The Ugly Truth About Foreclosed Homes

For anyone who has ever been looking for a home within a tight budget, you may have had the opportunity to consider a home that went through the foreclosure process.

The length of a foreclosure process varies by state. In Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas, a lender must use the judicial foreclosure process because that is Pennsylvania law. The judicial process in Pennsylvania reportedly takes 90 days.

Purchasing a foreclosed home isn’t always a bad decision. You can often find diamonds in the rough at a low price. If the home is in the pre-foreclosure stage, you could get it through a short sale. If a bank is motivated to sell the property quickly, that could be a good negotiation tool for you. It is also a plus that you won’t be responsible for any liens or back taxes from the previous owner since the home’s title is cleared.

Dangers of Purchasing Foreclosed Homes

Although foreclosed homes are sometimes great deals, there are some potential pitfalls that you should be cognizant of.

Occupants

When dealing with a foreclosure, the occupant is often still in the home throughout the foreclosure process. How would you feel if you were losing your home because you couldn’t afford the payments? Some people would take it with grace, but that’s unfortunately not always the case. There are many instances where the occupant damages the home out of spite and hurt feelings. For example, they may leave holes in the walls, destroy appliances, let their pets urinate and defecate on the floors, etc. If you ask a real estate agent, I’m sure they could tell you some horror stories.

Repairs

The bottom line is that you don’t know what condition the home will be left in. If the property is at auction, you won’t even get to see the interior until you’ve already paid in full. Even if you are able to see the property’s interior prior to the sale, you may not be able to request repairs before buying the home. What you see is what you get. If the property is in bad shape or not up to code in specific ways, it may limit the possibility of some loans, such as an FHA loan. Although this varies on a case-by-case basis.

Competition

With the recent surge in real estate investors who flip property for profit, you may find yourself competing with other potential buyers for the same property. This is especially true at an auction. Before going in, set a hard budget for yourself and don’t pay more than you would earn from the property in the end. To give yourself an edge, have the required funds available to pay a foreclosed property’s outstanding mortgage balance to the lender.

For all the information you’ll need about risks and potential benefits of purchasing a foreclosed home, consult a trusted local real estate agent.

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Jason Cohen (Pittsburgh) originally posted this content at JasonCohenPittsburgh.com.

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How to Write the Most Effective Real Estate Listings

How to Write the Most Effective Real Estate Listing

Selling a home involves many steps. One of the most important is listing the home for sale online. Real estate listings must accomplish many goals. Listings must be accurate, factual and entice buyers to see the property in person. When writing a home listing, keep certain things in mind. Effective listings generate leads, show the properly off to well and ultimately get it sold at the highest price quickly.

Avoid the Basics

Readers already know the house has three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. They can scan the accompanying fact sheet that is up on every single listing. There’s no need to repeat information that is written elsewhere. Leave out details that the buyer already knows about. The space allotted for descriptions is typically quite short. Make every single word count.

Show Off the Home’s Best Features

Now is the time to brag. If the home has special features that other homes do not, mention them. Updated appliances, an extra large yard, brand new hardwood flooring, a jacuzzi and a three car garage — all these details should go in the listing. The same is true of any additions that have been added recently, such as a new deck or a brand new roof. Discuss the updated baths and the recently installed skylight in the master bedroom. Directly demonstrate what’s unique about this home compared to other homes for sale right now.

Use Highly Specific Language

Research has shown that certain words tend to appeal to buyers more than others. Use as many of these words as you can in the listing. Note that these words tend to be quite specific. For example, “luxurious” and “captivating” are better than a bland, unfocused word like “nice”. Nice means virtually nothing. Descriptive words like landscaped, spotless and upgraded all conjure up a precise and enticing image in buyer’s minds. Any listing should aim to draw a vivid picture of this home in the buyer’s mind the second they read it.

Let the Buyer See Themselves

The goal is to let the buyer imagine they live there already. Copy like, “stretch on this home’s painted wraparound front porch and watch the sun set over the city each evening,” immediately tells the reader what it’s like to own the home.

Writing a real estate listing is an art form, and all the best professionals have mastered this talent. Try some of these tips for your next listing and see the difference.

