Is your home not selling? Here is why…

On average, since the fall of the housing market, homes take longer to sell today. Locally, it just depends on the location, price, and how many homes are on the market. The main reason for sluggish sales is that there is a surplus of homes on the market, with too low a demand from buyers. Financially, this can be a big problem for sellers.

So, if you’re a seller in this market and you’re having a tough time getting your home to sell, what are your options?

1. Price - First, it is important for you, as a buyer, to come to terms with the fact that average property values have declined in the last 7 years; that is, your home may not be worth what you think it is or should be worth. Buyers today, more than ever, are very aware of the risks present in buying and selling a home in today’s market. Buyers won’t overpay for your home, so it is important that you set a realistic price for your home from the start.

To determine what a reasonable price is for your home, it is helpful to talk to a real estate agent. An agent will then look at comparable homes in the area that are for sale and are sold. You will want to select a price for your home that is within 5-20% of comparable homes that have already sold in your area. If you are unwilling to list your home for a reasonable price, you should take your home off the market and wait until the market is better for sellers. If you continue to let an overpriced home sit on the market, it is likely that you will lose money and gain a reputation for being an unrealistic seller.

NOTE: If your home has been on the market for more than 6 months and hasn’t sold, you need to reassess your price.

2. House needs work - Price may not be the only thing preventing your home from selling. Buyers in today’s marketing are typically looking for move in ready, minimal to no work homes. This includes not only repairs but updating as well. Now, this does not apply to all Buyers, some are looking for a fixer upper. The price has to be right to attract these types of Buyers.

If your appliances or your home in general are out of date, you may need to consider updating or even upgrading certain amenities and aspects of your home. To prevent further financial loss, it is recommended that you remove your home from the market while you’re making modifications to your home. Once your home is updated/upgraded, you can reassess your listing price with the help of your real estate agent.

If you put time and money into repairing, painting, cleaning, staging, and pricing your home, you have a much better chance of selling your home quickly.

There may be other reasons why your home is not selling. Talk to an experienced real estate agent to get more details from them. They can shed light on why your home did not sell and what you need to do, realistically, to get it sold. You might even try interviewing other agents as well to get a second and third opinion.
Read the original article from Inman News here.

What you need to know about Refinancing…

Rates are super low and have stayed that way all year. But if your interest rate on your current mortgage is higher than what is available right now, you might want to consider refinancing. Here are a few things you need to know about refinancing…

Cost to Refinance…

When refinancing there may be fees involved. When a lender quotes you an interest rate, make sure to ask for the fees involved. Make sure to do your homework to see if the amount of money you will spend on the loan origination fees to refinance will be worth it for the money you save on your new mortgage payment.

Timing…

If you are planning on moving from your home within a year or two, be careful about refinancing. Do the math and your homework to make sure it makes sense to spend the money to refinance OR just wait to sell your home. Does the amount of money you save make it worth it?

NOTE: Keep in mind when you refinance, you start paying down the principal all over again. During the beginning of your mortgage most of your payment goes to interest.

Choosing the right path…

When you refinance, you might be able to choose a shorter loan term (15-20 years rather than 30). With this choice you can start paying down the principal sooner and pay less total interest. Before choosing a shorter loan term, make sure you can afford the payment. With a shorter loan term comes higher payments.

NOTE: Watch our for pre-payment penalties! If you are choosing a shorter loan term, make sure you know if there is penalty for paying of your mortgage early.

The Appraisal…

When you refinance, the lender will order another appraisal on your home to determine the current market value. This sometimes shocks homeowners with a price that is really low OR even higher than expected. This is a hurdle that you should be prepared for. If your appraisal is lower than expected, you can order a second appraisal. Talk to your lender and your real estate agent to get comparables of recently sold homes that accurately support a higher market value.

If you are thinking about refinancing, get more information on current interest rates. The are still super low, but if you purchased your home with a low interest to begin with it might not be worth it. Do the research and be prepared! See more on this topic HERE.

How to Strip Old Wallpaper

If you’ve got old, out of date, or peeling wallpaper in your house, it may be time to remove it. Depending on what type of paper and glue was used to put the wallpaper up, this can be a simple or complicated process. Either way, if it needs to come down, it needs to come down.

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*If the wallpaper that is already up is smoothly and securely fastened to the wall, try painting or papering over it instead of removing it.

