How to Interview A Listing Agent
Is interviewing a Real Estate Agent such a daunting task?
Too many people rush into choosing a Listing Agent. Once the idea of selling pops into their minds, they may choose the first Agent that crosses their path, whether via postcard, a Facebook Ad or billboard. In fact, 72% of home sellers contacted only one Real Estate Agent before deciding on the ‘right Agent’ they like sell their home through.
The big question here is how does one avoid choosing the wrong Real Estate Agent for the job?
Either you interview a Real Estate Agent and decide to hire him right there and then; or you opt to interview a couple of Real Estate Agents. Whichever route you as a home seller decide to take, make sure you have prepared at least a handful of questions, which should quickly determine whether your decision to hire that Real Estate Agent was the good one (or not)!
Most Real Estate Agents will not expect you to be asking these types of questions!
FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Home Seller’s Guide
This list of 10 questions to ask when interviewing a Listing Agent will come in handy in separating the wheat from the chaff:
Question #1: How long have you been a Real Estate Agent?
As much as enthusiasm and passion a beginning Real Estate Agent might bring to the table, when it is time for contract negotiation, it will be the (negotiation) experience of the Agent which will bring the deal to a successful close!
The more contracts a Real Estate Agent has written over the years, the more experience he will have in detecting, avoiding, preparing, anticipating potential pitfalls! As any experienced Real Estate Agent can attest, there’s no such thing a ‘simple contract’ – every contract is unique and will require a customized legal frame work, making sure the terms and conditions of the deal are ironclad!
Of course, you’ll always have these superstar Agents who are making a killing in their first year of real estate, but those are the exception to the rule!
The other nine questions below will filter through whether you’re dealing with such a super-talented Agent or just a fly-by-night individual!
Question #2: How many real estate transactions did you close last year?
This might perhaps be seen as a rude or inappropriate question to ask if it were asked in any other field than real estate.
Real Estate Agents are always talking amongst one another about production numbers, as it’s an integrate part of their business models, annual goals, and getting more business!
Whereas the abstract figure won’t necessarily tell you a lot (other than give you a rough idea how much commission the Agent made), it does give you an idea of how active the Real Estate Agent is.
It might be tempting to look at the total number and use it as the sole measuring stick on how successful the Agent was, but one needs to put it into perspective:
The Real Estate Agent who sold the lower number of properties over the past 12 months might not immediately be your first choice, neither should the Agent who sold 50 properties in a particular year.
And why might that be?
Agents who give the highest listing price, do get a lot of business from home sellers, who don’t necessarily know any better, until it’s too late and the property has been exposed to the market for way too long! The overpriced properties you see lingering about for months on end, and plenty of expired listings are proof of that.
In other words, the ratio of houses the Agent eventually sells versus the (overpriced) properties that he still has on the books (which is called the sales-to-listing ratio) will be an important number to watch.
Thus, while not immediately evident by hearing a raw number, put into context, it is very revealing who is the better Agent: a Real Estate Agent who sells 16 out of his 20 listings compared to another Agent who sells 35 out of 70 listings!
Question #3: Is being a Real Estate Agent your full-time job?
There is this misconception that being a Real Estate Agent must be such an easy job, which offers lots of free time, days off, and can make you bundles of money. But if you interview a Real Estate Agent who’s been around the block, you will more than hear something completely different!
While one might initially be going through training and learning the ropes on a part-time basis, providing a professional service to your clients does require a full-time Real Estate Agent.
How is the part-time Agent going to handle all the incoming viewing requests, specific property inquiries by home buyers or property valuations for home sellers if he’s too busy working another job?
Nevermind what might happen if there’s talk of writing an offer at the ‘wrong time’ for this part-time Agent. Time constraint? Availability? Imagine as a home seller to be losing such an interested home buyer because the (part-time) Agent’s agenda can’t accommodate!
Needless to say, hiring a part-time Real Estate Agent is not advisable!
Question #4: How often can we expect feedback from you?
Perhaps the line of questioning ought to go in the direction of who will be providing the feedback!
Is the Real Estate Agent working on his own, together with a personal assistant or is there an entire team behind the scene? And more importantly, who will end up being the person you, as the home seller, will get all the feedback from?
It’s only normal for a home seller wanting to know what the home buyers have been saying about their property during the viewings over the course of the week. Most well-oiled teams have this part covered with a feedback system to make sure the home seller gets proper, timely information about buyer feedback!
Not only before the property is sold, but also during and afterwards, it’s vital for the Agent to keep the home seller in the loop of where they stand in the process: is a home inspection due or is the bank appraisal taking place soon? Plus, will the Agent be present during those activities as well?
Each of those events, as small or big as they may be, requires feedback to the home seller. This is where a professional Real Estate Agent (and/or team) stands out from the crowd! There’s no such thing as too much feedback!
Question #5: How do you normally communicate with your clients?
Depending on how the Agent responds to the previous question, you’ll lead right into this one.
Once you’ve established the frequency or timing of the feedback, you need to figure out which communication medium your Agent uses with other clients.
When you interview a Real Estate Agent, you need to make sure to inform the Real Estate Agent of your preferred method of communication!
Some people are stuck on a personal phone call following every showing appointment, others might be too busy and rather prefer you to send them a text message or email them a summary of what happened during the viewing.
Having said that, one of the biggest complaints people have against Agents is the lack of communication.
If an Agent happens to be in a client meeting and can’t pick up the phone, we all know that those things happen and a return call afterwards will set everything straight. However, I’m referring to the blatant lack of respect on part of a lot of Real Estate Agents who believe returning phone calls the same day is something of an unnecessary luxury. This Agent is in control of the sale of your life’s most expensive asset, so the least he can do is treat you with respect by returning your call(s) ASAP!
Question #6: Can you provide us with a recent list of client references?
There are pretty much two options you could go with:
(1) ask the Listing Agent for a list of recent client references, which is something he’ll more than likely have written out on a personal testimonial page on his website. You can also check sites like Zillow and Google for online reviews that the Agent cannot filter.
