Steph Welch Is In Da House, Y’All…

Hello! Stephanie Welch here, writing this post for PCC. :)

It’s an exciting time for real estate today– a lot of homebuyers are looking for a home, a lot of investors are looking for houses to buy, flip, and sell, and there are also a lot of properties being built as we speak. In fact, our colleagues over in Kuala Lumpur have reported a gigantic increase in condominium rentals this year– I read it myself in Malaysia property reviews encyclopedia– so definitely, it’s a great time for real estate! Now, for my first post, I’ve written an article to help sellers sell their homes faster– read on if you want to know more!

One of the keys to effective sales and marketing is knowing what buyers have in mind. It is essential to know what is marketable and what is not, and delivering that which the buyers want from you. Whether the market is to the sellers’ or the buyers’ advantage, it is essential that you have what your target market is looking for.

Identifying Your Target Market

Before knowing what your buyers want, you have to determine first who your “buyers” are. Are they single, career-oriented people? Are you targeting small families? Or are you looking at retirees to be your home’s next owners? According to this article by Realestate.com, you should know how to get a niche and identify your target market.

To figure this out, there are two things to look at: what you have and where you’re at.

If your house has three bedrooms and an attic plus a den, this may be too big for a retiring couple but just enough for a group of young career women or a growing family. However, if your house is located in the suburbs and away from the center of the city, this may not be too appealing for the youngsters but will make a great family home instead.

Based on what you find out from this, you then suit the rest of your house for the needs of your target market.

What All Buyers are Looking For

In every home sale, there are five things that buyers are primarily looking at. These are factors that highly affect their comfort and home life:

  • Size – the size of your house will determine not only how many people it can accommodate but on how comfortably accommodating it will be for your prospective buyer. Ideally, whatever your target market is, always present your house as a spacious home – something that can both take in everyone and everything they have, as well as have space enough so as not to be too clammy.
  • Cost of living – some homes are just naturally very expensive to maintain, while some are comfortably low maintenance. If your house runs on old heaters and an old HVAC system, this may seem a little too expensive to maintain especially for a big family with only two earners. Others have amenities that are too much for the average homeowner, like a home spa or a pool.
  • Extra space outdoors – Others love the huge rolling greens, while others see this as an extra need for maintenance and logically, only calls for more maintenance costs.
  • Condition of the homemost, if not all, homebuyers are looking for homes that are ready to move in. That is why most of them meticulously look at every nook and the cranny of the house for signs of damage and aging. Any defect they find on the house are either a cause to negotiate the selling price further down, or a cause for them to reconsider getting the house and look elsewhere.

Matching your house with the right target market helps you figure out where and how to market it for a more successful sale. Knowing this piece of information is very helpful especially if you are selling your house without the help of a professional realtor.

Where I’ll Be In January

I will be in Milton Keynes, north of London for the whole of 2014. We will be setting up our very first branch in UK and I am terribly excited!

Meanwhile, our Malaysia office is rocking it even though the volume of transactions on a whole have been coming down. Our transactional value is skyrocketing though with some good sales in upmarket properties such as Pavilion Residences, Bintang Goldhill and Kenanga Apartment.

If you need to get in touch with me in January, please email my assistant Joey – joey@parkcitycenter.org

Love, Steph

Seller Mistakes Galore

Sometimes, one man’s mistakes are another man’s opportunities. When buying a home, this is one type of luck that you could hope for!

See, Malaysian home buyers will always be at an advantage over some “foreign investor”. No matter how nonchalant your home seller seems about your offer, or how un-desperate they seem about closing the deal with you, trust me at the back of their minds they are seriously hoping for you to sign the cheque and get the deal over and done with.

Malaysian Home Seller.

Beware the seller who poses as a nice guy… he may have more tricks up his sleeves than Bozo the Clown!

