7 Steps to House-Selling Success! Part 4 of 7 (courtesy of Realtor.com)

If you bought a car, you could purchase a given model with selected features from any dealer. Since the car comes from one assembly plant, it’s going to be the same whether purchased from dealer Smith or dealer Jones.
Homes are different. Each is unique, the marketplace is always in flux, interest rates constantly change and new buyers search for homes each day. With such fluidity, it requires REALTORS® to craft marketing plans specifically for individual homes and market conditions.
Selling can entail a variety of marketing strategies. Once listed, it’s likely that the home will be quickly entered into the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and placed on REALTOR.com®. REALTORS® routinely market by mail with new-listing announcements and regular newsletters. Open houses, broker access to the home via the use of a lock box and networking with both local and out-of-town brokers are also common.
Much of a broker’s work will be quiet and unseen — yet important. The quiet telephone calls, the work with contacts, the follow-ups with open-house visitors, conversations with ad respondents, the web postings and other outreach efforts are all part of the process required to sell homes.
Experienced REALTORS® base their marketing efforts on previous transactions and ongoing research. For instance, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), most people begin their home-buying process on the Internet. NAR numbers also show that most households move within 10 miles of their current location while 20 percent move at least 50 miles.
How to market your home. If you look at a typical transaction you can see that there are five general areas where REALTORS® can assist in the home-selling process.
  • Preparation: Before being placed on the market, homes must be in “show” condition. REALTORS® can explain what repairs and upgrades are required for individual homes which are most likely to produce the best results.
  • Pricing: Brokers do more than price homes for sale, they also construct sale terms designed to speed the selling process. It may be, for example, that a home priced at $150,000 with a 2 percent seller credit to the buyer at closing will be far more attractive to purchasers than a home priced at $147,000. Why? That 2 percent credit is worth $3,000 to the purchaser at closing — the time when buyers are most likely strapped for cash.
  • Marketing: REALTORS® will execute strategies and programs to get the home sold. Typically this includes placement on the local MLS and Realtor.com as well as related marketing, advertising and networking.
  • Negotiation: REALTORS® assist owners in the bargaining process, offering advice and counsel as offers are received and by working closely with legal counsel, tax specialists and inspectors as required.
  • Closing: Once a contract for the purchase of a home has been accepted, a series of inspections and checks are typically required to satisfy buyers and lenders. REALTORS® can help owners complete the transaction process by assisting with the many requirements found in a typical sale agreement.
How to hold an open house. There are no universal marketing standards for real estate because marketplaces are localized. For instance, open houses may be common in some communities but rarely used in others.
In the case of an open house, a REALTOR® typically advertises that the home will be open for a given period (2-5 p.m. on Sunday). During the open period, the REALTOR® hosts the home while the owners leave for a few hours.
At the open house, the REALTOR® will provide literature, maintain a visitor log and answer questions. By interacting with visitors, the REALTOR® will seek feedback regarding the home and opportunities to follow up with prospective purchasers.
How do you show your home online? The Internet is an important factor in real estate marketing and will likely become more important in the future.
The Internet has two important roles in the real estate selling process. First, it is a “place” to view real estate. Realtor.com, for example, lists about millions of homes, the largest group of homes online or off. Individual REALTORS® also maintain thousands of localized sites while professional groups and, likewise, industry organizations, have an online presence.
Online real estate information includes not only home listings, but numerous additional features and benefits. For instance, Homestore® offers neighborhood information, school data, recent home sale prices, video tours, model forms, real estate news and consumer information.
Equally important, the Internet offers new communication media. E-mail and instant messaging give REALTORS® and consumers more opportunities to keep in touch. As the Internet evolves, more technologies and techniques will be introduced to make transactions easier and more efficient.
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7 Steps to House-selling Success (courtesy of Realtor.com) part 3 of 7