(2) maybe a better option would be to request the details of the last few homes he sold and consequently contact those people yourself. It might take a little bit more time and effort, but the feedback you’ll get from these previous clients will more than likely be quite informative, and more importantly, be unprepared by the Agent!
Question #7: How did you determine the asking price of our home?
Here, you have a couple of popular ways to arrive at the market value:
The most commonly used method (as well as the best one) is the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), which allows the Agent to look at the recently sold properties in your immediate vicinity, as well as the current properties for sale, all within a similar size, look and price range, in order to arrive at a fair market value!
RELATED: The Importance Of Proper Pricing
As you interview a Real Estate Agent, nothing stops you from asking him to show you some proof regarding the CMA’s conclusions.
Question #8: Will you personally be taking pictures of our home?
How often have you browsed a property portal and come across some incredibly bad pictures? What was the Agent thinking? And how did the seller approve that marketing material?
This makes you stop and think who could have possibly have taken those unprofessional photos?
Whereas there are Agents who have particularly good photography skills and appropriate equipment to present your home at its best, the majority of Real Estate Agents don’t.
The importance of having great photos as part of your marketing cannot be stressed enough!
Bottom line: unless this Real Estate Agent is half a pro at taking real estate photos himself, insist on a Professional Real Estate Photographer.
Question #9: Which advertising tools will you be using to market our home?
Besides the traditional advertising tools, such as ads in newspapers, magazines, postcards, billboards etc., any decent Real Estate Agents needs to have a strong online presence.
Marketing should be happening all over! Your property needs to get exposed to as many potential home buyers as possible!
As a quick reminder, 90% of the home buyers start their home search online!
RELATED: Your Unique Marketing Plan
The internet is where all the researching and reading up happens, months before the home buyer even contacts the Agent!
Through the Agent’s online activities across many social network platforms, his personal website, and an active blogging calendar, chances are very good that the home buyers will keep running into that Agent’s content during their information-gathering phase. And who will they more than likely be contacting to help them find homes for sale on the Jersey Shore once they’re ready? After all, without even having met the Agent, these home buyers already have quite the impression of him due to this dominant online presence!
Question #10: Do you provide any additional services?
Sometimes it’s nice to know whether the Agent can offer you something different from the other Agents.
Any experienced Agent will immediately suggest helping out with the presentation of your home: from the cleaning & decluttering, to some of the needed repairs to the house, to getting that garden up-to-date, with extra attention pruning the shrubs & trimming the lawn.
Provided that the Agent has been working in the local area for many years, he’ll be able to set you up with a list of vendors as well, ranging from local handymen, attorneys, moving companies, to name but a few.
Keep in mind that the better Agents have your best interest at heart and don’t mean anything personal or hurtful if they point out potential negatives throughout the house.
The Real Estate Agent’s advice shouldn’t be taken lightly, as it is in their interest as well to have a more desirable and saleable product to present to buyers!
Have you recently interviewed a Listing Agent to sell your home? What did you learn? Did you rush through the process with regrets? Share your story on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE™ eNewsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.
What Is a Real Estate Agent’s Commission?
Ever wonder what exactly a Real Estate Agent does? Are they worth the commission? Ever wonder if you’re paying too much for commission? Even consider going it your own via FSBO?
You may have a great Agent and they don’t communicate with you all they’re doing. Or, you may also have a rock star agent and who’s doing so much it hasn’t even occurred to you all the fine details going into your home sale.
Here are a few facts that might help you sleep at night and have some peace about residential real estate commissions:
1. Real estate agents are sole proprietors
That means that even if they are a part of an agency, they are small business owners and cover all their own costs and carry all the risk. Do you own or have you ever owned your own small business? Then you know you wear ALL the hats and all the responsibility falls to you. Not to mention, your rather high tax rate!
They invest in you and your home. If they take on a listing, that means they’ve calculated the cost of marketing, photos, and time – lots and lots of time. High quality marketing – online and offline – and maybe even virtual tours. All that cost money. There’s considerable overhead if you are active in the field.
They have no salary and no real predictability in income. One deal may have to last them many months or maybe even longer.
2. The sale of your home may be covering for the loss of another
Deals fall through ALL. THE. TIME. Your particular sale may go pretty smoothly – great! I guarantee you it has ended up covering for a major loss on another deal. It’s the nature of business.
3. The real work begins once a contract is accepted
It may feel like all an agent does is show up sometimes for an open house here and there and put a sign in the yard. Or every time they come over, they’re telling you things you need to spend money on. But the real work is done behind the scenes and is intensified once an offer is accepted. Getting to the closing table is more and more challenging.
Pat Vredevoogd-Combs, a former president of the National Association of REALTORS, testified before the House Financial Services Committee on Housing to stark federal complaints about residential real estate industry pricing.
She submitted a list of 184 things that Listing Agents do in every real estate transaction as a part of her testimony to the committee. She stated, “By all accounts the general public is not aware of all the services that agents provide to sellers and buyers during the course of the transaction, probably because most of the important services are performed behind the scenes.”
Here is the list of (just) 184 things residential real estate agents do:
