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  • Week Eight – What to Expect Once Under Contract

    Once you are under contract, all parties will begin working through the due diligence period and contingencies on the contract. 

    During this time, the buyer will most likely order an inspection on the home to ensure there are no major issues. These inspections can include but are not limited to: a general inspection, radon inspection, sewer scope, mold inspection, roof inspection, structural engineer, etc. A general inspection typically takes a few hours, so plan on being away during this time. 

    Many times, after the inspection, issues will arise that result in another round of negotiations. The buyer may request that you do some repair work or ask for a credit in lieu of repair work. Each inspection and buyer is different, but your agent will be there with sound advice, creative suggestions, and negotiation skills to help you through.

    The lender will also most likely order an appraise to ensure the value. The Lender does not want to be lending more money than the home is worth, so an appraisal is ordered to determine the market value of the home by an independent third-party. 

    During this time, the title company will perform a title search. A Title Company will search all records of the home to verify that the title is indeed transferrable and all liens and loans on the home are paid off during closing ensuring the buyer has no future issues. If you have a loan on your home, the title company will also ask for you to provide them with some information so they can order the payoff letter for your loan, which will be paid at closing.  

    Once all these have been completed and the buyer’s loan has been approved through underwriting, it will be time for you to head to the closing table! 

    Prior to closing, make sure that you have all your moving plans in place. When the buyer takes possession of the home, you should be completely moved out and the home left in a cleanly condition. Call your utilities companies and make sure they are aware of the move and transfer everything out of your name effective on the day of possession. 

    Once the loan is fully approved and the transaction fully funded, you have sold your home. The title company will record the real estate documents with the tax county for you, and the buyers will be able to move in as agreed upon in the contract. Congratulations!!! 

  • Week Seven – The Offer

    Of course, as a seller, you want to get the most money out of your home when you sell it as possible. But there is a lot more to offers that just the dollar amount. 

    It is important to review ALL aspects of an offer before signing it, regardless of whether you have just one on the table or ten. 

    So let’s talk about some other key components you should be reviewing in your offers.

    • ✔️ Reputable Lender. A offer well over asking may be amazing, but if the lender can get that loan to the closing table, then it is all for naught. Make sure the lender has a good reputation and can get the deal done within the specified time.
    • ✔️ Closing Date. Does this date fit your needs? Is it too lengthy? Not far enough out? 
    • ✔️ Reasonable Dates. Beyond just the closing date, you want to make sure the other dates are are reasonably short. Why, you may ask? If the buyer asks for an exceptional long inspection period and then decides at the final hour that the home inspection does not meet their expectations then you have wasted an awfully long amount of time off the market. You want to get it back on the market quickly if there is an issue.
    • ✔️ Contingencies. Does the buyer have to sell a home prior to purchasing yours? Any contingency like this puts an extra layer of risk in the deal. It happens quite often, but be aware.
    • ✔️ Concessions. Sometimes the buyer will ask for the seller to pay concessions at closing towards their closing costs. This will affect your bottom line.
  • Week Six – The Perfect Showing

    Once photos of your home is completed, marketing is prepared, and the sign is in the front yard, you are ready to put your home on the market! In addition to the MLS, you can ask your agent to make your listing available on syndication sites like Realtor.com and Zillow. 

    Showings will soon begin on your home. It is helpful to make yourself as flexible as possible for showings to accommodate potential buyers. Be sure to keep your home show ready as much as possible during this time period. It might even be wise to make plans to be away the first weekend if you anticipate it will be really busy. 

    You prepped your home for to get the best photos, and during showings you want to do your best to keep it that way. You want your buyers to feel at home and fall in love. So before you leave the house for a showing, take a few minutes to run through this checklist:

    Open All Windows & Turn On All the Lights. Walking into a dark, dimly lit home just doesn’t spark the same amount joy as walking into a light, bright one does.

    Put Away All Clutter. This includes the countertops, toys, and pet items. The cleaner the canvas the better buyers can imagine themselves there.

    Give It a Quick Clean. Wipe down the countertops and vacuum the floors the morning of, if possible.

