Smoking in the House Severely Hurts the Chances of Selling Your Home

Smokers hurt their chances of selling…

…not to mention their chances of living a long and healthy life. When people smoke in their homes, the smell gets in everything. The foul stale smoke odor gets ingrained in the carpet, the curtains, the furniture, and even the walls. The heating and air conditioning system circulates the smoke to all areas of the house. No part of the house escapes the smell. Some folks think they can at least smoke in their garage but the smell comes through walls and seeps up through the ceiling into the rest of the house.

Most smokers don’t even realize their house stinks. Let’s be honest. If you smoke, your sense of smell is impaired, to say the least. Smokers usually can’t smell the odor on their own person – in their clothes, in their hair or on their skin, much less the odor in their house from the smoke.

As an ex-smoker I can speak with some authority on this subject. I smoked for 16 years and fortunately had the desire and will to quit back in 1993. Even when I did smoke, I had the foresight to not smoke in my house.

Within 6 months after quitting, my sense of smell returned to normal. Now, as an agent, when I go on a listing appointment or show a house to a buyer, and the smell of stale smokes hits me in the face when I walk in the door, I want to turn around and walk out and sometimes potential buyers will do just that. They refuse to even see the rest of the house once they smell the stale smoke. They usually make a face as if they had just smelled dog poop and then make a beeline straight for the door.

I usually tell a potential seller, that at the bare minimum, they need to at least quit smoking in the house while the house is listed. If they are offended by that request or refuse, I suggest that they get another REALTOR®, because I am not the one for them. For the agent/seller relationship to work, sellers have to be willing to make some effort to do what is needed to sell their house. If they don’t want to make any effort then I don’t want to work with them.

In situations where the sellers have smoked in the house for years and now want to put it on the market, the idea situation would be to move out and try to correct the odor situation. Once the house is empty, install all new carpet and paint the interior. Take my word for it, this will not totally eliminate the smell of smoke in the house, but it will go a long way towards dulling the smell down. Lastly, place some find of air freshener near the HVAC air intake vent to dull the smoke odor that has collected on the walls of the duct work.

Like I said, that is the “ideal” situation. Most people because of money, or timing, can not move out prior to selling. If that is the case, have the carpets and the upholstery steam cleaned. Wash all curtains. Paint the interior, and again, place some air fresheners in strategic places throughout the house. Do whatever you can to try to get rid of the odor.

There are also fire restoration companies that can bring in ozone machines that can also help in getting the odor out. It is an expensive and time consuming process, but may be what is needed.

The absolute most important thing that you can do if you are a smoker to try to help your house sell is to QUIT SMOKING IN THE HOUSE! That’s a no-brainer.

For all of your real estate needs please visit my web site at or my facebook business page kevinburrushomes or call me at 919-889-1766.

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Let the Light In… An Often Forgotten Key to a Good First Impression

When I am showing a buyer homes I can always tell as soon as I walk in the door whether or not the listing agent did a good job coaching the sellers about creating a good first impression. Let’s face it, there a lot of things that a seller can do to create a good first impression, including: de-cluttering, doing a deep cleaning, get rid of any odors at the source, stage it like a model home, having some light jazz or classical music playing in the background at a low volume, etc. But my big pet-peeve when I open up a house to show and find it dark, drab, with no lights on in the house and most of curtains and blinds closed. I mean really?

The potential buyers have never been in the house, they don’t know of the homes features or charm. Do you really want their first impression to be groping to find lights, or squinting to see, or when I later ask them for feedback on a house and they say “that was the dark one, right?”

For my listings I always let me sellers know of the importance of that first impression. In addition to mentioning all of the things I listed in the first paragraph, I also stress to them to please, please, please leave lights on in the main rooms (Foyer, dining room, kitchen, family room, living room and bedrooms). I also ask them to open up the curtains and blinds and let the natural light in.

Sometimes I get a little push-back from a seller saying something like “we leave for work early and don’t want to leave lights on all day for an afternoon showing”. Believe me it is a small price to pay if you look at the bigger picture of selling versus not selling. And even if you are penny-pincher and don’t want to pay the $10 in electricity, is that an excuse not to open up all curtains and blinds? I think not.

When I open up a well-lit home I immediately know these sellers understand what is required to make a good first impression and I usually mention it to my clients (the potential buyers). Just my mentioning that these sellers know what they are doing and want to make a good first impression gives my clients a good feeling about the sellers (whom they have never met).

