Friday, September 1, 2023

Top 10 Budget-Friendly Home Repairs and Improvements to Boost Value and Prepare Your Sacramento Home for Sale

Whether vacant or occupied, most homes will benefit from cost-effective minor repairs or improvements that will enhance your home's appeal to potential home buyers. Preparing your Sacramento home for sale doesn't have to break the bank. In my experience helping Sacramento sellers prepare their homes for sale, here are the top 10 budget-friendly upgrades that can help you maximize your home's value and make it more enticing to prospective buyers

As a note -- as you work through the to-do list to prepare your home for sale, maintain a running record of what you have done to add to your property disclosures. Also, it is worth mentioning that while these cosmetic improvements go a long way to help your home visually appeal to buyers, I strongly recommend performing some pre-listing inspections as well for the sake of disclosure -- I wrote a separate post about that. I welcome your call (916-342-1372) if you have any questions and to see if we are a fit to work together. I also have a full slate of professionals who can assist in tackling a lot of pre-listing to-do's.

(1) Deep Cleaning: Let's start with the basics. A sparkling clean home is just flat out more appealing to home buyers. At the most basic level, roll up your sleeves and thoroughly clean the house. Consider hiring a professional cleaning service to tackle those hard-to-reach spots and ensure your home is spotless for showings. 

(2) Declutter and Depersonalize: A seller client I recently met with said she was going to try to make her home look like an "AirBnb" unit - stylishly minimalist. This is the perfect way to think about it. Decluttering is really key and costs little to nothing just to pack and put things away (something you will need to do anyway eventually) -- or you might even make a few bucks if you have a garage sale. Less is more. Remove excess furniture and personal items, or rearrange furniture if necessary -- creating a clean, open space that allows buyers to envision their own belongings in the home. 

(3) Refresh Interior Paint: A fresh coat of paint can work wonders in transforming the look and feel of your home. It is usually not necessary to paint the entire interior of a home. Typically I would suggest focusing on high-traffic areas and possibly neutralizing loud colors -- painting rooms entirely white is actually the trend at the moment and will create a crisp, clean look. If you think just a simple touch-up may work well, test a small area first and let it dry before you invest a lot of time with touch-up. Oftentimes touch-up will be more work than just repainting an entire wall and may look muddled or worse than before. 

(4) Enhance Curb Appeal: First impressions matter. Spend some effort to improve your home's curb appeal. A fresh coat of paint on the exterior of the front door or on the front window trim goes a long way to brighten things up. Planting colorful flowers, trimming overgrown bushes, and adding a fresh layer of mulch to your garden beds can significantly enhance your home's exterior. 

(5) Touch-Up Exterior Landscape: In addition to curb appeal, invest in small landscaping projects like trimming trees, mowing the lawn, and filling in any bare spots with grass seed. A well-maintained yard adds value. 

(6) Update Plugs and Switches: Replace your dingy almond colored light switches and plugs with new white ones. The before and after appearance will really shock you (pun intended). 

(7) Replace Fixtures: Replacing outdated light fixtures, faucets, or doorknobs and hinges can give your home a more modern and cohesive look. You'd be surprised how much of a difference this can make. 

(8) Minor Kitchen Updates: While a kitchen remodel can be costly, there are budget-friendly ways to refresh this crucial selling point. Consider painting or restaining cabinets, updating cabinet door and drawer hardware, or adding a backsplash for a more contemporary look. 

(9) Repair Leaks and Drips: Fix any leaky faucets or running toilets. Do not forget to look at your exterior hose bibs and sprinkler heads as well. These minor plumbing issues may seem insignificant but can signal to buyers that there are larger maintenance problems lurking. Plumbing leaks can also be the cause of future damage, so best to knock those out as soon as you can anyway.

(10) Enhance Lighting: Nice ambient lighting can make your home feel more spacious and inviting. Replace burnt out bulbs with new ones. Replace old bulbs with brighter, energy-efficient ones, and consider adding inexpensive floor or table lamps in darker areas. Note -- ensure all of the bulbs in each room emit the same color temperature. "Soft White" tends to be warm and yellowish. However "Daylight" tends to has a more bluish tone. If you combine different colors in the same room, the lighting will be distracting to look at.

Preparing your Sacramento home for sale on a budget is entirely possible, and these 10 cost-effective strategic improvements are a great place to start. With a little time and effort, you can significantly increase your home's appeal to potential buyers and potentially raise its value. Ideally, sellers should strive to present a well-maintained, clean and inviting space. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

So you have a low interest rate on your home and want to sell -- is your mortgage loan "assumable" by another buyer?

Lately I have been chatting with a lot of homeowners who are considering selling their Sacramento homes, and a question I keep getting asked is: "Can the person who buys my house take over my 3% mortgage loan?" 

