What To Expect From A Realtor When Selling A Home

Prepare Your Home

An experienced Realtor will know how to maximize your property value so you can receive top dollar for your home. They will identify what improvements you should make to your home to increase the amount it will sell for. They will have the name of the best inspector in your area to check on the roof, sewer, drainage, fireplace, pool, etc., and then advise you to complete the repairs or to leave as-is for the buyer. They’ll also be able to recommend the best service providers with reasonable prices: an inspector, handyman, painter, landscaper, stager, etc.

Stage Your Home

First impressions are everything. It only takes 10 seconds for a buyer to decide whether or not they love the home. Those 10 seconds start counting down as soon as the buyer steps through the front door. If you want to wow the buyer, make sure that the first thing they see makes them feel welcomed and inspired. Staging can help your place look its best during the sales period without the cost or expense of a renovation. Your Realtor will help you get your home to that point so that it makes that positive first impression among potential buyers, from the time they look at the listing photos, to the moment they walk in the door. Buyers can’t imagine themselves in your house if it’s full of your family photos or souvenirs from your vacations, so invested, good Realtors will be upfront with you on what should go into storage.

Professional Photos

Once the home is prepped and stage, it will be ready for a photoshoot. Be sure, when interviewing Realtors to hire that they offer professional photography as part of their service. Today, buyers are online searching for a home and the photos are what’s piquing a buyer’s interest in your home and prompting them to take the next step in contacting their Realtor. Your Realtor’s and connection to a professional photographer will produce images that resonate and appeal to sellers. And the more photos the better.

Determine the Price

Maybe the most important task of a Realtor is setting a fair and competitive selling price for your home that will increase your odds of a quick sale. He will create a comparative market analysis (CMA) to review comparable homes nearby that are currently on the market, pending, or have recently sold. This will give you more information on what people are willing to pay for homes that are similar to yours, so, together, you can set a competitive price. The best Realtor will avoid giving in and just saying a price that will make you, the seller, happy. He should price each home using his training, understanding of the market and comparable sales.

Market Your Home

Your Realtor should blow away others in this arena. She should know how to get the word out using every available social media platform as well as any marketing channels that are available. Check out her website and social accounts. If she is lacking, maybe she isn’t the one for you. The photos should be phenomonal as well as videos.

Negotiating and Closing the Deal

The job of a Realtor is to get the most money for their clients home in the least amount of time. His ability to negotiate relies heavily on the local and national real estate market. More often than not though, the purchasing and selling of a home occurs quickly and must make decisive financial decisions during the negotiation process.  He should know you, the seller well and be aware of what is and is not negotiable. If an offer is made, he should let any other parties that have been interested to give them a last chance to make an offer. He will guide you through all of the paperwork and steps that need to be completed in the closing process and be there to hand over your keys to the new owner. 

The Bottom Line: Selling a house involves a lot of work. There are so many little details and loose ends that must be taken care of. It is crucial that you interview and find the best Realtor in your area that can not only sell your home faster and make you more money, but they can also make the selling process much less stressful.

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Real Estate and School Districts

Families often choose the location of their next home by where their children will go to school. As the focus on school performance has become more astute thanks to a rising emphasis on test scores and completion rates, home shoppers have become more cautious in their selections as well.

When it comes to resale value, whether you have children or not, researching school districts is a crucial step when buying a new home. it’s best to invest in a home in a top school district. Living in a good school district doesn’t just bring better teachers, better books, and better test scores — it also can help preserve home values and ensure faster resale rates. These homes often sell faster than homes in lesser school districts. In a case of bad economic times, a home in the lower quality school district declines in home value, while the homes in the top school districts will hold their value.

Do the research. Any information you need for absolutely anything is available online. Do a search to determine the school district or even the specific school, that is the best in the town you will be searching for a new home. There are websites that offer test scores, rankings and demographic information, including student diversity by race and gender, the percentage of students on free lunch programs and the student-teacher ratio, to learn about the schools and school districts you are considering. One of the best ways to dig into specifics on districts you’re considering is by talking to other parents. If you’re moving to an unfamiliar area, Facebook groups and other social media sites can be a way to connect. There’s no better way to get a feel for a certain district than engaging with people who are actually in it. 

