Earn Back Your Retirement Money with Real Estate

Are you a real estate investor? Would you like to learn some little-known secrets to increase your purchasing power using your retirement account? We are all well aware that stocks have tumbled drastically in the last several months, leaving investors with the option of real estate investing to fund their IRAs. If you like the thought of using tax-deferred money to buy property, then the first thing you need to do is find an IRA advisor that does real estate investment. Steer clear of banks and brokerage firms, which are more traditional and conservative with their investments. Instead, find real estate mavericks and learn their tricks. One way you can find such people is by utilizing the Internet. Search for “self-directed IRA” and you will find a plethora of help out there. You will need a custodian to direct your investments, unless you want to control it yourself. You will have to pay a fee for their expertise, of course. They will guide you in which types of land or property to invest in, purchase it with your money, and perhaps even manage the property.

Obviously, in this economy, few people have the available funds to invest in property. One option is to buy an interest in the property along with friends or family members. However, keep in mind that the IRA does not allow investment property to be regarded as “homesteaded property” or office space. You will not get those tax breaks. The penalties for breaking these laws are steep and should be avoided at all costs.

 

Remember that you may not put your current home into the IRA – you must have your custodian buy it and put it into a trust. Be aware that property bills must be paid from that IRA account, so be sure to keep it well funded. Income generated from the property will also go into that account, and if you sell, any proceeds from the sale will stay in the account. In addition, you may personally contribute cash into your account – up to $4,000 per year for an individual, and up to $40,000 per year for a SEP-IRA (used for a self-employed individual).

 

Once you reach the age of 59 ½, you may take out your money penalty-free. You can arrange to have the custodian sell the homes for you and give you the money, or keep the properties in the IRA for several more years. You will need to pay income taxes on the property, unless it was held in a Roth IRA (which is pre-taxed money).

 

The great thing about real estate is that anyone can learn the field, and you don’t need a degree to do it. In America, people are entitled to land ownership! If you read Section 408 of the IRS Code, you will see that there is great flexibility in allowing individuals to invest in land and properties.

Buying Real Estate Out of State

Trying to buy a house from 500 miles away is no doubt an incredibly difficult task, but there are things you can do make make this experience a bit less stressful. I am currently going through the process for the first time and we are almost done. Looking back, I wish we would have done some things a little differently.

The first thing you need to do is to get your hands on a local real estate book of houses for sale. It is tedious, but read through every house in the book and highlight ones that sound or look like the type of house you are looking for. Even if the description sounds too nice to be true or like it might be out of your price range, mark it for more information anyway. These days you never know what you can get for your money.

 

The next step is to get online and look these properties up on your own. This way you can eliminate more than half of the houses without having any pressure from a real estate agent to “just think about it and maybe you’ll find that you can afford it”. You will also be able to find more detailed information online than in the magazine. Also, do a search on each real estate agent’s website.

 

Sometimes not all the houses are in the book. You may be able to find more houses or new listings that did not make the issue date. Some agents do not share their houses with other agent’s websites. You may be able to find a house on one site but not the other, and vice versa. Don’t forget to look in the local papers for houses for sale by owner too.

 

Once you are ready to look at houses, call the real estate agency that has the most houses you want to look listed. For example, if Joe’s is listing 4 houses you want to look at, Betty’s is listing 2, and Mark’s is listing 1, call Joe’s to look at them all. Any Realtor can show any house on the market unless otherwise restricted. Going with Joe’s, you’ll get the most information on the most houses. They will know or be able to find out information better on at least 4 of the houses than the other agencies will.

 

This will speed up the process immensely. We had the listing Realtor of the house we are buying show us the house, then call the owners to get more information, and call us back 3 times in one day. If you want to get your questions answered with no chance of miscommunication, don’t hesitate to call the owners directly. You can find just about anyone’s phone number on the Internet these days.

 

Being out of town, you will need to take some time off to look at houses. If you can, schedule all your house viewings for one day. Saturday seems to work the best because most people are off and can get the house in order at anytime. Take the day after to evaluate the houses. Take LOTS of pictures to go over later. This will refresh your memory of a house and allow you to see something that you may have missed.

 

Also, take notes while walking through each house of pros and cons. Once you have narrowed your selections down to 2 or 3, call to do another walk through if you can not decide on one. This can usually be done the next day if you tell the owners you are from out of town and will be leaving in 2 days.

