Home Selling Articles And Advise
To discover what your home is worth in today’s market, Click here!
Getting Your House Ready to Sell
The Top 10: Tips to Add Value to Your Home
1. Clean, Organize, and Neutralize Your Space: Unclutter your house to make it look bigger and cleaner. Buyers need to be able to envision their own belongings in the home, so avoid using bright colors and too many personal effects.
2. Keep your lawn green: Get your lawn in shape. A patchy lawn takes away from the home's overall appearance. Your local hardware store has supplies to re-seed those unhealthy areas.
3. Add insulation to save energy: The most inexpensive way to increase your home's energy is to add insulation which can reduce heating and cooling costs by more than 25%.
4. Update Kitchen Appliances: The kitchen is often the room that buyers gravitate towards first, and an updated kitchen can help sell your home. You don't have to remodel your kitchen to give it a new look. Updating your appliances to the current standard and replacing cabinet doors and hardware can make a big impact at a relatively low cost.
5. Update those bathroom fixtures: A little change can go a long way when it comes to the look of your bathroom. Updating simple fixtures such as your sink and faucet can give any outdated bathroom style. And, according to Bankrate.com, minor bathroom remodels typically return over 100% of the initial investment.
6. Build a fence: If you're trying to sell a house, the appearance of a fence adds value to the home overall. Buyers with children or pets will appreciate the privacy and security of an enclosed backyard.
7. Repair the gutter: Ensuring that your gutter is clean is crucial in protecting your home against water damage.
8. Light up the outside: An easy and inexpensive way to increase your home's outdoor space is to add lighting. It makes it more appealing and safer.
9. Store and organize: Ample storage space is a plus, especially when it comes to garages and closets. Efficient closet structures can help keep your clothes organized and can save space.
10. Polish off the basement: Rather than adding an additional room, it is more cost-efficient to remodel your basement. This adds value and usable space.
Introduction: Emotion vs. Reason
When conversing with real estate agents, you will often find that when they talk to you about buying real estate, they will refer to your purchase as a "home." Yet if you are selling property, they will often refer to it as a "house." There is a reason for this. Buying real estate is often an emotional decision, but when selling real estate you need to remove emotion from the equation.
You need to think of your house as a marketable commodity. Property. Real estate. Your goal is to get others to see it as their potential home, not yours. If you do not consciously make this decision, you can inadvertently create a situation where it takes longer to sell your property.
The first step in getting your home ready to sell is to "de-personalize" it.
De-Personalizing the House
The reason you want to "de-personalize" your home is because you want buyers to view it as their potential home. When a potential homebuyer sees your family photos hanging on the wall, it puts your own brand on the home and momentarily shatters their illusions about owning the house. Therefore, put away family photos, sports trophies, collectible items, knick-knacks, and souvenirs. Put them in a box. Rent a storage area for a few months and put the box in the storage unit.
Do not just put the box in the attic, basement, garage or a closet. Part of preparing a house for sale is to remove "clutter," and that is the next step in preparing your house for sale.
Removing Clutter, Though You May Not Think of it as Clutter
This is the hardest thing for most people to do because they are emotionally attached to everything in the house. After years of living in the same home, clutter collects in such a way that may not be evident to the homeowner. However, it does affect the way buyers see the home, even if you do not realize it. Clutter collects on shelves, counter tops, drawers, closets, garages, attics, and basements.
Take a step back and pretend you are a buyer. Let a friend help point out areas of clutter, as long as you can accept their views without getting defensive. Let your agent help you, too.
The kitchen is a good place to start removing clutter, because it is an easy place to start. First, get everything off the counters. Everything. Even the toaster. Put the toaster in a cabinet and take it out when you use it. Find a place where you can store everything in cabinets and drawers. Of course, you may notice that you do not have cabinet space to put everything. Clean them out. The dishes, pots and pans that rarely get used? Put them in a box and put that box in storage, too.
You see, homebuyers will open all your cabinets and drawers, especially in the kitchen. They want to be sure there is enough room for their "stuff." If your kitchen cabinets, pantries, and drawers look jammed full, it sends a negative message to the buyer and does not promote an image of plentiful storage space. The best way to do that is to have as much "empty space" as possible.
For that reason, if you have a "junk drawer," get rid of the junk. If you have a rarely used crock pot, put it in storage. Do this with every cabinet and drawer. Create open space.
If you have a large amount of foodstuffs crammed into the shelves or pantry, begin using them – especially canned goods. Canned goods are heavy and you don’t want to be lugging them to a new house, anyway – or paying a mover to do so. Let what you have on the shelves determine your menus and use up as much as you can.
