Category Archives: Seller

Improve Your Odds of an Offer

  1. Price it right. Set a price at the lower end of your property’s realistic price range.
  2. Prepare for visitors. Get your house market ready at least two weeks before you begin showing it.
  3. Be flexible about showings. It’s often disruptive to have a house ready to show at the spur of the moment. But the more amenable you can be about letting people see your home, the sooner you’ll find a buyer.
  4. Anticipate the offers. Decide in advance what price and terms you’ll find acceptable.
  5. Don’t refuse to drop the price. If your home has been on the market for more than 30 days without an offer, you should be prepared to at least consider lowering your asking price.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Checklist: Prepare for Your Move

Update your mailing address at usps.com or fill out a change-of-address form at your local post office.

Change your address with important service providers, such as your bank(s), credit companies, magazine subscriptions, and others.

Create a list of people who will need your new address. Whether you plan on sending formal change-of-address notices in the mail or just e-mailing the family members, friends, and colleagues who should be informed, a list will ensure no one gets left out.

Contact utility companies. Make sure they’re aware of your move date, and arrange for service at your new home if the service provider will remain the same.

Check insurance coverage. The insurance your moving company provides will generally only cover the items they transport for you. Ensure you have coverage for any items you’ll be moving yourself.

Unplug, disassemble, and clean out appliances. This will make them easier to pack, move, and plug in at your new place.

Check with the condo board or HOA about any restrictions on using the elevator or particular exits or entrances for moving, if applicable

Pack an “Open First” box. Include items you’ll need most, such as toilet paper, soap, trash bags, chargers, box cutters, scissors, hammer, screwdriver, pens and paper, cups and plates, water, snacks, towels, and basic toiletries.

If you’re moving a long distance:

Obtain copies of important records from your doctor, dentist, pharmacy, veterinarian, and children’s schools.

E-mail a copy of your driving route to a family member or friend.

Empty your safe deposit box.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Vocabulary: Transaction Documents

When you walk away from the closing table with a big stack of papers, know what to file away for future reference.

Loan estimate

Your lender is required to provide you with this three-page document within three business days of receiving your loan application. It will show estimates for your interest rate, monthly payment, closing costs, taxes, and insurance. You’ll also learn how your interest rate and payments could change in the future, and whether you’ll incur penalties for paying off the loan early (called “prepayment penalty”) or increases to the mortgage loan balance even if payments are made on time (known as “negative amortization”).

Closing disclosure

Your lender is required to send this five-page form—which includes final loan terms, projected monthly payments, and closing costs—three business days before your closing. This window gives you time to compare the final terms to those in the Loan Estimate (see above), and to ask the lender any questions before the transaction is finalized.

Mortgage and note

These spell out the legal terms of your mortgage obligation and the agreed-upon repayment terms.

Deed

This document officially transfers ownership of the property. In a cash deal, it goes to you, but otherwise you won’t get the deed until you pay off the mortgage.

Affidavits

These are binding statements by either party. For example, the sellers will often sign an affidavit stating that they haven’t incurred any liens on the property.

Riders

This word describes any amendments to the sales contract that affect your rights. For example, the sellers may arrange to retain occupancy for a specified period after closing but agree to pay rent to the buyers during that period.

Insurance policies

These documents provide a record and proof of your coverage, be they insuring the title or the property itself. Homeowners insurance documents will generally be your responsibility, while proof of title insurance will be given to you at the closing table.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Checklist: For the New Owners

Before the property changes hands, consult this list to make sure these items are transferred with the house.

Owner’s manuals and warranties for any appliances left in the house.

Garage door opener(s).

Extra set of house keys.

Other keys. Think beyond the front doors; do you have any cabinets or lockers built into the home that require keys?

A list of local service providers, such as the best dry cleaner, yard service, plumber, and so on. You’re not just helping the new owners, but also the local businesses you’re leaving behind.

Code to the security alarm and phone number of the monitoring service if not discontinued.

Smart home device access. Any devices listed as fixtures need to be reset for the new homeowner. Make sure your account information and usage data are wiped from the device so that they may use it. Check with your device’s manufacture to find out how to do this.

Numbers to the local utility companies. This can be especially helpful to owners who may not yet have easy access to the Internet in the new home.

