Is there ever a question you CAN’T ask a Realtor? Never. When it’s your future and your money at stake, you owe it to yourself to pose any questions that eat at your gut, so ask away. With the help of’s Lynna Pineda, we’ll answer a few common ones for you, but we think you’ll get the idea.


Do I really need to replace my carpeting before the first open house?


If it’s worn, smelly, discolored or worn out and YOU were a potential buyer walking through your house for the first time, how would you react? Buyers think about two things when they tour a property that has not been updated or repaired: time and money.


We are smokers. Do we really have to worry about what our home smells like?


Looking at online photos of your home show one thing. Walking through the front door and smelling the smoke that has permeated your flooring, drapery, cabinets and even furniture are an entirely different experience. Many a buyer will turn on their heels right there in your entryway and head for the next listing. So yes. Be concerned. Be very concerned.


Is it okay to decorate my home for the holidays while it’s on the market?


Absolutely. ’Tis the season. But if you are prone to filling every nook and cranny with happy Santas, hanging stars and extra Christmas trees, this is the time to scale back. You’ll obscure spaces that might otherwise be considered spacious.


Does having a dog make my house harder to sell?


Not if you’ve already dealt with and remediated (1) doggie odors (2) doggie damage and (3) your furry friend’s tendency to bark or scare homebuyers.


Can I keep my displays of vintage guns, religious paintings, and my grandmother’s doll collection while my house is on the market?


If you hope to get the highest prices and sell your home in the shortest length of time, remove as many of these things as possible so the widest range of buyers walking through there will not be distracted. It’s a great idea to pack them up early and have them waiting to grace the interior of your next home.



Source:, , TBWS

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Semantics are alive and well with real estate. You either buy, or you invest. Right? Well, let’s admit there is a slight nuance here. You plan to live in what you “buy,” but the idea of investing carries the connotation of renovating and making a quick buck. Today’s consumers are much more interested than ever to try their hand at flipping. The problem is, many of them have not done their homework, making the path ahead fraught with potentially costly roadblocks.


These days of frantic buying have caused many a consumer to muster up a quick education about real estate, but it may not always be a complete one. In a galaxy not that far away, raising capital for a simple distressed single-family house fix-and-flip used to be met with negative reactions. As a result, the world of real estate investing was at a standstill, and golden opportunities were missed.


HGTV and its reality shows about flips put new steam into the idea of buying the worst property on the best street. Suddenly everyone had a dangerous knowledge about buying distressed real estate, distilled into 50 minutes of airtime. Even Wall Street has recognized the residential rehab craze, sustaining the longest bull market ever, since real estate is a great hedge against a Wall Street correction.


What we are left with is a market full of people doing flips, driving property values up, and fueling the demand for inventory. But someone is bound to get burned. So, how do you start playing the real estate investment game and NOT be the guy who got there too late for those $100 bills being handed out on that proverbial corner somewhere?


Forbes New York Business Council’s Melissa Shea, a 15-year RE investor, and educator, offers some tips, the first of which is to take to heart in the saying that goes, “If you think the price of education is expensive, try ignorance.”


A quality education is key here, but we’re not talking about buying a course from some TV real estate guru standing in front of his yacht while leaning on his Bentley. What he’ll tell you won’t come close to the true reality of a fix-and-flip. Shea’s advice is to “take the money you would pay a guru, buy a house, and flip it by yourself. You’ll lose less money and learn more. The best place to start is local real estate investment clubs and associations. You need local knowledge, not national programs.” She recommends finding local investment clubs and associations by going to CRE Online or to the National Real Estate Investors Association. Don’t let your education stop there, however, she recommends. There is a podcast, among others, called Bigger Pockets that offers real content, excellent education and follows the trends, according to Shea.


And then there is the emotional component. Shea warns you not to get attached to properties, causing you to overlook costly potential errors. “People rationalize, ‘It’s only $3,000 more,’ but you said that three times ago, so now it’s $9,000 more, and you aren’t going to make much of a profit. Don’t lie to yourself. Stick to the numbers; they don’t lie,” she says. She warns against allowing yourself to increase your purchase price and not deluding yourself that the rehab is going to cost less than the quote your contractors gave you. “It’s always more,” she says. “Don’t fool yourself into thinking the property will sell for a higher price than the last house in the area because yours will be ‘so much nicer.’ That’s a recipe for financial disaster.”


