Category Archives: Selling House

Have You Ever Purchased a Hoarder House?

When I first saw the TV show ‘Hoarders’, I wondered how they found all those houses.

After buying houses for years, I realize that hoarder houses are everywhere. Shocking!

The above photo is from one of the hoarder houses we purchased. Hundreds (thousands?) of dolls. They were in EVERY room on both floors with only a path to walk through. And boxes. And all of the accessories. I never walked through that house alone. Chucky?

But so many people have houses stuffed with things. Sometimes they’re forced out – this woman was moved into a retirement community by her children. Sometimes I guess they’re just done? We’ve had multiple houses where it looks like the sellers have just gone out to run an errand – all their furniture and clothes still there – dresser, kitchen and bathroom cabinets full – closets full – refrigerator full – personal items still left lying around. Perhaps they just packed a suitcase and left? I guess when you’re done, you’re done.

How do you, the buyer, get rid of all the stuff? That can end up being a huge expense.

One house we purchased had 62 tires inside. What?!

I’ve tried lots of things to avoid hauling it all to the dump (think expense). I’ve tried “moving” sales, selling to vendors at flea markets (“for only $X amount you can have everything”), salvation army, any donation pick-up sources, Craigslist.

One time, I had a house with a number of larger items left. Lots of old, worn furniture but certainly still usable. I put photos on Craigslist and said, “FREE. House open from 12 noon to 12:30pm. Come with a truck.” I left the house open and went back by after 1pm. Nothing left but crumbs. It was fabulous.

Naturally, we have also spent $thousands at the dump emptying houses. We ask sellers what they plan to leave (and hope they’re honest) then reduce our offer by approximate costs to clean out the house.

Real estate investing is interesting on so many levels. We’ve also kept some amazing finds left behind – I have a wonderful and beautiful piano. One seller texted after move-out that he’d left his motorcycle in the garage and the signed title on the kitchen counter. After my husband had some fun on it… we sold it for thousands. Again, shocking. Why didn’t the owner sell it instead of leaving it for us? Who knows – I gave up thinking for the sellers years ago.

So many stories and so much fun.

What hoarder houses have you gone into? What fabulous finds have you gotten with purchase?

How Can You Sell Your House in "As Is" Condition?

There are a large number of house buying companies all across the country that advertise as wanting buy houses in “as is” condition, in addition to being able to pay cash for them and close much faster than a conventional buyer. So why would you want to contact one of these companies in your area if you have a challenging house to sell? Also isn’t it true that those types of companies just want to try and rip you off? These are two very important questions that I’m sure you have asked yourself if you have a fixer type house to sell that may not be best suited for the retail market in its present condition. For the remainder of this article I am going to address these important questions and more in order to help you better understand why these “We Buy Houses” companies exist and how you may be able to utilize the services they provide in your area.

If you happen to be in a situation where you need to sell a house that is in dyer need of major updating and/or some renovation and repair you can be sure that the traditional way of selling a house will be a bumpy ride for you. When people have a “pretty house” to sell they generally call their local realtor, have them come up with a list price that is supported by comparable properties and they list the house for sale on the RMLS realtor network. The hope is that other realtors will see the property and have a buyer for it, then soon thereafter you will be presented with an acceptable offer for the property and you will be on your way to a hassle free closing. Although no real estate sale is that easy these days, that is the general process for houses that don’t need and major updating or repair.

If you do happen to be selling a house that is in need of minor TLC and updating to major renovation and repair, you can pretty much expect a bumpy sales process if you plan on going the traditional route that was just described. The first reason is because most people will always contact a realtor or two in the beginning stages of trying to sell a property….and in this type of case that is where the first misstep can take place. The problem with houses that need major updating and repair (besides the obvious) is that realtors generally have no clue what they are really worth, so quite often they will throw out a number that sounds great in theory but will never come to fruition. I like to call this buying the listing and some realtors will do it intentionally to help secure a future paycheck while others will do it out of pure ignorance because they just don’t know any better. The 2nd major stumbling block that you will hit going this route is that you run a large risk of having multiple sale fails. This is because your home will be on display for every inexperienced rehabber in your market to make an offer on, and after they have wasted 10-15 days of your time most of them will finally realize that they are paying too much for the house and back out of the deal. My house buying company buys a number of houses every year from unhappy sellers who have been highly irritated by the process of listing at one price, having multiple sale fails and ultimately selling at a much lower price. Now don’t get me wrong, there are many houses that should be listed at higher prices and will eventually sell at close to that, but if you know your home is in need of some major renovation and repair you might want to think twice about listing the property with a realtor if you want to see it sell anytime in the near future.

