Finding The Best Neighborhood

Location. Location. Location. The best neighborhood will sell a home, Most Realtors will tell you. It also helps your home hold its value and makes it easy to sell when the time comes. If you have found the home of your dreams but don’t know much about the area it is in – how do you make the decision that the neighborhood that the home is the “right” neighborhood?

  • Research the Neighborhood Values Online: Because of the world wide web, anyone can find out any detail about anything and anyone. Become a private investigator! Discover all the information about a neighborhood using your internet skills. Use the MLS, Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia to name just a few to research the sales and rentals over the last few years. Learn the turnaround time of homes that have sold. Have your Realtor get the comparables. Fast home sales indicate a desirable neighborhood.
  • Research Crime Rates Online: Find the crime map that many cities use to display the types of crimes and the density in different areas.
  • Meet the Neighbors: If there is an area of town that you love, become its expert. Go to the local shops, restaurants, open houses, coffee shops and introduce yourself to people. People love to talk about where they live and the people who work in these establishments can give you all sorts of information.
  • Grab a Fancy Coffee: When you see coffee shops and upscale retail chains, it’s a sure sign that the neighborhood is on the up and up, if not already arrived. These establishments have done the research and open where the investment is worth.
  • Research the School District: Find the test scores of the neighborhood’s school system online or stop into the local high school. Home prices are usually higher where the test scores are hearty.
  • Home Values Hold: Again, hit the world wide web and find the historical sale prices in the county’s property tax records. If the neighborhood you love isn’t online, ask your Realtor for the sales trends.
  • Watch for the Red Flags: It’s not as hard as you think to discover a neighborhood on the decline. Look online for the number of short sales, foreclosures and drive around to see the number of vacant properties. Is there a highway being built too close to the neighborhood? A sure sign of decline.

The Bottom Line: Do you think you might move again within five to seven years? If you believe you may, you want to make sure your home will be marketable then. A good Realtor coupled with your private investigator online skills will be able to help you feel confident in the future of the area. Before even looking at homes, narrow down the neighborhoods. Find the community that meets all your needs AND will have homes that will hold their value.

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Get Your Home Ready to Sell in the Spring Market

Spring is right around the corner and while we are in the cold, gray days of February, now is a perfect time to get your home ready to put on the market to sell during the Spring market!

Start purging and packing. Go through your closets, attic, garage, basement, junk drawers and decide what you can throw out and what you want to save but don’t need and can box up. Reducing the amount of clutter will help potential buyers visualize how they might use the different areas. Plus, the less you have in a closet – the bigger it will seem.

Make improvements especially in the kitchen and bathrooms. It doesn’t need to be expensive. For instance, how do your kitchen cabinets look? Are they chipped or are the knobs falling off? Replace or repaint them, tighten the knobs or replace the hardware completely. Regrout tile where needed, caulk the shower and tub, replace switch plates and doorknobs- all this will give the bathroom a fresh look without breaking the bank.

How is your front door? The front hallway? The first thing a potential buyer will see when they come to your home. Give it a fresh coat of paint and clean or replace the knob and knocker if there is one. Look around at the foyer area and notice if you need to update the walls with neutral paint or clean the trim, if any.

Use neutral, gray or white paint on the walls in each room. Another relatively cheap and easy thing to do in the Winter months to get ready for Spring. Don’t just touch up – paint the entire wall. Now is the time to paint over the bright colors you may have used. If you have carpeting in any room, consider replacing to hardwood which will help the home sell, or at the very least get a good professional cleaning.

Go room to room in your warm home while the February snow is falling outside and scrutinize everything from switch plates to ceiling fans. Look for the tiny flaws that you haven’t noticed like cob webs in between the storm & the window. Have you dusted the shades? Cleaned the curtains? Not something people think to do on the weekly, but can make a huge difference. Simply get on the floor at kid and dog level and wipe down the baseboards and look for little fingerprints to wash away with mild soap and water. Put the brush attachement on your vacuum and run it over the walls.

The Bottom Line: It’s surprising, the little things you don’t notice daily in your home. But, taking the time and seeing things through the eyes of a potential buyer can greatly help to get your home ready for Spring. Sometimes asking a friend to come to do an honest walk through and point out problems will help. Now, might also be the perfect time to find a Realtor and have them come in your home and give you their feedback as well.

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Pocket Listing

What is a “pocket listing” and why do you hear about it so much? Some home sellers like the benefits of a private transaction. Thus, when a Realtor and a seller sign a listing agreement that permits the seller to place their home for sale without adding the information into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) it is called a “pocket listing”.

The biggest advantage of selling your home as a pocket listing is for the privacy. The general public doesn’t get to see pictures of it online, and they are not able to just come “take a look” out of curiosity. These sellers don’t want strangers wandering through their homes. They don’t want the hassle of the constant showings, they simply want only the pre-qualified and vetted serious buyers.

