Our latest articles
February 27, 2016
Selling A House – Avoiding Foreclosure
If you are a homeowner in Washington DC who is interested in selling your house to avoid foreclosure, you have a number of options available. Regardless of whether you want to sell the house or try keep it prior to a pending foreclosure auction, there’s one thing that’s certain: you need to act quickly before it is too late.
Option 1: Loan Modification
If you’re facing a foreclosure and want to keep the house, the first and best thing you should do is contact your mortgage lender about a potential loan modification. As a homeowner in Washington DC, if you are at risk for foreclosure, you are covered by protections from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). These rules are in place to protect you as a mortgage borrower from costly surprises and runarounds by your lender.
You should consider a load modification if you have stable income and can afford the mortgage payments with a lower interest rate. If this is the route you decide to go, you need to contact your bank or a mortgage servicer and see if they are willing to do some sort of modification. The servicer or the bank will usually require a ‘proof of hardship,’ which demonstrates why you are unable to make mortgage payments. If the modification is approved, you’ll typically be put on a trial period of 90 days or more. This means they will allow you to make three payments at the lower rate. If you are able to pay on time, they will finalize the loan modification.
It’s important to note that the negotiation process can be lengthy, and often frustrating at times. In fact, it’s not uncommon for banks and servicers to lose paperwork and give you the runaround, so be prepared for this.
Option 2: Sell Your Home
If you find that a loan modification isn’t going to work, or you otherwise decide to sell your house, there are a number of ways you can do so:
In the typical fashion – on the market with a Realtor or For Sale By Owner
By selling to a real estate investor like 4 Brothers Buy Houses
Important consideration when thinking about selling your house as a means to avoid foreclosure, is If you owe more than what you can sell the house for, the only way you can sell the house will be by ‘selling it short’- more commonly known as a short sale.
Selling Your Home Using a Short Sale
If you are underwater on your home mortgage – meaning you owe more on your mortgage than what the house is currently worth – then the only way you will be able to sell the house is through a short sale. A short sale is when your mortgage lender accepts a sales price on your home that’s lower that what you actually owe. This options gives you a way out of your mortgage and in many cases, you won’t be requireed to pay back the outstanding balance. This means that in a short sale, all debts can be settled or re-negotiated.
If you want to attempt a short sale in Washington DC, you need to understand several key things:
- Not all mortgage lenders will agree to pay off the balance of your loan. That means you have to make sure that there is a solid commitment between you and the lender before making a deal. Otherwise you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ve sold your home and still owe the remaining balance.
- Going through a short sale will negatively affect your credit score, so it’s best to have other housing lined up before it’s complete. Otherwise, your credit scores might drop to a point where it’s difficult to obtain financing on another house, or even rent an apartment.
On the bright side, if you go for a short sale, you may qualify for generous government cash incentives to help with your relocation. If you meet the requirements of the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA), you may receive a “relocation assistance” of up to $10,000 when your short sale closes.
Selling Your Home to a Real Estate Investor
If you are unable to modify your loan and you don’t want to go through a short sale, you have a third option with is to sell your house to a real estate investor. In many cases, real estate investors offer cash and are able to close the sale within weeks, saving you from the detrimental effects that a foreclosure would have. The nice thing about going down this path is that you don’t have to prepare your house for the market, find a realtor, and deal with all the hassle of selling your house. You’ll simply work with an investor who offers a fair price and break out of a mortgage contract in the blink of an eye.
Time Is of the Essence
The foreclosure process takes many months, and you’ll have ample notice from your lender that you are behind on payments, as well as what action will be taken. It’s important not to stick your head in the sand, and to address the situation immediately instead of kicking the can down the road. If you realize that you are probably going to wind up in foreclosure in Washington DC, the best thing to do is know all your options and act strategically to avoid the house being sold at the sheriff’s sale, which is the absolute worst option at your disposal.