 

Now you have your mind set on a house, or 2, having a possible back-up in case the first choice doesn’t work out. If the house you like is close to your budget but a little too high, don’t forget you can always negotiate. We had the owners of the house we are buying come down from an original $200,000 (a year ago on the market) to $168,000. To speed things up, you should make the listing agent your agent as well. Sometimes this will cause problems in pressure of trying to get you to pay a higher price during negotiation, but stick to the price you have in your head and you will be OK.

 

We had to use 2 separate Realtors because we are going through a relocation program. If we had the choice, we would have just used the listing agent. Remember that at this point, you are a long distance away again and all communication has to go through the phone, fax, and mail. Information has to go from you, to your Realtor, to their Realtor, to the owners. Cutting out one Realtor will speed things up to half the time.

 

After negotiations are done I would highly suggest you request all paperwork to be next-day mailed to you. Trust me, it is worth the extra little cost. Faxes will get hard to read and signatures will not be originals. We faxed back and forth from us, to our Realtor, to their Realtor, and back. The contract is now almost impossible to read. Do not send the papers in the regular mail, this will take at least double the time.

 

Now, a house inspection needs to be done. You should have already been searching for local inspectors during negotiations. As soon as the purchasing agreement is signed, call the inspectors and see who can get it done AND processed the fastest. We had one done over 2 weeks ago and it still has not been processed. Make sure you get a guaranteed date of when you will have the report in hand.

 

While the inspection is being done, get your mortgage company decided on and order an appraisal. Again, get the date of appraisal and date of when you will have the report in hand. Have a closing date set and make sure all paperwork can be done before that time. We are cutting it down to getting our appraisal 2 days before the closing date. I would not suggest doing this. Make sure you have at least a week in case something goes wrong or you have to re-negotiate. We are under way too much stress right now because of this problem!

 

Now, you should be the proud owners of a new house in a different city or state. Congratulations! We were able to get our new house taken care of from start to finish in about 35 days. This was using 2 separate Realtors (one who was very inefficient and unreliable) and using faxes. I also need to point out that my husband was out of town for 2 weeks, slowing the process down by about a week. Following these tips, you should be able to close on a house in 25-30 days if you stay on top of things and get the ball rolling fast.

Get Approval for the Best IVA Mortgage: Successfully Applying for a Mortgage with an IVA

The following is a guest post from Houston, Texas real estate developer and entrepreneur Tracy Suttles.

An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) is a way of eliminating unsecured debt over a five year period. An IVA mortgage is a specialist bad credit mortgage loan. Defaulting on credit agreements will mean that the cost of borrowing will be more expensive. This may mean that an existing variable rate mortgage is more affordable, but this can be accurately assessed through the services of a bad credit mortgage broker.

Why Apply for an IVA Mortgage?

  • There is a clause in the agreement that states that the insolvent will need to apply for a mortgage with an IVA at the end of year four. Subject to affordability, it is necessary to raise up to 75% of all available home equity to contribute to the Individual Voluntary Arrangement.
  • Once released from the agreement, a bad credit home mortgage loan could help to reduce home mortgage payments. The likelihood of this increases several years after being discharged.
  • An IVA mortgage can help to raise equity for a foreign holiday, home improvements or a new car.

A Minimum of 75% Home Equity

Although getting a mortgage with an IVA is more difficult, it is a lot easier if the applicant has sufficient home equity. Most Insolvency Practitioners expect their client to get a loan for up to 75% of the available equity because this is the maximum amount that most banks will lend. This figure was established because it protects lender interest in the event of repossession or negative equity.

Affordable IVA Mortgage Payments

The new bad credit mortgage loan must not affect the applicant’s ability to pay their Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA). If a year 4 mortgage with an IVA will make repayments more difficult for the insolvent, the Insolvency Practitioner (IP) – subject to approval – may be prepared to reduce the amount of equity that needs to be raised. Affordability is fundamental the individual’s future ability to remain solvent.

Credit Score Rating

Whilst someone who is in an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) won’t have a good credit score, it is important to check the credit report for errors and get any issues corrected. Don’t make too many applications for credit as each search will show for a period of not less than 12 months. Also, be sure to register on the electoral roll as this will almost always lead to a decline.

An IVA mortgage could be fundamentally important to the Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA). It can also help to reduce home mortgage payments several years after being discharged because credit score ratings will start to improve over time. It is worthwhile consulting a bad credit mortgage broker because they are better placed to identify the most competitive deal.

