Dave Ramsey Says it Best~ Using a Realtor vs. FSBO

dave ramsey fsbo advice

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Hiring a real estate professional is not only the easiest way to sell your home, it’s also the smartest.

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In recent years, many metro areas have seen double-digit home-price increases. However, in 2014, those increases have slowed significantly, according to Trulia’s Price and Rent monitor. Now that the winter ground is beginning to thaw (well, a little) and spring is approaching, the busiest time of the year for home sales is upon us.

But what about those homeowners who have been thinking about selling, waiting for their homes to increase in value?

It’s natural for any homeowner to focus on maximizing profit when it comes to putting her home on the market. And one tactic many prospective sellers consider when trying to cash in is to cut out the “middleman” and sell the property solo — instead of hiring an agent.

The reality is this: Selling your home yourself is not the money-saving solution you think it is. The dollars you might save on commissions are often a wash when you consider the higher sales price an experienced agent — with pricing expertise, negotiating skills, and access — can bring to the table.

Real estate professionals have the resources to get top dollar for your home, and they can secure an accepted offer more quickly and get the deal closed on time.

The numbers don’t lie. Statistically, a home on the market listed “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) takes longer to sell (and eventually sells for less) than its real estate pro–represented counterparts. According to data from the National Association of Realtors, FSBOs accounted for 9% of home sales in 2013. The typical FSBO home sold for $184,000, compared with $230,000 for agent-assisted home sales. You do the math.

Real estate agents know every step of the home buying and selling process inside and out. According to Trulia, there are recommended questions you should ask a potential agent. It’s important to find the right fit for you and your home. At the end of the day, it’s what they do for a living, and their number one goal is to get your house sold quickly — for top dollar.

Here are five keys points that prove the “DIY” approach should be reserved for small home repairs — not home sales — and why you should always work with a real estate professional.

1. Pricing

The most essential component to getting your house sold is to price it correctly. Price too high, and your home simply sits on the market, becoming a stale listing. Price too low, and you lose money.

Home sellers have an emotional connection to their homes and tend to think they are worth more than the market will bear. An experienced agent knows the nuances of your local market, how to price based on those specifics, and then justifies the price of your home to potential buyers.

2. Negotiating

Selling your home is a major business transaction. There are three significant negotiations in the sale process: the initial offer, the counteroffer, and the postoffer period that includes inspections and requests for concessions.

Bottom line: You need a skilled and objective negotiator on your side during those discussions.

3. Exposure

You want your home to get the maximum exposure to the greatest number of potential buyers. Not only will a professional prepare all the marketing materials, coordinate the Internet marketing, and host open houses, he or she will also network regularly with other agents who may have interested buyers … maybe even your buyer.

4. Buyer perception

The vast majority of potential buyers are going to be represented by an agent of their own. FSBO deals can often deter those agents who prefer to work with another real estate professional or who worry about receiving their own half of the commission.

And if, as the seller, you do plan to pony up a buyer’s agent commission, you’re really saving only 3%, not 6%, on the sale.

5. Smooth sales process

A professional real estate agent has the experience to work through the sale process efficiently, stepping in when there are financing problems, dealing directly with buyers’ objections and complaints, keeping everything on track, and facilitating the contracts and escrow to a successful, smooth close.

We are here to help. Not only are we competitive when it comes to paying out a commission, but you will have 3 Realtors representing you and ensuring you are getting the best price for your house. Call The Alexander Team today to set up a listing appointment today to see what all our team can offer you. Just think of all the stress you will be saving yourself.

The Alexander Team- 314-329-9042    Text: 314-580-3100

Email: Homes@AskPhyllis.com

Featured Left to Right: Jeff Alexander, Holli Dennis, and Phyllis Alexander

Featured Left to Right: Jeff Alexander, Holli Dennis, and Phyllis Alexander

Article was borrowed from http://www.trulia.com/blog/reasons-to-work-with-a-real-estate-agent/

Zip Through This Getting-Ready-to-Sell-Your-House Checklist

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If you’re thinking of selling your house, now is the time to get serious about the prep work. While the process can seem overwhelming, here’s a getting-ready-to-sell checklist that’ll take you through the most critical tasks.

Depersonalize the space. Start by taking the “home” out of your house: family pictures, kids’ art, collectibles, toiletries and tell-tale signs of pets (toys, food, etc.) all need to go. You want someone to imagine themselves living there – without thinking about you.

Purge and declutter. Tackle one room at a time, breaking it into zones. Then, (ruthlessly) work each area with a trash bag. Do a second pass with a new bag, looking for anything donation-worthy. Give yourself a few weeks for a proper purge – clutter suggests a lack of storage.

