Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Selling Your Lux Listing: An Invitation-Only Affair

NORFOLK, VA, May 29, 2013—You're selling your home, and your agent has suggested you have an invitation-only open house. Is this an idea you should consider?

This trend in real estate is especially popular for those belonging to a Homeowners’ Association, as they often have limits for such public access, and/or those with luxury properties for sale.

Louis Eisenberg, Associate Broker REALTOR ABR SFR of Prudential Towne Realty notes that these events also take place when more than one home is for sale in a community, and agents join up with one another to showcase multiple properties at once.

“If your agent suggests an invitation-only open house, this is generally a terrific thing,” says  Eisenberg. “While it may seem exclusive, it weeds out any buyers who aren't a good fit, and actually makes it more likely that you will find the right buyer in a timely fashion.”

Why? According to Eisenberg, the buyers invited to your invitation-only open house have been well groomed. They qualify for a mortgage, they are able to secure financing, and they are serious about finding a home similar to yours.

During an invitation-only affair, several buyers will gather and tour several homes in one evening. Sometimes the events are kept simple, but sometimes agents go all out with hors d'oeuvres and champagne.

Presenting multiple homes in one event may seem like it will prevent you from finding a buyer, but this is not the case, says  Eisenberg. With several promising buyers viewing several similar homes, it enables you to find the right buyer.

For more information on selling your luxury listing, please contact Louis Eisenberg, Prudential Towne Realty, 109 E. Main Street, Norfolk, VA 23510,, (757) 572-7244, or

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Difference Between Amortization and Negative Amortization

NORFOLK, VA, May 21, 2013—If you’re applying for a mortgage for the first time, it may feel like you’re learning a second language. All of the terms and regulations can seem daunting. One that doesn’t need to be is “amortization,” which is just the act of paying off debt in regular installments over a period of time.

“When you amortize a loan you basically pay off the principal by making regular installment payments,” says Louis Eisenberg, Associate Broker REALTOR ABR SFR of Prudential Towne Realty, who explains that this process typically takes place gradually over several years.

Another term you may be hearing is “negative amortization.” What is the difference? When your monthly payment isn’t enough to cover the loan interest, then your loan principal increases rather than decreases. This is called negative amortization, otherwise referred to as “deferred interest.”

“Negative Amortization causes the loan balance to increase rather than decrease,” says Eisenberg.  This often happens with adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs).

Negative amortization has to be repaid, which means your payment will rise in the future.

“The larger the negative amortization, the more you will be required to amortize the loan in full,” says Eisenberg.

So you may be wondering, why would anyone use a negative amortization loan?

“The main reason people use negative amortization loans is to lower monthly payments,” explains Eisenberg.

“Some homeowners use loans with negative amortization to purchase a house they otherwise can’t afford, resting on the idea that in the future, they will have more income and can make larger payments.”

“With negative amortization, a persistent rise in interest rates reduces the equity in the house unless the negative amortization is offset by house appreciation,” says Eisenberg. As a result, some use negative amortization if they believe that the house will be worth much more in the near future.

For more information on homeownership, please contact Louis Eisenberg, Prudential Towne Realt,y at, (757) 572-7244, or

Monday, May 20, 2013

10 Tips for Enjoying Your Home's Backyard This Summer

As temperatures heat up across the country, you can make sure
this is the best summer ever with the following 10 tips, time-savers, water-care
ideas, and maintenance and safety suggestions for backyard living.

1 –
Safety first. Follow a few common sense rules in the backyard and around the
pool. Keep each child within arm's length at all times, designate an adult as
water watcher, ensure that the pool's fence is always locked, and install both
gate and pool alarms to alert you to unsupervised pool use.

2 – Use
plants to dress up the landscape. A bit of backyard greenery can be both pretty
and functional. Use shrubs for form, foliage-heavy plants for color, and sturdy
perennials for reliability. Plenty of pretty perennials, such as coneflowers and
black-eyed Susans, require little tending and offer cheery blooms throughout the
growing season.

3 – Add years to backyard furnishings. If mildew spots
appear on outside chairs and tables, wash the fabric according to manufacturer
directions and dry in the sun. Then mix together equal parts lemon juice and
salt; spread on the stain. Dry in the sun again and rinse thoroughly.

– Organize backyard toys and tools. Two simple storage rules for keeping
backyard clutter to a minimum: air out wet things by storing them in big mesh
bags or open-weave crates; toss all the little bits—sunscreen, dive toys, etc.
—into a clear plastic shoe organizer hung on the fence where everyone can easily
find them.

