Do You Hate When Real Estate Agents Ask You This Question?

 

 

Have you ever gone to an open house? Or called a real estate agent about a listing you see? Maybe e-mail an agent about a property he/she has listed?

You just want to check out a house. Maybe you’re just curious. Or, maybe you’re even pretty serious about buying a house. Doesn’t matter. All you’re doing is wondering about a house. That’s it. That’s what you want to talk to the agent about…the house you came to see, or called about.

And it seems like one of the first questions an agent asks you is, “Do you have a house to sell?

It’s a seemingly odd question, right? It doesn’t make sense for them to ask that question…at least not at that moment.

It seems a bit “cart-before-the-horse”, doesn’t it?

It might even come across as kind of pushy and forward, and beside the point.

Whether you have a house to sell or not seems irrelevant at that point. You don’t even know if you like the house, or will buy the house you are looking at. And you aren’t even thinking about selling your house, until and unless you find the house you want and actually have an offer accepted.

So, why do agents bring this up all the time?

You probably figure it’s because they’re hoping you do have a house to sell, so they can list the home you own, sell you this one you are asking about, and get two sales off of you.

Or that they want you to list your home, and get it under contract, so that you have to move…(again, so they can get two sales off of you).

Which makes you feel like they’re just looking to make as much money as possible, as quickly as possible, off of you. And, all of your fears and perceptions about real estate agents seem justified…

Whether you have a home to sell or not matters.

It might seem kind of early on for the agent to ask you this. But it’s not.

In fact, this question should be asked, answered, and addressed, before you even look at a house to buy.

Agents need to know this.

You need to know this.

And it has nothing to do with an agent wanting to make more money, or any money at all, off of you.

Because, if you own a home, the chances are…you need to sell your house before you can buy another one.

That doesn’t apply to everyone, of course. But most people can’t buy another home, until and unless the house they currently own is sold…

…which doesn’t sound all that appealing to most people. It begs so many questions. Here’s a few of them…

  • Who wants to sell their home without having lined up the one they are buying first?
  • What if you can’t find a house you want to buy once your home is sold?!
  • Won’t that put you in a tough spot to negotiate the best price of a home you want to buy, since you will be under the pressure of time? Will you have to overpay just to make sure you have a house to move to?

Those are just a few of the most common, and valid concerns.

Maybe You Don’t Need To Sell Your Home First…

Almost everyone an agent meets wants to be able to buy a house, without having to sell the house they already own first.

So, agents are always asked if there are alternatives.

Basically, there’s one that solves this problem every single time.

Do you have enough cash to just buy a house outright!? If so, you are in luck!

Go ahead and look for a house, and buy one. Move out of your house and into the new one. Then sell the old one at your leisure. You have options most people do not.

There are some other options, of course. But they aren’t definitely options for everyone.

For instance:

  • A bank might loan you money to buy your next house without selling your other one first. There are certainly circumstance and products that will allow for this. But this depends heavily on you and your financial picture.
  • You might be able to negotiate a “home sale contingency”…meaning, the owner of the house you want to buy agrees to give you time to sell your home, and your purchase is actually contingent upon getting your house sold. (Tough thing to negotiate in a lot of markets, or with many sellers. It isn’t all that appealing to sellers. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute… Would you agree to that as a seller?)

While you might be able to find an alternate route, other than selling your house first, it’s unlikely. And in many cases, it makes you a less than desirable buyer…which limits your options, and ability to negotiate a good deal.

So many people lose out on the house of their dreams, because they search and find it before they are in position to do anything about it. It’s a recipe for wasted time, aggravation, disappointment, and heartache.

So, what should you do?

First, you should assess what your options are as early on as possible.

Speak to a real estate agent and a mortgage lender.

If you discover that you have options beyond having to sell your place first, awesome!

But if not, don’t feel like you are the only person on earth to ever be put in this position. You have a lot of company.

That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, of course.

What will make it easier for you, and set you apart from everyone else in the same position, is understanding how critical it is to sell your home first. And, having a solid plan and approach to time the sale of your home, and the purchase of the next. (Which a great real estate agent can help you come up with.)

3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Hire The Agent With The Most For Sale Signs In Town

 

You want to hire the best agent when you sell your house.

You see real estate agent “John Listalots” all over town. His signs are everywhere. So, you figure he must be a great agent.

It seems like he sells almost everything in town, and you figure that he probably “has all the buyers”.

From an outsider’s point of view, this makes sense…

What better way to gauge and choose the best agent to list and sell your home?

You have the evidence in front of your eyes. So many other people have chosen him to sell their home, how could it not be true?

Something you should know…

Before we get into the three reasons why you shouldn’t just hire the agent with all the signs around town, there’s something you should know.

Very few real estate agents do tons of business. In any given area, there’s always an agent or two who seem to do all of the business.

But that doesn’t mean that the few agents who do most of the business, are the best agents.
Nor does it mean that the agents you don’t see doing much business are not the best agents.

There’s a difference between “top” agents, and “best” agents.

The “top” agents aren’t necessarily the “best” agents, who will do the best job for you, and get you the most money for your home. (But that isn’t to say they can’t, don’t, or won’t either.)

It’s just to say that you can’t judge an agent by the number of for sale signs they have up in town.

Don’t hire a real estate agent just because they have tons of for sale signs around town.

And, don’t not hire an agent who doesn’t have a lot of for sale signs around town.

The 3 reasons…

1. Appearances can be misleading.

Just because an agent has tons of for sale signs up around town all of the time doesn’t mean that the agent is selling them all. He might only sell half of the houses he lists.

And, the ones he does sell, he might not necessarily sell for the highest possible price.

Maybe he does. But maybe not. Just don’t base your decision off of appearances.

You might be better off hiring an agent who doesn’t sell lots of houses per year, but gets them all sold, and for the highest price possible.

2. Time and attention.

An agent who has lots of listings on the market could very well not have a whole lot of time and attention to devote specifically to you and your house.

