What It Takes to Bring Your Home to Market

By all appearances, putting a home up for sale seems a simple process.  Once it is on the market you see the information, the pictures, the description, the sign, and postings on the internet including Facebook, Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Twitter and many other sites – as well as email blasts!  Sounds pretty methodical.  However, there is always a back story.  This is where the preparation is critical because you only get one chance to get it right and make a good impression.  Here is what I mean by preparation:

Accuracy is the key component.  You have to make sure the person or persons wanting to list and sell the home actually owns it, right.  I have found that is sometimes not the case and you better know that before you go any further.  Also, it is critical to know your numbers.  Number information includes legal property description, size of the home, copy of the floor plan, annual taxes and HOA fees, sales and mortgage history, outstanding liens and mortgages, schools that serve the area, proximity to shopping, major highways and entertainment outlets.  There is also the need to analyze sales for the immediate area and compare the home with other homes that recently have sold.  Information like that includes style, square footage, lot condition, concessions, price per square foot, list price vs. sales price and the timeline for the sale. 

These are just some of the sales preparation tasks that have to be done before a home can be listed for sale, and I have done them for our areas. Choosing me as your broker gets this information, and many other important pieces of the puzzle, to you in one piece.

I have determined there are over 150 actual items like this that are involved in a sale, and I will be listing them here on a regular basis. If you like what you see, check with M&R Realty to put this list into action for selling or buying your home with me as your broker.  More to follow…

Home Inspection Information for Sellers and Buyers

Selling a home should always include at a minimum a home inspection.  My recommendation is to have a home inspection, termite inspection, roof inspection and heating and air inspection.  If you are selling your home, it is a good idea to get a home inspection prior to the sale to discover any issues that could stall or stop a sale.  As a seller you can do an inspection for obvious items that need attention.  If you are buying a home, you want to make sure you are not purchasing a home with an expensive problem or safety issue.

Usually home inspections will uncover some items that will need to be addressed to complete the sale.  This is part of the negotiation process.  Most defects are minor and easily fixed with a minimum of expense.  This is important to make sure the buyer is satisfied and that the sale closes.

Home inspections should include a thorough inspection of the exterior including the roof, exterior siding or brickwork, windows, interior of every room, inspection of the attic and a complete examination of the crawlspace if not built on a slab.  A good inspector will check for the following:

  • Structural Defects
  • Flooring
  • Walls
  • Windows and Doors
  • Attics and Basements
  • Plumbing
  • Appliances
  • Roof
  • Electrical
  • Heating and Air

Home inspections will range in cost from $300 to $1,000 depending on the location, size and structure of the home.  This is a buyer’s expense as the buyer wants the home inspector to be working for them.  The buyer should choose the home inspector and can do so from referrals or the interviewing of multiple inspectors.

Home inspections will take time and that will depend on the size of the home and the inspector.  The buyer should be at the home inspection to get instant feedback from the inspector and have a better understanding of the condition of the home.

After the inspection is complete, the inspector will produce a report and will review it with the buyer.  This provides the buyer a chance to ask questions and get more details from the inspector.  Should there be defects that are outside the scope of the inspector’s ability to suggest a repair, the buyer can ask for a referral for a specialist.

From my point of view, a home inspection is not optional.  It is a critical part of purchasing a home.  Expect that there will be items that need attention and keep in mind there will be a difference in items that are cosmetic and those that are structural or that make a home unsafe.

Buying a Home! What could possibly go wrong!

Every year many people go on trips or vacations.  Some take cruises or just drive across the country.  One thing you can count on is something unexpected happening.  Anyone who goes on a trip will do a certain amount of planning in order to arrive on time and hopefully within budget.  Obviously you can’t plan for everything but you can think about things in advance that might happen or go wrong.  The same is true during the purchase of a home.  These are a few things that might go wrong while buying a home.  

Concerning the Buyer

  • Can’t find a home in a suitable price range.
  • Credit issues from the past might be a hindrance.
  • Interest rate rises that preclude buyer from purchasing.
  • Employment situation changes.
  • Other financial setback that hinders the purchase.

Concerning the Seller

  • Seller changes their mind.
  • Does not have clear title to the property.
  • Delays move-out date.
  • Misrepresents the condition of the home.
  • Did not complete repairs as agreed.

Concerning the Lender

  • Does not properly prequalify the buyer.
  • Documentation is lost.
  • Lender requires a second appraisal at the last minute.
  • Underwriting requires additional documentation late in processing.

