What Is a Real Estate Agent’s Commission?
Ever wonder what exactly a Real Estate Agent does? Are they worth the commission? Ever wonder if you’re paying too much for commission? Even consider going it your own via FSBO or using one of these new apps that are long on promises and short on results?
You may have a great Agent and they don’t communicate with you all they’re doing. Or, you may also have a rock star agent and who’s doing so much it hasn’t even occurred to you all the fine details going into your home sale.
Here are a few facts that might help you sleep at night and have some peace about residential real estate commissions:
1. Real estate agents are sole proprietors
That means that even if they are a part of an agency, they are small business owners and cover all their own costs and carry all the risk. Do you own or have you ever owned your own small business? Then you know you wear ALL the hats and all the responsibility falls to you. Not to mention, your rather high tax rate!
They invest in you and your home. If they take on a listing, that means they’ve calculated the cost of marketing, photos, and time – lots and lots of time. High quality marketing – online and offline – and maybe even virtual tours. All that cost money. There’s considerable overhead if you are active in the field.
They have no salary and no real predictability in income. One deal may have to last them many months or maybe even longer.
2. The sale of your home may be covering for the loss of another
Deals fall through ALL. THE. TIME. Your particular sale may go pretty smoothly – great! I guarantee you it has ended up covering for a major loss on another deal. It’s the nature of business.
3. The real work begins once a contract is accepted
It may feel like all an agent does is show up sometimes for an open house here and there and put a sign in the yard. Or every time they come over, they’re telling you things you need to spend money on. But the real work is done behind the scenes and is intensified once an offer is accepted. Getting to the closing table is more and more challenging.
Pat Vredevoogd-Combs, a former president of the National Association of REALTORS, testified before the House Financial Services Committee on Housing to stark federal complaints about residential real estate industry pricing.
She submitted a list of 184 things that Listing Agents do in every real estate transaction as a part of her testimony to the committee. She stated, “By all accounts the general public is not aware of all the services that agents provide to sellers and buyers during the course of the transaction, probably because most of the important services are performed behind the scenes.”
Here is the list of (just) 184 things residential real estate agents do:
