Real Estate Terms

Real Estate Terms

Most professions have terms or phrases that are specific to their industry. They may even use some common words but they mean totally different things in the context of their work life. Abbreviations and slang are used in every day conversations in their office environment. But what if you’re an outsider? Would you know what they meant or would it be as if they were speaking in a foreign language? Here are 10 real estate terms that are commonly used in the industry that the consumer may not understand or know the meaning of, even if they think they do. CO – Certificate of Occupancy. In new construction (or a total “gut” renovation), the local authority (typically the Building or Codes division) will inspect the property when it is deemed to be complete. If they feel it is up to standards and complete enough to be occupied, they will issue a Certificate of Occupancy. Typically you will not be able to close on a new construction or totally renovated property if the Certificate of Occupancy or CO has not been issued.DOM – Days on Market. Different areas and MLS’s (see #3) may have different ways to calculate the number of days on market of a property. Most will either be from date of listing to date of contract OR date of listing to close date.MLS – Multiple Listing Service – not Major League Soccer. The MLS is where most real estate agents will enter a property that they have listed for sale. This is one of the places they will search to find properties that match Buyer’s criteria. Some areas have more than one MLS. This is important to know in case you live in an area that is close to more than one MLS that covers areas close by. You won’t want to miss out on potential Buyers because your agent is only a member of one MLS. Most MLS’s syndicate their listings to many other websites (like Realtor.com, Zillow, etc.) but you do not want to limit your exposure in any way.REALTOR©. (Pronounced REAL-TOR) This one may surprise you. Not all real estate agents are REALTORs. A person receives a license stating that they are allowed to represent Buyers and Sellers as a real estate agent. Only members of the National Association of Realtors are allowed to call themselves a REALTOR©. This is important because REALTORs must adhere to a Code of Ethics that real estate agents do not. See my blog “10 Questions to ask your Real Estate Agent” to read more about this.Pre-qual. Prequalification from a lender. A pre-qualification is not the same as a pre-approval. A prequalification is typically derived from a potential Buyer...

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Just Breathe

Just Breathe

I have a very close woman in my life that says she worries about things so that they don’t happen. Haha – I don’t know if that works but it makes her feel like she’s doing something to help everything go right. A lot of us tend to want to control things. We want to control emotions, situations, relationships, and outcomes. But we may just be causing ourselves more anxiety and stress than if we would just breathe. I’m not saying we don’t move forward and take action steps toward a certain goal, but not get caught up in trying to control things that are out of our control. I had a life coach a couple of years ago (one of the best things I ever did for myself, by the way). She had me make a list of everything I could control. It was very eye opening. See, apparently, I have trust issues and the need for control goes hand in hand with trust. I realized that I can only control myself. My own thought and my own actions. This is tough for a lot of us to accept and fully understand. When we can finally grasp this, it can help us in every aspect of our lives. Our country is divided right now. Emotions are heightened and people seem to think they can change people’s thoughts, ideals, and beliefs with a single post on social media. I saw a post that said (I’m paraphrasing), “No matter who wins the election, I’m still going to get up, go to work, and live my life.” Will your daily life be affected? It could. You may have to pay more taxes. Laws may change. We could even lose some freedoms. But look at what getting angry, worrying, and walking around in total negativity will do for you. The same is true in real estate – you know I couldn’t not bring it around to real estate, right? If you are a Buyer, there are certain things you will do to prepare to buy a house. If you are a Seller, you have a different set of tasks. You hire someone that you have confidence in – then you must let go. You may be anxious and that’s understandable. Just don’t try to manage – or worse – micromanage the people and the process. It will only cause you to be stressed and not to enjoy any of the process. Let me tell you, buying or selling a house and moving is stressful enough on its own. It doesn’t need you making things up in your head and getting over emotional. I’m a highly spiritual person and believe that things don’t...