    Check for Any Odors. Make sure the trash is taken out and the dirty laundry is put up. Avoid simply covering up the odor with air fresheners as some people can be sensitive to these.

    Set a Comfortable Temperature. A house that is too hot or too cold can create a bad showing experience for the buyer making them think negatively about your home.

    Create an Ambiance. Whether it is lighting the fireplace or turning on some music, make your home as welcoming as possible.

  • Week Five – A Photo-Worthy Home

    Photos will be the VERY FIRST impression that buyers will get of your home. Most everyone these days begins their home search online, browsing through photos. Between all the houses, they can start to blend together, so it stands to reason that you want the best photos possible that will stop them in their tracks.

    This starts with a great photographer, so it is key to make sure that your agent hires a professional to take the listing photos rather than using a mobile phone or personal camera.

    But your part is just as crucial, and that is preparing your home for photos. You don’t need to hire an interior design or get a stager involved (if you don’t want to), but you will want to be intentional about how you prep your home before photos.

    Use this checklist to help make your home HGTV photo-worthy!

    The Kitchen

    • Clear the countertops of all non-decorative items.
    • Remove all magnets, photos, and artwork from your refrigerator. 
    • Wipe down the sink, particularly stainless steel ones.

    The Bathrooms

    • Clear the countertops of all non-decorative items.
    • Remove all shampoos and soaps from the shower area.
    • Ensure all toilet seats are down and toilet paper is filled.

    The Living Areas

    • Remove any seasonal, religious, or political decor.
    • Remove all personal items and minimize family photos.
    • Ensure all toys are put away.

    The Yard

    • Make sure the grass is freshly cut and the landscaping is trimmed.
    • Put away flags, hoses, pool equipment, etc.
    • Ensure all pet waste is removed from the yard.

    Other

    • Turn on all lights, including lamps, and open all curtains.
    • Put away all pet items including food and water bowls.
    • Ensure no vehicle are parked in front of the house.
  • Week Four – Pricing Your Home

    When it comes time to sell your home, the pricing and preparation are just as important, if not more important, than the marketing itself. When it comes to pricing your home, your agent should do a thorough analysis of the comparables in your neighborhood to determine market value. It is important to price your home correctly right off the bat to avoid it sitting on the market. Homes priced too high tend to sit and eventually sell for a lower purchase price. 

    When preparing your analysis, an agent will look at similar homes in your area that have recently sold, are currently listed, or were withdrawn from the market without selling to determine what your home may sell for in today’s market.

    Your agent will likely use properties that have similar:

    • Size
    • Bedroom Count
    • Bathroom Count
    • Location
    • Style
    • Etc

    They will consider what makes your home unique from other properties including features, upgrades, location, etc as well as qualities that may make it less desirable when compared to other homes.

    All this information is used to properly price your home when listed. Pricing is key when listing, and we want to insure it is done well off the bat. Pricing your home too high could lead to extended time on the market and ultimately lower offers since buyers will begin to question if something is wrong with it.

    This is a crucial step as a well-priced home will attract more buyers and sell quicker.

  • Week Three – Preparing Your Home

    You’ve decided that it is time to sell. To make sure you get the most for your home and have a successful sale, it is imperative that you prep your home for the market. Before you schedule those photos and make your plan for that first week of showings, there are some things that you should take care of.

    Tackle Maintenance. Unless they are looking for a property to invest into, most buyers are looking for homes without problems. In fact, avoiding plumbing, electrical, and other maintenance problems is the number one reason those that buy new construction do so, and buyers, in my experience, tend to overestimate the cost of such maintenance issues. It also causes them to look at the home with even more of a magnifying glass thinking, “If they overlooked taking care of this, what else did they miss?”

    Have you neglected to change out any filters? Have a leak you’ve been putting off? Have caulk that is in dire need of a refresh? Take a weekend before you list your house and tackle some of these issues.

    Clean Up Landscaping. The front of your home is the first impression that buyers will get of your property, and you want to make it great. Weeds, leaves, and overgrown grass won’t send the message, “You have to buy this house!” So prior to listing, make sure you mow the grass, pick up any leaves or dead foliage, and spray some weed killer. 