Do a deep clean. A top-to-bottom cleaning is what’s required. Focus on the kitchen and bathrooms first, taking a toothbrush to surfaces if you need to, and then move on to living and family rooms. Don’t forget closets and cabinets (buyers have been known to peek).

Make small fixes. Ask your agent about fixes that have big impact. A new coat of paint goes a long way, as does cleaning the blinds, fixing leaky faucets, recaulking tubs and upgrading a lighting fixture or two.

Detail the landscaping. Focus on sprucing things up. In the winter, keep walkways clear of snow and ice. In the spring, trim back bushes, edge lawn and beds and touch up the mulch. Make fence or deck repairs, and clean the windows. Then add a seasonal planter as a final, welcoming touch.

Get the photos right. Use a point-and-shoot camera, and open curtains to bring in natural light. Remove counter clutter, tuck away cords, lower toilet lids, and shoot from the doorway to capture the most space. Take several shots and then take some more. Pick only the best ones. Listing photos matter – a lot.

 If you would like our team to come buy and help you get your to do list started give The Alexander Team a call at 314-329-9042. This is a free service we offer those considering to sell!

Alexander Team

Did you know that all homes are in flood zones?

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Flood zones are land areas identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA flood maps include zones that are broken into several areas. Our good friend, Shelly Clark at Cardinal Surveying, has broken down for us what the zoning means to us consumers. This will really play a factor when it comes down to obtaining home owners insurance during a purchase.

  1. Zone AE. Zone AE is an area that has a 1% probability of flooding each and every year, which is why it is commonly referred to as the “100 year flood plain”.
  2. Zone X (shaded).Zone X shaded is an area that has a 0.2% to 1% probability of flooding each and every year.
  3. Zone X (unshaded).Zone X unshaded is an area that has less than a 0.2% chance of flooding, commonly known as the 500 year flood plain. This area is considered to be at minimal risk of flooding.

Keep in mind that EVERY property is located in a flood zone. It’s just a matter of which flood zone you’re in and whether or not there is any risk associated with being located in that zone. FEMA flood maps include zones that are broken into several areas.

If you are curious to see which flood zone your house is in, give The Alexander Team a call at 314-329-9042.

Shelly Clark with Cardinal Surveying is very informative and knows everything there is to know about land surveying. With a slogan of “Make it KNOWN what you OWN”, we recommend using them for the next home purchase when a survey is needed. To contact Cardinal Surveying either call 636.922.1001, email them questions at Inbox@CardinalSurveying.com, or visit the website at www.CardinalSurveying.com.

To browse for homes on the market visit www.AskHolliD.com.

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Tips for Homeowners to Avoid Mortgage Fraud from the FBI

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If you’re a struggling homeowner, beware of people who say they can help save your home and lower or eliminate your mortgage debt. Here are a few tips that might save you heartache down the road:

  • No third party can guarantee or pre-approve a federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) application…only your lender has the discretion to grant a loan modification.
  • If you’re contacted by an individual or company who claims to be affiliated with HAMP or displays a seal or logo representing the U.S. government on a letter or a website, verify their claim by calling the federal government’s Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE (4673).
  • Beware of anyone who wants to charge you in advance for mortgage services—in most cases, charging advance fees for mortgage modification is illegal. In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission issued the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule which bans advance fees (attorneys are generally exempt from this rule with some conditions, including the requirement that they place any fees in a client trust account).
  • Beware of loan modification companies disguised as law firms. These companies often employ a single attorney in order to skirt the MARS ruling banning the collection of advance fees, masking their fees as attorney retainers or consulting fees.
  • Beware of unsolicited contacts as well as high-pressure sales techniques.
  • Beware of companies that say you cannot obtain a loan modification on your own, or that banks won’t work with you.
  • Beware of claims of high-success rates (i.e., 97 percent), guaranteed extremely low interest rates (i.e., 2 percent), and money-back guarantees.
  • Beware of anyone who advises you to stop making mortgage payments…and never make a mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage company.
  • Beware of anyone who tries to convince you they can save your home if you transfer your deed to them or if you file for bankruptcy.
  • Beware of anyone who offers to fill out paperwork for you, and never sign loan documents that contain blank spaces (cross out blank sections or write “NA” in the section).
  • Beware of offers to participate in class action lawsuits that claim they can help save your home.
  • Keep in mind that companies can purchase lists of homeowners who are delinquent on their mortgage payments. If you’re a homeowner behind on your mortgage, you may be targeted by loan modification or foreclosure rescue companies—just be sure to do your homework on these companies before giving them any of your hard-earned money.

