Riding the Ups & Downs of Your Home’s Value Online

Riding the Ups & Downs of Your Home’s Value Online

The Internet has certainly provided consumers with a wide array of tools used throughout real estate transactions that provide more information and more utility than ever before. One of the tools that has grown in popularity of late is the home value calculators that uses your location and historical data of sales in your area to compare your home against those to determine a value.

This value can change over time as new sales are continuously added to the program’s database, giving you a visual demonstration of the way your value has ebbed and flowed over time. Many consumers have used this tool as a way to uncover what kind of equity they have built up in their home and perhaps to decide whether the time is right to sell a particular piece of real estate.

However, because there are so many outlets offering this type of service, there is the capacity to get five wildly different estimates from five different sites, perhaps confusing a home owner more than before by offering such a diverse set of data. The key in accuracy sometimes lies in what the site is trying to accomplish by providing you its service.

For example, if you go to a home valuation site that does not nail down a specific price but rather provides a range and then prompts you to call a local realtor for a more accurate estimate, the credibility of that site as a home valuation site decreases dramatically. Instead of using the data it has to provide a rough estimate, the site offers a broad range that perhaps prompts more questions than answers.

This is all, it seems, a ploy to get you to call a local realtor that will pay the company for the referral. Obviously, there is a certain amount of bias to remain vague in this situation, making the site less useful for home valuation purposes. Take real estate valuations from sites like these with a substantial grain of salt.

Unfortunately, the bulk of sites used to peg a home value online employ some kind of agent tie-in to prompt contact with a real estate agent. For some sites, that means that you have to input personal data before a full value will be given and in some you have to call the realtor to get the actual value after putting in data for the process online. Either way, these tactics turn off many home buyers that might have an actual need for a home valuation.

There are other sites out there, Zillow being the most prominent, that offer home valuation services without all of the catches. Zillow, in fact, asks only for an address to determine the approximate value of a property and while there will certainly be disparities in a Zillow value and the actual value of a piece of real estate, its interface is easy to use and requires the input of no personal information, giving it a great deal of utility to simply get a rough estimate of a property’s value.

Of course, the best way to get a home valuation is to contact a professional home appraiser. While online sites use market data to formulate a price, nothing can beat an in-home appraisal that takes into account all of the features and amenities of your home when determining a value.

However, for those that want a simple valuation without the cost of a professional appraiser or the bait-and-switch tactics of many of the agent-driven sites out there, Zillow is a great site to get a quick and dirty estimate that can be used as a rough estimate for discussions on the future of a particular piece of real estate.

This is another original article by Joe Lane, co-owner of The Lane Real Estate Team at http://www.joelane.com/. Are you looking for an experienced Tri City WA Real Estate agency? With 20 years of service based, business experience, Joe and Colleen Lane work hard to serve home buyers and sellers for the Tri Cities of Washington’s Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, and surrounding areas.

Three Steps To Home Inspection Zen

Three Steps To Home Inspection Zen

For many prospective home sellers, going through the process of a home inspection can be a painful process that entails letting a stranger into the home to judge every nook and cranny. As the biggest and most prized possession of most consumers, having the home inspected in this way is a bit like having the inner sanctum of your life on display. Inspections certainly do not have to be like this.

By maintaining an even perspective and keeping in mind three core tenets, you can keep your home inspection process easy and calm. As with most business transactions, getting yourself to view the transaction as someone from the outside might can be difficult, but will ultimately take a lot of the stress out of the situation.

Keep Your Feelings Grounded In Reality
Everyone wants to think that they have the best home on the block, a spotless testament to a diligent work ethic and family prosperity. As homes age, the reality is that they will develop problems here and there that a home inspector is trained to uncover. These problems are certainly not your fault as time has all it needs to damage a foundation or roof all on its own.

