Archive for the ‘Home seller advice’ Category

6 Improvements that May Not Add Value to Your Home Sale

Monday, August 8th, 2016

It is common knowledge that upgrades and improvements add value to homes, and of course most people know that there are some upgrades and improvements that add more value than others, such as upgrading kitchen counters and appliances, or bathrooms. But some improvements do not truly add value in the sense that they will increase your sale price potential. Let’s take a look at some of these. contractor

1.  Pool: Pools can be highly desirable or completely undesirable (for example, if the buyers have babies or small children they may be seen as a danger). If you have a pool then of course you will attract buyers who want one, and if you do not have one but have a yard that will accommodate one you may attract buyers who are interested in adding one. But if you do not have one, adding a pool will not usually help resale value (there may be an exception if your home is located in a very warm environment like the desert, where pools are coveted and oftentimes expected). Speak with your agent if you are considering adding a pool and know you will be selling down the road.

2.  Yard improvements: These can be tricky. There are some improvements to yards that can actually add value, and some that may be a waste of money that sellers will never see at selling time (although they may make the home more appealing). For example, if you have a yard that is merely dirt and has no landscaping, it may make sense to put in sod and an inexpensive border with some greenery. But going overboard – fully landscaping and hardscaping – may not bring dollars to your pocketbook. There are ways to make yards look nice that do not involve spending lots of money.

3.  New construction landscaping: Most newly built homes do not come with landscaped backyards, and often also come without landscaped front yards. It is always a question whether to landscape if the home has to be sold prior to any being completed. Many buyers will not want to pay top dollar for dirt front and back yards. BUT one has to be very careful when landscaping, as it can become very personal and if a potential buyer comes along who doesn’t have the same taste and feels the need to rip everything out and start over it can actually be a detriment to the sale, rather than a benefit. It is important to speak with a knowledgeable real estate agent who can take into consideration the neighborhood, prices and other factors. If it is decided that some type of landscaping is a good idea, try to keep it simple in case the new buyer wants to add more (built-in BBQ, firepit, hardscape, etc.) Keep in mind that just because you spend the money, it does not mean you will get it back at sale time – in fact, you likely will not…BUT having a completed yard could also make your home more marketable (I know that is confusing so speak with an experience local agent if you will be selling soon after purchase).

4.  Garage conversions: These typically are on my “do not do” list, and if they exist I recommend converting them back prior to selling. Garage conversions require permits for one thing, and many people (at least in my years of experience showing these types of homes) do not obtain them. Most buyers want the garage space so unless there are many spaces in the garage if you have a 2 or 3 car garage it is preferable to NOT have one converted to a room. Most buyers will see it as something they have to “deal with” and may write your home off their possibility list.

5.  Room additions: This is a tricky one because it all depends on the home, lot and what is being added. If you live in a tract neighborhood and want to add a room it could be ok if you have a large enough lot such that you are not making the outdoor space smaller. If your addition makes your home the most expensive one on the block you need to beware, as most buyers do not want to own the highest priced home in a neighborhood. There is a lot to take into consideration when adding a room, so speak with an experienced agent if you are planning to sell down the road and are contemplating an addition.

6. Other improvements: There are many other improvements that could add value to a sale. I suggest inviting an experienced local area agent over to discuss any potential improvements prior to sale. Adding a new furnace or water heater is great if the ones you have are old – that will add some value an peace of mind for new buyers. New windows may be good in an older home as they help with insulation. New flooring could be a charm under the right circumstances, and paint – often the cheapest and best way to make a difference – is a great improvement. What you “should” improve will really depend on many factors, so consult with an expert agent in your area before spending any money.

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Home Sellers, List Agents Beware: Lockbox and Home Break-ins on Rise

Friday, June 17th, 2016

There seem to be a a slurry of lockbox break-ins and subsequent home break-ins or attempts lately in the San Diego County area, so if you have a home for sale or are a listing agent, please read on so you can be informed and safe. th

Several agents – including myself – have reported lockbox break-ins or attempted break-ins within the last few months. One agent group to which I belong had multiple agents telling stories of lockbox thefts, with subsequent break-ins or attempts. It seems there is a pattern: the thieves come in the middle of the night and use power tools to break the lockbox off doors or pipes. They then take it and return with the key the following day to attempt home robbery.