Again, maybe he or she does manage to pay close and careful attention to every single one of their clients. But maybe not. In fact, there is a good chance an agent doing so much business cannot pay you lots of attention.

You might be better off hiring someone who has less listings, and can devote a lot of time and attention to you and the sale of your home.

3. They are too good at selling.

An agent who is good at finding and getting so much business is likely a very good salesperson.

But what are they good at selling? Maybe they do sell a lot of the houses they list, and quickly

Does that mean that agent did the best job and sold it for top dollar, or is it that the agent is good at selling their own client on agreeing to less than the best price and terms? Could they get more for their client? Is the agent pushing his or her own clients to do things, just to make a quicker sale, or a sale at all?

Almost impossible to prove. And not necessarily the case with a top producer. It’s just food for thought.

And it’s food worth chewing on…

Because so many great real estate agents, who take a tremendous amount of care in getting their clients the absolute best results, get overlooked simply because they aren’t the agent with the most for sale signs up around town.

Don’t overlook the best agent in your area, by just hiring the top agent in your area who has the most signs.

Dig a little. Ask around for that local agent who happens to be the best kept secret. And when you find one, don’t doubt your choice just because they aren’t the top producer. Trust him or her, and let your agent do the best job possible.

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A Simplified Guide to Your Home Inspection – Part II

A Simplified Guide to Your Home Inspection – Part II

 

 

 

If you have recently gone under contract to buy a home, you may be planning for your physical inspection. A lot of information will be thrown at you in a very short period of time, and a large amount of it is confusing. Hopefully, this will simplify your process. Part I of this article covered roofs, foundation, plumbing and electrical systems. Here, we will cover windows, landscaping, and termites.

Your inspector may recommend new windows. If you are happy with your old windows, they function well, and the casings are in good shape, that is great. But installing new windows is a great way to make your home more energy efficient. New windows are not inexpensive, though. Your window installer may need to repair the window casing (see the termite section, below). If you would like to maintain a vintage look, know that custom windows are really expensive. Also, you will likely have to paint inside or outside once installed. There is one more issue with windows – if the exterior is not sealed properly, they can leak during rains. This is more common than you think, even with condominiums. However, new windows can save you energy dollars and really freshen the look of your home.

Depending on what part of the country you live in, you may have visions of all new landscape including hardscape (created mounds, decorative or retaining walls, etc.). Nothing makes a house look more like eye-candy than refreshed landscape. Or, you may want a simple grassy yard, which might require sprinklers. Be warned – all of this is can be really pricey. Hopefully, you and your gang will want to plant, weed and replant yourselves, which is very time-consuming but can be a lot of fun. And once it stops being fun, you can always hire a gardener.

The other landscape item that your inspector may point out are your home’s trees and their roots. You will need to trim branches regularly to keep them off your roof. The big thing, however, are tree roots as they can lift or crack a foundation and invade sewer lines. If this occurs with a big tree that you wish to keep, you may want to hire a tree surgeon to cut the right roots and leave the other roots alone.

Finally, your inspector will check your outside drains and sump pumps, if you have them. These need to function perfectly so you do not have standing water close to (or in!) your house after heavy rains.

Depending on where you live, you may have a separate termite and wood-destroying organism inspection. Just about every house has termites. Termites are often even present in brand new lumber for brand new houses! In addition to eradicating the little pests, you may need some wood replaced. This is common with window sills and casings, wood overhangs and wood posts. The termites will come back, as well. It is a good idea to have your home inspected every two years or so, top to bottom, and eradication done then.

Hopefully, this has taken some of the mystery out of your inspection. Remember that everything can be repaired or replaced – at a price, of course.

A Simplified Guide to Your Home Inspection – Part 1

A Simplified Guide to Your Home Inspection – Part 1

 

 

 

If you are under contract to purchase a home, congratulations! Of course, you are excited and a little nervous, too. Your physical inspection can be especially nerve-wracking. In a short amount of time, you will receive more information than you can process, and it will all seem very serious. And confusing. And potentially expensive. In order to calm your nerves, here is a breakdown of the inspection’s most important home components and priorities. (Homes and condos are constructed differently across the U.S.; this will deal with structures that are mostly wood and not brick, and homes that are not new.)

Your home’s most important elements are its roof, foundation, plumbing, and electrical system.

First, here’s the story on your roof. Your inspector may say that the roof “is at the end of its useful life.” It is not unusual for a roof to need some repairs and maintenance, but it is unusual to need a whole new roof. With continuing maintenance and proper repairs, your dying roof can last several more years. Repairs are pretty easy and most roofers are cost-competitive. Condo purchasers will want to check with the condo board to see what repairs have been done or are anticipated.

Your foundation will either be raised above the ground on piers and posts, or it will be a slab. If you have a basement, it is raised; if you have a newer home, it is likely on a slab. If your raised foundation has some cracks, those can be easily repaired with special epoxy products. If it is completely cracked, and off its posts, run away.

Electrical problems that your inspector finds can be difficult to understand. Amps, breakers, sub panels, drops – what does that all mean? Older homes may not have enough power to run today’s modern appliances, toys, and systems. Wiring may be older, too. The good news here is that electrical work, even replacing wires and panels, is very routine for an electrician. It does not take very long to complete and is usually cheaper than you think it would be.

Your plumbing has many components and some are more serious/expensive to fix than others. Leaky faucet? No big deal to repair. Septic tank pumping? Routine. Roots in your sewer? Common. Unfortunately, many other problems can be progressively more serious and expensive to fix, especially if walls need to be opened. You will want to get estimates from at least two plumbers – hopefully only a portion of your plumbing needs repair. It is usually not necessary to re-pipe a whole house.

Hopefully, your inspection will make a little more sense to you now. The next post on this topic will go over other home components like heating and air-conditioning, fireplaces, windows, and outside spaces.

Kitchen Mini Makeover

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3 Reasons Your Real Estate Agent WANTS You To Bother Them

What Does MLK Have To Do With Real Estate?

What Does MLK Have To Do With Real Estate?

Fill in the blank…

“I have a _________…”

I’m about 100% sure I can guess what word you chose.