No matter how great a condition your home is in, the very nature of a home inspection is to uncover issues that a prospective buyer might have a problem with, so prepare for that eventuality. These problems are no reflection on your care of the home but more its initial construction and degradation over time, two things you have nothing to do with. This is just another step in a real estate transaction and preparing for a few issues here and there will greatly reduce your stress.

Emotions Are Great, Just Not For Inspections
After living in a particular piece of real estate for a long time, there will always be memories and emotions tied to that property. As a seller, you have chosen to move on from those emotions and memories, committing to create new memories in a new property. Keep this in mind as a home inspector goes through your home and comes back with problems or issues.

You might have done a lot of work on a furnace, for example, and remember fondly the day that you got it working again in top shape. If an inspector comes back after looking at the furnace and declares that you need a new one to pass inspection, don’t let anger be your first response. No matter what energy and time you’ve put in to a home, there will always be factors outside of your control, like aging issues and local regulations, which dictate an inspector’s actions.

Put Yourself In A Buyer’s Shoes
Above all, imagine that you are stepping into your home for the first time, looking at it with a critical eye to determine whether you’d want to live there and what you’d fix if you did. This is the kind of mentality a buyer is bringing to your real estate transaction and the inspector will help them bring to light just the kind of property they are purchasing.

Don’t begrudge a buyer of this step as you are going to go through it on your new home purchase and wouldn’t have it any other way. Each point brought up on the inspection is a point brought up to protect the buyer and provide as much information as possible, two things you would love to benefit from on your own home purchase.

Having your home picked apart by a home inspector will most likely never be a heart-warming experience, but taking these three tenets to heart will help you get through the situation with class. Real estate transactions represent an important transition period and getting through a simple and easy inspection will only easy that transition for both you and your prospective real estate buyer.

This is another original article by Joe Lane, co-owner of The Lane Real Estate Team at http://www.joelane.com/. Are you looking for an experienced Tri City WA Real Estate agency? With 20 years of service based, business experience, Joe and Colleen Lane work hard to serve home buyers and sellers for the Tri Cities of Washington’s Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, and surrounding areas.

Do the Fixer Upper Math

Do The Fixer-Upper Math

Renovating homes has gotten a boat load of publicity over the past few years as a great way for prospective real estate investors to make great money over a short period of time. Hopefully, you’ve taken that message with a grain of salt as renovations can often take a lengthy period of time and selling the home for a big profit is never a guarantee.

In fact, as any real estate investor will tell you, a few quick calculations will give you at least a rough idea of your chances for profit, be it large or small. Doing these quick and dirty calculations will not only give you that forecast of the future but determine whether a particular investment is worth the hassle, a step that many real estate investors skip that deserves adequate attention.

Target Your End Value
You can never, ever use the amount of money you put into a particular piece of real estate as the basis for a price increase. If you bought the home for $100,000 and did $20,000 worth of work to it, you are never guaranteed to get $120,000 out of it. The real estate market simply does not work that way and recognizing that is the first step towards pegging down an accurate end sale price for your profit calculations.

An appraiser is your best resource at pegging an end sale value as the appraiser will be able to tell you the kind of value you will add to a property with a given renovation. If you are going to add a certain amount of square footage or a finished basement or any other improvement, take what the home will look like after you are done and compare it against other similar homes that have recently sold in the area.

That is the only way to determine the kind of value you might receive and an appraiser will keep you grounded in reality when your head starts swelling with the prospect of potential profit.

The Big Minus
Of course, those renovations cost money and you will have to calculate every piece of dry wall, every nail and every hour of labor that you think will be necessary to get a home to the level you need it to be at. After those costs, you have to factor in transaction costs like your realtor’s fee, closing costs, potential property taxes over the course of your ownership and loan fees that some real estate investors neglect to think about.

Your expenses are not limited to the amount of money you put into renovations, giving you much more to think about than lumber and nails when you are calculating potential profit. This can be a complicated process and getting expert help from someone that has been through the process once or twice before will be invaluable towards projecting potential profit.

