What is included with the home purchase?

What if you want to keep the seller’s furniture?

When you buy a pre-owned home, do you know what will come with the house? Do you get to keep all the appliances, the art on the walls or the outdoor pizza oven on the patio?

Determining what will stay with the home and what will go with the previous owner will vary by seller and contract. Here’s how to determine what conveys with the home you’re considering, as well as tips to safeguard yourself when negotiating those extra items.

1. Check the listing. Start at square one and look at the original listing. Hopefully the seller specified the items included in their home’s asking price.

2. Know the screwdriver rule. For the most part, if it takes a screwdriver to remove, it’s considered a part of the home. This includes shelves, light fixtures and even curtain rods. But, if it’s hung on a nail, it’s removable and likely not included in the sale.

3. Negotiate with the seller. If there’s something you’re interested in that isn’t part of the listing, we can negotiate with the seller.

4. Talk to your lender. If the seller agrees to include big-ticket items, you’ll want to tell your mortgage lender. Depending on the type of loan you have, it could affect the appraisal or change the value of the property.

So, unless the seller specified the washer and dryer in the listing, you should assume they’re not included. As for the pizza oven? If it’s built into the patio, it’s probably already built into the listing price.

Have more questions about what’s included with a home? Get in touch today.

Thanks for reading my newsletter! I look forward to connecting on social media!
“Because Experience Matters!”

Characteristics of a Desirable Street

Characteristics of a Desirable Street

Sometimes you know a desirable street when you see one. For example, it’s obvious that a home on a cul-de-sac is enticing mainly because there isn’t any through traffic.

What are the other characteristics of a desirable street that may not be as obvious? Here are just a few:

Sidewalks. A sidewalk in front of your home is not only handy, it also adds to the property’s curb appeal. In addition, if you have kids, a sidewalk makes it easier – and safer – for them to play and visit neighborhood friends.

Mature trees. Trees lining the street add depth and beauty. Most homeowners value front yard trees and would miss them if they were gone.

Safety. Unfortunately, some streets are more prone to crime and other issues requiring police intervention than others. Clearly, homeowners appreciate a street that’s known for being safe and located in a neighborhood with a low crime rate.

Pride-of-ownership. When considering buying a home, take a walk along the street. Do homeowners take good care of their properties? If so, that sign of pride-of-ownership indicates it’s a great place to own a home.

Location. Where the street is located is just as important as its characteristics. Are things you want, such as parks, schools, shopping, etc. nearby? Is the street in a desirable area overall?

Noise. This is a characteristic that can be invisible to the home buyer. If the street is in a flight path, or near a busy highway used by rush-hour commuters, you want to know!

A great street can dramatically add to the enjoyment of a home. As your real estate agent, I can answer your questions about the characteristics of streets you’re considering and the surrounding area.

Understanding an Offer

The Importance of Reading and Understanding an Offer

When you make or receive an offer to buy a property, it’s important that you read and understand every clause. It is especially important to understand any conditions or any changes that are made to the standard offer.
An offer may contain several types of conditions. The most common are “conditional upon arranging financing” and “conditional upon passing a professional home inspection.” However, there may be other conditions as well.

You should be aware of – and fully understand – all of them.

In addition, the wording of an offer may change during the back and forth negotiations that often happen. Aside from changes to the price, other clauses may be added, removed or reworded as well.

As your real estate agent, I will always explain the changes and ask you to initial them. This is done primarily to ensure you know and approve of what you’re signing.

A recent newspaper article tells the story of a buyer-seller legal dispute that resulted in a six-figure judgment against the seller. This was due, in part, to a lack of understanding of one of the clauses in the agreement.

You don’t want that to happen to you. Take the time to carefully review and understand an offer.

Feel free to call me when you have questions or need any real estate assistance!  Cathi (928) 273-0538

Do you know the basics of home security?

