7 Ways Home Sellers Turn off Homebuyers

7 Ways Home Sellers Turn off Homebuyers

By Marcie Geffner

(TNS)—When it’s time to sell your home, you can invest a ton of time, energy and money into getting the place ready for sale. You might declutter, stage and even remodel the house to make it as appealing to buyers as possible.

Sometimes, though, no amount of preparation can overcome something in the home that, rightly or wrongly, offends some buyers and gives them negative impressions of you and your house.

These potentially troublesome items create a dilemma for real estate agents, says Maura Neill, a REALTOR® in Alpharetta, Ga.

“We tell our seller clients to depersonalize a house,” Neill explains. “You want buyers to feel as though they could make themselves at home, move in and be comfortable.”

The risk of ignoring the agent’s advice is considerable. Buyers “may turn around and leave,” Neill says.

With that in mind, here are seven things that might offend buyers and result in fewer offers.

Live Animals
Believe it or not, some sellers keep live, unclean and potentially dangerous animals in homes for sale.

Wendy English, a former real estate sales manager in Medfield, Mass., recalls an uncaged rabbit that she says was “disgustingly smelly” and would chase people and try to bite them when they entered the home.

“The homeowner just loved the rabbit, didn’t see any problems with it, thought it was the cutest pet ever and was maybe immune to the smell,” English says. “The rabbit was definitely horrible.”

Courtney Self, a broker/owner in Torrance, Calif., experienced what might have been an even worse situation.

“I had a listing with monkeys that flung their feces when we would show the house,” she says.

Animal-Head Trophies
Dead animals also can be problematic.

Barry Bevis, a broker/owner in Tallahassee, Fla., recalls a for-sale home that had a “trophy” room over the garage.

“The pictures of the house (online) had these giant elk heads and deer heads,” he says. “It’s better to leave it out. You’re going to offend too many people.”

By the way, not everyone loves pets either, so food bowls, litter boxes, play toys and the like should be removed from a home when it’s on the market, Bevis says.

“Many people are allergic to animals or feel like the animals cause too much wear and tear,” he explains. “If you have any evidence of pets in your property, it’s going to turn off a large segment of buyers.”

Flags
“You never expect to see a Nazi flag hanging on the wall,” says Neill, “but we walked into a seemingly vanilla suburban house and into what appeared to be a teenager’s bedroom and there was a giant flag with a swastika on it hanging on the wall.”

Indeed, any sort of emotionally charged or polarizing display like, say, a Confederate flag, can also be offensive.

“There’s a debate about whether it’s heritage and pride or racism and bigotry,” Neill says. “Depending on who you talk to, you get a different answer.”

Bevis recalls an incident when such a flag created a negative impression.

“I was showing a house to an African-American couple,” he says. “I opened the lockbox and the key was (stamped with) a Confederate battle flag. It really did turn these folks off just a little bit. Immediately they didn’t like the people selling the house.”

Sports Memorabilia
Sports team rivalries fuel strong emotions, and a seller’s spirted support of the “wrong” team can create a sour impression.

“Having your house decked out in your team might not offend buyers, but it will color the way they think about that house,” Neill says. “It’s usually not (just the owner’s) team’s stuff. It’s also stuff making fun of their rivals. Buyers don’t want to walk into a house that’s berating their team.”

English says long-distance relocating buyers (known as “relos”) are most likely to be put off.

“Relos will come in and see Patriots stuff, Red Sox stuff, and it does rub them the wrong way,” she says. “Sellers don’t necessarily realize how strongly someone might react to their favorite team.”

Nudity
Whether it’s baby pictures, artwork or pornography, nudity makes some buyers uncomfortable.

In some cases, sellers don’t realize they’ve exposed too much information. In others, sellers want to make a statement, even if it’s at their own expense.

“Anybody who has a tasteful painting usually will get the reasoning that it makes sense to take it down,” says English. “The not-tasteful stuff, I think those people are going for the shock value, which doesn’t help sell the house.”

Self offers a few examples of things she’s seen in for-sale homes: a statue of male genitalia next to a bed, wallpaper patterned with nude women in a guest bathroom and a drunk heir (yes, a live person), shirtless and passed out on the floor.

Mystery Rooms
When buyers want to see a for-sale house, they expect to see the whole house, not just parts of it.

