What Should I Ask My Real Estate Agent When Buying a Home?

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Since buying a house is an enormous investment, it’s best to know what questions to ask at the beginning of your home search. Acquiring information about the qualifications of your agent and the homebuying process can help protect you from unpleasant surprises and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. Here are some essential inquiries to make:

Are You Experienced?

Question agents about their qualifications. Ask if they specialize in particular communities. Inquire about how many years of experience they have and their percentage of successful transactions.

Should I Rent or Buy?

It’s wise to purchase a home when your financial situation is sufficiently strong. Renting may be a better option if you lack the funds needed for a down payment, have debt, or a low credit score. Your agent can give you a buy-versus-rent analysis within your market.

What Are the Costs of Homeownership?

First-time homebuyers may not be aware that the costs of homeownership extend beyond the monthly payments on the principal and interest of the loan. Expenses also include taxes and insurance, as well as utilities and maintenance. The exact monetary outlay may be difficult to estimate, but your agent can give you a general idea of what to expect.

What Preparations Do I Need to Make Before I Can Write an Offer?

In certain areas, a property won’t stay on the market long, so you need to be prepared to act quickly when you come across your dream house. Give your agent a realistic price range of what fits your budget, and then he or she can help you navigate the process of getting the necessary cash in an account that is ready to use.

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How Do I Learn More About the House and/or Neighborhood?

Before you sign the dotted line, you’ll want to know more about the neighborhood you may be moving to. Ask your agent to provide insight into the livability of a neighborhood. You should also ask your agent if the property is in close proximity to a major source of noise like a train station or busy freeway.

Has the Property Changed Ownership Often?

Finding out how long the present owner has lived in the house can help you figure out if there are long-term issues with the property or the surroundings.

May I Speak to the Sellers?

Having a direct conversation with the seller can be a great advantage because sometimes they will be candid about the reason they’re moving, and any aspects of the property. If possible, contact the former owner for another opportunity to discover more about the property.

When Was the House Last Updated?

With the intent of uncovering needed updates that could pose a major expense, ask when the house was last updated. Inquire specifically about the age of the roof, wiring, and appliances. See if the drainage system needs to be replaced.

What is the Minimum Offer the Seller Will Accept?

See if the seller is willing to negotiate on the lowest acceptable offer. Speak to your real estate agent to develop a sound plan for negotiation that will keep you in good standing with the seller.

How Long Has the Property Been on the Market?

Find out if the house has been languishing on the market for some time, or if the seller has received considerable interest from potential buyers. This knowledge will be of value in gauging if you have negotiating room when making an offer.

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Can I Get the Home Inspected Before I Sign the Contract?

If you can get the home inspected before signing the contract, you aren’t obligated to buy if the property needs costly repairs. This downside is that it carries a risk that during the inspection, the seller could accept another offer before the inspection is finished. The solution is to have an inspection contingency in the contract that permits you to get out of the sale if the projected repairs exceed a certain limit.

When Can I Move In?

You’ll need to know this to schedule your moving plans. In most cases, you can move after escrow or closing, but an experienced agent can give you an accurate time frame.

Asking your agent questions is of utmost importance when buying a home. The answers can maximize your chances of buying a home that will offer you many years of enjoyment.

Learn more about the process of buying a home, or find an agent near you at coldwellbanker.com.

Shhh! All the Spring Home Selling Secrets You Need to Know

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Before you put your home on the market this spring, read this.

There’s a lot to consider before putting your home on the market. From choosing the right real estate professional to getting your home open-house-ready and even what to do when that offer does come in! Below we’ve rounded up some of our best selling secrets in real estate’s hottest season.


Choosing a Real Estate Professional
4 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Real Estate Agent

You asked, we answered. Real Estate 101 questions answered by a pro.

A very neat American house with gorgeous outdoor landscape. Northwest, USA.

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell
5 Home Improvements that Pay Back When You Sell. Yes, you read that right.

Renovating for Resale? Where to Focus Your Attention. Squirrel!

Need to get your home sell quickly? Here are 5 Super Simple Ways to Sell Your Home Fast 

Living in a Home While it’s on the Market Isn’t Always Easy. Here are 9 ways to keep living a Semi-Normal Life During Showings.

5 Incredibly Important Steps for Prepping Your Home for Sale This Spring.

April Showers Bring May Flowers. And curb appeal brings interested buyers.

