San Diego Real Estate Blog

Home Improvements That Will Get You The Biggest Return

So what do you look for when you're getting ready to sell a home? Sometimes there's so much to do and it's such a big deal selling your home, so a lot of people are going to ask us, "What do we do to sell it? Where do we need to focus our attention specifically so that we get the biggest return for the dollar?" 

In my mind, the place you always start is with any kind of deferred maintenance. You have to understand that any home improvements that you make to the home are really to give the strongest and best opportunity to the property to have the least amount of objections and the best showing experience for the visitors that are going to come and view your property.

You want to start with anything that could appear to be out of order or out of function, broken, ripped, or anything like that. You could have a home that's in awesome shape, but if, for example, your door knob is completely worn out and it's just corroded, and that's the one problem area, think about psychologically what's happening. Your buyer is literally making physical contact with that door knob, and immediately has an idea that you know what, if this is not in great shape there must be something else in the property and there very well could not be.

So anything like that, any kind of ripped window screen or any kind of light fixture that's off center or just not hanging on its axis correctly and especially soiled carpet. With soiled carpet, the good news is you can most often get it cleaned through a professional cleaner, and we can give you great recommendations for that. It comes out looking awesome. But sometimes it does need to be changed. One of the biggest mistakes that we see sellers make is saying to themselves,...

Why Proper Inspections Impact Your Buyer's Decisions

Home Inspection Safety TipsA big part of purchasing a home is doing your due diligence and properly investigating the substantial purchase you are making.  Upon opening up escrow on your new home, you will begin to receive disclosure documents of the seller knowledge of the home (repairs, remodels, etc.) since they have owned it.  In addition to the seller disclosures, you will also have the right to hire an inspector of your choosing to fully inspect the home for you.  This is a very crucial part of the home buying process.

Getting a Home Inspection

Don't Ever Think of Skipping Your Property Inspection

I just went through an escrow where the buyer chose not to get a professional home inspection (I represented the seller). It wasn't the first time I see that happen but I just can't ever believe anyone would even dream of releasing contingencies with out one.

Buyers, Attention Please! Get a home inspection every time you purchase real estate! Got that? Good.

The Value of Getting a Home Inspection

The inspection is one of the greatest protections that you have as a buyer. It is your opportunity to inspect the property inside and out with the help of a professional. The benefits of this can't be over stated.

A home inspection will help you figure out what you are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into. Buying real estate is a serious matter and you should be taking every precaution.

Best of all, it will...

8 Home Security Tips for San Diego

Tips for Home SecurityWhen it comes to home safety, no amount of caution is too much. Break-ins happen every 13 seconds in the United States, and households that want to keep its members safe need to take precautions to ensure their belongings and their loved ones aren't at risk.

Here are several home safety tips & options for home security to improve your home's safety.

Click the image to view our full-sized infographic.

Common Strategies to Prevent Break-Ins

While the number of burglaries in San Diego decreases each year, you shouldn't let your guard down when it comes to home security. Follow these tips to prevent thieves from gaining access to your home. 

Hiding Places

Trim tall shrubbery covering windows and doors so thieves have no place to hide from you or attentive neighbors. Install motion detector lights in poorly lit areas around your home to deter intruders.

Vacation Time

The social media pictures and updates can wait until you get back—and thieves will never even know you were away. Ask a neighbor to grab any mail or door flyers that might be piling up and giving clues to your absence.

Yard Work

Thieves can easily break windows and gain access to your home. Don't provide them with tools to make the job easier. Keep your yard clear of tree limbs, toys, gardening tools, ladders, etc.

Security Alarms

Security alarms alert police of any intrusions—and...

Making a Down Payment for a House? 4 Strategies to Get Ahead

Down Payment TipsThe first steps toward buying a new home aren't attending open houses and pouring over online listings. The first step toward home ownership is preparing yourself financially for the commitment of buying a home.

Speak with your lender or a financial advisor to see what kind of down payment makes sense for your financial situation.

Why Do Lenders Require a Down Payment?

One reason lenders require a down payment is that they want to be certain that the borrower is financially invested in the home. In a lender's mind, the larger the down payment, the less likely a buyer is to go into foreclosure on the loan.

How Much Down Payment Do You Need?

Down payments may vary by lender and program. A variety of financing options are available from conventional mortgages to government insured FHA and VA loans.

  • A 20 percent down payment is usually the industry standard for a conventional loan. For example, a 20% down payment on a $300,000 home would be $60,000. While this can seem like a lot of money, a significant down payment creates instant equity and the buyer will, in most cases, not be required to purchase private mortgage insurance thus saving money on their monthly payments.
  • A lower down payment of 5 to 10 percent is sometimes possible, but will often require mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance, or...

Which of These 5 Real Estate Investment Types Fits Your Goals?

5 Real Estate Investments to ConsiderReal estate is one of the oldest and most trusted forms of investment. Many investors are drawn to it because of the tangible state of the asset—it's one that you can see, visit, and improve to increase its worth. Property for real estate investment comes in a number of forms. Each has its own barriers to entry and its own potential for a return. Understanding each type of the following real estate investments can help investors choose the one that fits their circumstances, skills, and goals.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with a licensed real estate professional before proceeding with any real estate transaction.