That makes a locked room a big turnoff, English says.

Whatever’s behind the door might be innocuous, but buyers have no way to know for sure as long as they’re kept out.

“Every so often there will be a house where the homeowner will have a locked room that you can’t see and that always makes buyers say, ‘Forget it,'” English says.

Mysterious objects can trigger a similar reaction.

English recalls a home that had a very large rock covered with plywood boards in the basement.

“Part of the home inspection was that the buyer wanted to remove the plywood and see what was underneath it. It was just a rock, as the seller had said, but everyone called it ‘the coffin,'” she says.

Drugs
Despite relaxed laws in some states, marijuana and other drugs are still federally illegal and their presence or evidence of use, including odors, in a home can deter buyers.

Derek Turner, a broker/owner in Ventura, Calif., says he encountered an empty beer can wall and marijuana paraphernalia on a coffee table and kitchen counter in a for-sale home.

Turner says, “My client did not write an offer.”

©2017 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Spring Garden Week 1

Asparagus purchased from Armstrong Gardens in a 1 gallon pot. I transplanted it to a 2 foot wide by 1 foot deep garden planter and separated it into 3 sections. This will regrow every year.

Garlic bulbs transplanted into garden next to Walla walla Onions. My onions may take on a garlic flavor by planting them by each other. However; I like cooking that way. Garlic bought from Armstrong’s.

My Spring Seeds Sewing Inside. Orich “Yellow”(Seedless), New Queen “Orange”(Seedless) and Crimson “Red”(Pollinator Not Seedless) Watermelon; Patio Cucumbers; Silver Sweet Corn Lincoln Peas; Cloud Cauliflower; Apollo Broccoli; Beans: Yellow Bush and Green Pole; Emerald Squash; Saffron Squash; I used soil from my garden. See Fall Garden Week 3.

Tip of the Week:

To help Spring Seeds grow indoors place on heating pad and heat once in the morning and once at night. Creates a warm environment for growing. Water with warm water not cold.

On heating Pad.

Tomato and Sage Photo Week 22

Tomato Blooms

Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Week 15

Emergency Fund: Why You Need One

Emergencies—from a broken bone to a layoff—are a fact of life. When you’re faced with life’s unexpected events, you can be ready.

What are emergency funds for?

An emergency fund is a stash of money set aside to cover the financial surprises life throws your way. These unexpected events can be stressful and costly.

Here are some of the top emergencies people face:

  • Job loss.
  • Medical or dental emergency.
  • Unexpected home repairs.
  • Car troubles.
  • Unplanned travel expenses.

Did you know?

Saving money isn’t always easy, but it’s likely to be less painful than the alternatives. A recent study found that many of the people surveyed currently or recently:

  • Had unpaid medical bills: 26%.
  • Overdrew their checking account: 22%.
  • Took a loan from their retirement account: 14%.
  • Took a hardship withdrawal from their retirement account: 10%.
  • Had more than one late mortgage payment: 13%.
  • Filed for bankruptcy: 3.5%.

Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation National Financial Capability Study, 2012.

3 benefits of having emergency money

Aside from financial stability, there are other pros to having an emergency reserve of cash.

  1. It helps keep your stress level down.

It’s no surprise that when life presents an emergency, it threatens your financial well-being and causes stress. If you’re living without a safety net, you’re living on the “financial” edge—hoping to get by without running into a crisis.

Being prepared with an emergency fund gives you confidence that you can tackle any of life’s unexpected events without adding money worries to your list.

       2. It keeps you from spending on a whim.

You’ve heard the saying “out of sight, out of mind.” That’s the best way to store your emergency money. If the cash is only as far away as your closest debit card, you may be tempted to use it for something frivolous like a designer cocktail dress or big-screen TV—not exactly an emergency.

Keeping the money out of your immediate reach means you can’t spend it on a whim, no matter how much you’d like to.

And by putting it in a separate account, you’ll know exactly how much you have—and how much you may still need to save.

         3. It keeps you from making bad financial decisions.

There may be other ways you can quickly access cash, like borrowing, but at what cost? Interest, fees, and penalties are just some of the drawbacks.

56% of people in the United States don’t have a rainy day fund that would cover 3 months of expenses.

Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation National Financial Capability Study, 2012.

Avoid these 5 ways to pay for emergencies

When you need the money fast, you might be able to come up with several ways to get it. But they may not be the smartest solutions.