1. Make appointment with seller for listing presentation.
2. Send a written or e-mail confirmation of appointment and call to confirm.
3. Review appointment questions.
4. Research all comparable currently listed properties.
5. Research sales activity for past 18 months from MLS and public databases.
6. Research “average days on market” for properties similar in type, price and location.
7. Download and review property tax roll information.
8. Prepare “comparable market analysis” (CMA) to establish market value.
9. Obtain copy of subdivision plat/complex layout.
10. Research property’s ownership and deed type.
11. Research property’s public record information for lot size and dimensions.
12. Verify legal description.
13. Research property’s land use coding and deed restrictions.
14. Research property’s current use and zoning.
15. Verify legal names of owner(s) in county’s public property records.
16. Prepare listing presentation package with above materials.
17. Perform exterior “curb appeal assessment” of subject property.
18. Compile and assemble formal file on property.
19. Confirm current public schools and explain their impact on market value.
20. Review listing appointment checklist to ensure completion of all tasks.
Listing Appointment Presentation
21. Give seller an overview of current market conditions and projections.
22. Review agent and company credentials and accomplishments.
23. Present company’s profile and position or “niche” in the marketplace.
24. Present CMA results, including comparables, solds, current listings and expireds.
25. Offer professional pricing strategy based and interpretation of current market conditions.
26. Discuss goals to market effectively.
27. Explain market power and benefits of multiple listing service.
28. Explain market power of Web marketing, IDX and MLS.
29. Explain the work the broker and agent do “behind the scenes” and agent’s availability on weekends.
30. Explain agent’s role in screening qualified buyers to protect against curiosity seekers.
31. Present and discuss strategic master marketing plan.
32. Explain different agency relationships and determine seller’s preference.
33. Review all clauses in listing contract and obtain seller’s signature.
After Listing Agreement is Signed
34. Review current title information.
35. Measure overall and heated square footage.
36. Measure interior room sizes.
37. Confirm lot size via owner’s copy of certified survey, if available.
38. Note any and all unrecorded property lines, agreements, easements.
39. Obtain house plans, if applicable and available.
40. Review house plans, make copy.
41. Order plat map for retention in property’s listing file.
42. Prepare showing instructions for buyers’ agents and agree on showing time with seller.
43. Obtain current mortgage loan(s) information: companies and account numbers
44. Verify current loan information with lender(s).
45. Check assumability of loan(s) and any special requirements.
46. Discuss possible buyer financing alternatives and options with seller.
47. Review current appraisal if available.
48. Identify Home Owner Association manager is applicable.
49. Verify Home Owner Association fees with manager–mandatory or optional and current annual fee.
50. Order copy of Home Owner Association bylaws, if applicable.
51. Research electricity availability and supplier’s name and phone number.
52. Calculate average utility usage from last 12 months of bills.
53. Research and verify city sewer/septic tank system.
54. Calculate average water system fees or rates from last 12 months of bills.
55. Or confirm well status, depth and output from Well Report.
56. Research/verify natural gas availability, supplier’s name and phone number.
57. Verify security system, term of service and whether owned or leased.
58. Verify if seller has transferable Termite Bond.
59. Ascertain need for lead-based paint disclosure.
60. Prepare detailed list of property amenities and assess market impact.
61. Prepare detailed list of property’s “Inclusions & Conveyances with Sale.”
62. Complete list of completed repairs and maintenance items.
63. Send “Vacancy Checklist” to seller if property is vacant.
64. Explain benefits of Home Owner Warranty to seller.
65. Assist sellers with completion and submission of Home Owner Warranty application.
66. When received, place Home Owner Warranty in property file for conveyance at time of sale.
67. Have extra key made for lockbox.
68. Verify if property has rental units involved. And if so:
69. Make copies of all leases for retention in listing file.
70. Verify all rents and deposits.
71. Inform tenants of listing and discuss how showings will be handled.
72. Arrange for yard sign installation.
73. Assist seller with completion of Seller’s Disclosure form.
74. Complete “new listing checklist.”
75. Review results of Curb Appeal Assessment with seller and suggest improvements for salability.
76. Review results of Interior Decor Assessment and suggest changes to shorten time on market.
77. Load listing time into transaction management software.
Entering Property in MLS Database
78. Prepare MLS Profile Sheet–agent is responsible for “quality control” and accuracy of listing data.
79. Enter property data from Profile Sheet into MLS listing database.
80. Proofread MLS database listing for accuracy, including property placement in mapping function.
81. Add property to company’s Active Listings.
82. Provide seller with signed copies of Listing Agreement and MLS Profile Data Form within 48 hours.
83. Take more photos for upload into MLS and use in flyers. Discuss efficacy of panoramic photography.
Marketing the Listing
84. Create print and Internet ads with seller’s input.
85. Coordinate showings with owners, tenants and other agents. Return all calls–weekends included.
86. Install electronic lockbox. Program with agreed-upon showing time windows.
87. Prepare mailing and contact list.
88. Generate mail-merge letters to contact list.
89. Order “Just Listed” labels and reports.
90. Prepare flyers and feedback forms.
91. Review comparable MLS listings regularly to ensure property remains competitive in price, terms, conditions and availability.
92. Prepare property marketing brochure for seller’s review.
93. Arrange for printing or copying of supply of marketing brochures or flyers.
94. Place marketing brochures in all company agent mailboxes.
95. Upload listing to company and agent Internet sites.
RELATED: Your Custom Home Marketing Plan
96. Mail “Just Listed” notice to all neighborhood residents.
97. Advise Network Referral Program of listing.
98. Provide marketing data to buyers from international relocation networks.
99. Provide marketing data to buyers coming from referral network.
100. Provide “Special Feature” cards for marketing, if applicable/
101. Submit ads to company’s participating Internet real estate sites.
102. Convey price changes promptly to all Internet groups.
103. Reprint/supply brochures promptly as needed.
104. Review and update loan information in MLS as required.
105. Send feedback e-mails/faxes to buyers’ agents after showings.
106. Review weekly Market Study.
107. Discuss feedback from showing agents with seller to determine if changes will accelerate the sale.
108. Place regular weekly update calls to seller to discuss marketing and pricing.
109. Promptly enter price changes in MLS listings database.
The Offer and the Contract
110. Receive and review all Offer to Purchase contracts submitted by buyers or buyers’ agents. 111. Evaluate offer(s) and prepare “net sheet” on each for owner to compare.
112. Counsel seller on offers. Explain merits and weakness of each component of each offer. 113. Contact buyers’ agents to review buyer’s qualifications and discuss offer.
114. Fax/deliver Seller’s Disclosure to buyer’s agent or buyer upon request and prior to offer if possible.
115. Confirm buyer is pre-qualified by calling loan officer.
116. Obtain pre-qualification letter on buyer from loan officer.
117. Negotiate all offers on seller’s behalf, setting time limit for loan approval and closing date.
118. Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance or amendments to buyer’s agent.