Concerning the Appraiser

  • Appraiser is not local and does not know the area.
  • Insufficient comparable sales for the area.
  • Not finishing the appraisal in a timely manner.
  • Appraisal comes in too low to complete the transaction.
columbia sc, house home for sale buy home

The Closing

What Happens When You Close on the Purchase of Your Home?

This question comes up a lot but not necessarily in this direct manner.  It usually comes up in bits and pieces and it is important to address it as early in the sales process and then continue to provide updates as the sales process moves toward the closing.

Closing is the final step in the purchase of your home and it is the culmination of many steps that will take place up until that day.  There will be multiple parties that will be involved in this process which can include you the purchaser, your agent, the seller, their agent, your lender and their staff of underwriters, the appraiser and the attorney you choose to close on the purchase of the home.  This process usually will take approximately four to six weeks.  During that time you will have been pre-qualified or pre-approved by your lender.  A home will have been chosen and a contract negotiated.  You will have signed an application with your lender and they will have had you sign certain documents required by federal law.  These documents help protect your rights and the rights of parties involved.  You will need to thoroughly review and understand these documents in order to know your mortgage’s terms and conditions.  Some common documents that you will encounter include the closing disclosure for the final terms of your loan; the promissory note which tells you what you are agreeing to, the total you owe, the interest rate on your loan, when the payment is due, where it is due; there will be state and local government-mandated documents regarding your rights; and then the security instrument or mortgage which confirms those rights and responsibilities as a borrower.

Finally your real estate attorney will meet with you to review these documents and you will sign each one as it is explained.  Finally a prepared deed will be signed by the seller and recorded at the local county courthouse and you will have taken ownership of your home.

Columbia sc house for sale


It’s a habit that upon meeting with a buyer we don’t talk very long until I ask the question, “Have you a lender and have you been prequalified?”  Most of the time they answer in the affirmative but sometimes not.  Sometimes they say that they just want to look at some homes.  It is difficult for me to find time in my schedule just to show homes if someone has not established a timeline for purchasing a home.  A serious buyer will understand the importance of getting prequalified.  I always explain the importance of getting a lender to do the prequalification and provide written proof for them.

Getting prequalified accomplishes several important things.  Mortgage prequalification provides an immediate overview of a prospective buyer’s creditworthiness.  This provides the buyer and their agent a view of the price homes they should consider. The danger of not being prequalified is looking at homes and finding one you like only to find out it is not in your budget.  This will be a potential letdown for a buyer when they have to now view homes that are less than what they had in mind.  \

Here are some benefits of selecting a lender and getting approved.

  • You have a clear understanding of your purchasing power.
  • It lets you know if you may have some potential credit issues that can cause a delay in purchasing. The sooner a buyer knows this the quicker they can work to resolve any credit issues.
  • With prequalification you can write an offer immediately without delay. Most sellers will not consider an offer if it is not accompanied with a lender preapproval letter.
  • You also gain knowledge of the different lending options that are available and allows you to prepare a budget that will fit your financial situation.

DIY Remodeling for the Homeowner

Call a contractor? No, thanks!

One of the many benefits of being a homeowner is the ability to change your home to suit your tastes—but armed with DIY Network, HGTV and YouTube, more homeowners are taking on the work themselves, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2019 Remodeling Impact Report.

DIY Equals Happy Homeowners

From complete control to personal pride in the project, do-it-yourself home improvements are more often satisfying, according to the report. In comparing “Joy Scores”—a happiness meter on a scale of 1-10—DIY home improvements scored a 9.9, while professional projects scored a 9.6. Ninety-seven percent of DIY homeowners felt “a sense of accomplishment” in their project.

From the report, the three most common DIY home improvements were:

  • Closet Renovation
  • Basement Finishing
  • Hardwood Refinishing

Additionally, homeowners are more likely to DIY for their pet than for themselves, the report shows. The most popular projects include built-in beds and dishes, and a pet pool.

Whether you DIY or hire a professional, if you’re considering a remodel, consult with your REALTOR®, John Smaby, 2019 NAR president, recommends. He or she can advise you on the best improvements to make.

“One of the pleasures of homeownership is the ability to take on projects to customize a house that truly make it your own,” says Smaby. “Those taking on remodeling projects to get the most bang for their buck on resale should speak to a local REALTOR®, as they have unique and instrumental insights into which projects and upgrades bring the most value to homes in your area.”