Give Your Deck a little TLC with these 3 Easy Ways to Make Your Deck Shine for Spring Selling

new furnished kitchen in luxury home


Do or Don’t? The Case for Hiring a Staging Professional

What are the Best Colors to Use When Staging Your Home? Hint: You might be surprised that it’s not greige!

Wondering what rooms need to be staged before your put your home on the market?

How to really clean your home before an Open House


Marketing Your Home
This new tech may virtually sell your home for you

Don’t know where to start? Here’s the 411 on Marketing 101 

Read these expert tips before hosting an open house this weekend


The Selling Process
The yard sign is up…what happens now?

Disclosaphobia? 5 Tips for Completing a Seller’s Disclosure

Give and Take or what happens during negotiations.

OK, what really happens during the appraisal process?

Congrats! You’ve made it to the last step in the home selling process! What to expect at closing.


Moving: what’s good about what’s hard.

How many boxes do you really need when you move?

Finally! The Ultimate Moving Day Count Down Checklist

Moving unexpectedly? 3 things to keep in mind.

10 Things You Need to Know Before Moving with Pets

Ready to move but don’t know where to start? A real estate professional can help guide you along every step of the way. To search for a real estate agent in your area, visit coldwellbanker.com.


House Training Your Dog or Puppy

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7 steps to house-training your new dog

The following is a guest post by Jennifer Warner Jacobsen, Adopt-a-Pet.com

Happily, house-training your new dog or puppy can take patience and time, but it is usually not complicated! We have lots of experience from house-training many foster dogs and puppies, and helping new adopters to easily and kindly train their new canine family member to take care of ‘business’ in the appropriate potty spot. We prefer the term “house-training” to “house-breaking” because you really are training your puppy or dog to go where you want – hopefully without having to break any bad habits! Here are the basic steps to house-training your dog or puppy:


Keep your dog under constant supervision while inside – if you must take your eyes away even for a second, confine your dog either in a crate (proper crate training is needed), or in a room with a hard-surfaced floor where accidents may be easily cleaned up, or outside in a secure area. With some dogs and in some homes its best to “tether” them to you, keeping them on a leash attached to you at all times. Close doors or block off carpeted rooms and rooms with rugs that can’t be taken up.


It is easiest for a dog to learn to go in one specific spot, rather than just outside. Pick a “potty” spot, be it in your yard, a grassy area out front, or a corner of your patio. Most dogs prefer porous surfaces (dirt/grass/gravel/carpet/newspaper) if you have a bit of what the dog has gone on before, you can place it where you want the dog to go.


In the beginning, the more often you go to the potty spot, the better you chances of success! Put your dog and yourself on a firm daily schedule of sleeping, feeding and play/exercise, and your dog will start to go to the bathroom on a schedule. And you can make sure he’s at the right spot when the time comes! A typical schedule would include going to the potty spot first thing when you wake up, after breakfast, then at set intervals throughout the day. Two hours apart is great. Longer times will work, it will just take longer for your dog to learn to physically be able to hold it for longer periods.

Take your dog to his potty spot at the times you’ve set and wait (on a leash is often best). Allow the dog to circle and sniff, but don’t encourage him to play…this is serious business time! Be patient and wait for at least five minutes. If he starts to relieve himself, praise quietly until he is finished, then praise him very enthusiastically and reward him with a game or food treat. If he doesn’t go, it’s back to supervision until the next set time. Continue with the routine, and once he’s going when you take him out, gradually increase the time between visits to the potty spot. When you’re down to three times a day and no more accidents inside (anywhere from two to six weeks), you’ve house-trained your dog.


A phrase like “Get Busy” or “Go Potty” (or anything else you prefer) can really help your dog to understand when and where to go the bathroom. Use it just like you use any verbal command – like “Sit,” you say it before you want your dog to do it, and then if he does, give him lots of praise and treats. It won’t work to say it too many times in a row (two or three is enough), and should be said in a happy tone of voice, never as a punishment. Also, if you catch your dog in the act of “getting busy” in the correct spot, you can say “Get busy!! Good dog! Get busy! Good good!!” so they associate that phrase with what they are doing.


If you see your dog about to go, or in the middle of relieving himself indoors, you can say ‘NO’ firmly, but do not raise your voice or yell. Then, immediately take him to your chosen place outside and reward him – praise, treats or play, which ever he most enjoys. Although he has done nothing to be praised for, it is essential that he associate going to that place with reward. If you have caught him in time he will still need to go. If he does go, lots of praise and rewards!


