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Curb Appeal: What is it and How Important is it?

The last thing you want to have happen when you have your home up for sale is for people to drive up and have a look, and then drive off…nver to return again. Why did they leave?

Your home could have been the wrong style or have the wrong exterior finish. But in all likelihood, it was curb appeal.

Curb appeal is one of those magic phrases used by real estate people that means a lot of things. It could be the home itself, or they could be referring to the landscaping. Curb appeal, in is simplest form means the overall balance and harmoney of everything the eye beholds while sitting at the curb and viewing the property. If it is eye appealing and alluring, they will want to come inside and have a look around.

The amount of curb appeal your home has will determine how much inside traffic you get to the home (outside traffic doesn’t count). Inside traffic into the home is what it takes to sell it. So, curb appeal will ultimately effect how much your home sells for…or if it will sell at all.

So what makes up curb appeal and how do you get it?

The Structure

Your home must appear to be in top condition and well maintained. The paint must look fresh and unblemished. Gutters must be straight and in good repair. Doors should be square and fit in their frames perfectly. Anything that looks out of the ordinary needs to either be removed, repainted, or fixed.

The Yard

The lawn should be mowed and edged, and GREEN in the spring, summer and fall. Everything that blocks the view of the home needs to be trimmed or removed. This includes bushes, shrubs, trees, etc. If people cannot see the home, they will not want to come inside. All shrubs and bushes should be manicured and shaped. Flowers and bark or mulch needs to be new and replanted if necessary. Your job is to make the yard look picture perfect BEFORE you put it up for sale. Trim all low hanging branches that interfere with the street view of your home.

If you do not want to do all of the work, hire a landscaping contractor to come up with a plan. You will be more than rewarded for what you spend in the eventual sales price of your home.

Curb appeal increase the traffic to the inside of your home. And, if people don’t come inside, they won’t buy it. Your agent can get people to at least take a drive by your home. It’s up to you to make them want to come inside.

What Happens to OLD Foreclosures?

A bank or mortgage company forecloses on a property. After a few months of legal hassles, the lender finally gets clear title to the property and hires a local real estate agent. Of course, the lender, at this point, wants to try and recover almost all of the money lent on the property.

6 months or a year go by and this period is full of price reductions and repairs to the property. The property may have been vandalized, lived in by squatters, had new carpet and paint, even had new landscaping. The problem is usually that the lender refuses to set the price where it should be so the property, although shown many times, continues to sit on the market.

There is a hidden time limit for this lender. Does anyone know how long it is? How long can the lender keep a non-performing asset on its’ books? How long can the property be an REO? We aren’t talking about government foreclosures here (FHA and VA loans), the government can keep them forever. We are talking about bank or lender owned foreclosures.

I have a done a little research and it appears that the time limit that a private lender can keep an REO on its’ books is 2 years plus or minus a little.

The questions is… What happens to the house or property AFTER the statutory time period has expired and the lender is forced to “get rid of the property at any price”?

Unfortunately, researching this topic has produced very little in the way of usable results. However, I did happen upon a few references to something called The REO Black Hole List. Apparently there really is a place that lenders can “dump” their old REO inventory as a last measure. And, they dump them at dirt cheap prices – usually for thess than lot value.

My research has found that there appears to be a handful of asset managers, companies that buy these old REO properties in bulk, that lenders turn to when they absolutely must liquidate the non-performing assets. These asset managing companies turn around and sell, in bulk, to a “secret” list of private, seasoned investors who actually purchase 50 to 100 to 400 houses at a time.

And guess what? These investors are able to purchase these homes, on average, for $2350 to $5000 per house! I kid you not. I actually spoke to an investor who bought around 182 houses direct from Fannie Mae for $400,000. You do the math. That is under $2500 per house.

The thing about this kind of setup is that the investor must buy all of the homes in a package – whether they are vacant lots, burnouts, or condemned. AND – they are not in one location but spread out all over the country. That’s why the average price per home is so cheap…to spread the risk. But, these homes have all been in an MLS system somewhere – they were all REO properties at one time – so there is a way to find the market value pretty easily: Call a local agent!

AND since the investor may live in Maine or south Florida, he or she will also call a local agent to list these properties. They usually pay a high commission because the price will be low and because they have very little invested in the house. Does anyone have any experience with these types of investors? Or – if you know a local investor, would they be interested in this kind of “bulk buying”?

One other little tidbit I found out: a lot of the packages that these asset managers sell consist of only 10 or 20 homes. Think about that. You could buy 10 homes for $30,000 or $40,000. While some of them may not be the jewels you would want, several of them will always be great fix and flip homes that will sell for as much as you paid for the entire package.

Again, little information can be found on this “underground network” and the only place I could get any information was at this REO site. I know it exists. If you know how to get on this list or how to get in touch with the investors that participate, please post it! If you are in Ohio and I am in Alabama, we are not competing against each other!

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