1. Make appointment with seller for listing presentation.
2. Send a written or e-mail confirmation of appointment and call to confirm.
3. Review appointment questions.
4. Research all comparable currently listed properties.
5. Research sales activity for past 18 months from MLS and public databases.
6. Research “average days on market” for properties similar in type, price and location.
7. Download and review property tax roll information.
8. Prepare “comparable market analysis” (CMA) to establish market value.
9. Obtain copy of subdivision plat/complex layout.
10. Research property’s ownership and deed type.
11. Research property’s public record information for lot size and dimensions.
12. Verify legal description.
13. Research property’s land use coding and deed restrictions.
14. Research property’s current use and zoning.
15. Verify legal names of owner(s) in county’s public property records.
16. Prepare listing presentation package with above materials.
17. Perform exterior “curb appeal assessment” of subject property.
18. Compile and assemble formal file on property.
19. Confirm current public schools and explain their impact on market value.
20. Review listing appointment checklist to ensure completion of all tasks.
Listing Appointment Presentation
21. Give seller an overview of current market conditions and projections.
22. Review agent and company credentials and accomplishments.
23. Present company’s profile and position or “niche” in the marketplace.
24. Present CMA results, including comparables, solds, current listings and expireds.
25. Offer professional pricing strategy based and interpretation of current market conditions.
26. Discuss goals to market effectively.
27. Explain market power and benefits of multiple listing service.
28. Explain market power of Web marketing, IDX and MLS.
29. Explain the work the broker and agent do “behind the scenes” and agent’s availability on weekends.
30. Explain agent’s role in screening qualified buyers to protect against curiosity seekers.
31. Present and discuss strategic master marketing plan.
32. Explain different agency relationships and determine seller’s preference.
33. Review all clauses in listing contract and obtain seller’s signature.
After Listing Agreement is Signed
34. Review current title information.
35. Measure overall and heated square footage.
36. Measure interior room sizes.
37. Confirm lot size via owner’s copy of certified survey, if available.
38. Note any and all unrecorded property lines, agreements, easements.
39. Obtain house plans, if applicable and available.
40. Review house plans, make copy.
41. Order plat map for retention in property’s listing file.
42. Prepare showing instructions for buyers’ agents and agree on showing time with seller.
43. Obtain current mortgage loan(s) information: companies and account numbers
44. Verify current loan information with lender(s).
45. Check assumability of loan(s) and any special requirements.
46. Discuss possible buyer financing alternatives and options with seller.
47. Review current appraisal if available.
48. Identify Home Owner Association manager is applicable.
49. Verify Home Owner Association fees with manager–mandatory or optional and current annual fee.
50. Order copy of Home Owner Association bylaws, if applicable.
51. Research electricity availability and supplier’s name and phone number.
52. Calculate average utility usage from last 12 months of bills.
53. Research and verify city sewer/septic tank system.
54. Calculate average water system fees or rates from last 12 months of bills.
55. Or confirm well status, depth and output from Well Report.
56. Research/verify natural gas availability, supplier’s name and phone number.
57. Verify security system, term of service and whether owned or leased.
58. Verify if seller has transferable Termite Bond.
59. Ascertain need for lead-based paint disclosure.
60. Prepare detailed list of property amenities and assess market impact.
61. Prepare detailed list of property’s “Inclusions & Conveyances with Sale.”
62. Complete list of completed repairs and maintenance items.
63. Send “Vacancy Checklist” to seller if property is vacant.
64. Explain benefits of Home Owner Warranty to seller.
65. Assist sellers with completion and submission of Home Owner Warranty application.
66. When received, place Home Owner Warranty in property file for conveyance at time of sale.
67. Have extra key made for lockbox.
68. Verify if property has rental units involved. And if so:
69. Make copies of all leases for retention in listing file.
70. Verify all rents and deposits.
71. Inform tenants of listing and discuss how showings will be handled.
72. Arrange for yard sign installation.
73. Assist seller with completion of Seller’s Disclosure form.
74. Complete “new listing checklist.”
75. Review results of Curb Appeal Assessment with seller and suggest improvements for salability.
76. Review results of Interior Decor Assessment and suggest changes to shorten time on market.
77. Load listing time into transaction management software.
Entering Property in MLS Database
78. Prepare MLS Profile Sheet–agent is responsible for “quality control” and accuracy of listing data.
79. Enter property data from Profile Sheet into MLS listing database.
80. Proofread MLS database listing for accuracy, including property placement in mapping function.
81. Add property to company’s Active Listings.
82. Provide seller with signed copies of Listing Agreement and MLS Profile Data Form within 48 hours.
83. Take more photos for upload into MLS and use in flyers. Discuss efficacy of panoramic photography.
Marketing the Listing
84. Create print and Internet ads with seller’s input.
85. Coordinate showings with owners, tenants and other agents. Return all calls–weekends included.
86. Install electronic lockbox. Program with agreed-upon showing time windows.
87. Prepare mailing and contact list.
88. Generate mail-merge letters to contact list.
89. Order “Just Listed” labels and reports.
90. Prepare flyers and feedback forms.
91. Review comparable MLS listings regularly to ensure property remains competitive in price, terms, conditions and availability.
92. Prepare property marketing brochure for seller’s review.
93. Arrange for printing or copying of supply of marketing brochures or flyers.
94. Place marketing brochures in all company agent mailboxes.
95. Upload listing to company and agent Internet sites.
RELATED: Your Custom Home Marketing Plan
96. Mail “Just Listed” notice to all neighborhood residents.
97. Advise Network Referral Program of listing.
98. Provide marketing data to buyers from international relocation networks.
99. Provide marketing data to buyers coming from referral network.
100. Provide “Special Feature” cards for marketing, if applicable/
101. Submit ads to company’s participating Internet real estate sites.
102. Convey price changes promptly to all Internet groups.
103. Reprint/supply brochures promptly as needed.
104. Review and update loan information in MLS as required.
105. Send feedback e-mails/faxes to buyers’ agents after showings.
106. Review weekly Market Study.
107. Discuss feedback from showing agents with seller to determine if changes will accelerate the sale.
108. Place regular weekly update calls to seller to discuss marketing and pricing.
109. Promptly enter price changes in MLS listings database.
The Offer and the Contract
110. Receive and review all Offer to Purchase contracts submitted by buyers or buyers’ agents. 111. Evaluate offer(s) and prepare “net sheet” on each for owner to compare.
112. Counsel seller on offers. Explain merits and weakness of each component of each offer. 113. Contact buyers’ agents to review buyer’s qualifications and discuss offer.
114. Fax/deliver Seller’s Disclosure to buyer’s agent or buyer upon request and prior to offer if possible.
115. Confirm buyer is pre-qualified by calling loan officer.
116. Obtain pre-qualification letter on buyer from loan officer.
117. Negotiate all offers on seller’s behalf, setting time limit for loan approval and closing date.
118. Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance or amendments to buyer’s agent.
119. Fax copies of contract and all addendums to closing attorney or title company.
120. When Offer-to-Purchase contract is accepted and signed by seller, deliver to buyer’s agent.
121. Record and promptly deposit buyer’s money into escrow account.
122. Disseminate “Under-Contract Showing Restrictions” as seller requests.
123. Deliver copies of fully signed Offer to Purchase contract to sellers.
124. Fax/deliver copies of Offer to Purchase contract to selling agent.
125. Fax copies of Offer to Purchase contract to lender.
126. Provide copies of signed Offer to Purchase contract for office file.
127. Advise seller in handling additional offers to purchase submitted between contract and closing.
128. Change MLS status to “Sale Pending.”
129. Update transaction management program to show “Sale Pending.”
130. Review buyer’s credit report results–Advise seller of worst and best case scenarios.
131. Provide credit report information to seller if property is to be seller financed.
132. Assist buyer with obtaining financing and follow up as necessary.
133. Coordinate with lender on discount points being locked in with dates.
134. Deliver unrecorded property information to buyer.
135. Order septic inspection, if applicable.
136. Receive and review septic system report and access any impact on sale.
137. Deliver copy of septic system inspection report to lender and buyer.
138. Deliver well flow test report copies to lender, buyer and listing file.
139. Verify termite inspection ordered.
140. Verify mold inspection ordered, if required.
Tracking the Loan Process
141. Confirm return of verifications of deposit and buyer’s employment.
142. Follow loan processing through to the underwriter.
143. Add lender and other vendors to transaction management program so agents, buyer and seller can track progress of sale.
