5 Traits to Look for in Your Agent

More at http://StormTeamRealEstate.com

BUYERS + SELLERS:  How did you find your agent? Any advice for those still looking for one?

AGENTS: What traits do you think are important for buyers and sellers to look for? Why?

In this internet era, we’ve gotten to a place where we require all of our information in bite-sized, white-and-charcoal grey pieces. But when it comes to creating interpersonal and professional relationships that really work, lists of interview questions and “what to Google” articles can fall short of fully fleshing out the factors that make us mesh with someone.

So let’s go a little deeper. Picking a real estate agent is a business and a relationship challenge – one which has a potentially massive impact on your finances and future enjoyment of the place you and your family live. If you take that seriously, here are a handful of characteristics I recommend you look for as you evaluate prospective agents.

1. Creativity. Some transactions go precisely as planned, clicking right along on schedule. Others – many others – get messy:

  • the loan underwriter issues bizzaro, last-minute document demands

  • the appraisal comes in low

  • the buyer backs out

  • you see 50 homes without any winners, or

  • the inspection reports reveal issues that make you wonder whether the home is a diamond in the rough or a money pit.

Whether your transaction will be easy-peasy or uber-messy, you cannot know until you’re in it. When you’re agent-hunting, it behooves you to look for someone who has the experience and creative problem-solving skill to help you methodically think through the facts, surface alternatives, propose solutions and engineer obstacle workarounds – just in case the going gets tough.

2. Deep, varied expertise. Buying or selling a home is much more of a lifestyle design experience than it is a financial transaction, truth be told. To do it with results that work well for yourself, your family and your finances for the duration, you need an agent that’s an eager partner with you. One that will deep-dive into all the nooks and crannies of your aesthetics, your psychology, your life plans, your financials and even your relationship dynamics.

You also need an agent with deep – not surface – understanding of homes, neighborhoods and local real estate market metrics, practices and contracts, and someone who deeply *gets* the home buying or selling process itself – so they can brief you on it and fruitfully coach you through it.

Have you ever taken a class from a novice teacher vs. a class from an experienced professor? The difference is nuance: a deep, mature understanding of a complex subject allows the more experienced instructor to give you insights into patterns they’ve spotted over time and repeat transactions. Same goes for your real estate pro: you want to make sure that either your agent or someone that will be working with them on your transaction (like their manager or broker) has deep knowledge and understanding in most or all of these areas, so they can share the nuanced insights and patterns they have spotted in the past which you can harness to your advantage in the present.

3. Calm resilience. When you lose out on a home to other offers, it can feel like the end of the world. When you list your home, stage it to the nines, and not a single offer is forthcoming, feelings of discouragement, frustration and even depression can easily arise.  In both cases, it’s easy to delve into fear (fear that you’ll never get the home you need, or will never be able to move on to the next stage of your life) or paralysis (freezing up because you just don’t know what to do – period).

A great agent – and there are thousands and thousands out there – can bring a massive, game-changing dose of calm resilience to the table. They’ve been through this before. They know that there are lots of homes and lots of buyers out there, so losing out on any one is not a death knell to your dreams. They also know how to tell the difference between a normal delay in receiving an offer or an acceptance on your market and when your approach requires some serious course correction (see #4, below).

A great agent will be able to receive the news that you’ve lost out on a home or take in negative feedback from a prospective buyer, call you and deliver it calmly and right along with some smart, constructive suggestions for action items you should work on next, to keep the process moving forward.

4. Frankness and optimism. You want – no – you need your agent to be frankly honest. You need them to be frankly honest with themselves and with you about all facets of the reality you’ll face as you proceed through your transaction. Sellers, you cannot afford to have an agent who will let you persist in fantasy-land beliefs about what your home is worth – contrary to all evidence as to what homes in your area are actually selling for and feedback (read: silence) from prospective buyers who have seen your home – without challenging you to look at the data and adjust your pricing strategy. Buyers, by the same token, you can’t afford to work with an agent who encourages or allows you to make 5, 10, or 15 lowball offers on a home without urging you to face the truth that you need to house hunt at lower price points or make higher offers in order to be successful.

You need an agent who is willing to tell you the truth and have these sorts of hard conversations with you even when you won’t like it.

That said, you want an agent who possesses both this frank integrity and an ultimate optimism that, with right thinking and strategic action, you can and will ultimately succeed at making a great buy or sale.

5. Bandwidth. This one might sound strange, but the fact is that it can be difficult to get the advantages of having the best agent in the world if the agent is wildly over-subscribed and so busy they struggle to respond to calls and emails. This is why I don’t always say a great agent will necessarily have years and years of expertise. Some agents who have wonderful experience and wisdom are simply too busy to do the time-intensive guidance your situation may require. And some agents who are new to real estate bring highly relevant expertise and skills they’ve developed in other careers, have ample time to devote to your transaction and can enlist the real estate-specific insights of an experienced team leader, manager or broker.

If you know you’re going to want to meet up weekly for a house hunting session or debrief with your agent, tell them this up front and ask them flat-out how much time they can devote to your process. Make sure you’re comfortable with their response or solution (example – their listing specialist or partner can meet with you when they can’t) before you make your pick.

My advice for agent-finding is to engage in a multi-step process:

  • First, make sure you get referrals from your friends, colleagues and relatives to the agents they have worked with and love.

  • Also get a few names from our Agent Finder on Trulia, which allows you to get incredibly specific about what sort of homes, areas and transactions your ideal agent will have worked with.

  • Then, check all of your prospective agent candidates out online. Narrow them down a bit by what you see in terms of reviews and style of advice you see them providing on channels like their blog, website or social media pages.

  • Reach out to all the people on your short list through whatever medium you prefer to communicate – phone, email, etc. – and note how quickly you get responses.

  • Then book appointments to meet with a handful of agents and let them present their method to you.

  • Get references and check in with those past clients – ask them to tell you about their transaction experience, warts and all.

By the end of this process, you’ll likely find someone who fits just-right with your own personality, timing and transactional needs and possess these five traits.

4 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 Home Sellers

time

Some people like resolutions, others hate them. And according to one recent survey, as many as 80% of people who set them fail at them.

But I’ve found that many people – maybe even most people – love a challenge. Getting your home sold is one of those experiences that ranks as a complex business challenge and a series of emotional, logistics and financial challenges all rolled up into one.

If you plan to sell your home in 2014, you might be inventorying your action items or drafting your action plan as we speak. (If not, you should be – here, we’ll give you a kickstart.)

Beyond the basics tasks and actions involved in pricing, preparing, marketing and selling your home, there are a number of umbrella approaches and perspectives you can choose whether or not to take – each of which has the power to make or break your deal and make or break the angst or awe with which you experience the year ahead. If you’re not the resolution-setting type, or you are and you’re open to new approaches, consider challenging yourself to start and finish your home selling process with these next-level resolutions:

1. Resolve to do your own due diligence – cutting no corners.Here’s the thing no one tells you about selling your home: it’s exhausting. You have to:

  • spend hours interviewing agents

  • review all the neighborhood sales and try to figure out where your home fits among them

  • nitpick everything that’s wrong about your home

  • figure out what you can afford to fix and what makes sense not to

  • source contractors or gear up to DIY

  • have a bunch of little projects – and maybe a few big ones done

  • deal with staging and decor projects

  • then clean your home to within an inch of its life every single day, in some markets, sometimes for weeks or months on end.

And that’s all before you get offers.

Knowing that other sellers find this list daunting, too, helps. You are definitely not alone. But the sheer scale of this list causes some sellers to take shortcuts at some or all points along the path. They don’t meet with more than one agent, or they don’t check references, and end up with an agent they less than love. They don’t pay attention to the detailed questions the disclosure forms ask them and end up omitting some crucial detail that comes back to bite them later, in the form of a lawsuit. They fail to tidy up before showings and buyers report back that the place smelled funny or was so cluttered during the viewings that they were too distracted to seriously “try on” the home in their mind’s eye.

Make it your resolution not to be that shortcut-taking seller. Decide up front that if you’re going to do this, you’re going to do it right and pass your home onto the next buyers with pride. That might seem silly, but I can assure you that the sellers I’ve known who took exactly that stance almost always received the reward of a fast sale at top dollar. Buyers can sense the pride you take in your home and your disclosures. It’s a good look.

2. Resolve to keep your eye on the prize – and the priorities. What is your mission for moving?  What is the vision you’re trying to create? When you decided you wanted to sell, you were in some state that motivated you to make a change – your home had grown too small, too large, too costly, too old, too new, too fancy or not luxurious enough for your life, or because the location no longer worked for you. But that’s only one side of the vision equation.  On the other end, there’s an ‘after’ picture: some state you want to be in. Maybe it’s another neighborhood or a new-and-improved set of amenities or a totally different look of a home.  Maybe it’s a totally different school district, city or state, or a chic condo when your last home was a sprawling ranch house.

Whatever it is, get very clear on the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of your vision for this life change you’re trying to create by selling your home, and resolve to stay that way until escrow has closed. Focusing on your vision will force you to focus on your priorities. In turn, that will help you resist the urge to overprice your home, underprepare it or bicker with the buyer over silly small issues and amounts. It becomes much easier to let things that would normally irritate you roll right off your back when you realize that doing so will serve your own personal priorities of getting your home sold quickly for a great price, so that you can move on to the next exciting stage of your life.

3. Resolve to think things through from the other side of the table. By definition, a first-time buyer has never been in the seller’s shoes. But as the seller, chances are good that you have been in the buyer’s position before. It is to your strong advantage to hearken back to those days when you were desperately seeking a home of your own. That perspective shift is the closest you’ll be able to get to momentarily detaching emotionally; you can walk through your home, view it’s marketing and even think about how it is priced from the perspective of the very buyers you want to attract.

Remind yourself of how you felt when it seemed like you’d never wade through all the mortgage paperwork, when you felt like the lender wanted to know your mother’s shoe size, when you were frustrated with what you saw on the market in your price range or when you couldn’t access the information or get into the property you wanted to, at a time that was convenient for you. Don’t let your home be the listing that causes these frustrations for your target buyers. Instead, from the time you start looking at comps to price your home to the time you start reviewing offers and buyer’s requests for repairs, try to think things through from your perspective and then to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.

