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Irl Dixon
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Posts Tagged ‘I want to sell a home in Belmont North Carolina’

Getting Bats Out of Your Belmont Home

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Thanks to Bela Lugosi, most Americans are petrified of bats.  What do you do if one comes in your home?  Here’s an article that might help.

Of course, I like to think in terms of prevention.  So what I would ask is how do you keep them out in the first place?  Here are some tips.

If you have gables on your home, make sure there is a screen behind them and that it is tacked down good with no gaps.  As I found out once, bats can also make their way down a bathroom vent.  Make sure your vents are covered with some kind of wiring to stop them.  Finally, on those cool fall and spring nights when you want to open your windows to sleep, only open the ones with screens.    Irl Dixon

Going Batty? Here’s How to Get Rid of Bats in Your House

By: Jan Soults Walker 

Published: October 21, 2011 

Winged creatures invading your home would drive anyone batty. Here’s how to get rid of them. 

Thanks to dark tales of Count Dracula, bats suffer a bad rap. I know these creatures aren’t really out to bite my neck, but the time I discovered a small bat fluttering around our house, all my Midwestern moxie melted away.

My heroic husband came running, sensing something amiss. Perhaps it was my shrieks of “Bat! Bat! Bat in the house!”

Wielding a piece of window screen like a medieval shield, he began “herding” the bat toward the front door. I followed, shrieking unintelligibly. That’s when he calmly put down the screen and herded me to the garage — much to my humiliation. He did eventually get the bat out of the house, all without my “helpful” vocalizations.
After the incident (and with a calmer perspective), I asked renowned bat expert Rob Mies if bats have any benefit to home owners. I found out they are nature’s answer to pest control.

“One bat can consume 2,000 to 5,000 insects each night,” he says. “You can encourage bats to dwell on your property — not in your house — by building a bat house.” 

You can find free plans for building a bat house online. Placement of the bat house is important too, so check out those guidelines.
So what should you do if a bat makes a debut in your den? Mies suggests these four steps: 

  • Assess occupants. If anyone in the house was bitten by the bat, or if they are unable to tell you whether they were bitten (i.e. a sleeping child), try to capture the bat, contact your local health department, and have it tested for rabies..
  • Stay calm. The bat doesn’t want to attack you — it wants out. Turn on some lights so you can easily see the bat and the bat can see as well. (Contrary to popular belief, bats are not blind.)
  • Create a path. Close the doors to adjoining rooms, then open the doors and windows in the room the bat is in. If possible, turn on a light outside so the bat can readily see the exit.
  • Help it out. The bat will likely fly out the open door or window within a few minutes. You may also want to be more direct and use a small mesh net or pillow case to gently catch the bat in flight. If the bat lands and doesn’t fly again, put on a pair of thick leather work gloves, and slowly approach the bat with a small cardboard box or coffee can. Put the container gently over the bat, slip a piece of cardboard over the opening, and take the bat outside to release it.

Every had bats in your belfry? How did you get rid of them?

“Visit Houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

Get Your Belmont Yard Ready For Winter

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.


Maintaining Your Chimney

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Here’s an interesting article on chimney maintenance.  How many of you have had your chimney inspected in the last few years?  Well, if you are burning wood in your fireplace, you may be taking a big chance.  You might be surprised what is inside your chimney.  I remember sitting in my living room one day when I heard a big thud.  I looked over to the fireplace to see a huge pigeon staring at me.  I don’t know who was the most surprised, me or the bird. 

If you are planning to sell your Belmont home, you may want to ask your Realtor (hopefully me) how to handle past fireplace maintenance on a sale.  I am seeing a growing trend where home sellers are saying out front that fireplaces are considered “as is.”  Due diligence has made that a risky way to handle it.  See my article on Due Diligence in an earlier post.  Irl Dixon

Chimney Maintenance for Warmth and Safety

By: Wendy Paris 

Published: August 31, 2009 

Chimney maintenance and a fireplace inspection can make the difference between warm safety and drafty danger. 

