Posts Tagged ‘home sale’

Why Flat Fee Brokerages May Not Benefit Sellers

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Flat fee brokerages have been around for a long time, and recently there have been a few additions to the real estate flat fee brokerage world. For those who do not know about these companies, they attract home sellers by promising to list homes for a set fee that is lower than what the average real estate agent will charge for the same work. This sounds great right? Many sellers agree and sign listing agreements excitedly, without considering the facts.

Here are some reasons to truly investigate flat fee brokerages prior to signing on the dotted line:

1.Service. There are new flat fee brokerages out there that promise to provide the same great service as traditional agents who charge more commission to do the same work. Make sure you understand what you are getting for the price you pay.

Flat fee agents tend to have a LOT of listings. I know from much personal experience that one listing alone requires a lot of my attention and availability. Personally servicing multiple listings will jeopardize service.

Also keep in mind that flat fee agents do not get paid much per listing – they make up for that in volume. Will that lead to lack of attention to your listing? You need to figure that out.

2. Paperwork. Many flat fee brokerages charge such low fees because they do not actually handle paperwork or showings. There are those who promise full service, but MAKE SURE you get an explanation of exactly what that means – if you have it in writing and the agent cannot deliver you should be able to fire him or her (see number 3).

3. Check the contract thoroughly. Many flat fee brokerages have clauses in their contracts that sellers may not understand, such as agreements to purchase replacement property only with the brokerage (remember, flat fee brokers make more money from buyer sales than from listings since they get paid full commissions for those), to only use affiliated mortgage companies, or to forfeit money if you cancel the contract. Be careful and make sure you fully understand what you are signing. It is also very important to make sure that you can fire your agent/brokerage if you are not satisfied – at any time – without being penalized or trapped in a contract. If you need help deciphering these contracts, seek legal counsel.

4. Check the brokerage client satisfaction history. It is always important to check testimonials and stories from clients who have used the services of any broker. Spend time researching not only the broker’s own site and third party sites (like Zillow or Yelp), but also check news stories online. You may be surprised at some of the negative press you find on the brokerage.

5. Legalities. Keep in mind that selling a home is a legal transaction – if you do not have someone to guide you it could be dangerous. In order to avoid being sued it is always a smart idea to work with a real estate agent who can help you with paperwork and deadlines, as there are many of both in every real estate transaction. Not to mention, brokerages have insurance to protect against many issues that may arise, IF they were representing you. Flat fee brokerages that just list your home on the MLS and have you do all the work may set up situations that are ripe for breaches of contract and non-disclosure issues, among others. Make sure you have someone guiding through the sales process, or hire an attorney to look over all your paperwork.

There are some new flat fee brokerages out there that are trying to change the way the flat fee business is handled by promising stellar service. This is a great intention, but if you are a seller make sure that you understand the contract you sign, as well as your rights. You may want to speak with traditional agents to compare services.


The bottom line is that commissions are not set in stone, but you do get what you pay for in most cases so make sure you understand to what services you are entitled for what you are paying. If you are not happy, you should be able to fire the agent.

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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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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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Should You Paint Your Home Before You Sell?

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

I have blogged already about my feeling that 2014 will be a great year to sell. Those sellers who have held off, waiting for values to go up, can reap the benefits of the 2013 price increases, as well as the growing buyer pool and lower inventory levels. But today’s buyers are definitely picky, and they usually know where they want to be (which neighborhoods, what amenities). To get top dollar for your home you really need it to be in the best showing condition possible.images

I have written several blogs about things sellers can and should do to get their homes in the best condition for sale. But in this blog I wanted to focus on painting. Paint is probably one of the cheapest things you can do to seriously enhance the desirability of your home. A fresh coat of paint says that your home is well maintained, and really makes buyers feel there is less they need to attend should they purchase the home.

Exterior paint: Drive through any neighborhood and look at the homes. You will immediately notice those that are in need of paint jobs and those that look fresh and clean. Curb appeal is a big factor in whether a buyer will consider making an offer. If you are unable to paint the entire exterior of your home, at least consider painting the trim, front door and garage (if you have a painted garage). Doing so will not create a big dent in your pocketbook and will really make your home look more attractive.

