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Is It a Condo or Townhouse

A condominium is a housing structure that is a part of a bigger unit or building and the owner of the condo own the interiors independently and the other services in the building jointly with other condo owners. When you purchase within a condominium you are agreeing to follow the rules and regulations that are specific to the community as well as covenants, restrictions and by-laws that govern the community. These rules and regulations are governed by a condominium association with a board of directors from within the community. There is usually a general manager who may be part of a large company off site who orchestrates the day to day operations and maintenance of the building’s exterior and the common grounds of the community.

 A townhouse is a style of housing where a row of identical houses share walls. Here the owner owns the whole unit as such.  Different from a condominium you actually own the land as well as the interior. Usually you own the deck and patio private to the townhome. A Home Owners Association governs the property and will take care of the common area maintenance. The HOA may take care of the exterior maintenance of the building and grounds around the unit but these various with each community. Sometimes they maintain the painting but not the roofs or vice versa so it’s a good idea to be investigated thoroughly before you make an offer to buy.

The restrictions and rules and regulations are also very important to scrutinize before making and offer because they associations on a condo or townhome may dictate a pet policy, or whether your work vehicle can be parked at your home.

As part of the purchase agreement for either a Condo or Townhouse you will be given a period of time usually 10 days to review the documents and resale certificate from the association. I realize it’s a cumbersome process, but it’s one of the most important steps in the process before your buy in to a situation.  It’s extremely important to inspect the communities’ financials, and specifically the defaults and delinquencies.  You do not want to carry other dead beat owners.

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Realtor – Dress for Success in Business

Maybe it’s my age shining through but I find that Realtors are dressing down.  As a Realtor we are in the public eye 24/7. It’s important to dress the part of someone who is successful. The consumer needs to feel good about their decision to work with you. Dressing well not only helps you feel more confident but you gain the respect of the consumer in the process.

Running errands is not excuse for looking like a slob, for that is when you are most likely going to run into a person who ultimately is your next client or buyer!

The vehicle you drive should also give the correct image of success. You don’t need to drive a high end car, but your car should be clean and organized at all times. Image is everything in this business. Dress the part of someone successful and leave the jeans in the closet.

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Cyber Wars

Ok I know it sounds like science fiction but if you are not embracing the new age of real estate your will loss out.  Today the consumers are not reading the print adds anymore everything is web based and interactive. The social media outlets such as linked in, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube are just a few of the tops media outlets you need to understand and embrace to be successful today.

Lesson #1

  • Facebook is to be treated politically correct in fashion, but do not take that literally and keep the politics away!
  • Do not post images of you with alcohol or other inappropriate posts with vulgarity or religious tones. Your clients may not be able to afford fancy restaurants or lavish vacations so be sensitive when making post about your five star excursions.
  • Facebook is an excellent way to build a network of contacts that you consistently keep aware that you are a Real Estate Professional and are Open for Business.
  • Do not be discouraged that your contacts do not give you a like on every post about real estate.  The important element here is to keep them aware so when they open and close chapters in their life and need a Realtor you will be the first person that comes to mind.
  • When you meet other Realtors in other cities and states from where you practice it’s important to build a network since you want referrals.

 

Lesson #2

  • Twitter is another power house of opportunity and best of all its free!  I made a post and over 900 new visitors visited my site within minutes!  That is powerful stuff!
  • Facebook is competing with Twitter with hash tags # so it’s important to tag subject matter relative to your post to maximize the influence of your post.
  • I struggled at first with Twitter thinking what is the purpose and why does anyone care what I am doing today.
  • You can tackle twitter a number of ways with short post of 140 characters or less. The one method is to join in on a topic of related interest and # tag your website to it. So for example if you discover a conversation on your local football team you could join the conversation and tag the fact that you have a property for sale across from the training field.
  • You also can create your own following with relevant fun dialog that is related to what you do or the area in which you live.  If you are witty you can create a following of people fast!

