Local Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find my blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because I care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. I'd love to talk with you!  480-425-2370

June 7, 2018

Don't Get Overwhelmed

Buying a home can be a paralyzing process. If you find yourself unable to sign on the dotted line, passing up one great home after another, you’re probably feeling financially overwhelmed. You know that few purchases will provide you the quality of life that homeownership does. There are plenty of advantages as well - tax breaks, rising real estate values and a stable environment for the family, just to name a few.

Listen To Your Instincts

If you just can’t seem to find the home that’s right for you, something else may be holding you back - it's probably money and the fear of spending too much. Stretching to buy the most home you can possibly afford is a good strategy, but only under certain conditions. For example, if you're confident that your salary will rise, your job is stable, you have the ability to handle large surprise expenses like adding another member to your household. If you’ve been pre-qualified by your lender, then your housing costs should be no more than one-third of your gross income. But if you fear you won’t have enough in reserves should something happen, listen to your instincts. Talk to me about it and I'll show you less expensive homes. 

Reasonable Financial Goals

Do you have a conflict in financial goals? Whether you are planning a family, returning to graduate school, paying off a student loan, or buying a new car, your financial pie can only be sliced so many ways. Your mortgage is the largest piece; the larger it is, the smaller the other pieces. Set reasonable financial goals for paying off or adding new debt, and your mortgage won’t loom so large.

"What if" Scenarios

Do you have a fear of the future? Fear can be tamed by looking at the worst case scenarios compared to the best case scenarios. Examine the questions that are really bothering you, like "what if we can’t make our payments?" or "what happens if our home loses value?" Without a crystal ball, you can’t predict the future. But you should be prepared by setting aside savings for planned and unplanned expenses and by keeping low balances on your credit cards so you have a cushion when you need it. Compare worst cases with best cases - "what if we manage our money so well that we can make double house payments?" or "what if our home goes up in value?"

Buy for the Long Term

You’ll be upside-down in equity for several years after buying a home, because of closing costs, so plan for that. Buy for the long term. Property can go up or down in value, but it’s more likely to stay up with proper maintenance. Rest assured that there will always be a buyer for an attractive, well-maintained property. 

Final Thoughts

  • Buying a home really comes down to how confident you are about managing your money. 
  • If you are worried about cash flow, accelerate your credit card pay-offs and avoid creating new debt. 
  • Re-budget your expenses to pay off the largest-cost debts first. 
  • Make compromises on your wish list. 
  • Don’t be dazzled by any home that is beyond your means. 
  • Shop in your price range with affordability in mind, and you just may find that your dream home will appear right before your very eyes.
Posted in Buying
June 7, 2018

6 Signs A Home Might Be "The One"!

You might have heard that saying about the number of fish there are in the sea – the sea of prospective dates and mates. The same goes for homes on the market. Even when the market heats up as it's doing now, it's not uncommon for a buyer to visit 10, 20 or even more homes before finding the property they want to make their home.

These numbers can be daunting, but even the most particular buyers, even buyers who are frustrated by how many homes don't seem like the right fit, can take heart in this one truth of dating that also applies to house hunting:

You only need to find ONE.

So the next question is this: how do you know which fish is the one you should take home – I mean, make your home? To help, here are six signs that a given home you're viewing might in fact be "The One":

1. You instantly feel possessive about the property. When you walk into 'The One' no matter how long you've been house hunting, you'll get an involuntary surge of energy to do whatever it takes to make that home yours. If you're at an Open House and other buyers are viewing the place, you'll start to feel competitive. If you're at a private viewing, you'll start to talk numbers and offer logistics. For that matter, some buyers start making calls to their financial planners, generous parents, and contractors from the front porch steps of their "One" – during the first viewing!

If you walk through a place and leave with your heart or mind set on making it yours, it might be "The One."

2. You start to see its flaws as adorable quirks. Train tracks 10 feet from the bedroom window? Next door neighbor that runs a pigeon-sitting service? Okay – I exaggerate! But if you find yourself viewing a home with traits that you would normally deem undesirable or as deal-killers, yet you like the place so much that you instinctively compile a mental list of reasons those traits just don't matter, you might have found "The One."

