Creekside Lodge & Event Center

creekside lodge and event center

CREEKSIDE LODGE AND EVENT CENTER

December 2, 2021
4 PM – 8 PM

Come out to Creekside Lodge on Lake Martin for a night of giving and celebrating! Creekside is partnering with Tri-County Children’s Advocacy Center for a fundraiser. This nonprofit works to provide resources for neglected and abused children in the area.

Help support a good cause and enjoy some Christmas cheer along the way! For more information, call Creekside at 256-307-1440.

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What Sellers Should Look For in an Offer: 4 Factors Other Than Money To Consider

what sellers look for

By Tara Mastroeni

re you selling your home and reviewing several offers? Congratulations! You’re well on your way to getting as much as possible out of what is likely your largest asset.

But when it comes to picking an offer, sometimes it’s important to take a step back and recognize that your bottom line shouldn’t be your only consideration.

In many instances, the terms a potential buyer includes in the offer also play an important part. They can underscore how many hurdles you’ll have to clear to reach the closing table in a timely matter. So every seller should carefully review an offer—beyond the dollar amount—before settling on a buyer.

To help you navigate all this, we’ve outlined four important factors that home sellers should look for in an offer. Here’s everything you need to know about choosing the best one.

1. Research your preferred financing method

As a seller, you probably have an offer amount in mind that you would like the buyer to meet or exceed. But remember, a buyer needs to prove that he can afford to make the purchase—no matter what numbers are thrown around in an offer.

“If the buyer intends to get a mortgage, there should always be a pre-approval letter included in an offer on their lender’s letterhead,” says Don Norris, an agent with Keller Williams Realty in Ocala, FL.

And if a potential buyer makes a cash offer, ask for proof of funds before accepting it. This proof will usually come in the form of a bank or investment account statement. Each should show that the buyer has the funds necessary to complete the transaction.

Need to sell your home in a hurry? Then you may prefer an all-cash offer. This type of offer usually involves less risk and a shorter escrow period as cash eliminates waiting for a buyer’s full mortgage approval.

But seller beware: All-cash buyers have negotiation power. And they will generally want something in return for bringing a bag of money to the sale. For instance, they could offer you less than the asking price. So be sure to weigh the cons against the pros before accepting an all-cash offer over a buyer with a mortgage.

2. Look for a larger earnest money deposit

Next, you may want to pick an offer with a sizable earnest money deposit, also known as a good-faith deposit. This is a sum of money that a buyer entrusts to the seller’s brokerage firm to prove that he is serious about purchasing the home.

“A deposit that’s worth 1% to 2% of the sale price is normal,” says Kseniya Korneva, a real estate team leader of the Korneva Home Group of Pineywoods Realty in Tampa, FL. “But the higher the deposit, the stronger the offer.”

The buyer’s earnest money deposit goes toward the down payment if he eventually closes on the home. On the other hand, if the buyer breaks the contract and walks away from buying the home, you can potentially keep the deposit as a consolation.

3. Consider fewer contingencies

In real estate, contingencies are benchmarks buyers set that need to be met for the transaction to continue moving forward. For example, many buyers will want to include an inspection contingency in the purchase contract. This means the buyer will need time to have your home inspected. And if any issues are found, a buyer might ask you to make repairs before he will close on the home.

With an appraisal contingency, a satisfactory appraisal of your property must be conducted. If the appraisal doesn’t match the agreed-upon price of the home, you and the buyer will have to reach a new number before settlement.

The caveat here is that anytime a contingency can’t be satisfied, the buyer has a chance to walk away from the purchase with his earnest money deposit in hand.

Obviously, from a seller’s point of view, the fewer chances the buyer has to exit the transaction, the better. With that in mind, it’s a good idea for you to select an offer that has the fewest contingencies from the start.

“Choosing an offer with minimal contingencies is just as important as the sale price,” says Link Moser, a broker and owner of Experience Homes Group in Loudon, NH. “That’s why cash offers are often accepted, even at lower sales prices. Sellers see a cash offer as removing a lot of the risk of the transaction falling apart due to a buyer’s inability to get financing or the appraisal value coming in below the sale price.”

4. Opt for an ideal closing timeline

Finally, consider your optimal timeline for heading to the settlement table. Moving out is a lot of work, especially if you’ve lived in the home you’re selling for a while. To that end, you’re going to want to ensure that you choose an offer with a closing date that suits your needs.

“Timing is everything,” says Lauren McKinney, an agent with Beverly-Hanks Realtors in Asheville, NC. “While a quick closing is desirable to many sellers, some need more time to move. In that case, even an offer that has a lower sale price may be more desirable if the timing works better for them.”