Since many younger buyers are Facebooking, Twitting and using other social medias they will also seek a Realtors who embraces the technology and keep up with today’s fast paced lifestyle

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Open Houses that Rock!

Most Realtors hate open house since it consumes the majority of your Sunday, but I love them! You need to prepare properly and advertise the property and Open House “EVENT”.  Notice I refer to an Open House as an “Event” which elevates it to a different level. Use Facebook and other social media outlets to advertise the Open house days before the event takes place. When you list a home it’s very important to do a proper “Launch” or “Blitz” of the market to introduce the home and you as the formidable expert in the area. This is your time to showcase your style to the neighbors selling your services for future listings. Neighbor take notice the activity and when you have an Open House that is well attended … you will “Rock” the community and profile on how your market to everyone in the area. Another secret on the first Open House event, especially In the Spring Market is to hit Costco before the Open house and purchase 3 dozen long stem roses. Punch your business card with holes in advance and attach your card to the rose stem. Make sure you bring colorful cocktail napkins that the stems can be wrapped in as people walk through the home, it makes a lasting impression and creates a buzz as people walk around the house all holding colorful roses!  It works…..try it.

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Selfie in Real Estate

Selfie is a photo image of yourself taken with your smart phone and posted. It’s all the rage in Hollywood and pop culture today so join the trend and post your REALTOR SELFIE today.

People are voyeuristic today thus the success of the reality TV shows.  I don’t know if you feel it or not but the real estate business is the greatest reality TV show!

A Selfie will gain publicity for fast for you and your brand image in the market. Do a selfie in front of your sign and new listing “Post it” have fun!!

Join the craze and do a Selfie today!

 

Bill Sands – Realtor

Jerry Pelker – Realtor

Sands & Company Real Estate

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What Satisfies Women When it Comes to a New Home

A growing segment of the housing industry is studying what in a home matters most to women. Real-estate agents, designers, marketers and researchers say some of women’s home preferences are purely functional: Moms like dining areas with easily wiped hardwood or tile floors, not carpeting, for example, and the location of a laundry room is likely to matter deeply to a female homebuyer.

Selling to women also requires catering to differences more innate. Its an emotional process for women.

Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases, and they’re the major influence in the purchase of 91% of new homes.

Women respond most to a home’s aesthetics, such as paint and flooring, interior design, appliances, layout and functionality. Men seem more interested in the homes spaces and dimensions as well as how efficient a home is to operate.

Top 10 things Women want in a new home:

  1. Large walk in closets
  2. Location
  3. Security
  4. Dedicated Laundry Room
  5. Social Space
  6. Low maintenance
  7. Spacious spa like bath with separate shower and jetted tub
  8. Awesome  kitchen with Island
  9. Smart layout with good functionality
  10. Attached two car garage

 

 

Bill Sands – Realtor

Jerry Pelker – Realtor

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Jeepers Creepers

Today, major cities around North America — Los Angeles, Toronto, San Francisco, Newark, N.J. — and worldwide all have problems. So, too, do smaller cities such as Reading Pa, as travelers bring the insects back home with them. They’re not just wreaking havoc on lives but affecting real-estate deals, too — not just renters but also buyers!  Bed bugs infestations are being  reported in high end clothing stores, like office buildings, banks, hospitals, and the air plane seat you just left yesterday!

National Pest Management Association, 95% of 521 pest-control companies nationwide said they’d dealt with at least one bedbug infestation in the past year.

“So what?” you say. “Bedbugs are a problem for the poor, right?” Hardly.

They’ve turned up in New York’s East Hamptons beach community and New York City’s ritzy  Upper East Side. Bed Bugs are nondiscriminatory. They don’t feed on filth, You could check into a five-star hotel, you could live in a multimillion-dollar house, you could have your kids go to the finest universities, and you could still have bedbugs.