So what is your alternative you ask? Well that is where the “We Buy Houses” companies come into play…..You see some of those companies are seasoned real estate rehabbers who have a very educated eye when it comes to buying houses that are in need of major renovation and repair. So now think about the process I described above and compare that to receiving a cash offer with a quick closing from an educated individual who will absolutely honor the contract and close the deal on time. Now you may not always like the cash price that some of these companies will offer if you have already spoken with a realtor, but you have to remember that the property is only worth what it will sell for and not what a realtor or Zillow thinks its worth. When people buy houses in need of major renovation and repair they are taking a risk by basically paying you to take on a major project. So in return for that risk and the work that goes along with it there must be a reward; otherwise nobody would ever buy houses that need repairs. To make it very simple to understand nobody is going to buy a house for $150,000 that needs $50,000 in repairs for it to then be worth $200,000. They may look to purchase the property for between $100,000-$120,000 but probably no more than that, and if they are looking to buy it for more you can be pretty sure that the sale will fall through at some point. This is a major reason why some people believe that the “We Buy Houses” companies are just trying to rip you off, when in actuality they are just trying to purchase your property at a price that will adequately compensate them for all of the risk and effort they will be putting into it.

So how do you know which “We Buy Houses” company to call to get the best deal? This is a great question and one that I’m sure you have asked yourself at some point. Make sure to do some research on the company ahead of time to see if they have a website, vanity phone number and anything else that makes them look like they are running a real organized business. Also make sure to ask if you can see pictures of some of there previous renovation projects, that way you know you are dealing with an actual rehabber and not just a real estate wholesaler who will be looking to sell the property to a rehabber for a profit. For my house buying company we actually built an entire website around showcasing all of our renovation projects, and I always share it with every seller that we meet with so that they can check it out in order to see what we are capable of. If you are able to find a quality “We Buy Houses” company in your area I would absolutely suggest selling your fixer property to them if you feel that the price they offer you is fair based on the amount of repairs that are needed. Just remember that there will need to be a profit in the deal for whoever buys your property, otherwise it will just sit on the market until you lower the price to a point where it makes sense to take the risk of purchasing it. I hope you enjoyed this article and found the information useful when it comes to selling a house in need of renovation and repair.

Organization Is the Backbone – Staging a House for Sale

A good organization system is invaluable in any household – but you can live without it in your day to day life if you choose to. However, when your house is listed for sale you absolutely must organize every space in the home. If you skip this step in staging your house for sale it could cost you money at closing with a lower offer or cause buyers to pass on your house altogether.

Organization can be elusive. People have the best intentions of getting and staying organized. They go out and buy boxes and baskets and promise themselves they are going to use them from here on out. And sometimes they do – but more often than not – it doesn’t work out that way. Most commonly these people end up with boxes and baskets full of stuff – and more stuff everywhere else. This is fine for everyday life, but when the house is listed for sale it just won’t do.

One of many reasons it is so difficult to live in a house while it is listed for sale: All areas of your home simply must be well organized while the house is listed. Why? Because buyers are curious (nosy) and rightfully so.

When a potential buyer decides to visit your house in person there are so many obstacles to overcome to even get them through the door. Do the online photos look great? Is the house priced right? Is the curb appeal great? Does anything smell funky from the front walk?

When you actually get them into the house you are solidly in the game. You have overcome all the initial obstacles to selling your house to these particular people. These just might be your buyers so don’t blow it with “behind the scenes” chaos.

Behind the scenes chaos occurs when a house looks good on the surface, but underneath the clean windows, great furniture arrangement, and strategically placed lighting there is disorganized space. Cabinets, drawers, built-ins, and closets have a huge impact on the buying decision. If buyers cannot easily see how their things will work in the space they will emotionally disconnect from the house. You do not want this disconnect to happen. It is the buyer’s emotional connection to a house that brings the best offer. Chaos disconnect causes them to want to leave the house – not buy a home.