Is It Worth It?
This is the big question that some real estate investors forget to ask themselves as they pursue a potential investment. If your profit window is extremely tight and your potential profit may be $10,000, perhaps that investment is not worth the hassle of renovating the home, putting it on the market and finding a new buyer. You have to decide for yourself what your time is worth but just because there is profit to be had does not mean that your time is best spent on that project. Everyone’s threshold is different so determine yours and you will go a long way towards picking out projects that you will ultimately be successful with and enjoy.

These simple steps can save real estate investors from getting involved with properties that they are simply not ready for. Think about all of the costs before ever getting involved with an investment and learn to value your time. Doing the math is one thing, but using it to make an informed decision is what separates the real estate investors that fail and those that ultimately thrive.

This is another original article by Joe Lane, co-owner of The Lane Real Estate Team at http://www.joelane.com/. Are you looking for an experienced Tri City WA Real Estate agency? With 20 years of service based, business experience, Joe and Colleen Lane work hard to serve home buyers and sellers for the Tri Cities of Washington’s Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, and surrounding areas.

Student Loans & Mortgages: Owning Real Estate In Your 20s

No more than ever before, people in their 20s are looking into owning real estate. As mortgage payments have increasingly been the domain of younger and younger people, questions have arisen over the true benefit of owning a home at a young age and just what type of person should do so. Certainly, owning real estate at a young age is not for everyone and there are some things to keep in mind when considering the possibility.

Of course, one of the key benefits of being a young person is given up when committing to a mortgage, an element of freedom. It is difficult to pick up and move when a mortgage payment is due every month and that can weigh heavily on a decision to plant roots at any age. Add to that an uncertainty in income as a result of being fairly new to the workforce and it can be easy to see why up until recently, the idea of buying a home was foreign to most 20 year-olds.

Increasingly, the benefits of building equity in a home are speaking to young people, making the prospect of real estate ownership more attractive. While building equity is certainly a big benefit to planting roots with a particular piece of real estate, young people need to understand that those benefits are not instant and that a long-term commitment is necessary to reap any rewards.

Because of the propensity of young people to be in flux whether it be in job, location or relationship status, planting those roots can be difficult. For benefits to truly be seen through a build up in equity, payments have to made for a lengthy period of time on a mortgage. As many initial mortgage payments go towards the interest on a loan rather than the actual loan amount, they do little to build equity in a piece of real estate.

That piece of information can sometimes be missed by young people that simply want to build equity and aren’t sure how to go about doing it or just what it takes. Giving up freedom is a steep price to be paid and the benefits are not immediate.

An additional wrinkle that some young people are adding is early investment desires and the attractiveness of pulling a rental payment on a leased property. Becoming a landlord is no small decision and the burden of having to deal with individual renters and the upkeep that rental properties demand can be a daunting one.

Interestingly enough, that burden has been increasingly taken on by young people, perhaps suggesting a better dissemination of information about real estate investment opportunities and the gradual death of the stigma that being a landlord is only for the old or rich.

In the end, if you are a young person and have considered the prospect of getting involved in real estate investment or ownership, significant discussion has to take place with yourself over your goals in life and the value of flexibility to accomplish those goals. There are lucky people out there who land the perfect job early in life and for those people, perhaps they can be sure that they intend to stay in a certain area for a very long time. For those people, a mortgage makes sense and building up early equity can certainly pay off later.

For those that have a more muddied version of the future and would love the ability to be able to take that new job opportunity at a moment’s notice, perhaps early home ownership is not the way to go. The struggle between freedom and future fortune can seem like a difficult one, but by evaluating your personal goals, you can decide on whether home ownership is in your future.

This is another original article by Joe Lane, co-owner of The Lane Real Estate Team at http://www.joelane.com/. Are you looking for an experienced Tri City WA Real Estate agency? With 20 years of service based, business experience, Joe and Colleen Lane work hard to serve home buyers and sellers for the Tri Cities of Washington’s Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, and surrounding areas.

