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How to Avoid the Top 5 Home Seller Mistakes

Friday, November 17, 2017

When you are selling your home, it can be easy to be in a vacuum. You have a certain idea of what the market should pay for your home and what may or may not be an issue. After all, you are king of your castle, right? Your home has x, y and z . The location can’t be beat. It’s just around the corner from (insert fabulous restaurant, park, coffee shop, school, etc. here).

However, when buyers and agents are coming through your home, it can be where distorted perception meets reality. Here are the top mistakes sellers make and how to avoid them.

1. Overpricing Your Home

If your home is overpriced, two things won’t happen: showings or offers. The price is what sets the tone for showings. It is the nonverbal message that either invites or discourages activity. If it is too high, buyers that can afford it may be interested in something else, as they can go higher in price range, and the audience for whom it was intended price-wise are usually shut out. To avoid frustration over offers much lower than your set price, have an open discussion with your real estate agent to set the right price for your home.

2. Making Showings Difficult

Restricted showing times, no lockbox or having to be present for all showings can impact the ability of showing traffic through your home. If there are umpteen instructions or restrictions, agents and their buyers will simply move on to those properties with less rules. Work with your real estate agent to find a way to make showings convenient for both you as the seller as well as potential buyers.

3. Not Countering an Offer

While everyone would love to get the most for their home, a seller also needs to keep a realistic balance. It is too easy to get hung up on the starting number in an offer when the focus should be on what the end result is. The opening offer is simply that –a starting point. It gets a conversation going and results in hopefully a happy medium that is amenable to the buyer and seller. Not countering an offer is like having a one way conversation. It won’t work. How can you move to sold if you can’t have a dialogue of back and forth? It doesn’t mean that the buyers aren’t serious, they are simply being conservative in their first offer to get a feel for how the negotiation is going to go. It doesn’t mean that is the most they are willing to pay unless the offer was positioned that way. Failure to counter sends a discouraging signal to the buyer that can create an uncomfortable situation, perceived or real. Buyers want to do business with sellers who are eager to do business with them. You don’t have to give away the store to do so, but certainly responding with a number in good faith is a step in the right direction.

4. Property Condition Denial

Would you as a buyer pay top dollar for a home with original systems approaching the end of their life? In today’s real estate climate, buyers, lenders, appraisers and inspectors are more scrutinous than ever. It is not only the buyer, but the lender, appraiser and the buyer’s insurance company that could be making the call on a home’s condition. Before you sell, be realistic about the condition of your home. Unless the home is deeply discounted below market value, which realistically means it would be far too low pricewise that you would agree to accept, the buyer will care about it and if they don’t, their home inspector certainly will!

5. Selective Memory

Sellers often fear that if they disclose too much or provide too many details, that it could affect their ability to sell for top dollar; however, failure to disclose could open you up to liability after the sale. Leaving questions blank, or not being clear on the age of certain things only creates more red flags and concern for a potential buyer. If you answer the questions honestly and fully disclose any known issues or repairs that were made (with receipts to document and provide a history) it will eliminate buyer fear and doubt.

The Thankful Tree and Thoughts of Home

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sitting on my kitchen counter for the last week is something called a “thankful tree;” a small wooden tree with miniature paper leaves my wife found while out one day. The purpose of the thankful tree is that each person within the home writes down a few things they are thankful for on a leaf and puts it on the tree.

Our tree has 18 leaves, and seeing that there are six people (four boys, my wife, and me) in my home, we each got three leaves. The kids genuinely got excited about doing this, and as I looked at what was written on the thankful tree, I noticed a common theme – home.

There were some leaves that contained the physical things of home, like certain toys, the actual structure, and the newly self-renovated kitchen — but many of the emotional aspects of home that extend beyond our four walls were also represented, and those are what really stood out.

Family, grandparents, our church, teachers, and friends. Even “Daddy’s job” made the thankful tree, which you may not think of as being home-related, but to me (and my family), it truly is an extended family.

While home tends to be thought of as the rooms in which we abide, as I read the leaves on this small Thanksgiving-themed decoration, it made me pause and appreciate all that home truly is and how it extends beyond the property lines which we pay taxes for.

It made me reflect on friends in Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida who’ve lost their physical home due to natural disasters, and those who’ve had the emotional elements of home ripped apart due to hate, terror and unforeseen acts. I was forced to reflect on what I have been given and how I can give to others, not just in donations, but in time, support and aid where it is most needed.

Home, at its most basic definition, is shelter, and while it provides that, it does so much more. Those that have a home, whether it be an actual residence or just a state of comfort, have so much to be thankful for.

You may not have a thankful tree planted on your kitchen counter, but I trust this season of thanks gives you reason to appreciate all that home means to you.