5 – Stay healthy with a water workout. According to the
Centers for Disease Control, just 21 minutes a day of exercising in a pool can
decrease your risk of chronic disease. If swimming laps doesn't excite you,
there are other great ways to get moving. Try kickboxing using water as the
resistance and enjoy the benefits of strength, endurance and balance. Depending
on intensity, a typical water exercise session of 40 to 50 minutes can burn up
to 600 calories.

6 – Maintain a perfect pool. A pool filled with cloudy
water equals no fun. Fortunately, there's a pool-care strategy—Circulation,
Filtration, Cleaning, Testing and Chemistry—that equals a stellar pool season.
Maintaining a pool, its equipment and beautiful water requires proper water
treatment. Make sure to complete the proper water testing and upkeep on a
regular schedule.

7 – Convert an ordinary salt pool into a backyard
oasis. Try using a special blend of minerals, pool equipment protectors, water
enhancers and pH adjusters that all work to make silky, relaxing water.

8 – Soak in a sensational spa. A backyard spa can offer the same
soothing effects as a professional spa with a few easy, affordable ideas. Place
flameless LED candles around the edge of the spa. Take tunes into the spa with a
floating speaker that connects wirelessly to an MP3 player. Add a soothing scent
to the water with single-use aromatherapy packs.

9 – Make a smaller
footprint on the Earth. In order to be more environmentally friendly, make sure
to always keep pool chemicals properly balanced. Overworked filters and motors
waste energy and hike utility bills.

10 – Help pets swim safely. It may
seem like fun to let the dog paddle around in the pool, but before you let a
pooch jump in, make sure he can get out without damaging the pool or hurting
himself. Also check with the vet—swimming in a pool should be appropriate for
the breed. Finally, make additional time to monitor the pool's water. A typical
dog can be the equivalent of about 50 swimmers in the pool, meaning extra
vigilance is needed to maintain the chemical balance.

Reprinted with
permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

For more information contact LouisEisenberg, Prudential Towne Realty, 109 E. Main Street, Norfolk, VA 23510, 757-572-7244

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to be a better home buyer

NORFOLK, VA, May 16, 2013—Spring is the hottest home buying season, and this year, we are beginning to see a market shift in Hampton Roads, says Louis Eisenberg, Associate Broker REALTOR ABR SFR of Prudential Towne Realty. Once a buyer’s dream, the market is now shifting back toward the seller’s side. What does this mean for you, the buyer? If you are looking for a new home this spring and summer, you may be in for a little competition.

Don’t let this deter you. In order to get your dream home for your dream price, become the best possible buyer you can be—before you even begin looking. This way, when you are dealing with a seller, you will have all of your ducks in a row, and they will take your offer seriously.

Below are Eisenberg’s tips for becoming a better buyer.

Be pre-approved. “Many sellers won’t even consider buyers who aren’t already pre-approved for a mortgage, so do yourself a favor and take care of this before you even begin hunting,” says Eisenberg.

Understand your credit score. It’s not just enough to know your credit score. Thoroughly understand it, and know what it means for your lending status. And don’t just stop with one credit report. “Most lenders pull scores from all three major credit bureaus, so make sure you do the same so you’re familiar with the same numbers,” suggests Eisenberg.

Look past your credit score. Now that you’ve got a solid handle on your credit, move forward. It’s not the be-all and end-all. Lenders will focus on other things as well, such as your income, your debt-to-income ratio, and how much of a down payment you plan on putting forward. Which brings us to…

How much down payment can you afford? A lender will be more eager to approve you if you can put down a larger down payment. How much is enough? Eisenberg suggests the ideal is having at least 20 percent of the purchase cost on hand, however; if you are using a VA Loan 0 percent down payment is required and FHA Mortgage Loan requires 3.5 percent down payment.

Can you do cash? While it may be a stretch for some, being able to make your offer in cash will make you a dream buyer. So if you can swing it, then this may be the way to go in order to surpass competition.

For more information on buying a home, please contact Louis Eisenberg, Prudential Towne Realty at, 757-572-7244, or

Monday, May 13, 2013

How to: Budget Your Home Improvement

NORFOLK, VA, May 13, 2013—If you’re thinking of updating, you may be in the midst of laying out a budget. Whether you’re just giving your garden a fresh look for spring, or finally locking down your dream kitchen, you want to make sure you have all your bases covered financially before you begin making moves. Below, Louis Eisenberg, Associate Broker REALTOR ABR SFR of Prudential Towne Realty offers tips on properly planning your home improvement budget.

