Exhibit the Exterior
Roof and Gutters
- Repair or replace loose, damaged or blistered shingles.
- Clean gutters and downspout strainers.
- Check gutters for leaks and proper alignment.
- Inspect flashings around roof stacks, vents, skylights and chimneys.
- Clear obstructions from vents, louvers and chimneys.
- Check fascias and soffits for decay and peeling paint.
- Inspect chimney for any loose or missing mortar.
- Re-nail loose siding and check for warping or decay.
- Paint siding, if necessary.
- Check masonry walls for cracks or any other damage.
- Replace loose or missing caulking.
- Repair concrete or blacktop, if necessary.
- Lubricate hinges and other hardware on your garage door.
- Inspect doors and windows for any peeling paint.
- Check condition of glazing around all windows.
- Test electrical outlets.
- Check walls, steps, retaining walls, walkways and patios for cracks, heaving or crumbling.
- Mow lawn, reseed or sod, if necessary.
- Trim hedges, prune trees and shrubs.
- Weed and mulch flower beds.
For Sale by Owners – Worth the Hassle?
For-sale-by-owner residential transactions are less than 15% of all home listings nationwide. According to a 2008 survey of homebuyers and sellers, 68% of respondents sold their homes through a real estate professional. Of that percentage, 8% tried unsuccessfully to sell on their own. Only 13% of respondents sold their own homes.
Further, the research shows that 50% of those homeowners who did successfully sell their homes without a real estate professional’s help vowed never to do it again, because of the complexities and hassles associated with the transaction.
Among the major problems cited:
Holding open houses
Arranging for appraisals and inspections
Understanding and filing paperwork
Helping buyers obtain financing
Having time to do it all
True, some homeowners may be able to save commission costs by selling on their own or using discount firms. However, people who try to sell their own homes deny themselves the benefit of a real estate professional who is trained to sell real estate on the terms most advantageous to their clients. An experienced Real Estate Professional can provide up-to-date reports, and has a clear understanding of local housing market and financing options. Brokers can provide more exposure, via multiple listing services, than most homeowners can obtain on their own.
In the vast majority of cases, it takes less time (and earns the homeowner more profit) to use a licensed real estate professional when selling a home.
Signing a Listing Agreement
When you choose a Real Estate Professional, you will most likely sign a listing agreement – a contract in which you agree to allow the Real Estate Professional to sell your home during a given period. The agreement says that you will pay the Real Estate Professional a fee when you sell your home. Most Real Estate Professionals are independent contractors who work for a company operated by a licensed real estate broker. (A salesman is licensed by the state to sell real estate through a broker. A broker is licensed by the state to sell real estate to others for a fee and employ salesmen and other brokers.)
The amount of compensation you pay a broker is negotiable, but the Real Estate Professional will generally follow the company’s policy regarding compensation. The amount of the fee will be spelled out in the listing agreement. Make sure you understand how the fee will be paid before signing.
Exclusive listing: Most Real Estate Professionals will ask for an exclusive right-to-sell listing. This means that you will owe the broker a commission regardless of who finds a buyer during the listing period. In other words, if you decide to sell the house to your cousin, your broker still gets a commission. The advantage of this kind of arrangement is that the broker is motivated to work harder to sell your home.
It’s possible that a Real Estate Professional from another company will find a buyer for your home. In that case, your broker is the listing broker, and the second agent is the selling or cooperating broker. Many times your listing broker will agree to pay the cooperating broker a fee from the amount you pay the listing broker. Your listing broker cooperates with other brokers who procure buyers interested in your property and offers to compensate the other brokers for procuring a buyer. Cooperating and compensating other brokers is discussed in the listing agreement you sign with the listing broker.
Length of listing: The listing agreement will specify how long you agree to list your house with a company. Your Real Estate Professional will probably suggest an average time that homes like yours are on the market. You want a period that’s long enough to motivate your Real Estate Professional to advertise your home and respond to buyers, yet short enough to allow you to change to a different company if you become unhappy with the Real Estate Professional’s service. Remember that the listing agreement is a contract. You should get a copy for your records. Your Real Estate Professional is bound to the terms just as you are. You can expect the Real Estate Professional to keep appropriate information confidential and effectively market your property.
Set the Price
To set the right price on a home, combine an objective evaluation of your property with a realistic assessment of market conditions. You are more likely to benefit by determining a fair value and sticking close to it than by asking an unrealistic figure. Under-pricing can deprive you of money that’s rightfully yours. Unless rushed, aim for full market value.
Study the Comparables: Be cautious of either overpricing or underpricing if you rely on less-than-solid information. Know your competition. Learn the offering and selling prices of similar properties. Find out how long each took to sell. Compare your home to others close in age, style, size, condition and location. Timing is all-important. If market demand is high, you should be able to increase the price. Sales prices of homes are published in local or regional sections of newspapers.
Get an Appraisal: Appraisal opinions are subject to honest dispute. Generally, an appraisal prepared by an experienced, licensed professional comes as close to an objective evaluation as you can get.
As the seller, you have relatively little to do at this point. Avoid common glitches by keeping abreast of progress on both sides.
Be aware if the buyer is having trouble getting a loan on the terms specified in the contract. If he/she is turned down, it could jeopardize the whole deal, and your house could be put back on the market. A day or so before closing, make sure all the necessary papers and documents have been gathered and are in the hands of the right parties.
Things can go wrong. Documents can be misplaced, delayed or lost. However, common last-minute glitches can be avoided.
- Parties who should be present at closing need to be informed of any change in the date, time or place. They should be reminded a week before closing and again the day before.
- Everyone named on the deed under which you hold title must sign the new deed by which you grant title.
- Know when and how you will be paid. Don’t expect to walk away from the settlement table with a check in hand.
- If you are buying another property, consider having both closings at the same office scheduled back-to- back. That way, the timing of the disbursement is not a problem. You sign a paper authorizing the title company or attorney to assign the funds from sale to purchase.
The papers you’ll need:
- A copy of the sales contract and documentation showing that any contingencies have been removed or satisfied.
- All documents needed to complete the transfer of title. This may include certificate of title, deed, correcting affidavits, quitclaim deeds, survey and title insurance policy or binder.
- Homeowners insurance policy. If the buyer plans to take over the unused portion of your hazard insurance, you’ll need to make arrangements in advance for all paperwork to be completed on time.