Many homeowners who are facing foreclosure often accept it for what it is and lose their homes as a result. But this doesn’t need to be you. There are ALWAYS options available – and these options are almost always better than accepting a foreclosure. If you’re facing a foreclosure and want to bring resolution to the situation as quickly as possible, contact us today!
February 21, 2016
Five Easy Tips for Increasing Your Real Estate Email Response Rate
When sending business emails, the general rule is “be professional, direct, and to-the-point,” but how do you translate that wisdom into effective real estate marketing emails, newsletters, and real estate-related correspondence?
Here are some expert tips for increasing the reader engagement and response rate on your real estate business emails:
Keep The Subject Short & to the Point.
The length and content of an email subject line has a major impact on whether or not people open and read it—and if recipients trash your email without reading it, they obviously won’t respond to it either. Market testing reveals that recipients respond most often to emails with only 3-4 words in the subject line, and where the subject gives a clear idea about the content of the message.
For maximum reader engagement, keep your email’s subject short and to the point.
Brief, Effective Email Content Produces the Most Responses
Most people receive dozens of emails every working day. Your real estate email must compete with everything from business correspondence to family photos, and recipients don’t have time—or patience—to read a lengthy promotional letter.
Generally, emails of 125 wordsor less produce the best response rates (often, response rates higher than 50%).This is actually great news for real estate emails—there’s no need to puff your communications with extra content. Get right to the point, and you’ll increase your likelihood of a positive reader response.
Encouraging Messages Attract More Responses Than Negative Ones
Speaking of positive responses—studies show that upbeat, encouraging messages receive up to 15% more responses than emails containing neutral or negative wording. While transparent flattery and overinflated superlatives turn readers off, a sincere, positive email message goes a long way toward encouraging readers to want to work with you.
Have You Considered Asking a Question?
Emails that ask a question are much more likely to prompt responses from readers. Questions like “Would you consider selling your home if you could find a buyer in just one phone call?” are engaging and make readers think. Readers who think often want to answer, and in the case of real estate emails, an answer often means a direct response to you.
Don’t go overboard with questions, though. While emails with a single question (or two) have higher than average response rates, emails with more than two questions start seeing diminishing returns. Too few questions, and you miss a valuable chance for reader engagement—too many, and the readers stop responding.
Avoid Long Sentences and Complex or Technical Wording
Strive to keep your real estate emails professional, but also remember that a conversational tone inspires much higher response rates than a technical, complex, or wordy email. Short, readable sentences and simple words inspire up to 35% more reader responses than emails with longer phrases and complex wording.
While nothing can guarantee more reader responses to a real estate email or newsletter, these tips will improve your chances of engaging readers and prompting a positive response.
Do you have real estate-related questions, or are you curious about how to sell your home with a single phone call? Click here to get more information now!
February 20, 2016
Selling A House With Code Violations In Washington DC
If your home falls short of a municipal or county building code, then it has a code violation. Code violations can be anything from breaching minimum construction standards to broken doors, windows and smoke alarms. If you have a home in Washington DC that has code violations, you should know your options if you want to sell it.
Preventable Code Violations
In most cases, serious code violations occur when homeowners make modifications or expand on their current residence without permission. Here are some examples of serious code violations:
- Fire Safety Hazards
- Violation of Zoning Ordinances
- Violations of Mechanical, Electrical and Energy Codes
- Electrical Code Violations
Dealing With A Code Violation And The Fines Associated With It
Officials in Washington DC have been known to issue large fines to homeowners who have code violations. Those who don’t pay often end up in a position where these fines become overwhelming. In many cases, homeowners who want to keep their houses can work out a deal with the city in order to reduce these fines and the interest incurred, often over a period of several years since the city wants homeowners to repair their faulty code violations. But if you would rather sell your home, then the most important thing to do is to disclose the violations to potential buyers.
Disclosure Requirements for Buyers Who Plan to Live in Your Property
In 1998, DC passed a law that requires property sellers to disclose certain things about the property to potential buyers who intend to live in your home. The buyer must express this intent in writing, however. What this means is that if you want to sell your home to a buyer like this, you have to comply with this rule. Fortunately, DC makes it easier by only requiring one form for all disclosures.
