Tips on Selling Your Home
Steps to Selling Your Home
When you hire a Realtor to list your home, you’re entering into partnership with this agent with the mission of getting your house sold. Think of it like hiring a personal trainer to get you on track to lose weight. You may not always like what the trainer says, but if you’re getting results, you can live with the instructions and tasks the trainer is requiring of you.
Set a Price
When we visit your home, We’ll ask you to take us through the house and show us the improvements that you have made (marble countertops, new appliances, etc) and the outstanding features of your home (preserve or lagoon location). We will need to take all these items into consideration when we look at setting a listing price for your home.
We will also provide you with a detailed description of the recent sales in your neighborhood as well as the competing listings. An appraiser will only use the last 6 months of sales, so that’s what we’ll be looking at.
Then we will get back to you in a day or two with a recommended price and plan of what to do to get your home ready. Remember it is a recommended price. We won’t set the price, we will work with you to set a price you are comfortable with. We will also provide you with an estimate of closing costs that you will be charged at closing, so that you can anticipate what you will net from the sale of your home.
Get Your Home Ready to Go on the Market
We’re sure you’ve been to model homes or have seen dozens of episodes of HGTV. While we may not be able to get that exact look, that is what we are working towards. So, we want to make sure that the “clutter” is gone. You’re planning to move, so if the items aren’t essential, put them in a box and put it in the garage or storage unit.
Painted walls and wallpaper – think about how that room will look in pictures on the internet. Remember that busy wallpaper will keep someone from seeing a great kitchen or bathroom. Dark colors or bubblegum pink could turn off potential buyers. 90% of buyers are looking at your house online to see if it goes on their list to see or not be seen.
We’re not asking you to spend a lot of money, but to invest in getting the most showings and best price for your home. Staging is another inexpensive way to re-purpose furniture in your home to make sure the rooms feel large and open and to make sure the buyers can see what they should be used for. Walking into a home with a pool table in the formal living room can sometimes be confusing to buyers.
A clean home can overcome a lot of objections. First it has to smell clean, no pet odors or strong perfumed masking odors. It has to look clean, so not a lot of things on kitchen counters, stacks of magazines or piles of clothes. If one of the kids doesn’t make their bed that day, it’s not the end of the world. Most buyers can see past that.
When the buyers drive up to the front of the house they are looking at the condition of the yard and how the outside has been taken care of. Does the house need to be painted or does the driveway need to be pressure washed.
Now we’re ready to put the house on the market.
We will need photographs of your house to put in the MLS, the Internet websites and yes for the brochures. I like to be able to have these done a day or 2 before we put your house in the MLS so that when the listing comes up as a new listing, buyers and other Realtors will be able to see the entire house.
This also gives me an opportunity to get the brochures done so that prospective buyers have something to take with them to help them remember your home.
Showing Your Home
Most sellers will elect to have a lock box placed on their front door. This makes your home most accessible to Realtors who have clients they want to show the home to. The lock boxes we use today use highly sophisticated technology.
A Realtor opens the lock box and I as the listing agent get sent an email letting me know that they opened the box. Should a Realtor leave the business or be terminated for some reason their lockbox key can be shut off within 24 hours. Realtors go through stringent guidelines to maintain their licenses and Realtor status.
Having lights on and blinds open makes the house appear light and bright. You wouldn’t invite a guest to your house and not have the lights on. You want to make the home as inviting as possible.
Once the Realtor has shown the house, they will be sent an email asking them for feedback on how the showing went. If they don’t respond within 24 hours I will try again by phone. Feedback is a 50/50 proposition. Half the agents will gladly give you feedback and half won’t.
Any feedback that I get; good or bad I will direct back to you; usually by email. This way we know what the market is telling about the price of your home and what objections buyers might have. Sometimes we can overcome these objections; like a room feels dark, by adding more lamps. Sometimes we can’t; like the house is located on a busy street.
Realtor Open Houses and Additional Marketing
If your home is located in an area that hosts a Realtor caravan, then we will make the home available for this. Realtors “show what they know”. If they are familiar with your house, they might think of a client they are working with that should take a look at it.
Open Houses – Generally we are not a fans of Open Houses to the public. That’s because, you don’t know who you’re opening your house to. Also less that 10% of houses sell just because someone came to an Open House. Most Realtors do Open Houses in order to attract clients that may not be interested in your house, but would like to see other houses with that Realtor. Gated communities make it hard to hold an Open House too. But if your community is doing a neighborhood wide Open House, or there is a special event going on where there is a lot of traffic, it might be a good idea to try an Open House.
Depending on the time of year, there could be a special event that we could tie marketing into. For instance, the TPC golf tournament or a boat show if your house is on the water. We will try to take advantage and capitalize on these events.
Receiving an Offer
Once we have an offer on your house, we will usually email it to you. Then once you’ve had a chance to review the offer we can discuss the terms.
Even if the price is low, it’s best to always come back with a counter offer. Even if it’s just a few dollars off the list price.
We are going to look at how the buyer intends to pay for the house. If they are paying cash then we will need proof of funds, if they are financing the house then we will need a letter from a mortgage company that they are working with.
What contingencies are there? Most of the time it is contingent for 10 days for a home inspection to be done. It will likely be contingent upon the buyer obtaining a mortgage. This contingency is usually for 30 to 45 days. It may be contingent upon the “closing” of another home that is already under contract. This can sometimes run for the length of the contract.
When does the buyer want to close? What items do they want left with the house. All of these are negotiable items to discuss.
During this time your house is usually not being shown to other buyers. We are awaiting the outcome of the inspections, appraisal and financing. We will keep you posted on these every step of the way. We will also be able to advise you on what your options are, so that you can select the right path for you.
If there are items that need to be repaired in order to get your home sold, I can help you determine if they are legitimate under the terms of the contract or if they fall into the “wear and tear” category. I can also assist in getting professional, licensed and bonded contractors get these repairs accomplished.
We have all been waiting for this day to come. Almost every task from scheduling the movers, packing, changing over the utilities and cable service has been made in anticipation of the closing.
You will receive a copy of the closing statement from the closing attorney’s office. This should compare pretty well with the one I prepared for you when you signed the contract. You can elect to be at the closing or we can arrange for it to be done as a “mail away”. You will be signing the deed, the closing statement, and some other documents that will all be explained at the closing. You will leave the closing with either a proceeds check or the attorney’s office can wire the funds to an account you select.
We have reached our goal!
Know that it is an honor to help you through this process. Our goal is to make it as stress free as it can be and to reassure you, that you aren’t doing this by yourself.
Short Sales & Foreclosures
Short Sales in Real Estate
If you are a seller and you paid $300,000 for your home in 2004. Now your home is worth $200,000 but you have a mortgage of $250,000. This means if you sold your house for $200,000 you’d have to bring over $50,000 to the closing table. Most people can’t afford to do that.
If you want to sell your home as a “short sale” ( meaning that the mortgage company will be shorted on the amount you agreed to pay back) you must meet a series of criteria. These include: 1) you have suffered a financial hardship such as having lost your job or have to relocate for business. 2) you have no other assets to pay off this shortfall.
If you meet these criteria; then we’d have you speak with an attorney who is proficient in negotiating short sales. They will make you aware of the ramifications of having a short sale on your credit and whether or not the bank will forgive the deficiency. You should also speak to your CPA to see if there will be tax implications too.
Once you agree to do the short sale, then the property is listed and we place it on the market for sale. Once we have an offer on your property then the attorney will contact the bank/mortgage holder and try to begin negotiations. The bank/mortgage company is going to need a lot of financial information from you the seller to determine if you qualify for a short sale. They will need copies of bank statements, tax returns, pay stub, etc. This process can take anywhere from 3 months to a year. It’s funny how people think that a short sale should be fast, but it’s not.
Often times the bank/mortgage company takes too long to get a response back to the buyer. Most contracts allow 60 to 90 days for short sale approval. Some buyers will want to move on if the short sale has not been approved in this time frame and others will agree to hang in there a little longer.
The number of short sales has decreased dramatically in the last 18 months. So, we see fewer people going this route. As prices of homes have started to increase there is less need to sell a home this way.
If you have questions about the short sale process, please give us a call at 904-535-0544.
Foreclosure Real Estate Advice
When a person is no longer making their mortgage payments, then the mortgage company begins foreclosure proceedings. This means they file a “lis pendis” (pending legal action) with the clerk of the courts in that county. Sometimes the foreclosure happens in 6 months but it can take up to 2 or 3 years in some cases. Once the bank forecloses on the property then it can take 2 to 6 months for them to put it in the hands of a real estate agent.
A foreclosed property can be a very good deal. This means that it might sell for a lot less than a non-foreclosed house in the same neighborhood. However, there are several things to consider.
A foreclosed property can be in various states of repair. Some have lots of issues including roof leaks and others can be in fairly good shape. You will be buying the property in “as is” condition meaning that the seller, the bank will make no repairs. You will have the opportunity to have home inspections done so that you know what you’re getting into. Then you will need to decide if you are moving forward with the purchase or not. Often times we will need to get estimates of the repairs that are needed and we can help recommend contractors at that time. There are also loans available where you can finance the cost of those repairs into the mortgage you are getting on the property.
There are some closing costs that a bank won’t pay if the property is a foreclosure. Most of the time the foreclosures will not pay for home warranties and surveys. So those costs get passed along to the buyer.
The law firms that process the foreclosures are usually in other parts of the state like Tampa or Miami. Since they are not local, they are not aware of all the municipalities that can lien property. So we always recommend that you hire an attorney to look over the title policy, review the deed to make sure it gets properly filled out and handle the closing. The cost of all this is around $500. It is money that is well spent. There have been several instances where the attorney found mistakes that could have caused the buyer several thousand dollars after closing.