Families can Help with Home Ownership: Monetary Gifts, Guarantees or Joint Borrowings can be Beneficial

The following post is a guest post from Houston, Texas area real estate developer and entrepreneur Tracy Suttles. Tracy can be best contacted for questions, comments and concerns on Twitter at @tracydsuttles.

Often living on a single income and paying day-to-day expenses such as rent, school fees and medical costs leave a family’s disposable income significantly lower than is desired. Therefore, it can be very difficult for families to save the funds required for a deposit to buy a home of their own.

Caring relatives can provide the necessary support for family members looking for ways to invest in a property.

Family Assistance Can be in Many Different Ways

Monetary Gift- Relatives always spend money on gifts at various times of the year such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas and Easter. These can add up to a substantial amount of money over a few years. So if they wish to help the family, they could make a ‘one-off’ monetary gift to cover all presents for all members of the family, for a chosen number of years.

Family Guarantee- A parent or a sibling could simply ‘guarantee’ the loan. This process does not involve the guarantor making a monetary contribution. However, it is important to seek legal advice prior to undertaking this course of action.

Co-Applicants- A family member, relative or even a close friend can be a part-owner of the property as well as a joint-borrower. This process is a little more complicated because it involves working out future financial commitments.

  • Who is responsible for the standard outgoings such as rates?
  • Is there a payment from the person occupying the house to the person who is not resident in the property?
  • How is the maintenance costs shared?
  • What happens if one person wants to sell the property?

What are the Complications of a Guarantee or Co-Borrowing?

It is all very well to be altruistic and wish to help family members. However, care should be taken to put safeguards in place to protect the finances of the people involved and, more importantly, the relationship.

There is nothing more soul destroying than family members falling out over financial matters. It can have far reaching effects with other family members taking sides according to who they think is right or wrong. A simple precaution would be to establish a formal written agreement which sets out each person’s rights, commitments and liabilities.

Advantages of Property Ownership

  • Paying rent does not help in the process of wealth creation. However, paying a mortgage will eventually lead to property ownership and capital gains.
  • Living in an own home is more stable. A landlord can always give notice to vacate a rental property.
  • An owner-occupied home can be styled to suit the personality of the people living in the home and will give the people a sense of pride and individuality.

Relatives who can assist family members to take that first step towards home ownership will be making a very useful contribution. The decision as to the type of assistance will depend on the individual circumstances.

Financing Is Key to House Flipping: A Good Mortgage Broker on Your Team Adds Thousands to Your Profit

One of the keys to success in flipping houses is buying right. As one adage goes, “You make money when you buy, not when you sell.” The point being that if you pay too much for a home to begin with, it’s that much harder to profit on the sale.

Most of the time when a good deal comes on the market, you’re going to have competitors trying to buy it as well. All other things being equal, whoever offers to pay the most wins.

But all other things are not always equal. One of the competitors may be a professional real estate investor with a track record of closing purchases on time within two or three weeks of opening escrow.

If the seller is in need of a fast sale and the other potential buyers don’t look strong, the seller could accept a lower offer in exchange for the confidence the sale will go through on time. You can be assured the pros will use this to their advantage during negotiations. When you’re buying, you want to be that pro.

In other cases, opportunities may come up that haven’t yet been publicized. If you find one and can make a qualified offer quickly, you may not even have any competition driving the price up.

The key to acting quickly is having a good mortgage broker on your team. And by the way, if you’re going to be active flipping houses, you’ll have a team of people you work with on a regular basis, your mortgage broker being one.

Having your very own mortgage broker provides you with several advantages. First, you’ll be prequalified with your broker who can rapidly provide you with a Certificate of Loan Pre-Approval (or similar document) to submit with your offer to purchase. Ordinary buyers you’re competing against will likely not be able to demonstrate their financial strength so quickly and confidently.

If you do have the financial qualifications, it’s not difficult to attract a mortgage broker to your team. Most mortgage brokers’ clients don’t represent frequent business since the average homeowner buys a house only once every five to seven years. If you’re potentially taking out home loans on flipper houses once or twice a year or more, you’re a very valuable client. A good broker will strive to earn your repeat business by finding you the most favorable terms available and being sure your loan is funded quickly.

With access to numerous lenders, a good broker can take advantage of special terms a particular lender may be offering that can be advantageous to whatever situation you’re facing on a particular property. Minimum down payments, lower points and fees, preferred rates, interest only or deferred loan payments (and certainly low-or-no prepayment penalties) are among many loan features the broker can shop for you. Finding you the most cost-effective loan for your purchase helps build more profit in your deal.