One agent reported that her seller noticed in the morning as he was leaving for work that that lockbox had been cut. He stayed home and had a locksmith come immediately to change the locks – the thief/thieves returned later that day and attempted to access the home, but luckily were unable to do so – they decided not to use another lockbox.

Another agent said her lockbox had been cut and the thieves returned and stole an oven from the home.

Last month my sellers heard someone tampering with their lockbox between 2-3 AM (Mrs. Seller happened to be up nursing the baby); when Mr. Seller ran to the door and opened it the thief jumped in his waiting car and sped away. We removed the lockbox.

I spoke with the Carlsbad Police Department and they have not had any reports of this from agents or homeowners. I encouraged my clients to report their incident when it happened, but they did not get a description of the man, nor could they tell the make or model of the vehicle or license plate number – it all happened so fast – so they did not report it. The police department recommended not using lockboxes.

After reading the other agent stories a few days ago I removed a lockbox from a listing of mine and made showings by appointment only. Obviously this is an inconvenience for buyer agents, because they and I have to find mutually available times to meet, but it is better that my sellers are protected.

Keep in mind that real estate lockboxes are very well-made and are supposed to be break-in proof, according to the local Realtor association, but with battery operated power tools it is obvious that this is not the case. Never use contractor lockboxes, as these are much more flimsy and easier to break open. Either way, if you are a listing agent or seller you may want to consider this information and decide how to proceed.

If you are an agent please let me know if you have a similar story to share – and please report it to your local police department. This effects our business and our clients…hopefully there will be a way to stop it from happening that will not inconvenience home sellers and agents.

 

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Keeping the “Real” in Real Estate

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

The real estate business has definitely evolved over the last few decades, with the growth of technology being the main contributor. But when it comes down to it, working with a real estate agent is not just about finding a savvy salesperson, but rather it is about finding someone who truly has your best interests at heart and is willing to work hard to find the right property or sell your home, at the right price, with the best terms. It is not so much a sales relationship as it is a trusted adviser relationship. An agent plays many roles throughout the buying and selling process – researcher, chauffeur, adviser, negotiator, paperwork coordinator, and therapist – to name a few. For sale

As they always will, many people try to come up with ways to find and convert “leads” to clients, from advertising to cold calling to handing out cards to people all day long and asking for referrals from past clients, friends and family members. In the last year I have seen some interesting attempts to woo potential buyers and sellers, and although I am impressed with those who are trying hard, I must say I have been surprised at some of these methods:

1.  Recorded Calls: I received my first recorded sales call from a real estate agent last year. I was surprised because the agent, who had a lot of enthusiasm, sounded like he was trying to sell me a used car. He went on and on about how he could help me buy or sell a home, and about his strengths as an agent. Now, I must say that selling real estate is not difficult – anyone can do it. BUT not everyone can do a great job at taking care of the PEOPLE, the clients. I have always said that this business is not about houses, it is about people.

2.  Print Marketing: Marketing via mail and email has always and will continue to be a very strong way for the real estate agent to get business – s/he creates a lovely flyer or brochure and lists skills and past sales and testimonials to make her/him look amazing. S/he even uses words like “Number 1 agent” and “Top agent,” “sold more homes than anyone else.” The trick is that many agents can say these things by putting a spin on the information, and these statements can be true.

justice-scalesMany of these advertisements actually constitute ethical violations in my opinion (and I have been trying to get the rules changed to prevent this, but that is another story). For example, if you are a broker who oversees say 30 buying agents, and among those agents your brokerage or team sold 100 homes last year, how is it ethical for you yourself to claim you sold over 100 homes last year – you did not do that personally, your agents contributed many of those sales. But to the average homeowner who receives your marketing piece, you look like you have done more business than anyone else. Glossy marketing pieces with claims to being “the top producer” do sway the average Jane and Joe many times. Like the political arena, I think that if agents are going to make claims like this they need to explain the truth behind the claims.