Buyers are a nosy bunch – and rightfully so. They want to inspect every space they are considering for purchase. Wouldn’t you? Buying a home is most often the largest purchase people make in their life time. They need to feel confident in making an offer. They need to feel connected to a home to be willing to pay for it.

They need to see every single inch of space the house has to offer. This includes every built in drawer, cabinet, and closet in the house. Every. One. Of. Them. It is reasonable to think buyers will not be opening drawers and cabinets in furniture pieces that will not be included in the sale of a house – but don’t count on it. No realtor can be in every room at every time. Drawers will be opened, inspected, and judged. Keep this in mind.

Even the most beautiful staging in every room of a house is blown by closets or cabinets crammed full of disaster. If you have stuff just thrown about in any space, large or small, it tells a buyer there is not enough storage space in this house to live in peace. Buyers don’t necessarily hear the chaos clearly or in those words, but they will strongly feel the discord in the space. They will “feel” a reason to pass on the property or to make a low offer because they don’t feel there is enough storage space. They may move on to the next house because they believe their things will never fit in this one.

Your de-cluttering process should have helped you pare down to only those things that bring you joy or that you really need. The next step is to organize the things that stay in the best way possible so that it brings you and, more importantly, your buyers a sense of peace.

Buyers are willing to pay for spaces that they can envision living calm and peaceful lives in. They want to think that if they lived in your beautiful organized house they would have the calm and peaceful life they aspire to. They believe they will be able to find their car keys, sunglasses, and cell phone at all times.

Organized spaces are the “bones” that hold up the quality seen in a staged home. Without organization even the best staged room doesn’t hold up to a buyer’s inspection.

When staging your house to sell make sure you organize every space as part of your process because you know buyers are going to look everywhere! You will be glad you took the time on closing day with cash in the bank!

Buying A House In Probate

Everybody loves a good deal and buying a house in probate can be a fantastic opportunity to own property with a lower cost to acquire it. Purchasing a probate property means that the property was once owned by a person now deceased.

There Are Two Ways That A Property Can Go Into Probate:

  1. The heirs of the deceased inherit the property. Many times heirs want to sell a property quickly so they aren’t responsible for insurance, taxes, maintenance and other associated costs of homeownership.
  2. There is no will or heir. In this case, it’s the state’s responsibility to sell the property and this often means the property will sell below the actual market value.

Real estate listings don’t actually state that a house is in probate. Real estate insiders will keep a pulse on the local probate market and watch for obituaries to see potential probate property becoming available. Many real estate investors utilize probate sales as a primary means in which to purchase investment property.

Often an estate representative or probate attorney will hire a real estate agent to market the property just as they would a traditional real estate listing. When an offer is presented, the estate’s representative can either accept, counter or reject the offer. There are specific rules to follow and every state is different. So, having a knowledgeable person on your team who knows your state’s procedures is key.

Things To Think About Regarding Real Estate In Probate:

  • Purchasing a probate property can take longer since there may be a probate court process that can take a number of months.
  • Cash talks. If you are able to make a cash offer, then that may speed up the process of probate.
  • Learn as much about the property as possible. Because a property is sold in as-is condition, make sure you have the property thoroughly inspected before committing to purchase it. Additionally, if any debt is attached to the property, you could become liable for it without even knowing it existed. Do your homework!
  • Know the terms and conditions of a probate sale. In general, no contingencies are accepted.
  • Work with a real estate professional that knows the ins and outs of a probate sale.
  • Be prepared to go to court. While in some cases you can make an offer on the property and it is accepted while another scenario may involve appearing in court (in some states) to overbid somebody else’s offer. When this takes place, you must be prepared with money in hand to complete the transaction.
  • Many probate properties are in need of “TLC”. Often times elderly homeowners fail to make necessary home improvements on account of a tight budget, physical condition or they are unable to recognize that the property needs repair. Make sure that you recognize problems (and costs) that could arise from neglected home improvement projects.

While buying a property in probate can be a financially savvy move, it can also be overwhelming with all of the details and court-regulated steps involved. Keep in mind that probate laws will vary from one state to the next. It is always a good idea to consult a knowledgeable real estate professional that is well versed in the ins and outs of probate sales.