*Content was originally published at JasonCohenPittsburgh.org

What’s the Big Deal with Tiny Homes?

What's the Big Deal with Tiny Homes_ by Jason Cohen Pittsburgh

It’s hard to escape the Tiny House phenomenon. There are HGTV shows, Instagram accounts, and a plethora of stories about buying a home under 400 square feet. They require downsizing your possessions, they’re crowded, and they lack a lot of the amenities of a full size home, so why go tiny? While it certainly isn’t for everyone, there are numerous benefits to living in a tiny home.

Minimalism is Key in a World of Hoarders

Oftentimes, people decide to go small because their life has become riddled with material possessions. Maybe they want to escape the clutter. Maybe they want to donate items and give back. Perhaps they are just tired of cleaning up the mess of a huge home. Regardless the reason, a small home will undoubtedly require purging, and it can certainly be good for the soul. However, the minimalist lifestyle isn’t for everyone. A lot of towns have outlawed the portable housing, which can make relocating difficult. There are towns that encourage tiny house living, however, to help boost their economy.

Cheaper than Mortgage, and Maybe Even Rent

According to the Washington Post, a lot of tiny house owners go tiny for freedom from a mortgage. In fact, cost is one of the first factors in deciding to go tiny. It often gives people the opportunity to be homeowners when they couldn’t normally afford it. It also makes traveling more flexible, as tiny homeowners can uproot their home to each city they travel to and avoid hotel costs and having to constantly eat out. It’s just important to know the laws of states you’re traveling to.

Green as the Cash You’re Saving

Tiny homes are often first purchased as a means of saving money for people looking to avoid paying property taxes, rent, or long-term temporary housing. However, they sometimes stay because a tiny house allows them a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Tiny houses can run on solar energy, can have composting toilets and are often in remote areas where you can garden and grow herbs and spices. Plus, they require much less electricity than traditional homes.

Looking for a minimalist lifestyle? An affordable mortgage? Wanting to help out the environment? Tiny house living may be just the right option for you. Just keep in mind that it can be difficult to find land to “park” your home. However, once you know where you’re going to set up your new digs, the possibilities are endless.

*Originally published at JasonCohenPittsburgh.net

4 Tips for Making Your Lease Protect You

As a landlord, you began investing in real estate to make money, but, if you’re not careful, you may end up paying out more in expenses than you’re making. The lease can be much more than a rental agreement. It should be used to help you protect yourself against mounting upkeep costs that should be the burden of your tenant.

Include a Guest Clause

The largest cause of property damage is people. The more people you have occupying a unit, the greater the wear and tear on the apartment. For this reason, it’s important to have a clause that designates just how many people can live in the unit. You can and should also add a clause limiting the number of guests that can stay overnight in the unit. As a part of that guest clause, include a clause that states that the tenant is responsible for any damage or other liabilities caused by guests of that tenant.

Put a Cap on Utilities

If you’re paying for the utilities, be sure to include a clause in the lease about the tenant’s privileges. The best way to handle this situation is to designate a number, such as $50 for gas, and state that the tenant is responsible for paying overages. If the tenant knows he’s responsible for paying the difference, he’ll be much more concerned with conserving resources.

Include Property Inspections

While most leases do have a “right to entry” clause, you might want to consider specifying routine inspections. This is the best way to protect yourself as the property owner. By making a routine inspection occasionally, you can ensure there are no serious damages to the property, unregistered tenants, or unapproved pets. This is your property and you have the right to ensure it’s being cared for in a proper way.

Specify Restrictions

This means going into detail in the lease on how the property is to be used. If you don’t want tenants using the fireplace, state that in the lease. Also point out that using utilities in a way other than intended is prohibited. This way, if their son throws a toy down the toilet and that creates a costly plumbing repair bill, the tenant will be held responsible for paying it. This is added protection against damages caused by the tenant.

If there’s anything that concerns you in renting out your property, you should make a point to mention that in the lease. This is your opportunity to let your tenants know what is and isn’t acceptable. By providing detailed clauses in your lease, you can ensure your property will be well tended and you’ll be spared the costs of paying for damages.

*Originally posed on JasonCohenPittsburgh.net