Most people feel confident that they know the basics of home security. For example, they know to: keep all doors locked; have a light on in the house while away; and, never hide a key outside in an obvious place, like under the mat.
Yet, almost a million and a half properties get burglarized in North America each year. So, how can you prevent that from happening to your home? Here are a few lesser-known home security basics:

  • Actually, never hide a key outside. Thieves know all the hiding places. Instead, make sure all family members have a key.
  • Two-thirds of home burglaries occur during the day. So, be extra vigilant about making sure doors and windows are locked while you’re out during the day.
  • Surprisingly, most thieves are not daring. They are 2.7 times more likely to target a home without an alarm system.
  • Thieves will attempt to force entry through sliding-style doors and windows first. Make sure these have a locking bar or extra bolt lock.
  • Surprising, 40% of household burglaries do not involve forced entry. The thief is able to slip in through an unlocked window or door.
  • Don’t show off possessions! An imported racing bike parked next to the garage, or expensive audio equipment clearly seen through a window, is an invitation to burglars.
  • Take a look at the lighting and landscaping around your property. Are there spots where a thief could easily hide? If so, make some changes.
  • When planning a trip, have a trusted neighbor pick up newspapers, flyers and anything else that may accumulate at your door.

Your local police department may have more tips and special programs for keeping your home secure. Give them a call.  Cathi Pospisil ~ (928) 273-0538

Count on me for Real Estate service Referrals!

Dear Friends & Neighbors…

When a friend or client asks me if I know a good dentist, contractor, or other professional, I want to feel confident that the person I recommend will be able to meet their needs and provide outstanding service.

Do you feel the same way?  If so, then I want you to know that you can always feel comfortable contacting me with questions about the residential real estate services that I offer.

Should you decide to recommend me to a friend or colleague, I promise to provide them with the services, information and recommendations they need for their current home or next move.

Is there anything I can do to further earn your confidence? Give me a call.

Cathi Pospisil,  direct (928) 273-0538, Email: cathi@myrebroker.com, BLOG:  www.myrebroker.com

Downsizing doesn’t always lower housing expenses!

August 28, 2018

A smaller home doesn’t always come with a smaller mortgage. In an effort to trim housing costs, some homeowners may be looking to switch to a smaller house, but economists say that’s not always a cost-saving move. “There are times when [moving to a smaller home] could have the opposite effect,” David Mele, president of Homes.com, told U.S. News & World Report. He points to a possible increase in taxes, moving expenses, insurance, and more that could make downsizing pricier.

Woman leaning against a small house

© Martin Barraud – OJO Images/Getty Images

“I have frequently had people sell huge, beautiful houses in bucolic suburbs near the city and pay more for their new two-bedroom apartment,” says Sheila Trichter, a real estate professional with Warburg Realty in New York.

There are many factors that could make downsizing more expensive, and financial experts say home buyers need to consider them before taking the plunge. For example, downsizing may be pricier for those moving to a new home. Newer homes tend to have trendy decor, more resilient building materials, and energy-efficient features, pushing up the price—even if the home has less square footage. The location can have a big impact, too. Homeowners moving from rural to urban areas, in particular, may find that a smaller home isn’t necessarily cheaper.

A smaller home can also still come with higher property taxes. For example, in Michigan, the taxable value of a home is capped at the rate of inflation. But once the property sells, the cap is lifted and the taxable value is adjusted to equal the assessed value. “Property taxes are different in every state,” says Melanie Halstenberg, co-founder of Arch Financial Services, an advisory firm in Fayetteville, W.V.

Homeowners insurance premiums aren’t necessarily less with a smaller home either, financial experts note. The home’s location also could impact insurance: For example, moving to a coastal area may make buying supplemental flood insurance necessary.

Condos are a popular option for downsizing homeowners. But they also may come with added costs in association fees. Vincent Averaimo, a partner with Milford Law in Milford, Conn., says associations often charge $300 to $400 per month to go toward maintaining common areas and exterior upkeep and services. These costs can go higher over time. Averaimo advises that homeowners ask themselves before downsizing: “Do you already spend a total of approximately $3,600 per year in landscaping and snow removal?”

Choose your Real Estate Resources WISELY!