3. TV Commercials and movie theater advertising: These types of marketing can also be valuable, but again the time is limited and the agent has only a few moments to convince you of how incredible they are at their job. There is no fine print – but if it gets you to remember their name and call them then the piece has achieved the goal set by the agent. Again, anyone can make a great marketing piece that makes them look like the best agent ever – and of course that is what all salespeople try to do.

4. Broker Calls to Agents About Homes “Coming Soon” to the Market: This newest method is interesting, and is aimed at local area agents. A broker has an agent make calls to other agents’ voicemails, reading from a script about a home that is not yet listed on the open MLS but soon will be – they tell the agents (it seems agents are chosen based on who sells the most in a given area – not all agents receive these calls) that they are giving them a chance to show the property to their buyers before it hits the MLS. Now, if you happen to be an agent working with a buyer and get a call describing the perfect home, this could be a win-win for your client. But if you are an agent and do not get that call, or if you are a buyer looking online and waiting for the perfect home to pop up, you are truly at a disadvantage in such a situation. So this can be a good or poor method of advertising, depending on how you look at it.

5. “Coming Soon” Listings Posted on Third Party Sites: There are some third party sites (such as Zillow and Trulia) that allow agents to post “coming soon” listings. Not all agents can do this – they must pay to become an elite member of these sites, and then they have the “privilege” of posting such properties. It’s great for the agents – they likely get at least some calls from potential buyers – but for those buyers who are not looking on those sites they get the short end of the stick if the home sells before hitting the MLS. Similarly, agents can send out e-flyers or emails about listings that are coming to the market soon, and if this is done fairly (sent to ALL agents in a county), then that is a great advertising tool. It is not fair to the potential buyer who is not working with an agent and who waits for properties to list on the MLS, but of course this is just one of the many benefits of working with an agent (we tend to hear about up and coming listings from many industry sources – agents, appraisers, lenders, sellers, etc.).

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From my perspective I believe that all agents should be able to advertise and “sell” their services and skills. But I think there are 2 rules that need to always be adhered to by real estate agents and brokers: 1. Keep it classy. 2. Be honest and ethical. If the local real estate associations who govern agents and make rules set out to make the rules stricter, I think it would be beyond valuable to potential buyers and sellers.

If you are looking for a real estate agent, remember to get the full picture – what can s/he do for you that is different from other agents? Make sure you will not be just a number – some agents have teams of people working for them and they represent many clients – if you like this than great, if not you may want to look for an experienced agent who treats you like you are the only client. Everyone has different needs, so make sure you get all your questions answered and find the person who is best able to help you; shiny materials and boasts about being a “top producer” should play into your decision minimally (although you do want someone who can sell your home with strong marketing and advertising abilities), but you need to feel comfortable with the person and what s/he can offer you.

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Home Sellers: You Get What You Pay For

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Have you ever thought about your experience buying clothing, and compared shopping at say Nordstrom, to shopping at a discount clothing store? Did you notice the service difference – sure, the Nordstrom employee works on commission, but that is actually a benefit to you if you need help finding the right outfits. He or she will go out on a limb to pick the perfect shirt, slacks, tie or accessories to make you look your best. For sale

Selling a home is the same. I always tell potential sellers when I meet them to discuss listing their homes that ANYONE can list a home – it is not rocket science. The part time mom/real estate agent who only works weekends, the new “green” 18 year old agent with his first client, or the experienced agent – they all can do it. But you have to make sure to ask the right questions and get the right information to assure that you truly get the best representation.

You may have noticed agents in your area who might boast that they will list your home for less than the competition – some for say a 1% fee, and others for flat fees. While this may sound great to you as a seller, make sure you interview a seasoned listing agent and compare what you will get from each – you may be surprised.

