Real Estate Blog | CENTURY 21

Your Dream Home - Buying and Selling Tips for the Savvy Consumer

The Importance of A Home Inspection

A home inspection is a thorough visual examination of the home and property. Many mortgage companies insist on a home inspection report before agreeing to a mortgage, so a pre-sale inspection enables you to address problems before you even put the house on the market. It also removes any questions about the condition of your home for you and a potential homebuyer, improving the speed, price and likelihood of a sale.

The inspection process usually takes two to three hours, during which time the house is examined from the ground up. It includes observation and, when appropriate, operation of the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical, and appliance systems, as well as structural components, such as the roof, foundation, basement, exterior and interior walls, chimney, doors and windows.

Some home sellers elect not to correct every defect found in the inspection report. Instead, they acknowledge the defects to buyers and explain that the asking price has been adjusted to reflect the estimated cost of repairs. Such candor tends to shorten negotiation time, because buyers have fewer objections.

In addition to facilitating the sale of a home, an inspection helps the homeowner comply with full-disclosure real estate laws, governed by state laws. By focusing on the condition of your property, you are less likely to overlook a defect or material fact for which you could later be held liable.

A thorough home inspection covers more than 1,000 items, everything from the foundation to roof and takes two to three hours depending on the size of the property. The report should reflect the condition of about 400 items.

TIP: Home inspections are for buyers; appraisals are for lenders. Lenders require appraisals on properties prior to loan approval to ensure that the mortgage loan amount is not more than the value of the property.

For buyers, a home inspection is a MUST.  I typically recommend buyers to obtain at a minimum, a general home, a pest, and a roof inspection.  Other inspections may be done during the inspection contingency period if desired.  You want to be able to know that the home you are about to purchase is in good condition so inspections can give you the peace of mind before one the largest purchases in your lifetime.

Pricing Your Home To Sell

A key part of your marketing plan is setting the list price. Quite simply, if a home is priced too low, you miss out on potential profit. If a home is priced too high, qualified buyers will look elsewhere.

To determine the best asking price, review the prices of recently sold, comparable homes in the area; evaluate the competition, and study marketplace trends.  As your CENTURY 21® agent,  I have ready access to this information, and can provide the big picture to help you determine the right asking price.

It is also helpful to determine other terms and conditions that can be included in the sale of the home to make it more attractive to potential buyers. For example, an owner can offer to pay points or complete a major repair – such as a new roof – to make the deal more appealing to a qualified buyer. A home warranty is another useful marketing tool, providing protection if an appliance or other covered item fails after closing. Home warranties are a relatively inexpensive way for a seller to add value to a property.

Other factors to consider:

  • Real estate is local. Your agent can determine current market factors in your community, including what's selling, what isn't selling, and why. This information is critical to setting an optimal price and terms.
  • If your house is located in a desirable area you will be able to get a higher price than you can for the same house in a less desirable area.
  • If a house has amenities that are currently popular in the marketplace, it will bring a higher price.
  • A house that has been better maintained and “shows” better will always sell for more than one that has had deferred (neglected) maintenance and needs work.
  • Buyers expect everything to work. It’s an important trust factor, and worth the time and expense to make basic repairs.
  • Markets differ by location and time. When interest rates are low and the local job base is growing, it's great to be a seller. But when times are slack and mortgage rates are rising, homes also sell. The trick is to be realistic, to get as much as market conditions will allow.

TIP: A formal written appraisal can be useful if your property is unique, or there hasn't been much activity in your area recently. It’s also helpful when co-owners disagree about price, or there is any other circumstance that makes it difficult to put a market value on your home.


For more helpful tips on pricing your home to sell, please contact me at 510-375-2609 or by email: I would be happy to provide you a free, no obligation consultation to determine the value of your home.

10 Ways to Improve Your Credit

There are no quick fixes for improving your credit score.  But you can raise your score over time by demonstrating that you consistently manage your finances responsibly.  Any of the following ten tips can help you improve your credit score.


1. Pay your bills on time

This is the best way to improve your score and it's never too late to start.  Even if you've had serious delinquencies in the past, those will count less over time if you keep paying your bills on time.

2. Keep your credit card balances low

High outstanding debt can pull down your score.  Don't go maxing out your credit cards all the time.

