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Nancy Heim-berg

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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 37

What to Consider When Choosing a Home Inspector

by Nancy Heim-berg

The final step of the negotiation phase of buying a home usually includes an inspection. A home inspection is a buyer’s only opportunity to make sure that the home they are interested in is free of defects and other issues that often go unnoticed. As a buyer, selecting a home inspector is a crucial task and one where the advice of the agent may be needed. It is important to remember what to consider when choosing a home inspector.

The most important item to consider is whether the inspector has the proper credentials. In a state that requires inspectors to be licensed, asking for proof of that license in important. Even if a state doesn't require licensure, the buyer can ask for proof of training and professional memberships.

The best thing that your agent can do during this time is to reach out to other real estate professionals to receive feedback about local inspectors. Their impressions of inspectors in the area can help you find one who is reliable and thorough.

The last item to consider is how the inspector answers key questions that you ask about the services that they offer. Whether they carry insurance, what their report looks like, and whether or not the buyer is welcomed during the inspection are all important questions to have answered.

Knowing what to consider when choosing a home inspector helps ensure that a buyer is truly investing in the home of their dreams instead of a home that will provide an endless headache.

Common Negotiation Mistakes Made by Sellers

by Nancy Heim-berg

Selling a home is a time filled with plenty of emotions. Excitement, fear, joy, and stress are all things that are experienced by sellers during the process. The longer a home remains on the market, the more likely a seller is to experience these emotions over and over again. To help lessen the stress that can be experienced during the final phases, try to avoid these common negotiation mistakes made by sellers:

  • Demanding top dollar for an aging home is a mistake that many sellers make. Every seller feels that their home is worth the price they've listed it at, but the reality is that older homes, that haven't been updated, have a hard time competing with newer homes. Updating the interior of a home every ten years helps make sure that the fashions of yesteryear don't detract from the home's potential.
  • Buyers often use low offers as a way of communicating with the seller. Getting angry over a low offer is another mistake that sellers make. It is important to not take the low offer personally. Instead find out what the buyer is trying to tell you. Your agent can contact the buyer's agent for a list of reasons behind the low offer.
  • There is no room in real estate for an all or nothing attitude. Negotiations are supposed to be a time of fluid conversation. After all, you want to keep a buyer interested. Asking questions before saying no often helps smooth over any rough negotiation patches.

While you may believe that your home is priced to sell, staged perfectly, and ready for the current market, the truth is that avoiding the common negotiation mistakes made by sellers, will help you be prepared for the toughest phase. Having an experienced, knowledgeable agent will help you navigate all of the emotions that selling a home brings.

Thinking Smart about Home Improvements

by Nancy Heim-berg

If you decide to put time, effort, and money into making improvements on your home, you might want to take some time to consider whether or not those improvements will increase your home's value. Someday, you might decide that you want to see your home, and home improvement projects that will increase your home's appeal to potential buyers ensure you that you're thinking smart about home improvements.

When determining which home improvement projects will increase your home's value, there are quite a few different factors to consider. You want to make sure you don't cause your home to become overpriced for the local market in which it is located. If you create an expensive home in an inexpensive neighborhood, you might find it hard to get any return on investment on the improvements you've made. Of course, you should also concentrate on getting the most out of your money. Opt for the least expensive projects that will lead to the largest increases in home value. 

Another thing you can do if you want to maximize the ROI on your home improvement investment is research projects that are known to increase appeal among buyers. The following are all possible home improvement projects that regularly prove to be useful in terms of thinking smart about home improvements:

  • Enhance the look of your home's exterior - Curb appeal has a huge influence on potential buyers. Consider landscaping work, gutter cleaning, replacing or repainting siding and windows, and more.
  • Increase your home's energy-efficiency - Concern for sustainability and minimizing a home's carbon footprint is gaining consciousness among the general public. Increasing your home's energy-efficiently will not only make your home more attractive to future buyers, but it will also save you money on energy costs in the meantime until you decide to sell your home. 
  • Redesign interior spaces - You should be taking advantage of all of the space in your home. If you have a room that you're not using, consider creating a convenient purpose for it. For example, you can create a home office from an unused extra room or you can create a media room if you have a dining room that you never use. 
  • Re-facing your old fixtures - Although it can be expensive to completely remodel your kitchen or bath, you can significantly improve the appearance of these rooms by simply making small replacements of parts such as appliances, cabinets, and countertops.

Winning a Bidding War

by Nancy Heim-berg

It can be frustrating and stressful to deal with a bidding war once you've fallen in love with a particular property and would be devastated to lose it to another buyer. However, bidding wars are not uncommon at times when there is low inventory out on the real estate market.

