An Open Letter from an Agent to Anyone Considering Selling Their Home

So you’re thinking about selling your home? I realize you didn’t arrive at this decision lightly, and that you might be nervous or scared. There are so many things that are probably going through your head right now. I’d like to help you by offering some advice, and hopefully putting your mind at ease.

First, do some research.
It’s important for you to understand how much money you can expect to get for your home. We need to be realistic. Unfortunately, checking online sites like Zillow or Trulia isn’t going to give you the most accurate picture of your home’s value. This is why it’s important to sit down with a real estate agent that understands the market and will give you a realistic home value estimate by comparing similar properties that have recently sold in your area.

This meme is pretty funny (and rather sarcastic)… but at the same time, it illustrates a painful reality.

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Discuss your situation.
Discussing your situation with a real estate agent will also help you identify any other aspects of the transaction that you might be forgetting. For instance, there might be something glaringly obvious that could get in the way of a smooth home inspection that you might not be considering… or, on the other hand, a unique feature that your home might have which could help maximize its value. Also, discussing the process with an agent will help you understand how much money you can expect to walk away with after the closing.

Considering braving it alone?
If you’re considering selling your home without an agent, remember that you’re doing so at your own risk. There are quite a few things that can go wrong (many of them legal) which an agent is trained and perfectly set up to handle. Also, do you really want to deal with random strangers showing up at random times throughout the day, wondering whether they’re even qualified to buy a house or if they’re just bored and looking for something to do?

Or said a different way…

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Let an agent worry about these things; you’ll thank yourself later.

Pick the right agent.
Working with the right person can mean the difference between a smooth transaction and a less-than-memorable experience. How do you pick the right one?

First, make sure you feel comfortable with the person. You might spend a lot of time with them, so it’s important that you have a rapport.

Secondly, if the agent is giving you some inconvenient feedback or information, don’t dismiss them. The best agents will tell you the truth because they understand that setting the right expectations is more important than promising you the world.

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Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Lastly, ask as many questions as you need to until you feel comfortable with your level of understanding. The right agent will be patient with you and will understand just how big of a deal this is.

Don’t stress!
This might be easier said than done, but try to keep things in perspective. Your home is probably your most valuable asset and the most consequential transaction that you’ll ever work on. But people buy and sell their homes every day, and there’s a very comprehensive system in place that helps facilitate those transactions. Your agent will help guide you through the process and will help you feel at ease. Remember, you’re not the first and you won’t be the last person to feel the stress.

Expect the unexpected.
It would be lovely if I could promise you that everything will go perfectly smooth, but it rarely does. Obstacles almost always come up during a real estate transaction, but that doesn’t mean you should pull your hair out worrying. Agents know there will be bumps in the road, and they’ll also know how to get over them and get your home sold with as little stress for you as possible.

So don’t stress, be realistic, find the right agent to help, and remember that small hiccups are just part of the transaction.

And by the way, feel free to give me a call. 🙂

I’ve created a free guide to help my clients properly prepare their house for sale. If you’re thinking about selling your starter home in the near future (or ever…), grab a copy!  How To Prepare Your House For Sale

Eliminate Pet Odors in Your Home

Eliminate Pet Odors In Your Home

Eliminating bad odors from your home is incredibly important, you want to make sure you’ve removed them before putting it on the market. Often times, the first thing buyers notice upon entering your home, is how it smells. If there is an odd odor, it will instantly put them off. No matter how beautifully staged and presented it is, strong odors or stale air can make your home unappealing to prospective buyers. Opening windows and exhaust fans will only go so far in removing foul odors, but won’t generally eliminate it completely. To ensure you don’t lose potential buyers, follow these odor eliminating tips to ensure your home smells and feels fresh and new.

Don’t Use Artificial Freshening Sprays
Don’t make the mistake of spraying artificial room freshener sprays in hopes that it will remove the bad odor. Deodorizers will quickly fade, and only mask the smell, sometimes in an overwhelming way. If a buyer walks into your home, your air freshener can cause a reaction, like a runny nose or a headache, and will make them suspicious of an underlying foul odor. Instead of trying to mask it, locate the actual source of the bad odor and get rid of it.

