Valdosta Real Estate Ramblings

 

Sept. 13, 2017

Why Do Real Estate Agents Ask If You’re Pre-approved?

Have you ever walked into an open house, or called a real estate agent about a listing, and within minutes, they’re asking you if you are “pre-approved” for a mortgage? If you haven’t, then you have never walked into an open house or called an agent. Or at least enough of them... Just wait. It’ll happen. And you’re going to feel like it’s pretty pushy for them to ask that.

It’s like a joke.

It makes you feel like telling real estate agents this knock-knock joke… You: Knock-knock. Real estate agent: Who’s there? You: Nunya. Real Estate Agent: Nunya who!? You: Nunya business if I’m pre-approved or not! Just show me the house, and I’ll get pre-approved if I even like the house. I can definitely get approved for a mortgage. Probably way more than this stupid house anyway. So, stop asking if I’m pre-approved. Try it...maybe the agent will laugh! Or, maybe not. Depends...

But it’s no joking matter.

It depends on the agent. Agents have different personalities. They all come across different ways. They all handle how they meet, greet, and chat with consumers in different ways. There’s no one way to “be”, as a real estate agent. But every single real estate agent should be asking you if you’re pre-approved. But many do not. Because they feel like it is a bit pushy and forward. Because he or she worries about offending you. But they should ask… ...because it’s entirely relevant for them to know. ...because it’s entirely important for you to be pre-approved. It might come across as a pushy, or invasive question. Maybe that is because of how an agent asks the question. Or when the agent asks the question. Or, simply because you don’t know that it’s a question that should be asked. But it is not a joking matter. And you should expect the question, be prepared to say that you are pre-approved, and...you should actually want the agent to ask you that question.

It’s not like a first date.

If you were going on a first date with someone, and one of the first things the person asked about was how much money you make, and can you afford the date, you’d feel like that was pushy and weird. Rightfully so. You don’t go in for a kiss the minute you meet each other, let alone ask for a hand in marriage. There’s some build-up. Beyond that, there’s some time that needs to be spent together before probing questions about finances are asked. That kind of stuff comes way after even the first kiss, because finances are a pretty private, intimate subject. Even more intimate than a kiss... Which is why it seems so invasive when an agent you’ve just met asks you if you’re pre-approved. It feels like they’re asking you some pretty private, intimate stuff that’s none of their business. But asking for a pre-approval isn’t like going in for a kiss. It isn’t a marriage proposal. And it isn’t probing on the part of the agent. It is a necessary question, and an important piece of information for the agent to know. And for you!

Why does an agent ask you if you’re pre-approved?

Agents aren’t asking you if you’re pre-approved because they’re looking to size up how much you can spend. (At least not most agents…) They want and need to know that you are serious, and qualified to buy a house. And they certainly have their reasons for wanting to know…

  • Real estate agents need to make sure they’re working with someone who can actually buy a house. They don’t get paid until and unless the person they’re working with buys a house. So, this is a matter of being careful about who they spend their time with. It might sound selfish…but you can’t fault them for that. They’re in business. Nobody cuts them a paycheck. And showing people houses is not a public service or charity work. Even working with someone who is pre-approved doesn’t guarantee them that they’re going to make any money. But at least it’s an indication that the person they are working with can do something.

  • Agents also need to know how much you’re pre-approved for in order to advise you as well as possible. Picture an agent showing you houses for weeks, and months. You finally find “the one”! You get all excited about the house, and you want to make an offer, only to find out then that there’s no way you could afford the house. This leads to heartbreak and aggravation...for both of you. It doesn’t do either of you any good to go through all of that only to find out you can’t afford the houses you were looking at...or even buy one at all.

  • And, to a degree, this is a safety precaution. You might not believe this, but agents are in a pretty risky position. If they just say OK to every person who calls and asks to go see a house, with absolutely no proof or verification of who the person is, that puts them at risk. Sure, a pre-approval won’t necessarily stop an evil person from doing something, but this is a pretty basic precautionary request.

Why you should want an agent to ask if you are pre-approved.