1. Using credit cards

Emergencies are never fun to begin with—do you really want to make it worse by paying more than you have to? Interest rates on credit cards can be sky-high. And don’t forget about potential late fees, the risk of going over your credit limit, and the fact that your credit score will take a hit.

2. Withdrawing your retirement money

Using money that you’ve earmarked for retirement (or another goal, like college) could hurt you in a number of ways.

If you take money from a tax-deferred account—a traditional IRA, a 401(k), or a 529, for example—you’ll be hit with a 10% penalty in most cases. And don’t forget to set aside part of what you withdraw, because you may need to pay income taxes on it as well.

So, for example, if you withdraw $10,000, you could be looking at total taxes and penalties of $3,500 (if you’re in the 25% tax bracket)—leaving you with only $6,500 to deal with your emergency.

Withdrawing from a 401(k) means you’ll pay a lot more

Bar chart depicting how much retirement money could go to taxes and penalties if an early withdrawal is made.

And that might not even be the worst part.

The money you withdraw could eventually threaten your ability to reach your goal. Going back to our example, $10,000 might seem like a small drop in your retirement bucket, but because you’ll also miss out on years of compounding, you could be looking at a final loss of more than $57,000.

The true cost of taking a retirement withdrawal

A series of bars showing compounding growth of $10,000 over 30 years. This hypothetical example assumes that you miss out on 30 years of compounding at an annual 6% return. It doesn’t represent any particular investment nor does it account for inflation.

Figure you’ll just take some of your 401(k) money as a loan instead? Remember that if you fail to pay back the loan—or if you leave your employer and can’t repay the loan immediately—you’ll face the same taxes and penalties that come with a withdrawal.

3. Counting on family or friends

Sure, someone might be willing to lend you money in a time of need … at least the first time. But wouldn’t you feel better not placing a financial burden on those you care about?

4. Relying on insurance

You pay for insurance so that when an emergency crops up, you’re all set, right? In reality, sometimes insurance claims are denied, require you to pay a deductible, or are only partially covered.

Trying to insure your way out of all possible financial hardships isn’t a great idea, either.

Instead, think about taking any money you spend to insure electronics, appliances, and pet care and putting it in your emergency fund.

If you truly need the money, you’ll be covered. If you don’t, congratulations—your emergency fund just got a little fatter.

5. Selling risky investments

Maybe you’ve got some “fun money” stashed away in stock or bond investments, but you shouldn’t consider that an emergency fund.

By definition, emergencies happen when you’re not expecting them. If you need to pay for them by tapping into your stock or bond holdings at a time when they’re taking a beating in the market, you’ll lock in your losses.

Article from © The Vanguard Group, Inc

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.

Why You Need An Estate Plan

NOTE: consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual situation This Is for informational PURPOSES only.

Top ten reasons to create an estate plan—and how to get started

Article from ©The Vanguard Group, Inc

With an estate plan, you can:

  1. Provide support and financial stability for your surviving spouse, children, and grandchildren.
  2. Preserve your wealth for later generations.
  3. Make sure your wishes are carried out when you can no longer manage your affairs. It’s important to have both a power of attorney and a living will.
  4. Support a favorite charity or cause with a gift of money, securities, or other property.
  5. Distribute assets in a timely fashion, with a minimum of legal hassle.
  6. Minimize taxes and expenses that can go along with transferring assets.
  7. Provide enough cash to meet expenses and prevent the forced sale of assets.
  8. Avoid problems for your loved ones by ensuring that the beneficiaries named on your life insurance and retirement plans are still the people you want to benefit.
  9. Protect your family’s privacy with an estate plan designed to prevent your will from becoming public record.
  10. Set and meet expectations of your survivors so there is no confusion or misunderstanding.

Getting started

So how do you begin? A good first step is to take an inventory of your assets and estimate their value. Give careful consideration to your potential beneficiaries and how you would want them to benefit from property or other assets of your estate.

Don’t do it alone

You may be a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to other aspects of your financial life, but estate planning is one area where it’s smart to get professional help. Among other things, the process can entail preparing a will, creating trusts, naming beneficiaries for insurance policies and retirement accounts, and selecting guardians for minor children. In addition, some families need to plan to minimize estate taxes.

