Thursday, August 11, 2016

3 Tips for a Higher Home Appraisal

It may seem that homebuyers and sellers don't agree on much, but they share one important concern: that the transaction is successful. This comradery is never more evident than during the appraisal process. It's only natural, since the results of the appraisal can send the deal spiraling out of control. 

Appraisers take into account many factors when determining the worth of a home. While some of these, such as location, can't be helped, there are things a homeowner can do to ensure that the home is appraised for maximum value.

1. Information is King 
Appraisers don't spend a lot of time in the home. In fact, Brian Coester, chief executive of appraisal firm CoesterVMS, tells CNBC that the interior inspection typically takes 30 minutes or less. 

"After inspecting thousands of homes, it does become quite easy to quickly assess the amenities in a home," reiterates Ryan Lundquist on Sacramento Appraisal Blog. That isn't much time to make a good first impression, so line up those ducks in advance of the appraiser's visit. The first one should be a packet of information that you can hand the appraiser as he or she speeds out the door after the inspection. This packet should contain not only the basics about your home but anything that will help back up the buyer's offer. 

Include a fact sheet about the home with the address, the year the home was built, the square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the size of the lot. Also include a listing of recent sales in the area, especially if you know of any for-sale-by-owner homes that have sold or homes that sold for less than they should have for any reason. For example, a home may have been sold to a relative, or the owners may have sold quickly to take a job out of town. Yes, the appraiser has access to recent home sales, but there's always a chance he or she may miss something. 

Create a list of any improvements you've made to the home. List them by date and include contact information for the contractor who did the work.

2. If It's Broken, Fix It 
The appraiser will assign the home with what is known in the business as an "effective age." 

It's largely based on the condition of the home and how well it has been maintained. This age may be older or younger than its actual age. "Say you have a cracked window, thread-bare carpet, some tiles falling off the shower surround, vinyl torn in the laundry room, and the dog ate the corner of the fireplace hearth, these items could still add up to an overall average condition rating as the home is still habitable, however your effective age will be higher resulting in comparables being utilized which will have the same effective age and resulting lower value," Doreen Zimmerman, an appraiser in Paradise, California, tells the Wall Street Journal. 

Fix anything that will age the home in the eyes of the appraiser.

3. Give the Home a Quick Cleaning 
Most appraisers will tell you that it doesn't matter if your home is clean or dirty - it has no bearing on its value. We, on the other hand, know how illusions can sell, and if a clean house gives the illusion that the home has been well-maintained, what harm can it do to clean it before the appraiser's arrival? I don't know about you, but before I trade in a car at the dealership, I give it a good cleaning. 

"Things like overgrown landscaping, soiled carpeting, marks on walls - those do affect value and are part of the property's overall condition rating," Dean Zibas, of Zibas Appraisal in San Clemente, California, tells the Wall Street Journal. 

While some things impact a home's value more than others, the bottom line is that the process can vary by appraiser. Anything you can do in the three areas listed above has the potential to streamline the appraisal process and increase the value of your home. Plus, going through these steps prior to listing your home will only help increase the number of potential buyers. And ultimately, selling your home is what it's all about.

Loan Apps: What You Need to Know!

Applying for a home loan sometimes feels as long, complicated and arduous as astronaut training. But, this is the first and most important step in the home buying process.  The process is not that difficult if you choose a lender who will walk you through the steps and an agent who knows and recommends the lender. With some preparation, applying for a mortgage loan can even be fun! (Okay, that’s a lie, but at least being prepared will make the process less painful.)
Before we gather up the substantial amount of paper you’ll need, there are a few things you should find out. First of all, ask how long the loan approval process will take. These days it generally takes a week to two weeks depending on how simple your finances are.  This is important, because if you have a mortgage contingency clause in your purchase contract, your lender needs to know it so they can help you meet your deadline.
Next, you need to be aware that you’ll have to disclose where you got the money for your down payment. If you borrow the money, that debt will be considered in the approval process (it could even increase your interest rate or prevent you from being approved at all.) If relatives are providing the money, you need proof that the down payment is a gift—in other words, that you won’t have to pay it back.
Some states allow mortgage prepayment penalties. Wisconsin generally allows you to pay off your mortgage with no penalties. You need to be aware that if these are legal where you are, there will be a charge if you pay off your mortgage early through refinance or multiple principal payments. Avoid mortgages that require a prepayment penalty beyond the third year.
Now get ready—the following is what you’ll need when applying for that loan:
Asset items
l Bank statements for previous two months (sometimes three) on all accounts. All pages, even if you don't think them important l Statements for two months on all stocks, mutual funds, bonds, etc. l Copy of latest 401K statement (or other retirement assets because they can count as reserves) l Explanations for any large deposits and source of those funds l Copy of HUD1 Settlement Statement on recent sales of homes l Copy of Estimated HUD1 Settlement Statement if a previous home is for sale, but not yet closed l Gift letter (if some of the funds come as a gift from a family member - the lender will supply a blank form) l Gifts can also require: 1. Verification of donor’s ability to make the gift (bank statement) 2. Copy of the check used to make the gift 3. Copy of the deposit receipt showing the funds deposited into bank account or escrow
Note: many get their statements of various kinds over the internet and these are not always acceptable to lenders, especially when the printed version does not contain the borrower's name, account number, and the name of the institution.
Credit items
l Landlord’s name, address, and phone number (if you rent - for verification of rental) l Explanations for any of the following items which may appear on your credit report: Late payments; Credit inquiries in the last 90 days; Charge-offs; Collections; Judgments; Liens l Copy of bankruptcy papers if you have filed bankruptcy within the last seven years
FHA loans
l Copy of Social Security Card (or other documentation of social security number) l Copy of Driver’s license
Income items
l W2 forms for the last two years l Most recent pay stubs covering a 30 day period l Federal tax returns (1040’s) for the last two years, if: you are self-employed; earn regular income from capital gains; earn sizable interest income, etc.; earn more than 25% of your income from commissions or bonuses; own rental property; or are in a career where you are likely to take non-reimbursed business expenses). l Year-to-Date Profit and Loss Statement (for self employed) l Corporate or Partnership tax returns (if you own more than 25% of the business) l Pension Award letter (for retired individuals) l Social Security Award letters (for those on Social Security)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Nina Kraus Earns Buyer Specialist Designation