144. Contact lender weekly to ensure processing is on track.
145. Relay final approval of buyer’s loan application to seller.
146. Coordinate buyer’s professional home inspection with seller.
147. Review home inspector’s report.
148. Enter completion into transaction management tracking software program.
149. Explain seller’s responsibilities of loan limits and interpret any clauses in the contract.
150. Ensure seller’s compliance with home inspection clause requirements.
151. Assist seller with identifying and negotiating with trustworthy contractors for required repairs.
152. Negotiate payment and oversee completion of all required repairs on seller’s behalf, if needed.
153. Schedule appraisal.
154. Provide comparable sales used in market pricing to appraiser.
155. Follow up on appraisal.
156. Enter completion into transaction management program.
157. Assist seller in questioning appraisal report if it seems too low.
Closing Preparations and Duties
158. Make sure contract is signed by all parties.
159. Coordinate closing process with buyer’s agent and lender.
160. Update closing forms and files.
161. Ensure all parties have all forms and information needed to close the sale.
162. Select location for closing.
163. Confirm closing date and time and notify all parties.
164. Solve any title problems (boundary disputes, easements, etc.) or in obtaining death certificates.
165. Work with buyer’s agent in scheduling and conducting buyer’s final walkthrough prior to closing.
166. Research all tax, HOA, utility and other applicable prorations.
167. Request final closing figures from closing agent (attorney or title company).
168. Receive and carefully review closing figures to ensure accuracy.
169. Forward verified closing figures to buyer’s agent.
170. Request copy of closing documents from closing agent.
171. Confirm the buyer and buyer’s agent received title insurance commitment.
172. Provide “Home Owners Warranty” for availability at closing.
173. Review all closing documents carefully for errors.
174. Forward closing documents to absentee seller as requested.
175. Review documents with closing agent (attorney).
176. Provide earnest money deposit from escrow account to closing agent.
177. Coordinate closing with seller’s next purchase, resolving timing issues.
178. Have a “no surprises” closing so that seller receives a net proceeds check at closing.
179. Refer sellers to one of the best agents at their destination, if applicable.
180. Change MLS status to Sold. Enter sale date, price, selling broker and agent’s ID numbers, etc.
181. Close out listing in transaction management program.
Follow Up After Closing
182. Answer questions about filing claims with Home Owner Warranty company, if requested.
183. Attempt to clarify and resolve any repair conflicts if buyer is dissatisfied.
184. Respond to any follow-up calls and provide any additional information required from office files.
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Real Estate Negotiation: 11 Items You Can Negotiate In Your Contract
So, you’ve offered on a piece of real estate. What happens next, however, is somewhat out of your control. Enter: Real Estate Negotiations.
You wait for a response. A seller could respond to your offer in three different ways:
1. Accept it
2. Reject (or ignore!) it
3. Make a counteroffer
If they accept it, great! If they reject it, that’s OK; there is always another deal, or you could re-offer again. However, when a seller submits a counteroffer, that’s when the real fun begins.
A counteroffer (often just called a “counter”) is a response to another, earlier offer. In other words, if you offered $100,000 on a property, and the seller says, “No, I want $110,000,” that response from the seller is the counteroffer.
A counteroffer can be a good thing. It means the seller wants to sell to you and is willing to find common ground where both parties can get what they want. The negotiation process is where the two sides try to make that happen. Remember, both parties want the exact same thing: a sale.
11 Items You Can Negotiate in a Real Estate Deal
Many people see the word “negotiation” and envision one party winning and the other losing. However, in a good negotiation, both parties walk away feeling like they achieved pretty much, if not exactly, what they wanted. When there is no negotiation, that’s when one of the parties tends to feel they got shafted! So remember: a little back-and-forth is a good thing.
Keep in mind, this is not about negotiating just on the price. In fact, there are multiple parts of the contract that can be negotiated. For example, you could negotiate for any or all of the following:
1. Price How much are you actually going to pay for the property?
2. Closing Date When will you close? Next week? Next month?
3. Closing Location Where is the closing going to take place? Your title company? Theirs? An attorney’s office?
4. Contingencies What contingencies could be removed from the P&S agreement?
5. Financing Will the seller agree to carry a second mortgage on the property?
6. Closing Costs Who will pay for what during the closing process?
7. Home Warranty A home warranty is sometimes included in the sale of a home and covers certain repair items after the sale happens. This can help smooth any concerns on the part of the buyer. Will your deal include one? If so, who will pay for it?
8. Repairs What do you need the seller to fix before you purchase the property? Will you hold them to it? Will you buy the property “as is”?
9. Credits What about getting credits at closing toward certain repairs that are needed? If a new roof is needed, and the seller doesn’t want to put one on before closing, could you negotiate the cost of a new roof given to you at closing?
10. Possession Date When will you actually take control of the property? While it’s most common to transfer possession immediately after the title has been transferred, this is negotiable. Maybe the seller needs a few more weeks. Maybe you want to get in early. It’s all negotiable.
11. Items Left at The Property What is the seller required to leave at the property? Appliances? Tools? Furniture? This is all negotiable.
Again, these are all elements you can negotiate, either offering or asking for a concession. Perhaps the seller is firm on the price, but you can get more repairs done on the property before closing. Or perhaps they don’t want to do anything with the condition or the price, but the seller is willing to carry a contract on the property (seller financing) for a short period while you fix it up. The possibilities are nearly endless as to what your negotiation can produce, so look at negotiation as a huge opportunity for you to creatively achieve your goals.
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You’re likely working with an Agent (or at least you should be), so you may never sit down across from the seller to engage in some television-worthy negotiation. Instead, the negotiation will take place through a back-and-forth exchange of documents signed by you, given to your agent, sent to their agent, and finally given to the seller. The seller will then either accept, reject, or reply with a counteroffer. Your job, at that point, will be to either accept the counter, reject it, or reply with yet another counteroffer.
RELATED: About Real Estate Negotiations
If you are offering on a property outside the MLS, through a private seller, your negotiations will likely be much more direct. In fact, you might negotiate every point on the hood of your car or sitting at the seller’s kitchen table. The back-and-forth will likely be much less formal, though we absolutely recommend putting as much of the negotiation on paper as possible, even if that just means pulling out a sheet of blank paper and writing down the terms.
What items have you negotiated in a real estate deal? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter or Instagram feeds or on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty HOME ADVICE eNewsletter for articles, tips and guides like this delivered straight to your inbox.
How to Meet Your Neighbors: Icebreakers Even Introverts Can Pull Off
Want to know the secret of how to meet your neighbors? It’s this: Stop waiting for people to swing by with an apple pie. These days you have to be proactive and get out there yourself!
So how do you do that?
Granted, whether you’ve just moved in or lived someplace for eons, many find this simple act of reaching out amazingly hard. If that sounds like you, it’s OK: It’s all about knowing a few icebreakers. Here are a few that even the shyest of shy can try.
1. Hold A Garage Sale
This project doubles as decluttering—and works whether you’ve lived in a place for years or just moved in and didn’t get a chance to fully purge before you packed up for your new digs.
Not only will a garage sale provide you with a clean slate, it’s also a low-key way to meet your neighbors. Even if you don’t make a sale, you might be meeting your new best friend for the first time.
2. Ask To Borrow Something
Tools are one of the more popular items you may not have dug out of the box yet but find you’ll need right away. Don’t be too shy to ring the neighbors door and ask to borrow that hammer or screwdriver.
And remember, this is an equal opportunity endeavor: Sooner or later you’re bound to have something a neighbor might need, from a rake to cup of sugar. Go ahead and let your neighbors know to stop by “if you need anything”.
