Considering Selling Your Home Without a Real Estate Agent? Understand Your Legal Needs!

As real estate has changed over the past few years many people are trying to sell their homes without a real estate agent in order to avoid paying a commission. In the United States you typically pay an agent 6 percent of the sale price in commission. With the price of homes today this number is significant. Especially since so many homes in the US have lost value and many homeowners have found they own a home that is not worth what they originally paid for it.

When not using an agent many residents will seek out the help of FSBO (for sale by owner) organizations and websites. These marketing tools still require a fee but the most it would be is 3 percent of the sale price and many are considerably less.

Real estate agents would also point out that by paying them a fee you are also gaining access to a number of resources that they have available to them. When selling a property agents will also invest in advertising to aid in selling the home.

Many people believe the commission paid to an agent is well worth it. However if you do decide to try and sell your home alone it is important to contact a real estate attorney who can help you navigate the legal aspects selling property.

The legal needs of a home sale include:

Purchase and Sale Agreement: This document is one of the many legal aspects involved when buying and selling property that will require an attorney.

Title Search and Clearing: Before finalizing a real estate agreement you want to be sure the title is clear. A lawyer will do the required title search and make sure the title is clear and the property is ready to be sold.

Litigation: There are instances where property ownership issues arise at the time of a sale. This could be a boundary dispute or eminent domain issue. You will want a qualified attorney working with you if you run into one of these problems.

Condo Development: Condominiums require legal documentation that is unlike any other property. Real estate attorneys are well versed in the legal requirements of condominiums and can help ensure the process moves smoothly.

Document Preparation and Review: If you are buying or selling a home you want to make sure all the documentation is complete and done correctly. It is the job of your real estate attorney to review all deeds, notes and any other documentation that is involved in a home sale.

The investment in a real estate attorney is an important addition to any home selling strategy. Buying or selling something as valuable as a home is a daunting prospect. If you plan to try and do it alone make sure you hire a real estate attorney to help supplement your sale strategy. The legal fees are a small price to pay to avoid a commission.

Highland Park, CA Homes and Real Estate – A Look at the Numbers

In Los Angeles real estate circles, everyone is talking about Highland Park. Like other Northeast LA neighborhoods like Silver Lake, Eagle Rock and Mt. Washington, Highland Park is in a state of gentrification as new stores and restaurants are popping up on York Blvd. and homes are being purchased and restored. As a result, homes in Highland Park are in demand and prices have steadily risen. But gentrification isn’t the only reason. Highland Park is a wonderful area to call home.

Highlan Park is an amiable historic neighborhood located in Northeast Los Angeles. It is a hilly neighborhood located in the San Rafael Hills along the Arroyo Seco. It is southwest of Eagle Rock and Northeast of Cypress Park. People from many ethnic and socioeconomic groups call this neighborhood “home”. The weather is pristine with the highest monthly average temperature being 73 degrees in the hottest month of July and 57 degrees in the coldest month of December. Highland Park experiences light rain; January receives the highest amount at 4.6 inches total. According to Walk Score, Highland Park is the most walkable neighborhood in Los Angeles with a score of 72. It is very accessible and most errands can be completed on foot. It has some public transportation and is somewhat bikeable with a transit score of 47 and a bike score of 53.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census there were 57,566 residents in the 3.42 square miles of neighborhood. That is an average of 16,385 people per square mile. Highland Park is one of the highest density areas in Los Angeles. Highland Park grew to 60,835 people by 2008. The ethnicity break down was as follows: Latinos, 72.4% Whites 11.3%, Asians 11.2%, Blacks 2.4% and others 2.6%. A larger than average 57.8% residents were born abroad. 55.3% of them were born in Mexico and 12% were from El Salvador. In the male population 52.2% were married, 41.2% had never been married, 4.9% had been divorced and 1.6% were widowed. For the women: 50.4% were married, 33.2% were never married, 9.3% were divorced and 7.1% were widowed. The demographic for never married was among the county’s highest. 14.3% of residents who were 25 and above had a four-year degree. This was average for Los Angeles. 45.1% of the residents were born in a foreign city. This was a high number for Los Angeles. 4.9% of people in the population were veterans; this was a low number for Los Angeles. The average age of residents was 28, which is seen as young compared to the other areas of Los Angeles.