There are pros and cons that go along with purchasing probate property. In some cases, you can find probate sales that are great bargains. On the flip side, some can be overpriced because of greedy heirs. Whichever the case may be make sure that you know the practice of probate real estate in your state and have a knowledgeable real estate professional on your side to help guide you through the process.

How to Buy a House For Back Taxes, Dirt Cheap, Without Competition

So you’re looking for a smarter way to buy a property, either to live in, or to invest in. Congratulations. If you’re reading this article, it means you’ve leapt out of the “thinking” phase and into the “doing” phase, and most people never make it that far. There are many deals to be had, if you’re willing to do a little research.

You’ve probably heard that tax foreclosure property is a great investment, and you haven’t been led astray; but now, you’re going to learn how to buy a house for back taxes, dirt cheap, without dealing with the headache of competition. If you’re looking for a cheap property to buy for yourself to live in, stay tuned as well- this technique will work even better if you’re not an investor!

Right now, throw out everything you’ve heard or read about tax sales. If you’re smart, you’re going to figure out quickly that you can’t compete with all the big companies that will be clamoring to bid against you at the sale. Tax sale, be it for deeds or liens, is not a place for the savvy investor in today’s market. There’s a much better way for you to buy a house for back taxes: from the tax delinquent owner himself.

Most people overlook this strategy, which is why you’ll find next to no competition. If you’ve ever tried buying directly from an owner in mortgage foreclosure, then you understand why this is so widely unappealing to failed mortgage foreclosure investors. Frequently you can’t get these owners to return your call for the life of you– and if you do get a deal, then you have to deal with mortgage, the second mortgage, the back bills, the back taxes; but when you buy a house for back taxes, it’s a different animal.

Why?

Because these houses almost never have a mortgage!

That’s right. The mortgage company takes care of any tax problems to avoid losing their interest in the property. So you’ll find almost all these houses are free of a mortgage, or they wouldn’t be up for tax sale in the first place.

Another thing that might seem counter-intuitive is that the owners will almost always return your calls, and when they do, they’re eager to make a deal with you to sell to you, and for dirt cheap, just to get the property out of their name! This is because, as you’ll see, many owners of these properties aren’t people who are down on their luck, and are losing their homes. They’re people who inherited property, or absentee landlords, who have had it with this economy, and actually let the property go to tax sale on purpose, just to get rid of it.

This gold mine of owners can be hard to find, making them great prospects, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find how many of these owners are ready to hand over their deed for a couple hundred dollars to you, just because they’d rather see it go to a nice, small-time investor like you, than to see it go to the government. If you’re looking to buy a property for yourself to live in? Even better. Expect to find owners even more excited to give it to you- for almost no money.

Advantages Of Hiring Property Lawyers When Buying Houses

It is essential for everyone to have the house of their dreams in order to create better future and improve their lifestyle. However, with the increasing number of houses available in the market, individuals will have a hard time examining and evaluating houses if it meets their needs and preferences such as the safety of their family.

One option that individuals can choose is to hire reliable real estate brokers. These experienced individuals can help house buyers assess the property and the house. From the land property aesthetics, the interior features and even the house condition, agents can surely help house buyers determine if the house can provide the features they need and determine the right value of the property. In addition, in case that you wish to find better houses, real estate agents can do the job for you in order to make your ventures a lot easier.

After choosing the house you wish to purchase, it is essential for house buyers to also hire property lawyers. These lawyers are also needed in order to ensure a better purchase and help you address all the legal documents you need. Here are other advantages that house buyers may obtain by hiring lawyers.

Legal consultation – For first-time house buyers, they need to understand the rules and policies of purchasing houses. Therefore, by hiring lawyers, individuals can learn and understand the different rules that encompass a house and property.

Review sales contract – Lawyers can help house buyers carefully review the sales contract they need to sign in which can help them determine if the agreement is properly done and there are no hidden terms in the document that may affect your purchase.

Assured house and property title – This is one of the most essential aspects in house buying since individuals must be sure that the house has legal documents and titles, giving buyers the assurance that the property has no certain problems.

Learn local zoning laws – Some local areas have certain laws with regards to building houses. Hence, house buyers can learn about the essential zoning laws in the area which can also help them determine if they can improve the property they purchased.