Good brokers are also motivated to use their connections to be sure funding your loan receives top priority from the lender. This builds your reputation as a pro and reduces your headaches in getting the deal closed.

How do you find a good mortgage broker? References. Real estate agents often have worked with many brokers and possibly with other real estate investors. If you ask around and start hearing the same name come up several times, you may have found the right person for your team.

Next is establishing a relationship. Ideally, you’ll do this a month or more before you anticipate making an offer on a property so that you and the broker have a chance to research and become comfortable with one another. You’ll be interested in contacting references from lenders and other investor clients, and the broker will want to verify your credit history and financials.

If you’re both comfortable proceeding, how each of you performs in the other’s eyes during the first few transactions will pretty much define your relationship. Hopefully, you’ll find a winner and can focus on building the rest of your team, and profiting from your ventures.

How to Buy Foreclosures

Home mortgage foreclosures have been filed at record rates over the course of the past couple of years. Moreover, experts in the industry nearly universally agree that home mortgage foreclosures will continue well into the immediate future. This means that there are many opportunities to buy foreclosed homes in most locations. A foreclosed home can provide profitable investment property opportunities, or it can become a personal residence. Here are some important tips and pointers to consider when buying a foreclosed home today.

Keep Abreast of the News for Foreclosures

The first thing to keep in mind when buying foreclosed homes is that it is necessary to pay attention to the news. Stay constantly aware of properties that are heading into foreclosure. Knowing about these properties early may be the key to getting them because they may not be on the market long. The eagerness of sellers and lenders to get a deal quickly closed can lead to a quick buy.

In order to accomplish this task, a variety of tools are available to assist in locating foreclosed homes. For example, working offline, the legal notices in the newspaper can be monitored. Going online, however, nationwide foreclosure listings can be found at such places as HUD, the Department of the Treasury (IRS foreclosures), and Fannie Mae. Some auction houses will sell many houses in foreclosure each day. Large bank websites will also have a number of bank foreclosure listings.

It is also a good idea to develop relationships with staff members of the county court clerk’s office (where foreclosure actions are filed). In addition, be sure to meet and make friends with various professionals in the real estate industry (such as mortgage lenders and brokers, real estate agents and brokers, attorneys, appraisers and so forth) that can provide frequent updates on what is taking place in the area in regard to foreclosures.

Get Foreclosure Financing in Order – Immediately

For those who are serious about investing in foreclosed real estate, it is absolutely imperative to get financing in order immediately. Make sure that there is a financing commitment from an appropriate lender in advance of any efforts to purchase foreclosed real estate.

When appearing at an auction or sale, it will be necessary to have not only the cash or cash equivalent for the initial down payment, but buyers must also be able to show that they have the financing necessary to consummate the sale at the time of closing. This requires ensuring that financing is available up front.

Perform Due Diligence on Foreclosed Homes

When it comes to knowing what is needed to buy a foreclosed property, do not underestimate the importance of “doing due diligence.” Just because money is being saved on the purchase of real estate through the foreclosure process doesn’t mean that steps should be neglected that are associated with any other real estate sale such as inspections, appraisals and so forth. Following these steps will help ensure that the real estate property is all that it is claimed to be, and can help ensure that a larger profit is made if it is to be flipped.

Many people who own properties about to go into a foreclosure status simply stop maintaining their residences. In a worst case scenario, some homeowners actually cause intentional damage to their properties out of anger towards the lender. In either event, potential buyers must know the actual status of the property beforehand so that it is known exactly what is being purchased.

Selling a Home in a Slow Real Estate Market: Top 5 Things to Get the Home Sold

While the real estate market in the United States has gone through its ups and downs, there are some rock solid fundamentals that will always be effective in selling a home.

Set a Good Price

It’s THE most important thing. Don’t be your own worst enemy and get greedy. Wishing for a certain price doesn’t sell the home. The market is what it is.

“Every home has a price,” explains Joseph Ho, a commercial and residential real estate agent of 25 years. “The hard part is finding that price, and for the seller to accept what that price is. The biggest mistake sellers make in an adjusting market is that they price (their home) according to what the market was, not what it is.”

Hire a Good Realtor

Hiring a good professional real estate agent will take care of everything on this list. They will tell you what a good price is, how they’ll market it, how to increase curb appeal and what type of staging is needed.

“Agents are held to a higher standard,” proclaims Sue Brodie, Prudential NW Realty’s VP and Managing Broker. “Hiring a Realtor connects you instantly to a network of other agents who have buyers. Hiring a good Realtor will get the home exposed to potentially thousands of people who are looking to buy.”

