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Is Your Lawn Feeling The Heat Wave?

by Rose Price - Champaign, Illinois Real Estate

Making a good first impression when you’re trying to sell your home is vital, and one of the first things prospective buyers are going to see is your front yard.  There’s nothing quite as important as having a luxurious, well-maintained landscape to set the scene when a buyer first sees your property. 

Unfortunately, this summer’s heat waves are taking a major toll on landscaping. But there are several things you can do to avoid a scraggly, brown grass, withered shrubs and dead flowers.

When caring for the lawn, remember not to cut the grass too short.  Making your front yard look like a putting green might be nice, but trimming that closely to the ground can wind up doing far more harm than good in a hot, dry climate.  Set your lawn mower to cut just the scraggly tops of the grass and your lawn will reward you for it. 

In dryer climates, the lack of rain means lawns will dry out and go dormant.  It won’t die, but it won’t be a gorgeous, healthy looking green.  Keeping it looking that way requires regular watering, and if mother nature isn’t helping, you’ll need to get out the sprinklers and hoses.

Now would be a good time to remind you to check to see if you’re under watering restrictions, a common ordinance in areas affected by drought.  Watering rules can be very specific and the fines expensive.  If you have a sprinkler system, double check to make sure it’s set to run only during the allowed time frame.

Watering a large lawn can be an expensive proposition when the water bill comes.  You can make the most of watering by doing it at night, when the sun won’t evaporate the moisture before it has time to soak into the ground.  Soaker hoses cost about the same as regular hoses, but use less water more efficiently.

Soaker hoses are also ideal for keeping shrubs, flower beds and gardens alive during the brutal summer months.  Heat and lack of rain can kill delicate plants quickly, so keep a close eye on them and keep them well-watered if you want them to stay looking good for the entire season.

You can save yourself a lot of headaches ahead of time by planting drought resistant strains of grass and plants, especially in areas where the soil quality is poor.  And make sure you feed your landscape with the right amount of the proper fertilizers.

Without mother nature’s help, maintaining a beautiful lawn may take a little work, but the result is well worth the effort when you want to sell your home.

 

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP
Prudential Landmark Real Estate Champaignrose.com
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What is Your Home Worth?

by Rose Price

Homes in Champaign Il, like the rest of the country, has seen home prices bounce around the last several years. The same question is always being asked, "How much is my home really worth?"

Being informed and know what your home will sell for today will should be the first step in preparing to sell your Champaign, IL home.  A home is worth what someone will pay for it. Everything else is an estimate of value. To determine a property's value, most people turn to either an appraisal or a comparative market analysis.

An appraisal is a certified appraiser's estimate amenities, energy efficiency, the quality of the of the value of a home at a given point in time. To make their determination, appraisers consider square footage, construction quality, design, floor plan, neighborhood and availability of transportation, shopping and schools. Appraisers also take lot size, topography, view and landscaping into account.

The list price is the price tag put on a house in a real estate listing; it usually is only an estimate of what the seller would like to get for the property. The sales price is the amount a property actually sells for. It may be the same as the listing price, or higher or lower, depending on how accurately the property was originally priced and on market conditions.

A seller may need to adjust the listing price if there have been no offers within the first few months of the property's listing period.

The appraisal value is a certified appraiser's estimate of the worth of a property, and is based on comparable sales, the condition of the property and numerous other factors. Lenders require appraisals as part of the loan application process; fees range from $200 to $300. Appraisers use several factors when estimating value including historical records, property performance, condition of the home and indices that forecast future value.

Market value is what price the house will bring at a given point in time. A comparative market analysis is an informal estimate of market value, based on sales of comparable properties, performed by a real estate agent or broker. Because brokers and agents are not state-certified appraisers, they may not perform appraisals in most states. Instead, they estimate the value of a property using a CMA.

You can do your own cost comparison by looking up recent sales of comparable properties in public records. These records are available at local recorder's or assessor's offices, through private companies or on the Internet. Neither of these services produce official appraisals. They also don't factor in market nuances or other issues a certified appraiser or real estate professional might in assessing the value of your home.