Beneath the sink is very critical, too. Make sure the area beneath the sink is as empty as possible, removing all extra cleaning supplies. You should scrub the area down as well, and determine if there are any tell-tale signs of water leaks that may cause a homebuyer to hesitate in buying your home.
Closets are great for accumulating clutter, though you may not think of it as clutter. We are talking about extra clothes and shoes – things you rarely wear but cannot bear to be without. Do without these items for a couple of months by putting them in a box, because these items can make your closets look "crammed full." Sometimes there are shoeboxes full of "stuff" or other accumulated personal items, too.
Many people have too much furniture in certain rooms – not too much for your own personal living needs – but too much to give the illusion of space that a homebuyer would like to see. You may want to tour some builders’ models to see how they place furniture in the model homes. Observe how they place furniture in the models so you get some ideas on what to remove and what to leave in your house.
Storage Area Clutter
Basements, garages, attics, and sheds accumulate not only clutter, but junk. These areas should be as empty as possible so that buyers can imagine what they would do with the space. Remove anything that is not essential and take it to the storage area.
Or have a garage sale.
Fixing Up the House Interior
Plumbing and Fixtures
All your sink fixtures should look shiny and new. If this cannot be accomplished by cleaning, buy new ones where needed. If you don’t buy something fancy, this can be accomplished inexpensively and they are fairly easy to install. Make sure all the hot and cold water knobs are easy to turn and that the faucets do not leak. If they do, replace the washers. It is not difficult at all.
Check to make sure you have good water pressure and that there are no stains on any of the porcelain. If you have a difficult stain to remove, one trick is to hire a cleaning crew to go through and clean your home on a one-time basis. They seem to be wonderful at making stains go away.
Ceilings, Walls and Painting
Check all the ceilings for water stains. Sometimes old leaks leave stains, even after you have repaired the leak. Of course, if you do have a leak, you will have to get it repaired, whether it is a plumbing problem or the roof leaks.
You should do the same for walls, looking for not only stains, but also areas where dirt has accumulated and you just may not have noticed. Plus, you may have an outdated color scheme.
Painting can be your best investment when selling your home. It is not a very expensive operation and often you can do it yourself. Do not choose colors based on your own preferences, but based on what would appeal to the widest possible number of buyers. You should almost always choose an off-white color because white helps your rooms appear bright and spacious.
Carpet and Flooring
Unless your carpet appears old and worn, or it is definitely an outdated style or color, you probably should do nothing more than hire a good carpet cleaner. If you do choose to replace it, do so with something inexpensive in a fairly neutral color.
Repair or replace broken floor tiles, but do not spend a lot of money on anything. Remember, you are not fixing up the place for yourself. You want to move. Your goal is simply to have as few negative impressions upon those who may want to purchase your property.
Windows and Doors
Check all of your windows to make sure they open and close easily. If not, a spray of WD40 often helps. Make sure there are no cracked or broken windowpanes. If there are, replace them before you begin showing your home.
Do the same things with the doors – make sure they open and close properly, without creaking. If they do, a shot of WD40 on the hinges usually makes the creak go away. Be sure the doorknobs turn easily, and that they are cleaned and polished to look sharp. As buyers go from room to room, someone opens each door and you want to do everything necessary to create a positive impression.
For those who smoke, you might want to minimize smoking indoors while trying to sell your home. You could also purchase an ozone spray that helps to remove odors without creating a masking odor.
Pets of all kinds create odors that you may have become used to, but are immediately noticeable to those with more finely tuned olfactory senses. For those with cats, be sure to empty kitty litter boxes daily. There are also products that you can sprinkle in a layer below the kitty litter that helps to control odor. For those with dogs, keep the dog outdoors as much as possible. You might also try sprinkling carpet freshener on the carpet on a periodic basis.
Costs of Repairs
Do not do anything expensive, such as remodeling. If possible, use savings to pay for any repairs and improvements – do not go charging up credit cards or obtaining new loans. Remember that part of selling a house is also preparing to buy your next home. You do not want to do anything that will affect your credit scores or hurt your ability to qualify for your next mortgage.
Fixing Up Outside the House
Most real estate advice tells you to work on the outside of the house first, but unless there is a major project involved, we believe it is best to do it last. There are two main reasons for this. First, the first steps in preparing the interior of the house are easier. They also help develop the proper mind set required for selling - beginning to think of your "home" as a marketable commodity. Second, the exterior is the most important. A homebuyer’s first impression is based on his or her view of the house from the real estate agent’s car.
So take a walk across the street and take a good look at your house. Look at nearby houses, too, and see how yours compares.