Even if you don’t slash the price or give them everything they ask for, chances are good that you’ll end up creating more win-win situations if you take the other side’s wants and needs into account.

4. Resolve to keep your head out of the sand. The truth hurts, the saying goes. I think that’s misleading, in the context of selling your home and in life. You see, sometimes the truth does hurt, the way a shot of penicillin or getting a tooth filled hurts. But even when it does hurt a bit, the truth never harms you. On the contrary, avoiding the truth about what your home is worth or the truth of buyers’ and agents’ feedback about it is akin to avoiding a shot if you need it, or avoiding the dentist if you have a cavity. It causes something much worse than hurt: real harm.

Confronting the truth that the comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for lower than you’d hoped to get might hurt, but once the sting is gone that knowledge empowers you to make an appropriate pricing decision, stage your home to the nines or even decide to stay put for awhile longer.

Facing the truth that your home needs a lot of repairs and upgrades compared to the nearby Open Houses you’ve toured might hurt. But after the hurt, you’re in the power position, with the knowledge about either what to do to your home or to its price to get the leg up on the competition.

Acknowledging the truth that you have borrowed so much against your home that you won’t be netting as much cash on the sale as you’d hoped to definitely hurts. But after the pain passes, you have the power to make wise decisions about how much to put down on your next home and to avoid overleveraging it the next time around.

In all of these cases, avoiding the truth poses the potential for real harm: the harm that you’ll overprice your home, underinvest in its preparation for the market or commit the same financial errors with your next home. Make it your resolution to keep your eyes wide open, head above the sand and boldly face the truth throughout the course of your home’s sale, no matter what might happen.

ALL: What are your real estate-related New Year’s Resolutions?

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Home for Sale 1111 S 19th Street Harrisburg

1111 S 19TH STREET HARRISBURG, PA 17104 MLS# 210668 $49,000 Home For Sale, Short Sale

3 beds  |  2 baths  |  1177 sqft

  


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Property Description
Newer roof & newer hot water heater

Details
Maps
Documents
Contract Information
List Price: 49000Status: Active
Existing/New: E
Property Information
Type of Property: ResidentialRealtor.com Type: Residential – Single Family
Total Acres: 0.11Total Bedrooms: 3
Total Full Baths: 1Total Half Baths: 1
Total Bathrooms: 2Fin SqFt Above Grade: 1177
Year Built: 1900
Location, Legal and Taxes
County: DauphinStreet Number: 1111
Directional: SStreet/Road Name: 19TH
Street Suffix: STREETState/Province: PA
Zip Code: 17104Franklin Map Page: 0000
Franklin Map Row: 00School District: Harrisburg City
APN #/Tax Parcel ID: 010060040000000Municipality/Townshp: Harrisburg City
Deed/Ref #: xxxxxxxDeed Record Date: 1990-01-01
Directions & Remarks
Directions: Rt 83 to 19th Street, house on left.Public Remarks: Newer roof & newer hot water heater
Bank Owned/REO: NoCondo/HOA/PUD: No
Miscellaneous
# Off Str Prking Spc: 2Electric Amps: 100
Property Features
Stories: 1.5 Story
Design: Traditional
Type: Detached
Construction: Masonry; Stick Built
Exterior: Brick
Roof: Composite Shingles
Lot Description: Level
Lot Size: Less Than .25 Ac
Zoning: Res/Multi-Family
Age: 51 – 99 Years
Dining Area: Dining Area
Items Incl in Sale: None
Interior Features: None
Misc Exterior: None
Fencing: None
Basement: Concrete
Heat: Oil
Auxiliary Heat: None
Cooling: Window Unit(s)
Water: Public Water
Sewer: Public Sewer
Hot Water: Electric
Parking: 1 Car Garage; Off Street Parking
Access/Limitations: Public Road
Condition: Average
Documents Available: Sellers Disclosure
Room Information
RoomFlooringRoom LevelLengthWidth
Living RoomHardwoodMain1512
Dining RoomHardwoodMain149
KitchenVinylMain1012
Bedroom 1HardwoodUpper189
Bedroom 2HardwoodUpper1011
Bedroom 3HardwoodUpper108

Listing Office: Coldwell Banker Select Profs. Home for sale, Short sale

Office Phone: 717-735-8400

Last Updated: October – 09 – 2013

All information provided is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Participants, and their affiliated licensees, shall indicate on their websites that IDX information is provided exclusively for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Copyright 2005 Keystone MLS Network, Inc.

Wednesday 9th of October 2013 10:09 PM

Home for Sale 83 Wild Cherry Lane Marietta PA

83 WILD CHERRY LANE MARIETTA, PA 17547 $140,000 MLS# 212874 Home for Sale

3 beds  |  2 baths  |  1280 sqft


  


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Property Description
Well maintained townhome, spacious kitchen w/ large island & tile backsplash. Large master bedroom w/ walk-in closet. Ceramic tile floor, fenced yard w/ storage shed.

Details
Maps
Documents
Contract Information
List Price: 140000Status: Active
Existing/New: ELand Use Code: AG-824
Property Information
Type of Property: ResidentialRealtor.com Type: Residential – Condo/Townhouse
Total Acres: 0.4Total Bedrooms: 3
Total Full Baths: 1Total Half Baths: 1
Total Bathrooms: 2Fin SqFt Above Grade: 1280
Year Built: 1994
Location, Legal and Taxes
County: LancasterStreet Number: 83
Street/Road Name: WILD CHERRYStreet Suffix: LANE
State/Province: PAZip Code: 17547
School District: DonegalElementary School: Riverview
Middle School: DonegalHigh School: Donegal
APN #/Tax Parcel ID: 1500049000000Assessment: 93300
Municipality/Townshp: East DonegalDeed/Ref #: 05072247
Deed Record Date: 2013-09-26Annual County Tax: 348.48
Annual Municipal Tax: 349.88Annual School Tax: 2000.85
Total Taxes: 2699.21
Directions & Remarks
Directions: Rt 441 to Rt 743 through Maytown, Right on Rosewood,Right on Thornapple, Left on Wild Cherry. Home on the left.Public Remarks: Well maintained townhome, spacious kitchen w/ large island & tile backsplash. Large master bedroom w/ walk-in closet. Ceramic tile floor, fenced yard w/ storage shed.
Bank Owned/REO: NoShort Sale: No
Condo/HOA/PUD: No
Miscellaneous
Electric Amps: 200
Property Features
Stories: 2 Story
Design: Traditional
Type: Row Home/Townhouse
Construction: Stick Built
Exterior: Brick
Roof: Composite Shingles
Lot Description: Fenced
Lot Size: Less Than .25 Ac
Zoning: Residential
Age: 11 – 20 Years
Dining Area: Eat-in Kitchen; Dining Area
Miscellaneous Rooms: None
Fireplace: None
Items Incl in Sale: Refrigerator; Satellite Dish
Interior Features: Built-in Dishwasher; Garbage Disposal; Gas Oven/Range; Kitchen Island; Cable TV Available; Ceiling Fan(s); Smoke Alarm
Misc Exterior: Screens; Deck; Shed; Insulated Windows
Fencing: Vinyl
Basement: Full
Heat: Natural Gas; Forced Air
Cooling: None
Water: Public Water
Sewer: Public Sewer
Hot Water: Gas
Parking: Off Street Parking
ASC/Condo Fee Incl: None
Condo Amenities: None
Condition: Very Good
Room Information
RoomFlooringRoom LevelLengthWidth
Living RoomCeramic TileMain1911
KitchenCeramic TileMain1912
Bedroom 1Wall to WallUpper1412
Bedroom 2Wall to WallUpper109
Bedroom 3Wall to WallUpper1010
Bath 1Ceramic TileMain
Bath 2Ceramic TileUpper

Listing Office: Coldwell Banker Select Profs. Home for sale.

Office Phone: 717-735-8400

Last Updated: October – 03 – 2013

All information provided is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Participants, and their affiliated licensees, shall indicate on their websites that IDX information is provided exclusively for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Copyright 2005 Keystone MLS Network, Inc.

Wednesday 9th of October 2013 07:08 PM

Home for Sale 504 High St Lancaster, PA

$79,900 504 HIGH STREET LANCASTER, PA 17602 MLS# 212847 home for sale Lancaster, PA 17603

4 beds  |  1 baths  |  1975 sqft


  


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Property Description
Fabulous very large well kept city home. Newer gas heating system. Newer AC, large open flowing rooms. All windows are caped with aluminum. Very low maintenance.All new floors on first floor. Insulated basement, new bathroom sink, cabinets, toilet and flooring, newly repainted 1st and 2nd floors, New roof over porch, New roof boots around all roof vents, all new locks with matching deadbolts