Annual inspections keep flames burning right 

Creosote—combustible, tar-like droplets—is a natural byproduct of burning wood. The more wood you burn, the wetter or greener the wood, and the more often you restrict airflow by keeping your fireplace doors closed or your damper barely open, the more creosote is produced.  

Soot build-up, while not flammable, can hamper venting. One half-inch of soot can restrict airflow 17% in a masonry chimney and 30% in a factory-built unit, according to the CSIA. Soot is also aggressively acidic and can damage the inside of your chimney. 

The more creosote and soot, the more likely you are to see signs of chimney fire—loud popping, dense smoke, or even flames shooting out the top of your chimney into the sky. Chimney fires damage the structure of your chimney and can provide a route for the fire to jump to the frame of your house. 

“If the chimney is properly maintained, you’ll never have a chimney fire,” says Ashley Eldridge, the education director of the CSIA.  

The best way to ensure your chimney isn’t an oil slick waiting to ignite? Get it inspected. 

Three inspection levels let you choose what you need 

A level-one inspection includes a visual check of the fireplace and chimney without any special equipment or climbing up on the roof. The inspector comes to your house with a flashlight, looks for damage, obstructions, creosote build-up, and soot, and tells you if you need a sweep. If so, he’ll grab his brushes, extension poles, and vacuum, and do it on the spot.  

“You should have it inspected every year to determine if it needs to be swept. An annual inspection will also cover you if the neighbor’s children have thrown a basketball in it, or a bird has built a nest,” says Eldridge. 

A level one typically runs about $125. Add a sweep, and you’re talking another $80, or about $205 for both services, according to CSIA. 

Consider a level-two inspection if you’ve experienced a dramatic weather event, like a tornado or hurricane; if you’ve made a major change to your fireplace; or bought a new house. This includes a level-one investigation, plus the inspector’s time to visit the roof, attic, and crawl space in search of disrepair. It concludes with a sweep, if necessary, and information on what repair is needed. The price will depend on the situation. 

A level three inspection is considered “destructive and intrusive” and can resemble a demolition job. It may involve tearing down and rebuilding walls and your chimney, and is usually done after a chimney fire. The cost will depend on the situation.  

Small steps can improve your fireplace’s efficiency 

Besides the annual sweep, improve your fireplace’s functioning with responsible use.  

  • Only burn dry, cured wood—logs that have been split, stacked, and dried for eight to 12 months. Cover your log pile on top, but leave the sides open for air flow. Hardwoods such as hickory, white oak, beech, sugar maple, and white ash burn longest, though dry firewood is more important than the species. Less dense woods like spruce or white pine burn well if sufficiently dry, but you’ll need to add more wood to your fire more often, according to CSIA. 
  • Wood, only wood! Crates, lumber, construction scraps, painted wood, or other treated wood releases chemicals into your home, compromising your air quality. Log starters are fine for getting your fire going, but they burn very hot; generally only use one at a time. 
  • Close your damper when not using the fireplace to prevent warm indoor air—and the dollars you’re spending to heat it—from rushing up the chimney. 
  • On a factory-built, prefab wood-burning fireplace, keep bifold glass doors open when burning a fire to allow heat to get into the room. 
  • Have a chimney cap installed to prevent objects, rain, and snow from falling into your chimney and to reduce downdrafts. The caps have side vents so smoke escapes. A chimney sweep usually provides and can install a stainless steel cap, which is better than a galvanized metal one available at most home improvement retailers because it won’t rust, says Anthony Drago, manager of Ashleigh’s Hearth and Home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. 
  • Replace a poorly sealing damper to prevent heat loss. “You can get a top-mounted damper that functions as a rain cap, too, an improvement over the traditional damper because it provides a tighter closure,” says CSIA’s Eldridge.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors in your house—near the fireplace as well as in bedroom areas.
  • If you burn more than three cords of wood annually, get your chimney cleaned twice a year. A cord is 4-feet high, by 4-feet wide, by 8-feet long, or the amount that would fill two full-size pick-up trucks.
  • To burn fire safely, build it slowly, adding more wood as it heats and keeping your damper completely open to increase draw in the early stages. Burn the fire hot, at least occasionally—with the damper all the way open to help prevent smoke from lingering the fireplace and creosote from developing. 