    Power Wash or Paint the Front Door. Before they enter your home, buyers are going to get a minute or so just standing at the door while their agent opens the lockbox. They will have time to look around and size up the property. Make sure you have power washed all those cobwebs off and maybe even give the front door a new coat of paint.

    Declutter. You are planning on moving soon, so why not get to packing. The one thing all model homes have in common is that they are free from clutter. You want potential buyers to be able to envision themselves in your home, and they can’t do that if your stuff is everywhere. So minimize your closets and keep out only the clothes you need. Clear off the countertops of anything that isn’t strictly for decoration. Pack it all nicely in boxes and set it in your garage.

  • Week Two – How Much Will I Make?

    Outside of wondering how much their home is worth, the first question I usually get from sellers is, “How much money will I walk away with?”

    It is important in the planning stages to prepare a net sheet to review the costs associated with the sale and how they affect your bottom line. This will not give you an exact dollar amount as changes in purchase price, closing date, and any concessions will alter that final number, but it will give you a pretty good idea of what you will be walking away with. 

    In putting together your net sheet, you will want to consider these typical closing costs:

    Owner’s Title Insurance Policy. Title insurance protects the buyer from any issues arising from defects on title after they purchase the home. While it can be negotiated, this is typically paid for by the seller. 

    Tax Proration. The seller is responsible for the taxes while they lived in the home. Since taxes are usually paid once a year, this portion will typically be prorated and credited to the buyer at closing. The buyer will then be responsible for paying the full bill.

    Closing and Recording Fees. The Title Company or other closing entity will usually charge a fee to facilitate the closing of the transaction, and the state will charge recording fees for the sale documents.

    Real Estate Agent Commissions. In most cases, the seller will pay a commission to the listing agent. The listing agent will pay the buyer’s agent and their broker from that commission.

    While this is not an all encompassing list of fees you may pay at closing, this should get you a good idea of your net on the sale of your home.

  • Week One – Is It Time to Sell?

    “There’s never been a better time to sell!”

    “You should wait to see if prices keep going up…”

    “It’s a seller’s market!”

    “You should wait till spring…”

    If you have ever mentioned to ANYONE that you are thinking of selling your home, you have undoubtedly been met with plenty of advice – both positive and negative. And while there are many external forces like the housing market, interest rates, or the economy that can influence your decision, the only one that can truly answer if this is the right time to sell is YOU.

    As you are making the decision to sell, there are a few questions you should answer for yourself. 

    1. How much is your home worth? This is always the first step when you being to consider selling your home. Knowing the current market value of your home will help you make an informed decision. So skip the Zestimate and call a knowledgeable real estate agent to perform a valuation on your home.
    1. What is your current housing market like? While you may hear all about the U.S. housing market in the news, things can be vastly different from local market to local market. Are you in a seller’s market where your home will move quickly? Do you need to plan on extra time or repair funds for a buyer’s market? Talk with your real estate agent to understand exactly what to expect in your market.
    1. Will you be subject to capital gains? With the increase in home prices and values in the last two years, you may be sitting on huge chunk of equity in your home which is great for you. However, you may be subject to capital gains tax on the proceeds from your home. Generally, if you have lived in your home as your primary residence for 2 out of the last 5 years, you will not be taxed on the first $250,000 if you are single or $500,000 if you are married. Talk with your tax professional to find out how this may impact you.
  • How Should I Decorate if I am Selling During the Holidays?

    If you are like me, you probably love to decorate for the holidays. However, if you are selling during the holidays, some decor can seem cluttered.

    If you are wanting to decorate while selling, it is best to keep the decor as neutral and simple as possible. So here a few easy and inexpensive tips to help bring the beauty of the season to your home while seamlessly fitting in with your current home design. 

    White Pumpkins, White Trees, and Snowflakes – White or other monochrome accents are a neutral item that can pair with any home décor. You can usually find these accents anywhere, or you can always head over to your local dollar store and find cheap nicknacks to spray paint over. They are perfect addition to shelves or mantles without being too gaudy.