Details
Maps
Documents
Contract Information
List Price: 79900Status: Active
Existing/New: ELand Use Code: C-540
Property Information
Type of Property: ResidentialRealtor.com Type: Residential – Condo/Townhouse
Total Acres: 0.05Total Bedrooms: 4
Total Full Baths: 1Total Bathrooms: 1
Fin SqFt Above Grade: 1975Year Built: 1860
Location, Legal and Taxes
County: LancasterStreet Number: 504
Street/Road Name: HIGHStreet Suffix: STREET
State/Province: PAZip Code: 17602
School District: LancasterElementary School: Verify
Middle School: VerifyHigh School: McCaskey
APN #/Tax Parcel ID: 3389396600000Assessment: 68000
Municipality/Townshp: Lancaster CityDeed/Ref #: 00000
Deed Record Date: 2013-10-01Annual County Tax: 253.98
Annual Municipal Tax: 886.72Annual School Tax: 1762.72
Total Taxes: 2903.42
Directions & Remarks
Directions: E on King Street; R on Strawberry; R on High StreetPublic Remarks: Fabulous very large well kept city home. Newer gas heating system. Newer AC, large open flowing rooms. All windows are caped with aluminum. Very low maintenance.All new floors on first floor. Insulated basement, new bathroom sink, cabinets, toilet and flooring, newly repainted 1st and 2nd floors, New roof over porch, New roof boots around all roof vents, all new locks with matching deadbolts
Bank Owned/REO: NoShort Sale: No
Condo/HOA/PUD: No
Property Features
Stories: 2.5 Story
Design: Traditional
Type: Row Home/Townhouse
Construction: Stick Built
Exterior: Brick; Stucco
Roof: Composite Shingles
Lot Description: Clear; Fenced; Level; Not in Development
Lot Size: .25 Ac to LT .50 Ac
Zoning: Residential
Age: 100+ Years
Dining Area: Eat-in Kitchen; Breakfast Bar; Formal Dining Room; Dining Area
Miscellaneous Rooms: 1st Floor Family Rm; Den/Office; Foyer; Laundry Room
Fireplace: None
Items Incl in Sale: Dryer; Refrigerator; Home Warranty; Washer; Window Treatments
Interior Features: None
Misc Exterior: None
Basement: Concrete; Drain; Unfinished
Heat: Natural Gas; Forced Air
Auxiliary Heat: None
Cooling: Central Air
Water: Public Water
Sewer: Public Sewer
Hot Water: Gas
Parking: On Street Parking
Access/Limitations: Public Road
ASC/Condo Fee Incl: None
Condo Amenities: None
Room Information
RoomFlooringRoom LevelLengthWidthRoom Remarks
Living RoomWall to WallMain1210Hardwood floors under carpet
Dining RoomWall to WallMain1412Hardwood floors under carpet
Family RoomCeramic TileMain1513
KitchenVinylMain1513
Bedroom 1Wall to WallUpper1212
Bedroom 2Wall to WallUpper1610
Bedroom 3Wall to WallUpper1112
Bedroom 4Wall to WallUpper1616
Bath 1VinylUpper148
Laundry RoomVinylMain1413

Listing Office: Coldwell Banker Select Profs.

Office Phone: 717-735-8400

Last Updated: October – 03 – 2013

All information provided is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Participants, and their affiliated licensees, shall indicate on their websites that IDX information is provided exclusively for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Copyright 2005 Keystone MLS Network, Inc.

Saturday 5th of October 2013 12:03 AM

1170 Forest Drive Abbottstown PA Foreclosure home for sale


$105,600

This home is under contract in less then 48 hours!

1170 FOREST DRIVE
Abbottstown, PA 17301
MLS# 212672 Foreclosure
3 beds  |  2 baths  |  1512 sqft



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Contract Information
List Price: 105600Status: Active
Existing/New: N
Property Information
Type of Property: ResidentialRealtor.com Type: Residential – Single Family
Lot Size(Dimensions): 174.5X314.8X92.1X305.7Total Acres: 1.02
Total Bedrooms: 3Total Full Baths: 2
Total Bathrooms: 2Fin SqFt Above Grade: 1512
Year Built: 1996
Location, Legal and Taxes
County: AdamsStreet Number: 1170
Street/Road Name: FORESTStreet Suffix: DRIVE
State/Province: PAZip Code: 17301
School District: OtherElementary School: Verify
Middle School: VerifyHigh School: Verify
APN #/Tax Parcel ID: 0117L09013000000Assessment: 150100
Municipality/Townshp: Out of RegionDeed/Ref #: 2968 0221
Deed Record Date: 2013-09-25
Directions & Remarks
Directions: Abbottstown Square turn onto N Queen St/Pa 194 immediately slight left onto Brough Rd.1 mile to left on Forest prop on RBank Owned/REO: Yes
Short Sale: NoCondo/HOA/PUD: No
Property Features
Stories: 1 Story
Design: Ranch
Type: Mobile/Mfg + Land
Construction: Stick Built
Exterior: Vinyl
Roof: Composite Shingles
Lot Description: Level
Lot Size: 1 Ac to LT 2 Ac
Zoning: Residential
Age: 11 – 20 Years
Dining Area: Breakfast Bar; Formal Dining Room
Miscellaneous Rooms: Florida Room
Interior Features: None
Misc Exterior: Above Ground Pool; Deck
Fencing: None
Basement: None
Heat: Propane
Auxiliary Heat: Wood/Coal Stove
Cooling: Central Air
Water: Well
Sewer: Public Sewer
Hot Water: Propane
Parking: 2 Car Garage; Detached; Off Street Parking
Access/Limitations: Public Road
ASC/Condo Fee Incl: None
Condo Amenities: None
Room Information
RoomFlooringRoom LevelLengthWidth
Living RoomWall to WallMain12.519.8
Dining RoomWall to WallMain9.712.2
KitchenVinylMain10.812.5
Bedroom 1Wall to WallMain13.912.45
Bedroom 2Wall to WallMain12.511.8
Bedroom 3Wall to WallMain108
Bath 1VinylMain
Bath 2VinylMain
SunroomWall to WallMain9.8815.3

Listing Office: Coldwell Banker Select Profs.

Office Phone: 717-735-8400

Last Updated: September – 26 – 2013

All information provided is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Participants, and their affiliated licensees, shall indicate on their websites that IDX information is provided exclusively for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Copyright 2005 Keystone MLS Network, Inc.

Thursday 26th of September 2013 10:48 PM

Home for Sale York Pa 616 S Pershing Ave York Pa 17403

Home for sale York PA Seller is offering 6% seller help. With the Money you could qualify for from the city you could by this home no money down. Total remodel move in ready seller is also including washer dryer stove large garage great home.

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Sq.Ft. Source:
Abv Grd:
Blw Grd:
Unfinished SqFt:
Lot Dim:
Acre:
Rd Ftg:
Interm Sch:
High Sch:
Beds:
Full Bths:
Half Bths:
Directions:
Franklin Atlas:
Tax ID #:
Farm Features
Clean & Green:
Appx Wooded:
Appx Tillable:
County Tax:
Bdrm 4
Baths
Total:
Blw Grd:
Sold:
Contract Dt:
Settled Dt:
CC Pd By Seller:
Rp Pd Seller:
Financing:
To Be Built:
Sale/Rent:
Unit #
1
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2195 3180
$69,200
08 Ward-York City
616 S Pershing
york
PA
17403
2.5 Story
1729
1729
0
0.0551
William Penn
3
2
Drive S on S. George,turn R on W.Cottage Pl,R on S.Pershey, Home on L
N
67081640400050000000
0
1729
Remodeled home with hardwood flrs,2 full BA. 6% seller help with acceptable offer. Home has a full Attic with a ceder Closet. This is a Restored home like in the 1930’S. Old world charm splashed with modern updates. Move in ready. Seller is motivated to sell this home this week. Bring your offer. Seller is also offering a $500.00 Gas Credit.
For Sale
$258
$1,161
1924
$1,922
No
End Unit
Semi-Detached
This information is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. ©2013 REALTORS® Association of York and Adams Counties.
Map
ACT
York City
DESIGN
End Unit
CONST.
Stick Built
EXTERIOR
Brick, Cedar/Redwood
ROOFING
Asphalt Shingles
LOT DESC
Level, Clear, Fenced
PARKING
2 Car Garage, Oversized,
Detached, Off Street, On Street
HEAT
Natural Gas
WATER
Public Water
SEWER
Public Sewer
FIREPLACE
Living Room, Family Room
ITEMS INCL.
Washer, Dryer, Refrigerator,
Oven/Range
MISC. EXT.
Storm Windows
AUX. HEAT
Fireplace w/Insert
BASEMENT
Full, Outside Entrance
DINING
Separate Dining Room, Dining Area
LOT SIZE
Less Than 1/4 Acres
ROAD FRONT
Municipal Road
POSSESSION
Immediate, Settlement,
Negotiable
POSSIBLE FIN.
FHA, Conventional, VA
ZONING
Residential
ACCESS/LIMITATION
Public Road
OWNERSHIP
Fee Simple
CONDITION
Excellent
AGE
51+ Years
Jesse A Storm
jstorm@cbsp.com
Conta: (717) 735-6284
CB SELECT PROFESSIONALS
1000 N PRINCE ST
LANCASTER PA 17603
Office: (717) 735-8400
FENCING
Board

BING MAP VIEW
Num
Thumbnail
MLS #
Address
Schl Dist
Price
BR
FB
SqFt
D Center
1
21306529
616 S Pershing
York City
$69,200
3
2
1729
0
This information is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. ©2013 REALTORS® Association of York and Adams Counties.
ALL FIELDS DETAIL