3. Do A Good Deed
Sometimes the best way to break the ice is to look for a way to pull someone out of it.
Three years ago, during an East Coast polar vortex, one of our client’s was leaving their home at 4 a.m. to attempt to get to work when he happened to see water gushing out of his neighbor’s garage. No one was home, so he called the fire department.
A sprinkler system had burst on the third floor and was destroying their home. Our client ultimately broke into the home but only to turn off the water and managed to save the home in the process.
Once his neighbors returned from their vacation they were very appreciative and are close friends to this day.
Not that you have to wait for disaster to strike. There are opportunities year-round; from plant-sitting during Spring Break and Summer Vacation to offering to clear leaves from gutters in the Fall or shovel snow in the winter. Who could refuse? And now you’ve got a friend whom, odds are, you can depend on in a pinch, too.
4. Find A Common Cause
Last summer a feral cat had a litter of kittens in the yard of one of our client’s homes. Concerned about their welfare—not to mention the number of cats already roaming her neighborhood—our client went door to door to bring the issue to her neighbors’ attention. Ten houses down, she found a neighbor eager to help the free-range cats. Today, cats in their community are well cared for—and these two neighbors are fast friends.
When you work together toward something that matters to you, you can’t help but bond.
Don’t have a passionate cause of your own? Then get involved in an HOA or local community group.
Volunteering is one of the best ways to get to know people because you move quickly past small talk.
5. Sometimes, Going Online Is A Good Idea
So maybe you want to be part of your community but work crazy hours. Or you’re always shuttling your kids from one after school activity to another and your schedule looks like that of an air traffic controller.
Maybe your nearest neighbor is a mile (or more) away. If meeting your neighbors “IRL” is a challenge, then maybe you do need to pick up that tablet or smartphone and join a local online group.
Have a goal though. Try and build relationships online that will lead to offline interactions.
You hear that? Your iPhone addiction actually can lead to meaningful connections outside your front door.
How did you break the ice with your neighbors? Do you have any tips to add to our list? Sound off on The Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or our Twitter or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
How Big a Home Do You Truly Need? 5 Questions to Ask to Figure That Out
When it comes to homes, the popular credo is that bigger is better. More square feet = a larger slice of the American dream, right?
For one, bigger homes obviously cost more, and oversized McMansions can be harder to sell. As such, you’ll want a home that’s neither too big nor too small. But how do you strike that balance?
Here are five questions to ask yourself that will help you determine how much space you really need.
1. Is this my ‘forever’ home, or is ‘right now’ good enough?
While you can’t predict the future, it is possible to evaluate the likelihood you might be moving in coming years. If so, then maybe you don’t need to buy that perfect “forever home” where you’ll grow old; maybe a “right now” home is good enough.
There’s a common perception that you should be searching for your ‘forever home,’ and that pressure to find a place that has all the space you might ever need often leads buyers to purchase a home that might be too big. It’s OK to know that you’ll only live in a home for the next five or six years, and to buy a home that will serve your needs during that period. You can always re-evaluate and upgrade to a bigger space later.
2. What will my income look like later?
If you’re early in your career, odds are decent that your income will increase over the years. Or, if you’re reaching the end of your career, you may be looking at flattened or declining income. In either case, it’s never a good idea to get a mortgage at the max of what you can afford; it’s better to go small and have some wiggle room.
Nothing causes more stress than financial strain and a mortgage on a home that is a size too large is most likely to be your biggest burden, and a hard one to overcome. Happiness is often one size smaller than your dream home. That way, you can enjoy your home without dreading your monthly mortgage payment.
Also, remember more space means more time and money spent on upkeep and improvements, more rooms to fill with furniture, and higher utility bills to heat and cool the home.
3. What are my priorities?
Another question to consider is what you’ll use all that space for—and be honest: While you might dream of hosting epic dinner parties in that big formal dining room, will you really? Can you say with certainty that your in-laws will descend on you during the holidays and need a guest bedroom to crash in, or might they be just as comfortable in a nearby Airbnb?
Aside from justifying what you’ll use each space for, ask yourself what you’re giving up. If you dream of having a secret “travel fund” so you can see the world, that may be possible only with a smaller mortgage (and house). Or, perhaps you value things other than space, like school district or a walkable location. So make sure to factor in those variables, too—and make sure you aren’t sacrificing them for space you don’t need.
4. How much space do I want from my own family members?
If you absolutely must have privacy—to, say, get work done in a home office or chill out in your man cave—then that extra square footage may be well worth the money. But if you’re more the type who loves having their family members nearby, a large home gives people plenty of alone time… sometimes too much.
Recently when speaking with one of our buyers, she commented: “I’ve found that my daughter’s friends who live in large homes rarely even run into their parents.” So her preference was for something a bit smaller, because she prefers her kids a bit underfoot.
She was also seeking a more cozy vibe and a close-knit family environment a smaller home encourages. This was what the preference was for her family dynamic. You’ll have to determine yours.
5. Does this home feel spacious even if it doesn’t have much space?
Keep in mind that even small homes can feel spacious purely based on an open floor plan and lots of light. Meanwhile, large homes can still feel cramped if they’re dark or poorly laid out. So, when shopping real estate listings, know that the little number next to square footage may not tell the whole story.
For example, features like a long hallway may increase the total square footage, but they are spaces you pass through, not a true destination within the home.
So instead of focusing on total square footage, focus on the size of individual rooms where you see yourself spending the majority of your time. If all you do in your bedroom is sleep, does it matter if its massive or not?
In your experience, how much space is too much space? Or, did you find you underestimated how much room you actually needed? What did you learn about space when buying your current home? Sound off on The Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or our Twitter or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
Everything You Need To Know About Buying A Home This Spring
Blooming flowers and warmer temperatures don’t just mark the start of allergy season. Spring is also peak season for real estate sales. If you’re thinking of buying a home this year, you’re probably wondering what the current market is like and how to navigate it.
FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide
The 2017 spring real estate season differs from past spring markets in some big ways. Here’s what you need to know…
1. Inventory Is Low
Home inventory has dropped for eight consecutive quarters, making it harder to find a home, according to Trulia’s research.
