Three Reasons Home Sellers Should Decline An Offer….Even in a Buyer’s Market

Home sellers are reluctant to say no to offers these days.  The fear of losing a buyer overwhelms the reasoning behind selling in the first place.  In such a strong buyer’s market, it is very common to find a home seller ready to take imperfect offers and risky buyers.

There are three reasons, though, that should have any home seller rethinking an offer to purchase:

Reason #1 to decline an offer: The closing date is inconvenient.  Sometimes home sellers don’t think long and hard enough about the closing date in the offer to purchase.  This is a very important date and it can’t be easily renegotiated at a later time.  Don’t underestimate the importance of carefully considering when you will be ready to close.

What will you have to do before the closing date?  Usually you will want to wait until the buyer has funding for the home, so that means you want to look at the time between the mortgage contingency expiration and the closing date to assess if this is enough time for you to pack and move.  If the buyer is denied a mortgage, you will be going back on market, and it is most often best to leave the home in showing condition, rather then empty.  So don’t pack too early.

Ask yourself, do I have where to go?  How long will it take me to pack?  Does this closing coincide well with any work commitments or vacations coming up?  How does this fit into the school year?  If these things are not in place or worked through somehow BEFORE you make a commitment to the buyer, you can end up wasting lot of time and money trying to move out of the home while leaving your life in tact.

Reason #2 to decline an offer: The buyer is risky.  This is a big one!!!  Many buyers are risky these days.  There are few things more frustrating to both the home seller and the listing agent than to go through negotiations, an inspection, planning a move, etc, to find out that the buyer is denied funding.  This is happening more often than ever.  Ask your agent the following questions: Has the buyer been pre-approved?  Is the pre-approval from a reputable financial institution?  How much down payment does the buyer have?

If you are selling a condo, this is even trickier.  Many buildings are not approved for FHA loans, which means buyers with a low down payment are rejected for a mortgage.  Your agent must know ahead of time if the building is FHA approved, and if not, ensure no buyer who needs FHA backing is even considered.

Reason #3 to decline and offer: Too little money.  Honestly, in this market, home seller disappointment in the final sale price is a common occurrence.  But this does not mean you just take whatever you get.  You and your agent must know what has recently sold in the area, what the most you can expect for the home, and not expect much less than that.  If you home has major faults, don’t deny it and be realistic about the price.  Expect a fair market price, and the buyer should expect to pay it.

All these reasons for a home seller to decline an offer to purchase, even in a buyer’s market, represent the most important elements of an offer.  The price, closing date and risk level of the buyer should all be discuss and well considered.  Most often, when you decline an offer, you should think about a counter offer and hope to reach an agreement.  A flat out “No” can mean the end of a deal that could have come together.  But, as a home seller, you should be realistic about the market while maintaining your confidence in yourself and your home.

Have you gotten some low-ball offers lately?  How did you handle them?

Leave a Smaller Carbon Floorplan

If you are anything like me, every piece of trash and every mile driven is a small pinch in the nerve of environmental conscientiousness.  If you have kids, it’s just a constant green guilt fest, as many purchases, diapers, laundry, and trips in the car are unavoidable.

But there is a little bit of good news when it comes to home ownership and creating just a bit less waist.  A recent study by the National Association of Home Builders shows that the less-is-more trend has reached the architectural drawing rooms.

The study called “The New Home in 2015” has houses getting smaller in the next four years.  Many of the amenities highly valued are being cut out of the news homes,leaving them with 10% less space and looking a bit more minimalistic.  It seems that the economic downturn has deemed some features useless, such as a fourth bedroom or a thrid space in the garage. If they are unused, or unnecessary, these spaces require more heating, cooling and other resources to maintain.

If you are opting for a greener life, then you can appreciate the elimination of useless spaces and all the resources this saves. You can also appreciate that an overall trend like this can make real changes in our collective lifestyle.

What does this mean for you as a home buyer or home seller?

If you are looking to buy a home, and you are already considering environmental factors, you can rest assured that when choosing a smaller home which is more efficient, you are going to be well positioned when selling in the coming years.  A big sloppy house with a lot of space of the sake of space will not be more highly valued according to this trend.  Bigger won’t necessarily be better.

As a home seller, ensure your home is making the best use of space and your systems are functioning properly and efficiently.  Some electrical and heating companies will come for an efficiency assessment and show you what can be done to save money.  You should check in with your utility companies.

No less important is to show that your home is not only efficient, but well utilized.  Don’t assume that they extra space in the attic or unused bedrooms are a benefit automatically.  Between the limited financial resources and smaller households, more space just feels like a burden to some.  You can help the sale be ensuring every room has a specific function so the buyer sees the options and versatility of the home.
Over the past thirty years houses have progressively gotten bigger and bigger.  Now it seems we’ve reached a peak where more house just means more costs without benefit.  According to the National Association of Home Builders study, the recession has pushed the utility trend for greener homes.  I guess that is the silver lining of our economic dark cloud.

Do you know of saving money doing something environmentally friendly to your home?

home negotiation

Never Accept the First Offer

That’s great advice I heard from a great agent many years ago.  I’ve used this advice in my whole career and always share it with my clients.

I don’t care what the economy is doing…Never Accept the First Offer!

That sounds like crazy talk when considering the current housing market.  But remember that the offer you get on your house will have several parts to it and you need to consider them all.  There are several ways you can negotiate for better terms, whether you’re the seller or the buyer.

First, the most important factor in the offer is the price.  Are you satisfied with it?  Chances are that you won’t be.  No one is happy to get low ball offers, and if the buyer’s agent has half a brain, you’ll be low-balled if you’ve been sitting on the market.

(If you are new to market and you have an offer quickly, this is the exception.  What it means is that you did great work getting ready for the sale and that you probably listened to your listing agent’s pricing advice.  Good for you.  Still, don’t accept the first offer.  Negotiate something, even something other than price.)

Anyway, here you are with a low-ball offer.  Your agent may tell you it is reasonable, but it doesn’t change the fact that it feels like a low ball.

There are three reasons to counter offer:
1. The buyer expects it.
2. If you don’t, the buyer will think he or she is overpaying
3. You’ll feel better

Take everything else in the offer into consideration, though, before you go back with any counter.  Other than price, you’ll have to factor in the timing and qualification of the buyer.

By the timing of the offer, I mean the closing day.  Can you move out by the time the buyer wants to move in?  Do you know where you are going?  Maybe the home is already vacant and you need the buyer to close sooner.  Make these needs be known…you never know the other sides flexibility until you ask.

Another variable is the buyer’s qualification.  If the purchase will be in cash, negotiate a bit, take the money and run.  You’ll be sparing yourself a lot of stress with a cash buyer.  But good luck finding one of those cash buyers.

With a mortgage contingency, you want to make sure the buyer has been pre-approved and has plenty of funds to buy the home.  That the buyer is approved for much more than the house price is a good thing, no necessarily a place to negotiate a higher price.  Be glad that the buyer is not overreaching and risking being rejected by a bank.

When you are negotiating, you need to know what is going on in the market with comparable properties and listen to your real estate agent’s advice.  Chances are the agent has seen many more houses and sold a few while you’ve been sitting there.  That being said, don’t forget to make counter offers and never be shy of negotiation.  Negotiations are not a conflict, they are a way to reach an agreement.  You are holding a few cards so play.

Do you know your absolute bottom price, any lower and you won’t sell the house?

There are many factors that can – and should – be negotiated. That’s why working with an experienced realtor who knows how to get you the most favorable deal is a smart decision. 

I’m happy to chat about your specific questions and/or needs. Call, text, email anytime. I love hearing from you.


Buy or Sell a Better House

What’s in?  Efficient, green, and useful.

What’s out? Big, fancy, and….well, frivolous.  (I think they called in luxury in 2005).

No one wants to heat unused rooms, drafty windows, and poorly structured homes anymore.  The economic downturn has made it difficult, and the trend of environmental consciousness has made it very uncool.

A few years ago, a new house would be revered for it’s open spaces, the media room, three full baths and extra bedrooms.  A well-appointed living room was the center of every beautiful home and a three car garage the epitome of the good life.

But the economic and demographic trends make these homes outdated and hard to upkeep.  Tight budgets have buyers on the lookout for energy efficient homes with useful rooms, the environmental trend is for sustainable production and little waste, and the demographics show that many homes are for only one or two individuals.

A new study released by the National Association of Home Builders points to what these trends mean for houses over time.  “The New Home in 2015” suggest home will be built 10% smaller.  Expect “low-e” windows, engineered wood beams, joists, and trusses, water efficient features and whole-home Energy Star ratings.

As a seller, the trends of new homes is important to you because they tell you what buyers really want.  Make some changes in your home to match these needs:

1. Increasing the efficiency of your home with new widows, better isolation, an efficient heating system, etc.  Show the proof with your new energy bills.

2. Make the living room a useful space, and any other room that is not lived-in.  For example, a rarely used bedroom can be staged as a den, study or library.

As a buyer, you know what you need but you also must consider resale value in the years ahead.  If you plan to live in the home for less than 5 years, this is especially important:

1. Look for energy efficient homes

2. Don’t judge a home by it’s size, but by it’s utility and use.

3. Always choose a home you find beautiful and pleasant.   You can make changes to it later.

Don’t forget that housing trends have a long cycle, so a new trend today won’t change so fast.

Have you make your house greener in any way?  Comment below.


Home Sellers: Make Your Voice Heard!

You’ve been trying to sell your home for months…Keeping it clean and organized, staging it, maintaining your landscaping, fixing every little thing…Your constantly hear about the terrible housing market conditions….Your agent rarely has an interesting update and you feel like a sitting duck.

It’s not fun lingering on the market.  It’s hard to make long term decisions if your move depends on your ability to sell the house.  And if you are moving no matter what, then it is a lot of stress of the unknown.

So how exciting it is when your real estate agent calls with the news, “We’ve got an offer!”

Woohoo, break out the champagne and start sighing with relief and……it’s a lowball offer with terrible conditions.

Now what?

Regardless of the market conditions, it is vital that you make your needs and expectations as a home seller heard.  Just because it’s a buyer’s market doesn’t mean you don’t exist!  In fact, sellers have a lot of control regardless of the market and it is important you know what to do when an offer comes in.

Make your voice heard by the way you choose to negotiate the terms and conditions of the offer, and learn to say, “No.”  In my experience, sellers have two different reactions to offers depending on the market.  In a seller’s market, they are too brash with their “no’s” and in a buyer’s market they are too shy with their “no’s.”

Now that the market is not tipped in the sellers’ favor, it is important to learn to not be shy, just as it is important to heed some advice.  Break down the offer to it’s parts and find some good and bad aspects.

The price is the most important part of any offer.  If it is unacceptable, that is fine.  Be comfortable saying so, and don’t be afraid of the buyer’s or the agent’s reaction.  You are likely to be encouraged to give a counter offer, which is most often a good decision.  Regardless of the market, you are not obligated to take an offer with which you are unsatisfied.

Other than price, there is the closing date, which must fit into your life.  If the offer price is great, you are encouraged to make arrangements and be more flexible, but incurring unnecessary costs to make an offer work can prove wasteful.  The home sale is about changes you decided to make in your life, and it is up to you to protect your interests.

The last important part of the offer to consider is the quality of the buyer.  Is there a pre-approval letter?  Are they paying cash?  What are the chances this buyer will actually come to the closing table?  If the buyer is unreliable and not presenting a pre-approval if they seek a mortgage, it is perfectly acceptable to say no.  You can end up very worrried the sale will go through and frustrated when it falls apart.  Avoid this by seeking buyer qualifications, in any market.

After your long wait, don’t allow the relief of having an offer overshadow the needs and wants for you and your family.  Make your voice heard so you’ll be satisfied after the closing.

Are you frustrated with your home sale?

Spare Yourself the Headaches of a Home Sale

Listing your home on the market for sale can be a list of hassles and annoyances – from the day you list to the day you close.  But if you take a little bit of time and invest in getting yourself prepared, you’ll have fewer headaches.  Do this right, and you’ll have buyers falling in love with your home.

You know that without curb appeal, you won’t get people indoors to see your lovely home.  It is vital you get the outside to reflect the pride you have in your home.  Both landscaping and the outside condition are imperative in creating the warm homey feeling people want.  Your home should say to buyers, “Living here feels right.”

Next ensure that the inside says the same thing.  Getting rid of the clutter and getting the house sparkling is a big start but there are many other things to make the house feel great to the largest number of possible buyers.  Seek your agent’s advice or a hire a professional stager.  The time and money invested will more than pay off.  You’ll be so pleased with the results, you may even consider staying!

If your home is in great condition, you are doing yourself a big favor in avoiding costly arguments and hearing grievances from your prospective buyers.  The house or condo  shouldn’t only look good, it should be working properly.  Think of it this way, if the buyer’s inspection turn up many unexpected items, you’ll have to repair them or pay for them when you haven’t planned on doing so.  Instead, bring in your own inspector or do the repairs you know you should be doing anyway.

Don’t forget getting all the pesky paperwork in order.  Warranties, contracts, loans, and any major repairs that may require proof later on can all be useful, if not necessary.

Spend a little time before the home is listed, and you’ll enjoy your easy-breezy sale with all the glowing reviews from buyers that your home deserves.

What do you dread about selling your home?  Comment below.

Rethinking Houses – A Trend That Will Save You Money

Between the slow economy and the overdue trend of greener living, priorities buyers when looking for a home are changing.