There are other requirements, as well. For example, if your home was built before 1978, you need to comply with a federal law called the “Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act”. This is to disclose if there are any reports of lead evaluations done for your home. This is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), so it’s best to comply with the regulations for a smooth transaction.
Selling A Home With Code Violations
In some cases, you may want to fix the code violations before putting your house up for sale. If you have the funds and the time to do this, then you can contact the city to negotiate to sanction down the violations to a reasonable amount. In this case, you can then hire a contractor who specializes in this type of work to get your house up to code. The overall process may be lengthy and costly, but it is a viable option.
Selling A House With Code Violations To Investors
If the work that needs to be done is beyond your budget (which is most likely the case), then finding a real estate investor who will buy the property as it as and deal with the violations after the fact is your best option. This choice is typically easier since you don’t have to go through the process of disclosing the code violations. In many cases, real estate investors who purchase real estate with code violations are willing to pay cash in order to complete the transaction quickly so that you can sell your house ‘as is’ and not worry about it anymore. Since code violations can become a nightmare, selling this type of real estate to a real estate investor and forgetting about it is often the wisest choice.
If you choose us, we will take your property as it is, code violations and all. We buy houses with almost every kind of damage imaginable, from houses with completely buckled back basement walls to homes with no roofs. You’ll be able to sell your house quickly and hassle-free – and of course, you’ll be paid in cash so that you can walk away with a clean slate. By working with us, you won’t have to worry about financing. In fact, we even pay for all of the closing costs.
If your home has code violations that you just don’t want to deal with, reach out to us today with your contact details and we’ll get back to you with an offer in as little as 10 minutes! It really is that easy. So what are you waiting for?
February 6, 2016
3 Little Known Ways To Pay Your Mortgage
Many of you believe that the only way to pay your mortgage is to pay for it yourself, rent out the entire property or rent out a room. What if there was a way to supplement paying your own mortgage without renting all or parts of it out to long term tenants?
Well, here are 3 little known ways to pay your mortgage.
- Use Airbnb: You could rent your home as a vacation stay during times of large events and conferences. DC is a huge convention and conference town, so why not take advantage of that by offering up your home to professionals seeking an affordable place to stay. You can also make some income during Thanksgiving, Christmas and the summer tourist season. Homeowners in the city have been renting out their entire homes on average for about $150/night and as high as $400/night. Just plug in “Washington, DC” into the Airbnb search results and you can see for yourself. Just imagine paying your mortgage every month in just a couple of weekend.
- Get Your House on TV: Film and TV location scouts are always on the lookout for homes that they can use to shoot scenes for television series, movies, commercials and music videos. Compensation is normally about the amount of your monthly mortgage payment multiplied by the number of days the shooting took place at your house. So a 12 day shoot could pay the mortgage for your house for a year! Why get a tenant when you could get your home on House of Cards? Just list your property on ScoutSource, filminglocations.com or contact an area location scout and invite him or her over for a tour.
- Install solar panels: More property owners, both residential and commercial, are installing solar panels on their properties as a means to not only save energy, but for the ROI. In some cases, you could increase the value of your home just by installing solar panels. The costs for solar panels have decreased considerably as investments and subsidies in green technologies have increases. And though the initial costs may still seem onerous for some, years down the line you can sell your energy back to the utility company. Just imagine four years after installing solar panels that you get a check from your utility company for $1000. You can estimate your property’s solar potential here. You’ll have to hurry though, because the Federal solar investment tax credit expires Dec 31, 2016.
So there you have it, 3 little known ways to pay off your mortgage without renting all or parts of it out to long term tenants.
February 3, 2016
What To Look Out For On A Home Inspection
A home inspection is one of the most critical junctures in a real estate transaction. If a deal is going to fall through, this is usually the time at which it happens. The other critical issue that typically sinks real estate deals is financing.