Five reasons why buying a home is still a good idea


(ARA) – A still murky economy and uncertain real estate market may have you wondering if buying a home is a good idea. Whether you’re thinking about buying, or already have and just need some affirmation, you may find it comforting to know there are still plenty of good reasons for financially stable people to buy a house. Here are a few:

* Homeownership can help make good credit even better. If your credit is in poor shape, you’ll want to monitor it before seeking a mortgage. But if you have good credit, live within your means, and consistently make good financial decisions, a mortgage can be the kind of “good debt” that helps your overall financial health. Making regular payments on a mortgage shows potential lenders that you’re a less risky candidate for a home loan. Before you begin home shopping, it’s a good idea to check your credit. Enrolling in a product like freecreditscore.com can help you better understand and leverage your credit.

* A mortgage can function like an automatic savings plan. By now, you’ve read the news reports about how little we Americans save these days. Well, every year you pay on your fixed-rate mortgage, is a year of building equity, and equity is like money in the bank. When it’s time to sell – whether you’ve stayed in your home seven years or the full 30 year term – you’ll have created equity and should be able to sell your house for more than you owe.

* Homeownership comes with plenty of financial perks, including an income tax credit for property taxes you pay on your home. For detailed information on tax breaks check out IRS.gov. Buying a home also affords you the opportunity to halt your housing costs. Rent will always go up from year to year, but if you have a fixed-rate mortgage (avoid adjustable rates) your biggest annual expense – housing costs – will be locked-in.

* Mortgage interest is a good deal when stacked up against other types of interest that don’t do much for you – such as high credit card interest rates or low rates on savings accounts and CDs. Mortgage rates are low right now, meaning you can pay less over the life of a loan than at practically any other time in recent history. Plus, it’s the only kind of interest that you can deduct from your taxes.

* Prices are still relatively low and inventory is high. It’s been a buyer’s market for a long time, but that’s going to change. The question is: when will the market start to improve in your area, taking home prices with it? You’ll have to do some legwork and astute research to determine when is the best time for you to buy.

If you monitor your credit and are on a sound financial footing, buying a home can still be a good idea. And now is as good a time as any to make your purchase.

Picking Out The Perfect New Town

Moving to a new city or state will always be a difficult transition, no matter what kinds of precautions you take. Bundling up all of your worldly possessions into one big van and setting them down on the doorstep of a new home in a strange city will always be at least a bit of an awkward experience. However, picking the right city can be the difference between struggling mightily and simply working through the transition.

In most cases, relocations are specific to the area surrounding a particular office or location. That narrows down the choices quite a bit which can be more blessing than curse when trying to wade through the multitude of cities that all want the tax dollars and spending money new residents bring with them. So how then do you go about making at least the preliminary steps towards picking out a new town?

Know What You Want

No search was ever completed without at least some kind of criteria to narrow down the possibilities. That goes for web searches and it goes for finding a new home for you and your family. What kinds of amenities do you want to have within reasonable driving distance? Some things to consider include proximity to major transportation hubs, entertainment options nearby, the quality of a particular school district and access to highways and major roads.

While the list could probably go on forever as to the kinds of amenities people look for in a potential new home, odds are that you already have in mind the best case scenario for your town and committing to getting those thoughts on paper will develop a list of criteria quicker than you might think.

Another helpful tip can be to prioritize your desires so that when reality comes in and tells you that you can’t have the perfect set of amenities, you know what is most important to you. Armed with that information, you can then dive into the deep ocean that is the internet to do some preliminary research on prospective areas.

Pursue Resources On Important Criteria

If you put the quality of local schools at the top of your list, pursue web sites that have information on the various school districts in the area you are looking at. SchoolMatch.com is one such site and there are countless others that will give you breakdowns on the quality of different districts. If you have personal contacts in the area, this is the time to use them as they will often have insight as to the quality of different districts.

