Update to Sell

What do new home buyers want? We are in the era of social media, smartphones, and AI algorithms, leaving us with a plethora of information on how we should renovate, remodel, and increase the value of our homes. Of course, affordability tops the list, followed up with updated large open gourmet kitchens with large center islands for cooking and gathering.

If you will be selling your home and you only have a certain amount of time and money, there are a few things that buyers are looking for right now.

HOME OFFICE: More than 13 million Americans work from home, according to the most current U.S. Census data, and all signs point to that trend continuing. That makes a home office important for many buyers. As you would list rooms like kitchen and living room, a greater amount of people working and schooling from home means “home office” should be included in the listing. Or, consider saying there is a room as a potential home office.

ACCESSIBLE LAUNDRY ROOM: According to a nationwide survey of recent and prospective homebuyers conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, 87% of respondents wanted a laundry room, making it the most requested feature on their list. No more dark basements. Today’s home buyers seek a bright and large laundry room with plenty of storage, and counter space for folding clothes and it’s always a plus to have a utility sink.

ENSUITE MASTER BATH:  If your master bathroom only contains a shower stall or a tub and not both, you’re going to be at a big disadvantage when it comes to selling. According to the latest annual report published by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a whopping 76% of millennial buyers consider this their top must-have. When pushed to specify, potential buyers also revealed that they’d want the tub to feature whirlpool jets and that the shower should have multiple heads. 

CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONING: Nearly seven in 10 homeowners said they would be willing to pay more for central air conditioning — the same as new kitchen appliances and more than any other feature. Central air conditioning was considered “very important” by more than 60% of people in all age groups.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: This is a top home feature that has earned high marks from home buyers. As the cost of energy continues to rise, many home buyers today are looking for homes that are going to be easier and less expensive to run long-term. Consider installing LED lights or using a programmable thermostat.  These features can be attractive to home buyers because they often result in saving money on utility bills.

The Bottom Line: Team up with the most successful realtor in your area who will recommend what updates you will need in your specific home to bring in the most money. We can’t control the circumstances of the current real estate market, but we can control parts of our home’s value and appeal. Making strategic improvements can significantly increase the success of the sale of your home.

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The Magic Number

What can I get for my home? This is one of the first questions a homeowner will ask a realtor.  Hiring an experienced realtor is key to getting the magic number – the price that your home will sell. Getting your home priced right is quite possibly the most important thing your realtor can do for you. Too many times, realtors will tell sellers what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear to sell their homes.

Pricing a home is a skill that takes training, an understanding of the market, and comparable sales (comps). Negotiating a home price requires a lot of patience, organization, and sometimes compromise. When a home is listed too high, buyers pass on even looking at it. It will end up being on the market for a long period of time and the price will eventually be forced to be lowered to be competitive. But, by that time buyers assume there must be something wrong with the home and it will gain a bad reputation and continue to be bypassed. Even the buyers who do look at it will lowball the new price and the home will end up being sold for less than what it would have had you priced it correctly to being with. Homes sell for the most money when they are on the market for less than 30 days in almost all markets.

You don’t want your home priced lower than it is worth, but you want it low enough to create excitement among buyers and possibly even multiple offers coming in. This is an excellent option if you want to sell a home fast.

A good Realtor will make sure that the seller’s home shows up in online searches. To make sure this happens, a proper price is paramount. If the neighborhood comps are lower, the house may not show up if it’s even slightly higher! For instance, if the comps top out at $300,000, and the buyer wants a 4-bedroom home in that neighborhood under $300,000, the house listed at $325,000 won’t even show up in the search.

Pricing a home to sell properly is a skill that the best Realtors have. It is the most critical piece to selling your home. The right price is 75% of the marketing for any home on the market. It’s what will attract buyers. So, when you are interviewing Realtors to sell your home, ask the question “What’s my home worth” and know they can’t tell you what it will sell for but expect comparable sales, pending sales, and active sales. Finally, ask to see a track record of their previous listings – the original price and the final sale number. And, don’t be afraid to ask for a personal guarantee from them.

The Bottom Line: If your home is immediately identified as being overpriced, agents will dismiss the property. As a result, sparking interest may take drastic measures (i.e. massive price reductions) and you might end up lower than where you could have been if you had priced the property right the first time.

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Maintenance Projects First-Time Homeowners May Not Know

Household maintenance is necessary if you want to protect your investment and keep your home in good shape. Homes require internal and external upkeep with regular cleanings and inspections to ensure everything is safe and functional. There is a lot to keep track of and first-time homeowners can mistakenly skip over something important that needs to be done simply because the list can seem so overwhelming. Keeping a regular home maintenance checklist and schedule will ensure that your house is in order year-round. Here are a few tasks that new homeowners may not even know about.

Window Weep Holes: Many sliding windows and vinyl replacement windows have weep holes on the exterior bottom of the frame. These holes are designed to drain away rainwater that can collect in the frame’s bottom channel. These tiny holes can easily get plugged up with bugs and debris, and if that happens, water could fill up the channel and spill over into your house. It’s best to clean them every six months by using a pin or paper clip to pick the debris out. To make sure they’re clear, spray water onto your window and check to make sure it leaks out. If it doesn’t, it means one of two things: the weep holes are still clogged, or they’re currently redundant due to a watertight seal around your windows.

Refrigerator Condenser coils: These are located on the back of the fridge or across the bottom. When coils are clogged with dust, pet hair, and cobwebs, they can’t efficiently release heat. The result is your compressor works harder and longer than it was designed to, using more energy and shortening the life of your fridge. Pull it away from the wall and vacuum the condenser coils or wipe them off with a clean dust cloth every few months. Your refrigerator is one of the most expensive and necessary appliances; you want to extend it’s life.

Chimney Cleaning: This needs to be cleaned yearly to remove creosote, a flammable byproduct of wood burning, that can cause fires and elevate the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. A quick way to tell if your chimney needs cleaning is to run the point of your fireplace poker along the inside of your chimney liner. If you find a 1/8-in. or more layers of buildup. call a chimney sweep.  Finally, make sure there is not any damage to the chimney on the outside – missing bricks and flashing that should be tight against it to guide water away.

Flush Hot Water Heater: The water in your water heater tank contains minerals that can settle out of the water and build up in the bottom of the tank. Just a few minutes of water heater maintenance once a year pays off by extending the tank’s life span and maintaining your water heater’s efficiency and safety. Draining two to three gallons of water is usually enough to flush out sediments, but always let the water flow until you no longer see particles in the bucket.

The Bottom Line: Making a maintenance checklist to use year after year will help ensure your home is safe and secure. Some of your monthly checklist is likely to change with the seasons. A simple Google search will help you find websites dedicated to yearly home upkeep. Be sure that you set aside money for home repairs and maintenance. Neglecting small tasks will cause you grief, time, and money in the long run.

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Fraud Protection

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 homebuying 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 against 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 via the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
  • Ask your title representative, mortgage lender, and real estate broker 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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