Are you thinking of selling your house? Are you dreading having to deal with strangers walking through the house? Are you concerned about getting the paperwork correct? Hiring a professional real estate agent can take away most of the challenges of selling. A great agent is always worth more than the commission they charge; just like a great doctor or great accountant. You want to deal with one of the best agents in your marketplace. To do this, you must be able to distinguish the average agent from the great one. Here are the top 5 demands to make of your Real Estate Agent when selling your house:
1. Tell the truth about the price
Too many agents just take the listing at any price and then try to the ‘work the seller’ for a price correction later. Demand that the agent prove to you that they have a belief in the price they are suggesting. Make them show you their plan to sell the house at that price – TWICE! Every house in today’s market must be sold two times – first to a buyer and then to the bank. The second sale may be more difficult than the first. The residential appraisal process has gotten tougher. A survey showed that there was a challenge with the appraisal on 24% of all residential real estate transactions. It has become more difficult to get the banks to agree on the contract price. A red flag should be raised if your agent is not discussing this with you at the time of the listing.
2. Understand the timetable with which your family is dealing
You will be moving your family to a new home. Whether the move revolves around the start of a new school year or the start of a new job, you will be trying to put the move to a plan. This can be very emotionally draining. Demand from your agent an appreciation for the timetables you are setting. Your agent cannot pick the exact date of your move, but they should exert any influence they can, to make it work.
3. Remove as many of the challenges as possible
It is imperative that your agent knows how to handle the challenges that will arise. An agent’s ability to negotiate is critical in this market.
Remember: If you have an agent who was weak negotiating with you on the parts of the listing contract that were most important to them and their family (commission, length, etc.), don’t expect them to turn into a super hero when they are negotiating for you and your family with the buyer.
4. Help with the relocation
If you haven’t yet picked your new home, make sure the agent is capable and willing to help you. The coordination of the move is crucial. You don’t want to be without a roof over your head the night of the closing. Likewise, you don’t want to end up paying two housing expenses (whether it is rent or mortgage). You should, in most cases, be able to close on your current home and immediately move into your new residence.
5. Get the house SOLD!
There is a reason you are putting yourself and your family through the process of moving. You are moving on with your life in some way. The reason is important or you wouldn’t be dealing with the headaches and challenges that come along with selling. Do not allow your agent to forget these motivations. Constantly remind them that selling the house is why you hired them. Make sure that they don’t worry about your feelings more than they worry about your family. If they discover something needs to be done to attain your goal (i.e. price correction, repair, removing clutter), insist they have the courage to inform you.
Good agents know how to deliver good news. Great agents know how to deliver tough news. In today’s market, YOU NEED A GREAT AGENT!
The spring and summer months have always been known as a very popular time for homebuyers to start the search for their dream home. This year is no different! We all learned in school that when selling anything, you will get the most money if the demand for that item is high and the inventory of that item is low. It is the well-known Theory of Supply & Demand. If you are thinking of selling your home, here are two graphs that strongly suggest that the time is now. Here is why…
According to research at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer activity this year has far outpaced the same months in 2014. Purchasers who are ready, willing and able to buy are in the market at great numbers. According toNAR, “Foot Traffic has a strong correlation with future contracts and home sales, so it can be viewed as a peek ahead at sales trends two to three months into the future.”
The most recent Existing Home Sales Report from NAR revealed that the current supply of housing inventory is at a 5.1 month supply, which remains below the 6-months necessary for a normal market.
Buyer demand is far outpacing the supply of homes available for sale.
Listing your house for sale when demand is high and supply is low will guarantee the offers made will truly reflect the true value of your property.
QUESTION: We had to do a short sale on our home in Nevada last year, but now we have landed on our feet again and want to buy a home in our new location in Oregon. We have enough money saved up for a 20 percent down payment for a house we can afford. Is it possible for us to qualify for a mortgage?
ANSWER: It’s great that you landed on your feet and have been able to save money for a down payment on a new house. Your bigger down payment can be a compensating factor that some lenders will use to qualify you for a loan in spite of a negative credit profile that’s a likely result of the short sale.
Conventional loan guidelines established by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac say that you must wait two years after the closing date on your short sale to finance another home, if you have 20 percent for a down payment. You would have to wait longer if you had less cash for a down payment (four years with 10 percent and seven years with less than 10 percent). So if you want a conventional loan, you’ll need to wait another year.