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Style and Inspiration

Style and Inspiration

Today I wanted to go outside my normal real estate blog where I talk about the nuts and bolts of a transaction and do’s and don’ts of Buyers and Sellers. I want to give some thoughts on style and inspiration. Full disclaimer: I am NOT a designer or a decorator. I leave that up to the professionals – and I have great referrals if you are looking for one. I am a Realtor who sees A LOT of houses. With A LOT of different styles. Color: Don’t be afraid of it! Small rooms with bold colors can be really cool. If your daughter loves pink, paint her room pink. It’s just paint and it can be changed. Dark colors should be used with caution but can be a dramatic accent. Your inspiration here may be what’s trendy or what you saw in a model home. Art: Display what you love. If you have picked up things in your travels, put them out for people to see and talk about. You may love music and want to frame album covers or concert posters. Go for it. Paintings don’t have to be by a famous artist for them to have meaning. I have pieces from art fairs, paintings of my animals, quotes, Aerosmith photographs, posters, family heirlooms, Goodwill finds, vintage items and a hand carved chess set. Items of glass, wood, plastic and metal. There are no rules with art. If you like it, use it. Inspiration for art comes from all sorts of places. It doesn’t have to necessarily mean anything, it just needs to make you smile. Furniture: While a color theme or palette is nice, don’t feel like you have to buy a set straight out of a magazine. If you love your grandmother’s chair, use it. You can incorporate other things to tie it together. Use modern and art deco. Use mid-century modern and traditional. Use old and new. Hard lines and curves. Furniture inspiration can come from family, stores, magazines, or Facebook Marketplace! The bottom line is, it’s your space. It’s your style. Your style doesn’t have to have to be defined or have a name. You do you. One last disclaimer: When you are ready to sell your house, colors may need to be changed, certain art may need to be taken down and some furniture may need to be stored. That’s OK, you’re moving. We don’t live in a house the same when we are selling it. Listen to the professionals to let you know what is going to appeal to the most people. At that point, you’re looking for a Buyer, and they aren’t buying your style – just the...

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Ugly Kitchens

Ugly Kitchens

I bet with a title like, “Ugly Kitchens” you thought I was going to shame kitchens and show you some really bad photos. Well, maybe. But, really, I want to encourage you to look at a house even if it has an ugly kitchen. It could have ugly paint, ugly bathrooms, ugly flooring, and ugly wall paper. But, those are just cosmetic. When you are looking at purchasing a resale home, someone has lived in that home. They may have used and abused the floors, still have the brass light fixtures that you’re not willing to keep until they come back in style, and think that mauve is still an acceptable color for counter tops. But, I encourage you not to stop there. What have they done to the bones of the house? Have they spent their cosmetic budget on other things that aren’t sexy and don’t get a ton of initial attention? When looking at ugly houses with ugly kitchens, take a deeper look. If these items have been replaced or repaired, you may want to consider it a little more. Roof Depending on the size of the house, pitch of the roof, and type of materials, a roof can cost approximately anywhere between $4000-$20,000+. If a roof has issues, it can cause leaks. Leaks can go undetected and cause much more damage than you realize. A cosmetically beautiful room could now be filled with mold. Walls, floors, cabinetry, etc. may need to be torn out and may have to be completely redone. If a roof has been replaced, it could save you thousands of dollars that you can then use to beautify that ugly kitchen. HVAC units Nobody wants the HVAC unit to go out in their new house. What if there are multiple units? If all of them were installed at the same time, chances are good that they will all need to be replaced around the same time as well. And while you may think you will just replace one and stay on the other floor of the house, that may get old very quickly when you’re sleeping on the couch or having to fill the house with box fans or space heaters. HVAC units are costly and they aren’t something you can go without for very long. On top of being potentially uncomfortable, if the house is too cold, pipes could freeze. If the house gets too hot, you could have issue with expansion of flooring and walls. The $2500-20,000+ you would spend on HVAC units and the damage they could cause would be better used in replacing those brass fixtures that are everywhere in the house. Water heater Taking showers at the gym...

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Buyer Beware!