Was it “dream”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good chance it was. We all know this line from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech. So when we hear those first three words, it sort of naturally comes to mind.

But what many people aren’t aware of is how much he affected the lives of real estate agents, buyers, and sellers.

It was his death that gave Congress the last push needed to pass the Fair Housing Act, back in 1968. It’s pretty involved, so I won’t get into it all here, but to put it simply…

This was put in place to ban racial discrimination in housing. You can’t be refused the rental or purchase of a house, based upon your race.

Seems simple enough to most people now. A given, if you will. But it didn’t happen overnight. And believe it or not, it still can and does come up.

But guess who’s a big part of making sure this Act is followed…

On the front lines, it is people like me. Real estate agents. We’re tasked with making people aware that discrimination based upon race (and many other things) are not acceptable, and we must refuse to work with anyone who wants to do so.

And I am proud to be a part of this ongoing history.

Just figured I’d take this appropriate moment to pay him some respect, and give you some insight into how much more responsibility a real estate agent has than meets the eye.

That’s all for now…

…and may your dreams come true,

Your friends at Advantage Real Estate

P.S. While my dream of helping people find their dream home is certainly not comparable to Martin Luther King’s dream…

Owning a home has become a huge part of the American Dream.

Please know how seriously I take this career. And how much heart and soul I put into helping people find their dream home.

If you know anyone dreaming of finding a home, please have them give me a call… I’d love to be a part of helping make their dream come true.

(Or maybe you even have a dream we should talk about…)

Call us at 660-263-3393

Real Estate 2017: What to Expect

Home Equity_Social Media_Layout 1

 

Real Estate 2017: What to Expect

 

One of the most common questions we get at this time of year is, “What’s going on in the market?” It’s not just potential buyers and sellers who are curious; homeowners always want reassurance their home’s value is going up. The good news is the American real estate market is strong and healthy: home values are up, prices and sales are strong, and millennial first-time buyers are eager to become homeowners.

 

We often use national real estate numbers to give us a clearer view of our local market. However, real estate is local, and while statistics and predictions help us understand the overall real estate market, our local market may be different. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, or just want to know how much your home is worth, give us a call!

 

 

What to Expect in the Real Estate Market in 2017

 

The American housing market is stronger than ever! Home values, prices and sales had their strongest numbers in 2016, a sure sign the market is healthy and strong. According to the Home Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), property values have increased in 58 of the last 62 months and have increased more than 35 percent nationally. Homeowners continue to build equity in their largest investment—their homes.

 

First-time buyers are back.

Housing forecasts from the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), the Mortgage Bankers’ Association, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae all predict existing-home sales will surpass 6 million in 2017, higher than anticipated sales for 2016. Who’s driving the surge? According to NAR, millennials who have put off buying a home are ready to buy. While they may have avoided buying a home due to student debt and limited employment, many are entering their 30s, a time when their attention turns to marriage, family and setting roots with homeownership. They’re predicted to be the driving force behind home and condominium sales from now until into 2020. (Source: MarketWatch)

 

What does this mean to you? If you’re a millennial who’s been on the fence about buying, now is the time to act. Give us a call to answer your questions about the market and the buying process.

 

Renters are embracing homeownership

Additionally, many renters who’ve resisted buying are starting home searches due to the economic weight of rising rents. This year’s home buyers seek to take advantage of comparatively low interest rates and, in most cases, static payments each month—an advantage of home ownership. Rental costs will only continue to rise; if you’re thinking of buying, now is an ideal time to do so.

 

What does this mean to you? Every month you pay rent, you lose the opportunity to build equity in a home of your own. Break free from the limits of renting and invest in your financial future. Come in the office and we’ll discuss your options.

 

Home prices are on the rise.

According to NAR, the median existing-home price not only increased 6.0 percent year-over-year in October, it’s also the 56th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. Prices are approaching the pre-recession peak.

 

What does this mean to you? Home prices, and subsequently home values, are increasing. If you’ve been waiting to list your home until you know you can sell it for what you think it’s worth, now is a great time to do so. We’ll be happy to give you a comparative market assessment of your home and help you get your home in list-ready shape.

 

If you’re in the market to buy, be prepared to act.

Homes were on the market for the shortest amount of time recorded since 2009: 52 days. The increase of qualified buyers in the market along with the increasing efficiency of the real estate process means homes are selling faster than ever, and in many cases buyers are engaging in bidding wars and paying over the list price to get the home of their dreams.

 

What does this mean to you? The home you have your eye on one day may be gone the next. In competitive markets, be prepared to come to the table with a competitive bid.

 

Looking for a new home?

New-home construction will increase to an average of 1.5 million per year to 2024, according to a report from NAR. However, experts anticipate housing starts will only increase to 1.22 million in 2017, which is less than the 1.5 million new homes required to keep up with growing demand. This inventory shortage of new entry-level homes—typically purchased by first-time buyers—may drive up prices in some areas. Home builders have been focusing on multi-family construction for the last few years, but this type of construction has begun to level off providing hope that builders will once again focus on single-family home construction. However, stricter proposed immigration policies may impact new home construction and tighten inventory.

 

What does this mean to you? First-time and repeat home buyers agree—there are plenty of advantages of buying a new home. Whether you want a home customized to your family’s needs or you don’t want to bother with age-related maintenance, a new home has much to offer. Give us a call to discuss your options.

 

Affordability pressures are increasing in many markets

Housing affordability in many of the nation’s largest cities has declined over the past few years, a trend that is expected to continue in 2017. However, there is hope. NAR created the Affordability Index to measure the affordability of homes across the United States. The Affordability Index assesses whether the typical family earning the median family income can qualify for a mortgage on a typical home based on the prevailing mortgage interest rate on loans closed on existing homes from the Federal Housing Finance Board.

 

The NAR Affordability Index is 170.2 (composite) and 169.8 (fixed), meaning a family earning the median family income has 170.2 percent of the income necessary to buy a median-priced, single-family home. Nationally, the qualifying income is $41,616, but it varies by region. In the Northeast, the qualifying income is $45,024. In the Midwest, it’s $32,640. In the South, it’s $36,960. In the West, it’s $61,824.

