Local Selling Tips

Selling Advice

Your home is more than an architectural structure. Often, it’s an extension of who you are – your personality, style and values. That’s why selling it can be an emotional experience. But it can also be exciting and rewarding. This section provides some simple home selling tips that can help lead you to a successful, timely sale.

Once you’ve made up your mind to sell your home, you need to do your “homework” – and my website is a great place to start! Getting a signed contract is a great accomplishment, but that's only half the journey. The typical home sale today involves more than 20 steps after the initial contract is accepted to complete the transaction.1

A real estate professional can provide the experience and local knowledge to guide you through the entire process, and selling your home within the ideal time frame and at the most effective price point. As the representative of your best interests, I have state-of-the-art marketing resources to showcase your home’s best assets, and help you determine what improvements will make the biggest difference.

Much of what needs to be done before the closing is the responsibility of appraisers, loan processors, attorneys, and inspectors. My role also includes coordinating those responsibilities, helping to ensure that others do their jobs promptly and correctly.

Many steps between contract ratification and closing involve the cooperation of both buyer and seller, and attentive real estate professionals on both sides of the transaction will troubleshoot and keep everyone on track.

1 Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Let's Get Started

Real estate marketing involves so much more than a sign in the yard or a web posting.  Successful brokers and agents use a variety of methods to attract and qualify prospects, including the latest Internet and communication advances.

Creating a Plan

Much of an agent’s work is quiet, behind the scenes – and important. Promoting your home involves several outreach efforts, including scheduling, marketing and hosting open houses, following up with open house visitors, having conversations with ad respondents, and posting photos and virtual tours on the web. Being your guide and confidant is part of the process as well.

Selling can entail a variety of marketing strategies, and your agent will develop a plan especially for your home, which will help set it apart in your local marketplace and attract buyers. Once listed, it's likely that the home will be quickly entered into the local  Multiple Listing Service (MLS), displayed on century21.com and distributed to over 500 national and local real estate websites, where most buyers begin their search for a new home.


Adding Value to your Home

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 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.

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.


Setting the Price

A key part of your marketing plan is setting the list price. Quite simply, if a home is priced too low, you miss out on potential profit. If a home is priced too high, qualified buyers will look elsewhere.

To determine the best asking price, review the prices of recently sold, comparable homes in the area; evaluate the competition, and study marketplace trends. I have ready access to this information, and can provide the big picture to help you determine the right asking price.

It is also helpful to discuss with me other terms and conditions that can be included in the sale of the home to make it more attractive to potential buyers. For example, an owner can offer to pay points or complete a major repair – such as a new roof – to make the deal more appealing to a qualified buyer. A home warranty such as the Century 21 Home Protection Plan is another useful marketing tool, providing protection if an appliance or other covered item fails after closing. Home warranties are a relatively inexpensive way for a seller to add value to a property.

Other factors to consider:

  • Real estate is local. As your local agent, I can explain current market factors in your community, including what's selling, what isn't selling, and why. This information is critical to setting an optimal price and terms.
  • If your house is located in a desirable area you will be able to get a higher price than you can for the same house in a less desirable area.
  • If a house has amenities that are currently popular in the marketplace, it will bring a higher price. I can help identify top trends.
  • 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.
  • Buyers expect everything to work. It’s an important trust factor, and worth the time and expense to make basic repairs.
  • 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.

TIP: A formal written appraisal can be useful if your property is unique, or there hasn't been much activity in your area recently. It’s also helpful when co-owners disagree about price, or there is any other circumstance that makes it difficult to put a market value on your home.


Showing Your Home

You want potential buyers to feel at home from the minute they walk up the driveway. Give them a canvas to fill. It’s showtime!

Start with a good cleaning, eliminate clutter, put away the knickknacks and add fresh coats of a neutral-colored paint to brighten rooms. Oh, and tidy up the yard. I can give you all sorts of tips to help boost your home's curb appeal and impress potential buyers once they're inside. Here are a few basics:

  • If the weather permits, open the windows (if there is too much noise outside, close them). 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!
  • Light a fire in the fireplace, have chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, or use lightly scented aromatherapy – such as lavender – to set the scene for a tranquil home.
  • Open all the window coverings to let in light. If a particular window overlooks undesirable scenery or obstructed views, keep the blinds partially closed.
  • Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights. Brighten dark rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture.
  • Play soft background music.