While that example works well for school district criteria, there are also sites out there for nearly everything else you can think of. If at the top of your list is entertainment, look up local chambers of commerce that will be more than willing to extol the virtues of their particular town.

If a particular kind of house of worship is important to have nearby, there are countless mapping programs that will locate them for you and give you a leg up on what neighborhoods you might want to pursue. Personal contact is perhaps the best and quickest way to get this kind of information, but that is not always possible for those moving long distances. The web is full of information and with your priorities at hand, you can cut through must of the junk to get data that is pertinent to your search.

Moving over a long distance will always be a bit of a jarring experience getting used to new surroundings, but doing research on various areas to at least get an idea of what might be best for you will help your realtor immensely. There will always be hiccups along the way and communities that look good on paper but bad in real life, but developing at least an idea will put you quickly on the path towards determining that and hopefully finding the community that fits you and your family perfectly.

This is another original article by Joe Lane, co-owner of The Lane Real Estate Team at http://www.joelane.com/. Are you looking for an experienced Tri City WA Real Estate agency? With 20 years of service based, business experience, Joe and Colleen Lane work hard to serve home buyers and sellers for the Tri Cities of Washington’s Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, and surrounding areas.

Avoid These Eight Mistakes When You Buy Or Sell A House

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By : Gary Torrell    99 or more times read
For most people, buying or selling their primary home, vacation property or rental property can be among their most important and expensive business transactions. This article offers advice to avoid some common mistakes, but does not cover the process and challenges of obtaining a loan to buy the property, which is often a critical step as well.
    1. Rely Exclusively/Primarily On A Broker. Real estate brokers are often helpful. They are experts at suggesting the initial asking price, marketing the property, and finding potential buyers. However, since brokers typically get paid only if a sale closes, they are biased towards closing the sale. This bias influences their advice, recommendations and guidance. Almost always, brokers will try to convince the buyer to offer more, the seller to accept less, and both parties to agree on key terms, so the sale closes and they receive a commission. For this reason, do not rely exclusively or primarily on the broker for objective advice, especially with the availability of online tools and experts to assist you.
    1. Sign Real Estate Contracts Without Consulting A Lawyer. Most real estate contracts come on pre-printed forms prepared by broker associations, such as the California Association of Realtors (“CAR”). While the CAR forms contain the minimum legal terms necessary, they are also designed to protect the broker from potential liability and ensure the broker receives the commission. You should retain a lawyer to review and revise the contracts and advise you of the meaning and legal consequences of the key terms.

      We often advise clients to negotiate changes to the standard CAR contracts, and reasonable changes are often accepted. The broker will want the seller to sign an exclusive listing agreement, which is often quite generous to the broker. A qualified lawyer can help you negotiate better terms in the contracts. Beware of any broker who discourages you from having a lawyer review the contracts before you sign them. Although there is a cost to retaining a lawyer, that cost will pale in comparison to the large sum paid or received in this significant transaction. Using a lawyer will also minimize the potentially disastrous consequences of signing contracts you do not fully understand, or contracts that do not protect your interests.

    1. Retain Third Party Vendors Based Solely Upon The Broker’s Recommendation. Brokers often have relationships with third party vendors, including mortgage brokers, lenders, home inspectors, building contractors, appraisers, insurers, home warranty companies, and escrow and title companies. Brokers often refer buyers and sellers to vendors that are supposed to act in your best interest, but are often grateful for the referral and want to help the broker receive the sales commission.

      Many broker referrals are competent and acceptable, but you need to check their references and see whether another vendor may better protect you and/or provide the same service at a lower cost. For example, most brokers are affiliated with specific escrow and title companies and prefer to work with them, but you can save $500-$2,500 (or more) by price shopping independent escrow and title companies, which typically charge less than broker-affiliated companies. Often, the broker-affiliated escrow and title companies will match the lower price.