The worst thing you can do is punish your dog for ‘accidents’ that you discover after the fact. Dogs cannot make a connection with punishment for something they did in the past. Some owners will say, “Oh, but he knows he has done wrong because if I show him the mess he looks guilty.” The dog has simply learned that if humans are present and there is a mess on the floor, he is likely to be told off or punished, and yes he will cringe or cower down if you yell. He has not learned not to make the association – and not to make the mess in the first place.

Also… Yelling, making a loud noise with pennies in a can, swatting your dog with a newspaper, pushing your dog’s nose in his mess… aside from being inhumane, they often have the effect of making the dog afraid of you… or afraid of going in front of you. Then, housebreaking will take even longer, or may never happen. This is usually what has happened to dogs that go in the house only when left alone, or in a back room when you aren’t watching. Positive reinforcement is the fastest, easiest way to train. Punishment is the slowest and least-pleasant way to get a dog to do what you want, and often doesn’t work at all, especially for housebreaking!


When or if your pooch has an accident inside your home, thoroughly clean by using biological washing powder solution or a specially formulated enzyme product to remove all traces of the smell. If possible, keep your dog away from these areas until the training is complete. If they keep going on the same spot, put a tarp-covered chair or other pee-proof object in front of or on top of that spot – or lock them out of that room until they are solidly house-trained.

These steps do work quickly for most dogs. However, some dogs or puppies, like those from pet stores and puppymills (where they are forced to go to the bathroom in the same tiny space where they sleep and eat) can be more of a challenge. If your dog is more than 8 months old, and after a month of following these steps you are still having accidents, please consult a professional trainer for assistance. Other reasons why your dog has accidents in the house may include: stress and tension in the household, anxiety (for example, about being left alone or changes in routine), illness and submissive urination. Before beginning any training program, a clean bill of health from your dog’s veterinarian is advised.

What Does My Dog Do When I’m Not Home?

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Usually your dog starts the day off by checking some very impawtant emails.


Then, your dog likes to take a nice relaxing shower before taking on the day…


…followed by a hearty breakfast.


Gobbling up a delicious meal takes a lot of effort, so pretty shortly after eating, it’s nap time!


Then your dog likes to invite friends over, because otherwise, what’s the point of having the house to yourself?


After playtime, it’s time for your pup to catch up on all of his or her favorite shows.

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Just when your dog thinks his day can’t get any better…

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You come home!

Want to find out more about Coldwell Banker’s partnership with Adopt-a-pet.com?Click here!

Header image via DogShaming; GIFs via Giphy & IMGFlip


 Content for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC.

How to Prepare Your Home for New Pets 101

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Guest Post by HomeAdvisor 

Congratulations! You’re considering getting a pet, or you’re about to bring a new furry friend home to join the family. This is an exciting moment. Of course, it also requires some preparation — part of which includes readying your home for the new addition. Here’s how to prepare your home for new pets:

Kitchens and Bathrooms

Install childproof locks on your cabinets so your new pet can’t open them and get to potentially dangerous items. Professional installation will cost about $460.

Put anything your pet can reach — medicine, chemicals, etc. — on a high shelf.

Invest in covered trash bins that can’t be knocked over easily.

Keep food and other edibles out of reach.

Living Room

Hide wires from TVs, stereos and other electronics to prevent animals from chewing on them and shocking themselves.

Hide any small items your pet could chew on or knock over and break.

Move potentially poisonous plants outside, or place them out of reach.

Give them something comfy to lay on, whether it’s a bed on the floor or a blanket on the furniture.

Put machine-washable slipcovers on your furniture.

Certain types of furniture are easier to clean than others; have the right cleaning materials on hand for messes and accidents.



Put clothes and shoes in closets — and close the door so your pet can’t get to them.

Keep any medications or cosmetic items in drawers.

Any household cleaners that you keep in the master bathroom need to be well-hidden or kept behind childproof locks.

Secure garbage cans with lids or store them underneath cabinets.


Keep your animals away from pools or ponds to avoid drowning.

Check your fence for any holes to ensure your pet can’t escape from the yard.

Designate a certain part of the yard as your pet’s bathroom. Keeping it to the same spot helps prevent damage to your bushes or grass.

Move hazardous chemicals and sharp objects to your garage — and keep your pet away from the area.


