Tips for Homeowners

Want to sell your home fast and for top dollar? Stay away from these seller pitfalls.

Prices are up, interest rates are low. It should be easy to sell your home, right? Under the best conditions, yes, it is. However, some sellers make bad Montemayor and Associateschoices that can cost them thousands of dollars, or even cost them the ability to get their home sold at all.

Three common mistakes sellers should avoid.

Selling your home yourself.

“Hey. I can do this myself,” you’re thinking. “Why should I pay all that money to a real estate agent?” Okay. So you plunk a “For Sale By Owner” sign in your yard. Maybe you throw something on Craigslist or other public internet media advertising your home. A few questions for you: How do you know the “buyer” approaching your door is qualified to purchase your home? Better yet, what criteria are you using to determine your home price? Finally, what do you know about title, taxes, escrow, insurance, contingencies, and addendums, just to name a few? Continue reading

What does it REALLY take to get an offer on your home within your desired time frame?

Homeowners have many different reasons for selling their home. Whether upsizing, downsizing, or due to unforseen economic issues, it’s important Marketing your real estate listingsto garner as much attention from buyers in an effort to sell it as quickly as possible.

Of course, pricing your home right is the first step, and we’ve covered that issue at least a few times in the past. However, feedback from potential buyers is critical in making sure that your home is indeed appealing to those who may be interested in purchasing your home. And how do we generate feedback from buyers? First, we get them through your door. And how do we do THAT? Marketing, of course!

Welcome to the future of real estate marketing.

Continue reading

Home Affordable Refinance Program helps homeowners refinance when other options are not available.

While there are definite signs of improvement in the housing market and other areas of the economy, many Santa Clarita property owners are still struggling with their mortgage. In many cases it’s not so much that their financial situation has changed, but their equity may have yet to see the recovery that will make their property worth more than their mortgage loan. Many have tried traditional loan refinancing options only to find out they don’t qualify for a lower rate.

That’s where HARP comes in.

HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) is part of the federal government’s Making Home Affordable program, which has now been extended through 2013. It is designed to help homeowners who have exhausted all traditional means of refinancing their mortgage loan to a lower rate because they have little or no equity. The homeowner would receive a completely new loan with a new rate, completely replacing their current mortgage loan, which may move them to a more stable mortgage rate and even a lower monthly mortgage payment.

How does HARP work?

HARP may be an option for homeowners if:

  • They are current on their mortgage payments (IE: They have not been more than 30 days late on a payment in the past 6 months, and not more than once been 30 days late in the previous 6 months)
  • The value of the home has decreased
  • They have limited equity of greater than 80% of their property’s value
  • Your home mortgage loan is guaranteed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
  • Your loan was acquired by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to May 31, 2009

Homeowners can verify whether their loan is guaranteed by Freddie Mac by clicking here, and by Fannie Mae by clicking here.

Does the government own my mortgage if I participate in the HARP program?

No. HARP programs are offered through participating lenders. Your first step is to find out if your mortgage company participates in the HARP program. If you’re not sure where to start, feel free to contact us and we’ll be glad to point you in the right direction.

What if I still can’t qualify for a refinance through the HARP program?

Montemayor & Associates can offer several options to distressed homeowners to put them on the right path, or to help them avoid foreclosure. Use the contact form below to ask your questions. All inquiries are treated with discretion, and it never costs you anything to talk to us. We’re here to help.

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Improvements and upgrades to your home MAY increase its value, but…

There are two sides to home value: Its perceived value, and its appraised value. Both can help determine what’s known as Fair Market Value. What’s important to understand Home improvements can affect your property value however, is that appraised value drives the bank’s final decision on how much they will lend a buyer to purchase a home. Part of what can drive both is the number and types of improvements made to the property. The question is, which improvements affect home value to the positive, and are there any that may have a negative impact on a home’s value?

The Positive Side of Conformity

In considering upgrades to your home, there are some factors to keep in mind. Upgrades to any area of your home, be it the outside (Landscaping, hardscaping, addition of a swimming pool or exterior buildings) or the inside, care should be taken in not only in the quality of the work performed, but also to some degree, conformity to the area in which you live. For example, expanding your home to 5,000 square feet when the rest of the homes in your neighborhood don’t exceed 2500 square feet might make your home harder to sell because it does not conform to the rest of the homes in the neighborhood. Thus it would be difficult to assess Fair Market Value based on the conditions of the area. Now that’s a bit of a stretch for a standard example, but things like this have been done before.

External conformity in home improvement is a bit more important than some upgrades inside the home due to the fact that the outside of a home is the first impression buyers get, for obvious reasons. Many newer developments, even those without homeowner’s associations, require homeowners to comply with CCR’s (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions). CCR’s regulate to a degree the types of exterior improvements homeowners can make to their property. These are usually set up to insure property value remains consistent. Either way, considering that your home is an investment, keeping the look and feel of the neighborhood in mind when making exterior property improvements is a wise financial choice.

