Nebraska Realty Agents Offer Advice for Selling a Home Fast

 

So, you decided to sell your house? Before even thinking about pricing, the first thing to consider is curb appeal, followed by … a sharp-looking garage? Absolutely true, says Brian Carlin of Nebraska Realty, the second-largest Omaha brokerage with over 425 licensed agents.

Putting your home on the market is a bit like dressing up in your Sunday best. But don’t forget the garage. An organized and clean garage is the true measure of a well-kept home, and not just for the purpose of a sale,” said Brian, a 14-year Omaha-area home-sales veteran who holds a contractor’s license and the Realtor designation as a Certified Residential Specialist.

Fellow Nebraska Realty agent Dave Maloy chimed in: “I wouldn’t be quite as strict as Brian on the garage presentation. I’ve told clients to utilize their garage as a staging/storage area while their house is for sale. Buyers understand what people are facing and what it takes to sell a house, especially buyers selling houses themselves. But, to agree with Brian, that garage usage does need to be orderly.

Dave noted: “The most important task, though, which isn’t as common-sense as you would conclude, is to deeply clean the home before buyers walk through. A couple hundred bucks spent on professional cleaning will go further than thousands spent on staging. Neutralize offensive odors – don’t cover them up with ‘fresh-baked-cookie’ or body-spray air-freshener smells – by cleaning the home. If you aren’t good at cleaning, admit it – don’t skimp and save $200 on one of the most important financial transactions you will make.”

Brian couldn’t agree more with Dave on the cleaning and added: “The most often overlooked areas of a home during the big spring clean are ceiling fan blades and HVAC cold air return vents. Apparently, everybody forgets to look up while they clean. Cold air return vents sometimes located on walls near ceiling and ceiling fan blades collect a ton of dust during the winter months.” 

Nebraska Realty agent Molly Amick offered her tack: “I always advise sellers to depersonalize the setting so potential buyers can fall in love with the house instead of trying to figure out the residents’ story with pictures, medications and mail on the counters, children’s items and more. Those things can give pointed information about why people are moving or how motivated they are. I also tell people instead of decluttering, ‘get packing!’ Every horizontal service should be clean and free of accessories, pictures, knick-knacks and things you don’t use every day. In fact, everyday items should be put in drawers. Sellers will be so amazed how beautiful their home and listing photos look that they may decide not to move!

Nebraska Realty agent Deda Myhre added: “I always ask my sellers to clear out closets, under sinks or any storage areas and then organize them to make the spaces appear as big as possible. Fold and stack towels, and organize smaller items in inexpensive baskets for the biggest impact.”

Furthermore, the Nebraska Realty agents agreed: “Repairs, absolutely yes (never leave a repair project unfinished). Improvements, not so much,” pointing out sellers shouldn’t get carried away with improvements. Most important are getting the house on the market quickly and then being sensitive to prospective buyers’ feedback to guide the most needed improvements. Sellers also may offer to negotiate credit and let the buyer decide where to spend money.

Among other advice to consider:

  • To improve the curb appeal, consider new paint, replace rotting wood or add landscaping mulch. Don’t forget to sweep the entry or porch and knock down any cobwebs.

 

  • Don’t replace the carpet, clean it. The new owner might want flooring and would possibly rip out new carpet anyway. Consider giving a carpet or flooring allowance.

 

  • Update or replace electrical items such as ceiling fans. Have electrical panels checked for replacement, especially Federal Pacific or Zinsco panels.

 

  • Paint or remove old wallpaper as needed, and opt for neutral colors.

 

  • Roof replacement. It is the most common repair on a deferred maintenance list, and a repair that is one of the highest concerns for a lender, insurance company or buyer.

 

  • Small details: Use door stoppers to protect walls; move furniture that may be hit by a door opened too quickly or fully.

Finally, get an inspection from a professional who is certified by American Society of Home Inspectors and make the recommended repairs yourself or hire a handyman. If the buyer hires an inspector, things could get far more expensive because they will dictate using licensed professionals who will have to warranty the work.

To learn how Nebraska Realty helps in the home-buying process, check out: https://www.nebraskarealty.com/buyers/home-buying-process.aspx. See why working with Nebraska Realty is different:  https://www.nebraskarealty.com/buyers/faq-buying-selling-home.aspx.

