Tips To Ignore

Age-Old Real Estate Selling Tips to Ignore

Homeowners planning to sell their home tend to get unsolicited advice from every direction. “Do this,” “don’t do that”; it can be difficult to decipher the good from the bad advice. As homebuyers become more informed and market-savvy, knowing which age-old advice to ignore can be important. Here are some adages which should be retired immediately.

Spring is the best time to sell – While spring is traditionally when home sales tick upward, the real key to selling is inventory levels, which typically occur other times of the year.

The first offer is always the best – While all offers should be considered, don’t feel pressured to take a sub-par offer just because it was the first. In selling a home, being first does not mean the best.  The market in our area is very competitive right now.

Open houses sell houses – Not anymore. Only 2% of homes sell as the direct result of an open house, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Virtual tours and online photos will attract more interest than foot traffic, especially in our current pandemic.

Price high so there is room to negotiate – Homebuyers are more sophisticated about pricing and will not bother with overpriced homes.  This can definitely hurt you, meaning fewer people seeing your home.

If you don’t want to make repairs then lower your price – Unless you market your home as a fixer-upper, buyers expect the home to be in reasonable condition and a low price might not be enough to encourage an offer.

You must update your kitchen to sell – Buyers do love renovated kitchens, but keep in mind that you typically recover only 81% of the cost of a remodel when selling.

Selling a home is a major life decision. Before you begin the process of listing your home, do your research and make sure the advice you rely on is valid in today’s changing environment. I am happy to chat with you, should you have any questions.

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5 Questions Buyers Have During the COVID-19 Pandemic Answered

Everyone is being affected in some manner by the outbreak of Covid-19 coronavirus. During this time, buyers will have more questions than normal about the home buying process and their ability to buy a new home. While we can’t predict what the next few weeks and months will bring, the more we can educate ourselves, the better we can help buyers navigate the buying process smoothly during the pandemic. Here are a few common buyer questions as they related to the Coronavirus outbreak and real estate answered.

 

  1. Can we still go see home listings in person?  This is the hardest question to answer and it will depend on the home, the seller, the agent, and any fast-changing governmental policies put in place. Agents should be able to offer a Skype or FaceTime home tour virtually. Talk to your agent to find out what they have available for the buyers to prescreen the home virtually before setting up the visit; they might have virtual tours already available which can help rule out those that don’t suit their needs – no need to visit those homes in-person.  Reserve in-person visits for homes that you are seriously considering.

 

  1. How can I stay safe while visiting homes?  Everyone’s health has to be the priority; this includes the buyers, sellers, and agents.  Drive separately from your agent and just meet at the homes.  If you are going to see a home in person during this time, consider wearing a mask (there are many no-sew options to use), carry hand sanitizer and wipes to use before, during, and after the tour. During the tour, designate one person to open doors, drawers, and closets and use disposable gloves during the showing. If using gloves, please be careful to use them properly, meaning you take them off before touching your door handle, carry a little bag for your own trash to dispose of them – be careful not to cross-contaminate.

 

  1. What happens if I lose my job during the escrow period? Most real estate contracts include a contingency that protects the buyer in the event they can’t get final loan approval and close the loan. Typically during the process, this contingency is removed after a set time frame, or after receiving the loan approval. Since every aspect of real estate is negotiable, consider asking for the contingency deadline to be extended and in place until the close; talk through this aspect with the seller and their agent in advance to set the right expectation. If there are any changes during the escrow period regarding your job, reach out immediately to your lender to see if the loan can possibly be restructured.

 

  1. Will I still have access to the home during the escrow period?  It’s common for the buyer to have access to the home during the escrow period, however, during this time, it might be more challenging.  Buyers normally attend the home inspections, however, there can be options now for home inspectors to video certain aspects with the final report should you not want to attend or if the home inspector request it.  If you are attending the home inspection, make sure you use this time to do measurements if you are going to be needing them.  This way,  you are limiting the number of times needed to be in the home.

 

  1. Will I get a better deal if I wait to buy a new home? – We all know there’s no crystal ball, but with everything that’s going on, sellers on the market might be more motivated to sell. There are also historically low-interest rates on home loans. Many areas are still receiving multi-offers on homes that are priced right. In addition, we have had a shortage of homes on the market prior to COVID-19 and we will continue to see that after the pandemic.  With all that being said, there is no way to predict the future, so if the right home comes along, it makes sense to consider it now for many reasons. 