With the help of reliable property lawyers that offer these amazing features, house buyers can ensure their purchase and make their lifestyle better. They can also find the ideal house that can help them improve their future and make their ventures easier. For more, click here.

Fashion Do’s and Don’ts When House Hunting

Mark Nash author of 1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home offers homebuyers fashion home runs and strikeouts when shopping for a home. It might not be obvious that what you wear when house hunting can impact what you pay for a home. Years of showing homes and introducing prospective buyers to home sellers, the way buyers project themselves fashion-wise makes a big impression.

First impressions by real estate agents and home sellers are all they have when assessing potential buyers. If you appear well-groomed, under-stated and wear home price-range-appropriate clothes you could pay less than the tattooed, big-hair, over-jeweled and torn-blue jean buyer your in competition with in multiple-offers for the same home. Buying a home is a business transaction, think business wear when shopping for a home.

Women

-Pants are fine, but make sure they’re not low riders.

-Ditch the tee shirts, tank and tube tops. House hunting is not a vacation.

-Skirts are great. Minis send the wrong message.

-Wear comfortable but presentable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking, climbing up stairs and in and out of transportation.

-Forget high-heels. Spiked heels on shoes can easily dent bamboo and other softer wood floors. Plus if you got into the yard to take a look at the roof you might end up aerating the lawn.

-Leave the animal prints for when you’re out to a nightclub. Busy or fussy fashion looks can be distracting and not on everyone’s top ten fashion list.

-Simple jewelry and limited amounts accent your business perspective. Omit the” bling” otherwise you might end up paying more for a home, because the sellers think you can afford it.

-Simplify make-up, hair and manicure styles to appeal to the majority of people. You’re not going to get a better deal because the sellers love your fabulous acrylic nails.

-No fur coats, ever. It’s a political and extravagant statement that could cost you a home or an additional $10,000.

-No low cut or revealing looks. Very rarely do homebuyers get a discount for sex.

Men

-Verify shoe soles aren’t caked with mud before you enter any open house. Many a homebuyer never made it to the kitchen after walking across freshly cleaned carpet with dirty shoes.

-No jogging, gym-wear, bike shorts or swimsuits. Unless, you’re testing the workout facilities in a condominium building on your second visit.

-Business-casual pants are best, but if you must wear jeans, make sure they’re clean and not ripped.

-Open collar shirts work fine, but realty agents and home sellers don’t need to see your buffed or not so buffed chest or four gold chains.

-Think twice about sporting more than one earring. If we were all the same life would be boring.

-Omit muscle and tee shirts and no underwear elastic waistbands displayed please. You might turn Ms. home seller on, but Mr. home seller might not appreciate it.

-Limit tattoo exposure, they’re the rage, but not for everyone. Ditto the ladies on this one.

-Wear simple patterned shirts with matching plain pants. Remember that red denotes power.

-Don’t over-dress to impress. Leave the cuff links and French cuffed shirts at home.

Both

-Coffee “go-cups” aren’t a fashion accessory. Coffee is easily spilled on carpets when walking up stairs or opening closets and cabinets when touring properties.

-Baseball caps are for bad hair days. Plus they send the wrong negotiating message when purchasing the largest asset you’ll own.

-Wet umbrellas should be parked outside the front door, not on hardwood floors or entry tables and chairs.

-Wear slip on shoes when touring open houses. You might be asked to remove your shoes out of cultural respect to the owner, inclement weather or newly installed floor coverings.

-If you don’t want to take off your shoes buy and carry blue disposable surgical booties-or ask your agent for a pair.

-You must wear socks or stockings. No sandals, period. If you are asked to remove your shoes, owners don’t necessarily want your bare feet on their floors.

-Cell phones. If you need to make or receive a call go to a place where you won’t disturb others at the open house. Never negotiate a home purchase contract on a different property contract while your viewing a home.

-Carry bicycle and motorcycle helmets with you. Ask before your park them on any surface.

-Shorts are okay if they are close to knee length. No torn or overly tight styles.

-Dress for the season. Don’t wear shorts in snow or black wool in August, even if it is your best house-hunting outfit.

-Remove your sunglasses when inside buildings. People expect some eye contact.

-Go easy on the perfume. Many people have allergies to it today and they could be the owners of the house you fell in love with.

-Put cigarettes, cigars and pipes out of view. They’re not exactly a popular fashion or political statement in 2006.