- Pro rations for ongoing expenses such as insurance premiums, property taxes, accrued interest on assumed loans and utilities (if not shut off between owners).
- Receipts showing payment of the latest water, electric and gas bills.
- A certificate from your lender indicating the mortgage balance and the date to which interest has been prepaid.
Setting a Price
As you interview Real Estate Professional, they may suggest a listing price on your home. Only you can decide what price to set, but you want it to be realistic. The listing price is critical. Set it too high, and you may not find a buyer. Set it too low and you cheat yourself out of money.
Appraisal: Regardless of what you originally paid for your home and the cost of improvements you have made, the price your home can command is what the market will bear at the time you decide to sell it. You may consider hiring an independent real estate appraiser. An appraiser has specialized training and experience. Don’t rely on assessed valuations made for tax purposes. Such valuations may not be reliable indicators of value as these valuations are made by mass appraisal techniques.
Comparative market analysis: Whether or not you get an appraisal, a Real Estate Professional can develop a comparative market analysis. This analysis will describe homes in your area that have recently withdrawn from the market. The analysis may compare specific features of your home to others – the value of a corner lot, a city view, or an extra bedroom, for example. The analysis may also point out market fluctuations caused by the opening of a new school or business, for example, as well as long-term trends.
If you do not have a good idea, based on reliable data, of what the price your home can generate, you may decide to set a higher price thinking that if it doesn’t sell at first, you can come down. However, if you set it too high, you may keep away buyers who are looking at comparable homes with lower prices. Lowering the price later sometimes gives your home a negative image. On the other hand, you don’t want to set the price too low. You may be tempted to set a low price because you feel the pressure of transferring to another town, or you’re afraid that your worn carpet will turn away buyers. Be realistic and get advice from your Real Estate Professional.
Net proceeds: Once you’ve decided on a price range, the Real Estate Professional may help you calculate an estimated amount you might net from the sale. If you have owned your home for several years, you may have built up a sizable equity. Equity is the difference between the value of your home and the balance on your mortgage After subtracting what you owe on your mortgage, ask your Real Estate Professional what costs you will incur in closing. These may include title fees, taxes, a penalty for prepaying your mortgage, brokerage commission, attorney fees, and charges for preparing and recording documents. Finally ask your tax adviser or attorney about the tax implications of your proposed sale.
Showcase the Interior
- Check underside of roof for leaks, stains or dampness.
- Look around chimney for condensation or signs of water.
- Clean and clear ventilation openings if necessary.
- Clean out stored junk.
Walls and Ceilings
- Check condition of paint and wallpaper.
- Repair cracks, holes or damage to plaster or wallboard.
Windows and Doors
- Check for smooth operation.
- Replace broken or cracked panes.
- Repair glazing.
- Check condition of weather stripping and caulking.
- Examine paint.
- Test doorbell or chimes.
- Test security system.
- Wash windows and woodwork, if necessary.
- Inspect for creaking boards, loose or missing tiles, worn areas.
- Check baseboards and moldings.
- Test the staircases for loose handrails, posts or treads.
- Check tile joints, grouting and caulking.
- Remove mildew.
- Repair leaking faucets and shower heads.
- Check the condition of painted or papered walls.
- Test operation of toilet.
- Wash all appliances.
- Clean ventilator or exhaust fan.
- Remove accumulation of grease or dust from tiles, walls and floors.
- Remove clutter.
- Check for signs of dampness, cracked walls or damaged floors.
- Inspect structural beams.
- Check pipes for leaks.
- Check exposed wiring and outlets for signs of wear or damage.
- Repair broken switches and outlets.
- Label each circuit or fuse.
- Check water pressure when taps in bathroom(s) and kitchen are turned on.
- Look for leaks at faucets and sink traps.
- Clear slow-running or clogged drains.
- Bleed air off radiators if needed, and check for leaking valves.
Heating and Cooling Systems
- Change or clean furnace and air-conditioning filters.
- Have equipment serviced, if needed.
- Clear and clean area around heating and cooling equipment.
Avoid Mistakes that Could Cost You Thousands
Selling your home can be an exhausting experience. Last minute walk throughs, inconvenient calls, price adjustment and the possibility of being stuck with two mortgages are real concerns. If you are not completely prepared you could end up losing hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in profit.
The difference between a profitable smooth transaction and a break even, miserable experience is often a fine line. In the majority of cases it comes down to the subtle know how of your professional. By utilizing the knowledge of a well-trained real estate investor, you’ll ensure the quick, profitable sale of your home. This report is designed to arm you with the knowledge to avoid 11 common mistakes that cost sellers serious money.
Refusing to Make Profit Inducing Repairs: It always costs you more money to sell ‘as is’ than to make repairs that will increase the value of your home. Even minor improvements will often yield as much as three to five times the repair cost at the time of sale. Your agent will be able to point out what repairs will significantly increase the value of your home. Seemingly small fix up jobs can have quite an impact.
Not Considering Other Financing Terms: Cash is not always the most advantageous transaction. Income level, tax benefits and current legislation are all critical factors when considering purchase terms. Professional Real Estate Investors are experts at home transactions and can lead you down the path that will give you the highest yield.
Provide Easy Access for Showings: Accessibility is a major key to profitability. Appointment-only showings are the most restrictive, while a lock box is the least. However there are certain considerations to take into account: your lifestyle, time frame for the desired sale and the relationship with the person representing your interests. The more accessible your home is, the better the odds of finding a person willing to pay your asking price. You never know if the one that couldn’t get a viewing was the one that got away. By developing a trusting relationship with an investor, he or she will show the home with your best interests in mind.
Priced Too Low/Priced Too High: One critical reason to find an experienced professional real estate investment professionals to make sure the property is priced appropriately for a timely and profitable sale. If the property is priced too high it will sit and develop the identity of a problem property. If it’s priced too low it could cost you considerable profits. The real estate market has subtle nuances and market changes that should be re-evaluated by your representative every 10-14 days to help you maximize your return.
Relying Solely on Traditional Methods To Sell Your Home The real estate professional who is innovative and willing to offer new strategies of attracting home buyers will always out perform those who rely on traditional methods. Demand around the clock advertising exposure, innovative lead generation methods and lead accountability. These services exist and should be offered on your home sale.