 

The Covid-19 outbreak is causing some uncertainty among home buyers, sellers, and even agents. However, with the use of technology and following best practices, you can still find the home you need during this time.  Please feel free to reach out to me should you have any questions.  Stay safe! 

5 Questions Sellers Want Answered During the Covid-19

5 Questions Sellers Have About the Market During the COVID-19 Pandemic Answered

There are so many questions and concerns amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Real estate at its core is a people business. It relies on person-to-person interaction and the coronavirus necessarily limits this contact. As the spring selling season gets started, home sellers & potential home sellers will have questions and it’s important to acknowledge concerns and offer practical advice and concrete information to help sellers make the best decision for themselves and their families. 

  1. Should I still try and sell my home? – Of course, there are many aspects to this question. First and foremost, the health concerns of the sellers’ family have to be taken into consideration. Unless absolutely necessary, the elderly and those with underlying health issues should not allow unnecessary people into their homes; including buyers and agents. If the household is essentially healthy and not considered high-risk, then this could be a great time to sell. 

Also, consider the advantages of lower inventory coupled with still low-interest rates; as listings become rarer, the remaining inventory will get more attention which could create better offers. 

  1. Is it safe to have people through my home? – This is certainly a concern, but there are practical steps you can take to ensure safer home showings. A virtual tour from your agent is a necessity during this time as it allows buyers to walk through your home virtually, which is the next best thing and can help eliminate the number of in-person showings.  I have worked with buyers that have actually made offers on homes sight unseen after viewing these tours.

  1. What can I do to protect my family during showings? – Protect the home, family and visitors alike by taking the following precautions:

  • Keep hand sanitizer at the front door to offer buyers and their agents when they enter the home. 

  • If there is a guest bathroom, keep disposable hand towels and soap for guests to use and make the request known to the showing agent, by asking that buyers & agents immediately wash their hands when entering the home.

  • Offer disposable gloves for use with a receptacle for used gloves. Maybe consider a small trash can outside the entrance door so the agent & buyers can properly dispose of the gloves as they exit.

  • Limit the showing days and hours so you can properly clean between showings.

  • Have disinfecting wipes handy. Request agents to wipe surfaces, door handles, and banisters which are touched during the showing. 

Your agent can help you properly prepare with the above instructions for buyers and agents touring your home.

  1. What happens if my buyer loses their job? – Most real estate contracts include a contingency for the buyer loan approval and funding. Now more than ever, it’s critical to keep that contingency in place. In the unfortunate event the buyer loses their job or can no longer qualify for the loan during the contingency deadline, the parties typically cancel the contract. 

  1. Will I get a higher price if I wait to list my home? – The truth is no one knows. We don’t know how short or long the crisis will be and we don’t know how the financial market will weather the pandemic. While this is a question the seller will ultimately need to decide, the old adage about a “bird in the hand” is important to remember. 

This spring selling season has proven to have unique circumstances. If you are needing to list your home now, make sure that the agent you choose can provide the technology needed to successfully sell your home and allow more people to view your home without actually having to step into it.  Please reach out to me or contact your agent to discuss whether or not now is the right time for you. Keep washing your hands & focus on staying healthy,

3 Benefits

3 Benefits to Buying your Dream Home this Year

Finding the perfect time to buy a home is a challenge that requires research and a bit of luck. While timing the purchase perfectly might be desirable, the truth is the right time is a personal decision. Now that we are well into 2020, you might be wondering if this is the right time to buy your dream home. With a strong economy, low unemployment and higher household income, there are 3 great reasons why you should consider buying that dream home this year.

1. A Home is a Great Investment – Real estate remains one of the best investments one can have. Based on hard assets, real estate tends to weather the ups and downs long term better than other investment tools, such as stocks or bonds.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates are Low – Interest rates have fallen over the past year from 5% in November of 2018 and Freddie Mac expects them to level at an average of 3.8% in 2020. This extra purchasing power is important when buying your dream home and this is a good time to lock in that rate for the next 30 years.

3. Hedge Against Inflation – Rental costs continue to rise and as the economy heats up, inflation becomes more of a possibility. A fixed 30-year mortgage freezes your housing costs and works as a buffer from inflation which is impacting the rental market. Owning property is almost always a good investment. If you’ve been thinking about exchanging your current home for your dream house, 2020 could offer the right time to move up.

Feel free to reach out to me, if I can be of assistance to you. 540.683.3000.