Move your cars to an alternate location, and allow your real estate agent to conduct the tour: potential buyers usually feel more comfortable – and less pressured – when the owners are not present.

TIP: 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.

 

The Sale

Once you negotiate and settle on a price, the buyer arranges for financing and a home inspection. This section will help you with these important steps.

Negotiating the Deal

Successful negotiating encompasses the acquired ability to use certain skills and techniques to bring about coveted win-win results. I can help you stay focused, objective, and not let your emotions rule.

  1. Start with a thoroughly researched, fair price.
  2. Respect the other side's priorities. For example, 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. Or, they may prefer to push out the closing date, in order to be more confident that there will be no unanticipated additional expenses.
  3. In any case, 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

TIP: Become familiar with a typical real estate purchase and sale contract in advance of any negotiation.

Seller Financing

If a seller helps to finance a real estate transaction, it is called seller financing. Usually sellers do this when a buyer has difficulty qualifying for a conventional loan or meeting the purchase price.

Seller financing differs from a traditional loan because the seller does not give the buyer cash to complete the purchase, as does a lender. Instead, it involves extending a credit against the purchase price of the home.  

The necessary paperwork is prepared by the title or escrow company, after the terms are worked out between the buyer and seller. If you are a seller considering such an arrangement, it is critical to thoroughly evaluate the credit-worthiness of the buyer.

It is important to consult with legal counsel and your accountant regarding the potential consequences of this type of arrangement. You can also contact the Internal Revenue Service for a copy of its Publication 537, "Installment Sales." Order by calling (800) TAX-FORM or visit www.irs.gov/formspubs.

Seller financing offers tax breaks for sellers and alternative financing for buyers who can't qualify for conventional loans. If you are a seller, the risks you face are the same as those facing any lender: Is the borrower a good credit risk? Will the property hold enough value over time to allow for the repayment of all loans made against it?

You should run a full credit check on the borrower, require hazard insurance on the property and include a due-on-sale clause. There also are financing, disclosure and repayment-term requirements that need to be met. Again, it is wise to consult an attorney when considering this type of transaction.

TIP: The interest rate on an owner-carried loan is negotiable, but is influenced by current Treasury Bill and Certificate of Deposit Rates.

Home Inspection

A home inspection is a thorough visual examination of the home and property. Many mortgage companies insist on a home inspection report before agreeing to a mortgage, so a pre-sale inspection enables you to address problems before you even put the house on the market. It also removes any questions about the condition of your home for you and a potential homebuyer, improving the speed, price and likelihood of a sale.

The inspection process usually takes two to three hours, during which time the house is examined from the ground up. It includes observation and, when appropriate, operation of the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical, and appliance systems, as well as structural components, such as the roof, foundation, basement, exterior and interior walls, chimney, doors and windows.

Some home sellers elect not to correct every defect found 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.

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 could later be held liable.

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.

TIP: Home inspections are for buyers; appraisals are for lenders. Lenders require appraisals on properties prior to loan approval to ensure that the mortgage loan amount is not more than the value of the property.

 

Closing and Beyond

The real estate closing is a meeting in which payment is transferred from buyer to seller. Find more information about closing a home sale here.

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.

 

Tips for Moving

Selling your home and moving to a new one has unique challenges. This collection of tips will help get you off on the right foot.

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.

  • Make agreements with buyers about possession of the home and moving date.
  • Start planning early. From the moment you decide to put your home up for sale, start sorting through your current possessions. Toss (or give away, sell at a yard sale or online) anything that you don't want to take with you.
  • Make a list of important items you will need to buy for your new house, such as drapes, blinds, shower curtains, etc. Having these things with you on the day you move helps you settle in more comfortably.

Start packing early. Anything that you are sure you will not be using before moving day should get boxed.

TIP: Organize like items together and mark every box and carton. This makes it easier if you find you need an item before you move, and much simpler after you move. Unpacking tends to be a gradual process--this simple step will help you find the items you need when you need them.