    Fall leaves and Pinecones – You usually don’t see many of these in home design until the fall and winter holidays roll around, but red, orange, and yellow definitely don’t go with the rest of my house. So back to the dollar store we go! You can pick up leave picks and pinecones at the dollar store (or even your local craft store) for just a few dollars. Grab a can of spray paint that matches your current home colors, or continue on with the neutral tones, for the leaves and switch them out to pinecones once December hits.

    Sprigs of Pine – Wrapping your mantle in garland can be so beautiful during the holiday season, but it can be a little much for potential buyers. Instead, opt for sprigs of pine throughout the home.

  • What is a CMA and Why is it Important?

    A CMA is a Comparative Market Analysis. This is a tool that real estate agents use to help determine an appropriate value for your home. A real estate agent prepares a CMA for a seller who is consider selling so that the seller has an idea of a price at which their home would likely sell.

    When preparing a CMA an agent will look at similar homes in your area that have recently sold, are currently listed, or were withdrawn from the market without selling to determine what your home may sell for in today’s market.

    Your agent will likely use properties that have similar:

    • Size
    • Bedroom Count
    • Bathroom Count
    • Location
    • Style
    • Etc

    They will consider what makes your home unique from other properties including features, upgrades, location, etc as well as qualities that may make it less desirable when compared to other homes.

    All this information is used to properly price your home when listed. Pricing is key when listing, and we want to insure it is done well off the bat. Pricing your home too high could lead to extended time on the market and lower offers.

    This is why a CMA is a crucial step in the selling process as a well-priced home will attract more buyers and sell quicker.

  • How Can I Make Sure I Make the Most Money for My Home?

    If you are considering taking advantage of this seller’s market, you have probably wondered how much you can get for your home. If you’ve gone a step further, you have already talked to an agent and received a free valuation on your house so you have an idea of what your list price would be. But now comes the question, how do I guarantee the best possible sale price for my home? While there are no guarantees in real estate, there are some things that you can do to put yourself in the best position to make the most when selling your home. 

    1. Hire a Real Estate Agent.

    The first and most important thing that you can do to help maximize your profit on your home is not go at it alone. While selling your home yourself may look more profitable at first hand – I mean, you don’t need to pay those dang commission, right? – it could actually hurt you in the long run. There are many reasons for this, but let’s go over a few. 

    For starters, pricing your home is so important to getting the highest sales price (We will talk about this later.), however, many homeowners do not know how to accurate valuate their home. Inexperience valuating comparable sales leads to a lower list price than necessary or too high a list price making the property sit. 

    Agents have access to the MLS meaning your home will be in front of the eyes of buyers who are preapproved, actively looking, and ready to make an offer on your home, and it also means you don’t have to weed through and vet them yourself. 

    Homeowners also enter the selling process with a lot of emotions. It is to be expected because for many homeowners, your home is a private, sacred place. Your agent can help you make the best decisions because they are not emotionally invested in the home in the same way that you are. 

    Statistics show time and time again that homes listed with a real estate agent sell for more money than though listed for sale by owner. So if you are looking for the biggest payout, go ahead and get someone in your corner!

    2. Don’t Skip Home Maintenance.

    This may seem counterintuitive, and yes, I am asking you to spend a little bit of time and money. But the same saying in business applies here, “You have to spend money to make money.” 

    Unless they are looking for a property to invest into, most buyers are looking for homes with problems. In fact, avoiding plumbing, electrical, and other maintenance problems is the number one reason those that buy new construction do so, and buyers, in my experience, tend to overestimate the cost of such maintenance issues. It also causes them to look at the home with even more of a magnifying glass thinking, “If they overlooked taking care of this, what else did they miss?”

    Have you neglected to change out any filters? Have a leak you’ve been putting off? Have caulk that is in dire need of a refresh? Take a weekend before you list your house and tackle some of these issues. 

    3. Do Not Overprice Your Home.

    Again, to many sellers, this piece of advice seems counterintuitive, but it is SO. INCREDIBLY. IMPORTANT.