    1. Skip Or Pay Little Attention To A House Inspection. For buyers, a thorough house inspection is a key step in deciding whether to close, insist on repairs, and/or renegotiate the sales price. Almost always, you should not retain a home inspector recommended by your broker or rely upon prior home inspections. Instead, retain and pay for your own inspection by a reputable, licensed building contractor with at least ten years’ experience as a general contractor.

      Regardless, be sure to keep in mind that almost every inspection contract provides that the inspector is not liable for most errors or omissions. This means if the inspector misses something, the buyer may have little recourse against the inspector. Moreover, realize the inspector typically does not open up the structure to see the “bones” of the house. Rather, s/he only looks at what is readily visible. Be present during the inspection and ask the inspector questions as you follow him or her through the house. If the inspector offers a more thorough inspection at a higher cost, get it, because without it, you may not discover an expensive repair is needed until after you buy the house and the home warranty has expired.

    1. Rely Solely On The House Inspection Report. Even a good house inspector may lack expertise in architecture, geology, drainage and engineering. If the house inspection report, the lack of expected building permits for improvements, the age of the house, your own observations, or other disclosures suggest there may be something wrong with the structure or the land, retain and pay for a separate engineering report, architect’s report, soils/drainage/geology reports, or other expert reports prepared by a qualified specialist before you close and within the contingency period in the sales contract.

      Ironically, these specialists tend to overstate the risks they find, but provide much more detail than a general inspection report. Have the seller or broker obtain the permit file from the local building and safety department, then have a contractor or architect review it to make sure all the improvements were permitted. Unpermitted improvements can be a nightmare for a buyer.

    1. Neglect the Title Report and Title Insurance. For most home sales, a title company will issue a title report (which shows recorded liens and encumbrances), and issue title insurance. You should carefully review the title report yourself, or hire counsel to do so, and have the title company obtain copies of all recorded easements and encumbrances and make sure you understand their effect. If the lot is irregular or hilly, it is usually better to obtain an ALTA title insurance policy, which offers more coverage.
    1. Neglect Dispute Resolution Provisions. The CAR forms have provisions regarding arbitration (instead of court litigation) to resolve disputes. If you are a buyer and do not have a written agreement with your agent/broker, you will not be entitled to insist on arbitration to resolve disputes with your broker. Since disputes often involve buyers, sellers, agents/brokers and/or inspectors, the same dispute resolution procedures should be put in all relevant contracts.
    1. Pay Little Attention To Contingency Periods In The Purchase Contract. The main contract contains specific conditions to the buyer’s obligation to buy the house (e.g., the buyer must obtain financing, approve the condition of the house, and acknowledge the seller’s written disclosures) and specific time periods within which the conditions must be satisfied. These contingencies allow a buyer to cancel the sale and obtain a refund of his or her deposit. Many buyers and sellers expect their broker to follow up on these important conditions, and parties often fail to act within the express contingency periods or fail to get the contingency period extended. It is the buyer’s responsibility to act timely and have the contingency period extended if necessary, or else you may lose your deposit and/or be pressed to close on the purchase.

Please note many other issues can arise in any real estate transaction, but if you avoid the common mistakes described above, you’ll be way ahead.

Author has over twenty-five years of real estate legal experience representing buyers, sellers and lenders.

 

Find The Lowest Rate

So you’ve got your new home picked out and you’re ready to embark upon the long process of securing a home loan and ultimately taking ownership of your dream home. Armed with that excitement, you take to the Internet in hopes of uncovering a hidden interest rate nugget, that low rate that other people have overlooked and that you have found through persistence and effort. Well, as you embark on that trip, there are some things to keep in mind during the pursuit for the lowest interest rate possible.

There are probably thousands of web sites offering financial data that can be pertinent to your search, so it is important to quickly cut through them all and pick one that seems to be at least somewhat reputable and has easy-to-access information. You’ll probably want to focus your search on a 30-yeark, fixed-rate mortgage to get a barometer of the interest rate climate initially.