Here are the things you need to ascertain as a potential seller to make sure that your home will be marketed properly and survive the escrow process in order to close:

1. Responsiveness – Many discount brokers will take your fee and put your home on the MLS, but that is where the buck stops. If you have questions or concerns you may find it hard to ever reach them, let alone have issues responded to. Even “big” agents who list many properties have this issue – there are several of them in my area and I have helped clients sell homes who had worked with them before and were unsatisfied with their lack of responsiveness. This is important to you as a seller, because you need an agent who is your partner and can communicate both effectively and continuously throughout the entire process from listing to closing.

RE_cancel2. Marketing – Does the agent’s marketing budget mirror the commission you are paying? In other words, if the agent is taking a lower fee, is this going to cause your marketing to be less than superb? I can tell you that I get a LOT of real estate information in my mailbox, and about 90% of it is junk – poor quality, bad images/non-professional photography, grammatically incorrect/spelling errors. The way your home looks to potential buyers is what will drive them to want to see it – it is a feeling and a lifestyle that you are selling, not just a house with walls.

3. Communication with other agents and parties: Your listing agent needs to be able to effectively communicate with other agents, loan officers, lenders, escrow and title representatives throughout the sales and escrow process. This includes following up with showings and alerting agents of potential buyers of any changes or new developments with the property. Problems always come up that need to be addressed in order to stick to the time frames identified in the contract – make sure your agent knows how to do so and is willing to stay in touch on a daily basis.

4. Negotiations – This is a big one. Your agent must be a strong negotiator. Unfortunately many real estate agents are not strong in this regard, and many contracts do not come to terms or fall apart after agreement. Negotiation skills are needed not just at the start when a contract is received, but throughout the entire escrow period. Getting an offer is just one part – keeping those buyers excited about their new home until closing is another issue.

5. Paperwork – if you work with a discount agent/brokerage, make sure that your agent explains how the paperwork will be handled. Real estate transactions contain a LOT of paperwork, and they are all LEGAL documents! There are many consequences to filling out paperwork incorrectly, including law suits years after your home sells. You need to make sure your agent knows how to properly handle the paperwork and how to coach you in filling it out correctly so as to avoid legal ramifications.

The bottom line is that you usually get what you pay for – like comparing Nordstrom quality and service vs. Walmart quality and lack of service. Unlike buying a shirt however, selling a home comes with many legalities. Make sure you are protected and find an agent that will work hard for you to keep you informed, compliant and safe.

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Should Sellers Have a Home Inspection Prior to Listing?

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Today on Twitter a follower made a comment about the benefits of having a home pre-inspection prior to listing a property. There are some agents who recommend doing so and it can be a good idea. However there are also agents who would not recommend doing so because it could open up a can of worms for the seller. I thought it would be a good idea to look at the benefits and disadvantages of having a pre-inspection.home inspector

Issues with the Home that the Seller may not Know About Could be Revealed in a Pre-Inspection

Benefit:  A pre-inpsection gives sellers an opportunity to repair/remedy any defects or problems that are discovered, in order to present a home to the buyers that has been well cared for and has no deferred maintenance. This means there will not likely be any surprises when the buyers have their inspection. Oftentimes inspectors discover issues of which the sellers were not aware. Most buyers will ask the seller to repair such issues or credit them through escrow so they can do so after closing, or even reduce the price because of any issues. A pre-inspection could eliminate any surprises, but keep in mind that the buyers still may have their own inspection (something I always recommend), and it is possible that their inspector may discover other items.

Disadvantage:  There could be some major issues discovered that the sellers did not know of, that could cost a lot of money to fix. If the sellers do not have the funds or do not choose to repair such issues prior to sale, they now are aware of these problems, which means they must disclose them to buyers. Disclosure of know factors affecting the property is required by law. One could argue that no matter whether the buyers are told via disclosures that there is a problem, or whether they discover it themselves through a home inspection, they will still likely seek repairs or a credit, so it may not matter either way.