Smart buyers should be aware of a syndrome some call "Pottery Barn Psychosis," whereby the aesthetics of a wonderfully staged home with amazing curb appeal can hypnotize a buyer. This syndrome renders buyers blind to the negative property features, which would be glaring or grave concerns if the place weren't so stinking cute. It's fine to make a conscious decision that the pros of a place outweigh its cons, and even to consciously re-rank your priorities in light of a particular property's advantages.

But throwing reasonable guidelines for your home out of the window because it's just so stinking cute is about as savvy as doing the same with your dating prospects – not a setup for success.

Buyers can avoid falling victim to Pottery Barn Psychosis (and the Buyer's Remorse that often follows suit) by writing down your absolute musts and deal-breakers before you ever step foot in a single property – and by revisiting this document before you write an offer and again before you remove your contingencies.

If you find yourself viewing a home with traits that you would normally deem undesirable, yet you like the place so much that you instinctively compile a mental list of reasons those traits just don't matter, you might have found "The One."

3. You immediately envision your own family, furniture, decor, daily activities or remodeling choices in/to the home. If you find yourself, during a property viewing, measuring the dining room with your footsteps to be sure your Grandma's table will fit, discussing whether the wall between kitchen and dining room can be removed or your mind's eye photoshopping a given property to insert your bedroom set, your dining table and favorite wall hangings into place it's entirely possible that the home you're viewing could be "The One" for you.

4. You lose interest in seeing other homes. When you find "The One," your interest in seeing other homes dissipates, instantly – no matter how many homes you've seen or how long you've been house hunting.

5. The bathroom and kitchen don't disgust you. We humans are born with only two fears in life: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. By about eight months old, we start to acquire new fears. Chief among them: the fear of other people's kitchens and bathrooms.

Other people's kitchens and bathrooms hold definite gross-out potential. There's just something about what goes on in those rooms that seems exceptionally intimate and even unsanitary. So, if you happen to find yourself falling in love with a home's river rock shower floor or drooling over the pot-filler, countertop or farmhouse sink, that's a sign that you're falling head over heels with a home that might just be "The One."

6. The money, time and energy spent feels worth it. Home buying is an expensive, time consuming proposition. And your years of budgeting of earned you a nice nest egg, but it didn't come easy, there might be many a Saturday night at home and a brown bagged lunch reflected in your down payment savings. If you view a home that make all of those sacrifices suddenly feel like the best, most worthwhile decision ever? You, my friend, might have found "The One."

Posted in Buying
June 7, 2018

Good News For First Time Home Buyers

Ready to the take the next step in life? Buying a home may be easier and less expensive than renting!

 

Good News

Lately, it’s been in the news that credit is tight, but if you believe that you need 20% down and perfect credit to buy a home, you may have good news coming. Loans are available with as little as zero down through the Veterans Administration, for veterans and active-duty military. FHA has programs as low as 3.5 percent down for qualifying borrowers who buy within maximum loan limits.

Credit Score

Borrowers with less than perfect credit can get loans as well. Higher credit scores help qualify borrowers for better rates. The rule of thumb is simple – less money down requires a higher credit score and vice versa. A down payment is simply your way of showing the lender that you are willing to risk your money to buy the home you want. The larger the down payment, the more likely the lender is to make the loan. The credit score will tell you how much money you have to put down; it’s a factor in your interest rate.

Affordability

Your monthly payments should be comfortable for you to handle, in relationship to your total obligations, about 28% of gross monthly income. Your house payment and your debts should not exceed 36% of your income, including revolving credit, student loans, and child support. You should also be in the correct loan for your needs. A fixed rate is more expensive, but offers more protection than an adjustable rate mortgage that can reset to a higher amount, making your monthly payments higher. Also, consider the monthly operating costs of the home including utilities, HOA fees, landscaping, commuting, and other costs.

First Time Buyers

It also matters where the down payment money is coming from. Lenders expect first-time buyers to get help from family to buy a home, so there may be limits to the size or percentage of the down payment gift that the lender will allow. Down payment assistance may be available through grants. Talk to your lender before you make an offer. Get prequalified, and be up front about the source of your down payment money. A good lender will explain the true costs of borrowing to you so you can comfortably afford the home you want as well as the monthly payments.