This is important information for you whether you are buying or selling.  As a buyer, you need to consider both your needs, both current and future.  But you also need to keep in mind the resale value of them home.  If trends in home buying are changing, staying in line with those trends is important to maintaining your home’s desirability.

As a seller, being aware of what buyers want is key to getting the best price for your home.  When your home is perceived as current, livable and answering the needs of many different buyers, your home’s value rises.

A recent report called “The New Home in 2015” by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) indicates a trend towards more efficient home, which are smaller and greener.  This is due, it seems, to the economic downturn which has tightened budgets and make efficiency and utility high priorities.

Here are some chances you can expect in homes in the coming years:

-Expect homes to be smaller. “The New Home in 2015” report reveals that building professionals are moving towards smaller houses, and that new single-family homes would average 2,152 square feet, a 10% smaller home than built in 2010.

-Living rooms are out.  Since few people use their formal living rooms, and manage most of their lives in family rooms, builders see little value in maintaining it.  Why heat or cool and unused room?  Instead expect separate parlor or study areas, or bigger family rooms.

-Fewer rooms.  The fourth bedroom and third bathrooms are also often unused.  The three car garage has proven too big for people’s budgets and there is little interest in frivolity these days.

-Greener homes.  Look for whole home Energy Star ratings.  Better use of materials and lower energy costs are a goal in new homes.

What does this all mean for you?

If you are a buyer, you want to look for some of these features in a home.  Chances are it will compete better with the new houses and the trends in 2015 and beyond.

As a seller, you can make changes to your home that incorporate some of the values of the new home building trends.  First, ensure that your home is making the best use of energy.  This will be a big selling point.  Next, populate your rooms and make them livable.  Stage your house if necessary to show how rooms can be used.  This way, a buyer won’t think about the energy an empty room will consume but the enjoyment that it will provide.

Even if you are not moving in the near future, find a way to make your home a big greener.  This will save some money and make you even prouder of your home.

Yours Can Be The Best House On The Block

If you want to sell your home quickly and with minimal hassle,  you’ll have to do a little bit of pre-listing work.  Getting ready for a home sale is more than just calling your agent and signing paperwork.  There are several things you’ll need to take care of before you list your home.

The following is a to do list before the sale sign goes up:
1. Get Your Curb Appeal.  Paint the house, clean the windows, trim the shrubs and plant some flowers.  Better yet, hire a landscaper.  Make sure your house looks in proper order from the outside, otherwise no one will come see it on the inside.  Planting flowers and adding color ensures your home stands out and helps it photograph well.
2. Pass Inspection.  You may want to have a pre-sale inspection.  Or perhaps just repair what you know to be faulty.  It will come up during the buyer’s inspection, so you’ll have to deal with it sooner or later.  Dealing with it before a sale may save you money and spare you some post-offer negotiation.
3. Paperwork.  It may be a pain, but it must get done.  Contracts, warranties, major repairs, and any important information that will help the sale along should be put in a folder and given to your agent.  Spare yourself the pains of looking for things in the last minute and possible stalling an impatient buyer.
4. How Much Do You Owe?  Ensure all your loans can be closed upon the house sale, otherwise you may not be able to afford to sell.  Know and document all your mortgages and home equity lines of credit.
5. Stage your home.  Think it doesn’t matter much?  Staging your home for a sale can save you thousands!  It is the difference between people competing for your home, or you waiting desperately for your buyer.  Listen to your real estate agent’s advice on the matter.  If they have nothing to say about staging, find another agent, get a book or find a professional stager.

Interest rates have sunk to a new low, which means more buyers are flooding the market.  With so many people moving in the country, buyers are plentiful, but so are properties.  Get ready to be the best house on the market, and you’ll make more money and have a super easy home sale.

I’d love to know: What made you choose this home you have now?  Comment below.

Getting Ready for a Home Sale, Your To Do List

With interest rates so low, buying a home is more affordable, and more buyers are flooding the real estate market, making it a hotter market than you’d think.  The problem is that there are many homes on the market, many of them languishing and sitting on the market forever.

But there are several things you can do to make your home more desirable.  Increasing a home’s desirability can be categorized into appeal, condition, and paperwork.

Appeal includes anything you do to the home in order to get it looking it’s absolute best.  This can include taking advice from your realtor or speaking with a staging professional, (which can also be referred by your agent).

This also includes getting your home ready on the outside.  Hire a landscaper to get your hedges trimmed, flowers planed, and grass mowed.  Your house paint must look fresh, your siding in order and your windows clean.

