What is the MLS?

canstockphoto14766127If you’re looking to sell or buy a home, you’ve probably heard of MLS. But what is this exactly and what does it have to do with home ownership?

MLS stands for multiple listing service, and this is a service real estate agents and brokers use to share property information among other agents. According to Realtor.org, this system started in the late 1880s to help agents sell properties, in a way of “help me sell my inventory and I’ll help you sell yours.”

Because the housing market in competitive, this is a great tool for helping brokers and agents work together to ensure they are giving their clients the best service. Although not all of the information from the MLS is provided to the public, there is some useful information they can share with their clients.

So how does the MLS work? First of all, to gain access to the full database you must be a licensed agent or broker (along with paying for a membership). Once an agent logs in, they are provided with complete information (and photos) along with other data to help their clients find or sell their home.

Ready to find your dream home? Looking to sell? Give us a call today and let us help you find or sell your home.

10 Items that Side Track and even Derail Closing

Purchasing a home can be both exciting and nerve-racking. Prospective homeowners face tremendous amounts of waiting as the home buying process ensues. Here is a list of everything that can go wrong during the closing of your new dream home.canstockphoto14463396

Low Appraisals

The majority, roughly 66 percent, of buyers get financial assistance when purchasing a home. Mortgage lenders often require appraisals of the property to determine their worth even if the buyer and seller have already agreed on a price. In the case of a low appraisal, the borrower can make up the difference, find financing elsewhere, pay for an additional appraisal or back out of the transaction completely.

Financing Challenges

Unfortunately, pre-approval doesn’t always ensure financing. Last minute problems may arise if the borrower loses a job, gets divorced, makes major financial purchases or experiences any other change in circumstances. Delays can occur as new financing is obtained.

Property Liens

Before closing, a title search will be conducted on the property. If there is any unpaid debt that lists the house as collateral, the sale can’t move forward until all liens are cleared up.

Pesky Pests

An infestation is reason enough for a lender to back out of the deal, even if both parties want to continue with the transaction. Before closing, the buyer needs to have the home inspected for termites and other pests. In the case of a manageable infestation, treatment should be complete before closing.

Needed Repairs

An inspection will be conducted to assess the integrity of the house. The inspectors will look for insect infestations, damaged roofs, leaky pipes and more that can lead to delays. If repairs are needed, both parties decide whether the seller will make repairs before closing or compensate the buyer for making the repairs at a later date.

Inspection Delays

Often, many buyers ask to do a walk-through of the home after the sellers have moved out. The closing may be delated as both parties decide how to handle any issues that may have occurred since the last showing. Issues include furniture or rugs concealing damage, movers putting holes in the wall and more. The initial purchase contract typically outlines how delays should be handled.

Changing Terms

In October 2015, three standard forms were replaced with the Loan Estimate form. Mortgage lenders must send one of these with the terms of the actual loan off at least three business days prior to closing for the borrowers to review. If the terms needed to be changed during this time, the three-day window resets and thus extends closing.

Unprepared Buyers

A buyer is expected to show up at closing with certain documents including copies of the homeowner’s insurance policy, proof of insurance payment, photo ID and certified funds for the closing costs. Failure to bring any of the above mentioned items will post pone the closing.

Insufficient Paperwork

Typically title companies and attorneys prepare the forms and documents for signing after all inspections, appraisals and other paperwork has been submitted. But even professionals can make mistakes and incorrect or incomplete paperwork can be a headache.  Although typos and missing documents don’t usually squash a deal, errors can delay the closing process.

Cold Feet

Although rare, sometimes a buy or seller just simply changes their mind. No longer wishing to continue with the transaction midstream can have its consequences. For instance, the buyer would forfeit their earnest money if they back out. If the seller backs out, they could be required to pay costs incurred by the buyer for inspections, appraisals and lender fees.

9 Steps For Moving Into Your New Home

Adjusting to new life changes and getting back into a normal routine is often challenging. This is true for adapting to a new life in a new house. Whether it is a preowned home or new build, this list will help smooth the transition of one of your life’s most significant changes: moving into a new home.canstockphoto6009263

1. Change the locks

When the closing is over and you have gotten the keys to your new house, it’s time to buy and install new locks on all exterior doors. Previous owners, realtors and anyone that provided maintenance on the house could all have a set of keys to the current locks.

2. Change your address

First start by contacting the local post office and ask what you need to do for a change of address. Next contact all creditors, magazine subscriptions and anyone else that you could miss an issue or bill.