Is your landscaping at least average for the neighborhood? If it is not, buy a few bushes and plant them. Do not put in trees. Mature trees are expensive, and you will not get back your investment. Also, immature trees do not really add much to the appearance value of the home.
If you have an area for flowers, buy mature colorful flowers and plant them. They add a splash of vibrancy and color, creating a favorable first impression. Do not buy bulbs or seeds and plant them. They will not mature fast enough to create the desired effect and you certainly don’t want a patch of brown earth for homebuyers to view.
Your lawn should be evenly cut, freshly edged, well watered, and free of brown spots. If there are problems with your lawn, you should probably take care of them before working on the inside of your home. This is because certain areas may need re-soding, and you want to give it a chance to grow so that re-sod areas are not immediately apparent. Plus, you might want to give fertilizer enough time to be effective.
Always rake up loose leaves and grass cuttings.
The big decision is whether to paint or not to paint. When you look at your house from across the street, does it look tired and faded? If so, a paint job may be in order. It is often a very good investment and really spruces up the appearance of a house, adding dollars to offers from potential homebuyers.
When choosing a color, it should not be something garish and unusual, but a color that fits well in your neighborhood. Of course, the color also depends on the style of your house, too. For some reason, different shades of yellow seem to elicit the best response in homebuyers, whether it is in the trim or the basic color of the house.
As for the roof, if you know your house has an old leaky roof, replace it. If you do not replace a leaky roof, you are going to have to disclose it and the buyer will want a new roof, anyway. Otherwise, wait and see what the home inspector says. Why spend money unnecessarily?
The Back Yard
The back yard should be tidy. If you have a pool or spa, keep it freshly maintained and constantly cleaned. For those that have dogs, be sure to constantly keep the area clear of "debris." If you have swing sets or anything elaborate for your kids, it probably makes more sense to remove them than to leave them in place. They take up room, and you want your back yard to appear as spacious as possible, especially in newer homes where the yards are not as large.
The Front Door & Entryway
The front door should be especially sharp, since it is the entryway into the house. Polish the door fixture so it gleams. If the door needs refinishing or repainting, make sure to get that done.
If you have a cute little plaque or shingle with your family name on it, remove it. Even if it is just on the mailbox. You can always put it up again once you move. Get a new plush door mat, too. This is something else you can take with you once you move.
Make sure the lock works easily and the key fits properly. When a homebuyer comes to visit your home, the agent uses the key from the lock box to unlock the door. If there is trouble working the lock while everyone else stands around twiddling their thumbs, this sends a negative first impression to prospective homebuyers.
Want to Start Off With a High Sales Price? Beware!
Setting the Right Price for Your Home
A key part of the marketing plan is setting the list price. If a home is priced too low, you won’t benefit from the optimal profit. If a home is priced too high, potential buyers may be scared away. To determine the best asking price review the cost of recently sold homes, evaluate the competition and study marketplace trends. CENTURY 21 Sales Associates are trained to use this information to help you reach the right asking price. It is also helpful to discuss other terms and conditions, such as timing and items that can be included with the sale of the home. Both of these can make your home more attractive to potential buyers.
1) Location: You can't get away from this one. If your house is located in a desirable area that is in demand, you will be able to get a higher price than you can for the same house in a less desirable area.
2) Condition: A house that has been better maintained and shows better will always sell for more than one that has had deferred (neglected) maintenance and needs work.
3) Desirable amenities: If a house has amenities that are currently popular in the marketplace, it will bring a higher price.
4) Calculate the price per square foot: The average price per square foot for homes in your neighborhood shouldn't be the sole determinant of the asking price for your home, but it can be a useful starting point. Keep in mind that various methodologies can be used to calculate square footage.
A formal written appraisal can be useful if you have unique property, if there hasn't been much activity in your area recently, if co-owners disagree about price, or if there is any other circumstance that makes it difficult to put a value on your home. Appraisers consider the location of the home, its proximity to desirable schools and other public facilities, the size of the lot, the size and condition of the home itself and recent sales prices of comparable properties, among other factors.
Meeting with Real Estate Professionals
So you’ve decided to sell your home and have a fairly good idea of what you think it is worth. Being a sensible home seller, you schedule appointments with three local listing agents who’ve been hanging stuff on your front doorknob for years. Each Real Estate Professional comes prepared with a "Competitive Market Analysis" on fancy paper and they each recommend a specific sales price.
Amazingly, a couple of the Real Estate Professionals have come up with prices that are lower than you expected. Although they back up their recommendations with recent sales data of similar homes, you remain convinced your house is worth more. When you interview the third agent’s figures, they are much more in line with your own anticipated value, or maybe even higher. Suddenly, you are a happy and excited home seller, already counting the money.
