Choosing An Agent, Preparing For Sale, Preparing to Sell, Selling Tips, The Listing Process, The Selling Process, Tips During the Listing

Did You Have A Failed Listing?

  • Why do you think your home didn’t sell?​
  • If you got feedback, what was it?​
  • How was your home marketed?​
  • Were any showings refused?​
  • Did you receive or refuse any offers?​
  • Was the price adjusted? If no, why not?​
  • Did you receive regular progress reports?​
  • Were there any public and/or broker opens?​
  • Did you have a professional photographer?​
  • Did you have a video walk through done?​
  • Are you still committed to selling the property?​
  • Have you made recent updates?​
  • What is the debt against the property? ​

Buying Tips, First Time Buyer, Preparing to Sell, Selling Tips, The Buying Process, The Selling Process, Tips During the Listing, Tips For the Buyer

Should I Hire An Attorney

  • To protect your interests, it is advised to conduct your real estate transaction with a NJ Real Estate Attorney.  The attorney will:​
    • Review your contract of sale agreement within your 3 day right of review period.​
    • Assist in negotiations of the conditions of the sale.​
    • Revise the contract of sale agreement to protect you and your money.​
    • Assist in inspections reports and negotiations.​
    • Ensure the contract of sale is followed and satisfied per all deadlines and that all conditions are met.​
    • Assist the Title company and real estate agent with closing proceedings.​
    • Attend the closing to represent your interests.​
Buying Tips, Preparing For Sale, The Selling Process, Tips During the Listing

Yikes! What If Your Home Inspector Missed Something Huge?

Your offer has been accepted, and there’s just one more obstacle between you and your new home: the inspection. It can be a stressful event for both buyers and sellers as they wait for the report, hoping no major issues will surface that could sideline the deal.

But what if you make it through that day, let out a big sigh of relief, seal the deal, and then a few weeks or months later find an issue in your new home—a bat infestation, a leaky roof, a CDC-level mold problem—that the home inspector didn’t catch? Just how much peace of mind does a home inspection really buy you?


Find out how you can protect yourself.


Start by finding the right home inspector

Sadly, there’s no insurance home buyers can take out to protect themselves from a faulty inspection. As such, the most important step home buyers can take to prevent that scenario is to select a reputable inspection company.

Make sure you choose a firm that has been in the residential inspection business for a while and has a strong reputation (real estate agents and lenders often have recommendations).

But most important, your home inspector should have adequate insurance.

Keith Balsiger, president of Balsiger Insurance in Las Vegas, says buyers should ask for a current certificate of insurance that shows the inspection company has both general liability insurance and professional liability insurance (also known as errors and omissions insurance). This is what would potentially cover you as a buyer if there was a major “miss” on the part of the inspection.

If you want to be extra safe, you can call the insurance agency of the inspection company to confirm the coverage on the certificate is still valid.

You also want to closely examine the terms of the liability insurance. David Reiss, professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, says some contracts will state that the company is liable only for the cost of the inspection, which won’t be much solace if you find yourself on the hook for repairs that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Ideally, you would not want there to be any limit on the inspector’s liability in case he or she was negligent in doing the inspection,” says Reiss. At the very least, make sure the limit exceeds the cost of the inspection alone.

Why buyers should attend the home inspection

As an added safeguard, buyers should be physically present during the inspection. If an inspector balks at this idea, that’s a red flag. Make sure to find out what is covered by the inspection, and if there’s anything you want the inspector to scrutinize in particular (say, you know the boiler is old or the basement has water stains, suggesting flooding issues), state that upfront.

“It’s a buyer’s job to make the most of the home inspection,” says Bryant Dunivan Jr., a real estate and consumer protection attorney in Brandon, FL. Here are some things to watch for during the inspection:

  • The inspector is working off a checklist of items that was in the contract.

  • Major systems (air conditioning, heating, water, etc.) are tested.

  • The inspector actually enters attic and crawl spaces.

  • A report complete with pictures is provided.

What to look out for in a home inspection

Robert Pellegrini Jr., president of PK Boston, a real estate law firm based in Boston, says a typical red flag disclaimer on the inspection report is a statement that there was a problem with “access” to roofs, eaves, and areas behind locked or blocked doors or crawl spaces.

“That serves to absolve the inspector of any liability,” Pellegrini says.