 

What does this mean to you? If you’ve had your eye on a new home, but weren’t sure if you could afford it, you may be pleasantly surprised. We may have homes in our area that meet your needs and budget. Give us a call today to discuss your home search.

 

3 Things to Do Now if You Plan to Buy This Year

  1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you’re like most buyers who plan to finance part of the home purchase, getting pre-approved for a mortgage will allow you to put in an offer on a home and may give you an advantage over other buyers. The added bonus: you can see how much home you can afford and budget accordingly.
  2. Start looking. While most buyers start their searches online, be sure to look at homes in neighborhoods you’d like to live in as well. Keep a notebook to write down what you like and dislike about each home you view in person or online. This will help you narrow down where to look and what to look for in your next home.
  3. Come to our office. The buying process can be tricky. We’d love to guide you through it. We can help you find a home that fits your needs and budget. Give us a call to make an appointment today!

 

 

3 Things to Do Now if You Plan to Sell This Year

  1. Make repairs. Most buyers want a home they can move into right away, without having to make extensive repairs. While the repairs may or may not add value, making them will give your home a competitive advantage over other similar homes on the market.
  2. Get a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA not only gives you the current market value of your home, it’ll also show how your home compares to others in the area. This will help us price your home to sell in our market. Call us for your free CMA!
  3. Start packing. Help your buyers see themselves in your home by packing up items you don’t use regularly and storing them in an attic or a storage space. This will make your home easier to stage as well as make it easier to move later on.

 

Are you thinking of buying or selling?

Whether you’d like to buy or sell a home this year, want to know how much your home is worth, or have general questions about our local market, give us a call! We’d love to discuss the market with you.

Call Advantage Real Estate  660-263-3393

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2016 Year In Review

2016 Year In Review

 

Well folks, the stats are out!  2016 finished strong with steady growth in the residential market.  The image below shows statistics for 2016 compared to 2015.  It’s amazing to see how steady the numbers were!

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW

2017 is looking to be a banner year as well, now that we have a new President.  Interest rates continue to be low.  (I bought my first house in 1981 and the interest rate was 18%!)  The real estate market had to get creative to sell back then…and it did!

 

If you’re looking to sell in 2017, call the friendly folks at Advantage Real Estate.  Let us show you our marketing plan and what we do that’s different!  You may be surprised to see what the value of your home is in today’s market…

 

 

5 New Year’s Resolutions Every Homeowner Should Make for 2017

5 New Year’s Resolutions Every Homeowner Should Make for 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 is coming to a close, and with the new year just around the corner, people across the world are gearing up to set their intentions for the upcoming year in the form of New Year’s Resolutions. And while you’re bound to make at least one standard resolution (like “finally get in shape” or “eat more vegetables”), as a homeowner, there are some home-specific resolutions you’ll want to think about to get the most out of your property and the experience of owning a home this upcoming year.

Here are 5 New Year’s Resolutions every homeowner should make for 2017:

1. Bump Up Your Mortgage Payments

If you have any sort of expendable income in 2017, you might want to think about putting it towards your mortgage. Making extra payments on your mortgage can have a huge impact on the total you end up paying out over the course of the loan. It can also shorten the amount of time you’ll be saddled with payments and can have you owning your house free and clear sooner than you expected.

The more you can contribute, the better. But even if you can only make a few extra payments per year – do it. Those extra dollars will add up and end up saving you serious dollars in interest over the course of your mortgage.

Create a 2017 budget and look for any areas where you can shave a few dollars, like your daily trip to the coffeehouse or an expensive gym membership. Then, re-purpose that cash and put it towards paying down your mortgage faster.

2. Explore Refinancing

2016 saw near record low interest rates on mortgages, and while they’ve slowly crept up towards the end of the year (current rates are around 4%), they’re still HALF of the average interest rates over the past 40 years (which averaged at 8.45%).

If you haven’t refinanced your mortgage recently, now is the time to do it. With a new president taking office, the economy may shift, and interest rates may rise.

Talk to your loan officer about refinancing and getting a lower interest rate. And if you’re in a variable rate mortgage, shift over to a fixed rate mortgage and lock in the low interest rates while you can.

3. Review and Renew Your Homeowners Insurance

A lot of homeowners roll over their insurance year to year, but if you haven’t reviewed your policy in a while, you might be missing out on some money-saving opportunities.

Shop around and get quotes to see what rates are competitive in the current market and if you’re paying more, see if your current company will match the lowest quote. If you have a stand-alone policy, think about bundling your auto and homeowners insurance with one company. Insurance companies will often offer discounts for customers who hold multiple policies. If you’ve made any major improvements to your home that could impact the insurability of your house (like clearing trees, installing a high tech security system or adding storm reinforcements), let your agent know. Improvements can often lower your premiums.

4. Declutter, Declutter, Declutter

While spring is traditionally the time for organizing (in the form of “spring cleaning”), there’s no better time for a fresh start – and a more organized home – than the New Year.

Cleaning out closets, getting rid of things you no longer want or need and taking a more minimalist approach to life can have huge benefits. Not only will your home look better, but you’ll also FEEL better as a result. Messy, cluttered homes can cause increased stress and anxiety, making it much harder to relax and enjoy your space. Clutter has also been shown to decrease creativity, productivity and focus, so if you want to have a happy and productive 2017, it’s time for the stuff to go.

Plan a day to go through all of your closets, cabinets and storage space. If you’re not actively using something, get rid of it. The benefits you’ll reap from decluttering will far outweigh the value of the things you get rid of.

5. Get Up To Speed On Safety

The new year is the perfect time to review the current state of your property and take any precautions necessary to ensure that you’re safe in the upcoming year.

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace them if necessary. Check your house for radon, a common, carcinogenic gas that can increase your chance of lung cancer (you can pick up a radon testing kit at a local hardware store for less than $10).  Meet with your family to review emergency evacuation plans in case of a fire, flood or other emergencies.