119. Fax copies of contract and all addendums to closing attorney or title company.
120. When Offer-to-Purchase contract is accepted and signed by seller, deliver to buyer’s agent.
121. Record and promptly deposit buyer’s money into escrow account.
122. Disseminate “Under-Contract Showing Restrictions” as seller requests.
123. Deliver copies of fully signed Offer to Purchase contract to sellers.
124. Fax/deliver copies of Offer to Purchase contract to selling agent.
125. Fax copies of Offer to Purchase contract to lender.
126. Provide copies of signed Offer to Purchase contract for office file.
127. Advise seller in handling additional offers to purchase submitted between contract and closing.
128. Change MLS status to “Sale Pending.”
129. Update transaction management program to show “Sale Pending.”
130. Review buyer’s credit report results–Advise seller of worst and best case scenarios.
131. Provide credit report information to seller if property is to be seller financed.
132. Assist buyer with obtaining financing and follow up as necessary.
133. Coordinate with lender on discount points being locked in with dates.
134. Deliver unrecorded property information to buyer.
135. Order septic inspection, if applicable.
136. Receive and review septic system report and access any impact on sale.
137. Deliver copy of septic system inspection report to lender and buyer.
138. Deliver well flow test report copies to lender, buyer and listing file.
139. Verify termite inspection ordered.
140. Verify mold inspection ordered, if required.
Tracking the Loan Process
141. Confirm return of verifications of deposit and buyer’s employment.
142. Follow loan processing through to the underwriter.
143. Add lender and other vendors to transaction management program so agents, buyer and seller can track progress of sale.
144. Contact lender weekly to ensure processing is on track.
145. Relay final approval of buyer’s loan application to seller.
146. Coordinate buyer’s professional home inspection with seller.
147. Review home inspector’s report.
148. Enter completion into transaction management tracking software program.
149. Explain seller’s responsibilities of loan limits and interpret any clauses in the contract.
150. Ensure seller’s compliance with home inspection clause requirements.
151. Assist seller with identifying and negotiating with trustworthy contractors for required repairs.
152. Negotiate payment and oversee completion of all required repairs on seller’s behalf, if needed.
153. Schedule appraisal.
154. Provide comparable sales used in market pricing to appraiser.
155. Follow up on appraisal.
156. Enter completion into transaction management program.
157. Assist seller in questioning appraisal report if it seems too low.
Closing Preparations and Duties
158. Make sure contract is signed by all parties.
159. Coordinate closing process with buyer’s agent and lender.
160. Update closing forms and files.
161. Ensure all parties have all forms and information needed to close the sale.
162. Select location for closing.
163. Confirm closing date and time and notify all parties.
164. Solve any title problems (boundary disputes, easements, etc.) or in obtaining death certificates.
165. Work with buyer’s agent in scheduling and conducting buyer’s final walkthrough prior to closing.
166. Research all tax, HOA, utility and other applicable prorations.
167. Request final closing figures from closing agent (attorney or title company).
168. Receive and carefully review closing figures to ensure accuracy.
169. Forward verified closing figures to buyer’s agent.
170. Request copy of closing documents from closing agent.
171. Confirm the buyer and buyer’s agent received title insurance commitment.
172. Provide “Home Owners Warranty” for availability at closing.
173. Review all closing documents carefully for errors.
174. Forward closing documents to absentee seller as requested.
175. Review documents with closing agent (attorney).
176. Provide earnest money deposit from escrow account to closing agent.
177. Coordinate closing with seller’s next purchase, resolving timing issues.
178. Have a “no surprises” closing so that seller receives a net proceeds check at closing.
179. Refer sellers to one of the best agents at their destination, if applicable.
180. Change MLS status to Sold. Enter sale date, price, selling broker and agent’s ID numbers, etc.
181. Close out listing in transaction management program.
Follow Up After Closing
182. Answer questions about filing claims with Home Owner Warranty company, if requested.
183. Attempt to clarify and resolve any repair conflicts if buyer is dissatisfied.
184. Respond to any follow-up calls and provide any additional information required from office files.
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Mega Tips for a First-Time Home Seller
Homeowners don’t generally think about filling the shoes of a first-time home seller until they decide to buy a new home. Usually, the motivating factor is the need to move — due to work-related issues or the needs of a growing family — and that generally involves buying another house. It’s when the homeowners stop to consider the move that it may dawn on them, yes, because they need to sell, they are now a first-time home seller.
FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Home Sellers Guide
Selling a home is very different from buying a home. Whereas buying a home generally involves emotions and feelings, selling a home typically centers on what listing agents like to call maximizing profit potential.
Here are the key steps to keep in mind as a first-time homeseller to sell your home fast and for top-dollar:
1. Price Your Home Accurately
To price your home accurately you need the assistance of a reputable Listing Agent. This is not the time to choose your cousin’s sister-in-law, for example, who dabbles in real estate. You’ll fare much better if you select an experienced real estate agent who sells a fair number of listings, preferably in your neighborhood.
RELATED: What’s My Home Worth? Find Out Now!
Your Agent will analyze comparable sales and prepare an estimate of value often called a CMA, for comparative market analysis. It is OK to use real estate websites to get an idea of this figure, but you’ll soon learn the variances your agent will point out because your they have the experience and education to provide you with a more accurate opinion of value.
2. Prepare Your Home For Sale
Ask your Listing Agent to advise you on preparing your home for sale. Most homes show better with about half of the furniture removed. If a buyer walks in the door and wonders if anybody lives in the house, you’ve done your job correctly. Consider home staging to boost your selling power and appeal.
Painting is the single most effective improvement you can make. Don’t let dings in the woodwork or scraps on the walls make your home reflect deferred maintenance.
3. Be Flexible with Showings
If home showings are too much of an imposition, consider going away the first weekend your home is on the market. Yes, it can feel a bit intrusive to allow strangers to trek through your home and check out your soft-closing drawers in the kitchen. The best way to sell your home is to let a buyer inside with her buyer’s agent to tour in peace and quiet.