A survey on Realtor.com asked random people about their overall buying strategy and how they viewed school performance. The results found that a surprising number of people are willing to give up things to get within the boundaries of a good school district. That, for every five buyers, one buyer would be prepared to give up a garage or bedroom for a good school.

They also found that for every three buyers surveyed, one buyer would even settle for a smaller home to get access to a good school. And over half of those surveyed said they would sacrifice nearby shopping options for a better school.

Beyond sacrificing things in their home purchase, buyers were willing to pay more money for a home in a good school district. One out of five of those surveyed said they would pay between six and ten percent more for a home – and one out of ten people surveyed stated that they’d go even higher, paying up to 20 percent more for a home with access to the right schools.

The Bottom Line: Consult with the best Realtor in the area in which you are looking. The next best resource for neighborhood and nearby school knowledge is your local real estate agent. Even if you don’t have kids, between the Realtor and the research you do, buying a home in a good school district affects the value of the home.

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Home Selling in The Fall

There’s less competition

Spring seems to steals the show when it comes to selling a home. Reason being that sellers want to capitalize on the weather and with it the beautiful curb appeal. However, because so many sellers want to take advantage of this, the market becomes more competitive making your own home more difficult to stand out from the rest. It’s thought that Fall is a quieter real estate market, but there are many advantages to putting your home on the market for the season, including less competition.

The serious buyers are out

Summer vacations are over giving buyers less time to spend house hunting. Those that are shopping in the Fall are dedicated buyers. Chances are that those who come to view your home are in the middle of a serious house search, which could perhaps make an offer all the more likely. You are now dealing with a more serious pool of buyers. By the time September or October rolls around, these buyers are itching to get their move settled. Nobody wants to move in the snow or during the busy holiday season, so potential buyers usually want to get things signed and sealed as quickly as possible.

Curb appeal

Curb appeal is thought to peak during the Spring, and we all know how important it is to have your property looking its best when you have it on the market. The colors of the leaves are turning beautiful golds and reds making for a dramatic and incredible backdrop for your home. Throw in some potted flowering mums and keep the late-flowering plants cleaned up and you’ve got curb appeal that blows away Spring. Be sure to keep up with the raking as the leaves fall!

Appeal to the senses

The fall and winter months are associated with certain smells and flavors ( pine needles, cinnamon, peppermint, and pumpkin pie). Beyond setting the mood with decorations, you could try appealing to buyers’ senses in multiple ways. When it’s chilly outside, it’s important to make buyers feel warm in more ways than one. Aside from keeping your thermostat at a comfortable level, it’s a good idea to make your home seem inviting.

The Bottom Line: Marketing from a good Realtor will always be a big part of selling any home, and if you sell at their busiest time, which is spring, you run the risk of getting a little less attention than you may want. However, grab them during the off-season of Fall or Winter and your home will be given more attention. There will be extra challenges in selling in the Fall, but if you embrace the season, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a buyer. Take all the necessary steps to improve your chances of selling.

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Red Flags When House Hunting

Red flags can appear anytime during a house-hunting process and depending on the size of the problem, it could signal that it’s time to walk away. Some slight problems or minor defects can be fixed, but some issues can seriously detract from your investment, and even endanger your health and safety.

Foundation Issues: If your home inspection report lists concerns with the integrity of your home’s foundation, don’t ignore them.  While all poured concrete foundations will crack at one time or another, hairline cracks are not an indication of a problem. If a crack is wider than 1/2 inch, however, it’s a good idea to have a foundation contractor examine the area. This also holds true for cracks that appear to have been recently patched. Large cracks can indicate an unstable foundation. Not all foundation issues are expensive to fix. However, major structural problems that require stabilization using hydraulic piers can cost a lot of money.

Electrical Issues: If a light switch does not work when you flip it, it’s probably just a minor electrical issue that can be fixed later. But, Outdated wiring or too little voltage is cause for concern. Not only will you not be able to hook up all your electronics and appliances, but problems with your electrical setup can also increase your risk for a home fire. Major electrical issues can end up being costly projects that require permits, professionals, and inspections to bring up to code. 

Roofing Issues: A complete roof teardown is a substantial investment, so it’s important to know how old the roof is, particularly important in areas of the country where there is a lot of snowfall since that can shorten the life span of a roof.  Besides the costs of replacement or repairs, leaky roofs can lead to other problems like mold, rot, and water damage. 

