There are so many things to consider when purchasing a home, such as the number of rooms, kitchen upgrades, yard size, and so many other features. However, you should also take the time to treat your first look at a house like Thanksgiving – enter the dining room and take a big whiff.
Your sense of smell can tell you a lot about the condition of a [city] home. So follow your nose, along with your real estate agent, throughout a house and inquire about anything unusual that makes you hold your breath. Below are four specific odors that could mean you are in for some serious work.
- Mold and mildew – If you get even the faintest whiff, investigate the basement and bathrooms. This could be a simple fix or the cause of larger issues, such as foundation cracks or improper insulation.
- Cigarette smoke – This can be an extremely offensive odor, especially to a non-smoker. In addition, it could cost you new carpets and new paint. Smoke creates a film over paint and the only way to cover it up might be to literally do so.
- Pet urine – While you may be a pet lover, you do not want your new house to smell like a cat box. A quick fix could be to shampoo the carpets, but if the issue has persisted long enough then you might be looking at replacing the sub-floor especially if it has absorbed too much of the liquid and the smell.
- Sulfur – Just like rotten eggs, this odor will have you holding your nose. While this is not necessarily an expensive fix, it usually means there’s a gas leak somewhere, which is definitely not good for your health.
Follow your nose and be sure to ask for repair costs if you are going to have to pay for odor-removal renovations. With a little negotiation, you will find the right home and be hosting Thanksgiving dinner next year with only the scent of roasted turkey and grandma’s dressing in the air. For more tips on purchasing real estate, please call me at 661-979-9000 or email me at Sonja@sonjabush.com.
Real Estate Agent
There’s a Gas Leak
This article is a continuation of Hiring an Amazing Real Estate Agent
So how do you know if you’re working with an amazing agent?
The first step would be to “shop around.” Many people work with the first agent they come across without a firm understanding of their level of experience. It’s always a good idea to interview a number of agents before selecting one. If you’ve gotten referrals from people you trust, then you may only need to interview 2-3 agents.
However, it can be tough to know what to ask in the interview process. Here are some questions that can help you qualify the best agent to help you achieve your real estate goals:
- Can you send me some information about yourself?
Look for professionalism and consistency. What are their professional accomplishments? Also, try to identify how they approach their work. Look for a business person who has a strategy and solid support system. If they’re a newer agent, ask about their team’s dynamic and accomplishments.
- How long have you been in real estate?
While longevity is important, even more telling are the number of transactions they have closed or been involved in. So feel free to also ask: “How many homes have you sold in this area?”
- What will you do to keep me informed?
Do you want daily or weekly reports from your agent? Will the agent be able to meet these expectations? Determine how much communication you want, and then find an agent who will give you the attention and time you want and deserve.
- Can you provide me with further resources I may need?
From market reports and pricing trends to school performance and crime statistics, top agents have resources at their disposal. In addition, market experts have built strong relationships with their extended team of professionals, and can often get expedient service or be able to “cash in a favor” for you should a need arise.
- Seller only: Can you share with me your plan to market my property?
Many agents will simply put your home in the MLS and wait for it to sell. An amazing agent should have a detailed plan of how to get your home exposure on social media, to their local networks, and more.
Now that you’re armed with the 5 Attributes of Amazing Agents and the Top Questions to ensure you work with the best possible real estate agent, you’re ready to start interviewing agents.
We’d love an opportunity to win your business. Schedule a free consultation with Sonja to find out how true market experts can help you achieve your real estate goals! Call her today at 661-979-9000 or email her at Sonja@sonjabush.com to schedule your appointment.
- National Association of REALTORS – https://www.nar.realtor/field-guides/field-guide-to-quick-real-estate-statistics
- Financial Post – http://business.financialpost.com/personal-finance/mortgages-real-estate/canada-housing-bubble-agents/wcm/b49d4e3a-bd8d-4d1c-9566-bd3d80c8e23a
- National Association of REALTORS –
- National Association of REALTORS – https://www.nar.realtor/field-guides/field-guide-to-quick-real-estate-statistics
Not all real estate professionals are the same. And it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the options and information about working with real estate professionals to buy or sell your home. In fact, many real estate markets are oversaturated with agents.