The one problem I see with having a pre-inspection is that if something major is discovered, meaning the seller has to disclose it, it could affect the value of the home (depending of course on the issue). For example, say there is a crack in the swimming pool, or the roof needs to be replaced. These could be costly issues to fix, and could detract from the value of the home. The seller can turn it into a positive and deduct the repair costs from the value right off the bat if aware of issues, OR if not aware of such issues and presented with a repair request by the sellers, it is possible the seller may be able to negotiate a price under full repair costs.

A Special Note About Termite Inspections

It is important to note that this month there will be a big change to the California Residential Purchase Agreement (RPA) regarding termite inspections. The current contract has an addendum called the Wood Destroying Pest Addedum (WPA), which normally specifies that the seller is responsible for Section 1 items – damage caused by pests. This would include dry rot on wood and fumigation, which could be costly. The new RPA eliminates the WPA, so it will now become a repair issue. This means that the buyer will be responsible for paying for a termite inspection, and any issues discovered will need to be negotiated with the seller, along with any other non-termite repair issues.

Keep in mind that a buyer can write something different into the contract, such as sellers are to pay up to a certain amount, if necessary, for any termite work discovered. If sellers have a termite inspection prior to listing and discover any issues, they can inform the buyer up front in disclosures so that the buyer can negotiate those repairs or decide what action to take. I will be suggesting to my sellers to have termite pre-inspections, as I feel it could eliminate potential problems. It also allows the seller to choose a reputable termite company.

I suggest always to discuss the above with your agent before listing your home so that you are aware of your rights and can make an informed decision.

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Home Not Selling? 5 Reasons Why You May Not Have Offers

Monday, October 13th, 2014

If your home is on the market and there are no offers, it may be time to figure out why, and whether there is anything you can do to remedy the situation and get some offers rolling in.home_sold Let’s focus in on the key factors involved in selling a home – which could be reasons why your home is not selling.

1. Price: When homes do not sell, most people blame it on price. Oftentimes the assessment is correct,  but don’t just jump to the conclusion that price is the culprit. Many markets these days will not support homes that are overpriced – buyers are too savvy and they have access to all the comparable properties at their fingertips.

If you have a reason to price your home above comps (amazing view, many upgrades, gorgeous yard, etc.) you need to market that so that it is justified in the eye of potential buyers. In today’s market it is always important to price your home appropriately – the first two weeks are the most important for marketing purposes.

2. Marketing: It is always important to create a marketing plan that will provide the most and best exposure for your home, and that plan should have a big online presence, as over 90% of buyers start their searches online. Find out how your agent intends to market your home, and have her/him explain why the chosen methods are best in helping get your home in front of as many potential buyers and their agents as is possible.

3. Local Market Conditions:  This is one of the most important reasons a home may not be selling. It is important to truly understand what is going on in your local market – not only before you list your home but throughout the course of your marketing time, as things can change. Make sure you are working with an agent who is a local area expert – by that I mean someone who is in tune with what is occurring in your hyper-local market, and one who can keep her/his eye on any changes that could affect your sale. Some issues that could make a difference are homes that go into pending status, new listings, and listings that close escrow during your marketing time. The number of available similar properties will also be important to your plan.

4. Showing Condition: The way your home looks to potential buyer is very important – it is imperative to discuss with your agent what needs to be done before showings; sometimes it is hard to see our own homes from the perspective of one who has no emotions vested. Decluttering is a must, as is lighting and cleanliness. You may need to paint some rooms or plant some flowers – the idea is to make your home look its best. You should also have professional photography done before your home is listed.

5. Other Issues: If your home is priced well, properly marketed and shows well there could be other factors involved that make it challenging to sell your home. Some examples include negative views or issues (some I have dealt with in the past include power lines, freeway noise, neighboring buildings), and challenging floorplans or yard issues (such as size – too big, too small, etc). If you have an issues with your home that might be a challenge to a buyer, discuss that with your agent beforehand so you can take it into consideration when you price and market your home. Also, if you didn’t think you had any such issues but begin to hear comments from potential buyers, also discuss with your agent and make a plan for moving forward.