There are many sites out there that will go into detail on interest rate fluctuation but finding one with graphs that can show you the trend of that rate over time will provide you with a great piece of ammunition when trying to determine what the short term market might do and what kind of interest rate would, in the end, be a good one for the time frame you’re looking at.

In addition, there are scores of financial articles written every day about the state of the real estate market and doing some reading on the current state of the market will help you greatly in your pursuit for a low interest rate. Sites like the Wall Street Journal online and other respected newspapers usually publish their full financial sections online. Google News and other outlets can additionally offer a slew of recent financial articles with a search or two.

Each loan has its own special set of financial aspects, so comparing them can be difficult at first glance. Thankfully, there are sites out there that will do it for you and doing a search for financial loan comparisons will give you a few good results. By putting in some information about you and your financial status, you can get some loan offers back that are tailored to your situation and can be compared against each other. This is a great step to help save time that might otherwise be spent deciphering the many loan options available through a multitude of lending agencies.

Finally, be thorough in your search. If you are truly looking to get a full picture of the loans available to you, contacting your local institutions (banks and credit unions) is a great step in the process and sometimes the added benefit of supporting local business or having a nearby branch office can make up for an interest rate shortcoming. It is up to you to assign priority to something like that.

Interest rates are important but while you’ve set out to pursue the lowest rate possible, you might find that there are other benefits you haven’t considered that are important as well. These aspects should also make their way into your loan comparison as things like convenience, reliability and other factors differ from lender to lender. Decide what is important to you and what concessions you would make to accommodate one of those other desires.

Finding the lowest interest rate possible is a noble goal and with the avalanche of online information at the fingertips of anyone with an Internet connection, finding that rate is easier now that in the past. However, as you go through your search, keep in mind that a mortgage is more than just an interest rate and remain open to other benefits that might offset a bit of a higher rate.

This is another original article by Joe Lane, co-owner of The Lane Real Estate Team at http://www.joelane.com/. Are you looking for an experienced Tri City WA Real Estate agency? With 20 years of service based, business experience, Joe and Colleen Lane work hard to serve home buyers and sellers for the Tri Cities of Washington’s Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, and surrounding areas.

Upgrading to the house of your dreams


(ARA) – The real estate market is still in a state of limbo, which has many homeowners staying in place and looking for ways to make their current abode the most comfortable it can be. Real estate agents expect the market to continue to be flat in 2012, according to ActiveRain Corp, a real estate social network. Because they’re not selling, homeowners are looking at remodeling rooms, changing out decorating schemes and in some cases, even adding on to the home.

Incorporating a new look into the home – whether it’s in the kitchen, bedroom or bathroom – can really change the feel of the house. Upgrading a bathroom is a great place to start, because it’s a smaller room and is used by both occupants and guests.  A remodel can also help you save money on your utility bills. With a new bathroom adding a spa-like feel to your home, you may even rethink your desire to move when the housing economy turns around.

Here are some tips to changing the bathroom of your home into a beautiful and comfortable space:

* Vanity: Used for hand washing, preening in the mirror and brushing teeth, the vanity is one item in the bathroom that is the center of activity. Add an artistic – and economical – touch to your vanity with TOTO’s Wyeth Faucet, characterized by its refined good looks. When on, this budget-friendly, universal design faucet runs a mere 1.5 gallons of water per minute, earning it the green WaterSense label. In addition to the faucet, consider upgrading your mirror with a model that combines beauty and elegance in the room.

* Walls: A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in changing the look and feel of a room. Don’t forget about the ceiling. Even if you only give it a new white coat, the fresh look can make all the difference. Choose a paint that handles high humidity well to give your upgrade a longer lifespan.

* Toilet: The toilet tends to be the largest water consumption appliance in homes. But replacing your older toilet with TOTO’s 1G, a one-gallon per flush ultra high-efficiency toilet, can really affect your utility bills. This gravity-fed toilet uses Double Cyclone Flushing technology to provide excellent performance and exceptional bowl cleansing action to create a green, clean flushing system that saves you money, water and time cleaning the toilet, always a thankless task.

