Summer Home Energy Audit

Another sunny summer has arrived once again. It is time to take advantage of this warm weather, and review any wear and tear that may have emerged from the previous seasons. With these simple home energy audit tips, a person can save 20% on cooling and heating bills. It is important to catch any weathering before it becomes a problem.
Energy Analysis
With a notepad in hand, take the time to walk around and document any cracks or gaps. Beginning the inspection from the inside, start by turning off the electricity at the circuit box. Remove the switch-plate covers, and see if any gaps have formed. If any separation has developed, install foam inserts or replace them with insulated covers. In addition, phone-jacks can be insulated too.

The next step is to examine where windows meet walls, walls meet floors and pipes and wires enter the home, sealing gaps with caulk. Other areas to investigate are:

  • Attic doors
  • Baseboards
  • Fireplace dampers
  • Mail slots
  • Weather stripping surrounding doors
  • Window-mounted or wall-mounted air conditioners

When reviewing these areas, look and feel for daylight and drafts. These are all indications that heat is escaping. Places to examine on the outside of the home include areas where pipes, vents or wiring enter. Check for gaps or damage, paying attention to where material joins, and where it meets other materials. A few locations would be chimneys, windows or the foundation.

Some homeowners prefer having a professional handle the check ups. If that is the case, contact the local utility company for referrals. Some utility companies provide rebates for home-energy audits.

Home Improvements Sellers Should Avoid

It’s fairly obvious there are certain home features that can break or make a home being sold.  When selling a property, there are a few home-improvements projects that shouldn’t be on the agenda.  It’s important to know the difference, so money and time will not be wasted.

Before selling a property, take a look at some of these home improvement not-to-do tips:

Expand. A common mistake sellers make are creating extreme add-ons to the home.  Fixing the property up to where it’s larger and more expensive than the neighbors is superfluous.  Major additions can price the home out of the market, and increase property taxes for the future homeowner.

Home office. Many people tend to do work at home or work from home.  To build an entire office can be a waste of perfectly good square footage.  Custom made bookcases and big built-ins are extremely difficult and expensive to change or remove.  The homeowner can view this as a project they don’t want to deal with.

Landscape. Having a beautiful front or backyard will immediately attract the buyer.  If the garden is too elaborate, the buyer will start thinking about the time and maintenance it will foresee.  Keep the yard simple with easy maintainable plants that offer a lot of color.

Swimming pool. Surprising enough, one the most common project that can turn buyers away is a pool.  Families with young children view it as a safety risk.  Others don’t want to be bothered with the maintenance.  Also, pools take over valuable backyard space.

Unnecessary improvements. It’s not necessary for a roof to be replaced when it only needs a few fixes.  Also, upgrading a plumbing system is pricey, and the seller will not get that money back.  On the contrary, staying on top of routine repairs and home-maintenance responsibilities will inform the new owner on what important upgrades they will need to make.

Unfinished projects. If a project is not going to be complete for open house and/or a walk-through, then don’t start it.  Either hire a professional, or just don’t do the project.  If small fixes are feasible then stick to that.  The idea of rearranging or revamping a project that won’t be completed is not going to bring any extra value to the property.

Negotiating a Home Offer

It doesn’t happen very often the initial offer is accepted.  Almost always there is some sort of counter offer and that is where the negotiations begin.  The negotiations can vary from solely the price or to including particular appliances.  The key is to always be ready for haggling.

Here are a few tips when it comes to negotiating a home offer:

Fix it. Make sure to analyze the home carefully.  If there are obvious blemishes then correct it.  Start with improving minor fixes.  If the home needs to be painted or cleaned up, then do it.  The carpet or the landscape is also very crucial.  By fixing up anything the buyer can point out right away will help strengthen the seller’s negotiation.

Competition.  Always review the competition to know what is out there.  By knowing what other people are getting for their home will give a realistic idea of an asking price.  Setting the price too high will not attract buyers.  Setting the price too low will affect the possibility of getting the true value of the home.

Marketplace.  Once knowledge of the local market is set in place, begin researching the larger real estate market as a whole.  Having an understanding if the property is located in a buyers’ or sellers’ market, offers a better idea of how fast the home will sell.  It’s always a good idea to ask an agent for information on the home sales in the area.  If possible, try speaking with former neighbors to get an idea on their experiences selling a nearby home.

Negotiate. An important factor on selling the home is to look beyond the price.  Remember that everything is negotiable.  If the buyer will not match your price then discuss who will pay for upgrades, closing costs, warranties, appraisals or inspections.  By understanding the transaction can have many pieces; the agreement among both parties can be much more satisfying at the end.