Bottom line—if you find yourself in financial trouble, contact your lender yourself…you may be able to negotiate a new repayment schedule. Or, apply to HAMP on your own or with free help from a housing counselor approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. For more information, call the Alexander Team at 314-329-9042, call 1-888-995-HOPE or go to http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov.

Featured Left to Right: Jeff Alexander, Holli Dennis, and Phyllis Alexander

Featured Left to Right: Jeff Alexander, Holli Dennis, and Phyllis Alexander

Tips Credits go to: http://stlouisrealestatenews.com/

Many St. Louis Neighborhoods that have Increased in Value in 2014!

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St Louis Neighborhoods Where Prices Have Increased The Most In Past Year

Most of the neighborhoods in St Louis have seen home prices increase over the past year, at least to some extent however, some are seeing rates that are significantly higher than others.  So where are the St Louis neighborhoods that have seen the largest increase in home prices in the past year?  Let’s being with how the data is computed.  The table below is based upon current median list prices of homes for sale within a zip code.  Zip codes that don’t have a sufficient amount of annual home sales to make their statistics accurate and significant have been omitted.

As the chart below shows, the 63108 zip code area of St Louis (the Central West End) is number 1 on the list as of today in terms of the year over year increase in home prices which is at over 38%.  It’s important to note that this does NOT mean that every home in the Central West End has increased in value 38% from a year ago however.  What this means is that the median listing price of homes for sale there presently is 38% higher than a year ago.  This could be the result of a large influx of higher priced property on the market, or a large amount of foreclosures on the market a year ago, but in any event is still a good thing and shows prices and values are going up in that area.  While the table below will give you a good idea of what is going on with home prices in a given area, nothing beats a live analysis by a real estate professional. Give our team a call today and we can help you determine if your house value has gone up and if now is a great time to sell. Call Phyllis, Jeff or Holli today at 314-329-9042. To begin a St Louis home search visit www.AskPhyllis.com!

St Louis Home Price Change - Year over Year

 Alexander Team
This article was written By .

A List of What You Need TO DO now that you Just MOVED :)

You thought after you moved you the stress would be over. Not quite. You will want to notify businesses of your move and update items such as your drivers license with your new address. To help make things easier on you, we have put together a list to help relieve the stress 🙂

UTILITIES:

  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Water
  • Garbage
  • Telephone
  • Cell phone
  • Cable
  • Internet
  • Fuel
  • Water Delivery/Treatment
  • Pool Services
  • Lawn/ Gardening Services
  • Housecleaning Services

FINANCIAL AND PERSONAL:

  • Doctors
  • Pharmacy
  • Veterinarian
  • Attorney
  • Banks
  • Credit Card Companies
  • Department Store Credit Cards
  • Insurance Agency
  • Pension Plans
  • Air Miles Programs
  • Accountant
  • Gym Membership
  • School Records

SUBSCRIPTIONS:

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Book clubs
  • Music Clubs
  • Store Catalogs
  • Commercial Promotions

GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC OFFICES:

  • POST Office
  • Income Tax/ IRS
  • Family Support
  • Social Security
  • Pension Benefits
  • Unemployment
  • Vehicle Registration
  • Drivers License
  • Passport

Starting to think about moving? Visit the best home search tool in St. Louis to begin your home search —-> www.StlHomeSearchers.com.

Have questions about real estate in St. Louis, not problem we got your back. Give us a call at 314-329-9042 or give us an email at Homes@AskPhyllis.com

Alexander Team New Viao

Buying Real Estate as an Immigrant In the U.S.

Home with U.S. flag waving out front.

Despite challenges with getting a mortgage and approval from housing cooperatives, immigrants represent a large chunk of the growth in U.S. homeowners since 2000.

The housing crisis may have tempered some enthusiasm for home ownership, but many people still consider putting down roots and buying a home to be part of the American dream. This is especially true for immigrants to the U.S. In fact, they accounted for nearly 40 percent of the net growth in homeowners between 2000 and 2010, according to a report by the Research Institute for Housing America (compare this with the 1970s when they represented just over 5 percent of the growth).

But the path to homeownership isn’t always easy for newcomers. Here a look at the challenges permanent or nonpermanent resident aliens with work visas or green cards sometimes face.