Steps for Removal:

ONE: Try to use a scraper or putty knife to peel off the wallpaper; lift up a corner at an angle and continue peeling if it seems to remove easily; you can also use a rolling pin to remove dry paper

Tools Needed: scraper/ putty knife, kitchen rolling pin

TWO: If you can’t peel the wallpaper completely, fill a spray bottle with a solution of hot water and wallpaper removing solution, or use gel remover to avoid water damage to trim and floors; let solution sit on a test section of the wall for 15 to 20 minutes to see if this loosens up the wall paper

Tools Needed: spray bottle, hot water, wallpaper removing solution/ gel remover

THREE: If step two doesn’t work, you’ll have to use a special scarifying or scoring tool, coarse floor-sanding paper, or the tooth-edged side of a hand saw to score the surface before applying the solution

Tools Needed: scarifying/ scoring tool/ floor-sanding paper/ saw

Know what type of wallpaper you’re removing? Here are some type-specific tips!

  • Flocked: some flocked wallpapers can be removed using a solution or a steamer; if not, you may need to dampen flock fibers and then score the surface; saturate the scored surface with the removal solution for 15 minutes and then remove using a broad knife.
  • Commercial grade vinyl: pull wallpaper off at a 10-degree angle in narrow, 4-6 inch strips
  • Cork Veneer, Felt, and Suede: start by stripping the decorative surface from backing; score the backing with coarse sanding paper, then soak the wall with full strength removal solution and let sit for 10-20 minutes; use a broad knife to scrape away the backing; if you absolutely can’t remove the substrate level, install the new paper directly on top.
  • Foil: score wallpaper with rough sandpaper, then dampen with wallpaper-removing solution
  • Natural cloth paper: cover wall with removal solution and scrape to remove the texturized surface; repeat this process to remove the backing; if you cannot remove the backing, dry it, sand it, and add the new wallpaper on top.
  • Expanded vinyl: try to dry peel the surface layer; scrape away backing after soaking with a mixture of warm water and removing solution; if backing can’t be removed, lay new wallpaper over the backing
  • Liner paper: try to dry strip; if you cannot dry strip, soak and scrape
  • Photo mural: try to peel away the surface; if you can’t, score, spray, and scrape
  • Mylar: dry strip the surface layer; soak and scrape the backing
  • Solid sheet vinyl, silkscreen, or wetlook: pull the surface layer off
  • Standard Paper: remove top layer with coarse sandpaper; spray backing with warm water/removing solution mixture, let soak for 15 minutes, scrape
  • Vinyl coated: dry-strip; if this doesn’t work, score with sandpaper or a scarifying tool, then soak with solution, and scrape

Check out Realtor.com for more tips on removing wallpaper.

9 Tips for Selling Your Home in Mentor, Ohio

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With an unpredictable housing market,and the supply of homes outweighing the demand, selling a home has become more of a challenge than ever. Don’t be discouraged though, there are several steps you can take to make your home stand out from the others and increase your chances of selling. Here are some general and area-specific tips to help you sell your home in Mentor, Ohio.

  1. Hire a real estate agent familiar with the Mentor, Ohio housing market
  2. Make sure that your home is advertised on popular real estate listing sites such as Trulia, Zillow, and Realbird, as well as in the local newspapers
  3. Take a picture of every room in the home so that you have tons of options to choose from when you’re picking pictures to highlight your home’s beauty in listings.
  4. Pictures should focus on the best aspect of a room, such as a master bath, fireplace, skylight, etc.
  5. Include pictures of the exterior of your home in listings
  6. You should have a “For Sale” sign in your yard that includes contact information for your real estate agent
  7. Your home and yard should be clean, uncluttered, and bright, both in photos and during showings
  8. Have your agent create a fact sheet/ takeaway brochure for buyers that includes pictures of your home, the number of bedrooms, the number of bathrooms, lot size, square footage, flooring type, and other important details about your home
  9. Host an open house to give interested buyers a chance to find out more about your property and talk with you personally; use this time to really sell the area, and not just your property:

** Highlight the fact that “Mentor Ohio was named one of the 100 Best Places to Live by Money Magazine in 2006 and 2010, and that the city was named one of the Best Places to Retire in Ohio in 2012”; direct potential buyers to this site for more information

Also, be sure to information about upcoming events and popular activities in the area, which can be found here: City of Mentor

How To Get Your Walls Ready for Painting

A lot of people don’t realize how important it is to prime and prepare a surface for painting; according to Realtor.com, “if you don’t put the time to scrape, patch, sand and prime the walls, your finished project will show it”. Preparing your walls for painting can be a lengthy and difficult process, but the end result will be worth it! Here is a list of tools and directions you’ll need to help you achieve perfect, smooth, and beautiful looking walls.