For additional information, contact Nebraska Realty at https://www.nebraskarealty.com/ or reach any agent at https://www.nebraskarealty.com/agents/ or call (402) 491-0100. The Nebraska Realty Building is located at 17117 Burt Street, Omaha, NE 68118, north of the Village Pointe Shopping Center.

Eight Things You Need To Know About Your Credit Score (Part 2)

Maybe it’s time to purchase that home. Maybe you want to buy a new car. Maybe you just want to live debt free. Whatever the reason, understanding the impact these activities will have on your credit score is important.

It is important to know how paying off debt or increasing your debt will imapct your credit score. Most people think that paying off debt will automatically increase their credit score, but the truth is, it may actually lower it.

Here are the 4 remaining things to consider about your credit score that you may not know:

(5) Closing accounts can impact your credit: If you close an account that was “paid as agreed,” it will remain on your credit report for up to 10 years. If an account is closed due to default, it will remain on your credit report for 7 years.

(6) Who may see your credit report? According to the Fair and Accurate Credit Reporting Act (FACRA) businesses must have “permissible purpose” in order to pull/run your credit report. For example, if your mortgage is with XYZ Mortgage Company, they are permitted to periodically run your credit. Otherwise, third party vendors such as new accounts, landlords, etc., must have written permission from you to take such action.

Here is a short list of entities that may pull/run your credit report:

  • Creditors with whom you have made application for credit;
  • Insurance companies-for underwriting use;
  • Employers;
  • Collection agencies for the purposes of collecting a debt.

(7) Checking your own credit report will NOT hurt your score:

“Soft Inquiries”: Checking your own report is considered a “soft inquiry.” Soft inquiries include a credit card company that offers you a preapproved credit card for which you did not apply.

“Hard Inquiries”: A hard inquiry happens when you apply for credit such as an auto loan and that creditor requests a credit report. Generally speaking, these types of inquiries will remain on your credit report for 2 years. Hard inquiries can have a negative impact on your credit score.

(8) You can obtain a FREE credit report every year: You may obtain a free credit report through www.annualcreditreport.com. However, you must pay if you want to know your credit score. Moreover, you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the 3 national credit reporting agencies, Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax.

Disclaimer: The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions.

Eight Things You Need To Know About Your Credit Score (Part 1)

Maybe it’s time to purchase that home. Maybe you want to buy a new car. Maybe you just want to live debt free. Whatever the reason, understanding the impact these activities will have on your credit score is important.

It is important to know how paying off debt or increasing your debt will imapct your credit score. Most people think that paying off debt will automatically increase their credit score, but the truth is, it may actually lower it.

Here are eight things to consider about your credit score that you may not know:

(1) There are many different types of credit scores: There are numerous credit scoring models that lenders use to establish your credit risk or worthiness. Each lender can pick which best fits their wants and needs. Some use blended scoring models such as a combined average from Trans Union, Experian, and Equifax, while others use weighted averages according to their industry.

For example, an auto lender may calculate a credit score differently than a mortgage lender. However, generally speaking, if you have a good credit score it will be reflected as such regardless of the model used.

(2) Understand the credit reporting agency doesn’t determine risk, they simply report your credit activities that results in a credit score: Remember, the credit reporting agencies DON’t determine whether you qualify for an auto loan, or what interest rate you get, the lender does.

The credit reporting agencies collect your credit ativity, good, bad, or none, to those that request it. Based upon that data, the lender determines whether they borrower you money and at what interest rates.

Your “credit activities” are reported to credit reporting agencies by other lenders you have done business with. For example, each of your creditors will report to Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax your borrowing activites and payment history from credit cards, mortgage companies, utilities, prior landlords, auto loans, student loans, etc. Your report will also indicate any accounts that have gone to collections and which accounts have been paid in full, or open accounts. Information from public records may also be included.

Payment history is also essential to a good credit score. Credit reports will show your history of on-time payments, late payments, and defaults. All are negative towards your credit score.

(3) Its common for credit scores to vary between the three national reporting agencies: There are typically differences in your credit score depending on which credit reporting agency is used.

The reason? Not all creditors report their data to all three agencies. Some only report to one agency, while others may report to all three. For example, an auto lender may only report your payment history to Experian, while your mortgage lender may report to all three agencies. Therefore, your credit report/score may be slightly different.

