INFOGRAPHIC: 12 Tips to Holding a Successful Estate Sale


6 Signs Your Home is Listed Too High


As a seller, the first thing your should understand is that the price point you list your home at will determine how successful your sale will be.

Why? Because your listing price will either attract scores of qualified buyers, or scare them away. A property well priced will draw the attention of prospective buyers who match the criteria that your home meets, including its price. Listing your home at the right price will lead to less hassle, faster offers, and more money.

Every seller wants as much money for their home as possible, but that doesn’t mean that pricing it way over market value is going to get you all the funds you desire. In fact, you could wind up losing money when all is said and done. Buyers who are looking within the price range of what your home should be priced at will simply gloss over your listing and move onto a more fairly priced property. 

As more and more buyers pass over your listing, your home will sit on the market for longer than it needs to. At some point, you may have to opt for a price reduction just to start generating some attention again. Not only will you have wasted time and money waiting for a buyer to put in an offer, you may even find yourself entertaining lowball offers as buyers may equate your stale listing as one that has something wrong with it. It’s a common stigma that’s often attached to listings that sit on the market for 60 days or longer.

So, how exactly are you to know if you’ve overpriced your home? Here are 6 telltale signs that will tell you that you should probably rethink your pricing strategy.

1. You’re Not Booking Many (or Any) Showings

One sure-fire sign that your home is priced way above where it should be is if there are hardly any showings being booked. Your listing may boast attractive photos and your home may show very well, but buyers who can’t afford your price point won’t even bother to go see it.

The most traffic typically occurs when the listing first comes out, so you know there’s a problem if that window of opportunity comes and goes without a single viewing. If days and even weeks have passed without a showing, revisit your listing price to see if that could be the one factor that’s making buyers hesitant about booking a showing.

2. No Offers Are Rolling in

Obviously, if you’ve had no showings, then you won’t be getting any offers. Buyers typically like to visit the home they’re planning on buying at least once before they put in an offer. For the most part, if a property is priced correctly, the homeowner can expect to see at least one offer within the first couple of weeks.

If a month has passed by with no offer in sight, this may point to a potentially inflated price for your home. This is even more evident if you’re in the midst of a seller’s market, in which case you should have no problem attracting offers if your home has been priced appropriately.

3. Other Homes on the Block Are Selling Except Yours

It can be really frustrating to see your neighbor’s home hit the market after yours and sell first. This is especially bothersome if this happens over and over again with no sign of an offer on your end.

Of course, there could a variety of other factors besides price that could come into play if your neighbors’ homes are selling besides yours. However, the listing price is certainly worthy of investigating if you’re getting tired of seeing your neighbors taking their For Sale signs down while yours is just collecting dust.

4. Similar Newly Listed Properties Are Priced Lower Than Yours

Keep tabs on new listings in the area that come up on the market. Are comparable homes listed at a lower price compared to yours? If so, you may find yourself having a tough time staying competitive and finding a buyer willing to pay more for your home than other similar properties that just popped up on the market.

5. Feedback Suggests Your Home is Overpriced

Agents will typically try to get feedback from prospective buyers who have visited their listed properties. They’ll also seek the opinion of fellow agents who work in the area to see if they have any suggestions about what may be pulling the listing down. If the general consensus among buyers and agents is that the home is overpriced, that might be enough to encourage you to reconsider your listing price for something that fits more within the range of what the current market dictates.

6. Your Listing is Nearing Expiration

Take a look at your listing’s expire date. Is it fast approaching? Perhaps one of the more obvious signs that your home is overpriced is when the listing expires before the property sells. Rather than finding other excuses for the lack of a sale during this time period, it may be better to take a realistic look at the price and the market the home is in. If a property’s listing price is close to the amount that qualified buyers believe is fair and are willing to pay for it, the home will sell long before the expiry date approaches.

The Bottom Line

By now it should be clear how important the initial listing price of your home is. This number really can dictate how successful your overall real estate transaction will be. Rather than risking having a stale listing that doesn’t sell in a timely fashion and wasting all that time and money in carrying costs, make sure you price right from the get-go to ensure a faster sale.