With these 5 resolutions, you’ll get the most out of your property – and of owning your home – in 2017 and beyond.

8 Scams to watch out for this Holiday Season

Holiday Fraud_FB Social Media_Layout 18 Scams to Watch Out For This Holiday Season

 

The holidays are a happy time for celebrating with family, friends, and co-workers. Unfortunately, this time of year can also be turned sour by a wide variety of clever frauds, unauthorized debit and credit card transactions, and bogus person-to-person scams. By the end of 2015, individuals, retailers, charitable donors, and companies were victimized to the tune of $1.5 billion… and that number is expected to have gone up in 2016.

 

Just as you protect your home with an alarm system, you should set up defenses for your credit and identity. During the holiday season, fraudulent activity spikes, but here’s how to protect yourself from the eight most common scams.

 

Big Data Breeds Data Breaches

 

Big data during the holidays is great for marketers; it’s a bonanza of consumer information to use to lure shoppers to Black Friday deals and the like. However, while companies wrangle in the chaos of holiday orders, scammers search for weaknesses in a company’s cyber-security. According to a top executive at one of the leading credit bureaus, “Data breaches are inevitable and most consumers are vulnerable to identity theft… especially during the holidays.” In fact, 25% more consumers were affected by identity theft during the holidays in 2015 than in 2014!

 

The best way to reduce your risk of data breaches is use cash for all your purchases. According to a survey by TransUnion, however, only 20 percent of shoppers plan to pay with cash. If you’re part of the 80 percent using plastic, use a credit card instead of a debit card. You have more purchase protection using a credit card than a debit card if a data breach occurs or fraud happens.

 

Other protections from data breaches include:

 

  • Using a low-limit credit card for online purchases so you can detect fraudulent activity.
  • Utilizing services like PayPal to lower the risk of your card information being lost at the retailer.

 

Package Theft

 

E-commerce is great for holiday shoppers… but it’s also great for thieves. Last year, Insurancequotes reported that 23 million people had packages stolen at their front door!

 

To prevent this from happening to you, have your packages delivered to your office or delivered to a pick-up area such as a UPS store or Amazon Locker.  You can also set up tracking notifications so that you know when to expect delivery.

 

And while you’re waiting for your packages, be on the lookout for this scam: a note on the front door saying you have a package waiting for pickup. The note asks for a call, often to a pricey number that leaves you on hold for a long period while they collect premium phone rates, or it leads to a person asking for details on your personal information to “verify your identity.” If the note isn’t from a shipper you recognize, or if the Googled number isn’t found, don’t get involved.

 

Online Shopping Scams

 

The big brother of package thievery is the online shopping scam. Phony online stores lure shoppers in through searches and online ads, enticing you with low-priced, high-quality items. These “bargains” cost you not only money, but also hours of time trying to fight the fraudulent transaction. To put salt in the wound, once these websites nab your personal information, they often also infect your computer with malware that compromises your login to your online bank.

 

To avoid the pitfalls of the fake online merchant, only purchase from retail names you know and trust. You could also Google the site and look for reviews. Yelp is a legitimate site for reviews as is the Better Business Bureau. Before you make a purchase online, double-check that “https” appears in the URL, which signifies that the site has passed stringent security compliance standards.

 

Poisonous Holiday E-Cards

 

E-cards are popular during the holidays because they’re a free, fun, and easy way to catch up with friends and family members. But beware because it’s just as easy for scammers to use fake e-cards to steal your personal information. A lot of fake e-cards you may get are from your hacked address book or the hacked address book of someone you know. At first glance, the card may look legitimate, but once you open it, you’ve been phished.

 

The only way to avoid this from happening is paying attention to detail. The number one tell of a fake E-card is any kind of misspelling. The URL will have a subtle misspelled word or your friend’s name is misspelled. Usually the misspelled word will contain a number: T1msmith@comcast.net for instance.

 

Fake Apps

 

ConsumerAffairs is reporting a huge spike in fake apps. Scammers are using fake retail and product apps found in Apple’s App Store to steal unsuspecting consumers’ financial information. Many of these thieves rip off company or brand logos to make the fake app look real. So before you get that convenient retail or product app, make sure it’s legit.

 

Just as with fake e-cards, fake apps will seem normal until you start looking at the details. Before you download that convenient retail or product app, make sure you check for the following:

 

  • A nonsensical description
  • No reviews
  • No history of previous versions

 

 

Gift Card Scammers

 

Scam artists skim or copy the codes on the back of gift cards before they’re bought. After the card has been activated, the scammers drain the card’s funds.

 

To prevent yourself from becoming a victim of compromised gift cards, buy gift cards displayed behind store counters, make sure preloaded cards are still loaded, and make sure the protective scratch-off strip is flawless.

 

Malicious Charities

 

During the holiday season we all feel an extra sense of giving. Grifters and thieves play on this sensibility by creating false charities and hitting you up on Twitter, Instagram, and in your e-mail inbox.

 

There are online resources to help you verify the legitimacy of charities. The website Charity Navigator is a non-profit organization that rates over 8,000 U.S-based charities operating throughout the world. Another way to get free reviews and evaluations on national charities is through the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

 

Corrupted Wi-Fi

 

You’ll probably hit the mall this holiday for some in-person price checking, and you’ll probably have your smartphone, laptop, and/or your iPad with you. Please be careful because skimmers and scammers love to manipulate Wi-Fi signals in places like malls and coffee shops to gather your financial information. These people create Wi-Fi signals that mimic the signal you use, then hack your info when you connect to it.

 

To protect yourself from Wi-Fi manipulators, just don’t make online purchases with your credit or debit card when you’re in a public space.

 

Who Should You Turn To?

 

If you catch the trouble soon enough, credit or identity fraud can be an inconvenience. If you don’t, however, one instance can have long-term impacts. If, for example, someone bought an appliance using your name while you were trying to refinance your mortgage, then you might not get approved for the loan!