Even if you have just started browsing for a home just a little bit, and haven’t gotten pre-approved (yet)...at least expect the question. Don’t be offended when you’re asked if you are. In fact, pay closer attention to the agents who do ask if you’re pre-approved! The ones who ask make it easy for you to find a great agent to work with. Because if they’re asking that question, it’s a good sign that they are thorough and thoughtful about how they do their business. That’s the type of agent you want to have on your side when you’re buying a house — one who’s careful from the get-go. One who pays attention to the details. One who isn’t going to waste your time any more than their own. Or allow your heart to be broken when you fall in love with a house you can’t do anything about. And if you want to get some really good attention and service from the best agents you come across, don’t even let them have to ask if you are pre-approved… Get pre-approved before you even start looking. And let the agent know you’re pre-approved before they even ask. You’ll set yourself apart from almost every buyer the agent has ever met.

Posted in Home Buying
Aug. 22, 2017

One Glaring Real Estate Lesson We Can All Learn From The Solar Eclipse

You've probably heard lots of people scurrying to find solar eclipse glasses. There's going to be quite a few people who simply can't get a pair in time for the eclipse. People waited too long to get them. Perhaps because they weren't entirely in tune with how rare, and how big of an event the eclipse is. But also because they underestimated the supply, availability, and accessibility of the glasses compared to the demand for them. Who'd have thought they'd be about as rare as the eclipse itself?

Don't wait 'til it's too late

This is similar to something seen in real estate... When people hear there's a great house on the market, they often wait to go see it or make an offer...until it's too late to do anything about it. By the time they motivate, the house has been scooped up by another buyer, and often there were even more buyers who were trying to buy it, but lost out.

Houses aren't "a dime a dozen"

The solar eclipse glasses were practically "a dime a dozen". They were all basically the same, inexpensive, and plenty to go around...yet still not enough for everyone who wanted a pair. Houses, on the other hand, are often one-of-a-kind... ...which makes it all the more likely that if you hesitate even the slightest bit, you're going to miss your opportunity.

But there's always another...

Lots of people won't be able to look directly at the eclipse, since they don't have the glasses. They're going to miss the rare opportunity. There will be disappointment. But even though they're rare, another one will occur fairly soon in the U.S in about 7 years. Or, you can see one in a mere 2 years in other parts of the world. They're still rare, no matter how you cut it. But you can see an eclipse at other times if you're willing to travel. Same thing goes for houses... If you lose out on a house because you hesitated, it's disappointing, but it's not the only opportunity you'll have. In fact, you could probably find a similar house to the one you like pretty soon after losing the one you had your eye on...if you're willing to travel. But most people want to find the house of their dreams where they live, not somewhere else. So don't miss your opportunity when you see the perfect house, in the perfect location. Jump on it. Otherwise, you may be waiting a while for the next one to appear.

Posted in Home Buying
Dec. 26, 2016

5 Kitchen Trends To Watch In 2017

 

A kitchen remodel is the singular most cost-effective room remodel you can put into your home if you’re planning on putting it on the market. The ROI is usually more than 100% and very often much, much more. With the upswing in the real estate market these days, a full or partial kitchen remodel can help you sell your home faster and for a higher dollar amount.

1. Tuxedo Kitchens

Tuxedo Kitchen 

You may have not heard of the term “tuxedo kitchen,” but you have likely seen the color-blocked images. The style is relatively simple, usually with white on the top, and a darker color such as black or dark gray on the bottom of the kitchen. When designing your tuxedo kitchen, remember that the small accents are absolutely essential to tying this look together and really making it pop. Think brushed gold cabinet hardware with matching faucets and light fixtures, or utilizing the identical style cabinets for both top and bottom, but white on top and navy below, with matte finishes on both. The little details will make or break this room, so pay attention to the subtleties!

2. Wood Paneling

Wood Paneling

Now, of course we’re not talking about 1970’s basement wood paneling… no, today’s wood paneling is rich in color and texture and nothing at all like the past. The prevailing trend over the next years will be towards light colored, even white, paneling and will be used on walls, ceilings, backsplashes...you’ll see lots of creative uses for paneling! While lighter colors prevail, faux weathered greys and brown inspire a rustic look without having to break the bank on reclaimed barnwood. Warm tones give depth to rooms where people gather such as kitchens and living rooms, or where we take sanctuary - bedrooms and libraries or den areas. Remember that you don’t have to panel an entire room, either. Using paneling in small spaces as an accent is a cost-effective and simple way to create a new look without investing a ton of work, time, or money. Utilize recent (say, last 10-15 years) paneling in new ways by painting it in a new color. In a kitchen or bath, consider painting the paneling in a shade similar to the existing walls. If you’ve got a cottage look or rustic decor, a bit of faux distressing will look fantastic, and breathe new life into the room!