Don’t forget, each credit reporting agency may use different scoring models even if each agency has the same information. The model used can change your score.

Make sure there is no incorrect data. If there is an error on your report, it will adversely impact your credit score. It is important that you file a Uniform Dispute Resolution with the credit reporting agency to correct the discrepancy. In correct information may also indicate potential identity theft.

(4) Certain information may NOT be used in calculating your score: Your age, marital status, race, gender and religion may not be used in calculating your credit score or credit risk.

Disclaimer: The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions.

Nebraska Realty & First Mortgage Take Lead Helping Omaha's Homeless…

An open letter from George Akers, Executive Vice President of First Mortgage:

There is no way I can express the depth of my gratitude for the generosity of the folks at Nebraska Realty.  With the money you raised/donated at your Christmas party, along with First Mortgage Company’s matching funds, the Shelter Funds has been able to do something truly amazing.  Before I tell you what’s been done let me give you some background information.

If you can remember back to Thanksgiving you’ll remember that it was cold – bitterly cold with temperatures down in the 20s.  This is not the kind of weather where you want to be sleeping outside, but that’s what David Busch was doing.  His current home had no address; it was simply a strip of cardboard placed on the ground between two buildings near 73rd and Blondo.  He was living on the streets of Omaha.  Sadly, his body was found Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving; he died of exposure.  David was only 36 years old.

It’s sad to think that something like this can happen in our city, but it does…more than most people know.  Now though, thanks to your generosity, something more is being done to help Omaha’s homeless street people.  The Shelter Fund made a donation to the Open Door Mission that allowed them to hire a full-time director for their “Streets of Omaha” program and expand this program’s services from two days a week to five days a week.  The Streets of Omaha program provides sack lunches, toiletries, and other necessities to those living in abandoned buildings, homeless camps along the levy, camp grounds, vehicles, under bridges, crack allies, dumpsters, rest stops, public bathrooms, etc. The issues are as diverse as the people themselves – families, teenagers aging out of foster care, the mentally ill, abused, afflicted, human trafficking and the addicted. More and more elderly, living on a fixed income, will come to the Streets of Omaha van to receive a sack lunch. Many say it’s their only meal for the day.

With the Shelter Fund’s donation the Open Door Mission has re-worked their Streets of Omaha route and, starting February 29th, began reaching farther west, north and south.  And now, by expanding to five days a week, the Open Door Mission’s team of volunteers and staff can cover twice as much ground and find homeless people faster.

Meeting people where they are – geographically, philosophically and emotionally is so important.  Street homeless are often disconnected and disengaged with society; living in survival mode often due to trauma and crisis in their lives. Candace Gregory, the executive director of the Open Door Mission said, “Our goal is to reach the street homeless with food, love and toiletries and then offer the resources of a free hot shower, a hot nutritious meal, clean clothing, safe shelter…the basic necessities.  We will empower our street homeless to know that there are resources available for them when they are ready to accept the help.”

The sad circumstances of David Busch’s death inspired the Shelter Fund to make an effort to help Omaha’s street homeless.  And now, thanks to your generosity, David’s life was not lived in vain.  God bless you for your generosity.

What You Need to Know About Mortgages BEFORE You Buy

Buying a home is one of the most exciting events in your life and is likely to be the most expensive purchase that you will ever make. Here are some things to consider before you make the commitment:

  • Have you saved enough money for the down payment? You must have job stability and a steady income.

  • What is your estimated monthly payment for the home? In addition to the monthly payment foe principal and interest, you will have to pay for taxes and insurance, and possibly homeowner association dues.
  • What is your estimated monthly payment for the home? In addition to the monthly payment foe principal and interest, you will have to pay for taxes and insurance, and possibly homeowner association dues.
  • What are the other costs of owning a home? Be realistic about costs such as heating, air conditioning and other utilities.
  • What can you afford? Be confident that you can make the monthly payments.
    The Total Cost of a Mortgage

These four cost components equals the monthly mortgage payment you will pay each month:

Principal + Interest + Taxes + Insurance (PITI) = Total Cost of Your Mortgage

Principal (P) represents the amount of money you borrow, which has to be repaid over time. Interest (I) is the cost that lenders charge for the use of their money. Taxes (T) is an assessment that local governments collect on property to pay for local services. Property tax rates will vary by location and can affect your total cost and affordability. Homeowners Insurance (I) will be required to replace the value of the loan in the event of a disaster such as fire, hail, flood, etc. Many times buyers ignore these additional costs when figuring how much of a home they can afford.

