HOW TO DETERMINE THE PRICE OF YOUR HOME

Why is it that some homes sit on the market for a year while others sell like hot cakes?  Frustrated sellers will blame a bad market, while a good real estate professional will tell you that many times, a slow sale is often attributed to the listing price.

If a home is overpriced, buyers will stay away.  But, if the price is competitive with similar homes in the area and “shows” better than the competition, it will have a better chance of being sold quickly.

The secret is perfecting a technique that’s as American as apple pie: comparative shopping.

Although comparing houses with different styles, square-footages and locations is challenging, real estate professionals still feel it’s one of the best methods to use when determining a home’s market value.

A responsible real estate agent will effectively evaluate a home’s worth through a process known as Comparative Marketing Analysis (CMA).  Taking a look at assets, such as a swimming pool, bigger than normal living spaces, a fantastic view, adjacent city parks and other attractions, the agent will begin to compare your home with similar properties, called “comparables,” that have sold in the area within the last six months.  Typically, the agent is able to recommend a realistic price range that will ensure you top dollar and a reasonably

However, factors such as the amount of time needed to sell your home can alter the agent’s price recommendation dramatically.

Typically, people should check with real estate offices in the community to determine the typical duration that listings are on the market.  Sales associates will explain that the marketing “norms” vary with prices and properties.  Based on this criteria, the agent feels confident that he or she will be able to sell it for a price that both you and the buyer will be happy with.  However, if you’re under time constraints because of unexpected job changes or moving agreements you’ve made on another property, this will narrow your chances of selling the home for top dollar in the market.

Assuming you have sufficient time to market the home, here are a few small steps you and your agent can take to finding the right price for your property.

The best comparisons can be made with similar homes that have been sold within the last 45 days as opposed to the standard six months.  Any longer and other factors, such as the economy, could cloud your view of how much your home is really worth.

Another good benchmark is to review the selling prices of homes that have just been sold and are pending closes.  Most MLS services provide information on deals pending that most real estate agents should be able to shore with you.

A good rule of thumb before setting a price is to make 20 comparisons of comparable properties within a one-mile radius of your house.  Once completed you can feel comfortable that the price you’ve picked is a good gauge of the home’s worth and won’t discourage qualified buyers.

Being open and honest about what you see as the home’s greatest strengths and biggest weaknesses will also help an agent get a better feel for how to best evaluate (or assess) and market your home.  Think of your home as if you were the buyer.  If your home is listed at the right price, you’re well on your way to a speedy and fruitful sale.

 

A FEW EASY WAYS TO TAKE THE HEADACHE OUT OF MOVING

Moving from one house to another is always a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare.  Here are some simple tips on how to get it done with minimal stress and strain.

  • Look at all the alternatives: hiring a moving company, for example, versus renting a truck and doing it yourself. Whichever alternative makes most sense for you, get bids from more than one vendor.
  • A few days before the moving company is scheduled to arrive or you’re supposed to pick up your rental truck, call to confirm that everything is on track to happen when it’s supposed to .
  • Prepare your change of address cards in advance and send them out as soon as it’s appropriate to do so. The post office, utilities, companies and people you do business with, city hall, friends, relatives – all should be notified of your move.
  • Get an early start on packing by concentrating on seldom-used items first. Each box should have its contents and the room those contents belong in written on it clearly.
  • Take a hard look at things you seldom or never use and throw away as many of them as you can. The more you throw away, the less you’ll have to move.  Every item you throw away is one less item to clutter up you new home.
  • Use your extra towels and linens to protect breakables. When your supply of these things is exhausted, crumpled newspaper makes an excellent substitute.  Write “Fragile” on all appropriate boxes.
  • Put your valuables (such as jewelry) and important documents (birth certificates, car titles, etc.) aside in some safe place where they won’t be misplaced.
  • When the house is empty, go back for a thorough final inspection. Check closets, crawl spaces, basement, attic, out-of-the-way nooks and crannies of all kinds.  Have a second person make the same inspection separately.
  • Clean your new home thoroughly before moving in. It’s infinitely easier that way.
  • Decide in advance where you want the heavy furniture. Changing your mind after the movers have departed is no fun – especially for your back!
  • Locate all fuses, circuit breakers, and water/gas and electrical valves. Record the meter readings and check the smoke detectors.
  • List the phone numbers of the local police and fire stations, doctors, nearby hospitals, etc. Put a copy of your list near each phone.

