Selling Your Home? Go Through This Safety Checklist With Your Real Estate Agent

Selling your home can be stressful for many reasons. Not only are you trying to get the best financial return on your investment, but you might also be working on a tight deadline. There’s also the pressure to keep your home clean and organized at all times for prospective buyers.  One thing you can be sure of when selling your home is that there will be strangers entering your space, so it’s important for you and your agent to take certain safety precautions.

 

  • Go through your medicine cabinets and remove all prescription medications.
  • Remove or lock up precious belongings and personal information. You will want to store your jewelry, family heirlooms, and personal/financial information in a secure location to keep them from getting displaced or stolen.
  • Remove family photos. We recommend removing your family photos during the staging process so potential buyers can see themselves living in the home. It’s also a good way to protect your privacy.
  • Check your windows and doors for secure closings before and after showings. If someone is looking to get back into your home following a showing or an open house, they will look for weak locks or they might unlock a window or door.
  • Consider extra security measures such as an alarm system or other monitoring tools like cameras.
  • Don’t show your own home! If someone you don’t know walks up to your home asking for a showing, don’t let them in. You want to have an agent present to show your home at all times. Agents should have screening precautions to keep you and them safe from potential danger.

Talk to your agent about the following safety precautions:

  • Do a walk-through with your agent to make sure you have identified everything that needs to be removed or secured, such as medications, belongings, and photos.
  • Go over your agent’s screening process:
    • Phone screening prior to showing the home
    • Process for identifying and qualifying buyers for showings
    • Their personal safety during showings and open houses
  • Lock boxes to secure your keys for showings should be up to date. Electronic lockboxes actually track who has had access to your home.
  • Work with your agent on an open house checklist:
    • Do they collect contact information of everyone entering the home?
    • Do they work with a partner to ensure their personal safety?
  • Go through your home’s entrances and exits and share important household information so your agent can advise how to secure your property while it’s on the market.

Your safety, as well as that of your agent and your home, is of paramount importance when selling a property. For more information, visit:

http://www.mercurynews.com/los-gatos/ci_26509084/realtors-issue-safety-tips-folks-who-are-selling

http://realtormag.realtor.org/sales-and-marketing/feature/article/2014/09/safety-talk-you-need-have-clients

Posted September 26 2016, 9:00 AM PDT by Tara Sharp

http://www.windermere.com/blogs/windermere/posts/selling-your-home-go-through-this-safety-checklist-with-your-real-estate-agent–2 

Posted on November 4, 2016 at 3:15 PM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Articles, Selling

Six Key Factors That Affect the Sales Price of Your Home

 

 

Pricing a home for sale is not nearly as simple as most people think. You can’t base the price on what the house down the street sold for. You can’t depend on tax assessments. Even automatic valuation methods (AVMs), while useful for a rough estimate of value, are unreliable for purposes of pricing a home for sale.

AVMs, like those used by Zillow and Eppraisal, have been used for many years by banks for appraisal purposes. They are derived from algorithms based on past sales. But producers of AVMs agree that they are not accurate indicators of home value. For example, Zillow.com states, “Our data sources may be incomplete or incorrect; also, we have not physically inspected a specific home. Remember, the Zestimate is a starting point and does not consider all the market intricacies that can determine the actual price a house will sell for. It is not an appraisal.”

So what does Zillow recommend sellers do instead? The same thing the real estate industry has been advising for decades: Ask a real estate agent who knows your neighborhood to provide you with a comparative market analysis. To accomplish that, I typically consider the following factors—plus others, depending on the house:

 

Location

The location of your home will have the biggest impact on how much it can sell for. Identical homes located just blocks apart can fetch significantly different prices based on location-specific conditions unique to each, including: traffic, freeway-access, noise, crime, sun exposure, views, parking, neighboring homes, vacant lots, foreclosures, the number of surrounding rentals, access to quality schools, parks, shops, restaurants and more.

Recommendation: Be willing to price your house for less if it’s located in a less desirable area or near a neighborhood nuisance.