Every reasonable owner wants the best possible price and terms for his or her home. Several factors, including market conditions and interest rates, will determine how much you can get for your home. The idea is to get the maximum price and the best terms during the window of time when your home is being marketed.
In other words, home selling is part science, part marketing, part negotiation and part art. Unlike math where 2 + 2 always equals 4, in real estate there is no certain conclusion. All transactions are different, and because of this, you should do as much as possible to prepare your home for sale and engage the REALTOR® you feel is best able to sell your home.
What is your home worth? All homes have a price, and sometimes more than one. There’s the price owners would like to get, the value buyers would like to offer and a point of agreement which can result in a sale.
In considering home values, several factors are important:
  • The value of your home relates to local sale prices. The same home, located elsewhere, would likely have a different value.
  • Sale prices are a product of supply and demand. If you live in a community with an expanding job base, a growing population and a limited housing supply, it’s likely that prices will rise. Alternatively, it’s important to be realistic. If the local community is losing jobs and people are moving out, then you’ll likely have a buyer’s market.
  • Owner needs can impact sale values. If owner Smith “must” sell quickly, he will have less leverage in the marketplace. Buyers may think that Smith is willing to trade a quick closing for a lower price — and they may be right. If Smith has no incentive to sell quickly, he may have more marketplace strength.
  • Sale prices are not based on what owners “need.” When an owner says, “I must sell for $300,000 because I need $100,000 in cash to buy my next home,” buyers will quickly ask if $300,000 is a reasonable price for the property. If similar homes in the same community are selling for $250,000, the seller will not be successful.
  • Sale prices are NOT the whole deal. Which would you rather have: A sale price of $200,000, or a sale price of $205,000 but where you agree to make a “seller contribution” of $5,000 to offset the buyer’s closing costs, pay a $2,000 allowance for roof repairs, fund two mortgage points, re-paint the entire house and leave the washer and dryer?
How much is too much? Because all transactions are unique there is flexibility in the marketplace. The amount of flexibility depends on local conditions.
For example, suppose you’re selling a townhouse. Suppose also that there have been five recent sales of the model you own and that sale values have ranged between $200,000 and $210,000. You now have an idea of how your home might be priced. In a strong market perhaps you can ask for $210,000 or a little more. If the market has slowed, $210,000 may be a reasonable asking price, but perhaps more than the final sale price.
Here’s another scenario. Imagine that you live in a community of Victorian-style homes, most of which were built in the 1920s. All the homes are different in terms of size, condition, modernization, style and features. In such a neighborhood, an average sale price is just a statistic without much practical meaning. On a single block one home may sell for $400,000 while another is priced at more than $1 million. The average price may be outrageously high for one home and staggeringly low for another.
Who can help?
Experienced REALTORS® are active in the local marketplace and can provide assistance with pricing, marketing, negotiation and closing.
Because experienced REALTORS® have handled many transactions, they’re familiar with the terms and conditions that went into individual sales, not just published sale prices which may not reflect various premiums, discounts and adjustments.

7 Steps to House-selling Success (courtesy of Realtor.com) part 2 of 7

Step 2: Choose your Realtor
 
Before placing a home on the market you should also identify REALTORS® in your community who can assist with the sale. Because Realtor.com is the largest real estate site online, it’s a perfect place to look when seeking realty services. Realtor.com lists realty professionals nationwide, and you can find those active in your community through extensive directories and property listings.
Why use a REALTOR®? There are more than 2 million people nationwide who have licenses to sell real estate, of which about over 1 million members belong to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Only NAR members are entitled to use the term “REALTOR®.”
NAR members must adhere to a strict Code of Ethics. By joining NAR, individuals have access to a wide range of classes, seminars and certification opportunities. Local REALTOR® groups are active in community matters, and individual members are routinely involved in PTAs and other neighborhood organizations.
In essence, local REALTORS® are community experts. They track real estate trends, share neighborhood concerns and participate in local matters. They’re good neighbors who are in the business of helping others buy and sell homes.
How do you choose a REALTOR®?
Whether you’re a first-time seller or someone who has sold many homes, there are several ways to find a local REALTOR®:
Use the “Find a REALTOR®” search engine on REALTOR.com® to find individuals who actively sell in your community.
Get recommendations from past sellers.
  • Look for REALTOR® signs in your community.
  • Check the classifieds in local newspapers and “shopper” publications.
  • Look at the listings in local real estate magazines.
In some cases, sellers elect to meet only with one REALTOR® while other owners elect to meet with several. Whatever your preference, there will be a number of questions you will want to ask, including:
  • What services do you offer?
  • What type of representation do you provide? (There are various forms of representation in different states. Some brokers represent buyers, some represent sellers, some facilitate transactions as a neutral party, and in some cases different salespeople in a single firm may represent different parties within a transaction.)
  • What experience do you have in my immediate area?
  • How long are homes in this neighborhood typically on the market? (Be aware that because all homes are unique, some will sell faster than others. Several factors can impact the amount of time a home remains on the market, including changing interest rates and local economic trends.)
  • How would you price my home? Ask about recent home sales and comparable properties currently on the market. If you speak with several REALTORS® and their price estimates differ, that’s OK, but be sure to ask how their price opinions were determined and why they think your home would sell for a given value.
  • How will you market my home? At listing presentations, brokers will provide a detailed summary of how they market homes, what marketing strategies have worked in the past and which marketing efforts may be effective for your home.
  • What is your fee? Brokerage fees are established in the marketplace and not set by law or regulation. Typically, brokers who list homes are compensated on a performance basis – that is, the broker is not paid unless the home sells under the terms and conditions that are acceptable to you.
  • What happens if another REALTOR® locates a purchaser? That is, who will that broker represent, and how will he or she be paid?
  • What disclosures should you receive? State rules require brokers to provide extensive agency disclosure information, usually at the first sit-down meeting with an owner or buyer.
  • How long do you want to list your home? A “listing” agreement is a contract that shows the broker’s obligations and outlines the terms under which your home is being made available for sale. The length of the agreement is a negotiable matter.
What should you expect when working with a REALTOR®? Once your home is listed with a REALTOR®, he or she will immediately begin to market your home according to the most appropriate conventions for your community.
Your REALTOR® should keep you informed as the marketing process unfolds and as expressions of interest are received. In time, the marketing plan may be modified to reflect buyer reactions and changes in the marketplace.
In real estate there are written offers and oral offers. Oral offers (“Would they take $225,000 for the home?”) are not acceptable because they generally cannot be enforced (“Gee, did I say $225,000? I was sure I said $215,000”). Written offers created by the REALTOR® with assistance from qualified attorneys address numerous issues, are consistent with local requirements and provide the foundation for an actionable offer.

