TU: Monticello’s Secret Sauce To Selling Homes

We reveal the Monticello secret sauce to selling real estate. From Today’s Times Union:

In this new real estate market, buyers are using the Internet to search for their home, and they have thousands of homes to view. If you don’t have the cleanest, brightest, picture of your home’s best side, buyers are just going to click past your home. I call it the 2-second rule: You have 2 seconds to capture a buyer’s attention, so make it count. — Alex Monticello, principal broker and owner of Monticello, Licensed Real Estate Broker.

You can view this listing as an example of how professional photos make a big difference:

Why Pre-qualifying for a Mortgage Matters

We advise every buyer we work with to get pre-qualified for a mortgage (assuming you are not paying cash). The New York Times, recently covered the issued and reinforced the benefits of a strong pre-qualification letter. Monticello recommends only working with mortgage lenders who complete a comprehensive pre-qualification process that goes beyond just reviewing the buyer’s credit. The NYT wrote:

Mortgage Master, a direct lender in Walpole, Mass., has also begun offering a level of preapproval that goes beyond a credit check. The lender verifies the same income and asset information upfront that is normally verified for a loan application. The intent is to put the proposed borrower in the same position as a cash buyer, said Paul Anastos, the president of Mortgage Master.

Pre-qualifying for a mortgage has many benefits. in addition to those highlighted by the New York Times.

  1. Even for an experienced buyer, its helpful for you to know how much or how little you’ll need for a downpayment, what are the closing costs, and how much cash you’ll need for closing. 
  2. Credit scores and your credit report, even for the stellar client, sometime contain errors, misinformation, or surprises. Running your credit early not only will give you a rock-solid pre-qualification letter, but it will ensure your credit is clean and pretty. Catching a mistake at the time of your offer could set you back several months and put your purchase contract in danger.
  3. Depending on the mortgage product, your interest rates and personal mortgage insurance with change. As your product changes, your monthly payment may fluctuate. Its important to nail down not only your up front cash, but also your projected interest rate and monthly payment to make sure the purchase is financially sound.
  4. Strong pre-qualification letters make a difference to the seller! This cannot be overstated especially in the era of multiple offers and cash buyers. The only way to assure the seller you’re qualified is a with a pre-qualification letter (based upon a review of your income, debt, and merged credit file) from a reputable and preferably local bank. We’ve seen too many big banks hand out mortgage approval letters, which weren’t worth the paper they were printed on.
  5. It makes a difference whether you’re buying as a primary home, second home, or investment property. Even experienced home owners don’t always understand the nuisances of mortgages for second home purchases or investment products, they are not the same products as a primary home mortgage.

So if you’re going to get a mortgage, or maybe not completely sure whether you’re paying cash for your purchase, pre-qualifying is always the first step. As the NYT noted:

Unlike a preapproval for a certain loan amount, usually based on a check of a borrower’s credit history, pre-underwriting involves a thorough review of all the documentation required for a formal approval, said Peter Grabel, a senior loan originator.

Not all Mortgage Lenders are Created Equal

FREE ADVICE: I have a purchase contract, representing the buyer, which was supposed to close on March 3. We’re still waiting on the mortgage commitment letter (good news it’s coming today). The bank forgot to order their appraisal. This is a local bank (not one I recommend), but unfortunately these incidents seem all to common. If you trust your realtor and he/she gives you a recommendation for a lender take it seriously. The lender could be the difference of closing or losing the house. Not all lenders are created equal.

Capital Region Real Estate Market Strongest in 6 Years!

Albany Median Home Prices for 2013 SalesIf you’re a recent homebuyer, feel good knowing 2013 was the best year of home sales in the Albany-Saratoga real estate market since the great recession. In 2013, buyers purchased 9,221 homes in the Capital Region, the highest number of recorded sales since 2007. Moreover, home prices hit an all time high – the median sales price reached $195,814 in 2013.  Despite the 1% annual rise in home prices, we still saw historically low costs to home buying in 2013 thanks to the very low interest rates.

If you’re looking to buy in 2014, feel good knowing interest rates are still at historic lows, home prices are improving, and our overall local and global economies continue to progress. No need to regret 2013. This year still offers many opportunities, especially if you plan on living in your home for a few years.

And finally, if you’re a seller, feel good knowing our 2014 real estate market is likely going to be even stronger. The improving market should continue to lift home prices and balance out the real estate market – tipping the market back towards an even bargaining table between buyers and sellers.

We’ve launched a new website - - to improve your home buying and researching experience. You can monitor the latest homes for sale, price reductions, new listings, and get the most up-to-date real estate information as it happens in our Albany-Saratoga region. The website links directly to the MLS database and is updated daily, so it’s as current and accurate as the MLS database.

Below is the latest GCAR market analysis and an excerpt from today’s Business Review article. 

The residential real estate market in the Albany, NY region had its best performance in 2013 in six years as low interest rates, an improving job market and other factors spurred demand for new and existing homes.

Albany County had the highest increase in average price, rising 3 percent, to $236,768. The average price increased 2 percent in Saratoga County ($286,681). In Rensselaer County the average price was unchanged ($185,011), and the average fell 1 percent in Schenectady County ($179,504).