Wednesday, November 14, 2018

'Tis the Season (to Sell): 6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Take Your Home Off the Market for the Holidays

As we careen at warp speed toward Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all of the joyous (read: stressful) festivities in between, you might be tempted to take your home off the market—or hold off on listing it—until after the new year. After all, you’re swamped with cooking, shopping, and decorating, and the last thing you need is a bunch of potential buyers traipsing through your house, right?
Wrong, says Tg Glazer, branch vice president and managing broker of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Bernardsville, NJ.
“It’s a huge, huge mistake to either remove your home from the market during the holiday season, or to not put your home on the market if you're getting ready to sell,” Glazer says.
Why? The first reason is painfully obvious: Your house can't actually sell if it’s off the market, says Nora Ling Lane, executive vice president for Allie Beth Allman & Associates, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate in Dallas.
“I'm pretty adamant about leaving a home on during the holidays,” Lane says. “Sure, people are busy, but I'd rather buyers see a house messy with baking in the kitchen than miss the house. Let somebody else take their house off the market and miss out.”

1. Your listing will rise to the top

If homeowners in your hood take a break from the market because they don't want to bother keeping their properties in show-ready condition over the holidays, that makes for reduced inventory. And that means buyers who are actively searching will be more likely to uncover your listing.
“During the busy spring market, for example, you have way more competition than during the holidays," Glazer explains. "So you're much more likely to get your home sold when you're not competing with more potential sellers."

2. Your house looks (and smells) amazing during the holidays

With festive greenery, the sweet aroma of cookies baking, and a warm fire in the hearth, you've got built-in ambiance—meaning you can appeal to buyers’ senses in a way that you can't during other times of the year, Glazer says.
“With that nice, homey feeling, homes tend to show a lot better during the holidays, while making people feel really good,” he explains.
Plus, chances are good you'll tap into some buyer sentimentality: During the holidays, we tend to feel nostalgic about family, home, and memories. That can cause a nesting instinct to kick in—and that often results in a sale, Glazer says.
Don’t go overboard with decorations, though.
“I tell sellers not to put a Santa Claus in every corner; you don't want clutter,” Lane cautions.
And remember: Buyers need to imagine their furniture in each room, so avoid blocking important selling features such as large windows and fireplace mantels.
And if you live in a colder climate, be sure walkways and stairs are always shoveled clean, and turn your thermostat up before each showing to keep things toasty.
“When you walk in and it's warm and cozy, that helps in the selling process,” Lane says.

3. Holiday buyers aren't messing around

Yes, things typically slow down in the weeks leading up to the holidays. But there are still people actively looking for homes and ready to pounce—or those who just entered the market on a short timeline and need to buy fast.
“The people who are out there looking at homes during the holidays are serious buyers,” Glazer says. “And in areas where you have bad weather, these buyers are going to weather the storms—pun intended—to visit your property.”
Potential buyers who take the time to set up home tours during the holiday season are also more motivated to move forward if they like what they see, Lane notes.
“These are not tire-kickers just looking around because it's fun; those are all weeded out,” she says.

4. Families often search during school breaks

Speaking of serious buyers: Relocating families often capitalize on the holidays as a time to move without tumult on the kids. They want to find the right property, have stress-free negotiations, and get their brood settled before school starts up again in January, Lane says.
“It's a good time to show your house to people from out of town,” she says.

5. It can be easier to close a transaction in December

Buyers can often get their loans processed and approved faster in November or December than they would in the traditionally busy spring months, says Bill Gassett, a Realtor® with Re/Max Executive Realty in Hopkinton, MA. It all comes down to the holiday slowdown: Fewer home sales are on deck to process, plus lenders are motivated to close deals before the end of the year.
“I’ve seen from personal experience that because of the low volume of business, things move quicker with lenders,” says Gassett, who has been in the business for 31 years.