Children

-Tops, pants, shoes and socks required.

-Diapers are not fashion.

Buying a Home? Watch Out For These Estate Agent Tricks

This is the second in a series of three articles warning home buyers and sellers about the main tricks estate agents use to get hold of your money. These articles are aimed at helping you avoid being fleeced by your estate agent.

Selling to buyers

Although we all know that agents are acting for sellers, many are experts in befriending buyers and getting them to feel that they are on our side, working to help us get the best property at the best price. If you’re buying a property you should be on your guard against several sales traps including the block, stock-shifting, pumping up the price, the spider’s web and the sealed-bid scam.

1. The Block

Of all estate agents’ tricks, the block is probably the one people least expect. Most of us assume agents want to sell properties to us and so it doesn’t occur to us that they may be interested in preventing us from buying. There are several reasons an agent might try to block us from buying a property. The most obvious is that they’ve planned a slash-and-grab for themselves or one of their contacts and so don’t want us to disrupt their plans by buying at a higher price than they’re offering. Another reason may be that the agent has a buyer who is also taking out a mortgage through that agent or an associate mortgage agent. The agent can earn almost as much commission from flogging the mortgage as from selling the property and so may be less interested helping a buyer with cash or who has organised their own mortgage. In both these cases, an agent may withhold our offers from a seller or, if they do pass on our offers, they may discourage the seller from accepting them by suggesting that we may not be in a good position to buy. An investigation by one journalist found that of six offers made to estate agents, only two were passed on to sellers.

2. The stock-shift

Buyers may be looking for their ideal home, but agents can only sell the properties they have on their books. Moreover, they have to shift their stock if they are to meet their sales targets. Unless an agent is lucky enough to have properties that perfectly match buyers’ requirements, the only way they can get their monthly bonus is by convincing buyers to take whatever they’ve got to sell. So the art of a successful agent is to influence buyers to compromise and take what is available rather than hold out for their dream property.

There are various ways of getting buyers to compromise. The easiest is to use fear to push you into making an offer. An agent may tell you that they have the perfect property, that this has just come on the market, but that you’ll have to move quickly before someone else snaps it up. Or if a buyer is hesitating, the agent will use the phantom buyer trick and claim that several other buyers are also interested. To add a little colour the agent may also say that one of the phantom buyers is a cash buyer and therefore in a much better position than you. Or an agent may arrange for several buyers to view a property at the same time. This is intended to make buyers believe that there is competition for the property and can lead to buyers being infected by auction-fever – always a great way to spur them into action and push the price up. Typically an agent will say that prices in the area are going up so if you don’t buy quickly, you’ll end up paying a lot more in a few months time. And there’s the sandwich – here the agent shows a buyer three properties with the first and the third being either unsuitable or out of their range and the middle one being closer to what they want. This helps create the impression in the buyer’s mind that there are few properties fitting their requirements and makes them more open to being fobbed off with something which is reasonably close to what they were looking for.

3. The price pump

Research has repeatedly shown that around 70% of buyers spend on average about 20% more for their homes than they had originally intended. So, whatever a buyer may say to an agent about their price limit, the agent already knows from experience that the large majority of buyers can be squeezed well above this if shown a property they like. The simplest way for the agent to push the price up is to claim that they already have several offers on a property, so if you’re interested, you’re going to have to put in a fairly juicy bid. Or else an agent may use the build-up – show you four or five properties, starting with the cheapest and moving on to the most expensive. Most buyers, when seeing a property they really like, will stretch their financial limit rather than letting the property go to someone else. Another tactic is to show you a home that is way above your financial limit. In comparison, any subsequent properties will seem reasonably priced. Or the agent could use the sneer – take you to an expensive property and then suggest that it’s a pity that you can’t stretch your budget to buy such a perfect home. This is particularly easy if the agent can use buyer’s partner or family to pile on the emotional pressure.

4. The spider’s web

In addition to sellers and property developers, agents have a wide web of people who can help them increase their earnings. For example, if an agent convinces a buyer to use a particular mortgage advisor or supposedly independent financial advisor, on an average loan the advisor will pocket about £2,000 and the agent £1,000 to £1,500. Even if a buyer has finance available, an agent might tell buyers that ‘it’s company policy’ to ensure that all buyers get the best loan deals available and so, whether you want it or not, the agent makes an appointment for you to meet a mortgage salesman with business connections to the agency.

