Tag Archives: buying a home

How Online Home Valuation Tools Work and Don’t Work

Whether buying or selling a home, online home valuation tools (also called Automated Valuation Models, or AVM’s) such as Zillow’s Zestimate can be useful. But they can also be problematic. Since most buyers and sellers are looking at these values, it is a good idea to understand them and how online home valuation tools work and don’t work.

RBHcomuterIt’s a computer, not a person. Online estimates follow an algorithm to give a projected estimate of value. This means that the algorithm is based on the accuracy of the data that is has to compute. The problem occurs when data is input by sellers that may falsely inflate values or where lack of data may not produce an accurate value.

What it (generally) measures. The value of your home will usually be a product of comparable homes. How does your home compare to similar homes that recently sold (within the last 6 months) and are actively listed within a 1-2 mile radius? In addition to proximity, other features compared are: square footage of the home, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, year the home was built, and size of lot. Values tend to be most accurate when this data comes from homes that are fairly new tract homes. Homes that are custom or have been updated with custom features, however, will likely be off on their value here.

It can also be problematic when the algorithm doesn’t recognize a neighborhood boundary. For example, is the computer is using comparable homes from a nearby condo complex when your home is a single family residence? Or, do some of the comps used fall in differently rated school districts? Also, computers are not likely to take into consideration the terms of those sales, such as distressed or discounted sales.

RBHaley Mortgage CalculatorOther features that are probably not figured into the algorithm are: views, location relative to busy roads, outdoor features such as a kitchen and/or a pool, whether the lot is flat or on a steep slope, and quality of the neighborhood, and higher end upgrades and appliances.

Know your competition. The reason comparable homes are considered when deciding value is based on the idea that a typical buyer will not pay more for a similar home if all things are equal. This is why it is especially important to look at recently sold homes (last 6 months) to help determine what people have paid. One mistake many sellers and buyers make is basing value on homes that are currently listed. The problem with this logic is that often the list price is the “best case scenario” for the seller but not necessarily what a buyer is willing to pay.

The bottom line. Being able to differentiate the value the of your home based on specific features is an important part of putting these online home value tools into context. So, unless you want to hire an appraiser, use online home value estimates only as a supplementary tool. Work with a trusted real estate agent to get a more accurate home value (they have additional tools and knowledge to help obtain this value). And remember, what a seller paid for specific upgrades will not always equate to what a buyer will pay.

R.B. Haley Fine Homes & Estates

12396 World Trade Dr., Ste. 306, San Diego, CA 92128

(858) 592-4895       http://rbhaley.com/     CalBRE#01843189

Tips for Buying in a Seller’s Market

If you are a home buyer in today’s real estate market, you may be experiencing some challenges. Low inventory and faster selling times (average of 21.8 days Days on Market) make this seller’s market tough to navigate for potential buyers. So what can buyers do to stay competitive? Here are 8 tips for buying in a seller’s market.RBHaley Mortgage Calculator

Get Pre-approved before you start looking     Getting pre-approved before you start looking will give you the price range you know you can comfortably afford, and looking below that will give you some room for negotiating up if needed. Also, getting pre-approved shows sellers your credit worthiness and sets the stage for a smoother and more successful purchase.

Know what you need vs. what you want     Knowing your must-have features (and being in agreement on those if you are buying with a significant other) helps you know where you are willing to compromise and where you are not. Knowing what is negotiable in your mind will speed up the decision making process while ensuring that your priorities stay in check.

Find a rock star agent     Anyone can search for homes online, but a rock star real estate agent is well connected to other realtors and the market, and may even learn about homes that are not yet listed. She or he should give you a competitive edge by using her or his resources to not only find you right home, but help sell you to the listing agent and sellers as the ideal buyers. If you aren’t getting that kind of service, it might be time to look for a new agent (and we happen to know a few amazing agents!).

Be ready to act. Fast.     Being ready to act fast goes beyond being pre-approved. You will want to have a pre-approval letter written by your lender as well as proof of funds (such as a bank statement) to show you are willing and able to make a Good Faith deposit upon acceptance of your offer. It also helps to have letters of recommendation from employers, landlords, and anyone else who can vouch for your good character and dependability. Have these things ready to go so that an offer can be executed on a moment’s notice, as even mere hours can make the difference in a seller’s market.RBHaleySignContract

Make your best offer     Many sellers are receiving multiple offers right up front. If your offer isn’t competitive from the get go you may not get the chance to counter offer. Remember, it’s not always about price. You can enhance your offer by reducing or eliminating contingencies or showing flexibility to work with the seller’s time frame. Understand what the seller is looking for and write your offer accordingly.