    The most common reasoning behind sellers wanting to price their home higher is that they hope they can then negotiate down to a price that is still higher than the listing price their agent suggests. However, in reality, the opposite typically happens. Buyers see that the house is overpriced and refrain from putting in an offer. The home sits on the market, typically with a few price drops, before finally receiving a low offer. At this point the sellers are exhausted and ready to sell, and they settle for the lower offer which is usually lower than the initial suggested price. 

    Thoughtfully consider the listing price your agent suggests, and depending on the market, consider even pricing slightly below it. This will spark buyers’ interest from the get go, and hopefully create multiple offers and maybe even a bidding war.

  • Why is the Housing Market So Crazy Right Now?

    68 Showings. 32 Offers. $100,000 Over Asking. All Within 24 Hours! That pretty much sums up what we are seeing in many markets across the country right now. But why is it so crazy?

    There are a few reasons that the market right now seems like something out of apocalyptic times, so let’s break down what’s happening…

    #1. Inventory is Low.

    Right now, inventory across the country is extremely low. But just how low are we talking? Well, according to the National Association of Realtors, a balanced market producing median home prices has about six months worth of inventory. Most markets right now are sitting below the two month market. Now that is low! With demand for homes at an all time high and little supply for the buyers, it is no wonder we are seeing lines of buyers sitting outside those just listed, move in ready homes.

    With multiple buyers interested in the home comes multiple offers. Multiple offers drive the bidding wars. Bidding wars raise the purchase price of the home even higher.

    #2 Interest Rates are Low.

    So we know the situation with the supply, but what about the demand? One of the driving forces behind the demand right now is the low interest rates. With interest rates being at historical lows, buyers are able to afford more home than they would have been able to in the past. For example, if you purchased a home for $300,000 with 20% down and a 3% interest rate, your principal and interest payment would equal $1011.85/month. That monthly payment jumps to $1145.80 with a 4% interest rate. These interest rates are making homeownership more feasible for many renters or even those just looking to upgrade their current home.

    #3 Desire for More Space.

    Along with the low interest rates, a desire for more space is a huge reason demand is high. With many families now homeschooling and working from home becoming more of a norm, buyers are looking for homes with more space. This desire for more space has increased the amount of buyers are the market, again driving demand.

    So What Next?

    So what does that mean for the future of the housing marketing? Are we headed towards a bubble? Experts expect the housing market boom to continue for the foreseeable future but aren’t worried about a crash like that of 2008. Many say the protections that would put into place for the lending industry post the 2008 housing collapse with keep this from happening.

  • What Should You Do Prior to Listing?

    You’ve heard the market is great for selling right now, so you are thinking maybe now is the time. So, what do you need to do to prepare before your home actually hits the market?

    Meet with Your Agent.

    It should come as no surprise that this is the first thing recommended if you are thinking of selling. Sit down with your agent and discuss what they believe your home can sell for, repairs that may need to be taken care of before listing, and the timeline for getting your home sold.

    Know Your Bottom Line.

    While you are sitting down with your agent, ask them to prepare a net sheet for you. This will give you an idea of what you will be walking away with after selling your home. It is important to know these numbers and your bottom line upfront so that you can make more confident and educated decisions throughout the process.

    Tackle Maintenance.

    Home maintenance, such as changing out the air filters, recaulking the windows, and fixing that slow draining tub, are things that tend to go to the wayside when you are living in your home. However, you want to tackle these before you list your home otherwise you will probably be seeing them in the inspection report.

    De-Clutter Your Home.

    Once those maintenance projects are handle, now it is time to declutter. Begin by removing about 50% of the clothes and other items from your closets. You’ll have to pack them sooner or later! Next pack up anything laying around the house that isn’t decor, such as larger toys, excessive dog toys, the beanbag chairs the kids love to drag out, etc. Finally, clear off those countertops. If it isn’t for decoration, hide it under the sink or in the pantry.

    Deep Clean.