Market Timing/Seasonal Selling: Just as a broker who continually follows the trends of a stock, your real estate professional continually follows trends of your home market. They will know if the market cycle is poised to net you the most money. Avoid believing that property sales are seasonal.. property is always selling.
Refusing to Make Cosmetic Changes The prospective home buyer’s first impression is the most important. Hundreds of thousands of home sales have been lost to unkempt lawns, cluttered rooms, bad stains, unpleasant odors… all the seemingly little things. Imagine you were the home buyer and clean your place from top to bottom… military style.
Wasting Time With An Unqualified Prospect: Your representative’s responsibility is to screen a prospect’s qualifications before valuable time is lost. Be sure to align yourself with the right professional and eliminate negotiating with unqualified prospects.
Don’t Test The Market: Never put your property on line to sell unless you are serious. The right professional will find you buyers and if you are harboring indecision… you will blow the sale.
Believing You are Powerless to Make a Difference: Be a part of the team! Take an active role with your real estate professional to see what you can do to facilitate your sale. Networking with professional peers and personal friends often results in the sale of a home. It’s surprising how many homes are sold this way.
Believing All Real Estate Professionals, Brokers & Others are the Same: With all the intricate details and critical decisions to be made concerning your home sale, should you rely on anyone but an experienced real estate investment professional? Many friends and family members have been estranged as a result of failing to meet expectations. Your home sale is a time consuming, effort related, difficult task. Maximize your profit by utilizing an experienced real estate investment professional.
Sell Your Home a the Highest Possible Price
Making a mistake in selling a home can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost profit. Often home sellers make the same mistakes over and over. Avoiding these mistakes is easy and takes little time and effort on your part. Take the time with your home sale and follow the guidelines in this report.
Distress Selling: At times, selling quickly is unavoidable. That’s when knowing the right techniques to sell your home without looking desperate and making yourself a target for low bidders really pays off. Know all there is to know about the market before listing and work hand in hand with the right real estate professional. Ensure that you are not settling for the first offer through the door.
Best Home in the Neighborhood: Your home is one of your most personal possessions. Don’t be blind to flaws and needed cosmetic improvements. This will cause overvaluing of the home, hurting it’s chances to be sold. Listing with the right agent gives you a well informed third eye that will help you price your home at a fair market price.
Limited Home Viewing: Buyers want to view a home on their own time schedule. Unfortunately their time schedule does not always coincide with your time schedule. Leave a lock-box or key with your agent so your home can be shown when you are not around. You never know if the one who got away was your buyer.
Restrain Emotional Decisions: Don’t allow a few hundred dollars to ruin a sale. That money will mean very little to you in the long run. Take a look at the big picture and react rationally. Use sound business judgment!
Make Cosmetic Improvements: Prospects make up their minds within the first twenty minutes. First impressions can make all the difference in selling your home. Spending $1,200 on new carpet might add another $4,000 to the price of your home. Get an objective point of view from your real estate professional. They can provide you with a list of items that will maximize the profit of your home sale.
Disclose Property Flaws: Property disclosure laws require sellers to list any flaws required by your state. If you are unaware of flaws or attempt to cover them up, you risk losing the sale and finding yourself in court. Get professional assistance from your agent who can introduce you to qualified inspectors and ensure the smooth sale of your home.
For Sale By Owner: Most homeowners who decide to sell their own home do so because they believe they can save the commission paid to the real estate agent. Everything has a price and selling a home carries a high one. The enormous amount of time and effort required to sell a home often surprises the “For Sale By Owner.” Furthermore, many costly mistakes can be avoided with the right guidance.
Refusing to Trust Your Agent: Would you tell a physician that you’ve decided to run your own tests and come to your own diagnosis? By choosing the right Real Estate Professional, you can relax and trust their judgment. The right agent is a valuable team member who will protect your best interests and make your sale as profitable as possible.
Know Your Market: Most homes that do not sell in their first listing period are priced too high. Conversely, most homes that sell quickly are priced too low and cheat the homeowner out of profits. You need to understand the market and evaluate the value of your home based on fact, not gut instinct or conventional wisdom. A professional agent knows the market, just as you know the market for your business.
Choosing a Real Estate Professional Based on Personal Relationships: Home sellers often pick a friend or family member as their agent. Choose an agent with a strong track record and aggressive Marketing Plan. A top producer knows the market well and can generate many buyers. Selling your home is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make! Base it on good, sound business sense and the rewards will add up.
Before you make one of your most important decisions regarding your home sale shouldn’t you become as informed as possible? By aligning yourself with a top agent you ensure that all the important issues and seemingly insignificant but….very important….details are handled professionally. Your home sale should not be a grueling ordeal. The more informed you are, the better chance you have of making a sound business decision.
How to Get Every Dollar You Deserve
The ability to reap additional profits on the sale of your home can be accomplished easily enough if you make the right improvements. Many changes can provide the prospective buyer with enhanced feelings about your home. Feelings of more space, more light, more rooms, more closet space, greater privacy, warmth and security. Basic, simple and inexpensive improvements can provide an improved emotional response in a potential buyer. An example could be something as small as a crack in the paint on a wall. Simply by applying some plaster and touch up paint, you eliminated what may be an unstated concern that your home was poorly maintained. Though the feeling may be unconscious, it’s just as important that the potential buyer feel an overall desire for your home. If you are working with a small budget these simple techniques will work absolute wonders:
The Magic of Mirrors!
Mirrors can provide a greater sense of space and elegance when properly placed. Be careful not to overdo it, but when placed properly throughout your home, each area will seem larger to the potential home buyer. Try looking in your attic or basement for any old mirrors, but be sure they have a nice frame or at least give the frame a new coat of paint. You may also want to visit a local flea market or garage sale, you can almost always get a great deal on an old mirror or two. Putting one foot square mirrors on a closet door in the master bedroom is always an attractive touch.
Adding Additional Closet Space
One of the biggest complaints heard from potential buyers is that there just isn’t enough closet space! Simply purchasing an inexpensive closet organizer and installing it in any or all of your closets can make all the difference. You can also try putting a rod across one corner of a bedroom for hanging clothes. Also you could try hanging a screen made from a variety of materials. The screen could match the material of the bedspread, drapes etc. The idea here is to be creative so that the “fake closet” looks as though it was a part of the room.
Make a Bare Wall Beautiful
Wallpaper is inexpensive, quick and easy to do! The right wallpaper can brighten the room or hallway and bring it back to life. Be careful to choose something with a neutral design or pattern, remember you’re trying to move out.