What You Need to Know About Buying a Home on a Golf Course


Most people would automatically assume that a home located directly on a golf course would be worth much more than a similar home on a block that isn’t, and they’d be right most of the time. The idea of having crisp, clear views of pristine, meticulously maintained greenery is often enough to prompt buyers to up the ante in terms of offer prices.

While having a golf course as a backyard certainly has its obvious perks, there are other things to know about buying a home that backs onto this type of land. Considering the magnitude of such an investment, it’s critical to consider the advantages and disadvantages of living on a golf course.

Here are some things to keep in mind before buying a home with this type of landscape.

There Are Specific Deed Restrictions to Adhere to

Homes that are located within a golf course community are nearly always subject to deed restrictions. That’s because the majority of the neighborhoods are regulated by a homeowners’ association (HOA) that oversees certain aspects of home maintenance and modifications.

For instance, you might be limited in the type of colors you choose for your exterior walls or doors. You may also be restricted on the types of landscaping designs you implement. For instance, only a certain tree density may be allowed, and the lawn must be kept in optimal condition as it is seen as an extension of the golf course grounds to some degree.

Being a part of an HOA also means you may be obligated to cover monthly, quarterly, or annual fees to cover the cost of maintaining the course and its surroundings. But that also means that you’re pretty much guaranteed that your neighborhood will be properly maintained, which not only ensures that the aesthetics are kept up with, but that property values will remain high, too.

Groundskeepers Maintain the Grounds Early, and Often

No other grounds are as regularly and well maintained as golf courses. Each and every morning, groundskeepers are out manicuring the course to ensure that the grass, bushes, trees, and other components of the course are in tip-top condition.

But that means all the noise they might make with their equipment could prove to be bothersome, depending on how close you are to the greens and tee-off boxes. And if you’re one to sleep in, the headlights from golf carts being driven around in the wee hours of the morning could be an unpleasant wake-up call.   

This can be avoided by purchasing a home that’s located along the fairway rather than the holes and tee boxes, as these spots tend not to see as much action. You can also choose a home whereby the master bedroom is not directly facing the course, if possible. Last but not least, blackout curtains can go a long way at filtering out noise and glare.

Stray Golf Balls Are Common

It’s not unheard of for homeowners who live on golf courses to find a bunch of balls in their backyard after a busy day out on the course. Worse, these stray balls could cause damage to your windows, and even put you and your family at risk of being hit while you’re outside enjoying your backyard. However, the exact location and positioning if your home will determine the likelihood of such occurrences.

For instance, homes that are located behind tee-boxes have a much lower chance of being vulnerable to stray golf shots. On the other hand, a home that’s located along the fairway of a long hole will have a much higher chance of being struck by a golf ball.

Not surprisingly, considering the location and position of a home on a golf course is imperative before buying. 

You Can’t Use the Grounds For Your Own Purposes

Just because your home is located in a golf course community doesn’t give you free reign to use the grounds as you see fit. People pay for tee times and memberships in order to enjoy a game, and they don’t want to be interrupted by people who might be taking their dog for a walk or letting their kids play.

For example, many courses place restrictions on where people are allowed to walk and bike. Before buying, it’s important for you to find out what type of non-golf recreational activities you can participate in on the course first.

Privacy May Be Non-Existent

Golf course living might be perfect for those who enjoy being surrounded by scrupulously maintained greenery, but if privacy is on your list of wants, buying a home on a golf course might not be the best option. Of all the negatives of living on a golf course, lack of privacy is one of the biggest if the house backs directly onto it. This is especially true during peak golf season when there’s a constant stream of golfers making their way along the course throughout the day. 

One way to rectify this issue is by investing in some privacy landscaping that can control how much of your yard is hidden. Of course, the landscaping design will first have to be approved by the HOA before any planting can take place.

The Bottom Line

Buying a home on a golf course can certainly bring you a great amount of enjoyment. And if you’re an avid golfer, having the course a stone’s throw way from your home can be super convenient for you. But along with the gorgeous green settings, there are also some potential drawbacks that need to be considered before you invest your capital into a home on a golf course.

How Smart Home Technology Affects the Real Estate Industry


When homeowners make improvements on their homes, it’s in their best interests to choose upgrades that will bring them the biggest ROI come sale time. Traditionally, a new coat of paint, a kitchen reface, and new hardwood flooring have been the frontrunners in this department.