Best Pet Carpet Cleaners for Accidents
We all love our furry friends, but unfortunately, they can get your home pretty smelly. Whether the smell is on the carpet, furniture, or even on the walls – it’s essential to have it removed. Most odors stem from accidents. You always want to attend to the accident right away. Blot them with a paper towel and use mild dishwashing liquid to help remove the odor. Once completely cleaned, blot again with fresh paper towels to dry the spot. If the accident is not recent, use an enzyme cleaner to eat the bad bacteria. Another great idea is to use activated charcoal. It is a form of carbon that has been activated to make it extremely porous. You can get activated charcoal meant for pet odors at most pet stores.

Green Cleaning Products
Using natural odor eliminators is a great green alternative to most of the chemicals sold at stores. One of the most recommended products is to use baking soda. You can place an open box of it in a room to help absorb unwanted smells. It also helps to remove musty aroma in dark spaces, like a basement. On top of being used to remove pet odors, it also works great for cigarette smells. If you don’t wish to use baking soda, most pet supply stores will have green cleaning products that help remove odors, while still being safe for your household.

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Why Fall Might Be The Best Time To Buy A Home

A lot of people think the best time to buy a house is during the Spring market.

And, it is…

…in the sense that more houses are listed for sale in the Spring. But, there’s also a heck of a lot more buyers trying to buy those listings.

The thing is, some of the houses listed back in the Spring don’t end up selling. (Usually just because they were overpriced.)

Now, it isn’t like new listings don’t happen in the Fall. There are always new listings coming on the market. But it’s not like, just because it’s Fall and not Spring, prices are necessarily going to fall. In other words, new listings aren’t likely to list for a lot lower than you would have seen in the Spring.

However, the homeowners who did list back in the Spring, are much more likely to be anxious (perhaps even desperate) to sell their home. They’ve created their own problem…they missed the boat by pricing too high.

Which is great news for you, if you’re looking to buy a home:

  • Less competition. (Many buyers stop looking at this time of year…for no good reason.)
  • Motivated sellers. (They’re sick of being on the market, and wondering why nobody bought their house.)

But it isn’t always easy to find those listings. They don’t wave a white flag, or lower their price to some ridiculous amount everyone would notice. If only it were that easy…

Just because someone listed their home back in the Spring doesn’t mean they’ll be all that negotiable.

There are certain things a great real estate agent will know to look for.

And I love rolling up my sleeves and finding the ones we can most likely negotiate the best deals on.

So, got anything you want me to roll up my sleeves and look for? Real estate deals won’t just fall in your lap, but I can certainly help you find one this Fall.

Bonus
Want another reason to buy a home in the Fall?

You can take advantage of year-end sales to outfit your home!

Hardly anybody buys a home who doesn’t want (or need) to make improvements, however small. So why not coordinate your purchase with sales on items you’ll need? According to Consumer Reports, September is an ideal time for buying carpet and paint. In October lawn mowers go on sale, and the same goes for appliances and cookware in November.

I’ve created a free guide to help my clients properly prepare for purchasing a home. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future (or ever…), grab a copy! The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide

Simple Sprucing Tips for Your Home

Simple Sprucing Tips For Your Home

You don’t need thousands of dollars to fully refurbish your home to make it feel like new again. Instead, you can DIY a lot of features in your house to help spruce it up for the upcoming season. Whether you plan to sell your home, have guests over, or are just tired of how drab it’s been feeling lately, here are a few tips and tricks you can use to refresh your space:

Clean and Declutter
Throw out all of the junk taking up space! You’d be surprised by how much more you’ll fall back in love with your home when you take out the collection of accumulated stuff that has piled up over the years and finally get to see your home’s features for what they are. Store what you don’t need/use in either the attic, basement, or in a storage unit. After you’ve decluttered, be sure to finish it off by cleaning your home. Clean windows, walls, and the floors for the best results.

Bring in Natural Light
Do you have heavy curtains covering your windows? Bring them down! Not only will this make your space feel bigger by removing stuff off the walls, it’ll also feel alive again with all of the natural light that pours in.

Add Fresh Paint
Nothing refreshes a home like a new coat of paint. If you have dark dull colors, opt for lighter tones. Covering up stains on the walls, or drab old paint, can help your house feel brand new all over again.

Add Tile
Consider adding a tile backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get beautiful results. Be sure you get tiles that compliment the colors in the space, so it doesn’t clash and look unappealing.