To help you understand what makes top agents and market experts stand apart from the competition, the following are five key attributes of an amazing agent:
- A Pricing Specialist
If an agent has their real estate license, they know the basics of the transaction process. They know what goes into buying and selling a home. However, there’s a difference between knowing the process and navigating it for an ideal result. This ideal result often means buying or selling a home for the best price.
For buyers, amazing agents have a strong understanding of market trends, competition, and how to make your offer attractive to sellers. They can help you identify and secure a deal to ensure you get the home you want, within your desired budget.
If you’re selling a home, market experts have experience pricing homes optimally for the market and creating pricing plans to minimize the time spent selling the home. This will help you sell for your desired price, and avoid costs like additional mortgage and utility payments.
|Takeaway: Whether buying or selling a home, pricing can be tricky. Market experts can help navigate best-possible pricing strategies, and also secure the home you want within your budget.|
- An Effective Time Manager
It’s common to underestimate the amount of time it takes to buy or sell your home. The average real estate agent may not be utilizing the latest tools and technology to make the transaction easier and more cost-effective for their clients. Market experts have tools and strategies at their disposal to minimize the amount of time you spend on the process.
For sellers, market experts can make sure you only deal with qualified buyers, not the “window shoppers” who can waste your time. We also utilize the latest marketing practices to advertise and price your home effectively, ensuring it gets sold quickly.
When looking to buy a home, inexperienced agents may waste your time by showing you homes that are not a good fit for you. A market expert knows how to prioritize your needs and wants to find you the ideal home within your budget. They also know how to spot “red flags” and can steer you away from homes that are likely to turn up major issues in a real estate inspection, saving you time and money.
In addition, well-networked Realtors can gain access to the hottest listings before many websites do. Their extensive professional networks can help identify “pre-list” homes before they’re officially on the market. This can be invaluable in a highly-competitive real estate market.
|Takeaway: Even a well-intentioned agent may not have the skills, tools or technology to make the experience easy for you. There are lots of hidden activities that may take up unexpected time, and a market expert will save you time and energy.|
- A Market Insider
While most agents can pull market stats about a neighborhood, community or city, they may not understand important trends or developments that would affect your transaction. These can include the state of the school district, issues with a homeowner association, new businesses in the area, zoning rules or trends in home prices.
Market experts live and breathe local real estate and know the trigger points for buying and selling in this market. We also stay current on effective marketing and negotiation practices, resulting in our track record of success.
For sellers, we understand what features of your home and neighborhood are assets in the selling process. And for buyers, we share a deep understanding of market factors, including school and neighborhood quality, crime statistics, the speed of sales and more.
|Takeaway: Getting relevant and specific market knowledge can be difficult and time-consuming, which is why many real estate agents don’t have it. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, an experienced real estate agent is often the best source of information about a city, neighborhood, or even street … we’re literally conducting market research every day.|
- A Strong Negotiator
Amazing agents truly set themselves apart in their ability to negotiate. Unfortunately, a large portion of agents don’t commit their full time to increasing this key skill.
Real estate negotiations can be challenging, even for seasoned professionals. It takes skill, experience and a knowledge of how to fight for your client’s best interests. While any agent can enter negotiations to buy or sell a home, they may not know the effective strategies to exit those negotiations with the result you want.
Experienced Realtors focus on negotiation as a key skill. We understand what to do before entering negotiations (establishing the upper hand to set up the best outcome), as well as during the process (when to offer or accept concessions).
|Takeaway: Many agents can feel the stress of the negotiation process, and may agree to terms of the buyer/seller. Working with a market expert will help ensure you get the best deal, not just the fastest deal.|
- An Effective Closer
Closing a deal fast is often a good thing. For buyers, it means you found the home you wanted quickly. For sellers, it often means you can avoid the added expenses of mortgage and utility payments, and maximize the value of your home sale.
