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.

Here’s why…

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?

RELATED: Patrick Parker Realty’s Refined Negotiation Strategy

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.

YOUR TURN

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).

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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.

RELATED: The Importance of Curb Appeal When Selling Your New Jersey Home

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.

RELATED: The Custom Marketing Plan to Sell Your Home

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.

RELATED: The Importance of Properly Pricing Your Home

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.

YOUR TURN

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.

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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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How Do You Find a Real Estate Agent?

There are NO standards for Real Estate Agents. GOOGLE every Agent considered and verify everything they say

Hiring a Real Estate Agent is a job interview – someone is going to be responsible for one of the largest transactions in your life. Incredibly, studies consistently show that the majority of buyers and sellers fail to treat Agent selection seriously.

In a field with few to no established performance standards, ridiculous self-aggrandizement and bogus production reporting, how are the qualified and high producing Agents found? In about 15 minutes with Google search and seven direct questions.

Before anything, GOOGLE every New Jersey Real Estate Agent that you are considering. Real Estate has exploded with the internet; any productive Agent understands and embraces this. Examine reviews, their website, articles, social media…they will be your representative. After that, a few simple and very direct questions will narrow the pool. It’s possible Uncle Jack or Aunt Cathy won’t make the cut.

1. Are you a full-time Agent?
This question must be asked because so many Agents are not, Real Estate is a second, third or fourth job. It is impossible to effectively work part time; the speed of transactions, increased legal requirements and fluid market mandate full attention. Society has been conditioned to expect answers quickly, at all times. Agents that can’t or won’t pay attention cost clients money and opportunity.

2. How long have you been actively selling Real Estate and for whom?
Two years of full time work or about 20 personal transactions is a recommended minimum. The skills required for contracts, data collection, negotiation etc., cannot be taught in a class room. Many “discount” firms exist often housing Agents that want to hang their license at a place that doesn’t charge full fees. Research into the firm is as important as that for the Agent.

3. What are your personal production levels over the last three years?
If an Agent can’t live off their earnings, they are not producers. A full-time Agent should have at least 10-12 transactions per year personally completed, not as part of a team, an office or some other entity. Some Agents tie into office or team production – focus on their production only and be certain to verify this.

4. Verify the figure you are provided and request a copy of their report.
Personal stats must be for the Agent only – not a team or office. Request a copy of their personal production; this can be pulled off the MLS or from their Brokerage firm.

5. Is your managing Broker on site at your office and responsible for it?
Many discount firms have “Broker pools” – not specific managing Brokers that guide Agents. When things go bad and that Agent is clueless, will the Broker step up?

6. Please provide five references over the last year that I can call.
This will verify experience with past clients and by keeping the date within a year; it will demonstrate experience in the current market. Call the references and ask questions.

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Also understand the difference between Real Estate Agent references and testimonials vs. reviews. References and testimonials you receive from your prospective next Agent will always present that Agent in the most positive light. Unsolicited reviews, however, are more honest. Websites like Zillow and Trulia are great resources for Jersey Shore Real Estate Agent reviews.

7. Please provide a copy of your resume.
Every Agent likely has an alphabet of nonsensical designations; most are obtained by writing a check. Many Real Estate designations were invented during the crash as a way of generating income for various associations – don’t fall for the nonsense.

These are reasonable, direct questions; others can be added as needed. This type of pre-screening should be completed ahead of any listing appointments or before meaningful meetings begin. Obviously, there are a plethora of additional, more specific questions depending on the circumstances, but a few minutes spent ahead of time will save time and money down the road.

Selection of a Real Estate Agent is arguably the single most important decision a buyer or seller makes. Until consumers demand high standards, the problem of inept and incompetent Real Estate Agents will remain.

YOUR TURN

How did you successfully interview your last Agent? Or, did you fall just short of all due diligence an end up in a nightmare scenario? Sound of on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds, and don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.

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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.

RELATED: Request A Free Comparable Market Analysis

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.

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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

YOUR TURN

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?

Sound of on our Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages and don’t forget to subscribe to the Patrick Parker Realty monthly Newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

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Back in the Real Estate Market: Navigating the New Tech-Centered World

What if someone awakened from a long slumber — and decided to sell their home and buy a new one?  That’s sort of what many empty nesters and other long-term homeowners face today. Many have paid little or no attention to the dramatically altered real estate market.

It’s not just that prices have changed: The entire buying and selling process has been transformed.

mobileIt’s a brave new tech-centered world
Perhaps the biggest change over the past  20 years is that technology has revolutionized the market.  Now, consumers can effortlessly access all sorts of information that used to be mostly proprietary; it was hidden until revealed by industry insiders. Today, information is everywhere and the Internet is the first stop for most potential home buyers.

Buyer’s are capable of knowing everything about the homes they’re interested before they buy.  Information is out there and Buyer’s can come in armed with all sorts of information about prices, taxes, the community and more.