Mold: If water damage or mold is found in the home, consider it a red flag. In truth, most homes will have some mold in crawl spaces and attics, and not all mold is bad for your health. But, important: mold can mean there are other problems, like water leaks from the roof or major appliances, that could be costly to correct. It’s imperative that the source of the mold is found. Otherwise, the problem could worsen, and you could end up with a health hazard.

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Preparing to Sell Your Home

  • Prepare your home for maximum earnings. There are simple steps you can take to maximize your home’s appeal.
  • Enlist the help of a Realtor to market and sell your home. When selling your home, a Realtor can provide expertise in valuing and advertising your home, qualifying and screening potential buyers, and negotiating contracts. If you are not able to enlist help from a Realtor, Title First can provide you with assistance.
  • Negotiate a contract. When you receive an offer for the purchase of your home, it must be in writing, generally on a preprinted real estate purchase contract from your local bar association or board of Realtors. You may modify or alter the offer in any way you, your Realtor, or your attorney wish. Offers and counteroffers are made until the terms of the contract have been fully agreed to by all parties. When assessing offers and making counter-offers to the seller, don’t feel pressured to accept less than the value of your home.
  • Close on the property. Before your home is officially sold, you must sign all appropriate documentation at your closing. The closing will typically be held at a Title First office, the office of your realtor, lender or attorney, or sometimes on-location. Because your home represents one of the most significant investments you will make throughout your life, it is important that you feel comfortable with all the information being presented to you during the closing procedure. Title First is dedicated to walking you through this important process with care and attention. When it’s time to set up your closing, don’t hesitate to tell your realtor or lender to call Title First, or feel free to give us a call if you’re working by yourself.

Be prepared for these seller’s fees commonly seen at the closing.
Fees:
Current loan payoff
Conveyance fee
Title insurance examination
Title insurance commitment/premium for the owner policy
Documentation to provide your Realtor® with:
Tax receipts
Utility bills
Mortgage Payment
Information to provide to Title First:
Your mortgage company name, address and account number
Any existing title insurance policy

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Title Problems As a Property Buyer

Are you questioning whether you really need title insurance when you buy your home? Every home and piece of land has a history and with a good and thorough title search, you can unpack any issues that could be tied to your purchase. Having title insurance assures you that even after you close on your property, you are protected from any title problems that may arise in the future. What issues?

PUBLIC RECORDS: Mistakes and errors happen but you do not want it affecting your home. The errors can be disastrous and cause you an undue financial burden to resolve. Simple clerical or filing errors could affect the deed or survey of your property.

UNKNOWN LIENS: Prior owners of your property may have left unpaid bills. And, even though the former debt is not your own, banks or other financing companies can place liens on your property for unpaid debts even after you have closed on the sale. This is an especially worrisome issue with distressed properties.

ILLEGAL DEEDS: While the chain of title on your property may appear perfectly sound, it’s possible that a prior deed was made by an undocumented immigrant, a minor, a person of unsound mind, or one who is reported single but in actuality married. These instances may affect the enforceability of prior deeds, affecting prior (and possibly present) ownership.

MISSING HEIRS: When a person dies, the ownership of their home may fall to their heirs or those named within their will. However, those heirs are sometimes missing or unknown at the time of death. Other times, family members may contest the will for their own property rights. These scenarios – which can happen long after you have purchased the property – may affect your rights to the property.

FORGERIES: Unfortunately, we don’t live in a completely honest world. Sometimes forged or fabricated documents that affect property ownership are filed within public records, obscuring the rightful ownership of the property. Once these forgeries come to light, your rights to your home may be in jeopardy.

UNDISCOVERED ENCUMBRANCES:  At the time that you purchase your home, you may not know that a third party holds a claim to all or part of your property – due to a former mortgage or lien, or non-financial claims, like restrictions or covenants limiting the use of your property.

UNKNOWN EASEMENTS: You may own your new home and its surrounding land, but an unknown easement may prohibit you from using it as you’d like or could allow government agencies, businesses, or other parties access to all or portions of your property. While usually non-financial issues, easements can still affect your right to enjoy your property.

BOUNDARY/SURVEY DISPUTES: You may have seen several surveys of your property prior to purchasing, however, other surveys may exist that show differing boundaries. Therefore, a neighbor or other party may be able to claim ownership to a portion of your property.

