How to Keep Good Seller Etiquette

When you put up your house for sale, you will come across different people – both pleasing and difficult to deal with. You will be meeting potential buyers, unqualified buyers, agents and unknown vendors. There is an unwritten protocol to how sellers, buyers and their respective agents interact. If you are having a hard time dealing with people, let your agent know so they could help you solve the problem.

  • The aggressive agentWhen you hire an agent, they become the primary contact person with regards to the sale of the house. But there are some cases when the buyer’s agent tries to contact you directly. Do not negotiate with them directly especially if you do not have much knowledge in terms of real estate. They might take advantage of this or they probably do not want your agent to be part of the deal. This is not the right way to do business. Inform your agent if this happens.
  • The unscrupulous vendorWhen you put your house on the market, there is chance you’ll get tons of junk mail.  Some companies find ways to use information on MLS and bombard you with junk mail. If this happens to you, let your agent know so he or she can get in touch with appropriate organizations.
  • The naïve buyerWhen you start to market your home, expect some buyers to simply drop by without an appointment. You might be tempted to show them around but even if they are nice and easy to talk to, you might not be able to handle the situation well. you might get carried away with the easy conversation and discolse information that might compromise your house. If this happens, talk to them politely and refer them to your agent. Give them your agent’s number and tell them that your agent will gladly arrange a tour for them.

Putting Your House on the Market This Winter?

During the holiday season we think about a lot of things – family, food, decors, parties, shopping. Selling your house is probably not on the top of your list at this time. But the holidays actually be a good oppotunity to show your home to potential buyers. A home adorned with Christmas decors and lights add to its appeal.
 

Here are some important things to keep in mind as you prepare your home:

  • The first things that buyers will see is the exterior of your house. This is why curb appeal is vital. If it’s snowing in your area, clear the walkway, path and stairs.
  • Put holiday lights outside. They exude holiday cheer and show pride in ownership. But don’t overdo it because they can only be enjoyed at night. Unless potential buyers visit your home at night, they won’t be able to see it.
  • Trim trees outside your home. You wouldn’t want to risk having someone get hurt or the house damaged because a branch fell because of strong winds.
  • Put a pretty holiday welcome mat outside the frnt door.
  • Clear the outdoor area. Put away bicycles, scooters, toys etc.
  • Hang a cheerful wreath on the front door.
  • Play holiday music softly to add to the effect.
  • Set a cozy and warm feel. Adjust the thermostat to a comfortable level.
  • Light the fireplace. But never levae it unattended.
  • The holiday decor won’t be complete without a tree. Pick the tree carefully. Make sure it’s the right size for your house or living room. If you pick a tree too big, the living room will look small or crammed if you put it wth other furniture.
  • Don’t overdo the decors. Potential buyers might be overwhelmed if you put too many that the house might look cluttered. Remember, your goal is to sell the house, not the decors.
  • If you’re expecting buyers for viewing in the evening, make sure your agent knows which decors and lights to turn on. And if you don’t plan to be back home soon after the viewing, make sure the agent turns everything off to avoid untoward incidents.
  • Bake holiday treats often. It will leave an enticing smell.
  • Don’t forget your security. Remind your agent to turn back on your home security after your house had been shown.

Remember that the holiday decors should just accent your home and not overpower it. What’s important is that you’ll create a sense of love, joy and warmth.

Tips for Self Moving

Self-move means that you take care of packing and coordinating with people who can help you move your things to your new place. Since you have to take care of all these on your own, it can be overwhelming. Below is a list of things you’ll need to think about when you’re considering self-moving along with tips you might find very helpful.

  • Moving truck – find one that’s as big as your need.Be prepared to drive the truck that you rent. Study the truck and its controls. Just because you can drive a car doesn’t mean you can drive a truck just as easy. They are bigger and heavier so they should be driven slowly and carefully. Braking distances are longer and they have large blind spots. Some trucks do not have power steering and power brakes and automatic transmission may not be available.
  • Towing a vehicle – When you rent a truck, let the company know that you will tow a vehicle. Give them details like the make and model of the vehicle so the comoany can provide you with a truck that’s most appropriate for it.
  • Dollies and Pads – they can protect your appliances and furnitures from friction and bumps. Straps are also necessary to keep your load in place. Refrain from using bungee cables. You might need to use hand trucks to move big and heavy things.
  • Fuel – It’s a wise idea to refuel the truck before bringing it back. If you don’t, the rental company will charge you for the gas you used and usually it is more costly.
  • Packing supplies – boxes, tape, bags. These things add up and will cost much when you buy everything at once. You might find it easier to gradually accumulate them. Rental facilities and package stores have them available.
  • Reservations and Deposits – When you have finalized the date of your move, reserve the rental truck so you can be sure it’s available when you need it. Usually rental companies require a deposit.
  • Rental Insurance Protection – Most insurance companies do not cover your things while you’re moving. Verify this information with your current insurance agent. Ask the self-move dealer or the rental company what protection they could offer you. When you pick up the paperwork for the truck, review to see if the rental protection is included there.