 

Market

Another major factor that also can’t be controlled is your local housing market (which could be quite different from the national, state or city housing markets). If there are few other homes on the market in your local area (a situation known as a “sellers market”), you may be able to set a higher price. However, if there’s a surplus of homes like yours for sale (a “buyer’s market”), your pricing will also reflect that.

Recommendation: If it’s a buyer’s market and you can delay selling your home until things change, you should consider doing so. If you can’t wait, be willing to price your home extremely competitively, especially if you are in a hurry to sell.

 

Condition

The majority of buyers are not looking to purchase fixer-uppers, which is why any deferred maintenance and repair issues can also significantly impact the selling price of your home. When your home’s condition is different than the average condition of homes in your location, AVMs tend to produce the widest range of error.

Recommendation:  Hire a professional home inspector to provide you with a full, written report of everything that needs upgrading, maintenance or repair, then work with your real estate agent to prioritize the list and decide what items are worth completing before the property is listed for sale, and what should be addressed through a lower list price. Also, some defects are best addressed during negotiations with buyers.

 

Widespread appeal

If you want to sell your home quickly and for the most money, you have to make it as appealing as possible to the largest pool of prospective buyers. The more universally attractive it is, the greater the interest and the faster competing offers will come.

Recommendation:

Hire a professional home stager (not a decorator) to temporarily stage the interior of your home. Also spend time making the exterior look its best: address any peeling paint, make sure the front door/ door hardware is attractive, prune bushes and trees, remove old play equipment and outdoor structures, etc.

 

Compare homes

The only neighboring homes that should be used to estimate the value of your home are those that have been carefully selected by a real estate professional with special training, access to all sales records, and in-depth knowledge of the neighborhood.

Recommendation: If you’re considering selling your home, ask your real estate agent to recommend a professional appraiser.

 

Searchability

When working with a prospective buyer, most real estate agents will search the available inventory only for the homes priced at (or less than) their client’s maximum, which is typically a round number. If you home is priced slightly above or below that amount (e.g., $510,000 or $495,000), it will appear in fewer buyer searches.

Recommendation: Be willing to adjust your selling price to maximize visibility.

 

Periodic price adjustments

Pricing a home isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it proposal. As with any strategy, you need to be prepared to adapt to fast-changing market conditions, new competition, a lack of offers and other outside factors.

Recommendation: After listing your house, be ready to adjust your asking price, if necessary.

 

Posted August 31 2016, 11:00 AM PDT by Tara Sharp

http://www.windermere.com/blogs/windermere/posts

Posted on September 6, 2016 at 3:03 PM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Housing Market, Selling

2016 Home Sales Will Be Best in a Decade, With Surprising Hot Spots, Realtor.com Predicts

CNBC

December 2, 2015

Total homes sales next year are expected to reach the highest levels since 2006 on the back of new construction and the existing housing market, Realtor.com reported Wednesday.

The report contains several surprises. Among them, Providence, Rhode Island, ranked as the hottest market for 2016, and millennials are expected to make up the biggest demographic of homebuyers next year.

Sales of existing and new home sales are expected to reach 6 million for the first time since 2006. The pace of growth of existing home sales and prices is expected to slow to 3 percent but remain strong overall. Meanwhile, new home sales are seen increasing 16 percent.

Realtor.com anticipates new home starts will increase by 12 percent.

And those new homes are becoming more affordable, Realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said Wednesday.

“What you’ve seen in the last couple of years is that builders have been avoiding that more affordable entry-level price point,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“We’re already seeing movement. Last week’s report on new home sales showed that the median new home price is finally coming down, and that’s a good sign that builders are positioning communities and product for a more affordable price.”

That is helping to draw in millennials, who are often viewed as absent from the housing market.

Americans ages 24 to 35 accounted for 30 percent of the existing home sales market in 2015, according to National Association of Realtors data cited by Smoke.