Fall Closet Cleanout: What to Keep, Toss, and Buy

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The weather is getting colder, and it’s finally time to put away your summer clothes and pull out your comfy knits and favorite pair of jeans. As you begin to swap out your seasonal clothing, set aside some extra time to clean out your entire closet. After all, you might discover you just have too much stuff. Many of us have our favorite pieces and others fall by the wayside, no matter the season! Here a few tips for your fall closet cleanout, including what you should keep, what you should buy and what you should get rid of.

Toss: Any Damaged or Unworn Items

We’ll start with what to toss. Inspect all your clothing carefully, whether it’s the summer shorts you’re putting away or the fall sweater you’re bringing out. Set aside anything that is damaged, stained or worn out. Next, identify items that you know you haven’t worn in months (or even years). They might have been in storage and you haven’t missed them, or they simply don’t fit your body or your style anymore.

Before you head to the dumpster, consider donating your damaged and unwearable clothes to a textile recycling program. You can donate any clothes that are still in good condition to a thrift store or consign them for a little extra cash.

Keep: Your Standby Favorites

You might come across some pieces that you like, but you’re not totally sure about them. Use the “Hanger Test” strategy to test them out. While you are putting away and organizing your fall clothes, make sure all of your hangers are facing the same way. After you wear an item, put it back in the closet with the hanger facing the opposite way. At the end of the month or the season, you can see which items went unworn and are still hanging in their original way. Chances are you can get rid of these pieces without missing them. If you really don’t want to part with them, box them up and put them under your bed or in the attic or basement. If you’ve forgotten about them after 30 days, you don’t need them.

After you have identified the pieces you no longer need, organize what you have left. Choose a system that works for you—arrange garments by color, type or use, whatever fits your organizational style. Your clothes should be easy to find in your closet or dresser drawers so that you know what you are working with when you start to build outfits.

Buy: The Missing Essentials

Now that your closet is organized, take an inventory of everything so that you know what you have available to you. This way, it’s easier to spot gaps and see if you’re missing any pieces that are essential to your wardrobe. Buy new versions of basics you tossed, like that go-to pair of black pants that were worn out or your favorite white blouse that was stained. Pieces you do not need to replace yet include formal dresses, fast fashion trends that are likely to go out of style, and loud, flashy pieces you aren’t likely to wear often. Do your wallet a favor—and avoid having to get rid of more clothes next season—by shopping for long-lasting, high-quality, versatile basics at secondhand stores. Today, there are many online thrift stores where you can find like-new designer clothing at a big discount.

With an organized closet full of pieces that you wear regularly, you’ll feel more confident every day. Be sure to keep your closet stocked with the basics like jeans, simple tops and comfortable shoes, and you will be set for the season. You won’t be overwhelmed with options, and your closet will stay neat. Getting dressed every day might actually be fun!

Market Snapshot - October 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Word of Advice Wednesday- Home Builder Expectations

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Will your home builder meet your expectations? Here's how to find out! #WordOfAdviceWednesday

3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me as a First Time Home Buyer

Monday, November 06, 2017

As I approach my four year “homeaversary” I decided to take a moment to reflect on all that I had on my mind as my husband and I prepared to make the biggest purchase of our lives. Here are some of the things I wish I had known sooner that I hope will help you, or someone you know, on their journey toward home ownership.

You Don’t Pay The Agent’s Commission as the Buyer

So many first time buyers wonder, “do you have to pay a real estate agent if you are buying a home?” For some, the thought of having to shell out extra cash, when they are already doing all they can to save for their down payment, is enough to make them walk away from the entire process before they even get going. Many are surprised to find out that the answer is actually no. A home buyer does not pay their agent, rather the agent earns their commission from the seller side of the transaction.*

Need help finding an agent? Take a look here.

Focus on Your Monthly Mortgage Payment, Not the Entire Thing

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is generally the first step you should take as a first time buyer. A common mistake that people often make is focusing on the total price of the home they can afford instead of the monthly payment they will be making. You may get approved for a $350,000 home, but this may not necessarily be what you can truly afford. Think of the amount your advisor suggests you can afford as a range. There is a high end and a low end and it is your job, not the mortgage advisor’s, to figure out what you are comfortable paying each month. It is crucial that you work with your advisor to understand how your down payment amount, credit, and the current mortgage rate affect your monthly payment.

Make the Jump!

