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Seller

Thinking about selling your home?
We are experts in the local market and will guide you through the entire process of selling your property from listing to sale. Our marketing plans assure your property maximum exposure and we pride ourselves on personal service. We encourage you to contact us with your questions and to discuss your individual needs.

 


Appraisals & Market Value

What is the difference between market value and appraised value?
The appraised value of a house is a certified appraiser’s opinion of the worth of a home at a given point in time. Lenders require appraisals as part of the loan application process; fees range from $200 to $300. Market value is what price the house will bring at a given point in time. A comparative market analysis is an informal estimate of market value, based on sales of comparable properties, performed by a real estate agent or broker. Either an appraisal or a comparative market analysis is the most accurate way to determine what your home is worth.

What’s a house worth?
A home ultimately is worth what someone will pay for it. Everything else is an estimate of value. To determine a property’s value, most people turn to either an appraisal or a comparative market analysis. An appraisal is a certified appraiser’s estimate of the value of a home at a given point in time. Appraisers consider square footage, construction quality, design, floor plan, neighborhood and availability of transportation, shopping and schools. Appraisers also take lot size, topography, view and landscaping into account. Most appraisals cost about $300. A comparative market analysis is a real estate broker’s or agent’s informal estimate of a home’s market value, based on sales of comparable homes in a neighborhood. Most agents will give you a comparative market analysis for free. You can do your own cost comparison by looking up recent sales of comparable properties in public records. These records are available at local recorder or assessor offices, through private real estate information companies or on the Internet.

How is a home’s value determined?
You have several ways to determine the value of a home. An appraisal is a professional estimate of a property’s market value, based on recent sales of comparable properties, location, square footage and construction quality. This service varies in cost depending on the price of the home. On average, an appraisal costs about $300 for a $250,000 house. A comparative market analysis is an informal estimate of market value performed by a real estate agent based on similar sales and property attributes. Most agents offer free analyses in the hopes of winning your business. You also can get a comparable sales report for a fee from private companies that specialize in real estate data or find comparable sales information available on various real estate Internet sites.

What standards do appraisers use to estimate value?
Appraisers use several factors when estimating a home’s value, including the home’s size and square footage, the condition of the home and neighborhood, comparable local sales, any pertinent historical information, sales performance and indices that forecast future value. For detailed information on appraisal standards, contact the Appraisal Institute at 200 W. Madison, Suite 1500, Chicago, IL 60606, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. CT; 888-7JOINAI (754-4624).


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Common Q&A About Selling Your Home

Should I add on or buy a bigger home?
Consider these questions before making a choice between adding on to an existing home or moving up in the market to a bigger house:
* How much money is available, either from cash reserves or through a home improvement loan, to remodel the current house?
* How much additional space is required? Would the foundation support a second floor or does the lot have room to expand on the ground level?
* What do local zoning and building ordinances permit?
* How much equity already exists in the property?
* Are there affordable properties for sale that would satisfy housing needs?
Ultimately, the decision should be based on individual needs, the extent of work involved and what will add the most value.

What do all of those real estate acronyms in the ads mean?
If you find yourself stumbling over weird acronyms in a real estate listing, don’t be alarmed. There is method to the madness of this shorthand (which is mostly adopted by sellers to save money in advertising charges). Here are some abbreviations and the meaning of each, taken from a recent newspaper classified section:

* assum. fin. — assumable financing
* dk — deck
* gar — garage (garden is usually abbreviated “gard”)
* expansion pot’l — may be extra space on the lot, or possibly vertical potential for a top floor or room addition. Verify actual potential by checking local zoning restrictions prior to purchase.
* fab pentrm — fabulous pentroom, a room on top, underneath the roof, that sometimes has views
* FDR — formal dining room (not the former president)
* frplc, fplc, FP — fireplace
* grmet kit — gourmet kitchen
* HDW, HWF, Hdwd — hardwood floors
* hi ceils — high ceilings
* In-law potential — potential for a separate apartment. Sometimes, local zoning codes restrict rentals of such units so be sure the conversion is legal first.
* large E-2 plan — this is one of several floor plans available in a specific building
* lsd pkg. — leased parking area, may come with an additional cost
* lo dues — find out just how low these homeowner’s dues are, and in comparison to what?
* nr bst schls — near the best schools
* pvt — private
* pwdr rm — powder room, or half-bath
* upr- upper floor
* vw, vu, vws, vus — view(s)
* Wow! — better check this one out.

Resources:
* “Real Estate’s Ambiguous Language You Oughtta Understand,” Glennon H. Neubauer, Ethos Group Publishing, Diamond Bar, CA; 1993.

