Monthly Archives: May 2012

Selling your home? Tips to get more from your sale!

By Rhea-Simone Auguste

(c) Moon Light Rental Ltd.

If you have decided to sell or rent your home, one of the first things you should do is walk the perimeter of your premises and critique your property. Imagine you are a prospective buyer/renter looking at the place for the first time. Is your property clean, well-maintained and free from defects? Is the yard clear of “junk” and debris and inviting to buyers who may have children and want the yard clutter-free?

Sometimes it may be difficult to see your home as anything but your home. It has been your sanctuary and all of the quirks and eccentricities that you added gave it the personal touches. However, prospective buyers/renters are less interested in personal touches and more interested in getting the best property for their money. They are looking for a perfect solution to their housing problem or an investment in a property that will yield a profit in years to come. The less problems they see with the property upfront – the better.

Most sellers are not interested in spending pre-sale of a house because they think it would cost too much to do so. But there are untold benefits of sprucing up your property before prospective buyers see it and topping the list of benefits is – your property can be soldfaster with minor improvements.

Here are some quick and inexpensive tips to improve the look of your home for prospective buyers/renters courtesy Moon Light Rental Ltd:

  1. De-clutter your yard! The first thing prospective customers see is your yard. If you have a lawn, have it trimmed before showings and ensure all walkways, drains and concrete areas are free of mould and dirt by power-washing or scrubbing with a solution of bleach and water. A clean yard is an inviting yard.
  2. Front porches/galleries should also be cleaned and made to look inviting to people who enjoy entertaining. If you have a nice patio set or simple chairs and an outside mat – arrange them as though you were expecting company. If the house is being sold/rented unfurnished – consider touch-painting so all surfaces look fresh and new.
  3. Inside the house: Two areas of a house can make/break a potential sale/rental – the kitchen and the bathroom(s). These areas MUST be cleaned thoroughly and the kitchen cupboards should be inspected pre-showing to ensure no insects have made your cupboards their home. The last thing a prospective customer wants is to open a cupboard and have a cockroach jump out and greet them. If your home has had problems with ants, invest in a simple TERRO liquid ant bait solution and place baits a few days before showings. Remember to remove all baits and dead insects before you show your place.
  4. Check your bathrooms and toilets thoroughly before you let prospective customers see your place. Make sure toilets are scrubbed clean and bathroom surfaces look clean to touch. Essentially your prospective customers should feel like the house is in move-in condition immediately.

You would be surprised to know the value of your property could go up by simply painting, power-washing and preparing it prior to a valuation or a sale.

Thinking about selling/renting your property? Give us a call at 221-8550 or 773-5468. Looking for a place to buy/rent, give us a call and let’s see if we could match you to your dream home.

The Best Time to Buy is NOW!

By Rhea-Simone Auguste

© MoonLight Rental Ltd.

For those of you unfamiliar with the way the real estate market operates, there are two terms you should get familiar with: Buyer’s Market and Seller’s Market. At present, it is safe to say it is a Buyer’s Market. What this means is there are many houses for sale on the market leading to better prices for buyers. Sellers looking to move on want to SELL and FAST for less than the actual value of their property. Instead of listing a property for sale and waiting for a long period (over a year in some instances) to get it sold, sellers are more open to negotiate the selling prices of their house/land. If you’re thinking about buying a property for residential use or as an investment – now is the best time to buy.

As a buyer, you now have more choices within a price bracket. Let’s say you are looking for property under 1.2 million in East Trinidad, you can choose from a number of new developments including gated community properties where the starting price for some of the houses is $825,000 (Coral Park, St. Helena) or some hovering closer to the 1.2 maximum in The Crossings, Arima.

Areas close to St. Augustine have maintained steady prices with properties closer to the University of the West Indies commanding higher prices with sellers demanding well over $400 per square foot in some instances because of the commercial possibility of the area. It is a highly sought-after location for student housing and renting a one-bedroom apartment in the area can cost between $2500-$4000 depending on the furnishings and amenities offered

A must-watch area for investors is Trincity. Old-fashioned homes close to the Mall can be bought for under 1 million but with minor improvements – roof changes and aircondition installation together with minor infrastructure adjustments – properties can be resold for over 1.5 million in this highly demanded area

Also on the rise is St. Helena. Roughly 10 minutes drive from the Piarco traffic light, the area is rapidly developing into a townhouse and apartment complex hotspot.  The area will likely see an increase in properties being built by year end with the value of properties likely climbing higher in years to come.