Urge the home seller to remove all barriers that might prevent an inspector from doing a thorough job. Some home buyers even take the process into their own hands and hire drones or robots to view inaccessible areas.

Uh-oh! You’ve closed, but there’s a problem

No matter how many precautions you take, the nightmare scenario does happen: You move in and then discover a problem. A big one. Can you bring it up with the seller? After all, sellers are required to disclose any known issues about the home.

Well, here’s the rub: Proving the seller knew about something after the fact is nearly impossible, and the legal cost involved in trying to prove it is often too steep to make an attempt.

Which brings us back to the home inspector. If you encounter a problem, bring it up with your inspector. As long as you used one with decent liability insurance that covers more than just the cost of the inspection, odds are decent you’ll be compensated for any damages. Again, you’ll have to prove it. For example, if the inspector said the roof was in good condition, but there was a leak months later during a big storm, you would have to prove that nothing happened in the intervening time that damaged the roof.

“Bottom line: You would probably need pretty clear facts on your side to win,” Reiss says.

Problems and repairs are just par for the course when you become a homeowner, but hopefully you won’t have to deal with them the minute you step in the door of your new home.


Julie Ryan Evans is an editor and writer who has covered everything from politics to pop culture and beyond. She loves running, reading, cold wine, and hot weather.

Follow @julieryanevans

The Selling Process, Tips During the Listing, Uncategorized

Things to Never Show When Staging Your Home


Selling a home is all about presentation, which is why home staging is such a big deal. A vase of flowers, a bowl of fruit—such details can really draw buyers in. And yet on the flip side, certain items lying around your home can kill any potential for a sale.

While you might think common sense would prevail and prompt people to hide this stuff, we think it’s worth reminding y’all, just in case. Before showing off your home to buyers (or any guests for that matter), make sure to stash these 10 things out of sight.

Drug paraphernalia

Let’s state the obvious, shall we? Even if it’s legal in some states, not everyone approves of marijuana. Get your 3-foot bong off the coffee table and into storage, clean out the ashtrays, and stash the rolling papers. Now is also a good time to remove the “Yes we cannabis!” posters and your stack of “High Times” in the bathroom, too.

Weed isn’t everyone’s thing, so keep evidence of it out of sight.

Mousetraps and roach motels

There’s no better way to say “This place is crawling with critters!” than to display these sure signs of aggressive pest control. Just tuck those items underneath the fridge, and pray the things they’re trying to catch don’t scuttle out when prospective buyers walk through the door.

Evidence of pest control equals this in buyers’ brains.

Cameras by the bed

If you and your partner like to make your own private videos, more power to you. Just remember to move the camera.

Any kind of sex stuff, honestly

Personal massagers, oils, condoms—pack ’em up in a box and stick it deep in your nightstand or closet. Yes, it may sound obvious, but we’ve all stumbled across these items in someone’s home at some point. Awk-waard!


We understand hunting is a hobby, and we’re not here to judge you (not much anyway). But multiple animal heads on the wall and an upright stuffed badger chillin’ in the parlor can give an otherwise great-looking room a creepy or foreboding vibe.

For buyers, a new home often means the start of a new life, or an infusion of new possibilities. Dead animals, well, they can impose a feeling of dread that can linger throughout the entire showing (and perhaps long after). And those buyers who straight-up hate hunters may make a snap judgment not to deal with you. So even if you stuffed the beloved family pet, just keep it out of sight.

Firearms and other combat weapons

If you’re a gun aficionado, make sure your rifles are tucked away in a safe. For other weapons—like combat knives, throwing stars, swords, great axes, spears—try and clear them from view, or at least put them behind glass. Preferably in a cabinet that locks.

Creepy collections

Rooms stuffed with porcelain dolls, celebrity shrines, human skulls, a vast collection of disturbing cinema—these are things that could put buyers off. Way off! You want them to envision their own lives and family in the house; showcasing a collection of something that could be in a museum of medical oddities will only make people think of “Silence of the Lambs.”

Anything political

With a particularly contentious political season in full swing, you should get rid of any kind of party affiliation or presidential endorsement. The last thing you want to do is bring politics into a home sale, or have that topic come up at closing. Do a political purge, and get rid of any party signage.