When you pick up the truck, the dealer should be able to show you everything you need to know about it. Ask questions if anything is unclear. Keep all the receipts and paperwork relating to your move like rental, gas, food and lodging expense. You might need them, especially if your move is required by your employer. 

Seven Costly Mistakes Sellers Make

There are many good ways to invest in real estate. Hopefully you got some of your insight from us. 

There are a lot of mistakes sellers can get into when they put up their house for sale. There was a seller in Virginia who had a half bath that was originally placed at the front of his house. He thought that it would be better if it was moved to the back of the main level. All the other similar models had the powder room in the same place for the past 20 years. It cost him thousands of dollars to move it, thinking it will get his house off the market sooner, but it didn’t. It became an expensive mistake.

Sid Davis, a real estate broker and author of “A Survival Guide to Selling a Home,” points out seven costly mistakes that sellers often make with regards to selling their home. In my business, I’ve seen each one of these mistakes played out and it just makes me shake my head as to why, sellers forge ahead with unwise strategies, instead of listening to the voice of an experienced professional, he says.

Sid Davis, real estate broker and author of the book “A Survival Guide to Selling a Home,” points out seven costly mistkaes that sellers make with regards to selling their home. In my business, I’ve seen each one of these mistakes played out and it just makes me shake my head as to why, sellers forge ahead with unwise strategies, instead of listening to the voice of an experienced professional, he said.

  • Mistake 1: Putting your home on the market before it’s ready. This usually happens because the seller is in a hurry to sell the house or the seller did not prepare early. And so, repainting is done while the house is shown. Or possible buyers view the house with a carpet that obviously needs to be replaced already. Presentation is vital. Prepare the home before putting it up for sale.
  • Mistake 2: Over-improving the house for the neighborhood. Don’t make additions, bump-outs and upgrades that will make the house stand out from among its competition in a way that it becomes an anomaly rather than a good addition to the community.
  • Mistake 3: Pricing the home based on what the seller wants to earn net. This is a bad pricing motivation. The sale price is dependent on the market climate and not on what the seller wants. Sellers can control the asking price but not the sales price.
  • Mistake 4: Choosing an agent based on non-business factors. If you want to sell your house fast and with good terms, choose an agent because of their good track record, not because they’re your relative or friend.
  • Mistake 5: Getting emotionallhy involved in the sale of the house. This is one of the biggest challenges that sellers face. When you decide to sell your home, you’ll need to think of your home as a commodity – prepare it as a commodity, market it as a commodity, and price it as a commodity. Many potential buyers will go to your house and scrutinize it. Don’t feel bad, they are only judging it based on their preferences.
  • Mistake 6: Covering up or not disclosing problems. Most states have a property disclosure/disclaimer form. You can be sued for a leaky basement or wiring problems discovered 30 days after settlement.
  • Mistake 7: Not getting your ducks lined up before you sell. This means getting your financing ready, making sure there’s no pre-payment penalties on your mortgage, monitoring your local market. If according to local market, you sell first before buying or vice vers, do the same.

Don’t fear making these mistakes. There are actually things you can do to avoid them. Learn from professionals who made resources like this for you to learn from.

Helpful Tips for Showing Your Home

If you want to sell your home in the soonest time at a good price, you need to make your house look attractive and interesting to buyers. Here are twenty sure-fire tips to do this:

Preparation

  • The first thing you need to take care of is the outside since this is the first thing that potential buyers see. The lawn must be trimmed and free from clutter. Walks and s]teps should be clean from ice, snow and debris. The fron door needs to be clean and make the entry look inviting.
  • Faded paint and worn out wood makes your house look old and cheap. Spending on a new wallpaper will be worth your money. Take time and effort to redecorate your house and you’ll sell your house at a good price.
  • Bright and sunny rooms add to the charm. So open the curtains and let the sun shine in. It’s cost free but can do a lot of wonders.
  • Do all the necessary repairs – Loose knobs, sticking doors and windows, warped cabinet drawers and other minor.
  • Make your attic basement, and other utility space look bigger by removing storage bins. Painting the walls with a light color can brighten the mood and make them look more spacious.
  • Ensure safety. Take away any clutter that can cause injury, especially in the stairs.
  • Make closets, cabinets, shelves and cupboards look spacious by arranging things neatly.
  • Bathrooms should look clean and bright. And the faucets should be working.
  • Make the bedrooms look neat, beautiful and relaxing. Use attractive bedspreads and newly washed curtains.
  • Make sure all the lights in the house are working. Turn on all the lights for an evening tour. It will give potential buyers a feel of glowing warmth.

Showing

  • Avoid having too many people in the house during house tours or inspection. This will make the buyer feel like an intruder.
  • Music helps. But make sure it’s soft and mellow. The agent should be able to converse easily with the buyers.
  • If you have pets, make sure they are not in the way.
  • Be polite and accomodating but don’t force conversation. Maybe the buyer needs space to think or just take everything in.
  • Never apologize for the appearance of your home. Leave it to your agent to answer inquiries or objections.
  • Just stay in the sidelines. Your agent is trained and experienced in doing this. They will know how to emphasize the positive features of your house. And allow your agent to discuss price, terms, possession and other petinent factors. They are qualified to bring negotiations to a favorable conclusion.
  • Don’t dispose of furniture and furnishings before a buyer has bought the house.
  • Show your home to prospective buyers only by appointment through your agent. They could handle the tour better as professionals and can sell your house more quickly.

Tax Benefits For When You Sell

When you sell your home, especially at a time when your taxes are due, you could get financial shelter. Thanks to The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, the real estate sector can receive what is considered the best tax shelter through their homes.

According to the federal tax law, when you sell your home, you can keep, tax free, capital gains of up to $500,000 if you are married filing jointly or $250,000 for single taxpayers, or married taxpayers who file separately.

To qualify for the $250,000/$500,000 exclusion, you must have lived in the house (as your primary residence) for at least two of the prior five years. The best part is, it’s not a one-time benefit. You can use this benefit as often as you qualify – every two years, to fulfill the owner-occupied-two-out-of-five-years requirement.

For example, if you have two homes and you live in one of them for two years, sell it and live in the other one for another two years and sell them both, both qualify for the exclusion. If due to some unforeseen reasons like a job change, illness, death of a spouse, divorce, disaster, war or some other hardship, you are forced to sell before you meet the two-year residency requirement, there are special provisions. In these cases, the $500,000/$250,000 exclusion (not your specific gain) will be prorated. For example, if after only a year of living in your house you are forced to sell it because of a qualified unforeseen reason, you can exclude from taxes up to $250,000 (half the exclusion) in capital gains if you are married and file jointly or $125,000 for separate and single filers.

One unforeseen event where homeowners were able to use the provision was during the September 11, 2001 acts of terrorism in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.. Sellers were able to prorate the exclusions given these conditions:

  • A spouse, home co-owner, or person living with the taxpayer was killed by the attacks.
  • The taxpayer’s principal residence was damaged.
  • The taxpayer or a person listed in (1) became eligible for unemployment compensation, or
  • The taxpayer or a person listed in (1) had a change in employment or self-employment that resulted in the taxpayer’s inability to pay reasonable basic living expenses for the household.

Selling costs
If later, after you sell, you realize there’s still a taxable profit after the exclusion, you can bring down your gain with selling costs. Your gain refers to your home’s selling price, minus deductible closing costs, minus your basis. Your basis is the original purchase price, plus capital improvements, minus any depreciation.

Selling costs also include real estate broker’s commissions, title insurance, legal fees, administrative costs and inspection fees. It can also include repairs or additions completed within 90 days of your sale to make the house more marketable.

Moving costs
If you need to move and sell your home because of a new job, you can deduct part of the moving costs. These are the requirements that need to be met:

  • Your new job must be at least 50 miles from the old;
  • you must work full time at the new work place for 39 of the 52 weeks after the move;

The exclusion could also include costs for travel, transportation, lodging and storage.

If you are self-employed, you can be eligible for tax deductions if you work full-time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months and a total of 78 weeks during the first 24 months after arriving at the new job location.