 

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP

Prudential Landmark Real Estate
Champaignrose.com

 

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Potential Costs When Selling Your Home

by Rose Price

There are some cost you may not know you could encounter when selling your Champaign Illinois home. Below is a list of some of the most common costs associated with selling your home.

Closing Costs: Although most of the closing costs are the responsibility of the buyer, the seller is expected to pay the property taxes and insurance up to the date of the closing, even if they're not due yet. In addition, some buyers will ask the seller for help with other closing costs as part of the negotiations.

Home Inspections: Although the buyer pays for the home and pest inspections, it's a good idea to get your own inspection before putting your house on the market. This way you're aware of any hidden problems before selling.

Home Repairs: If your inspector finds problems or if you know of problems that you have been wanting to correct, it is time to fix them. The less problems that the home has, the more attractive it is to buyers. Don't forget to budget for new paint, plants, hardware etc. that offers a fresh new look as well.

Realtor Commission: Typically there's a 4 percent to 7 percent commission on the sale price of the house if you opt to go with an agent. Usually this rate is between 5 percent and 6 percent, so be sure to account for this cost when pricing your home and figuring up your expenses that come with selling your home.

Legal expenses: Many sellers choose to work with a real estate attorney to examine the sales contract and assist with closing, which can be complicated.

Prepayment penalty: Many mortgages have prepayment penalties if you pay off the mortgage early. Be sure to examine your mortgage agreement and read the fine print.

Other Fees Negotiated by the Buyer: Buyer negotiated fees are becoming more common in the current real estate market. Some of the most commonly seen buyer negotiated fees might include a home warranty paid for by the seller, the cost of repairs needed to make the sale, and the cost for a home inspection. Keep in mind that most all parts of the real estate contract is negotiable.


Many homeowners are not aware of the costs involved with selling a home but there are some perks as well. With any home sale you are eligible for a tax write off of up to $250,000 gained in the sale of your home for a single owner, and $500,000 for married couples. This applies for most state taxes as well; check with a tax professional to get all the details of any tax credit that may be available to you and your situation. 

Contact me today for assistance in selling your Illinois home!

 

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP

Prudential Landmark Real Estate
Champaignrose.com

 

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Is Seller Financing for you?

by Rose Price

With an increase in credit requirements, it can be tough trying to get a home loan. Even buyers who have excellent credit are having difficulties getting approved. On the flip side, many people that are anxious to sell their Champaign, Illinois home, can’t get qualified buyers to the closing table. If you are interested in taking out the middle man and controlling more of the process, you may want to consider seller financing.

If you have never heard of this before, basically the person selling the home lends the potential buyer the money to purchase the house. The seller becomes the mortgage holder and the buyer sends monthly mortgage payments directly to the seller. The transaction is usually completed using a promissory that states the interest rate, length and terms of the loan and default consequences.

In today’s market, sellers may need to get their homes sold quickly, and seller financing is a way to get the property sold faster – it opens up the market to more buyers and the paperwork process moves quickly.

Some advantages to doing this type of financing:

  • Faster closing – Sellers and buyers can avoid long waits for loan committee review, underwriting and legal review.
  • Lower Closing Costs – buyers don’t have to shell out additional money for bank fees and other closing costs associated with a traditional mortgage.
  • Flexible down payment – most sellers are willing to take less money down than lending institutions.

Of course this is not for everyone and many home sellers may not be in a position to where they can offer financing. On the downside, there is risk involved on both sides – the seller is taking a risk on someone who may have some shaky payment history or poor credit, and the buyer is dependent on the seller to have been upfront on the terms of the sale (like making sure that the seller’s lender approves the arrangement). As with any large transaction, especially a property purchase, both parties should consult with a real estate attorney and financial expert to make sure that the transaction is legal and is financially sound. If you are ready to buy and can’t find a lender, seller financing may be worth checking out!