Leave the house when buyer’s agents show up. Anything you say can and will be used against you, plus, buyer’s agents prefer to show without interference
4. Allow An Open House
Not every home is a viable candidate for an open house. If your home is located in an area close to major traffic, that is generally indicative of a reasonable expectation that the open house signs will pull in visitors.
Ask your Listing Agent if they advertise the open houses online. Many a home buyer has had no desire to buy a home until she spots an open house and subsequently falls in love.
5. Review Your Listing Online
Look at your home listing on various websites to make sure the information conveyed is accurate. Agents do their best to ensure accuracy, but since it is your home, you know the details better than anyone. If you spot a feature that is missing, contact your agent and ask for an inclusion.
6. Try to Respond Promptly to A Purchase Offer
Many offers contain a date by which the offer expires. Notwithstanding, it can drive buyers crazy if they are forced to wait for a seller to decide whether to accept their offer or to issue a counter offer. Remember, if you are selling because you need to buy a new home, you are no different when you are a home buyer yourself.
7. Line Up Your Movers Early
If you are thinking about moving during the summer, for example, which is a very busy time of year for movers, you might find it is impossible to locate movers for the day you want. You can start packing before your home hits the market, which will give you a head start on the process. It will also give you peace of mind to be prepared. Selling can be stressful enough.
Are you a first-time home seller? What tips do you have to add to our list? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or our Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
5 Reasons You Should Never Buy or Sell a Home Without a Real Estate Agent
You’re DIY’ing this real estate thing, and you think you’re doing pretty well—after all, any info you might need is at your fingertips online, right? That and your own judgment.
Oh, dear home buyer (or seller!)—we know you can do it on your own. But you really, really shouldn’t. This is likely the biggest financial decision of your entire life, and you need Real Estate Agent if you want to do it right.
1. They have loads of expertise
Want to check the MLS for a 4B/2B with an EIK and a W/D? Real estate has its own language, full of acronyms and semi-arcane jargon, and your Real Estate Agent is trained to speak that language fluently.
Plus, buying or selling a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. Real Estate Agents have the expertise to help you prepare a killer deal—while avoiding delays or costly mistakes that can seriously mess you up.
FREE DOWNLOAD: The Complete Home Buyer Guide
2. They have turbocharged searching power
The Internet is awesome. You can find almost anything—anything! And with online real estate listing sites such as yours truly, you can find up-to-date home listings on your own, any time you want. But guess what? Real Estate Agents have access to even more listings. Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A Real Estate Agent can help you find those hidden gems.
Plus, a good local Real Estate Agent is going to know the search area way better than you ever could. Have your eye on a particular neighborhood, but it’s just out of your price range? Your Real Estate Agent is equipped to know the ins and outs of every neighborhood, so she can direct you toward a home in your price range that you may have overlooked.
3. They have bullish negotiating chops
Any time you buy or sell a home, you’re going to encounter negotiations—and as today’s housing market heats up, those negotiations are more likely than ever to get a little heated.
You can expect lots of competition, cutthroat tactics, all-cash offers, and bidding wars. Don’t you want a savvy and professional negotiator on your side to seal the best deal for you?
And it’s not just about how much money you end up spending or netting. A Real Estate Agent will help draw up a purchase agreement that allows enough time for inspections, contingencies, and anything else that’s crucial to your particular needs.
4. They’re connected to everyone
Real Estate Agents might not know everything, but they make it their mission to know just about everyone who can possibly help in the process of buying or selling a home. Mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, home stagers, interior designers—the list goes on—and they’re all in your Real Estate Agent’s network. Use them.
FREE DOWNLOAD: The Complete Home Sellers Guide
5. They’re your sage parent/data analyst/therapist—all rolled into one
The thing about Real Estate Agents: They wear a lot of different hats. Sure, they’re salespeople, but they actually do a whole heck of a lot to earn their commission. They’re constantly driving around, checking out listings for you. They spend their own money on marketing your home (if you’re selling). They’re researching comps to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
And, of course, they’re working for you at nearly all hours of the day and night—whether you need more info on a home or just someone to talk to in order to feel at ease with the offer you just put in. This is the biggest financial (and possibly emotional) decision of your life, and guiding you through it isn’t a responsibility Real Estate Agents take lightly.
Did you try the DIY route and the go Agent? Tell us about your experience. Sound of on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, our Twitter or LinkedIn Feeds or on our Instagram account. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
6 Bad Habits to Avoid If You Hope to Sell Your Home in 2017
Everyone has a few flaws. But if you plan to sell your New Jersey home in 2017, these foibles can literally cost you—we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars. What’s more, many homeowners may not even be aware that certain actions can hurt their odds of selling their home (that is, until it sits on the market with no takers).
To help clue you in, here’s a list of regrettable blunders to kick to the curb starting now, even if you plan to put your home on the market next year:
Bad Habit No. 1: Overimproving your home
Dying to install new kitchen cabinets or retile your master bath? Home sellers often assume any upgrades they make to their home will pay them back in full once they sell, but that’s rarely the case. On average you will recoup just about 64% of the money you spend on renovations once you sell—and certain improvements can actually work against you if they’re unusual or undesirable in your market.
For instance, as much as you may be dying for a bidet in your bathroom, many others may not. Likewise, even if you consider a new swimming pool a plus, many homeowners don’t want the hassle of maintaining it (or the dangers if they have young kids).
Do this instead: Check out blog post on Home Improvements that offer the Biggest Return on Investment to see which upgrades provide the best value – and ask your Agent for advice on which amenities are hot (or not) on the Jersey Shore.
Bad Habit No. 2: Renovating without permits
We know it’s a pain to apply for permits before you knock down that wall or add a deck, but this corner-cutting will come back and bite you when you decide to sell. Without proper permits, buyers may worry whether the work done on your place is up to code—and as a result refrain from making an offer.
Do this instead: Don’t be a scofflaw; pull necessary permits. Usually, building permits are required for any renovation that involves opening/building walls, electrical, and plumbing changes.
Bad Habit No. 3: Limiting showing hours
Sure, no one wants to leave their home at dinnertime. But buyers are busy juggling work, family, and looking for a new home. If you limit showings to a few hours on weekends, you might miss a potential sale.