Make it personal     Don’t be afraid to tell your story as a buyer to appeal to the seller. Most sellers (unless it is an investor) cherish their home and want to know that whomever will be buying it will love it as much as they have. Get creative and you will be light years ahead of your competition.

Be realistic     As a buyer in a seller’s market, you are probably not going to get a killer deal. Be realistic in your offer based on current values but resist the temptation to bid beyond what you can comfortably afford.   Stay focused on what gives that home real value and do your research on comparable properties so you know whether the purchase is a good investment and why.

Keep moving forward     If your offer was rejected or you were outbid, don’t despair! Do your best to move on. Believe it or not, there are many “right” homes out there; it’s just a matter of finding the right one at the right time. Stay optimistic and keep looking…often times buyers end up finding something better!

R.B. Haley Fine Homes & Estates

12396 World Trade Dr., Ste. 306, San Diego, CA 92128

(858) 592-4895       www.RBHaley.com         CalBRE#01843189


What to Expect When Buying a Home: Moving In


Buying a home is a process. That process starts with working with a lender to get pre-qualified, then shopping around to find an agent and a home. The next stage in the home buying process includes making a purchase offer (and possibly counter-offer), getting acceptance and agreeing on terms, and successfully completing the purchase transaction in escrow. Once you purchased the house…the next step is to become the occupant! Make your move into your new home low stress by following a recommended timeline and using these helpful tips for “What to Expect When Buying a Home: Moving In.”

Moving begins before moving day. A smooth and successful move takes planning weeks in advance, especially if a relocation or sale of another home is involved. Here is a general week-by-week timeline you may find helpful (or use this checklist for moving):

Four weeks prior to moving:

  • Start sorting items and begin acquiring moving materials (boxes, tape, markers, bubble wrap)
    • Tip: every item should be assigned one status of KEEP, DONATE, or DISCARD
  • Make a list of accounts, creditors, insurance, and businesses to contact, and notify of new address if possible
    • Tip: you can start making these updates as you pay the final month’s bill before you move
  • Notify the utilities company of where you are moving to/from so that service can be turned on/offRBHmovingbox
  • File a change of address form with the Post Office
  • Inquire about the registration process if kids are switching schools

Three weeks prior to moving:

  • Decide what items you will move yourself and schedule a moving company to help with the rest
    • Tip: check your homeowner’s policy on whether moving is covered by your insurer and take inventory of all your belongings
  • Continue sorting and packing
    • Tip: color code labels as you pack so that like items are packed together and can be easily unpacked
    • Tip: sketch out a floor plan of your new home so that you have a general idea of where things will go and what may not fit
  • Make a list of important names, phone numbers, and addresses to take with you (and keep it handy)
    • Tip: send out an email with your new contact information to friends and family ahead of time
  • Make any travel arrangements needed for your move (including any arrangements for pets)

Two weeks prior to moving:

  • Dispose of any flammable or hazardous household items (it is usually okay to leave labeled cans of the home’s current paint colors)
    • Tip: check with your community about hazardous household waste disposal locations and hours
  • Consider ordering a curbside dumpster for large amounts of trash
  • Discontinue regular services such as landscaping, newspaper delivery and/or subscriptions, pest control, etc.
  • Finalize plans for moving larger items (TV antenna, swing set, trampoline, etc)
  • Plan to use up frozen and stored food

One week prior to moving:RBHmailbox

  • Determine what items of value (jewelry, etc.) you will keep with you during the move and where
  • Drop off all donation items (or arrange for pick up)
  • Clean appliances
  • Make arrangements to connect/disconnect phone/internet service at your new home and sold home

The day prior to moving:

  • Pack a suitcase or box of necessities that you will need upon arrival
    • Tip: include kitchen and household items such as phone chargers and cords, paper towels, trash bags, hand soap, scissors, drinking water, snacks, and toilet paper


  • Plan to be at your sold home as movers arrive to oversee the loading process
  • Check the condition of items that are being loaded
  • Verify your new address and phone number with the movers, and be prepared for payment
  • Take a final tour of the property, including the yard
  • Lock all doors and windows and turn off all switches
  • Meet your movers at your new home and oversee the process of unloading

Welcome home!

Investing in YOUR Future,

R.B. Haley Fine Homes and Estates

Did we miss anything? Feel free add comments below with some of your great ideas and/or feedback. Thanks for your input and please remember to share!