But as the millennial proportion of homebuyers continues to grow, implementing “smart technology” in a home seems to be the way to go as far as increasing perceived home values is concerned. After all, this specific demographic is particularly partial to tech gadgets that make home operation much more convenient.

According to the National Association of Realtors, millennials now make up the largest proportion of potential homebuyers. These Generation Yers are tech-savvy and are trailblazing their way from renting to buying. As such, paying attention to what they want and expect in a home is critical.

Smart Home Technology – Disrupting the Real Estate Industry

Over the past few years, the real estate industry has been dramatically impacted by smart home technology in many ways, and perhaps the biggest impact it is having is on closing price. According to the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Association of Home Builders, smart home technology can increase the final closing price of a home by as much as 3% to 5%.

Even if this group of buyers doesn’t necessarily view smart homes as more valuable, the fact that technology makes living more comfortable is ultimately what matters. Whether it’s their ability to watch their security cameras at the entrance from their smartphone, unlock doors remotely, and turn the window shades down with the click of a button, these are simply feel-good traits that more and more buyers are looking for in a home.

In particular, the real estate market can expect more homeowners to invest in smart features that will help lower monthly expenses. In turn, such traits can help boost a home’s appeal when it comes time to sell. Smart technology will inevitably help grab the attention of buyers a lot more easily and encourage them to view these homes as more attractive and worthy of a sizeable offer. Ultimately, these homes have the potential to sell significantly faster.

So what types of technology do buyers and homeowners value the most? Smart entertainment, such as smart TVs and speakers, is the most popular among the younger demographics. Following closely behind is smart security and smart HVAC. Others include smart locks and alarms, programmable thermostats, automated lighting, and carbon monoxide detectors.

Smart Home Devices Are More Attainable

A key reason why smart home technology has been growing so rapidly is the fact that it’s actually very easy to set up residential technology products. Devices have become more affordable for companies to produce, thereby making them cheaper for homeowners to purchase. And as home technology has become more innovative, it has also become a lot easier and faster to install without having to deal with tricky wiring and hook-ups.

Today’s technology companies are constantly coming up with a number of easy-to-install devices that allow homeowners to easily control their properties in a very cost-efficient manner. Not only that, they’re typically portable devices that allow homeowners to take them with them wherever they go, even when they move.

The Numbers Speak For Themselves

Consider the following stats according to a recent survey by Coldwell Banker:

  • 72% of millennials are willing to pay $1,500 or more for a smart home.
  • 44% of millennials are willing to pay $3,000 or more for a smart home.
  • 47% of millennial homeowners already have smart home products.
  • 54% of homeowners who are in the market to sell would buy smart home technology to speed up the sale.
  • 91% of homeowners with smart devices would recommend it to others.
  • 76% of the smart home products are operated by mobile phones.
  • 81% of buyers would be more willing to buy a home if smart home products were installed.

Based on these numbers, smart home technology is a force to be reckoned with and is becoming an integral part of the real estate industry. And it’s not just millennials that are looking for it. According to that same Coldwell Banker survey, 33% of homeowners with smart home products are aged 33 to 54, and 24% are aged 55 and older.

While certain types of smart home technology are popular across all age groups, specific differences exist. Millennials tend to be more attracted to products that offer convenience, such as home entertainment systems, while older generations are more keen on security features and money savers, such as security cameras and programmable thermostats.

The Bottom Line

Smart home technology has been a trend that’s caused a lot of waves in real estate over the recent past and is impacting more than just millennials. Smart homes are not just a staple in the real estate industry – they’re also growing in number and popularity. As such, it’s increasingly important for sellers and real estate agents to put a spotlight on these features and the advantages that come with them to create a more convenient, safer home in order to capitalize on a much faster sale for potentially more money.

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6 Design Trends That Buyers Don’t Like


When it comes to selling your home, impressions matter. Ideally, you want buyers to be impressed with your home’s look and functionality when they see its listing photos or attend a showing or open house. Your home should look its absolute best when it’s on the market in order to boost the odds of a quick sale at a decent sale price.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of quirks that homebuyers are easily turned off by, including the following.