How long do bankruptcies and foreclosures stay on a credit report?
Bankruptcies and foreclosures can remain on a credit report for seven to 10 years. Some lenders will consider an borrower earlier if they have reestablished good credit. The circumstances surrounding the bankruptcy can also influence a lender’s decision. For example, if you went through a bankruptcy because your employer had financial difficulties, a lender may be more sympathetic. If, however, you went through bankruptcy because you overextended personal credit lines and lived beyond your means, the lender probably will be less inclined to be flexible.

What are some tips on negotiation?
The more you know about a seller’s motivation, the stronger a negotiating position you are in. For example, seller who must move quickly due to a job transfer may be amenable to a lower price with a speedy escrow. Other so-called “motivated sellers” include people going through a divorce or who have already purchased another home. Remember, that the listing price is what the seller would like to receive but is not necessarily what they will settle for. Before making an offer, check the recent sales prices of comparable homes in the neighborhood to see how the seller’s asking price stacks up.
Some experts discourage making deliberate low-ball offers. While such an offer can be presented, it can also sour the sale and discourage the seller from negotiating at all.

Do sellers have to disclose the terms of other offers?
Sellers are not legally obligated to disclose the terms of other offers to prospective buyers.

How do I prepare the house for sale?
First and foremost, put it in the best condition possible, especially if you are in a market with few buyers and lots of homes for sale. That means taking care of any major repairs that could deter a buyer (such as replacing any broken windows or replacing a leaky roof) if you can afford it. Next, work on your home’s curb appeal. Make sure your landscape is pristine. Mow the grass, clean up any debris and weed the garden beds. Plant a few annual flowers near the entrance or in pots to be placed by the door. Other quick fixes that don’t cost a lot of money but can help you get top dollar for your home:

• Clean the windows and make sure the paint is not chipped or flaking.
• Be sure that the doorbell works.
• Clean and freshen up rooms, furnishings, floors, walls and ceilings. Make sure that bathrooms and kitchens are spotless.
• Organize closets.
• Make sure the basic appliances and fixtures work. Replace leaky faucets and frayed cords.
• Eliminate the source of any bad smells, such as the kitty box. Use air freshener or bake a batch of cookies before your open house to ensure that the house smells inviting.
• Invest in a couple of vases of fresh flowers to place around the house.

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The Importance of Intelligent Pricing

Determining the best asking price for a home can be one of the most challenging aspects of selling a home. It is also one of the most important. If your home is listed at a price that is above market value, you will out on prospective buyers who would otherwise be prime candidates to purhase your home. If you list at a price that is below market value, you will ulitimately sell for a price that is not the optimum value for your home. As Figure 1 illutates, more buyers purchase their properties at market value that above market value. The percentage increases as the price falls even further below market value. Therefore, by pricing your property at market value, you expose it to much greater percentage of prospective buyers. This increases your chances for a sale while ensuring a final sale price that properly reflects the market value of your home.

Another critical factor to keep in mind when pricing your home is timing. A property attracts the most attention, excitement and interest from the real estate community and potential buyers when it is first listed on the market (see Figure 2). Improper pricing at the initial listing misses out on this peak interest period and may result in your property languishing on the market. This may lead to a below market value sale price (see Figure 3), or, even worse, no sale at all. Therefore, your home has the highest chances for a fruitful sale when it is new on the market and the price is reasonably established.

We can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms, and condition of competing properties. These are the key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.

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Pricing the House to Sell

What is the difference between list and sales prices?
The list price is how much a house is advertised for and is usually only an estimate of what a seller would like to get for the property. The sales price is the amount a property actually sells for. It may be the same as the listing price, or higher or lower, depending on how accurately the property was originally priced and on market conditions. If you are a seller, you may need to adjust the listing price if there have been no offers within the first few months of the property’s listing period.

What are the two most important factors when selling a home?
Price and condition are the two most important factors in selling a home, even in a down market. The first step is to price your home correctly. Use comparative sales information from your agent, or pay for a professional appraiser (usually $200 to $300), to objectively evaluate your home’s worth. Second, go through the house and repair any obvious cosmetic defects that could deter a buyer. In a down market, you may have to consider lowering your price and/or making a major repair, such as replacing the roof, in order to lure a buyer. Also, make sure that your home is getting the exposure it deserves through open houses, broker open houses, advertising, good signage and a listing on the local multiple listing service or online listings provider. If this isn’t happening, take it up with your agent or agent’s broker. If you are still not satisfied you are getting the service you need, you may have to switch agents.

What is the best time to buy?
Because many buyers prefer to move in the spring or summer, the market starts to heat up as early as February. Families with children are eager to buy so they can move during summer vacation, before the new school year begins. The market slows down in late summer before picking up again briefly in the fall. November and December have traditionally been slow months, although some astute buyers look for bargains during this period.

