Clear to Close: 5 Steps to Streamline the Path to CTC

By |2017-03-13T15:54:53-05:00December 1st, 2013|Advice|

“Clear to Close!”  Those words are great news for buyers (and their agents)!  Clear to Close (CTC) means all conditions of your loan have been met and the loan underwriter has given his blessing to release instructions to the title company for the closing.  If you’re buying a home and you’re purchasing the home through financing, this is your goal: clear to close.    Sometimes, these three words come in advance and everyone just coasts through the process.  More typical though, you may be waiting for the CTC until the 11th hour.  This can be a high stress time for you as a buyer.

To help streamline the path to your CTC, follow these 5 easy steps.

  1. Choose a lender who is a good communicator.  How fast does your potential lender respond to your questions?  Do you understand the answers that they provide?

  2. Ask your lender to provide a step-by-step accounting of the loan approval process in addition to the required disclosures and good faith estimates.   (If they cannot provide a list, be wary!)

  3. Provide your lender all documents he or she requests as quickly as possible.   Any time spent waiting on you will slow down the approval process.  Don’t open any new accounts, close any existing accounts, or make any large purchases without consulting with your lender first.

  4. Make a quick electronic copy of your documents before you send them to the lender.  A paper copy is ok:  a scanned copy is better.  There […]

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My house is on the market! Ten Tips for staying “show ready”!

By |2017-03-13T15:54:53-05:00October 1st, 2013|Advice|

Having your home on the market is a stressful time for even the most organized person.   Keeping your home in a show-ready status at all times can be a challenge.  There are many things you can do in advance to ease your stress level and make your home stand out.  The amount of preparation you put into it before you list will definitely keep you ahead of the game, but what about everyday living?

Here are ten tried and true tips from some very clever sellers.

  1. Keep a list of to-do tasks, and review it every night before bed.

  2. Enlist the help of your kids.  Make them responsible for making their beds, tidying the bathrooms, and putting away all toys and clothes.

  3. Do you have pets?  If so, vacuum and sweep daily.  Also, keep the yard picked up after the pets and clean the litter box daily too.

  4. Empty the dishwasher as soon as the dishes are clean.  For those crazy days when it’s not all done and you have a last minute showing, throw the dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

  5. Keep a couple of empty laundry baskets handy.  When the call comes for a showing, dump everything you can’t find a place for in the baskets.  Load up the baskets, the kids, and the pets in the car and take your messy house with you.  When it’s time to return home, bring in the baskets and work from there.

  6. If you […]

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3 Tips for Getting Your Home Ready to Sell: Curb Appeal, Clearing Clutter, Cleaning Windows

By |2017-03-13T15:54:53-05:00May 6th, 2013|Advice|

Getting your home ready to sell can be a lot of work. I find that sellers who invest in curb appeal, clearing clutter, and cleaning windows help buyers fall in love with their house.

Curb Appeal. First impressions matter. Drive up to your home as if you were a new buyer. What do you see? Are the gutters full of debris? Is the driveway clean? Do your flower beds need some fresh mulch and a little trimming? Are there brown spots or unmanicured areas in the lawn? Now, walk to the front door. Does it need a fresh coat of paint or varnish? Is the hardware okay or does it look past its prime? Look up, are there cobwebs or nests in the corners of the porch? Remember, this is the location a buyer stands waiting for an agent to unlock the door. They have time to look around and notice these things. Make a ‘to do’ list – and get it done!

Clearing Clutter. Buyers want to imagine your house with their belongings. Clean out closets to show off how much space is available. The same goes for kitchen and bathroom cabinets. If you don’t use it every day, consider packing it up and storing it. You don’t really need 50 glasses and 30 plates right now, do you? Having less clutter and storing your excess items makes it easier to keep your home tidy and show ready!

Being organized helps you when it’s time to start […]

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Why Choosing The Right Agent is Important

By |2017-03-13T15:54:53-05:00March 4th, 2013|Advice|

Choosing an agent is crucial. Here are some things to consider when selecting a real estate professional. Choosing an agent is crucial. Here are some things to consider when selecting a real estate professional.

Are you planning to buy or sell a home in the near future?  Choosing your agent is critical. Whether you’re a first time buyer or seller or a seasoned veteran, you want to make sure your agent is a professional.   When considering your agent selection, ask yourself if he or she is:

  1. Available. When you reach out to a potential agent, is he or she available to answer the phone or call you back within a reasonable time?  If you’re selling you want to know that potential buyers can reach your agent.

  2. Visible. What marketing plan does your agent provide?  Does your agent have the ability to properly promote your property and attract potential buyers?   If you are buying, does your agent have insight into homes that are available and meet your criteria?

  3. Knowledgeable. If you’re buying, how much knowledge does your agent have about the area?  Is he or she willing to do the homework to provide you with any answers for your concerns?  Will your agent advise and guide you throughout the process?  Will he or she provide you with a list of helpful references such as inspectors and handymen?

  4. Experienced. Working with an agent who understands negotiating and performs on […]

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Are moving expenses tax deductible?

By |2017-03-13T15:54:53-05:00January 29th, 2013|Advice|

It’s okay to curse at heavy furniture, probably when doing your taxes too. Photo is Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Tara Hunt.

Moving can be a stressful and chaotic time, but when it is all over not only will you be comfortable in a new home, but you could also qualify for a nice tax deduction for your efforts. While you should of course talk to a Tax professional, if you are qualified, you may deduct the expenses of:

  • Packing and transporting household goods
  • Mileage for use of your own car (or gas and oil expenses)
  • Tolls and parking fees on the trip
  • Up to 30 days’ storage of household goods
  • Disconnecting and connecting utilities
  • Transportation and lodging for yourself and members of your household while traveling to the new home

Of course, not all moves are deductible. In order to deduct your moving expenses you have to meet two tests:

TIME – You must being working as a full-time employee within 13 weeks of your move, and you must work at least 39 weeks during the 12 months after your move. And it doesn’t matter wheter you were transferred by your employer or you took a brand new job.

DISTANCE – To meet this test, your new job has to be at least 50 miles further from your old home than your old job was. If you didn’t have a job before the move, your new job has to […]

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Location, location, phone reception?

By |2017-03-13T15:54:54-05:00October 8th, 2012|Advice|

Can you hear me now? Trying out reception before buying a new home could save you headaches later.

As professional Realtors and the SMARTER. BOLDER. FASTER. agents in real estate, we at CENTURY21 Realty Partners depend on our cell phones. Many of our clients have come to depend on their phones as well, for staying connected with both work and family. When service is spotty, we often feel as if we are lost in the Stone Age or at least the 80’s. Yet despite how critical connectivity is to many of us, it is surprising how often this factor gets overlooked in a property search.

While it is wise to check how many bars your handset has during showings (particularly in studies and offices), a new website and Android app, OpenSignal, offers offers robust tools to identify the quality of reception. Part of what makes OpenSignal particularly innovative is that reception quality is voluntarily reported from each user to make a searchable composite map of phone reception. This is potentially more accurate than carrier maps since it comes from a neutral source, consumers themselves. OpenSignal also reports only what other users have actually experienced, not theoretically should experience. The other innovation is an open interface that allows other software developers to use that map data with their own products. As seen on the official CENTURY21 twitterfeed, some in the industry are wondering when these maps could show up as overlays […]

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