Real Estate Information

Bergen County New Jersey Real Estate Blog

Tami Rapaport’s Team

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 52

4 Tips to Setting an Accurate Asking Price

by Tami Rapaport’s Team

The most difficult question facing sellers is how to determine the correct asking price. No perfect formula exists to determine the exact point at which the seller can maximize his profits without pricing himself out of the market. The question is further complicated by the emotional attachment of the seller. Even so, with a little work, the Realtor and the seller can arrive together at a balance point between the greatest profit and marketability.

1) The process begins with a careful review of the data. Unfortunately, there can be so much information available that it can be confusing. Identical homes in two different locations, for example, can command very different prices. A good Realtor will help the seller navigate the maze of data and understand why the variations exist. An engaged seller will consider the reasoning behind the price decisions.

2) Continue with a walk-through. By walking through other homes on the market and comparing them to the home to be sold, it is easier to see details that contribute to the price. This is also a good opportunity for the Realtor to discuss neighborhood features, schools and other local factors that attract buyers.

3) Create an atmosphere conducive to a bidding war. This is a two-stage process consisting of appropriate staging and bringing key selling points to the forefront. Staging includes scrupulous landscaping and cleaning and may represent a financial investment. The highest price homes offer curb appeal, are completely devoid of clutter, both inside and out. It is important to pay attention to small cosmetic details like plumbing fixtures and ceiling fans. A beautiful home demands a higher price. The descriptions must include some of the details that made the seller love the home that might escape the notice of a casual observer.

4) Sever emotional ties. Nothing can distort the sellers idea of the value of the home more than the love for the changes they have made to it. It is difficult to accept that someone might want to pull up the prize-winning roses or replace the tiles in the kitchen. One way to overcome the attachment to the house is to focus on the adventures it will finance, whether for a new home or other investment.

Setting an appropriate price may be one of the most challenging aspects of the Realtor/seller relationship. Handing the process well will help build an effective partnership throughout the sale.

Home Maintenance to Save Time and Money

by Tami Rapaport’s Team

Most homeowners have had to endure costly repairs to their homes, seemingly at the most inconvenient times possible. Roofing repairs always seem to pop up during rainy season for instance, and the air conditioner always breaks down when temperatures begin to soar. At least some of those costs can be avoided by a conscientious program of regular home maintenance. Here are some of the most common ways to save time and money with regular home maintenance.

Don't Pay Full Price for Tools

Handyman tools can be very expensive, especially good power tools - but you do need some of these on hand to address as many home issues as possible. Yard sales can be a great place to find used tools still in good working order, and they are commonly listed in local classifieds as well by owners who are buying new sets and want to get some value from the old set. When you need a very large tool or even a power tool that would be seldom used, consider renting it at a local rental shop.

Remember Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance can literally save you a fortune sometimes, if you keep it in mind as a regular routine. Clearing your gutters of debris and leaves might prevent a water dam that comes through your roofing, and sweeping snow off the roof during winter might prevent a catastrophic collapse. Other good ideas are covering pipes in winter to prevent freezing, clearing shrubbery away from your air conditioner, and periodically draining your water heater to avoid sediment buildup.

Stay Organized

As odd as this sounds, it can be fairly significant. If your tool shed is a mess, with things scattered about the area, you might spend a lot of time looking for that one wrench you need for a task - or you might concede defeat and go buy another one. The concept can be extended beyond the tool area to include anything around the house you should organize so that it can always be found when needed.

Shop Around for Major Repairs

When you're faced with a major repair project - say a replacement of the furnace - shop for the furnace and the contractor separately. Very often, separate pricing is considerably cheaper than buying the furnace and having it installed by the same vendor. Chances are you'll find a great deal by avoiding the huge markup applied by some contractors for service.

Energy-Efficient Mortgages

by Tami Rapaport’s Team

As a homeowner looking to renovate or remodel, you may have heard the term “Green” Or Energy Efficient remodeling. These options are a great method of improving your home, adding greater efficiency and productivity, but pricing can make it a daunting undertaking. Luckily, this is where Energy-Efficient Mortgages (EEMs) come in. These mortgages roll the expenses of green renovation directly into your mortgage cost, avoiding the need to acquire multiple loans. There are three “primary” forms of EEM to choose from, each offering slight advantages tailored to your needs and situation.

Note that the use of an Energy-Efficient Mortgage is likely to make the initial cost of your purchase higher, with the understanding that it will save you considerably more in the long run. This is fairly obvious, but it’s still useful to keep this knowledge in mind.

Conventional

A Conventional EEM is your basic option, being the easiest to handle and most widely utilized. The option allows the lender to credit the borrower’s income equal to the estimations of energy saved by the planned upgrades.