 

If you’re curious to know if you’ve been affected, or if you know your credit is in disrepair and need help fixing it, please let us know so we can refer you to our recommended professionals.

 

 

 

Was it you who needed a 5 BR home?

Was it you who needed a 5 BR home?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Need space? It is here with lots of character!

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Check out the interactive floor plan/virtual tour; you’re going to love this place!

 

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This custom kitchen is simply amazing!   So many nooks and crannies, and great storage!

 

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Five bedrooms, room for all the family plus your hobby!

 

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Yard is beautifully landscaped with 3 garden ponds, lots of flowers for every season. Brick patio in the shaded, fenced back yard.

 

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2 car garage (wired for 220) with fenced in area behind garage for bikes, riding mower,, 4-wheelers, etc.

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This home should qualify for most types of loans.  Come check it out!  One of the Realtors at Advantage Real Estate would be glad to help you!  660-263-3393

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Puppies for Sale

Puppies for Sale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A store owner was tacking a sign above his door that read “Puppies for Sale.”  Signs like that have a way of attracting small children, and sure enough, a little boy appeared under the store owner’s sign.  “How much are you going to sell the puppies for?” he asked.

 

The store owner replied, “Anywhere from $30 to $50.”

 

The little boy reached in his pocket and pulled out some change.  “I have $2.37,” he said.   “Can I please look at them?”

 

The store owner smiled and whistled, and out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his store followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur.  One puppy was lagging considerably behind.  Immediately the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, “What’s wrong with that little dog?”

 

The store owner explained that the veterinarian had examined the little puppy and had discovered it didn’t have a hip socket.  It would always have a limp.  It would always be lame.  The little boy became excited.  “That is the little puppy I want to buy.”

 

The store owner said, “No, you don’t want to buy that little dog.   If you really want him, I’ll just give him to you.”

 

The little boy was quite upset.  He looked straight into the store owner’s eyes, pointed his finger and said, “I don’t want you to give him to me.  That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs, and I’ll pay full price.  In fact, I’ll give you $2.37 now, and 50 cents a month until I have him paid for. ”

 

The store owner countered, “You really don’t want to buy this little dog.  He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies.”

 

To this, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace.  He looked up at the store owner and softly replied, “Well, I don’t run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!”

 

Source:  Chicken Soup for the Soul (Canfield & Hansen)

10 Recipes for a Peaceful Christmas Season

by Joyce Meyer

Christmas is a beautiful and amazing time of the year—at time to celebrate the birth of Christ. One of the ways we do that is by giving and receiving gifts. But we live in a society where “being too busy” is applauded. And so it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the buying and the planning and the “business” of Christmas. Ironically, when the day finally arrives, we’re unable to enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re like me, you have something better in mind. You know that fullness of joy is found not in presents, but in God’s presence (see Psalm 16:11). That’s the magic of Christmas that makes us come alive! …So slow down, get quiet, and take time to soak in God’s presence.

Problems will arise and people will frustrate and/or disappoint you. There is no way to be alive and avoid that. But you can balance out the bad with the good by spending quality time with God and indulging in a few of the simpler pleasures of the season.

If you find yourself struggling with too much intensity, try a few of these simple “recipes” for a less stressful, more fulfilling celebration.

1. Take a deep breath.

The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. — Job 33:4 NIV

2. Read something uplifting.

…Turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. — Proverbs 4:20-22 NIV

3. Listen to praise and worship music.

Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. — Psalm 100:2 NIV

4. Go to bed on time (maybe even a little early).

It is vain for you to rise up early, to take rest late, to eat the bread of [anxious] toil—for He gives [blessings] to His beloved in sleep. — Psalm 127:2

5. Spend time with a close friend.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. — Galatians 6:2 NIV

6. Enjoy a delicious, nutritious meal.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. — 3 John 1:2 NIV

7. Write down your worries…then throw them away.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. — 1 Peter 5:7

8. Make a list of things you’re thankful for.

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and the Mediator of that will]. — 1 Thessalonians 5:18

9. Get outdoors for a while.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. — Psalm 19:1 NIV

10. Be playful and laugh a lot!

A cheerful heart is good medicine…. — Proverbs 17:22 NIV

 

This Was From an Ann Lander’s Column……

We don’t know the author, but we loved the essay. Enjoy!

If a dog was your teacher, you would learn stuff like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Editable vector silhouettes of a man welcomed home by wife, children and dog with all figures as separate objects

When it’s in your best interest, practice obedience.

Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On hot days, drink lots of water, and lie under a shade tree.

When you’re happy, dance around, and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.

Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you are not.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

Call Advantage Real Estate for advice on how to sell your home quickly and at the highest possible price.  660-263-3393

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Exterior House Renovations that Increase Property Value

Exterior House Renovations that Increase Property Value

Making home improvements can increase the resale value of a home significantly, especially with the improvement of the exterior parts of the homestead. However, many people do not know how to enhance the value of their homes. So I thought I’d share some tips on how to increase property value by enhancing its exterior appeal.

  1. The front door

The front door is the focal point of a home’s visual appeal. A buyer can tell the quality of the house by looking at the front yard. You need to dress up your front door to make it visually appealing. Take a step or two back and look objectively at your front door like this was your first time there.  Get rid of the rusty stuff at the sides of the doorstep, and use a polish to clean the door fixtures. Make sure the flowers adjacent to the front door are neat and fresh. Use beautiful colors to add more life to the front-yard. For instance, you can paint the door with a blast of red color supplemented by a white color at the background.

  1. Make sure the driveway is neat

If your home already has a driveway, ensure it is neat. Work on a fresh coat of asphalt, if it is worn.  Ensure that the weeds are trimmed from the sides.  This makes a big impact on curb appeal.

  1. Invest in outdoor lighting

Add some outdoor lighting in your yard to increase its value. Most buyers prefer a secure environment where they can do what they love despite the time of the day. Lighting not only make them feel secure, but it also scares away burglars. You can buy cheap low-voltage lighting, or you can go with some accent lighting on the trees and the walking path. Add a solar panel to make lighting more energy-efficient.