You’re great, really. But when you’re showing your home, you need to make yourself scarce. Seriously. It’s something real estate agents really hate.


The departed

Not the movie—we’re referring to your loved ones. An urn carrying ashes of the deceased framed by family photos is a touching tribute, but unfortunately not something a lot of buyers want to see. You don’t have to sweep your loved one under the rug, but you may want to temporarily relocate them when home buyers come around.

After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Realtor has the following insight:

When people come to tour your home, interested buyers are going to not only see what is on display, but potentially what isn’t out in the open as well.  For example, cabinets, closets and the likes to check out what storage space they will acquire if they buy your home.

Preparing to Sell, The Selling Process, Tips During the Listing, Uncategorized

What Is Fair Market Value? How Much a Home Is Really Worth

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, one question that’s always front and center is the price: How much is a home worth? That’s a tricky question to answer, but probably the best starting point is to know a home’s fair market value, or FMV.

A home’s fair market value is the price it would sell for in a perfectly logical world—one where both buyer and seller are acting of their own free will (in other words, they aren’t desperate to strike a deal), are reasonably aware of a home’s good and bad points, and could just as easily choose a different house that suits their needs better.

In such a world, market forces reign. Buyers and sellers negotiate up or down from their various positions and agree on a home’s price. Deal done. All is good!

Fair market value vs. market value

A home’s fair market value is similar to a home’s market value—what it would fetch on the open market—but is used in specialized circumstances where the concept of fairness is important to evoke so that the home’s price carries more weight.

“FMV is typically brought into the real estate conversation whenever a sales price is being scrutinized,” says Robert Pellegrini, a real estate lawyer in Boston. Here are some circumstances where you’ll likely hear about a home’s fair market value:

  • Property tax assessments.

  • Home insurance claims—if a house suffers damage from a fire, flood, or other disaster, the insurer will look to FMV to determine compensation.

  • Refinancing a home loan—the bank will typically use a home’s fair market value as a measure of how much the home is worth to determine refinancing terms.

  • Estate sales—if the homeowner has died and a relative wants to purchase the property, the court will look at FMV to determine a price.

  • If the government wants to “buy out” a homeowner to use that land to, say, build a highway or school, the owner is typically entitled to be compensated at fair market value.

  • Short sale—this is when a home is worth less than the owners owe on their mortgage. In this case, the owners must persuade the lender to let them sell the home for some amount that is less than the balance of the home loan they still owe. “When a bank does allow this, the bank wants to make sure that the short-selling purchase price is at least FMV for the property,” says Pellegrini. Because, of course, no one likes a total loss!

How is fair market value determined?

“Let’s be clear about one thing: There is no exact mathematical formula that calculates fair market value,” says mortgage lender Michael Sema, CEO of Get a Rate. “Information is key, and the best way to obtain a home’s true FMV is … by hiring a professional licensed appraiser.”

To determine fair market value, a licensed appraiser gathers and measures the qualities of a home, such as its size, condition, neighborhood, and other factors. This information is used by lenders, attorneys, insurance companies, and other agencies to help determine a fair price.

All that said, no one ever proclaimed that life (or the housing market) is fair—which is why homes may often sell for an amount far different from this figure.

If, say, a family is desperate to buy a certain home because it’s in a coveted school district and their twins are entering kindergarten that fall, they might be willing to pay substantially over a home’s fair market value. Or if a home seller has fallen ill and has to sell quickly to cover medical bills, he or she might be willing to settle for less than a home’s FMV.

But in an ideal world, fair market value is the benchmark, and probably the closest number to what a home is truly worth.

At its heart, fair market value helps prevent home sellers and buyers from being taken advantage of, and is a good thing for both parties. And it’s worth knowing the term in case you feel like someone’s stance on a home’s price is off base. Just point out, “I think that’s pretty far above/below this home’s fair market value.” Who knows? If you’re right, this argument could persuade the seller or buyer to budge.

After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Realtor has the following insight:

You may list your home for $300k in a market where other virtually similar homes are going for $270k. You may have a buyer come in and offer you list price.  However, will it appraise?  Need to know your NJ home value?  Contact a real estate professional for a free comparative market analysis today!