By the way, fireplaces aren’t officially rated for energy efficiency because they’re so varied. Depending on the source of information, they can be 10% to 30% efficient in converting fuel to heat. 

No inspection will turn a masonry or factory-built fireplace into a furnace, but it can improve efficiency somewhat, decrease the amount of heating dollars you’re sending up the chimney, and increase your enjoyment of your hearth time by reducing smoke. If a sweeping prevents a chimney fire, you’re talking about the difference between another ordinary January day, and the potential loss of your home, or even life.

“Visit Houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

Gutter Repairs

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Planning to sell your Belmont home?  Are your gutters overflowing?  They might have a sag preventing water from flowing properly.  Here are a few tips on how to correct this?  Don’t ignore this problem.  You’ll pay later with rotten wood.  Correct it now or face a big repair bill later.  Irl Dixon

Repair Sagging and Leaking Rain Gutters to Save Money

By: Pat Curry 

Published: October 8, 2010 

Repairing sagging and leaking rain gutters is a simple task that can be tackled in a day. 

How to fix leaky gutters

Seal leaky gutter joints and small holes using gutter sealant applied from the inside the gutter. A tube of sealant costs about $5.

Repair larger holes using a gutter patch kit or a scrap of metal flashing glued down with sealant. You’ll find patch kits at home improvement centers for about $10. 

How to straighten sagging gutters

If you suspect a sag, get up on a ladder and sight down the length of the gutter. Gutters should be straight. Long gutters should have a peak in the middle to enable water to run toward downspouts at either end.

The problem area should be easy to spot. In most cases, you can simply reposition loose hangers, using a cordless drill or a hammer.

Here’s how to set stubborn sags straight: 

  • From the ground, prop a long, straight 1×4 or 2×4 brace under the sag.
  • Get up on a ladder and remove a hanger or two near the sag.
  • Sighting along the gutter, adjust the brace until the sag disappears.
  • Replace the hangers. If needed, add one or two new hangers for extra support. They cost less than $3 each.

Serial remodeler Pat Curry is a former senior editor at BUILDER, the official magazine of the National Association of Home Builders, and a frequent contributor to real estate and home-building publications. 

“Visit Houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

Maintaining A Garage in Your Belmont Home

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Here’s an interesting article on maintaining your garages courtesy of the National Association of Realtors and HouseLogic.com.  I found this a little close to home because of a problem I had once.  You see, I hate cleaning out a garage so I went quite a while without inspecting mine.  When I finally decided to do it, I noticed some kind of dirt looking thing climbing a wall behind a cardboard box full of my kid’s outdoor toys.  I looked down at the baseboard.  It looked a little wavy.  When I touched it, my finger when right thru the wood.  Termites!  They had come up thru the floor at a small crack in the cement and made a nice home behind the box.  After an expensive termite treatment, it turned out to be a great time to start a contract with an exterminator and start getting my house checked yearly.  Now I doubt if cleaning my garage out more often would have prevented the termites, but I bet they wouldn’t have made a snack out of my baseboard.  Irl Dixon

5 Tips for Inspecting and Maintaining Your Garage

By: G. M. Filisko 

Published: March 15, 2010 

Routine maintenance will help your garage retain its value and keep it trouble-free for decades. 

1. Keep your garage door running smoothly

Most newer garage doors come self-lubricated or with plastic parts that need no oil, according to builder Fred Cann, owner of JRS Solutions in Melville, N.Y. You’ll need to annually oil older doors with metal rollers, hinges, and tracks. “Use a leaf blower to blast all the grit, grime, dust, cobwebs, and dead bugs from the door’s parts,” advises Mark Secord, brand manager for PremierGarage in Mobile, Ala.