Common Mistakes Made By Sellers

The seller should always look at the listing as if they were purchasing the property.  Would you purchase this home if you saw the listing?  What attracted you the most and what makes you want to pursue more information?  Was it the pictures?  How it was described?

Here are few tips on common mistakes that sellers make when listing a home.

No Photos. It should be a no-brainer that including photos can set one property above the rest.  Many sellers commonly list properties with no pictures.  They prefer their personal items and valuables not to be visible in the photos.  This could raise a red flag immediately for the buyer.  They may assume automatically there is something dissembling with the property that has no pictures available.

It’s always a good idea to have about dozen photos.  It will portray an idea of what the buyer could expect, and persuade them to physically visit the property.  If the listing talks about great views or spacious living areas, the photos can confirm what is being described.

Transaction Details. The past few years, it’s not a secret the economy has been doing poorly.  This allowed buyers to have a mini course in purchasing distressed properties—short sales and/or foreclosures.  The experience has not always been positive, and the red flag can arise again.  A distressed listing without any transaction specifics may be avoided immediately.   If the listing doesn’t mention whether the lender has been informed and a price has been agreed upon, most buyers will not want bother.

Owners of a distressed property that are upfront about the details have a better opportunity to attract the buyers that are ready to move forward.

Exaggerations. There is nothing wrong with using creative statements when listing a property, but outlandish claims is where the line is drawn.  When writing, “best home on the market” is not doing any favors for the seller.  When the buyer enters the home, they could be set up for disappointment if the claim doesn’t meet their expectations.

Sellers should avoid using hyperbolic claims.  Developing a more sensible strategy focusing on flattering adjectives leaves room for the other opinions.

Perfect Pricing. A low price is always a great idea to grab the attention of buyers.  However, going too low on the asking price may backfire.  Normally a property will attract multiple buyers at the low asking price.  The price will climb as the offers are coming in.  This is a good strategy, but it doesn’t come without risk.  Also, the low price could potentially attract unqualified buyers as well.  If this happens, the house will not sell, and the seller will have devalued the property with that low asking price.

If the seller wants to take the risk with the low listing price, make sure to have done the research and gained the knowledge of current market conditions.

How to Stage a Home

Staging a home can help with the price, and how fast the home will sell. By following a few important tips can save a seller the costs of hiring a professional home staging company.

The company Staged Homes reported that the return on an investment for a staged home can go up 872 percent. By spending a $100 to $200 to stage  could increase the selling price by thousands of dollars.

Here are few tips when staging a home:

Clutter. The first step on preparing the home is remove all clutter. Get rid of anything that is not being used. Clean up drawers, cabinets, countertops, etc. because potential buyers will open cupboards and drawers when looking around. The counter top should be cleared of all food and unnecessary appliances. Even have the dishes organized and facing the same direction. This gives a clean and in order appearance.

Repairs. Inspect the home inside and out. Look for any cracks or damages that may be around. Also, don’t forget to check for burnt-out bulbs, squeaky doors and leaky faucets. The small amount of time and money on this task can turn into a larger return when it comes to the sale price.

It is very important to have the right color inside and outside of the home. The walls and floors should be a neutral color. This would allow the buyer to easily imagine their furnishings to match. Adding some nice bedspreads, area rugs and pictures could give a nice extra touch to the home. An important tip for the inside is dark-colored walls brings the walls in and makes rooms look smaller. Lighter colors give the room a larger and fresher look. For the outside, the rule of thumb is a three-color limit.

Depersonalize. Depersonalizing the property is a strong selling tip. Buyers will be more attracted if they can picture themselves living in the home. Remove any family photos, holiday souvenirs, trophies, certificates, children’s artwork, collectibles etc.

Senses. When showing the house, make sure to appeal to all five senses.

  • Sight: Open the blinds and let in natural light.
  • Smell: Put some candles and flowers in the main rooms. Even adding a bowl of fruit on the dining table is a nice touch.
  • Taste: Coffee brewing or cookies baking assists with taste and smell.
  • Touch: Invite the buyers to sit on the softest couch or seating area in the home. Also, make sure the home is completely dust-free.
  • Space: While showing the guests around the property, let them go into the room first. Too many people in a small place like the bathroom can become uncomfortable.

Staged Home also reported that the average number of days a home that wasn’t staged is on the market for 196 days. A staged home on the market averages 33 days.

Everything to Know About a Rent-To-Own


When the housing market is being difficult to sell a home, one can consider Rent-To-Own as an option. For those that are not familiar, here is a quick run down on how it works.

The process normally begins where the owner of the home puts the property for sale because they may not be able to afford the payments anymore. The home has been on the market for months, and the finances are becoming too much. Now the owner is getting desperate to sell, but doesn’t want to lose any money. This would be the time to consider a rent-to-own option.