Take a few simple steps, be upfront with your lender, and you can be living the life you love in your new home.

Posted in Buying
June 7, 2018

Get Approved Before You Shop

One of the first things you should do when you decide to buy a home is get preapproved by a lender.

Preapproval Letter

A preapproval simply means that you're financially prepared. You've already shared your financial information with a lender by providing your work history, bank statements, and student loan and credit card statements. The lender has checked your credit scores, income-to-debt ratios, down payment source, work history, income streams, and has made a preliminary decision to loan you X amount at Y percentage rate. The lender will provide you with a letter of preapproval, so you will know exactly what your interest rate will be and how much you can spend.

Advantages

There are many advantages to getting preapproved by a lender. Interest rates cannot be secured without applying for a loan, so getting preapproved means that you have an advantage by getting your interest rate locked in. Now you can shop for a home with confidence, knowing you are buying within your affordability range. You'll also find that being preapproval gets respect from sellers. They know you are serious and have begun the loan process. While you don't have to present your preapproval letter to the seller, you can allow your agent to share the name of your lender to confirm that you have been preapproved.

Closing

Keep in mind that a preapproval is not a guarantee that your loan will close. Before closing, your lender will check your credit a second time, to make sure you haven't added more debt or allowed a current debt to go unpaid. If the lender finds a blemish, you must take immediate action to fix the problem. Once you write a purchase contract for a home and your offer is accepted, notify your lender immediately, so the approval process can continue.

Posted in Buying
June 7, 2018

A Quick Overview Of The Home Buying Process

Before you begin seriously shopping for a home, there is some groundwork that you need to do. A little preparation before you buy can put you in a great negotiating position to buy the castle you're dreaming of.

Start Now

Hire me as your real estate professional. Communicate your wants and needs to me and let me start looking for the right home to meet your needs. Yes, you can look at homes on sites such as Realtor.com and Zillow.com; but, I have access to homes as soon as they come on the market and even some that are yet available to the public. I also network with other professionals to be on the lookout for you. I might hear about the perfect home before it hits the market, giving you – my client – the advantage.

Check and Repair Your Credit

If you haven't already been approved by a lender, you need to make certain your credit is in order. If you find a ding or an error on your credit report, take care of it immediately. Dispute an inaccurate item on the report by contacting the consumer reporting company and the information provider in writing.

Don't Inadvertently Raise Your Credit Scores 

Lenders look at more than how much credit you use. They also take into consideration how much credit you have available (debt-to-income ratio). Now is not the time to be opening any new accounts or closing any accounts. Don't purchase furniture or a new car or any big ticket item before buying a home.

Get Loan Pre-Approval

Don't start house hunting without knowing how much home you can buy. In order to determine how much you can buy, you must apply for a loan. In doing so, you will have to share information concerning income, work history, debts and other personal information with the lender. A preapproval letter will open doors with sellers because it demonstrates that you are serious and prepared to buy. I work with many local lenders so call me to start that process.

Don't Expect Perfection

Have realistic expectations about the home you may purchase. If you're shopping for an older home, expect to do some cosmetic work. Ignore the wallpaper and carpet color, and instead, take a good look at the bones of the house. Does the floorplan work for you? Is it spacious enough? Does it have the amenities you want? Can you fix what doesn't work reasonably? Most cosmetic changes are relatively inexpensive. In some case, you can even pay for the cost of remodeling with your mortgage loan. It is important that your communicate remodeling possibilities this with your lender.

Think Long-Term Investment

Buying a home can be a wise financial investment, if you buy right and hold your home for long-term gain. Because of closing and moving cost, it is nearly impossible to buy a home and sell it immediately for a large gain. However, it is possible to sell the home after a few years with no capital gains tax and ideally make a profit. Look at your home as a home, rather than part of your portfolio. Home is where you'll collect your happiest memories, and that can be the best investment you ever make.