Do this instead: Stay flexible and cooperate with buyer’s agents who want to show your house, even if it’s inconvenient.
Plus, limiting showing times gives buyers the impression that the you may be a “difficult” seller. That can turn them off even more.
Bad Habit No. 4. Overlooking curb appeal
Even if you lavish tons of attention on prepping the inside of your home for buyers, it’s easy to overlook the outside. But keep in mind, your curb appeal is the very first impression buyers have of your home, so it pays to put some elbow grease into prettying up the exterior, too.
Do this instead: Make sure your paint job is pristine and your lawn is tidy and mowed. Also replace dead shrubs, prune trees, put out some potted plants, mulch garden beds, and freshen mailboxes.
Bad Habit No. 5: Relying heavily on open houses
Open houses were a great way to sell a house in, like, 1975. These days, the vast majority of houses are sold through the Internet.
Do this instead: While you can and should hold open houses, don’t depend on them too much. Look for Agents who mine for buyers by using the Internet and Social Media.
Bad Habit No. 6: Not following your Agent’s advice
Sure, you no doubt know more about your home than anyone else. But your Real Estate Agent knows more about how to sell it. And your Agent may make some suggestions you might not like to hear, like that you need a new paint job or that the asking price you had in mind needs to be lowered a bit. It’s tempting to take offense or just ignore this advice, but if you do, you could risk seeing your house sit on the market and grow stale.
Do this instead: Listen to your Agent. That doesn’t mean blindly following all advice. But when it comes to pricing, consider the comps your agent presents, not your gut feeling or wishful thinking. Agents buy and sell hundreds of houses in their career; you’ll probably buy and sell a handful in your lifetime. You’re paying for their experience, so follow their advice.
Want advice about selling your home? Contact us today for a free consultation or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE™ email newsletter for articles and tips like these delivered straight to your inbox.
Zillow’s 6 Housing Market Predictions for 2017
Well, as many had been wishing for, 2016 is officially behind us. And as the year came to a close, predictions for the 2017 housing market came pouring in.
It’s hard to say what the new year will bring with the newly-elected President-elect Donald Trump. Zillow points out in its predictions how some of his policies could affect housing next year.
Here are Zillow’s six predictions for 2017:
1. Cities will focus on denser development of smaller homes close to public transit and urban centers.
2. More millennials will become homeowners, driving up the homeownership rate. Millennials are also more racially diverse, so more homeowners will be people of color, reflecting the changing demographics of the United States.
3. Rental affordability will improve as incomes rise and growth in rents slows.
4. Buyers of new homes will have to spend more as builders cover the cost of rising construction wages, driven even higher in 2017 by continued labor shortages (this could be worsened by tougher immigration policies under President-elect Trump).
5. The percentage of people who drive to work will rise for the first time in a decade as homeowners move further into the suburbs seeking affordable housing – putting them further from adequate public transit options.
6. Home values will grow 3.6 percent in 2017, according to more than 100 economic and housing experts surveyed in the latest Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey. National home values have risen 4.8 percent so far in 2016.
Other predictions for next year include this one from Redfin, predicting the fastest real estate market ever, this one from Kroll Bond Rating Agency, this one from Realtor.com and this one from Bank of America.
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6 Reasons To Sell Your Home In 2017
Planning to sell in the new year? Get a head start by listing early.
Being early has its benefits: “The early bird catches the worm” or “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” You get the idea. So if you’re thinking about listing your home for sale in Monmouth County or on the Jersey Shore in 2017 — or if you already know you will — why not do so early, as in January or February? By getting in on the real estate market at the beginning of the year, you could benefit in some unexpected ways. Here are six of them.
1. There’s low inventory
When inventory’s low, it’s usually a great time to put your house on the market. Your new listing could cause buyers to pounce when there’s little competition, especially if your home is in a desirable neighborhood. Research conducted by Trulia revealed that 2016 was the year of low inventory.
2. There’s more urgency
There are plenty of reasons people need to get in a home fast. Many companies transfer employees at the start of a year, for one. Whatever the reason, if you encounter a homebuyer in the dead of winter, they probably need to buy sooner rather than later. And unless you’re in a hot climate, January and February are not the months most people want to be out hitting the streets to browse. Winter buyers often have a sense of urgency — when they find what they’re looking for, they’ll make an offer.
3. Spring starts early in warm markets
If your home is in a warm climate, you could really benefit by listing your home for sale in early spring. “Traditionally, our real estate website has at least double the number of visitors starting the day after Christmas,” says Patrick Parker, Broker/Owner of Patrick Parker Realty.
“While homebuyers may not be personally visiting houses as quickly, they will be looking online. We advise that listing a home earlier helps a home stand out in the market.”
Also, when the weather outside is frightful, retirees and people in the market for a second home seek a more temperate climate.
4. There’s early movement for lower price points
The lower-price-point markets move a little earlier. If you’re a first-time homebuyer and are currently saving in preparation to buy, you might have earmarked that tax refund coming to you for the purpose.
“When these potential buyers get a refund on their taxes, they’ll sometimes use that as a down payment to roll into a purchase,” says Parker. The sooner you turn in your tax return, the sooner you’ll get your refund, usually in fewer than 21 days.
5. There’s a new administration
Speculation and uncertainty abound whenever a new administration takes the helm. If you think the Trump administration will make it tougher for people to buy a home, you might want to sell early in the year.
It is common for people to worry when reforms laid out by the new Republican platform could potentially force buyers to fork over larger down payments. This could be a challenge for many home sellers as the pool of eligible homebuyers begins to shrink. Of course, speculation is just that. But if you believe this to be true, it makes sense to sell your home now.
6. There’s a potential interest rate hike coming
Some people are concerned about rising interest rates this year. If homebuyers think rates will rise, they might buy sooner rather than later.
The interest rates have been very low for a long time, as they begin to tick up, you will start to see consumers’ buying power drop because of the cost to cover mortgage payments. It is all an unknown, but there is some thought that rates could continue to rise in 2017 like they have been doing slightly at the end of 2016.
