Monthly Archives: November 2015

3 Real Estate Professionals That Can Make or Break Your Home Sale

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home saleWhether you’re buying or selling your home, it can be the little things that make the sale: an open floor plan, size of the yard, the garage…the list can go on and on. Just as much as those little things can make you want to buy or sell your home, it’s the big things—the professionals involved—that can make the sale go smoothly or fall apart. That’s why it’s so important to select the real estate professionals you want to be part of your home sale carefully.

Mortgage Lender

The first step in any home sale is to contact a mortgage lender to set the budget for your new home, and, if you are a seller, to discuss your financials after you sell your home. We cannot possibly stress enough the importance of a good mortgage lender in your home sale. A good mortgage lender gives you not only a loan, but an education and a smooth home sale process. There are a lot of options for mortgage lenders, so start sifting through your home lending options by asking yourself these questions:

  1. How much do you know about mortgages? Are you a first-time home buyer or a seasoned real estate (or financial) professional? Or a household that has bought and sold many homes?
  2. Do you need someone to educate you about your loan options (i.e. the pros and cons of fixed rate vs. adjustable mortgages)?
  3. Are you more comfortable meeting with someone face-to-face or comfortable with phone and online interactions?
  4. Who do I know—and trust—to refer their mortgage lender to me? Or who can I talk to about a lender they would not recommend?
  5. Which lender offers the best customer service? What are their response times?

Once you know your preferred mode of communication (face-to-face vs. virtual), and the amount of assistance you need navigating through the home buying process, make a list of possible mortgage lender possibilities and screen them by asking these questions.

  1. What are your current mortgage rates (be aware that mortgage rates, even fixed rates, do change over a period of time and that buyers get different rates based on their credit)?
  2. Can you get me a complete (COMPLETET) list of fees?
  3. What kind of loan is the best option for me? (If you are interested in a loan specifically for veterans or think that a HUD loan is the best option, be aware that not all lenders can assist you.)
  4. What kind of documents do you need to approve my loan (if I decide to proceed with you)?
  5. How long does the home sale process take? What can I do to expedite the process?

Let’s make one thing clear: though you do need to apply to get the exact mortgage rate, you do not need to apply to get possible mortgage rates and a list of fees. If you want more information on local mortgage lenders, ask your real estate agent about their experiences.

Real Estate Agent

A good realtor is worth their weight in knowledge and savings. From defining terms like foreclosure and short sale, to identifying home repairs that can sell your home, to assistance with pricing and negotiating, to finding a solution that fits your needs after a bad home inspection report, a real estate agent’s first priority is to assist you through the home selling and buying process. Real estate agents offer local connections to professionals you need during the home sale process, and the objectivity to help navigate a fair deal. So how do you find the best of the best real estate agent?

Testimonials

What do a real estate agents’ past clients say? Were they satisfied with the services they received? Did the real estate agent make their home sale smooth? Ask the real estate agent for references and look on social media to see what kind of rating they have received from their clients.

Knows your area

If you’re looking to buy a home, a real estate agent familiar with the area you are buying the home in can give you information about the area: commute times, school district, local neighborhood info. On the flip side, if you are a home seller, a local real estate agent knows what prices sell and don’t sell—one of the most important factors that sell (or don’t sell) your home.

Has experience

Choose an agent that has a large amount of experience to assist you through your home sale. You can find this information by asking the real estate agent, or by requesting this information from the state license board.

Good (and prompt) communication

One of the top frustrations from home buyers and sellers is a real estate agent who drops off the planet. You sign the papers to put your home on the market, or enlist their services to find your next dream home and then….nothing. Or they don’t return your calls with questions. Either way, one of the questions you should ask your potential real estate agents is, “How will you communicate with me? Can I email you? Or call you?”

A good real estate agent can also connect you with other professionals you need in the home sale process, such as a home inspector, contractor, or landscaper.

Home Inspector

A home inspector is invaluable to both a home buyer and seller. A good home inspector can spot potential issues that need repair, and can also educate home buyers on home maintenance. We’ve seen home inspectors that have saved home buyers and sellers thousands of dollars, so be selective about the home inspector you choose. A good home inspector has past experience in construction, can provide samples of their home inspector report, is a member of a professional association, and can provide testimonials from past clients.

For a seller, a pre-listing home inspection can be the difference between a quick sale and a dragged out process. A pre-listing home inspection can locate potential red flags before the home hits the market, putting the seller in control of choosing who makes the repairs and the cost. If you’ve located and made all the repairs found during the pre-listing home inspection, you don’t need to worry about delays during the sale process or any renegotiations on price because of issues found during a potential buyer’s home inspection.

Many a buyer has been tempted to waive the home inspection in their offer, either because they think they’ve found the perfect home or because there is strong competition for the property. Fight the temptation. A good inspection is invaluable for buyers for several sound business reasons:

Avoiding a money pit

Some of the most expensive repairs can be hidden, such as structural and electrical issues. Buying a home is a sound investment, and should remain as such. You don’t want to sick more money into the property than you have, or than it’s worth.

Outside verification of the previous homeowner’s work

Did you know the wall that the previous owner removed caused structural damage? Or that the person who flipped the home did not have any experience installing plumbing? A home inspector can tell you if work done by the previous owner—even if you can’t tell the work was even done—was done correctly, or can recommend professionals that can inspect the structure or foundation.

Still have time to ask for a seller to make repairs

If you do find issues, don’t panic. Until you close on the home, you have time to renegotiate with the owners (visit our previous post to find out what your options are). You can go back to the owners and ask for funds to fix the house, or ask them to fix the damage. If your offer is contingent on the home inspection, you can also back out of the sale.