Posted in Buying
June 7, 2018

Getting Ready To Close

We are in the home stretch! Closing is around the corner. In order to minimize any last minute issues that can cause delays, frustration or even cost you money, please consider the following check list items:

Inspection Repairs

  • Make sure to complete all items you agreed to repair from the buyer's inspection
  • Send your receipts/invoices/work orders, etc. for any work completed to the attorney prior to closing
  • If you remediated radon in your home, check with your attorney to verify if you must pay for a 2nd radon test
  • If new issues arise now (for example your refrigerator goes on the fritz) call me asap

Leave What You Are Supposed to Leave

  • Make sure you know what you are supposed to leave in the home per the contract
  • Problems often arise from curtains, curtain rods, decorative shelves, yard decorations, speakers
  • Leave all manuals if you have them
  • Leave the garage door openers at the house (check your cars)
  • I'll have one key from your lockbox, leave all other keys at the house
  • If you are not sure of what to take or leave, call me

Don't Leave Anything Else (Except TP)

Sellers often think they are being kind by leaving certain things. Before you leave these items, let's check with the buyer to make sure they want it. You don't want to have a $500 expense to 1-800-Got Junk for last minute haul-aways (we've seen it more than once):

  • Leftover paint
  • Tiles, carpet remnants, building materials
  • Outdoor play items
  • Furniture
  • Grills/propane
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Check EVERY cabinet, closet and drawer. More times than not an entire cabinet is overlooked.
  • It is really nice though to leave a few rolls of TP,  maybe even a roll of paper towels and a couple bottles of water.  This is all about good karma on the day of closing.

Cleaning/Condition

The contract says you must leave the home in "broom-clean condition." This means after you have emptied a room you must vacuum or sweep every room.

  • You are obligated to sweep/vacuum
  • You are not obligated, per the contract, to scrub bath tubs/refrigerators, etc. BUT I STRONGLY RECOMMEND that you leave the home in the condition in which you would like to find it. Recent closings have gone sour in the end because the buyer was upset at the condition/cleanliness of the home at the final walk through. Save yourself the hassle on closing day and make sure all the gross stuff is out of the fridge and the toilets are clean.
  • If something breaks or is damaged during your move, call me asap 

Holes in walls

  • If you have small picture hangers or nails, I recommend leaving them in place
  • If the removal of a picture or TV leaves a gaping hole--you must patch it
  • Before you touch up any paint, call me. The buyer may be planning to paint anyway. You may be able to get away with an easy touch-up, or you may end up painting the wall.

Utilities/Billing/Mail

  • Don't cancel your utilities
  • Call each utility company, tell them your closing day and the name of your buyer and provide a forwarding address. If you cancel, you run the risk of the utility being shut off prior to the walkthrough. This can cause serious damage and/or problems at the walk through.
  • Understand your town's requirements for final water billing: some have to come out for a meter read, some require you pay in person, etc. Budget enough time to make this happen.
  • Set up mail forwarding for yourself
  • Don't be surprised if you begin to receive mail from your buyer, particularly insurance paperwork

City Inspections

Some towns require that a city inspector inspect the home prior to closing, some require a water inspection, or any other number of municipal requirements. If you are not sure, call me, your attorney, or your village hall to comply. Make sure you have enough time to meet this requirement.

Final Walk-Through

Your buyer will do a final walk through prior to closing. It is best for everyone if this occurs after you are 100% moved out and the home is in broom-clean condition.  But, sometimes we can't get everything scheduled that way and we will work with your buyer's agent to make as smooth a transition as possible.  Remember, once we go to the closing table, the house will be turned over to your buyer. You must be out of the house before then.  Plan accordingly.


The bottom line--better to address any issues or concerns now instead of waiting till the last minute. Communication is key to a smooth closing.

See you at the closing table!

Posted in Selling
June 7, 2018

Preparing For Your Homes Inspection

Great news, Seller, we are under contract! 

Sometimes the negotiations to get to this point can be "hairy," leaving sellers feeling adversarial towards their buyers. Keep in mind, this is a good day. Your buyers like your house so much they are willing to spend good money to make your house their home. They want your home, and you want them to have it. Keep positive through this process--we all have the same goal.


One of the first things that will happen once we are under contract is your buyer will do an inspection of your home. You can help yourself have a smooth inspection by preparing a little in advance. 

A colleague in California, Elizabeth Weintraub, wrote an excellent article about this.  Many are her ideas:

Clean the house

This sounds so simple, yet home owners often overlook this tactic. Home inspectors are people first and inspectors second. As people, they carry preconceived ideas of how well a home has been maintained. Clean homes say you care and take care of the house. It's a good idea to make a good impression. Don't make the mistake of thinking they can see past stuff; they can't.