What tips for selling your home in early 2017 do you have? Share your suggestions on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feed. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
Why the Holidays Are a Good Time to Sell Your House
When it comes to real estate, the ideal time to sell your home often falls in the spring months. After all, many people hunker down during the winter months or are too busy with the holidays to think about purchasing a new home. Not to mention that people like to start shopping in the spring to make sure they are settled in their home before the start of a new school year. But putting your house up for sale around the holidays has its benefits, granted you position your home right. Sure you may not get into a bidding war, but you are going to deal with serious buyers who are ready to pull the trigger.
There’s Less Inventory
Conventional wisdom says people should wait until the spring to get the most from a home sale. But studies have shown that homes listed around the holidays can not only command more money, but can also sell quicker than ones listed in the spring. One of the reasons is there is less competition during the holidays. For a multitude of reasons people won’t put their houses up for sale when the holidays are coming up, and so the ones shopping aren’t going to have dozens of houses to choose from. In the spring, inventory usually picks up, and price wars break out in coveted neighborhoods. But during the holidays, there will be limited choices which means a homeowner can have a higher asking price.
Buyers Are More Serious
Anyone who is shopping for a new home around Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s is undoubtedly going to be a serious buyer. While hitting open houses is a favorite pastime for many Americans, they aren’t going to spend their precious time around the holidays seeing how the other half lives. In the spring, when open houses are a regular occurrence, people may check out homes without a clear plan to buy. If your house is up for sale in the winter and someone is looking at it, chances are that person is serious and is ready to pull the trigger. That can often result in a quicker sales process.
You Can Make the Home Warm and Cozy
The holidays are often a time when people gather around fireplaces, have hot chocolate and make nice smelling cakes and pies. For homeowners who put their house up for sale during the winter months, they can stage their house to give off the comfy and homey vibe that appeals to many home buyers. Some people may argue that showing a house in the winter is hard to do because there’s snow on the ground, the house is drafty and the curb appeal is lacking. But keeping the heat up, having a pie baking in the oven to give off a pleasant smell and keeping the sidewalk and driveway clear of snow and ice can boost a home’s appeal. Not to mention that buyers tend to be more emotional during the holidays and will make decisions based on the feeling a house conjures up. During the spring there is a lot more foot traffic in homes that are up for sale. Buyers may not be able to do a thorough walk-through, may get frustrated because of the number of people looking at it and can leave with a bad feeling about the home.
Timing Is Perfect for Transfers
The end of the year is typically the time when people get notified that they will be moving because of a job transfer. Those people are going to need a house sooner rather than later, and as a result will be hunting for a new home during the holidays. These buyers can’t wait for the spring, which is why listing during the holidays can get the home sold and sold quickly.
Your Neighborhood May Look More Appealing
One of the staples of the holiday months, particularly Christmas, is that many people adorn their homes with festive lights and decorations. That is also true of local communities where lit-up snowflakes and wreaths can be found on lamp poles and up and down the main streets. People purchasing a home during that time may see the neighborhood in a different light and may be more willing to consider an area that they may have been on the fence about.
End-of-Year Tax Breaks
Reducing the tax bill is not the main reason buyers purchase a new home, but it could be the reason serious buyers make a move during the holidays. That’s because if the home sale closes before Dec. 31, buyers can deduct the mortgage interest, property taxes and interest costs of the loan. The tax deductions can be significant and could prompt a home buyer to move during the holidays instead of waiting until the spring.
The Bottom Line
Nobody wants their home to languish on the market nor do they want to have to lower the price they are asking for. And while many fear that will happen if they list their home during the holidays, often that isn’t the case. When you sell your home during the holidays, you will face less competition, more serious buyers and a quicker sales process. It also presents a unique opportunities to create a warm and cozy environment that you can’t have in the spring or summer months.
8 Surprising Factors That Can Affect Your Home’s Value
Besides the obvious factors, there are some quirky elements that can affect your home’s value. Find out what they are.
Surprise! You might know more about real estate than you think. For example, you know that square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, lot size, and location determine home value: A 4,000-square-foot, five-bed, five-bath beachfront in Bradley Beach, NJ, will almost always be worth more than a 2,000-square-foot, two-bed, two-bath home on a quarter-acre lot 20 miles inland.
But those obvious factors aren’t everything you need to calculate your home’s property value estimate. Other, less obvious features can negatively or positively come into play — features you might not have considered.
Here are eight frequently overlooked (and not always fixable) things that, for better or for worse, can impact the value of your home:
1. The Name of Your Street (really!)
People typically prefer the street they live on to have a name versus a number. It’s true nationwide (with the exceptions of New York, NY, and Atlanta, GA, where there is no difference, and Denver, CO, where numbers are favored). According to a study by Trulia, “street” is the least expensive address suffix by price per square foot, and “boulevard” is the most expensive.
2. Your House Number
Ever heard of house numerology? This is the practice of assigning a single-digit number to your home based on its address. Let’s say your address is 1219 Main Street. Add 1 + 2 + 1 + 9 to get 13. Then add 1 + 3. Your house would be 4: good for investments and security but bad for adventure and excitement. While this type of house numerology may be passed off as a superstition, buyers who subscribe to this theory may overlook potential homes because of their numerology calculations. However, whether or not you’re into numerology, house numbers do matter. If your address is 13 (a universally unlucky number), you might choose to price your home slightly less than your neighbor at number 12 did.
3. Sketchy neighbors
The closer you live to your neighbor, the more important it will be for your tastes, habits, and personalities to jive with theirs. In a condo, the last thing a potential buyer wants is to purchase a unit where the neighbors above are noisy or inconsiderate. Owners of single-family homes can thank fastidious neighbors with good taste to increase the values of all nearby homes. But, of course, the opposite is also true: as is the case with a homeowner who had great difficulty selling their home because their next-door neighbor constructed a giant memorial dedicated to Michael Jackson on the front lawn.