Other General Areas to Consider:


If you can, replace vertical blinds and window treatments that incorporate draping tassels or cords; these could become choking or strangulation hazards.

Avoid using mini-blinds in your home; pets frequently bend and break them when they’re curious and want to see outside.


Semi-gloss paint is washable and easy to clean.

Vinyl-backed wallpaper is also easy to clean; you might consider this option in rooms in which your dog may be training.


Area rugs are easier to keep clean than carpeting. If you have carpeting, use enzymatic cleaner to eliminate urine and poop smells.

Tile and linoleum flooring are easy for handling pet accidents. Keep this in mind when deciding where to put your pets during the day.

Make sure your hardwood floors are sealed before your pets walk on them.

For more tips on how to prepare a home for pets, check out this article from Adopt a Pet on pet proofing your home.



  1. Jim Chaffee

    July 30, 2015Great article, have shared online with social media pet industry channels. Has CB written anything about How to find the right house for your pets ? Your interest in the pet industry is well founded and appreciated. I tweeted CB in a retweet of this article. Thanks


  2. Tony Hall

    August 4, 2015Very nice information, really appreciated . Thanks for Sharing .


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Are You Using Your Home to Lower Your Taxes?



I’ve been using the same tax accountant for about 15 years now and I always try to meet with her early enough to avoid the last-minute rush to April 15. This year, after we exchanged the usual pleasantries and I handed over the usual suspects – my W2s, charity receipts, car tab bill, etc. – she began the annual inquisition: “Did you buy a new car? Did you refinance? Did you do any remodeling?”

Now I have done all of those at one time or another, but not last year. And more’s the pity because any of those actions would have helped lower my tax bill. You see, I own a home.

Most people know there are significant tax advantages that come with buying a home. The government, in fact, uses these deductions specifically to encourage homeownership. Well, I suppose if you shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for a roof and four walls it’s nice to get something back.

Are you taking full advantage of the tax deductions and credits the IRS earmarks for homeowners only? (Sorry, renters.) Do you know what they are? Did you know that real estate taxes count but HOA fees don’t?

Check out our Top Tax Breaks for Homeowners guide and learn how your biggest investment can help you maximize your 2016 income tax return.

  • Discover which eco-friendly home improvements are tax-friendly too
  • Understand how property taxes help take the sting out of your taxes
  • Find out which tax breaks won’t be around after this year

My car is only two years old and my mortgage rate couldn’t get much lower so a new car or a loan refinance probably aren’t in the cards for me this year. But if I’m really clever, maybe I can get Uncle Sam to help me out with that new kitchen floor I’ve got my eye on.

Download our Top Tax Breaks for Homeowners guide now.

Read This Before Making an Offer on a House

Buying a home can raise some emotional concerns. Before you make an offer on the house, here are 5 things you must remind yourself.

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We have calculus and chemistry classes, but there is no formal education system to prepare for one of the biggest events of a lifetime: buying a home. There are countless resources about the process and legalities of buying a house—and you’ve read and studied them all. But buying a home also raises some emotional concerns. Before you make an offer on the house, here are 5 things you must remind yourself.

Don’t Worry. Being Nervous is Normal.

Buying a home, particularly for the first time, can feel incredibly stressful. It can be confusing when you feel anxiety instead of excitement about something that is often portrayed as a positive commitment. Don’t worry, we understand. This is a big investment and you’re not just making a big purchase, you’re buying your future home. Feeling nervous is totally normal.

One way to counter this is to try to focus on the things that you can control. Don’t get bogged down by the What-Ifs. Do your research and get the facts. Never rush into a decision out of fear or pressure, but rather take the time to make the right choice for you.

It’s Okay to Make Sure the Price is Right

It can be easy to lose sight of your finances when weighing potential house prices, simply because the numbers involved are so big that they don’t feel like real money. If there’s an opportunity to push on price and get even a small discount, it can make a big difference.

Consider a house listed at $250,000 that you can negotiate down to $240,000. On one hand, you’ve only knocked off 4 percent, which hardly seems like a big deal. However, look at it from a different perspective. In addition to saving $10,000, you’ll save more than $5,000 in interest costs on a 25-year mortgage with a 4 percent interest rate. That’s a savings of more than $15,000 in the long run! So no, it’s not just 4 percent. And yes, it’s okay to make sure the price is right.