For more information or if you're looking to buy or sell your home using seller financing, Contact Me Today!

 

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP
Prudential Landmark Real Estate
Champaignrose.com

 

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Four Short Sale Myths

by Rose Price

The nations economy has been faced when financial challenges, and Champaign, IL has been affected as well. This has unfortunately has made foreclosures and short sales common place in today's real estate market. Even though it's very common to see short sales and foreclosures on the Champaign, IL market, much of the information regarding these types of homes is outdated or simply untrue!

Here are some of the top misconceptions of short sales:

Short sales can take up to a year to close. This is simply not true. It can take 7-10 days for the lender to acknowledge receipt of the complete short sale package, which consists of personal seller documents and related real estate items, including the buyer's short sale offer. Once a negotiator is assigned it can take an additional 30 to 45 days for a BPO or appraisal. After this has been completed usually another 2 to 3 weeks for management / investor review and short sale approval.

If you purchase a short sale, you will end up paying too much.  Some listing agents may set a short sale below market value, this is a tactic used to attract multiple offers. Remember that a listed price on a short sale is fabricated, because you won't know how much a bank will accept until the offer is submitted. However, most banks will consider a price at a minimum of 90% of market value.

Lenders of a short sale won’t accept a discounted payoff. Many sellers are often surprised to learn that in markets where prices have fallen over a 5-year-period, a home might be worth 50% or less of its original value when the seller bought it. Lenders know about these declining markets and will do their own research about value and typically come to the same conclusion. The value of the home is not based on the amount of the mortgage; it's based on recent comparable sales.

Short Sale Sellers Must Be in Default Before the Bank Will Approve a Short Sale. The lender will approve a short sale based on the seller's hardship and the value of the home. Many sellers may struggle to make the monthly mortgage payment, but have not fallen behind in their payments. It is true that sellers in default receive immediate attention, but a seller can also pay a mortgage payment on time each and every month and still qualify for a short sale.

Do you have questions about a short sale? Contact your premier Champaign IL real estate professional today to see if this type of purchase is a good fit for you and your family!

 

Rose Price, CIPS, CRP
Prudential Landmark Real Estate
Champaignrose.com


    Search for Homes in the Champaign Area 

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Packing Tips

by Rose Price

I don't know anyone who enjoys packing up all their belongings and moving them to a new home, but if you are organized about the entire process it can be a lot less stressful to get ready for your move!

  • Plan ahead and research the best price and service if you will you require the assistance of a moving company. It’s a good idea to price this out ahead of time by using a moving calculator.
  • Stock up on the following supplies: strong packing boxes (more than you think you will need), markers and tags to label boxes, rolls of packing tape, bubble wrap for fragile items, packing paper, scissors and a knife for opening boxes. 
  • Pack room-to-room keeping similar items together and use smaller boxes for heavier items so it is easier to lift. 
  • You don't need to spend a lot of money on packing items to protect your delicate items. You can use towels, linens and curtains to line the bottom and sides of boxes with fragile items. All fragile items should be individually wrapped and clearly marked FRAGILE.
  • Make sure that any opened boxes or jars are tightly sealed before packing them. You don't want to find out that the bleach spilled once you have reached your new home! 
  • Use colorful tags to identify the contents of the box and which room it will be taken to in your new home. 
  • There will be so much to do and it will be easy to forget what you have. Make a master list of all household items and personal belongings.
  • Finally pack a box with all the essentials and mark it “Open Me First.” This box may contain items such as: a few basic tools (flashlight, pocket knife, masking tape, light bulbs), bathroom essentials (toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes & paste, hand towel), Kitchen items (paper towels, coffee maker & filter, paper plates, cups, utensils, pet food, trash bags).
     

Do you have any tips or tricks for moving into your new Central Illinois home? 

 

 

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How Can You Sell Your Home When Your Neighbor's is Unsightly?

by Rose Price

Have you looked at your neighbors home and though, "There goes the neighborhood!" Before you were trying to sell your Champaign home your neighbors overgrown lawn, chipping paint and littered driveway may have been unsightly and annoying, but now there unkempt property is a hindrance to you selling your home. How can you expect to get your asking price when your neighbor's house is not a good selling point?