It is highly recommended that every home buyer, first time or otherwise, order a home inspection on the property they are under contract to buy. In fact, it is typically considered a ‘Fiduciary Responsibility’ of the buyer’s Real Estate Agent to ensure their client does a home inspection so the client is protected from any unknown issues the home may have.
Further, almost all lenders also require a home inspection as part of their financing commitment when providing a loan to a buyer for the purchase of the property. Since the house is serving as the collateral on which the loan is secured, it is critical for the lender to understand the quality of that collateral. A home inspection helps assure them that the security for their loan is void of any major issues that will negatively impact the property’s value.
What should buyers and sellers focus on when looking at a home inspection report? Read on to find out…
Major Areas Of Concern On A Home Inspection
Individuals who are looking at a home inspection report in Washington DC should focus on major, high ticket items that come up as problematic on the home inspection report- such as the foundation, electrical system, plumbing system, and the roof. Since these are the most important systems in the home, and also the most costly to repair, these are what a buyer should be most focused on. ‘Small stuff,’ like missing screens, doors that stick, missing doorway thresholds, etc, are not usually anything to worry about. And the reality is, when asking for repairs from a home seller, it is best to be judicious with what items you ask the seller to fix- fewer items that are higher price point will often be received better than long laundry list of less expensive repairs.
This is probably the single most important potential problem that may be uncovered from a home inspection, as the entire structure of the home could be at risk with a major foundation issue. Typically, as long as floors, ceilings, and walls are straight, and doors open and close normally, any foundation problems that come up will be more minor- like cracks in the foundation. However, even with these minor issues, it could still cost somewhere between $5K and $15K if something like Helical Piers are needed to reinforce a settling corner of the foundation. A good rule of thumb that we use when renovating properties is that any small foundation issue will take around $10K to fix. If it’s a more significant issue, like a cracked or bowing wall, then the cost will go up dramatically.
On a house we renovated in Lanham, we had to completely tear down and rebuild a basement wall in a 1,000 square foot rambler basement, which ended up costing around $45,000. If any structural or foundation issue is uncovered by the inspection, the buyer will have the option to walk away from the deal using the home inspection contingency that is in almost every offer. Or, if the buyer would still like to buy the house, write into the inspection addendum that the issue must be evaluated by a structural engineer of the BUYER’S choosing, and any recommended repairs made at seller’s expense.
The best way to spot a leaky roof is to look inside the attic. Any worthwhile home inspector will go into the attic (make sure that the seller has provided some means of attic access), and will also often go on top of the roof. It is HIGHLY recommended to find an inspector with a long ladder that will always physically go onto the roof, as many issues can’t be uncovered unless the inspector is literally on top of the roof. If a roof leak is uncovered on a buyer’s home inspection, the buyer’s best bet is to write into the inspection addendum to have the roof further evaluated by a licensed roofer of the buyer’s choosing and any repairs made by the seller at their expense. If seller will not agree to this and will only agree to use their roofer, this opens the buyer to more risk, but can still be workable as long as seller provides a written report and proof of license from the roofer. Often, the best course of action if a roof has more than 1 or 2 leaks is to replace the entire roof, which can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000.
There are 2 main electrical systems in the house- the main electrical meter and panel, which is where the power from the street attaches to the house and is the way all the power is provided to the house, and the internal system, which goes from the electrical panel to all the various outlets and switches inside the house. Any issues with the main electrical panel will be most costly to repair, while a few non working outlets or switches is usually not particularly costly and is something that most seller’s should have no problems with fixing.
Dealing With Major Problems Revealed On Inspection Reports In Washington DC
Those homeowners who find that that they have major problems with their property in Washington DC often decide to simply sell their real estate to an investor who specializes in such sales. The advantages of doing so are plentiful, real estate investors are able to complete the sale quickly, with cash, and allow homeowners a way out of their property without the stress and headache of costly repairs.