Which Real Estate Professional Do You Choose?
If you’re like many people, you pick Real Estate Professional number three. This is an agent who seems willing to listen to your input and work with you. This is an agent that cares about putting the most money in your pocket. This is an agent that is willing to start out at your price and if you need to drop the price later, you can do that easily, right? After all, everyone else does it!
The truth is that you may have just met an agent engaging in a questionable sales practice called "buying a listing." He "bought" the listing by suggesting you might be able to get a higher sales price than the other agents recommended. Most likely, he is quite doubtful that your home will actually sell at that price. The intention from the beginning is to eventually talk you into lowering the price.
Why do agents "buy" listings? There are basically two reasons. A well-meaning and hard working agent can feel pressure from a homeowner who has an inflated perception of his home’s value. On the other hand, there are some agents who engage in this sales practice routinely.
What Happens Behind the Scenes
Whichever the case, if you start out with too high a price on your home, you may have just added to your stress level, and selling a home is stressful enough. There will be a lot of "behind the scenes" action taking place that you don’t know about.
Contrary to popular opinion, the listing agent does not usually attempt to sell your home to a homebuyer. That isn’t very efficient. Listing agents market and promote your home to the hordes of other local agents who do work with homebuyers, dramatically increasing your personal sales force. During the first couple of weeks your home should be a flurry of activity with buyer’s agents coming to preview your home so they can sell it to their clients.
If the price is right.
If you and your agent have overpriced, fewer agents will preview your home. After all, they are Real Estate Professionals, and it is their job to know local market conditions and home values. If your house is dramatically above market, why waste time? Their time is better spent previewing homes that are priced realistically.
Dropping Your Price... To Late?
Later, when you drop your price, your house is "old news." You will never be able to recapture that flurry of initial activity you would have had with a realistic price. Your house could take longer to sell.
Even if you do successfully sell at an above market price, your buyer will need a mortgage. The mortgage lender requires an appraisal. If comparable sales for the last six months and current market conditions do not support your sales price, the house won’t appraise. Your deal falls apart. Of course, you can always attempt to renegotiate the price, but only if the buyer is willing to listen. Your house could go "back on the market."
Once your home has fallen out of escrow or sits on the market awhile, it is harder to get a good offer. Potential buyers will think you might be getting desperate, so they will make lower offers. By overpricing your home in the beginning, you could actually end up settling for a lower price than you would have normally received.
The Listing Agent & Marketing Your Home
The "Real" Role of a Listing Agent
When you bought your home, you probably used the services of a real estate agent. You found that agent through a referral from a friend or family member, or through some sort of advertising or marketing. The agent helped you in many ways and eventually you found the house of your dreams, made an offer, closed the deal, and moved in.
For whatever reason, now it is time to sell your home and you need a real estate agent again. Many home sellers, especially those selling their first home, tend to think all agents are similar to the one that helped them buy their home.
Although real estate agents can (and do) work with both buyers and sellers, most tend to concentrate more on one than the other. They specialize. When you bought your home, you probably worked with a "selling agent" – an agent that works mostly with buyers. Because of the nature of real estate advertising and marketing, the public’s main image of the real estate profession is that of the selling agent.
As a result, many homeowners expect their listing agent to do the same things that a selling agent does – find someone to buy their home. After all, they do the things you would expect if they were searching for buyers. A sign goes up in the front yard. Ads are placed in the local newspaper and real estate magazines. Your agent holds an open house on the weekend. Your house is proudly displayed on the Internet.
But this is only "surface" marketing. More important activity occurs behind the scenes. After the "for sale" sign goes up and flyers are printed, your agent’s main job is to market your home to other agents, not to homebuyers.
Preliminary Marketing - the "For Sale" Sign
It seems fairly obvious that when you put your house up for sale that your agent will put a "for sale" sign in the front yard. The sign will identify the agent’s company, the agent, and have a phone number so prospective buyers can call and get information.
Signs are great at generating phone calls, even if very few actually purchase the home they call about. However, you might be one of the lucky ones. For that reason, you should determine what happens when someone calls the number on the sign. Does a live person answer the phone or does the call go to a voicemail or recorder?
You want someone to answer the phone while the caller is "hot." When buyers call the number on the sign, the call should go to a live person who can answer questions immediately. A potential buyer may be on the street outside your home, placing the call using a cell phone.
Preliminary Marketing - Flyers and the Brochure Box
Your agent should prepare a flyer that displays a photo and provides details about your house. There should also be a phone number so buyers can contact your agent to get additional information. The flyers should be displayed in a prominent location in your home and also in a brochure box attached to the "for sale" sign.