Shea also advises you not to be alone on that investment island. “Going it alone is one of the worst mistakes you can make. Personally, I love joint ventures.” Time was when you could be a complete rookie, purchase a property, wait a few months and, without touching the property except for mowing the lawn and emptying the house, make a tidy sum. Even then, it was more likely that you would have lost money or broken even. The real estate market crash, however, served as an expert professor, teaching investors to use reputable attorneys, seasoned Realtors, long-established title companies and reliable lenders, and to network with other investors, she says.


Real estate investing is still not an exact science, according to Shea. “There are plenty of dangers, but if you’re educated, keep a level head, don’t get emotionally involved, and work with an award-winning team, you can enjoy the pleasures real estate investing can bring.”


Source: TBWS

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Opinions abound about selling your house, and like noses, everyone’s got one. There are myths that have been circulating literally for decades that Realtors still have to debunk, and we aim to name a few of them.


Selling your home is taking a dive into the deep unknown for many people. There is no crystal ball to tell them who will buy their place, for how much, and how long it will take. All this makes them vulnerable to well-meaning advice from everyone and everywhere under the sun — even from people who haven’t been involved in a real estate transaction for many years but are convinced they are experts. Even if some of those beliefs and solutions ended up being true for them, however, it doesn’t mean they will be true for you.


Real estate advice circulating out there runs the gamut from outdated to region-specific to just plain wrong. So we decided to share some of’s list of typical truisms followed by an explanation of how they don’t always pan out. These are mixed, of course, with our own bent on each one. That grain of salt adage about advice? Never was it so true than in real estate.


Ever hear it’s always best to list your house in the spring? You typically hear, “People list their homes in March and hope to have it in escrow by the end of spring because that’s close to when their kids get out of school.” Experts now say January is one of the best times to list, when people are back from the holidays and are ready to start looking. Oh, and of course, you are ready to put away the holiday decorations and spiff up the place. If you live in a nasty winter climate, other sellers around you may be waiting to list so they can show off spring flowers. But what’s even more important than green grass is supply and demand. Would you rather list your home when everyone else does and be pitted against more competition? Your call. Truth is, every market is different, and what’s great advice in one area can be terrible advice in another, so consult with your agent on this one.


Open houses are like watching a fashion show. Your house puts on its best and struts down the runway, along with others for sale at the same time. But just because you are pivoting at the end of the ramp to a host of people all at once, don’t set your sights on finding that one ideal buyer. If he, she or they come along as a result of an open house, it’s a huge bonus.


Besides, with today’s access to virtual tours and dozens of professionally-taken photographs within online listings, the most serious home buyers will usually request a private one-on-one showing anyway. An open house typically attracts curious neighbors as well as others thinking of selling their homes looking at what you’ve done and how they can price and position their own homes when they sell. And there are those who do the “open house shuffle” on weekends as a hobby.


While you don’t want to skip the open house entirely (it’s a good way to get the buzz going), it’s time to let go of the idea that an open house is key to finding the ultimate buyer.


Real estate agents just want you to sign on the dotted line and then sit back and collect a hefty commission. Really? An agent’s job is much more than that. Think of them as the person who looks at a retail space in a mall and sets it up so that it attracts potential customers inside. This includes pricing, aesthetics (placement of objects) and betting on that store being the most popular one in the mall. They are prudent, savvy negotiators whose reputations depend on their track records with past clients. Realtors are self-supporting business people who make timely recommendations to get your home prepared for sale in order to get it sold for the most money in the shortest amount of time. They supply marketing materials, pay for posters, flyers, broker open houses, and yard signs, use their time calling other agents who have potential buyers, and have negotiation skills as well as a fiduciary responsibility to protect your interests. Their commissions, by the way, are split with a buyer’s agent and can be offered in varying amounts to that agent to get you the best deal as well as the best buyer. It’s also prudent to keep in mind that after they pay for all their own expenses, they also pay legal insurance fees, pay their broker a certain amount, and on and on.


Don’t forget that throughout much of the country, bidding wars are common right now. A savvy agent can suggest to you when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em for each offer because they make it their business to know how all this works.


“Set your price and then hold out for a buyer who’ll pay it” is not the best advice, if that’s what you’ve heard. No Realtor will balk at the idea of getting as high a price as possible for one of their listings, but pricing your home at the top of the market and expecting it to set a precedent in your neighborhood is not a great plan unless you want to sit a while, get frustrated, and keep lowering the price, which makes it now look like you are desperate. Your listing agent will show you comparables — homes that have sold in the past 3-6 months, those which didn’t sell, and those that are actively listed, which are your main competition. Would YOU want to overpay for a house? Funny when you put the shoe on the other foot, isn’t it? A great real estate transaction happens only when both parties win.