Given the complexities, you’ll want to work with a qualified estate planning attorney. Depending on your situation, you may also find it helpful to work with other professionals, including a financial planner or investment manager, a trust officer, an insurance agent, or an accountant. Keep in mind, though, that the attorney must be the one who drafts your estate planning documents.

Finding help

To find qualified estate planning professionals, ask friends, financial and legal advisors, and colleagues for recommendations. Before hiring anyone, it’s a good idea to interview candidates and check their credentials. They should provide you with a clear explanation of their fees and an estimate of how much their service will cost.

Estate planning involves some of your most personal information, so it’s important that you and your family are comfortable with the professionals assisting you.

NOTE:We recommend that you consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual situation.

5 Estate Planning Facts You Need To Know Now

Note: This article is for educational purposes only. Consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual situation.

Photo by: apeopleschoice.com

Article©2016 The Vanguard Group, Inc

A goal without a plan is just a wish. Don’t wish your assets away—make a plan to ensure that your life savings are properly distributed after your death.

Read the five facts below, get inspired, and create an estate plan today.

Yes, you have an estate. (So yes, you need an estate plan.)

You don’t have to be wealthy or retired to have an estate. In fact, if you own anything, you have an estate.

Your estate includes both tangible and intangible personal possessions and real property—like a home, rental property, or land. Possessions you can physically touch (like a car, clothes, or a stamp collection) are tangible property, and assets you can’t touch (like a checking account or an IRA) are intangible property.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

An estate plan is a collection of legal documents that come into play if you become incapacitated or pass away. These documents are a way to voice your wishes when you’re not able to communicate on your own behalf.

An estate plan typically contains:

  • A will, which dictates who gets your assets and how (and when) they get them.
  • A general power of attorney, which appoints somebody to take care of your financial needs in case you become incapacitated or are otherwise unable to act.
  • A healthcare power of attorney, which designates someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you become incapacitated or are otherwise unable to do so yourself.
  • An advance directive for healthcare, which communicates your wishes if you can’t make decisions for yourself.

When you’re drafting an estate plan, it’s important to consider the whole picture—including both your assets and your liabilities.

Alisa Shin“Do your homework before meeting with an attorney. A personal financial inventory that includes details about your bank, credit union, and investment accounts—as well as your liabilities, like loans and credit cards—can help you stay organized and ensure that you’re disclosing everything to your attorney,” said Alisa Shin of Vanguard Personal Advisor Services®.

If you don’t have a plan, your state of residence will step in.

If you don’t take the time to create an estate plan, your state will take care of it for you—on its terms. For example, if you become disabled and aren’t capable of making your own decisions, your loved ones will have to go through the legal process of appointing a guardian or conservator, which can be lengthy and potentially costly. If there’s too much conflict around who should be chosen or there aren’t appropriate options, the court may appoint a third party to control how your assets are used to cover your medical and living expenses.

If you pass away before making an estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to your state’s intestate laws, which determine who’s entitled to property from an estate in which the decedent had no will. “If you have minor children, the court will decide on the parameters of their inheritance,” Ms. Shin said. “And if you leave behind a minor child who has no alternate legal guardian, the court will appoint a guardian on your behalf.”

While state laws are designed to accommodate most people’s wishes, the best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out is to create a customized plan yourself. “The state operates under certain assumptions—for example, that you want your assets to be distributed evenly among your next of kin—but that may be too simplistic. I encourage everyone to make their voice heard about who they want to care for their children and receive their assets,” said Ms. Shin.

Updating your plan is almost as important as creating it.

There’s one caveat to an estate plan that everyone should understand—it’s not final unless you become incompetent or pass away. You can change your mind, and your estate plan, throughout your lifetime.

“Revisit your estate plan regularly, especially your beneficiary designations, about every three to five years,” said Ms. Shin. “Many of us have the best intentions to make adjustments after a major life event—like a marriage, a divorce, a death, or a birth—but it’s easier said than done.”

Your estate plan should be dynamic, not a once-and-done document. “If your plan is keeping pace with your life and accounting for accumulation of wealth and changes in your family structure and living arrangements, expect the plan you have when you’re 80 to look different from the plan you had when you were 40,” said Ms. Shin.

Estate planning isn’t the place for self-sufficiency.