To get more information about home selling-related tax benefits, get in touch with tax professional and state and local tax authorities in your area.

Think Like a Buyer

As a seller, your goal is to sell your home in the soonest possible time at the most favorable price. To achieve this, there are many factors involved. Some of these factors like the home’s condition, asking price and marketing strategy are factors that you can control. However there are some other things that influence a buyer’s decision in buying a house.

When you enter the market, you need to understand most buyers’ wants and needs if you want to be succesful. Competition is tough so you need to know what your buyers want. Your real estate agent can guide you on how you could effectively sell your house despite some flaws.

  • LocationThis is one of the primary considerations that buyers have and unfortunately, is one thing you can’t control. According to the National Association of REALTORS(r), neighborhood quality is the number 1 reason buyers have for choosing a home. It is followed by commute times to work and school.
  • SizeHome sizes have continuously increased since the 1950’s. The market for smaller homes are often limited to new home owners, couples without children, or families with grown children who no longer live with them. 
  • AmenitiesThere are certain floor plans and amenities that become outdated as time goes by. Your real estate agent can inform you of current design preferences in the market. You can opt to renovate to increase profit and marketability. But don’t do this without consulting your agent. They can advise if it’s a wise investment based on the market condition and several other factors.

Short Sale for Luxury Homes

Some people are wondering if luxury homes can also be subject to short sales. The answer is yes. But it has to be done properly because it is sensitive. There are more factors involved. With the use of our technamicra and marketing strategies, we will find qualified buyers.

A short sale can work to the advantage of any property. But they vary in terms of the property situation and the goals of the owners. How?

  • It will not cost the seller. The bank will pay the realtors when the house is sold.
  • It’s probably the fastest way to sell your home if you’re trying to avoid foreclosure.
  • This proviees a way out from financial burdens and start anew.
  • You can still stay in the house for free while the short sale is still being processed.

Losing your home to a short sale may not be easy but it could solve your financial problem as long as it’s done right. Talk to us. We’re here to help you make informed choices.  

A House That Looks Good Will Sell

They say that if you want to sell a house, it should have curb appeal. What it means is that you chould make your house look captivating enough that homebuyers who drive by your house should be compelled to stop and take down the contact information for your agent.

According to the National Association of Realtors, curb appeal is the reason for the sale of 49% of houses. 

However, there are some things that you can’t control such as your neighbor’s houses and yards. You can do everything to make hour home and lawn tidy and beautiful but what if the other houses in the neighborhood are not as attractive as yours? Don’t worry. In fact you can use it to your advantage. This means your house will standout. If the other houses look as good as yours, they might be more interested in those houses or think that yours look inferior. If the houses are sprawling with toys, it gives the homebuyers an idea that there are many kids in the neighborhood. If they have children, they’ll be happy about it. Their children will have playmates. If however the neighborhood has a lot of junk, then it’s a problem.

Based on my experience on curb appeal, this is how you can beautify city and suburban (or semi-suburban) houses:

  • In the case of a yardless townhouse

    1987. A time when the real estate business is taking a downturn. There are many other townhouses for sale downtown. The house is located near a public-housing project which gives an impression of the area being high-risk for crime. On the other hand, it is home to beautiful townhouses, a school around the corner, streets with many trees and a close-knit neighborhood. Since their are many children playing in the street, crimes are prevented. There are no abandoned cars in the street.

  • What I did to prep it up

    I repainted the blue paint on the trim and on the front door. To give a feel of warmth and privacy, I added shutters to the windows in the living room. Then I set up a flower box on the window ledge. I also added a filled half-barrel on the side of the two marble steps up to the front door as well as the small area around the tree in front of the house. The front steps were bleached and scrubbed.

    To deal with the children, I treated them with ice cream so they’d be less rowdy on open house days.

    All my efforts yielded a favorable outcome. The succesful buyer was at the first open house. Prior to this, the house was on the market for five months with two real estate brokerages.

  • Golden rule:
    Give all the neighborhood kids ice cream. Unfortunately, I missed one kid who announced to everyone on open house that someone stole her bike. (It wasn’t true though)
  • In the case of a city house with front yard

    June 2001. The real estate market is booming. Houses in the $150,000-to-$300,000 range are a hot item. The house is located at a semi-suburban neighborhood. The flowers are in bloom; there are plenty of trees; and the street has reopened after a year of railroad-bridge replacement.

    On the downside, there’s a beer ditributor at the corner and they cause a lot of trash. And the street is busy since it’s a main route between two major city avenues.