“That’s higher than it has been the last couple of years and trending towards normal, which is more around 36, 37 percent,” he said.

Smoke noted that Realtor.com’s top 10 hottest housing markets for 2016 contained other surprises, in addition to top-ranked Providence: St. Louis; New Orleans; and Virginia Beach, Virginia.

While all the areas on the list have strong economies or improving prospects, those four areas are about four years behind other markets in the recovery, and their economic outlook for 2016 is particularly strong, Smoke said.

Posted on December 9, 2015 at 11:50 AM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Buying, Financial, Housing Market, Selling

It Pays to List in Winter

Spring may still be peak home-shopping season, since most families want to move when school is out. Yet it actually pays to list in the winter, when buyers tend to have more urgency. A study by online brokerage Redfin found that average sellers net more above asking price during the months of December, January, February, and March than they do from June through November, even in cold-weather cities like Boston and Chicago. And homes listed in winter sold faster than those posted in spring.

For a seller listing a home now, these ideas from money.com can help make a great cold-weather impression:

Price It Right

The quieter winter market brings special pricing considerations. Unlike in spring, when there are more shoppers, you’re less likely to receive multiple offers during the winter months. The best advice is to take a conservative approach and price at market value.

Schedule a Tune-Up

Winter buyers are particularly attuned to issues related to heating and maintenance. Get the furnace, HVAC, and roof inspected, and make any necessary repairs. Also on the to-do list: clean the gutters, change air filters, and weather-strip the windows.

Many cold-weather house hunters will also be thinking about heating costs. Consider low-cost upgrades like insulating the attic or installing energy-efficient windows, which can cut utility bills.

Brighten Your Home

Snow and gray skies make for a gloomy first impression. Warm up curb appeal with basic landscaping, and add inexpensive cool-weather plants like holly to invigorate outdoor space. Fix chipped paint, caulk windows, and repair cracked window seals, which can cause condensation that freezes over and looks bad.

Compensate for the season’s poor natural light by painting the house off-white throughout. It will set a consistent color palette and makes the space feel larger.

And create a sense of warmth throughout the home, starting with the living room, where staging can have the greatest impact, according to a NAR report. Items such as a throw blanket can set the tone of warmth and coziness. To stay neutral during the holidays, use seasonal touches like stacked wood by the fireplace rather than holiday decorations.

As always, de-clutter and depersonalize. It’s a good idea to put away family photographs so that buyers can see themselves living in the home; instead display pictures that show what the property looks like when the temperature is warmer, like the garden in full bloom or the backyard in the summertime. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean buyers can’t appreciate what the home has to offer year ’round.

Thanks to Tammy Pollard for sending this to us.

Posted on November 21, 2015 at 10:46 AM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Housing Market, Selling

7 Renovations That Reduce Your Home's Value

Most people think home-renovation projects will always add value to a home, but this isn’t necessarily true. According to Scott McGillivray, host of the HGTV series Income Property and author of How to Add Value to Your Home, these 7 renovations should never be done…

1. DO NOT expand your master bedroom if that means eliminating another bedroom. Small master bedrooms are a common complaint, particularly in older homes. But in many cases, the only realistic way to expand a master bedroom is to sacrifice one of the home’s other bedrooms, which is likely to be a costly mistake. Fewer bedrooms equals fewer potential buyers.

2. DO NOT convert a garage into living space. Finishing a garage can seem like a cost-effective way to enlarge a home-it is significantly less expensive than having an addition built from scratch. Trouble is, many buyers will not even look at properties that do not have garages.

3. DO NOT add artistic flourishes or personal touches to the home itself. The smart way to add art and/or personality to a home is to hang art on its walls, not to alter the home in ways that can’t be easily undone when it is time to sell, such as a mural painted on a wall or ceiling, a large masonry fountain in the yard, or a mosaic artwork incorporated into the tile in the kitchen or bathroom. Buyers want a home to be a blank slate for them to fill, not a reflection of a prior owner’s tastes.