However, an agent solely focused on speed can make decisions that aren’t in your best interests. Top real estate professionals know how to not only achieve your real estate goals quickly but in the right way to avoid potential pitfalls.
Just like negotiations, the paperwork and process of closing a real estate transaction are complicated. And they can be overwhelming for the average agent who hasn’t handled a lot of transactions. Sales contracts, property disclosures, occupancy agreements and even lead paint records need to be executed with precision. Your agent not only needs to be familiar with these but also stay current on any changes in requirements or regulations.
Market experts have a strong understanding of real estate contracts, timelines, clauses and contingencies within the closing process. In fact, avoiding pitfalls during the closing process is where many sellers find an experienced Realtor is a huge asset.
|Takeaway: Many agents don’t have a firm understanding of contracts. Because a real estate transaction often involves a significant investment, even a small mistake can mean serious trouble. With that in mind, it’s often best, and most responsible, to work with a true market expert.|
If you are ready to talk with a real estate expert, give Sonja a call at 661-979-9000 or email her at Sonja@sonjabush.com.
Most people will end up buying relatively few houses during their lifetime, which means it’s hard to accumulate a lot of real estate experience. However, buying a Mammoth Lakes home can be simplified if you focus on treating your purchase like any other investment. Instead of relying on how a house makes you feel, evaluate it as you would a stock purchase.
5 key things to consider before purchasing property:
- Accurately evaluate your needs. Make sure you have a good understanding of both your current and your anticipated future needs. For instance, if your kids are all heading off to college in the next three years, you may not really need the large five-bedroom house you’ve been looking at. The key is, to be honest and realistic.
- Don’t fall in love. Obviously, you want to enjoy living in your house, but don’t get emotional about things you could easily add to a less expensive [city] home make you rush into a foolish investment. If the house is what you need and priced appropriately, then go for it.
- Know your comparables. The biggest mistake you can make is overpaying. Arriving at an exact price can be difficult. Even professional appraisers can arrive at vastly different valuations. However, carefully looking at the area’s recent sales can let you know if you are at least in the right ballpark.
- Be honest with repair and renovation costs. What happens if you find what appears to be a great deal until the inspection comes back with a laundry list of necessary repairs. A lot of buyers may run away, but it could still be a great deal. The only way to know for certain is to get a bid from a professional.
- Do your homework. If you like a property, make sure it’s in good condition and are comfortable with the price, seal the deal. It’s a lot of money to spend, but doing all of your research can make it a lot easier to reach a decision and move forward.
For more tips on purchasing a Mammoth Lakes home like an investor, please call me at 661-979-9000 or email me at Sonja@sonjabush.com.
More than 77 percent of people own a smartphone.1 The average person checks their smartphone 46 times a day, with people under the age of 24 checking it an average of 74 times a day.1 We check it while we’re waiting in line and during our leisure time, whether we’re scrolling through social media, reading emails or getting up-to-date on the latest news.
Smartphones are not only a useful tool for communication. With the following apps, you can get organized (whether you plan to buy or sell), save money, learn about the homes in your neighborhood and get inspired for your next renovation project. If you’re like 81 percent of people, you have your smartphone with you during most of your waking hours; let it help you stay organized and make your life easier.3
Apps For Homeowners: Get Renovation Inspiration
These apps not only offer ideas for your next remodel or home décor project, some of them even give you a preview of what your home may look like once it’s finished.
