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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Power of Permits

It doesn't make good financial sense to spend a lot of money on a major renovation without obtaining the building permits that are required by law. The value of the work can be diminished if required permits aren't obtained. In some places, you might be required to undo work that was done without permits. And, you could be stopped from completing a job until you obtain the necessary permits.

To make sure that you don't get into trouble when you sell you home, check with your local city or county building department to find out what, if any, permits are required before you start a home renovation project. Not all projects require permits, and this will vary somewhat from one place to the next.

Generally, permits are required for work that might impact the health and safety of a building occupant, like running a new gas line so that you can relocate your furnace. Structural modifications or additions also usually require permits. You may need several permits for such things as foundation, electrical and mechanical.

Permits can be obtained by homeowners or their contractor. You may be able to save money if you take out the permits yourself and agree to be present for inspections. Some contractors have been known to talk homeowners out of the permit process because it saves the contractor time.

Make sure if you do ask your contractor to take out permits that he actually does it. Some unsuspecting homeowners have discovered after a job was complete that the permits were never obtained. Keep copies of permits and make copies available to buyers when you sell your home.

Sometimes permits for work are obtained, but the final approval is never received. This can have implications for the next person who tries to take out a permit to do work on the house. A San Francisco Bay Area home buyer discovered after closing that a permit to change the furnace had never received the final approval.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Foreclosure activity up 62% from last year

Foreclosure activity in April was up 62 percent from the same month a year ago, despite its 1 percent drop from the previous month, a foreclosure tracking service reported.

A total of 147,708 foreclosure filings -- including default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions -- were reported during the month, according to RealtyTrac. The company also reported a national foreclosure rate of one foreclosure filing for every 783 U.S. households in April.

Nevada, Colorado and Connecticut had the top foreclosure rates in the nation, according to RealtyTrac's data.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Comparable Home Sales?

Comparable home sales, or “comps,” are what the professionals use to analyze the value of your property. Comps are one of the foundations of determining a home’s value.

Properties that are similar to the place you’re considering can tell you a lot about your own property’s value. Using information from the sales history of comparable homes, and the relative importance of different features, you can use comps to help determine the market value of your place.

Important factors to determining which properties are comparable to yours can include:

  • Proximity
  • Sale dates and prices
  • Number of bedrooms and baths
  • Square footage of the property and the land
  • Year built
  • Location, view, privacy, and noise
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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Don't want to pay a real estate agent?

Blog posting adapted from Sun-Sentinel / MartketWatch written by Amy Hoak of MarketWatch. Click here for original news article.

Be prepared to do some work yourself.

With all the online real estate information available to home sellers nowadays, it's not surprising that some of them consider selling without the help of a real estate agent.

The biggest advantage of the for-sale-by-owner strategy is not having to pay commission to a listing agent. But those taking on the job themselves need to roll up their sleeves and prepare for a little work to get the home sold, understanding that they will be the ones taking care of tasks ranging from marketing to showing the property to interested buyers.

Prepare the house.

Before doing anything, make sure that the house is in good shape to show, said Piper Nichole, author of The For Sale By Owner Handbook. That means making sure it is clean, decluttered, odor-free, brightly lit and freshly painted. Curb appeal is also important.
She also advises thinking about offering buyer incentives such as flexible move-in arrangementsand providing a home warranty.

Price it correctly.

"The biggest mistake for-sale-by-owners make is pricing their home too high," Nichole said in an e-mail interview. If the home subsequently ends up sitting too long on the market and the asking price is lower, a potential buyer might speculate that something is wrong with the property, she said.

You can use or to get a starting idea of what a house is worth. A look at a listings site, such as, will reveal what sellers are asking for in the neighborhood, he added.

If the home is unique and difficult to compare to others, consider having it appraised, Nichole said.

Decide how to use the savings.

Sellers also need to ask themselves if they want to use all or part of the commission they would otherwise pay in order to discount the property. A good route for most people is an in-between-approach use part of savings to attract a buyer faster and part of the savings as added profit.

Market it correctly.

The Internet can be a big help in marketing a property. has partners with over 20 top "For Sale By Owner" websites which allows a seller to post a listing to gain Internet exposure on their site and with no additional costs. Other online options include community marketplaces such as and portals such as Yahoo. When placing a newspaper ad, make sure to ask if it will be posted online for free.

Don't underestimate the power of a sign. And consider listing on the Multiple Listing Service as well.

Additional Books and Resources To Help You Sell Your Home

For more information and to view recent property listings, please visit or Electronic Appraiser for instant home valution reports at - for more information.

The Power of PermitsForeclosure activity up 62% from last yearComparable Home Sales?Don't want to pay a real estate agent? ~ - Instant Accurate Home Valuations - Blog