To steal a line from Nike®…Just Do It! From agonizing over the down payment to finding the “perfect” home there are a ton of moments in the first time buying process that are going to make you feel nervous. Know that it is natural and that similar to having a baby, there is never really a 100% perfect time. You are always going to wish you had more money in the bank, hope that the home had a backyard that was just a little bigger, or that you were just a little more sure what direction your life will be taking in the next 5-10 years. My advice: if you feel comfortable with the payment, love the location and “bones” of the house and will feel proud to make this house a home, then take the leap and don’t look back. That’s what we did almost four years ago and it was one of the best decisions we ever made.

*As with anything exceptions may apply. One example where this may change is a For Sale By Owner (FSBO). To be certain of what the payment structure will be, speak with your agent as soon you begin working to discuss payment/commission.

Your November Honey-Do List

Monday, November 06, 2017

This month, we’re especially thankful for home. Home is where the family comes together, where we’re protected from the elements, and where love abounds. Your home’s November Honey-Do list will make sure your home is ready for the holidays, prepared for colder weather and loved inside and out.

1. Winterize your home – For most of the country, November is the time when we can no longer deny that the colder weather has settled in. Now is the time to winterize summer tools and appliances like air conditioner units, grills and lawn mowers. Bring garden hoses indoors and check your windows and doors for drafts.

2. Make a Turkey Game Plan – No coach would head to a big game without a game plan up his sleeve. Likewise, no chef should hit the kitchen without thinking through the menu and timeline first. Determine what menu items you can make ahead, decide what responsibilities you can delegate, and take an inventory of your pantry and china cabinet. Oh, and now’s the time to clean that oven, too.

3. Polish the Silver and Dust off the China – Thanksgiving is a special meal, which deserves the best of your entertaining arsenal. Because we don’t often use our special dishes year round, it’s smart to give them a good deep clean and polish before setting the table on Turkey Day.

4. Give your living room a refresh – With the holidays ahead, your living room is sure to get plenty of use. Give the space a refresh by changing out the window treatments for a new look.

5. Use some pest control – Rodents and other pests are opportunistic and seek warmer environments when the temperatures drop. Be sure that they don’t call your house their home by implementing these 5 surefire tricks to pest control.

6. Clear out the gutters – Avoid drainage problems and damage to your home’s foundation by clearing out the gutters before snow and ice wreaks havoc. Here is an easy how-to guide to cleaning rain gutters on your home.

7. Be ready for snow – Before the first winter storm, it’s a good idea to make sure your snow shovels and/or snow blower are in proper working order. If you don't already own a snow blower, now is the time to invest in one after the brutal winter last year.

8. Start tackling the December to do list – The holiday to do list is notoriously the longest of the year. Get a head start by ordering your holiday cards, updating your address book, and making a gift wish list for each of your family members NOW. You can even start stringing twinkle lights on your shrubbery before the deep chill sets in. After all, the most important part of the holidays is taking the time to enjoy our family and friends.

Next month we’ll cover everything you’ll need to know to make your home holiday ready.  Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

Word of Advice Wednesday- Home Inspections

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

What exactly will they look at during a home inspection? Jim Hibbs will explain! #WordofAdviceWednesday

Word of Advice Wednesday- Setting the Stage

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

How do you make your home stand out among the competition? Kate Anderson explains where to start!

Looking Past Sale Price When Buying a Home

Thursday, October 19, 2017

As a home buyer, you may focus too much on a home’s sale price – whether it meets your budget or even if it’s a lucky number. Before you begin the home search, make sure that you take into account other factors such as your own credit. When you pay off outstanding loans and reduce debt before beginning the process of looking for a new home, you can significantly impact the interest rate you will pay and whether or not you qualify for a loan.

Cost of a Home Beyond the Sale Price

Mortgages themselves commonly involve additional costs you may forget to account for, such as mortgage insurance. Other notable expenses include the property size, location, and condition of the home. These are some of the factors which determine property taxes and maintenance expenses for the upkeep of your home. While a home in good condition may have few repair costs at first, any home is a sufficiently large and complex structure and repairs are inevitable.

Focusing too much on sale price of a home can also lead you to make an unwise decision based on your personal needs. You may become so focused on jumping on a good deal that you overlook whether a home is right for you. If you have a growing family, take into account the need for more space in the near future. In contrast, be aware that a large home for a good price may be larger than you can reasonably use.

Investigation and Closing with Your Real Estate Agent

You may want to have your real estate agent show you homes within your specified price range without telling you each individual property’s list price. This can help you make an unbiased assessment of the home and help you avoid a hasty decision for or against a property simply because of price.

When it comes time to negotiate and close a deal, keep in mind the closing costs and the cost of moving into a new home. These additional expenses might include renting a van, hiring movers, buying new furniture, replacing old items and limited repairs to rooms like the kitchen or bathroom.

Closing costs cover administrative fees, title searches, and in some cases, initial homeowners’ association fees or inspection costs.

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