The Benefits of Ordering a Home Inspection before Listing Your Home

As homeowners, we tend to overlook both minor and major issues within our homes.  This is especially true about areas that we do not frequent such as attics, the rooftop, and the sides or back of the house.  No matter how well you think you have maintained your home, an experienced home inspector will uncover your home’s deepest darkest secrets!  These are the things we tend to ignore until time for the dreaded home inspection, and then we live in fear and turmoil waiting for the inevitable to be revealed.  Finally, there it is in print for all to see.  No more throwing a rug over the damaged floor around the leaky shower!  Everyone will know what’s there as soon as the inspector walks through the bathroom door with his clipboard.  To avoid this embarrassment, many home sellers are opting to have their home inspected before they put it on the market.

billings-home-inspectionsIn all seriousness, a pre home inspection can save the seller big money, and it can also give buyers more confidence when looking at your home.  Bill Billings from Billings Home Inspections tells us that buyers appreciate everything being laid out on the table….literally.  During a showing, if the buyer is able to look at the home inspection along with all of the repairs that you have completed, their level of confidence and trust is dramatically increased.  Of course, if they decide to move forward in the buying process of your home, their agent will still insist on their own home inspection, and that home inspector will probably still find something that needs to be done.  But the list won’t be nearly as long! And, the likelihood of uncovering anything major will be doubtful, insuring you the ability to get the maximum value out of the sale of your home.

So now that we’ve decided it’s a great idea and well worth your money to get a home inspection during the pre-listing process, let’s discuss exactly what the seller is obligated to repair.  If you’ve ever been involved in a home inspection during the selling or buying process, you know that most inspectors list a wide array of issues from cosmetic to electrical and plumbing concerns.  Your real estate agent will guide you through the final inspection report and will inform you of the items you are obligated to repair.  For instance, the “for sale and purchase” contract states that the buyer is entitled to a home that is leak free, structurally sound, and in proper working condition.   However, the seller is NOT obligated to take care of cosmetic items, though taking care of cosmetic items in the first place will increase the value of your home.

Clearly, it’s best to be aware of all of the issues your home may have prior to someone else coming in to make their own assessment.  Scheduling your own home inspection before you list your home really puts the ball in your court, giving you more knowledge and power.  For more information on home inspections, you can reach Billings Home Inspections at (561) 644-0279 or (561) 352-0113.

Questions about selling your Home in Palm Beach County? Contact us at 561-95-1225 or request a free home value report at

Beginning a Career in Real Estate

Have you ever thought about pursuing a career as a professional real estate agent?  Many people are realizing their dream of becoming a successful realtor, and it’s easier to get started than you may think.  John Greer from Gold Coast Schools recently visited with us about the training and requirements necessary for those seeking a career in real estate.  Gold Coast Schools is the leading provider of classroom and online real estate classes.  The school has designed their schedule to make it as easy as possible for you to enroll in classes no matter how hectic your current lifestyle may be.  They offer a one week course which meets Monday thru Sunday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, or a four week course which meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday half days.  You can choose between the morning classes or evening classes.  This is especially beneficial for those who are employed in full-time “8 to 5” jobs.  Gold Coast also offers online classes which can be completed any day or time of the week.  Of course, the classroom option is recommended because networking can begin the minute you step into the class.  And, we all know that making connections and building relationships is one of the key elements to success in real estate.

The Real Estate Commission is the governing body that regulates the industry.  In the state of Florida, each person interested in becoming an agent must be qualified.  In order to meet these qualifications, you must be 18 years of age or older, have a high school diploma and social security card, and complete the 63 hour real estate course.  Before your licensing exam, the Real Estate Commission will also want to assure that you are of good moral standing and character, and you will be asked to agree to finger print and background checks.  Minor traffic tickets will not stand in your way, but serious criminal offenses very well may.

Real estate is one of the most affordable careers to pursue if you are just starting out in the working world or even if you are a seasoned professional in a different field.  The cost of the class is about $500, and the application fee is $200.  Amazingly, for a total of only $700 you could be well on your way to a new way of life!  Not to mention, there will be no need to spend years paying off those gigantic school loans!

Since the real estate class and licensing process is only the beginning of the training process, it is important to choose the right realty company once you have passed the exam.  At Keller Williams, we have a program for all of our new agents called Ignite.  Ignite is a program that will supercharge your new career!  We will teach you most everything you need to know to allow you a proficient and successful start.  Of course, on the job training never ends, but the coaching and accountability that we put into our agents is priceless. As a professional real estate agent, you are not just a “salesman,” you wear many hats such as Lifestyle Advisor, Home Stager, Pricing Expert, and Marketing Specialist.  It takes a special person to wear all of these hats well!