The brochure box is convenient for those buyers who drive by and just happen to see the "for sale" sign in front of your house. It provides enough information so they can determine if they want to follow up with a phone call or inform their own agent they are interested in your house.
The Listing Agent - Marketing Your House to Other Agents
The Multiple Listing Service
Even before the sign is up and the brochures are ready, your agent should list your property with the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service). The MLS is a database of all the homes listed by local real estate agents who are members of the service, which is practically all of the local agents.
Important information about your property is listed here, from general data such as square footage and number of rooms, to such details as whether you have central air conditioning or hard wood flooring. There should also be a photo, and a short verbal description of what makes your house "special."
Agents search the database for homes that fit the price range and needs of their clients. They pay special attention to homes that have been recently placed on the market, which is one reason you get a lot of attention when your house is first listed. Many agents will want to preview the home before they show it to their clients.
The main point about having your house listed in the MLS is that you expand your sales force by the number of local MLS members. Instead of having just one agent working for you, now you may have hundreds or more, depending on the size of your community.
The listing agent’s main job to make sure that the other MLS members know about your house. This is accomplished through listing your house in the Multiple Listing Service, broker previews and advertising targeted toward other agents, not homebuyers.
Your agent will undoubtedly prepare flyers about your property so that prospective homebuyers can be informed about the attractive features of your house. These flyers (or similar ones) should also be sent to all the local real estate offices, too. Most areas have a weekly flyer service that delivers advertisements to all of the local offices. Since agents get these flyers every week, they do not always look at them. However, a large percentage of them do. Some agents will keep the flyer and bring buyers to your house.
The flyer should be done professionally and photocopy well. Ask your agent to show you copies of office flyers they have done in the past.
Your agent probably belongs to a local association of Real Estate Professionals and they often have meetings once a month. At these meetings there is often a "marketing session" where some agents stand up and tell about their listings and other agents stand up and tell about their buyers. Your listing agent has an opportunity to "pitch" your house at these marketing sessions.
At the same time, these sessions may not be as effective as they were in the past. One reason is that they are often more social occasions than serious business meetings. Another reason is that, as technology has expanded, local associations have tended to merge and create larger Multiple Listing Services and Associations. Local meetings have become poorly attended gatherings.
The Listing Agent - Marketing Your House to Homebuyers
The Purpose of Advertising in General
Every home seller likes to be assured that their listing agent or the real estate company will run ads featuring their home. Newspaper ads could be large display ads with lots of listings or small classified ads featuring just your property. Ads may also appear in local real estate magazines and your listing will also show up on the Internet.
Of course the agents and companies will run ads featuring your house, but not for the reasons you expect.
You see, the main job of advertising is not to sell your house directly. Advertising creates phone calls and some of those callers become clients of the agents answering the calls. This builds up a pool of homebuyers looking for property in general, all represented by selling agents. Multiply this by all the agents and companies who also advertise homes, and there is a large pool of homebuyers in the market at any given time – all of whom are represented by selling agents.
The agents representing those homebuyers know about your home because it is listed in the Multiple Listing Service, has been on office and broker preview, and because your agent may have also sent flyers to all the local real estate offices.
The agents match up their clients with available homes, one of which may be yours. Then they show the homes to their clients, who eventually make an offer on one. That is how your house gets sold. Ads create a pool of clients, one of which buys your home. Ads do not usually sell your house directly.
Individual Agent Advertising
Individual agents may advertise your home for the same reasons as companies do. They usually advertise in classified ads or in specialty magazines featuring houses available for sale.
As in other types of advertising, these ads rarely sell your home. Once again, the main goals of advertising are to accumulate homebuyers as clients, and to impress you and future home sellers with how well they market their listings. Some agents actually do sell their own listings, but not that often.
It is much more productive and beneficial if your listing agent directs most of his or her marketing efforts toward other agents. Since this is "behind the scenes" marketing that you don’t actually see, it is often difficult for you to measure how hard the agent is working for you.
It is a mistake to measure your agent’s effectiveness solely by counting the number of newspaper and magazine ads featuring your property.
When you first list your home many agents send "announcements" to all of the other houses in your neighborhood. This can be done in the form of postcards, a letter, or flyers left hanging on the front door. These are important because your neighbors might have friends who are looking to buy a house.
The announcements create "word of mouth" advertising, which is the best kind.
Showing Your House to Home Buyers
Showing Your Home for Sale
Now it's time to get your home ready for the spotlight. Start with a good cleaning, then eliminate any clutter, add a fresh coat of paint and tidy up the yard. Talk to CENTURY 21 real estate agent about other tips that can help boost a home's curb appeal and impress potential buyers once they're in the door. One way to make a home more attractive is to purchase a Home Protection Plan. This insurance protects you, the seller, from paying repair or replacement costs of major items during the listing period. It also protects the buyer during their first year of homeownership.