Bring Old Floors Back to Life!
Nothing turns off a potential buyer quicker than dull, dingy, disgusting looking floors. Whether you have wax, wooden or tiled floors do whatever you can to make them shine again! For wax floors, either rent a floor machine and do it yourself or, if it’s in your budget, hire a professional. Have a professional give you an estimate and explain exactly what they would do to bring your floors back to life. If you have them explain what they would do, it may be just as easy to do it yourself. If you have carpeted floors you should either have the carpet steam cleaned or install new carpeting. This may sound expensive but new carpeting can add thousands of dollars to the value of your home.
Add Attractive Plants
Having plants in the house is not only healthy for you but you create a warm feeling with them. Many indoor plants are far less expensive then you might imagine. Attractive pots such as ceramic, brass or even designer plastic will add a designer flair to your home. Hanging plants such as Boston ferns are inexpensive, easy to care for and would go great in your new home wherever you move.
Adding a Room Without Calling in the Contractor!
This simple but seldom used technique, can give a buyer the feeling there are more actual rooms in your house. Floor to ceiling room dividers are inexpensive and simple to install. When a buyer walks through your home, they will generally count the rooms in a subconscious manner. Each room will present an emotional response as they walk through your home. By dividing and designing each side of your room, you create a ” separate room” feeling in the potential buyer. It may sound crazy but it works!
Clean Up the Bathroom
We’ve probably all heard that phrase a hundred times growing up as children! Well guess what? It’s still valid. Give your bathroom a face-lift if needed: fresh paint, decorative moldings, tile grout, new designer faucets are all attractive eye catchers.
What is That Smell?
Though people don’t like to admit it, everyone’s home has a certain smell to it. We just never notice it because we live with it day in, day out. Strategically placing fresh scent devices throughout the home will be pleasant to the nose of any potential buyer. As a matter of fact, an old Real Estate Professional trick is to pop some cinnamon rolls in an oven 5 minutes before a showing. I bet you thought all Real Estate Professionals just had a sweet-tooth!
Ten Questions You Must Ask a Real Estate Professional Before You List
Most of us sell only a small number of homes in our lifetimes. With limited experience in real estate how are we to be capable of maximizing the profits from our home sale? Many home sellers make the critical mistake of thinking all Real Estate Professionals are the same. They list with the first agent who comes along. Does it make good business sense to put the responsibility of selling your home with someone who has no plan or qualifications? This special report will educate you with valuable information that will help you make the best decision concerning: Which real estate agent should you list with? Start by doing a few hours of research. Ask around… get to know who has the most signs, ads and marketing material in your neighborhood. Who’s the most active agent? Compile a list of agent names and use these questions to help you determine which agent is right for you.
Could you send me some information about yourself? – You can often get a good idea of which agents are the most professional by looking at their promotional materials. If their own materials aren’t professional, how well are they going to market your home? Track how long each agent takes to respond to your request and how quickly they follow up. If they don’t respond efficiently to your listing requests imagine how they’ll handle potential home buyers.
How many homes have you listed and how many homes have you sold in the last six months? – Look for an agent who has experience with homes similar to yours and is active in your area. If your home has special features look for an agent with experience in those areas. Your agent should have a good record of selling homes, not just listing them. After all, this is your ultimate goal.
What is your average length of time from listed to sold? – Don’t automatically assume the shorter time on the market the better. That could reflect selling homes quickly at low-ball prices. Look at what the asking price was compared to the selling price. An agent who sells close to the asking price and quick is effective at helping clients determine the right price and helping them get it.
How long have you been in business and what professional organizations do you belong to? – The length of time a real estate agent has been licensed is not a sure fire sign that they’ve been an active seller. They may have been in business for 10 years but only part time, whereas an agent who’s been in business for 2 years may be a real top producer. So take into account what professional organizations they belong to. The minimum should be a licensed professional who’s a member of the local real estate board and multiple listing service as well as the state and National Association of Real Estate Professionals. Local community groups and associations are also pluses in terms of networking and commitment.
Do you have an assistant or support staff? – By employing someone to handle the details of their business the agent can spend more time servicing your needs. However, make sure you know how much time an agent will spend and how much time their assistant will spend on the sale of your home. It may be fine if the assistant does most of the legwork as long as the agent is there at the most critical times of the transaction period.
How often will you hold open houses? Will they be public or by appointment only? – Simply putting a sign on your lawn and holding open houses every Sunday will not sell your home. Too frequently open houses make the property a target for low ball bidders. Look for an agent with a specific plan for each open house. The plan should be just one facet of a complete marketing plan.
What listing price do you recommend and what is that price based on? – Pricing is the most critical step to selling your home. Take great care in choosing an agent with the knowledge to price your home effectively. Keep in mind the selling price should attract prospective buyers to your home, get you top dollar in the current market and reflect the condition of your home. Be realistic and avoid ‘yes agents’, who will say ‘yes’ to any request or price while your home languishes on the market. Low-ball agents will try to talk you into an artificial price simply to sell as fast as possible.
What does the listing agreement entail, what are the beginning and expiration dates, and what are the fee amounts I will be paying? – Have your agent go over every detail in the listing agreement with you until you understand it completely. Make sure the beginning and ending dates are on the agreement; a good standard for length is three months. Know exactly what fees you will be paying and remember that less is not always better. If the agent stands to make very little commission you can bet it will be reflected in the amount of time and effort that is spent marketing your home. If the agent reduces their commission to get the listing it may mean they intend to spend very little money promoting the property. The normal commission is between 5 and 7 percent.
What disclosure laws apply to me and what do I need to be aware of? – Make sure your agent helps you with locating professional inspectors for the various mandatory home inspections required in your area. Create a home marketing file including a property fact sheet, a property transfer disclosure statement, pest control report, applicable C.C.& R’s , applicable study zones report, structural engineering report, property profile from the title company, plans for alterations or additions, and special equipment report for pools, spas, sprinklers and alarm systems. Your agent should be able to handle this for you.
What types of things separate you from your competition and will you give me some feedback? – How effectively will they advertise? Do they have 24-hour advertising capability? Will all the leads be followed up on by your agent’s team or will they go to other agents who may have other listings they would prefer to show? Agents who are innovative and offer new methods of attracting home buyers will measurably outperform agents who rely on methods of the past. Marketing effectively in the 90’s and beyond requires progressive strategies that add value and service for both buyers and sellers!