1. Extreme Minimalism

The interior design world has been bombarded with minimalist decor in an effort to cut down on the clutter and create more serene and simple ‘feng shui’ type of spaces. But as stylish and modern as minimalism can be, some homeowners take it a little too far.

The idea behind a minimalist approach to interior design is to declutter and organize a space so that it functions optimally and evokes a ‘zen’-like’ feel. But going right down to the bare necessities to the point where a room no longer possesses any personality does little to foster a sense of comfort.

2. Open Concept Master Bathroom

Some modern floor plans that have been introduced in the world of home contraction and design over the recent past have included bathrooms with an open concept layout. What does that mean, exactly? The toilet, shower, and bathtub are completely exposed to the bedroom with no door to create a boundary between the two spaces.

As much as buyers love an open concept layout in homes, they don’t necessarily want that theme carried over into the master bathroom and bedroom. A little privacy in the bathroom is still a timeless concept that buyers still very much appreciate.

3. Converted Bedrooms

Foregoing a bedroom in favor of another type of space is never a good idea when it comes to property value. In fact, removing a bedroom can significantly cut down on the value of your home, especially if the neighborhood doesn’t call for it. For instance, if homes on the block typically have 3-bedrooms, you might be shooting yourself in the foot if you turn your home into a 2-bedroom abode in order to use that third bedroom for a sewing room or gym.

While this idea might work for you and your family, it will deter buyers when it comes time to sell. People basically want rooms that were specifically built for their initial purpose. If you convert a bedroom into a space for an entirely different function, be sure that you’ll still be able to easily transform it back into a bedroom before listing your home for sale.


4. Carpeting

Some homeowners may still like the idea of wall-to-wall carpeting in their homes because they’re comfortable to walk on and soft to the touch, especially in bedrooms. But most buyers still prefer hardwood flooring. That’s because wall-to-wall carpeting is typically viewed as a surface that easily traps dirt and grime, and buyers will usually not be too keen on having to professionally clean it before they move in.

5. Bold Wall Color

Every home stager will tell you that bold colors on the wall are a no-no when trying to sell. It’s generally recommended to paint walls in a neutral color – such as gray, white, or soft blue – in order to appeal to a larger pool of prospective buyers. Despite the fact that painting is a relatively cheap and easy task to take on, it might still be viewed as a hassle for buyers who would much rather buy a home that’s move-in ready.

6. Gold and Bronze Fixtures

Gold and bronze fixtures may have a been a hot trend in the world of interior designs lately, but this concept isn’t necessarily favored by everyone. Just like paint colors, fixtures should also be somewhat subdued. All those opulent light fixtures, hand rails, and cabinet hardware should ideally be made out of something that’s not as shiny and bold as metallics like gold and bronze. Many buyers may look at such materials as outdated.

The Bottom Line

Prepping your home for sale involves a lot of work before your ‘For Sale’ sign is ready to be planted in your front yard. A number of steps should be taken to ensure that every space in your home is designed in such a way that it will appeal to the masses of buyers who are looking in your area. If your home has any one of the above design trends, you might want to consider making some changes before the first buyer walks through your front door.

6 Mistakes Novice House Flippers Are Often Guilty of


When it comes to making some money with a fix and flip, every dollar spent counts. There just isn’t any room to make big mistakes or else your profits will quickly fizzle. But just like anything else in life, experience can teach you a great deal, including when it comes to fixing and flipping. The most successful house flippers in the world made their own mistakes that cost them thousands of dollars when they were just starting out.

Learn from their mistakes and be sure to avoid the following newbie home-flipping blunders.

1. Paying Too Much For the Home

When it comes to being successful as a house flipper, the first component that can determine your level of success is the amount that you pay for the property. Before you even consider buying a property to flip, you’ll need to crunch some numbers first. In fact, you should work backwards when determining the maximum you should pay for a property.

Ideally, you should identify how much you can realistically sell a property for once it’s been rehabbed. Once you’ve got that number, deduct the costs required to renovate the place, as well as closing costs and expenses related to selling the home. After making these calculations, you’ll arrive at a break-even point which you’ll use to factor in your profit potential and determine how much you should pay for the property.

