The Seller And Real Estate Agent Relationship – What The Homeowner Should Expect

The Seller and Real Estate Agent RelationshipWe all want the sale of our house to go smoothly. We know that somewhere between sticking that sign in the front yard and packing up the moving van, there are a lot of details that need to be handled. With these details comes stress, all bundled up in emotion. Selling a home means more than just signing on the bottom line. That’s where hiring the right real estate professional can be invaluable.

Listing with a trustworthy real estate agent that you feel comfortable with can save a lot of money and time, but also a great many headaches and heartbreaks. A knowledgeable, experienced agent understands the nuances of the real estate transaction as well as the emotions of the sale of one’s home. It takes a special understanding of what happens between the seller, or sellers, and potential buyers to keep everyone on track during potentially difficult times.

Contacting a real estate agent early in the process will help alleviate many of the problems that could arise in those first discussions about selling a house.  Once the right agent has been chosen by the seller, it’s time to get to work finding out how to build a good relationship with their client. This starts with learning about their clients and what motivates them.

A homeowner may be highly motivated to sell their home quickly. For this type of imminent sale,  the time-frame may be tight. Perhaps a job transfer is coming soon, or a new school year starts, or any number of reasons; some pleasant and some unpleasant. A good agent wants to know the motivation in order to better serve you. Be open and honest with the agent you choose. There is no need to beat around the bush, your agent will soon know more about your personal life and finances than you would believe. That is why choosing an agent with experience and integrity is so important.

Sometimes, a move is not imminent. A homeowner may want to test the market for future decisions. Instead of guessing, homeowners should use a real estate agent’s expertise to find out the true value of their home. It prepares them better for making decisions for the future. In other words, guessing what your home is worth is no way to prepare for a future sale of your home, or purchase of another. Your agent will want to know if this is the case so he or she can do some projecting into the future markets for you. There is no reason to ‘fool’ an agent into thinking you’re ready to list your home when you’re not. A good agent wants to help you determine the value of your home whether or not you’re ready to list.

Whether the sale of your home is planned soon or in the future, it is best to contact a qualified agent early in the process. An experienced agent will help by getting the information straight right from the beginning in order to avoid mistakes early on. The right agent will assist the seller in defining what is important during the process, provide a sounding board for ideas, and then help customize a plan of action.

Once you have interviewed several agents, asked all your questions, and finally chosen the one that’s right for you, it’s time for the agent to turn the tables and ask you a few questions. Any good agent will be sure to ask a potential client these simple questions:

  • Do you need to sell your home soon?
  • What is the reason you’re selling your home now?
  • Will you be open to negotiation with a buyer?
  • Are you prepared financially to repair items that show up on the home inspection?
  • Are you listing your home now in order to sell at a future date?
  • Are you pricing your house as a way to test the market for a future sale?
  • Have you tried to sell your house by yourself? If so, what have you tried?
  • Are there back taxes owed?
  • Are there liens on the property other than a mortgage?
  • Are there any reasons that would prevent you from accepting an offer, other than price?

Of course some of this information will be discovered as the paperwork is prepared, but hearing it from the seller first matters. If these questions seem intrusive, they are only designed to avoid an embarrassing, or worse, situation down the road. Be prepared to share your story; this is only a short list of the questions you will expect a good real estate agent to ask a client.

There is much more to selling a house than getting the paperwork done. An agent needs to learn first about the homeowner’s reason for selling, how desperately they want to sell, and how much they are willing to sacrifice in order to sell. All these questions may feel very personal, but a good agent will help their client understand that this confidential information is necessary in order to get their home sold as smoothly as possible.

Open Houses: How to Make the Most of the Visit

Open Houses: Make the Most of the VisitOpen houses are a great opportunity for both the buyer and the seller. It gives the seller the chance to showcase their home and the buyer can view the home in all its glory. Buyers love to scope out potential homes. After all, open houses are really sales presentations. In order to have a successful open house, there are some tasks that should be completed by the seller beforehand.

The most obvious task is cleaning. The house should be spotless, including appliances. If you work full time and don’t have time to get the house cleaned properly, hire a house cleaning service. The money spent is well worth it if you are able to sell quickly. It might be hard to keep it clean if you are still living there, but you must make a concentrated effort to try. Your home presentation must be impeccable.

Keep foul and mysterious odors away. The first thing a potential buyer will notice is an offensive odor and you will probably never see them again. Regularly inspect your home for potential odor sources and keep a steady supply of candles and air fresheners on hand. If you have an indoor cat, keep the litter box out of sight and scooped out daily.

Clutter is a major turnoff to potential buyers. It just isn’t very enticing to see piles of clutter everywhere. Keep small appliances stored instead of out on the countertops. Remove photographs and knick-knacks. You want people to envision their belongings in the house. Clean out and organize the closets. If there is no reason for something to be displayed, get rid of it.

If you can, remove non-essential furniture to make the rooms appear larger. Spacious rooms are more appealing to the eyes. Keep your boxes of junk stored out of sight. It is a good idea to start figuring out what you need and what you can live without. It would be a good idea to have a garage sale before you put the house on the market. If you can’t bear to part with anything, rent a temporary storage unit.

You cannot ignore the outside of the house either. The outside presentation has a major impact on the buyer. Clean the leaves out of the drain gutter, don’t let garden hoses or other tools pile up outside. Pick them up and store them elsewhere. Make the effort to beautify the front entry. If the door handle is rusty or the whole door looks junky, get a new one. Keep the flower beds neat and free from weeds.

Look at the walls and try to put yourself in the buyers’ shoes. How would you look at the walls in someone else’s house? Is the paint chipping or is the color outdated? It would be well worth your time to give the walls a fresh coat of paint. Nothing makes a room come alive more than a fresh coat of paint. Give the rooms a little bit of a makeover with new decor that compliments the wall colors. If you have a garden, bring in some fresh flowers and put them in attractive vases.

Establish a pleasant atmosphere by baking bread or cookies. Candles add a nice touch along with background music. Classical or jazz music are both good choices. You want to convey style and elegance to your audience. First impressions go a long way.

When trying to sell your house, you should be prepared for a showing at any time. Last minute requests are very common and can turn into offers. You have the option to request 24 hours notice before a showing, but in doing so you limit your home’s exposure. Try to be as flexible as possible. Accommodating the hectic schedules of a potential buyer will make you and your home look that much better.

It is a good idea to not be present for the showing. Buyers might not feel comfortable in your presence or they might be afraid to ask a particular question for fear of offending you. If they can’t view the house fully, they will probably just move on to the next one. You don’t want that. They are supposed to fall in love with your house.

Why Now is a Great Time to Sell a House

Why Now is a Great Time to Sell a HouseSelling a house in this economy has its challenges. A seller must make a careful assessment of the pros and cons of their property before they put in on the market. One question that must be answered right from the start is establishing whether now is the best time of the year to sell.

Generally, fall and winter are not the best time to sell a home, but due to the increase of foreclosures and short sales, there is an abundance of available homes to choose from, but with many of these properties it is truly buyer beware. The market is plagued with potential hazards for the unsuspecting buyer. Many homes for sale have not been properly processed in the foreclosure process so a new buyer may find themselves in a legal maze where they could lose money. It is up to their real estate agent to inform them of the obstacles.

Interest rates are at all time lows, making now an attractive time for anyone who’s been sitting on the sidelines to jump in, meaning if you’re thinking of selling a home, now could be a great time to take advantage of record low interest rates.

Forecasts of possible further declines in housing prices may or may not happen, but if your home is in good selling condition, you may have an advantage over all the foreclosures and short sales that are flooding the market, simply because of the high risk a buyer must take when buying these properties.

If you need to sell a home, consider the condition of your home, and what you will be competing with in your neighborhood. It may just be the best time ever to sell your home.

Renting Your Home: Problems to Consider

These days, when it’s tougher than ever to sell a house, homeowners are turning to renting as a way out.

Renting may be a good option when you can’t sell, but not everybody is cut out to be a landlord. And while renting may seem like an easy short-term fix, it may not be a long-term solution.

Make sure you consider all the factors before deciding whether renting will solve your problems…or create more.

Problems With Renting Your House

While you may have excellent reasons for renting your house, consider the following before giving up on selling your house.

Buying Another Home – Leaving equity behind in your house may prevent you from purchasing a new house.

Property Management – Managing receipts, maintenance, repairs, emergencies, and other requirements associated with renting requires time, money, and effort. You can choose to do it yourself or you can choose a property manager to do it for you.

Market Recovery or Market Bust – It may take longer than you think for real estate prices to recover. Right now, the economy remains weak. Downward pressure on home values will continue for the foreseeable future. Who can say how much longer or steeper prices will sink before an eventual upswing. Once the market is on an upward trajectory, it will take years for prices to return to previous highs.

Depreciation – While the IRS allows you to take deprecation as an expense against rental income, don’t think of ‘depreciation’ as only a tax deduction good for improving cash flow. Since tenants are unlikely to treat your home as well as you would, physical depreciation is a very real aspect of turning your home over to tenants.

Capital Gains Taxes – If you rent your house for only two years, you can still sell your house and be exempt from paying IRS taxes on up to $250,000 of capital gain (when single) or $500,000 (when married). However, the depreciation you took against rental income may have to be recaptured. Be sure to consult your tax accountant.

Re-lease or Try to Sell Again – In this climate, you’ll find tenants quickly. Once the first year’s lease is over, you’ll have to decide whether to continue renting your house or try selling. Either way, you’ll have to invest in cleaning, painting, landscaping, replacing carpet, upgrading appliances, and making repairs before the next tenants or buyers move in.

Damaged Goods – When you’re ready to sell, your house may be considered ‘damaged goods’. Homebuyers can immediately tell if a house has been lovingly cared for or simply lived in. And they will take this into consideration when making offers.

Selling With Tenants in Place – Let’s face it, tenants don’t care if you sell your house or not. They don’t have a stake in the outcome. They only know it disrupts their schedule. They won’t keep the house as neat and clean as you would. They won’t be as flexible to accommodate showing appointments as you would. And they may hang around the house during showings, making homebuyers uncomfortable and eager to leave. Once their lease is up, you’ll find yourself in a negative cash-flow position and may very well be forced to rent once more.

Rental Merry-Go-Round – After renting your house for what was supposed to be no more than a year or two … just until the market turned around … could turn into a long-term commitment. You may get stuck on the rental merry-go-round, unable to jump off. The window between leases will leave you with only a short time to list and sell your house. Before you know it, you’ll be back on the rental merry-go-round, still waiting for the opportunity to unload a monumental burden.

Rental Prices May Go Down – Right now rental prices are what they are, and they may be just fine for your needs. But renting your house as a short-term solution may not be a long-term solution. With so many homeowners turning to renting as an expedient to selling, tenants will have more homes to pick from. In time, instead of facing a ‘Buyer’s Market’ on the selling end, you may very well face a ‘Renter’s Market’ on the rental end. Such a circumstance would drive rents down year to year. After factoring in rising insurance rates and property taxes, you may eventually find yourself in a negative cash-flow position.

Mortgage Rates – Mortgage rates are the lowest they’ve been in recent history. But they can’t stay low forever. When the economy recovers, the Federal Reserve will start raising key interest rates. Mortgage rates will climb in lockstep, making homeownership more expensive. To make up for higher monthly costs, buyers will bargain that much harder, forcing prices down once again.

Top House Selling Tips

Getting your house ready for sale entails so much more than just sticking a for sale sign in your front yard. To improve your odds of an efficient, top-dollar sale, acquire a good house inspection to find challenges before they turn out to be deal killers, complete the remedial and cosmetic work ahead of when getting your property available on the market, and time the promoting of your home to correspond with a strong selling season in your area.

Look for a good real estate broker. Promoting the house usually requires that you employ and work with various real estate experts (like real estate brokers, property inspectors, escrow officers, and, possibly, tax, legal, or financial advisors). For those who put the correct members on your team, you optimize your possibilities of an effective sale. Make sure to diligently examine as well as negotiate the real estate broker’s listing plan, that is a personal services contract among you and a real estate firm. For many sellers, a 90-day listing that puts your home in the local multiple listing service is best. Remember that commissions as well as other terms of the listing agreement are negotiable.

Work with a stager. This is somebody who will come into your home and show you how to de-clutter and arrange your home for sale. The options they make will certainly transform your house into a real showplace. Many stagers have a variety of furniture and accents to rent during the duration your residence is for sale. Your real estate broker can help you find a good stager.

Be sure to divulge any issues you have present in your home. If you have any doubts whether to reveal a defect or problem with your property, err on the side of disclosure. Otherwise, you raise your (and your real estate broker’s) likelihood of being party to a lawsuit initiated by disgruntled buyers.

Probably the most critical questions you’ll have when selling your house is what is the value of your home? To get the answer, consider sales of houses comparable to yours in size, age, condition, and location (a good agent can help you with all of these issues). Price your house right, and your chances of finding a buyer will increase dramatically because informed buyers recognize the value having seen other houses with unrealistically high asking prices. To produce the most interest in and competition for your house, you should produce a comprehensive, well-coordinated marketing and advertising campaign plan. Working with the right people may help you obtain your goals for selling the house.

If you have any questions about the market, your home, or the best ways to get your home ready to put on the market for sale, contact us. We’ll be happy to assist you in any way we can.