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5 Tips For Creating Fall Curb Appeal

by Tucker Robbins

house

Soon, all things pumpkin spice will be here, including the home visitors that bring them. In preparation of the door bell ringing, create a little spice of your own with some seasonal curb appeal. You don’t have to limit yourself to pumpkins and hay bales — below are tips and projects for sprucing up your home’s view from the curb this season.

Front door, first impressions

Your front door is one of the first things people notice about your home. Give your door a fresh face with a coat of paint in a bold fall color to draw the eye to this focal point of your home.

Another project is to replace the door entirely. Consider options with decorative glass accents, and stunning sidelights (windows on either side of the door) to add more natural light while maintaining a sense of style and privacy. Plus, as temperatures start to drop, Energy Star -qualified entry doors will help maintain your home’s energy efficiency.

Accessorize with new hardware

Replace your front door hardware for a quick, easy facelift. Choose hardware finishes that compliment light fixtures, mailbox and house numbers for a polished, cohesive look. You’ll be delightfully surprised what a difference new hardware can make in creating an updated look to your home.

Refresh exterior body and trim colors

For a dramatic change, repaint your home’s exterior. It’s bold and can make your home stand out from other homes on the block. Not up for the bold change? To make an impact with a smaller change, add new trim colors. When updating trim, choose color schemes that match your home’s primary exterior color, or complement it with a fresh twist.

Create points of interest with plants

You don’t have to stop enjoying beautiful plants and flowers simply because summer is over. Add pops of color by arranging pots filled with hearty fall flowers like mums, sedum or asters around your front door, or on a porch or deck. Incorporate planters or container gardens of varied sizes, shapes and colors to add visual interest.

Accent with lighting

As summer light fades into shorter, darker days, add exterior accent lighting to the front of your home. Illuminate a walking path with ground-insert solar lights. Or consider solar spotlights to bring out landscaping or to shine on your updated front door. Install matching light fixtures outside your front door, garage door or patio door to provide well-lit entrances that are stylish and inviting to neighbors and guests.

Courtesy of New Castle DE Realtor Tucker Robbins.

How Much Spook Are You Willing To Live With

by Tucker Robbins

In honor of Allhallows Eve, Trulia polled 2,005 U.S. adults to find out how men and women react differently to some very eerie home hauntings. You won’t believe which ghoulish living situations men and women find totally acceptable, and which they could really, um, live without. ‚Äč

Courtesy of Wilmington DE Real Estate Expert Tucker Robbins.

New Castle County DE Real Estate Market Watch for September 2015

by Tucker Robbins

new castle

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtor Tucker Robbins.

Buying a Short Sale Property? What You Need to Know...

by Tucker Robbins

short sale

Short sales can represent interesting investment opportunities but keep in mind they are not a typical transaction. The owners will be getting exactly zero out of selling their home – but they might be preventing a foreclosure damaging their credit even more. The short sale lender will be getting less than the amount of the mortgage out of the sale – sometimes considerably less. You write up an Agreement of Sale, the sellers agree, but now the hurry up and wait game starts as you await the short sale lenders response/approval. Even so, there are things you need to know on the way in:

  1. You will have little or no control over the transaction and at times there will be frustratingly little information on what is happening. The short sale lender will only deal with the buyer or the buyer’s short sale negotiator. You, your realtor (we of course recommend The Robbins Team), or your attorney will not be able to get any information from them directly. You will need patience.
     
  2. Short Sale Purchases are not automatically a good deal. Sometimes it is amazing how difficult some lenders are at reconciling their valuation with real market value.
     
  3. The experience of the short sale negotiator is a factor. When they present a preliminary HUD-1 to the short sale lender it must be substantially similar to the final one. Home Owner Association dues and sewer/water bills, for example must be included. If unexpected expenses to the short sale lender come up shortly before settlement, they can kill the deal. There are several commercial entities in our area that specialize in short sale negotiations, but they normally charge around 3%. This fee is paid by the buyer (usually offset by including 3% settlement help in the contract of sale).
     
  4. Potentially there is very little seller motivation – they are not getting anything out of it.
     
  5. Short sale lenders can change the terms of the contract, but you, as the buyer, are not obligated to accept the changes – think of it like it’s a counter offer.
     