If all the above do not present any issues and your home is still not selling, chances are it is simply because the right buyer has not yet come along. Homes that are priced, marketed and shown in the best possible condition should eventually attract the right buyer. Make sure to discuss comparables with your agent throughout the marketing process, as properties may close escrow or list that may or may not have an affect on your sales price. It is also great to have your agent hold your home open on broker touring day, in order to get feedback on the home and all the factors above.

 

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5 Inexpensive Ways to Get Your Home Sale-Ready

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Whether you are going to sell your home or have a home you can’t yet afford to upgrade, there are things you can do to make it more appealing, without breaking the piggy bank. If you are selling your home it is important that the home look the best it can, especially if you want to attract qualified buyers. Here are some great ideas you can accomplish in a weekend or two.paint

1. Paint. Paint is by far the best way to update any space, and it is inexpensive. If your  home looks dull or the walls are dirty, paint is the answer. Avoid any bright or dark colors, and try to stay within a neutral realm if you are selling (buyers may have different tastes so it is safest). If your home does not get a lot of natural light you should keep the colors light. Painting is easy and can literally transform a room. Don’t forget baseboards and doors if needed. If the front of your home needs sprucing up, you can save money by just painting the trim, front door and garage (if needed), without having to spend thousands on the entire exterior.

2. Replace door and cabinet knobs. This is another inexpensive way to really change the feel of a room or entire home. I can’t tell you how many times I have shown homes that have been upgraded, but for the ugly door and cabinet knobs that are circa 1970. Knobs come in a plethora of shapes and colors, with a vast price range. If you go to a large home store like Home Depot or Lowe’s, you can find some great prices. You can also shop online. Doors that are freshly painted with new fixtures improve the entire room.

bright kitchen3. Let the light in. This is one of the biggest selling points – buyers do not like dark homes. If you have one you have to assess how best to address the issues and bring in as much light as possible. Windows should be uncovered and cleaned – no heavy drapes (because even when they are open the material hanging on the sides blocks light). Short of installing light tubes in your ceiling, you can add more lighting to your home if there are areas where the natural light does not illuminate. You don’t need to spend lots of money – if that is not an option you can simply purchase inexpensive lighting features. If the kitchen is dark, consider mounting under-cabinet lights – if you have multiple outlets you can usually install them yourself without the help of an electrician.

4. Dress up the front of your home. This is critical for sellers, because curb appeal is the first thing buyers will notice. Without having to completely re-landscape, you can make a big difference to the front of your home by doing the following: trim overgrown bushes and trees, mow the lawn, pull weeds, clean windows and doors and sweep porches, and do some planting – think colorful. You can purchase flats of flowers for cheap and line your walkway or planter boxes. If you don’t have those think of investing in a few big pots (it is easy to find cheap ones), and filling them with flowers – place these at your front door or other focal points. If you have large spaces that cannot be filled with plants, purchase a few large bags of bark to make the spaces look fresh. Make sure outdoor lighting is working and clean fixtures.

5. Declutter. I have written numerous blogs about the importance of decluttering. If you are selling your home, keep in mind that buyers want to see the useable space in every room. Take out excess furniture, stacks of books or magazines. Remove photographs from walls (a few well-placed pieces of art are fine, but you do not want walls covered with photos or art). Leave counters empty (except for very little, like a vase of fresh flowers). If you have furniture that is very bulky, get rid of it if you are sprucing up for sale. If you really need  help you can consider staging (which really is not overly expensive and will likely bring  you offers sooner than without staging, so do the math). If you are not selling but living in your home, decluttering still is advantageous and will highlight the space in your home. Decluttering should include the garage and outdoor living spaces.