Here are more findings from the report:


Mortgage Rates Spike

From: RIS Media

The average 30-year, fixed mortgage rate spiked this week, to 4.58 percent—a high not hit in four years, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The average was 4.47 percent the prior week.

The average 15-year, fixed rate, at the same time, was 4.02 percent, while the five-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable rate was 3.74 percent—also increases from the prior week.

“Mortgage rates are now at their highest level since the week of Aug. 22, 2013,” says Sam Khater, chief economist at Freddie Mac, who notes the rate represents an 11-point surge. “Higher Treasury yields, driven by rising commodity prices, more Treasury issuances and the steady stream of solid economic news are behind the uptick in rates over the past week.”

According to Khater, the climb in costs is not deterring homebuyers.

“Despite the increase in borrowing costs, demand for home purchase credit remains solid,” Khater says. “The Mortgage Bankers Association reported in their latest mortgage applications survey that activity was up 11 percent from a year ago.”

Source: Freddie Mac

June Is National Homeownership Month

Source: RISMediahttp://rismedia.com/2018/06/05/june-national-homeownership-month/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=eNews


June is National Homeownership Month, and the industry is recognizing the importance of homeownership as a milestone of the American Dream.

This year’s theme, set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is “Find Your Place.” HUD is one of many agencies that provide resources to help consumers obtain and sustain homeownership. Through its network of housing agencies, consumers can seek out counselors for homeowner education, foreclosure prevention and budgeting assistance. With mortgage options through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), consumers with low credit or low-down payment funds can reach their homeownership goals faster—a significant method of aid for millennials and upcoming buyer generations flooded with student loans, making it difficult to amass the funds needed for conventional financing. According to HUD, over 47 million homeowners since 1934 purchased a home with a mortgage insured by FHA, and around 40 percent of all borrowers purchase their first home using an FHA loan.

“Homeownership serves as an enduring symbol of security and prosperity, and it provides many Americans with a legacy they can pass down to their children and grandchildren,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson in a statement. “During National Homeownership Month, we recognize the abiding value of owning a home, and we rededicate ourselves toward helping hard-working families to find their place in the American dream.”

Although homeownership rates are currently stalled at 64.2 percent, experts say the lack of dramatic increase is a reflection of a market that is withstanding challenges such as low inventory and rising interest rates. While the number has not moved much since the first quarter of 2017, there have been gradual increases since 2016, following a significant drop after the housing crisis.

While the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) celebrates its commitment to homeownership year-round through resources provided on its Homeownership Matters and HouseLogic sites, NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall recognized June as a pivotal time to reaffirm the association’s mission to promote homeownership.

“National Homeownership Month is a time to celebrate and promote the modern American Dream of owning a home,” said Mendenhall in a statement. “Homeownership changes lives and enhances futures, and many Americans see it as one of their greatest hopes. These individuals are counting on the nation’s 1.3 million REALTORS® to champion and protect homeownership and help make it more affordable, attainable and sustainable. REALTORS® pledge to continue to lead efforts to ensure that the dream of homeownership is not only possible, but very real, for any and all who want to achieve it, so they can have a place of their own to make memories, start growing their financial futures, and build strong communities.”

In addition, Freddie Mac’s website for National Homeownership Month provides valuable resources for homeowners, such as educational articles, homeownership program statistics and opportunities consumers can take advantage of in order to make their homeownership dream a reality.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), primary residences are ahead of all other financial assets, business interests and retirement accounts, accounting for nearly one-quarter of all assets held by households in 2016, as reported in the latest edition of the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.

“Homeownership is a primary source of net worth for many Americans, and is an important step in accumulating personal financial assets over the long term,” said Randy Noel, chairman of the NAHB, in an interview on NAHBNow.

In recognition of National Homeownership Month, NAHB is making a toolkit available for its members; the toolkit includes a video on the value of homeownership, sample social media posts, radio scripts and other talking points, relevant articles, and even print ads showcasing the benefits of homeownership.

Citing the passing of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act and this past year’s tax reform bill as recent progress, President Donald Trump released a statement pledging the administration’s commitment toward increasing homeownership incentives across the country:

“During National Homeownership Month, we affirm the joy and benefits of homeownership. For millions of Americans, owning a home is an important step toward financial security and achieving the American Dream. My Administration is committed to fostering an economic environment in which every family has the opportunity to enjoy the sense of pride and stability that can come with owning a home.”