  6. Other offers can come in after yours has been submitted to the lender – creating an auction type situation – depending on which short sale lender is involved. You will have no recourse if the lender accepts another offer – unless you put in the contract wording that “Until this offer has been responded to, the seller will not consider any offers within the short sale approval period”. The problem is the buyer cannot back out until either the short sale lender rejects the offer or the short sale contingency date has passed. Some short sale lenders will strike such clauses.
     
  7. Some short sale lenders (Nationstar Mortgage is the only one I am aware of, but there could be more) will actually put your offer in an online auction for 2 – 3 months to see if they can get more money. I would also avoid Ocwen Financial.
     
  8. Under the home inspection contingencies “within 10 business days of short sale approval all utilities will be turned on” is a good clause to add for your protection. You want the utilities to be on for you home inspection.
     
  9. Be sure you understand that in spite of home inspections, the property is really being sold “As-Is”. Even though the contract might not say that, the home inspection is defacto “As-Is”. The seller will likely not do any work and the short sale lender practically never does. The main purpose of the home inspection is to find out what is wrong with the property and decide if you want to go forward. If you are getting an FHA or VA mortgage be aware they have no escape clause for repairs. There are times that buyers will have to do required repairs at their own expense in order to satisfy FHA or VA mortgage inspections. FHA and VA financing requires they must be done before settlement and they don’t allow escrows. If you are going to do repairs before settlement, be sure you have approval to do such and be aware that if you do not purchase the property, there is basically no recourse to recoup the repair investment.
     
  10. If the seller has a USDA mortgage, the USDA does not release the seller from a deficiency amount until after settlement in spite of the seller having a short sale approval from the bank.
     
  11. Settlement Statement Approval – the seller’s mortgage company can have different requirements as to how different expenses are shown on the settlement statement than how the buyer’s mortgage company wants the expenses shown. This can cause delays in settlement.
     
  12. Many times the seller must be delinquent on their mortgage before the lender will even consider a short sale. This can delay the process even further if you have to wait until the seller is delinquent for several months before starting the short sale process. Some lenders will even require the seller to go through a class before they can start the short sale process.
     
  13. Short sale lender approvals for people selling investment properties are much more frequently not approved.
     
  14.  When the short sale is approved, the deficiency (the difference between what is owed by the seller and the amount the short sale lender will actually receive) can be an issue. It can go to the seller in 3 ways:
    1. Excused (Obviously seller preferred – though it can have tax consequences, where the IRS treats the deficiency as income, but congress passed laws that prevent that – but they haven’t been extended yet to cover 2015).
    2. A note (where the seller will make periodic payments to the short sale lender after settlement to cover some percentage of the deficiency).
    3. Left as an open issue (The short sale is approved but the short sale lender don’t say what happens to the deficiency – a somewhat scary situation for the seller)
       
  15. If it is a HAFA mortgage company, the process provides any 2nd mortgage holder must also approve the Short Sale.
     
  16. The settlement might never happen. The seller could abandon the deal. The buyer might find another property or run out of patience. The short sale might not be approved. A vacant property (especially one without power) could be damaged or vandalized.

By Tucker Robbins, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
(302) 777-7744 | Tucker@RobbinsRealEstate.com

How to Update a Kitchen Without Breaking the Bank

by Tucker Robbins

kitchen

Kitchen cabinets can be painted (if they are wood and in decent shape). Many times the cabinets themselves can be reused; it’s just the doors and drawer fronts that are tired. If they are too far gone to paint, or you just don’t want to do it, new doors and drawer fronts (refacing) can be found at the Taylor Cabinet Door Company (www.taylorcabinetdoor.com 800.852.7087). Don’t forget to get the new soft close hinges to replace the old ones. You can then install doors and fronts or hire a contractor to do the job. Taylor says it usually runs about $15 an item to get installed. For example, a good sized kitchen with 30 doors, 16 drawer fronts, and 4 false doors in painted maple (with accompanying hinges) will cost (uninstalled) around $3,800, another $300 if you want a glazed finish. There are also plenty of different woods and panel styles available. Plan on about a month, however, to receive your new custom fronts.

Cabinet door and drawer hardware – just surf the internet. There is a lot of cool stuff out there. Even Home Depot, Lowes, and IKEA have big selections.

Counter Tops – Granite is still in fashion and prices have fallen, but some of the newer materials are also gaining popularity. Quartz and silestone are less porous and just as heat resistant. Stainless steel is gaining favor. Laminates, tile, and concrete are losing popularity. Corian and wood are once again gaining popularity on the west coast – but not here in Delaware yet. It’s hard to go wrong with a decent granite and an under mounted stainless steel sink. I also really like the hands free kitchen faucets. Shop on the internet and you can find them substantially discounted!