Nina Kraus OF Coldwell Banker Residential earns BUYER SPECIALIST CERTIFICATION from CARTUS Broker Services

Certified Agent Advantage offers Broker Network agent specialized expertise to assist customers.


Milwaukee, WI  4/23/13– Coldwell Banker Residential today announced that Nina Kraus has achieved the Cartus Network Buyer Specialist (CNBS) certification. This annual certificate is part of the Certified Agent Advantage program, a professional standard available exclusively to principal brokers of the Cartus Broker Network — the network of real estate brokers serving the clients and customers of Cartus.

Cartus requires qualified Network agents to become certified as relocation experts by participating in one or more Certified Agent Advantage courses and passing a written exam upon completion. The CNBS Certification course in which Nina Kraus participated covered issues surrounding the purchase of a destination home, as well as the most effective techniques for helping clients research communities, locate their new homes, and settle into their new areas of the United States.

“As members of the Cartus Broker Network, our agents strive to deliver excellent service to every client,” said Coldwell Banker Residential. “The Certified Agent Advantage program helps to differentiate our agents and provides them with a wider range of resources and career growth opportunities.”

Other certifications available through the Certified Agent Advantage program are Cartus Network Marketing Specialist (CNMS), Cartus Network Inventory Specialist (CNIS) and Cartus Network Affinity Specialist (CNAS).

About Cartus and the Cartus Broker Network

Cartus Broker Network is the nation’s leading network of more than 811 market-leading real estate firms representing approximately 3,000 offices and more than 109,000 agents. Cartus provides trusted guidance to organizations of all types and sizes that require global relocation solutions. Cartus serves 64 percent of the Fortune 50. We provide service in more than 165 countries, applying our more than half century of experience to help our clients with their mobility, outsourcing, consulting, and language and intercultural training needs. Cartus is part of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), a global provider of real estate services. To find out how our greater experience, reach, and hands-on guidance can help your company, visit; read our blog at; or click for more information.


Nina Kraus

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kraus' Guide to Home Buying and Selling in Southeast Wisconsin: What Comes First? Finding a New House or Listing ...

Kraus' Guide to Home Buying and Selling in Southeast Wisconsin: What Comes First? Finding a New House or Listing ...: The times have definitely changed.  The last few years home buyers had lots of time to look at houses and make decisions regarding houses.  ...

What Comes First? Finding a New House or Listing Your Current House?

The times have definitely changed.  The last few years home buyers had lots of time to look at houses and make decisions regarding houses.  Average time on market for most homes was over 6 months.  A home buyer who had an existing home could write an offer with a home sale contingency and get it accepted and still have time to sell their home.

Alas, this is not the case anymore.  I talk to people everyday with a home to sell, but they don't want to list it until they find the home they want to buy.  This thinking does not work anymore.  With good houses selling the first weekend if they are priced right, there is no time to even take time to think about buying a home anymore, much less writing an offer with a home sale contingency.

We have a very good lesson in economics going on in our market in South East Wisconsin today. We have lots of buyers, but not as many listings.  Therefore, supply is down and demand is up and we are returning to a seller's market.

In this market, it is a definite must to get your house on the market and get an accepted offer before searching for the next home.  The house that is here this week will not necessarily be here next week.  If you are sitting on the fence about listing your home because you want to find the new home first, I would bet the house you think will be your new home won't be there when your house sells.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

If You Are Still Sitting on the Fence, It is Time to Get Off

Things have changed in the last year in the home buying market.  A year ago, there were so many homes available that buyers had plenty of time to look and then make up their minds on a property. They could keep a list of their favorites and a month later, go back and look at their top 4 or 5.

Alas, this is no longer the case.  Today homes which are priced correctly and updated or taken care of, are selling within 30 days or sometimes sooner.  The last 4 properties I have written an offer on, have had 2 or more offers.  Some of these properties had been on the market for a year or longer.  But, beginning right around Thanksgiving, things turned around.  Buyers were buying as inventory went down.

A year ago, a buyer could tell me that they wanted to spend $100,000 or less on a 3 bedroom home.  I would be able to send them a very long list of homes for that price.  Today, there are very few of those left and most of the those need some work.

A year ago, there were foreclosures everywhere.  Again, not true today.  There are very few foreclosures left in the suburbs and, even certain areas of the City of Milwaukee have few foreclosures left.

If you are in the market to buy a house, the time is now.  If you see the house you like, jump on it. Don't wait until someone gets the jump on you.

For more information on home buying or selling, call me at 414-207-3953
Nina Kraus
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

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