3. Set Up Utilities

This can be as simple as contacting the previous owners for the utilities companies’ contact information when you’re moving into a preowned home. You will want to have the basic services in your name before you move in these include electricity, gas, water, sewer, garbage, cable, internet and possibly telephone.

4. Locate Necessary Features (main breaker, water shut offs, smoke detectors, etc)

In case of an emergency, you need to know where the main circuit breaker is located along with the location of the water shut offs. Make sure that you understand the labeling on the breaker. Label it yourself before moving in if it is unlabeled.

5. Clean, Clean, Clean

One you have the utilities turned on, you are ready to start freshening up your new home. Some folks may leave the home clean for you and some may not. In either case, it’s always a good idea to wipe out cupboards, sweep and mop floors, wash the windows and baseboards.

6. Fresh coat of paint

Once you have everything spic-and- span, you can apply a fresh coat of paint. This will be much easier to do before all of your furniture and belongings are moved in. Remember that you can always hire professionals if you are short on time.

7. Install new switch plates and other mismatched items

Preowned homes have likely gone through many renovations which can leave mismatched, dirty or discolored outlet cover plates. You also could find rusted, damaged or missing air vent covers. Replacing all of these to match creates a cleaner feel and newness to the home.

8. Install window treatments

Whether you are updating the current window treatments or installing new ones, having something up on the windows will not only give your privacy, but that added last-minute finishing touch.

9. And of course, send out new contact information

When you are all done prepping and moving into your new home you can send out new contact information to family and friends. You also can invite everyone over for a house-warming party to show off your new home!

How To Take Great Pictures With A Cell Phone (Apps)

hand-1148981_640Love taking pictures with your smartphone, but not a fan of how they turn out? No problem. When it comes to taking better pictures, here are some important tips to make your photos stand out.

  1. The rule of thirds. A big mistake that people make when taking photos is not balancing the photo, which can be improved by implementing the rule of thirds. To access this great tool, turn on the grid view under the camera settings on your phone.
  1. Look for the horizon. When it comes to photographing landscapes, look for the horizon or mountain range as a focal point to draw the eye to for symmetry.
  1. Fill the frame. Get as much into the picture as you can. When taking a picture of your friend, turn your phone to the side and snap a wider picture where you can get more of the surroundings in the image. Don’t put your friend in the center, but instead set them to the side (using the rule of thirds) to balance things.
  1. Avoid zooming in. When taking a photo from a distance, it is tempting to want to zoom in to get a closer shot of the subject. Instead, get a close to the subject as possible or crop the image later on to ensure you still get a high quality photo. You can always play with the sizing of the image later.
  1. Use the HDR mode. This is a great feature for taking pictures of stationary objects (but you’ll have to keep completely still when using this mode). The high dynamic range (HDR) mode ensures the lightly and shadows in a photo are even, which is beneficial when taking high contrast photos.

While you’re taking photos and building your memories, one app you should look into downloading is the PicJoy app. This app allows you to tag photos, organize them, and create stories to find photo’s easy and without the headache.

Have a favorite app you us? Tell us about it below in the comments.

Debunking Real Estate Myths

In the world of real estate, there are a lot of terms and other information being throw at you, which can make it difficult to debunk the myths. Your realtor can help you navigate the home buying and/or selling easier, but the whole process can be intimidating (even with an agent).house-1045018_640

To give you a head start on the homeownership process, here are 3 myths worth debunking:

  1. You don’t need to get pre-approved until after you’ve found your dream home. This is not true. Before searching for your new home, or even talking with an agent, getting pre-approved is critical. Hunting for a home can be stressful and time consuming, so it is best to go into the whole thing knowing exactly what you can afford and if you even qualify for a home loan. By going in already knowing how much you qualify for, you don’t set yourself up for disappointment by falling in love with a home that is way out of your price range.
  1. “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) saves you money. Many homeowners believe that selling their home themselves will save them a lot of money. In truth though, people who go the FSBO route end of losing money by making mistakes like overpricing their home, mishandled the transaction, or didn’t know how to negotiate the best price and terms.
  1. Real estate agents will say anything to make a sale. Agents are required, by law, to be licensed and follow a strict set of rules and regulations. Agents also rely heavily on referrals, word of mouth, and repeat business so if they are blatantly lying this could cost them a lot more than a simple sale. When you move forward in hiring an agent, take some time to talk to family, friends, and coworkers to see who’ve they’ve worked with in the past. If you don’t know anyone who’s recently used an agent, you can ask the agent you’re interested in hiring for references. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, remember they are working for you and you want someone who has your best interest at heart.

Ready to make the move towards homeownership? Give us a call today and let us earn your business.