MLS #
21306529
Status
ACTIVE
Type
Residential/Farms
Address
616 S Pershing
City
york
State
PA
Zip
17403
School District
York City
Class
RESIDENTIAL/FARMS
List Price
$69,200
Sale/Rent
For Sale
IDX Include
Yes
Approx Tillable Acreage
Approx Wooded Acreage
Road Frontage
Total Fin SQFT Abv Grade
1729
Tot Fin SQFT Below Grade
0
Total Unfin SQFT Bel Grd
1729
Total # Bedrooms
3
Total Full Baths
2
Total Half Baths
0
Total Finished Square Ft
1729
GENERAL
VOW Comment
No
VOW Include
Yes
VOW Address
Yes
VOW AVM
No
REO/Bank Owned (Y/N)
No
Condo or Townhouse (Y/N)
No
Agent
Listing Office 1
Listing Agent 2
Listing Office 2
Listing Agent 3
Listing Office 3
Sub Agent Comm
3%
Buyers Agent Comm
3%
Transaction Licensee Comm
3%
Variable Commission
No
Listing Date
1/10/2013
Expiration Date
4/10/2014
Agent Hit Count
93
Client Hit Count
89
To Be Built
No
Stories/Levels
2.5 Story
County
York
Neighborhood/Subdivision
Elementary
Intermediate School
High School
William Penn
Lot Dimensions
Lot/Unit #
Franklin Atlas
ADC Atlas
York Co Parcel ID#
67081640400050000000
Adams Co Parcel ID#
Other County Parcel ID#
Municipality
08 Ward-York City
Clean & Green
N
Total Acreage
0.0551
SQFT Source
Sellers Name
Paul DeCaro
Living Room Level
Living Room Dimension
Living Room Description
-NOT USED-
Dining Room Level
Dining Room Dimension
Dining Room Description
-NOT USED-
Family Room Level
Family Room Dimension
Family Room Description
-NOT USED-
Den Level
Den Dimension
Den Description
-NOT USED-
Kitchen Level
Kitchen Dimension
Kitchen Description
-NOT USED-
Bedroom 1 Level
Bedroom 1 Dimension
Bedroom 1 Description
-NOT USED-
Bedroom 2 Level
Bedroom 2 Dimension
Bedroom 2 Description
-NOT USED-
Bedroom 3 Level
Bedroom 3 Dimension
Bedroom 3 Description
-NOT USED-
Bedroom 4 Level
Bedroom 4 Dimension
Bedroom 4 Description
-NOT USED-
Bedroom 5 Level
Bedroom 5 Dimension
Bedroom 5 Description
-NOT USED-
Other Room 1 Code
Other Room 1 Level
Other Room 1 Dimension
Other Room 1 Description
-NOT USED-
Other Room 2 Code
Other Room 2 Level
Other Room 2 Dimension
Other Room 2 Description
-NOT USED-
Other Room 3 Code
Other Room 3 Level
Other Room 3 Dimension
Other Room 3 Description
-NOT USED-
Basement Full Baths
0
Basement Half Baths
0
Level 1 Full Baths
1
Level 1 Half Baths
0
Level 2 Full Baths
1
Level 2 Half Baths
0
Level 3 Full Baths
0
Level 3 Half Baths
0
Level 4 Full Baths
0
Level 4 Half Baths
0
Total Baths
2
Directions From
Drive S on S. George,turn R on
W.Cottage Pl,R on S.Pershey, Home
on L
Search By Map
Update Date
9/20/2013
Open House Date
7/14/2013
Open House Time
1-3 pm
Off Market Date
GENERAL
Status Date
6/13/2013
HotSheet Date
9/20/2013
Price Date
9/20/2013
Input Date
6/13/2013 10:18:00 AM
Tax ID
Associated Document Count
0
Days On Market
253
Price/Ttl Fin SF
$40.02
Days On MLS
99
FEATURES
CATEGORY/USE
Semi-Detached
DESIGN
End Unit
CONST.
Stick Built
EXTERIOR
Brick
Cedar/Redwood
ROOFING
Asphalt Shingles
LOT SIZE
Less Than 1/4 Acres
LOT DESC
Level
Clear
Fenced
PARKING
2 Car Garage
Oversized
Detached
Off Street
On Street
ITEMS INCL.
Washer
Dryer
Refrigerator
Oven/Range
MISC. EXT.
Storm Windows
HEAT
Natural Gas
AUX. HEAT
Fireplace w/Insert
WATER
Public Water
SEWER
Public Sewer
BASEMENT
Full
Outside Entrance
DINING
Separate Dining Room
Dining Area
FIREPLACE
Living Room
Family Room
SHOWING INSTRUCTIONS
Lockbox
POSSIBLE FIN.
FHA
Conventional
VA
POSSESSION
Immediate
Settlement
Negotiable
ZONING
Residential
LISTING TYPE
Exclusive Right to Sell
AGE
51+ Years
ACCESS/LIMITATION
Public Road
ROAD FRONT
Municipal Road
CONDITION
Excellent
OWNERSHIP
Fee Simple
FENCING
Board
FINANCIAL
Original Price
$69,900
Assessment Value
$57,000
Deed Reference #
2195 3180
School Tax
$1,922
County Tax
$258
Municipal Tax
$1,161
Year Built
1924
Leased/As/Con/Pk Fee
Fee Frequency
Annual Heat
Annual Water
Annual Sewer
Annual Refuse
Annual Electric
Agent View Remarks
$1,000.00 Selling Bonus. for Selling
Agent House must sell and sell now
PUBLIC VIEW REMARKS
Remodeled home with hardwood flrs,2 full BA. 6% seller help with acceptable offer. Home has a full Attic with a ceder Closet. This is a Restored home like in
the 1930’S. Old world charm splashed with modern updates. Move in ready. Seller is motivated to sell this home this week. Bring your offer. Seller is also
offering a $500.00 Gas Credit.
SHOWINGASSIST INSTRUCTION
go and show combo lock box
ADDITIONAL PICTURES
DISCLAIMER
This information is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. ©2013 REALTORS® Association of York and Adams Counties.
MLS NUMBERS
MLS #
21306529
This information is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. ©2013 REALTORS® Association of York and Adams Counties
Home for sale in York brought to you by http://stormteamrealestate.com Another quality home for sale in York pa

Home for Sale Lancaster PA Price Reduced for Fast Sale

Home for Sale: 303 N RESERVOIR STREET LANCASTER , PA 17602

List Number207232List Price$ 99,000
Type of PropertyResidentialStatusActive
CountyLancasterTotal Bedrooms3
Total Bathrooms1.00Total Acres0.06
Total Full Baths1Year Built1937
Total Half Baths0Existing/NewE
Land Use CodeZoning (Free Form)
Loc/DevMun/TwnLancaster City
School DistrictLancasterFin SqFt Above1650
Fin SqFt Below0Unfin SqFt Above Grd
Lot SizeAssessment$ 89,700
Total Taxes$ 3,829.93County Tax$ 335.02
Municipal Tax$ 1,169.68School Tax$ 2,325.23
Elementary SchoolWickershamMiddle SchoolLincolnHigh SchoolMcCaskey
Franklin Map Page3173Franklin Map ColumnCFranklin Map Row04
APN #/Tax Parcel ID3362658600000Deed/Ref #5643262Short Sale
Bank Owned/REONo
Directions: East on Chestnut, L on to N Reservoir, Home on R.
Public Remarks: Home for sale with Hardwood Floors throughout, Fireplace, Formal Dining Room, 3 Bedrooms, C/A, 1 Car Garage, Move in Ready or Rent. Has Backup Heating System. Renter is moving out the end of Sept. Buy this home now at a rock bottom price. After Renter moves house Owner is going to rehab home if not sold. But owner will not sell for this price after Rehab.
Design: Traditional
Stories: 2.5 Story
Type: Semi-Detached
Condition: Very Good
Interior Features: Built-in Dishwasher
Dining Area: Dining Area; Formal Dining Room
Basement: Concrete; Partially Finished; Unfinished
Fireplace: Living Room
Items Incl in Sale: None
Heat: Electric; Forced Air; Hot Water/Radiators; Oil
Auxiliary Heat: Fireplace
Cooling: Central Air
Water: Public Water
Hot Water: Electric
Sewer: Public Sewer
Lot Description: Clear; Level
Lot Size: Less Than .25 Ac
Fencing: None
Parking: 1 Car Garage
Access/Limitations: Public Road
Age: 51 – 99 Years
Construction: Masonry; Stick Built
Exterior: Brick
Roof: Composite Shingles; Slate
Misc Exterior: Balcony; TV Antenna; Storm Doors; Storm Windows
Zoning: Residential
ASC/Condo Fee Incl: None
Condo Amenities: None
Miscellaneous: # Fireplaces: 1; # Off Str Prking Spc: 4;Electric Amps: 100
Financing: Conventional; Installment Sale; Lease Purchase; VA
Documents Available: Sellers Disclosure
Room NameRoom LevelDimensionsFlooringRoom Remarks
Living RmMain18 x 15Hardwoodfireplace
Dining RmMain18 x 12Hardwood
KitchenMain15 x 7Vinyl
Room NameRoom LevelDimensionsFlooringRoom Remarks
Bedroom 1Upper16 x 11Hardwoodlarge walk in closet
Bedroom 2Upper13 x 12Hardwood
Bedroom 3Upper18 x 15Hardwood
Bath 1Upper9 x 6Vinyl
 Home for sale in Lancaster PA
 Foreclosures for sale in Lancaster PA
Provided as a courtesy of
Jesse Storm

Coldwell Banker Select Profs.
1000 N. Prince Street
Lancaster, PA 17603
Office Phone – (717) 735-6284
Fax. – (717) 735-2207
Cell – (717) 917-1537
jesse@stormteamrealestate.com
http://www.stormteamrealestate.com

 

Information is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed. © 2013 MLS and FBS. Prepared by Jesse Storm on Friday, September 20, 2013 12:40 PM. The information on this sheet has been made available by the MLS and may not be the listing of the provider.

Overview of the VA Loan Program

Five Easy Steps to a VA Loan

The more you know about our home loan program, the more you will realize how little “red tape” there really is in getting a VA loan. These loans are often made without any down payment at all, and frequently offer lower interest rates than ordinarily available with other kinds of loans. Aside from the veteran’s certificate of eligibility and the VA-assigned appraisal, the application process is not much different than any other type of mortgage loan. And if the lender is approved for automatic processing, as more and more lenders are now, a buyer’s loan can be processed and closed by the lender without waiting for VA’s approval of the credit application.

Additionally, if the lender is approved under VA’s Lender Appraisal Processing Program (LAPP), the lender may review the appraisal completed by a VA-assigned appraiser and close the loan on the basis of that review. The LAPP process can further speed the time to loan closing.

  1. Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility. A veteran who doesn’t have a certificate can obtain one easily by completing VA Form 26-1880, Request for a Certificate of Eligibility for VA Home Loan Benefits and submitting it to one of the VA Eligibility Centers with copies of your most recent discharge or separation papers covering active military duty since September 16, 1940, which show active duty dates and type of discharge.
  2. Decide on a home the buyer wants to buy and sign a purchase agreement
  3. Order an appraisal from VA. (Usually this is done by the lender.) Most VA regional offices offer a “speed-up” telephone appraisal system. Call the local VA office for details.
  4. Apply to a mortgage lender for the loan. While the appraisal is being done, the lender (mortgage company, savings and loan, bank, etc.) can be gathering credit and income information. If the lender is authorized by VA to do automatic processing, upon receipt of the VA or LAPP appraised value determination, the loan can be approved and closed without waiting for VA’s review of the credit application. For loans that must first be approved by VA, the lender will send the application to the local VA office, which will notify the lender of its decision.
  5. Close the loan and the buyer moves in.

4 Ways to Hater-Proof Your Listing

iStock_000001872807Small-645X250

In my experience, there’s one fundamental truth about haters: you can never fully escape them. The only way to live a 100% hater-free life is to never stick your neck out, and never do anything because, as the saying goes, you simply cannot please all of the people all of the time.