Unfortunately, many novice flippers allow their emotions to affect the buying process. It’s not hard to look at a home, visualize its potential, and forget about the deal altogether. Just about every experienced flipper will admit that they’ve done this when they just started out and how it impacted their bottom line.

2. Buying a Home With the Wrong Traits

You might come across a home that’s listed at a great price and looks like it only requires cosmetic updates. This can seem like it’s got great potential to help you make a decent profit with minimal work. But it’s imperative to take into account the characteristics of the property to make sure it will be easy to sell after you’re done with it. That’s why you will need to find out what the average home in the area is like and what prospective buyers in the neighborhood are looking for.

For instance, is the area predominantly made up of 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 2-story homes? If so, you might be shooting yourself in the foot if you buy a tiny 2-bedroom bungalow if that’s not what buyers in the area are looking for. What about the lot? Is it much larger or smaller than what buyers in the neighborhood expect? And how about garages – are they typically double, single, attached, or detached?    

Identifying what the buyers in your area want to buy is crucial. Luckily, your real estate agent will be able to provide you with that essential information.

3. Underestimating the Total Cost

Another common mistake that newbie house flippers make is grossly underestimating how much the renovation will cost, the carrying costs, and the expenses related to selling. All of these fees need to be factored into the equation to determine if a sizeable profit is possible. After all, there is a lot of time and work involved in a rehab, so you want to be sure that the project is worth it.

There are tons of factors that need to be considered when determining the true cost of flipping a home. A reliable and experienced contractor should visit the property to help provide you with an estimate of what needs to be done to bring the home up to par and how much it will cost. In addition to the actual renovations themselves, there are a ton of other costs that need to be factored in, including:

  • Building permit fees
  • Local, state, and federal capital gains taxes on profits
  • Land transfer taxes
  • Real estate commissions
  • Title searches
  • Inspection fees
  • Appraisal fees
  • Carrying costs (including property taxes, mortgage interest, and utilities)

This list is by no means exhaustive, as each transaction is unique and can bring about a variety of other costs that may not be anticipated at the forefront. You’d be well advised to meticulously research what the entire cost of your project will be, then be sure to add at least a 10% cushion to cover for unforeseen expenses, which brings us to our next point.

4. Not Budgeting For Potential Problems

In a perfect world, every detail that you budget for would be the extent of what your finances would need to cover. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and when it comes to renovating an older home, unexpected issues are bound to creep up. There are simply too many variables involved in a fix and flip project to predict them all. Unfortunately, many inexperienced flippers cut things really close with their budgets, only to have them blown out of the water when an unpleasant surprise springs on them.

While it’s absolutely imperative to budget accurately, it’s just as important to add a cushion on top of that to cover any problems that may pop up, and they probably will. Whether it’s termites under the floor boards, mold in the insulation, or water damage in the attic, the issues can mount and can wind up costing a pretty penny.

Of course, it’s possible that no major issues are met, which just means that the extra 10% you set aside for surprises goes right back into your pocket. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.

5. Doing All the Work Yourself

When it comes to fixing and flipping for a profit, the more money you can save on the job, the better. That may entail doing a lot of the work yourself, such as the demolition, cleaning, painting, and other minor jobs that don’t require much experience.

However, when it comes to larger, more intricate jobs, they’re better left to the professionals. While you’re trying to save a few bucks doing the job yourself, you could end up costing yourself more money if the job you do needs to be redone by the experts. Many novice flippers suddenly believe they can do all the plumbing, electrical work, drywall installations, and fine carpentry, only to find out that the shoddy job they did is a flop.

The best option is to consult with a contractor before tackling any major project in the home rather than assuming the task yourself if it’s way out of your scope.

6. Over-Improving the Property

Novice flippers often don’t know where to draw the line as far as upgrading goes, and that can lead to an over-improved house. While there are certain improvements that can provide that highly coveted “wow” factor that can attract buyers, it’s not always necessary to install certain extravagant components if the neighborhood doesn’t call for it.

Many of those opulent features tend to cost a pretty penny and can eat into your profits. If these finishes don’t increase the overall value of the property very much, there’s a good chance that you won’t recoup the money spent on these improvements.