Types of Home Loans

Conventional and Government Loans. FHA and VA loans are government loans. All other loans are generally classified as conventional loans.

FHA Loans

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). FHA administers various mortgage loan programs that have lower down payment requirements and can be easier to qualify for than conventional loans. FHA loans have certain loan limits that do change from time-to-time. Your loan officer will keep you informed of those limits.

VA Loans

VA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs allowing veterans and service persons to obtain home loans with favorable terms and often without a down payment. While it’s easier to qualify for a VA loan than a conventional loan, lenders generally limit the maximum VA loan to $417,000. The VA doesn’t make the loans, but recommends you via a certificate of eligibility to your lender.

Fixed Mortgages

Any Fixed Mortgage locks in the interest rate for the length of the loan. While you can always refinance, a fixed rate insulates you from increasing rates, but keeps you from automatically enjoying rate declines.

Mortgage Insurance

A government-backed or privately-backed policy that protects lenders against some or most of the losses that can occur when a borrower defaults on a mortgage loan; mortgage insurance is required primarily for borrowers with a down payment of less than 20% of the home’s purchase price. The cost for mortgage insurance is usually built into the monthly payment made to the lender. Mortgage insurance makes it possible to buy a home with as little as 3.5% down.

Escrow Accounts

A mortgage escrow account is an easy and simple way to manage your annual tax and insurance payments and put them on autopilot. The biggest advantage of using an escrow service is not having to come up with large payments once a year to pay your bills. It is much easier for most people to pay $200 per month into a forced savings account instead of paying $2400 at once. Mortgage escrow accounts also guarantee your bills are paid on-time. Your payments have already been budgeted for you and the money is waiting and available in your account. When the bill is due, the escrow account takes care of everything for you. It is nice not to have to remember payment dates, amounts, etc.

There are advantages to the lender and county as well. The lender is assured your insurance premiums will always be up to date, so their asset (your house) is protected in the event of destruction. The county is assured they receive their property tax payments on time.

There are disadvantages though – most escrow accounts do not earn the account holder interest, though some earn interest at a low rate. For someone with a large house and a $10,000 property tax bill, that adds up to a lot of lost opportunity every year. There are also associated fees which cut into your bottom line.

Can you avoid using an escrow service?
Yes, but not always. Some mortgages require escrow accounts, especially for first time home buyers or home buyers with small down payments. There are some advantages for going without an escrow service – your money can earn you interest and you may be eligible for early payment discounts for some bills. But the disadvantages are obvious – you are required to pay your tax bills and insurance payments on time or risk losing your house.

Loan Pre-Qualification

Loan Pre-qualification will strengthen your negotiating position with the seller. Ask at least one lender to pre-qualify you for a mortgage. The lender will analyze your credit position, current income, and outstanding debts to give you a reasonable estimate of your borrowing amount. There is no obligation on you to obtain a loan from that lender, nor does it obligate the lender to provide a mortgage loan.

Shopping For A Mortgage

Shopping for your loan is probably the most important step in your home-buying process. Mortgage brokers and lenders have a wide variety of mortgage products. The type of loan product and your interest rate will not only influence your total settlement costs but will determine the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. A great rate on the wrong loan can cost you thousands. That is why working with an experienced Loan Officer is key.

Selecting a Loan Officer

The right loan officer helps you secure the best possible financing for your loan, and also plays a vital role in assuring a smooth home buying experience. We are pleased to have formed a preferred partnership with First Mortgage Company, the largest independent FHA lender in Nebraska. The loan officers at First Mortgage Company are experts at helping you pick the right mortgage and walking you through the entire purchase process.

When you work with First Mortgage Company, we know you’ll experience personal attention and professional service in handling your loan transaction.

Amy Hayes-Preucil
First Mortgage Company
Mortgage Consultant
P: (402) 431-4309

Megan Woelfel
First Mortgage Company
Mortgage Consultant
P: (402) 431-4308