4. DO NOT paint interior walls dark colors. Dark interior walls have become a trend – decorators will tell you that they can make rooms feel cozy and ¬elegant. But many home buyers think “small and unwelcoming” when they walk into a dark-walled room. Light-colored walls might not be trendy, but they make spaces feel larger and friendlier, which buyers value more than -stylishness.

5. DO NOT attempt do-it-yourself home repairs if the result will look like ¬do-it-yourself repairs. Home owners who have the skills to do basic home repairs can save themselves thousands of dollars over the years. But when home buyers (or home inspectors) see evidence of do-it-yourself work, they often start to worry about what else the home owner might have done on his/her own that isn’t so evident-such as electrical and -plumbing work or foundation work-and whether this work was done properly. Potential buyers feel much more confident when it appears that a home has been professionally maintained.

6. DO NOT texture interior walls and ceilings. Drywall compound can add texture to interior walls and ceilings, resulting in a stucco look. This textured look goes in and out of style and might not be in vogue when you sell.

7. DO NOT install a chain-link fence in your front yard. These look low-end and unwelcoming, giving potential buyers a negative first impression of your home. If you must have a fence, it’s worth paying extra for wood (or composite or vinyl fence designed to look like wood). These can cost twice as much as chain link, but they will not reduce the value of the home – a nice wood picket fence could even increase the value.

Posted on October 23, 2015 at 8:23 AM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Financial, Home Improvement, Selling

What You Need to Know about Real Estate Appraisals

Posted in Selling and Buying by Tara Sharp

Appraised value vs. market value

Appraisals are designed to protect buyers, sellers, and lending institutions. They provide a reliable, independent valuation of a tract of land and the structure on it, whether it’s a house or a skyscraper. Below, you will find information about the appraisal process, what goes into them, their benefits and some tips on how to help make an appraisal go smoothly and efficiently.

The appraised value of a property is what the bank thinks it’s worth, and that amount is determined by a professional, third-party appraiser. The appraiser’s valuation is based on a combination of comparative market sales and inspection of the property.

Market value, on the other hand, is what a buyer is willing to pay for a home or what homes of comparable value are selling for. A home’s appraised value and its market value are typically not the same. In fact, sometimes the appraised value is very different. An appraisal provides you with an invaluable reality check.

If you are in the process of setting the price of your home, you can gain some peace-of-mind by consulting an independent appraiser. Show him comparative values for your neighborhood, relevant documents, and give him a tour of your home, just as you would show it to a prospective buyer.

What information goes into an appraisal?

Professional appraisers consult a range of information sources, including multiple listing services, county tax assessor records, county courthouse records, and appraisal data records, in addition to talking to local real estate professionals.

They also conduct an inspection. Typically an appraiser’s inspection focuses on:
•The condition of the property and home, inside and out
•The home’s layout and features
•Home updates
•Overall quality of construction
•Estimate of the home’s square footage (the gross living area “GLA”; garages and unfinished basements are estimated separately)
•Permanent fixtures (for example, in-ground pools, as opposed to above-ground pools)

After considering all such information, the appraiser arrives at three different dollar amounts – one for the value of the land, one for the value of the structure, and one for their combined value. In many cases, the land will be worth more than the structure.

One thing to bear in mind is that an appraisal is not a substitute for a home inspection. An appraiser does a cursory assessment of a house and property. For a more detailed inspection, consult with a home inspector and/or a specialist in the area of concern.

Who pays and how long does it take?

The buyer usually pays for the appraisal unless they have negotiated otherwise. Depending on the lender, the appraisal may be paid in advance or incorporated into the application fee; some are due on delivery and some are billed at closing. Typical costs range from $275-$600, but this can vary from region to region.

An inspection usually takes anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours, depending on the size and complexity of your property. In addition, the appraiser spends time pulling up county records for values of the houses around you. A full report comes to your loan officer, a real estate agent or lender within about a week.