  1. Create a garden

A spark of color adjacent to your house creates an inviting appeal.  A container garden is a viable option because it will save you from constant weed invasion.  Add beautiful flowers to make the garden more colorful. Ensure you symmetrically arrange the contents of the garden to create a vibrant setting.

  1. Wash the siding

Don’t neglect the siding on your house.  Get rid of the dirt and the dead leaves from the roof. Clean up the walls with a tough brush and a suitable detergent. Work from the bottom to the top and leave no stones un-turned. Also, renew the painting and trim the side flowers for additional curb appeal. The steps tips discussed above are the best home improvement investments you can ever think for. You don’t have to hire a professional to have a successful exterior house renovation, as you can do it yourself. If you do it properly, your home’s resale value will increase significantly.

It’s The Holiday Season

What’s the top reason to sell your home during the holidays?

 

Every year about this time we see a lot of sellers take their homes off the market.  They don’t want to move during the winter.  They don’t want anyone to look during the Christmas holidays.  The kids will be on vacation from school.  You get the idea, and so do I.  But let me share this nugget with you:  “there are still motivated buyers out there during the winter months that need to select and buy a home.”   And if yours is still on the market, then yours may be what they select!

We can work around the freezing weather conditions.  No one wants to move during an ice storm.  We get that.  Everyone is normally very workable during this season.  We have sellers planning to list their homes soon (still).  I’m anxious to meet that buyer who has a very narrow window of time to select and close on his/her next home!

We’ve had some record busy fall and winters these past several years in the Moberly, MO real estate market.  Interest rates are still low, loan programs are available with no-low-some-20% down programs.  (Made you smile, didn’t I?)  This means that there are programs with no down payment, low down payment, some down payment, and of course, if you can put down 20% or more, that is optimal.

Feel free to share this with your friends who may be thinking of selling.  We’d love to hear from you!

When You Are Under Contract to Buy…………..

Today something happened at the office I hope will not happen again…

One of our buyer’s lender informed us that the underwriter had checked her funds to close, and that her account was short some sum of money.

The loan officer advised the young buyer that she could obtain a gift from a relative.  Fortunately, her dad had funds and was willing to “gift” them to her.  What the buyer failed to pass on to the dad was that his “gift” funds had to be sourced.  What that means is that the underwriter needed proof of where the funds had come from.  They needed a copy of the giftor’s bank statement to show where the funds had come from.

Needless to say, the father was not willing to provide his bank statement.

 

Only a miracle could save this.

We talked to the loan officer, and I recommended he gently explain again to the buyer/daughter WHY this was needed.  After all the terrorist activity in our nation, the lending rules have changed.  For the stricter.  This applies to all loans sold on the secondary market.

Well, dad came through today and provided his bank statement.   The loan officer has given us a clear to close!  Thank you God!

And you wonder what we Realtors do all day?  LOL

We wear lots of hats and put out lots of fires.  But at the end of the day, we make homeownership happen!

Call your favorite agent at Advantage Real Estate in Moberly, MO.  We’d love to help you or a friend you refer to us!  660-263-3393

Home Selling Mistakes to Avoid

Home Selling Mistakes to Avoid

  1. One of the hardest things I’ve observed during the past 25 years is when sellers tell their real estate agent the price they want to sell their home for — and the agent agrees.  The part that confuses me is:  does the agent not have the courage to tell the seller where the pricing is in the market, or are they just doing what we call in the business, “buying a listing?”  This is when an agent accepts an inflated price, hoping the seller will later reduce the asking price.   You deserve to see market comparables and know that your house is priced within the correct range.

 

 

  1. You weren’t educated about the process of selling your home.  Who likes surprises anyway?  It’s important to have an agent who can teach you the process from list to sale.  And what happens in between.  Feedback is my number one goal.  I strive to give prompt feedback from showings.  If I were selling my house, I’d want to know if the folks who looked at it had any interest, did they have any comments to pass along, or did it just not suit them?

  1. You didn’t take time to prep your house for resale.  It’s important to deep clean, de-clutter, and make repairs as needed, as well as effective staging.   The decluttering and staging is difficult when you live in a home, but it’s what makes the most impression with prospective buyers.  They want to see if they have room for all their stuff!

 

 

  1. Your home wasn’t presented well – This begins with how well you present your home for sale, how well your real estate agent photographs your home, and how well it’s blasted across the internet.  It’s amazing to see some photos many people present online.  I always wonder if the listing agent sent a link to the homeowner to approve?  Professional photos are a must these days!

 

 

  1. Along with #4, I normally like to help a prospective seller by giving a list of some suggestions to achieve prior to listing.  It’s great to put this on the refrigerator with a magnet, however, prior to taking photos, be sure to take ALL of the photos and magnets OFF the refrigerator.  It’s amazing what a distraction this can be online in the kitchen photos…

 

  1. You listened to your neighbors, friends and family about how you should price your home.  Would you visit a foot doctor if you had heart palpitations?  Seek the advice of a trusted real estate professional, always.  Ask your friends, neighbors, and family for a reference.  Someone they trusted.  Someone who gave prompt feedback, someone who was honest with them even when it “hurt.”  Someone who knew their contracts like the back of their hand.  That’s really why you hire a real estate agent anyway, isn’t it?

 

 

That’s just a small list, but I think I’ve hit most of the “big” things.  In my years of selling homes as a Moberly, MO Realtor, and servicing Randolph County, MO and surrounding communities, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen such mistakes made when they could have been completely avoided.  Use this list as a guide so you can have a smooth transition next time you have a  need to sell a home.  Print it off, save it to your computer, pin it to your “home selling” board on Pinterest.  Disclaimer:  if you put it on your refrigerator, make sure you remove it before you sell your home, as a clean refrigerator with nothing pasted all over it is also a must when it’s time to sell!  LOL

 

As always, hiring a hometown Realtor from Advantage Real Estate is a good move!  660-263-3393

Recycling Household Hazardous Waste

I spent last Saturday morning with Geri Blakey from the City of Moberly Household Hazardous Waste recycling program.   Boy, it was an enlightening time!    First off, if you haven’t heard, the City of Moberly has a recycling program where you can bring your unused paint, stains, varnish, household chemicals, pesticides, yard chemicals, and they will recycle it!