Add Color
Although neutral colors are always recommended as the base of any home decor, don’t be afraid to compliment your neutrals with a pop of color. You can add it throughout the home by using flowers, pillows, decor, or even light curtains that are staged on the sides of your windows.

Change Out Fixtures and Hardware
You’d be surprised by how much more a kitchen can look different just by replacing the hardware on the cabinets. A bathroom or living room can come alive again by installing a brand new light fixture. If you moved into a place that still has the same stock hardware or fixtures, replace them and add a little creativity with the new pieces you have installed.

Rearrange Furniture
Head to Pinterest and get inspired for new living room, bedroom, or dining room arrangements. Most homeowners decorate “incorrectly” when it comes to standard staging rules. View a variety of furniture set-ups on social media and let it motivate you to rearrange your space. You don’t have to buy a bunch of new furniture to make a drastic change.

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Can I use an agent to purchase a new construction home?

Yes!  In fact, some builders pay agents to find prospective buyers.  You can also use a buyer’s agent to help negotiate the price and upgrades on a new home.  An agent can be particularly valuable for directing you to newly built developments that match your needs, as well as helping you select reputable builders who are financially sound and respond promptly to buyer’s concerns.

Builders normally require an agent to be present on your first visit to the site.  This is a sensible procedure that allows the agent to be paid a commission should you decide to buy within that community.  Otherwise, if you find a development on your own, make the first visit without the agent, and later make a purchase, the builder may refuse to pay the commission – even if, at some point, the agent became involved in the process.

I’ve created a free guide to help my clients properly prepare for purchasing a home. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future (or ever…), grab a copy! The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide

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Majority of Buyers Favor School District Over Home Features

Like the old saying goes, when it comes to homeownership, the most important thing? Location, location, location.

According to a recent report from Realtor.com, getting their kids into the right school was the top priority for a huge portion of buyers. And those buyers were more than willing to give up other features in order to buy a home in their desired school district.

According to the report, a whopping 91% of buyers with children (and 73% of buyers total) said that school boundaries were “important” or “very important” to their search. And of the buyers that purchased a home in their desired school district, 78% willingly gave up desired home features—like a garage, large backyard, or updated kitchen—in order to make sure they got their children into their school of choice.

The Takeaway:
When you invest in a home, make sure it’s in a good school district, whether you have children or not—for many buyers, it’s one point they’re just not willing to negotiate on.

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Why You Need An Agent For New Construction

Are you ready to buy a home and considering going along the route of new builds? It may seem like an easy enough process, where you get to call the shots of how you want your dream home to be, but there is a lot of risks when it comes to new construction if you are going in blindly. It’s unfortunately not as trouble-free as we’d like to hope if you don’t have the right representative by your side to help with the things that need to be looked out for from a professional’s eye. Below, we’ll dive into the many reasons you need a professional buyer’s agent representing you in the sale. They are, after all, on your side. And it’s their role to ensure you aren’t taken advantage of by the builders and their representatives in the transaction.

1. Hiring the Right Builder
The most important part of finding an agent is having a professional’s perspective to finding a builder with a great reputation. You get to benefit from your agent’s network of vendors, lenders, and home builders. They have the industry expertise to connect you with a builder that matches your needs, and more than likely, have already had experience with the builder with a past client. Or, if they haven’t worked with a builder you want to use directly, they can gather person-to-person recommendations from other agents to know the expected experience with said builder. They will help you find one, that not only delivers exactly what their clients want, but in a timely fashion.

2. The Right Lot in the Right Neighborhood
The lot you choose to go with in a new build can either be a positive to your new home, or detrimental. In the excitement of the process, we tend to overlook important features of a property. It’s important to have a professional to ensure you make a purchase that will best serve you. They’ll be able to find a neighborhood that best fits your lifestyle and a lot that has a location that works for you. Whether you’re single with pets, or a family with children, the lot location can really make a huge impact. Especially when it comes time to selling it in the future. These are important things your agent will be able to help walk you through, so your decisions work in your favor in the long term, as well as now.

3. Upgrades and Plan Modifications
Not only will your agent be able to ensure you get the upgrades and modifications that will best suit your life style, but will also help you make decisions that will increase the value of your home in the long term. They are working for your best interest long term, and with an agent’s guidance, you can be sure to make changes that end up benefiting you.