If you are the seller, you won’t get a copy of an appraisal ordered by a buyer. Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, however, the buyer has the right to get a copy of the appraisal, but they must request it. Typically the requested appraisal is provided at closing.

What if the appraisal is too low?

If you appraisal comes in too low it can be a problem. Usually the seller’s and the buyer’s real estate agents respond by looking for recent and pending sales of comparable homes. Sometimes this can influence the appraisal. If the final appraisal is well below what you have agreed to pay, you can renegotiate the contract or cancel it.

Where do you find a qualified appraiser?

Your bank or lending institution will find and hire an appraiser; Federal regulatory guidelines do not allow borrowers to order and provide an appraisal to a bank for lending purposes. If you want an appraisal for your own personal reasons, and not to secure a mortgage or buy a homeowner’s insurance policy, you can do the hiring yourself. You can contact your lending institution and they can recommend qualified appraisers and you can choose one yourself or you can call your localWindermere Real Estate agent and they can make a recommendation for you. Once you have the name of some appraisers you can verify their status on the Federal Appraisal Subcommittee website: https://www.asc.gov/National-Registry/NationalRegistry.aspx

Tips for hassle-free appraisals:
•What can you do to make the appraisal process as smooth and efficient as possible? Make sure you provide your appraiser with the information he or she needs to get the job done. Get out your important documents and start checking off a list that includes the following:
•A brief explanation of why you’re getting an appraisal
•The date you’d like your appraisal to be completed
•A copy of your deed, survey, purchase agreement, or other papers that pertain to the property
•If you have a mortgage, your lender, the year you got your mortgage, the amount, the type of mortgage (FHA, VA, etc.), your interest rate, and any additional financing you have
•A copy of your current real estate tax bill, statement of special assessments, balance owing and on what (for example, sewer, water)
•Tell your appraiser if your property is listed for sale and if so, your asking price and listing agency
•Any personal property that is included
•If you’re selling an income-producing property, a breakdown of income and expenses for the last year or two and a copy of leases
•A copy of the original house plans and specifications
•A list of recent improvements and their costs
•Any other information you feel may be relevant

By doing your homework, compiling the information your appraiser needs, and providing it at the beginning of the process, you can minimize unnecessary phone calls and delays.

Posted on October 19, 2015 at 2:13 PM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Buying, Selling

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Are you ready to move on to your next stage in life? Getting your home ready to sell can be a big task, from getting the physical space ready and preparing for the emotional aspects of selling your home. We recommend you work with a listing agent through this process to make sure you are effectively using your time and resources to get your home sold in a timely manner, and at the right price. Here are some tips for getting started: Getting Ready to Sell Your Home

Posted on October 8, 2015 at 2:29 PM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Selling

Questions to Ask Yourself When You're Thinking About Selling

When you make the decision to sell your home, the end goal is to get the best price and most favorable terms in a time-frame that meets your needs. But before the sign goes up in your front yard, there’s a lot to be done to get you and your home in prime selling condition.

Posted on September 11, 2015 at 8:51 AM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Selling

Selling Your Home? Price It Right From the Start!

Selling Your House? Price It Right From the Start | Keeping Current Matters

In today’s market, where demand is outpacing supply in many regions of the country, pricing a house is one of the biggest challenges real estate professionals face. Sellers often want to price their home higher than recommended, and many agents go along with the idea to keep their clients happy. However, the best agents realize that telling the homeowner the truth is more important than getting the seller to like them.

There is no “later.”

Sellers sometimes think, “If the home doesn’t sell for this price, I can always lower it later.” However, research proves that homes that experience a listing price reduction sit on the market longer, ultimately selling for less than similar homes.

John Knight, recipient of the University Distinguished Faculty Award from the Eberhardt School of Business at the University of the Pacific, actually did research on the cost (in both time and money) to a seller who priced high at the beginning and then lowered the their price. In his article, Listing Price, Time on Market and Ultimate Selling Price published in Real Estate Economics revealed:

“Homes that underwent a price revision sold for less, and the greater the revision, the lower the selling price. Also, the longer the home remains on the market, the lower its ultimate selling price.”