The opportunity to look ahead

Home inspectors can not only give you insight into the quality of past repairs, but can also give you a list of repairs that need to be made and a timeline. If the house needs a new roof, for example, he can give you his opinion on the damage and when it needs to be repaired or replaced. The most important item that any home inspector can give you is peace of mind and an education about your future investment.

Want more information on your home sale process? Contact a local real estate agent who has years of experience assisting other home buyers and sellers through buying and selling their home.

5 Terms to Know Before You Sell Your Home

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sell your homeThinking of putting your home up for sale? Before the sign goes up in the front yard, it pays yourself to educate yourself on some key real estate terms that could play a key part in your home sale. A little bit of knowledge, and a good real estate agent, can be the key to selling your home quickly and saving thousands of dollars in the process.

Comparable home sales

A fair sales price is one of the most important factors in determining how fast your home sells. A home priced too high is a home that is going to sit on the real estate market, resulting in price reductions that send all the wrong signals to potential buyers (“Is there something wrong with the property?” “Why has it sat on the market so long?”).

So how do you determine a fair sales price? The fair sales price of your home should not be set by the amount you purchased the home for or by what you owe on the home. Instead, your real estate agent can do a market evaluation from comparable home sales in your area. Your real estate agent uses the actual sale price of other homes that are similar to yours—not the price that the home was listed for. Comparable home sales should include properties that are comparable. For example, if you are selling a condo, find other condos for sale in your area. For more information on sales prices, read our blog post to guide you to the right sales price—the price that sells.

Condition Report

In 1992, Wisconsin became one of the first states requiring sellers to fill out a document disclosing defects that could affect the value or structure of a property. The Condition Report needs to be part of all transactions involving 1-4 properties and has more than 20 categories of disclosures, including important items such as unsafe well water, roof defects and problems within the electrical system. If the property does not have a defect in that category, and has never suffered damage as a result, the seller can indicate that the property is clear in that area.

What do sellers have to include in the report? Everything—and what was done to fix it. If a problem occurred on the property, even for an insignificant length of time, it needs to be included in the report. Include the issue, what was done to fix the problem, and that it never happened again. For instance, if the basement flooded with a foot of water for a just a few hours 10 years ago, the flooding needs to disclosed. Also write down that the problem was caused by a faulty sump pump that was replaced that same day. Same with that leak in the roof. Or the pipe that burst in the bathroom.

The report cannot be completed by a seller’s Real Estate Agent. Truly, the Condition Report is not protecting the Real Estate Agent, it’s protecting the sellers. That’s why sellers need to fill this important document out—and fill it out completely with full disclosure. A completed Condition Report is more than just a piece of paper. It’s a shield for sellers now—and after the sale is complete.

Curb Appeal

First impressions count, especially when selling a home. That’s why the curb appeal of your home matters, such as the neatness of your yard, the cleanliness of your home, even the condition of your roof and windows. This is your chance to make a favorable impression as soon as potential buyers pull up to the home, so make sure you pay attention to:

  • Driveway condition (no cracks or holes),
  • Clean (and no cracks) windows,
  • Well-kept yard & flower beds (if you have any),
  • Painted porch and porch railings in good repair (if applicable),
  • Powerwashed sidewalks and siding.

Buyers see a direct correlation between your lawn care and how well you take care of your home, so don’t skimp on the amount of work you put into the exterior of your home. If you would prefer hiring a professional to give your home the curb appeal (and maintain it), contact your real estate agent for a recommendation.

Offer

Once a potential buyer is serious about your home, they submit an offer (otherwise known as a purchase agreement). An offer contains a price and any contingencies, or conditions, of the sale. For example, a common contingency is a financing contingency which means the loan must go through for the sale to be final. Another common contingency is an inspection contingency where the home must pass a home inspection or both parties come to an agreement on how to handle an issue that arises during the home inspection. There are other contingencies that can be included in the offer; discuss the contingencies in an offer made on your home with your real estate agent so you understand the agreement. An offer is not a binding agreement until both parties have agreed upon the price and contingencies included in the purchase agreement.

Pre-listing home inspection

A pre-listing home inspection is an inspection of your property BEFORE you put your home up for sale. When you’re talking about a pre-listing home inspection, spending money upfront can save you thousands of dollars and time when selling your home, in more ways than one:

No surprises, or delays, during the home sale process. Replacing a broken window or repairing water-damaged drywall can be the difference between a quick sale and a dragged out process. Unfortunately, not all repairs are so obvious, and a pre-listing home inspection can locate potential red flags before your home hits the market—and before a buyers’ home inspector finds them as well.

Opportunity to make repairs at a price you choose. A pre-listing home inspection puts you in control of choosing who makes the repairs and the cost. If your home inspector finds an issue with your home during the pre-listing home inspection, you, as the home owner, can choose what professional and price you pay for repairs. If a potential buyer finds the issue, they can require that you use their home repair professional which may cost you more in the long run.

Better selling price. If a potential buyer finds an issue during the home inspection, they can renegotiate the final selling price to accommodate the cost of repairs. The renegotiation can cut into your bottom line and lower the amount of money you make from your home sale.

If you have any questions about selling your home, or preparing your home for sale, contact an experienced real estate agent that can guide you through the home sale process. They can guide you through the preparations, give you a fair sales price, assist you with the paperwork, answer any questions you might have, and steer you through the closing process once your home sale is a reality.