 

Above all, plan, plan, plan and plan some more. Make a schedule you can live with, and then stick to it.  Preparation and forethought will help you to keep everything under control and finish the move with your sanity and your nervous system intact.

VACATION HOMES ARE BECOMING A REALITY FOR MORE HOMEOWNERS

Whether it’s a lakefront cottage or a log cabin in the woods, a vacation home often seems to be a dream that only the wealthy can afford.  But these days, you don’t have to be a millionaire to own one.

A nationwide survey shows the median household income of second-home owners is $46,500.  And, according to recent statistics, there were 7.2 million U.S. households in 1990 that owned some kind of recreational property or second home for vacation purposes.  That number is expected to at least double and possibly triple over the next 10 years.  With today’s continued low interest rates, the tax advantages a second home can bring, and a wide selection of areas experiencing solid home price appreciation, this is an excellent time to consider purchasing a second home as an investment – and a great getaway place.

When searching for your second home, remember to investigate the area thoroughly.  Ask a Realtor® and the local chamber of commerce to provide information packets, maps and brochures.  Take time to visit the area several times – a few months prior to and during its peak season(s).  Are the crowds unbearable? Is the weather unpredictable?

Speak with a local Realtor regarding current and past home prices.  Knowing the area’s sales history will help determine the market value of the homes and effectively predict their appreciation potential.

Once you’ve settled on a community, work with a Realtor and lending institution to determine how much home you can afford.  Drive around the town and its neighborhoods.  Experience the day-to-day activity around potential properties. Keep in mind you may decide to retire to the area one day.  Will the property serve two purposes – that of vacation and retirement home?  More and more Americans are purchasing vacation properties in areas where they plan to eventually retire.

Remember, vacation homes remain a good investment and provide substantial deductions on yearly tax forms if they meet certain criteria.  As the laws are ever-changing, complex and detailed, consult your real estate agent, who will usually work with a tax attorney or certified accountant, to calculate the tax benefits of owning a second home.

Relaxing in your own home in that dream vacation spot is not out of your reach.  More and more Americans are realizing that owning a vacation home is do-able – not to mention a good investment and a peaceful retreat for years to come.

REMODELING YOUR HOME: HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

The classic way for homeowners to increase the value of their house is by remodeling existing rooms or adding on to its current plan.

Some choose to build recreation rooms and studies while others add new appliances, fixtures and cabinets to enliven rooms and make their home more attractive to future buyers.

But, when should you decide to stop sinking money into a home and buy a bigger place?  And how much rehab is too much when it comes time to recovering remodeling costs through a home sale

For instance, if you’ve just spent $1,000 remodeling your living room and didn’t expand your small bathroom, the chances of increasing the number of interested buyers are slim.

With these concerns in mind, Century 21 sales associates offer a few tips for those struggling to add value to their home.

First, always protect the character of your home. Nothing sticks out more than a new addition that is in a completely different architectural style.  Be consistent.  Recognize your home’s character and stay within its framework.

The most financially rewarding areas to remodel are usually the kitchen and bath.  Newly re-done cooking spaces and cabinets can attract more buyers and may command a slightly higher price for the home than a comparable one on the market.  Simple repairs that are made to last will bring you the biggest returns upon sale.

Enlarged bathrooms are the most popular attraction for new home buyers, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association.  Today, the most popular additions for younger buyers are sunken whirlpool baths and showers.  But be sure to install modest, solid amenities.  It’s easy to quickly over-spend on bathroom fixtures.

Buyers are, by convention, more interested in above-ground living space – not basements, yards and walkways.  Swimming pools can be a poor investment if installed for the sole purpose of increasing a home’s value; it’s rare that a pool’s cost will be recovered in a home sale.  It can also be a negative feature for potential buyers with very young children.

Replacing worn carpeting, tiles and wood floors can give your home an immediate advantage over similar properties in the area.  Updating paint colors in all areas of your home can also prove beneficial.