Additionally, the “I’ll lower the price later” approach can paint a negative image in buyers’ minds. Each time a price reduction occurs, buyers can naturally think, “Something must be wrong with that house.” Then when a buyer does make an offer, they low-ball the price because they see the seller as “highly motivated.” Pricing it right from the start eliminates these challenges.

Don’t build “negotiation room” into the price.

Many sellers say that they want to price their home high in order to have “negotiation room.” But, what this actually does is lower the number of potential buyers that see the house. And we know that limiting demand like this will negatively impact the sales price of the house.

Not sure about this? Think of it this way: when a buyer is looking for a home online (as they are doing more and more often), they put in their desired price range. If your seller is looking to sell their house for $400,000, but lists it at $425,000 to build in “negotiation room,” any potential buyers that search in the $350k-$400k range won’t even know your listing is available, let alone come see it!

One great way to see this is with the chart below. The higher you price your home over its market value, the less potential buyers will actually see your home when searching.

Price & Visibility | Keeping Current Matters

A better strategy would be to price it properly from the beginning and bring in multiple offers. This forces these buyers to compete against each other for the “right” to purchase your house.

Look at it this way: if you only receive one offer, you are set up in an adversarial position against the prospective buyer. If, however, you have multiple offers, you have two or more buyers fighting to please you. Which will result in a better selling situation?

The Price is Right

Great pricing comes down to truly understanding the real estate dynamics in your neighborhood. Look for an agent that will take the time to simply and effectively explain what is happening in the housing market and how it applies to your home.

You need an agent that will tell you what you need to know rather than what you want to hear. This will put you in the best possible position.

Posted on August 27, 2015 at 4:22 PM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Housing Market, Selling

Are we on the verge of another housing "Bubble" bursting?

Posted August 10 2015, 9:05 AM PDT by Matthew Gardner

August Perspectives

Posted in Perspective by Matthew Gardner

Every year there’s some aspect of the real estate market that becomes a focal point for the media. A few years ago it was whether or not housing would ever recover from the Great Recession. Then it was historically low interest rates and inventory levels. And more recently, it’s whether or not this hyper-paced, multiple-offer real estate market is heading towards another housing bubble. To explore this further, we’d like to introduce Windermere’s new Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, who doesn’t believe there’s a cause for concern, for now.

I’m often asked if we are on the verge of another “bubble” bursting due to an overheated housing market. My response is no, and here are the reasons why:

Fewer flippers: Foreclosures are the preferred property type for home flippers because they offer significantly higher margins. But with the continued drop in foreclosures, we’ve seen a marked slowdown in flipping. Nationally, the percentage of flipped homes has decreased from 6.7% in 2014 to 4% today, and this share is expected to keep declining, signifying a more normalized market.

Lending standards remain stringent: Banks actually learned a lesson from the collapse of the housing market and have made qualifying for a mortgage quite difficult. Even low down payment programs like FHA, that have less stringent FICO requirements, have significantly tightened their standards, thus lowering the risk of lending to borrowers who cannot handle their mortgage obligations.

Home prices are up, but not to pre-bubble levels: Data provided by the S&P/CaseShiller Home Price Indices tells us that in the Seattle area, the bursting of the housing bubble led to a 33 percent drop in the index. The index has certainly recovered significantly, but is still 7% below the prior peak.

Interest rates will (eventually) rise: Some fear that rising rates will take some steam out of the market, but growth in employment, and the subsequent drop in the unemployment rate, will lead to wage growth and increasing incomes, which will take some of the sting out of any rate increase.

As you can see, the housing market and economic climate of today are very different from the conditions that led to the housing bubble in 2007. Nobody can predict what’s going to happen with 100% certainty, but given the current state of things, I don’t believe there is a risk of history repeating itself in the foreseeable future.

Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

Posted on August 12, 2015 at 10:29 AM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Buying, Housing Market, Selling