Bottom line… sellers, even if your agent didn’t coach you well, please do yourself a favor and leave lights on in the main rooms (not every closet and bathroom or hallway) and open up the curtains and blinds and LET THE LIGHT IN!

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The Relationship With Your Agent is a Partnership

When you are thinking about buying or selling real estate choosing an agent/broker can be a daunting task, but it is also the most important choice you will make relating to the real estate experience.  This article is not about making that choice but how to view the relationship once the choice has been made.

There has to be honesty and trust. The buyer or seller client needs to be completely honest with their agent regarding material facts, expectations, wants, needs, likes, dislikes, time frames, finances, etc. The more your agent knows the better they will be able to serve their clients. The agent needs to also be completely honest and trustworthy enough to use the information obtained from the clients to better serve and meet their needs, while also maintaining confidentiality.

It is rare, but I have had a couple of clients in the past that played everything so “close to the vest” that I felt they didn’t trust me and ultimately I wasn’t able to fully meet their needs… mainly because those needs were never relayed to me. It makes for a tough transaction all the way around. If you don’t trust your agent then it would be better for you and the agent to get out of the relationship and find another agent.

The agent/client relationship is really a partnership. You want to get into that new house, or sell your existing house in a timely manner, as financially beneficial as possible and with as little stress experienced as possible. Your agent wants those same things. If you work together, being honest and creating trust, these things can be accomplished with relative ease and everyone wins! Honest communication is the key!


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USDA Postpones Location Eligibility Changes…

Some of you may know that the U.S.D.A (United States Department of Agriculture) offers zero-down mortgages. There are certain requirements that have to be met, like income types and income limits, but there are also location requirements. The original purpose of USDA loans was to help out buyers wanting to buy in low-populated rural areas. Every so often they use census data to declare an area ineligible due to population growth… with the reasoning that the area has grown to the point that it can no longer be considered a “rural” area.

When the 2010 census data was released, the powers that control USDA determined that a lot of the small towns across North Carolina would no longer be eligible. Some of the small towns surrounding Raleigh and the Triangle Area that have enjoyed eligibility would no longer be on the “eligible” list. Some of these towns are Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Clayton, Knightdale, Wendell, Hillborough, etc. They have been threatening to take these towns off the list since the 2010 census data came out, but due to the excruciatingly slow recovery from the recession, they have had several delays in implementation.  Each time they announce an extension (for usually six months) we (as REALTORS®) all breath a sigh of relief. Having a program that is available with zero-down is a good thing for buyers, sellers, and the economy.

Great news! Drum roll please….. USDA have decided that the economy is too fragile right now to make any drastic changes to the eligibility map and have announced that they will not make any eligibility map changes until the next census is taken (in 2020) and those results are released and analyzed. That is great news! Yea!!!

If you want to learn more or want to see if your area is eligible or check income requirements and limits… visit:



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Tips For Understanding the Foreclosure Buying Process

Buying a foreclosure can be a tedious process and there are some things that a potential buyer should know before starting down that road.

First of all… gone are the days of picking up foreclosures for pennies on the dollar. The foreclosure process is an expensive ordeal for the banks and most banks have gotten savvy about recouping those costs. In the last few years they seem to have decided not take a bath on the purchase price. The asset managers at most banks have been told by the higher-ups for their first counter-offer to be at full list price. That’s not say you can’t still get a discounted price but you have to be persistent and understand that the final purchase price is not going to anywhere near a 50% discount. These days I am seeing asset managers take about a 12% to 20% hit on the price. This means that on a $100K price house you can expect to get it for $88K and if the stars are aligned you can hope to get it for $80K.

There is usually not a time period designated in the contract of a foreclosure as “due diligence period”. In other words there is no “free-look” period where you can walk away for any reason.

While there is no due diligence period, the buyer does still have the option of getting whatever inspections they want to have done. Two big differences here are that the inspections are for the buyer’s informational purposes only, and the costs of turning on utilities for the inspections can be the burden of the buyer.

Foreclosures are “as is” sales and 99% of the time the entity holding the mortgage will not make any repairs. I have seen rare instances where if there was a serious safety issue uncovered by the inspection, the bank would agree to fix that one issue. Again, this is rare.

