How Can Buyers Tell if a Seller is Willing to Negotiate?

Every buyer wants to get a deal on things that they buy, and real estate is no exception. In fact, the bigger purchases are definitely the ones that buyers want to get the best price on given the enormous cost associated with them.

If you’re looking to buy a new home in the near future, you’ll likely have a budget that you have to work within. Not everyone has millions of dollars in their bank accounts that can give them the flexibility to buy anything they fall in love with. Most buyers only have a certain amount of money to spend when it comes to buying a house.

When you find a home that fits within your budget, you may want to negotiate with the seller in order to whittle down the price as low as possible. It’s all part and parcel of real estate deals: both buyers and sellers will want to wheel and deal in order to get the best outcome.

But even before you put in an offer on a home, there may be signs that the seller is open to negotiations. Spotting a seller who may be willing to bargain can help you attain a more successful outcome on the purchase of your new home and potentially save you a lot of money.

Here are some ways to tell if a seller may be willing to negotiate with you.

The Home is Vacant

If the home that you’re interested in is vacant, that obviously means the sellers have already moved out. Sometimes the home might not be completely vacant and will still have some furniture left behind, but there may be other signs that the sellers no longer live there, such as boxes packed up, no clothes in the closets, an empty fridge, and so forth.

If you notice that the sellers have already moved out, there may be a chance that they’re motivated to find a buyer and get the home off their hands. If they’ve already bought a new home, moved into it, and started paying a mortgage on it, odds are they’re carrying two mortgages until they’re able to find a buyer.

If that’s the case, they probably want to sell quickly so they won’t be under the burden of carrying two mortgages.

The Market is Slow

Depending on the market, the seller’s motivation could go either way. If homes are being bought really quickly, then it’s likely a seller’s market. In this case, sellers probably don’t have to work as hard to sell their homes.

Buyers could get a better deal in a slower market because there’s simply less competition. In this type of market, there’s more inventory than buyers in demand. In this case, you may be in a better position to negotiate with the seller.

The Listing Has Been Up For a While

If the market is rather cool, it could be taking a while for homes to sell. The number of days on the market (DOM) for listings simply refers to how long it’s taking for homes to sell in the area. Check out how long a listing has been up on the market. If you notice that the DOM on a listing is higher than the average, you might be able to negotiate.

The Seller is Offering Incentives

There are a few different tactics that sellers can use to draw in buyers, and offering incentives is one of them. Perhaps the seller of the home you have your eye on is including some perks to sweeten the deal. They might be offering to throw in the furniture or appliances, or they may be offering to partially cover closing costs.

Whatever the incentive may be, the fact that the seller is offering them may be a sign that they’re motivated to sell, which is the perfect position you want them to be in to negotiate.

The Listing Mentions “Motivated Seller”

Speaking of motivated, the listing description itself might actually directly tell buyers that the seller is motivated. If the seller is really anxious to get the home off their hands, they may want to directly advertise this fact.

No matter what the market may be like, a seller who is truly motivated is probably not interested in a lot of back and forth and instead just wants to get a deal done. If you discover that the seller is motivated, find out exactly what their motivations are so that your negotiating tactic can be even more effective.

The Seller Wants to Close ASAP

Sellers might mention that they’re looking for a quick closing. Obviously, that means they’re looking to sell quickly and get their home off their hands. Whether it’s because they’ve already moved out or need to get the money out of their home quickly, wanting a quick sale often means the seller is open to negotiation.

The Bottom Line

The motivation of a seller plays a key role in how willing they are to negotiate. While an unmotivated seller may have all the time in the world to find a buyer who’s willing to offer the price they want, sellers who are more eager to sell can provide a great opportunity for buyers to get a great deal.

Loopholes in Homeowners Insurance Policies

As a homeowner, you obviously need a homeowners insurance policy. It’s a no-brainer, and it’s also required if you want to keep your mortgage.

Even when you buy a home, your lender will want to make sure that the home you intend to purchase can be insured. No insurance means no mortgage.

But as crucial and helpful as these policies may be, they’re not always foolproof. In fact, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to be unpleasantly surprised and even downright shocked when they put in a claim only to find out that they’re not entirely covered for their particular issue.

This can be disheartening, especially when you consider how much you pay in monthly premiums.