Attention For Sale by Owners: Why People are Afraid to Buy from You
Many homeowners believe that to maximize their profit on a home sale they should sell it themselves. At first glance, they feel selling a home is simple and why should they pay a broker fees for something they could do themselves? In fact, close to 25% of all the homes sold last year were sold for sale by owner (FSBO).
However, close to half of the FSBO’s said that they would hire a professional next time they sold. Thirty percent said they were unhappy with the results they achieved by choosing FSBO. Why? Many FSBO’s told us that the time, paperwork and everyday responsibilities involved were not worth the amount of money they saved in commissions. For others, the financial savings were even more disappointing. By the time they figured the amount of fees paid to outside consultants, inspectors, appraisers, title lawyers, escrow and loan officers, marketing, advertising… they would have been better off having paid the broker’s fee which would have included many of these charges up front. Selling a home requires an intimate understanding of the real estate market. If the property is priced too high, it will sit and develop a reputation for being a problem property. If the property is priced too low, you will cost yourself serious money. Some FSBO’s discovered that the lost money as a result of poor decisions outweighed the commission. Before you decide to sell FSBO, consider these questions and weigh the answers of assuming the responsibility versus employing a professional. A little time spent investigating up front will pay off tenfold in the end.
Questions To Consider:
Do I have the time, energy, know-how, and ability to devote a full forced effort to sell my home?
One of the keys to selling your home efficiently and profitably is complete accessibility. Many homes have sat on the market much longer than necessary because the owner was unwilling or unavailable to show the property. Realize that a certain amount of hours each day is necessary to sell your home.
Am I prepared to deal with an onslaught of buyers who perceive FSBO’s as targets for low balling?
One of the challenges of selling a home is screening unqualified prospects and dealing with low-ballers. It often goes unnoticed… how much time, effort and expertise it requires to spot these people quickly. Settling for a low-ball bid is usually worse than paying broker commissions.
Am I offering financing options to the buyer? Am I prepared to answer questions about financing?
One of the keys to selling, whether it’s a home, a car… anything, is to have all the necessary information the prospective buyer needs and to offer them options. Think about the last time you purchased something of value, did you make a decision before you had all your ducks in a row? By offering financing options you give the home buyer the ability to work on their terms and open up the possibilities of selling your home quickly and more profitably. A professional real estate agent will have a complete team, from lenders to title reps for you to utilize…they’ll be at your disposal.
Do I fully understand the legal ramifications and necessary steps required in selling a home?
Many home sales have been lost due to incomplete paperwork, lack of inspections or not meeting your states disclosure laws. Are you completely informed of all the steps necessary to sell real estate? If not, a professional would be a wise choice.
Do I have the capability of handling the legal contracts, agreements and any disputes with buyers before or after the offer is presented?
Ask yourself if you are well versed in legalese and if you are prepared to handle disputes with buyers. To avoid any disputes it is wise to put all negotiations and agreements in writing. Many home sales have been lost due to misinterpretation of what was negotiated.
Have I contacted the necessary professionals….title, inspector (home and pest), attorney, and escrow company?
Are you familiar with top inspectors and escrow companies? Don’t randomly select inspectors, attorneys, and title reps. Like any profession there are inadequate individuals who will slow, delay and possibly even cost you the transaction.
How to Ask the Right Questions Before You List Again
Your listing has expired and now you’re wondering what to do. The most important question you must ask is, “Where did I go wrong?”. The answer is not usually within you, but with the agent you entrusted. Be prepared with the right information so you can interview your prospective agent with confidence and assure you make the right choice this time. With hundreds or even thousands of dollars at stake and weeks of time invested, don’t risk making the same mistake twice. Make sure your next agent is eminently qualified to sell your home. Don’t risk this decision out of obligation to a friend, family member or acquaintance. Your listing has expired and it’s easy to develop the identity of having a problem property in the market place. Therefore, it’s vital important to choose the right agent this time around. Typically, most people will ask business associates, family or friends to recommend someone they’ve had good luck with… someone they can trust. Other sellers will watch neighborhood real estate signs to see who is listing many of the homes. Still others rely upon the reputation of the major national franchise companies. Then, of course, there’s always the yellow pages. All of these methods could prove to be disastrous!
Trust Your Instincts First!
When selecting an agent, he or she should be someone you feel good about, someone you’re willing to trust with one of the largest financial transactions you may ever make. This report is designed to empower you with the information necessary to make the right decision before you arrive at the place where you’re ready to sign on the dotted line again. Don’t allow the prospective agent to dictate your time table. If an agent is impatient you should immediately consider them suspect. Be careful.
Do Your Homework!
Ask For References From Past Sellers – Before you sign another listing agreement, check out references from past sellers. Flattering letters praising the agent’s work in a presentation book are a great start, but dig deeper. Ask for telephone numbers and names of the past three sellers and names of at least two current listings.
Know The Companies Reputation – Ask your business associates, family and friends about the company or agent and listen carefully for the very first thing they say. A company has a reputation in the community. Listen closely for it!
Call The Real Estate Commission – Call and ask about consumer complaints. Be sure and take note of the number and nature but don’t base your entire decision on this information. In a slow or declining market, agents will get more complaints because the sellers are frustrated that their home isn’t moving and they want someone to blame when it’s simply poor market conditions. Therefore, always allow your prospective agent to explain any complaints and if their response seems reasonable, take that into consideration. One other note: if an agent does a large number of transactions per year, they will naturally be exposed to the potential for more of these kinds of comments. If an agent isn’t doing anything, they obviously won’t generate a complaint.
Call The Better Business Bureau – See if the agent has had any bad dealings with his or her customers.
Ask For A Record Of The Agent’s Marketing Innovations – How are they dealing with the current market conditions? Is there a plan to beef up their advertising and marketing efforts to benefit the seller? Residential real estate has a long history of economic cycles. The market is either hot, improving, static or declining and with each cycle there has to be a plan to cope with the current market conditions.
Don’t Stop Asking!
Ask for a comparison chart of last year’s sales to this year’s sales. How is the agent and company doing? Ask for a history of the agent; how many companies have they been with and why did they change? If the reason is always money there may be something wrong! Be careful because if your agent changes, companies your listing belongs to the broker and you may get a new inexperienced agent as your replacement… this could be very costly!