Be ready on time

Sometimes, home inspectors are early. If an inspector makes an appointment with you for 9:00 a.m., have the house ready for inspection at 8:30. It's also common for inspectors to start on the exterior of the home, so leave the shades down or drapes drawn until you are dressed. More than one unprepared seller has been "surprised" by a stranger stomping around in the back yard.

Leave the utilities on

If your home is vacant, make sure your utilities are still on. If your home has been winterized, let's talk to make sure your water is back on for the inspection. This can cause a delay in your closing if the inspector gets there and can't test the plumbing or electricity.

Empty your dishwasher, washer/dryer

The home inspector will need to turn on the stove, run the dishwasher, the washer and the dryer. It makes everyone more comfortable if these are empty--no one wants to work around your dirty clothes.

Provide workspace in utility room

Remove boxes, bookcases, furniture and anything else blocking access to your furnace and water heater. The inspector will need three to four feet of working space to inspect these items.

They often will not move anything themselves but if they don't have access, an inspector might suggest a specialist to the buyer. Buyers will often then require the seller to hire a professional at their expense to confirm these items are in working condition.

You may also want to put in a fresh furnace filter.  

If you have had anything recently serviced, like the furnace/AC, leave the paperwork out--either near the furnace or on the kitchen counter. If any mechanical item is new, leave a copy of the receipt out.

Make sure your pilot light is lit

Many home inspectors will refuse to light pilot lights because the inspector does not carry enough insurance to be covered for that type of liability / risk. If your pilot lights are not lit, then important items such as the water heater, gas stove or furnace will not be inspected and the buyer could delay closing until those inspections are completed.

Provide easy access to attic & basement

The inspector will need to get into your basement and/or attic as well, so keep a path cleared. Check for water in the basement. Move all boxes and stored items away from the walls by at least two feet. Vacuum spider webs. Look in the attic for possible rodent droppings (and remove them, obviously.) 

Leave garage door clickers accessible

The inspector will need to get into the garage, so make sure there are keys or garage door openers easily accessible. If there is an attic in the garage, make sure access is not blocked by a car.

The small things

Make sure you have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Check your doorbell. Open any windows that have been closed for a long time. Replace burned out light bulbs.

Plan to be out of the house for 3 hours

You should not be home during the inspection. Crate your pets if you cannot remove them from the premises. Many inspections can take up to 3 hours to complete.

Radon tests

In our area, it is common for the buyer to perform a radon test. The buyer's inspector may install the radon test, or contract a separate company to perform the test.  The testing company will install a small monitor, maybe two monitors, in parts of your home. They will leave notices around the house that you should keep your thermostat at a particular setting, that your fireplace damper should be closed, and that you should not open your windows. (Normal entry and exit through your doors is okay.)  The test runs for 48 hours and they will arrange a time to pick the monitors back up. The process to pick up the monitors only takes a few minutes and you do not have to be home for it to be retrieved. We will arrange for the pick up.

What buyers do during their inspection

The buyer's agent will attend the inspection. Most buyers will go as well. Do not be surprised if the buyer brings multiple family members to your house during the inspection. They are excited to show off the home to parents or friends. They may also bring in contractors for estimates for carpeting, paint, etc. This is their time in your home to complete a series of tasks to make them feel comfortable purchasing your home. The more pleasant you make this experience the better. 

Some sellers will leave a note for the buyer welcoming them to the home, or maybe some brochures about the area, or original building plans. These little touches can go a long way to making the buyer feel good about purchasing your home.


After the Inspection

You will probably be very anxious to hear about the inspection. Most likely, unless there is an issue that needs your immediate attention (like they noticed the sump pump is not working), the buyer's agent will not tell me about the inspection.  At this point, everything should be done in writing through the attorney.

The buyer will review the inspection report with their agent and attorney. They will need to decide if there is anything that is not working or not safe that must be addressed prior to closing.

Your attorney will send a formal letter to you to review their requests. Some requests are reasonable and you should repair them. Other requests are cosmetic in nature. Sometimes a buyer is just asking for clarification (for example, "We noticed a dark spot on the ceiling--what is that?"). Be prepared to provide answers and documentation about the age/service history of certain items like the roof or furnace.