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Directions:

  1. Dust and vacuum all surfaces; wash walls down with soap and water; use a solution of up to a quart of bleach to 3 quarts ammonia-free detergent to get rid of mold spots.

Tools Needed:

  • Vacuum
  • Soap and water
  • Bleach
  • Non-ammonia detergent
  1. Cover floors and furniture with newspaper or drop cloths to prevent paint from dripping onto surfaces; use painter’s tape to tape off baseboards and trim

Tools Needed:

  • Drop cloths or newspaper
  • Painter’s tape
  1. Use a flashlight, directed back and forth across the walls, to check for problem spots; for cracks or flaking areas, use a paint scraper to reach a solid coat of paint beneath; for torn drywall, trim the torn piece with a knife, then apply joint compound over the damaged area; for any large, bare patches, use a wide blade to apply several thin layers of joint compound; smooth dry joint compound with a palm sander or sanding block

Tools Needed:

  • Flashlight
  • Paint scraper
  • Joint compound
  • Knife and wide blade
  • Power palm sander or sanding block
  1. Surface stains on walls will need to be treated with a solvent or spot remover; discolored walls will need to be sealed with a stain-removing primer such as white shellac

Tools Needed:

  • Solvent or spot remover
  • White shellac or stain removing primer
  1. Prime areas of the wall that have been repaired (i.e. areas that you repaired with joint compound and any areas that were treated for stains) to guarantee that the paint will adhere and to prevent future peeling; tinted primer can serve as a first coat of paint, and then only needs to be covered with one coat of the actual paint

Tools Needed:

  • Primer or tinted primer
  • Paint

For more helpful tips on preparing your walls for paint, check out Inman News.

5 Tips For Buying a Home in Mentor, Ohio

Mentor, Ohio offers a lot of unique amenities with its northern border on Lake Erie, and  only a half hour drive from Cleveland. Additionally, Mentor offers a vast park system, beaches, nature preserves, and extensive bike trails…ready to make your move?! Here’s how to buy a home in Mentor, Ohio:

  1. Meet with a loan officer to see if you qualify for a home loan, and how much you qualify for. This will help you set a budget and narrow your search to homes that you can actually afford.
  2. Interview some real estate agents. Real estate agents are free resources for home buyers-so take advantage! A real estate agent can help you with all of the unknowns. Pick an agent that has a successful record of buying homes in Mentor.
  3. Start your housing search. Some of this can be done on your own, but it is most efficient to tell your agent exactly what you’re looking for and let them find homes that meet your needs.
  4. Once you find the home you want, it’s time to make an offer. It is very important to use a real estate agent at this point; s/he will make sure that you are presenting an attractive and reasonable offer and are thus more likely to get the house.
  5. Once you find your home and finalize the loan, it’s time to go to closing. Again, utilize your agent and make sure that all of the correct paperwork has been signed to finalize the home sale and get the keys into your hands.

For more information on living in Mentor, Ohio, click here! 

Saving Money on Your Mortgage

If you want to save money on your home mortgage costs, picking a mortgage loan that will cost you less in the long-term is more effective than picking a loan with low monthly payments. The quicker you can pay off your mortgage, the less you will have to spend on interest payments.

If you have already taken out a mortgage, there is still hope! These tips can help to reduce the total amount of interest you’ll pay by increasing the speed with which you repay the loan, which in turn reduces your long-term interest costs.

Compare offers

It always pays to get offers from several lenders when you’re shopping for a mortgage. Offers can vary substantially. Especially if your credit score is low, you shouldn’t accept a high-interest rate mortgage without looking for a better offer.

Don’t forget about the fees

One factor that increases the cost of your mortgage is the fees or points lenders add on to the deal. Look at these carefully, and don’t be reluctant to challenge fees that seem too high, or unreasonable costs such as unnecessary insurance. Compare offers using the annual percentage rate (APR), which includes both the interest rate and the fees.

Shorten the term of your loan

If you intend to be in the house for some time, you can lower your long-term loan costs by choosing a shorter mortgage term. This will increase your monthly payment but enable you to save significantly over the life of the loan.

Make payments more often

Making extra payments helps to reduce the principal, which will then reduce your total interest payments significantly. Choosing to pay biweekly (versus once a month) can cut the amount of interest you pay since your principal decreases more steadily. And, since there are 26 two-week periods in the year, you actually make an extra monthly payment each year, further reducing the principal amount owed.