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WHY HIRE A REALTOR? Plain & Simple!

In any real estate transaction, there are many moving parts to keeping the transaction moving forward, and it is the job of your Realtor to facilitate that process.  It is sometimes the mindset of the seller that they don’t need a Realtor, and may try to sell their house on their own (FSBO). I’m not saying that there aren’t those far and few in between times where a seller could have success with that.  But hiring a Realtor is not “just to list your home, and locate the buyer,” it is that, and everything in between that will take the transaction to the closing table! 

After determining a fair market value for the home through your Realtors Market Analysis, representing the seller and locating the buyer is just the first step in the home sale process.  Making sure the potential buyer is “pre-approved” to purchase the home barring any unforeseen issues that may come up; getting the property under contract; getting it through the inspections, and then negotiating any items of concerns from the buyer regarding the home inspection are the next big hurdles.  It is getting through the appraisal process, especially in this market.  Unfortunately, it is a little more common these days for a property to come back on the market, due to the buyer’s inability to obtain a mortgage because the property did not appraise. Are buyers willing to pay more than list price to get the house? Sure!  But that would mean, and the buyers would need to understand, if the seller is not willing to negotiate the price down, to move forward with their purchase, they will have to make up the difference between the purchase price and what the bank will loan them. It is your Realtors job to know the ins and outs and the “what if’s” should they arise.  

Lastly, putting all the right players on the “team” to represent the interests of both buyers and sellers is key to its success.  If you do not have a relationship with an attorney, mortgage representative and the like, ask your Realtor for recommendations.  He/she is a good resource for recommending representatives from attorneys to mortgage representatives and/or banking institutions, to inspectors and movers, that will represent you well and work in your best interests.   Your Realtor should be your go-to resource – before, during, and after the transaction.  

Working with buyers and sellers to achieve their real estate goals.

HOW DO I MAKE MY OFFER MORE COMPETITIVE IN A SELLERS MARKET?

Losing out on a home you’ve offered on is upsetting.  Especially when it happens more than you care to count.  Thoughts of potentially making this house your home, only to have another buyer swoop in and make an offer more appealing to the seller – stinks!  Securing your dream home is about timing, contract terms, and submitting the strongest offer possible. With inventory at record lows, makes for a lot of competition. It is crucial that that you make your offer stand out. Below are some suggestions to help increase your chances of getting it accepted.

Offer Price:  Getting the highest sales price is what sellers look for in an offer, but it may not always be the determining factor.  Having your Realtor ask the “right” questions of the listing agent prior to making your offer may disclose determining factors that could appeal to the seller, which knowing, could give you an advantage to the seller accepting your offer.  Properties with multiple offers are more common now and you may only get one chance to make your offer.  Prior to structuring your offer, your Realtor should ask the listing agent if there are multiple offers, and if so – how are they being handled?  Knowing whether you should submit your “highest and best” – or will you have the opportunity for a second go-around.  

Higher Down Payment:  Now more than ever, it’s important to let the seller know that you are a serious buyer – nothing speaks louder than a high down payment!  If you are using lender financing, the more money down the more likely your loan will be approved. 

Contract Terms:  All things equal, sellers will likely choose the offer with the strongest closing terms. An all-cash offer can close quickly may be more appealing than lender financing. If you have the means to liquidate accounts, now may be a good time to do this.  Having that in place enables you to act fast when you see a property you like. If this isn’t an option, work with your lender to get as much of the underwriting done prior to finding a home. This can take weeks off the approval time.  

Waiving Contingencies:  Contingencies are potential obstacles that could make or break the deal.  The more contingencies you can remove upfront, the more appealing your offer will be.  Understand, there is a fine line between making a reckless offer and knowing what to eliminate. Having those conversations with your Realtor and/or attorney will help you determine if this makes sense to do.  

The following are standard contingencies put in every contract:  Inspections; appraisals; and financing … 

If you are doing a total renovation, the inspection may not be that important. 