Before an agreement, the owner has to make a decision on the sale price and rent they are charging for the house. Both amounts are open to negotiation, similar to a regular sale. The owner must remember that once they sign an agreement, the sale price is locked in until the end of their rental term. The term can be between one and three years. Even if the housing market prices rise or fall during that time, the original agreed-upon sale price is final.

The renter will also pay rent premium and an option fee. The rent premium is an amount just above the typical rent. A part of that money goes towards a down payment. The option fee is a set amount the renter will pay the owner. If, at the end of the lease, the renter buys the home, the option fee converts as a portion of the down payment. If the renter decides not to buy the home, the option fee becomes income for the owner.

Some general tips when choosing a renter are:

  • Make sure to have a thorough contract. The contract should be reviewed by a real estate attorney or expert. A good contract will address any possible issues that may arise during the agreement. The contract should include who will be responsible for home repairs, maintenance and any missed payments.
  • Check the background of the renter. The owner should run a background check on the renter reviewing their credit, employment and salary history.


  • If the value of the home is dropping, the owner can lock in the higher price at the beginning of the agreement.
  • The owner can ask for higher rent because of the flexible financing terms.
  • Renters that are looking to own treat a home and community better.
  • If a renter backs out of the agreement, the owner still has the option fee and rent premiums as income.
  • While the owner still owns the home, they can take advantage of tax benefits.


  • If the value of the home is going up, the owner already locked in the lower price at the beginning of the agreement.
  • If a renter breaks the agreement, the owner is back to paying the mortgage.
  • If the renter doesn’t pay, then the owner needs to prepare for eviction.
  • The owner should regularly check the home to make sure the renter is treating the property well.
  • The seller is still responsible for the home.

Let’s Put The “Short” Back in Short Sale

by Linda Yates, Dir. of Education,

Protracted, complicated and costly.

The list of adjectives that real estate agents use to describe the short sale process is long and lengthy, but certainly not distinguished. In fact, it is almost always described as anything but “short.”

The short sale is a real estate technique that has been around for years; however, today it is rarely successful because of the headaches that it creates, dragging transactions on for months on end and delivering reduced commissions when closing time finally rolls around.

Why does a short sale seemingly take so long?

For starters, the process requires significant coordination and cooperation from several parties, including the buyer, seller, listing agent(s) and lender. Anytime there are so many moving parts things can get a little tricky…and lengthy.

In addition, a lender is essentially deciding whether or not to sell the property for less than (or “short” of) the amount it loaned the original borrower. It therefore needs time to crunch the numbers to ensure the deal is right for them in the long-term, which could be complicated if, for example, there is more than one “owner” of the financial instrument.

And let’s not forget that lenders today are being inundated with multiple offers on thousands of different properties, which can create a logjam of paperwork as they try and sort through it all.

So does it really benefit you to pursue a short sale?

The short answer is a resounding YES because times are changing – there are numerous ways in which you can vault your offers to the top of the stacks and do quite well with short sales. All it takes is the knowledge to know how to coordinate these deals properly and be aware of the ways in which to get them done fast.

Consider the following two tips that will make your short sale experience a better (and hopefully more lucrative) one:

First, the obvious: Your short sale packages must be pristine.

Everything must be in order and complete from the moment you submit them to the lenders on behalf of your buyers and sellers. Keep in mind that all lenders are different and, consequently, often have different submission requirements. No two short sales are alike. So know, learn and follow the various submission requirements to a tee the first time (and every time) to ensure optimum results.

Second, and not so obvious: Your short sale efforts should always include a forensic document audit.

This is the real key to success with short sales because it can get your packages moved to the front of the line virtually overnight. This process starts with enlisting the help of a legal professional to complete a review of the sellers’ mortgage documents for potential fraud, including possible TILA, RESPA and other consumer rights violations.

It’s a huge difference maker.

Recent studies from the Credit Law Group indicate that more than 80 percent of mortgages that were originated since 1999 have some type of consumer rights violations in them. Identifying these violations can create leverage in negotiations, alerting lender legal departments to expedite your files.

In other words, the audit can be used to threaten the possibility of your client pursuing legal action, which most lenders would prefer to avoid at all costs – they already have enough on their plates. The prospect of litigation is simply not a viable option if violations are detected because the lender knows it will likely be cost prohibitive.

And if it does go to court, monetary damages could be awarded based on the severity of the violations, which can be applied to the short sale package to drive down the principal amount of the mortgage.

Last but not least, no deficiency judgment will likely be filed in a case that undergoes an audit because these can be negotiated away. The reality is that the likelihood of a bank collecting on these is slim to none, meaning that the seller(s) are assured of the best possible outcome.