Ho adds,” There are people out there looking for the ‘For Sale By Owner’ homes, those people are looking for a steal and you will get low balled. First off the bat, (money) is coming off the top. It’s not worth it.”

Exposure/Marketing

Exposure/marketing is everything and works hand in hand with hiring an agent. The more the property is seen, the better chance to sell the home. People have to know the house is on the market, and the realtor does exactly that.

“The most important thing is getting the home exposed to qualified (lender approved) buyers,” suggests Ho. “That’s what the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) does, it’s not a public site. It gets the homes connected with other realtors who have qualified buyers.”

Brodie adds, “The power of the group in the MLS is extreme exposure. There’s nothing better.”

Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is much like window shopping. If the home looks good when driving by, people will go in and look at it. If it doesn’t, it wastes everyone’s time and the buyers don’t even get out of the car.

“It’s the lipstick on the pig,” explains Brodie. “Curb appeal is very much like the first impression. It makes them want to go in.”

“It also tells something about the seller,” suggests Ann Hilario, a fine homes specialist in the Seattle area. “If there’s good curb appeal, in the buyers’ eyes, the home was well maintained.”

Professionally Stage the Home

Staging is good salesmanship where the home doesn’t look empty. A professional staging company will give the home the extra edge by organizing nice furniture and decorations, adding the wow factor.

“You’re making a particular product better than the rest,” explains Brodie. ”Good enough is no longer good enough. Professional staging will help you work the house.”

Hilario also adds, “You can’t ignore that your house needs help sometimes.”

Real Estate Investment Disposal: Wide Range of Exit Strategies Available to Real Estate Investors

Without proper planning, investors who have improved, maintained, and even filled their properties with good tenants risk selling those assets for less than true value or paying capital gains taxes that could have been deferred. After an investor has determined that there are valid reasons to dispose of property, the next decision is how to effectuate the sale.

Outright Sale and Lease/Options

In an outright sale, an investor transfers title to property in exchange for payment without keeping any interest in the property. The buyer either pays all cash or makes a cash down payment and finances the balance of the purchase price with funds from a mortgage lender. If the investor has carefully considered the expenses, such as a real estate commission or unexpected repairs, and tax consequences – the local realty transfer tax and federal and state capital gains taxes – of an outright sale, this is the most expedient way to dispose of property.

For some investors, a short-term lease with the option to purchase may be more in keeping with their real estate investment plans. In such an arrangement, an “optionee” pays the owner for an option (also referred to as a down payment) to buy the property at a later date and then pays monthly rent for the duration of the lease. The owner and the optionee decide how much of the monthly rent is to be credited toward the purchase price. When exercising the purchase option, the optionee pays the balance of the purchase price with a conventional loan or other funds. The owner retains full ownership of (and tax responsibility for) the property until title passes to the optionee.

The lease/option is ideal for individuals who want to buy property but do not immediately qualify for a conventional mortgage because of inadequate income or what the lender deems to be a poor credit history. The lease/option transaction can save the seller the commission that a real estate agent would earn on an outright sale.

Installment Sales

At times, a real estate investment plan is best served by the gradual sale of a residential property and the transfer of maintenance, insurance, and tax responsibilities to a qualified buyer. In this type of transaction, the investor is both the seller and a lender who takes back a mortgage on the property being sold. Because the U.S. tax laws consider this an installment sale, the seller can defer payment of the capital gains tax while receiving monthly payments akin to rent but without the usual landlord burdens.

At the same time, the buyer gains title to the property without all the paperwork and fees associated with a conventional mortgage loan; this often allows the seller to ask for a higher purchase price. The interest rate and the length of the mortgage term determine the monthly payment amounts. For investors amenable to installment sales, this can be an astute way to attract buyers in a tough lending environment. The downside to an installment sale is that the seller will have to go through foreclosure procedures if the buyer defaults under the terms of the purchase agreement.

Due Diligence Is Always Paramount

Many investors have successfully engaged in more creative and risky exit strategies than the ones described above. Regardless of the disposal method chosen, investor-owners must never neglect their due diligence. Among other things, this means verifying that a buyer has the funds to purchase a property outright or to make monthly rental or mortgage payments to the owner.

There are other factors to consider. For example, if the owner is disposing of a multi-unit residential property and a prospective buyer lives far away, is inexperienced as a landlord, and has no plan for managing the property, the owner may decide that the risk of default on an installment sale would be too high.