Ask For A Detailed Marketing Plan – Request a step-by-step plan of the first four weeks, eight weeks and twelve weeks your home will be on the market. Make sure your agent is utilizing the latest innovative technologies for generating sales leads. There are now ways to literally generate leads 24 hours a day! These new marketing tools will help sell your home faster and for more money! Define Planning Times – Establish a time with your agent to go over the marketing results within the first 15 days. Ask for all showings and feedback from other agents. Help the agent understand that any news is good news because it can help you make adjustments in your marketing plan. If you follow these suggestions you’re sure to avoid the mistakes of the past. Make sure you’re dealing with a competent professional… making the right choice is worth thousands of dollars and a great sense of “peace of mind.”
Seven Selling Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make
Mistake #1 — Pricing Your Property Too High
Every seller obviously wants to get the most money for his or her product. Ironically, the best way to do this is NOT to list your product at an excessively high price! A high listing price will cause some prospective buyers to lose interest before even seeing your property. Also, it may lead other buyers to expect more than what you have to offer. As a result, overpriced properties tend to take an unusually long time to sell, and they end up being sold at a lower price.
Mistake #2 — Mistaking Re-finance Appraisals for the Market Value
Unfortunately, a re-finance appraisal may have been stated at an untruthfully high price. Often, lenders estimate the value of your property to be higher than it actually is in order to encourage re-financing. The market value of your home could actually be lower. Your best bet is to ask your Real Estate Professional for the most recent information regarding property sales in your community. This will give you an up-to-date and factually accurate estimate of your property value.
Mistake #3 — Forgetting to “Showcase Your Home”
In spite of how frequently this mistake is addressed and how simple it is to avoid, its prevalence is still widespread. When attempting to sell your home to prospective buyers, do not forget to make your home look as pleasant as possible. Make necessary repairs. Clean. Make sure everything functions and looks presentable. A poorly kept home in need of repairs will surely lower the selling price of your property and will even turn away some buyers.
Mistake #4 — Trying to “Hard Sell” While Showing
Buying a house is always an emotional and difficult decision. As a result, you should try to allow prospective buyers to comfortably examine your property. Don’t try haggling or forcefully selling. Instead, be friendly and hospitable. A good idea would be to point out any subtle amenities and be receptive to questions.
Mistake #5 — Trying to Sell to “Looky-Loos”
A prospective buyer who shows interest because of a “for sale” sign he saw may not really be interested in your property. Often buyers who do not come through a Real Estate Professional are a good 6-9 months away from buying, and they are more interested in seeing what is out there than in actually making a purchase. They may still have to sell their house, or may not be able to afford a house yet. They may still even be unsure as to whether or not they want to relocate.
Your Real Estate Professional should be able to distinguish realistic potential buyers from mere lookers. Real Estate Professional should usually find out a prospective buyer’s savings, credit rating, and purchasing power in general. If your Real Estate Professional fails to find out this pertinent information, you should do some investigating and questioning on your own. This will help you avoid wasting valuable time marketing towards the wrong people. If you have to do this work yourself, consider finding a new Real Estate Professional.
Mistake #6 — Not Knowing Your Rights & Responsibilities
It is extremely important that you are well-informed of the details in your real estate contract. Real estate contracts are legally binding documents, and they can often be complex and confusing. Not being aware of the terms in your contract could cost you thousands for repairs and inspections. Know what you are responsible for before signing the contract. Can the property be sold “as is”? How will deed restrictions and local zoning laws will affect your transaction? Not knowing the answers to these kind of questions could end up costing you a considerable amount of money.
Mistake #7 — Limiting the Marketing and Advertising of the Property
Your Real Estate Professional should employ a wide variety of marketing techniques. Your Real Estate Professional should also be committed to selling your property; he or she should be available for every phone call from a prospective buyer. Most calls are received, and open houses are scheduled, during business hours, so make sure that your Real Estate Professional is working on selling your home during these hours. Chances are that you have a job, too, so you may not be able to get in touch with many potential buyers.
Ready to List With a Real Estate Agent
13 Things Your Agent Must Do To Maximize Your Profits!
Ready to place your home on the market? Do you understand the process and details of selling a home? Before you list with an agent, educate yourself on all the factors that will affect your profit. Be as informed as possible so you can make the absolutely best business decisions. After all, the sale of your home is a business decision! Most of us are not tuned into the trends and fluctuations of the real estate market. Likewise we are not aware of the necessary steps to maximize profits on the sale of our home. Typically we rely heavily upon an agent to lead us down the most profitable path. When considering our home is usually the most valuable asset we own, doesn’t it make sense to list with someone who will maximize our profits? But how do we find that agent?
This report is designed to empower you with critical information necessary to evaluate an agent’s qualifications and help you identify the professional top producer. The more meticulous you become in selecting the right agent the higher your profits will be! Start by doing some research. Find out who the most active agents are in your market. Look at advertising to see how professional it is. Ask friends and family. Drive around the neighborhood looking for yard signs. Then compile a list of agents.
The Phone Interview – Place a call to each of the agents on your list. Document how quickly they returned your call. Remember: they will be returning calls to your prospective home buyers. Do an initial ‘feel out’ interview over the phone so when you meet you will both be prepared.
Request a Complete Plan – From title to escrow, request a complete plan as to the services they can provide for you.
Evaluate Their Team – Top producers will have established relationships with lenders, title reps, inspectors… everything. They are there for your benefit and if they are ill prepared to handle all the steps, you are being short changed.
Detailed Report of your Property – Request a complete report of your property with ideas for improvements, cosmetic changes, structural repairs or anything that could add value to your property. Remember a small investment up front will pay higher dividends at the time of sale.
Alternative Report –Request a complete report of alternatives to the home sale. What would current market leases generate? Rentals? Responsibilities attached with leasing? Have your agent educate you as to all your options.
Insist on Pre-qualification – Don’t waste valuable time negotiating or showing your property to unqualified prospects. Insist your agent pre-qualifies candidates to screen out all unwanted prospects.
A Net Sheet – Request a complete net sheet, minus commissions and fees, showing your exact proceeds at the time of sale.
A Marketing Plan – Insist on a step-by-step marketing plan of how your property is going to be sold and marketed. Look for innovative ways to attract home buyers. Demand 24-hour advertising, lead accountability and tracking services. These services exist and you should insist upon them.