And this is particularly true with real estate and putting your listings on the market – because homes, locations, aesthetics and such are so much a matter of personal preference, some people will find something to criticize about even the most perfectly staged, priciest properties on the market.

As a listing agent, your job is not to try to make your listings be all things to all people – but you do want it to appeal to enough buyers that you get one great offer (and multiple offers never hurt anybody, either). That said, you don’t want your listing to be the house that nearly every buyer and broker sees, rolls their eyes and utters the same few, predictable deal-killing criticisms.

Fortunately, what is predictable is avoidable. Unfortunately, many of the things that make a listing susceptible to haters are issues on the seller’sside of the property preparation responsibilities. Let’s explore the most common things buyers hate about listings they see. In the process, you’ll get equipped with things you can say to your sellers to help sidestep those issues and, in large part, hater-proof your own listing.

House Hater Complaint #1: Odors.

You might think I’m beating a dead horse, here, or even preaching to the choir. But as long as house hunters keep emailing me to ask why, in the name of all that is sacred, they keep seeing homes that smell like all sorts of madness and mayhem, I’m going to keep repeating this message.

Viewing a home sounds like it’s all about the visual of the experience. And visuals are critical – your listing should be in its Sunday best, so to speak, when it’s being shown, in terms of being spruced, staged and clutter-free. But when a buyer comes to see your listing, they don’t turn off the rest of their senses. And there is nothing that can turn a buyer off from a home they’d otherwise like more quickly than a powerfully bad odor.

In particular, cigarette and pet odors in a house that seems to have been well-cleaned create the concern that they might be permanent and that the buyer might not be able to get rid of them without dropping some serious cash on cleaning or even removing wall, window and floor coverings.

If you are listing a home and you know that someone has been habitually smoking in it home or that the seller has had a “challenge,” let’s say, with pet accidents, do not ignore the problem. And do not think that because you had the carpet shampooed or the drapes cleaned, or because YOU can’t smell anything, that the problem is gone.  The human sense of smell very quickly gets used to smells that it lives with or is surrounded with on a regular basis.

It’s one of the tougher parts of your job as an agent to point out bad smells and odors, no matter how painful the conversation and make sure they are eradicated by any means necessary, before you place your listings on the market.

House Hater Complaint #2: Glaringly extreme overpricing.

There’s the kind of overpricing that makes a buyer say, “Hmmm – seems a bit high. Let’s go see it, but we might have to offer a little less than the asking price if we like it.”  Then there’s the kind of overpricing that makes buyer say “I’ll wait until a price reduction” or worse, hold their sides from laughing.

When overpricing is glaring, many buyers and buyer’s brokers will comment on it or inquire about it. What they are less likely to do is actually come out and see the place – especially if they weed it out online after comparing its specs to all the other homes in the area and the price range.  Often, homes this severely overpriced simply don’t sell, or not until after they’ve had some serious price cuts or have been on the market so long buyers begin to feel confident about making lowball offers.

In fact, the goal is the opposite – you want your listing to stand out as a property that is not dirt cheap, but does present a good value for the money – that’s what motivates buyers to get out of their chairs and into the property for a viewing.

Obviously, you don’t set the price of your listings. It’s also obvious that the agent-seller conflict about overpricing is one of those battles that have been fought since Adam and Eve sought to list the Garden of Eden.

Here’s how to hater-proof your home’s listing against this issue: force your sellers to fixate on the comps. Smart sellers deactivate their emotional attachment and very human tendency to overvalue their precious homes by poring over the sales prices (not list prices) of similar, nearby homes that have recently sold. Walk them through this data – don’t forget to show them the overpriced listings that are lagging on the market, and any value-priced listings that have sold for way more than asking.

When you get a seller who simply won’t budge off a dramatically high list price:

(a) get them to sign a reduction addendum that will automatically kick in after 30 or 45 days on the market, and/or

(b) consider whether this listing makes sense to take in the first place.

Also, consider using your broker’s first Open House as an additional hater-proof measure: if the agents overwhelmingly comment that they think the home is significantly overpriced, communicate this feedback to your seller.

House Hater Complaint #3: Dirt and messes.

Possibly the single largest source of House Hater Complaints I’ve ever heard are the dirt, messes, piles and personal belongings that buyers find so distracting, when they walk into a home for a viewing or Open House. Obviously, homes that are filthy from floor to ceiling are fertile fodder for haters, but often those homes are bank-owned or otherwise distressed so that the sellers aren’t likely to do much.  What is underestimated is how often even savvy home buyers are distracted (and disgusted) by relatively clean homes that just have a few outstanding messes, like piles of dirty dishes in the sink, piles of dog poo in the yard or even piles of papers, mail, books or clothes lying out in plain view.

Will one or two such items ruin the sale of your home? Perhaps not. But a few of them (or more) can certainly distract a buyer enough that they fixate on the home’s messes and, in the process, fail to see what is so great about your property.  As I see it, cleaning up, meticulously, before every single showing is free – so it makes no sense to even run the risk of turning off a prospective buyer by letting messes get in the way of their ability to visualize themselves and their families flourishing in your home.

Make sure you brief the sellers in detail on what buyers expect, in the way of cleanliness.  Also, set up a plan for giving them enough notice of showing appointments that they can do a quick, but thorough, house cleaning pass through before every single viewing.

House Hater Complaint #4: Lots of little malfunctions.

All of us tend to think our homes are in fantastic condition.  After all, your sellers have had the furnace maintained regularly, they’ve installed granite and dual paned windows – maybe they even took your advice to have the floors refinished or the walls painted in preparation for putting the place on the market.

That’s all fantastic – all the non-cosmetic work that’s been done to maintain and improve your listing should be trumpeted in your marketing materials, and the cosmetic items will (or should) speak for themselves. But here’s the thing: houe hunters won’t be running the dishwasher or testing the furnace (at least not until inspections).

http://stormteamrealestate.com or http://www.stormteamrealestate.com

Help A Buyer Out: 5 Tips Sellers Would give Buyers if they Could

The conventional wisdom is that buyers and sellers go together like oil and water. That is to say, they don’t go together at all. Some say they are at odds simply by virtue of sitting across the bargaining table from one another, which – along with negotiation and legal issues that are par for the home buying course – create the presumption that they want totally different things.

The prime example of competing buyer and seller interests is this: the buyer wants to pay as little as possible, while the seller wants to get top dollar for the place. But there is another way to look at this entirely.  In fact, there’s a point of view from which the buyer and the seller want exactly the same thing:  the buyer wants to buy the place, and the seller wants to sell it to them!  And I’ve seen many buyers and sellers act cooperatively to achieve just that result.

Nevertheless, there are things that sellers can see from their side of the table that you cannot. Sellers have insights into their own mindsets that, if revealed, can be very powerful tools in helping buyers optimize their approach, offer and interactions with the seller to both buyer’s and seller’s benefit. So, in the interest of helping both buyers and sellers move closer to an outcome that helps them both achieve their mutual goal, here are a few of the insider secrets from the seller’s side of the bargaining table that they would tell buyers, if they could.

  1.    Trashing my house doesn’t make me want to sell it to you at a discount.  To a seller, their home is their castle. It’s the place where they’ve raised their children, and has been the backdrop for many of their memories. It’s the asset into which they’ve invested the lion’s share of their time and money, sometimes for years.  It’s an intensive expression of their personal tastes.  And it’s also the asset they must convert into as much money as possible to move forward with the next phase of their lives.

All that said, the average seller knows most things about their home that you can see with the naked eye.  So if you, as a buyer, think trash talking a home, pointing out obvious flaws or issues is a good strategy for getting the price down, rest assured that you are not telling the seller anything they didn’t already know when they set the list price. In fact, you might very well be doing your case more harm than good, as this “strategy” is highly likely to alienate and insult the seller whose cooperation you seek.

If you feel strongly that something about a place makes it less valuable than the comparables the seller seems to have based the list price on, work with your agent on how best to communicate your offer price rationale to the listing agent in a way that is diplomatic and fact-based.

    2.    Knowing that you have cash makes me feel comfortable taking your offer.  With distressed properties, over-asking multiple offers, and the generally warm-to-hot seller’s market in many areas, it has become increasingly common for sellers to request proof of a buyer’s “cash to close.” (This usually takes the form of bank or other asset account statements, with the sensitive account number information blacked out for security purposes.)

Some buyers in competitive situations have begun to proactively offer such proof, even when it hasn’t been requested, and even for non-cash offers.

Other buyers, though, take offense. Why shouldn’t the mortgage pre-approval letter be enough?  Why should you have to jump through yet one more documentation hoop?  Is the seller just plain nosy? Why are they all in your business?

One word: comfort. Over the last few years, the number of home sale transactions that went into – and fell out of – escrow due to last minute loan problems of pre-approved buyers hit a record high. While this is awful for buyers to go through, it’s even more disruptive for sellers, who are relying on the transaction to close in the time frame the buyer provided to move forward with their own lives. It’s also a worst case scenario for a seller who had 5 offers on the table to choose one and then have it fall out of escrow later on.

And sellers’ agents know this – often, the issues which derail a buyer’s loan can be resolved with money, extra cash down, extra cash at closing, extra cash to put in escrow for post-closing repairs required by the lender or the city.  So, proving that you have more cash than you appear to need to close the deal doesn’t necessarily set you up for the seller to ask for more cash – but it might help them feel that you’re the buyer most likely to sidestep mortgage obstacles and seal the deal.

 3.    It’s all about the Benjamins – but close-ability is a close second.  Buyers be on notice – all the love letters, cute dog pics and cookies in the world will not make your offer win out over others that are offering significantly higher than yours, financially speaking.  Now, please don’t write in telling me about the case of your cousin’s dog groomer’s tarot card reader who got a home for less than 10 other offers because she helped the little old lady seller take her garbage cans to the curb – most little old ladies need cash to get through their later years.

There is always an exception to the rule, and it does sometimes happen that a seller will take a slightly lower offer than the highest for one reason or another.  But if you’re trying to create a plan that stacks the decks in your favor in a multiple offer situation, your first priority should be to offer as much as you can, without spending beyond what is affordable for you and beyond the home’s fair market value.