Are you worried about things that bite in the night? Fear no more: We have all you need to know about bedbugs but were too skeeved out to ask.

Know the enemy

 
Bedbugs are small, reddish to mahogany-colored, flat-bodied bugs nearly the size of an apple seed. They eat blood — your blood and your pet’s blood. They hide during the day and feed on their sleeping host at night, leaving behind small, roundish, dark-red fecal stains or speckles (your digested blood). Females can lay up to 500 minuscule white eggs, in batches of up to 50 at a time!

What makes bedbugs particularly maddening is that they can go dormant and go without feeding for several months — adults have been known to go without feeding for 18 months — only to reappear later when there’s a warm body to feed upon.

Bedbugs like to live where they work; research reports that more than 85% of bugs are found on or near the bed, But they also appear places here people lounge — upholstered sofas and chairs, for instance.

If you are bitten at night, you know you have bedbugs, right? Not so fast: A bedbug bite leaves a red mark that’s hard to distinguish from other bites, such as mosquito bites. And research by the University of Kentucky has shown that nearly 30% of people don’t react to the bites at all. That means people often don’t know they have an infestation until it has exploded enough to be obvious — and has spread far beyond the bed.

“They can be in virtually anything — we get them in the pages and bindings of books. We’ve found them in the head of an adjustable wrench,”   Reports claim they  have found them inside coffee makers and sticks of deodorant.

“The key is early detection and awareness. If you find an infestation, let’s say within a few weeks or a month of the bugs entering the apartment, you have a good chance of stopping them with relatively straightforward measures.
How do you know if an apartment you’re thinking of renting, or a home for sale, has had bedbugs?

The quick answer: It’s not easy.

“It’s actually kind of difficult if you’re inspecting a vacated dwelling” because the insect can go dormant, The insects could hide under floorboards or behind walls — places not easy to access.

“If you see evidence of speckling toward the top (of the wall) where the wall meets the ceiling or the upper corners of the room, that means you had big problems before you arrived there.With bad problems, you’ll sometimes see (speckling) around or behind electrical face plates.

Also, look for evidence of bedbugs around edges where carpets have been. Don’t assume that just because any bedbug-infested furniture is gone, the bugs are gone, too: What happens with a vacant unit is that a lot of the bugs get taken out with the furniture, but if it’s a significant problem, not all of them do.

It’s not unheard of for bedbugs to scuttle a real-estate deal. In Chicago, condo owners sued a property-management company, saying the company should have told them there was an infestation in the building before they bought their units. The condo owners won,  an attorney and chairman of the department of hotel management at the William S. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas who speaks often about the legal aspects of bedbug infestations.

Know your rights going into any lease or deal; the law around bedbugs is changing quickly. In New York, for instance, Gov. David Paterson is expected to sign a law that would require New York City landlords to tell prospective tenants whether any units in an apartment building they are considering had been infested within the previous year. As this problem magnifies expect to see similar verbiage in the SDS, Seller Disclosure Statements in the near future

Keeping them out: Coming home
let’s say you’ve just come home from showing a home that you suspect has bed bugs?

  • Strip down. As soon as possible — such as when you’re just inside the house — take off the suspect clothes and empty your clothes and bag into plastic garbage bags. Seal them.
  • Dry it. “If you want to wash the stuff, that’s fine, but the heat from clothes dryer will kill them As little as 10 minutes on high heat “will kill everything.” Backpacks, shoes, sneakers — “all that stuff can go in there.” Even most “dry clean only” clothing can be put in a clothes dryer on a low to moderate setting with no harmful effects, as long as it’s dry.
  • Be aware of where you sit on upholstered furniture and beds

 

Bill Sands Realtor/ Jerry Pelker Realtor

Sands & Company Real Estate

www.PaRealEstate.com

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The Sliding Door

We’ve all experienced those sliding closet doors that stick and rub. Did you know there is a simple fix?