In 2017, homebuyers are up against a very competitive market, where there are fewer homes for sale that cost more than they did last year.
Hit hardest? First-time homebuyers. There’s a larger inventory of trade-up homes and luxury homes than starter homes. As prices rise, people who might have been looking for a luxury home may now be in the trade-up market. Those who would have been in the trade-up market are buying starter homes or hanging on to the homes they already have. This means first-time buyers have to put in extra effort to land a home.
2. Homes Are Selling Fast
Understanding the current real estate market can keep you from being blindsided. Short supply is the dominant issue this spring. Homes that are priced at market and are in attractive condition sell in days.
You may want to act quickly when you find something you like, and be flexible with seller requests — two tactics that can help you buy a home in a competitive market.
3. Interest Rates Are Rising
Rising interest rates could price some buyers out of the market. The Federal Reserve announced in March that interest rates would be increased by a quarter point based on the growing confidence on the economy.
But interest rates are still historically low and affordable. Higher rates will likely decrease one’s home-buying power, but it’s unlikely to deter serious buyers who are actively looking for a new home. What’s likelier to happen, at least in the short term, is that more people will enter the market before rates get even higher.
4. Timing Is Everything
The hardest part of buying a starter home is saving the down payment. Once you have that in place, there are great options.
But should you wait to save 20% for a down payment to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), or should you buy now with only, say, 5% to put down before interest rates rise?
In most cases, it becomes more expensive to wait. If it’s going to take you two years to save 20% and prices and rates rise, it’ll usually be better to go ahead at 5% and pay PMI.
5. Consumer Confidence Is High
Rising interest rates signal a strong economy, and consumers, with renewed confidence in this strong job market, are buying homes. This is what most people call a comeback. People who found themselves underwater on their homes are now starting to see those homes gain value. They can now make — instead of lose — money on a home sale.
6. Try To Overlook The Little Things
If your ultimate goal is to become a homeowner this spring, you may wish to circle back to that older home with no upgrades that didn’t initially excite you.
Some available properties may lack modern layouts and amenities. Consider ignoring cosmetic issues like bad paint colors or poorly placed furniture and determine your budget for desired upgrades. In a competitive real estate market with low inventory, being able to overlook simpler flaws could be the difference between getting a good deal on a home and not getting a home at all.
7. Preapproval Is More Important Than Ever
You may need to offer more money to buy a home in this busy real estate season. First, figure out what you can comfortably afford. Don’t stretch yourself financially.
A good formula for a starter-home buyer would be to dedicate 38.3% of monthly income to your home — a 2.9 point increase from last year.
Once your budget is set, focus on prepping your finances for a home purchase. The more prepared in preapproval you are, the more value you add to yourself and your buying appearance. This means having all documentation in line so you can move fast.
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The Difference Between Your Mortgage Rate and the Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
Understanding the difference between an annual percentage rate (APR) and an interest rate could save you thousands of dollars on your mortgage. But most homebuyers might not know that the interest rate and the APR measure two different costs associated with your home loan.
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Interest Rate and APR
An interest rate is the cost of borrowing the principal loan amount. It can be variable or fixed, but it’s always expressed as a percentage. An APR is a broader measure of the cost of a mortgage because it reflects the interest rate plus other costs such as broker fees, discount points and some closing costs, expressed as a percentage
Why have both?
The main difference is that the interest rate calculates what your actual monthly payment will be whereas the APR calculates the total cost of the loan.
RELATED: 6 Mortgage Terms To Know
You can use one or both to make apples-to-apples comparisons when shopping for loans.
For example, a loan with a 4 percent rate will have a lower monthly payment than a loan with a 6 percent rate, assuming both are fixed for the same term. Likewise, the total cost of a loan with a 4 percent APR will be less than one with a 6 percent APR.
Where it gets tricky
Interest rates and APRs have limitations to helping you understand the true cost of your mortgage. But taken together, borrowers should be able to use both figures to determine their total costs. The trick is to understand the interplay between the two figures.
If you are only focused on getting the lowest monthly payment, then focus on the interest rate. But if you are focused on the total cost of the loan, then use the APR as a tool to compare the total cost of two loans.
This chart shows the interest rate, APR and total costs over time for a $200,000 mortgage in which 1.5 discount points cut the interest rate by one-quarter of a percentage point, and another 1.5 discount points cut the interest rate by a further quarter of a percentage point.
3 loans, same amounts, 3 APRs
Time horizon matters
If you plan to stay in your home for 30 years or more, it probably makes sense to go with a loan that has the lowest APR because it means you’ll end up paying the lowest amount possible for your house. But if your time horizon isn’t that long, it may make sense to pay fewer upfront fees and get a higher rate — and a higher APR — because the total costs will be less over the first few years.
APR spreads the fees over the course of the entire loan, so its value is optimized only if a borrower plans to stay in the home throughout the entire mortgage.
Figure the break-even point
If you’re planning to stay in your home for a shorter period, you need to do the math and determine your break-even point.
For example, if you chose a 0.25 percent lower rate for an additional 1.5 points because of the lower APR, but you moved in five years, you lost money. Your break-even on the points was seven years.
Unfortunately, those calculations can be confusing for many, which is why it’s crucial to pick the right lender. Your Buyer’s Agent should have excellent relationships with lender’s and can refer you to someone they trust.
Did you recently shop for a Mortgage? Do you have Buyer’s Remorse? What might you do differently now that you didn’t do then? We want to here from you! Sound off on our Facebook Page or on our Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm eNewsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
Why Is There So Much Paperwork Required To Get A Mortgage?
Why is there so much paperwork mandated by the lenders for a mortgage loan application when buying a home today? It seems that they need to know everything about you and requires three separate sources to validate each and every entry on the application form.
RELATED: 6 Mortgage Terms To Know
Many buyers are being told by friends and family that the process was a hundred times easier when they bought their home ten to twenty years ago.