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4 Homebuyer Expectations for Spring/Summer

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Right now it is a tricky time to be a buyer, and that is because we are still coming out of the winter season and inventory is very low in many places (including here in North San Diego). I have multiple buyers but there is very little to show them (and they have seen everything that meets their criteria already). Here are the expectations that many buyers and real estate agents have for Spring:house_shoppingcart

More inventory. This is by far the number one expectation. I am excited to see more properties list (and plan to list a few myself). There are many buyers out there who are qualified and ready, but are willing to wait until they find the right property…thus I believe today’s market is different from the feeding frenzy prior to the housing collapse. Buyers are more savvy and will not settle for properties that do not meet their requirements or are overpriced. With more inventory there will be more opportunities, and the market will continue to do well.

Price stabilization. In most areas I believe we have seen the last of crazy price increases, like we saw in 2013. I do believe that if inventory does not increase substantially there may be some properties that list and do sell for prices higher than comparables, so this could happen in some areas. But for the most part I think we will see stabilization and “normal” price increases of about 5% or so this year.

Better quality listings. Since buyers are more savvy today they expect listings to similarly look their best. Agents who list properties should discuss with their sellers the best ways to showcase their homes – be it decluttering, staging, painting, landscaping, etc. There are many great ways to show your home in it’s best light that do not have to cost a lot of money (click here for ideas). For those sellers who do not agree with this it is sad to say that they will not get top dollar and may not even have many showings at all. Agents need to use professional photography and have virtual tours – two things that buyers expect.

It used to be that buyers would come view a home even if the photos looked bad or the price was too high…those days are over. Sellers need to cater to buyers and lure them in with a home that offers high quality, low maintenance and curb appeal.

Rising interest rates. We have already seen interest rates rise slightly a few times this year. While I do not think we will see big rate increases I do believe that rates will continue to inch up. Since this fact can make a difference in monthly payments, as well as downpayments if buyers do not adjust downwards on their home searches, those who are ready to purchase will want to do so sooner rather than later to get the best rates. This is great news for sellers, but they also need to keep in mind the above quality expectations – homes that show well and are priced right will likely sell quickly this Spring and Summer.

If you are considering selling your home this Spring or Summer, speak with an experienced real estate agent in your area about what you can do to best showcase your home. Oftentimes it is helpful to have the sellers look at it from a buyer’s perspective – if they were the buyers what would they want or expect?

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The Importance of Price in Real Estate Sales

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

One of the biggest challenges faced by listing agents is pricing a property correctly. We do all the research and present it to the client, along with a professional opinion on where the home should be priced to sell in the current market. But often, despite comparable sold properties in the area and market conditions, as well as other neighborhood-specific facts presented, the sellers have their own ideas as to price and do not want to stray from it.  This could have a detrimental effect on the sale of the home.For sale

Sellers often ask me why I think a listing should be priced where I have indicated, and of course I have lots of data to back up my opinion. But today I read a blog that had a fantastic analogy, one I will use in the future for those sellers who have a hard time understanding pricing. Here is is in a nutshell.

The blogger likened buying a home to a car collector buying a special car (in the example it was a 1963 Corvette). The car collector has done much research and knows the value of this model – from stripped down to mint condition to rare finds…he has done his homework, much like the listing agent in coming to a price on a home. The car collector finds a car that is perfect, but it is priced way too high. The collector has a choice – he can pay all that extra money and buy the car at that price (not likely), he can make a lower offer, or he can choose to find another car, which he may or may not do before the price comes down. These are the same choices a buyer faces when coming across an overpriced home.

Option 1: Paying full price. This is not even a valid consideration for most buyers. No one wants to own the most expensive home on the street. Furthermore, as most buyers obtain loans on home purchases and the home has to appraise, this makes no sense for buyers. Why pay for an appraisal if the home will not appraise? This is just a waste of time and money.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-price-reduced-home-sale-sign-lower-value-words-to-illustrate-owner-distress-needing-to-sell-immediately-as-image35557079Option 2: Why not make a lower offer?  Faced with the overpriced listing dilemma, most buyers instantly think the seller is unreasonable – maybe she doesn’t really want to sell her home. The buyers often feel making an offer would be a waste of time in this situation. Instead, they most likely won’t even go view the home…after all, why get attached to it if the seller is not going to be realistic, they think…and rightly so! Most buyers are very savvy, and would rather find other properties that are priced right, even if they are not as ideal (location, amenities, etc.) as the overpriced home.