5 Simple Ways to Stage the Exterior of Your Home Before an Open House

From RIS Media:

If you’re selling your home, chances are good you’re familiar with the concept of staging your home. Real estate agents recommend your home look its best to prospective buyers, and home staging is a great way to ensure you receive top dollar. But did you know you should stage the exterior of your home too? Failing to update the look of your home’s exterior can cause buyers to get a bad first impression when they initially arrive to view your home. Whether your audience are luxury home buyers or you are selling your starter home, staging the exterior of your home will have a major impact in the sale of your home. If you want to put exterior home staging to work, here are five elements you should consider tweaking.

Clean Your Exterior Windows and Screens

Nothing says poor maintenance like dirty windows and window screens. If your windows are caked with dust or muck from the last rainstorm, open house visitors are going to wonder what other maintenance jobs you haven’t attended to. Don’t give visitors the opportunity to question whether your home has been properly maintained or not; clean those windows and screens before authorizing an open house.

Refresh Your Gardens and Walkways

Just like dirty windows are a real estate faux pas, so are unkempt flower beds. Weeds and overgrown bushes tell visitors you can’t be bothered with the small stuff. Spend a day removing weeds and trimming flowers, or hire a professional landscaper to refresh your gardens. It is amazing what a refreshed garden can do to your home’s curb appeal.

Refresh Your Home’s Siding

No, you don’t have to replace your home’s siding prior to an open house. A quick power wash could be all it takes to remove years of dust and grime. You can attempt this task yourself, but it might be worth your while to hire a professional. Some homeowners have been known to damage their home’s siding by using too forceful a water stream. This is one task that is often best left to experienced professionals. The last thing you want to deal with is replacing siding before an open house.

Update/Clean Door Fixtures and House Address Signage

Something as simple as a new doorknob or address signage can give your home a refreshed look. You needn’t spring for a new door; just update the faceplate and/or doorknob. Purchase new address numbers from the local hardware store and you’ll have tweaked the look of your home’s exterior in just a few minutes.

Clean Patio Furniture

Whether you have chairs on your front veranda or a dining set on your back deck, tired patio furniture can cost you big dollars when it comes time to negotiate with a potential homebuyer. Dilapidated patio furniture instantly gives a bad impression and can cause potential homebuyers to request replacement furniture as part of their deal. Spruce up your existing furniture with a quick power wash, or replace it if it is beyond cleaning.

Simple tweaks to the exterior of your home can have a big impact on your home’s final selling price. By spending just a few days improving the look of the outside of your home, you can increase the amount buyers are willing to offer and make your home the cleanest real estate listing on the block. Will you be trying these exterior home staging tricks when you list your home for sale?

Charles Muotoh is the owner of dcrealestateguru.com, a full service real estate firm focused on leveraging digital marketing strategies to serve buyers and sellers of real estate in the Washington D.C. area.

Ranch-Styles, and Other Homebuyer Wishes This Season By RIS Media

Real estate season is underway, and house hunters have one goal in mind: a ranch-style home.

According to a recent survey by realtor.com®, ranches are the most in-demand style of home this year, with 42 percent of homebuyers eyeing a rambler in their search for a home. A distant 28 percent of homebuyers—the second highest share in the survey—are in the market for a contemporary.

Younger homebuyers, however, have a tendency toward a row house or townhouse—a proclivity that wanes with age, when preferences shift to a single-family home.

Type of home aside, three-quarters of homebuyers are on the hunt for a two-bathroom home, and over half are out for three bedrooms, according to the survey.

Homebuyers, especially younger ones with young children, are also prioritizing a big backyard in their search—an attribute that parlays into more privacy, one of the top motivations for home-buying. Another motivation, held primarily by millennial homebuyers and homebuyers aged 35 to 44, is changing family needs, such as having children. Homebuyers aged 45 and older are more motivated by retirement.

A remodeled kitchen is another choice feature for homebuyers, with 80 percent ranking the kitchen as one of their three favorite rooms in their home. A garage, a living room and a master bedroom are also high on homebuyers’ lists.

What are homebuyers not looking for? In the rearview are a guest house, a man cave, a mother-in-law suite and solar panels.

“The insights from our most recent consumer survey provide a glimpse into what buyers are looking at today,” says Sarah Staley, housing expert at realtor.com. “While we often think of dream homes as being big and bold, that’s not what we’re hearing from potential buyers today. These insights can help guide potential sellers in deciding which rooms or features to invest in before listing their homes.”