of a difference swapping out old switch plates, outlet covers and doorknobs can make.

Do your ambitions extend beyond a few small projects? Maybe you'd like to tackle an entire fixer-upper. Start your search for one today.

We'll give you the key to your dream home!

We'll give you the key to your dream home!

We have eight office locations in the greater Washington area and over 420 real estate agents to assist you with all your real estate needs. 

Nosotros le daremos la llave de la casa de sus sueños. Tenemos ocho oficinas localizadas in el área de Washington y más de 420 agentes de propiedades inmuebles que le puede ayudar.