7 Steps to House-selling Success (courtesy of Realtor.com) part 1 of 7

Step 1: Plan and Prepare to Sell Your House

Million of existing homes are sold each year, and while each transaction is different every owner wants the same thing — the best possible deal with the least amount of hassle and aggravation.
Unfortunately, home selling has become a more complex business than it used to be. New seller disclosure statements, longer and more mysterious form agreements, and a range of environmental concerns have all emerged in the past decade.
More importantly, the home-selling process has changed. Buyer brokerage — where REALTORS® represent homebuyers — is now common nationwide, and good buyer-brokers want the best for their clients.
The result is that while hundreds of thousands of existing homes may be sold each week, the process is not as easy for sellers as it was five or 10 years ago. Surviving in today’s real estate world requires experience and training in such fields as real estate marketing, financing, negotiation and closing — the very expertise available from local REALTORS®.
Are you ready?
The home-selling process typically starts several months before a property is made available for sale. It’s necessary to look at a home through the eyes of a prospective buyer and determine what needs to be cleaned, painted, repaired and tossed out.
Ask yourself: If you were buying this home what would you want to see? The goal is to show a home which looks good, maximizes space and attracts as many buyers — and as much demand — as possible.
While part of the “getting ready” phase relates to repairs, painting and other home improvements, this is also a good time to ask why you really want to sell.
Selling a home is an important matter and there should be a good reason to sell — perhaps a job change to a new community or the need for more space. Your reason for selling can impact the negotiating process so it’s important to discuss your needs and wants in private with the REALTOR® who lists your home.
When should you sell?
The marketplace tends to be more active in the summer because parents want to enroll children in classes at the beginning of the school year (usually August). The summer is also typically when most homes are likely to be available.
Generally speaking, markets tend to have some balance between buyers and sellers year-round. In a given community, for example, there may be fewer buyers in late December, but there are also likely to be fewer homes available for purchase. So, home prices tend to rise or fall because of general demand patterns rather than the time of the year.
Owners are encouraged to sell when the property is ready for sale, there is a need or desire to sell, and the services of a local REALTOR® have been retained.
How do you improve your home’s value?
The general rule in real estate is that buyers seek the least expensive home in the best neighborhood they can afford. In terms of improvements, this means you want a home that fits in the neighborhood but is not over-improved. For example, if most homes in your neighborhood have three bedrooms, two baths and 2,500 sq. ft. of finished space, a property with five bedrooms, more baths and far more space would likely be priced much higher and likely be more difficult to sell.
Improvements should be made so that the property shows well, is consistent with the neighborhood and does not involve capital investments, the cost of which cannot be recovered from the sale. Furthermore, improvements should reflect community preferences.
Cosmetic improvements – paint, wallpaper and landscaping – help a home “show” better and often are good investments. Mechanical repairs – to ensure that all systems and appliances are in good working condition – are required to get a top price.
Ideally, you want to be sure that your property is competitive with other homes available in the community. REALTORS®, who see numerous homes, can provide suggestions that are consistent with your marketplace.

10 Summer Moving Tips (courtesy of Realtor.com)

Just helped my step-daughter and son-in-law move!  Here are some helpful tips for you who are making a move soon.  

How to prepare for a seamless transition
If you’re moving this summer, the busiest season for moving, you know how daunting it can be. But if you create a blueprint for your move, the transition from house to house will go more smoothly.
Here are 10 things you can do to prepare for a seamless transition.
1. Full serve, partial serve or a do-it-yourself move.  Can you do it alone or should you hire a licensed moving company for a full-service or partial-service move?  This is one of the first and often most difficult questions soon-to-be moving households face. The answer depends on your lifestyle, household size, budget and amount of time you have to get everything accomplished. Get written quotes from at least three licensed moving companies so you know you’re getting the best deal based on your specific moving needs.  Moving yourself or doing a partial-service move?  Packing calculators can make it easier to estimate the amount of boxes and packing materials needed.
2. Plan to unpack BEFORE you pack. Take photos of each room in the new home before you arrive with furniture, plants, appliances and family in tow. Write down on a clip board where each item should go in your next home before packing, and carry it with you on moving day. List out the major items that need to be assembled first. As you place each item in its new room, cross it off the list and you will be one step closer to enjoying your new home.
3. Be strategic about packing.  If you have more than a month to ‘pick up and move’, start early.  Complete a free change of address and schedule utilities ahead of time at Moving.com.  Start packing early.  Whether it’s one room, one cabinet or a drawer at a time, weed through what may be years of accumulation.  As you’re going through your belongings, divide everything into these helpful categories:  donate to charity, give to a friend, recycle, trash, pack now, or keep handy until moving day.  You’ll be surprised at how much you can donate, recycle or give to friends.  And, you’ll not be overwhelmed with the task at hand three days before you move.
4. Moving is NOT child’s play. Plan ahead. Consider daycare on moving day, or get help from a friend or family member.  Provide lunch or some other appropriate thank you gesture if you do call in a favor. If that’s not an option, prioritize setting up safe places for your children to play in the new home on moving day so they’re not underfoot.  This will help everyone remain happy and calm on moving day.
5. Don’t fight with Fido. Sometimes we forget that all the packing and constant in-and-out of visitors is stressful for animals. Consider checking your pet into a daycare facility, or setting up a time for a friend to take them or check them into petday care. Don’t let your four-legged best friends get lost in the shuffle and remember to make day-of moving arrangements.
6. Keep track of small parts. Some items need to be broken down into pieces when moving, but do you know what to do with the small screws and washers that you end up with? Rather than tape them to the furniture, which can result in losing them, put everything in a baggie that is clearly marked and sealed. Keep all of the separate baggies together in one box on moving day and personally take it with you to your new home.
7. Take pictures of electronic hook-ups. Hooking up TVs, DVRs, home theater systems and computers can be challenging. Before unplugging any wires for the move, take a photo of the connections, print them out and label them in detail. This will create fewer headaches when setting up technology in the new home. Keep track of all loose wires using baggies or boxes that are clearly labeled, and personally carry these easy-to-lose items on moving day.
8. Packing cleaning products and toxins. Products such as detergents, pesticides and paint are heavy and unwieldy to pack. Dispose of as many as possible before the move in an eco-friendly way.  Call your city’s waste disposal department for guidance on proper disposal. For items that must be transported, pack them in a small box within a larger box for protection against leaks. Don’t overstuff boxes with these items! Consider marking these boxes in a different color, and seal them extra tight. Keep them separate from the rest of the boxes, particularly if you have kids and pets.
9. Consider getting full value insurance protection. If using a professional mover, it may cost a few dollars extra, but it provides peace of mind and eliminates later annoyances. Investing in full value protection means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made at current market value, regardless of age. It’s important to note that the required minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound would not cover the replacement cost of more expensive items such as a flat screen TV if damaged in transit.
10. Know your rights. If using a professional mover, research your rights as a consumer with either the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for interstate moves or contact the state agency within the state in which you reside for moves within state. Also, enlist the help of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings hostage. FMCSA requires interstate movers to offer arbitration to help settle disputed claims.

Introduction to The Real Estate Sales Career

Of course, any profession has its challenges and the Real Estate Career is no different.  However, when weighed against the numerous advantages afforded by this career choice, the privileges greatly outweigh its challenges! 