Occasionally check the rubber seal on the bottom of your garage door. It can harden or chip away from wear and tear, allowing the elements to seep under your door. Replacing the seal costs less than $100. Your door may be hitting the ground too forcefully and jarring all the parts, crushing the rubber seal, or allowing light to peek through at the bottom when the door is at rest. To correct those problems, says Secord, use a screwdriver to alter the travel limit adjustment located on the door opener’s control box.

Regularly test the garage door’s sensors to be sure they still prevent it from closing if something—like your child or pet—is in the way. 

2. Clean your garage floor

Hose down your garage floor annually to prevent slip hazards, stains, and pockmarks caused by road salt and auto fluids, recommends Secord. You may notice hairline cracks in your concrete slab, but those are generally no cause for concern, says Paul Fisher, owner of Danley’s Garage World in Chicago.

If there’s a serious trip hazard because of concrete that’s crumbled or separated ¼-inch or more, take action. You can try a do-it-yourself patch with a $5 concrete mix from your local hardware store. But patched concrete often doesn’t adhere to the original slab, says Fisher, especially if a car regularly passes over the patched area. If necessary, ask a licensed concrete contractor for an estimate on replacing your slab, which typically costs about $5 per square foot.

Experts disagree on whether to treat a garage slab with a sealant. “Sealants don’t protect the slab at all; they’re just for aesthetics,” says Cann, who worked as an engineer for the city of New York for 10 years. “We had more problems after we sealed and painted garage slabs. The paint would chip, discolor, or become slippery. I’d leave concrete alone.”

Secord, however, sells garage floor sealants and says they protect the concrete, prevent discoloration, and are easier to clean than bare concrete. Do-it-yourself sealants for an average two-car garage cost about $800 to $1,200 and need reapplication every three to five years. One-time, professional applications cost $1,500 to $2,000, says Secord. 

3. Monitor your garage walls and foundation

Inspect interior and exterior walls and the foundation twice a year for moisture and cracks. If you see discoloration or mold, moisture is seeping in from the roof or the walls. Call a building or roofing contractor for an inspection and repair estimates.

Wall and foundation cracks smaller than ¼-inch wide that aren’t causing water damage are typically harmless. “Anything larger than a hairline crack is something to be concerned about,” says Cann. “If one side of your ceiling appears a little lower than the other, the foundation or footing has settled.” That’s sometimes hard to evaluate with a visual inspection; if necessary, get out your level.

Structural concerns require an expert evaluation. Cann suggests hiring a structural engineer, who will charge $200 to $300 per hour but won’t hype potential problems to secure the repair work. 

4. Clean interior doors and gutters

Once a year, clean and inspect the interior door. Make sure the door is properly weatherstripped and that the threshold seal fits snugly against the bottom of the door.

Most building codes require the door allowing entry to your home to be fire-rated and self-closing. If the door is damaged or the self-closing mechanism has failed, repair or replace it. You’ll pay $250 to $300 for a new fire-rated door, plus $25 to $75 for installation.

If your garage has gutters, clean them every spring and fall and inspect them for damage. While you’re at it, check your roof for damaged or missing shingles or tiles. 

5. Watch for pest invasions

Insects like termites and carpenter ants can furtively damage your garage walls. Inspect dark, cool, and moist spots, especially where garage walls meet the foundation, for borings from carpenter ants or termites. “Termites digest the lumber, but carpenter ants tunnel it,” says Cann. “If you see trails of sawdust, it’s carpenter ants. If you see chewed wood, it’ll likely be termites.” Call in pest-control experts for an inspection and treatment.