Waiving the appraisal contingency could assure the seller that if the appraisal comes in low, you will still purchase the home, even if that means bringing more cash to the closing to cover the difference! 

When financing a home, the larger the down payment, the more appealing it is to the seller. While CASH is King as they say … most do not have luxury.

Understanding what’s important to the seller is key, along with eliminating any contingencies that may make your offer more appealing to the seller when possible.

Buyers need to act fast in this market if they want a shot at securing the home they have been searching for.  Speak with your Realtor as he/she may be able to pull that “needle out of the haystack” prior to the home ever hitting the market – thus not having to get involved in a potential bidding war.  I have had success with this myself.  As a Realtor, knowing your clients wants and needs allows us the opportunity to “make a match” that benefits both parties!  

Helping buyers & sellers achieve their real estate goals.

WHAT SHOULD YOU CONSIDER BEFORE PUTTING YOUR HOME ON THE MARKET?

So, you finally got off the fence and decided to “make the move.” That’s great! Here are a few things you should consider prior to placing your home on the market.

First, schedule a meeting with your Realtor.  He/she will visit your home to discuss in detail your real estate goals.  Some questions they may ask will be … What has brought you to the decision of selling your home?  Is there a timeline you need to work within?  Will you be purchasing another home, or will you be renting?  Do you still have a balance on your mortgage?   If so, do you know approximately what that balance is?  If you are purchasing another home, will you need to pull the equity from your sale to put down on your new home purchase?  Have you spoken to a mortgage lender to get pre-approved if you are planning on taking out a mortgage? Do you plan to move local or to another state?

It is important that your Realtor have a good understanding of what your goals are, so together you are able to establish a plan of action which will allow you to set reasonable expectations that will enable you to move forward with better ease.

Your home’s value will play a large role in determining how you will move forward or not. If you are in negative equity situation for example, that is an important factor to know and consider in your decision-making process.  To establish the market value of your home, your Realtor will prepare a Comparative Market Analysis, taking note of all relevant factors that will come into play when establishing value. This includes reporting homes similar to your home with similar criteria such as town, style, number of bedrooms and baths, square footage year built and acreage. The condition of your home as it compares to the homes in the report will be evaluated in the analysis.  

Once the market value of your home has been determined and you have decided to move forward and put your house on the market, it is now time to get your home show- ready!  At this point, your Realtor would have discussed any items that he/she felt necessary to address prior to placing your home on the market.   If the home is in need of any major repairs or updating, that should be reflective in the price. For example – any suggested upgrades, mechanical, electrical or plumbing issues that may have needed to be addressed, or whether the home being sold “as is.”  

And lastly, first impressions matter!  Often, we will see curb appeal at the very top of the list as first impressions really do matter!  Freshening up the flower beds, a fresh coat of paint on the front door, if necessary, a few flowerpots and a welcome mat at the door is a perfect touch. A fresh coat of paint on the walls is an inexpensive fix and will do wonders if needed. Your Realtor may discuss staging the home if they think it would help in the sale of your home.

Regardless of it being a seller’s market, it is still important as a seller to give your home the best opportunity for gaining the most value once it hits the market.  If the potential buyer is not impressed when they first do their “drive-by” – the home showing may not even make it to their list. 

Helping buyers & sellers achieve their real estate goals.

THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING WHO REPRESENTS WHO IN A REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION

Whether you’re a buyer or seller, understanding the different types of agency relationships when you are in the middle of negotiating your home purchase or sale is important.  You may not have even given this a thought – but these terms are something you should understand when selling or purchasing a home.