Choosing An Agent, The Selling Process, Tips During the Listing, Uncategorized

How to Spark a Bidding War For Your Home

The housing market is on fire! Jonathan Smoke, our chief economist, describes it as the strongest real estate market we’ve seen in a decade. Prices are at an all-time high, and still homes are flying off the proverbial shelves. But even in a fast-paced market like this, there are no guarantees for an individual home.

So how can a seller incite the kind of bidding war that pushes a home’s price well over asking? We talked to experienced real estate agents for advice on how to get buyers to turn up and bid in droves

Price your home to move

One bidding war basic is to price low to sell high.

 “Pricing the property below its true value can be scary, but it will attract a lot of attention to the property and generate multiple showings in the first few days on market,” says Morgan Franklin with United Real Estate Lexington in Kentucky. “Ideally, that will drive the multiple-offer scenario that will yield a price above listing.”

But how low should you go? Even just 5% below market value will tempt buyers with the prospect of a deal and cause a stampede to your front door. Of course, the success of this pricing strategy depends on your particular market, so talk to your agent and understand the circumstances before making a decision.

Set a deadline for offers

People don’t want to miss out, and setting a deadline can light a fire under procrastinators. But this strategy isn’t for everyone.

“You only want to do this when you know you are priced right, have a ton of showings lined up, and have heard from agents that offers will come in,” warns Liane Jamason, broker associate at Smith & Associates Real Estate, in Tampa Bay, FL.

She usually waits until she has at least two offers on the table and then adds a note in the MLS and alerts all parties she knows are showing the home. The verbiage she uses is something like, “We are in receipt of multiple offers. Seller has requested all buyers submit their highest and best offers by Friday at 5 p.m.” She says that a recent deadline received 12 offers, with the highest one at $16,000 over asking price.

Take a different view of listing photos

A picture is worth a thousand words, but listings usually showcase them in the same boring way, says Whitney Nicely, principal broker with Whitney Buys Houses in Knoxville, TN.

“Most people feature a straight-on picture of the front of the house,” she explains. But other angles could be much more eye-catching. One option is a corner picture, which allows the potential buyer to easily see two sides of the house. Or, select a picture highlighting a special feature—such as your kitchen, to allow the potential buyer to imagine cooking for the family, or your glorious backyard, to highlight outdoor living opportunities.

“A potential buyer is not always going to scroll through 36 pictures, so like my mama always told me, if you’ve got it, you’d better flaunt it,” she says.

Fuel buyers’ interest ahead of time

Jamason is a believer in advance marketing to spark interest in a property before it is listed. Use all your social media channels, and distribute a mass email to contacts, potential clients, and agents alike to spread the word that your home is coming on the market soon.

Another strategy is to put the home in the multiple listing service, but do not allow any showings until the open house that weekend, suggests Realtor® Tracey Hampson of Century 21 Troop Real Estate in Santa Clarita, CA.

“It creates a little frenzy, because everyone wants what they can’t have,” she says. “So if you show them this beautiful home and then say, ‘but you can’t see it until the open house,’ it drives people crazy and creates activity and buzz for a listing.”

Stage an over-the-top open house

To stoke a bidding war, don’t be shy about going big for the open house—which is second nature to David Parnes and James Harris of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing,” who recently threw a lavish open house for a Hollywood Hills home inspired by the Burning Man festival.

The extravagant party featured an open bar, caterers, dancers, DJs, costumes, tarot card readers, body and face painters, human lampshades, and confetti machines.

“The party was insane and ending up generating numerous bids that sold the house for over asking price,” Parnes said. “Building buzz around a property helps to generate offers.”

Of course, celeb glamour isn’t the only way to up your open house game. Jamason recommends a “mega open house,” with hundreds of signs around town, a band, an art showing or other unique feature, and noteworthy food.

“Really go above and beyond to have the house filled with people,” she says. “The more people who see it, the more interest you will generate.”

