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What sells my house?

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sold homeIt’s the million dollar real estate questions: “what can I do to sell my property?” and “how can I get top dollar for my home?” Though these questions sound complicated, the answer is easier than you think. What sells a house is fairly simple, and eerily similar no matter where you live:

Right Price

A house priced too high is a house 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 house?” “Why has it sat on the market so long?”). If your home is priced too low, you’re not going to walk away with the top dollar you need, and no one likes to feel like they got ripped off. So how do you determine that sweet spot, a fair sales price? Trust your real estate agent to do a market evaluation. The right price is determined by looking at purchase prices from comparable home sales in your area. Note the catch: from the actual purchase price (or sale price), not the price that the home was listed for. Also, make sure you are properties that qualify as comparable sales. Compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. 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.

Location

We’ve all heard the key to property values: “location, location, location.” You’ve heard it because it’s true. The location of a property is a key factor in determining the value and sales price of a home because location sells. A desirable location is worth its weight in gold in a buyer’s mind. A prime example of this is water front property. A house on a lake, such as Sinissippi or Fox Lake in Dodge County, has an edge for many buyers over a land-locked property. On the flip side, numerous location factors, such as a busy road or highway, undesirable commercial property (such as a factory with foul smell, loud noise or unkempt property), a landfill, unsafe neighborhood or a neighbor with a messy yard can negatively impact the value of your home. If your house isn’t in a desirable location, put your money in key areas to win buyers over, such as in a nice kitchen, clean bathrooms and excellent curb appeal.

Curb Appeal

First impressions count, especially when selling a house. This is your chance to make a favorable impression as soon as potential buyers pull up to the house, 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 house, so don’t skimp on the amount of work you put into the exterior of your home.

Cleanliness

As the old saying goes, “cleanliness is next to godliness” especially when selling your house. If you don’t have time to scrub the grout and wash down the tub, hire a cleaning service that can give your house the deep clean you need. Deep cleaning also has another favorable side effect: the ability to remove any odors that could drive potential buyers away.

Condition

Unless you’re intent on selling a home as a fixer upper, and accepting the price that goes with it, condition matters. That means repairing the hold in the drywall, the water stains, the worn down shingles and the water leak. If you’re not sure exactly what repairs need to be made, schedule a pre-listing home inspection (we’ve written about the many benefits of a pre-listing home inspection here). 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. The result: a smoother sale price, no surprises, faster sale, and higher sales price.

Have any questions about preparing your home for your upcoming sale or determining a fair sale price? Contact a local real estate agent with the experience and knowledge to help you navigate putting your home on the market, and the process of selling your home—smoothly and for a fair sales price you can appreciate.

The Most Common Selling Mistake

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Ready to move on to your next home? Time to contact a real estate agent. However, selling your home means more than cleaning and staging your home for sale. It also means knowing the numbers that make your sale swift and straightforward.

First of all, don’t make the most common selling mistake: remember, just because you owe a certain amount for your home does not mean that is what buyers will pay for your home. Meet with your real estate agent to review the comparable sales in your neighborhood, and use them as a guide for determining the realistic price for your property. A realistic price for any property increases your chances for a quick sale.

Next, contact your real estate agent and lender. Find out what costs come with selling your home so that you don’t encounter unknowns at closing. If you are buying another home, discuss loan rates, the amount you need for a down payment and closing costs with your lender.

Selling your home is not an insurmountable challenge. Follow these simple steps to ensure that you have all your financial bases covered, so you can move on—and move out—quickly and painlessly.

‘Must Haves’ That Will Keep You From Getting In Over Your Head

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Simple steps will make the path to your dream smoother!
These simple steps will make the path to your dream house smoother!

Even the most savvy buyer can get in over his or her head, leading to disappointments that sour the home ownership process. Keeping a level head during the buying process is the key, as are knowing what you can and can’t handle. Here’s some tools that help you know more about you, so you aren’t overwhelmed when buying your dream house:

  • Make a ‘must have’ list—and be prepared for it to change. Figuring out what you want before you buy is essential to property ownership success. Do you want a big backyard? Where do you want to live? Once you have a list, know that there is a high probability that items on your list may change, or take a higher priority over another item, as you search for homes. It’s okay to change as you learn what you want—and don’t want—in your future home.
  • Know how handy you are. If you haven’t picked up a hammer recently—or ever—perhaps that fixer upper is not the property for you. Know your limitations and take on a property that fits your experience. If you don’t have a lot of experience with a screw gun, but still want to put your personal touch on a home, look for a property that has small projects you can manage.
  • Prepare yourself for the unexpected. The buying and owning process is full of unpredictable twists and turns. Be ready for repairs, expenses and the joy of owning a home. Put an account aside for unforeseen problems, and budget accordingly.
  • Take the proper steps to find out how much you can afford. The feeling of being overwhelmed does not just come from buying that fixer upper that you can’t fix. Buyers commonly jump in over their head financially by not accounting for all the expenses—utilities, property taxes, etc.—that come with home ownership. Meet with your lender and find out how much the monthly payments are, then take those numbers home and figure out where those numbers work with your budget and monthly income.

Foreclosures & Short Sales: What does that mean?

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Foreclosures and short sales offer great value, but there's a lot you should know before you buy

Being a real estate buyer can be an overwhelming experience, complete with foreign terms like mortgage, foreclosure, short sales, equity. However, not knowing the definitions of those words, and what they mean for you can complicate your property search, and, at the end of the day, lead to disappointment.

Time to get educated. Knowing what these terms mean, and what they can mean for you when trying to purchase these properties, is invaluable as you navigate through the home buying process:

Foreclosures
Foreclosure is a legal process used by a lender when a previous owner stops making payments on their property. In today’s market, the term “foreclosure” can also be used to describe properties that are owned by the bank—though technically, these properties are “bank-owned.”

The process of buying a bank-owned property can be lengthy, with some buyers enduring more than a year of paperwork before they can buy a foreclosed property. However, because lenders are eager to sell these properties, bank-owned properties promise the biggest bang for your buck, as properties are often sold for an incredible value. It is important to note when buying a bank-owned property, however, that all properties are sold “as is.” “As is” means that the lender that owns the property will not pay for any repairs that may be needed. In addition, if a bank-owned property has sat vacant for a lengthy period of time there may be unforeseen problems after you take ownership of the property. One buyer I knew even encountered a flood in her basement. The bank had turned off the water to the property but had not drained the pipes properly, leading to a swimming pool in her finished basement. Foreclosed properties are great values, but be prepared for the possibility of a long buying process and unforeseen repairs.

Short Sales
Short sales are properties that are often owner-occupied. A short sale occurs when an owner owes more for the property than the value of the property. For example, an owner owes $150,000 for a property that is appraised at $120,000. During a short sale, the lender—the institution who is owed the $150,000—agrees to sell the property for (let’s say) $120,000, less than the amount of the loan.

During a short sale, the owner and the lender have to approve the offer made by a buyer. This can mean a lengthy buying process, but, as with foreclosures, the value per square foot can be higher than a traditional sale.