The buyer may also ask the seller to pay for further inspections, for example on the furnace. Discuss this with me and your attorney. 

Repair items and have the proof

Depending on what you agree to do, make sure you have the items completed in a timely fashion according to the terms you agree to. The buyer may want to come out and "re-inspect" certain things, or they may just want the paperwork, receipts at closing. But, don't wait...make those repairs ASAP to prevent a delay in closing.

If you need recommendations for contractors or vendors, let me know.


Like every aspect of the pending period, communication is key. A positive attitude and a willingness to work together will get us all to the closing table.

Posted in Selling
June 7, 2018

Getting Your Home Ready To List

We will help you get your home ready for the market. Don't stress out!

We may hire a professional staging consultant to prepare a check list for you to make sure your home shines on Day 1 of marketing. 

But, one of the simplest things you can do is look at your house as if you were a buyer.  Based on what you see, would you buy your own home?  And, would you buy it for the price you are asking?

Exterior

Get in your car and drive up to your house.  What do you notice?  Most buyers form their first impression of your home before they even get out of their cars. 

  • Trim, weed and tidy up lawn and garden
  • Add fresh mulch in the summer (please....not bright red; darker always looks better in pictures) 
  • Add potted or hanging flowers to deck or porch
  • Clean up pet areas
  • Tidy children's toys
  • Check the condition of your mailbox

Front Door/Porch

Many owners never enter through their own front door. Remember, it will take the agent a moment to open the lockbox, get the key, and open your door.  This is the time when buyers are standing on your front porch. See it through their eyes.

  • Get a fresh door mat
  • Check your door bell, make sure it works and is clean
  • Remove cobwebs in the porch light

Entry Hallway

This is the first thing buyers will see when they walk in your door. Don't crowd this entryway with unnecessary items--there may be 4 or 5 people trying to get in the door. 

  • Place a fresh and clean entry rug
  • Remove extra shoes/coats

In The Kitchen

It goes without saying this is a very important room.  It can be tough to keep the house looking pristine day-to-day and live a normal life.  At least in the beginning of the listing, do all you can to make it easier for yourself when you have showings.

  • Clear away extra small appliances
  • Remove stains and items from sink
  • Straighten memo areas and remove papers
  • Clean and deodorize exhaust hood 

In The Bathroom

For right or wrong, buyers may open vanity mirrors and drawers.  Now is not the time to be embarrassed by "personal" items.

  • Clean counters of extra toiletries. Store them out of sight
  • Remove stains and mold from sink, tub or shower
  • Patch, caulk and grout as needed
  • Put out attractive towels
  • If you have a great shower, minimize the amount of products in the shower--keep it looking as expensive as it is

In The Living and Family Rooms

Do your best here.  We know you are still a family living in these rooms. 

  • Rearrange furniture for a more spacious feel. Remove any extra pieces and store
  • Spot clean carpets or rugs
  • Have neutral paint or wallpaper
  • Accent with fresh flowers
  • Open the shades and drapes to let in light

In The Bedrooms

  • Straighten up closets. Box and store clothing, shoes, etc., as necessary
  • Arrange toys to look appealing
  • Remove attention-getting posters
  • Inexpensive but neutral bedding ensembles from Bed Bath and Beyond can spruce up a tired looking bedroom set

In The Basement or Garage

  • Thoroughly clean and deodorize areas where pets sleep or spend time
  • Straighten tools and laundry area
  • Get rid of any items you won’t be taking with you

Other Tips

  • You don't need to "stage" your tables with place settings and china--clean and tidy is better.
  •  Don't overwhelm the home with artificial scents including oil defusers. Some buyers are just too sensitive to odors, even pleasant ones, or may wonder what you are hiding.  
  • The more light the better--open drapes, blinds, add extra lights everywhere.
  • Don't smoke inside your house.  Every cigarette smoked inside your house is like literally burning your money. This is a #1 complaint.  If you smoke outside, empty  the ashtrays often and keep it outside.
  • Get a couple empty laundry bins that you can throw last minute items in before a showing.  Take the basket to your car or garage and then you'll know where all your day to day "stuff" is when you come back from the showing.