Contact info for the condo board or home ownership association, if applicable.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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How to Pack Like a Pro

Plan ahead.

Develop a master to-do list so you won’t forget something critical heading into moving day. This will also help you create an estimate of moving time and costs.

Discard items you no longer want or need.

Ask yourself how frequently you use an item and how you’d feel if you no longer had it. Sort unwanted items into “garage sale,” “donate,” and “recycle” piles.

Pack similar items together.

It will make your life easier when it’s time to unpack.

Decide what you want to move on your own.

Precious items such as family photos, valuable breakables, or must-haves during the move should probably stay with you. Pack a moving day bag with a small first-aid kit, snacks, and other items you may need before unpacking your “Open First” box.

Know what your movers will take.

Many movers won’t take plants or liquids. Check with them about other items so you can plan to pack them yourself.

Put heavy items in small boxes.

Try to keep the weight of each box under 50 pounds.

Don’t overpack boxes.

It increases the likelihood that items inside the box will break.

Wrap fragile items separately.

Pad bottoms and sides of boxes and, if necessary, purchase bubble-wrap or other packing materials from moving stores. Secure plants in boxes with air holes.

Label every box on all sides.

You never know how they’ll be stacked. Also, use color-coded labels to indicate which room each box should go in, coordinating with a color-coded floor plan for the movers.

Keep moving documents together in a file, either in your moving day bag or online.

Include vital contact information, the driver’s name, the van’s license plate, and the company’s number.

Print out a map and directions for movers and helpers.

Make several copies, and highlight the route. Include your cell phone number on the map.

Back up computer files on the cloud.

Alternatively, you can keep a physical backup on an external hard drive offsite.

Inspect each box and piece of furniture as soon as it arrives.

Ahead of time, ensure your moving company has a relatively painless process for reporting damages.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Vocabulary: Agency & Agency Relationships

The term “agency” is used in real estate to help determine what legal responsibilities your real estate professional owes to you and other parties in the transaction.

The seller’s representative (also known as a listing agent or seller’s agent) is hired by and represents the seller. All fiduciary duties are owed to the seller, meaning this person’s job is to get the best price and terms for the seller. The agency relationship usually is created by a signed listing contract.

The buyer’s representative (also known as a buyer’s agent) is hired by prospective buyers to and works in the buyer’s best interest throughout the transaction. The buyer can pay the agent directly through a negotiated fee, or the buyer’s rep may be paid by the seller or through a commission split with the seller’s agent.

A subagent owes the same fiduciary duties to the agent’s customer as the agent does. Subagency usually arises when a cooperating sales associate from another brokerage, who is not the buyer’s agent, shows property to a buyer. The subagent works with the buyer to show the property but owes fiduciary duties to the listing broker and the seller. Although a subagent cannot assist the buyer in any way that would be detrimental to the seller, a buyer customer can expect to be treated honestly by the subagent.

A disclosed dual agent represents both the buyer and the seller in the same real estate transaction. In such relationships, dual agents owe limited fiduciary duties to both buyer and seller clients. Because of the potential for conflicts of interest in a dual-agency relationship, all parties must give their informed consent. Disclosed dual agency is legal in most states, but often requires written consent from all parties.

Designated agents (also called appointed agents) are chosen by a managing broker to act as an exclusive agent of the seller or buyer. This allows the brokerage to avoid problems arising from dual-agency relationships for licensees at the brokerage. The designated agents give their clients full representation, with all of the attendant fiduciary duties.

A transaction broker (sometimes referred to as a facilitator) is permitted in states where nonagency relationships are allowed. These relationships vary considerably from state to state. Generally, the duties owed to the consumer in a nonagency relationship are less than the complete, traditional fiduciary duties of an agency relationship.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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7 Reasons to Work With a REALTOR®

REALTORS® aren’t just agents. They’re professional members of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict code of ethics. This is the REALTOR® difference for home buyers:

  1. An expert guide. Selling a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes. Also, there’s a lot of jargon involved, so you want to work with a professional who can speak the language.
  2. Objective information and opinions. REALTORS® can provide local information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They also have objective information about each property. REALTORs® can use that data to help you determine if the property has what you need.
  3. Property marketing power. Property doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. A large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner’s contacts with previous clients, friends, and family. When a property is marketed by a REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
  4. Negotiation knowledge. There are many factors up for discussion in a deal. A REALTOR® will look at every angle from your perspective, including crafting a purchase agreement that allows you the flexibility you need to take that next step.
  5. Up-to-date experience. Most people sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each sale. Even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS® handle hundreds of transactions over the course of their career.
  6. Your rock during emotional moments. A home is so much more than four walls and a roof. And for most people, property represents the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on the issues most important to you.
  7. Ethical treatment. Every REALTOR® must adhere to a strict code of ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a REALTOR®’s client, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Before Putting Your Home up for Sale

Here are a few items to take care of before listing your home. This can make the sale process quicker and easier in the long run.

Consider a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.

Organize and clean. Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and seasonal items. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.

Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that will need to be replaced soon? Find out how much it will cost to repair an older roof or replace worn carpeting, even if you don’t plan to do so. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and they’ll be handy when negotiations begin.

Locate warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer/dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house. It may seem like this task can be left until closing, but you don’t want lost paperwork or last-minute scrambling to cause the deal to fall through.

Spruce up the curb appeal. Walk out to the front of your home, close your eyes, and pretend you’re a prospective buyer seeing the property for the first time. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? What do you see framing the entrance, if anything? Is the walkway free of cracks and impediments?

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Questions to Ask When Considering Selling

These questions will help you decide whether you’re ready for a home that’s larger or in a more desirable location. If you answer yes to most of the questions, you may be ready to move.

Have you built substantial equity in your current home?

Check your annual mortgage statement or call your lender to find out how much you’ve paid down. Usually you don’t build up much equity in the first few years of your mortgage, as monthly payments are mostly interest. But if you’ve owned your home for five or more years, you may have significant, unrealized gains.

Has your income or financial situation changed?

If you’re making more money, you may be able to afford higher mortgage payments and cover the costs of moving. If your income has decreased, you may want to consider downsizing.

Have you outgrown your neighborhood?

The neighborhood you pick for your first home might not be the same one in which you want to settle down for good. You may have realized that you’d like to be closer to your job or live in a better school district.

Are there reasons why you can’t remodel or add on?

Sometimes you can create a bigger home by adding a new room or building up. But if your property isn’t large enough, your municipality doesn’t allow it, or you’re simply not interested in remodeling, then moving to a bigger home may be your best option.

Are you comfortable moving in the current housing market?

If your market is hot, your home may sell quickly and for top dollar, but the home you buy will also be more expensive. If your market is slow, finding a buyer may take longer, but you’ll have more selection and better pricing as you seek your new home. Ask your real estate professional what they see happening locally.

Are interest rates attractive?

Low rates help you buy “more” home, and also make it easier to find a buyer for your current place.

Is the effort and cost of maintaining your current home becoming difficult to manage?

A REALTOR ® can help you decide whether a smaller house, condo, or rental would be appropriate.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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What to Know About Homeowners Insurance

A homeowners insurance policy will protect you against certain losses and damage to your new home and is generally required by lenders prior to closing. Some lenders will collect the money you owe for homeowners insurance as part of your monthly mortgage payment and place it in an escrow account, paying the insurer on your behalf when the bill is due.

Coverage exclusions:

Most insurance policies do not cover flood or earthquake damage as a standard item. You may need to buy these types of coverage separately.

Dollar limitations on claims:

Even if you are covered for a risk, there may be a limit on how much the insurer will pay. For example, many policies limit the amount paid for stolen jewelry unless items are insured separately.

Replacement cost:

If your home is destroyed, you’ll receive money to replace it only to the maximum of your coverage, so be sure your insurance is sufficient. This means that if your home is insured for $150,000 and it costs $180,000 to replace it, you’ll still receive only $150,000.

Actual cash value:

If you choose not to replace your home when it’s destroyed, you’ll receive replacement cost minus the depreciation. This is what’s referred to as actual cash value.

Your liability:

Generally, your homeowner’s insurance covers your liability for accidents that happen to other people on your property, including medical care, court costs, and awards by the court. However, there is usually an upper limit to the amount of coverage provided. Be sure that amount is sufficient, especially if you have significant assets.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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