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Is the Investment to Make your Home a “Smart Home” Worth it for Resale?

Over the past few years, smart technology has really blossomed into a huge market. With more-and-more devices offering connectivity and lower prices, almost all households have some kind of smart device in their home. While some smart devices are simply “nice to have,” many can actually make your home more appealing to buyers, which can increase the value of your home; if you are considering a move in the future, learning which smart upgrades will make your home more attractive to buyers is important.

Here are a few of the best smart home upgrades:

 

  •  Smart Thermostats – Energy-saving smart thermostats can sense when the home is occupied and vacant to control the temperature while saving energy costs.
 Nest
Photo credit: Chris Monroe/CNET
  • Smart Smoke Detectors and Security Systems – Life-saving smart security can alert you and the authorities automatically if there is a problem in the home.

 

  • Smart Door Locks – Either as part of the security system or stand-alone, smart door locks allow you to control access to your home. Using Wi-Fi to unlock doors remotely and program unique codes for family, guests, housekeepers etc., you will always know by whom and when your home is accessed.
smart-door-lock                                                                                                                                                        Photo credit: heavy.com
  • Smart Moisture Sensor – Mold has become a huge problem. Smart moisture sensors detect water leaks, humidity, and temperature changes to protect your home from moisture damage.

 

These are just a few of the great smart home products available to make your home more attractive to potential buyers. Most starting under $250, these smart choices will not only protect your home but add value when listing for sale. These smart home products can make your home stand out over others.

Winter Checklist

Preparing Your Home for the Colder Months

Now that the warm summer months are behind us, it’s time to prepare for winter. Regardless of whether you expect to see sub-zero temperatures this season or you live in one of the warmer climates, preparing your home for colder weather can save you money and hassle this winter. So before you dig out your winter sweaters, take a weekend and prepare your home for the cold weather to come.

Save Energy

Fall is a great time to seal drafts in the home which can suck energy out. Check around doors and windows and replace worn weather stripping and caulking. If you use your fireplace for warmth during winter, this is the right time to have the chimney cleaned and checked for safety. Arrange a furnace tune-up complete with replacing the filter and vacuuming the vents to make sure you are warming your home efficiently.

Outdoor Tasks

Before the chill turns to freezing, head to the yard to winterize the exterior of your home. Check gutters for clogged leaves and other debris and examine the roof and siding for any repairs which could create leaks or drafts in the cold. If the gardening season is at its end, drain water from outdoor faucets and garden hoses. Make sure the sprinkler system is off and reinforce any exposed pipes which could burst with the cold.

Fall is here. Along with the smell of baking and falling leaves, you can ensure your home is ready for winter by taking a few steps now to prepare. Save energy and the hassle of an unexpected repair by getting some routine maintenance done before the cold months come.

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Top 5 Ways to Make Your Offer Stand Out

If you’ve been looking for a new home, finding the right one is exciting. Now that it’s time to write the offer, however, you might be wondering what you can do to make sure the seller is impressed with your offer versus someone else’s offer. Of course the easiest way is to offer cash significantly over asking price, but fortunately, in the real world, there are still great ways to ensure the seller takes your offer seriously and improve your chance of acceptance. Here are the top 5 ways to make your offer stand out:

1. Pre-Approval Letter – A pre-approval means your lender has done their due diligence and has all the documentation needed to close the loan.  It means to the seller that you are serious about buying their home. Is this really necessary? YES, your offer will not be considered without it. Why waste time having to get this done after you have already found the home you want, after all, someone else might just beat you to it.

pre-approved image                                                                                                                                                                                                              Photo Courtesy: Realtor.com

2. Contingency Removals – Certainly you should not remove any contingencies which could put you at risk, but you can consider removing or shortening contingency periods to provide peace of mind to the sellers.

3. Sell Your Home First – One red flag to a seller is the buyer who needs to sell their own home before closing. Sell before you write the offer whenever possible. I get that this is not always convenient, but it is less risk to the seller to accept an offer that does not have a home sale contingency.

4. Escrow Period – Working with your agent, offer a longer or shorter escrow period based on the seller’s moving needs. Your agent should be able to find out this information for you.

5. Win-Win – Show the seller that you want to create a win-win. Negotiations are part of a home sale, but avoid seeming unreasonable or demanding.