That’s why it’s important to understand homeowners insurance policies and some of the loopholes that many of them come with that could land you with no money back from coverage.

Flooding

It’s not common to find general policies that offer insurance coverage for flooding. If you live in a flood-prone area, you’ll probably want to purchase a rider on your policy that will provide you with this extra coverage.

Earthquakes

Just like floods, earthquake coverage usually requires that you have a completely separate policy if this is the type of coverage you’re looking for. Standard policies are somewhat limited in what they cover, so you’ll definitely want to read your policy over in great detail in order to find out if you’re eligible for coverage for earthquakes, especially on the west coast.

Coverage Caps

Sometimes insurance companies will put a cap on how much coverage they provide on specific claims. For example, if your home was robbed and you had $10,000 worth of electronics stolen, your insurance policy might only cover up to $5,000. It’s important to discuss these little details with your insurance provider to find out exactly what coverage caps exist if any, before you ever have to file a claim.

Issues That May Have Existed Before Your Policy Was Taken Out

If your insurance provider deems an issue to have existed before you took out an insurance policy, you might find yourself without any coverage. So many things can fall under this umbrella. For example, any damage done to the structure of your home from termites, moisture, or even carpenter bees could be a bit of a challenge to argue. Your insurance provider might debate how long such issues have been going on in your home.

It’s possible that the issue started long before your policy was taken out and you just happened to notice it recently. Either way, it’s possible for insurance companies to question when such issues started relative to the start date of your policy and deny a claim as a result.

Damage Done While Home is Vacant

If your home was damaged by a flood, windstorm, hurricane, or any other natural disaster, you might find yourself fighting for damages if it was vacant when disaster struck. Many insurance companies have stipulations about the maximum number of days a home can be vacant and still be covered. It’s best to speak to your agent if you plan on going on an extended holiday to verify that you’ll still be fully covered in case a natural disaster or weather-related incident occurs.

Events That Occur at the Same Time

Many insurance companies have what’s known as an anti-concurrent causation clause, which simply means that two events that happen simultaneously and cause damage will not be covered. If you put in a claim for damage done by two events, you may find yourself with a denied claim if one of the events is covered while the other isn’t.

The Bottom Line

Obviously, you need an insurance policy on your home. But the type of policy you have and the coverage it provides are crucial. Be sure to get all the nitty gritty details of your policy to make sure you fully understand exactly what is covered, and what isn’t. And if you think your standard policy isn’t quite enough, consider taking out riders or separate policies to ensure more comprehensive coverage.

How Long Does it Take to Sell Your Home?

When sellers list their homes on the market, they’re usually concerned with two main things: how much they can sell for, and how long it will take to sell.

Sellers will usually want to know the answers to these questions right off the bat, and for obvious reasons. But when it comes to how long it will take to get an offer and seal the deal, the answer isn’t always clear-cut.

Frankly, the amount of time it takes to sell depends on a few factors, including the following.

The Listing Price

Buyers are always looking for a good deal on a home. The same is true in any type of consumer market, whether it’s real estate, clothing, electronics, and any other consumer product. The lower the price, the more attractive the product will appear and the more willing buyers will be to open up their wallets.

In terms of real estate, the same concept applies. If your home is priced at a point that makes buyers think they’re potentially getting a good deal, your home could sell faster. On the other hand, if your listing price is quite high, that could be a deterrent for buyers.

While you don’t want to price your home so high that you leave many buyers out of the race, you also don’t want to price so low that you end up leaving money on the table. Unless you’re in an incredible rush to sell, it would be in your best interests to find that sweet spot so that you still make a profit while selling within a reasonable amount of time.

Either way, your listing price will influence how quickly your home will sell.

The Current Market

Is the housing market in your area currently favoring buyers or sellers? This is an important factor that influences how long it can take for homes to sell. Generally speaking, homes sell faster in seller’s markets, while they may take longer to sell in buyer’s markets.

In a seller’s market, there are many buyers on the prowl for a home who are competing with one another for the few properties that are available for sale. With high demand and low supply comes higher prices and faster sales.

On the other hand, a buyer’s market usually means that homes take longer to sell, simply because there are few buyers compared to the wealth of inventory available. In this case, prices are expected to be lower as well.

The climate of the market in your area can play a role in how long you can expect it to take to sell your home. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. But generally speaking, the climate of the current market will be an important factor to consider.