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There are two very good reasons that the loan process is much more onerous on today’s buyer than perhaps any time in history:
1. The government has set new guidelines that now demand that the bank proves beyond any doubt that you are indeed capable of paying the mortgage.
During the run-up to the housing crisis, many people ‘qualified’ for mortgages that they could never pay back. This led to millions of families losing their home. The government wants to make sure this can’t happen again.
RELATED: Will I Qualify For A Mortgage?
2. The banks don’t want to be in the real estate business.
Over the last seven years, banks were forced to take on the responsibility of liquidating millions of foreclosures and also negotiating another million plus short sales. Just like the government, they don’t want more foreclosures. For that reason, they need to double (maybe even triple) check everything on the application.
However, there is some good news in the situation.
The housing crash that mandated that banks be extremely strict on paperwork requirements also allowed you to get a mortgage interest rate around 4%.
The friends and family who bought homes ten or twenty years ago experienced a simpler mortgage application process, but also paid a higher interest rate (the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 8.12% in the 1990s and 6.29% in the 2000s).
If you went to the bank and offered to pay 7% instead of around 4%, they would probably bend over backward to make the process much easier.
Instead of concentrating on the additional paperwork required, let’s be thankful that we are able to buy a home at historically low rates.
What is the Cost of Waiting Until Next Year to Buy a Home?
Over the course of the last 12 months, home prices have appreciated by 7.0%. Over the same amount of time, interest rates have remained historically low which has allowed many buyers to enter the market.
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As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price, but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, home prices will appreciate by 4.7% over the next 12 months.
What Does This Mean as a Buyer?
If home prices appreciate by 4.7% over the next twelve months as predicted by CoreLogic, here is a simple demonstration of the impact that an increase in interest rate would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:
If buying a home is in your plan for 2018, doing it sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars over the terms of your loan.
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40 Easy Moving And Packing Tips That Will Make Your Move Super Smooth
Congrats on your new home! Now you just have to figure out how you’re going to pack and move everything without breaking the bank, your fragile lamp, or your back. Good thing we put together this list of 40 easy moving and packing tips that will make your move dead simple.
How do we know these tips will make your move super smooth?
We asked expert movers, packers, and professional organizers to share their best tips.
So sit back, grab a snack, and dive in!
1. Get rid of everything
Okay, maybe not everything, but the more unused and unnecessary items you eliminate from your home, the less stuff you’ll have to pack up, haul across town, unload, and organize.
Clear any clutter from your home as soon as you know you’ll be moving.
Be ruthless with your stuff. That coat you think is cute but haven’t worn in four months? Donate it.
The very first coffee maker you ever bought that flavors your morning brew with little pieces of rust? Trash it.
Doing a massive preliminary purge will have the single biggest impact on the efficiency and ease of your entire packing process.
2. Sort things by category
Organize your belongings by category, not by room (note that the category part only applies to the organization process, not the unpacking — that’s a whole separate ordeal).
Instead of spending a day cleaning out your entire bedroom, spend an afternoon sorting through every article of clothing you own.
Scour every coat closet, dirty clothes hamper, and laundry room until you’ve got all your clothes in one place. Then sort.
Do the same thing for books, shoes, important papers, and the like.
3. Schedule a free donation pickup
In most markets and in most cases, you can schedule a donation pick-up online with the Salvation Army. The good news is, you don’t even have to be home so long as you properly label all bags/boxes that are being donated.
4. Set aside stuff to sell
You probably have a few items you no longer want, but would love to get a little money for. If that’s the case, set these items aside and determine where you can sell them.
If it’s furniture, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplaces are best bets. If it’s brand name clothing, you could try Poshmark or a local consignment store.
For specialty items like a gently used Coach purse or your collection of 90’s Beanie Babies, get on eBay.
5. Research professional moving companies
Research is never fun. Yelp and Google will overwhelm you with the sheer volume of choices for household moving companies to hire, but don’t give in to the pressure and pick the first four-star rating you see.
A moving company can often make or break your entire moving experience, so it’s important to get it right. The more effort you put into finding a reputable company with excellent customer service ahead of time, the less hassle you’ll have on moving day.
There are tens of thousands of people claiming to be a ‘moving company’ when in actuality it’s just some guy with a van trying to make some extra money. So it is important to make sure to do your due diligence.
Make sure to read the company’s list of services, fine print, and refund or damage policies, too. For example, some companies don’t lift items that aren’t in boxes (so your stuffed-to-the-brim duffel bags won’t make the cut), while others ask for full payment several weeks early.
Find out the specifics so there are no unwelcome surprises come moving day.
6. Pick the right moving day
Hire your movers at least a month out so you can plan accordingly. If you have a flexible schedule, play around with potential moving dates and try to find the cheapest time of month to make an appointment.
Moving companies are busiest on weekends, so if you can skip the Saturday chaos and schedule your move for a Tuesday, you might get a significant discount.
7. Map out the best way to get to your new home
Whether you’re moving to the Jersey Shore, across the country, across state lines, or just to a neighboring town, you’re going to need an efficient travel route so you don’t waste your move-in day sitting in traffic or pulling over three different times to type an address into your GPS.
Figure out the easiest, most efficient way to get where you’re going. Look up potential highway construction schedules ahead of time. And take traffic, detours, and necessary stops into account when you’re making your plan.
8. Create a master moving to-do list
When you move homes, you inevitably end up having 600 different things to do and remember. Don’t let all these tasks and important reminders, no matter how seemingly obvious, slip your mind.
Write them down somewhere. Put them in the Notes app on your phone, in a to-do list app such as Wunderlist, or go old-school with a giant yellow legal pad.
No detail is too insignificant. You just remembered the name of the little bookstore in town that will accept your used novels? Write it down.
You stuck that extra screw from the broken drawer next to the sink? Take note.
You have to return your cable box to your provider at least one day before you leave? Jot it down.
9. Put moving tasks on your calendar
Take your organization a step further and spend an evening mapping out everything you have to do. Get an oversized calendar and mark the empty white boxes with important daily tasks to prepare for your move.
Tuesday: Call moving company.
Wednesday: Sort through toiletries.
Thursday: Buy new sheets.