FHA-insured loans are available with a down payment of as little as 3.5 percent after a three-year waiting period. Veterans Administration loans, which don’t require a down payment at all, are available after a two-year waiting period.
However, the FHA recently introduced a “Back to Work – Extenuating Circumstances” program to help the many people who lost their homes during the recent housing crisis and recession. You may qualify now for this program if you lost your home due to a job loss or a drop in income or both. This temporary loan program will be available for FHA loans issued between Aug.t 15, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2016.
To qualify, you’ll have to meet standard FHA guidelines for a loan approval and a mortgage lender’s requirements. Typically, this means that your credit score must be 620 or 640 and above and your debt-to-income ratio must be 41 percent to 43 percent or less. You’ll be required to fully document your job history, income and assets.
In addition, the Back to Work program has other specific requirements. You must:
Participate in an FHA-approved housing counseling program.
Provide documentation for the “economic event” that caused the bankruptcy, which must have reduced your income by 20 percent or more for at least six months. In other words, you’ll need a W2 or tax returns or a termination letter.
Prove that you had good credit before the economic event damaged it.
Prove that you’ve fully recovered from the event by having a credit report without any late payments for at least 12 months on installment debt and without any major derogatory comments on revolving credit accounts. Your report cannot show any judgments or collections unless they’re related to medical bills or identity theft.
Consult a mortgage lender to see if you can qualify for this FHA program, but remember that FHA loans require mortgage insurance for at least 11 years, even if you make a down payment of 20 percent. You may want to consider asking a mortgage lender if any exceptions are possible for individuals who want to apply for a conventional loan after a short sale. If not, you should weigh the benefit of waiting one more year to buy a home rather than committing to years of mortgage insurance payments.
Sales volume decreased for the third straight month, closing with 1,375 single family home sales. This is down 1.5% from the 1,396 homes sold last month. Month‐to‐month since July, sales have decreased 1,548 – 1,428 – 1,396 – 1,375, respectively. Compared with last year, the current figure is down .8% (1,386 sales). Making up this month’s total are 1,208 Equity Sales (87.9%), 83 Short Sales (6%) and 84 REO sales (6.1%). For the month, REO sales remained the same, short sales increased 17.6% and conventional sales decreased 1.1%.
Of the 1,375 sales this month, 256 used cash financing, 654 used conventional (mortgage‐backed) financing, 312 used FHA (Federal Housing Administration), 89 used VA (Veteran’s Affairs) and 64 used Other* types of financing. The average DOM (days on market) for homes sold this month was 37, while the Median DOM was 23. These numbers represent the days between the initial listing of the home as “active” and the day it goes “pending.” Breaking down the Days On Market, there were 816 listings that sold between 1 – 30 days, 293 listings that sold between 31 – 60 days, 148 between 61 – 90 days, 69 between 91 – 120 days and 49 sold after being on the market for over 120 days. This breakdown, as well as types of financing, is show in the graphic below.
The month‐to‐month median sales price decreased 1.1% from $275,000 to $272,000. The current level is 7.3% above the $253,500 median sales price of October 2013. The current figure is up 70% from the January 2012 low of $160,000. When compared to the all‐time high ($392,750/Aug. ’08), the current figure is down 30.1%.
Active Listing Inventory in Sacramento County decreased 2.7% for the month to 3,434 listings, down from the 3,529 listings of September. Year‐to‐year, the current number is up (29.1%) from the 2,659 units of October 2013. The months of inventory remained the same at 2.5 months.
There are a few tricky cleaning jobs universally dreaded for being time-consuming, hard, or just plain confusing. How are you supposed to clean off a ceiling fan without getting dust all over the house and your head? How do you clean a fireplace without creating an indoor dust cloud? The tips below won’t make any of these jobs fun, exactly, but they will make them quicker, easier, and maybe even tolerable.