The Average in the Area

Every area has its own characteristics in terms of the local real estate market. While some areas might take longer for sellers to find a buyer, other areas tend to see homes getting snatched up rather quickly. Every area is different and will have its own average number of “days on the market” (DOM) before homes are sold.

Sellers will want to know what the average DOM is in their particular community in order to gauge how long they can expect it to take to sell. For instance, the average DOM in an area may be 30 days, which means it should take somewhere in the ballpark of 30 days to sell a home, assuming that all other factors remain the same. If your home has been sitting on the market for longer than 30 days, there could be a problem with your listing that may warrant closer investigation.

Looking at the average DOM in your area can give you a general idea of how long you can expect your home to sit on the market before finding a willing buyer and completing the transaction.

The Condition of Your Home

Most buyers want to see homes that are move-in ready. They typically don’t want to have to spend any time sprucing up the place after moving in. Unless the buyer is specifically looking for a place to fix and flip, you’re probably going to find that most buyers are looking for a turn-key home.

If your home is in need of some TLC, you can expect it to take longer to sell. On the other hand, if your home is up-to-date, clean, clear of clutter, and decorated appropriately, it shouldn’t take as long to sell compared to a home that’s in dire need of an update.

The Location

Desirable locations tend to favor quicker sales compared to areas that are not as attractive. Sometimes even homes that are in great condition can be tough to sell if they’re located in sketchy neighborhoods, while homes that need some improvement but are located in attractive areas may not take as long to sell.

The Bottom Line

Several factors come into play when it comes to gauging how long it will take to sell your home. It’s important to take them all into consideration when anticipating the length of time you can expect your home to sit on the market before finding a willing buyer. Having an idea of the time it will take to sell can be very helpful, especially if you’ve got a new home purchase lined up after selling your current one.

Protecting Your Home Against Wildfires

The latest string of wildfires in California have torched over 688,000 acres and destroyed more than 2,000 structures. If that wasn’t bad enough, more than 40 people have been killed by these fires since last fall.

Wildfires are certainly a dangerous hazard in the Golden State thanks to the dry heat that most of the state experiences, especially during hotter times of the year. In light of these staggering numbers, it’s vital for homeowners to do whatever they can to protect their homes and themselves from the dangers of wildfires.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your home and family safe.

Get Rid of Combustible Items Around the Perimeter of Your Home

It’s a simple task, but it’s also an effective one. Eliminating all debris from around your home that can easily catch fire and allow it to spread is the first item on the agenda. Things like dead leaves, stacks of firewood, and dry bushes should be cleared out.

Ideally, anything that could potentially catch fire easily should be at least 30 feet away from the exterior of your home. The further away from your home, the better.

Choose Your Fencing, Decks, and Roof Materials Wisely

It can be tough to replace these items, but they are often the source major spreading of fires if they’re made out of wood. When you’re replacing or building these components, steer clear of wood. Roofs especially are extremely vulnerable to fires, so cedar shingles should never be considered.

Instead of wood, consider non-combustible materials, such as asphalt, steel, and tile for your roof. For your fence and deck, consider stone or concrete. And for the exterior walls, stay away from wood-based siding and stick with brick, stucco, or cement. 

Plant Fire-Resistant Greenery in Your Landscaping

Your home’s landscaping is important for esthetic and curb appeal, and can also provide some much-needed shade from the sizzling sun. But that same landscaping can also provide an easy way to bring a fire into your home.

When landscaping, look for fire-resistant plants to add around your home’s exterior, such as deciduous trees and shrubs. And resist the urge to add decorative climbing vines to your exterior walls. Sure, they may look pretty, but they also catch fire easier as well. In addition, make sure that your grass is cut regularly and kept moist.

Screen Your Home’s Eavestroughs

An easy way for fire embers to make their way into your home and start a fire inside is through eavestrough openings and vents. Make sure that these areas are properly screened. While you’re at it, make sure to keep your eavestroughs clean and free of debris, which can also be sources of fires starting and spreading.

Upgrade Windows and Treatments

Intense heat from fires can easily break windows and allow fires to get into a home. Drapes and other window treatments can also easily catch fire. To combat this issue, use fire-resistant materials for drapes and treatments, and consider upgrading your windows to those that feature dual-paned glass or a heat-reflective coating.