Eight Steps to Becoming a Real Estate Investor: Well-Informed Investors Can Thrive Even in Shaky Economy

As prices for real estate continue to stagnate and even plummet throughout the United States, properties that even a year ago were out of reach for many are now sitting on the market with more reasonable prices. This new accessibility to property is enough to convince some individuals that now is the time to try their hand at investing in real estate.

Nonetheless, jumping into real estate investing on a whim or a hunch without proper preparation is a surefire way to fail. Fortunately, many sources are available for boning up on the basics. There are numerous books, CDs, and DVDs on real estate investment, and many of these are in local libraries. In addition, when the words “real estate investing” are typed into any search engine, millions of Web sites turn up.

Learning Real Estate Investing Basics

It takes a while to wade through this available information. In the end, it becomes evident that there are eight basic steps for increasing the chances for success in real estate investing:

  1. Understand the components of return on investment, including cash flow and appreciation
  2. Write an real estate investment plan that specifies financial goals and timetables for reaching them
  3. Carefully choose the form in which to own property (as an individual, a partnership, corporation, etc.)
  4. Turn to real estate agents, attorneys, tax advisers, and other professionals for expert guidance
  5. Study the target areas in which to buy property
  6. Line up affordable financing
  7. Avoid overpaying for real estate
  8. Manage the property diligently

These steps merely outline what is involved in becoming a real estate investor; there are many factors within each step. Absorbing and understanding all this information is not as daunting as it may appear. No special course work or degree is necessary to understand the principles involved, particularly if the novice investor lines up a team of professional advisors. As with anything new, there is a learning curve to real estate investment. Patience is necessary; any short cuts can lead to disastrous decisions.

Yet, studying is not enough and over-caution can be paralyzing. This is why it is essential to get out there and buy – it is the only true way to learn the business of real estate investing.

Real Estate Buyer’s Comfort Level Trumps Economic Outlook

Although the economic outlook and real estate markets remain uncertain, this should not deter individuals from investing in real estate. As Rhonda Duffy, broker of Duffy Realty of Atlanta, wrote in an e-mail to this reporter, “The timing and outcome of a purchase … have more to do with the specifics of the property and the motives of the buyers and sellers than they do with any macro economy or market-driven issues.”

According to Duffy, in most cases, the determinative factor for when and how to best acquire property is the comfort level of the buyer, “which encompasses his or her financial and personal criteria.” Thus, she observed, “Like in most things, everything comes down to how it affects ‘me.’”

Just make sure that “me” is armed with adequate and reliable information.

Security Issues In Showing Your Home

Selling Your Home–Some Security Tips Whether or not you list you home with a real estate agent you subject yourself to a security risk each and every time your home is shown. Real estate agents will screen prospective buyers but their process is limited and subjective. The real deterrent to a “bad guy” is the thought of an agent screening them out–not the process.

You see, when you put a “for sale” sign in your yard you are inviting complete strangers in to your home–among your personal possessions–something you know is wrong and you teach your children not to do. Unfortunately, if you want to sell your house–you have to do it!

A real estate agent is trained to do certain things to minimize the risk. Those items include never allowing their car to be blocked in a driveway, never showing a vacant home to a stranger, always alerting their office as to where and when they will be on an appointment, getting license plates, always following a customer into a room, etc… These are seemingly small things that we, as brokers/agents, do without even giving a second thought. Real estate agents also have eyes in the back of their heads that allow them to baby sit kids running around while giving a tour of the home. It is truly amazing how much we can juggle with both hands to get a sale!

As a homeowner, however, you have not been subjected to the training an agent has received. You have to constantly be aware of the security issues as well as the liability issues–what if this prospective buyer is just looking for a place to slip and fall–sad, but it does happen! If you are selling you home on your own keep the above items in mind…and here are a few more tips that might help.

Never show the property alone. Always let someone know exactly where you are and how long you will be there. Remove all “people-trippers” such as yard hoses, toys, animals, loose carpet, etc… Have your car keys in-hand. Park your car where it can not be blocked. Follow your customer into the rooms. Do not lead. Hide all valuables! Check all door and window locks immediately after each showing.

The main security comes from using common sense–and if you are uncomfortable with a situation–get out of it.

These risk are there whether or not you use an agent–but I believe they are decreased with the use of an agent. Use caution and smart sense–you will be just fine! If you doubt the security of your home–ask a security company to come by and do an assessment–some police departments will do this for free.

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