  • Language barriers. Many immigrants are fluent in English, but for those who aren’t, discussing complex mortgage or real estate terms can be a lot more complicated than exchanging pleasantries at the grocery store or completing a transaction at the post office. For instance, Jeff Riber, a broker and owner of ERA Heavener Realty in Jacksonville, Florida, worked with two couples who immigrated from Bosnia: a daughter who was fluent in English and her parents. “She was having to run point on the entire process for her parents,” he says. “If you don’t understand the terminology, it’s unnerving.” That’s where having a trusted friend or family member to translate can help, especially if the person has been through the home buying process.
  • Qualifying for a mortgage. Noncitizens working in the U.S. can qualify for traditional mortgage financing, but because lenders look at U.S. credit histories, those new to the country may not have enough time to build a credit history. With government-backed loans requiring full documentation, lenders generally want to see at least two years of U.S. tax returns from borrowers, including non-permanent residents (those who have a valid work visa but not a green card yet), according to Rob Spinosa, a Mill Valley, California-based mortgage loan originator with RPM Mortgage. If, for instance, you have been working in the country long enough to file 2012 and 2013 tax returns, you might qualify for a mortgage backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Having a relationship with an international institution that offers U.S. mortgages could also help secure a mortgage from that lender.

If not, you might still qualify for a loan from a portfolio lender – a company that originates mortgages and holds a portfolio of loans rather than sells them on the secondary market. As Spinosa explains, these loans typically come with a lower loan-to-value ratio (meaning you might not be able to borrow as much money), a different set of underwriting guidelines and a slightly higher interest rate. He adds that these lenders typically charge a variable interest rate rather than a fixed rate.

The process is a bit different for a non-U.S. citizen who wants to buy an investment property but doesn’t have a Social Security number tied to a credit report. “For us to get an approval for a foreign national, we are checking references for employment and credit references in the country of origin,” Spinosa says. A nonpermanent resident might also use this approach instead of waiting for two years of tax returns.

Of course, establishing credit and showing tax returns is less important if you’re paying cash, which some newcomers do. “There is lending available and they do take advantage of it, but it’s not their mentality [to take out a mortgage],” points out Reba Miller, owner of RP Miller Realty Group, a New York agency with over $1 billion in residential transactions. “It’s more of an American mentality.”

Michael Barbolla, head of Rutenberg Realty, one of New York City’s largest real estate brokerages, has seen several recent cash transactions involving foreign investors. “In many of these new buildings, they’re paying cash, and as long as there’s some verification of assets, the deals can run very smoothly,” he says.

  • Getting co-op approval. Housing discrimination based on national origin, race or religion is illegal in the U.S. That said, boards running a cooperative building are allowed to vet potential buyers, and not all of them are friendly to noncitizens. “Boards can’t say ‘we don’t want foreigners,'” Miller says, “but boards can say ‘we don’t want pied-à-terre owners, and that’ll signal foreign investors or someone with a second, third or fourth residence.” (A pied-à-terre is a secondary residence, usually in a large city, used for short escapes.)

Condominiums tend to be more flexible than co-op buildings. “Because it is cooperative living and because you are owning shares in a corporation, you would complete a board package,” Barbolla explains. “Co-op boards ask for all kinds of information, letters of reference, credit checks, and it’s very difficult for a co-op to trace back that information to a foreigner because you can’t necessarily run a credit check.”

Miller says she’s helped foreign buyers without much of a U.S. credit report to secure board approval by encouraging them to collect reference letters from their accountant, broker and others. Offering to put money in an escrow account for the co-op or having money in financial institutions that are known in the U.S. can also help their case. “Try to have transparency as to where the money is and how the money is being held,” she says. “If it’s locked up in a Swiss bank account, you’d have trouble showing it.”

Buying Real Estate as an Immigrant to the U.S.-Told By Susan Johnston

Why Settle for One Realtor When You Can Have 3 Agents Representing You?

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Did you know, if you are a Buyer working with the Alexander Team, it is free for you to use our services? That’s a pretty great deal. What exactly will we be doing for you? Below is a numbered list….But first here are a few things to think about.

You wouldn’t want to buy and invest in stocks without someone who knows what they are doing, you don’t want someone to fix your car who doesn’t know what they are doing. Why wouldn’t YOU use a Realtor who knows the laws, has been through the schooling, and truly cares about you? And why just settle for one Realtor when you can have 3 all representing you?

I know what your thinking, nothing is free, and of course we do ask two things of you: 1) You remain loyal to us when you start working with us, and 2)If you think we did a great job send your family,friends, co-workers, even strangers our way. A client sending our team referrals is the biggest compliment we can get! Other than that-FREE!

The Best Home Search Tool in St. Louis

Now finally, here is the list of Service The Alexander Team will Provide You the Buyer….

1. Arrange a free, no obligation pre-qualification meeting with a foremost lender to find out how much you qualify to borrow.