3. Hidden Appliances

Hidden Appliances

Hidden appliances are those that are made to look as if they are cabinets, with the same design in doors and hardware. The trend will be towards hidden appliances, even small appliances such coffee makers and microwaves, and certainly bigger items like refrigerators and dishwashers. Nearly every appliance but the stove can be “hidden” and disguised as cabinetry, and this creates a clean, uncluttered looking kitchen overall. This look will be especially attractive to those who spend a great deal of time in the kitchen and are looking for a cozier, more relaxing feel.

4. Patterned Tiles

Patterned Tiles

Out with the subway-inspired tiles, and in with eclectic patterned tiles. Use many different patterns within a color range for a really funky look, or stick with a more traditional, yet still colorful, look of alternating patterned tiles. The options here are truly endless, and you’ll find patterned tiles to fit every room, use, and budget. Go for a simple project like a new kitchen backsplash, or do an entire bathroom! Mix patterned tiles with solid-colored tiles or go all-out with one style/pattern. A simple online search for “patterned tiles” gives enormous inspiration!

5. Automation

Automation

Faucets with sensors - great for kids who can’t yet reach. Lights that go on when we enter a room and automatically go off when they stop detecting motion. Meat thermometers that notify your smartphone when your roast has achieved the correct temperature. These are but a few of the quickly increasing options when it comes to automating your home. In 2017 and future years, we’ll see more of these automation trends, and many of them will allow you to run your home from your smartphone or device. Exciting times, indeed! And here are some trends that are on their way out!

  • Short kitchen cabinets are no longer en vogue. Go for taller cabinets with more room for storage.
  • Brown and grey speckled granite countertops. While granite is still a popular choice for counters because of its resiliency and ease of clean up, lighter granite is more in line with the kitchens of 2017 and beyond.
  • Dark wood kitchens are a no go. Bright and light are where it’s at.
Posted in Home Design
Dec. 23, 2016

5 New Year’s Resolutions Every Homeowner Should Make for 2017

2017 Homeowner New Year Resolution

 

2016 is coming to a close, and with the new year just around the corner, people across the world are gearing up to set their intentions for the upcoming year in the form of New Year's Resolutions. And while you're bound to make at least one standard resolution (like "finally get in shape" or "eat more vegetables"), as a homeowner, there are some home-specific resolutions you'll want to think about to get the most out of your property and the experience of owning a home this upcoming year. Here are 5 New Year's Resolutions every homeowner should make for 2017:

1. Bump Up Your Mortgage Payments

If you have any sort of expendable income in 2017, you might want to think about putting it towards your mortgage. Making extra payments on your mortgage can have a huge impact on the total you end up paying out over the course of the loan. It can also shorten the amount of time you'll be saddled with payments and can have you owning your house free and clear sooner than you expected. The more you can contribute, the better. But even if you can only make a few extra payments per year - do it. Those extra dollars will add up and end up saving you serious dollars in interest over the course of your mortgage. Create a 2017 budget and look for any areas where you can shave a few dollars, like your daily trip to the coffeehouse or an expensive gym membership. Then, re-purpose that cash and put it towards paying down your mortgage faster.

2. Explore Refinancing

2016 saw near record low interest rates on mortgages, and while they've slowly crept up towards the end of the year (current rates are around 4%), they're still HALF of the average interest rates over the past 40 years (which averaged at 8.45%). If you haven't refinanced your mortgage recently, now is the time to do it. With a new president taking office, the economy may shift, and interest rates may rise. Talk to your loan officer about refinancing and getting a lower interest rate. And if you're in a variable rate mortgage, shift over to a fixed rate mortgage and lock in the low interest rates while you can.

