Saturday, May 23, 2015

Home Seller Traps - By Rick Yost

It is that time of year when homeowners think they should list their homes. There are some arguments against that logic, but that is another column. There are many things to consider when listing a home and many potential pitfalls. Many homeowners that list their homes find themselves in a trap of their own creation.
Trap number one to be avoided is overvaluing the home. What a seller thinks a home is worth and what the home will actually sell for are often two different amounts. Homeowners tend to be sentimental and see all the upsides of their home. Over improvement is another reason homeowners believe their home is more than it really is. Whatever the cause of the over valuation, listing the home at a price over its market value is a guaranteed way to have the home sit for sale.

A professional opinion is always the preferred method to price a home. Using comparable sales data on similar homes that are for sale or have sold recently is the best way to gage the market. A realtor will have easy access to data on “for sale” and “sold” homes. A good rule of thumb is that if a home doesn’t have any offers in the first 30 days on the market, it is priced too high.

Trap number two is not making a home shine. All the clutter should be hauled away or stored. The home should be thoroughly cleaned as well as the yard. Any major issues should be addressed. The home should be shown in its best possible light to garner the most possible attention. Many buyers assume that a well presented home is a well-kept home and visa-versa. A home that does not pass the first glance test will sit for sale on the market.

Trap number three is being upset by lowball offers and effusing to negotiate. Every negotiation starts somewhere, whether it starts at one dollar or a million dollars. An offer is an offer and a counter offer should always be made. The goal is to sell the house, not win a personal battle. Whether it is for a washer and dryer, a certain piece of furniture, or just the price, negotiation is part of the process. Sellers that refuse to negotiate have homes that sit on the market for sale.

Trap number four in not disclosing everything about the home. Leaky roofs, cracked foundations, water issues all can kill a sale if not properly disclosed. The majority of home buyers today have a professional home inspection done. All of the home’s defects will come to light during the inspection process and a seller will lose credibility with undisclosed issues. Buyers want to feel safe in they are getting what they are paying for. Tying up a home under contract only to have the deal fail due to an undisclosed defect will lead to it sitting on the market for sale.

The biggest trap of all is not having a plan. Sellers should have a plan for all possible scenarios. What is the absolute lowest amount that would be accepted, what to do if a cash buyer walks in and wants to close in three weeks, what to do if the home sits on the market for six months, and what to do if the home doesn’t sell at all. Plans should include where the seller will live, where belongings should be stored, and what to do about family pets. A good plan saves many headaches.

Homeowners considering selling their home should contact a professional realtor and avoid these common traps.

Rick is a realtor, real estate author, and long- time Windham resident. You can contact Rick with your real estate questions or needs at .

Sunday, May 3, 2015

It's finally spring! What you need to do to get your house ready to sell - By Carrie Colby

Take a look at your house from the street. What do you notice? Have your shutters faded over time? Does your front door need a fresh coat of paint? How does your mailbox look? Ask yourself: “Can I do something simple to make it look like I take pride and ownership in my property?”

Consider your backyard as well. Curb appeal means the back, not just the front. Have your decks power-washed, or painted or stained. Clean up all the fallen branches and rake the lawn to freshen up the grass and fertilize to get it to green up faster.

Check the condition of the garage and driveway. The garage and driveway often take up a lot of visual real estate in the front of a house, so problems here can seriously detract from curb appeal. Have any driveway cracks repaired, power wash the garage and the door or paint them.

Inside your home clear the clutter. It’s time to get out the packing boxes. If you are serious about moving, start packing now. Think about getting a small storage locker. Lighten up the house. If the living room has too much furniture, it can make the room seem smaller than it is. De-personalize your home, put away the family photos and clear the counters and coffee tables. Buyers want to see themselves in the house not you and your family.

Pack away your winter clothes, so the closets appear more spacious. People want to go into a property and see that there is ample room for their things.

Make sure that everything goes together throughout the house. Does your bedspread match the room color? If not, buy an inexpensive bedspread that will coordinate. The same goes for throw pillows on your couch. Use small, inexpensive items to pull color themes together to create an appealing appearance.

Consider getting a home inspection. Most home buyers get a home inspection before completing the purchase of a home. Why not find out ahead of time which items the home inspector will report need attention?

The key is to be proactive. Maybe there is a small drip in the faucet or there aren’t electrical ground-fault circuit interrupters where they are supposed to be, near water. These can be a small fix, and it creates a less-hassled transaction. 

Some of the big items that can make a transaction fall through are septic problems and issues with the water if you have a well. Get your water tested including tests for Radon, Arsenic and Uranium. Even if you don’t fix the problems you will know ahead of time and during negotiations with buyers you will know what the costs associated will be.

We see transactions fall through because of issues over home inspections. Then the house has to go back on the market, and everyone is disappointed. The bottom line: Don’t give prospective buyers reasons to check your house off the list. When people look at a house, they are really looking for reasons not to buy. They are looking for things wrong with it.

The bottom line is be proactive and prepare your home to put it on the market in every aspect and it will stand out from the other homes that look neglected and not well cared for. You will benefit in the end and get your home sold.

When to buy a fixer-upper? Or when NOT? - by Lisa DiBiase

The notion of buying a fixer-upper these days seems high on everyone's list. Everyone wants to get that “deal” and gain equity in their new home! When is the right time and then begs the question, when isn't the right time? Some questions to ask yourself:

What kinds of problems does the house have?
Does the house have structural damage?
Do you have the time?
Will you live in the property or sell it after renovations?
Do you have the proper licensed help if needed?
Is it in your budget?
Are your expectations realistic?

In a perfect world, figuring out what you should pay to buy a fixer-upper begins with a relatively simple equation. First, add up the costs to renovate the property based on a thorough assessment of the condition of the house. It is highly recommended to have a licensed contractor walking the property alongside you talking through each quote. Be smart with this estimate because you need to anticipate the “unknowns” and “oh, I never thought this would be an issue.” This estimate should include materials and labor — yours and the contractor's. Then, subtract that from the home's “likely” market value after renovation, obtained by a local Realtor who will provide comparable real estate most recent sales in the neighborhood. From that, deduct at least another five to 10 percent for extras you likely need to add, unforeseen problems and mishaps that have to be dealt with, and inflation. What's left should be your offer. Like I said in the beginning, this is in a perfect world! Today’s market has low inventory and leans to a seller's market which will leave less room for negotiating!

When making an offer, it is essential that the real estate contract includes an inspection clause. This inspection allows you to go through the property with eyes wide open to make sure your investment will pay off. During any inspection, the inspector will document a series of problems, some are small and some are large. No property will likely have a perfect inspection. This time allows you to gather all the information and quotes necessary to determine at the end of the day if this purchase and upcoming renovations you make will create the equity you desire for your new home!

As I have said before, please call a local Realtor for all your real estate needs no matter how big or small. We are trained professionals here to make your life easier. It's best to surround yourself with the right team of professionals that can continuously give you the right advice for all your circumstances.