It’s a win-win all around for you and your client.

Clearly, negotiating the murky waters of a short sale requires current knowledge and the support of a team of professionals who all possess the skill sets and goals to get the sale through efficiently and effectively.

It is important to first educate yourself about lenders, including their short sale processes and package requirements. Next, team up with a legal eagle who can help you audit mortgages to strengthen your negotiation position.

Do this and it will make the process short, easy and profitable … as its name suggests.

To get started today visit eCampus to learn about the dynamic short sale training opportunities now available through the Certified Foreclosure Agent Program. These courses take you by the hand and show you step-by-step how to create winning short sale packages that close in as few as 60 to 90 days, increasing your closing percentage exponentially at a time when other agents may be struggling to make ends meet.[/quote]

Property Fax Reports

A Property Fax Report is a vital tool for beginning and seasoned investors to make solid buying decisions by providing information about insurance losses over the past 5 years. The information contained in a Property Fax Report can give piece of mind when buying investment property by confirming all repairs that were completed properly to make sure there are no hidden issues . . . things like fire, flood, mold, smoke, water or wind related damage.

Even when a home inspection is performed, there is no guarantee that the property doesn’t have hidden damages. By providing access to a claims history report, Property Fax helps first time home buyers, real estate agents and investors make informed decisions regarding these potential investments.

Get Your Property Fax Report

It is imperative that investors protect their investments and this inexpensive report can save you thousands!

Get Your Property Fax Report

Online Social Networking For Real Estate Investors

Social networking is increasing in popularity in the world of real estate investing. MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn get millions of visitors to their sites per month and traffic keeps increasing. Most social networks are free to join and have millions of active members. As a real estate investor you can leverage social networking tools to increase your qualified lead pool and your bottom-line revenue. Here is our list of effective tools and the advantages of each one. – this social network was one of the first to hit the scene. Creating your unique page is a great way to market yourself, get buyer leads, and post your available properties for sale. You can input photos and video, article content, network with other real estate professionals and network with potential buyers online. You can also utilize relevant advertising to monetize your page as well. – this site recently surpassed MySpace in popularity. You can create your profile, upload photos of properties and organize them into photo albums. If you flip properties, you can put up before and after photos. You can also link to your website as well. You can search Facebook for other real estate investors and request to add them as “friends.” Each friend that you connect with also connects you with their network, thus expanding your reach. You can network with possible buyers and sellers as well. – This is a great professional networking tool. You create your professional profile and ask your contacts to join your network. You can post and answer real estate questions to the entire LinkedIn network increasing your visibility. This is a great way to network with other professional investors, find birddogs, possible partners to invest with, etc. – This is a real estate investor specific social network. You network with other investors, ask and answer questions form other investors, brainstorm ideas. Plus they have various helpful tools and calculators for investors. – this is one of the oldest REI resource sites around and it has tons of great information. They also have an active forum community. You can ask and answer your real estate investing questions, talk about your current deals, find other investors to network and partner with. – Once you register, users “tweet” what they are working on or planning by typing a short sentence. Other users can join to “follow” your tweets. It is a great way to get the word out on pressing real estate news, etc.

Most social networking sites allow you to link to your website which is a great way to build SEO links and build your website traffic as well.

So You Want To Be A Millionaire In THIS Economy?

Faced with ballooning mortgage payments and the threat of bank foreclosure, where are homeowners to turn? Real estate auctions are rapidly gaining in popularity to sell their homes quickly, easily, and at a fair price.

In today’s economy, Real Estate Auctions are on the rise. And this trend shows no sign of decreasing. The National Association of Realtors estimated that 1 out of 3 properties sold in the U.S. in the next three years will be sold by auction.

Real Estate Auctioneering companies are seeing a high increase in real estate professionals are learning to conduct auctions. With a bit of training, anyone can learn how to conduct an effective real estate auction.

Real Estate professionals who are trained auctioneers can be consultants with homeowners on how to market their properties for a quick and equitable sale as well as help homebuyers with information on what to do at an auction and get the best deal.

Homeowners using real estate auctions increase the chance to sell their home by up to 900%. That’s huge! Plus, 50% of all real estate auctions sell at fair market value or better.

The lure of a deal is potent, and real estate auctions attract swarms of potential buyers to a property. Homeowners are usually blown away by how much exposure their property gets in an auction.

For people trained as real estate auctioneers it a fantastic opportunity to increase your income. Fortunately for those interested in becoming a professional real estate auctioneer, the process is super simple.

One of the country’s top training real estate auctioneer programs provides you with all of the knowledge and skills necessary to secure your place in this upwardly mobile industry.

For more information on real estate auctions and how to become an auctioneer, go to: