Top Five Mistakes Sellers Make

It can be a tough market for selling a home, but those conditions can get even worse if sellers aren’t careful. While a seller doesn’t control the real estate market, their actions can significantly contribute to how long and how much their home is sold for.

Underestimating Cleaning Up: It may seem obvious, but I can tell you real estate agents everywhere are nodding their heads in agreement as they read this. Inviting potential buyers in to see an unkempt home is like going on a job interview without freshening up after you cleaned your garage. How can the employer notice your fantastic talents and skills if they’re hidden underneath a sloppy exterior? How you show your home tells the buyer what type of care you, the seller, has put into the home?

 

If you can’t take the time to wipe the grime off the refrigerator doors, tidy up the kids’ rooms, take out the messy diapers, put away the food, and take the dogs out of the house for a while, then you’ll likely find buyers will quickly move on to the next home on their list.

Lingering During Showings: Yes, we all want to know how the open house or showing went, but hanging around during either of those events is not a good idea. Sellers who tend to linger during showings often make the buyers uncomfortable. Buyers like to have time to explore the home at their own pace and without feeling any pressure. Sometimes buyers want to sit on the porch or out in the backyard as they discuss the home’s possibilities. And if buyers are willing to sit for a bit and talk about the home, that’s a great sign. However, the chances of them doing that with the seller present is unlikely. Many times buyers will say, “Let’s skip the home if the sellers are there.”

If you’re selling your home, do yourself a favor and hit the road for a bit. Take a walk or head to the coffee shop. As soon as the showing is over, you can get all the details from your agent. That’s why you’re paying your agent! Let them do their job. Just make sure that your agent has all the home’s selling points and any additional features that make this home standout.

For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Trap: Some people are convinced that they can do it on their own. Maybe they can sell their own home, but it likely won’t happen without some headaches. Trained specialists are called “experts” for a reason. An expert real estate agent knows the market, has connections, guides you through the process, negotiates on your behalf, and will make the process of selling your home simpler.

One potential land mine that FSBOs face is the flood of people popping in to see their home. It sounds great that there’s so much traffic, but the problem is many times the people who pop into FSBO properties aren’t actually qualified for a mortgage or may not be serious buyers. Instead they’re just looking and satisfying their curiosity at your expense. Agents know to ask the right questions to make certain the lookers are truly potential home buyers.

Not interviewing agents: If you have kids, chances are you interviewed the nanny or babysitter. Taking time to seek out top real estate agents in your are. Setting up interviews with them is equally important. Choosing the wrong agent for the job will be a headache and slow the process down. There must be a connection, understanding, and good communication between the seller and the agent. There are lots of things that go on during the sale of a home, communicating with the agent should be one of the easier tasks.

Pricing a home incorrectly: This could be the worst mistake sellers make. Yet, this is where so much help can be found. Real estate agents see homes every single day. They know the neighborhoods and the comps. They are there to help you understand what homes have sold for in the recent past and what they’ll likely sell for during the current market conditions. Get a market evaluation from your agent and understand that what is a fair price for your home in today’s market.

How Home Sellers Can Maximize Buyer Offers

Today’s market can be a difficult one for many sellers to navigate. While your real estate agent can advise you, the ultimate decision of what offer to accept is entirely up to you.

This decision can come with quite a bit of pressure. Even in the most favorable of markets this can be a difficult time. How do you know when to accept an offer?

maximize offers
Here are some questions to consider:

•  Is the buyer pre-qualified/approved? Selling will require an investment of time and money. You may need to find a new home or a temporary rental. There’s nothing worse than buying a new house only to find out the deal to sell yours has fallen through.

•  Do you need to move? The urgency of your move may dictate what offer you accept. Many sellers need to move quickly for a new job. You may need to sell to avoid foreclosure. If you are in a rush, you may need to accept an offer that is less than ideal.

•  How much do you owe? You don’t want to sell your home at a loss. And be sure to take closing costs into consideration. Many markets experienced high levels of depreciation over the last year. If you are underwater on your loan, now may not be the time to sell.

•  What is the market climate? Are you likely to get another offer? How long has your home been on the market? Have you had many showings? All of these are factors to consider when contemplating what offer to accept.

Above all, ask yourself if this offer was a reasonable offer. There are buyers that may attempt to low ball you. They may see that your home has been on the market longer than your competition. They may know that it’s a strong buyers market. In response they offer a much smaller amount for your home than it is worth. You are not obligated to accept these low ball offers. However, if you are in need of selling now, every offer warrants consideration or a counter offer.
In the end, you must accept an offer that works for you. You may be willing to accept a lower amount in exchange for a faster closing date. Or you may wish to hold out for the highest dollar amount.

Written by Carla Hill, RealtyTimes

Renovate or Sell As Is?

Should I Renovate or Sell As Is?

When prospective home sellers invite me for a consultation, the most common question is not,”What is my home’s value?” but, “Should I renovate or sell the house as is?”

selling house in Newton MA

If your house is on a large parcel, it may be worth more than you think!

Several considerations are made to answer the questions of renovating or selling as-is.  At the top of the list is the local real estate market conditions.  No one answer can be given to this question, and discussing the house without a understanding the market is futile.

The advice here applies especially to South Newton MA, Chesnut Hill MA and Brookline MA, as well as parts of Boston, where land is scarce and the houses are old.  There is a great demand for luxury housing in the Boston area, which drive the pressure on the land and tear-down markets.

Brookline MA, for example, has a very high demand for land and tear-downs.  An old house which can be taken down can be worth more than a bigger house, if the land is larger and buildable.  Furthermore, the zoning of a parcel dictates how many units can be built and the size of the homes.  This is key knowledge to the equation.

Once the local real estate market and the town zoning is understood, review the considerations below to learn how I advise my clients.

In order for me to recommend renovations to a Brookline or Newton house, these are the things I look for:

1. The home owners have energy, patience, interest, and financial resources to make changes.

If a you some cash and bit of interest in renovating things, some projects may yield a return greater than 100%. Make sure you do ONLY those projects.  Don’t make these common home improvement mistakes.

2. The home is in generally good shape already.

Maybe you already have a new kitchen, so modernizing the bath would increase the value of the home. Or the home is in perfect condition other than some old carpeting, then I recommend changing the carpet. Another scenario is if the inside of the home is updated, but the exterior is a bit shabby. Here I recommend investing in making the house look great outside.

3. Market conditions favor home buyers.

Home buyers, to distinguish from investors or developers, tend to want to do less work. Walking into a house which is ready is highy valued by young families and overworked professionals.

In order to recommend selling your home as is, I look for the following:

selling land in Brookline MA

Your property’s value depends on the town’s zoning code.

1. If you can’t do the work, or it will be a great burden, then don’t!

Even projects which may be a good financial investment re not worth your stress and exhaustion.

2. The home needs too much work.

If your house hasn’t been updated many years, or if the house is in a consistent condition throughout, then sell the home as it is, to the right buyer. Don’t waste time and money on renovating a pink, mud-back tile bathroom if the kitchen is to remain avocado color and the wallpaper is peeling in the dining room.

It is likely the next owner will take on a major project and your bathroom may be turned into a pantry. Don’t put money into a part of the home, when the rest will remain outdated.

3. The market favors developers.

A developer is not paying a premium for upgrading something. If the devlopers are the strength in the market, they may be able to offer you more than a home buyer. Always speak with a local and highly experienced agent before you may any such decision.

4. Your house is in the immediate Boston Area and you are sitting on a chunk of land.

On a large lot in Boston, Newton, or Brookline, the house is almost always secondary. If the lot can be subdivided, if it can be turned into a multi-unit property, or if your house is small – the value is in the potential, rather than the house.

Whenever you consider selling your home, you must first speak with a real estate agent who can identify the strengths of the house. Learn the current market value of your home (Zestimates do not count), and who is the most likely buyer for your home. Only then decide to renovate or sell as is.

Thinking of selling your home?  Interested in a free market evaluation of a property?  Contact me today!

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finding best real estate agent

3 Tips to Negotiate Real Estate Commission

finding best real estate agentIt’s a common situation all real estate agents experience. We are discussing the benefits of our services with a perspective seller, and the commission bomb is dropped: “Is the commission negotiable,” the homeowner asks.

“Some agents will do this for 4%,” is another comment I hear often in Brighton.

While most agents fear the commission questions, I welcome them. It is my opinion every perspective seller who did not ask about it, wanted to do so, but didn’t feel it appropriate. It’s on everyone’s mind.

Here are three tips on how negotiating real estate commission, and the replies to expect from the agents you interview for to sell your condo or house in Brookline, Brighton or Newton.

1. Invite more than one real estate agent for a presentation. More options will give you leverage. Tell the agents you are interviewing others.  Knowing this, some agents may offer you a better commission price on the spot or expect to negotiate.

The best real estate agent you will interview will be unfazed by competition and follow-up when you finish interviewing. A highly qualified real estate agent who believes in what she does will not offer a discount.

2. Ask for a specific discount. When home sellers ask me the vague question, “Is the commission negotiable,” my answer is, “Only if you want to pay more.” Everyone laughs, subject is dropped.

When you ask for a specific commission reduction, “Can you reduce it by 0.5%?” for example, the answer must be more specific. A weak real estate professional will be caught off guard and likely say yes.

Your best candidate will say no, and tell you why. The commission breakdown should be transparent. You’ll understand why a 0.5% break for you is a 25% discount in the listing agen’ts compensation. Would you take a 25% pay reduction from your boss? You’d probably look for a better job.

3. Don’t be timid. Most home sellers interviewing real estate agents are uncomfortable negotiating and shy about asking for the discount. Many real estate agents rely on your timidity to get paid full price. If you do not ask the hard questions, you may not find your best candidate.

The best real estate agent to sell your home will never offer a commission discount up-front, and will not yield on negotiating the commission. An agent ready to negotiate commission will be all too ready to negotiate the price of your home and terms and conditions for your sale. If you can easily negotiate with an agent, you should be wary of hiring him to represent your interests.

Instead, use the real estate commission negotiation question to find a confident agent who can handle uncomfortable questions and demonstrates the value of her commission.

Do you have a commission question?  Are you considering curious about the costs of selling a home?  Write me below:

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Three Most Important Contingencies When Buying a Condo

Are you working with a Realtor on your home purchase in Boston? I certainly hope so!  If you are going at it alone, you may overlook the most important contingencies when buying a condo.  In Massachusetts there are two contingencies written into the offer to purchase paperwork.  But what’s not in the standard offer is the most important when buying a condo.  Row of brick houses in Boston

Here are the three contingencies you must have in your offer to buy a condo:

1. Inspection Contingency.  Conduct an inspection with a licensed inspector who comes highly recommended.  You will have 7-10 days (including weekends) to conduct this inspection. Ensure you receive the report in a timely manner, and if you need more time, file for an contingency extension.

2. Financing / Mortgage Contingency.  Unless you are paying cash, you will probably have a mortgage contingency in your offer.  The standard paperwork has it built into the offer.  Usually, roughly a month to six weeks after the offer is accepted.  If you are closing quickly, you’ll have to get it done sooner.  Don’t forget to submit your completed mortgage application in accordance with the deadline in the offer.  If you read carefully through the paperwork, you’ll find the buyer’s obligation to file an application by a specified day.  If not done on time you jeopardize the validity of the mortgage contingency.

3. Condominium Documents Review.  Although not included in the standard paperwork, the condo document review is in my opinion the most important contingency when buying a condo.  It allows you time to read through the condominium documents and financial statements, and pass them on to your attorney to look for anything out of the ordinary.

Why is this so important?  You will learn about the financial health of the building, rules and regulations, and a lot more detail about how the condo association functions.      If the building is in a dismal financial situation and poorly run, expect the value of the condo to deteriorate or the association to have large expenses in the near term.  Furthermore, the mortgage company may reject your application if the building has low owner occupancy or lack of funds.

When including the condominium documents review contingency, don’t forget to specify the documents will be provided within two business days.  The listing broker should have them ready before the condo goes on market, so this should not be a problem.

Writing an offer to purchase a condo requires thought and preparation. Learn the contingencies and don’t depend on standard paperwork alone to protect your interests.