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who oversaw the renovation of her condo association’s five-space garage so a sixth space could be added—for her. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

“Visit Houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

What Type Of Paint To Use On Your Belmont Home

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

I don’t know about you, but I get a little baffled when I’m standing in Lowe’s looking at the different sheens you can get paint in these days.  Here is an article that explains some of them, the problems with each, and which rooms they are best used. 

Let me add some comments of my own as a Real Estate agent from a resale perspective.  I recommend painting everything with flat paint.  Flat paint helps hide imperfections in the walls and believe me, none of your walls are perfect.  Paint bedrooms, hallways, rec rooms, etc. off-white or some other neutral color.  Do not paint them white or a non-neutral, bold color.  White is too hard to keep looking nice and bold colors may turn off many buyers.  Use a while semi-gloss for trim to help highlight the walls.  If you want a little sheen somewhere, save it for the bathrooms.

Guide to Paint Sheens: Oooo, Shiny!

By: Pat Curry 

Published: March 25, 2011 

You think choosing the right color for your paint job is hard? Try picking the right sheen. HouseLogic will help you tell your semi-gloss from your satin finish. 

In the painting world, very shiny translates to very durable. High sheen can take a lot of abuse and a lot of scrubbing. The lower the sheen, the silkier the effect; but, like silk, scrubbing will damage it.

High gloss: The most durable and easiest to clean of all paint sheens, high-gloss paint is hard, ultra-shiny, and light-reflecting. Think appliance-paint tough. High gloss is a good choice for area that sticky fingers touch–cabinets, trim, and doors. High-gloss, however, is too much shine for interior walls. And like a Spandex dress, high gloss shows every bump and roll, so don’t skimp on prep work. 

  • Practical application: kitchens, door and window trim
  • Durability: very high

Semi-gloss: Good for rooms where moisture, drips, and grease stains challenge walls. Also great for trim work that takes a lot of abuse. 

  • Practical application: kitchens, bathrooms, trim, chair rails
  • Durability: high

Satin: Has a yummy luster that, despite the name, often is described as velvety. It’s easy to clean, making it excellent for high-traffic areas. Its biggest flaw is it reveals application flaws, such as roller or brush strokes. Touch-ups later can be tricky.  

  • Practical application: family rooms, foyers, hallways, kid’s bedrooms
  • Durability: high

Eggshell: Between satin and flat on the sheen (and durability) scale is eggshell, so named because it’s essentially a flat (no-shine) finish with little luster, like a chicken’s egg. Eggshell covers wall imperfections well and is a great finish for gathering spaces that don’t get a lot of bumps and scuffs. 

  • Practical application: dining rooms, living rooms, libraries
  • Durability: medium

Flat or matte: A friend to walls that have something to hide, flat/matte soaks up, rather than reflects, light. It has the most pigment and will provide the most coverage, which translates to time and money savings. However, it’s tough to clean without taking paint off with the grime. 

  • Practical application: adult’s bedrooms and other interior rooms that won’t be roughed up by kids
  • Durability: medium-low

More fun sheen facts

  • Dark, richer paint colors have more colorant, which boosts sheen. If you don’t want a super-shiny wall, step down at least one level on the sheen scale. Ditto if you’re painting a large, sun-washed or imperfect wall.
  • Adding sheen also adds price: Valspar Ultra Premium eggshell costs $32, satin $33, and semi-gloss $34.

Pat Curry is a Georgia-based freelance writer who has covered housing and real estate topics for more than a decade, most recently as a contributing editor to Professional Builder and Professional Remodeler magazines.

“Visit Houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

How The New Due Diligence Contract Affects Belmont Real Estate (Part 1)

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Starting at the beginning of 2011, the new North Carolina Offer to Purchase and Contract that most Realtors are using introduced the concept of a “Due Diligence” period along with an associated fee.  What does this mean and why did it come about?