Here are a few actions you can take to make your neighborhood a little more presentable:

1. Your best bet is to start by being neighborly and simply communicating with them. You may uncover a problem that you can help to solve. Is your neighbor elderly or ill? Perhaps you could help out with lawn care or basic maintenance. You might even get other neighbors involved to lend a hand.
2. If you have an HOA, you can go to the president or governing committee. Most HOA’s have strict requirements for upkeep, and they take quick action to correct violations.
3. Call the city code enforcement. If your neighbors’ grass is knee high and they have a rusted out Chevy in the front yard, they are probably in code violation.
4. Use a fence or landscaping to hide unsightly side or back yards.
5. Some home sellers who are serious may offer to pay to haul off trash or try to work out another option to try to help the situation.

Another property de-valuer, especially in today’s economy, is the foreclosure. While it is true that you unfortunately cannot personally do anything about a foreclosed home in your neighborhood, you should be prepared to take a hit on your home’s appraisal value. As unfair as it is, it is a good idea to be aware of the home values in your neighborhood and what other sellers are listing their homes for. You may need to consider discounting your home or offering incentives to counteract the foreclosure.

Foreclosure is so commonplace now that it probably won’t affect people coming to your neighborhood – in fact, it may draw potential buyers. You just have to be ready to compete with the ‘bargain’ a foreclosure may present.

Have you been in a similar situation? Share your tips with us - we would love to hear them!

 

 

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Turning Foreclosed Properties Into Rentals

by Rose Price


There is an interesting trend in the market that is gaining attention in Champaign/Urbana as well as the entire country.  Federal officials  are hoping to launch a pilot program in early 2012 to convert government-owned foreclosures into rental properties.

The program, which was cited by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last week as one way to address the housing crisis, would sell foreclosed homes now owned by Fannie Mae (FNMA, Fortune 500) and Freddie Mac (FMCC, Fortune 500) to investors in bulk. The properties would then be converted into rentals.


The initiative began back in August, when the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Treasury Department and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced they were seeking suggestions on ways to dispose of repossessed homes now owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration.

In addition to getting the properties off the government's books, officials are hoping putting the homes back into productive use will stabilize neighborhoods and housing values. Also, it is looking to expand the supply of rentals, which are increasingly in demand.

The agency is not releasing details on how the rental program would work, instead saying it is "proceeding prudently but with a sense of urgency to lay the groundwork for the development of good initial transactions in early 2012."

Administration officials said they are continuing to work with the agency to develop the program.

Housing, stocks, gold and oil: Hot or not in 2012?

Until now, most foreclosed homes have been sold individually because investors have demanded bigger discounts to buy large numbers of properties.

But federal officials are warily eyeing the expected surge in foreclosures as banks ramp up their action against delinquent homeowners. The process had been stalled since late 2010 when banks' shoddy paperwork practices came to light.

There are close to 2 million homes in the late stages of delinquency, according to Lender Processing Services. Since foreclosed properties often sell below market value, they can wreak havoc on home prices.

Converting these homes to rentals can both help the neighborhood and minimize losses to Fannie, Freddie and the FHA, which hold about 250,000 properties, Bernanke told lawmakers last week.

He urged lawmakers to ramp up their efforts to fix the housing market, placing particular emphasis on the problem of vacant homes on the market.

"Restoring the health of the housing market is a necessary part of a broader strategy for economic recovery," he said.

Bernanke's comments launched a full-court press by Federal Reserve officials last week to raise awareness of the continuing problems plaguing the housing market.

His proposals were quickly followed by Fed Governors Sarah Bloom Raskin, who spoke on ramping up enforcement of mortgage servicers, and Elizabeth Duke, who said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could do more to help heal the housing market.

