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Showing posts from August, 2013

Mortgage rates find a direction: down, barely

By Marcie Geffner -

Mortgage rates stood nearly still this week, edging down slightly in the absence of any news that would send rates decisively in either direction.

Market rates were "kind of trying to find a direction" after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled in mid-June that the central bank might stop its quantitative easing program later this year, but then began backpedaling after investors panicked and rates rose, says Stephen LaDue, a senior loan officer for PrimeLending, in Brookfield, Wis.

Rates might remain calm for a while, unless something else happens to shake up the status quo. And there are plenty of "something elses" that could occur.

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Is unpermitted construction worth the risk?

By Marcie Geffner -

The freedom to do whatever you want with your home is an attractive benefit of home ownership. For some, that freedom means converting a garage into a bedroom, adding a deck, enclosing a sun porch or making other improvements without getting a building permit.

But if you buy a home with unpermitted renovations, it can create a financial nightmare for you, the new homeowner.

Unpermitted renovations aren't easy to uncover, says Kim Bregman, broker/owner of Optima Properties, a realty brokerage in Boca Raton, Fla. One way to find them is to look for anything in the home that appears to be inconsistent with the original floor plan.

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A pocket-full of problems

By Marcie Geffner - California Real Estate

Pocket, or off-market, listings are a significant concern right now for Realtors. While the practice of keeping listings off the MLS is not new, the prevalence of this practice has been growing, creating an environment that can negatively impact both Realtors and buyers and sellers.

Traditionally, the term "pocket listing" generally referred to a home that was listed for sale to a broker, but was not marketed to other brokers through the MLS. The listing was figuratively hidden in the broker's pocket.

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Why summer home buying is so hot

By Marcie Geffner -

June 21 marked the first day of summer. But to Realtors, only one season matters: home-buying season, which occurs annually from March to September.

Seasonality presents important implications for buyers and sellers, and is naturally most pronounced in markets with seasonal change. But other factors like the school year and expiring leases have a lot to do with home-buying season as well.

"Most buyers don't want to move in the middle of a snowstorm, and most sellers realize their house will show better when buyers can see the beautiful flowers, the landscaped lawn," says Matt Phipps, a Realtor at Phipps Real Estate in Warwick, R.I. "A new roof will show really well from a curb-appeal standpoint in spring or summer compared with having snow covering it."

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10 Tips to price your for-sale home right

By Marcie Geffner -

Home sellers naturally want to sell their home quickly and for the highest possible amount. The key is the asking price. Here are 10 tips to help you price it right.

No. 1: Consider the comps. "Comps" are comparable homes in your neighborhood that were for sale, recently were sold or are currently for sale. Comps are the most important factor in pricing your home.

Consider comps in conjunction with local market conditions, including the supply of for-sale homes relative to buyer demand, says Allyson Bernard, owner of Real Estate Professionals of Connecticut in Danbury.

"Less inventory means you can probably push the envelope a little bit on (pricing) your home, but we're not in a market where you can double your price or increase it 30 or 40 percent above what the comps are showing," Bernard says.

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Should you sell your house as a pocket listing?

By Marcie Geffner -

Pocket listings might be the hottest controversy in real estate today. That's because many home sellers are attracted to the perceived benefits of selling a house outside of the brokers' multiple-listing service, or MLS. But the practice has some significant downsides for sellers as well.

Traditionally, the term "pocket listing" referred to a situation in which a property seller and real estate broker signed a listing agreement that allowed the broker to offer the property for sale, but keep the information out of the MLS and, figuratively, keep the information in his or her pocket. Nowadays, the term is sometimes used more broadly to refer to properties that are offered for sale without a listing agreement or use of the MLS.

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