Similarly, an agent will usually get generous kickbacks if they pass buyers onto lawyers and surveyors that they regularly work with. An added advantage of using lawyers and surveyors known to the agent is that they will tend to overlook problems with properties to enable sales to go through. In any town or even areas of a city, most agents, lawyers and surveyors will have worked together in the past and none will want to upset any of the others. So even when a buyer believes their lawyer and surveyor are representing their interests, it’s likely that the lawyer and surveyor will be more sensitive about ensuring continuing a good relationship with the estate agent rather than worrying about the interests of a buyer that they will probably never deal with again. When I began to question both my lawyer and surveyor about things they had apparently ‘overlooked’, the lawyer paid me £6,000 and the surveyor £2,500 – this may have been because they were terribly nice people and particularly liked me; or it may have been because they realised their cosy little arrangement with the estate agent had been rumbled and so were keen to avoid any possibly embarrassing explanations. Any buyer who gets caught in the spider’s web of the agent’s business associates may find it a very expensive experience.

5. Sealed-bid scams

If there are several buyers chasing a property, the seller and agent may ask all the potential purchasers to submit their ‘best and final’ offer in an envelope by a certain date and time with the understanding that the highest bid will be accepted. This is a wonderful way of getting the price up as buyers’ competitive natures can cloud their common sense. But the sealed bid process is open to abuse. For a start, the seller doesn’t have to accept the highest offer – a slightly lower cash offer may be preferable to a higher offer from someone who needs time to arrange finance. Also, once the bids are opened, the agent can easily go back to the bidder with the deepest pockets and suggest that if they increase their offer by a certain amount, then the property is theirs. If they think a potential buyer has access to more money, the agent can also lie about the level of the highest bid or invent a phantom bid in order to push the price higher. Or, if they want to do a slash-and-grab to get the property for themselves, a developer, a family member or friend, then an agent may withhold some bids.

The CARDS Approach For Preparing To Buy A Home

Congratulations, and best of luck! You’ve made the decision, to seek, what for many, for generations, has been, which is the essential component of the so – called, American Dream – buying a home, of your own. When one proceeds, carefully, and wisely, and buys, what he needs, likes, can afford, and is located, in an area and neighborhood, you desire, you’ll have the best chance, of achieving your objectives, in a relevant, smart, priorities – oriented way. Since, for most Americans, their ownership of their house, represents their single, biggest, financial asset, doesn’t it make sense to pay keen attention, and get the best results? With that in mind, this article will briefly discuss, consider, and review, using the mnemonic approach, the CARDS approach to home buying.

1. Credit: For those who are well – prepared, before they begin their search and hunt, it has the potential to be, a satisfying, inspiring, motivating experience. An essential aspect and component, is to fully consider, review and prepare, so, your credit is your friend, rather than becoming an obstacle, and/ or worse! Several months before you begin searching, sit down with a recommended, mortgage professional, and gather relevant, meaningful, feedback. Then, address, any, and every area, suggested. Have all the necessary reserves, for down – payment, maintenance, several months carrying charges, etc. Carefully review your Credit Report, and address any issues, and make it, as favorable, as possible! Be prepared!

2. Attention: Pay keen attention to details, and never ignore, even the minor issues, but proceed, in a timely manner, to be, as prepared, as possible. Objectively, introspectively, examine your needs, goals, priorities, as well as limitations, and determine, the best course of action, to pursue.

3. Reserves: Accumulate all the reserves you will need, as well as those which might make you more comfortable! Obviously, you must have the down – payment. Have at least 6 to 9 months, reserves, put aside, for monthly carrying charges, etc. Create a reserve for repairs, renovations, maintenance, etc, so, home ownership, becomes a pleasure, rather than stressful!

4. Debts: Simply stated, reduce all other debts, so you have an easier time, qualifying for the best mortgage! Doing so, also, creates a form of needed, self – discipline! Aim to become your best friend, rather than being your enemy! Also, avoid taking out, any additional, new debts!

5. Savings: Focus on accumulating savings, as well as proceeding, efficiently in areas, such as energy, and other cost – savings, areas

Let the CARDS approach, work for you, so you are best – prepared, for home buying. Will you have the self – discipline?