However, it’s recommended that you use neutral colors, such as gray, beige and off-white when adding new floor and wall coverings.  Fewer buyers will then turn away because of differing tastes.

Stay simple with your remodeling and look at your home as though you were the buyer.  Chances are that if you find the upstairs bedroom could be brightened by a larger window, potential buyers will probably feel the same.

Don’t go overboard.  Concentrate on improving two or three deficiencies in your home.  More than likely, the time and money you spend adding quality to your home will be rewarded with greater profit at selling time.

EASING YOUR WAY INTO HOMEOWNERSHIP: HOW YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT CAN HELP YOU QUALIFY FOR A LOW DOWN PAYMENT MORTGAGE

For many renters, the first step in buying a home is becoming educated about the process.  If you’re like many people considering a home purchase, you’ve spent nights and weekends poring over your local real estate section.  You’ve talked to friends and relatives about their experiences.  Maybe you’ve even purchased a book or tow to help you become more familiar with real estate terminology and the various types of mortgages commonly used today.

Coming up with a down payment and finding a loan that meets your needs are the greatest hurdles faced by first-time homebuyers.  So, you may even have leafed through stacks of brochures and flyers from lenders offering down payments that are far less than the 20 percent you’d always thought you’d need to save before you could buy.  With so many excellent first-time buyer programs to choose from these days, you practically need to be an expert to sort through them all.

That’s why if you’re a first-time homebuyer seeking a low down payment loan, you’ll save time by selecting a professional real estate agent who is experienced in working with people just like you in the area where you plan to buy.  An agent who frequently assists first-time buyers will know from experience which lenders in your area offer a low down payment program that will most closely match your needs.

A professional real estate agent can help you determine whether you are likely to qualify for these special programs, since participation in some may be limited to buyers under a certain income level or for the purchase of homes below a certain purchase price.  Your agent also will be able to tell you whether there are other requirements you must fulfill in order to be considered.  With some programs, for example, you must attend an educational seminar before you can be considered for one of these low down payment loans.

`It’s important that your agent become familiar with your current financial situation.  Before you meet with your agent to discuss your financial situation and housing needs, you’ll want to collect some basic information to make the process easier.  Be prepared to show recent paycheck stubs or pay vouchers to certify sources of income; a complete list of current credit card, auto and other consumer credit payments you make each month; and recent bank and savings statements.  These documents will help you and your agent determine how much home you can afford.  It’s also important that you disclose any prior credit problems or late payments.  Your agent may be able to suggest ways to remedy any negative remarks on your credit report that could disqualify you from a low down payment loan program.

In addition, because most lenders w2ill require that you have several months of house payments in the bank as a reserve, your agent may be able to suggest ways you can increase your savings in the weeks and months leading up to your home purchase.  Don’t forget that some programs allow you to apply a cash gift from a family member to cover the required down payment and losing costs.

Your agent also may know a motivated seller who would be happy to assist you in accomplishing your home purchase by caring a second mortgage.  A second mortgage is helpful because it reduces the amount of the first mortgage you need to obtain.  In some cases, a second monthly payment and generally is required to protect the lender when a down payment is less than the standard 20 percent of the loan amount.  Even if your seller isn’t willing to take a second mortgage to complete the sale, he or she may be willing to pay your closing costs, which will reduce the amount of cash you need to have on hand up-front.

With interest rates edging up, innovative mortgage financing programs that require a low down payment are even more important than ever to first-time buyers.  A professional real estate agent can help you sift through the countless programs that are available and help find the one that’s mortgage can eliminate the need for private mortgage insurance, which is added to your right for you.  To locate a CENTIURY 21 agent near you, call 1-800-4-HOUSES.

SELLING YOUR HOME IN THE WINTER

In many parts of the country, selling a home during the winter months can be a challenge.  Dreary, cold weather and the end-of-the-year holidays can keep buyers away and heighten fears of your home staying on the market longer than expected.

However, there are a few things you can do to enhance “curb appeal.”  And when that happens, buyers will take notice.