Mistakes Sellers Make

And while you’re already extra, extra careful, conscious and wary of everything about the house and the deal, you have to watch out for these mistakes that most sellers make because there are serious benefits in it for you:

  • Not getting a home inspection prior to selling. This is one very good way to save up on many costs – including repairs. If you offer to shoulder the fees of the home inspection, chances are, your home inspector would find out something the owner hasn’t. And that something could either save you from a very costly repair in the future, or could earn you a sizable discount on the final selling price of the house. After all, any form of anomaly on the house is a liability on the side of the seller.
  • Overpricing their home. If you did your homework well, you will know more or less how much the house is actually worth and you’ll definitely know if it’s overpriced or not. And if your home seller is guilty of doing this, chances are, the house won’t sell at all. You either make an offer on the house citing comparables as a basis for them to lower the selling price, or you wait until they stay way too long on the listings and they decide to mark it several thousand dollars lower. Patience is a very useful thing here so have tons of it!
  • Covering up problems. Whether or not the home owner gets the house inspected, it is always a safer way to get a house inspector yourself. If your inspector found out about a house problem that the home seller tried to hide or did not disclose in the report, you can always get a better deal out of it. But make sure you don’t lose too much on whatever repairs you’d have to do on in later.
  • Under-pricing their house. Well, how is this not an opportunity for you? Some sellers are just always in an exaggerated hurry to get their house sold that they’re willing to go much lower than its actual market value just so they could get rid of it. So grab that chance before someone else does! But be very careful, however, about doing extra inspections on the house. There might be some underlying problems in it that has caused the owners to hastily try to get rid of it at such a low price.

But through all these, remember to always practice caution. A home purchase is a big financial decision that could cost you years and years strapped to mortgage.

Thank you for visiting ParkCityCenter.Org ! Now if you’re looking for properties in Mont Kiara or KLCC area (I have some five units at Stonor Park for sale – bargain!) then get in touch! I need to make money for my Greece vacation this Christmas!

STEPHANIE WELCH

Welch’s Belch: Getting Chased Out!!

Getting chased out of the house has got to be every Malaysian homeowner’s nightmare – or at least for those homeowners who have an outstanding mortgage loan contract. It conjures up images of being thrown out of the house, homelessness, and the social services going after your children. Not pretty! :(

Like they say in Chinese, 不作死就不会死.

But relax your worry warts – if you do things right, these things wouldn’t happen to you. If you follow these tips, trust me, you shouldn’t even have to worry about being thrown out forcefully and losing everything you’ve got when you are in a financial rut.

So here are some things that you should know about getting kicked out of your own house for not servicing your debts!

They won’t take your house at a moment’s notice. Believe it or not, mortgage lending companies and banks aren’t as big a shark as they seem. They are morally and legally bound to give you enough lien time to get your act back together and by all means you should use that time.

In fact, when you miss your very first payment, and you don’t expect for things to get better before it gets worse, you go ahead and notify your mortgage lender and explain your situation to them. They usually have different offers of amnesty for these types of situations and they’ll give you time to decide on which program you’d like to take.

You can apply for a refinancing. Sure it does require a lot of work, not to mention all the paper work involved among others, but it may be well worth it. If you’re not exactly going bankrupt, but you know that your finances and income won’t be enough to make up for your mortgage obligations, you can apply for refinancing. Consult with a good real estate lawyer for this.

You can get a loan modification program to avoid getting into a foreclosure situation. If your situation isn’t as bad, and refinancing seems a little too radical, you can always go for loan modification to suit your current situation.

Expert Tip: Modification may include changing your loan type from fixed rate to adjustable rate or lowering your interest rate for your monthly dues.

There are scammers who are targeting homes that are subject to foreclosure. And you have to be extra careful on this. They can make you believe that they can save your house from getting foreclosed and that they can save you tons of money from lawsuits, when in fact all they were doing was to hoard your precious money acting as ‘middle men’ without delivering real results. They are everywhere and they sense foreclosure right from the start. You’d be better off with hiring a real estate lawyer to get you out of the stump than to trust self-proclaimed consultants.

It’s not the end of the world for you. If indeed you end up losing your home (which is the least likely to happen anyway), you might have to end up renting a place for at least five to seven years. During which time, you have to take the opportunity to make sure that you are fixing your credit records well enough so you can qualify again for a new mortgage.

I’ve got a client who used to own a portfolio of properties in places like Novena, Mirage By The Lake and Loftus in Bangkok. He didn’t service his loans and got kicked out. I chuckled softly when he whined to me over the phone. Padan muka!