Install Smoke Detectors

If you haven’t done so already, make sure that every level of your home is outfitted with a smoke detector. But once they are installed, don’t just leave them. Every month, you should take the time to make sure the batteries are still functional. Also, inspect the actual smoke detectors to verify that they’re still in good working order.

Keep a Fire Extinguisher Handy

A quick way to put out a small fire before it’s given the chance to spread is to keep a fire extinguisher or two handy. Ideally, you’ll have one on each level. Make sure everyone in the house knows where they are and how to operate them.

Make Sure Your Homeowners Insurance Policy is Up-to-Date

In the unfortunate vent that a fire does occur, make sure your policy will cover the damage. If your insurance coverage is not up-to-date, you could find yourself disappointed if you find out that your policy doesn’t offer adequate protection against the damage from a fire.

The Bottom Line

There are certain areas in California that are particularly susceptible to fires. But even in areas that are at lower risk, homeowners should still take measures to minimize the odds of their house catching on fire. As we’ve seen many times, these fires can catch on quickly and spread even faster. Consider the above tips to protect your home when wildfires strike.

10 Practical Uses of White Vinegar in Your Home

Vinegar is not just reserved for your salad dressing. It’s actually a highly versatile household item that serves a number of purposes. And it’s both affordable and 100% natural so you don’t have to break the bank or tamper with hazardous household chemicals when using it.

Here are some handy and effective uses for white vinegar in your home.

1. Get Rid of Clothing Stains

Before you toss the laundry into the washing machine, there will probably be an article of clothing or two that will have a stubborn stain that might not disappear after a regular wash. Certain organic stains and dirt can be removed from clothing with white vinegar first before adding them to the wash. You can also use the vinegar to remove stains from upholstery, window drapes, and other textiles as needed.

2. Soften Up the Laundry

Fabric softener is typically added to the wash in order to keep clothes and towels soft and smelling fresh. But white vinegar can do the same! Instead of using fabric softener, add some white vinegar to the dispenser to act in its place.

You’ll be left with soft laundry that actually won’t smell like a tossed salad. For towels that are particularly prone to being stiff and harsh to the touch after being washed, soak them in vinegar for about half an hour first before adding them to the laundry load.

3. Ward Off Fruit Flies

If you’ve got a bowl of fruit out on display or have a compost container in the kitchen, fruit flies might be an issue. If that’s the case, pour about 1cm of white vinegar into a mason jar and add a drop of dish soap. Then cover the jar with plastic wrap and poke some holes in it to give the fruit flies access to your concoction. They’ll be too distracted by the jar of vinegar and dish soap to bother you anymore.

4. Unclog Drains

Instead of pouring toxic chemicals down the drain to unclog them, you can use a natural and non-toxic vinegar mixture to do the trick. Combine 1 cup of white vinegar with half a cup of baking soda together and pour it down the drain. The mixture will start to foam up as it unclogs the drain.

When the foam dissipates, turn on the hot water for a few seconds to flush it. A few minutes later, turn the cold water on to get rid of any remnants left behind. You’ll notice the drain will not only be unclogged, but it will smell better too.

5. Eliminate Bad Odors

Whether it’s cigarette smoke, your dog, or last night’s fish dinner, certain smells are pretty strong and can linger for a long time. Instead of lighting scented candles all over the house, just put out a bowl with white vinegar out in spaces where the smell is strongest. Leave the bowl out for a day or so until the smell is gone.

6. Shine Up Stainless Steel Pots, Pans, and Appliances

Instead of using harsh chemicals to shine up all your stainless steel items, just use white vinegar, baking soda, and a clean cloth to wipe away greasy fingerprints, buff up the surface, and leave these items as shiny as they were when you first brought them home. While you’re at it, polish up your silverware and even your jewelry, too!

7. Remove Sticky Goo

Removing price stickers off of items you first purchase is enough of a challenge, but getting rid of the sticky goo that’s left behind is a lot tougher.

Not for white vinegar, though. All you need to do is soak the affected area with vinegar for a few minutes until the residue slides right off.

8. Remove Limescale in the Bathroom

Showerheads and faucets tend to accumulate limescale in bathrooms which often require harsh cleaning solutions to get rid of. But if you’ve got white vinegar handy in your home, that may be all that’s needed to clean, disinfect, and polish up these components.