Until January 2011, a Buyer could make an offer on a home and the next 4-8 weeks were spent inspecting, appraising, and waiting on final loan approval.  The contract always had an amount that repairs could not exceed without giving the Buyer the option of walking.  If the repairs were less than that amount, no matter what the nature of the repairs, and the seller was willing to fix the problems, the Buyer was expected to complete the sale.  If the Buyer tried to back out of the purchase anyway, his earnest money was in jeopardy.  In fact, he could have a hard time getting his earnest money back if the sale fell through for any even legitimate reason (including loan denial) if the Seller wanted to seek revenge for not closing. 

The Sellers, on the other hand, were often wasting valuable time on Buyers who might not complete the sale and time is money to a homeowner.  It means more months of house payments, utility bills, taxes, and maintenance.  Like the Buyer, even if he was due the Earnest Money per contract, he still couldn’t get the funds if the Buyer was unwilling to release them.  Every real estate company in North Carolina has earnest money in their Trust Accounts that could not be released without a court order because of these disputes.

“Due Diligence” is a term often associated with commercial deals to give the commercial Buyer a chance to investigate the property and make sure it suits his needs and is free of problems that would affect those needs.  The North Carolina Realtor Association decided to adapt this concept to residential transactions.  The Association believed it was a good idea to allow the Buyer to make sure all his concerns were answered before he completely committed to the sale.  On the other hand, they also felt this opportunity to look at a property before committing should not be free.  The Seller should earn something for his time. 

This led to the concept of both a specific Due Diligence time period and a non-refundable Due Diligence fee.  This fee is not considered earnest money and the checks are written directly to the Seller.  You can, and usually do, have both a Due Diligence Fee and additional Earnest Money.  Both are applied to the purchase price at closing.  If the Buyer wants to terminate the sale for any reason, even if it’s just a bad case of “cold feet,” now he can as long as he does it within the Due Diligence period as stated in the contract.  The Due Diligence Fee is gone but he should receive his Earnest Money back.  Before the agents can return the Earnest Money to the Buyer, the Seller must still agree to release it.  If he doesn’t, however, the contract states that the Buyer can take the Seller to court and if he wins (which he should) the Buyer can not only get his Earnest Money back but also his court costs.  Therefore, it can become a rather expensive proposition for the Seller to fight it.

If the Buyer does not back out during the Due Diligence period he has waived that right.  He can now only terminate the contract for “reason(s) permitted under the terms of this Contract or North Carolina law.” 

In the next part we’ll discuss how to decide how much Due Diligence money a Seller should strive to get and the strategies involved.

To Short Sale Or Not To Short Sale

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

A Short Sale can be a real hassle for a seller but it’s still better than the alternative.  The biggest mistake I see people make is waiting until the last minute to begin.  If you are behind on your mortgage, get started early to minimize the damage to your buying power and your credit.  Here’s a good article on the subject.

Need to sell your Belmont/Mt. Holly home?  Call me today!  Irl Dixon

Foreclosure Alternative: The Short Sale

By: Gwen Moran 

Published: July 8, 2010 

A short sale is far from hassle-free, but it’s a better alternative than foreclosure. And now you’ve got a little help from your friends in D.C. Here are the facts about short sales and how to get started. 

Short sales get government incentives

Although short sales are not hassle-free, at least you’ve got the government backing you. The Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program provides financial incentives for lenders and borrowers to avoid foreclosure through short sales or deeds in lieu of foreclosures.  

Participation in the HAFA program requires adherence to guidelines–including a standard process and minimum timeframes–that speed the process, says Dallas-based REALTOR® Tom Branch, co-author of Avoiding Foreclosure: The Field Guide to Short Sales. The HAFA program is for homeowners who can’t keep their homes with the help of a loan modification

Advantages of a short sale

  • You can be a homeowner again more quickly with a short sale in your past than with a foreclosure. New Fannie Mae guidelines help you qualify for a new mortgage in as little as two years after a short sale, as opposed to up to seven years after a foreclosure.
  • You will have more time to make relocation plans and save money than with a deed in lieu. A short sale may take four to 12 months. A deed in lieu of foreclosure arrangement typically requires you vacate your home within 30 to 60 days of signing, according to real estate attorney Lance Churchill.
  • You can receive up to $3,000 from your lender for moving expenses at the time of closing of a HAFA short sale or a HAFA deed in lieu of foreclosure. Relocation funds are part of the incentives of HAFA, but not necessarily for other short sale or deed in lieu programs of the lenders.
  • You can help your community’s home values. Because the lender often receives a higher amount of the remaining loan balance than it would from the sale of a home after a foreclosure, short sales help support home values in the surrounding community.