3. Review and Renew Your Homeowners Insurance

A lot of homeowners roll over their insurance year to year, but if you haven't reviewed your policy in a while, you might be missing out on some money-saving opportunities. Shop around and get quotes to see what rates are competitive in the current market and if you're paying more, see if your current company will match the lowest quote. If you have a stand-alone policy, think about bundling your auto and homeowners insurance with one company. Insurance companies will often offer discounts for customers who hold multiple policies. If you've made any major improvements to your home that could impact the insurability of your house (like clearing trees, installing a high tech security system or adding storm reinforcements), let your agent know. Improvements can often lower your premiums.

4. Declutter, Declutter, Declutter

While spring is traditionally the time for organizing (in the form of "spring cleaning"), there's no better time for a fresh start - and a more organized home - than the New Year. Cleaning out closets, getting rid of things you no longer want or need and taking a more minimalist approach to life can have huge benefits. Not only will your home look better, but you'll also FEEL better as a result. Messy, cluttered homes can cause increased stress and anxiety, making it much harder to relax and enjoy your space. Clutter has also been shown to decrease creativity, productivity and focus, so if you want to have a happy and productive 2017, it's time for the stuff to go. Plan a day to go through all of your closets, cabinets and storage space. If you're not actively using something, get rid of it. The benefits you'll reap from decluttering will far outweigh the value of the things you get rid of.

5. Get Up To Speed On Safety

The new year is the perfect time to review the current state of your property and take any precautions necessary to ensure that you're safe in the upcoming year. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace them if necessary. Check your house for radon, a common, carcinogenic gas that can increase your chance of lung cancer (you can pick up a radon testing kit at the hardware store for less than $10). Meet with your family to review emergency evacuation plans in case of a fire, flood or other emergencies. With these 5 resolutions, you'll get the most out of your property - and of owning your home - in 2017 and beyond.

Posted in Selling
Aug. 24, 2015

Over pricing vs. Right pricing

When it comes to pricing your home, you can not emphasize enough the importance of pricing it right from the beginning. Statistics overwhelmingly show that if you over price a home it WILL NOT sell!

You over price because you feel that you should go above what you want in order to leave some negotiating room. This is a flawed opinion. If you over-price too much you'll end up waiting on offers that never come. 

When pricing your home the most important data to consider is the price of other homes preferably within the same neighborhood as yours. Using data of homes that are currently on the market and those that have recently sold, typically within the last 3 months, is the best indicator of value and you should remain within that price range. 

When pricing your home too high savvy would-be buyers will likely ignore the listing. Pricing it too low means you risk leaving money on the table. 

It is important for sellers to know what is happening in their market. So a little research before you list will go a tremendous way.  Most want to base their list price on what they paid for their house, and that would seem logical. The only problem with that line of thinking is that the market is so volatile at times with ups and downs nearly on a daily bases it would not be feasible to price your house solely based on what you paid for it. 

Using a tool as simple as a comparative market analysis will give you a fairly accurate price to list your home at.  

   

     Market analysis1               Market Analysis 2

A Realtor has the most up to date information on homes that have recently sold and those that are active on the market. Picking 3-4 homes of each status that are most similar to your home in aesthetics, amenities and proximity among other comparisons would give you the best start out the gate. Think of it as getting a head start from the starting line. You'll be way ahead of your opponent whose agent didn't bother doing one, but instead listed the home  at what the seller wanted him or her too and is completely out of the realm of possibility. 

Pricing your home right from the start is not rocket science but it does take some skill to get it done properly. Hiring a Realtor to price, market and sell your home will give you the best advantage possible to get the most money for your home. But, Even the most experienced home marketing specialist can not sell a home that is over-priced. The odds would be stacked against you from the get-go.

You'll want a Realtor who will give you an honest, realistic list price to start your home out at and have the stats to back up the list price that is quoted. There are a few out there that will give you an exaggerated inflated list price because they know sometimes it will help them to secure the listing even though they know they won't have a snowballs chance of selling.

You can always lower later, right? Right? Not necessarily, listing too high and coming back and lowering doesn't always pan out either. Sometimes you miss your window of opportunity. Time on market plays a lot into it, your mortgage payment you are making each month, utilities, maintenance etc. You may end up actually loosing money if that is your strategy.    