For example, if your home has been on the market for more than six months, its probably time to change the sales approach.  There are several factors that could be reviewed with your real estate agent to determine improvements that can be made.  Ask for a reassessment of the sales price; it may be too high for the current market.  Also, ask the agent for a new or updated marketing plan and ask for a specific explanation of each activity.  Marketing your home goes beyond a few ads in the newspaper and a listing on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS); a good agent will do more to get your home sold.

If your current agent doesn’t respond to your satisfaction, you should contact the real estate broker (the owner of the office) and ask for a different sales agent – or, if you’re no longer under any contractual obligation to the firm, it might be time to change real estate offices entirely.

When setting the asking price through a comparative marketing analysis, compare similar homes sold in the winter months.  Many owners set their asking price too high because of comparisons with sales prices during peak seasons.  Always try to compare like properties sold at the same time of year.

Once you’ve settled on an asking price, its time to spruce up the interior and exterior of your home.  Many real estate agents recommend opening as many curtains as possible to add light and color to rooms.  Also, it’s suggested that you keep spring and summer pictures of your home out on tables and in clear view.  Photos of your front yard flowers or the backyard shade tree in full summer bloom can help swing many buyers in favor of a purchase.

Staying on top of winter maintenance and chores is another sure-fire way of adding value to your home.  A neatly shoveled driveway and cleared walkway can add a nice touch.  Make sure the furnace is in good working condition and that the room temperature is kept at a comfortable level.  Also, check to see that the basement if dry and sealed from any drafts.

Take yourself on a tour of your home.  Start in the basement and work you way through the house.  More than likely you’ll see many previously undiscovered cluttered spaces and needed repairs that can turn off potential buyers.

Don’t overload your home with holiday decorations, either.  The buyer should have a chance to see you home in its everyday condition.

MOVING ON: POWERFUL TIPS FOR SELLING YOUR HOME

Maybe you’re moving to a larger home to accommodate a growing family, relocating for a new career opportunity, or purchasing a townhouse for retirement.  Whatever the reason for the move, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to sell your home for the best possible price, within a reasonable amount of time.  Where do you begin?

 

If you’re like most people, you’ll start by seeking assistance from a professional.  A local real estate sales associate, who knows your neighborhood, can help you determine a fair market price.  The sales associate should also recommend the extent to which you should make repairs or improvements to your house.

 

In order to select a real estate professional who’s right for you, ask family, friends and neighbors for referrals.  Attend open houses and interview several sales associates to find out how professional or experienced they may be.  Get a written outline of how they plan to market your property and the services they will offer you.

 

Once you’ve identified a qualified professional, the rest is chemistry.  Is the sales associate someone with whom you would like to work closely?  Do you feel comfortable with the sales associate as your partner, working with you to give you advice and acting as your representative?  Does he or she practice a consultative selling approach, focusing on the long-term client relationship and on the importance of exceeding client needs and expectations or is he or she caught up in the proverbial ‘hard sell?’

 

The brokerage firm that your agent is associated with is also important.  Research the firm’s success rate and commitment to quality service.  Does it survey existing clients in order to ensure customer satisfaction?  What are the results of those surveys? How in tune are they with consumer needs?  Do they offer guidance with mortgages or any discounts for other home related or moving services?

 

Determining your home’s fair market value is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during the home-selling/buying process.  Your sales associate can help you set a fair price based on local market conditions.  For instance, she or he will provide sale prices and other statistics of homes similar to yours that have recently been sold.  Prospective buyers will be comparing your home to others on the market.  Therefore, setting a comprehensive price can determine if your property will or will not sell.

 

For the first offer made, it’s rare that the prospective buyer matches the asking price.  If the offer is reasonably close to the asking price, carefully consider the offer before you consider turning it down.  Curiously, it’s the first offer that can often be the best offer.  If the first offer is unacceptable to you, it may in your best interest to have your sales associate respond with a counter offer.  Whenever considering an offer, ask yourself if you would purchase the property for the amount being offered.  Always be willing to negotiate, especially if the prospective buyer is pre-qualified for a mortgage.

 

Once you decide what terms are acceptable, let your sales associate negotiate with the prospective buyer to work out the best agreement for you.  You’ll need to be patient while the buyer arranges financing and as the real estate company compiles and prepares pertinent data.