In the San Juan/Santa Cruz area, a number of new developments may well be in the plannings. Vast stretches of residential land is on the market for sale at present – opening the way for investors to buy and build residential communities. Santa Cruz offers properties on par in terms of land structure to Maraval  however the prices are much more reasonable with land being sold around $100/sq.ft compared to Maraval where $130/sq.ft is the on the lower end of the price scale and not necessarily in the best areas.

In the Western end of Trinidad, prices continue to be on the higher end for houses – think multiple millions for a three-bedroom flat in Westmoornings. However, if you’re open to the idea of building – you can get land between TT$65- TT$95 per square foot in Glencoe with all the conveniences of a West property including a shorter commute to Port of Spain.

Central Trinidad is rapidly gaining popularity among buyers as the new overpass constructed by Grand Bazaar has helped to ease the traffic woes of those heading into South-bound lanes from Port of Spain after 4PM. Additional changes to road infrastructure including newly paved areas in some parts of Cunupia and environs has opened areas for development. Although buyers can access more land for their money in Central Trinidad, caution must be exercised when buying in and around areas prone to flooding including parts of Caroni, Freeport and Gasparillo.

Thinking about going down San Fernando to live? Southern home prices continue to climb with homes in Palmiste climbing to supremacy with sprawling mansions with asking prices crossing 8 Million and up.  More affordable homes can be found in Vistabella from as low as $1.5 Million. Buying land and building is the best for the under 1.5 Million buyer interested in San Fernando and environs but locating land under $100/sq.ft. may present a challenge unless you have a diligent real estate agent looking for spots as they come up.

It is an excellent time to buy and if the economy continues in its present direction, more properties will likely be put on the market as homeowners battle with rising costs of living and the decision to sell property becomes more enticing.

Pre-qualify: When and why?

By Rhea-Simone Auguste

©Moon Light Rental Ltd.

moonlightrental@yahoo.com

 

Mary Marshall wanted to buy a house. She did a rough calculation of how much she thought she would get in a mortgage based on how much rent she was currently paying. Then, she called a realtor and said – “I am looking for a house around 1.5 million”. Mary was linked to a sourcing agent who promptly sent her a list of homes close to her given price range. After viewing several properties, Mary found the perfect home in her ideal neighbourhood. She signed an offer to purchase with a bid on the house and excitedly took the information to the bank to get started on her mortgage process.

Mary reached the loans department with all of her payslips and financial documents and the information on her dream property, certain that she would get through with her loan in a hurry. The loans officer went through all of her documents and with one sentence, crushed Mary’s hopes for buying the house – “You are not qualified for 1.5 million.”

“Not qualified?” Mary was confused. She paid $8000 a month in rent and she figured she could get a 25 year mortgage at least so she should be able to handle a 1.5 million dollar mortgage. However, she had a few loans, 2 credit cards and she had defaulted on a loan previously and that affected her credit rating. The bank would only offer her $900,000. Now she had to start the process of house-hunting all over again and say goodbye to the idea of owning the gorgeous property she considered her dream home.

Mary could have avoided the heartbreak and the hassle if she had gone to her bank first.

If you are seriously thinking about making your first home purchase, your first step should be getting a pre-qualification from your bank. The pre-qualification process is a useful tool as it helps you to get a clearer picture of your current financial status. Doing a pre-qualification is easy and some banks even do them over the phone. You simply supply your bank or mortgage lender with your overall financial picture, including your debt, income and assets. After evaluating this information, a lender can give you an idea of the mortgage amount for which you qualify. There is no charge for this pre-qualification – this is a free service offered by most banks.