An added bonus to using the calendar method is that breaking up your tasks by day makes them seem more manageable.
10. Get moving boxes from your local liquor store
Pay a visit to your local liquor store to see if they recycle their used boxes. If so, ask if you can grab a handful so you’re saving a little paper in your moving journey.
Just make sure the boxes are very gently worn and that you only use them to hold lightweight items like linens and towels. You don’t want to deal with ripped boxes and broken valuables on the big day.
11. Check to see if you have original boxes for your electronics
You might think your flat screen TV could withstand a 30-minute drive across town in a cardboard box, but alas, it’s a fragile piece of technology. The best way to transport your electronics is in the original boxes they arrived in when you purchased them.
Check to see if you stashed these boxes somewhere — attic? Garage? If you don’t have them, make a list of what you’ll need to buy or borrow to properly cushion your stuff.
Quilted blankets, bubble wrap, and sturdy tape all work well to protect TVs and similarly delicate items.
12. Go to the hardware store
How, you might ask, is one trip to the hardware store even possible?
Here’s how: lists.
Make one and make it really thorough and detailed. Sit down with your family, partner, or roommates and brainstorm every possible item you will need to help you get through the moving process.
Again, nothing is too insignificant. Packing tape, cardboard boxes, packing paper, extra screws, putty, a measuring tape, a new industrial-size broom, you name it. Buy it all in one big haul.
13. Grab extra packing and moving supplies
Don’t forget the “just in case” items when you’re making your master hardware store list. Stock up now on extra supplies like light bulbs (check your lamps to verify the type you need), extension cords, and power strips so you’ll be set to go when you start moving things in.
14. Schedule disconnect times
Call your cable, internet, electricity, and gas providers at least a week ahead of your move to figure out when you need to shut everything off. Make sure you leave enough time in your schedule to gather any necessary items — like cords, remotes, or cable boxes — you may need to return.
15. Call in favors early
If you’re relying on friends and family to help with your move, be courteous and give them a month’s notice. Do the same with babysitters for your children.
Send out an email with the details of where to meet, what time, what to bring, and what to wear (read: no sundresses or uncomfortable shoes) so everyone is on the same page.
16. Pack ahead
Packing little by little is far less stressful than trying to tackle it all in one day. As early as a couple months out, start packing the stuff you know you won’t be using.
This can be anything from off-season clothing to books you’ve already read to mementos, pictures, and keepsakes.
17. Pack decorative items a few weeks out
Pack up all your art and decorative items several weeks before you move. These pieces can be some of the trickiest to store because they’re fragile and often oddly shaped, so having a bit of extra time to figure out how to properly cushion them is crucial.
Sure, your walls and mantels will look a bit stark, but when you’re running around the house a week before the move feeling like you’re about to lose your mind, you’ll be so glad your grandma’s landscape painting is already nestled in its precious bubble wrap.
18. Change your address a week before you move
This is one of those things everyone forgets to do until they’re two weeks into life in a new home and they realize their Amazon Prime shipment still hasn’t arrived. Change your address ahead of time so your bills, credit card statements, and packages can arrive on time and without hassle.
19. Label moving boxes like a boss
The key to finding your stuff easily is labeling all your packed boxes accurately and clearly. When you’re stacking boxes in a van or car you won’t be able to see their tops, so make sure you label the sides as well. But don’t stop there.
Label the boxes by category and by room (for example, Books, Library and Books, Bedroom) to speed up the unloading process.
If you’re more of a visual learner, use color-coded electrical tape to label your boxes.
20. Create a number system
If you want to take your box labeling a step further, create a number system.
As you pack up a box, take note of every single item inside of it. Write the list in a Google doc, or use a handy organizing app like Sortly, and then give the box a number.
This genius strategy has two major benefits:
1. You can go straight to box #16 with the plunger instead of digging through every “Bathroom” box just to find it.
2. You’ll know the total number of boxes you’re transporting so you can check to see if one goes missing or is stolen.
21. Use small boxes for heavy items
It sounds obvious, but if you’ve ever known the struggle that is carrying a large cardboard box stuffed full of college textbooks across a parking lot, then you also know this advice cannot be overstated.
Fill your small boxes with heavier items and use large boxes for light things like decorative pillows, towels, and linens.
22. Use packing tape
Not to be confused with duct tape, packing tape is the heavy-duty, insanely sticky clear tape you see at the post office.
Always make sure your boxes have tops, but don’t do the interlocking fold method with the flaps of your box tops — just tape them closed. It’s much more secure this way.
23. Protect fragile items with packing paper, bubble wrap, or blankets
Remember that packing paper you put on your master list when you stocked up on supplies at the hardware store?
Use it to pad all your fragile dishware and decorative items. Stuff it inside glasses, wrap it around vases and bowls, and shove it between your dishes and the side of your boxes.
Make sure you wrap each of your fragile items separately, so they’re fully cushioned. If you don’t have packing paper, opt for bubble wrap or a quilted blanket.
24. Pack dishes vertically
Don’t stack your dishes horizontally inside a box. Instead, wrap your plates and bowls in packing paper, gently place them into a box on their sides like records, and then fill the empty spaces with bubble wrap to prevent cracking and breaking.
25. Cover the tops of toiletry bottles with Saran Wrap
To prevent potential leaking and spilling (and crying), take an extra two minutes as you pack to secure your toiletry bottles.
Unscrew the cap of your shampoo bottle, wrap a piece of Saran Wrap (or a Ziploc bag) over the top, and screw the cap back on. Simple and surprisingly effective.
26. Pack a clear plastic box with things you’ll need right away
This can include toilet paper, a shower curtain, hand soap, towels, sheets, snacks, or whatever else you think you’ll need for the first day or night in your new home.
Having a few essential items on hand will make you feel more comfortable and prepared to tackle unpacking everything else.
27. Pack a personal overnight bag
Chances are you won’t get everything unpacked in the first day, so bring whatever you need to feel relaxed and settled on your first night.
A change of clothes, your toiletries, a water bottle, and your laptop can go a long way in making your new place feel more like home.