3.  Check your credit report for accuracy

It's possible that there may be inaccurate information on your credit report that can be easily cleared up.  If this proves to be the case, then you should contact one of the three credit reporting agencies --- Transunion, Experian, or Equifax.

4. Pay off debt rather than moving it around

Consolidating your credit card debt onto one card or spreading it over multiple cards will not improve your score in the long run.  The most effective way to improve your score is simply paying down the amount you owe.

5. Keep your credit cards but manage them responsibly

In general, having credit cards and installment loans that you pay on time will raise your score.  Someone who has no credit cards tends to have a lower score than someone who has managed credit cards responsibly.

6. Don't open multiple accounts too quickly, especially if you have a short credit history

Opening too many accounts in too short of a time period can look risky because you are taking on a lot of possible debt. New accounts will also lower the average age of your existing accounts, something that your FICO score also considers.

7. Don't open new credit card accounts you don't need

A family of four can rarely get out of any sit-down restaurant for less than $30. Even pizza to feed that family can cost up to $30 with salad, soft drinks, and delivery.  If you cut out one restaurant visit a week, you'll save $1,560 per year.

8.  Don't close an account to remove it from your record

It is a myth that closing an account removes it from your credit report. This is untrue---even closed accounts remain on your report, possibly for an indefinite period of time and may still be factored into the score.  In fact, closing accounts can sometimes hurt your score unless you also pay down your debt at the same time.

9.  Shop for a loan within a short, focused period of time

FICO scores distinguish between a search for a single loan and a search for many new credit lines, based in part on the length of time over which recent requests for credit occur. If you shop for a number of loans over too long a time period, it can count against you.

10.  Contact your creditors or see a legitimate credit counselor if you're having financial difficulties

This won't improve your score immediately, but the sooner you begin managing your credit well and making timely payments, the sooner your score will get better.

If you have a history of poor credit or think that you might, it's important that you find out and take the steps to improve it.  It will take time, but with discipline, you may expect to see improvement in as little as six months.  Creditors are interested in a track record. You'll have to prove that you consistently pay your creditors on time and that you can effectively pay down your debt.

Publishing permission from Pacific Funding Group. For more credit improving tips or to apply for a loan, contact Ray Villanueva at 925-626-4613 or


7 Deadly Sins of Overpricing Your Home

Most experts would advise that the best way to increase your odds of a successful sale is to price your home at fair market value.  But, as logical as this advice sounds, for many sellers it is still tempting to tack a few percentage points onto the price to "leave room to negotiate".  To avoid this temptation, let's take a look at the seven deadly sins of overpricing:

1.  Appraisal Problems -  Even if you do find a buyer willing to pay an inflated price, the fact is that over 90% of buyers use some kind of financing to pay for their home purchase.  If your home won't appraise for the purchase price, the sale will likely fail.

2.  No Showings - Today's sophisticated home buyers are well educated about the real estate market.  If your home is overpriced, they won't bother looking at it, let alone make you an offer.

3.  Branding Problems - When a new listing hits the market, every agent quickly checks the property out to see if it's a good fit for their clients.  If your home is branded as "overpriced", reigniting interest may take drastic measures.

4.  Selling the competition - Overpricing helps your competition.  How?  You make their lower prices seem like bargains.  Nothing is worse than watching your neighbors put up a sold sign.

5.  Stagnation - The longer your home sits on the market, the more likely it is to become stigmatized or stale.  Have you ever seen a property that seems to be perpetually for sale?  Do you ever wonder - What's wrong with that house?

6.  Tougher Negotiations - Buyers who do view your home may negotiate harder because the home has been on the market for a longer period of time and because it is overpriced compared to the competition.

7.  Lost Opportunities - You will lose a percentage of buyers who are outside of your price point.  These are buyers who are looking in the price range that the home will eventually sell for but don't see the home because the price is above their pre-set budget.

Most buyers look at 10-15 homes before making a buying decision.  Because of this, setting a competitive price relative to the competition is an essential component to a successful marketing strategy. Your real estate agent will provide a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) report on your home prior to listing it. This will aid in giving your home a fighting chance to sell at the best price in the market.

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Concord, CA   -  925.682.4663