The average household income in 2008 was $45,478, which is an average number for Los Angeles. The average household size was 3.3 people, which is 25% higher than the national average. Renters occupied60.9% of housing units, which is 105% higher than the national average. Owners completed the other 39.1%, which is 58% lower than the national average.

Zillow states that Highland Park’s home value index is $662,800, which is up 13.1% since last year and with a projected increase of 4.3% predicted over next year. The market temperature is very hot and ideal for sellers. The average price per square foot is $582, which is higher than the Los Angeles average of $448. The average price of homes is $652,500, which is 123% higher than the national average. The average rent per month is $2,600, being 22% higher than the national average. The current Market Health is 5.3/10, which is relative to other markets across the country. Highland Park will continue to grow and develop.

Because Highland Park is in a stage of gentrification with rising home prices, it is highly advised for homebuyers and home sellers to seek out an experienced Highland Park realtor who specializes in the area.

How to Sell a House: Tips From Real Estate Agents

With the country’s declining real estate market, a home seller can easily sell a house if they lower the price. But for others who can’t afford to lower their asking price, it is best to find other ways to make their home more attractive.

Real estate agents are familiar with the trends in the industry. They are also very knowledgeable about selling homes and choosing the right homes. For this reason, we have come up with a list of house selling tips from successful real estate agents.

Make The House Stand Out From The Competition

It is very important for the property to attract potential buyers. Home sellers should consider custom designs or adding a few design touches, such as improving the landscape, or updating the roof and windows. These simple touches can have significant impact in improving the home’s aesthetics. It is important to avoid over-improving the house. For instance, renovating the bathroom and kitchen may not always pay.

Clean The Clutter

Before listing the property in the market, it is crucial to first clean the clutter from the home. Clutter will turn off potential buyers because they cannot picture themselves living in the house. As a tip, consider removing a few unnecessary furniture pieces to make the space look bigger. You should also keep family pictures and other personal items into storage so that potential buyers can imagine themselves staying in the house.

Staging the house is very important. You may want to hire a professional for the job. This may cost additional expense but it will be worth it. Real estate agents believe that a professional stager can make the home more attractive and salable.

The Price Is Right

No matter how you stage your house or how much space you renovated, it is very important to price the property appropriately. An agent can help you determine the right price for your property. You can also hire a property appraiser for the job. It doesn’t matter whether you are offering the lowest price in the neighborhood, especially if your home is very appealing and if you have made significant improvements to your home. It is important, however, that the listing price will not be so far-fetched with the other comparable homes in the market.

Selling a house in a slow real estate market will require patience and perseverance. Make sure that the house is in good condition and hire a credible agent to help you sell the house faster. Following these tips will help increase your chances of getting a good deal for your property.

Housing Market Revealed 2006 – Is The Party Over For Real Estate?

Prior to 2000, the real estate market and the economy were always cyclical. For instance, the US housing prices tended to weaken as the GDP and employment prospects declined, particularly during the recessions of 1980 and 1990. The economic downturn of 2000-01 defied many predictions by having the opposite impact on real estate prices. Over the past five years, real estate prices have increased approximately 10%, outperforming equities by a wide margin.

Historically, real estate has been viewed by many as a good hedge against inflation. During the last five years however, real estate prices have exceeded the rate of inflation by a gross margin.

Given the significance and size of the U.S. real estate market, our analysis will focus on U.S. real estate, which is currently quite representative of markets around the world.

U.S. Real Estate

In 2005, America’s real estate boom was strong, with prices up by 13%. But there were signs that the market was weakening. Sales of existing homes fell this January to the lowest in nearly two years. Meanwhile, the number of unsold homes rose to the highest level since 1998. In addition, new homes continue to be built at the fastest pace since 1973. In other words, while the supply of housing is at the highest level, demand for homes has fallen dramatically, rendering a downward price adjustment inevitable.