-Steph

Welch’s Belch: You’re Moving Too Slow…

My Chinese tutor (and real estate advisor) told me yesterday:

近水知鱼性, 近山识鸟音

Indeed, when buying a house, one of the most crucial moments is preparing for and getting your mortgage loan approved. It is a fairly long process, one that involves having to prepare tons of papers and doing certain things, along with a lot of waiting both necessary and consequential. If you want to avoid the long lines and cut the waiting time, and ultimately get approved for the mortgage loan as soon as possible, here are some ways that might actually help:

  • Inquire about the necessary documents. The usual items included in the requirements proofs of income, credit reports and records of any other current loans you may have among other things. To be sure, head on over to your bank/financing company of choice and ask about their specific requirements so you know what to gather and thus you won’t have to go back and forth getting the missed and missing requirements.
  • Acquire the said necessary documents. If you’re going to serviced residences in Kuala Lumpur (like RuMa) then you’ll want the XAPP-2 document ready (important!). Also, don’t forget the Borang Deklarasi Harta Pusaka issued by the government.
  • Get a credit report and do take the necessary steps to make it look more attractive, mortgage wise. One of the things that make approval slow is when the mortgage representative finds ways and reasons NOT to approve your application. Before heading over to make the applications, make sure your credit report and history are both clean. This will make you look credible and responsible enough to be granted a big loan.
  • Try your best to choose a non-busy season and day. The thing that slows down mortgage applications approval is the long queue of applications all of which are still waiting for approval. If you come in during a busy season, you may have to wait for everyone else’s applications to be reviewed and decided on before they can get to yours. So choose the perfect timing to send in your application. If needed, get advice from MDI.
  • Have your cash down payment ready. One of the best ways to prove your capacity to pay for a house and perhaps one of the fastest ways to get approved is to show your mortgage representative your down payment. Also, it will help decide how much a house you can actually buy and therefore, how much mortgage loan you are going to get.
  • To make for a faster, breezier Malaysian home buying transaction – not just mortgage application and approval process – use these exact same steps to get pre-approved of the loan. This one extra step will give you better points to the home owners and it will help narrow your home search down by a significant percentage. After all, you know how much a house you can afford so you’ll know which ones are actually worth your time searching for and negotiating on. It will be a very welcome convenience for you, the home buyer, and the home seller.

EXPERT ADVICE: Remember, however, that this cannot cut down the necessary waiting time it takes to get a mortgage application approved. Apart from the mandatory waiting time of at least 7 days, other issues may arise and you may have to wait a little bit longer.

Belching for you,
Steph

Welch’s Belch: Agent Hunting

Looking for a reliable and efficient real estate agent – not to mention, the kind that you can actually be friends with – is just one of the many challenges that come alone with Malaysian home buying and home selling. They are practically everywhere but for some reason, they can be very, very hard to find. And as Fox Business rightly points out here, it’s crucial to find a good agent to represent you.

If you need a GREAT agent then Stephanie Welch will always be ready to service you. I am eager to please! ;)

Where To Find Real Estate Agents… Welch Style

So how do you find actual agents whom you can entrust your Malaysian house to? Here’s a list of the best places to actually look for agents:

  • Ads. Real estate agents are great at placing ads – both online and offline. Check out your current neighborhood for homes on sale and see which broker they’re hiring. Or go to your local yellow pages (online yellow pages for the more tech-savvy ones). The local newspaper is also brimming with ‘Buy Me’ and ‘Call Me’ real estate ads placed, of course, by no less than the real estate agents themselves. When it comes to ads, trust that these agents would never run short of ideas nor the cash to do it.
  • Referrals from friends. Ask several friends and relatives who have had a real estate transaction recently And by recent, I mean within a year or less. This way, you not only get ideas on which agents are easily available in your area; their own firsthand accounts are very useful in judging which agents are better worth your time and which are not.
  • Actual listings. When you check an online listing for a house, you are not only looking at which houses are on sale; you’re also looking at who’s selling which houses. Not only do you get their contact numbers; you also get an idea about what they are likely to do with your own Malaysian home. So take note of which ads were impressive and which were not; that way, you’d get an inkling of an idea about what that agent is actually made of.
  • Open houses. More than the owner, the real estate agents truly benefit from these mini events. They not only get to show off the house to actual potential buyers; they also show themselves off to potential clients of their own selling some house from gated communities. They come complete with their own flyers, cards, and sweet talking tactics to make clients fall in love with their sales talk.
  • Mortgage agents and officers. Mortgage companies and officers are connected with brokerage agents. One exists about correlatedly with the other, and vice versa. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that one knows the other and the other way around. It’s only logical and economical. So why not ask your mortgage officer for several referrals?
  • Actually visit a brokerage firm. Check your yellow pages for brokerage firms in your area and look up their list of agents and their related portfolio. You’ll be surprised to find so many qualified agents this way!