A pre-qualification should not be confused with a pre-approval however. Getting pre-approved is the next step, and it tends to be much more involved. You’ll complete an official mortgage application (and usually pay an application fee), and then supply the lender with the necessary documentation to perform an extensive check on your financial background and current credit rating. (Typically at this stage, you will not have found a house yet, so any reference to “property” on the application will be left blank). From this, the lender can tell you the specific mortgage amount for which you are approved. You’ll also have a better idea of the interest rate you will be charged on the loan and, in some cases, you might be able to lock-in a specific rate. With pre-approval, you will receive a conditional commitment in writing for an exact loan amount, allowing you to look for a home at or below that price level. Obviously, this puts you at an advantage when dealing with a potential seller, as he or she will know you’re one step closer to obtaining an actual mortgage.

The advantage of completing both of these steps – pre-qualification and pre-approval – before you start to look for a home is that you’ll know in advance how much you can afford. This way, you don’t waste time with guessing or looking at properties that are beyond your means. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage also enables you to move quickly when you find the perfect place. When you make an offer, it won’t be contingent on obtaining financing, which can save you valuable time. In a competitive market, this lets the seller know that your offer is serious – and could prevent you from losing out to another potential buyer who already has financing arranged.

Moon Light Rental Ltd. Joins the Real Spaces Family!

The newest addition to our featured agents is Moon Light Rental Ltd. Headed by Ms Rhea-Simone Auguste. We will soon be featuring listings from this agent as well as articles submitted by the agency. Stay tuned for more updates on additions to the Real Spaces line up soon!

 

Gated Communities in T&T, a trend or a new way of life?

Within the past decade or two , there has been a movement towards the development of gated communities across T&T. No longer making it to the news anymore, the idea of gates closing off access roads after hours to residential communities has become the norm. More so , making a “Community” a “Gated Community” seems to immediately increase its appeal for homeownership and a sense of security, not to mention, its value in the eyes of home hunters.

This thinking is now institutionalized  in T&T with appraisers and bankers all chiming in as to the value of gated communities being higher that that of “normal communities”. But what makes this so? I visited with a friend of mine recently, a home in the Maracas Valley that was well within a Gated Community. The directions to the home included the normal trini directions, “look out for the bus shed, if you see that, you’ve gone too far!” But to my interest, the directions also included a new type of information, access info. You see, even if you got the directions right but didn’t have the code to get pass the security gates, your no closer to the house than a complete stranger.

Seems, the times have certainly come that if you  don’t live there and weren’t invited, its safe to say, your not welcomed. Who’s to say this strategy is wrong tho? The times we live in, makes decisions like this sometimes necessary. Tho it does take away from the feeling of what Trinidad used to be, before all these social changes started to take place.

There were some interesting aspects that I had not considered to Gated Community life, not hailing from one myself, some of these ideas were a great solution to the problems that I face in my community too. One of these was the idea that the entire community was divided into sections, with a certain number of homes in each section. The section would then have a section leader and these leaders would all confer in the general maintenance of the area. Gardening, Grooming even painting and remodeling/ repurposing of the home would have to be agreed to in some form with the committee.

This can be an interesting solution to recurring problems that all communities face these can include inconsiderate visitor parking, Loud music and disturbances late at night, Garbage Collection, Security patrols and other operational challenges can also be addressed as a community as opposed to in an ad hoc manner by individual owners. However, I could not help but think of the loss of the individual in this process. The point of being an owner comes with some sense of ownership and that includes being able to do as you like with your own property. But that’s just me.

Semantics aside, I passed the question by, Adrian De Souza of Golden Key Real Estate, to find out how the Gated Community concept has impacted the appeal of buyers on the market, this were his thoughts…

“Over the last 12 years I have definitely seen a greater demand for gated communities over the traditional types.  Initially, gated communities were perceived to offer a much more secure environment, but over time people have come to realize that gated communities definitely do not guarantee their safety because what “gated” means ranges from a automated barricade at the entrance of the development to a compound with guards on site assisted by hi-tech surveillance equipment and electrified perimeter fences.  The monthly cost to each homeowner associated with the latter “gated” concept could easily range around $2,000.00 and as such will negatively affect the ability of a would be homeowner to qualify for the mortgage while maintaining that level of monthly maintenance fees.  As a result some homeowners specify they do not want a “gated” community to avoid such fees.  They are in a minority though as the crime level of the country still ensures gated communities will be perceived as having a real increase in the value of traditional   residential communities.”

Adrian De Souza, Golden Key Real Estate