Telemarketing Efforts – Investigate the agents telemarketing team. Do they just cold call or do they have a mechanism to create proactive leads and call on those prospects?
Direct Mail – Investigate the agents capacity to send direct mail. How often do prospects receive mail? Is it professional? Does the mail piece motivate prospects to respond?
Advertising – Is it well written and professional? How many ad mediums do they utilize? They should be advertising in at least three; a homes magazine, community or local newspaper and yard signs. Remember: the quality of the advertising will directly influence how well your home will be perceived.
Negotiation Strategy – Have a written, well conceived, negotiation strategy. The old adage, “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate” rings true in real estate. Insist on a sound negotiation strategy before you entertain buyers.
Closing Checklist – Be sure to get a written closing checklist. You need to know in detail how you will conclude the sale of your home. This should provide a step-by-step procedure that will be easy to understand and follow.
Reject the Buyer Offer the First Time
This type of strategy works best in a normal to hot seller’s market. Rejecting the first offer might cost you the deal but in the long run you could end up coming out ahead. Use this information as more of guideline than a rule. In a cold market, depending on the number of offers, rejecting the first offer may not be the wisest choice. For example, the market prices are depressed. You have your first bite in six months. It is safe to assume that this may be your only offer and you should accept it.
Why should you reject the first offer? A buyer’s first offer does not always reflect the buyer’s highest bid for your property. From the buyer’s perspective, there are three goals in making the offer:
Buyer’s Goals in Making an Offer:
- To get the property for the lowest possible price.
- To get the best possible terms.
- To “feel out” the seller to see how “motivated” he or she is.
All of these goals speak toward making a low initial offer. Why offer $300,000 to a seller that might accept $270,000? Always offer the lower amount first. If the seller doesn’t accept it, you can always offer a higher bid.
When the Market’s Super Hot
In some areas of the country and at different times, there is such a high demand for property but a shortage of land. Multiple Offers come in as soon as the property is listed (sometimes before the listing is even published!). In this situation, desperate buyers make their highest and best offer first. The seller has a choice again to reject the first offer. After all, someone else is likely standing in line to offer more!
Will the buyer Offer More?
In a normal market, the answer is “maybe.” If the buyer low-balled the first offer, then indeed they will offer more. Even if the buyers offered what they considered their best, they might stretch and still offer more if they really want to buy your house.
The market is fluid and stands still for no one. You never know what a buyer’s thinking, or what other properties a buyer is considering. In the time since the first offer was made, the buyers may have reconsidered. They may have decided that they really don’t want to buy into another house. Perhaps they’ll rent for a time. Maybe they’ve seen another house that they like better.
This is the risk you take when you reject any offer. You may not get another offer from this buyer. You may not even get this buyer to come back and honor the original offer. The consequences do sound scary but if you want the most for your house then this is the tactic to consider.
Counter Offers: If you don’t accept the buyer’s offer exactly as presented within the time frame it is offered, you’ve rejected it. Now it’s time to make a counter offer.
You don’t both accept and counter. The moment you make a counter offer for a different price or terms, it’s a whole new ball game. The buyer is under no obligation to accept your counter offer and can now accept or reject it.
You should always counter any offer that you reject, no matter how frivolous the original offer may seem. I’ve been in a situation (in a normal market) where a would-be buyer came in with an offer that was 25 percent less than I was asking. The house was listed at $200,000 and the offer was for $150,000.
Now, that’s an affront. It is insulting to be offered so much less that the asking price, particularly since the house didn’t have any particular problems that could have knocked down the price. My gut reaction was to tell this would-be buyer to take a great flying leap and simply forget about him.
However, this is business and you never know what a buyer is thinking, So I counter back, at $5000 below the asking price, indicating that I was firm and would not budge. You know what? The buyer accepted! He had simply been low-balling me to see if I was a desperate seller.
The point here is even if you think the buyer is insulting you, even if you think the buyer is insulting you, even if you can’t stand to think about this ridiculous buyer, always counter.
Once you’ve decided to reject a would-be buyer’s offer, it doesn’t cost you anything to counter. You can counter for close to your asking price, your actual asking price, or even for more than you’re asking! What’s important is that you not be the one to close the negotiations off. Keep them open by countering.
When Should You Accept the First Offer? There are time when you should accept the first offer, and it doesn’t always have to do with market conditions. You may be desperate to sell. It could be a matter of a financial crisis (you’ve lost your job and can’t make the payments), a divorce, a transfer, or any of a dozen other problems that have cropped up. The point here is that you need to get out now, and you can’t afford to dicker. When your back is up against the wall, you may not be able to risk negotiating for a higher price. You may simply have to accept what’s on the table.
Hopefully, you’ll never be in this position. But if you are, recognize the situation for what it is and act accordingly.
Never gamble if you can’t afford to lose. Never reject an offer you can’t live without.
Curb Appeal Draws Buyers
Making a good first impression is as important when selling your home as when meeting a business associate. We call it “curb appeal.” And it’s what draws a potential buyer out of their car and into your home.
Begin by taking an objective look at your home. When you drive up, what’s the first thing you see? Is it an inviting setting that encourages buyers to stop and take notice? Or is the first thing you see your brother-in-law’s old boat, children’s toys strewn around the yard, or overgrown landscaping? Here are some tips for ensuring your home makes a good first impression:
Nice landscaping: Prune overgrown trees and bushes. Pull weeds and dead or diseased plants. Fertilize and mow your lawn to make it look green and healthy. Consider planting flowers along walkways or in pots along the sidewalk to bring eye-catching color to your landscaping. Spread mulch or beauty bark around trees, shrubs and flowers to give your front yard a clean, well-kept look.
Attractive front entry: Polish your front door handle and other hardware. Paint or stain your front door if needed. Consider hanging a pretty wreath or floral swag. Set out pots of flowers near the front door and/or where potential buyers are likely to notice them. If you have a front porch, set the mood by featuring a charming bench or chairs with a table and flowers. Keep all sidewalks, porches and walkways swept. Buy a new front door mat in neutral tones. Clean and polish light fixtures.
Less is more: Just as you would inside the house, make sure your front yard does not look cluttered. Move cars into the garage and out of the driveway whenever possible. Keep the kids’ bikes, toys and other play equipment out of sight. To minimize distractions, keep lawn and garden ornaments to a minimum. In other words, create an environment that invites buyers into your home and allows them to picture themselves enjoying your front yard.