If you find yourself in a bidding war, you need to come up with ways to make your offer the most attractive to the seller. Winning a bidding war is not always about offering the most money. Below are a few tips on ways you can come out victorious with the home of your dreams after a cut-throat bidding war with other would-be buyers:

  • Be ready to buy right away- When a seller is eager to get to closing, they might be inclined to sell to whoever can get the process wrapped up the quickest. It's best if you are already pre-approved for a mortgage loan before you start viewing homes.
  • If you really like the property, let your offer show it- Avoid making lowball offers on a home that you really like. Don't waste your time making unrealistic offers on homes that are out of your price range.
  • Be flexible- Remember that you can use more than money to entice a buyer into accepting your offer. If you're flexible regarding factors such as the seller's move-out date or home inspections, a seller might be more tempted to accept your offer than other offers that are a bit higher.
  • Anticipate the counteroffers- You can anticipate the counteroffers of other buyers by considering how you can surpass them with an offer that is more appealing to the seller. Think about how much you can afford to offer, what kind of monthly payment you can afford to make, and what the home is really worth to you. The more prepared you are to respond to counteroffers the more likely you will be to succeed in winning a bidding war. 

Energy-Efficient Mortgages

by Nancy Heim-berg

Homeowners can take advantage of energy-efficient mortgages (EEF) to finance improvement projects on their properties. An EEM, or a "green mortgage", is a loan that is meant to help pay for energy-efficient upgrades on a home that a homeowner currently owns or is in the process of purchasing. Costs for the home improvement projects are included in the original mortgage loan so that only one mortgage loan needs to be taken out on the property in question.

Although the maximum debt-to-income ratio for a home owner in regards to a mortgage loan is specified by the FHA, homeowners can bypass these rules if they qualify for energy-efficient mortgages. In this way, they can purchase a home with energy-efficiency improvements with an EEM that is higher in value than the home that they could have purchased via a traditional mortgage loan. Allowing homeowners to bypass debt-to-income ratio rules is justified with the idea that homeowners may pay more upfront, but will save money over time in lower energy costs. The process of qualifying for an EEM involves having an energy audit on a property.

Homeowners can take advantage of three different EEMs:

The Conventional EEM

The majority of homeowners who take out an EEM opt for a conventional EEM. This type of EEM allows the lender of a mortgage loan to add a certain value to the home purchaser's income that is deemed equivalent to the money that will be gained in energy savings through making any energy-efficiency renovations or upgrades.

The Federal Housing Administration EEM

Through a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) EEM, a borrower will acquire mortgage insurance for a home purchase or refinance. The costs of the proposed energy-efficiency improvements are incorporated into a homeowner's mortgage loan through an FHA EEM. However, borrowers must meet certain underwriting conditions to qualify for an FHA EEM. This type of EEM allows a borrower to borrow whichever is less: the complete costs of the proposed improvements, inspections, and report; or the lower amount between the value of the property minus five percent, 115 percent of the area's median price on a single family home, or 150 percent of the conforming loan limit as specified by Freddie Mac.

The Veterans Administration EEM

Veterans may qualify for certain green mortgages through the Veterans' Administration. Such loans typically are no more than between $3,000 and $6,000.

Pending Home Sales Increase in March

by Nancy Heim-berg

Although market activity in regards to home sales has been notably low in recent months, sales figures showed that pending home sales increase in March. The National Association of Realtors has called attention to the fact that this marks the first time in nine months that home sales have risen. 

The Pending Home Sales Index is a major market indicator that has attested to a recent rise in home sales. This forward-looking index has shown using data from contract signings that home sales have risen 3.4 percent since February. However, the Index still shows less activity in home sales than that which was recorded in March of 2013, when the Pending Home Sales Index reported 105.7 as opposed to the 97.4 figure from this March.

According to Lawrence Yun of the National Association of Realtors, a gain in home sales was highly predictable after the very stagnant home sales market that was seen over the winter. Yun has attributed the auspicious rise in home sales this past March to increased inventory on the market and a nationwide increase in job creation in recent months.

While the Pending Home Sales Index has shown an overall increase, it shows an unequal distribution in increases in home sales in different regions of the country. While the Index increased in the Northeast, a decrease was recorded in the Midwest of the country. Pending home sales showed a rise in both the South and the West, but they are still below the Index value of last year. 

It is estimated that even if pending home sales increase in March, home sales in 2014 are unlikely to reach figures of 2013 due to a slow start early this year. According to estimates, sales on existing homes should come to slightly more than $4.9 million in 2014. This is down from $5.1 million last year. While home sales are expected to drop slightly in 2013, the overall median price on existing homes should increase by around 6 or 7 percent. 

An important indicator in the home sales market, the Pending Home Sales Index records the state of sales that are in process on existing homes. The Index values are determined from data extracted from a large sample of existing-home sales across the country. A pending sale is considered to be a sale for which a contract has been sign but the resulting transaction has not been closed. 

Tips on Choosing the Right Color for the Home Interior

by Nancy Heim-berg

The right color for the interior of your home is whatever color you like; however, if you don't feel confident in your ability to develop a harmonious color scheme, here are some tips to awaken your inner home-interior muse.

There are literally thousands, or perhaps even millions, of shades, hues and other variations of color "spokes" on the color wheel. It can be overwhelming, even intimidating, especially of you are a first-time home interior painter.