All sliding closet doors hang from a horizontal metal rail. Rollers fastened to the top of the door fit into a J-shaped track above. By adjusting the roller bracket, you can raise or lower the door.

 

The key is to understand how your particular door’s bracket needs to be adjusted. As the illustration shows, you’ll be looking for one or more screws within a slot. Loosen the screw(s), and then tip, turn or slide the bracket to raise or lower the roller.

 

Often you will find that loose screws in the bracket have allowed the door to drop or tip. Inspect the clearance between the door and the bottom guide, and make sure the door’s edge is parallel to the vertical door frame. Once you’ve found the proper roller setting and clearance, the door will operate properly.

 

Bill Sands / Jerry Pelker Realtor

Sands & Company Real Estate

www.PaRealEstate.com

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USVI Hotel Tax

If you are planning to rent your condominium it’s imperative that you follow a few steps:

 

Obtain a Business License from the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs of the U.S.V. I. The phone numbers is 340-776-8303 or visit their website www.dlca.vi.gov

 

The task of obtaining a license is easier then ever before since you can now go through the steps on line. The license is renewed each year.

 

The hotel room tax is 10 percent of the gross rental and will apply to every guest that resides in your condominium for a period of less than 90 days.

 

The 10 percent hotel room tax should be separately stated on the invoice to avoid any appearance of collecting more tax than is allowed by law. It is imperative that this particular tax not be lumped with any other condo charges. Taxpayers should be able to easily identify the tax charges on their bill. The Hotel tax returns are due on the 30th day after the end of each month by completing Form 722 V.I and mailed to:

 

Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands

Bureau of Internal Revenue

St Thomas, U.S.V.I. 00802

 

Confirm with your association how rentals are handled. Some associations require all rentals to be run through an onsite agency known as a “Hotel Plan” others are o.k. with the owners handling their own rentals as long as certain basic steps are met.

It is also recommended that you post the Condominium Rules & Regulations in your unit as well as the Parking Rules and Regulations so that your guests understand the parking requirements specific to your association.

The Lt. Governor of the USVI is cracking down on violators and they are monitoring advertisers on the popular vacation rental websites.

Bill Sands

Realtor

www.PaRealEstate.com

Sands & Company

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Savvy Shopping-8 Things to Know When Buying a Home

Spring is here, and along with the buds and flowers comes a new crop of home buyers-Are you one of them? If so, you want to be well prepared to get that home you have always wanted.

  1. Mortgage Matters

“Pre-qualified” sure sounds good, but in fact, it doesn’t ensure that homeowners or realtors will consider your offer. Getting “pre-approved” for a bank loan will signal to an informed seller that your offer is within your means and should be given serious consideration which can tip things in your favor in a tight housing market. Pre-approval is more difficult now than in the past, so, beginning the process early allows you to be prepared to make an offer that will be considered seriously when you find your dream property.

When signing mortgage papers, get any help needed to understand what you are agreeing to, including all of the terms, closing costs, and fees. Take the time to understand the difference between the various types of mortgages including fixed rates, adjustable rates and balloon payments as well as the benefits and costs of different loan terms such as 15 and 30 year mortgages. Also, be sure to explore if you qualify for discounts or credits based on income, being a first-time buyer, or a veteran.

  1. Credit Counts

Higher credit scores garner lower mortgage rates and monthly payments. Financial experts recommend reviewing your credit report to identify and remedy any erroneous entries prior to making major purchases to ensure you attain the highest credit score possible. In addition, since applying for credit can lower your credit score, prospective home buyers should avoid applying for additional credit during the year prior to buying (and through closing) your new property. Credit scores of 750 and above often get the best rates, and while you can get a mortgage loan with scores below 650, you will generally have higher costs. A little planning and preparation can reap significant financial rewards.