If you are just beginning to explore the idea of getting into real estate, contact Jackie Ellis at Keller Williams.  We have an assessment which measures strengths to see if you are an ideal candidate for a career in real estate.  The DISC assessment measures Drive, Influence, Steadiness and Stability, and Compliance.  To apply online visit

To get more information about Gold Coast Schools, visit their website at

Preparing Your Home for the Real Estate Market

Getting your home ready to sell, also known as “staging,” is extremely important.  Once your house is listed, gone are the days of walking through the door and kicking off your shoes.  Living in a home that is on the market means you will be walking on egg shells.  Doesn’t sound fun?  You may actually end up loving your new life in a “model home.”  Whether or not this is true, embrace it.  It will be worth it when you are considering multiple offers!

modern-home-interior_GyiD7DuuLet’s go over the most important areas of the home staging process starting with the exterior.  Curb Appeal is the name of the game!  Some buyers actually decide whether or not they want to continue the buying process on a home before they ever walk through the front door.  If you can’t get them out of the car, you’ll never be able to get them to the closing appointment, so get to work!  The exterior of your home should look well-manicured and clean cut.  Trim trees and bushes, keep the lawn cut, and make sure all debris is removed.  And to put the icing on top, plant some flowers.  Not just any color, though!  Yellow flowers have been shown to improve the curb appeal of homes.  And while you’re at it, add new mulch.  Mulch is the single most cost effective way to spruce up the outside of your home!   The next thing a potential buyer will notice is the exterior paint.  A neutral color is best.  Your goal is to appeal to the masses.  Sure, the bright red door is adorable, but not to everyone.  So save that idea for your next home.  Beige and any shade of tan, cream, or taupe is usually the correct answer when it comes to staging your home.  Furthermore, check for wood rot around the entire exterior of your home.  Wood rot is not acceptable.  Neither are dirty, broken windows or torn screens.  These items are easy to repair, and it’s a good idea to take care of them before you list your home.

Outdoor living spaces are a big deal here in southern Florida, so make sure they are also staged and well kept.  Patio furniture should be in good condition and should appear clean and inviting.  Fences should be repaired, painted, or replaced when necessary.  And cracked concrete on patios should be attended to.  Don’t forget to keep all pool toys and other items picked up and organized.

For more staging tips visit our YouTube Channel and watch #JackiesStagingTips

Have more questions about selling your home? Contact us today!

Benefits of Getting Pre-Approved for a Home Mortgage Loan

florida villa homeWhen it comes to buying a new home, one of the most important tasks is finding the right mortgage to meet your specific needs.  Loralynne Ball, Senior Vice President at Vandyk Mortgage, has shared some valuable information with us.  She suggests meeting with your real estate agent first.  A seasoned and experienced agent will walk you through the entire home buying process.  Most likely, your agent will suggest that you get pre-approved for a home loan before you ever start looking at properties.  Pre-approval means that the lender has pulled your credit score as well as necessary personal information to determine if you will qualify for a loan.  A pre-qualification letter does not hold as much merit, as it only means the lender has had a conversation with you about your credit and income without verifying the information.  If you do not have a preference or prior experience with a specific lender, your agent will be able to give you a list of reputable mortgage companies with which they have experience and trusted relationships. Once you choose a lender, the pre-approval process begins.  This process is important for several reasons.  First, you will know the exact amount of the loan for which you will qualify.  This gives you and your agent a better idea of your budget and the price range of the homes you will be shown.  Pre-approval also gives you more confidence when making an offer, and gives the seller more confidence in considering and accepting an offer.

Maybe you are wondering if you can qualify for a home loan.  Lenders take many factors into consideration when choosing the right loan for the right individual.  Your mortgage company will not expect you to have a perfect credit score of 800. If you don’t have some type of “hiccup” in your credit history, you are not among the average American.   Instead, they will expect you to have a score no lower than 620.  Of course, the higher the score is the better.  Determining the type of loan which will best suit you is fairly straight forward.  The typical loans are VA, FHA, Conventional, and Jumbo.  The VA loan is one that is designed for veterans and secured by the government.  These loans often require no down payment.  The FHA loan is also backed by the government and usually requires a low down payment with less strict requirements than a Conventional loan.  A Jumbo loan is any loan over $417,000.   Wondering about a down payment?  A down payment could range anywhere from 0% to 20% depending on all of the variables that must be taken into consideration. In order to calculate the down payment that will be required for most loans, the lender will look at your credit, capacity, and collateral.  This means your credit score, your debt-to-income ratio, and your assets.  While interest rates remain low and affordability of home buying is ideal, you may have circumstances that prevent you from qualifying for a mortgage.  In this case, most lenders will point you in the right direction, outlining a plan for raising your credit score and getting you on the path to home ownership.

van-dyk-mortgageMore information about Vandyk Mortgage can be found at, and Loralynne Ball can be reached at (954) 512-8838.