After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Realtor has the following insight:
Selling your NJ home fast is possible and every sellers dream!  Having a bidding war? Now that is like the ultimate dream for most NJ home sellers.  Although, it doesn’t happen in every real estate transaction, it is possible! Some homes show exceptionally well.  Homes that are clean and staged per the advice of your real estate agent an priced according to the current real estate market of Ocean County, NJ have a great shot.  But, all of that won’t make a difference unless the real estate agent you have chosen markets your home!  The agent who brings the most pre-qualified buyers to the table that they can be extensively marketing your home for sale in NJ will have the best shot at a bidding war.
Preparing to Sell, The Selling Process, Tips During the Listing, Uncategorized

Home Staging Ideas for the Kitchen to Make Buyers Bite

If you’re selling your house, staging—the mysterious practice by which you prep and prettify your home before its debut—can make a huge difference in catching the attention of buyers and ultimately reeling in an offer. And the room you’ll really want to focus on here is the kitchen: After all, it’s the crown jewel that buyers ooh and ahh over—except when the counters are packed with stacks of mail, near-empty boxes of Froot Loops, and a hulking Cuisinart you rarely use.

To make sure this critical area is perfectly poised to woo buyers, try these home staging ideas for your kitchen and get some offers cooking.

Clear off counters

Put it away—put it all away. We’re looking at you, coffee maker, blender, knife block, standing mixer, and toaster oven. “And don’t forget the top of the refrigerator,” says Amy Bell, a home staging expert at Red Chair Home Interiors in Cary, NC. Home staging in this room is all about making your kitchen look bigger, cleaner, and more streamlined. “Homeowners are so accustomed to their own clutter that it almost becomes invisible to them,” she warns.

And while you’re in purge mode, remove every bit of paper and those souvenir magnets from the refrigerator and cabinets. The only thing you should keep on the counter is a pop of color, such as a pretty bowl of bright green apples or lemons, says Katie McCann, an organizing coach at Maeve’s Method.

Simple fruit stands out in a clean kitchen.

Scour for hours

Well, no one’s actually logging the time spent, but cleanliness is critical here, says D. Sam Halpin, a real estate broker with My Home Group in Scottsdale, AZ. “Not only must you clean the countertops, but the grout, faucet, and grimy drain rim, too,” she says.

Try CLR (calcium, lime, and rust remover) on the faucet to make sure water flows through it smoothly. Clean cabinet fronts to remove dust and grime, and scrub greasy spatters on the stove and backsplash with a vinegar-water solution.

“And if you have a stovetop with burns or food rings, remove them with a soft soap product and a razor blade—it’ll look almost like new,” she adds.

A pristine kitchen can sell a home fast.

Light it right

Let as much natural light into the space as you can, by either opening heavy drapes or replacing them with sheer panels. Have a kitchen that looks out to a patio or deck through glass doors? These must sparkle in order to illuminate the space. “And if you don’t have under-cabinet lights—get them,” recommends Halpin. You can purchase battery-powered puck-shaped lights for very little money and stick them under the cabinets (it adds that extra glow that every cook covets).

Jack Menashe, a designer and home stager at Menashe Design in New York City, likes minimal window treatments (like just a valance along the top) when showcasing a kitchen as natural light makes the space feel bigger. “A patterned valance invites the buyer to see the window and allows me a chance to add color,” he says.

Organize the insides

Potential buyers are going to open the fridge and pantry, so don’t neglect these spots when you’re staging the kitchen. “People who are looking for a new home will imagine how their pots, pans, and food items might fit into your cabinets,” explains McCann.

“Sometimes I stack cookbooks and display clear storage containers because these elements speak to the kitchen’s function, and clear containers take up less space visually,” says Menashe.

Pasta, beans. and rice—all in a row

Set the scene

Some experts recommend setting the table with colorful plates and napkins to give the kitchen a homey feel.

“I may present a picture of daily life by having a unique planter on the countertop with blooming flowers alongside a carafe of orange juice for color and a rolled-up newspaper,” says Menashe. Or, place a simple runner down the middle of the table for a bit of coverage and texture.

 After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Realtor has the following insight:
When a potential buyer walks in, you get 1 shot at a first impression. Make sure it is a lasting impression for the right reason!  Follow your local real estate professionals advice.  You don’t have to buy all new furniture, install crown molding and carpeting as your budget might not allow for that.  But easy fixes such as these may make your NJ home sell fast and for optimum dollar!

The Selling Process, Tips During the Listing, Uncategorized

How to Stage Your Home While Living in It (Without Losing Your Mind)

This summer, my husband and I decided to put our 1,200-square-foot Spanish-style bungalow in San Diego up for sale. Naturally, this involved meeting with a host of real estate professionals—all of whom agreed that in order to sell our charming little home for the price we wanted, we needed to stage it.