1.) Houzz (Free)
The Houzz app is the number one app for home design and it’s no wonder; the app gives you access to all the inspiration, blogs and design ideas from the Houzz site on your phone or tablet. The app features View in My Room 3D, which allows you to view products in your home before you buy. Just take a photo of the space and a 3D version of the product will appear. Browse products, save photos of designs you’d like to view later and connect with local professionals in your area. Whether you’re gathering ideas for your next renovation and décor project or you’re just browsing, the Houzz app will satisfy all your design needs. (Android, iOS)
2.) iHandy Carpenter ($1.99)
Make sure the photos, shelves, mirrors and other artwork you hang are even and aligned with this helpful app. It’s an all-in-one tool kit that features a plumb bob, surface level, bubble level bar, ruler and protractor. No need to purchase these tools separately; just hold your smartphone up to the wall and the app will take care of the rest. (iOS, Android)
3.) Color911 ($3.99)
If you’re thinking of changing the color scheme of your home or want to find the right shades for lamp shades, rugs or throw pillows to match your vintage sofa, the Color911 app provides pre-selected color palettes to match any color scheme. Take a photo of the room or the furniture and the app will create a custom palette full of complementary colors. Write notes about your palette and organize it all into folders to share with family, friends or your design professional. (iOS)
Bonus Apps for Homeowners:
Hungry and looking for a local hotspot? Meeting friends at a coffee shop nearby? Or just need to find the closest ATM? AroundMe allows you to search for the nearest restaurants, banks, gas stations, book a hotel or find a movie schedule close to where you live. Open the app and start learning more about your neighborhood. (iOS, Android, Windows)
From keeping things clean to making them colorful, Brightnest, developed by Angie’s List, is loaded with suggestions on how to make your home a better place to live. With categories of customized tips (money-saving, cleaning, eco-friendly, healthy, cooking, and creative) there are plenty of great ways to pull inspiration from the app. BrightNest will help you tackle important home tasks with easy-to-follow instructions, a personal schedule and helpful reminders. (iOS, Android, Web)
Apps For Sellers: List & Sell Your Home Quickly
Are you a homeowner who is thinking of selling? If you’re preparing to sell, you know there are a lot of tasks to complete before putting your home on the market. These apps help you manage your to-dos so you can list and sell your home more efficiently with fewer distractions.
4.) Homesnap (Free)
Using the Homesnap app, you can snap a photo of any home, nationwide, to learn more about it. When you’re ready to sell, snap a few of the homes in your neighborhood to find out their valuation. This app isn’t perfect, which is why you should always consult with a local real estate agent. However, it can give you a general idea of the value of your home compared to others in the neighborhood. (iOS and Android devices)
5.) Docusign (Free)
Use the DocuSign app to complete approvals and agreements in hours—not days—from anywhere and on any device. Quickly and securely access and sign any documents. The benefit to using the app (over your desktop computer) is you will receive push notifications when a document is waiting for your signature and you can view and organize all your docs on-the-go. Using the easily downloadable app, receive and sign documents for free. You can receive and sign documents for free, but will need a paid account to send documents; pricing starts at $10 a month. (iOS, Android, Windows, Web).
6.) Wunderlist (Free)
Designed for use on the Web and mobile devices, Wunderlist is a well-designed to-do list and task management program that makes it easy to create a list and add tasks, due dates and reminders. Organize your ideas or focus into separate lists or create tasks within one list. You can also email them with whomever you collaborate, such as a spouse or your real estate agent. (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Web)
Bonus App for Sellers:
Real Estate Dictionary (Free)
Not sure what all those industry specific terms mean? Search thousands of words and phrases from real estate, mortgage, and financial dictionaries for clear, in-depth definitions. This is a handy app for anyone who’s buying or selling and wants to learn more about the process. (iOS, Android)
Apps For Renters: Get Ready to Buy
Not ready to buy a home just yet? These apps will help you get into the perfect rental while you save money, build a budget and get on track for homeownership.