Experts say it’s vital that you price your home reasonably right from the start—not too high, not too low—and then seriously consider any offers that roll in. They will be the barometer check you’ll need to see where your pricing should be anyway. And don’t forget that even if your home is identical in square footage, bedroom and bath count and even in the same desirable neighborhood, competing homes may have been updated more than yours and show better. That’s why it’s a great exercise to SEE all those listings in person and talk to your agent about them BEFORE listing.



Source: NAR, TBWS

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How to use your home as a source of cash from CNBC.

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It looks like a no-brainer. Spiff up your house, do a little self-staging (well, box up your figurine collections), throw a sign up in your front yard and save yourself thousands of dollars when selling your home. What the typical FSBO (for sale by owner) seller may not take into account, however, is that it means making dozens (if not hundreds) of decisions — some of which can have legal, costly consequences.


First, it should be known that although you don’t see real estate agents standing sentry at each of their listings, selling a home can become a full-time job when doing it on your own. There are a few pros and cons to consider before going down the FSBO path — one that looks nothing like the yellow brick road.


The most common reason people sell on their own is, of course, to avoid commissions, which are paid at close of escrow (settlement) time. Commissions average between 3-6 percent of the home’s purchase price and are typically paid by the seller from the proceeds of the sale. In an agent-employed sale, the buyer and seller have their own agents, with the commission split in some fashion between the two.


A pro to selling a home on your own may also mean you don’t have to listen to an agent tell you how to prepare your home to sell, which sometimes takes an investment in staging, updating, etc. if your home is 10 years old or older. In more competitive markets, that investment may be much higher in order to compete with other listings that are similarly prepared. Savvy agents tell their sellers to consider this investment in order to sell quickly and at the highest price possible, but you are responsible for both the price at which you offer your home as well as the final price you settle on.


If you do your homework, it means doing a feasibility study (looking at comparable closed sales within the last 3-6 months, current listings and what those listings featured that your home doesn’t, and considering how your house stacks up in terms of size, updates, and location.) The key here is the ability to put emotion aside, look at your home as an asset — a product, so to speak — and not the place where cherished memories and painstaking remodels took place.


Negotiating a contract with buyers or their agent is an area most consumers have little to no experience with and must think long and hard about. Holding firm at a price that is unrealistically high may mean having a home on the market for much longer than typical listing periods (usually 3-6 month terms). Numerous price changes (many owners lower the price in desperation to get their homes sold) can tip agents off to a lack of knowledge on the owners’ part, making them vulnerable to buyers’ offers being all over the map.


Professional real estate agents make it their business to know neighborhoods, consider location, and see what is going on not only while a home is being listed, but also where that neighborhood may be going in terms of future growth and attractiveness to the buying public (new schools, new commercial corridors bringing jobs to the area, etc.) and will market the home giving buyers all the information they have gathered in order to get the best price and terms possible.


Another aspect many FSBO sellers don’t consider is that they are the sole point of contact for potential buyers and it’s their job to determine which buyers are serious and which are wasting their valuable time. Are buyers making appointments to see their home with a mortgage preapproval letter in their hands? And if they say they’re paying cash, how does a FSBO seller verify their funds?


Good real estate agents are more than a friendly face on a sign swinging on post in a front yard. They know what appeals to buyers in a specific marketplace, have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), used by agents nationwide to share listings information and get referrals from their happiest former clients as well. They are also versed on many of the legal ramifications of selling a home that can open up owners to a plethora of litigious possibilities — disclosures about the condition of the home, soils reports, flood maps, etc. — all of which are revealed in exhaustive descriptions to buyers before sign on the dotted line.


We’re betting the average FSBO seller doesn’t read legalese for fun. So if you’re not considering working with an agent, it’s wise to hire a real estate attorney, even if you have some legal expertise yourself. Every state has its own requirements for real estate transactions and some are far more demanding than others. Be sure to make yourself the consummate expert and make it your own business to understand what can happen if you aren’t.


Source: TBWS

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In June 2017, cybercriminals stole more than $14 million from unsuspecting people. Real estate transactions are especially vulnerable to these wily larcenists.