But it wasn’t as simple as hiring a staging company and calling it a day. No. We’d need to move 75% of our belongings into storage and, ideally, find alternate accommodations for the duration of the listing period.

That’s how I—along with my husband, dogs, and children—came to live with my in-laws for 62 days. After entering escrow, we moved back into our partly staged pad for an even more excruciating 39 days (and counting).

It’s been an exhausting and sometimes demoralizing experience. But I survived to offer you some hard-won tips and best practices for how to live in your house (and maintain your sanity) when you can’t really live in your house.

 1. Build in time and money before staging

Typically, agents work with a network of staging companies. You can pick two or three, conduct brief walk-through meetings with them at your place, and solicit bids. This process can take upward of two weeks, so it pays to get a jump on the consults well before you intend to list.

If you’re going to use a staging company, make sure you have the cash on hand. In San Diego, partly staging our two-bedroom home ran us a cool $3,000, which was due immediately upon signing the contract. On the plus side, staging usually pays for itself (and then some) once the house sells, experts say.

2. Clear your closets and bedrooms by at least 50%

Whitney Parrott, lead designer at Everything Creative Designs, suggests this decluttering rule for her clients who choose to stay (at least part of the time) in a staged or listed home. You want your place to look inviting, but not necessarily lived-in.

“Take you out of the home,” she says. “Remove your emotional attachment and look at the home as a product you’re selling, which I realize is easier said than done.”

This means reducing the stuff in closets and bedrooms by half. This is a good time to get rid of things you don’t use; you can put the rest into storage.

3. Secure storage space

Even if you aren’t going to have your home professionally staged, you’ll likely need a storage unit for your excess belongings. Get a slightly larger unit than you think you’ll need. In an attempt to save a buck, we chose a smallish unit that ended up barely fitting our stuff. Now, as we approach close of escrow with no new home in sight, we’ll need to rent a second unit for the remainder of our day-to-day items.

4. Hire movers to put your stuff in storage

Trust me on this one—you do not want to be moving your stuff into a storage unit yourself or with your partner or spouse. Save the headache, and hire professionals to maximize your storage space with their professional packing hacks.

5. Find a place to crash…

I was adamant that we minimize the time spent in our staged house, mostly because I was afraid of the havoc my toddler, infant, and highly inconsiderate pooches would wreak on the rented furniture.

So with our tails tucked and pride wounded, we turned to my husband’s parents—who fortunately live a mere 10 minutes from us.

Clearly, living (rent-free) with family is the best choice if you can swing it. But if you don’t have that option, consider some others. For example, my neighbor lived at a Hampton Inn for five weeks while between houses. (I was both horrified and intrigued.)

This can obviously become expensive rather quickly, so consider extended-stay hotels, which offer longer-term suites at a lower weekly price than their average daily rate. Some apartment communities also allow short-term or month-to-month rentals of furnished “executive” units. And there’s always the VRBO/Airbnb option.

At the end of the day, the key is to either get out or make it look like you did.

“Although it seems counterintuitive, especially for sellers that are living in a staged home, the more you can make your home appear as if no one is actually living there, the better,” says Katie Griswold, our very patient agent, who’s with Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty.

6. … or get insanely organized—and stay that way

If you must stay in your home while it’s up for sale, heed these expert-approved tips that will help you (and your Realtor®) stay sane.

  • Create a cleaning schedule, and stick to it. If you can afford it, invest in a weekly cleaning service. Before each showing, vacuum the floors, dust all furniture, and wipe down all kitchen and bath surfaces.

  • In the kitchen, keep countertops clear. Stash paper towels, sponges, and dish soap under the sink when they’re not in use. Make a habit of placing dirty dishes immediately in the dishwasher, and keep most appliances off the countertops.

  • Buyers will open cabinets. Be sure your glasses, plates, pots, and pans are well-organized and stacked neatly.

  • If you do a lot of cooking, use natural air freshening methods like boiling lemon slices or cinnamon on the stove to neutralize odors.

  • Use totes or bins to keep daily bathroom items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap out of sight.

  • Immediately sort mail when it arrives at your house, and dispose of anything that isn’t vitally necessary.

  • Stash a few of your kids’ favorite toys in a large decorative bin or tote in a corner of the room or hall closet, and clear the rest away.

  • Put your iPhone cords and enormous charging block in a drawer out of view.