Check the Temperature
If weather permits, open the windows -- if there is too much noise outside, close them. And if it's cold enough to wear a sweater to stay warm, turn on the heat. You want the temperature inside to be comfortable and to give the buyer more of a reason to linger, especially on hot or cold days!
Create a Mood Light
A fire in the fireplace, and if you have water fountains, turn them on. They are especially useful for drowning out traffic noise.
Play Up the Visual
Open all the window coverings to let in light. Keep blinds partially closed that otherwise show undesirable outdoor scenery such as a dilapidated fence or a nearby structure that obstructs views. If you have seasonal photographs showcasing flower gardens, leaves bursting in color or a snow-covered lawn twinkling from street lights, then display them in a prominent position. Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights. Brighten dark rooms with few windows by placing spot lights on the floor behind furniture.
Convenience and Availability
Your house should always be available for show, even though it may occasionally be inconvenient for you. Let your listing agent put a lock box in a convenient place, to make it easy for other agents to show your home to homebuyers. Otherwise, agents will have to schedule appointments, which is an inconvenience. Most will just skip your home to show the house of someone else who is more cooperative.
Most agents will call and give you at least a couple of hours notice before showing your property. If you refuse to let them show it at that time, they will just skip your house. Even if they come back another time, it will probably be with different buyers and you may have just lost a chance to sell your home.
Why You Should Not Be Home
Homebuyers will feel like intruders if you are home when they visit, and they might not be as receptive toward viewing your home. Visit the local coffee house, yogurt shop, or take the kids to the local park. If you absolutely cannot leave, try to remain in an out of the way area of the house and do not move from room to room. Do not volunteer any information, but answer any questions the agent may ask.
Lighting, Fragrances, Pet Control and More
When you know someone is coming by to tour your home, turn on all the indoor and outdoor lights – even during the day. At night, a lit house gives a "homey" impression when viewed from the street. During the daytime, turning on the lights prevents harsh shadows from sunlight and it brightens up any dim areas. Your house looks more homey and cheerful with the lights on.
Do not use scented sprays to prepare for visitors. It is too obvious and many people find the smells of those sprays offensive, not to mention that some may be allergic. If you want to have a pleasant aroma in your house, have a potpourri pot or something natural. Or turn on a stove burner for a moment and put a drop of vanilla extract on it. It will smell like you have been cooking.
If you have pets, make sure your listing agent puts a notice with your listing in the multiple listing service. The last thing you want is to have your pet running out the front door and getting lost. If you know someone is coming, it would be best to try to take the pets with you while the homebuyers tour your home. If you cannot do that, It is best to keep dogs in a penned area in the back yard. Try to keep indoor cats in a specific room when you expect visitors, and put a sign on the door. Most of the time, an indoor cat will hide when buyers come to view your property, but they may panic and try to escape.
The Kitchen Trash
Especially if your kitchen trash can does not have a lid, make sure you empty it every time someone comes to look at your home – even if your trash can is kept under the kitchen sink. Remember that you want to send a positive image about every aspect of your home. Kitchen trash does not send a positive message. You may go through more plastic bags than usual, but it will be worth it.
Keeping the House Tidy and Neat
Not everyone makes his or her bed every day, but when selling a home it is recommended that you develop the habit. Pick up papers, do not leave empty glasses in the family room, keep everything freshly dusted and vacuumed. Try your best to have it look like a model home - a home with furniture but nobody really lives there.
Your home is in escrow, and the buyer has scheduled a home inspection. A home inspection is a thorough visual examination of the home and property. The process usually takes two to three hours, during which time the house is examined from the ground up. The inspection includes observation and, when appropriate, operation of the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical, and appliance systems, as well as structural components: roof, foundation, basement, exterior and interior walls, chimney, doors, and windows.
It’s important to remember that a home inspection does not detect every conceivable flaw. It is an inspection of those areas and items that can be seen. Home inspectors cannot see through foundations, floors or walls, and cannot inspect areas or items that are inaccessible.
A pre-sale inspection enables you to attend to problems before the house is put on the market, it also removes any questions about the condition of your home for you and a potential home buyer. Buyers are positively influenced by a professionally produced home inspection report, which improves the speed, price, and likelihood of a sale.