The short answer to the question is MAYBE. Some mortgage loans are what we refer to as "ASSUMABLE" and under certain conditions the loan and its interest rate and terms can be transferred to a new purchaser. An assumable mortgage allows a homebuyer to take over the seller's home loan, and best of all, the new buyer may keep the original mortgage interest rate. Having an assumable mortgage can be a great selling point when marketing a home for sale! With current interest rates in the 6-7% range (depending on qualifications, loan type, terms, etc), and a lower interest rate environment in the years prior, the ability to offer a low mortgage interest rate to the next owner can really set your home listing apart from others.

The longer answer to this question is more nuanced and way more complicated.

First and foremost, not all loans are assumable. To determine if a home buyer can assume your loan, we need to know what kind of loan you have since usually it is only government-backed loans that are assumable. By government backed loans -- this refers to if your loan is insured by FHA, VA, or USDA. If you are not sure what type of loan you have, refer to the NOTE or CLOSING DISCLOSURE documents from when you purchased or last refinanced your home. Both will describe the loan type and if the loan is assumable. Page 4 of the loan's Closing Disclosure has a checkbox section at the very top that specifically states if your loan is assumable or not. Conventional loans and Jumbo loans that are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac typically are not assumable. If you are unsure what sort of loan you have, you can call me (or your agent if you are already working with someone) and I can help you figure it out.

If your loan is not assumable, then NO. You will not be able to transfer your loan to another buyer. Game over. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.  Clearly, you may still sell your home, though the buyer will have to get their own loan at today's market rates. And there are plenty of Sacramento home buyers doing just that.

Second, if you determine that you do have a FHA, VA, USDA, or some other loan type that is assumable, the next step is to determine what your interest rate and your unpaid principle loan balance is. Your interest rate will be on your Note or your Closing Disclosure if you were able to track that down. You might also find this information on your most recent mortgage statement.

Third, once you determine you have an assumable loan, you know your interest rate and unpaid principle balance is -- next, you and your agent need to contact your loan servicing company. Do this proactively! Most loan servicers have a special document package they will SNAIL MAIL to you. Do this BEFORE your home goes on the market. It could take days or weeks to arrive. Again, need help navigating this? Contact me.

So you have an assumable loan, you know the balance and interest rate, and you have your package from your loan servicer...ok, now you can list your home for sale and market it to have an assumable loan. Which is awesome! But I do want to stress to you that new home buyers must still qualify and be underwritten by the loan servicer (buyers are not free to work with a lender of their choosing on an assumption), there are some drawbacks to this scenario. Listing agents must carefully vet buyer offers who seek to complete a loan assumption. The loan assumption will not work for everyone, and here are a few examples...

Example #1: You purchased your home for $400,000 in 2015, and your current unpaid principle balance on your loan is $355,000. Your home is worth $580,000 today. In order for a buyer to be able to assume your $355,000 loan, they will need to have approximately $225,000 in cash as a downpayment. That would equate to nearly 40% down, and most buyers will not be able to do that.

Example #2: You purchased your home for $500,000 in 2018, and your current unpaid principle balance on your VA loan is $475,000. Your home is worth $625,000 today. You are elated to find a buyer with 20% down who can easily assume the $475,000 loan...however this buyer is not a veteran. As a VA loan seller, you may choose to allow a non-veteran assume your VA loan, however unfortunately then you lose your VA loan eligibility in the future -- until that loan is paid in full. Once paid in full, your VA eligibility is restored...though it may not be restored in a timeframe that works for you to use a VA loan on a future home purchase.

Example #3: You purchased your home for $600,000 in 2020, and your current unpaid principle balance on your loan is $560,000. Your home is worth $700,000 today. You are elated to find a buyer with 20% down who can easily assume the $560,000 mortgage...however, your loan servicer takes 4 months to manually underwrite the new buyer's loan. The buyer must snail mail their financial documents to the lender. Every few weeks the lender asks for new documentation and the process drags out. That replacement home you were hoping to purchase is no longer available. The buyer gets frustrated, or finds another property, and walks away. Some loan servicers take A LONG TIME to process and underwrite loan assumptions because they do not have a dedicated team working on them.

Whichever end of a home sale or purchase you are on, please do not hesitate to reach out to me if I can assist. These are nuanced transactions.

Friday, August 11, 2023

I have added the NAR GREEN designation to my credentials...

I am happy to have added the National Association of REALTORS “GREEN” designation to my credentials — this one will help me provide resources to clients to improve the performance of their homes— from low-cost fixes and DIY projects, to retrofitting and replacing systems, to big budget remodeling projects, etc.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Home from vacation hiking the West Highland Way in Scotland...

Yesterday my husband and I returned from a super amazing vacation: we visited Scotland and hiked the West Highland Way. Beautiful does not even begin to describe just how majestic the Scottish highlands untouched and pristine. The route begins in a small town called Milngavie (just outside of Glasgow) and ends in Fort William. We hiked a total of about 85 miles over 6 days. 

I love Sacramento and all but I am not gonna lie -- we happily traded a few 110 degree days for 60 degrees on the trail. 

It was fun and rejuvenating to spend some time away...Now back to work...