Non-broker advertising platforms have benefits and drawbacks. Consumers have access to much more home listing information today than ten years ago and they can access that information on many more Internet sites. While large consumer advertising platforms create benefits for consumers, regulators should be mindful of their growing market power and the potential for consumer harm that it creates.   As Steven Brobeck of the Consumer Federation of America noted during the FTC/DOJ Workshop on June 5th, certain features and products offered by the advertising platforms could cause consumer confusion and frustration and may bear additional investigation from regulators.

Zillow’s premier agent advertising program wherein agents purchase from Zillow the exclusive right to advertise in a specified market on the Zillow platform leads to consumer confusion. Consumers searching for homes on Zillow see agent contact information next to a particular listing and are led to believe that agent is the listing agent. They click to seek more information on the listing and are then subject to marketing from an agent, who is not the listing agentThere is now a multibillion dollar industry based on fundamental misdirection.

Another advertising platform product, Zestimates creates consumer confusion over the value of properties either for determining listing price or for offers on properties for sale. According to Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, nationwide Zestimates have a median error rate of about 8%. However, according to nationally syndicated real estate reporter Ken Harney, localized median error rates far exceed the national median.  So be mindful “Zestimates” are not the same as a formal Appraisal!

Another BIG Trend is IBuyers:  OpenDoor, OfferPad, Knock, etc.  These Instant Buyer companies offer to purchase a Seller’s home sight unseen, based on a proprietary valuation model, usually within 72 hours.  The upside is, an owner can avoid the inconvenience of untimely showing traffic, long marketing time and unqualified buyers.  However in exchange, Seller’s are sacrificing significant EQUITY in their home investment.  Equity the IBuyer expects to gain when they flip the property.  A seller could be giving up close to 50% of the equity put into their home partly for the convenience of a quicker sale. Does the added cost make sense for the consumer?   While iBuyers provide the convenience of selling quickly, matching expert investors against consumers isn’t always the best thing for the consumer. Zillow recently explained that 90% of sellers who engaged its Instant Offers platform decided against the iBuyer offer and chose a traditional agent instead.  If 9 out of 10 consumers pass, the pricing can’t be that compelling. Choice is good, but a home is generally your largest asset, so you may want to consult an expert before “iSelling.”

 While advertising platforms offer consumers an easy and entertaining home shopping experience, as the platforms add features and services they bear scrutiny over potential anti-consumer impacts.

Being a 30+year Residential Real Estate Broker, I conclude computer applications still cannot replace the human attention-to-detail that every unique residential transaction requires!”  No two deals are ever the same and each independently need to be processed only with the utmost care!”  Cheers, Cathi Pospisil– HomeSmart Broker Associate




Want a home that’s for sale by owner?

Homes that are for sale by owner — when a seller decides not to hire a listing agent — are more common than you might think. They account for about 8 percent of all home listings currently on the market. If you’re on the house hunt, you’re likely to come across one in your search.

What’s different about buying one of these homes? What can you do to leverage the situation to get the most for your money? Here are four things to keep in mind.

1. Hire an agent. Since the seller doesn’t have an agent, it’s vital that you do — if only to ensure the transaction is handled correctly and legally. An agent will be knowledgeable about market conditions and can help you craft your offer, prepare the contracts and find the right lender to work with.

2. Be ready to negotiate. These homes are rarely priced appropriately. Sellers typically overvalue their homes due to their emotional attachment to it. Having an agent on your side gives you access to comparable sales data to help you negotiate the right price.

3. Get a home inspection. The owner may not know that they are legally required to disclose known issues with the property, and that oversight could mean costly repairs down the road. A home inspection can shed light on potential problems before you go through with the sale.

4. Add contingencies to your contract. Contingencies give you an exit route should something go wrong during the transaction. If you can’t get a loan, you’re unhappy with the inspection results or the appraisal doesn’t come in at the sale price, you have a way to back out and save your money.

Want to be prepared for your new home purchase? Get in touch today for help on making the best decision for your budget and goals.


Capture That Vacation Vibe!