Some home sellers elect not to correct every defect reflected in the inspection report. Instead, they acknowledge the defects to buyers and explain that the asking price has been adjusted to reflect the estimated cost of repairs. Such candor tends to shorten negotiation time because buyers have fewer objections that could thwart a sale. In addition to facilitating the sale of a home, an inspection helps the homeowner comply with full-disclosure real estate laws, governed by state laws. By focusing on the condition of your property, you are less likely to overlook a defect or material fact for which you later could be held liable.
Qualified inspection companies will provide a sample report to substantiate that they abide by industry standards. One of the key standards is that ethical inspectors neither perform repairs nor refer clients to repair companies (thus avoiding a conflict of interest). Obviously, inspectors who make repairs on homes they inspect are more likely to "find" defects.
Once you have arranged for a home inspection, plan to accompany the inspector for the entire procedure. You have the right to be there, and leading home inspection companies will encourage your presence. It helps you to better understand the findings in the report, and will reduce post-closing hassles. Don't forget your list of questions and items of concern. A thorough home inspection covers more than 1,000 items, everything from the foundation to roof and takes two to three hours depending on the size of the property. The report should reflect the condition of about 400 items.
Negotiating the Real Estate Deal
When a buyer is ready to make you an offer they will contact you or your agent to let you know. Buyers should present their offer formally with a contract to purchase and sale. These documents can be obtained from the buyers or sellers agent, lawyer, or notary. If you are going to use their services to review the contract, and later transfer the property title to the successful buyer, they will happily supply you with some blank copies for free. It is also advisable to review one to become familiar with a typical real estate purchase and sale contract.
Most home buyers and home sellers want to arrive at a win-win agreement, but that's not to say either side would regret getting a bigger “win” than the other. Successful negotiating is more than a matter of luck or natural talent. It also encompasses the learned ability to use certain skills and techniques to bring about those coveted win-win results.
1. Start with a fair price and a fair offer
There's no question that significantly overpricing your home will turn off potential buyers. Likewise, on the buying side, making an offer that's far lower than the asking price is practically guaranteed to alienate the sellers. Asking and offering prices should be based on recent sales prices of comparable homes.
2. Respect the other side's priorities
Knowing what's most important to the person on the other side of the negotiating table can help you avoid pushing too hard on hot or sensitive issues. For example, a seller who won't budge on the sales price might be willing to pay more of the transaction costs or make more repairs to the home, while a buyer with an urgent move-in date might be willing to pay a higher portion of the transaction costs or forgo some major repairs.
3. Be prepared to compromise
"Win-win" doesn't mean both the buyer and the seller will get everything they want. It means both sides will win some and give some. Rather than approaching negotiations from an adversarial winner-take-all perspective, focus on your top priorities and don't let your emotions overrule your better judgment.
Real Estate Closing
Closing -- or settlement or escrow -- is essentially a meeting where the closing agent (the party who conducts settlement) takes in money from the buyers, pays out money to the owner and makes sure that the purchaser's title is properly recorded in local records along with any mortgage liens. All papers have been prepared by closing agents, title companies, lenders and lawyers. This paperwork reflects the sale agreement and allows all parties to the transaction to verify their interests. For instance, buyers get the title to the property, lenders have their loans recorded in the public records and state governments collect their transfer taxes.
The closing agent reviews the sale agreement to determine what payments and credits the owner should receive and what amounts are due from the buyer. The closing agent also assures that certain transaction costs are paid (taxes and title searches).
Closing is also the time when "adjustments" will be made. For instance, suppose you've pre-paid taxes four months in advance. In this case, the closing agent will compensate you for the prepayment at closing by having the buyer pay you additional money.
It could also work in reverse. If you are behind on property taxes, the closing agent will reduce the money due to you at settlement by the amount of the unpaid taxes.
Timeline and Closing Paperwork
The Closing Paperwork generally consists of the following documents:
Deed - A legal description prepared by an attorney to transfer and record, in public records, ownership of property.
Title Insurance Policy and Certificate of Title - This coverage is issued by the title company after completion of the title search. They check to see if there are any judgments, liens or attachments that need to be taken care of to `clear' the title. After checking on unpaid taxes and assessments (e.g., sidewalks or sewer), the attorney provides a certificate of title to the lender and the buyer.
Homeowners' Insurance Policy - New home buyers must obtain a binder for new coverage on the home, and the seller is generally required to keep the property insured against loss or damage prior to the Closing to protect the new buyer's interests.
Mortgages - The mortgage contract gets recorded to protect the mortgage lender's interests. When a mortgage is paid off (also known as 'satisfied'), the home buyer will receive a copy of the ``satisfaction of mortgage" which is a document that indicates that the mortgage has been paid in full.
Property Tax Bill - Many homeowners will supply a copy of their property tax bill to the home buyers; if not, a copy can be obtained from the town or city hall Assessor's office.