If you are so fortunate to get an offer based on an inflated price the chances of it appraising are slim to none. 

Think before you sell, do your research or have someone help you do it. Need a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) completed? Give me a call!

 

 

Posted in Selling
July 12, 2015

Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Posted in Home Tips
June 24, 2015

Modern Marketing

 

Over the past few years the world of technology has become increasingly more popular with home buyers. 

In a world of instant gratification it is easy to peruse the internet and pick and chose which homes you want to look at. Gone are the days of placing an ad in the newspaper or local real estate magazine and expecting results. 

So, what are the avenues that real estate agents have today to market and sell your home?

 

We have at our disposal social media sites such as:

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn which all allows us to get the word out quickly and locally that your house is on the market. Most of my friends and associates I have on Facebook are right here in town and with a quick boost of a post I can showcase that listing to them, their friends and their friends friends to boot.

   

You can add videos, text and links to these sites for quick access to the listing information and photos. You want to use marketing avenues that are visited by the masses such as friends and family and most people are glued to these sites on a daily basis. 

There are hundreds of internet sites that are both fee based and free that specialize in marketing homes for sale. Starting with your local MLS and spreading to Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, Homes & Land, Yahoo, Ebay, Google, Frontdoor, Cyberhomes, HouseLocator, and Craigslist to only mention a few. Some sites are better than others but, the key here is exposure. You're marketing the property, so you want to get it in front of as many potential buyers as possible.

Marketing your home on the internet is not rocket science but, it does take a skilled knowledgeable agent to get it done and to get your home in front of those buyers who would be interested in your home. 

To sell quickly and for top dollar, it is important to set your home apart from the competition in the neighborhood and that includes online marketing. Working with your agent you must properly prepare a home to appeal to prospective buyers.  Home staging is a very good tool that will accomplish this. Once you have prepared your home you can start the online process by taking the highest quality photos available that will showcase your home at its best.  Most people will pass up an online listing that has few to no photos. Their thought is, there must be something wrong with it not to have photos. Max out those photos! Get every angle of every room possible. Showcase different features that the home has such as granite counter tops, wood flooring, spas and pools etc. These are things you won't find you can place in newsprint!

Another tool is to allow reverse prospecting of your property. This is something that is not available to you in news or home magazine ads. Within our MLS during submission we can allow for reverse prospecting. This means that if someone else has set up a search for their buyer and it happens to match the specs on your house an email is sent out to that agent and/or potential buyer.  Modern technology is great, isn't it?

The most experienced agents will stay on top of technology and embrace it as it changes. Making sure they are staying on top of the latest marketing tools available to them to help you sell your home quicker, smoother and efficiently

 

Posted in Selling
June 16, 2015

Due Diligence When Buying A Home

Due DiligenceWhen a potential buyer makes an offer on resale property it is subject to a due diligence period. The due diligence period is typically the first 7-10 days after the contract becomes binding. But, the amount of time can be negotiated. A contract becomes binding when both parties, buyer and seller, have completed the contract and it is delivered to both. 
 
During this time the buyer can fully investigate the property to make certain it is something they want to invest in. This is the time when the buyer would have home inspections completed along with any other recommended inspections that might be necessary such as septic, well, roof and ac.  
 
This is also the time to fully check out the neighborhood and make sure it is a good fit for the buyer's family and to check on school zoning and crime rates. 
 
If a buyer cannot complete his due diligence within the specified time period the buyer through his agent can negotiate an extended period, but this must be done prior to it expiring. The seller does not have to agree to an extension, but can force the buyer to decide to proceed as is and purchase without any additional data. The expiration of the due diligence period does not terminate any other contingencies that were set forth in the agreement. 
 
The due diligence period protects both buyer and seller within the transaction by allowing both parties to fully participate in the discovery of all material facts. Once everything is out on the table, so to speak, the buying party can be confident there is no underlying issues with the home and proceed. 
 
Should there be repairs that need to be addressed this is the time to negotiate them. If an acceptable agreement cannot be made the buyer can bow out gracefully with earnest money intact. 
 
Keeping an eye on your transaction time-line is crucial to a smooth closing and creates less stress in the long run. Your agent can help keep you on track with your deadlines.
 