Ceiling Fans Put a drop cloth or old sheet on the floor and furniture over an area about twice the radius of the fan blades. If you want to keep your hair dust-free, pop on a hat as well. Use an old pillowcase to dust blades, sliding the case around the blade so the dust falls into the case. Make a second pass over each blade with a new pillowcase, this time spraying each blade first with a cleanser (a spray bottle of water and two tablespoons of white vinegar works too.) Hop on a sturdy chair or ladder and wipe around the rest of the fixture with a dust cloth or use a long handled micro-fiber duster.
Refrigerator–Interior To clean the interior, first take everything out the fridge. Remove shelves, bins, and drawers and wash in warm soapy water (don’t plunge cold glass shelves directly into hot water because they might shatter). Wipe down interior with a mixture of two tablespoons baking soda and a quart of hot water. For extra cleaning power, let mixture sit for a few minutes before wiping off. Use a plastic–not steel wool–scouring pad for stuck-on food and spills. Clean seals with a baking soda paste or undiluted hydrogen peroxide, getting into crevices with cotton swabs. While interior parts are drying, wipe down jars and containers, removing drips and spills. Check expiration dates and toss any out-of-date items. Follow the same procedures for the freezer, adding a plastic scraper to remove frozen-on ice or food.
For the exterior of the fridge, wipe down the outside surfaces with soft cloth and a gentle cleaner. Use a toothbrush or plastic scouring pad for grime on handles. Unplug the fridge to clean the condenser and coils. Remove the trim panel from below the door (you may need to unscrew it.) Vacuum or dust the panel, or if it’s plastic, soak it in warm soapy water to loosen dirt. Using the brush or crevice attachment, gently vacuum dust from coils and condenser. You might need to move the unit away from a wall to get at the back. When you put it back, make sure to leave enough space between coils and wall so the unit can run efficiently.
Make a first pass over the boards with a dust mop, vacuum or a dusting cloth. If there’s leftover grime, wipe down with damp cloth and mild detergent. Use wood cleaner for wooden baseboards. Try a cotton swab to get at intricate designs and corners. Touch up scuffs and scrapes with a bit of matching paint. Finish off by wiping down clean, dry baseboards with dryer sheets to repel future dust.
Prepare for the job by donning old clothes and a pair of gloves. Cover the area around the fireplace with old sheets or newspaper. Remove grate and andirons and put outside on a tarp. Put a handful or two of used coffee grounds into the ashes to minimize flyaways, then shovel out the old ashes and put in a double-bagged trash can. Use the fireplace brush to sweep up remaining ashes. You can scrub the inside further by scraping with a wire grill brush and a fireplace cleaner, if desired. Clean the andirons and grate with the wire brush and a hearth cleaner or a paste of baking soda and warm water. Let everything dry thoroughly before putting back in.
Grout can be a challenge to clean because it’s porous and often light-colored. To clean, you will need a cleaning agent and a scrubbing tool, like a scrub brush or toothbrush. Use a baking soda and hydrogen dioxide paste, a half and half solution of white vinegar and water or a mix of oxygen bleach and warm water. Spray or apply the solution to the grout and let sit for about 20 minutes. Scrub the grout, reapplying the solution for tougher stains. For mold that won’t come off, you can use a chlorine bleach spray, but the bleach will weaken the grout over time. To maintain your grout and delay another deep cleaning, spray weekly with vinegar and wipe clean.
Gentle vacuuming with a brush attachment works for all types of blinds, including cloth, wooden, and metal/vinyl blinds. Close the blinds so they’re fully extended and brush each slat individually, working downward. Swivel the slats to do the other side, again moving downward. You can also dust with a micro-fiber cloth or a duster. Again, you have to go over each slat, front and back. For dingy vinyl and metal blinds, make a mixture of one part vinegar and one part water and go over each slat with a dampened cloth or, for more flexibility, an old sock turned inside out and worn on your hand. Cloth blinds can be spot treated with a damp cloth and a bit of dishwashing liquid. You can cut down on scrubbing time by removing metal and vinyl blinds and taking them to the bathtub or outside to hose them down, then scrubbing with warm soapy water, but you run a greater risk of bending or breaking the blinds. Make sure the blinds are fully dry before rehanging.
Selling your home? Make improvements to your home to increase the likelihood that you will get a higher offer. Even small and inexpensive updates can make a difference. Do these projects before you put up your listing and schedule a staging.