 

Now it sounds easy, but a lot of work goes into this…first off, someone brings in a load of used paint, for example.  Geri will  help you carry it in.  She weighs everything so she can see what comes in and what goes out.  She told me that she recycled approximately 4 tons of paints last year, and is on target for a similar amount this year.

 

I know what 360 pounds of paint feels like.  I helped clean out a basement of a house I’m helping to sell.  There were at least 40 gallons of paint cans left from a prior owner.  Up and down the stairs for what felt like a zillion times.  It was a good workout.  Good thing the weather was cooler!

 

So Geri will weigh the product and have you fill in your name and address, so she can monitor where her program is reaching to.  I was amazed at how many “regulars” she had come by to see what she had that they could reuse.  Often she has art teachers from local schools and colleges come by to get supplies.  This helps in their “budget.”  Last Saturday there were several couples come by to get paint so they could repaint the inside of a place they were renting or buying for their kids.  The supplies she recycles are all free!

 

I was amazed that she had lots of shades of stain.  How many times has my husband gone to the local hardware store to buy some stain for a small project?

 

This place will accept used batteries, cell phones, and oils of most types.   I was surprised at accepting oils.  Geri told me she takes the used oil to the street barn, and they burn oil in their furnace.  So it all gets used!

 

If you haven’t discovered the Hazardous Household Waste center yet, bookmark this.  It’s next door to the dog pound, the building with the green metal roof just off the outer road past the Assembly of God Church in Moberly, MO.  Normally she is open from 8 to noon on the second Saturday of the month.  In November, she will be open on the first Saturday due to the second Saturday being the craft show at the Activity Center.  She’s having a display with rain barrels.  She keeps busy!

 

Call Geri Blakey at 660-263-7164 or email at gblakey@cityofmoberly.com if you have any questions.

This public service announcement courtesy of Jane Loeber, Advantage Real Estate.

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Two Story Dream House

Two Story Dream House

Don’t you  just love those “older” homes with character?  Well, take a peek at this one, located in Moberly, MO.

Gorgeous woodwork and impressive stairway invite you in to this approximately  2750 sq ft  home.

Oversized front living room with tall ceilings, crown molding, and new carpet.

The huge country kitchen will be a favorite spot!  Lots of room for the family to gather here…

This is the huge master bedroom with two closets.  All four bedrooms are on the same level, upstairs.  There’s even a balcony to watch the world go by from upstairs!

Nice privacy fenced backyard surrounded by perennial plantings.  A great place to unwind after a busy day!

This home features 4 BR 2 BA, and a detached 1.5 car garage with opener.  Central heat and air and modern bathrooms!  It’s at 406 S. Williams St., Moberly, MO.  This listing is provided by Advantage Real Estate, 660-263-3393.  MLS # 16-358.

September Market Update

Monthly Market Update

September 2016

Market Update – According to Randolph County Board of Realtors

27 Residential Properties Sold

$99,900 Average Sale Price

$105,274 Median Sale Price

Over $2.84 Million in Dollar Sales Volume

Market Update

Monthly Market UpdateAugust 2016

Market Update – According to Randolph County Board of Realtors

25 Residential Properties Sold

$113,331 Average Sale Price

$125,258 Median Sale Price

Over $2.89 Million in Dollar Sales Volume

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Best Time to Sell??

When Is the Best Time to Sell a House? 

 

I get this question a lot.  I wish there was a “magic” answer.  Years ago it used to be said that the “hot” market was May to September.  But in the Central Missouri region where we live, it can vary.  Yes, spring and summer are “typical” times people like to move.  School’s out, weather’s good.  But I’ve had people tell me they didn’t want to close in July or August because it’s “too hot!”  Go figure!

 

At Advantage Real Estate, we’ve had some really good fall and winter seasons lately.  When is the right time to sell your house?  When YOU’RE ready!  There are buyers all through the year.  Maybe less when winter comes, but in my nearly 25 years in this business, I can say we have more MOTIVATED buyers in the winter than would normally be expected!  Their house may have just sold; they may have just moved here and need a new place to call home.  People buy and sell all through the year, not just when it’s convenient.

 

So here’s a few tips on what to do first…

Call your favorite Advantage Real Estate agent.  He/she will guide you through the steps in getting your house ready to sell.  Maybe there’s a few touch-ups needed, decluttering, or a room or two to paint.  Maybe a pre-home inspection is in order… If this will improve your resale value, are you willing?  We’ll help guide you.

 

Ask good questions about what we can do for you…what exposure will your office provide?  Does your office offer MLS exposure in the Columbia, MO area as well as the Randolph County area?  What about internet sites? Which sites do you utilize?  What about keeping in touch with feedback after showings?  These are all good things to discuss with your agent.

 

Lastly, be sure to look at accurate comparable sales within the past 6 months to a year old.  Anyone can set a price on a home, but will it realistically appraise for the asking price?  We want to get it SOLD, not just sit on the market.  Hopefully you’ll agree!

 

We’d love to hear from you!  660-263-3393

How Important are Reviews to You?

I was wondering what thought a potential buyer or seller puts into the process when deciding which real estate agent  to work with…..

Do you call the agent who has the listing?

Or just the one that happens to answer the phone at the real estate office?

Or do you look at the REVIEWS posted online such as on Zillow.com, Trulia. com, or Realtor.com?

How do REVIEWS play into your decision making??

 

I know when I’m online looking for an appliance, or even a piece of clothing, I look for the reviews and see what others have thought of the product.  When you are shopping for an appliance do YOU read the reviews before looking or buying?

Making a real estate sale or purchase is such a huge event in a person’s life, wouldn’t you want the best?

I challenge you to check out reviews from the agents at Advantage Real Estate in Moberly, MO.   Many of our team has reviews posted on Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com!