6. The holidays give you a chance to adjust your selling strategy

If your home's been languishing on the market for several weeks—or months (eek!)—you might be feeling antsy. Maybe the best solution is to take it off the market and try again after the new year.
Fight the urge! You're better off staying the course and using this slow time to tweak your selling strategy. Would home staging draw in buyers? Do you need to tackle that paint job you'd been putting off? Should you reassess your asking price?
“Generally, the reason a house does not sell is because it’s not priced right, and if it’s been sitting on the market, nothing will change over a 30-day period if you're pricing it the same,” Glazer says. “You're much better off getting the price in line with where it should be, and leaving it on through the holidays.”
Lane recently had clients who wanted to take their home off the market during the holidays and relist in January. She talked them out of it, had several showings, and signed the contract on Christmas Eve.
“I've sold more houses in December than in most months," Lane says. "It's always a busy month for me."
Let The McLeod Group Network sell your home this holiday season! Contact us today at 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com.
By: Realtor.com, Wendy Helfenbaum

Monday, November 12, 2018

Embarrassed by Your Kitchen? Try These Cheap, Fast Fixes

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and nothing can bring you down—except, of course, a kitchen that's too small, too dated, too messy, or otherwise not fit to be seen by others (or on Instagram).

If your lackluster kitchen has you reluctant to host holiday festivities in your home, you're not alone. Home shame is real, and according to one survey of 1,000 homeowners, 61% of adults in the United States have admitted to not inviting guests into their home because they're embarrassed of what lies inside.

But you don't have to sit out from the hosting rotation this holiday season. We asked the experts for quick and easy solutions to your biggest kitchen problems, and their answers will have you sending out invites in no time.

Scuffed counters
Your kitchen counters are going to get a lot of attention during your holiday gathering—after all, that's where you're going to lay out that delicious spread, right? So what are you to do if yours are scratched, scuffed, or bear the marks of a few unfortunately hot pots and pans?
Interior designer Mikel Welch, of HGTV's "Design Star" and TLC's "Trading Spaces," says the fix is easier than you might think—and it doesn't involve installing new counters.

"As an on-camera designer, I often have to mask and camouflage things to look 'camera ready,'" says Welch. "You can do the same thing in your kitchen by creating a vignette of holiday decor nestled right over the top of any countertop imperfections."

Dated cabinets
Your cabinets may be straight out of the 1960s, but it's not the end of the world. Your best option, according to Sherwin-Williams director of product information Rick Watson, is to paint your cabinets.

"Paint is a great, affordable way to refresh old cabinets," he says. "It helps to cover up imperfections and stains, and you can choose from thousands of colors. However, if you want a professional, lasting finish, it requires a lot of prep work."
If you don't have time to remove cabinet doors, sand, and paint, you're not out of options.
"For a simpler update, adding new cabinet hardware can help bring them back to life," says Build.com's in-house interior designer, Lauren O’Donnell, from Chico, CA. "I often see cabinets without hardware, and I always see that as a easy opportunity to add a little flair."

Botched backsplash
A backsplash is supposed to catch the eye, but what if yours draws the eye right to a mislaid or missing tile?

"Counter backsplash can make or break a kitchen," Welch says. "Try a peel-and-stick backsplash applied directly over your botched backsplash job. There’s no grout, spaces or level needed."

For an even simpler solution, designer Susan Serra, president of Susan Serra Associates in Northport, NY, says you can always just hide those embarrassing spots on your backsplash.

"My favorite trick is to put out a decorative item or a small appliance to block the offending area," she says.

Mismatched appliances
It's not often that all your appliances stop working all at the same time, so there's a good chance the ones in your kitchen don't exactly match. If they're really different—completely different colors, for example—Welch says there's no need to purchase new ones just to make them harmonize.

"You can easily fix this problem with stainless steel contact paper that can be cut and affixed to your appliances in a jiffy," says Welch. "Within two hours, all of your family hand-me-down appliances will look like they just rolled in off a delivery truck."

Worn or cracked vinyl flooring
Redoing floors is a major expense, especially with the holidays right around the corner. But even if your floors leave a lot to be desired, you don't have to rush into a major construction job.

"If your vinyl floors are cracking, chances are the flooring is old. Which probably means the pattern is dated as well. Give new life to your floor by covering it up with peel-and-stick wood-plank vinyl floors," suggests Welch.