Buyer Beware!

Legal jargon, one-sided, industry terminology, seemingly contradictory statements, run on sentences. I’m not writing about political figures or candidates! I’m talking about real estate contracts. Here are three places that “Buyer Beware” is your best attitude. Home builder contracts I have written about this before, but my job as Broker allows me to see numerous builder contracts. I see how one-sided some are and am amazed at how any of them get sold. I read one today that did not allow for any contingencies. The Buyer has to have their loan approved within 20 days, or else. Once approved, there is no turning back. You may be thinking, “Well, duh. That makes sense.” But does it? What happens when 3 months goes by and your employer doesn’t have the funds to pay you any longer and you get laid off? What happens when the lender makes a mistake and didn’t apply all your debt correctly? What happens when closing is delayed because the house isn’t finished, your rate lock for your loan has expired and rates have increased just enough that you can’t afford the monthly payment. What happens when FEMA redraws the flood zone maps prior to your closing and now you are required to have flood insurance that is going to cost you $500/month? Too bad. You have to buy or you lose your earnest money and/or deposit (which is usually more than a few months worth of mortgage payments.) You can try to get the builder to write in a contingency but most of the time they will not allow it. They are taking a risk in building the house and they feel they should get some compensation if you can’t buy it. In hot selling markets, however, they are likely able to sell the house to someone else and may not even lose any time at all. They could even sell it for more money to the next Buyer, so they get to keep your money and make more on the sale. Win-Win for them! Buyer Beware. “Instant offers” If you have your finger on the pulse of real estate at all, you have seen advertisements for instant offers and companies that will buy your house. “We Buy Ugly Houses” is a funny one I’ve seen. These companies will give you a cash offer on your home. This can be a wonderful idea. And, sometime, it can be a wonderful savior for you in the right situation. They also can have some hidden fees and not be a very wise financial move on your part. These companies have to make money. They are going to either turn around and sell or rent the houses they...

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5 Buyer Turn-Off’s

5 Buyer Turn-Off’s

You’re selling your house – or trying to. You think you have done everything needed to make it attractive to Buyers but you’re not getting any offers. Here is a list of Buyer turn-off’s that may be the reason. Bad Smells – Most of us can agree that sour garbage and skunks are not good smells. But sometimes we don’t think a smell is bad or we are simply immune to it. Strong food odors from the night before, pet litter boxes, chemicals, etc. are all things that can produce odors that can turn a buyer off. Make sure trash is taken out regularly and more often if you cook a lot and have food waste that sits. Clean out litter boxes daily to prevent odor build up. Open windows while you’re home, if possible. Get fresh air moving around and get stale air out of the house.Good Smells – We may think we’re doing a good thing to combat the bad smells mentioned above by burning a candle, diffusing oils, or plugging in wall air fresheners but they can make it worse. They may not mask anything and could be over powering. Buyers could have allergies and if a “good” smell is too strong, they may not be able to stay in your house long enough to fall in love with it. Also, what is a good smell to you, could repel someone else. Keep scents light – and, again, open windows when possible to get fresh air in. That’s always the best solution.Pets – On the topic of smells and allergies, Buyers could be allergic. Pets could have odors. Pets can make a mess around litter boxes and food/water dishes. They can also get in the way if left in the home during showings or open houses. Remove pets when possible and put away toys, litter boxes and dishes. Sometimes just knowing a pet lives in the home can be enough to turn a Buyer away.Religion & Politics – This is a tricky one. We all should be able to express ourselves in our own homes and display our beliefs. But when we are trying to sell our house, this can be a detriment to what we want to accomplish. Don’t have political signs or material posted where they can be seen. And keep religious art, books, and other materials to a minimum. We don’t like to think that people in 2020 would discriminate and not buy our house because we have different beliefs from them but…Pests – Pesky gnats, fruit flies, ants, spiders. As the weather turns colder, we may see an influx of critters trying to get into our home. While sometimes it’s unavoidable, make...

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