As you upgrade your toilet, don’t stop with just installing a high-efficiency, self-cleansing toilet. Bring the spa to your own home and consider upgrading your toilet with TOTO’s Washlet S350e or S300e, which turns a toilet into a warm-water personal cleansing unit. These new additions to the Washlet family use eWater+ technology, which is applied after each flush and once every eight hours when the unit is not in use, disinfect the bowl, reducing the need for harsh chemicals during cleaning, which saves money and is better for the environment.

* Flooring: High humidity often found in bathrooms can quickly age the flooring, causing peeling and even cracking of dated linoleum. Plus, modern flooring products are much higher quality, and are built to withstand more traffic and high humidity environments. Consider using ceramic, clay or stone tiles, or laminate in stone or wood styles to modernize the look of your bathroom.

Upgrading a bathroom will transform your entire house with a new look and feel. And if you love the change enough, you might decide to continue the upgrade to another room, like the kitchen or master bedroom, turning your home into the beautiful house of your dreams.

Can The Internet Be Your Agent?

Can The Internet Be Your Agent?

The number of consumers that go online each year to research at least a portion of a new home search is steadily growing year after year. As the internet gains an even bigger foothold in the United States, its use is likely to steadily grow and accomplish much of that growth in unexpected areas. One of those areas has been the selling of property online.

For some home sellers, selling a home online merges the excitement of the internet with the ability to control the marketing of the property from start to finish. To be clear, having a real estate agent or at the very least a real estate lawyer throughout any selling process will most certainly help you as move along the course of action. Particular if you are on your first home sale, a real estate agent can offer invaluable advice and handle your transaction in a professional manner.

That being said, many sellers will still look at an internet sale as a great way to personally market the property and save a bit on real estate fees in the long run. Are you really ready to sell your property online though? There are some questions you need to ask yourself before you pursue an internet sale.

Am I Comfortable With Online-Only Advertising?

The best way to get a person online and looking at the materials on your property is to catch them while they’re online already. Of course, online advertising is the best way to do so. Some sellers are uncomfortable pursuing only web-based advertising sources and would rather maintain a local perspective through newspaper listings. Figure out which consumer you are before embarking on an internet sale.

Will The Home Show Well Online?

If you are committed to an online-only sale, you will need sparkling pictures of your property in order to convince a buyer to pursue an online real estate transaction with your property. For most people that put their homes for sale online, professional photos serve this purpose well.

A professional photographer will know how to showcase your property and get the most out of the shots taken. These photos will take the place of an initial showing for many online buyers, so ensuring that they make a great first impression is critical to the online selling process.

Can I Transition From The Internet To Personal Contact Efficiently?

Just as a newspaper ad or other marketing material, the internet is merely a tool to help you sell your property, not a replacement real estate agent. The internet will not negotiate for you or find you a title company automatically. It will also not be the only way you deal with a potential buyer and indeed very quickly a potential buyer will want to talk to you to put a voice with the home instead of a web address.

For most sellers, the internet can be a great tool for the selling of a home, but probably not the entire process. With local regulations to be considered and a negotiation process to endure (possibly with a buyer’s agent on the other end), a real estate expert of some kind like a real estate agent or real estate lawyer will still need to be involved in the transaction.

However, if you feel that selling your home on the internet is an exciting prospect and doing so will motivate you better to put time and effort into the sale, it can be a great option. As long as you remember that it is ultimately a mechanism to put you in personal contact with a potential buyer and not the end-all solution to your real estate sale, you can create a positive, efficient, fun internet selling process for your property.

This is another original article by Joe Lane, co-owner of The Lane Real Estate Team at http://www.joelane.com/. Are you looking for an experienced Tri City WA Real Estate agency? With 20 years of service based, business experience, Joe and Colleen Lane work hard to serve home buyers and sellers for the Tri Cities of Washington’s Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, and surrounding areas.