(By CENTURY 21 on August 6th, 2014)
Here are five simple ways to increase your property value when it’s time to sell:
1. Rethink your home’s layout: If you have three bedrooms and a home office, take out the office to make your house a four bedroom home. Removing bedrooms may decrease the value of your home. Turn it into an office, gym, or craft room then turn it back to a bedroom when you’re ready to sell. (Forbes)
2. Remove clutter: Making rooms look neat and clean is always a necessity, but take it one step further and remove the clutter and personal items from your rooms. Taking out photos, magazines, and little decorations will make the room look bigger and taking away personal items will help your buyers envision their lives there. (Forbes)
3. Front yard makeovers: The saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” but when it comes to real estate, that is hard to live by. The first impression of your home is the front yard so make sure it is neat and tidy. Plant some new flowers, mow the lawn, and touch up any exterior paint that might need some attention. (DIY Network)
4. Maintenance work: The last thing buyers want to see when they walk into your kitchen or bathroom is rusty, leaking pipes, or a faucet that looks like it has seen better days. Take a weekend and give attention to any little repairs around the house. It could be as easy as replacing old door knobs and faucets. Paint your home neutral colors to minimize the chance that your design aesthetic will clash with the aesthetic of your potential buyers. (This Old House)
5. Update appliances: The kitchen is a huge selling point for potential buyers. If your kitchen appliances are old and outdated buy newer versions. While you’re at it, take your kitchen from good to great without breaking the bank.
Complete these simple tasks before selling your home to increase the likelihood that you’ll get a higher offer.
With the positive momentum in the market, more home owners are ready to put their homes on the market and make a sale. But beware—when prices are up and inventory is down, more sellers become overconfident and careless with their sale.
Here are eight of the top ways sellers sabotage their own home sale, and tips to save the day.
1. Refusing to Make Obvious Repairs Prior to Sale.
Agents tell sellers this everyday, all day: “You will lose money if you don’t take care of repairs before the house goes on the market.” Showing a house when there are leaking faucets, cracks in the walls, water stains on the ceiling, and a busted hot water heater are all ways to turn off potential buyers.
What Sellers Need to Hear: “Shelling out the money may seem like an extravagant expense—especially if you don’t think that the repair will add much to the value of your home. Trust me—time and time buyers over estimate the cost of a repair, so they are going to try to get what they think the repair will cost, and that’s going to cost you more in big credits or discounts!”
2. Ignoring the Backyard
Everybody knows that fantastic front curb appeal sells homes, but many sellers forget what’s out back. In the summer and fall months, everyone’s attention turns to the outside spaces, where they dream of warm summer nights and outdoor entertaining.
What Sellers Need to Hear: “If you don’t maximize and capitalize on your backyard, you are missing a huge component of your warm weather living spaces. That back yard patio is not just for storage of old bikes and broken patio furniture that should have been thrown out years ago. In a buyer’s eyes, it can be the most important ‘room’ in the house. You need to stage your backyard and outdoor entertaining areas as beautifully as you would the interior of your home. Green grass, flowers and trimmed trees should be the same standard as your curb-appealed front.”
3. Hiding Problem Issues From the Buyers
Far too many agents have watched too many home sellers pay out big bucks because they didn’t “reveal it all.”
What Sellers Need to Hear: “Disclose! Disclose! Disclose! Once you have an accepted offer, sellers are required to fill out disclosure statements. If you did renovations to the house without a permit over the years, disclose. If there was a roof leak that damaged the attic two years ago, disclose. If the electrical blows every time you run the dishwasher and the microwave at the same time, disclose. You know the history of the home better than anyone, and we need to work together so that we know how to address any potential issues. The buyers will find out eventually. And if you knowingly have kept things from them, it sets the tone for an ugly and difficult closing. Not to mention that you are setting yourself up for the liability.”
4. Getting Egotistical When Negotiating
Every agent has had that seller who just simply cannot fathom that a buyer would even think to make such a low offer, but the truth is that most of the time, the buyer doesn’t mean to offend the seller. Heck, the buyer may even know that the home is outside of their price range, but they may just love it so much that they couldn’t resist making an offer. Too many sellers take negotiations personally and lose out on creating a win-win deal.
