Hire a Realtor or Sell Your Home Yourself?

Selling a house can be a stressful event in your life. Are you really ready to do it? Of course, you want to make as much money as you can from the sale and you might be thinking your best plan to accomplish that is selling your home yourself – FSBO –  to avoid paying a real estate agent, which is understandable. But, it’s quite a big undertaking. Here are a few reasons why hiring an experienced Realtor is a better idea.

Pricing: You may think it’s as simple as pricing your home by the size and the location of it and what your neighbors are selling, or have recently sold theirs for. Add in a few amenities and boom! You have your price! No. Realtors list homes every day and watch the housing market conditions. They will be able to get all the comps for your neighborhood and find a fair market value for yours.

Marketing a home is not easy:  Listing your home online doesn’t take much effort. Anyone can do that, which is why you must make yourself stand out and be noticed. A Realtor will create an entire marketing plan for your home and will figure out just the audience you need to have, then use many different avenues to get the word out. The Realtor’s own website, Facebook & Instagram accounts will attract prospects that you simply won’t have access to.

Qualifying a buyer is not easy:  There is a big difference between being pre-approved for a mortgage and being pre-qualified. A skilled Realtor will be able to find out whether the person that wants to see your house is qualified or just curious. Having to prepare your home to show takes a lot of work and you surely don’t want to put your life on hold while you ready your house for show – just for a curious neighbor. Realtors are trained to ask qualifying questions to determine the seriousness, qualification, and motivation of a person calling to see your home.

Staying unemotional about your home is not easy:  Selling your home and preparing to move is never easy and is always an emotional process. A good Realtor will be there to buffer any situations that might occur because you might be letting your emotions take over. Most buyers know that an FSBO home has been priced by the seller and is quite often overpriced because they can’t detach themselves emotionally from their home. Savvy shoppers realize that after a while, sellers who can’t sell their home will finally hire a Realtor and the home will be on the market at the right price.  If they have the time to wait? They do. If not? They move on to another home.

Being home during the showing is not easy: Or smart. Nothing makes the buyers more uncomfortable than having the seller present when looking at a home. With FSBO you will have to be there touring your home with the potential buyer. More times than not, the showing will be rushed and some of your best-selling points will be overlooked.

Negotiating is not easy: Especially if it’s your own home that you love and have emotional ties to. Negotiating is a complex matter and all transactions are unique.   Skilled Realtors know the laws, the contracts, the comparable sales, the closed sales that the banks usually look at when they decide to lend the money for the purchase, and the appraisal. There are plenty of points to negotiate on before the actual sale takes place. Repairs to the house, lawn upkeep, and even additions can be negotiated in the contract that may ultimately affect the price but can be negotiated almost entirely outside of the price discussion.  For every negotiating point, there’s a tactic to handle it best.

The bottom line:  Working without an agent requires a huge investment of time, knowledge, and effort. Besides separating your emotions from the home you love and possibly raised your family in, you should know how to stage it to sell, market it, negotiate, and be able to accept a negative response from potential buyers. You can try to do it alone to save money, but hiring an agent has many advantages.  Interview and find the best Realtor in the area. Expect that they will be able to get the most exposure for your home, help you negotiate a better deal, and dedicate more time to your sale.  The right Realtor will bring expertise to the transaction, financially and legally.

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Negotiating Ideas

Everyone wants to buy their next home at the most reasonable price. Negotiating can be done by yourself, but it’s wisest to work with the best real estate agent in the market. Find a realtor with invaluable experience that will work hard to get you the best deal possible.

Your realtor should have done research on homes recently sold or pending that are comparable to the property you want to buy in the market (comps) – look through them. Notice their size, condition, and amenities. Information gathered might look like a perfect match online but the reality is there could be some key differences that impact their value. A good realtor will have any additional details not obvious in a search. For example, there could be a beautiful, unobstructed view of mountains, a beach, or simply a line of trees that will make the home seem more private. No home will be an exact match to the property you want but you will now have the ability to see the range of the pricing.

The home inspection is crucial in negotiations. It’s imperative that you have a reputable and professional inspector that will look over the home with a fine-tooth comb. The condition of the major systems, like plumbing, electrical, and HVAC as well as the state that the roof, windows, foundation, and more are in. If any problems or flaws are found that are concerning, they can be brought up in the negotiations. Depending on the issue, the seller may be willing to pay for the repairs. Use the inspection report to your advantage.

Get an appraisal that will give you an estimate of what the home is actually worth. If it appraises lower than the price the seller is asking it can work to your advantage. After you and your realtor have explored all the possible reasons the home was appraised low, negotiations begin. An experienced realtor will have insights and ideas for the possibility of concessions.

There are other ways to negotiate in the purchase of a home from getting your closing costs paid by the seller to credits for repairs and renovations. If you are going to have to pay a lot of money to make repairs, negotiate. Sellers are often open to fixing a problem in exchange for an offer.

Keep your emotions out of the entire negotiation process. A rational head makes the best decisions. Don’t show any excitement over the home, act as if you have plenty of other options. Remember the important things that you don’t want to live without in a home and be willing to let go of the less important things. This will help you avoid getting carried away by your emotions. It’s too easy to become frustrated and angry which leads to clouding your best judgment that will affect any of your decisions.

The Bottom Line: It’s not worth overpaying for a home. You might end up in a dangerous situation financially down the road. Your biggest bargaining chip in negotiation is to always be willing to walk away – you, as the buyer, are in a position of power. There will always be more homes.