If you have other questions regarding the due diligence period please don't hesitate to give me a call. I would be happy to answer any and all questions you may have. 
 

 

 

Posted in Home Buying
May 18, 2015

Preferred Providers

Preferred Providers List

 

Sometimes we need a little direction when we are buying a home. From appraisers to pest control you'll find my preferred list of vendors here. (Not listed in any particular order.)

 

Lenders

Michael Pitts

Veterans United  

O: 800.814.1130 ext. 3530

C: 573.424.3525mpitts@vu.com

https://www.veteransunited.com/lo/michael-pitts/

 
 
  
Steve Tiscone

Steve Tiscione

Equity Prime Mortgage

P: 770.542.1403

Stiscione@equityprime.com

http://equityprime.com/

 

 

 

 
Appraisers
 
Real Estate Appraisal Services of GA, Inc
Marvin Broomberg (VA CERTIFIED)
(229) 242-9743
mbroomberg@bellsouth.net
 
Plantation Creek Real Estate Company, LLC
Robert Thompson (VA CERTIFIED)
229-382-5808
rbthompsonks@yahoo.com
 
Henderson Appraisal Service
Kip Henderson
(229) 253-1175
www.valdostaappraisers.com
 

Home Inspectors

Premier Home Inspections
Shea Wynn
229.292.4694
 
Regional Home Inspections
Randy Rowan
229.292.1655
 
Reliable Home Inspections
John Schmidt
229.561.0777
 

Insurance

Georgia Farm Bureau
Shonna Wilson
229.242.7876
 
State Farm
Paul Cribbs
229.247.7127
paul@paulcribbs.net
 
Valdosta Insurance Services
Jessica Jackson
229.242.4560
jjackson@valdostainsurance.com
 

Painting

Mike Scott
229.834.9041
 
Lazaro Gomez
229.251.3975
 

Pest Control

Astro Pest Control
229.244.6862
 
Baird Pest Control
Bryan Baird
229.242.0468 
 
Valdosta Pest Control 
Kevin Young
229.356.1255
 

Pools

The Pool Store
3363 N Valdosta Rd. 
229.247.6440
Website
 
Backyard Retreat
3003 N Ashley St.
229.249.9440
 
Pinch-A-Penny
3469 Bemiss Rd.
229.245.1904
Website
 
 
Repairs
 
Johnathan Myers
229.506.0375
 
Griffin Handyman Services
229.412.3664
 

 

 

 

April 10, 2015

What to do

Experience Valdosta

 

Valdosta is a great town with a friendly atmosphere. There are plenty of things both locally and within a short drive! Whether it be a day around town or a day at the beach, you're going to find that Valdosta is centrally located to many fun things to do. 

Click on the links to find calendar of upcoming events.

Valdosta Farm DaysValdosta Main Street Farm Days

Valdosta Symphony Orchestra  Valdosta Symphony Orchestra 

Wild Adventures Wild Adventures Calendar of Events

Flint River Aquarium Flint River Aquarium

 

Cool River Tubing Cool River Tubing (This is in Helen, GA but what a fun family weekend!)
 
Tallulah Falls
 
Albany Civil Rights Institute

 

Restaurants & Wine Tasting 

 

Horse Creek Winery  Horse Creek Winery (Located both in Nashville and Sparks, GA)
 
Frogtown Cellars Vineyard Frog Town Cellars Vineyard  (Hahira, GA)
 

Bistro

  1. 132 N Ashley St. Valdosta, GA 31601

306 North

    306 North Patterson St. Valdosta, GA 31601

Friends Grille and Bar

    Summit Pointe- 3338-B Country Club Rd. Valdosta, GA 31605

Giulio's Greek & Italian Restaurant

    105 E Ann St. Valdosta, GA 31601

Mom and Dads Italian Restaurant

    4143 North Valdosta Rd. Valdosta, GA 31602 

 
  

Jacksonville, FL Beaches

Destin, FL Beaches

St. Augustine, FL

Tybee Island, Savannah, GA

Golden Isles

Nestled on the Georgia Coast, midway between Savannah, GA and Jacksonville, FL

Jekyll Island, GA

St. Simons Island

Sea Island

 

Posted in Around town