Warranties and Service Records - Home buyers appreciate these records, if available from the home sellers, as they can aid in obtaining satisfaction if a product or service fails within the given time or usage limits. It is also helpful to know what service people the sellers have used in the past as they experience, sometimes for the first time, the maintenance of a home (furnace cleaning, snow plowing, plumbers, etc.)
Plot Plans and Surveys - An up-to-date survey will be required for the closing. You can look up a the current plot plan at the town hall and obtain a copy for a nominal fee.
Water and Sewer Bills - Proof of payment by the seller will probably be required for the Closing.
Utilities Records - Homebuyers generally arrange for services to be changed the day of or day after your Closing. Check with each service provider to determine how they handle requests and what is required for final readings and new service setups.
Tips for Moving
Whether you have moved once or a dozen times, it never seems to get any easier. Here are some hints that we hope you will find helpful as you prepare for moving day.
1. Make agreements with buyers about possession of the home and moving date. Having sellers and buyers meet on the front walk – each with a house full of furniture – is not a happy situation.
2. Start planning early. Once you are confident that you will be proceeding with the sale, start weeding out your current possessions. Toss (or give away, sell at a yard sale, or on-line) things that you don't want to move.
3.Make a list on any important items you will need to buy for your new house. Examples: draperies, blinds, shower curtains, etc. Having these things with you on the day you move in prevents unnecessary surprises.
4. Start packing early. Anything that you are sure you will not be using before moving day should get boxed.
5. Mark every box and carton. Again, it makes it much easier if you need an item before you move, and makes it much simpler after you move. Unpacking will probably be somewhat of a gradual process--this way you know where the most necessary items are located.
Home Selling Tips for First Time Home Sellers
At first, selling your home seems daunting: You haven't sold a home before, the market looks complex, and what worked for owners 10 or 20 years ago seems inappropriate today.
What steps should you take? Here's a simple list to get you started.
1. You Can Do It. Some 5.65 million existing homes were sold in 2007* , more than 15,000 a day. Other owners have done it and so can you.
2. Define Your Goal. Do you want the highest sales price -- or the biggest check at closing? They're not necessarily the same. Imagine that two homes sell for $300,000, but one owner pays 2 points and agrees to replace the roof. The owner who sold without such costs got a bigger check at settlement. The bottom line: To have a successful sale you need to look at both price and terms -- you must have a strong negotiator in your corner.
3. Times Have Changed. Today's real estate marketplace is radically different when compared with 10 years ago. Purchasers now use the Internet, receive seller disclosure forms, get home inspections, and are routinely represented by buyer brokers. The result is that buyers can be better prepared than in the past.
4. Sparkle And Shine. Imagine going to a supermarket and seeing dusty fruit or aisles filled with old shelving and cans. It doesn't happen because the grocery store knows how to present its goods. Sellers must do the same. Get rid of things you don't want to move, organize closets and storage areas, and clean everywhere.
5. Mechanics Count. Buyers expect everything to work. Home inspections are now entirely common and what buyers miss home inspectors will catch. Fix and paint things now and they won't be an issue in the future.
6. Set the stage. When buyers see your home, it's showtime. They want an environment where they can see themselves. De-clutter and hide knick knacks that will distract them from their dreams. Given them a show where everything is painted, arranged, and attractive, a home where the only issue is when to move in.
7. Know the market. Real estate is local. Your broker can explain current market trends in your community, including what's selling, what isn't selling, and why. This information is central to getting the optimal price and terms.
8. Know the competition. Your property will be competing with other homes for buyer attention. Ask your broker how to be competitive -- and how to have an edge.
9. Be realistic. Markets differ by location and time. When interest rates are low and the local job base is growing, it's great to be a seller. But when times are slack and mortgage rates are rising, homes also sell. The trick is to be realistic, to get as much as market conditions will allow.
10. Have a plan. Real estate marketing involves far more than a sign in the yard and an ad in the paper. Successful brokers use a variety of methods to attract and qualify prospects, including the latest Internet and communication advances.
By submitting this form with your telephone number you are consenting for Kirk Holding and Greg Kelsey and all authorized representatives to contact you even if your name is on a Federal or State "Do not call List".
Market Snapshot 06/18/2013Total Properties Listed: 4763
Average List Price: $ 269,613.04
Typical PropertySingle-Family Home
Average List Price: $ 269,613.04
Average Price per SqFt: 122.78
Average Price by Bedrooms1 Bedroom: $ 123,424.51
2 Bedrooms: $ 149,920.60
3 Bedrooms: $ 217,634.12
4 Bedrooms: $ 289,893.93
5 Bedrooms: $ 364,521.66