Be educated. Don’t just go with the first slab of granite that catches your eye. Research everything from comparative prices to material sources. “If it’s possible, look into purchasing surplus, secondhand, or discounted materials,” says Eisenberg.

Be aggressive. Don’t always accept the lowball offer. Instead, aggressively shop for the most reasonable bid. “The most reasonable bid may not necessarily be the cheapest,” explains Eisenberg. “Inexpensive, but shoddy, work will only cost you more money in the long run.”

Be informed and involved. After you find a contractor, Eisenberg suggests that you should insist that trade discounts on materials be passed on to you, or buy materials yourself. Root out any unnecessary costs written into the contract, and compare payment alternatives – flat vs. hourly rates, for example – and negotiate the more reasonable of the two.

Do what you can.
“If possible, do part of the project yourself,” says Eisenberg. “Disassembly and prep work can save you hundreds of dollars.” In general, try and avoid labor intensive (read: expensive) design features, such as tiled floors.

Needs vs. wants. Compare needs and wants, and budget accordingly. Once you have pinpointed your needs, see if you can choose less expensive products that will help you achieve the look you’re trying to obtain.

Plan for disaster. The experts suggest setting aside 10-20 percent of your budget to cover unforeseen problems and miscellaneous charges. This will prevent hasty, and costly, decisions down the road.

Do it in stages. “If you can’t afford to pay for the whole project at once, consider taking it on in stages,” says Eisenberg.

For more information on low-cost moving, please contact Louis Eisenberg, Prudential Towne Realty, 109 E. Main Street, Norfolk, VA 23510,  at, (757) 572-7244, or

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Home Mortgage Lenders need to improve expalinging the mortgage process to home buyers

A recent survey conducted by TD Bank Unveils Mortgage Service Index to Evaluate Consumer Experiences with Home Financing. The survey came up with the following conclussions:

  1. Lending Experiences Positive Overall - most consummers were satisfied
  2. Understanding Buyer Concerns - mortgage lenders have an opportunity to inthis area. The home buying process is strssful enough to a buyer without adding unexplained mortgageconcerns.
  3. Home Buyers Under Stress - 69% of all home buyers found the home buying process to be stressful. Lenders need to do a better job in being more transparent, accessible and responsive to home buyers
A good Realtor can make home buying worry free.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Home Title Insurance: Protect Your Biggest Investment

As thousands of Americans participate in the spring buying season, it’s important to remember that a new sofa isn’t the only purchase that should accompany your new house. Title insurance is one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your new residence, and protect what might be the biggest investment you will ever make.

“Problems with the title of your new home can limit your enjoyment and use of the property,” says Frank Pellegrini, president of .the national trade association of the land title insurance industry (ALTA). “Only an owner's title insurance policy fully protects the homebuyer should a covered title problem arise.”

A title insurance policy is purchased for a one-time fee at the real estate closing and lasts for as long as the consumer or their heirs have an interest in the property. This policy protects consumers against possible hidden title problems that can include errors or omissions in deeds, mistakes in examining records, forgery and undisclosed heirs.

“An owner's policy provides assurance that your title company will stand behind you — monetarily and with legal defense if needed — if a covered title problem arises after you buy your home,” says Pellegrini. “Purchasing a home is often the single largest financial investment a family can make. Your owner’s title insurance policy can help minimize potential issues that could impede your property rights.”

Title insurance industry practices vary due to differences in state law and local real estate custom. Consumers should ask their settlement agent or real estate agent how the title insurance industry operates in their area.

For more information on home title insurance, please contact Louis Eisenberg, Prudential Towne Realty at, 757-572-7244, or


Do You Have the Right Home Insurance?

NORFOLK, VA, May 06, 2013—Buying a home is a wonderful feeling. But now that you’re a proud owner, are you also a safe one? Do you have adequate home insurance? Below, Louis Eisenberg, Associate Broker REALTOR ABR SFR of Prudential Towne Realty guides us through the ins and outs of several different types of home insurance.

This is bare-bones policy, and has actually been discontinued in several states. This policy offers liability insurance, hazard insurance and a list of “named perils”— fire or lightening, volcanic eruption, explosions, and more.