UNDISCOVERED WILL: When a property owner dies with no apparent will or heir, the state may sell his or her assets, including the home. When you purchase such a home, you assume your rights as the owner. However, even years later, the deceased owner’s will may come to light and your rights to the property may be seriously jeopardized.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A title insurance policy will be your best protection against those and many other title problems that may become known after you close on your transaction.  Title First Agency is proud to be one of the few SSAE 18 certified title agencies in the nation. After you close on your new home, we record the deed and the mortgage at the courthouse (returning the original recorded deed to the new owner and the mortgage to the lender) and prepare the owner’s and lender’s title policies. Following the recording of the deed and mortgage, the buyer will receive (via the mail) the original recorded deed and the original title insurance policy, if applicable. It is wise to keep all of these documents in a safe place.

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Selling Your Home Steps to Take

1. Prepare your home for maximum earnings There are simple steps you can take to maximize your home’s appeal.

2. Enlist the help of a Realtor® to market and sell your home When selling your home, a Realtor® can provide expertise in valuing and advertising your home, qualifying and screening potential buyers, and negotiating contracts. If you are not able to enlist help from a Realtor®, Title First can provide you with assistance.

3. Negotiate a contract When you receive an offer for the purchase of your home, it must be in writing, generally on a preprinted real estate purchase contract from your local bar association or board of Realtors®. You may modify or alter the offer in any way you, your Realtor®, or your attorney wish. Offers and counter offers are made until the terms of the contract have been fully agreed to by all parties. When assessing offers and making counter-offers to the seller, don’t feel pressured to accept less than the value of your home.

4. Close on the property Before your home is officially sold, you must sign all appropriate documentation at your closing.

The closing will typically be held at a Title First office, the office of your realtor, lender or attorney, or sometimes on-location. Because your home represents one of the most significant investments you will make throughout your life, it is important that you feel comfortable with all the information being presented to you during the closing procedure.

Title First is dedicated to walking you through this important process with care and attention. When it’s time to set up your closing, don’t hesitate to tell your realtor or lender to call Title First, or feel free to give us a call if you’re working by yourself.

Be prepared for these seller’s fees commonly seen at the closing

Fees: Current loan payoff Conveyance fee, Title insurance examination, Title insurance commitment/premium for owner policy

Documentation to provide your Realtor® with: Tax receipts, Utility bills, Mortgage Payment

Information to provide to Title First: Your mortgage company name, address and account number. Any existing title insurance policy.

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Do I Need A Realtor to Buy a House?

Contract

“Do I really need a Realtor to buy a house?” If you are having doubts, here are a few reasons that a Real Estate Agent is valuable during the home buying process.

Sure, you can look through the many internet real estate listings, but a knowledgeable Realtor can cut through all the fat, plus have access to other sites, know the neighborhood comps, have contact with other agents in town with “pocket listings” and sometimes know the background (or the “skinny”) on a few homes. A Realtor is going to do all the dirty work and guide you through it all.  They are going to research the market trends and other important information that can be tedious.

The housing market is immense, there are literally thousands of options available and it can prove to be difficult to narrow down which homes are even worth looking at.  Your Realtor will have data about crime rates, education options, local businesses, commute times, zoning codes and a lot of other information that will influence your final decision.

Once you fall in love with a home, a skilled Realtor will have been through many homes and is trained to look for issues that might be hidden to you. Once the problem  identified it can be addressed and the Realtor can ask for it to be repaired.

The vast knowledge of market conditions and comp sales coupled with the Realtor’s knowledge will help put together a competitive offer at the best possible price.  You will be given information on at current home conditions to find any issues that could be leveraged during negotiations. The Realtor knows how to navigate through the many documents plus be your voice when the negotiating begins.  If you end up with questions and concerns or are completely confused, your Realtor will be able to  clarify all the clauses, contingencies and jargon-filled fine print as well as find hidden fees and conditions that many people tend to skim over.

The Bottom Line: Anyone can shop for a new home without a Realtor. Buying and selling a house is one of the largest financial transactions people make in their lifetime. Realtors earn their commission by making sure you know exactly what you are doing. They are helping you through the many pages of documents required on the transaction. They are with you during the inspection (pest, foundation, furnace, sewer, electrical, plumbing, etc), appraisal and disclosure. It’s in your best interest to use the resources of a skilled Real Estate Agent.