What is the difference between market value and appraised value?
The appraised value of a house is a certified appraiser’s opinion of the worth of a home at a given point in time. Lenders require appraisals as part of the loan application process; fees range from $200 to $300. Market value is what price the house will bring at a given point in time. A comparative market analysis is an informal estimate of market value, based on sales of comparable properties, performed by a real estate agent or broker. Either an appraisal or a comparative market analysis is the most accurate way to determine what your home is worth.

What is the difference between list price, sales price and appraised value?
The list price is a seller’s advertised price, a figure that usually is only a rough estimate of what the seller wants to get. Sellers can price high, low or close to what they hope to get. To judge whether the list price is a fair one, be sure to consult comparable sales prices in the area. The sales price is the amount of money you as a buyer would pay for a property. The appraisal value is a certified appraiser’s estimate of the worth of a property, and is based on comparable sales, the condition of the property and numerous other factors.

How does someone sell a slow mover?
Even in a down market, real estate experts say that price and condition are the two most important factors in selling a home. If you are selling in a slow market, your first step would be to lower your price. Also, go through the house and see if there are cosmetic defects that you missed and can be repaired. Secondly, you need to make sure that the home is getting the exposure it deserves through open houses, broker open houses, advertising, good signage, and listings on the local multiple listing service (MLS) and on the Internet. Another option is to pull your house off the market and wait for the market to improve. Finally, if you who have no equity in the house, and are forced to sell because of a divorce or financial considerations, you could discuss a short sale or a deed-in-lieu-of- foreclosure with your lender. A short sale is when the seller finds a buyer for a price that is below the mortgage amount and negotiates the difference with the lender. In a deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure situation, the lender agrees to take the house back without instituting foreclosure proceedings. The latter are radical options. Your simplest, and in many cases most effective, option is to lower the price.

How is the price set?
It’s very important to price your home according to current market conditions. Because the real estate market is continually changing, and market fluctuations have an effect on property values, it’s imperative to select your list price based on the most recent comparable sales in your neighborhood. A so-called comparative market analysis provides the background data upon which to base your list-price decision. When you prepare to sell and are interviewing agents, study each agent’s comparable sales report (the data should be no more than three months old). If all agents agree on a price range for your home, go with the consensus. Watch out for an agent whose opinion of value is considerably higher than the others.

What are the standard ways of finding out how much a home is worth?
A comparative market analysis and an appraisal are the standard methods for determining a home’s value. Your real estate agent will be happy to provide a comparative market analysis, an informal estimate of value based on comparable sales in the neighborhood. Be sure you get listing prices of current homes on the market as well as those that have sold. You also can research this yourself by checking on recent sales in public records. Be sure that you are researching properties that are similar in size, construction and location. This information is not only available at your local recorder’s or assessor’s office but also through private companies and on the Internet. An appraisal, which generally costs $200 to $300 to perform, is a certified appraiser’s opinion of the value of a home at any given time. Appraisers review numerous factors including recent comparable sales, location, square footage and construction quality.

How do you prepare a house to sell?
Doing whatever you can to put your house’s best face forward is very important if you want to get close to your asking price or sell as quickly as possible. Short of spending a lot of money, here are several ideas for making your home show better:
* Sweep the sidewalk, mow the lawn, prune the bushes, weed the garden and clean debris from the yard.
* Clean the windows (both inside and out) and make sure the paint is not chipped or flaking. And speaking of paint, if your home was built before 1978, new federal law gives a buyer the right to request a lead inspection. If you think you might have some problems, do the inspection yourself beforehand and make any fixes you can.
* Be sure that the doorbell works.
* Clean and spruce up all rooms, furnishings, floors, walls and ceilings. It’s especially important that the bathroom and kitchen are spotless.
* Organize closets.
* Make sure the basic appliances and fixtures work. Get rid of leaky faucets and frayed cords.
* Make sure the house smells good: from an apple pie, cookies baking or spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove. Hide the kitty litter.
* Put vases of fresh flowers throughout the house.
* Having pleasant background music playing in the background also will help set your stage.

Where do I get information on housing market stats?
A real estate agent is a good source for finding out the status of the local housing market. So is your statewide association of Realtors, most of which are continuously compiling such statistics from local real estate boards. For overall housing statistics, U.S. Housing Markets regularly publishes quarterly reports on home building and home buying. Your local builders association probably gets this report. If not, the housing research firm is located in Canton, Mich.; call (800) 755-6269 for information; the firm also maintains an Internet site. Finally, check with the U.S. Bureau of the Census in Washington, D.C.; (301) 763-2422. The census bureau also maintains a site on the Internet. The Chicago Title company also has published a pamphlet, “Who’s Buying Homes in America.” Write Chicago Title and Trust Family of Title Insurers, 171 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60601-3294.