Find out exactly what buyers in the area are looking for and use that as a guide as to what you should and shouldn’t install. Your real estate agent or appraiser should be able to help with this.

The Bottom Line

Nobody is born knowing exactly how to ensure an air-tight fix and flip. It takes a lot of homework, and even some trial and error to get right. However, rather than learning from your own mistakes, take the time to find out the common types of mistakes that novice flippers tend to make, and do your best to steer clear of them.

Tax Blunders That First-Time Homeowners Make


When Uncle Sam comes knocking on your door, it can be pretty painful to have to part with some of your hard-earned money. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep some of that money in your pocket instead of handing it over to the IRS (the legal way), and your home can provide you with plenty of tax incentives. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t take full advantage of all of the tax incentives that come with owning property.

On the flip side, many homeowners deduct a little too much on their taxes related to their homes, which can put them in hot water when it comes to the IRS.

Here are some of the more common mistakes homeowners make with their homes when it comes time to file their taxes.

Not Keeping Track of Home Improvement Expenses

Whether you purchased a fixer upper or the subject property simply needed a few updates, the money spent on some improvements may be deducted. Any work like this should be documented, including the cost. Unfortunately, many homeowners fail to deduct these improvements.

It should be noted that not all improvements qualify for tax deduction, so it’s important to learn what is eligible and what isn’t. For instance, installing energy-efficient appliances or constructing an entrance ramp for wheelchair access may qualify for tax deductions.

While many other types of improvements aren’t eligible for a tax deduction the same year that they were made, they may lower the amount of taxes you will have to pay if you sell your home for a profit down the line. However, you will need to have kept records to prove that these upgrades were made.

Deducting the Entire Escrow Balance

Property taxes may be funded through your escrow account by your lender, but that doesn’t mean that entire amount can be deducted in escrow. The regular amount that is paid into an escrow account every month to cover property taxes is not always exactly the same as the property tax bill. Many homeowners confuse their escrow amount for actual taxes paid and list their whole escrow balance.

If you’ve been contributing to your escrow account, pay attention to how much you claim as not all of this money deposited in escrow is eligible to be used to pay taxes. It’s important to find out from your escrow account manager precisely how much taxes were paid from your escrow account. In addition, your lender should send you a statement detailing the actual taxes you paid. That’s the amount that can and should be listed.

Forgetting to Itemize

If you have itemized deductions that total more than the standard deduction that you would receive, you may benefit from itemizing your deductions. Itemizing your deductions can help maximize savings on your taxes by allowing you to claim a larger deduction compared to the standard amount. However, you’ll have to keep a detailed record of your expenses and fill out a Schedule A attachment on your tax return.

Itemized deductions related to your home include expenses that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to deduct, and include mortgage interest and property taxes. When these expenses have been itemized, you can claim them. Unfortunately, many homeowners fail to itemize their deductions and therefore don’t take advantage of the opportunity to take advantage of full savings on their taxes.   

Not Deducting Refinancing Points

Points that are paid to your lender in order to obtain a home loan can be deducted in the year that you purchased your house. However, in the case of a refinance, the points over the life of the new loan need to be deducted. If, for instance, you paid $3,000 in points to refinance your mortgage into a new 10-year home loan, your tax deduction will be $300 a year.

Forgetting to Repay the First-Time Buyer Tax Credit

Many buyers took advantage of the first-time buyer tax credit for homes that were bought between April 8, 2008, and May 1, 2010, which provided up to $7,500 at zero interest to be put towards home purchases. However, this tax credit needs to be repaid every year for the next 15 years. Even if the home is sold, this interest-free tax credit still needs to be paid back. Many homeowners either forget to include this amount in their taxes, or simply aren’t paying enough.

The Bottom Line

There aren’t too many people who look forward to tax season, and trying to understand all the ins and outs of tax deductions when it comes to homeownership can be pretty confusing. With so many rules and forms to have to fill out, understanding how tax deductions and obligations work can be complicated. On the one hand, you could be missing out on some major savings, and on the other hand, you might be putting yourself in a compromised position if the IRS deems your tax deductions to be way off the mark. Be sure to speak with your accountant about what and how much you can deduct when it comes to your home.