Interior Improvements

In making upgrades to the inside of your home, conformity doesn’t play quite as strong of a hand. Even still, there are wise decisions and choices a homeowner can make when considering interior improvements.

“Kitchens and Bathrooms Sell The Home”

You may hear this a lot, even from some real estate agents. To a degree, this may be true. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most used from a utilitarian point of view, but they also reflect the aesthetic of home and comfort, and are often the deciding factor in a buyer’s final choice of a home.

That being said, homeowners should not overlook the opportunity to improve other areas of their home as well. Going back to the investment and value aspect of your home, improvements should reflect a broader based appeal in decor and color. Trendy patterns, colors, and textures can become outdated, and unless you can afford to make improvements every few years (And some homeowners do), it is best to make improvements as “trend neutral” as possible. This doesn’t mean improvements have to be bland and boring, but again, quality and overall value of the improvement should take precedent over the fashion and style trends of the moment.

How much extra will my swimming pool get me when I sell my home?

Believe it or not, while a well built, well designed swimming pool appeals to some home buyers, they do not necessarily add a huge amount of extra value to a property. Remember, not all buyers swim, and not all buyers want the responsibility or costs usually associated with owning and maintaining a swimming pool. They also do not take  away from a home’s value (Unless they are damaged or in disrepair). If you are considering adding a pool, do it because of the enjoyment you and your family will receive.

Improve for value? Or improve for comfort?

Ultimately, all home improvements are subject to the taste of the homeowner making them. It’s always good to make sure your home has the best chance to sell and the best chance of maintaining its competitive value. Even still, it’s your home. Making it comfortable for you and your family should be first and foremost your ultimate goal.






Mold in your home can impact the sale of your property.

It may be a necessary part of nature, but mold in your home can interfere with your ability to sell it. In a natural setting, mold helps break down organic material such as Mold has a negative impact on property valuedead trees and leaves, but once inside your home, it plays havoc.

Mold is caused by moisture, and in many cases, your home doesn’t have to be exposed to floodlike conditions or a leaky roof. Mold can occur in your home even in simple cases of not allowing enough ventilation to flow through. Mold can especially occur in bathrooms where there are no windows, but essentially it can grow anywhere once it takes hold in your home.

A risk to your home and health.

Mold produces allergens which can have an impact on your health, especially for those suffering from asthma and other allergies. It can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and can also bring on hay fever-like conditions.

A risk to one of your most valuable assets: Your home.

Often people live in a home for years without realizing that mold has been present. It is not always visible, and may be hidden inside the drywall or attic area. Many times mold is not discovered until the home inspection once the property is in escrow. Unfortunately for many home sellers, mold can cause a red flag for the buyer who may use the contingency laid out in the purchase agreement to opt out of the deal.

What You Can Do If Mold Is Discovered In Your Home

This depends on the severity of the problem. If mold is discovered on a surface such as a wall or ceiling, you can first try to remove the mold by using detergent and water, and then letting the area dry completely. It is important also to address and repair the moisture source that is determined to be the cause of the mold.  Materials that are absorbent or porous, such as carpet and ceiling tiles may need to be removed completely and disposed of. It is advised to wear goggles, gloves and either a breathing mask or respirator when attempting to clean and remove mold yourself.

If there is a lot of water damage or the mold covers more than 10 square feet, you should consult the Environmental Protection Agency’s mold remediation guide for more information and details.  While this guide focuses on larger buildings such as schools and office buildings, the information contained within provides excellent tips on mold remediation in your home. If you are considering hiring a contractor to remove your mold, make sure you ask if they adhere to the guidelines as set forth by the EPA and/or the guidelines from the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.

Prevent mold from occurring in the first place.

There are many things you can do to prevent mold from taking hold in your home.

  • Clean up water spills and plumbing leaks quickly.
    Fast action on your part to thoroughly clean and dry the affected area can greatly reduce or eliminate the possibility of mold taking root.
  • Make sure the ground slopes away from the building.
    Insuring proper drainage around your home will prevent moisture from building up.
  • Keep indoor humidity low.
  • Make sure your home has proper ventilation.
    Opening doors and windows (when practical) will insure air flow and reduce the potential for moisture buildup.
  • Open a window or use the bathroom fan when showering. 
    Also, make sure that you regularly wipe down the bathroom walls and ceilings and let dry completely.

Remember that your home is not just a place to live, it is also an investment. Preventive maintenance and care will insure its value remains high, as well as it’s ability to sell quickly.

Contact us with your questions.

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Client Testimonials
I had specific needs for my new home. Brandon was very patient with my unique situation and flexible when it kept changing. He showed me so many houses, but with little inventory, none of them were quite perfect or they had too much HOA or Mello Roos. Finally when we found The One, no HOA, no Mello Roos, it had been on the market for 4 days and I made an offer that morning. I was sure the sellers would give it to someone else but Brandon worked hard to make sure they accepted my offer and by that night, the house was mine. Had it not been for Brandon I would still be searching for a house because so far, there is still nothing better than mine.
Lisa G. , Saugus
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