R.B. Haley, Inc. 12396 World Trade Drive, Suite 306, San Diego, CA 92128

http://www.RBHaley.com   858.592.4895   CA Lic#01843189/01219416

What to Expect When Buying a Home: In Escrow

Navigating the home buying process can be tricky!  That is just one reason why it is important to work with a knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent. Most agents will advise that buyers first get pre-qualified (if not pre-approved) before they start looking to find an agent and a home. Your agent will also guide you through making a purchase offer. Once your offer is accepted, the escrow process begins. What does that mean? Here is “What to Expect When Buying a Home: In Escrow.”

Let’s start by first defining what it means to be “in escrow”. The escrow holder is the designated, neutral third party who is responsible for seeing that the terms of escrow are carried out according to the agreed upon escrow instructions. This is accomplished through a vehicle known as an escrow account that acts as a depository for all monies, instructions, and documents necessary for the purchase.home and contract

Here is what a buyer can expect. Once your offer has been accepted you will need to furnish a good faith deposit. You will also want to work with your lender to complete your loan application and prepay any necessary fees such as a credit report and appraisal costs. Your agent will work with you to complete any required paperwork, such as approving reports and any property disclosures required as part of the sale agreement. Your lender and agent should also keep you apprised of any steps needed for your loan approval. Once your loan is approved and funded, escrow will determine when the transaction will close and then works with Title to record necessary documents. The final stages of escrow include preparing the final settlement statements, disbursing proceeds to the seller, and paying off the existing encumbrances. At the close of escrow, statements, funds, and remaining documents are delivered.

A lot can happen in escrow. It is a good idea to prepare yourself for some of the hurdles in escrow that you may encounter. In addition to those, here are some things you can do to help ensure a smooth transaction.

  • Be ready to provide your lender with any required loan documentation and do not make any major purchases while in escrow.
  • Decide in advance how you want to take title as the buyer.
  • Be prepared with fire/hazard insurance information for a new policy.
  • Be sure to inform your agent of any “red flags” that may cause delays in escrow, such as: bankruptcies or judgments, business or other trusts, foreclosures, use of Power of Attorney, transfers or loans involving corporations or partnerships, any last minutes changes.

set-of-keys-1315125-1279x2110You should always call your agent when you have questions. It is also important to note that the escrow process may vary depending on the type of sale, such as a short sale. Once escrow is complete and everything has been finalized, you will become the new homeowner- congratulations!

What’s next? Now it’s time to move in! Check back to read our final installment of “What to Expect When Buying a Home” for a helpful timeline and tips for a successful and low-stress move. Welcome home!

Investing in YOUR Future,

R.B. Haley Fine Homes and Estates

Did we miss anything? Feel free add comments below with some of your great ideas and/or feedback. Thanks for your input and please remember to share!

R.B. Haley, Inc. 12396 World Trade Drive, Suite 306, San Diego, CA 92128

http://www.RBHaley.com   858.592.4895   CA Lic#01843189/01219416

What to Expect When Buying a Home: Making a Purchase Offer

So, you found the perfect home…now what? Assuming you have already take steps to get pre-qualified (if not pre-approved) for a home loan at this point (if applicable), and you already found a real estate agent you trust and want to work with, the next action step is to submit an offer to purchase the home. If you’re not sure what that looks like, keep reading on “What to Expect When Buying a Home: Making a Purchase Offer.”

Contact the Listing Agent. The first thing your buyer’s agent will want to do is confirm with the listing agent that the sellers are still accepting offers. Even if a home sale is Pending, the listing agent may accept back up offers in the event that the current accepted offer falls out of escrow. A good agent will also be able to glean some additional information and get a general feel for what the sellers might be looking for. Keep in mind that the sellers may also have criteria for selling, such as a time frame for closing escrow or moving.RBHaleyDollarSign

Consider an Offer Price. Start by taking a look at your own price range (the amount for which you have been pre-qualified) and what you feel comfortable paying. It can be easy to get excited and emotional about a home you want, but try to keep a long-term perspective throughout the process. Your agent should share with you comparable nearby homes that are for sale or have recently sold to help guide you to a purchase amount that seems appropriate. Be sure you are comparing like features (for instance, if one home has a remodeled kitchen and one doesn’t, then that should be taken into consideration).  Also, leave yourself some room for negotiation and closing costs (not to mention moving expenses).