That said, sellers also care – a lot – about how likely the offer they accept is to close escrow.  And when multiple offers get so numerous and so frenzied that buyers seem to be throwing money at a home, smart sellers pay attention to the fact that their home might very well not appraise at a crazily high price and focus on offers that seem realistic and close-able, which can mean offers below the highest.

Approval letters, proof of cash to close, the professionalism with which the offer is prepared and presented (see below), and even things like your credit score, your choice of mortgage broker/professional – all these things contribute to or detract from a seller’s estimation of how close-able your offer is.  If you’re competing against other offers, you should be maxing out both your price and your offer’s close-ability, as evidenced by these characteristics.

4.    Your agent represents you to the world of sellers.
  Choose wisely.  See above. A buyer’s broker or agent has a lot of influence on whether the transaction closes, and how smooth or bumpy the ride is. If your agent’s level of professionalism is lacking, it will show – and listing agents might actually rank your offer below others, in terms of close-ability.  If your agent’s level of professionalism is stellar, the opposite can occur.

Before you choose an agent, ask around your circle of friends and do a little online searching or even calls to past clients to see what you can find out about their reputation for professionalism.

5.    Ask nicely – the old “flies with honey” adage is true. 
The conventional narrative about buyers and sellers is that they are adversaries. But I’ve been around this block a few times, and I think the average buyer would be absolutely gobsmacked at the number of times sellers are actually ready, willing and able to agree to their requests throughout a transaction. This is especially the case where:

  1. the buyers’ requests are reasonable and not nickel-and-dime nitpicks
  2. the buyers phrase their requests nicely, and
  3. the buyers have been living up to their end of the bargain throughout the course of the transaction.

Compare this with buyers who try to hold sellers hostage to their requests with the threat that they’ll kill the deal if the seller doesn’t do every single penny-ante thing the buyer wants.

I’ve seen sellers agree to leave valuable personal property behind, have repairs made, give thousands of dollars in repair credits or price reductions after a concerning inspection report – despite a hot seller’s market – all because they were good people, could afford to, and the buyer’s approach was more sweet than it was sour.

The ASHI Experience When You Have WIN Home Inspection At Your Side

When you call WIN Home Inspection, you get

 

Matthew Steger, Owner/Inspector, is an ASHI Certified Inspector meets the rigorous requirements to be a provider of “The ASHI Experience”, a professional home inspection that combines the highest technical skills with superior customer service. We strive for 100% customer satisfaction and we measure this via a customer satisfaction survey provided to the client. Matthew has more than 10 years experience inspecting thousands of homes in Lancaster, Dauphin, and Lebanon Counties. He is also an engineer. We take the time to fully and clearly explain any issues with the client.

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is North America’s oldest and most respected professional society of home inspectors. ASHI sets the mark for the highest inspection standards among national home inspector organizations and also is the only national home inspector association with an accredited certification program.

 

WIN Home Inspection provides:

1. A thorough & complete home inspection that’s easy to read & understand (w/ digital photos);

2. A Free 90 day limited Home Warranty and a Free Appliance RecallChek;

3. The proper perspective for each home inspected (non-alarmist);

4. Preventive maintenance recommendations to help the buyer better protect their new investment;

5. After-hours ordering and phone support to answer your questions, and;

6. Risk-Free Referral (your liability is lowered since you are covered under our E&O insurance).

 

Give WIN Home Inspection a try and find out why “We See More. Clearly.”

 

Print this email and give it to your next client to save them $40 off a Home Inspection/Termite Inspection Combo! (offer expires 31 December 2012)

 

Call 717-361-9467 or check us out at www.winhomeinspectionelizabethtown.com


Matthew Steger
Owner/Inspector
WIN Home Inspection – “We See More. Clearly.”

Phone: 717-361-9467
Web: www.winhomeinspectionelizabethtown.com
Email: msteger@wini.com
2133 Andrew Avenue
Elizabethtown, PA 17022

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Copyright 2012 WIN Home Inspection

Help Your Seller Clear Out The Clutter

Jesse Storm Realtor

In a perfect world, every home seller would be a neat freak and have their house in immaculate condition. Sadly, that’s rarely true. So here are a few ideas you can use to help your seller improve the overall look and feel of their home, which will help it sell even faster.

KitchenThere’s nothing worse than watching a buyer opening a kitchen drawer that’s cluttered and seemingly dirty. Thankfully, drawer organizers offer a simple solution that will help make silverware and other items look much more appealing.You might also want to consider having your home seller attempt to tame the mess created by unorganized plastic containers. As for those random items cluttering open shelves, try stashing them in rattan baskets.

Kid’s room.

Fight the urge to remind parents how important it is to teach their kids to clean up their room and suggest putting those toys strewn across the room into something like a wicker or canvas basket with lid. While you’re at it, consider storing out of season clothing underneath the bed to make the closets spacious.

Living room.

Despite good intentions, covering a coffee table with magazines and other items rarely has the desired effect. Instead, it can come across as unkempt and become a turnoff for potential buyers. The good news is a simple ceramic or wicker tray can be a great home for items like this and provide eclectic appeal.

Master bedroom

Besides the obvious tips like making the bed, opening the blinds for natural light, and cleaning the floors, keep an eye out for things like cluttered dresser or night stand surfaces. Hanging organizers are a great solution for this particular plight as they can store plenty of items while remaining out of sight.

Be sure to also take a look inside the closets. If you’re staring at an unsightly pile of mismatched shoes of every style imaginable, suggest an expanding tiered shoe rack. This simple step will keep the closet looking organized, and more importantly, expansive.

American Home Shield is providing the information for general guidance only. Due to the general nature of the property maintenance and improvement advice in this material, neither American Home Shield Corporation, nor its licensed subsidiaries assumes any responsibility for any loss or damage which may be suffered by the use of this information.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Avoidance and Prevention

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Avoidance and Prevention
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas produced by the combustion of fuels such as natural gas, oil, and propane in mechanical unit including furnaces, water heaters, and stoves. These items are normally designed to vent the CO to the outside, but harmful interior levels of CO can result from incomplete combustion of fuel, improper installation, or blockages, leaks or cracks in the venting systems. Very high levels of CO can lead to incapacitation or death, with victims sometimes never having been aware they were being poisoned.Homeowners can take action against potential carbon monoxide poisoning by taking the following steps:

Have all fuel-burning appliances professionally inspected annually, preferably before the start of the cold-weather season when heaters and furnaces are first used.
These appliances include gas stoves and ovens, furnaces and heaters, water heaters, generators, and clothes dryers.
All such units should be properly installed and safely vented to the outside.
If repairs are necessary, be sure they are performed by a qualified technician.
Always use the proper fuel specified for the unit.
Have flues and chimneys for fuel-burning fireplaces or wood stoves inspected regularly for cracks, leaks, and blockages that may allow a buildup of CO to occur.
Never use gas stoves or ovens as a home heating source, even temporarily.
Do not idle a vehicle in a garage, even with the garage door open. When starting the car, open the garage door, start the engine, and drive out as soon as possible to prevent dangerous CO emissions from accumulating.
For additional protection, purchase a CO detector (either battery operated or plug-in) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper location and installation. Installation of working CO detectors in residential properties is now required by law in many areas.
Learn what to do if the CO alarm activates: if anyone in the home experiences symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, or confusion, everyone should leave immediately and seek medical attention. If the alarm sounds but no symptoms are felt, open doors and windows immediately and shut off all fuel-burning devices that may be potential sources of CO.

Your local Pillar To Post office looks forward to serving real estate professionals and homeowners all year round. Contact us today!

THE PILLAR TO POST ADVANTAGE
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  • All Pillar To Post inspectors carry E&O insurance to protect you, the referring agent.
  • As North America’s leading home inspection company, Pillar To Post is committed to providing the highest quality service to real estate professionals and their clients.
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Inspection includes a comprehensive computerized report that can be delivered on site. Limit one coupon per inspection. Not valid with any other offer. Coupon must be presented at time of inspection.
Offer Expires: March 31, 2013 
For more information about home inspection or to schedule a home inspection, click here to find your local Pillar To Post office. 

Kyle Rupp

Kyle.Rupp@pillartopost.com
http://lancasterhomeinspection.pillartopost.com/

1-888-268-0085

4 Reasons to Write a Real Estate Love Letter: When, Why and How to Express Your Emotions About A Home

In a world where an ”XO” text message or Facebook relationship status change signifies deep emotion, the long-form love letter seems to be a dying art. So it is somewhat surprising that the seemingly cut-and-dry, numbers-and-negotiation-riddled realm of real estate is one of the last bastions of the love letter.

Many agents advise both their buyers and sellers to keep a calm, cool and collected demeanor throughout the transaction, out of concern that demonstrating emotion will spark greedy sentiments and advantage-taking desires in the hearts of the folks on the other side of the table. And there’s truth in this: walking into a house and salivating is never advisable.  But there are some times when putting your heart on your sleeve – and your pen to paper to express your love for a home you’re buying or selling – is just what your transaction needs to bring things together and get you the results you want.

1.  Seller → Buyer: Video Love Letter. Your agent might be telling you that video is THE NEXT BIG THING in marketing a home. And you know what? They’re right. In a recent survey of house hunters, 70 percent cited “touring a certain home” as their reason for viewing videos in the course of their search for a home – and 86 percent said their purpose for watching a video was to learn about a particular area. Fifty-one percent of them pointed to YouTube as their primary video source.

Many home marketing videos are simple tours of the property. But what makes a video a love letter expressing why you love the house (and why a buyer will, too) is ensuring that the swoon-worthy features of the home actually make it into the video!  If you have a delightful backyard, have the videographer shoot it alight at night, as well as during the day. If there are custom built-ins, high-end appliances or secret spaces with smart organizers inside – there should be shots of these things, rather than just a couple of broad sweeps of the camera across the room.

If your neighborhood is the epicenter for local shops, farmer’s markets and such, have the videographer incorporate and label shots of these things – ideally after the footage of the house – to paint the fuller picture for the viewer of the full experience of life in your home. If you’d like to do some sort of personal narration about how much you have loved living in this home, and expressing heartfelt best wishes for the next owner, that can be a nice touch – but keep it uber-short.