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Title Fraud & Wire Fraud in Real Estate

The rapid growth of technology in the real estate industry has brought opportunity as well as a whole new set of challenges. Potential home buyers have the ability to search for homes from their fingertips while home-related fraud has become more prevalent. It’s important to protect yourself against fraud by becoming educated on the most common types of threats.

Title Fraud

What is It:
Any forgery or fraud act that involves the home title. There are many types of title fraud, including, but not limited to, forgery committed by the seller or someone who steals the identity of the current homeowner.

Preventative Steps:
One of the easiest ways to prevent title fraud is to purchase title insurance. This type of insurance eliminates the risk of being held accountable for any type of fraud that happened before you owned the property. Additionally, title insurance protects against other potential issues such as clerical errors or incorrect information. Any errors or misinformation on the property title will be handled by the title company where the insurance was purchased.

Wire Fraud

What is It:
Wire fraud is any scheme utilizing false pretenses to obtain money or property via wire transfer or communication. This type of fraud is particularly harmful in the real estate industry because property is such a large investment. The most common type of wire fraud in the home-buying process is a fraudulent request for a deposit on the home.

Preventative Steps:
Once you’re nearing the end of the home-buying process, there are many legal documents and steps involving your personal identity. It’s critical that you protect any personal and financial information while finishing the closing process. Your information is particularly vulnerable through email or other forms of electronic communication.

Here are a few helpful steps to prevent wire fraud:

  • Never send out any personal financial information via email.
  • Do not click on any links or attachments in unfamiliar email addresses or emails that are unexpected.
  • Clean out your email regularly so that hackers cannot detect any patterns.
  • Change your usernames and passwords on a regular basis.
  • Install and update antivirus and firewall programs on your computer.
  • Report any fraudulent activity to the FBI.
  • Ask your title representative, mortgage lender, and real estate broker for their typical means of communication. If you receive anything from an unusual method of communication, confirm that it was sent from your real estate professional.
  • Don’t share detailed information about your home purchase on social media.

The Bottom Line:
No matter where you are buying a home, be sure to do plenty of research on the home-buying process so that you are able to spot suspicious activity. If you ever notice any potential threats, speak directly to your real estate professionals to confirm the security of your transaction. The best way to protect yourself against fraudulent real estate activity is to remain cautious and informed.

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Preparing to Buy a Home and Mistakes to Avoid

You’re finally ready to purchase a home, one of the biggest, most important investments you will make. The process can be filled with stress but does not have to be. Don’t skip using a Real Estate Agent. Secure a great realtor that can help you from the minute you begin thinking about buying until the key to the home is in your hands after closing.

It’s imperative to remember that your credit and finances will be monitored right up until your loan closes. Don’t apply for new credit cards or prompt any other inquiries into your credit rating. This includes financing a car or making any other big purchase on credit. For you to be able to be approved for a mortgage with a good rate, you have got to present a picture of your best financial standing. Fewer changes made to your personal finances until the mortgage is secured, the better.

It’s hard not to get emotional during this major life milestone, of buying a home. You fall in love with a home and can imagine all the memories you’ll make, and all the ways you will decorate, paint and create each space. But, being too attached and emotional often leads to overpaying for a home and stretching yourself beyond your budget. Know what you can afford, stay levelheaded, and make sure your realtor knows you want to stick to homes only in that price range.

Showing consistent employment is crucial during the home-buying process. Lenders look at your job history to make sure you are financially stable and will be able to pay your loan on time every month. A good rule of thumb is to have at least a history of two years with the same employer and not to change jobs, or quit and start your own business while going through this process.

Have a preapproval letter from a lender in hand before you even start falling in love with homes on the internet. You have to know what you can afford or you’ll just be setting yourself up for disappointment. Some sellers won’t even show their home unless it’s to a serious buyer. If there ends up being a multiple-offer situation, a pre-approved buyer is more attractive and may win over a buyer that is not prepared.

Research school ratings, commutation time, and traffic flow among other important factors of a neighborhood. Don’t settle for a home in a less desirable area because you love it. Location, location, location is the credo in real estate. Most people won’t be living in the home they buy forever, so it’s good to pay attention to what’s going on in the neighborhood and the community. Thinking long term, knowing if home prices in the area are rising or falling and if businesses are thriving or closing will be a key to a good investment going forward.

Once you find your house, and your offer is accepted it will be time for the closing and your realtor will be key to helping you gather and navigate all the paperwork. Get an inspection to help you find any potential problems that can either be easily fixed or something you may want to walk away from. Have an appraisal done to assess the value of the home. Make sure you get excellent homeowners insurance and you buy title insurance to protect your home from any claims against the property or questions of ownership.

In conclusion, this is vital and not required by law but in your, the buyer’s, best interest: DO a final walkthrough and make sure everything is as it should be. The home should be empty so that you can really see. Are the appliances, faucets, window treatments, fixtures, etc there? At this point, you are seeing that the home you are purchasing is in the same condition it was when you agreed to buy it. Additionally, you are seeing that there is no new damage and that all the home’s systems are in working order, and that the home is clean.

The Bottom Line: These are just some of the problems buyers run into and how to avoid them. Know that each time you buy a home you will learn different ways to get through the difficulties that the process brings. Have a good and seasoned realtor to help you with the confusing terminology and the many logistics of buying a house, because it’s easy to make a wrong move or wind up with an unwise investment.

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