  • What to do to prep it up

    Clean the facade of the house. Clean the porch columns and rails carefully to get rid of the mildew. Repaint the porch floor. Trim the hedges regularly and plant lots of pretty flowers. Touch up on the paint of the concrete bench under the dogwood. Repaint the stairs on the porch. Fix the sidewalk. Wash the windows.

    Water the lawn regularly and mow it once a week. When you pick up trash in front of your house, do the same with nearby houses.

Outcome: It only took one weekend to get the house off the market. As early as day 2, eighteen couples were scheduled for appointments.

Golden rule: Don’t risk selling your house at an ugly state. Do what you can to make it attractive. But don’t overdo it. Don’t spend so much to beautify the house. Your main goal is to get their attention, make them stop and give your house a good look. But keep their interest by making the inside of the house desirable as well.

Breaking Down the Offer

For a seller who has a house in the market for quite a while, it’s exhilerating to get a call telling you that someone is making an offer. You go through a series of emotions – intitially you feel ecstatic, the next moment when everything sets in, you start to worry thinking that the offer may may not be as good as you were hoping for.

Agents usually don’t tell you the price offer over the phone because there are other things to consider aside from the price – contingencies, seller concessions and real property requests.

Don’t stop at the price. Look at the rest of the offer. Focus on how much net you’re going to get.

Your agent should be able to explain to you the parts of the contract. But it’s better if you already have prior knowledge about real estate contracts. They could vary depending on your state but generally they should be similar.

Here are the basic parts you can expect in a contract: 

  • Earnest money deposit – As the name suggests, it is intended to show that the buyer is sincere. If the offer doesn’t seem favorable, the buyer sets a large earnest money. In most cases, the buyer is the one who decides where the money will be deposited – usually not to the seller but a third party like an escrow, attorney or sometimes a broker’s trust account. The earnest money is usually counted towards the downpayment. If for some reason the sale will not push through, the money deposited will be returned to the buyer. Typically, real estate contracts have a section on any disputes going to arbitration, and most of the time, sellers do not get even a portion of the earnest  money.
  • Purchase price – This is what you’re most interested in. This is most probably the first thing you want to look at. But don’t rejoice until you’ve given a thought on what the buyer wants to include in the offer.
  • Mortgage contingency – This is usually the first contingency you will see. This states that the buyer is acquiring a loan with a specific term and rate. You need to analyze this carefully. Some buyers use this to hold you down while they scout for better bargains. Make sure that the terms specified are realistic such as a 30-year, 5 percent fixed-rate loan with no points when that type of loan carries a 7 percent rate with 1.5 points in your area. Another thing you should be mindful of is the time limit. If not, the buyer might take as long as they want, leaving you tied commited to them and your house unsold. In this contingency, the buyer can also specify if they want you to carry back a first or second mortgage.
  • Seller concessions – The buyers could ask for anything – especially if they know that there isn’t much competition out there. But if the property is a hot item, you can expect the buyers not to ask much seller concessions because they know there isn’t much chance they’re going to get it.
  • Inspection contingencies – This states that the buyers can back out of the deal if the outcome of the inspections show that the house is too much of a problem. There is even a contingency that is dependent on the approval of their mother-in-law. So again, the contingencies should be realistic.
  • Personal property – The buyer can ask for anything that is physically attached to the house being sold. They are considered part of the transaction. It can be the book shelves, light fixtures, kitchen counter. So, those that are not attached to the house like appliances or furnitures still belong to the seller. So if there are things attached to the house that you want to keep, make sure you have them listed. On the other hand,buyers can state the items that they want removed from the house before closing; such as storage bins or boxes of useless items. 
  • Appraisal contingency – The buyer adds this contingency to ensure that they acquire enough amount for the sale price. There are some unlikely cases when the bank doesn’t give an appraisal high enough for the price of the house, usually it happens when there are more seller concessions. Example, the agreed upon price is $300,000 but includes up to $10,000 in buyer closing costs, the house may not appraise if it’s really worth $295,000.
  • Buyer selling property contingency – This applies when the buyer is also trying to sell their property. This means that they can only push through with the sale if they have already sold their house. There is a risk that the seller will let you wait for months. To protect sellers from this, there is usually a 72-hour clause, also known as a kick-out clause. This clause allows the seller to keep the house on the market. If there is another offer, the buyer has 72 hours to fulfill the agreement or the deal is off.