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Get a Feel for the Neighborhood

You’ll want to feel safe in your new home. One way to find out whether you’re moving to a peace haven or a crime hotspot is to check official crime statistics, such as those available through the Department of Justice website. You can also get a home insurance quote. If the premiums are unexpectedly high, this could be a bad sign about the neighborhood.

Despite all the statistics and data you read, sometimes your own gut feeling is the most reliable.

Don’t just rely on your initial visit to the property, which will often be during the daytime. Go back to the area a few more times: once after nightfall and once during rush hour. Get a good feel for the neighborhood. This will give you a better idea of whether you’ll feel safe in the area, and how bearable the traffic and the noise will be.

Fees Are Up for Negotiation

It’s always worth checking the fine print to see how fees associated with buying a house are divided. You may be able to use this as a bargain chip, particularly if you’re on the fence about buying a property.

For example, a seller might have refuse to reduce the sale price below a certain round number, but could still be persuaded to erase some of the fees. Here are some fees that might be up for negotiation:

  • Realtor fees
  • Escrow fees
  • Title search and insurance fees
  • Transfer taxes
  • A share of any housing association or condominium fees that the seller has already paid for the year

Weigh out the potential savings against the time, hassle, and potential breakdown in negotiation that could occur if you push things too far.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Ask the seller or the realtors about anything you need to know. Don’t worry about coming off as needy or annoying. Everyone knows and understands that buying a house is a huge commitment. Remember, you’ll be dealing with these people for a matter of mere weeks, but you’ll be living in your new home for many years.

In the same vein, never assume anything. Make sure the sale documents detail exactly what fixtures and fittings will come with the house—from light bulbs to garden furniture. Ask the realtor for an exact breakdown of the closing costs you’ll have to pay beyond the property purchase price. And be sure you know the timetable of all the steps between making an offer and physically unlocking the front door to your new home.

When in doubt, just ask. A good realtor will always be happy to keep you informed and put your mind at ease.

Now that you’ve put your mind at ease, look for your perfect dream home on coldwellbanker.com.

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Are You Ready to Buy a Home? Should I buy a home? Or should I rent? Read on to find out if you are ready for homeownership.

are you ready to buy a home

Should I buy a home? Or should I rent? Read on to find out if you are ready for homeownership.

So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge on your dream home. But are you really ready to own it, or should you consider renting? Home ownership is often touted as a popular facet of the American Dream. But buying a home is not something you do on a whim. Rather, it’s a deliberate process that involves assessing your life to determine if buying a house is a financially sound step for you. Here are some signals that you might be ready for homeownership.

You Are Debt Free

You know you’re ready to buy a home when you are debt-free. Not only would paying a monthly mortgage seem like a herculean task, but getting a mortgage lender to finance your home could be difficult as well.

Lenders often decide to lend based on the debt-to-income ratio. The debt-to-income ratio is related to your total monthly debt to gross monthly income. The higher this number, the more difficult it is to receive financing. If a large portion of your income is going to pay off your pre-existing loans, you have to ask yourself if you can really afford to pay off another huge loan. If you are still paying off your auto loans, student loans, and credit card debts, or have a debt-to-income ratio of more than 43%, now might not be a good time to buy a house.

You Can Afford a Down Payment

A down payment is a percentage of the total price of the home that you pay up-front. The number one hurdle that potential house-buyers face is this initial investment.

How much should you put down as down payment? The standard amount is 20% of the asking price of the house. This is the ideal percentage to keep your monthly mortgage check low and manageable. A 20% or higher down payment will also allow you to refinance your future home at a lower interest rate.

Being able to afford a healthy down payment shows your lenders that you are capable of saving, and that you are serious about your investment. This payment negates the need for private mortgage insurance (PMI), which gives your lender protection in an event where the buyer stops paying their mortgage.

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The 5-Year Rule

If you’re planning to stay in one place for at least 5 years, that’s a great time to buy a home. The reason is that this long-term commitment helps build equity.

Equity is the difference between the appraised value of your house and the balance left to pay as mortgage. One thing to be aware of is mortgage amortization, which is how mortgage payments are calculated: how much goes toward paying off the principal amount, and how much goes toward paying the interest.

At the beginning, more of your payment goes towards paying interest than principal balance. But after making enough payments, as you get closer to paying off the remaining balance on your loan, more money will go to pay the principal amount rather than interest. Each month, equity on the house increases. Five years is a good benchmark to develop enough equity to sell your house for a profit, which may be used to make a bigger down payment on your next house.