Other Negotiable Terms. There are other terms and expenses included in the sales transaction that can be factored into the purchase offer. These can include paying/not paying for reports and/or suggested repairs, removing or including contingencies for the sale, and accommodating the seller’s timing needs for escrow or moving, among others. Generally speaking, the easier the buyer makes the purchase on the seller, the more likely their offer will be accepted. This can also mean that the buyer may be shouldering more risk, so it is important to walk through all of these things with your agent.RBHaleySignContract

Submitting and Offer and Counteroffer. Once you settle on a purchase offer price and ideal terms of sale, your real estate agent will help you complete the purchase offer contract (or Residential Purchase Agreement). This will be sent to the listing agent to present to the sellers. Often times (and especially in a “seller’s market”), the sellers will counteroffer with a higher price and/or additional terms. Your real estate agent will help guide you through this negotiation process (which might include several counteroffers) while promoting and protecting your best interests.

If all goes well, your offer will be accepted and the process of escrow will begin. For more information on the next stage of the home buying transaction, stay tuned for “What to Expect When Buying a Home: In Escrow.”

Investing in YOUR Future,

R.B. Haley Fine Homes and Estates

Did we miss anything? Feel free add comments below with some of your great ideas and/or feedback. Thanks for your input and please remember to share!

R.B. Haley, Inc. 12396 World Trade Drive, Suite 306, San Diego, CA 92128

http://www.RBHaley.com   858.592.4895   CA Lic#01843189/01219416

What to Expect When Buying a Home: Finding an Agent and a Home

Thanks to technology, searching for a home and finding a real estate agent to represent you through the home buying process is easier than ever. According to Realtor.com, 42% of buyers start their home search by looking online first. Interestingly enough, however, 53% of buyers rate their agent as being most important for finding the right home. So, while the internet can be a helpful tool when buying a home, working closely with a real estate agent you trust can make it a much easier and more positive experience. Here is What to Expect When Buying a Home: Finding an Agent and a Home.

RBHcomuterFinding an Agent. Although many people start their home search online (and before they have taken any other steps), your chances of a successful buying transaction increase if you start first by getting pre-qualified. Knowing your price point will help keep your home search focused on what you know you can afford. Once you have that information and a general idea of what you want and need, then you will want to start searching for a real estate agent to help you find it.

Referrals are a great way to start this process. Who do you know that has recently bought or sold a home, and would they recommend their agent? Chances are, you know someone who knows someone, so ask around. Before contacting an agent, be sure to do an online search for reviews of the agent (just remember that reviews can sometimes be paid advertisements). Also check the agent’s license status with California Bureau of Real Estate (it is recommended to use the license number from their card or website rather than their name). Interview multiple agents and choose the one you trust and want to work with the most.

Find a Home. With your agent on board, now you will want to actively start the home search. Communication with your agent and feedback are critical. Many buyers like to participate in the home search online, and your agent should encourage that. Since non-MLS sites may contain inaccurate information, it is best to allow your real estate agent to set up a custom MLS search based on your criteria. He or she can have homes that match your criteria automatically emailed to you, or may even be able to provide you with a custom URL that will give you direct access to the MLS for searching purposes. You can usually search the MLS from your agent’s website as well.

RBHhomecouryardWhen searching, try to keep in mind your “needs” and “wants” in a home and keep a big picture perspective. Some considerations to think about are: Is it situated near a busy street (are there noise or safety concerns)? Is there plenty of parking? What do the surrounding homes in the neighborhood look like? Try driving through at various times of the day and talk to other neighbors. What schools are nearby? Is there shopping, transportation, and restaurants/entertainment nearby? Are there other amenities, such as parks, nearby? If you see any vacant land, check on whether there are plans to develop it. When touring the inside of a home in person, try to look past the current homeowner’s possessions and envision how you might live in that space. There is a lot to consider and making a checklist can help. Your agent should also be able to help answer many of these questions for you.

In 2015, the average buyer typically searched for ten weeks and looked at a median of ten homes before they bought one (Realtor.com). Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t finding what you want (and don’t be too quick to compromise on your “needs”). Try not to become too emotionally invested in any one house and keep an open mind for a second and third choice when offers become competitive. Your agent is working to serve your best interests, so collaborating and communicating makes for a more positive home searching experience.

Once you find your ideal home, the next step is to make an offer. We will be covering that stage of the home buying process in our next article “What to Expect When Buying a Home: Making a Purchase Offer.” Until then, happy hunting!

Investing in YOUR Future,

R.B. Haley Fine Homes and Estates

Did we miss anything? Feel free add comments below with some of your great ideas and/or feedback. Thanks for your input and please remember to share!