Is a low offer a good idea?
While your low offer in a normal market might be rejected immediately, in a buyer’s market a motivated seller will either accept or make a counteroffer. Full-price offers or above are more likely to be accepted by the seller. But there are other considerations involved:
* Is the offer contingent upon anything, such as the sale of the buyer’s current house? If so, a low offer, even at full price, may not be as attractive as an offer without that condition.
* Is the offer made on the house as is, or does the buyer want the seller to make some repairs or lower the price instead?
* Is the offer all cash, meaning the buyer has waived the financing contingency? If so, then an offer at less than the asking price may be more attractive to the seller than a full-price offer with a financing contingency.

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The Selling Process

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The Staging Advantage

Home staging can influence buyers’ perceptions of a home and even motivate them to pay more, according to the National Association of Realtors®’ 2015 Profile of Home Staging, a survey of more than 2,300 Realtors® representing buyers and sellers. Eighty-one percent who represent buyers say that staged homes make it easier for their home buyers to visualize a property as their future home. Forty-six percent of buyer agents also reported that staging makes their buyers more willing to tour a home they viewed online, and 45 percent say that buyers tend to view the value of the home more positively if it is decorated to buyers’ tastes.

Twenty-eight percent of agents said their buyers are even more willing to overlook other property faults if a home is staged, according to NAR’s survey. Buyer agents also say that staging can potentially influence how much their buyers are willing to offer for a home. According to the survey, thirty-two percent of buyer agents surveyed say that staged homes increase the dollar value buyers are willing to offer for a home by 1 percent to 5 percent; 16 percent said it could increase offers by 6 percent to 10 percent. Forty-four percent of seller agents say they only suggest that sellers declutter and fix property faults, and they do not recommend that their clients should professionally stage the home.

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Moving Checklist

Two Months Prior to Moving Day:

  • If you are using a mover, get a few estimates from moving companies.
  • If you are moving yourself, get costs from at least two truck rental companies.
  • Create a floor plan of your new home for furniture and appliance placement.
  • Make an inventory of your household goods and begin to remove clutter (start with basement, attic, garage, and other storage areas).
  • Start a file for all of your moving paperwork (estimates, recipes, etc.)
  • Arrange to transfer school records.

Six Weeks Prior to Moving Day:

  • Obtain all fill out post office change of address cards. Also you may do this online at: https://moversguide.usps.com
  • Make arrangements for storage if necessary.
  • Ask your doctor or health plan provider for referrals, and obtain all medical records.
  • Clean all closets and drawers.
  • Start using foods and cleaning supplies that won’t be moved.

Four Weeks Prior to Moving Day:

  • Schedule disconnection of all utility services at your old home through the date of closing.
  • If you are moving yourself, reserve a rental truck.
  • If you are packing yourself, obtain packing materials and start packing items you won’t need after you arrive at your new home.
  • Arrange for cleaning and repair of furniture, drapes and carpeting.
  • Check with your insurance company to see how your possessions are covered during transit.

Three Weeks Prior to Moving Day:

  • Properly dispose of items that cannot be moved, such as flammable liquids.
  • Prepare auto registration for transfer (if moving to another state)
  • Make child-care arrangements for moving day.
  • Hold your moving sale.

Two Weeks Prior to Moving Day:

  • Arrange for disposal of anything not sold at your moving sale.
  • Return any borrowed items (including library books) and retried any loaned items.
  • Cancel newspaper delivery.
  • Notify any creditors of your move.
  • Transfer prescriptions and be sure you have an adequate supply of medications on hand.
  • Assemble a file folder of information to leave for the new owner of your home.
  • Change your address—One week before your move, send change-of-address cards to everyone who will need to contact you.
  • Pick up laundry.
  • Pack a travel kit: Put aside critical items like a checkbook, credit cards, personal phone book, ID, flashlight, keys, toiletries, tools, paper plates, cups, towers, travel alarm clock, aspirin, bandages and games for the kids. Also pack a suitcase with clothing an other personal items.
  • If you haven’t already, Schedule disconnection/connection of all utility services at your old home through the date of closing.

One Day Prior to Moving Day:

  • Disconnect and prepare major appliances for the move.
  • Set aside anything that will travel in your car so it will not be loaded in the truck.
  • Pack a box of items that will be needed first at the new house. Clearly mark this box “Load Last”.
  • Obtain cash or traveler’s checks for the trip and to pay the movers.
  • Confirm arrival time of your moving van/truck.
  • If moving yourself, dismantle beds and other large furniture.

Moving Day:

  • If using a mover, be sure someone is at the old house to answer questions.
  • Read your bill of lading and inventory carefully before signing. Keep this paperwork in a safe place.

Delivery Day:

  • Check your belongings carefully and note on the inventory paperwork any damaged items.
  • On an interstate move, be prepared to pay the driver before your possessions are unloaded.

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