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Hands Off What Stays With a House When You Sell It?

home inspection

By Wendy Helfenbaum

When standup comedian Nathan Brannon moved into his newly purchased home in rural Washington state, it seemed the joke was on him: The previous owner had left the pegboard on the garage wall, but had taken all the pegs.

“When I first saw the pegs were missing, I was super confused; I mean, what are you going to do with just pegs?” Brannon recalls. “Now I have a pile of yard tools on the floor in front of the pegboard.”

“What do I have to leave when I sell my house?”

Brannon isn’t the only home buyer to discover that sellers sometimes take the strangest things with them when they vacate a property. We’ve seen home buyers ranting on social media about missing doorknobs, toilet paper holders, and even trees from the front yard.

But it can be far beyond merely annoying for the buyer. If you take something you haven’t negotiated to keep, you could tank the sale—or even face a lawsuit.

Not sure what you’re allowed to take with you when you move? Here are some rules to keep in mind before—and after—closing the deal.

1. If it’s nailed down, bolted, or mounted, it probably stays behind

When Laurel-Ann Dooley walked through a vacation property she was purchasing, there was a glaring hole where a storage shed had recently stood.

“The previous owner had sold it, even though it was supposed to stay,” recalls Dooley, who’s an attorney and Realtor® at PalmerHouse Properties in Atlanta.

While most buyers and sellers probably know that “fixtures”—immovable elements of a home such as built-in furniture, fences, or, yes, a storage shed—must stay behind, there can still be some confusion, saysBill Gassett, a Realtor® with Re/Max Executive Realty in Hopkinton, MA.

“Probably the No. 1 gray area that I’ve found is the mounting mechanism for big-screen TVs,” Gassett shares. “Obviously, it’s attached, so it’s supposed to stay with the house. But commonsense says, ‘Well, if somebody has a $3,000 TV hanging on the wall, unless they’re including [the TV] with the house, [the mounting mechanism] doesn’t stay.’”

“It becomes a real battling point with buyers and sellers if it’s not specifically referenced,” he adds.

Generally, Dooley says, if a house has been modified for an item, it’s probably a fixture.

“If an air-conditioning unit is placed in a window, it’s arguably personal property and the buyer can take it with them,” she says. “But if a hole has been cut in the wall to accommodate the unit, then it’s most likely a fixture.”

With that said, you want to avoid “arguably”, “probably”, or “most likely” when it comes to selling your home, Dooley cautions. Be specific and firm.

“If you want it, say so upfront,” Dooley advises.

2. Leave Mother Nature alone

Unless the property listing specifically mentions that you intend to take the prized rose patch your Aunt Zelda gave you, sellers cannot remove any landscaping, Gassett says.

“I’ve had sellers with specific requests to take certain things that might have been a special gift,” Gassett says. “Otherwise, you can’t just dig up a plant and take it with you; it’s part of the property.”

3. Hands off anything anchored in the ground

Other backyard items are also potential sources of misunderstanding between buyers and sellers.

“Technically, if a basketball hoop is cemented into the ground, then it’s considered to go with the house. Freestanding ones sitting on the lawn, however, would be something buyers could take with them,” he says.

Ditto for swing sets: If it’s anchored in the ground, it stays.

4. Let go of your lighting fixtures

Even if you’re attached to your show-stopping dining room chandelier, don’t pack it up and leave electrical wires hanging when you leave. And if you’re thinking about swapping out that chandelier right before closing—and hoping the buyer won’t notice? Forget about it, Gassett says.

“When you buy a property, you’re buying what you saw the day you saw the property and wrote the offer on the house, so for sellers to change something out after that date is illegal,” Gassett warns. Yes—illegal. 

You can declare your intention to remove it, Dooley says, but be aware that excluded items often become sticking points between buyers and sellers.

“Instead, take that chandelier out before you list your house, and put something else there,” she suggests.

5. Do you leave curtains when you move? Yep, window treatments stay, too

You may have spent a fortune on those custom blinds in your living room, but technically, you’re supposed to leave ‘em hanging, Gassett says.

“Curtains are always considered personal property, because they just slide off,” he says. “Rods and blinds, on the other hand, are considered part of the house because they’re affixed and attached.”

Mirrors are another murky area, he adds, but pretty easy to figure out: If they’re hung like paintings on a wall, they’re personal property. Bolted to the studs? They’re fixtures.

Don’t be petty—or you might tank the sale

Often, the littlest things cause the most heated debates, or even the derailment of the sale itself.

Sometimes, as in Brannon’s case of the missing pegs, sellers remove things from the house that aren’t worth chasing after, but are incredibly annoying nonetheless, Gassett says. For instance, he recalls a seller who took the control box for an underground dog fence.