  • Avoid the lockbox, especially if you have pets or children. Ask your agent to schedule showings in large blocks of time a few afternoons a week to ensure you can get everyone out of the house.

  • If you have a 9-to-5 office job and pets, consider boarding the pets on weekdays when showings might occur.

“It’s certainly not easy living in a staged home,” Griswold says. “It can be exhausting living in a home you have to keep spick-and-span, especially those of us juggling children, pets, careers, and more. But it’s most definitely worth the time and investment.”

After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Real Estate Agent has the following insight:

You are living in your home, so some things you can’t help having in the home because they are basic necessities.  Ensure your home is show ready by following these tips for living in your home while you are selling it.  These are some things that you may not have previously thought of, but may help to take away some stress!

Preparing to Sell, The Selling Process, Tips During the Listing, Uncategorized

Learn These Basic Rules of Seller Disclosure So You Don’t Get Sued

Seller disclosure is a tricky maze to navigate. If you’ve recently decided to put your home on the market, you might feel hesitant to reveal problems (minor though they might be) which could discourage potential buyers. But not revealing them could get you in a world of legal trouble.

So how much do you really need to disclose? And how detailed do you need to be?

We’d love to give you a concrete answer. But disclosure laws vary by state—and even by city. So here are some basic rules to govern how and when you disclose any problems. (Just remember to do your research on local regulations, and check with your Realtor® and/or real estate attorney so you can know you’re totally covered.)

When in doubt, disclose

In general, sellers should disclose any known facts about the physical condition of the property, existence of dangerous materials or conditions, lawsuits or pending matters that may affect the value of the property, and any other factors that may influence a buyer’s decision.

But how can you possibly know what might influence a buyer’s decision? Maybe a window leaks a little bit when it rains or the basement just barely floods every now and then. Do you really need to disclose it? After all, you’ve learned to live with those things, so the buyer should be able to deal with them, too, right?

Wrong answer! Especially if you want to avoid a lawsuit down the line.

“Most sellers think it is in their best interest to disclose as little as possible,” says Rick Davis, a Kansas real estate attorney. “I completely disagree with this sentiment. In the vast majority of cases, disclosing the additional information (especially if it is something that was previously repaired), will not cause a buyer to back out or ask for a price reduction.”

That also means disclosing issues that have recently been repaired, Davis says. Why? If the buyer later discovers that a repair job was botched, you could be on the hook for additional repairs.

Always disclose inspection reports

In most places, you don’t have to provide copies of inspection reports, but doing so can save you a lot of trouble.

Here’s why: We already know that all sellers have a duty to disclose any “material defects.” And while buyers and sellers may disagree on what a material defect is, one of the best ways to avoid a lengthy legal battle is to just give the buyer all copies of past inspection reports you have—no matter how old they are.

That way, they can’t say they weren’t informed of a problem.

“Sellers should disclose anything and everything they can think of,” says Adam Buck, a certified real estate specialist with the Frutkin Law Firm in Arizona. “Ironically, the more disclosures you make, the less important they might become to the buyer.

“Think [of] prescription medication commercials,” Buck adds. “When was the last time someone decided not to use a new medication because of the laundry list of side effects rattled off at the end of the TV commercial?”

What you don’t know won’t hurt you

Although the threat of a lawsuit can be scary, there’s one thing you don’t have to worry about: The courts won’t hold you accountable for failing to disclose issues you’re unaware of.

Let’s say your house is infested with termites. But you’ve never seen one, or they were missed by an inspection (or maybe there never was an inspection). You can’t be held responsible for not disclosing this defect if it’s discovered by the buyer a few months after closing.

In fact, at a certain point the burden falls on buyers to do their due diligence to uncover any problems.

And if you don’t know, don’t guess

Buyers can ask for a lot of information about a home, including things you’ve never even thought about.

One common problem area in disclosure? Measurements of the home.

Even if you’ve had an appraiser check out your home, you may have no idea how many square feet it truly is because, as it turns out, there’s no single agreed-upon way to measure a home. Yep, that’s right. Three different appraisers can come up with three different measurements.

In a situation like that, it can be tempting to just guess or come up with an average. Resist the temptation, otherwise the buyers can come back later and say you lied or misled them about a material issue.