Residential Real Estate Investing

This is, for many real estate investors, the first type of real estate they pick. Residential properties include single-family homes, duplexes and triplexes, and multi-family properties like apartment buildings.

A single-family home is often the easiest property for people to begin their investment efforts. People who buy a fixer-upper that they intend to live in while rehabbing and then later sell can often receive more favorable financing.

When purchasing a piece of real estate with the intention of flipping it, buyers should confirm it is worth the effort it will take to increase its worth. Many new investors underestimate the costs associated with improving a property...

What Home Improvements Do Buyers Look For?

Best Home Improvements to Make Before SellingOver the past year, a large majority of the buyers we worked with were typically drawn towards floor plans that had upgrades throughout the home. There are certain improvements that will speak to buyers and make a difference when selling your house. However, it is important to make improvements that you will enjoy while living in the house, yet at the same time make sense financially.

Most Popular Home Improvements for Buyers

The most sought after upgrade for buyers this past year was a fresh coat of paint on the exterior and/or the interior of the home. Choosing a lighter color paint allows each room and the hallways feel much more open and inviting for buyers. There was a strong preference towards neutral and gray tone paints in the interiors of the homes. A couple of popular gray paint tone examples are Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray or Benjamin Moore Gray Mist.

Additional home improvements buyers tend to look for are clean, functional and low-maintenance landscaping. An easy-win improvement can be simply applying new mulch, even if you have no plans of changing your existing plants or trees. Adding new mulch can give the entire landscaped area a refreshed feel and is much less invasive than other options. This may be crucial in a resale as the front yard is the first impression a buyer will see before stepping foot in your home.

Another cost-effective home improvement can be adding or changing existing fixtures. Oftentimes, accessorizing your home with new fixtures can completely revive the feel of a room. Examples are changing light fixtures and ceiling fans, adding built-ins for more storage or even as simple as dressing up the cabinetry with new...

The Art of Handling Multiple Offers: Choosing the buyer who will perform

How does a smart seller handle multiple offers on their property? How do you deal with them and how do you secure the best possible price while not scaring away your best buyers? There's a lot that goes into it. I think most people just focus their energy on “how do I get the number to the highest number I can possibly get?” Forgetting that it has to be “how do I get the number to the highest it can go with the buyer who will actually close and perform?”

There's a lot that goes into it, but here's step number one. Recently we've had a number of homes where we have upwards of 8 to 15 offers on multiple different properties. The way you handle it at first is going to determine the success. Most people's instinct is to just start shooting off big numbers and rejecting the smaller ones. That is not the right strategy. That first step, strategically thinking isn't that you're going to figure out the sales price. The first step in responding to the offers is simply to keep everybody engaged and to allow that floor to float up because what you want to know is what is your downside.

If you lose this offer, what's the offer then going to be? You want to understand what cards you're playing with so that you also understand what kind of aggressiveness you have in your control. So the first step is really just to encourage all offers and when someone calls and they say, "Hey, here's where my buyer's going to come in” and it's not quite the asking price, some people will say to them, "Oh no. If you don't come in at that price, forget it. We're not selling to you." Our response is different. It's just, hey, write the best you can, send it over, and let us do our work. Let's see what we can do. 

The reason why, let's just imagine an $800,000 home. You get a bogus offer...

Will You Owe Capital Gains When You Sell Your Home?

When Does Selling a Home Mean Capital Gains Tax?Homeowners getting ready to sell their home will be pleased to know that, in many cases, they will not owe capital gains taxes. If they do, there are large exemptions, as long as the home is their primary home. The following information explores when capital gains tax may be owed when selling a home.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with an attorney, tax, or financial advisor before proceeding with any real estate transaction.

The Ownership and Use Test

In order for homeowners to qualify for a capital gains tax exemption, the home must pass what's known as an ownership and use test. First, the home must be owned at least two years and must be considered a primary home. To qualify as a primary home, the owner must have lived in it for at least two of the past five years.

The two years don't need to be consecutive, however. Someone can purchase a home, live in it for a year, rent it out for three years, then live in it one more. That would add up to two of the past five years, qualifying it for the exclusion.

A home that was purchased as an investment and rental property can be converted to a primary residence and still qualify. It will just take time living in the home to convert it to a primary residence that is exempt from capital gains taxes up to the legal limit.

Is There a Limit on the...

4 Tips for Buying a New Construction Home

4 Considerations When Buying a New Construction HouseBuying a new construction home is a unique experience. Even if someone has bought a pre-built home in the past, they may be surprised by the overall process of building a new construction home. Before getting started, here's what buyers should know about the overall experience.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with a licensed real estate professional before proceeding with any real estate transaction.

Buyers Should Know Their Goals

Before home buyers can get started with the home building process, they must first know their goals for their new home. This usually involves speaking with other members of the household to decide what they're looking for in a house. Home buyers should have questions such as:

  • What kind of hobbies will we be engaging in when we're in this house?
  • Do we want neighbors who are close, or do we want to live far from the nearest home?
  • Is it important to live somewhere quiet?
  • Do we need to live close to services like doctors and schools?

Asking (and answering) these questions are important for helping homeowners decide where they'll want to live, how big the lot should be, how many bedrooms the house should have, and so on.

Buyers Should Consider Location

Location is critically important for a newly built home. Home buyers who are deciding where to build their house should visit a variety...