“In real estate deals, some people take it out on the buyer by nickel-and-diming on stuff,” he says. “Especially if they don’t feel the sale has gone exactly the way they wanted it to, or they have resentment towards the buyer.”

Dooley heard of a seller who removed all the lightbulbs in the house before moving.

“With the amount of money you’re talking about on the sale of a home, I can’t imagine attaching sentimental value to your 60-watt lightbulbs,” she says. “It’s kind of silly.”

 

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7 Things Your Home Inspector Wishes You Knew

home inspection

A home inspector can make or break a sale for both sellers and buyers. It’s why, no matter whether you’re buying or selling, the home inspection process can be somewhat terrifying!

For sellers, it’s a stark reminder of the nagging issues you might have turned a blind eye to over the years. And for buyers, it’s a recipe for pure heartbreak—falling in love with a home that might just end up making no sense to buy.

But don’t let the inspection stress you out. And remember, that’s not what your home inspector wants either—all he or she wants is a comprehensive to-do list and a happy client.

So form a team with your home inspector to make the process easier and more effective. Knowledge is key! Here are seven essential things you keep in mind.

Home inspector tips for sellers

1. Move your pets

We know your puppy is adorable—but even if your home inspector loves dogs or cats, pets running underfoot makes the job much more difficult.

Inspections often require opening exterior doors again and again, offering pets far too many opportunities to dash to freedom. When you leave the premises for the inspection—and many inspectors ask sellers to do so—take your pets with you. Please.

With animals out of the way, “every time I walk in or out, I don’t have to worry about losing a cat or a dog,” says Alan Singer of Sterling Home Inspections in Armonk, NY.

2. Don’t forget to clean

Whether you plan on being there for the inspection or not, make sure to clean up beforehand. No, you don’t need to scrub—an inspector won’t ding you because your stove’s grimy. But all that clutter? Yeah, that’s all got to go.

“It makes a huge difference when I walk into a house where everything’s put away,” Singer says. “It’s a game changer not just for me, but for the home buyer.”

Often, the inspection is the first time the buyers are (almost) alone in the house for an extended period of time.

“If it doesn’t feel like how it did before—if we’re trying to dig through items—it can sour their experience,” Singer says.

Home inspector tips for buyers

1. Your potential home will have problems

Your home inspector will likely come up with a seemingly endless list of problems after the walk-through. Don’t panic!

“I’m on their side, but still, I’m judging the house fairly,” Singer says. “Even my home has problems, issues, maintenance things.”

Yeah, there are times when you should worry (we’ll get to those a bit later). But not every issue is mission-critical, and your inspector will know which problems you should tackle first.

2. Almost anything can be fixed

There are a few starkly frightening home inspection terms that seem to be in everyone’s vocabulary: mold, radon, and asbestos.

And yes, they’re scary—but no scarier than a roof that needs replacing, home inspectors say.

“People who write articles tend to scare homeowners about mold or radon,” Singer says.

So let us—your humble (and rather defensive) writers—take a moment to correct that assumption: Don’t worry so much about mold and radon!

Singer, who started his career in homebuilding, says, “everything is upgradable, fixable, or replaceable. You just need to have a list of what those things are.”

Not convinced yet? Check out this Washington Post article about a couple who got a discount on a four-bedroom Colonial because they weren’t terrified by mold.

3. One thing you should worry about is water

Here’s one problem we give you permission to stress out about (just a little): water. No, it’s not a deal breaker (remember that part where we wrote almost anything can be fixed?). But it’s important to address any water-related issues before the deal closes—or at least immediately afterward.

Make a note of issues such as puddles and leaky ceilings. And give special attention to the basement. Addressing water problems in the basement can be an expensive and difficult proposition, Singer says. “A wet basement can be hard to fix.”

4. Home inspectors can’t predict the future

You might want to know how many more years the roof will hold up—and while your inspector might be able to give you a rough estimate, he can’t give you a precise timeline.

“People think that we as inspectors have a crystal ball,” Singer says. “Or that we have X-ray vision” to see through walls or examine the inner circuitry of your kitchen stove.

Sorry, folks: They don’t, and they can’t.

“We can’t tell you how long it will last,” Singer says. “We can just tell you if it’s in good shape.”

5. Find the balance between your heart and brain

It’s easy to forget your love for the home when you’re counting the dollar signs and hours you might have to spend on repairs. But just remember to take a deep breath, think rationally, and consider whether it’s a smart investment in your future.

Singer empathizes: “The justification can sometimes be a horrible process because our brains are all about money and time and (asking) ‘What kind of mistake am I making?’”

Barring any major renovations needed—such as a new roof or mold removal—your inspector’s visit will simply provide a to-do list. But not everything needs fixing immediately, so don’t let a long list dampen your love for the home. Just take things one at a time.

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