Lighting – It’s time to get rid of the old brass bar lamps. There are a wide range of new fixtures out there that will grace any kitchen.

Appliances – Brushed stainless and nickel are the choice of the moment. Just don’t get ones that show fingerprints or discolor with heat (read reviews on the appliances you are considering). Not all expensive appliances are worth the expense. If practical get a gas cooktop/range. Obviously you need a dishwasher and refrigerator, but forget the trash compactor and maybe the wine cooler (or maybe not, they are kind of cool).

Flooring – Hardwoods and Tiles seem to rule the floor. There are plenty of exotics from which to choose from but don’t go overboard.

Backsplash – Options include tile and, well, tile. I recommend the tile!

Information courtesy of New Castle County Realtor Tucker Robbins.

Avoiding Home Buying Nightmares

by Tucker Robbins

buyer beware

You have just found out that you have been approved to buy a new home.  I am sure you are super excited as this is one of the most exciting times in your life.  I would suggest that you slow down your excitement just for a moment to consider the following warnings before you begin your search.  Once you have taking time to breathe in and out for a moment and have taken into consideration all that may come your way, get ready to have a great time searching for your dream home! Below are a few warnings for potential home buyers and tips on how to handle these warnings. 

  • Buying a fixer upper may be more expensive than you can afford.  If you do decide to go the route of a short sale or  foreclosure  be sure that you not only have the funds needed to do so, but that you have a lot of patience as well.   If you are someone who has patience and you are willing to wait a while, you may find that buying a home that is being sold as a short sale or a foreclosure to be the way to go if you want more for your money. 
     
  • Don’t ignore issues that a home inspector finds.  If the home inspector finds issues with the house that are going to cost you a lot of money out of pocket to fix, you may want to consider negotiating with the seller for covering the cost of these issues.
     
  • If you see issues while touring a home, always point it out to your Realtor and ask them about it.  If your Realtor is a good and respectful Realtor, he or she will take the issue seriously and will talk with you about the next steps you should take if you are interested in making an offer on that particular house. 
     
  • If the home you are considering has had additions in the past, make sure to have these additions checked out to make sure they are up to code.  You can check with the county that the home is in to look over the work permits to make sure things were done correctly and to ease your mind. 

Once you get all of your questions and concerns addressed, you will then likely feel more comfortable moving forward with making an offer on the home of your dreams.

Tips When Attending an Open House

by Tucker Robbins

If you are in the market for a new house, don't be scared to attend open houses.  As long as you go armed with the knowledge of what might be asked of you at an open house you should be ready to answer without worry or hesitation. Keep in mind that Realtors who hold open houses are not like used car salesmen, they are there to help you find the home of your dreams. Be polite and remember your open house etiquette when touring an open house. 

open house

  • You may be asked at an open house how long you have been looking for a home.  This question is only asked to find out just how serious you are about purchasing a home and in what time frame you are planning to do so.  For example if you have already been looking for a few months then you are most likely more than ready to hone in on exactly what type of house you are looking for.  Be very specific with your answer to this question.
     
  • Another question you may be asked at an open house is if you already have an agent you are working with.  This question is asked because the Realtor wants to know if they can represent you in your search for a new home.  You may be asked who your agent is if you already have one.  Don't hesitate to give out names because all the Realtor wants to do is call your agent for feedback instead of bothering you with such things.  By answering this question you are keeping yourself from having to give out any of your own personal information.  This way you have a buffer between you and the Realtor who is holding the open house.
     
  • You may be asked if you are looking to buy in the specific neighborhood in which the open house is being held.  The Realtor is not trying to get all into your business by asking this question, he or she is just trying to find out if you really are serious about making a home purchase and what area you are interested in.  Just be honest with your answer, there is no right or wrong answer here. 

The main thing I would suggest to you when attending an open house is that you go in with an open mind.  Be willing to open up and answer any questions you might be asked with a clear honest answer.   You never know you may just be walking right in to your new dream home!

Displaying blog entries 1-7 of 7

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Photo of Tucker Robbins Real Estate
Tucker Robbins
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
3838 Kennett Pike
Wilmington DE 19807
(302) 777-7744 (direct)