While price is always important to the home seller, there are other valuable concessions or offers which can mean as much. Work with an agent who views the transaction as a win for all sides and learn what’s important to the seller before you write the offer. By accommodating their needs as much as possible, you are more likely to have your offer accepted.IMG_5040

 

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Top Tips for House Hunting Online

Hunting for a new home online a is a great place to start your search but keep in mind that you don’t see everything. Real estate agents are great at highlighting the features of a house listing online but to make the most of your time, keep these three things in mind:

Identify your Housing Needs

Preferences are important when house searching. A house may not have everything you want but it will have most of the things. Be realistic about pricing and keep in mind the must-have items that will definitely be needed because this will help narrow your search.

Stay up to Date

When you start your search, make sure you go to sites with up-to-date listings directly from the multiple listing service. Realtors post their most current homes for sale through this. MANY sites fail to remove listings that are already off the market, and this can lead to you trying to sort through them and find the recent ones.  I always recommend that my clients reach out to me to make sure the property is actually still on the market.

Pictures can be Deceiving

Photographers capture listings at their best. They use different strategies and tools to boost the appeal of the home like creative editing and expensive camera equipment known for its effects. Wide angle lenses can make a room appear much larger in a picture. You may not see all of the unappealing parts of the home, like an undone bathroom or small closet.

Go See The Listing

Searching online is a great way to learn more about the house you’re looking for. Even if you’re still unsure about moving, house hunting online gives you a way to see what is out there and to see if there is anything of interest to you.

After you have chosen a house that’s appealing to you, schedule a showing with your real estate agent. This is the opportunity to see every part of the house in person and see if it’s a good fit.

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Spring Cleaning Tips

Yes, it’s that time of year again. The annual spring cleaning. The weather is warming up and it’s a sign to freshen up your home for the upcoming seasons.

Not sure where to start? Read on to find tips to make your spring cleaning easy and effective.

Clean Room-By-Room

This is a great approach to make sure you’re not forgetting to clean other parts of the house. Create a checklist to the areas in each room that need an extra deep clean since they’ve been neglected during the winter. The areas that have been cleaned recently can be skipped.

Clear the Clutter

Get rid of the things that are not needed and get organized. Follow a process and create piles for the things that are going to trash, going to be given away, or stored.

Now is also a great time to have a garage sale or donate the items that are not needed.

Seasonal Chores

Patios, grills, and windows that have been ignored during the winter, need special attention now.

Remove the excess grease from the grill and scrape off anything that has been leftover. Clean sliding doors and make sure to wipe down both sides of the window. Spray down patio furniture and use a handheld vacuum for any chair cushions.

Ask for Some Help

The more people that help, the faster it gets done.

Keep Cleaning Supplies Minimal

Stores offer so many cleaning supplies but there is no need to get all of it. Keeping it minimal will help you feel less overwhelmed and you don’t have to clean up so much afterward. Stick to a good all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloths.

Establish Cleaning Habits

On-going cleaning habits can make the next spring cleaning easier. Clean up routines practiced every few days and quick chores can keep your home tidy for the most part.

Follow these tips to make it an easy spring cleaning every year!

Internet Can't Replace Your Agent

The Internet Can’t Replace Your Agent

We live in the information age; the Internet offers advice on every topic and real estate is no exception. With more and more home buyers starting their home search online, they are bombarded with advice and information – it can be easy to think that you can learn everything you need to know just by reading articles online.
The truth is your real estate agent does much more than answer your questions and open doors with a special key or code. A professional real estate agent will be there every step of the way. They have the experience necessary to navigate the complicated home buying or selling process and solve common hiccups that present themselves in every real estate transaction, therefore you don’t have to handle it alone.
Your real estate agent is a local professional. Your agent is someone who will work hard on your behalf and with others involved in the transaction to see it through to a successful conclusion. They have a network of professionals who will work as a team to help you through the process. These include such professionals as lenders, title reps, escrow officers, transaction coordinators, home inspectors, contractors, and handymen, among others.
Most importantly, your agent is your ally in the home buying or selling process. They negotiate for you – armed with experience and understanding of customary charges, costs, and terms. If you are a buyer, they will ensure that the price you pay for the home is fair for the condition and neighborhood.  Whether buying or selling they will negotiate repairs, if needed and make sure you are protected with the proper contingencies among other issues.

Negotiation ImagePhoto credit: www.imindq.com

Yes, the Internet offers lots of great information, but the most important step you can take when buying or selling a home is hiring a local professional real estate agent. Their knowledge and expertise can’t be found by reading an article or two online.