Real estate purchases routinely involve sending large sums of money by wire. This method is convenient, fast, and generally secure. Still, sophisticated criminals have been able to exploit people’s lack of familiarity with the real estate and escrow process.

One of the most common scams has been to convince an unwary buyer that the instructions for wiring funds have changed at the last minute “for security reasons.” The email, which appears to come from the title company or other settlement service provider, asks the buyer to wire their funds to a different link than previously agreed. The unsuspecting buyer who falls for this deception will discover, too late, that their money has been diverted to the scammer’s offshore account and is gone forever, along with the scammer.

The obvious advice is to avoid getting taken in by this kind of chicanery. Never wire funds without personally verifying with the title company or real estate closing lawyer that any change is genuine. For those unfortunates who may fall prey to the scam, there are some immediate actions that may offer a slim chance to recover the misdirected funds.

  • Contact the bank or other financial institution the funds were sent from. They may be able to stop the transfer.
  • Contact all parties involved in the real estate transaction, including the title and escrow people, the seller and the agents.
  • Inform the FBI immediately. You can file a complaint at This should be done as quickly as possible. Even waiting just 72 hours could be too late for any recovery.

There are few experiences in life that are more stressful, emotional and confusing as buying a home. Criminals are well aware of this and will do their utmost to leverage those aspects to separate unsuspecting people from their money.

Knowledge is key.

Source: TBWS

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5 Great Questions To Ask At An Open House For Real EstateAn open house gives you a great opportunity to look more closely at Midlothian real estate you might be interested in buying.

It also affords you the chance to chat with the owner or real estate agent so you can bring up any issues or hesitations you have with the home.

Knowing what to ask can be difficult, so below are examples of questions to ask at the next open house you attend.

Why has the seller decided to sell now?

If you ask why the seller is moving, you could learn valuable information to help determine your offer — or possibly whether or not you want to buy the home.

Knowing whether the owners are about to go into foreclosure, have experienced trouble in the neighborhood, or if they’ve retired and completely paid off the home can help you understand how urgently they need to sell their property.

Has the seller had any other offers?

Don’t forget that you are not only negotiating with the seller for a price, you are also competing with other potential buyers.

It really helps to know what you are up against.

It is important to understand that you might not get a 100% straight answer to this question as most sellers know that competition – or perceived competition – can cause a potential buyer to move forward more quickly and at a higher price.

If you’re comfortable in this discussion, you might want to try and see if you can find out the details of any other offers.

Does the property have special ownership costs?

Ask the agent or owner about the other costs associated with owning the property, such as Home Owners Association fees within a condo complex or a gated community.

It’s important to know about these extra expenses in advance so you can make an informed offer.

You may also want to ask about any pending litigation concerning the property.  Litigation is not always a deal killer, but it’s better to know the details before you sign closing documents.

What furniture and appliances are being sold with the house?

Most of the time, a seller will include their major appliances such as the refrigerator, stove and dishwasher with the home, but this isn’t always the case.

If you don’t already have these items, it’s important to know whether they are included in the purchase price.

Is there anything else that you want to leave with the home?

This is an important question to ask.  Especially if there are specific things in the home that you have a strong interest in.  

Perhaps there is custom art work or a pool table that fits perfectly in the game room.  

The seller may be eager to part with those items and include them in the sale of the home or sell them at a large discount.

The open house is a great opportunity to learn more about a home before making the decision to buy it, so be sure you ask the right questions.

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Strategies For Investing In Real EstateWhen you make an investment in Richmond  real estate, it’s important to consider your options for turning a profit even before you write an offer.

It might be best to rent out the property to cover your mortgage and build equity providing the home cash-flows with solid rents and demand.

Or, you could fix up the home and flip it so that you can sell it quickly for a larger amount than you invested.

Both strategies may be appealing options, so here are some important factors to consider before making your decision.

Flipping May Lead To Short Term Profits

Flipping a house can be tricky, so you will want to have enough experience to know what you are doing, or work with an experienced advisor who can guide you around the most common pitfalls.

If you are thinking about fixing and flipping a house, you will need to have enough capital to invest in the property so you can make the required improvements and repairs.

Many people find themselves short of working capital after closing on the new purchase.

It is important to factor in carrying costs, or monthly mortgage payments while fixing the home, into your overall budget.

Do your research so you’ll know what renovations will have the most impact on the value of your real estate.