 

Freedom:

I personally know what its like to be a slave to the time clock.  Impatiently waiting for each tick of the clock to shorten my required stay on the job, while simultaneously shortening my–life!  The Real Estate Sales profession sees me rising each morning, looking forward to the day ahead.  I am free to work when I want and to rest (vacation, play…) when I want, no 9-5 job can really compare.

 

Flexibility:

I got my start in Real Estate while being a single parent.  This career allowed me the ability to see my children off to school, attend baseball games, basketball games, dance recitals, PTA events, etc.  What other profession would allow me this kind of flexibility?  All the while, I was able to pursue other personal interests as well! 

 

Be Your Own Boss:

No more ‘answering to the Man’!  Of course, we still need to practice competent service, however no need to worry about a Foreman ‘looking over your shoulder’ or readily pointing out everything you do wrong at every waking moment!  Being self employed is a dream-come-true for every person possessing an entrepreneurial spirit.

 

Company Support:

This Real Estate Firm offers excellent support and guidance for your career.  You are building a “Business within a Business” and the right firm offers both the atmosphere and training you need to achieve this.

 

The Satisfaction of Helping Others:

Home-ownership is an important part of the American Dream.  The Real Estate Professional is a vital part of that Dream!  Additionally, the purchase of a home is most likely the most expensive purchase an individual or family will ever make and to make this experience a delightful one is very fulfilling!

 

Virtually Unlimited Income Potential:

Because the Real Estate Sales profession is commission-based, you are not limited to ‘trading dollars for hours’.  Instead, as your skills develop and you build your business, your income increases right alongside!  A good Real Estate Agent brings in an income that rivals the most highly trained professionals in most any other field!

 

Ease of Entry:

To gain this kind of Freedom, Flexibility and Income Potential doesn’t require 7 years of college and not even 5 years!  It merely requires completion of a 90 hour (!) pre-licensure course, coupled with proper guidance by a caring Real Estate Brokerage. 

                       If you’re interested in hearing more, please contact me! 

 

Harley Greninger                 360-533-1900                  harleyg@prgraysharbor.com

What should a Landlord look for in a Tenant? by Dee Boyd

As a property Manager with over 20 years of experience in the real estate business, I have found that there are three major things that Landlords look for. The first is good credit, second is good work history and third is a good rental history. And an informed Landlord is going to verify those before approving a Tenant.  As a Landlord, you want to make sure that you are renting to stable, responsible person who will pay his or her rent on time.

A Landlord should always research a Tenant’s criminal background and credit report before approving the lease. Having a stable credit, income and rental history means that the applicant will most likely be a good Tenant. You can check several consumer reports to check a person’s credit and rental history. You definitely want to pull a credit report from a credit bureau such as Equifax, Experian or Transunion. While a few unpaid bills or slow payments may be understandable, more serious credit blemishes such as evictions,charge-offs or judgments should  raise a huge red flag and you should exercise caution when renting to the applicant. If, however the person has made payment plans with their creditors or is making an honest effort to pay off his debts even you may use your discretion to decide if it is worth giving them a chance. If so, you may want to consider doing an even more thorough income verification or ask for a co-applicant or a larger security deposit.

You also need to verify their income. This may seem as easy as giving their boss a call and asking a few questions, but an age of corporate privacy policies, self employment and convoluted employment verification services have made this process much more difficult. To avoid ending up in a red-tape nightmare, make sure you ask your applicant who exactly is the person or office responsible for employment verification, instead of just asking for their supervisor.

Many companies also require written consent from their employees before verifying any employment information so be prepared to provide some documentation to the employer. A signed rental application or release form is usually sufficient enough. Pay stubs and tax returns can also be used as proof of employment if you are having difficulty getting through to anyone at the applicant’s job. If the person is self-employed, taking a look at their tax returns will also help verify their income as well. After you have determined that the applicant is actually receiving income, you also want to make sure that the income that they are getting is sufficient enough to pay their monthly rent. In general, a person’s monthly pay should be about 3 times more than what the rent is in order to comfortably make the payments. So if you are charging 700 dollars a month in rent, then you should rent to people who make at least 2,100 dollars a month.

You will also need to decide what your policy on pets will be.  If there are pets, how large the pet is, what kind of pet references are there. Can the previous landlord say that, “yes the pet was okay”?

If an applicant makes a decent salary and is responsible and credit worthy, then they should have no trouble getting an apartment or renting a home. From the tenant’s perspective, if you satisfy those three credit items — credit, work and rental history — you are probably going to be in a very good position to be approved for the lease.

~Dee Boyd