For HUD foreclosures and some others, the entity holding the mortgage will not pay to turn on the utilities for the inspections. They put this burden on the buyer. The buyer will have to get permission from the field service managing company to turn on the utilities. The FSM company will allow a 72 hour window for utilities to be on. There is usually a fee of $100 to $200 for the privilege of turning on the utilities. Then the buyer has to coordinate with the power, water and gas companies to get everything on (usually with fees involved) and have the inspectors go to the property during this 72 hour window. Then the buyer has to arrange for all of the utilities to be turned off. They will not let the utilities stay on until closing due to liability reasons.

If a serious default is uncovered during the inspections the buyer can still back out of the deal and in most cases get their earnest money back (but not always).

If the buyer decides to continue on and proceed with the purchase, the process from this point until the closing is basically the same as a regular re-sale purchase. The only difference may be how the deed and seller-side docs are handled, but that process is handled behind the scenes by the closing attorneys that are involved.

While these few differences can be tedious and cause a little more stress during the buying process, now that you are aware of them you won’t be blindsided by the extra hoops you have to jump through or the extra costs that may be involved. Foreclosures can still be a good value so don’t shy away from them because you may not understand the process.

A good REALTOR® can help you through the process and if I can assist in any way please don’t hesitate to contact me at 919-889-1766 or


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Looking for Foreclosures?

One of the questions I get most often is “How Can I Find Foreclosure Properties?”. Most REALTORS® can help their clients find foreclosures. When I do searches for clients in the MLS I don’t distinguish between regular re-sales, new construction or foreclosures. Whatever results come up… I send to my client. Of course if they ask to only be sent a particular type of listings then I narrow the results to whatever they have asked for.

Sometimes a client thinks that a particular property is a foreclosure but in fact it hasn’t gone through the entire foreclosure process yet. These are pre-foreclosure properties. Ten years ago if a homeowner didn’t pay their mortgage, after 3 months of missed payments the banks would start the foreclosure process. In recent years due to the housing market meltdown and this very sluggish economy, banks are waiting a lot longer to start the foreclosure process. Sometimes an owner can be behind for a year of payments before the bank finally pulls the trigger and starts the foreclosure process.

Until the bank actually completes the foreclosure process, the property can not be listed with a REALTOR® or placed in the MLS. When clients tell me that they know of a house that has been empty for a long time and is a foreclosure but there is no sign in the yard, it usually ends up being a house that hasn’t yet completed the foreclosure process.

There are also specific web sites that the public can visit to find foreclosures. All FHA-backed foreclosures will be on For VA loan foreclosures try visiting For Freddie Mac loan foreclosures visit

Buying a foreclosed property is different than buying a normal re-sale. The process is a little more complicated and can be tedious and more stressful for the buyer. Having an agent that knows what they are doing and understands the process will go a long way in keeping the stress levels at a minimum. Stay tuned for a new blog entry that provides insight into the differences between buying a foreclosure and a regular re-sale.

If I can help you find foreclosures and guide you through the foreclosure buying process please don’t hesitate to contact me at 919-889-1766 or at


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President Wants to End Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

The President announced this week that he wants to start winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac so that the federal government will not be the main backer or insurer for mortgages in this country. I completely agree… but wait… is this the same President that has pushed America more and more towards socialism?

While I completely agree with getting the federal government out of the mortgage business, the change will come with a price… and that price will be paid by future home-buyers. The talking heads don’t think anything could pass through congress until sometime in 2015, but just the mention of ending these mammoth organizations have caused rates to start to tick upwards.

When banks have to start taking on the majority of the risk for loans, you can bet the criteria needed to get a loan will get more stringent and the rates will be higher… a lot higher.

What does that mean for you as a buyer? As rates go up, your buying power goes down. In other words, You may have qualified for a $300K home at a 3.5% interest rate, but at 6% or 7% you may only qualify for $230K (Note: these figures were pulled completely out of the sky… but you get the point).

People will always buy homes, no matter what the interest rates are. Homes were bought during the Jimmy Carter era when rates were 18%. But if you know it’s coming… why wait? Rates right now are ranging (daily) between 3.7 and 4.2%. You can beat the system… the system that is rigged against the little guy. You can beat it by purchasing your next home soon, locking in decent rates before they start to head north.

Do yourself the biggest favor by calling your favorite real estate professional and getting the ball rolling. Don’t be that sucker a few months from now that says “I should have listened when I had the chance”. For more info call me 919-889-1766 or visit my web site ( to start your search now.

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