Interior paint: Color was always a big plus in the past, but interestingly enough I just learned from a local builder that most buyers of new construction today prefer white paint. That was somewhat surprising, but I have heard it elsewhere – white seems to be the new preference. It says clean and fresh.

When it comes to painting one piece of advice has and still rings true: avoid bright or loud colors. While you may love a red kitchen or purple bedroom, if the buyers viewing your home do not it makes the home less desirable. It is better to paint over those colors and keep it neutral, or just go with white. You never know what colors people prefer and can never please everyone, so keep it simple.

Of course, paint is just one thing you can do to get your home in the best selling shape. You also should consider decluttering, removing personal photographs, light staging if needed, touching up your landscaping (potted plants are great by the front door), keeping your home clean and letting in the natural light. For more ideas on what you can do to make your home more appealing click here.

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Should You Sell Your Home Now?

Monday, July 11th, 2011

I  have had a few clients ask this question lately, and knowing their situations and homes I helped them make the right decision. Whether you should sell your home now or wait depends on many factors, and if you need to sell there are some important things to consider.

How do I know if it’s the right time to sell my home?

It is still very much a buyer’s market, and prices have dropped slightly here in San Diego County. If you have equity in your home you are lucky, but you still likely will have to compete with short sales and foreclosed properties that may come up in the comparables. Unfortunately this may bring down the value of your home, but the KEY is to price your property right. It will not sell if you do not do so; even worse, not pricing your property well at the start could guarantee you a lengthy market time. It is crucial to use the beginning of market time to attract buyers, and that is the best time to do it.

If comparables have brought down your property value, you don’t need to move and you can afford to pay your mortgage, it may be best to wait it out. If you have a job transfer you may consider asking your new employer if it is willing to purchase your home, help with financing on a new home, or you may consider keeping it as income property. If you live in a desireable area, like most areas of San Diego, you might want to consider corporate rentals, which will net much higher income rates. Corporate rental tenants tend to have higher incomes and are carefully screened too.

If you have to sell your home because you can no longer pay the mortgage and have not qualified for a loan modification, the following tips still apply to you. It doesn’t matter whether your home is sold as a traditional sale or a short sale – the goal of course is to attract the most buyers to come view your home.

If I simply must sell my home, what is most important in getting it sold as quickly as possible?

1.  Price. I cannot emphasize enough how important price is, especially now. There are still many sellers out there who, despite the comparables, want to price their homes higher and “see what happens.” Here is the problem: it used to be that buyers would come and look at these overpriced homes and make a lower offer. But in today’s market many agents are finding that is no longer the case. Now, if homes are overpriced many buyers don’t even want to see them – they feel the seller will be impossible to deal with and there are plenty of other homes that are priced well.

Many agents say the first 30 days is critical when it comes to price…I take that a step further and say that the first 14 days are critical. If the home is priced well, shows well, is properly marketed and has no major negatives (big power tower in the yard or next to a noise source like a freeway) you should see interest in those first two weeks. Agent/broker feedback is key. Negative features can be worked with as well, as long as you have a good agent.

2.  Showing condition. While most sellers do not need a professional stager, there are some simple tips to keep in mind when preparing your home for sale. Landscape should be trimmed and tidy (colorful flowers are a plus). The home should be clutter-free and no room should have too much furniture, making it difficult to walk through or view. Windows should be washed and window treatments opened to let in light. Take down personal photos. These are just some basics. I have written more detailed blogs on how to best prepare your home for sale (click on “Home Sale Tips” to the right of my blog for some more ideas).

3.  Marketing. Over 90% of buyers search the internet for homes. Your home needs to stand out. Putting it on the MLS is not enough. Make sure your agent has professional photography completed and a tour…studies have found that if a home does not have beautiful photography viewers will simply move on to the next one. Also, make sure your home is on major sites like, Trulia, Zillow and others. If your home is on the MLS it will show up on these sites automatically, but your agent may consider upgrading on these sites to have your home really stand out. A separate home website is also a great idea. The idea online is omnipresence.

If you decide to sell your home you should consult with a local Realtor who can advise you on price, showing tactics and an overall plan to get your home sold for the best price possible, in the least amount of time. Being a seller can be advantageous if your home looks great and is priced well, so make a plan and get started. Best of luck!

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