You will also need to know if the market in the area will support your new price point.

Make sure your flip property is in a very buyer-friendly community for your best chances of a positive return.

Renting Is The Buy And Hold Strategy For Investment Real Estate

Flipping a house gives you quick cash, but renting it out instead may give you monthly cash flow and a potentially larger long-term profit if the property appreciates over time.

If you don’t mind being a landlord and you have the time to screen for reliable renters, then renting out the property might be a better option for you.  

This option also means that you will have the home later on in case you want to live in it.

Of course, don’t forget to factor in additional upkeep costs, such as repairs, utilities and property taxes.

Seek Professional Counsel

Investment real estate has consistently been considered a solid way to get your money working for you.

Whether you rent out or flip your investment property will depend on whether you are interested in a long-term investment or a short-term project.

A great next step while you are planning your investment real estate purchase would be seeking the advice of a qualified, licensed real estate professional.

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Understanding Real Estate TermsWhen looking to buy or sell Richmond real estate, confusing terminology can leave you feeling somewhat uneasy.

From a multitude of numbers to marketing jargon, property listings can provide you with an overwhelming amount of information — and it’s hard to know what’s important.

So, brush up on the terms below and don’t get fooled this April.

Sale-to-List Ratio

This is an important number to pay attention to when choosing a real estate professional to sell your home.

The percentage is calculated by what a home was initially listed for, divided by the actual sale price.

The closer an agent’s percentage is to 100, the better.

If it’s low, that could be an indication that they routinely list homes too high, or you may be in a slow market which would favor the home buyer.

On the other hand, if it’s high, it could show that your agent markets their listings well and your market might favor home sellers.

Median Days on Market

The median days on market is the midpoint of how many days it took for homes in that area to sell.

If it’s 30 days, then half of the homes sold quicker and half took longer than 30 days.

If you compare the real estate you’re considering to its area’s median days on market and you find that it’s been on longer, the sellers might be willing to take a lower offer.

Distressed Property

Properties are listed as distressed when the owners have defaulted on their mortgage loans or are about to.

As a buyer, you might be able to get a good deal on a short sale or a foreclosure, as banks many times list them below market value to try and recoup some of their loss and clear the property from their books.

An Active Versus Pending Status

If you find your dream home and then notice that it has a pending status, brace yourself for disappointment.

An active status on a home means the owners are accepting offers, while a pending status indicates that they’ve already accepted an offer.

If you know it’s the one for you, you can still place a bid in case the first offer falls through.

While there are many new concepts and terms you will learn when purchasing your new home, the benefits of home ownership far outweigh any fear that you may have.

If you’re looking to purchase a new home soon, please contact a licensed real estate professional who can cut through the jargon and find the home of your dreams.

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5 Tips For Purchasing Your New HomeIt’s a great time to buy a new home because there are quite a few Midlothian homes for sale and interest rates have continued to stay comparatively low.

Whether it’s your first time purchasing real estate or you’re a seasoned professional, here are a few tips to make shopping for a new house more pleasurable.

1. Get Help

Searching through all of the available properties on the market can be mind-boggling.

Find a professional real estate agent to help guide you through the homes for sale and select one that meets your family and financial needs.

2. Start Looking Now

Finding the perfect house can take longer than you might think, especially if you’re looking in a competitive market.

If you’re looking at getting a good deal on a foreclosure or short sale, then these transactions can take even longer because you’re likely waiting on the bank to make the final call on your purchase transaction.

Try to be patient. The more thorough you are in your search, the happier you’ll be in the long term.

3. Dont Settle For The First Place You See

Searching for a house can be extremely emotional.

If you think you’ve found the one, then take a step back, consult your real estate agent and go over your housing checklist one last time before writing an offer.

4. Weigh The Pros And Cons

Almost any property will need a few improvements; even newly constructed houses usually need improvements like landscaping.

Sellers are more savvy now about how to make cosmetic changes to catch a buyer’s eye, so look carefully.

There will still be things you want to change, so weigh the difference between the cost of those repairs and the sales price of the home.

If you really want a house even though it’s going to take a lot of work, make your offer accordingly.

5. Make Sure Your Financing Is In Order

Having financing done in advance makes the process of buying homes for sale much easier because you’ll know how much you can afford.

Your loan officer can also help you determine what your monthly payments will be based on how much money you borrow. 

A great first step is to consult with a licensed mortgage financing specialist to go over the available programs and terms available in the area.


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