Lack of counter space
For some homeowners, the scariest part of holiday hosting is trying to find a place to set out all the food. Designer Leslie Saul, president of Leslie Saul & Associates, says this problem can be solved with a quick online shopping spree.

"Wayfair has many rolling islands that add counter space and can store things that you used to keep on the counter," she says, adding that this one purchase extends your counter space in two ways—by adding more surface area, and by giving you a place to store some of the clutter on your existing counters.

Scratched-up sink
White kitchen sinks are gorgeous—at least, until you use them a few times. After you've washed a few loads of dishes, they start to look scratched, stained, and a lot less attractive. But they don't have to stay that way.

"If sink stains and scratches are a problem, then you need to head down to your local hardware store and pay the paint aisle a visit," says Welch. "There are several easy to apply tub paints and tile refinishing kits that will have your sink Martha Stewart-ready in a quick weekend."

Lauren McKinney, director of marketing at Judd Builders in Asheville, NC, had an even easier solution. "Buy stainless steel grids to hide scratches and stains, if they're only on the bottom of the sink," she suggests.

Scratched table
The last thing you want to do is have friends and family sit around a scratched-up old table for the big meal. DIY expert and blogger at Heathered NestHeather Thibodeau, has a simple solution you might not have thought of.

"Grab some crayons! Yep. Crayons work great in a pinch for covering scuffs, chips and dings in furniture," she says.

If you're not comfortable turning your table into a coloring project, McKinney suggests adding a tablecloth—it's a perfect opportunity to both hide the imperfections and add a touch of holiday cheer.

Let the McLeod Group Network help you find a home with the kitchen of your dreams! Contact us today - 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com.

By: Realtor.com, Whitney Coy

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Buying a Home? 7 Unsettling Emotions You'll Feel Before the Deal Is Done

Buying a home may be a financial transaction, but it's a highly emotional one, too. And while there are highs—like the moments you know you've found The One or you get the keys to your new home—you may also go through periods of high anxiety or hopelessness before you close the deal.

Ask any homeowner about their experiences buying a home, and you’ll hear a similar refrain: Purchasing property is utterly nerve-racking. With so many moving pieces, buying a home can feel like a high-stakes juggling act—only you don’t have time to practice.
As a real estate agent over the past four years, I’ve specialized in working with first-time buyers. Although each home sale is unique, I’ve noticed buyers experience some of the same ups and downs during the home-buying process.

Here are seven things only home buyers understand.

1. Online photos can be deceiving
Odds are good you’ll be spending a huge chunk of time looking at properties online, but listing photos can be misleading. Professional photographers and listing agents alike are capable of disguising flaws of all shapes and sizes. The only way to truly know what a house looks like is to see it in person.

2. Open houses are fun—until they're not
Going to open houses gives you the opportunity to see properties without having to deal with the hassle of coordinating showings. However, it’s easy to get worn out. If you’re serious about buying a home, you’re attending open houses every weekend—which can get quite cumbersome, especially if you'd prefer to be out brunching with friends or attending Junior's soccer matches. The important thing to remember is that your house hunt won't last forever, in spite of how it may feel in the thick of things (see our next point).

3. Buying a home can feel like a never-ending slog

Finding a great home—one that meets your needs and (hopefully) checks off a lot of your “wants”—takes time. With all of my past clients, I showed each of them at least five properties before we made an offer on a home. (One buyer looked at probably close to 30 homes before we found The One.)

The lesson: You have to be patient, because it could take a while for you to find a house that you love.

4. Anxiously waiting to hear back on an offer

No one likes playing the waiting game after submitting an offer on a home but, unfortunately, this is simply part of the home-buying process. Whether or not you're going up against other offers, the seller needs time to review each bid carefully. Furthermore, each state has its own legal contract that home buyers must use when making an offer on a property, and some jurisdictions require you to submit a mound of paperwork.

Once you’ve submitted an offer, though, the best thing you can do is wait. To minimize the pain though, I typically recommend home buyers attach an addendum stating that their offer expires in 24 hours. I do this for two reasons: It prevents the seller from being able to use your offer to shop around for a better one, and it gives you an exit strategy if you decide you want to walk away and look for another home.

5. Disclosures and home inspections? Terrifying

Unless you’re buying a brand-new house, the seller is required to provide you with property disclosures about the home’s condition. These documents can be a bit unsettling, as can a home inspection.

But don't fret: These documents err on the side of too much detail, and often make a problem seem far worse than it really is. Make sure to talk them over with your real estate agent so you know what the repair work will truly entail.

6. The disappointment of not getting everything you want

If you’re buying a house, you'd better be prepared to negotiate. When you submit a lowball offer on a property, you should expect the seller to make a counteroffer. Both parties may have to make concessions in order to agree on a sales price.

request for home repairs is another big point of contention. Home inspectors are trained to find every single flaw with a house, no matter how big or small. If the inspection reveals a major issue (e.g., a cracked foundation), that should absolutely be something you discuss with the sellers to see who will pay for repairs. However, you shouldn’t nickel-and-dime the sellers by asking them to fix every minor thing that’s wrong with the house; if you do, the deal could fall through.

Note: I always recommend including a home inspection contingency when making an offer on a property, unless the house is a short sale or it’s being sold as is, in which case you don’t typically have room to ask for repairs. A typical home inspection costs $300 to $500.

7. Getting a hand cramp at closing from signing all those forms

At settlement, home buyers sign a lot of paperwork to make the sale official—meaning your hand will definitely be sore by the time you’re finished writing your John Hancock on the last document. But trust me, it's all par for the course—and well worth it, as I've seen time and again home buyers' eyes light up once they're handed the keys.

Let's get together and find your new home! We will be here every step of the way. 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com.

By: Realtor.com, Daniel Bortz 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Taking Fear Out of the Mortgage Process

A considerable number of potential buyers shy away from jumping into the real estate market due to their uncertainties about the buying process. A specific cause for concern tends to be mortgage qualification.

For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be!
In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need a down payment (the average down payment on all loans last year was 5%, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income, and good credit history.

Throughout the entire home buying process, you will interact with many different professionals who will all perform necessary roles. These professionals are also valuable resources for you.

Once you’re ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps that Freddie Mac suggests to follow:
  1. Find out your current credit history & score – even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO Score® of all closed loans in September was 731, according to Ellie Mae.
  2. Start gathering all of your documentation – income verification (such as W-2 forms or tax returns), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings).
  3. Contact a professional – your real estate agent will be able to recommend a loan officer who can help you develop a spending plan, as well as help you determine how much home you can afford.
  4. Consult with your lender – he or she will review your income, expenses, and financial goals in order to determine the type and amount of mortgage you qualify for.
  5. Talk to your lender about pre-approval – a pre-approval letter provides an estimate of what you might be able to borrow (provided your financial status doesn’t change) and demonstrates to home sellers that you are serious about buying!
Bottom Line
Do your research, reach out to professionals, stick to your budget, and be sure that you are ready to take on the financial responsibilities of becoming a homeowner.

Let The McLeod Group Network assist you with all your home-buying needs! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com.

By: KCM Crew

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

How Long Does Underwriting Take—and Can You Speed It Up?

How long does underwriting take? Underwriting—the process in which mortgage lenders verify your assets to get a home loan—can last a little as two to three days, but typically takes over a week to finish.
Underwriting happens right before you close on a house, so timing can be crucial, particularly if you want to move in by a certain date. But make no mistake: Underwriting is unavoidable. All loans go through an underwriting process before the lender can promise you the funds for a purchase.
While you might have daily contact with your mortgage officer, the underwriting process is long, somewhat secretive, and seemingly mysterious. And very, very stressful! Here's why it takes so long, and a way to speed up the process.

What is underwriting?

Your mortgage officer typically reviews buyers' tax forms, paystubs, and other basic documents before issuing buyers a prequalification. Underwriting takes a fine-toothed comb through every form, deposit, and credit report, to ensure your credit-worthiness. An underwriter's job is to make sure you meet the lender's guidelines, confirming and assessing your income, debt, and credit.
Most of the mortgage process is relatively transparent, but underwriting takes place behind closed doors. Someone at the bank or a lender will relay any requests for documents or further explanations.

What does an underwriter look at?

The specific documents requested will vary based on the type of loan you are receiving (an FHA loan, for example, often requires more paperwork). Expect to provide your tax returns, W-2s, bank statements, and paystubs.
You can also expect to send additional documentation every time an underwriter has a question. For instance, your bank statement might show a recent $2,000 deposit. Youknow it's a birthday gift from your dear grandmother, but the underwriter doesn't. You will probably have to write a letter of explanation detailing the gift.
Underwriting can be frustrating, because the questions seem obvious. Don't worry—many underwriters find it frustrating, too.
"The banks also give almost no room for underwriters to make exceptions using their judgment," says Emily Rees, a former underwriter. "Underwriters are terrified of getting a loan audited and having a bad score, so they frequently will over-ask for documentation to cover their behinds, rather than stand confident in a decision and moving on."

How to speed up underwriting

The best way to speed up the process is to make sure your paperwork is complete, which should allow your loan to sail through in as little as two to three days—if you're lucky, even just one day.
But if more documents are required—as is true for the vast majority of loans, even for those with perfect credit—expect to wait at least a week for the underwriter to issue a "conditional approval."
Although the underwriting process can be frustrating, just know that you're near the finish line. If the underwriter only wants a few additional documents, you should be "clear to close" soon enough!
For more smart financial news and advice, head over to MarketWatch.
By: Realtor.com, Jamie Wiebe

4145 Geranium Loop NE: Newer Geranium Meadows Home at an Affordable Price!

Salem-Keizer OR Real Estate For Sale
4145 Geranium Loop NE, Salem, OR  97305












Opportunity is knocking – here is your chance to live in a newer home at an affordable price in a great neighborhood! This Geranium Meadows 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home offers an open layout filled with large windows, fresh paint, new carpeting, a lovely kitchen, recessed lighting, neutral colors, plus a low maintenance yard and attached 1 car garage. Illuminated with natural light, the large, open living and dining room is warm and inviting creating the perfect atmosphere for casual everyday living and entertaining.  Guests can relax at the breakfast bar while you wine and dine them from this stylish and functional kitchen. An abundance of beautiful cabinetry and tons of counter space make meal prep a breeze. Heading upstairs you will find the three generously sized bedrooms including the master suite with a walk in closet and private bath. Relax in the fenced backyard with plenty of room to BBQ on the patio. Why pay rent when you can afford to own this beautiful home! Sale subject to 1031 Exchange at no expense to buyer.

The McLeod Group Network has distinguished themselves as a leader in the Salem Oregon real estate market. As a full service, real estate team - focused on working with our Seller and Buyer clients to help achieve their real estate goals!

We bring a keen eye for the details of buying or selling a Salem Oregon home and seemingly boundless determination and energy, which is why our clients benefit from our unique brand of real estate service. Rooted in Tradition, focused on the Future –The McLeod Group Network will help make the most of your Salem Oregon real estate experience. With over 40 years of combined experience, you can rest assured that your real estate transaction will be handled and cared for with the utmost respect and attention to detail. Give us a call today 503-798-4001 and discover the difference we can make during your family's move.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search

In today’s real estate market, with low inventory dominating the conversation in many areas of the country, it can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared.
In a recent realtor.com article entitled, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind,” the author highlights some steps that first-time homebuyers can take to help carry their excitement of buying a home throughout the whole process.
1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search
One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.
This step will also help you narrow your search based on your budget and won’t leave you disappointed if the home you tour, and love, ends up being outside your budget!
2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’
Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?
Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like and then qualify them as ‘must-haves’, ‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help keep you focused on what’s most important.
3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood You Want to Live In
Every neighborhood has its own charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, the article suggests test-driving the area. Make sure that the area meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”
4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It
Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code, doesn’t mean that you need to tour every listing in that zip code.
An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”
5. Document Your Home Visits
Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy and documenting what you love and don’t love about each property you visit. They even go as far as to suggest snapping a photo of the ‘for sale’ sign on the way into the property to help keep the listings divided in your photo gallery.
Making notes on the listing sheet as you tour the property will also help you remember what the photos mean, or what you were feeling while touring the home.
Bottom Line
In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.

Let The McLeod Group Network help you get started! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com.

By: KCM Crew