Buying a House in Skopelos

Only in recent years have people from outside Greece been purchasing property here and in general the Greek people are fairly new to the concept of selling property at all! In previous generations houses were usually kept within the family and if the family couldn’t maintain their properties they often became ruins. This was accentuated by both rural depopulation and the world Diaspora of the Greek people and though this situation as provided an opportunity to purchase some wonderful pieces of property today it has also left us with a situation where people are often not versed in the trading and pricing of houses and land.

To give an overview of the price range, however, is useful to those who are looking for property in Skopelos and we can say that a house in Skopelos Town can be as little as 40,000euro, an average of 150,000euro for something that can be lived in straight away, or up to 300,000euro for something special (and big) and of course as nearly all properties on the island are fairly unique any variation of the above can occur and there very special residences which appear vary rarely which fetch prices up to 900,000euro!

Similarly land for building varies greatly by location, aspect, view and amenities and can be from 40,000euro to 100,000euro for a plot for one house on average and then for larger plots any multiples of the above.

There are no restrictions on citizens of EU countries buying property anywhere in Greece. Some restrictions apply to non- EU citizens buying property in areas designated as “border areas”. Non-EU citizens should apply to the Local Prefectural Authorities if they want to buy property in certain parts of Northern Greece, Crete, Rhodes, the Dodecanese islands or islands in the eastern Aegean Sea. (This does not apply to Skopelos island.)

The transfer of property ownership is always executed in the form of a notarial deed. When the actual agreement is drawn up by the notary and signed by the contracting parties two lawyers are present one on behalf of the seller and one on behalf of the buyer. Your lawyer is there to ensure that you are not cheated, that the title deeds are without impediment, and to determine the objective taxable value of the property. Before the actual sales agreement is signed, your lawyer will conduct a thorough search of the archives at the Land Registry office to make sure that there is no impediment or obstacle to the transfer of ownership and that the title deeds are in order. This does not take long and it will soon be time for you to sign the sales agreement/contract at the office of the notary.

The deposit

It is normal to deposit 10% of the agreed purchase price when the preliminary agreement is made. You may lose your deposit if you change your mind. If the seller changes his mind, he is obliged to return your deposit to you.

Written preliminary agreements may be dispensed with if the property is not of very high value or if it is obvious that the transfer of ownership will be completed in a relatively short time. Where a preliminary agreement is drawn up, it states who the parties to the agreement are, what the property is, what price has been agreed how the money will change hands. It also includes any other conditions agreed upon.

The notary will want to see that all the necessary documents (tax, deeds etc.) are in order before drawing up the sales agreement /contract. The deposit commits both buyer and seller. One of the differences between purchasing property in Greece and purchasing property in other countries is that most buyers have ready money; there is no chain involved, so it does not take long for the transfer of ownership to be completed. You should have at least enough money for the deposit ready to hand. You would not like to miss a good opportunity because you were too slow with the deposit. The deposit also reduces the likelihood of the seller accepting a better offer. It is wise, easy and quick to open a bank account in Greece.

If the search at the Land Registry office reveals an impediment, your deposit will be returned. If the seller simply changes his mind, he must return the deposit plus 100% in compensation. If the buyer changes his mind he forfeits the deposit. In effect, the deposit binds both buyer and seller to their word.

You will have to pay a one-off purchase tax. The amount payable is calculated on the basis of the “assessed value” of the property. The assessed value is lower than the actual market value. The tax due is 9% to 11% of the assessed value.

Planning permission

Planning permission is a matter of course if your piece of land is within the confines of a village, town or city. If your piece of land is not within the confines of a village, town or city, but is within the area covered by town planning, you will be granted permission to build on it provided it measures 2,000m 2, and borders with a municipal road. If your land is not within the confines of a village, town or city, and is not within the area covered by town planning, you will be granted permission to build on it if it measures 4,000m 2 or more, provided it is not within a forested area, and no restrictions are imposed by the Department of Archaeology. Only fully qualified, registered architects or engineers are allowed to apply for building permits. The cost is approx. 4% – 5% of the estimated cost of the building. Municipal taxes and duties are incorporated in electricity bills. The amount added to your two-monthly bill is negligible and includes a compulsory television license.