2. Search the Multiple Listing Service for all homes listed to make sure that you know about every home or building site for sale in your price range. If you want a new home, we’ll find the builder who will build you the most home for the best price.

3. Use of our exclusive website, including features like automatic email notification as new listings arrive on the market, searchbymap, & more.

4. Arrange private showings for homes you wish to see or coordinate meetings with the best home builders in the area.

5. Help with negotiation & purchase of For Sale By Owner homes.

6. When you find the right home or builder, we’ll assist you with preparing an acceptable offer that is in your best interest.

7. Strategize about the offer price, financing terms, interest rate, & possession date.

8. Recommend service companies: home inspections, appraisal, surveyor, homeowner’s insurance, & home warranty.

8. Obtain answers to any & all questions you may have.

9. Present the offer on your behalf to the seller, the builder, the For Sale By Owner, or the seller’s agent.

10.We will negotiate in your best interest at all times to get you the best deal possible.

11. Help find the greatest possible financing.

12. Ensure that you receive exceptional service from everyone involved with your home loan.

So what are you waiting for? Start you home search with the Alexander Team Today. Call Phyllis at 314-329-9042, Jeff at 314-580-3800, or Holli at 314-913-1699. To begin searching for St. Louis homes simply click the picture of the RE/MAX Balloon!

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If you would like to see what our past clients are saying about us click the photo of our happy clients and scroll down to the Recommendations header!

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Why on Earth Would I Hire a Home Inspector?

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For Your Protection Get a Home Inspection

I’m going to just throw it out there, Realtors don’t see everything and Realtors don’t know everything. However we do know alot from past experiences, and know how to protect you the buyer from purchasing a money pit. Hiring a Professional to inspect your property is always what our team recommends to give you an understanding of what is truly going on with your home.

What exactly is Inspectors looking at? 

Structural: Many home-inspection organizations have set standards to determine the integrity of the essential internal & external structural components. Home inspectors are not structural engineers, but they can identify visual defects in areas requiring immediate repairs & will recommend a structural engineer should they feel it is warranted.

Electrical: Do all the outlets work? Are the GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupters) operational? Is there any reverse polarity? Is there evidence of double lugging of breakers at the service panel?  Any wiring not properly encased? Landscape watering or lighting systems improperly installed?

Plumbing: Are there any leaks or annoying drips? Are there any pipes that are vibrating because they are not properly secured? Reverse hot & cold taps in bathrooms or kitchen? Are there any toilets not secured to the floor? What about cracks in the shower-tub surrounds? Is the water pressure sufficient? Are there any slow-draining sinks or tubs?

Built-In Appliances: All appliances are tested, including running a dishwasher cycle, testing microwaves, & checking oven temperatures and burners.

Other Inspections you can have performed include

  • Chimneys – Performed by a chimney survey to determine the safety & functionality of the fireplaces in the home
  • Septic – If a home has a private sewage system, a licensed septic inspector can ensure the system meets current standards
  • Well – If a home has a private water supply system, a license inspector can test the safety of the water & functionality of the well
  • Sewer Lateral – The sewer lateral pipe runs underground from the main stack in a home to the main sewer line

–As it ages, pipe may become

cracked or damaged by

tree roots

–Use of a small camera

can ensure the

functionality &

integrity of the

sewage system

  • Termite Inspection – A termite inspector will identify any infestations or previous damage caused by termites

–Termites are wood destroying insects common to the St. Louis area

  • Lead – A lead inspection will identify all lead risks in the home

–Homes built prior to 1978 may contain lead-based paint

  • Radon – A radon inspection can be done to verify levels & determine if mitigation is required

–Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is believed to cause increased risks of some cancers

–20% of homes in the St. Louis area exceed the standards set by EPA

  • Safety Hazards: Making certain hot-water tanks are secured; verifying there is proper ventilation of all systems supplied by natural gas; & testing temperature variations on the furnace

Miscellaneous: Other items may or may not be included, but should be reviewed by a qualified professional, such as roofs, sufficient sealing of flashings, noting cracked tiles, exposed felt, adequate attic insulation and ventilation, drainage problems, wood decks, wood-infestation evidence (dry rot), patios, or other exterior structures.

You might question the necessity of an inspection on new construction. However, realize that even though city inspectors have passed certain phases of the construction process and the home has received a certificate of occupancy, there could be numerous small items that may require attention that may or may not surface during the course of homeownership and yet could be a potential structural or safety hazard.

There are other inspections you can have performed on your house, I just went through the most common inspections our buyers choose to use here in the St. Louis area. If you have any questions please contact RE/MAX Result’s Alexander Team at 314-329-9042.

Alexander Team New Viao