Final Thoughts

Don't get overwhelmed. 

Do your best to get as much done as you can at the beginning of the listing.  It is at this time that you'll have your most and best buyer traffic.

Posted in Selling
June 7, 2018

You just listed your home. Now what?

Congratulations!  We've signed the contract and now we are ready to market your home. This period can be a little overwhelming to sellers, especially if you haven't sold a home in a while, or this is your first time. We often get the same questions from sellers--so here are some quick answers to many of our questions.

What do I need to do to get ready for the market?

Think like a buyer! Drive up to your house, park and ring your own front door. How is the curb appeal? Does your doorbell work? Is your front mat worn-out? Go through your home room by room with a buyer's eyes. Based on what you see would you buy your own home?  For checklists, click here.

I have some great photos of the house, can you use them?

Maybe... but probably not. We hire a professional photographer and the resolution of his photos will be far superior to anything you or I can take. Also, the size of the photos will be different and that can make your listing look strange.

When will I see my listing on-line on all the real estate website?

Some websites syndicate faster than others and will appear almost instantly. It may take even a couple days for your listing to be "live" on some sites. Rest assured, your home will be everywhere on-line.

Is my house secure? How will I know who is in my house?

We only use secured lockboxes on our listings. Only licensed agents can access your lockbox. As soon as the agent opens the lockbox, their name and the time of the access is registered so we know exactly who and when they entered your home. 

Will you be showing my house? Or someone from your office?

I may show your house, or it may be an agent from my office; but, more than likely it will be one of the 35,000 agents from the area who will show your home to their buyers. We don't really care who the agent is who brings your buyer--we just want a buyer for your house. Except in certain circumstances, having the listing agent at the appointment can inhibit showings, and make the buyers uncomfortable. We don't want there to be any barriers to your home being shown.

I have a showing! Now what?  

When an agent wants to show your home, you will be notified according to your preferences--by text, phone, email.  Showings will be confirmed according to instructions we have previously discussed.

The agent will usually request a one-hour window to show your home. She may be showing her buyer 5 or 6 homes that afternoon and is not sure exactly when she'll be there.  If the appointment is between 1-2pm, the agent and buyer may arrive anytime within that window.

If you can, do a quick tidy, turn on all the lights, secure your pets and leave a few minutes before the appointment time.

Can I stay at home during the showing?

Many sellers want to stay during the showings because, after all, who knows your home better than you? But, think like a buyer. If you were buying a home, would you want the seller to stay? It can be awkward for the buyer and usually buyers will leave more quickly if they feel they are intruding on the seller's personal space. Make it as easy as possible for your buyers to really walk through your home and envision themselves living there.

How will I know if they came?

Most agents will leave a card, or turn off the lights. Sometimes not. If you are not sure if they came, call me and we can check the lockbox access log.

The buyer locked me out from the garage!

Many homeowners don't even have keys to their front door. If the buyer locks your garage access door, don't panic.  Call me and I can give you a short-term one day code to access the lockbox on your front door. Just don't forget to put that key back in the lockbox. The same is true if your child gets locked out, or you need to give access to a contractor.  We can arrange  that.

Uh oh. What if something bad happened during the showing?

Most buyers will be careful in your home. Most agents will try to keep their buyers together to walk through the home. But accidents happen--a buyer can pull on the blinds too hard causing them to fall; a child will pull out some of your children's books; someone will step outside the patio door and track snow into your kitchen. It stinks, I know, but the buyer or their children are not being intentionally disrespectful of your home.  If there is a problem after the showing that needs to be addressed, call me.

How will you send me feedback?

Feedback is a tricky issue. After every showing we send out an automated request for feedback. We can also follow up with the agent. However, we rarely receive feedback and when we do it is often irrelevant.

Think of it like on-line dating.  You see someone's profile on-line and it seems like a good fit--but when you meet them at the coffee shop, the chemistry isn't there. They were nice enough, but you don't want to pursue anything further. The same is true for house hunting. The home shows well on-line; but, once you get there, it just doesn't feel like home. 

Think about the date you had--if the person you met called you, texted you, emailed you and asked, "What did you think about me? How can I make myself better?" how would you respond? It can also appear a little desperate.