You Have an Emergency Fund

Life is full of curve balls, and you should be prepared for those, especially financially. Another great indication that you’re ready to purchase a home is that you have an emergency fund reserved for unexpected events like lay-offs, car repairs, renovations, emergency medical expenses, etc. It’s a good idea to build a safety net before investing in a house. A good benchmark is to have 6 months’ worth of income saved up in a savings account. This gives you a healthy blanket of financial security to handle any financial setbacks that might come your way. Emergency funds should be kept separate from your down payment.

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You Can Afford the Associated Fees of Buying a Home

Buying a home requires more than just being able to afford the sticker price. There are several costs that may not be mentioned up-front that most new buyers don’t consider. Educating yourself about all these fees, which can add up to a substantial expense, will put you in a better position to tackle what many new buyers might consider as an unexpected blow to their home-buying plans.

Home inspections, closing costs (an umbrella term that includes several costs like lender fees, title fees, home appraisal, and Escrow fees, etc.), moving costs, property taxes, home insurance, higher monthly utility bills, homeowner’s association (HOA) fees, along with maintenance, furnishing, and renovation expenses are all costs that many potential home-buyers overlook. Make sure that you have enough savings stacked up to cover these expenses.

Now that you know what to look for, find out How to Find a Great Real Estate Agent to learn the 6 factors to keep in mind when seeking the best agent for your house hunting.

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3 Tax Implications of Selling Your Second Home

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A second home can be nice as a vacation spot, an additional source of income from collecting rent, or simply as an investment. Learn more about the tax implications of selling your second home.

The undertaking of selling a home often comes with a rush of questions. Is it listed at a fair price? How quickly will it sell? Do you have the right real estate agent? Not to mention the inconvenience of needing to keep your home ready to show at a moment’s notice.

But what if you want to sell a second home? Perhaps you have a vacation home or investment property that you want to divest of—is it any easier to sell than one you’re residing in? In some respects, it is easier. For one thing, there’s typically less of a need for a quick sale because your move-out isn’t contingent upon the house selling.  However, there are some tax implications that sellers may not be aware of when it comes to selling a second home.

1. The Issue of Capital Gains

Capital gains are the profits from the sale of a second home. The law allows up to a $500,000 profit ($250,000 for singles) tax-free if you sell your primary home. However, capital gains tax kicks in on profits earned from selling a second home. Capital gains tax is a federal rate of 20% plus the capital gains tax of the individual state you live in. There may be more tax benefits to living in a home for at least two years as a primary residence before selling.

2. Tax Exceptions for Selling a Second Home

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 states that while you can still claim your second property as your primary home before it’s sold, you’ll owe taxes for the time that the house was a second home after January 1, 2009. The calculation of this tax is based on the years you lived in the house as your primary residence versus the years the property was used for other purposes, like rental. This is the amount of capital gain that will be taxed from the profit of the sale of the house.

3. You May Qualify for a 1031 Exchange Tax Deferment

A 1031 Exchange is an arrangement where the seller of the second home exchanges an investment property or rental house for another investment property or rental house—of equal or greater value—with tax deferments.

This can be appealing to some sellers because they might be able to work around paying capital gains tax through the property swap. In order to qualify for a 1031 Exchange, a house has to be considered a rental house, not a primary residence. The house must be rented out for at least 15 days and used by the owner for less than 14 days, or for 10% of the total days the property was rented.

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A second home can be nice as a vacation spot, an additional source of income from collecting rent, or simply as an investment. If you decide to sell your second home, be sure to know the facts before selling and seek professional advice from a real estate agent who can help you make the most out of it.

Browse our seller resources on the Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog or find an agent near you.


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BLUE MATTER BLOGS:Selfie 101: Six Ways to Prep Your Home for Sale in the Digital Age

Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

Post, share, like, comment, repeat. Virtual showings via Facebook live, an engaging tweet promoting the new listing and THE money shot on Instagram. Aerial photos and videos captured via drone. Property videos on You Tube and taking a tour in virtual reality. Are you ready? Your property is about to go viral.

It’s 2017, and the way properties are being marketed has changed. As the world becomes increasingly connected through the use of technology, buyers can learn everything about a home and never physically see it–if they choose–before making a purchasing decision. With the use of social media channels, video, drones and virtual reality, the home search process has become highly accelerated which means as a seller, you only have seconds to make a first impression.