4. Mature trees
Tree-huggers and environmentalists unite! It’s common practice for developers to cut down most of (or all!) the trees on a property to build homes. But mature trees almost always enhance property values. Still don’t believe it? Check out the National Tree Benefit Calculator to see the full benefits of planting specific types of trees. If you have the space, make a trip to your local nursery to discuss the best tree options for your home.
5. Crown Molding
If you’ve worked hard to select just the right neutral and serene paint color scheme that will probably attract the most buyers, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you neglect one important element: crown molding. “People love crown moldings,” says Patrick Parker, broker and owner of record of Patrick Parker Realty. “Of course, everyone loves high ceilings too,” he says. Although you can’t do anything about how high your ceilings are, you can put in crown moldings — even with lower ceilings. Just make sure they work with the scale of the room, and don’t veer too far into the trend zone.
6. Yankees Memorabilia
Yankee fans, relax. We’re not picking on just you. Although this anecdote from New Jersey happens to be about the New York baseball team, you could insert any team here. We’ve seen a home wall papered in Yankee memorabilia, even a family room adjourned with baseball themed carpeting. The verdict? Many people were turned off, especially Red Sox fans. If you don’t want to alienate a potential buyer, you might want to stash the fan gear away while your home is on the market.
And Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. If you have any of those establishments close by, typically within a mile, up goes your property’s value. “Homes near Trader Joe’s have increased in value by an average of 40% since purchased,” says Chris Leavitt former star of the TV series Million Dollar Listing. “Nearby Starbucks and Whole Foods Markets also enjoyed double-digit gains on home value.”
8. A Death on the Property
In some states sellers must disclose whether there was a death on the property, which can be a deal breaker for some buyers. On average, once buyers find out there has been a death on the property, two out of five lose interest.
RELATED: Seller Disclosure in New Jersey
There’s even a name for a home someone died in: stigmatized. It refers to a home that has been the site of a murder, suicide, or paranormal activity or haunting. But even if your state doesn’t have a death disclosure requirement, certainly if someone asks, you should fess up. It’s the right thing to do.
Have you discovered an unusual factor while calculating your home’s property value? Share it with us on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, Twitter feed or LinkedIn profile. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.
4 Common (but Terrible) Reasons for Overpricing Your Home
We know, we know—you love your house. The kitchen is the perfect size, your weekly summer barbecues give your neighbors patio envy, and your ’70s-style conversation pit is totally coming back into vogue—as you knew it would.
You’ve seen the comps for your neighborhood, but you just know your home is worth more, so you’re going to list it at a higher price.
HAVEN’T SEEN YOUR COMPS? Request A Free Comparable Market Analysis
This is one of a few reasons why sellers overprice their home, and none are smart. If you price your home too high, it’ll take longer to sell, raising doubts in buyers’ minds about whether there’s something wrong with it, and you’ll probably have to drop the price eventually anyway.
So don’t fall for any of these five common justifications sellers use to inflate the price of their beloved property:
1. You have the Midas touch in decor (you think)
The reason that interiors are often painted white or neutral colors before a sale is that that allows potential buyers to envision what colors would make it their home. Your colorful touches might not be for everyone, and can actually devalue your house.
RELATED: To Sell Your Home Think Like A Buyer
Recently an Agent listed a home for a client whose bathrooms were all sorts of strange colors—olive-green toilets, a purple bathtub, and a pink sink. Agents need to be honest with you at all costs – pun intended. But when it was recommended to the seller a price that factored in the cost of necessary updates, things got a little heated.
The owner was upset and argued that the colorful fixtures added value, because people are tired of the all-white, stale hospital look.
So we tried the seller’s way first, listing it for his desired price. It didn’t sell, and buyers gave feedback that the home was overpriced. After weeks on the market, the seller finally agreed to lower the price. It sold within 2 weeks.
2. You’re nitpicking comps
Comps (or comparable market analysis) are valuable reference points that allow you to compare your home to similar nearby homes in order to price it right. But some sellers place too much value on ultimately negligible differences between their home and the comps.
Recently an Agent received the following feedback from a seller; “My home has a 60-gallon hot water heater; every other home has 40. My deck is 60 feet larger. My den has real barn wood paneling.”
While small features like this might be worth pointing out to potential buyers, they are not going to make or break a deal – and trying to price your home based on the size of your deck is a setup for disappointment. Plus, you might not see the flaws in your home – your deck might be big, but it might also need work.
We don’t want to be a downer; by nature, we see life through rose-colored glasses. Sadly, it can cost you when it comes to selling your home.
3. You’re too focused on your ROI
A house is an investment, and everyone wants a return on their investment. Couple that with emotional attachment, and you’re primed to mark up your home’s value.
We often find Sellers think that their house is worth what they want or need to sell it for, but the harsh reality is that a home is worth whatever a buyer is ready, willing, and able to pay for it.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Your Ultimate Home Sellers Guide
Even in a seller’s market, there’s no guarantee that you’ll make money on your house. And just because you need $500,000 to buy that house in Shark River Hills doesn’t mean you can sell your house for the same amount.
4. You’re imagining you’ll haggle
Perhaps the most common reason people overprice their home is because they’re looking to negotiate.
On paper, it sounds like something you’d see on “Pawn Stars.” You offer up a vintage silver tea set at an inflated price. Rick Harrison offers you 25% of that, but he eventually goes up to 30%.
OK, maybe “Pawn Stars” is a bad example, but you get the idea: You price your house 10% higher, fully expecting a buyer to try to lowball you, netting you the price you wanted all along while the buyer walks away thinking he got a bargain.
It doesn’t work like that in real estate.
It’s much better to price it right and create such interest and demand where buyers are chasing you, versus you chasing the market backward [and] searching for the demand.
RELATED: The Importance of Proper Pricing
So don’t be afraid to price your home fairly, or price it based on your Agent’s advice. This is what will attract buyers and boost the price to where it should be.
Ultimately, everything sells when it’s priced right.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Your Ultimate Home Sellers Guide
Did you recently sell your home? What experience did you have when it came to proper pricing? Are you currently selling? What are your proper pricing observations?
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