Disadvantages of a short sale

  • Your credit score will take a severe hit. But that would happen anyway with a foreclosure. Fair Isaac, creator of the FICO score, says foreclosure and short sales have virtually identical impacts on your credit score. VantageScore–a company that has created a credit score model for consumers–says a short sale will lead to only a marginally lighter hit when compared with foreclosure. 
  • You may owe additional taxes. In the past, if your outstanding mortgage was $100,000 and your lender accepted a short-sale purchase offer of $90,000, you were liable for income tax on the forgiven $10,000, says Harlan D. Platt, economist and professor of finance at Northeastern University in Boston. However, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, which runs through 2012, generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence in some circumstances. Full relief is available only if the amount of forgiven debt doesn’t exceed the debt that was used to acquire, construct, or rehabilitate a principal residence. Consult a tax professional and an attorney to minimize or avoid this liability.
  • In some states, your lender may still be able to come after you for the difference between the short sale price and the amount needed to pay off the mortgage. Your actual agreement with your lender and state and local laws and regulations spell out the details. Consult a tax professional and an attorney to minimize or avoid this liability. 

How to proceed with a short sale

  • Find a qualified REALTOR® experienced in short sales. Short sales are tough to navigate, and they’re further complicated by your loan type–FHA vs. Veterans Administration vs. conventional loans. Real estate agents who specialize in short sales will know the proper steps and order of the steps involved. They’ll also be able to navigate the many parties involved in the process and over-burdened loss mitigation departments. Look especially for agents who have Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) Certification, which requires specialized training.
  • Gather evidence to support your need for a short sale as opposed to a foreclosure. You’ll need to prove that you have little or no equity in your home, you’re behind on your payments, and you’re no longer able to afford your home. You’ll need to write a hardship letter to the lender describing your circumstances, such as a divorce, job loss, illness, death, or other event that has impacted your income.

A short sale can be a time-consuming process, but if you can avoid foreclosure, it’s worth it in the long run.

Gwen Moran has been writing about business, finance, and real estate for more than a decade. Her work has been published by Entrepreneur, Newsweek.com, Financial Planning, Woman’s Day, and The Residential Specialist. She bucks the cottage trend and lives in a Colonial near the Jersey Shore.

“Visit Houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

What To Do After Your Belmont Home Is Sold

Friday, April 15th, 2011

I often say, the hardest part is not selling your house, it’s getting it closed.  Here are just a few things to keep in mind after you’ve received an offer on your Belmont property.  Irl Dixon

Keep Your Home Sale from Falling Apart

By: G. M. Filisko 

Published: March 30, 2010 

After finding a buyer, all you have to do to make it to closing is to avoid these five traps. 

Mistake #1: Ignore contingencies

If your contract requires you to do something before the sale, do it. If the buyers make the sale contingent on certain repairs, don’t do cheap patch-jobs and expect the buyers not to notice the fixes weren’t done properly. 

Mistake #2: Don’t bother to fix things that break

The last thing any seller needs is for the buyers to notice on the pre-closing walk-through that the home isn’t in the same condition as when they made their offer. When things fall apart in a home about to be purchased, sellers must make the repairs. If the furnace fails, get a professional to fix it, and inform the buyers that the work was done. When you fail to maintain the home, the buyers may lose confidence in your integrity and the condition of the home and back out of the sale. 