  1. Know Your Budget

A safe “rule of thumb” for mortgage payments is that it should not exceed 28% of your gross monthly income. This ensures you have enough discretionary income available for upkeep, maintenance, and insurance. Buying within your means will also help in the event of any unforeseen circumstances. While plenty of lending institutions are willing to give you a higher mortgage, be mindful of all the costs of owning your home, your other financial commitments as well as the cost of pursuing your hobbies and interests.

Online calculators can help you estimate monthly payments on homes you are considering, and you can see how those payments compare to your current payments. If you plan on buying a home with larger payments than you pay now, think about putting the difference into a savings account each month to confirm the higher payments are realistic. An added benefit is these funds will be available to apply toward a down-payment or closing fees when you are ready to purchase your new property.

  1. Location, Location, Location

Decide where you want to live, both in terms of general areas and specific geographic requirements. This is as important as the actual house you buy, it will affect your commute, schools, your neighbors, and where you shop and do business. This preparation might be more difficult if you come from further away, however, a real estate agent who gets to know you will help steer you in the right direction. Some locations have specific issues – parking, grounds fees, or other specifics that come with living in a certain locale and a realtor that knows your desires will be able to evaluate any issues accordingly when searching for properties.

You can build your knowledge of an area by reading the local newspaper, visiting local stores and schools, dining at local restaurants, and shopping at a local supermarket.

  1. Timing Things

When do you want to move? Often, buying a home is a game of hurry up and wait – except when it’s not. Sometimes buyers or sellers want to move quickly, and want expedite the process. Be up front with your moving schedule, and willingness/ability to be flexible. While you may or may not be able to impact the schedule, the more prepared you are with the logistics of the sale; the better off you will be in the long run. Paperwork takes time, and depends on how fast the bank and other institutions move, and how much additional information is needed. Following up with lenders, escrow officers, and your agent can be critical to ensure that documents move through the system in a timely fashion.

Timing affects moves in multiple ways, from the moving of possessions, to completing repairs, to enrolling in schools. Moving on the fly can cost more than those with a little planning. Establish a timeline. If you plan in advance for the home purchase and for the actual move, you gain time to shop around for the best deals on everything from mortgages to moving vans. Additionally, advanced planning and research enables you to move faster on things if you need to move up closing dates or shift schedules for any reason.

  1. Terms of Endearment

Are the terms that you agree to going to work for you? Negotiate terms you can love as you finalize the sale/purchase of a home. While everything might not be exactly what you want, know the terms you are agreeing to. If you compromise in one area, you might be able to use that compromise to get something in another area.

For example, if the owner needs extra time in the home after closing, and you don’t have to move right away, you can agree to a rental agreement so that they can stay a bit longer while you are orchestrating your own move. In exchange, you might let them know that you will be having some repairs made while they are renting and before you move in. This can all be spelled out in the terms of sale.

  1. How Handy are You?

Biting off more than you can chew with a fixer-upper can come back to haunt you in the end. Properties that require extensive work might also require more time and money for the move, and any building permits you might need to get. Purchasing a home in good repair or one in which the seller has recently replaced the roof, carpets, and flooring may come with a higher price, but it might still be worth it if you don’t intend to make those repairs yourself.

On the other hand, if you want your home to be your new project, come prepared with what it will take accomplish various tasks in your new area. Doing some things in climates that differ from your own might surprise you – projects that include roofing, heating and cooling can differ substantially between regions.

  1. Permissions

If you purhcase a home with remodeling in mind, take a cursory look into permits before assuming that you can do what you want to. The permitting issues of communities and towns, time-frames around getting those permits and inspections, and costs involved, can all vary. Be certain that the permissions needed for the desired improvements are within your budget and schedule, on top of the cost of materials and labor. There might also be special restrictions if this is in an apartment or community.

It isn’t every day that you shop for a home, but when we do, its best to do it with us much knowledge and preparation as possible. Doing your homework can be daunting and challenging, but on that closing date, you’ll be glad you followed through and got the best home you could get.

Supplied by Real Estate Advisor