Next, ensure your home is in great condition.  Remember you will have an inspection, the condition of the home is more than skin deep.  One way to ensure your house is ready for inspection is to have one yourself.  Anything you learn during inspection you will have to either disclose or fix.  This may be in your best interest  unless you are selling a fixer-upper or you are short on cash for immediate expenses.

If you know of problems or you were about to repair something, do it now.  This greatly reduces the chances of big headaches later.  Gutters, cabinets, plumbing, electrical, roof, etc. should all be in proper working order.

Last category of pre-home sale tasks is getting your paperwork in order.  Some examples of paperwork that are important to buyers includes condominium documents, if you are selling a condo, or proof of major repairs.  If you live in a home that has been de-leaded, then you will need the certificate for that as well.  If you are not sure if your home has been de-leaded, chances are that it has not.

Other items under the paperwork category include knowing of any open mortgages and home equity lines of credit, (or any other liens against the home), and having the proof for any closed mortgages and home equity lines of credit.  The reason for this is that sometimes the records at the registry have not been properly updates and your documentation of a closed loan makes the sales process much quicker.

Something you don’t have to worry about it your deed.  Many people I meet have gone to great lengths to locate their deed, but it is in the registry, it is a public record and easily accessible.

When you get your home ready for a sale, you are getting prepared for it both physically and emotionally.  Save yourself time and money.  Attract the right buyer and have an easy home sale when you home’s appeal, condition and paperwork are in order.

Do you have any questions about how get ready to list your home?   Comment below…

Preparing for a Home Sale, Avoid Nightmares Later

Yes, it is possible to have an easy and positive experience selling your home.  All those stories you’ve heard about buyers and sellers clashing, agents fighting and nasty negotiations are not a must when you go through your next real estate transaction.  If you take just a bit of time to prepare, and follow the steps below, you can turn a notoriously stressful experience into a friendly one.

Every time I would go in to list a home for the market, I would try to prepare the sellers emotionally and assess if they are truly ready to let go of their current home and undergo the big changes.  Since these changes are mostly unavoidable and usually welcomed, it is my role to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.  Selling a home, I’ve learned over the years, is not about just the sale.  It is always a time of huge change in the life of the home seller.  No one sells a home in hopes to stay put.

Sensitive to this, I put together a to do list that over the years has been custom fitted for each client.  In fulfilling their pre-home sale to do list, my clients have (in the most part), found it easier to sell than those who did not prepare.

Preparing for a home sale includes getting the home ready for buyers to view and love your home.  This is the biggest chunk of your work.  The home which is ready for sale is picture perfect, both inside and out.  Think of the message you want to send the buyer…think about when you were a buyer.  What made you buy this home?  What did you love about it?  What did you hate about it?  Why?

Starting from the outside, your house should look in perfect condition.  This means painting the house if need be, repairing windows, cleaning windows, and of course, landscaping.  Don’t overlook the importance of a tidy and inviting yard.  Add color with flowers, trim the hedges, mow the lawn or get a great landscaper to do it all for you.

Once inside, the house should be staged.  Staging means that you sell the house looking a bit differently than the way you use it.  I am always reminded of my colleague John’s comment, “Just because I like toast every morning, doesn’t mean that toaster is sitting there for the showings.”  Now, I admit that I am not a staging expert, but some real estate agents are, and some hire a professionals.

This is a vital, so invest in staging!  When sellers refuse to spend the money on a professional stager or to make some changes recommended by an agent, it is like saying, “Yeah, I don’t want as much money as the house is worth.”

The next way to best prepare for your home sale is to do all the repairs you have been considering.  If you know of none, you can invite an inspector and for a few hundred dollars get a full inspection of the house.  This step will save you money, arguments and headaches.  How?

The buyers will surely have an inspection, so this will help you avoid ugly surprises.  You may wish to fix whatever is wrong, or disclose it so the buyers are fully aware when they make offers.

An organized and thorough buyer, (which is what you want), will appreciate any warranties or contracts you have on the house, so gather them and put them in a folder so you can provide them at closing, or even before that so the buyers can review them if they wish.

In order to glide through to closing with minimum events, you want to get your lender information in order, and know all you mortgages and home equity lines – open and closed.  You don’t want to learn, just days before closing, that the home equity line from five years ago was not registered.  Get your discharge paperwork in order ahead of time.  If you don’t have it, it can be obtained, but start working on it early in the transaction so your closing is on time.

In my ten years of real estate, I can honestly say that most sales were positive and friendly experiences.  A little help from a well prepared seller went a long way towards that!

What’s your biggest concern when facing your home sale?