Mistake #3: Get lax about deadlines

Treat deadlines as sacrosanct. If you have three days to accept or reject the home inspection, make your decision within three days. If you’re selling, move out a few days early, so you can turn over the keys at closing. 

Mistake #4: Refuse to negotiate any further

Once you’ve negotiated a price, it’s natural to calculate how much you’ll walk away with from the closing table. However, problems uncovered during inspections will have to be fixed. The appraisal may come in at a price below what the buyers offered to pay. Be prepared to negotiate with the buyers over these bottom-line-influencing issues. 

Mistake #5: Hide liens from buyers

Did you neglect to mention that Uncle Sam has placed a tax lien on your home or you owe six months of homeowners association fees? The title search is going to turn up any liens filed on your house. To sell your house, you have to pay off the lien (or get the borrower to agree to pay it off). If you can do that with the sales proceeds, great. If not, the sale isn’t going to close. 

More from HouseLogic

How maintenance adds to home values

Reducing closing stress 

Other web resources

More on calculating closing costs

More on the closing process

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who wanted a successful closing on a Wisconsin property so bad that she probably made her agent rethink going into real estate. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

“Visit Houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

Reduce It Now Or Pay For It Later

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Years of experience have shown me that letting your house sit on the market too long negatively affects the final sales price.  Price it right from the beginning and you will clear more profit.  Let it sit and buyers think there is something wrong or you might be getting desperate.  That translates into a bad offer.  It doesn’t matter if your house is in Hawthorne, Point Crossing, Belle Meade, Adams Bluff, or South Point Ridge.  This crosses all price ranges of Belmont Real Estate.

Here’s a great article from NAR and HouseLogic.com on the top 6 signs you might need to reduce your sales price.  Irl Dixon

6 Reasons to Reduce Your Home Price

By: G. M. Filisko 

Published: March 19, 2010 

While you’d like to get the best price for your home, consider our six reasons to reduce your home price. 

These six signs may be telling you it’s time to lower your price. 

1. You’re drawing few lookers

You get the most interest in your home right after you put it on the market because buyers want to catch a great new home before anybody else takes it. If your real estate agent reports there have been fewer buyers calling about and asking to tour your home than there have been for other homes in your area, that may be a sign buyers think it’s overpriced and are waiting for the price to fall before viewing it. 

2. You’re drawing lots of lookers but have no offers

If you’ve had 30 sets of potential buyers come through your home and not a single one has made an offer, something is off. What are other agents telling your agent about your home? An overly high price may be discouraging buyers from making an offer. 

3. Your home’s been on the market longer than similar homes

Ask your real estate agent about the average number of days it takes to sell a home in your market. If the answer is 30 and you’re pushing 45, your price may be affecting buyer interest. When a home sits on the market, buyers can begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with it, which can delay a sale even further. At least consider lowering your asking price. 

4. You have a deadline

If you’ve got to sell soon because of a job transfer or you’ve already purchased another home, it may be necessary to generate buyer interest by dropping your price so your home is a little lower priced than comparable homes in your area. Remember: It’s not how much money you need that determines the sale price of your home, it’s how much money a buyer is willing to spend. 

5. You can’t make upgrades

Maybe you’re plum out of cash and don’t have the funds to put fresh paint on the walls, clean the carpets, and add curb appeal. But the feedback your agent is reporting from buyers is that your home isn’t as well-appointed as similarly priced homes. When your home has been on the market longer than comparable homes in better condition, it’s time to accept that buyers expect to pay less for a home that doesn’t show as well as others. 

6. The competition has changed

If weeks go by with no offers, continue to check out the competition. What have comparable homes sold for and what’s still on the market? What new listings have been added since you listed your home for sale? If comparable home sales or new listings show your price is too steep, consider a price reduction. 

More from HouseLogic

How to ready your home for sale at little cost

How to review offers on your home 

Other web resources

Setting the right price

More on setting the right price

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who made strategic price reductions that led to the sale of a Wisconsin property. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

“Visit Houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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