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Detach Emotionally From Your Home For Sale

Thinking about selling your first home? Besides the fact that it will take a lot of time and energy, it may be very emotionally challenging. To have buyers come into your home and open closets, cabinets, and drawers, walk through your bedrooms and look behind furniture, and then to criticize the home you have loved is not easy. Eventually, there will be a buyer who wants it and will inevitably offer far less to buy it than you have it listed as.

The first hurdle to overcome after you have made the decision to sell is to let go of your home emotionally. Start looking at it as a positive financial opportunity and distance yourself from all the aspects of the property that you have created memories. It will be hard to pull your heart away from remembering the moments that you painted, decorated and picked out “just the right carpeting” for your child’s first bedroom. Acknowledge that selling your home is going to be stressful and emotional upfront and that will enable you to make good decisions going forward.

Think of your home as a product that you are selling. This should help you detach emotionally. Start removing personal items like pictures, knick-knacks, etc. to begin staging which will make it feel less like your home. If you put special hardware on cabinets and can’t imagine parting with them, replace them. A good Realtor will give you great recommendations to help make your home more neutral – maybe painting or pulling carpet – all of which will help you to see your home as a product and will help you emotionally.

It’s common for a seller to overprice their home when they are emotionally attached. The price of your home needs to be based on the market and the comparable properties, not the value you, someone with memories, puts on the home. After a Realtor helps you with the price, don’t get offended by offers that don’t meet your calculations. If a buyer makes a low offer, it’s good to know that there is someone who loves your home enough to even make an offer. Let your Realtor negotiate and learn what the seller likes and dislikes (which may hurt your feelings) so you are able to keep your emotions out of the selling process.

The Bottom Line: Make sure you are truly ready to sell your home. Make a list of the pros and cons of why you want to move and evaluate. Have an experienced Realtor help you once you have made the decision and realize that sentimental value does not translate to monetary value so you will need help pricing your home accordingly. Keep your emotions in check, make a clean break and put your energy and time into making your new house the home of your dreams!

 

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Upgrading a Home To Sell

builder titles

There are certain things buyers want in a home when househunting. There are renovations and upgrades that owners can put money into if they want to sell fast and can be confident knowing that they will get that money back in the sale of their home. With a remodeling budget, what should owners focus on renovating?

Laundry Room: A separate laundry room topped the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) list of most-wanted home features by buyers.  Carrying loads of laundry to a basement and then back upstairs again is a thing of the past. Now, buyers want their laundry rooms in a convenient area – near the kitchen or bedrooms with plenty of folding space and cabinets.

Exterior Lighting: This is the most-wanted outdoor feature, according to the NAHB. Adds to the curb appeal as well as a security feature.

Windows: Big ticket items buyers want is new energy efficient windows. Not only are they a great selling point, but they will also save the owners money on energy bills while they occupy the home.

Ceiling Fans: The most-wanted decorative home feature by potential buyers, according to the NAHB. Ceiling fans can be inexpensive and practical – they keep the air moving with the air conditioning or the heat. Plus, now they have reversible controls that allow the air to be drawn up, or blown down.

Hardwood Flooring: A cleaner look, easier to maintain and more durable than carpet. If hardwood floors are already in the home, get it sanded and refinished to make it like new again. If there is carpet – it could increase your home’s selling price by 2.5%.  according to Realtor.com

Appliances: Old appliances, especially in kitchens can turn a buyer off. Even with limited funds, a seller can create beautiful kitchens using Energy Star-rated appliances. A Realtor can get a comp report from the neighborhood and see how other homes have sold and what is on the market to know if a seller needs to update appliances or not.

Fresh Walls:  Take the wallpaper down. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways that can help to increase a home’s value is also one of the simplest.  Freshly painted walls. Neutral colors are best and can make it easier for a potential buyer to see themselves in the home.

The Bottom Line: A home is a person’s biggest investment, so doing what can be done to upgrade it to boost its value, makes sense. Not all renovations will have the same impact. The best advice a person can get is from a knowledgeable Realtor in the location of the home. Have comps pulled, and find out what upgrades will give the home the most bang for the buck.

 

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