Call around or ask a friend or family member for a referral for an affordable and qualified attorney who can help you prepare your estate planning documents. “To save money, you may be tempted to turn to a software program to draft your will,” said Ms. Shin. “But many of these do-it-yourself options use generic language that may not be appropriate for your personal situation. The least costly route right now may end up having an unfavorable financial impact on your loved ones in the long term. ”

Note:

  • This article is for educational purposes only. We recommend that you consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual situation.

Fall/Winter Garden Week 21

Tomato Ready to be picked Photo Week 21

Tomato and Sage Photo Week 21

Walla walla Onion Week 21

Parsnips Week 21

Purple Carrots & Samurai Carrots Week 21

Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Week 14

Samurai Carrot Week 21 Picked;                    Purple Carrot Week 18 Picked because I had to replant them.

Parsnip Week 21 Picked

Tip of the Week:

Roasted Root Veggie picked from the garden. Stems cut off and thrown in the composter. Carrots and Parsnips washed/scrubbed well, rub dry with a paper towel, then cut into pieces. (Since the skin is soft to need to peel them) Cut up an onion into chunks and marinate all together in a bowl with: Olive oil, salt, pepper, dried Italian Seasoning and 1/8 – 1/4 cup cooking Sherry for couple hours. Place on foiled pan and Roast in the Oven 425°F for 25-30 Minutes.

Seasoned Samurai Carrots, Purple Carrots, Parsnips from the Garden with Sweet Onions.

Cooked Root Veggies served with Salmon and homemade Potato Bread. Dinner is Served from the Garden!

Tax Breaks When You Own a Home

Tax Breaks for Homeowners

This is for informational purposes only. If you’re seeking tax advice please consult with a tax advisor.

  • Mortgage interest
  • Points
  • Property Taxes
  • Mortgage Insurance
  • Energy credits

    Mortgage Interest

    You can deduct home mortgage interest if all the following conditions are met.

    • You file Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040).
    • The mortgage is a secured debt on a qualified home in which you have an ownership interest.

    Both you and the lender must intend that the loan be repaid

    Points

    You can deduct the points in full in the year you pay them, if you meet all the following requirements:

    1. Your main home secures your loan (your main home is the one you live in most of the time).
    2. Paying points is an established business practice in the area where the loan was made.
    3. The points paid weren’t more than the amount generally charged in that area.
    4. You use the cash method of accounting. This means you report income in the year you receive it and deduct expenses in the year you pay them.
    5. The points paid weren’t for items that are usually listed separately on the settlement sheet such as appraisal fees, inspection fees, title fees, attorney fees, and property taxes.
    6. The funds you provided at or before closing, including any points the seller paid, were at least as much as the points charged. You can’t have borrowed the funds from your lender or mortgage broker in order to pay the points.
    7. You use your loan to buy or build your main home.
    8. The points were computed as a percentage of the principal amount of the mortgage, and
    9. The amount shows clearly as points on your settlement statement.

 Property Taxes

Deductible real estate taxes are generally any state, local, or foreign taxes on real property levied for the general public welfare. The charge must be uniform against all real property in the jurisdiction at a like rate.

There are popular loan programs that finance energy saving improvements through government-approved programs. You sign up for a home energy system loan and use the proceeds to make energy improvements to your home. In some programs, the loan is secured by a lien on your home and appears as a special assessment or special tax on your real estate property tax bill over the period of the loan. The payments on these loans may appear to be deductible real estate taxes; however, they’re not deductible real estate taxes. Assessments or taxes associated with a specific improvement benefitting one home aren’t deductible. However, the interest portion of your payment may be deductible as home mortgage interest.

Mortgage Insurance

You can treat amounts you paid during 2016 for qualified mortgage insurance as home mortgage interest. The insurance must be in connection with home acquisition debt, and the insurance contract must have been issued after 2006.

Great Energy Credits

Qualified energy efficiency improvements include the following qualifying products:

  • Energy-efficient exterior windows, doors and skylights
  • Roofs (metal and asphalt) and roof products
  • Insulation

Residential energy property expenditures include the following qualifying products:

  • Energy-efficient heating and air conditioning systems
  • Water heaters (natural gas, propane or oil)
  • Biomass stoves

Please note that qualifying property must meet the applicable standards in the law.

*This is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered tax advice. If you’re seeking tax advice please consult with a tax advisor.

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