Work with your agent to be sure the YouTube description of your video includes a link to the home’s Trulia listing, and vice versa.  Also make sure the name of your town, neighborhood and “home for sale” appear in the YouTube description of your video love letter about your home, to make it more likely that the right folks will find it when searching the web.

2.  Buyer → Seller:
 Multiple Offers.  So, you finally found the one.  Perfect porch – swing included. Coffee shop downstairs in the building. Gingerbread-laden Victorian ready for fixing. Whatever floats your boat, as they say. The only thing is, there are about 5, 15 or 50 other people who think this property is their one – and all of them are making offers to buy it.

As a buyer, there’s no better time to write the seller a love letter about their home than when you are competing in earnest with other offers. (Logistically, this is something your agent will include when they submit your offer and loan approval documentation.)

In fact, the love letter should briefly explain why you like their home, but it should also go into more detail about your love for your family, your life, your career, your town, etc. and why you think their home is the perfect launching pad for the next stage of all of these relationships.  It is not overkill to humanize yourself or your family by including a photo – pics of babies and dogs go over well, though some agents feel that photos can work against you in cases of an ornery or biased seller.

That said, it’s essential to think through the multiple offer love letter in the overall context of the fever-pitched negotiations.  Will a love letter help you beat out offers of tens of thousands of dollars more than yours? No, it won’t – so it’s essential that even if you do write a love letter, you still make your most competitive offer, price-wise, in light of the comparables, your budget and your level of desire to secure the place.

So what, then, is the advantage you gain from writing a love letter?  It might get you a counter-offer when you would normally have gotten an outright rejection.  It might get you the leg up on a buyer offering the same amount of money, when the seller is already aware that that dollar is the most the place will appraise for (so countering for more is not a great option).  And it might get you some seller graces and above-and-beyond cooperation later in the transaction, like furnishings thrown in or time extension requests granted, if you are the victorious winner.  So, for something that costs nothing, it might just be worth it, even if the chances it will help you best a buyer offer thousands more than you are between slim and none.

3.  Seller → Buyer: Written Home/Neighborhood Love Letter.  It should be clear at this stage of the game that your house will need to speak for itself – it’s location, condition, price and even staging create a holistic package that buyers will scrutinize in evaluating whether or not it’s a love match.  But when you have a beautiful home in a fantastic neighborhood, it can still be a powerful thing to have a love letter about your home and neighborhood, with a few other extras, sitting in a binder on your counter.

Buyers fantasize about how happy their families are and will be in the property – so letting them know about the years of joy your family has experienced there only adds to the good vibes.

Buyers might not know all the charming, fun or convenient amenities your neighborhood has to offer. I have lived and run in my neighborhood for almost four years, and just stumbled across a new secret staircase into the park by the lake last week!  If your home is otherwise likely to be sought-after by hikers, dog-walkers, foodies or film buffs and your neighborhood has amazing offerings for those types of folks, say so in your love letter. I’ve seen an amazing binder filled with a family’s love letter about their home, their neighbors and their neighborhood, complete with a list of all their favorite neighborhood vendors, restaurants, the names and numbers of their housekeeper and gardener – and even some menus from the restaurants that deliver to the address!

Many listing agents are starting to include any pre-listing inspection reports and disclosures in a binder that remains in the property during showings, as well as being emailed to buyers’ brokers in digital format upon their request. These “disclosure packets,” which tend to increase the chances of getting an as-is offer up front, and reduce the chances that the buyer will try to renegotiate mid-stream, are a great spot to include your love letter and any supporting materials. If there’s something that needs major fixing in your home, and you want to explain anything about it, this might be a good place. If you’ve invested thousands in upgrading it, this is a good place to brief the buyer on that, too.

Work with your agent to create a strategy about what details to include, and make sure your agent signs off on the final version before you put it out for the world to see.

4.  Buyer → Seller: Unlisted Home.  Did you ever see the War of the Roses, with Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny deVito? At the beginning of the Roses’ ill-fated marriage, they found a storybook home that wasn’t on the market by stalking it, writing a note to the seller and ultimately, being in the right place at the right time when the elderly seller passed away.

This sort of thing does actually happen, on occasion, in real life – a buyer actively pursues a home that is not for sale, simply because they love it, and the seller agrees to sell. This is tricky territory, as often:

  • buyers seeking an unlisted home can be seeking to get an infeasibly low price or seller-financed deal, which the seller has no reason to accept (i.e., before accepting a lowball offer, the seller would put it on the market)
  • sellers simply have no interest in selling the place, or they would have it on the market
  • some scam artists send seemingly handwritten letters to sellers en masse, making them skeptical of the occasional legitimate buyer who writes them a love letter
  • sellers might have unrealistic expectations about what they should get for the home, or only be willing to sell for top dollar
  • there are legal restrictions in some states on making proactive approaches to home sellers who are behind on their mortgage or in some state of foreclosure, which wanna-be buyers should take care to observe (a quick consult with your own broker or a real estate attorney is in order, before you send a seller a love letter on an unlisted home).

That said, if you’re looking for a very unusual type of property in a market where few are sold (e.g., an equestrian property near the city) or there are only a few homes in your area that fit your specifications, it’s not a bad idea to submit letters putting sellers on notice that you are interested in their property and would love to discuss buying it. If the seller does bite, you would be well-advised to bring a broker, attorney or title/escrow professional into the transaction to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected and responsibilities are met in the course of the transaction.

Buyers (Past and Present):  Have you ever written a love letter about a seller’s home? Did it work? Have you ever read one?  Did you find it compelling?

Sellers (Past and Present): Do you have a success story about using a love letter – written or video – to help sell your home?  Do tell!

4 Home-Buying Nightmares You Can Help Prevent

home,sale,coldwell,banker,prudential,house,sale,real,estate,home,buyer,seller,listing,house

Jesse Storm smaller

If you’re a film fan, you might have noticed a theme that I just discovered recently in movies that star movie star extraordinaire Denzel Washington. He tends to play roles at one extreme of the villain-hero spectrum or the other. But when he’s on the hero end, he often uses his smarts and expertise to do things no other mere mortal could do, despite his personality flaws, addictions and lack of any superhuman powers:

  • In Man on Fire, he rescues a little girl from from a Mexican cartel.
  • In Unstoppable, he stops a runaway train carrying a load of toxic cargo.
  • In his latest movie, Flight, he lands a passenger plane that no other pilot could, in part, by flying it upside down.

Sometimes, as I see it, brokers and agents are the Denzel Washingtons of our clients’ real estate transactions and life visions. There are some hazards of home buying that are totally unavoidable, but there are some that highly-skilled, highly-observant, highly-savvy agents help their clients avoid falling prey to dozens, even hundreds of times throughout their careers:

1. Freak-outs and buyer’s remorse.

I tend to joke with buyers and sellers alike that the on the day an offer or counter-offer is ratified, both parties spend the evening riddled with remorse: the buyers think the accepted offer means they could have gotten the place for less, and the sellers think it means they could have demanded more!  Okay, so it’s not totally a joke.

All jokes aside, it is the case that some buyers rue the day they closed on a home for years and years to come. This often happens, in my experience, when the home itself doesn’t turn out to be highly functional for their lives, the place turns out to be a lemon or the buyers find themselves overextended financially and end up in mortgage distress.

Clearly, the decision-making on all of these issues – house “fit,” house condition, and how much to spend – are ultimately the buyer’s decision, not yours.  Condition surprises are only avoidable via scrutinizing disclosures and having inspections.

But I have found one exercise to be a powerful way agents can help eliminate later remorse – I call it, the Vision of Home exercise.  Before you ask them to get into the nitty-gritty details of the sort of house they hope to buy, in terms of bedrooms, bathrooms and the like, ask your buyer clients to sit down and journal out their vision for their life after they move into the home.  Tell them to go whole hog and cover what they see in their minds’ eye on topics including, but not limited to:

  • who they envision living in the home over the next 5 or 10 years
  • what sorts of things all those people will likely do, inside and outside of the home, for work, school, play and downtime (i.e., will they spend their Saturdays walking to the farmer’s market, hiking the regional parks or hammering away on home improvement projects)
  • where everyone will go to school or work, and how they will get there, and
  • how much they want to work, and any changes in their work lives that they would like to make in the next few years, like starting their own business, telecommuting or changing jobs or industries (this point goes both to how much they spend and some of the home amenities they will need).

From there, you can work with them to move to more granular details, like the beds, baths, square feet and location details of a home that should help them realize their vision of home. And here’s how you resolve a freak-out:  if or when the buyer gets panicked post offer-acceptance, whip this original Vision of Home document right on out.

At that time, or just before you remove contingencies, you can walk through this document with them, and one of two things will likely happen: they will be delighted to find that, even after the inevitable house hunt compromises, the place still will help them fulfill most of the items on their life vision wish list or they will realize that they have wandered too far astray from their original vision and back out while they still have the opportunity to find the right home for them.

2. Intentional ignorance.

(unread disclosures, inspections – order more, make recommendations, etc.)

Buyers who fail to read disclosures, inspections, loan documents and such are buyers who tend to end up really, really upset at a later stage of the deal – often at you, their agent. Sometimes these are buyers who are so unused to these sorts of transactions that the mere sight of all those papers and zeros makes their eyes glaze over, bodies fall to the ground in the fetal position, mouths foam – etc. and so forth.  Other times, these are buyers who have done so many major transactions in their work or their lives that they’ve gotten too casual, too lackadaisical, with the details.

  • Read them yourself – summarize, flag items you think are important and obtain a written receipt with a bold, all caps acknowledgement at the bottom.
  • Set an appointment to review the items with them, rather than just having your transaction coordinator send them over email or through your digital document signature application.
  • Encourage them to ask questions – and give them “permission,” even encouragement to simply keep asking until they feel they are completely comfortable and understand everything.  Some Type-As who are used to immediately grasping everything they read are very hesitant to ask what they think are “dumb” questions.
  • Ask the mortgage pro on the transaction to send loan documents to your buyer and yourself at least a day or so in advance. The prospect of trying to read and catch mistakes in that pile of docs sitting at the closing table, often with the keys to the property and their moving hands hanging on whether they all get signed that very moment is one of the most common reasons buyers cite for not reading and understanding their papers.