Friday, June 23, 2023

New Listing - 5517-5519 East Knoll Drive, Fair Oaks, CA 95628

Excellent turn-key investment opportunity with this renovated well-maintained Fair Oaks duplex! Convenient, high-demand location. Both units were substantially gutted and rebuilt approximately 6 years ago; new drywall and baseboards, new kitchen cabinets and granite countertops, new shower enclosures, bathroom vanities, and toilets, new laminate flooring, new light fixtures, new composition roof and gutters, new dual pane windows, and new HVAC units. Left side 5517 unit is 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms with a 2-car garage, and the right side 5519 unit is 2 bedrooms/2 bathrooms with a 1-car garage. Spacious units flow nicely with lots of living space, open floorplans, big bedrooms, remodeled kitchens and bathrooms, en-suite primary bedrooms, ample storage, and large private/fenced backyards. Located near shopping, public transportation, parks, award-winning schools, and convenient access to I-80 and Hwy-50. 5517 pays $2095/mo. 5519 pays $1800/mo. DO NOT DISTURB OCCUPANTS. Offered at $749,900. For more photos and detail please visit 5517-5519 East Knoll Drive, Fair Oaks, CA 95628.

Friday, June 2, 2023

New Listing - 325 Mette Court, Folsom, CA 95630

Well-maintained by the original owners for over two decades, this charming 3-4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, 2,180sf Prairie Oaks Folsom home is ready for a new owner! You will love the open, light and bright floorplan. Enter to find a lovely living room and picture window overlooking the front yard. The living room opens to a stunning family room with fireplace, and remodeled kitchen with white cabinets, breakfast bar, full backsplash, custom lighting, and pantry. Laminate floors throughout. At the top of the stairs find a large loft/possible 4th bedroom, and large hallway bedrooms. Lots of storage space. Envious primary suite that easily fits your Cal King bed and then some, with remodeled ensuite bathroom with dual sinks / vanities, huge closet, separate stall shower and soaking tub. Remodeled hallway bathroom with tub/shower combo and extra half bathroom downstairs. The backyard is an outdoor oasis with a built-in pool. Relax under the shade of the covered patio or canopy of trees, or in your sunny garden. There are abundant options for coffee and conversation, or the perfect al fresco dining on a crisp evening. All this on a cul-de-sac lot within close proximity to award winning Sandra J. Gallardo Elementary and Folsom High School, the Folsom Premium Outlets, Hwy 50 and more. Don't wait! Offered at $775,000. For more photos, additional detail, and a 3D Virtual Walkthrough, please visit 325 Mette Court, Folsom, CA 95630.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Just Listed - 7662 Highland Avenue, Citrus Heights, CA 95610

Stunning semi-custom 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, 2,393sf home in Citrus Heights! Built in 2018, you will love the light and bright floorplan and open layout. Enter to find an enviable great room with glass doors that open to the backyard, inviting the outside in. The great room has a custom built-in entertainment wall and shelving, which is a perfect centerpiece to the space. The great room opens to the stylish kitchen, which has a lovely breakfast bar, granite countertops, full tile backsplash, pantry, and stainless-steel appliances. Large hallway bedrooms. Lots of storage! Large hallway bathroom with modern decor, and convenient half bathroom off the entryway. The primary bedroom has a wet bar and wine fridge, while the ensuite primary bathroom boasts dual sinks, separate soaking tub, and large tiled walk-in shower. Laminate flooring throughout. Situated on nearly 1/3rd acre, the backyard is an outdoor oasis with a terraced stamped patio, surrounded by manicured gardens. Relax under the shade of the covered patio or canopy of trees, or in your sunny garden. There are abundant options for coffee and conversation, or the perfect al fresco dining on a crisp evening. Huge shed/workshop with power offers additional storage. All this is located in a serene setting close to the conveniences you love. Don't wait! Offered at $749,900. For more photos, detail, and a 3D virtual tour, please visit 7662 Highland Avenue, Citrus Heights, CA 95610.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Busy time at the California and National Associations of REALTORS board meetings!

It has been a busy last couple of weeks! I serve on the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) Board of Directors, and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Board of Director, and for the last couple weeks in addition to helping my clients buy and sell like any typical agent would, I have also been helping craft policy positions and advocate on behalf of my profession and homeowners.

In addition to being a Director on the Board, at C.A.R. I am the Vice Chair of the Federal Issues policy committee. This committee advises the C.A.R. board as to what federal policies to advocate for in conjunction with NAR. Pretty cool stuff.

In addition to being a Director on the Board, at NAR I am the Chair of the Federal Taxation policy committee. Last week my committee and our Board of Directors moved internal policy forward to advocate for reduced capital gains for owners of single family and 2-4 unit rental properties who sell to owner-occupants...

It is pretty exciting to be on the forefront of advocating on behalf of our nations 1.5M+ REALTOR® members and millions of property owners. As someone with a Masters Degree in Public Policy, operating at such a high level to advocate for policies that increase homeownership is really awesome. Our next meetings are in the fall and I can't wait!