Put simply, a buyer with an income of x who stands to save three thousand a year, can by use of a Conventional green mortgage have an effective income of x+3,000 in home or home renovation purchasing power.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA-EEM)

Buyers looking to purchase or refinance a home and roll the costs of energy-efficient additions may look to a FHA-EEM as a solution. With this option, the borrower may use one of two options (Whichever is the lesser):

  • The net cost of the renovation, including inspections
  • 5% of the total value of your property

To qualify, the total cost of your chosen improvements have to cost less than the estimated total savings of your planned improvements. Also, funds for the improvements are held in escrow until the loan closes.

VA EEMs (Veterans Administration)

An option specifically available to Veterans who qualify for financing through the Veterans Administration, these are simple loans generally capped between three and six thousand in most cases.

What's Involved in a Closing

by Tami Rapaport’s Team

Some people may associate closing with sitting in an office and signing reams of paper, but in actuality, closing is all of the steps that finalize a home purchase. It begins with the offer to purchase.

Offer to purchase:

When you find a dream home that fits your budget, make your offer. Depending on the market trend, you may be able to offer as much as 10 percent under the sellers’ price.

Deposit or earnest money:

This amount is typically 1 percent of the purchase price and is part of the offer to purchase. The real estate agent or a seller representative keeps the 1 percent in a trust until the purchase is final, and the money is applied to the down payment. If you rescind your offer, it is possible that you lose your deposit and that the sellers sue you for damages. If sellers reject the purchase offer, you get the money back.

Contingencies:

Buyers generally must get financing and a home inspection within certain time frames; for example, they usually have 10 to 14 days for the inspection after the contract is accepted.

Home inspection:

An inspector examines the home for potential or existing structural and mechanical issues.

Contract:

The contract is signed after the seller accepts the buyer’s purchase offer, and it includes the contingencies. It also includes a property description, the price of the deal, closing and possession dates.

Settlement sheet:

The Department of Housing and Urban Development mandates this document. It includes all of the monetary facets that go into selling and purchasing a home. It details the funds paid at closing and includes information on the agents’ commissions and the escrow amounts. According to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, both the buyer and seller must get a copy of the settlement sheet at least one day before settlement.

Closing paperwork:

This aspect includes a title search to ensure there are no liens or holds on the property, obtaining title insurance and getting homeowners insurance.
 

Costs:

Final closing costs usually include the mortgage loan origination fee, appraisal costs, credit report costs, inspection fee, mortgage broker costs, tax payments and document preparation costs.

Practical matters:

Homeowners set up utility services and arrangements for their initial mortgage payment.

Settlement:

Buyers pay the down payment, which is the rest of what they owe, and on the date of possession, the title is transferred.

Home Defense: Preparing for Floods

by Tami Rapaport’s Team

Everyone knows what a flood is, but many people view it happening as too unlikely to make proper preparations for it.

Whether just a few feet of water or enough to submerge your neighborhood, all floods can, to an extent, be prepared for. If you want to find out how, keep reading.

Safety Preparation

The first step, as always is to be prepared for whatever happens. Regardless of whether or not you live in an area prone to floods and other natural disasters, you need to be prepared for them.

Make a safety kit with food, water, money, important documents, cell phones and other important supplies for floods and all other disasters. In addition, speak to your family about plans during different emergencies, and make sure everyone knows what to do and where to go in the case of an emergency.

Protecting the Home

You'll want to immediately make sure that all electronics in your house are unplugged and your power systems are all switched off.

If you have enough time to prepare further, consider moving electronic items upstairs or into an attic to save them from damage and them being potential hazards in the house.

After that, there's not much else you can do. If you're flooded in, try to get out and to the roof or reside on higher floors. Make sure to pack a phone or radio in your safety kit so that you have a way to call for help.

Flood Insurance

Turns out, most homeowner and renter agreements do not cover flooding at all.

To check if your area is at risk of flooding, consult a flood map to see whether or not investing in flood insurance is worth the money. If you're in an area at risk, you'll definitely want to look into flood insurance.

To learn more about flood insurance, speak to your insurance provider about your pre-existing insurance policies. They'll let you know if you need any further coverage.

If you do need further coverage, contact the NFIP - the NFIP (or National Flood Insurance Program) will give you a way to get insured. They provide services to homeowners, renters and even businesses owners in some areas.

Once you've prepared your family, gathered a kit and insure yourself (if necessary), you should be fine in the event of a flood. Nobody wants it to happen, but everyone should be prepared for it.