Due to the low interest rate environment, affordability ratios are still within historical ranges, although they’re approaching a 14-year low. On the other hand, other ratios that disregard the interest rate level (e.g., home price to rent, home price to disposable income) appear to have escalated.

The Supply / Demand Imbalance

In general, we see no evidence that the supply factors are positively affecting the prices. For example, the rate of population growth has not increased significantly and the supply of land available for housing remains largely unchanged. In fact, research by Goldman Sachs reveals that U.S. residential investing is at the highest level in 40 years, yet new household formation is growing at its slowest rate.

Based on the experience of the last few years, we may see a fundamental shift in sentiment, favoring home ownership. Up to now, most of the baby boomers nearing retirement have decided against downsizing their homes and opted for the financial security of their current houses instead.

Other Asset Classes

Financial exposure to real estate is generally a good thing as long as it is a reasonable proportion of one’s assets, and the investment environment is favorable (e.g., not in the midst of a bubble or heading into a decline). In a diversified portfolio, real estate investments can be a very good diversifier due to relatively low correlations with other asset classes.

Contrary to popular belief, holding a diversified portfolio of various asset classes (with a large equity exposure) has been a much better investment than buying a house during the last 30 years. For instance, a dollar invested in real estate in 1975 would grow to $6.07 while it would turn into $36.14 if invested in the S&P 500. However, in calculating the exact returns one must factor in taxation and deductibility of interest rates.

The Failure of Risk Management

As rising house prices lift the market value of collateral on banks’ existing loans, banks are willing to lend more, pushing prices higher. In effect, banks have an incentive to lend when property prices are rising, and to pull out when prices fall, leading to extended boom and bust cycles.

For the past few years a number of researchers have pointed to the non-sustainability of the housing market, comparing it to the high-tech bubble of 2000. Barring any fundamental change, the primary question remains why real estate prices have defied this historical market relationship for so long, and whether will they will ever reach the tipping point.

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The Wisdom of Hindsight in the Real Estate Market

“Consider the following observations about the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. real estate market:

  • A home in Silver Spring, Maryland comes on the market and sells in one day. That’s no big deal. But the real estate agent received forty-one offers. I’ll repeat: Forty-one offers in only a few hours.
  • A home in the city of Alexandria sells in one day at a price $100,000 over the asking price. I’ll repeat: The house sold for $100,000 more than the seller’s asking price.
  • More than 30 people camped out for 7 days in order purchase units in a new urban townhouse development. I’ll repeat: Thirty people living on the streets with sleeping bags and tents in order to buy in a new townhouse development.

A dream come true you say? These are excerpts from the article “One Word For Metro Washington Real Estate: Insane, written by Henry Savage for RealtyTimes.com…in March 2004.

Almost five years ago Mr. Savage painted a picture of a thriving sellers market that had gained so much momentum that home buyers were waiving financing and home inspections to make their offers more attractive to home sellers. As we have all witnessed, any market, whether stocks or real estate, cannot sustain this level of exuberance before something has to give.

Home prices increasing 20% per year eventually results in fewer buyers for these over priced homes. Add to this mix, greedy money lenders offering low introductory interest rates (only to spike in a few years), and resulting in too many people owning homes they can’t afford. The demand for real estate begins to decrease, inventory rises, and eventually home prices drop. Sound familiar?

The increase in interest rates, would also have a devastating effect on all of those buyers who purchased homes with little or no deposit and are faced with the expiration of the attractive introductory rates. Foreclosures and housing gluts would be a natural result of this market.

Mr. Savage predicted this outcome in his article; stating “the bigger the boom, the bigger the bust”. Real estate, as do all markets, runs in cycles. The plight of our current market is the fall out from the golden age of real estate we experienced a few years ago.

Currently, in the Metro D.C. market, the average Sold price is just under $550; a 12% increase from the same time last year. It’s not 20%, but definitely a more realistic increase one would expect. Perhaps we are entering a new cycle in real estate; one that reflects adjusted home prices, sensible lending practices, and smarter buyers.