Homeowners prefer selling their home as a pocket listing for many reasons. If the seller has just gone through a life-changing event (a divorce, death, new baby, etc) and they often want their home sold as quickly & quietly as possible.  Maybe, they just want to test the market, get an idea of what buyers are willing to pay for their home. Being a pocket listing means the general public does not know how long the buyer has been trying to sell it. No listing on MLS means no public eye, which can lessen the stigma that is inevitable if a home sits too long on the market publicly. Another plus? If the buyer wants to lower the price, buyers won’s see it and won’t be able to use it to negotiate.

Bypassing listing a home on the MLS provides a jump start and the home often sells for the full price due to the fact that they are listed in a defined, focused market. But, the unfortunate side to this is that it may sell, but might not be at the very best price.  When the pool of potential buyers is restricted, the seller doesn’t know what the home could actually bear since it is never actually on the market.

The Bottom Line:  Pocket listings can be advantageous in the real estate market, especially in specific cases where sellers require privacy and want to have control over the buyers who see their homes. But along with being a pocket listing comes potential hindrances that can warrant consideration. An experienced Realtor will be able to walk you through all the details of how your specific home would do as a pocket listing.

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Fall Home Selling

It’s always been said that Spring is the best time to put a home on the market to sell. But, Fall might just be a perfect time and often homes can sell faster at this time of year.

Buyers are more serious in the Fall. During the Spring months, there are many homes on the market giving buyers more time to look at them in great detail and be more particular. Once September arrives, there aren’t as many homes listed, the competition is less, and buyers are more rushed to buy, close and move in before the holidays and even Winter weather becomes an issue.

Curb appeal is still so important. Be sure to rake dead leaves and debris in your yard. If there is overgrown vegetation blocking windows, remove it and cut bushes and tree limbs. Put bright mums in pots at the front door and plant in gardens where it looks empty from pulling the dead Summer flowers. Leaves in gutters should be removed often.

The days are shorter, the sun sets lower and earlier in the horizon so be sure to turn the lights all over the home before a showing. Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window.  Make sure each room is bright! Closet lights, appliance lights – anything to make the home shine! Many buyers want a showing after work so it will most likely be dark outside.

Be sure to have the furnace, boiler and even the fireplace checked.  Nothing would be worse than a cold Fall day and buyers come in only to discover that there are heating problems. Additionally, having a roaring fire in the fireplace might be just the ambiance needed for buyers to “see” themselves in the home.

Price the home to sell in the current market. A skilled Realtor will help set the price using the comps in the neighborhood coupled with the time of year – which does not necessarily mean the home should be priced lower, but priced right. The home might sit on the market longer as we head into the Holiday & Winter Season making it even harder to sell if it’s priced too high.

The Bottom Line:  There will be fewer showings when putting a home on the market to sell in the Fall. The good news is that the buyers that are looking are more serious and motivated. Most importantly, find a Realtor that has a great track record of selling homes, no matter the season. Do the homework, ask neighbors, friends and search online to find the most experienced Realtor.

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TITLE FIRST CAN ASSIST YOU IN PROMOTING YOUR BUSINESS WITH OUR FULL LINE OF MARKETING SOLUTIONS.

As a full-service title company, Title First believes in providing value-added services. Whether you’re a Realtor, lender, builder, law firm, buyer or seller, our helpful resources help you meet your goals.

Net-to-Seller:  This convenient tool helps you estimate your clients’ profit and presents it in a professional format that you can share.  Closing costs are calculated by adding up all various fees and charges a home seller pays when selling their home. For example, title insurance, home warranty, commissions, transfer tax, mortgage balance, prorated property taxes, mortgage balance and will also run various scenarios.

Full-Color Postcards, Imagery is powerful:  Stop working so hard. Title First has teamed up with PostcardBuilder.com to help you design, print, and mail your full-color, glossy, postcards. Choose from a variety of templates. Studies show that 56% of customers find print marketing to be the most trustworthy and are one of the best ways of exposure of your property and your business.

Property Profiles:  For your next listing, make a good impression on clients and prospective buyers with a bound presentation of property information.  Include some local market data that shows historic trends, how quickly homes are selling, or anything else that would be useful for the homeowner to understand how you will arrive at a price for their home. Explain  how the sales process works and how you will market their home in this presentation.

TitleFirstAgent Application:  Provide a higher level of service to your clients with a tool that enables you to give quick, easy estimates to any real estate financial questions. The app features net sheets, quick estimates, closing costs, prorated taxes and much more.  Watch the demo, here.

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Listing Flyers:  Email us your MLS link, logo, and personal photo, and we will create a professional full-color info sheet for your listing.  This flyer, can help to sell your client’s home even when you aren’t there. Potential buyers will carry the flyer and all the information back to their home.

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