Tips on Choosing the Right Color for the Home Interior

by Tami Rapaport’s Team

Selecting the right colors for your home is a very personal choice. Many new home buyers want to change the existing colors on walls but they don't know exactly what to choose.

Your color scheme may depend on the size of your home and its rooms. It can also depend on where you live, the architecture and your style of furnishings.

Hues, Tints, Shade, and Tone

Color creates a mood. It can relax or energize. Soft pastels are relaxing while more intense color or hue is energizing. The hue is the purest, boldest and most intense color.

An intense hue such as cobalt blue can be soften into a relaxing light blue tint by adding white. Bright, bold viridian green hue becomes a much milder mint tint when mixed with white. Pure red softens to a pink tint as white is added.

Adding a touch of black to any color deepens and darkens the paint into a shade. This combination will produce the dramatic darker hunter green or burgundy shades popular in living and dining rooms.

A color tone has a hint of gray (black and white mix) to "tone it down" creating more subtle colors. Pale blue-gray, mauve and taupe are popular tones. The combinations of tones, tints and shades are endless, especially when mixed with bold hues.

Environment

People living in desert areas often decorate with tan, sand, beige and browns. Furnishing are often in turquoise, terra-cotta and coral as accent colors. Homes along coastal regions often feature blue colors suggesting the water with beige accents. A forested area may see homes using green and brown earth colors.

The accent color can be on doors, window wrappings, baseboards and crown moldings. A darker wall framed with moldings in a lighter contrasting accent color creates a lovely, dramatic affect.

You may select one basic softer color for the walls in most of the rooms of your home and save the family room, kitchen or bathroom for experimenting with bolder colors.

Since color influences feelings, a bedroom in soft pastel tones may be relaxing. A kitchen can be painted in a bright yellow hue, coral tone, green or red shade to make it lively and invigorating.

Remember that darker walls tend to make a room look smaller while lighter walls give the feeling of space.

Enjoy looking at color chips and planning the best color combinations for your home.

Home Buying in Winter Months

by Tami Rapaport’s Team

Many homebuyers with families usually shop for homes in the spring and summer hoping to be moved into their new home before school starts in the fall. The winter season from Thanksgiving until mid-February is usually a slow season for home buying and selling in many parts of the country.

Even home and condominium sales in warmer resort areas such as Florida or Arizona are often completed before the start of the winter season.

Winter is a good time to shop for a home from a motivated seller. Homes that did not sell during late summer and fall may be available at lower prices. Some homes do come on the market at the beginning of the year and you can be the first buyer to make an offer. The buying market is less competitive.

Realtors are not as busy during December and January so they may have more time to spend with a serious potential buyer. Winter is the best time to determine how well a home functions during cold weather in many areas.

  • Learn everything about the heating system in a home that interest you.
  • Also check the roofing, plumbing and insulation.
  • Examine rain gutters and basements.
  • Ask the seller about winter utility costs.

Curb appeal is more difficult in winter in many areas. Trees are bare, shrubs and flowers are not blooming in cold weather regions. There may be snow on the ground but this can also make a home look warm and inviting in winter.

Home exteriors in warmer areas such as the southwest or Gulf Coast may show well during the winter season.

Mortgages

Mortgage rates may be lower during the winter months. Fewer people are applying for loans and you may be able to close escrow faster. This is also the best time to ask the seller for an extended warranty to cover a leaking roof or older heating system.

House-hunting during the winter takes more patience, especially in cold, snowy regions. Many real estate agents don't want to drive through the snow and ice to show a home. You may not find any open house weekends during the winter.

But the good deals are out there during the winter months for home buyers who want to find the right home at a good price.

Selling Your Home

by Tami Rapaport’s Team

If you are selling your home you want two things to happen; you want it sold fast and you want top dollar for it. But these two things do not simply happen by chance. You need to put some effort into selling your home.

By following a few simple rules you can increase the odd that you will sell your home quickly and pocket a nice amount of money.

Let Go
You need to stop viewing your home as “my house” and start viewing it as “a house.” Look at it as a product that needs to be sold. Take your emotions out of it. Picture yourself handing over the keys to a happy buyer and you getting in your car and driving away for good.

De-Personalize
Take down all the family photos, heirlooms and personal items that make your home unique. You want to make sure it appeals to the largest number of buyers possible and that can’t happen if your personal belongings are still in the home.

Prospective buyers need to see themselves living in your home and that is going to be difficult if it looks like you still live there.

Reduce
Remove all the clutter from your home. Take the knickknacks, books and other small personal items and store them away. Keep clean lines throughout the home. The less your buyers are distracted the better.