One way to simplify the process of choosing a color scheme is via shrewd manipulation of color hues. You might already be aware of the inherent impact colors and their hues have on us humans. They can make us feel happy or sad; manic or docile; annoyed or soothed; excited or laid back, which is why it's crucial to select the proper shade within a color family in order to set whatever mood it is you're going for in each room.

Here are some simple tips to help you achieve your desired mood altering color scheme:

  • The amount of intensity a color displays is directly related to the amount of pigment within it
  • Bright colors tend to create an energetic, upbeat mood; whereas dim or dull colors have a relaxing, more toned down aura
  • Adding white creates a pastel hue or tint, softening the color's intensity
  • Adding black creates a deep, dark color hue, commonly referred to as a shade
  • Adding grey creates a comforting, neutral tone of a color
  • Earth tones (generally brown and green color variations) give off a warm, outdoor vibe
  • Dim hues of blue emanate a cool-breeze aura
  • Manipulate color intensity through hue, shade, tint or tone
  • Visualize each room painted in different colors
  • Dark-colored rooms feel cozy, but also small
  • Change a color's tone with complimentary colors around it

National Existing Homes Sales the Strongest in 7 Years

by Nancy Heim-berg

Existing home sales, or home resales, showed a slight rise in December (2013), which followed a three-month downward spiral. High demand and record low interest rates for mortgage loans combined to breathe life into the tenuous recovery in the real estate market.

According to the National Association of Realtors, or NAR, total sales of previously owned homes last year reached a seven-year high. Sales climbed 1.0 in the aforementioned month, leading to a yearly rate of nearly 5 million units.

There's more good news. Household formation has begun to steadily dig itself out of a multi-decade-long low, brightening the mood and encouraging home builders to take on new projects.

Experts point to the head-to-head battle between escalating prices and relatively weak overall income growth as having the biggest impact on the market, making home buying an unreachable financial goal for a large number of Americans.

Buyers can't buy if sellers aren't selling. It is the lack of properties for sale on the market that's causing prices to rise.

New Home Maintenance Alternatives Designed to Save Money

by Nancy Heim-berg

Saving money on home maintenance is not always accomplished through the initial cost of these renovations; it is often realized over a number of years. It's one of the sacrifices or compromises home owners have had to make for decades, like having to decide between aesthetically pleasing items, such as stone or wood, and easily maintained, such as vinyl or other man-made imitation.

Today, however, manufacturers have developed truly amazing products that mimic the real thing to such a degree that one might even say they are better than those created by Mother Nature. Listed below are some of these incredible innovations in new home maintenance:

Fiber-Siding Cement

Shingles and clapboards cut from sheets of flexible cement and stirred together with fibers of wood that will not warp, cup or rot. Its up-front cost, including painting, averages between $13,000 and $18,000, which is approximately 10 percent less than real wood.

Cellular PVC Trim

Manufactured out of the same material typically used in plumbing fixtures, with air thrown into the mix during construction for a wood like density, cellular PVC trim displays the natural look of wood, and can also be formed, cut and installed like its natural cousin. It's designed to last forever, never requiring a coat of paint, and costing about 10 percent less than real wood alternatives like pine.

Quartz Countertops

Cutting-edge pigments and resins are blended with real quartz chips to produce countertops and other stone items that display the variety and veining that's far more realistic than even those considered innovative a couple of years ago. It costs about the same as natural stone, like limestone and marble, and also enjoys several advantages over them. It's resistant to dark liquid stains, etching from orange juice and other similar household acids, and chipping via impact from heavy kitchen items like jars and cookware.

Four Spring Projects to Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal

by Nancy Heim-berg

Curb appeal incorporates everything your home displays to the world, including the exterior siding type and color scheme, as well as the driveway, sidewalks and entryways.

Make your home sparkle like dew in the early morning spring sunshine with these simple and affordable projects:

Fencing

A fence does more than just protect you and yours from intruders or your neighbor's dog. It has a tremendous impact on your home's curb appeal. Instead of the replacement or removal of your entire fence, you can add a fresh coat of paint or blast it clean with a pressure washer. These are two simple and quick things that can yield significant results.

Roofs and Gutters

Eye-catching curb appeal is attained through meticulous attention to often overlooked details, such as the state of your home's roof and gutters

Gravity compels water to exploit the path of least resistance. On your home, this is often the imperfections like gaps holes and ever-widening cracks, which can lead it to invade your living space.

Landscaping

Impressive landscaping can be as easy as mowing your lawn on a regular basis, watering it, and keeping it clear of sticks, twigs and other organic material. You can also put an attractive face on your home by pruning your shrubbery, planting flowers and keeping it as clutter-free as possible.

Touch-Ups

Siding and paint will chip, peel and warp via the ravages of time. These can; however, be taken care of affordably and, in most cases, easily, with just a small amount of sandpaper and elbow grease. Afterward, simply apply primer and paint for a brand spanking-new exterior.

The first and last steps in any curb appeal boosting project is to actually go out and examine your home as if you're a potential homebuyer. An honest assessment can not only show you how to get started or how it looks after it's finished, but also clue you into other projects in your future.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 37

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Heim-Berg Team
Berkshire Hathaway
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Omaha NE 68154
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402-679-7108
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