4. Handling Contracts and Paperwork
Your agent will handle the contract and all of the paperwork, and they will be sure to review it to ensure that it is in your best interest. They will be able to help you break down the best loan types, purchasing processes, and steps to take that benefit YOU, not the builder. They are, after all, working for you. They’ll make sure there are no overlooked terms in a builder’s contract that could end up hurting you after you move in. Or even during the building process. You want to make sure you have a professional who is experienced with the paperwork and contracts and knows how to make revisions that work in a way that make you happy.

5. Negotiations
It is imperative in the purchasing process to have an agent that is able to represent you and negotiate for you. The building process is so much more than having the builder put in your favorite counters and floors. They will be able to get you a price that actually benefits you – not the builder. They will be able to run a comparative market analysis to ensure you are paying a fair price for the property. You don’t want to end up overpaying for the home – it could put you in a tough spot when it comes time to sell. They’ll also be able to negotiate terms around building time frame, closings costs, and so many other aspects of a contract that you may otherwise overlook.

6. Builder’s Agent Represents Them, Not You
It may seem easy just to pop into an office of a new build, or a builder’s office, and use the onsite agent. But keep in mind that this agent works FOR the builder, NOT for you. So they will be working to make sure the builder gets the best deal at the end of the day. By having a buyer’s agent of your own, you can ensure there is a professional on your side that can walk you through the process and avoid being taken advantage of during the transaction. They will also have a better handle on things when you hit bumps along the way. If you end up working with a builder who isn’t holding their end of the deal, they will have the power to make connections that ensure the builder holds their end of the contract terms.

I’ve created a free guide to help my clients properly prepare for purchasing a home. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future (or ever…), grab a copy! The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide

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New Survey Finds Misconceptions About Down Payments Keeping People From Purchasing Homes

One of the main reasons people aren’t buying homes is they think they can’t afford it—especially the down payment. But, as it turns out, there are plenty of buyers out there who actually can afford to purchase a home, but their misconceptions about affordability are holding them back from making a move.

According to a recent survey by lender Laurel Road, 53% of Americans are concerned about their ability to afford a home. But a lot of that concern is because they don’t know what their options are.

A solid 58% of Americans surveyed said they planned to put down a 20% payment on a home, but 35% (and 46% of millennials) didn’t think they could afford to save that kind of down payment. But with alternative lending options, you don’t need 20% in order to buy a home! According to the National Association of Realtors, the median down-payment for first-time buyers is at 6%—significantly less than the 20% the majority of Americans believe they need in order to purchase a home.

The Takeaway: Your misconception about how much you need for a down payment could be holding you back from purchasing property. Explore the alternative loan options available to you and make your dream of owning a home a reality!

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Sellers, Take Note: A/C, Kitchens, And Energy Efficiency Top Criteria For Buyers

When you’re getting ready to list your home, you want to make sure any changes or renovations are going to give you a return on your investment by making your home more appealing to potential buyers. But what, exactly, are the things buyers are looking for?

According to Zillow’s 2017 Consumer Housing Trends Report, there are a few clear winners when it comes to upgrading your home to make it more appealing to sellers. According to the report, 62% of buyers require a home has air conditioning before they make a purchase. And while the perfect kitchen and an energy efficient home aren’t exactly “needs” for most buyers, they do rank high on their list of “wants” (at 48% for both)

Takeaway: If you’re thinking about making changes to your home in order to generate more interest from buyers, your money would be best spent installing central air. Improving your kitchen and making your home more energy efficient come in a close second.

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Nearly 1.3 Million New Homes Completed In May—The Most In Over A Decade

The housing inventory crisis—which, according to Realtor.com’s recent Housing Shortage Report, is the worst inventory shortage in the United States in over two decades—hasn’t been an easy time for people on the market for a new home. The low inventory and the intense competition for available homes has driven up prices in markets across the country, making it difficult for potential buyers to find and buy property.

But it looks like building is (finally) starting to pick up to keep up with buyer demand. According to a recent report on new construction from the US Census Bureau and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, builders completed new homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of a whopping 1,291,000 in May 2018—the most homes completed in over a decade.

The Takeaway: If you’ve been thinking about buying a home, this is good news! As new inventory becomes available (and as builders continue to construct new homes to keep up with demand), the fierce competition for property that’s become the norm in today’s real estate market will cool off, making it much easier to find a home (and, most importantly, to get that home at a reasonable price).