According to my real estate mentor George Lee from Prosper Real Estate: 人心齐,泰山移. I used his advise when I was furiously trying to move this penthouse unit at Hampshire Residences, and the hard work really paid off after two years of trying to sell the unit. Kudos to me!

But remember, you may find 10 of the best ones around but if you don’t interview them and narrow your search down, your efforts and desire to sell your home well will only prove futile.

Belching for you,

Steph

Welch’s Belch: At The Gates

人无完人,金无足赤

Living in gated communities is getting highly popular these days. And so I am going to talk about gated communities.

On a completely unrelated note, I really dig At The Gates’ comeback album. Check out this music video – the guitars are absolutely exotic -

But I digress…. 花有重开日,人无再少年. Let’s not waste time :)

The quaint little homes and the pretty but highly secure gates on these exclusive villages seem like the perfect little community to raise up your kids.

So now that you have listed what you want in a house and have already made up your mind, you have to think about whether you want to live in a gated community or not. But, is this really as perfect and as ideal as it seems? Here’s a list of its pros and cons (thank you Patrick Groove for your inputs!):-

  • PROS:

In Malaysia, gated communities are (relatively) secure. This is the most beautiful thing about these exclusive residential villages and this is what they are selling about it. In most areas, there are high end centralized control and round the clock security, but there are those whose security is limited only at the gates and the rest of the community are not covered by security personnel presence. 机不可失,时不再来 !

Gated communities’ streets are secured with bumpers. For parents with playful little kids, it is very convenient to know that their streets within the community are more secure than if they’re living in regular suburb homes. They can let their kids go around with more peace of mind knowing that there won’t be some random crazy driver speeding up where their kids are playing.

Unlike condominiums (no matter if they are in Tropicana or in KLCC), these exclusive communities create a sense of togetherness. Homeowners and administrators in these gated communities almost always create a sense of tight-knit community in their gated village with exclusive celebrations and festivities together among other things. If you’re looking for something like this, the gated community living might just be for you. However, it’s a myth that gated communities are safer.

Amenities are available to residents exclusively. Apart from security, one other popular feature of these gated communities are exclusive facilities like playgrounds, swimming pools and other recreational facilities that you would otherwise have to pay in a public, non-gated setup.

  • CONS:

Think you have the goods to buy these super exclusive homes in gated communities? As you can already tell, tared to buying a regular house, buying a house in a gated community will render you more fees on top of your mortgage. The homes in itself are already priced higher than regular homes. Aside from that, you’d also have to pay for membership fees and other maintenance fees. Also, gated communities pay more for GST.

Having friends and family over may not be as easy as it is outside. Because of the security situation, having guests over may be a little challenging. You’d have to go through village/community protocols and other security measures to get your guests inside the village and inside your house in general. This may include logging in and out and vehicle setup.

My client Joseph Kruk has complained that his friends have been hesitant to visit him because he lived in a “caged” community. Cry me a river, Joe!

Getting utilities done/repaired in your house can be just as challenging. Just the same as when you’re trying to get guests inside, getting repairmen inside to fix something in your house can be just as difficult.

You may have to take a longer trip for a single packet of cigarettes or a loaf of bread. Unless your gated community offers units for businesses, getting to a store may take a longer trip than usual. After all, most of these gated communities only offer a single entrance/single exit method so you might just have to get around the entire village before you could get to the store which could otherwise have been so easy to access if you know a shortcut.

Belching for ya,

Steph Welch