3. Jumping off a self-made mortgage cliff.

In a heating market like today’s, the auction atmosphere and uber-long timelines of many house hunts can cause buyers to forget some of the fundamental tenets of buying a home – particularly when it comes to maintaining their financials in the same state they were when they were pre-approved for a home. Here’s what I’ve seen work well:  tell your buyer clients at your very first meeting all the ways you’ve seen other buyers inadvertently kill or seriously complicate their own deals. Make sure you include:

  • Increasing their credit card or other debt
  • Paying off and closing credit accounts
  • Buying a car (an oldie, but goodies)
  • Changing jobs and industries
  • Paying bills late/incurring new derogatory marks on their credit report.

Even if their house hunt takes a year or longer, even if they are relatively self-service in terms of viewing Open Houses on their own, make sure you stay in close contact with them throughout and make sure they know to check in with you or their mortgage broker before they make any major money or career moves.

4. Deal-killing delay.  

Hesitation kills deals – and it often critically wounds those it doesn’t totally slay. Agents know this. Most of us have cringed as we anticipated and actually witnessed this take place, more than once – or more than once every year:

  • The buyer that loves a place, but is afraid to commit, so takes an extra day to make an offer or respond to a counter and loses it to another, more aggressive buyer.
  • The buyer whose anxiety snowballs into feet-dragging on getting their documents to the mortgage broker, forcing them to run behind on loan contingency removal, which the bank seller refuses to extend, or
  • The buyer who waits so long to get serious about reviewing disclosures, reading inspection reports and obtaining repair bids that they panic and consider pulling out of the deal when the first inspection reveals even a few condition issues that would not otherwise be so worrisome.

Obviously, if you can brief your buyers before they get started hunting in earnest on the folly of hesitating, that will get through to a good number of them.  Additionally, because much of the early-deal hesitation arises from the novelty of the idea of making such a major financial commitment, doing a very thorough job of running and reviewing the comparable as they decide how much to offer, briefing them on how many other offers they are up against and reminding buyers of all the contingencies you’ll be writing into their offer can help diminish the panic-based paralysis that so commonly stops them in their tracks.

Wrap-up.  

Even the most Denzellian of real estate agents can only do so much. Beyond making your best effort and implementing some of these and similar exercises and strategies, there’s no education like a market education. By that I mean that some buyers simply have to disregard your advice and lose a house or a mortgage before they become receptive to your urging in the future. I’ve found that buyers who go through this can turn out to be your best clients and biggest raving fans in the future – after all, the market has proven you right!

The Art of the Dream House Hunt: 5 Intangibles Every Dream House Has

Across the pond in the U.K., hundreds of stately homes are known by the average person, by name. But here in America, there are only a handful of houses that most people consider iconic: the White House, Hearst Castle and for reality TV fans, Spelling Manor, among them.

But there is one more house that virtually every American of almost every age instantly recognizes by name:  Barbie’s Dreamhouse. As of today, this iconic property has been listed for sale, right here on Trulia.

Take one look at the listing, and you’ll see precisely why someone with Barbie’s elevated taste level would deem this Malibu beachfront home the house of her dreams. But what about you and your hunt for your own personal Dream House? The occasion of Barbie’s Dreamhouse going on the market seems like an ideal time for us to explore exactly what features make a property that you’re considering a good candidate to be your own personal Dream House.

As I see it, most Dream House features are intangible and will differ from house hunter to house hunter. But this list of “intangibles” is a useful set of guidelines to think through as you peruse listings online and go visit them, in real life:

Dream House Intangible #1: It’s “right-sized.” Your personal Dream House might not be Barbie-sized (3 floors and 8,500 square feet, to be precise), but it will be “right-sized” for you, your family and the activities you want to do regularly in the home. This is a shift from the days in which the conventional wisdom said that more square footage was always better, even if you weren’t going to use it.

A too-small home is obviously uncomfortable, contributes to clutter (both material and mental) and can even cause tension in the relationships of the people who live in the home. But a too-large home for your family can be a major drain of time, energy and cash when you consider what is required to furnish, heat, cool, clean and maintain it.  As well, a home might not be “right-sized” if it is full of square footage you will never use because of poor design or flow, like a living room so cut off from the rest of the house that no living ever gets done there, or a formal dining room in a home where everyone prefers to eat in the kitchen.

Smart Dream House hunters look for homes that are neither too big, nor too small, for their needs in the foreseeable 5 to 7 years — longer if you plan to stay in the home for a longer time period. That means that to understand what would render a particular property right-sized for you, you must consider upcoming probable changes in your family status, family size and the increasing space needs of aging children, young adult children who might return home and even aging parents who might want or need to live with you in the not-so-far-off future.

Dream House Intangible #2: There’s a lifestyle-house match. Related to, but different from being right-sized, your Dream House will be one that matches up nicely with your lifestyle. In particular, the ‘who’ and ‘what’ of your life must be a good match with the features, floor plan and location of a home for that property to hit Dream House status. That can mean many things, depending on “who” does and will live in the home, and “what” activities make up their lifestyle, for example:

  • the Dream House of a family with four children might need to be in a great public school district
  • a retirement-aged couple might find their Dream House to be one level
  • an extended family might find their Dream House has a full bedroom with en suite bath on the ground floor, for the grandparents
  • a young couple’s Dream House might have the ability to rent out a room or backyard cottage to help make the mortgage payment
  • a growing family’s Dream House might have discrete spaces for Mom’s office, the kids’ study areas, Dad’s shop and even other activity areas for various children’s hobbies and pursuits.

At a glance, these things seem obvious, but many a home buyer only realizes the critical importance of lifestyle-house match once they are moved in and paying the mortgage on a house that:

  • requires much more weekend fixing than they have time or budget to do
  • turns out to be noisier or more burdensome, in terms of the commute to work, than expected
  • is difficult for family and friends to come visit, because of steep entry stairs or paltry guest parking.

Here’s a right-sizing exercise that also boosts the chances your lifestyle and Dream House will match up: before you even get out and start looking for a home, sit down alone or with your family and do a hypothetical “audit” of all the rooms of a prospective property, envisioning what people and activities will go where. And be creative – don’t think too literally about the name of a room as a limitation on what you can do in it:

  • do you really need a separate room with a closed door for an office, or will a neat nook with an efficient desk system do just as well?
  • can you carve up a great room into areas for cozy couch conversations, TV-watching, kids’ play and kids’ homework?
  • can you repurpose a dining or living room into an office or work area, if someone needs that?

This way, you can make sure you have enough space — and the right kinds of spaces — for every who and what that needs to “live” in your Dream House.

Dream House Intangible #3: It provides vision fuel.  A Dream House is one that allows you to envision a number of exciting upgrades to your every day life, made possible by the house. To be clear, no house has the power to make your life perfect; I mean, even Barbie’s near-perfect palace only complements her wildly successful careers and uber-gregarious social life (hence, her need for a 15-person rooftop hot tub).

That said, there are a number of ways your choice of home can help you real-ize your dreams and be a suitable environment for your vision of the future of your life.  For example, urban farmer wanna-bes can select homes that will allow them to flex and foster their burgeoning green thumbs or raise the chickens, goats or bees they envision keeping.  And buyers-to-be who dream of having their own businesses can pick properties that have the space for the office, nook, inventory storage space, jewelry workshop or client meeting area they will need to make a go of it – not to mention upgraded electrical or other infrastructure they will need (or at least the ability to install it after closing without breaking the bank).

Maybe your vision for the next phase of your life is focused on relaxing and traveling more, so your Dream House is a low-maintenance condo near the coffee shops, yoga studios and restaurants you love.  Or perhaps your vision for the next decade is focused on family and career, so that a suburban home near great schools, with a large yard and an easy commute to work will constitute your personal Dream House.  Cultivating clarity on your vision for your life before you start your house hunt is essential, if you’re aiming to buy your Dream House.

Dream House Intangible #4: Staying power.  I’ve already alluded to this, but it’s important so let me state it outright: given the still-recovering state of today’s economy and real estate market, it’s important that your Dream Home be one you can see yourself living in and being comfortable with for at least 5-7 years. In fact, if you live and are buying a home in a place that was especially hard hit by the recession, it’s wise to choose a property that will work for your family for even longer, just in case you need to stay put while the market slowly recovers.

I personally witnessed at least three home owners in my own circle lose or walk away from homes when, within the 5-year span from top to bottom of the market, they went from swinging single loft-living to having full-blown, young families for whom living in a loft was actually a hazard. Whether you know you’re likely to pair up and/or have kids in the next handful of years or you know you’ll want to downsize or relocate, your Dream House is one that will accomodate both the present-day you andthe you you’ll be in the next few years.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you buy a home for 15 or 20 years down the line, necessarily, just that you project your space and geographic needs out for the upcoming few years so you don’t end up in a place where you either have to (a) move or (b) hate living there in the pretty foreseeable future.

Dream House Intangible #5: Resale Appeal.  Barbie’s Dreamhouse is clearly Barbie’sDreamhouse, as is clear from the fact that it is personalized throughout in her signature pink (note the pink elevator!)  But the fact is, colors are cosmetic and can be easily changed by the next buyer to suit their own tastes.  Dream Houses, as a rule, are homes that are easily personalized by whoever owns them at the time, and are not so heavily structurally customized that they lack appeal to a broad segment of buyers.

Overly customized homes, especially those without other compelling features that many buyers will see as dreamy, can be difficult to sell. Being stuck in a home when you want or need to sell it is not a dream, it’s a nightmare.

On resale appeal, Barbie’s Dreamhouse scores, both in terms of being easily personalized by the next buyer and in having dozens of other hard-to-find features that will appeal to nearly every Malibu house hunter with $25 million at hand. Most buyers in this segment of the market and this location will have more than a little hankering for beach frontage, unobstructed views and the utterly glamtastic luxury master suite features that Barbie’s place has in spades – steam shower, heated floors and self-flushing toilet, among them.

For more information check out our website at http://www.stormteamrealestate.com