Careful planning and sound advice from a real estate professional can make selling your home a very satisfying experience.  For further information, please contact, (BROKER NAME), (FIRM NAME), (FIRM ADDRESS), (FIRM PHONE NUMBER).

 

 

About Century 21 Real Estate LLC
Century 21 Real Estate LLC (century21.com) is the franchisor of the world’s largest residential real estate sales organization, providing comprehensive training and marketing support for the CENTURY 21 System. The System is comprised of approximately 7,100 independently owned and operated franchised broker offices in 74 countries and territories worldwide with more than 100,000 sales professionals. Century 21 Real Estate LLC is a subsidiary of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services.

©2013 Century 21 Real Estate LLC. All Rights Reserved CENTURY 21® and the CENTURY 21 Logo are Registered Trademarks Owned By Century 21 Real Estate LLC. Century 21 Real Estate LLC fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Each CENTURY 21 Office is Independently Owned and Operated.

FINDING A CAPABLE AGENT TO MEET YOUR REAL ESTATE NEEDS

Whether you’re a first-time buyer, selling your current home or relocating to a different part of the country, the support of a qualified, knowledgeable real estate agent can alleviate many of your concerns and ensure a smooth transaction.   A professional agent can market your present residence, help you locate the home of your dreams and assist in making your transfer to an unfamiliar area easier.

To find a trained sales associate or broker, you may need to look no further than your own neighborhood or home town.  If a well-established brokerage is involved in many listings and sale, this is a god sign.  Speak with some of the agent’s past customers about the quality and integrity of service and performance.  Successful real estate agents rely heavily on customer referrals and will therefore strive to provide the very best in customer service and satisfaction.

Set up appointments to “interview” agents and brokers much like an employer world interview a prospective employee.  Inquire about their training, marketing programs and specific service policies.  Also determine how many years of experience they have, the number of listings they have had, and the number of homes they have sold within the past few years.  More importantly, find out how well they know the area.  Ask for references, and check them out.

Your goal is to determine just how knowledgeable the agents are.  Question them on financing, closing costs and/or local market conditions, depending on whether you’re a prospective home buyer or seller, to determine their expertise.  If they know their stuff, they should be able to answer your questions effortlessly.

If you’re selling your home, learn what they will do if you decide to list with them.  How do they plan to market your home?  Will they provide you with a market analysis to help you determine the most effective listing price for your property?  Will they supply regular progress reports and assist with negotiations once you’ve received offers?

If you are relocating to a different part of the country, is your agent connected with a national relocation service that will not only expose your present property to incoming transferees, but assist with your search for a new house?

Ask for a written guarantee that everything promised will be delivered.  The CENTURY 21® organization, for example, backs its listings with the CENTURY 21 Seller Service PledgeÔ.  This 11-point written commitment covers everything from furnishing the seller with a marketing plan to monitoring pre-settlement activities throughout the closing process.  It also gives the seller the right to terminate the listing if the pledge is not fulfilled.

A qualified real estate agent should be able to answer all your questions and provide you with qualify service that is courteous and responsible.  Finding the right person may take time and patience, buy when purchasing or selling a home, the selection of a dependable agent should be tops on your list.

FINDING A CAPABLE AGENT TO MEET YOUR REAL ESTATE NEEDS

Whether you’re a first-time buyer, selling your current home or relocating to a different part of the country, the support of a qualified, knowledgeable real estate agent can alleviate many of your concerns and ensure a smooth transaction.   A professional agent can market your present residence, help you locate the home of your dreams and assist in making your transfer to an unfamiliar area easier.

To find a trained sales associate or broker, you may need to look no further than your own neighborhood or home town.  If a well-established brokerage is involved in many listings and sale, this is a god sign.  Speak with some of the agent’s past customers about the quality and integrity of service and performance.  Successful real estate agents rely heavily on customer referrals and will therefore strive to provide the very best in customer service and satisfaction.

Set up appointments to “interview” agents and brokers much like an employer world interview a prospective employee.  Inquire about their training, marketing programs and specific service policies.  Also determine how many years of experience they have, the number of listings they have had, and the number of homes they have sold within the past few years.  More importantly, find out how well they know the area.  Ask for references, and check them out.