28. Stop buying groceries a week before you leave
To save you the guilt of throwing away perfectly decent food, stop buying groceries a week or two before you’re scheduled to move. Try to make meals at home to use all the food you have left.
If you don’t finish everything, invite a friend or two over to see if they need some half-finished spices or boxes of pasta.
For anything you can’t get rid of, toss it and don’t look back.
29. Take pictures of your electronics
Before you take them apart and pack them up, take a few pictures of the back of your electronic devices — the cord situations, if you will.
Having these pictures will make it that much easier to set up your TV or monitor as soon as you move in — no fretting necessary.
30. Put your storage bins and luggage to use
Instead of trying to figure out how to pack up all your woven seagrass baskets, linen bins, and carry-on suitcases, store stuff inside them.
Think clothes and shoes for sturdy suitcases, and hand towels and pillowcases for lightweight, open-top bins and baskets.
31. Make copies of important papers
Pack a separate box or briefcase with copies of all your important documents in case of an emergency.
Though it might be a tedious project to scan or copy every birth certificate, passport, social security card, proof of insurance paper, and tax claim, you don’t want to risk damaging the only version of your papers in transit. They’re too precious.
32. Set aside cleaning supplies for moving day
Build a mini cleanup kit so you can do one final sweep through your home on moving day.
Set aside a broom, mop, dustpan, duster, sponge, cleaning products, paper towels, and old rags for wiping the grimy, hidden surfaces you could never get to when all your stuff was in the way.
33. Defrost your fridge at least one day before you move
Who wants to wake up to a grungy, mildewy fridge in their new home?
No one. No one at all.
Take time to thoroughly clean your fridge and wipe away all the liquid before you haul it to your new home.
34. Load boxes from the same rooms together
Stack and load boxes in groups according to the rooms indicated on the labels. Put all the kitchen stuff together, all the bedroom stuff together, and all the living room stuff together.
That way, you can unload all the boxes from the same rooms at the same time, which makes unpacking everything a cinch.
35. Load heavy furniture into the moving truck first
Have the person with the highest Tetris score be in charge of figuring out how to fit everything in the back of the moving truck is the most efficient way possible.
Load your heavy furniture first, like sofas and sectionals. Then finish with lighter items, like your nightstand and side tables.
Be gentle with everything, as most seemingly wooden items are not actually made from wood, but particle board.
Don’t be afraid to flip things over, either — couches actually transport well on their sides and save a ton of space in the process.
36. Take pictures of your new home before you move anything in
This moving tip really only applies if you’re renting your new home:
Before your friends and family start stacking boxes in the entryway, or scuffing the doorway trying to shove your couch through, snap a few shots of your space so you can note any existing damage.
It’ll be more difficult to prove you didn’t cause that damage after you’ve moved in all your furniture.
37. Delegate tasks when you’re unloading the moving truck
Figure out ahead of time who will be the chief of moving day. Whoever feels comfortable taking charge of the unloading and organization process (and inevitably answering 400 different questions) should assume this position.
Delegate every little task so no one is wasting time or sitting around with nothing to do. With all hands on deck, your unpacking process will fly by.
38. Keep Ziploc bags handy
Keep a stash of Ziploc bags in your purse or backpack for the big moving day. You can use the bags to store doorknobs, tiny screws and brackets, luggage keys, or other small, easily forgettable items.
39. Make the beds first
Make your beds as soon as you move in. That way, instead of worrying about tucking in your dust ruffle, or finding the right set of sheets at the end of a long night, you can just crash right away.
40. Be a good host
Make sure you take care of the people who help you move, regardless of whether or not they’re being paid to do it.
Provide beverages and snacks for everyone, break for pizza, or pay for everyone’s dinner and get it delivered using a food ordering app errand-outsourcing service.
Did you recently orchestrate a smooth move? What tips to you have to add to our list? Sound of on our Facebook Page, Twitter or Instagram feeds or connect with us on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for great tips for homeowners and sellers delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
Understanding Real Estate Agency & Agency Relationships
The term “agency” is used in real estate to help determine what legal responsibilities your real estate professional owes to you and other parties in the transaction.
The seller’s representative (also known as a listing agent or seller’s agent) is hired by and represents the seller. All fiduciary duties are owed to the seller, meaning this person’s job is to get the best price and terms for the seller. The agency relationship usually is created by a signed listing contract.
The buyer’s representative (also known as a buyer’s agent) is hired by prospective buyers to and works in the buyer’s best interest throughout the transaction. The buyer can pay the agent directly through a negotiated fee, or the buyer’s rep may be paid by the seller or through a commission split with the seller’s agent.
A subagent owes the same fiduciary duties to the agent’s customer as the agent does. Subagency usually arises when a cooperating sales associate from another brokerage, who is not the buyer’s agent, shows property to a buyer. The subagent works with the buyer to show the property but owes fiduciary duties to the listing broker and the seller. Although a subagent cannot assist the buyer in any way that would be detrimental to the seller, a buyer customer can expect to be treated honestly by the subagent.
A disclosed dual agent represents both the buyer and the seller in the same real estate transaction. In such relationships, dual agents owe limited fiduciary duties to both buyer and seller clients. Because of the potential for conflicts of interest in a dual-agency relationship, all parties must give their informed consent. Disclosed dual agency is legal in most states, but often requires written consent from all parties.
Designated agents (also called appointed agents) are chosen by a managing broker to act as an exclusive agent of the seller or buyer. This allows the brokerage to avoid problems arising from dual-agency relationships for licensees at the brokerage. The designated agents give their clients full representation, with all of the attendant fiduciary duties.
A transaction broker (sometimes referred to as a facilitator) is permitted in states where nonagency relationships are allowed. These relationships vary considerably from state to state. Generally, the duties owed to the consumer in a nonagency relationship are less than the complete, traditional fiduciary duties of an agency relationship.
Understanding Agency and Agency Relationships is an important part of how you perceive the success of your Real Estate transaction. What questions do you have about Agency Relationships? Sound of on our Facebook Page, Twitter or Instagram feeds or connect with us on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for great tips for homeowners and sellers delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
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