7.) Mint (Free)
Do you know where your money goes each month? Manage your bills, budget and credit score all in one place. Mint is a free app that helps you view your complete financial picture and track your spending. We recommend this app to anyone, but it’s especially useful for renters who need to crack down on their spending in order to save for a down payment. Use Mint to look for areas you can cut spending in order to save a little extra each month. (iOS, Android)
8.) Acorns ($1 a month to start)
Acorns is modernizing the practice of saving loose change with their automated savings tool. The app rounds up your purchases on linked credit or debit cards, then sweeps the change into a computer-managed investment portfolio. Acorns is free for four years for college students and everyone else pays $1 a month until their account balance hits $5,000, then 0.25% of their account balance per year. This is a useful tool for those who have a hard time saving. (iOS, Android)
9.) Neighborhoods & Apartments
Built for the on-the-go apartment hunter, this app from Walk Score takes the hassle out of finding your next home or apartment and helps you live near the people and places you love. They collect listings from top rental listing sites and we like them because they share how walkable each address is, determined by access to public transit, things to do, bike trails, shorter commutes, etc. (iOS, Android)
Bonus Apps for Renters:
Wally is a personal finance app that helps you compare your income to expenses, so you can understand where your money goes each month, and set and achieve goals. Wally lets you keep track of the details as you spend money: where, when, what, why, & how much. We love how simple it is to set a personalized savings target and scan receipts. (iOS, Android)
Credit Karma (Free)
If you’re preparing to buy, boosting your credit score is likely a goal you’ve set. Credit Karma is a free app that allows you to safely monitor your score and receive updates on ways you can improve it over time. They provide financial calculators and educational articles to help you better understand what credit is all about. Check as often as you want, and it doesn’t hurt your score. (iOS, Android, Web)
Apps for Buyers: Find the Perfect Home
When you’re ready to buy, there are several apps that can help you stay on top of the process. Whether you’re browsing online at different neighborhoods and homes and can’t seem to remember where all your saved data and information went or you want to save an important task or a neighborhood or listing clipped from the Web, these apps help you keep it all straight.
10.) Dwellr (Free)
Dwellr is run by the U.S Census Bureau and provides demographic information about the neighborhoods you are considering moving to. You get a variety of education/school, real estate, transportation, and population statistics to give you an idea of what it would be like living there. If you want to get the feel of a potential neighborhood, then Dwellr may just be the app to help you find the best home. (iOS, Android)
11.) Evernote (Free for the Basic version, $34.99 per year for Plus and $69.99 per year for Premium)
Collect ideas, notes and images in one place to access later on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Categorize your notes so you can find them quickly and easily and share them with others in a group notebook. Add the Web Clipper feature to your browser and clip and save articles, blogs and images from the Web. Whether you’re collecting research on a business idea or you’re looking for inspiration for a home renovation, Evernote can help you keep it all together. (Web, iOS, Android)
12.) Mortgage Calculator (Free)
There are a lot of free mortgage calculators available for download that will help you quickly determine what your monthly payment will be while you’re house hunting. We recommend picking your favorite and using it to help you shop in your price range. These numbers should be used as a guide, work with your agent and mortgage professional to learn exactly what type of loan you’ll qualify for. (Web, iOS, Android)
Bonus App for Buyers:
Google Maps (Free)
Google Maps is a must-have for anyone who’s house hunting. When you’re ready to visit a property or check out a neighborhood, you can use Google Maps to give you turn by turn directions to the house. You can use their satellite view to get a good idea how far important things like schools, parks, shopping, bus stops, and restaurants are to a home you are interested in and check out the other houses on the street. (Web, Android, iOS,)
Ready to move beyond the app?
If you’re thinking of buying or selling your home, or know someone who is, keep us in mind because we’re happy to help! Call Sonja today at 661-979-9000 or email her at Sonja@sonjabush.com.
1. Pew Research Center, January 12, 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/12/evolution-of-technology/
Deloitte, 2016 global mobile consumer survey: US edition https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/global-mobile-consumer-survey-us-edition.html
- Gallup, July 9, 2017, http://www.gallup.com/poll/184046/smartphone-owners-check-phone-least-hourly.aspx