What Sellers Need to Hear: “Real estate transactions are business deals. Plain and simple. There is no room for ego here. If an offer comes in low, the mistake is to be insulted and not counter back. Always counter back and keep deals in play. Keep your ego out of the equation and put your head back into it. Remember your end goal: getting your house sold and having a smooth and successful closing.”
5. Using Lousy Photos (and Not Helping their Agent Get Great Ones)
Ninety percent of all home shoppers start their home search online, and nothing can tank a home sale like terrible listing photos. But sometimes sellers don’t understand the importance of fantastic listing pictures—and that can mean that agents need to resort to grabbing a few fast photos on a cell phone or on a rainy day. After all, the only thing worst than terrible listing photos are listings with no photos at all.
What Sellers Need to Hear: “Think back to when you were originally looking for a home. Even if you were house hunting when online wasn’t a huge thing, you probably remember that seeing a home told you more about it than any text ever could. Even in a sellers market, great photos can help draw in the best buyers—the ones who will be willing to make a big offer on this property.”
6. Holding On to Clutter and Junk
For as long as buying and selling a home has been a “thing” (so a very long time) there have been sellers that say, “Oh the house looks fine. Buyer’s will see right past all my boxes and collections of plaster cookie jars and shelves overflowing with nick-knacks.” Big mistake. Huge.
What Sellers Need to Hear: “It may sound like a good idea, but it’s not a smart approach. Believe me, I have seen homes come on the market that could have sold much faster, had the home owners spent just one weekend depersonalizing and removing all the extra things inside the home. Clutter makes your home seem smaller, ultimately eating equity and killing deals. Take inventory of all your possessions and think to yourself: should I save it, store it, sell it, or chuck it? It may seem like a solid amount of work, but one weekend of work could mean thousands of dollars come closing.”
7. Selling A House Via “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO)
When the market is hot, many people think that selling their home on their own is easily doable. “Who wouldn’t want to save on commission?” think many sellers. Despite the lure of not having to pay an agent a commission, sellers need the expertise and know-how of a professional, who can help navigate the stacks of paperwork, provide priceless neighborhood knowledge—and negotiate on the seller’s behalf.
What Sellers Need to Hear: “The numbers don’t lie: the typical FSBO home sold for $174,900, compared to $215,000 for agent-assisted home sales. There may be more to a home sale than you realize. Let me walk you through what type of service I can provide you with.”
8. Overpricing the Home
For agents, this is the one major seller mistake that we see the most frequently. It is a misstep that seems to rear its head whenever the market seems like it’s heating up.
What Sellers Need to Hear: “Yes, the market is hot. But not hot enough that you can push the envelope and price it for way more that the comps will support. Overpricing your home is dangerous —and you can end up burned in this ‘hot market.’ You run the risk that your home will sit on the market for weeks and months and become the stale listing that every home seller wants to avoid. Know the competition and set the right price—never overprice too high in hopes that someone will unknowingly overpay. Let me walk you through the data.”
There they are — the biggest selling mistakes of the season.
Open the windows! Let in the fresh air! Spring has sprung!
It is time for picnics, long walks, froliking outdoors, and spring cleaning. In order to help you organize, we’ve made a series of printable spring cleaning checklists. To save the best for last we are starting with the least dreaded room to clean – the bathroom.
Whether it’s an Open House, or simply presenting your home in the best light, it is necessary to view it from the eyes of a buyer! Any money spent in this area may result in increased profits and a faster sale.
Maximizing Curb Appeal
Before potential buyers even see what the home has to offer, they view its exterior. As a result, an unkempt or unattractive view of the outside of the home could potentially result in a missed opportunity. To show the house in its best light, consider the following:
* Move all materials, including garbage cans and gardening supplies, from the front yard and into a garage or shed
* Mow the lawn and weed and maintain all planted areas
* Replace any outdoor light bulbs that are not working
* Sweep walkways and steps, and remove all small items from the porch or patio
* Replace worn or badly stained door mats
Once a potential buyer enters the home, they need to determine if it will meet their needs and expectations. Give them the best view of the home’s interior by following these steps:
* Remove the home of any clutter by limiting decorative objects and clearing all unnecessary appliances from the kitchen countertops
* Rearrange or remove furniture to highlight the space in a room
* Review each room and clean or vacuum if necessary
These tips can help ensure you receive the highest price possible for your home.