If you really don’t know the answer to a question the buyers are asking, just say you don’t know—and put it on them to find out the answer.

And if they push you for exact figures on something like square footage, make sure you properly attribute where those numbers came from.

Buck even recommends including a clause in the purchase contract that any square foot measurement quote is an approximation, and if this is a material issue for the buyers, it’s their responsibility to investigate it further.

Just remember: Don’t be afraid of scaring them off with too much information.

“It is much better to lose a buyer by clearly disclosing all known issues than it is to spend two years and tens of thousands of dollars in litigation,” Buck says.

After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Realtor has the following insight:

Upon accepting the listing and becoming your listing agent for the sale of your home, you will be presented by me a Seller Disclosure form. What this is, is a form that asks you questions about your home.  You, the seller will fill this out and return it to me.  You must be honest when filling out this form.  If you did not disclose something that you knew of, you are looking at a law suit, as is your agent.  Questions on this form? We will discuss this more in detail upon me accepting your listing to sell and market your home!!

Preparing to Sell, The Selling Process, Tips During the Listing

4 Things Home Buyers Worried About Housing Bubble Should Consider

It’s 2016, and home prices are rising near the levels of the housing market just before the crash. Many are asking—and wondering — if we are in some kind of housing bubble. But are we? Here are a few things to consider if you’re worried about another housing bubble.

1. The overall economy

Unemployment is low, wage growth is strong and the tech sector is hiring in droves. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates last December, and they’re likely to raise rates again in the near future as the economy continues to grow and evolve.

2. Mortgage requirements

Despite what many will tell you, getting a mortgage can be intense. It requires full documentation, including tax returns, pay stubs, letters of explanation and thorough due diligence. As long as strong requirements remain in place to secure financing, one thing is for sure: A financial collapse, if it does happen, likely won’t spawn from abusive lending practices.

3. Housing risks

Let’s say you’re putting off buying a home because you’re worried about another financial crisis. If that’s the case, you need to define what it is that you are most concerned about. If you’re concerned about your job and the future of your income, that should play a bigger role in whether you buy a home.

If your financial house is in order, but you are still not sure about buying a home because you’re worried about the market being in a bubble, you should ask yourself, “Why am I buying a house to begin with?” If your intention is to buy a house to capitalize on some market appreciation and then quickly turn around and sell, well, then, yes, you should be concerned about not being able to recoup your investment, as real estate is a long-term hold vehicle.

If, however, you are looking to purchase a home to have a roof over your head, enjoy the home, and live there for the next five to seven years, at a minimum. You may do very well for yourself. This also includes the additional tax benefit you’ll have that you wouldn’t with renting.

4. The market itself

Ultra-low mortgage rates have been around for the last few years, so at some point interest rates have to go up. The question is when. If you’re trying to purchase a home and you are qualified at a 3.625% 30-year fixed rate, for example, and interest rates rise to 4.375%, you may not be able to qualify for as much house.

Rising rates also means fewer mortgage loan originations, which means profitability in the secondary market diminishes. The only way to keep profitability going is to keep the engine running with new loan originations, and the only way to do that in a higher interest rate environment is with less restrictive underwriting.

Looser credit to the degree of the financial crisis is unlikely, given regulations that were introduced in its aftermath, but it may lead lenders to extend mortgages to applicants with slightly higher debt-to-income ratios on conventional loans or to show a bit more leniency to self-employed borrowers, for example. That’s the only practical way to offset rising rates while supporting the housing market.

So, should you buy a house or not? That depends on whether you are comfortable with the interest rate and the payment that you’re getting, and whether you feel that you can afford that payment for the long haul. If you can afford the payment and your estimated property hold time is for a while, you’re likely in a safe position. If you’re unsure about the future of your finances, perhaps buying a home right now is not in the cards.

Remember, too, purchasing a home requires a credit check, so it’s important to know where yours stands before starting the process. You can view two of your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on

This article was written by Scott Sheldon and originally published on

After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Realtor has the following insight:

I strongly agree with the statement here: So, should you buy a house or not? That depends on whether you are comfortable with the interest rate and the payment that you’re getting, and whether you feel that you can afford that payment for the long haul. If you can afford the payment and your estimated property hold time is for a while, you’re likely in a safe position. If you’re unsure about the future of your finances, perhaps buying a home right now is not in the cards.