    Before the photographer and showings start coming through, give your house a good deep clean. I’m talking dust those hidden shelves you never get, mop behind the toilet, and get those floors shining. A clean house will instantly elevate you above the crowd.

    Make Your Schedule as Flexible as Possible.

    Before that sign goes in the yard and showings start, try to clear your schedule or make it as flexible as possible. You never know when someone will want to see your home.

  • Staging Tips from a Professional

    As you are getting ready to sell your home, you may hear your agent talk to you about staging your home. This doesn’t always mean bringing in an outside interior designer to make your home look like a show home, but it does mean putting your best foot forward when it comes to your homes appearance. After all, you only get one first impression on potential buyers. So here are some to tips from a professional on how to stage your home for photos and showings. 

    • Be Specific about Staging. Not every room needs the same amount of attention when it comes to staging. The Living Room, Master Bedroom, and Kitchen are the top places your attention should be on.
    • Rearrange the Furniture. You certainly don’t need to restage your entire home just be mindful to create good walking space throughout the home. Narrow walkways and tight rooms can make your home feel smaller than it really is. 
    • De-personalize. The goal is to help potential buyers see themselves in your home. While you don’t want a barren house, you do want to create as much of a blank, neutral canvas for buyers. You can accomplish this by removing family photos as well as religious or political items. 
    • De-Clutter. Whether it is toys in the playroom, all your kitchen appliances on the counter, or a cluttered nightstand, try to remove as many unnecessary things from sight. Try to keep only decorative items on surfaces. 
    • Patch and Repair. If there is anything that will stand out to buyers, such as a hole in the wall or a crooked cabinet door, patch it or repair it before photos or showings. Small things like those can cause buyers to wonder what bigger things are wrong with the home. 
    • Create a Neutral Palette. While paint can be corrected quite easily for a buyer, it is sometimes hard for them to see past that when viewing a home. Painting over bright colored walls with a more neutral tone like gray or taupe may help you appeal to a larger group of buyers. 
    • Elevate the Curb Appeal. The exterior of your home is the first thing people will see when they visit, so make sure it is appealing. Power wash your entrance way. Remove seasonal décor. Add some flowers to the stoop. Make people excited to enter. 
    • Brighten Your Home. No one wants to live in a cave, so open the windows turn on the light and showcase your beautiful home!
    • And Finally,… Clean, clean, clean. Clean those windows, deep clean those toilets, wipe down those kitchen cabinets, and make sure those floors shine. A clean home will instantly elevate your listing because no one likes someone else’s filth.
  • Pros and Cons of Selling your Home Yourself

    In a market where homes may be flying off the shelves so to speak, you may be thinking, “Why in the world do I need a real estate agent? Can’t I just do it myself?” While the appeal of not having to pay a commission to an agent to sell your home may be incredibly attractive, there are pros and cons to think about if you are considering selling your home yourself. 

    PRO. You are in control. Everything from how your home is marketed to how the contract is written, you have full control in the matter.  

    CON. You won’t have professional guidance. There is much to be said about the best way to price, market, and negotiate a sale, and unless you were a real estate agent in the past, you probably do not have this knowledge. 

    PRO. You know your home well. No one can sell the home like you do because no one knows the home quite like you. 

    CON. You won’t have professional marketing. From professional photography and marketing campaigns, to the MLS and Association Networks, real estate agents without a doubt can have a more aggressive marketing strategy than the layman.

    PRO. Low inventory means buyers may be looking at FSBOs. When inventory is low, buyers begin to look at For Sale By Owners. This could mean more attention to your home and a quicker sale.

    CON. FSBOs typically have a slower sale. Real estate agents have one job – to sell your home. So likely they are going to speed along the process of getting your home sold.

    PRO. You don’t have to pay a listing agent commission. While a buyer’s agent who bring you a sold buyer may ask that you pay them a commission, you would not have to pay a listing agent saving you thousands of dollars. 

    CON. FSBOs usually have a lower sales price. Many times, real estate agents are worth their commission. Studies have shown that listing with an agent can bring a higher purchase price, usually enough to cover the commission and then some.