Capture That Vacation Vibe: Sell Your Home by Stealing These 8 Hotel Design Secrets | Jun 20, 2018


You know the feeling you get when you check into a high-end hotel—the kind with sumptuous bedding, chic décor, and breathtaking views? The feeling of never wanting to leave?

That vibe comes by deliberate design: Everything in that hotel was artfully staged to create a welcoming, luxurious environment to make guests feel pampered.

Now, imagine a potential buyer walking into your home and feeling those same feels. If you can re-create a high-end hotel experience in your house, buyers will swoon.

After all, you’re not just selling a home—you’re selling a lifestyle! Here’s how to captivate buyers by capturing the vibe of the best hotels.

1. Glam up your entranceway

Photo by Houzz 
There are no second chances when it comes to first impressions. That’s why hotels spend so much money on lobby design, says Alex Venditti, real estate agent and executive vice president of the Alex Venditti Group with Coldwell Banker in Washington, DC.

Venditti, who’s appeared on several HGTV design shows, including “House Hunters” and “Designed to Sell,” says hotels definitely influence residential design—starting with the lobby.

“At most fine hotels, you walk into an area with a beautiful, round, elegant table with a huge spray of flowers on it, which automatically provides a very welcoming, comforting feeling,” he explains.

Make sure buyers get that same emotion when they step into your house: Re-create that chic lobby atmosphere in your entryway by adding a table with an overflowing vase of flowers, lamps, and some seating.

2. Arrange your belongings to tell a story

You probably know you should depersonalize and declutter your space to appeal to as many buyers as possible. But you don’t have to wipe the slate clean; you can use your treasured objects to woo house hunters, says Staci Patton, principal and hospitality leader at DLR Group in Minneapolis, which provides interior design services to hotels.

“One of the things we try to do in hotels is make it feel like the home you always wanted,” she explains. “Think about your home as an experience.

“Create interesting focal points by having some historic books out on a table,” she suggests. “If you have a beach home, maybe the story you’re telling is about exuberance, happiness, and a coastal vibe, so you can build upon that.”

Just be careful to distinguish between artful vignettes and annoying surface clutter, Venditti cautions.

“Our rule of thumb with design is that we only have two to three objects on every surface—five, maximum, if it’s a very large surface,” he says. “That’s the ideal number that doesn’t distract from the eye, and it’s very reminiscent of a fine hotel room.”

3. Choose your hues carefully

Bold jewel tones are hot right now, but before you slather a deep teal or regal purple on your walls, know this: Most upscale hotels prefer neutral yet luxurious palettes—harmonious shades such as warm grays, taupes, rich browns, and even blacks, Patton says.

“Hotels want to ensure that their investment isn’t going to be thrown out the door in the next two years,” she says.

And potential buyers want the same—rather than a house with walls they know they’ll have to immediately paint over.

Patton’s company uses lots of glass and black metals that create a European chic feeling; Venditti suggests sticking to two or three colors maximum throughout your home.

4. Dazzle potential buyers with plush bedding

Photo by Chalet
For an elegant look, Venditti suggests replacing the duvet covers and pillow shams in the bedrooms with hotel stripe bedding—all-white linens embroidered with one stripe of color—and a couple of throw pillows that tie in.

Don’t want to sell a car to pay for a crisp set of Frette sheets? Patton has a few frugal tricks that work equally well.

“In upscale hotels, the duvet is almost doubled back over at the end of the bed, which looks so welcoming,” she says. “You could do that by putting two or three inexpensive duvets into one duvet cover. Immediately, you’ll get this really thick, fluffy duvet.”

5. Transform your bathroom into an oasis

Photo by Oakley Home Builders
If you plan to redo one of your tired bathrooms before listing your property, stick to classic materials.

“You’ll never go wrong with Carrara marble for your walls and shower, with a smaller version of it for the floors,” Venditti suggests. “That’s something people are used to seeing everywhere—from old grand homes to your chicest Manhattan hotels.”

