The housing market today is in shambles and it’s no secret. You will be hard pressed to sell your home at fair market value. Even if you can afford to sell for less it has become about impossible. So what can we do short of letting the bank take it back?
If trying to sell your home has failed through a realtor or even by yourself, look at rent to own, or what is called a lease option. I’m no expert but after over a year of not being able to sell my home I researched and found that a lease option is not a whole lot different than subletting your place. If you are unsure, contact a real estate lawyer. If you absolutely cannot afford a lawyer, stop by a place like Office Depot, they have legal packets galore. Such packets are wills, divorce, real estate selling and lease options.
Research lease options because the IRS may be able to tax you for sales of a home on the monthly payments plus income tax on those payments. I would like to remind you, I’m no expert, contact an attorney if you are unsure. Especially with all the loopholes, you could get pinched and have a hard time reclaiming the property for default if someone has equity in your home.
A colleague of mine was in a pinch and just wanted to sell his house for what he owed. It had been on the market several times with very few prospects and he ended up doing a lease option keeping his payment low without making any much profit so as to attract a potential buyer. So, that will be our example.
His mortgage balance was roughly $67,000 and the payoff amount in two years time was going to be around 65k. At an interest rate of 6% with taxes and insurance included, monthly payments were around $520 per month. Since this was zero money up front he did a credit and background check and only required a rental deposit. Having no money up front does not necessarily imply no down payment; he just required it to be paid over a time of two years.
The simple way he did this was, in two years the tenant had the option to buy the home at a set price of 67k regardless of the market value should it go up. Requiring a down payment of 2000 dollars over 24 months the monthly rent was 600. At then end of two years the balance was 65k and became the tenants remaining balance. Had the tenant paid 2k upfront then his rent would have been only $520 a month. Also, had the tenant defaulted, the owner could have repossessed the home and started over with a new lease contract.
The great side to this is with a lease option contract the owner can be free of upkeep on this home. If the water heater fails it’s up to the tenant to replace.
There are lots of folks doing this sort of thing now so you still need to be competitive and make your home attractive to buyers. Curb appeal and cosmetics make a world of difference. Here a few ideas, some are cheap and some are not but are effective.
· In the growing months keep the yard mowed about twice a week. Even a weedy lawn cut regularly can still be attractive. Edge around sidewalks and keep them swept clean even if you have to use a weed eater. For a quick display, plant some annual flowers. In the fall keep leaves raked and winter keep walking areas clean of snow.
· Scrape loose paint and repaint.
· Wash windows and outside of house. Siding tends to collect dirt and windows are often neglected but can make a world of difference.
· Check screens on door and windows. Screens in poor shape reflect laziness and poor house maintenance.
· Bathrooms and kitchens tell a lot about a house and their owners. Fresh paint in these areas shows cleanliness. Painting these areas with a white or off white is a good bet. Clean tiles, sinks, shower doors, bathtubs and toilets good. If your faucets look poor use #0000 steel wool to polish fixtures and remove hard water build up. Then go over with a metal polish compound. On the floor, self adhesive tiles are fairly cheap, easy to put down and look great.
· Paint other rooms in neutral colors like beige or off white. For rooms with ugly 1970’s paneling get some paintable textured wall paper. We have used this and it looks great. If your paint is in good shape then clean the walls and door jambs, door trim and around light switches, especially if you have little fingers running about.
· If furnishing appliances clean them thoroughly.
· Vacuum and shampoo carpets regularly. A little bit of fabric softener in your shampooer will give your house a nice scent and make your carpets soft to the touch.
· Clean vents and registers.
I once had a realtor tell me to have an open house and bake cookies and set them out. Not only do you get the aroma of baked goods but you also feed the guest creating a down home atmosphere. All of these are just ideas from personal experiences. The housing market affects us all, regardless if you are buying, selling or not. So if you are reading this and have ideas on this subject we encourage our readers to post comments that may help.