R.B. Haley, Inc. 12396 World Trade Drive, Suite 306, San Diego, CA 92128

http://www.RBHaley.com   858.592.4895   CalBRE#01843189/01219416

What to Expect When Buying a Home: Get Pre-Qualified

The decision to purchase a home is one thing; actually doing it is another. If you know what to expect when buying a home, you can go into it prepared and ready to tackle any challenge. So where do you start? First, you need to be clear on your home buying goals.

Start with these 5 questions. The process of buying a home starts way before you start searching. First, you will need to know:

  1. What price range can I afford? Be realistic. Just because you think you can afford a certain purchase price doesn’t mean you should buy at that price. There will be expenses associated with buying and maintaining a home, so leave yourself plenty of cushion.Questions to Ask Yourself
  2. What are my wants and needs? For a successful home buying experience, it is crucial that everyone is on the same page here. It is best to narrow your list down to general features (separated by “need” and “want”), and a few desired neighborhoods.
  3. Am I financially and emotionally prepared to buy a house? Buying and owning a home is a big- and a more permanent- commitment. Your financials must be in order, you must be prepared to spend the money needed to maintain a home, and it may demand more of your time than renting.
  4. What is my time frame for buying? Are you relocating for a new job? Will the offer be contingent upon selling your existing home? Do you need to close escrow by a certain date? This can help guide your decision-making.
  5. Do the unique circumstances of your purchase require a specialist? Are you an active duty or military veteran? First time homebuyer? Relocating? Downsizing into retirement? There are a lot of different programs available to buyers, and it may help to work with a REALTOR who specializes in your type of transaction.

Once you have a clear idea of what you want and need, go back and revisit what you can afford in more detail. Doing this early on will help you understand what you will need to start with and how much you will need to save. Generally speaking, most lenders will lend up to three to five times your household income with a 20% down payment. You can use this mortgage calculator to help guide you. Keep in mind that existing debt will also be a factor. In addition to the down payment, you must also be able to pay for closing costs.

RBHaley Mortgage CalculatorAt this point, you will want to start talking with a mortgage professional about getting pre-approved (or better yet, getting pre-qualified). You can expect that they will run a credit check, check W2’s and pay stubs, check bank records (going back several months), and possible additional requirements. Having these documents ready and accessible will save you some time and headaches.

Once you are pre-qualified (or pre-approved), you will know what your maximum price range will be. As a buyer, being pre-approved (and especially pre-qualified) can be a big advantage when you submit a purchase offer on the perfect home…which is part of the next step of What to Expect When Buying a Home: Finding an Agent and a Home.

We hope this helps set the stage for your home buying experience. As always, feel free to call us anytime if you need help.

Investing in YOUR Future,

R.B. Haley Fine Homes and Estates

Did we miss anything? Feel free add comments below with some of your great ideas and/or feedback. Thanks for your input and please remember to share!

R.B. Haley, Inc. 12396 World Trade Drive, Suite 306, San Diego, CA 92128

http://www.RBHaley.com   858.592.4895   CA Lic#01843189/01219416

Hello…and Welcome Home!

Hello…and Welcome Home!

We are thrilled you are here!  Please come in…whether you are selling a home, buying a home, or have/need real estate investment property, R.B. Haley is here for you.

Here is a little background about us.  R.B. Haley (named after Rex, Brittney, and Haley, the children of broker/founder Libby Rogers) is a boutique real estate firm in San Diego and beyond.  R.B. Haley was founded in 2013 and has been growing and thriving ever since!  As a real estate family of more than 16 real estate agents (and growing), R.B. Haley agents have more than 100 years of collective experienced in all aspects of real estate. This means that we have the knowledge, expertise, and resources to help make your real estate transactions smooth and successful, no matter what your situation might be. In addition to traditional sales, some of our specialties include: foreclosure, short sales, military, investment property (fix and flip), vacation rentals, and property management.

The R.B. Haley Family

The R.B. Haley Family

The single biggest reason for the steady growth of R.B. Haley is our satisfied clients who continue to return and refer business to us. We think this says a lot about our values and how we do business; we want our clients to feel like an extension of our family.

We invite you to take a moment to look around…check out our R.B. Haley featured listings, do an MLS property search, find out about our various Seller programs and recommended service providers, see how R.B. Haley gives back to our community (and how you can, too), and try out our mortgage calculator or connect directly with a mortgage lender to get qualified for your home purchase.

Whatever you need, we hope you find it here. If not, feel free to call us anytime! And…welcome home.

Warm Regards,

R.B. Haley Fine Homes & Estates

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