If you’re on a budget, choose similar-looking porcelain or ceramic tiles, Venditti says. Just make sure to keep a soothing, simple palette of whites.

“When you do all-white towels, hand cloths, and washcloths, you’ll create a very spalike feeling,” he says.

6. Create the illusion of space with lighting and proportion

If you’re challenged with a dark space or low ceiling, mirrors are the easiest and least expensive way to create an illusion of depth and light.

“I love when people use really large mirrors—even floor-to-ceiling ones, which can be very dramatic,” Patton says.

Incorporating glass side tables and coffee tables also opens up the space, Venditti adds.

“If you’re using solid wood pieces with huge, dark legs, you’re cutting up the feeling of the entire space,” he explains. “Glass helps buyers see the vision of the room.”

And when it comes to art, Patton says, bigger is better; undersize works can actually make a room feel smaller.

Finally, a gorgeous hotel-like home needs the right lighting to bring it to life, Patton adds. Consider recessed lights in the ceiling, or wall sconces.

“When you walk into a room that’s evenly lit, it makes the space feel much more inviting and comfortable, and it increases the scale of the room,” she says.

7. Continue the vacation vibe outside

Photo by Francesca Morgan Interiors
Transform your deck with comfy seating and a separate space for dining so that buyers are reminded of alfresco dinners on hotel patios. Set up white candles in large hurricane lamps and casual vases of fresh flowers for an added touch of luxury.

“If you have the ability to do flowing, sheer white drapery on the doorways that are going out to that area, that’s also very reminiscent of vacations at hotels,” Venditti says. “And the lighter you can keep the colors for outdoor furniture, the better. If you’ve got a dark weave, then top that with white cushions.”

8. Use biophilic design

Photo by Alisa and Lysandra Interiors
Finally, try incorporating the latest hotel trend: biophilic design, which takes its inspiration from the outdoors.

“If you’re on the coast … it’s much more authentic to look at what’s around you—the sea, grasses, palms—and pull those in as references for patterns on pillows,” Patton says. “Or use other textural materials like a really rich grass-cloth wall covering, or a fantastic large-scale piece of art that captivates a coastal scene.”

Even if you’re not on the beach, look to the outside to see what you can bring inside.

“Some of the most successful homes are the ones that showcase a lifestyle,” Patton says.

Wendy Helfenbaum is a journalist and TV producer who covers real estate, architecture and design, DIY, gardening, and travel. Her work has appeared in Woman’s Day, Metropolis, Costco Connection, Garden Collage, Parenting, Canadian Living, Canadian Gardening, and more.

Checklist of Crucial Home To-Dos

Your Checklist of Crucial Home To-Dos

Cleaning the gutters and weeding the garden are tasks that come with regular, visible reminders. But how do you keep up with other necessary maintenance that might not be as noticeable?

Here are some essential home maintenance tasks that are often overlooked.

Appliances: If you want your fridge, dryer and other appliances to last you for the long haul with fewer repair calls, they need regular care and tuneups:

  • Change and clean the refrigerator drip pan
  • Wash your dryer lint screen
  • Clean the condenser coils on your refrigerator
  • Change the water filter on your ice maker

HVAC Systems: Your heating, cooling and ventilation systems need consistent upkeep for better performance, which can help keep your energy bills lower throughout the year:

  • Clean the ducts and vents
  • Clean or change your AC filters
  • Replace worn weatherstripping to help keep cool air in
  • Test your thermostat to ensure it’s sending a signal

Plumbing: Snaking the drain for a few hair clogs isn’t enough to keep your plumbing system in working order. Be sure to also take care of these things:

  • Flush the water heater
  • Check your pipes for leaks
  • Test the water pressure on your sprinkler system
  • Check water levels on boilers

Safety Systems: To ensure your loved ones and belongings are safe in the home, do the following:

  • Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Test your security alarms and codes
  • Inspect your fence or gate for holes or vulnerabilities

Keep this checklist handy and run through it every few months to keep your home in top condition and your loved ones safe. Get in touch today if you’d like to talk about other ways you can help safeguard your investment.