Your goal is to determine just how knowledgeable the agents are.  Question them on financing, closing costs and/or local market conditions, depending on whether you’re a prospective home buyer or seller, to determine their expertise.  If they know their stuff, they should be able to answer your questions effortlessly.

If you’re selling your home, learn what they will do if you decide to list with them.  How do they plan to market your home?  Will they provide you with a market analysis to help you determine the most effective listing price for your property?  Will they supply regular progress reports and assist with negotiations once you’ve received offers?

If you are relocating to a different part of the country, is your agent connected with a national relocation service that will not only expose your present property to incoming transferees, but assist with your search for a new house?

Ask for a written guarantee that everything promised will be delivered.  The CENTURY 21® organization, for example, backs its listings with the CENTURY 21 Seller Service PledgeÔ.  This 11-point written commitment covers everything from furnishing the seller with a marketing plan to monitoring pre-settlement activities throughout the closing process.  It also gives the seller the right to terminate the listing if the pledge is not fulfilled.

A qualified real estate agent should be able to answer all your questions and provide you with qualify service that is courteous and responsible.  Finding the right person may take time and patience, buy when purchasing or selling a home, the selection of a dependable agent should be tops on your list.

EASING YOUR WAY INTO HOMEOWNERSHIP

For many renters, the first step in buying a home is becoming educated about the process.  If you’re like many people considering a home purchase, you’ve spent nights and weekends poring over your local real estate section.  You’ve talked to friends and relatives about their experiences.  Maybe you’ve even purchased a book or tow to help you become more familiar with real estate terminology and the various types of mortgages commonly used today.

Coming up with a down payment and finding a loan that meets your needs are the greatest hurdles faced by first-time homebuyers.  So, you may even have leafed through stacks of brochures and flyers from lenders offering down payments that are far less than the 20 percent you’d always thought you’d need to save before you could buy.  With so many excellent first-time buyer programs to choose from these days, you practically need to be an expert to sort through them all.

That’s why if you’re a first-time homebuyer seeking a low down payment loan, you’ll save time by selecting a professional real estate agent who is experienced in working with people just like you in the area where you plan to buy.  An agent who frequently assists first-time buyers will know from experience which lenders in your area offer a low down payment program that will most closely match your needs.

A professional real estate agent can help you determine whether you are likely to qualify for these special programs, since participation in some may be limited to buyers under a certain income level or for the purchase of homes below a certain purchase price.  Your agent also will be able to tell you whether there are other requirements you must fulfill in order to be considered.  With some programs, for example, you must attend an educational seminar before you can be considered for one of these low down payment loans.

`It’s important that your agent become familiar with your current financial situation.  Before you meet with your agent to discuss your financial situation and housing needs, you’ll want to collect some basic information to make the process easier.  Be prepared to show recent paycheck stubs or pay vouchers to certify sources of income; a complete list of current credit card, auto and other consumer credit payments you make each month; and recent bank and savings statements.  These documents will help you and your agent determine how much home you can afford.  It’s also important that you disclose any prior credit problems or late payments.  Your agent may be able to suggest ways to remedy any negative remarks on your credit report that could disqualify you from a low down payment loan program.

In addition, because most lenders w2ill require that you have several months of house payments in the bank as a reserve, your agent may be able to suggest ways you can increase your savings in the weeks and months leading up to your home purchase.  Don’t forget that some programs allow you to apply a cash gift from a family member to cover the required down payment and losing costs.

Your agent also may know a motivated seller who would be happy to assist you in accomplishing your home purchase by caring a second mortgage.  A second mortgage is helpful because it reduces the amount of the first mortgage you need to obtain.  In some cases, a second monthly payment and generally is required to protect the lender when a down payment is less than the standard 20 percent of the loan amount.  Even if your seller isn’t willing to take a second mortgage to complete the sale, he or she may be willing to pay your closing costs, which will reduce the amount of cash you need to have on hand up-front.

With interest rates edging up, innovative mortgage financing programs that require a low down payment are even more important than ever to first-time buyers.  A professional real estate agent can help you sift through the countless programs that are available and help find the one that’s mortgage can eliminate the need for private mortgage insurance, which is added to your right for you.  Contact me today at 201-410-7809.