“This protects against several natural disasters and catastrophic events, as well as your personal belongings,” explains Eisenberg. However, it will not guard against earthquakes, floods, war, and nuclear accidents.

“Often, your lender may require that you purchase flood or earthquake insurance if the house is in a flood zone or a region susceptible to earthquakes,” says Eisenberg.

This is an expanded version of HO-1, and includes any structure on your property, like that shed or pool house. “The list of perils in HO-2 is longer than HO-1, and includes things like falling objects, freezing, and the weight of ice, snow or sleet,” says Eisenberg.

HO- 3
“HO-3 is the most commonly used coverage,” notes Eisenberg. “This is most likely because it protects homes against any damage, so long as it is not specifically excluded.” This coverage is also called the special form policy.

“It’s important to read your policy thoroughly,” Eisenberg reminds us. “With HO-3, while your home is covered against anything that is not excluded, your personal belongings are only covered for the listed perils.” Be sure to understand what this means, as well as have a grasp on what exactly is excluded.

Cash Value
“A cash value policy pays owners the original purchase price of whatever was damaged, but cannot exceed the original purchase price, even if the home is valued at more,” says Eisenberg.

Replacement Value Policy
This type of policy covers the cost of repairing a house and its belongings, regardless of the original purchase price. However, it cannot exceed the policy limit, meaning that a $250,000 policy, will pay for repairs and replacements up to $250,000.

Guaranteed Replacement Cost Coverage
If you want something more extensive, then Eisenberg notes that the most comprehensive insurance policy is guaranteed replacement cost coverage.

“This kind of coverage will pay to rebuild your home even if the cost to rebuild is more than your policy limit,” explains Eisenberg.

Replacement cost coverage is more expensive and can cost from about $400 to $1,000 a year or more, depending on the area and the price of the home. However, even if you can afford it, this insurance is not available everywhere or for every property. For example, older homes may not be eligible. And some big insurance companies have begun to limit the amount they will pay to 120 percent of the policy's face value.

For more information on home insurance, please contact Louis Eisenberg, Prudential Towne Realty at, 757-572-7244, or

Friday, May 3, 2013

Home Flipping 101: What You Need To Know

NORFOLK, VA, May 03, 2013—If you’ve been thinking about buying a home, renovating, and selling—also known as house flipping—then you may have a lot buzzing through your brain right now. The market is ripe with investment opportunities, and if you do the research, you can still snag a real deal on a fixer upper. Below, Louis Eisenberg, Associate Broker REALTOR ABR SFR of Prudential Towne Realty outlines what you need to know about house flipping before you sign any dotted lines.

Do Your Research

Don’t just pick up the first property that catches your eye. “Compare houses, prices and markets just like you would if you were buying a primary property,” says Eisenberg.

Crunch Numbers

Talk to someone with experience flipping homes, and really bite into the numbers before you make an offer. Scrutinize your budget. How much can you sink into a home? How much do you think the home needs before it will be ready for resale? How much do you think you can get for it? Will it be worth the time and effort?

Give Yourself Time

“House flipping can be a timely endeavor, especially in today’s market,” Eisenberg reminds us. “And even if you renovate quickly, there is no guarantee you will sell quickly.” If you have to work under pressure for any reason at all, then now may not be the time for a project like this.

Have Cash

Banks are tighter with their loans these days, so if you plan on buying an investment property, plan on having a sizable part of the down payment ready to fork over. This will show lenders you’re serious. Have enough cash to forgo the lender all together? Even better. “Sellers love cash buyers, and you may be able to get a better price if you can pay it all up front,” explains Eisenberg.

Location, Location, Location.

Before you buy the house down the street from your own, research where folks are buying right now, and scrutinize local markets. “Keep an eye out for cities where the markets are on the rise—not stagnant—so that when your property is ready for resale, someone will be ready to buy it,” Eisenberg suggests.

Pick Renovations Carefully

You may want to fix the house up from soup to nuts. But before you start working on that private screening theatre in the basement, tackle renovations with the largest return on investments. “A nice kitchen, up-to-date bathrooms and decent-sized bedrooms are good bets when renovating for sale,” says Eisenberg. “And of course, make sure the roof is in good condition and the foundation isn’t crumbling.” That Jacuzzi tub won’t make buyers overlook the cracked basement walls.

For more information on house flipping, please contact Louis Eisenberg, Prudential Towne Realty, at, 757-572-7244, or

5 Top Reasons People Buy Homes

Infographic Courtesy of KCM Blog