Most sellers who feel their homes should be priced higher erroneously believe that buyers will come and make lower offers. But since the housing bubble of the early 2000s I have not seen this at all – in fact I see the exact opposite.

Option 3: Find another property or wait until price comes down. This is the normal reaction to overpriced homes. Most buyers today will not even bother going to view the home, and know that it will eventually come down in price or be taken off the market. If they are still looking for property when the home hits a realistic sales price (and this should be worrisome to sellers, as the buyers may not be around and now they have accrued lengthy market time) then maybe they will reconsider. But losing potential buyers is a gamble for sellers.

The lesson to be learned here is that a home needs to be priced at fair market value. Believe me, if it is priced right and at least two buyers are interested, the chances of you selling it for slightly more than asking price will increase. It is important to hire a listing agent who knows the market and can present comparables and evidence as to where to price your home so that interest is generated and your home sells for the best price in the quickest amount of time.

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Getting Ready to Sell: Staging

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

With the Spring selling season approaching there are likely sellers considering placing homes on the market. While this is great news, especially since there are still many buyers and low inventory levels, it is important for sellers to understand the current market before listing their homes. To get top dollar, all sellers should consider staging, and there are many different levels of staging – from simple decluttering and rearranging furniture, to heavy staging.image_023_mls

Today’s buyers have changed from the buyers of yesterday. They are more savvy, more on top of what they should expect in certain neighborhoods, and many know the comps and understand them inside and out. They are not likely to jump on something if they feel it does not make financial sense; for example, if a home shows well but has few upgrades, and other homes in the price range have more upgrades, buyers are more comfortable with walking away rather than trying to negotiate the price down. Even more so, they may simply note this after viewing the home online and not even bother to come see it.

Anyone who is considering selling their home should find a listing agent who can help determine the individual needs of the home so that it shows the best it can. Having your agent help you see things from a different perspective is a big help, as often it is hard to step back and view your own home from a potential buyer’s eyes. From adding more light to painting, rearranging furniture or decluttering, there are many things most sellers can do to help their homes show in the best light. Let’s look at different levels of staging.

No Staging. There are some homes that show like models. I just sold one, and I probably could have sold it to at least 10 other buyers. It was so pristine and showed so well that there was nothing that needed to be done. Of course, this is rare because most people do not live this way, but it was sure nice as a listing agent to market such a beautiful  home! Many sellers get staging going before they even contact a real estate agent, so by the time one comes the home already has improved on the showing meter. But others need assistance.

dreamstime_2647321Light Staging. Light staging is the easiest kind, and often costs no or very little money and effort. Keeping in mind that every room should be made to feel as spacious as possible, this is where cleaning and decluttering come in. Have your sellers take out stacks of magazines and books, extra furniture that makes the room feel smaller or crowded. Open window treatments and let in the light. Clear off tables and put away knick knacks. In the kitchen, try to get as much off the counters as possible – buyers want to see how much work space there is. Take down pictures if walls are covered with them, and only use a selective few pieces of art in each room.

Moderate staging: This involves a little more work than light staging, but with many of the same concepts. For moderate staging the seller might paint a room or several, plant flowers out front and spruce up the landscaping to heighten curb appeal, or even purchase a few pieces to place strategically around the home (like plants or artwork). If it is necessary to make bigger purchases the seller may want to consider hiring a professional stager.

Heavy Staging: This is where most agents recommend hiring a professional staging company. If the home has an unusual layout or is vacant or not fully furnished, or where the current furniture does not compliment the home (such as big chunky pieces in a small cottage), you may need to bite the bullet and call in reinforcements. It’s a small price to pay to stir up the interest from buyers (and of course your agent will be having professional photos shot once it’s all ready!)

It is important to keep in mind that if you are a seller who wants to get top dollar for your home, and likely sell it more quickly, you should definitely think about staging. Speak with your agent about what you need to do to get your home in tip-top shape.

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