For best results, soak these areas in white vinegar first for about an hour or so. You can do this by spraying them or filling a Ziploc bag with vinegar and placing the affected items inside, then rinse them off.

9. Brighten Up Glass and Windows

If your windows and mirrors are full of streaks, put the glimmer back into them with a few sprays of white vinegar and wipe them down with a clean cloth or paper towel.

10. Use it in the Dishwasher

Glasses and silverware tend to be left with water stains when washed and dried in the dishwasher. You can alleviate this problem by adding a little bit of white vinegar in the rinsing dispenser.

The Bottom Line

From laundry to silverware, to odors and beyond, white vinegar seems to have a number of uses in the home. Give any one of these tips a try to keep your home clean and smelling fresh the natural way.

10 Home Painting Hacks to Help You Get the Job Done Like a Pro

Painting walls is definitely not rocket science. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do to ensure the job is easier and the finished look is free of flaws.

Professional painters have a few tricks up their sleeves that they often employ when they take on painting jobs in order to make sure the end result is satisfactory.

If you’re tackling a DIY painting job in your home, consider adopting the following hacks.

1. Protect Against Paint Drips With Plastic Wrap

It’s helpful to move furniture out of the way to avoid getting any paint drips on them, or else covering them with old bed sheets can do the trick. But other things can be a bit more difficult to move out of the way, such as doorknobs and handles, electrical outlets, and sinks. To prevent any paint from dripping onto these items, cover them in plastic wrap.

2. Use Petroleum Jelly on Tiny Areas That Are Not to be Painted

For even smaller items that you don’t want to get any paint on, consider using petroleum jelly on top of them. Even if paint accidentally makes its way on these items – such as door hinges and screws – the petroleum jelly will allow the paint to slide right off and not be absorbed.

3. Soften Painter’s Tape With the Heat of a Hairdryer

Painter’s tape is a must, but it’s common for it to be difficult to remove when you no longer need it. Worse yet, it can take off any paint right along with it. To make it easier to remove painter’s tape, soften it by applying low heat from your hairdryer.

This will loosen up the stickiness of the tape and make it easier to come off, leaving a clean, crisp, straight line of paint behind.

4. Smooth Out Uneven Baseboards With Caulk

If the baseboards in your home have seen better days and are full of crevices, they won’t look very good when you paint them over. Before you start your paint job, use caulk to fill in these crevices and smooth out the surface.

5. Clean Walls With a Swiffer

Your walls should be completely clean and free of dust and debris before you start painting. If you’ve got a floor Swiffer, use it to dust off the wall surface before painting.

6. Get Paint Rollers Ready With Warm Water

Paint rollers will work much better to apply a smooth paint finish on your walls if they’re prepped properly. One easy way to prep them is to wet your hands with warm water and then rub them all over the roller before dipping it in the paint.

7. Fight Paint Fumes With Vanilla or Lemon Extract

Wet paint tends to have a really powerful smell that can easily give anyone a headache. You can put a lid on these intense fumes by adding a drop of vanilla extract per gallon of paint. For lighter colors, you can use lemon extract instead to avoid the paint color from being altered.

8. Use a “W” Pattern to Apply Paint

If you roll the paint on in a straight up-and-down fashion, it will be difficult to avoid uneven patches or signs of stopping and starting. Instead, a “W” pattern will ensure a more even application and will make it easier for you to move along the surface of the wall without having to constantly lift the roller off.

9. Clean Paintbrushes With Vinegar or Fabric Softener

Cleaning your paintbrushes when you’re done can be a real nuisance. But you can make the process a lot easier by soaking them in white vinegar or fabric softener to break down the paint, then rinse them in warm water to be ready for your next paint job.

10. Make Paint Tray Cleanup Easier By Covering Them

Not only are paintbrushes a challenge to clean, but so are the paint trays. You can make things easier for yourself by covering the trays in tin foil first before adding paint. When your painting job is done, all you’ll need to do is take the foil off and toss it, leaving behind a paint tray that’s still spic and span.

The Bottom Line

Painting is definitely a job you can do on your own without having to hire and pay professionals to do it. If you’re up for the task, following these tips can make your job a lot easier and ensure a seamless, professional look.