The way you live in your home and the way you capture it for marketing purposes are two different things. Here are six tips to properly preparing your home for sale in the digital age.

White Kitchen Interior with Island, Sink, Cabinets, and Hardwood Floors in New Luxury Home with Lights On

1. Make sure that your home is completely prepared on both the inside and outside for all photo, video and virtual reality shoots BEFORE they are scheduled. You don’t want the property listed with images of a home that is in process of getting ready for sale and assuming you can easily update it with better images later once all the yard work has been done. Sellers need to understand that real estate listings are typically syndicated to NUMEROUS websites the minute they hit the local multiple listing service. This means that any photos, videos and virtual reality walkthroughs are replicated hundreds of times. While it is possible to change photos on a listing at any time, those new images may not update to all websites instantaneously. Each website has its own schedule for refreshing feeds, and images showing different property conditions can cause buyer confusion.

2. Image is REALLY everything. Pictures captured using sophisticated camera equipment can be unforgiving. Therefore, you need to truly clear the clutter from any space that is going to be photographed. This means no placemats on the table, an excessive amount of appliances cluttering the countertops and keeping decorative items –pictures, statutes, collections, plants (artificial or real) to a minimum. Home offices are often a culprit and even though you may have things in neat piles, the piles need to be removed for purposes of the shoot. Don’t forget the laundry room or garage. Stray power cords, power strips or cables may also be distracting. While you may not think these things would affect photo and video images, it may devalue the space and detract from some of the home’s best features.

3. Straighten, primp, fluff, repeat. Comforters and bedspreads need to be wrinkle free and pulled tight. Pillows on beds, couches and chairs need to be fluffed and arranged accordingly. Scan the beds for any stray sheets hanging down on the sides and tuck them under the mattress. All seat cushions should be flipped over and straightened out as if they were appearing in a catalog photoshoot. Make sure all furniture is positioned properly and any hanging artwork is straight. And before I forget.. do a light bulb check as all lights are typically turned on for a shoot. Those wall sconces that are rarely turned on may have gone dark.

4. Bathrooms – hide EVERYTHING for pictures. That means removing the toothbrushes, mouthwash, bathroom cups, hairdryers, make-up and whatever else from the counters. Don’t forget the shower and bathtub stalls – no one wants to see what brand soap you are using. Clear everything out of here, including from the shampoo shelf.

Beautiful landscaped upscale home

5. Landscaping, Trees, Roof and Driveway –this has become especially important with the use of drones to capture aerial images and video. An aerial image is often being chosen as the main photo in a MLS listing and therefore it is the FIRST image that a buyer may see whether on the multiple listing service or on other consumer websites. It is critically important that you invest time in making sure the exterior looks the best it can be. Landscaping should be trimmed so it enhances the home’s appearance and doesn’t hide it. Anything dead or drooping should be removed and replaced with something that will give curb appeal. Look up at the trees surrounding your home. When was the last time you had them trimmed? Aerial shots may make the home look consumed by trees vs. being complimented by them. Unless you live in a forest, this is not a good thing.

And the roof? Any debris needs to be blown off prior to any photography or video activities. In fact, it is a good idea to arrange to have the roof and all walkways blown off right before the photography fun begins. A roof with shingles showing signs of age and/or fading may not be a good candidate for a drone.

Lastly, a driveway with lots of cracks or uneven payment cannot hide from drone photography. The images it renders from the air may appear much worse vs. how things appear from ground level.

House and pool.

6. Outdoor Furniture, Exterior Light Fixtures, Summer Kitchens, etc. When was the last time these were really cleaned? I’m not talking about beating the cushions so the dirt and dust comes off. Dirty furniture, worn fixtures and a summer kitchen that hasn’t been cleaned since your last barbecue six months ago can dampen a spectacular outdoor setting. Pollen, dirt, dead bugs, rust and sun beaten cushions can make your outdoor space appear worn and not well maintained. If none of these items can be prepped to shine, you may be better off replacing them with inexpensive substitutes.

While all of this may seem like a lot of work, a little extra effort to elevate your property’s digital presence and create the idyllic setting of where your next buyer’s life will play out will go a long way with engaging them to make your home “the one”.

Cara Ameer is a real estate professional with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. To learn more about her, visit http://www.caraameer.com

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