I would be happy to take a look at your home and suggest ways to improve your home’s curb appeal. Please call me if I may be of assistance.
What is Your Home’s Value?
Have you ever wondered why the market value of your home differs from what your bank appraises it as? And what value is being used to set and/or increase your property tax bill? It’s easy to be confused about the different valuations being used in the home buying and selling process, but knowing a home’s value or worth in the real estate market will help you get a fair price.
There are generally three ways to determine the value of a home: through a Comparative Market Analysis, a professional appraisal or an assessed valuation. A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), can determine a reasonable listing price for your home. When I prepare a CMA, I consider a number of factors including the home’s size, age, location and amenities. I also research the list prices of properties that are currently for sale, have recently sold or expired in your neighborhood.
An appraiser (used by a lender) determines the market value of your home by looking at the supply and demand of like properties in the area, comparing your property with others that have recently sold, determining the amount of money it would take to replace your home at current material and labor costs and/or determining how much income a property would produce (this last approach is used more often for rental property, apartments and commercial property). Lenders frequently require a professional appraisal upon which to base your loan amount.
Local governments also perform independent appraisals to determine your home’s assessed value, available on public record, so that your property is taxed fairly.
When comparing the CMA and the appraised values, don’t be surprised if they do not match. There are a number of reasons that these differences occur.
The “market value” determined by the appraisal can be different from the “market price” determined through my CMA. In essence, the appraisal amount reflects the cost of replacing your home. But the goal of the CMA is to determine a price that someone will pay for your home. The sale price can be much different from the appraisal value, especially if there are multiple offers on the home.
Also, the real estate market is constantly changing. A home that was worth $100,000 last year may be worth $120,000 this year and possibly more next year. Meanwhile, all city and county property assessments are assigned an effective date, valid for that particular point in time. The more time that has passed since the appraisal, the greater the possibility for disparity in the values. For example, some governments appraise properties annually; others appraise properties once every four years.
I can help you determine the value of your home by researching its appraisal history and performing a Competitive Market Analysis. I can also recommend professional appraisers. Please call me to discuss the current real estate conditions that affect the market price of your home.
Landscaping Affects Property Value
Those trees in your yard provide more than just shade. According to a recent study by the U.S. Forest Service, trees can increase a home’s value by three to seven percent. Meanwhile, poor landscape design can actually decrease property values by up to 10-percent according to a 2003 study published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture.
Extra Thought Can Mean Better Sales Price
A little paint here and there, shampoo on the carpets, some spackle and voilà! Your house is ready to go on the market, right? Even if you’ve kept your home in mint condition over the years, a little extra thought can mean thousands more in your sales price. It can also mean the difference between a week and a couple of months on the market. Here are some projects to take care of before your home goes on the market.
- Deep cleaning of the bathrooms and kitchen, which includes replacing old toilet seats and other worn-out fixtures;
- Locate and replace rotted wood; clear overgrowth in the yard;
- Clean windows and replace carpeting, if necessary;
- If a roof is in obvious need of help, such as leaks or visible damage, make necessary repairs.
By postponing roof, wood rot or other necessary repairs, a seller can lose twice – first in a lower sales price and later when a lender requires repairs for closing.
Making Moving Easier
Whether you’re planning a move across town or across the country, making the move hassle-free is what it is all about. Besides the traditional garage sale and packing of boxes, there are a few details you won’t want to forget before you begin loading the truck:
Experts recommend scheduling moves at least one month in advance, especially during the peak-moving season between May and September. Some estimates indicate 80 percent of all moving and storage business is done when schools are out. That’s when employees are most likely to be transferred.
Take the time to get as much information as possible from moving companies before selecting one. Check on truck size and availability. Ask about moving supplies, such as boxes, dollies and furniture pads. Find out about protection plans for your possessions. Ask about lost or damaged property claim procedures. Determine price differences in packing the truck yourself or having it professionally packed. Get estimates.
Save Your Receipts
Many of your moving expenses are tax deductible, so hang onto your receipts. Consult with your tax advisor to find out what is deductible, or call the Internal Revenue Service and request Publication 521: “Tax Information On Moving Expenses” to find out which moving expenses are deductible.
If you’re moving out of the area, you’ll need to gather your family’s personal records. Remember to get your medical and dental records, school transcripts, legal documents, titles, bank records, tax returns, stocks and bonds certificates, birth certificates, passports and insurance documents. Be sure to empty your safe deposit box.
Pricing Right is Key to Selling Your Home
When you decide to sell your home, you want the highest possible return from its sale. Determining price is the most critical step in preparing your home for sale.
Obviously, pricing your property too low won’t provide the best return. You are apt to be deluged with lookers and may get many offers, but you could lose thousands of dollars on your family’s largest investment.
Likewise, pricing a property too high is risky. Homes priced too high miss their target market. Qualified buyers who might find the home just right for their needs won’t see your home, or make an offer on it, because it is out of their price range. If they are shown an overpriced home during its early marketing stages and do not buy because it isn’t a good value, they are unlikely to revisit your home once the price is lowered. Real estate agents will hesitate to show an overpriced home, unless it will make a competing property look like a better value.
Many home sellers make a mistake by implementing the ‘let’s try it and see’ pricing attitude. But testing the market can be dangerous. A property receives its best exposure during the first three to five weeks on the market.
If your home is priced right from the outset, you maximize your opportunity of reaching the most qualified buyers. Buyers who have seen most available homes in their price range are waiting for the right house to come on the market. This is why a well priced home often sells quickly once it is put on the market. Multiple listing association statistics show that the longer a home is on the market, the lower the selling price. The home becomes stale and a price reduction results.
Pricing a home is part art and part science. It’s based on hard evidence by looking at sale prices for comparable properties. But, no two homes are identical. That means the evidence must be evaluated by an experienced sales associate, like myself.
The right price really is the right price range to attract the maximum number of qualified buyers within a time frame that suits the sellers’ needs. Pricing strategy depends on the market conditions at the time your home is put up for sale. It can best be determined by an agent who is active in the market, who constantly views homes and is monitoring the changing market conditions.
If you need help to determine the right price for your home, in order to sell your home in the least amount of time for the highest return, please contact me for a comparative market analysis and consultation.