Organize Closets and Cupboards
Buyers have a tendency to snoop around a bit and will sometimes open bedroom closets and kitchen cabinets. The last thing you want is them to see a closet stuffed to the ceiling or a dirty cabinet.

Clean out and organize all your closets and cabinets so they look spotless. This will give buyers the impression that you have taken excellent care of your home throughout the years. Also, you should keep a box of items that you use daily, like toiletries, stored in one of your closets to keep them out of sight of the prospective buyers.

Make Cosmetic Repairs
If you have a leaky faucet or a cracked floor tile now is the time to fix them. These small imperfections can add up and deter many buyers. Replace burnt out lightbulbs and worn out rugs. All these minor fixes can be accomplished in a weekend and will help present your home in the best possible light.

Top Kitchen Remodels

by Tami Rapaport’s Team

Remodeling the kitchen can make daily life more enjoyable and much easier, whether you're adding in one electrical socket or stripping out every tile, cabinet, and countertop. Any home improvement project can spiral over budget and out of control in a moment, so use the following tips to maintain your budget and sanity.

1. Work with Your Home

The old adage of "You can't fit a square peg in a round hole", while potentially incorrect due to the unspecified size of the openings, is incredibly important when deciding what you will be doing with your kitchen. Measure every space and make note of the wiring, plumbing, and supporting structure surrounding the kitchen.

2. Consider Repurposing and Repair

Not every problem is best resolved by complete replacement. An old cabinet that doesn't match your new decor could be stripped and recolored rather than tossed, or you can paint over the old floor tiling instead of buying a new set. Simply go through your inventory and consider ways to reuse and recycle before you label something as trash.

3. DIMY (Do It Mostly Yourself)

Despite the complicated nature of a modern home and the overwhelming amount of work remodeling takes, it is possible to do a substantial percentage of the work without the aid of a professional. Armed with a standard set of tools and access to the Internet, you can tackle almost any job. The only times you should hire a professional are when advanced tools that you don't possess are required or performing the task inadequately could result in harm to yourself or the kitchen.

4. Use the Bounty of Bargains

Once you have decided on the plan of action, acquiring the raw materials and tools you need at the best cost is the last step before remodeling. The average person will go to their local building supply store and purchase everything they need from there, but a little bit of shopping around can dramatically reduce the total cost. Consult online retailers to find the most competitive public listings, then go shopping locally with the knowledge to find the best deals. Also, remember that you don't have to purchase all of your materials in one place.

5. Make a Plan

Before you commit any changes to your kitchen, have a complete plan of action. With enough forethought, the daunting task of renovating can be broken down into easily accomplishable steps.

Top DIY Mistakes Made By Homeowners

by Tami Rapaport’s Team

You can find a lot of information online for DIY projects, but you probably aren’t getting all of the information you need. Here are the 10 most common DIY mistakes.

1. Not getting a permit. Permits can make larger projects safer by getting people to think about the different hazards before starting the project.

2. Beginning a project without the proper equipment and supplies. DIY projects require a lot of planning before you take that first step, especially when it comes to the tools and equipment.

3. Skimping on the tools and or materials. You can’t expect a cheap saw to cut boards evenly or the wrong kind of paint for your deck to make it look good.

4. Failing to prepare the job site. Most DIY projects require you to do a lot of preparation and you need to make sure everything is set up before jumping into a project.

5. Not preparing walls before painting. Not only do you need to protect things like your floor, door frames, and furniture, you need to prep the walls. It will be blatantly obvious if you haven’t patched holes, removed chipped paint, or cleaned the walls once the paint dries.

6. Creating unsafe job conditions. It is not a good idea to substitute a chair that is almost the right height to reach something. Nor should you be painting without proper ventilation. You also need the right protective gear.

7. Introducing inaccuracies. It is easy to lose focus after a long day and do something just slightly off. Cutting a board the wrong size or getting the level incorrect starts as a small problem, but can end up causing major problems.

8. Believing you can do anything. Self-confidence is great but you need to know your limits and when to ask for help.

9. Only measuring once. It is better to verify your measurements or cut things a little long. You can always cut off any extra later.

10. Failing to properly research a project. Watching an episode of ER doesn’t make you a doctor;  watching a YouTube clip doesn’t make you a professional either. Take your time and make sure you have all the information you need before starting the project.

DIY projects only save money when done right. Without the proper research, planning, and budgeting, you could end up spending far more than if you had hired a professional.

Document edited with HTML-Cleaner.com

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 52

Contact Information

Photo of Tami Rapaport Real Estate
Tami Rapaport
Tami Rapaport
130 Dean Drive
Tenafly NJ 07670
201-227-2045