Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Here’s why it pays to work with a REALTOR®.
- Navigate a complicated process. Buying or selling a home usually requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multi-page settlement statements. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.
- Information and opinions. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They’ll also be able to provide objective information about each property. A professional will be able to help you answer these two important questions: Will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
- Help finding the best property out there. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your REALTOR® to find all available properties.
- Negotiating skills. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, the purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
- Property marketing power. Real estate doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. In fact, a large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner’s contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, and family. When a property is marketed with the help of a REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
- Someone who speaks the language. If you don’t know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it’s important to work with a professional who is immersed in the industry and knows the real estate language.
- Experience. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. Even if you have done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS®, on the other hand, handle hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of their career. Having an expert on your side is critical.
- Objective voice. A home often symbolizes family, rest, and security — it’s not just four walls and a roof. Because of this, home buying and selling can be an emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll every make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues most important to you.
Source: National Association of REALTORS®
Why is it so hard to sell without a REALTOR®?
1. Determining the right listing price – Pricing a property correctly is probably the most important step when placing your home up for sale. If your home is not priced right, then you stand a slim chance of selling in a competitive market. A REALTOR® will have access to the sales data, plus their experience to best advise you on a proper listing price.
2. Buyer’s want your commission savings – One of the things most sellers don’t understand when deciding to go the FSBO route, is that many buyers know you are marketing you own home in order to save the commission, and they want a part of that savings. Many of the buyers will take 5% right off the top regardless of whether the home is priced well or not.
3. Availability for showings – It’s hard for many homeowners to be available to show their home at the time buyers want to look. Buyers can come at all hours of the day and night. Most serious buyers are looking at a number of homes within a given time period and are not willing to rearrange their schedule to accommodate an unworkable seller. One advantage of having a REALTOR® is they can take care of all showings, thus freeing you up to keep your life as normal as possible during the selling process.
4. Showing to unqualified buyers – It’s a waste of your time and the buyers if they are unable to obtain the financing needed to complete the purchase. If a REALTOR® is involved, in most cases only pre-qualified buyers will be looking at your home.
5. Negotiations & inspections – This is an area where an inexperienced seller can put their self at great risk. When your dealing directly with the buyer you can be put of the spot with answering questions and making decisions without thinking them over carefully. You might unknowingly commit to something without understanding all of the cost and time considerations. Negotiating buyer inspections on your home can be tricky as well. These are areas were a REALTOR® will look out for your best interest.
While it’s not impossible to sell your home on your own, you can see there are many pitfalls along the way if your not experienced. By hiring a REALTOR® studies have shown that you will usually sell your home for a higher price, and you will have someone on your side to make the process much easier.
- Consider comparables. What have other homes in your neighborhood sold for recently? How do they compare to yours in terms of size, upkeep, and amenities?
- Consider competition. How many other houses are for sale in your area? Are you competing against new homes?
- Consider your contingencies. Do you have special concerns that would affect the price you’ll receive? For example, do you want to be able to move in four months?
- Get an appraisal. For a few hundred dollars, a qualified appraiser can give you an estimate of your home’s value. Be sure to ask for a market-value appraisal. To locate appraisers in your area, contact The Appraisal Institute or ask your REALTOR® for some recommendations.
- Ask a lender. Since most buyers will need a mortgage, it’s important that a home’s sale price be in line with a lender’s estimate of its value.
- Be accurate. Studies show that homes priced more than 3 percent over the correct price take longer to sell.
- Know what you’ll take. It’s critical to know what price you’ll accept before beginning a negotiation with a buyer.
Source: National Association of REALTORS®
- Appraisals provide an objective opinion of value, but it’s not an exact science so appraisals may differ.
- For buying and selling purposes, appraisals are usually based on market value — what the property could probably be sold for. Other types of value include insurance value, replacement value, and assessed value for property tax purposes.
- Appraised value is not a constant number. Changes in market conditions can dramatically alter appraised value.
- Appraised value doesn’t take into account special considerations, like the need to sell rapidly.