When hiring a real estate agent, it’s important to understand whose side he or she is on, so to speak. Most commonly are when you hire a Realtor to represent you in the sale of your home, we refer to them as a “Listing Agent”, and most always you will hire a Realtor to represent you in the purchase of a home which we refer to as a “Buyers Agent”. But there are circumstances where there will be variable relationships in between that you may not be aware of.  By knowing where your agent’s loyalties lie, you will know what you can tell them and what you should not tell them. For example, if you are speaking with the listing agent, one who represents the seller of a home you may want to purchase, you may not want to mention to them that you just love the home so much you would be willing pay anything to make the house your home.

Conversely, if you were a seller speaking to the buyer’s agent you would not want to tell him/ her you would accept less than your list price.

Below are the different types of agency representations to be mindful of when entering the process of selling or buying real estate.  

Buyer’s Agency

Buyer’s agent fiduciary duties are with the buyer and represents their best interest in their home purchase. Any information shared with the agent is strictly confidential, regarding price or motivation, unless otherwise instructed by the buyer.

Listing Agency

Listing agent acts on behalf of the seller and their fiduciary duties are with the seller on the sale of their home. Other than material facts, any information shared with the agent regarding price or motivation is strictly confidential, unless otherwise instructed by the seller.

Dual Agency

When a real estate company can be the agent of both the buyer and seller. Dual Agency arises when a Buyer’s Agent shows a property currently listed with the same brokerage. The real estate company can be the agent for both buyer and seller in a transaction providing the relationship is disclosed and is mutually agreed upon in writing by both parties. Dual Agents owe both parties fair treatment, advice, guidance and negotiations to mutual agreeable terms and conditions. Lastly, Dual Agents cannot share price, terms, or motivation of either party or disclose any confidential information without the permission of either the buyer or seller.

Designated Agency

This option is available in the event that either party is not comfortable with Dual Agency. In this case, an agent will be appointed to represent the buyer and seller separately in the transaction.

Understanding agency relationships while having an open dialogue and good communication with your Realtor can only result in a smooth transaction.

“Helping buyers & sellers reach their real estate goals”

THE IMPORTANCE OF PRICING YOUR HOME RIGHT

Fact remains, it is still a crazy real estate market.  The driving force … low inventory, and high buyer demand, makes for a perfect storm for this to be called a “seller’s market”.  Properties going at or over list, and under deposit in days of hitting the market! 

In a “typical” market” you should see the most activity within the first 30 days of your home hitting the market. Within the first two weeks, you should have a good gauge as to pricing and interest. If after 30 days of market time, you have not received an offer on the property, I will usually advise my sellers that we may need to revisit and reevaluate our marketing strategy and make any necessary adjustments, including price, based upon showing and agent feedback. If a home is priced well, it will sell regardless of condition, providing there are no major objections with the property. 

Having said that … if your home continues to sit on the market while other homes around you are going under deposit, you may need to ask yourself why this is happening.  Since we are still in a seller’s market, here are a few things to ponder on to possibly change that.

You only have one chance to make a first impression, so make it count. Even in a seller’s market, you need to do the work necessary to make your home out-shine your competition. Start by making sure your outside space is warm and inviting and remove any clutter from inside the home.

Many times, I will suggest staging the home to impress your potential buyers. You need to be show ready at all times. Buyers are searching online, so professional photos are important to showcase your home at first sight. This will help your home sell faster.

You want to be as flexible as possible with showings. Buyers can’t buy what they can’t see. If there are pets in the house, remove them for the showing, perhaps take them for a walk or if need be, contain them in one place. You don’t want your pets to be a distraction to the buyer when they are viewing your home.

A word of caution – regardless of it being a seller’s market, don’t get crazy with pricing your home higher than where the price should be.  That strategy will actually hurt you.  Your inflated price is more likely to deter buyers from even taking a look at your home which can limit your buyer pool.  When you price your house right, you increase your home’s visibility, which drives more buyers to want to tour your home, that may ultimately create a bidding war. 

Before placing your home on the market, speak with a Realtor and have him/her do a Comparative Market Analysis on your home to determine what fair market value looks like to you in this market.  

Working with buyers & sellers to help them achieve their real estate goals!

Laura