John Jacob Astor – America’s First Millionaire
In the early 1800s, John Jacob Astor began trading furs, silk, tea, and fine china. Thanks to his trading activities, he soon became wealthy. Astor began using his trading profits to invest in real estate, some of which was located in Manhattan. Astor became known as “Manhattan’s Landlord” and was considered by many to be the wealthiest person of his time.
Shortly before Astor passed away, he said, “Could I begin life again, knowing what I now know, and had money to invest, I would buy every foot of land on the Island of Manhattan.” In 1848, Astor passed away, leaving more than $20 million to his heirs, which would amount to around $400 or $500 billion today.
“This [German] immigrant butcher’s son not only was America’s first millionaire and multimillionaire, he also was America’s first Millionaire Real Estate Investor … The fact that an immigrant butcher’s son could build America’s first great fortune is the inspiration. The fact that he did it through real estate is the instruction,” Gary Keller, Millionaire Real Estate Investor.
These are great tips which I utilize. I always attend the appraisal for my seller(s).
Here are eight ways you can bolster your appraisal:
1. MAKE SURE APPRAISER KNOWS YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
Is the appraiser from within a 10-mile radius of your property? “This is one of the first questions you should ask the appraiser,” says Ben Salem, a real estate agent with Rodeo Realty in Beverly Hills, California.
He recalled a recent case where an appraiser visited an unfamiliar property in nearby Orange County and produced an appraisal that Salem said was $150,000 off. “If the appraiser doesn’t know the area intimately, chances are the appraisal will not come back close to what a property is really worth.”
You can request that your lender send a local appraiser; if that still doesn’t happen, supply as much information as you can about the quality of your neighborhood.
2. PROVIDE YOUR OWN COMPARABLES
Provide your appraiser with at least three solid and well-priced comparable properties. You will save her some work, and insure that she is getting price information from homes that really are similar to yours.
Websites including Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia offer recent sales prices and details such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in a home.
3. KNOW WHAT ADDS THE MOST VALUE
If you’re going to do minor renovations, start with your kitchen and bathrooms, says G. Stacy Sirmans, a professor of real estate at Florida State University. He reviewed 150 variables that affect home values for a study sponsored by the National Association of Realtors. Wood floors, landscaping and an enclosed garage can also drive up appraisals.
4. DOCUMENT YOUR FIX-UPS
If you’ve put money into the house, prove it, says Salem.
“Before-and-after photos, along with a well-defined spreadsheet of what was spent on each renovation, should persuade an appraiser to turn in a number that far exceeds what he or she first called out.”
Don’t forget to highlight all-important structural improvements to electrical systems, heating and cooling systems – which are harder to see, but can dramatically boost an appraisal. Show receipts.
5. TALK UP YOUR TOWN
If your town has recently seen exciting developments, such as upscale restaurants, museums, parks or other amenities, make sure your appraiser knows about them, says Craig Silverman, principal and chief appraiser at Silverman & Co. in Newtown, Pennsylvania.
6. DISTINGUISH BETWEEN UPSTAIRS AND DOWNSTAIRS
Many homeowners covet that refinished basement, but that doesn’t mean appraisers look at it the same way. “Improvements and additions made below grade, such as a finished basement, do not add to the overall square footage of your house,” says John Walsh, president of Total Mortgage Services in New York. “So they don’t add anywhere near as much value as improvements made above grade.”
According to Remodeling magazine, a basement renovation that cost $63,000 in 2011-12 will recoup roughly 66 percent of that in added home value. That’s not as good as an attic bedroom, which will recoup 73 percent of its cost. Even similar bedrooms typically count for more if they are upstairs instead of downstairs.
7. CLEAN UP
Even jaded appraisers can be swayed by a good looking yard. “Tree trimming, cleaning up, a few flowers in the flower beds and paint touch up can all help the appraisal,” says Agnes Huff, a real estate investor based in Los Angeles.
That advice holds true indoors, too. “Get rid of all the clutter in your home,” says Jonathan Miller, a longtime appraiser in New York. “It makes the home appear larger.”
8. GIVE THE APPRAISER SOME SPACE
Don’t follow the appraiser around like a puppy. “I can’t tell you how many homeowners or listing agents follow me around in my personal space during the inspection,” he says. “It’s a major red flag there is a problem with the home.”
And while you’re at it, make the appraiser’s job as pleasant as possible by giving your home a pleasant smell. At a minimum, clean out the litter box. Baking some fresh cookies and offering him one or two probably won’t sway your appraisal, nor should it. But it couldn’t hurt.
1.) Mortgage Calculator Pro – Within seconds, you can calculate your would-be monthly mortgage payment. This app lets you factor in insurance, property tax, and monthly fees such as the HOA costs, so you can determine the accurate monthly payment on your new potential home.
2.) Dictionary of Real Estate Terms – Unless you eat, sleep and breathe real estate, it’s nearly impossible to know what every real estate term means. The Dictionary of Real Estate Terms allows you to input words such as “abstraction approach,” so your eyes can look a little less blank when it comes time for contracts, negotiations and closings.
3.) Around Me – A house is only as good as the neighborhood where it’s located. The Around Me app lets you quickly find information on the location of the local necessities, by providing you with the distance to the nearest restaurants, pharmacies, movie theatres, hospitals, banks, etc.
4.) Wikihood – This app gives you full disclosure on what’s really going on in the neighborhood you’re considering as your new home. The app will automatically pull up the Wikipedia articles related to the geographic location of the phone to give you an inside look at schools, historical info, public transportation options.
5.) Walk Score – This app is especially great for city dwellers. Walk Score tells you what parts of the neighborhood are most walkable and the walking directions to your desired location. It uses GPS, so you don’t need to enter in any addresses. Walk Score rates each neighborhood up to 100, so the higher the score, the more walkable the neighborhood.
6.) Houzz – Once you’ve done the hard work of finding the house, now comes time for the fun part of decorating (well, this is subjective). The Houzz app for iPhone and iPad is a comprehensive source of design and decorating inspiration that includes over 350,000 original photos from design pros, the ability to sort by room, style and more, and the ability to save your favorite photos to your own idea books.