- Lenders usually use either the appraised value or the sale price, whichever is less, to determine the amount of the mortgage they will offer.
Used with permission from Kim Daugherty, Real Estate Checklists and Systems, www.realestatechecklists.com
Do you belong to a professional association?
There are many associations for home inspectors, but some groups confer questionable credentials or certifications in return for nothing more than a fee. Make sure the association your home inspector names is a reputable, nonprofit trade organization.
Will your report meet all state requirements?
Also, make sure the organization complies with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics, such as those adopted by the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors.
How experienced are you?
Ask inspectors how long they’ve been working in the field and how many inspections they’ve completed. Also ask for customer referrals. New inspectors may be highly qualified, but they should describe their training and indicate whether they work with a more experienced partner.
How do you keep your expertise up to date?
Inspectors’ commitment to continuing training is a good measure of their professionalism and service. Advanced knowledge is especially important with older homes or those with unique elements requiring additional or updated training.
Do you focus on residential inspection?
Home inspection is very different from inspecting commercial buildings or a construction site. Ask whether the inspector has experience with your type of property or feature. The inspector should be able to provide sample inspection reports for a similar property. If they recommend further evaluation from outside contractors on multiple issues, it may indicate they’re not comfortable with their own knowledge level.
Do you offer to do repairs or improvements?
Some state laws and trade associations allow the inspector to provide repair work on problems uncovered during the inspection. However, other states and associations forbid it as a conflict of interest.
How long will the inspection take?
On average, an inspector working alone inspects a typical single-family house in two to three hours; anything less may not be thorough.
Costs range from $300 to $500 but can vary dramatically depending on your region, the size and age of the house, and the scope of services. Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.
Will I be able to attend the inspection?
The answer should be yes. A home inspection is a valuable educational opportunity for the buyer and a refusal should raise a red flag.
Source: National Association of REALTORS®
When you sell a stock, you owe taxes on the difference between what you paid for the stock and how much you got for the sale. The same holds true in home sales, but there are other considerations.
How to Calculate Gain
|Your home’s original sales price when you bought it (not what you brought to closing).
|Additional costs you paid toward the original purchase (include transfer fees, attorney fees, and inspections but not points you paid on your mortgage).
|Cost of improvements you’ve made (include room additions, deck, etc. Improvements do not include repairing or replacing existing items).
|Current selling costs (include inspections, attorney fees, real estate commission, and money you spent to fix up your home to prepare it for sale).
|Add the above items to get your adjusted cost basis:
|The final sale amount for your home.
|The adjusted cost basis figure from above.
|Your capital gain:
A Special Real Estate Exemption for Capital Gains
Up to $250,000 in capital gains ($500,000 for a married couple) on the home sale is exempt from taxation if you meet the following criteria: (1) You owned and lived in the home as your principal residence for two out of the last five years; and (2) you have not sold or exchanged another home during the two years preceding the sale. You may qualify for a reduced exclusion if you otherwise qualify but are short of the two-out-of-the-last-five-years requirement if you meet what the tax law calls “unforeseen circumstances,” such as job loss, divorce, or family medical emergency.
Source: National Association of REALTORS®
•Remove the clutter – put small things away
•Brighten areas up with light – open drapes and blinds, add lighting
•Re-purpose rooms – add some new furniture and paint
•Vary wall hangings – try different groupings
•Bring nature inside – add plants and fresh cut flowers
•Group in threes – odd numbers are preferred when grouping accessories
•Give areas a face lift – add new counter tops or cabinet doors if dated
•Add some color – paint with warm tans, honeys and soft blue-greens
•Beware of layout – pay close attention to the traffic flow of each room
•Clean – this is the cheapest and easiest way to improve the look of your home
At Ferguson Realtors our agents average 20.65 years of experience. That experience benefits buyers and sellers, as well as, fellow associates. Every real estate transaction offers its own set of unique challenges and it’s good to have other experienced folks surrounding you that you can call on for advise.
If you are looking to buy or sell real estate, or are someone newly licensed or looking to move your license, then call upon Ferguson Realtors at (865) 690-1300.