Meanwhile, New York Fed President William Dudley gave a speech that touched on a wide range of housing policies -- including principal reduction and mortgage refinancing -- that he believes will boost the economy.

The Fed has already tried to boost real estate sales by pushing mortgage rates down to record lows through massive bond-buying programs.

But the renewed push for housing help indicates that the Fed, which has basically run out of monetary policy ammunition to revive the real estate market, is urging the federal government to ramp up its efforts.

"The Federal Reserve is signaling in even stronger terms the need for the government to do more to help housing," said Jaret Seiberg, a policy analyst with the Washington Research Group.

Thank you to Tami Luhby at CNN Money for the information.

Contact me to learn more about this trend, or to buy or sell a home in Champaign, IL! 

 

 

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Use Curb Appeal and Good First Impressions to Sell Your Home

by Rose Price

With the general consensus being that it's a buyers market, the current real estate market can be very competitive for Champaign home sellers.  You need to make your home stand our to buyers by allowing them to envision themself calling your house home. How do you do that? With impressive curb appeal and awesome first impressions! 

This is where the home staging process begins and by following a few important staging tips, you will be prepared to  wow potential buyers and create an unforgettable home shopping experience.

Begin with your front yard. It should be inviting and clean. A good wash or fresh stain to the exterior of your home will present a fresh clean look.

Your lawns, shrubs and trees should be trimmed and flower beds and pots weeded so as not to take away from the exterior view of your home. If you are selling during the winter season, be sure to free the walkway of any snow or ice.  If the outside is inviting,  buyers will want to continue inside your home. 

Now that you have attracted a buyer into your home, first impressions don't stop there. A buyer will know within minutes of stepping foot into your home if they want to take a thorough look through the home.

A few things to consider when staging the interior of your home include the following:

  • Keep your home clean and free of clutter. Old newspapers and knick knacks do not attract buyers!
  • Remove "personalization" in your home by taking down family photos, knick-knacks and such.
  • Eliminate any strong scents that may be in your home (i.e. pet odors, candle scents, cigarette smells, etc.)  A fresh coat of paint is always a good idea that could help freshen and clean-up a room.
  • Some rooms in your home may appear small to some buyers so you may want consider removing extra furniture in a room to give the illusion of more space. The same effect can be achieved by eliminating clutter from closets.
  • Burn some calories with your cleaning and impress you buyer!  

Home staging is a tried and true method of getting the edge to sell your home and having curb appeal to draw potential buyers in is key! Contact me with any questions, I would be happy to help you with selling tips!

 

 

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Best Bathroom Remodeling Choices

by Rose Price

Many homeowners in Central Illinois are making the choice to remodel their existing home in lieu of buying a new home as a result of the recession and economy. In a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), it is reported that respondents indicated that a bathroom remodel was one of their most common projects during the first half of this year. In fact, almost 61% percent of all remodels were done on bathrooms.

The popularity of bathroom remodeling may be attributed to the concept that it can be a very affordable way to make your master suite more comfortable and add value to your home when it’s time to sell.

If you are considering making some improvements to your bathroom, below are some tips to help give your bath a great lift:

Vanity Sinks: From artistic vessel sinks to furniture pieces that have been modified to accommodate plumbing, sinks can become a bathroom showpiece while keeping their functionality.

Countertops: Granite, ceramics, recycled glass and marble are all popular materials to consider if you want to update the counters of your existing vanity.

Showers: Open, walk-in showers are very popular right now and can be designed to accommodate more than one person.

Faucets: Old, polished brass fixtures really date your bathroom – check out new silhouettes and finishes for your faucets and cabinetry.

Lighting: Bathrooms that are well lit, especially with natural light sources look fresh and modern. Consider glass block windows and skylights to bring in natural light and create an open feeling.

Tile: Tile can be used creatively in the shower and wet areas as well as the floor and for backsplash.

As with any home improvement project, it is a good idea to first list your objectives, create a budget and do your homework before you select a contractor. The NAHB also offers a list of resources and reference guides to help make decisions and find qualified professionals.

 

 

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