At the end of the day, there really are only two responses that come from feedback: 

  1. No chemistry, not the right feeling--nothing you can do about that
  2. The buyer didn't like something tangible about the house. We may be able to address this if we hear it enough times (for example, everyone hates the orange walls); but, more often than not there is nothing we can do about the layout of the bedrooms, or the location next to the highway.

But rest assured--if and when we receive feedback, we will send it to you as soon as we receive it. [Just a little subtle hint that you don't have to text us and ask "Did we hear anything?"--if we hear something, we will tell you :) ] 

We will also follow up with any specific questions that an agent may ask.

A buyer knocked on the door and wants to see the house.

DON'T LET THEM IN! This is a safety issue.  We don't know who this person is. Just say politely no and hand them my card.  I will show it them ASAP.  If they mean no harm, they'll wait for an appointment but if they try to scam their way in, they may be up to no good.

How many showings should I expect?

There may not be as many showings as you'd expect. By the time the buyer sees your home he has probably already stalked it online. So, if he is asking his agent to make an appointment, he wants to see it. Back in the days before the internet, the first time that buyers ever saw the house was when they walked in the door, so there were more showings 20 years ago than now.

Can we do an open house every weekend?

We will do open houses as needed.  We believe in open houses and know the more people who see your home the better. It can be counter productive to do them too often since it smacks of desperation. Weather, holidays, even the Bears schedule (when they are good) can impact the frequency of open houses.

Why haven't we received any offers--not even a low-ball offer?

Sellers often wonder why buyers are not just "throwing out an offer." The truth is, most buyers don't do this. And, more importantly, we don't want a low-ball offer only to have to reject it.  We only want one good buyer--not many bad buyers. So why don't buyers "make any offer?"  Offers are not made flippantly. This is a legal document, made in writing, by a professional agent.  It takes time to prepare and most buyers, knowing that their potential offer is silly, don't want to insult you or their agent. 

We got an offer immediately! Did we price it too low or should we wait for the next buyer? Will the next buyer offer more?

Getting an offer immediately is a best-case-scenario. But, it can cause you to question if your price is too low, or think, "If the first buyer loved it, the second buyer will love it even more!" The buyer who makes an immediate offer has probably been in the market a while and has seen and rejected every other house in your neighborhood. That buyer has just been waiting for your home. There is no guarantee another buyer will come along like that. In my experience, the final offer of the first buyer will be the best offer you ever receive. Do not dismiss it. The worst conversation we can have occurs two months after rejecting the first buyer and we say, "We should have taken that one."

But what if we have been on the market and we've not received many showings, or second looks, or any offers?  

Then the time has come to re-evaluate everything from the marketing, position, property condition and, yes, price.  I don't believe there are any hard and fast rules about when you must lower your price. Valuations and pricing are a snapshot in time and we must be receptive to market changes and adapt accordingly. Stubbornly clinging to a price in October that you set in March is not realistic. If your home were worth that price, it would have sold by now. 

Should I promote my house on social media?

Yes! By all means, promote your listing on your social media, ask friends to share it, post it on community groups.  I'd ask that you use the social media link that I create for your listing. Don't take the link from public websites since I can't track and capture leads from those sites.  A word of warning though, don't overshare on social media.  If a friend asks online "Why are you moving?" don't say, "This house has no storage and we hate our neighbors!" You'd be amazed at how buyers can stalk a seller's social media to get clues as to their motivation for selling.

How will we know what is going on with the listing and market?

Let's set up a strategy, at the time of the listing, for how often you want to hear from us. Some sellers want frequent updates at scheduled intervals; others want to be involved only as necessary.  Let's discuss this. If we are not meeting your expectation for this, please tell us right away. We want to make sure you get the information you need, when you want it.

Final Thoughts:

Depending on the market, your home may sit for quite a while. It can be fatiguing, and the highs and lows of expectations can drain you.  We get it. We want this process to be as pain-free as possible; but, honestly, selling your home is a pain. We believe  good communication can minimize the stress and frustration a bit, so please contact us if we need to discuss or resolve any concerns.

Together, we'll get you to the closing table!

Posted in Selling
June 3, 2018

5 Ways To Get More Money When Selling

Get More Money When Selling

Posted in Selling