Take one of the thorniest questions that both buyers and sellers used to face; How much should they offer/ask for homes? Uncovering home value used to involve intricate, bespoke examinations of recent sales within a community. Today, buyers and sellers can get a rough estimate with a few keystrokes.

THE PATRICK PARKER REALTY ONLINE HOME PRICING ANALYSIS

In addition, Broker websites – like Patrick Parker Realty – add to the wealth of information online about the properties. They also provide advice and explanations on all different aspects of buying and selling; examples:

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Buyers Guide

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Sellers Guide

Buyers can… get a good sense of the market before you begin to shop. Then, take all that knowledge and work with an agent who has an intimate understanding of the local market.

Sellers can… use real estate sites to come to a better idea of how much their homes are worth, what they’re likely to be worth in the future, and what they need to do to maximize their sale price.

RELATED: How to Sell At Top Dollar in the Quickest Timeframe

Real estate websites have become increasingly content rich, the Patrick Parker Realty Blog being just one example.

Just a few recent developments; videos shot from drones for aerial looks at how homes fit into the landscape and community; 3-D walk-throughs that enable users to take virtual home tours where they can poke around corners and see what’s behind the sofas; and apps that provide real-time access to activity anywhere within a community.

VIEW: Sample Patrick Parker Realty Aerial Drone Video

Buyers can… access price or tax history and inspection information, find out what the local schools are like, neighborhood crime rates, and the home’s proximity to parks, shops, restaurants, and cultural amenities.

Sellers can… access their listing pages and update home facts. They can go online to find out the best time to sell their property in their area. After its listed they can learn how many buyers have looked at their property and how that compares to other, similar homes.

RELATED: Request a Complimentary In-Home Comparative Market Analysis

All-told, consumers are much more empowered, much more in charge of the buying and selling experience. They have information at their fingertips that can make them much more prepared and discerning sellers and buyers.

YOUR TURN

Are you back in the market?  What are your favorite online destinations to research and find information?

Sound of on our Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages and don’t forget to subscribe to the Patrick Parker Realty monthly Newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

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All Signs A Go For A Strong Selling Season

 

2016-home-sales-strong-new-jerseyThe number of homes that in April went under contract to be sold climbed to the highest level in over a decade, a sign the housing market is gaining traction and supported by steady job creation and historically low interest rates.

Pending sales of previously owned homes, reflecting contract signings, rose 5.1% last month from March said the National Association of Realtors, handily exceeding the 0.7% rise expected by economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.

FREE DOWNLOAD: How to Put Your Home on The Market and Attract Buyers Today

In addition, Pending sales in April rose 4.6% compared with a year earlier, marking the 20th consecutive month of year-over-year gains. Pending sales provide a more up-to-date assessment of the housing market than other measures because they are based on contract signings, the earliest stage of the sales process.

RELATED: Request A Free Comparable Market Analysis

Home Sales Climb to Highest Level in a Decade!
The sales index climbed to 116.3, the highest level since February 2006. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which the NAR considers a “normal,” or balanced, market for the current U.S. population.

The U.S. housing-market activity continues to improve, and all indications thus far point to a strong spring selling season.

Steady demand for housing has tightened supply and pushed up, but simultaneous low mortgage rates are not deterring buyers.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Your Ultimate Home Selling Guide

YOUR TURN

Thinking of selling this season?  Ask us why now is the perfect time!

Sound of on our Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages and don’t forget to subscribe to the Patrick Parker Realty monthly Newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

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Five Renovations that Increase the Value of Your Home

According to HGTV, “Home improvement projects cost about 20 to 25 cents on the dollar. The other 75 to 80 cents spent go directly back into the home through increased value.”

There are some projects, however, that deliver the greatest return on investment.

Here are five renovations that add the greatest value to your home:

add-value-to-your-home-home-improvement

Kitchen
Because the kitchen is still considered the heart of the home, it’s the primary area where people seek value in a remodel. When a buyer is walking through a prospective home, the kitchen is generally the first destination on their agenda because families still spend a lot of their time there. A variety of renovation opportunities can increase the home’s value, with projects that work for any budget.

The easiest and most apparent upgrades in kitchens are for countertops and appliances; buyers almost always expect granite countertops in today’s housing market, and there are a number of alternatives to granite slab, such as granite tiles or soapstone, if slab simply isn’t an option. Likewise, stainless-steel appliances add instant value because they won’t ever go out of style due to the neutral nature of their finished look.

A larger project to consider is custom-built, solid-wood cabinetry. If the current cabinets in your kitchen are outdated and made from materials such as melamine, buyers will likely see a project they will need to take on in the future. Determine your budget and decide if extra features, such as glass cut-outs and soft-close hinges, are necessary for your renovation.

In addition, if you have a half or whole wall that breaks up the continuity of the floor plan, consider removing it to open up the space to the living area. Open floor plans are always in style, and they can make the space appear bigger.

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Bathroom
The second most important area for buyers is the bathrooms. Bathrooms are often an obvious target for renovations because they provide value easily without requiring extensive costs. Simply cleaning the space or updating it with a fresh coat of semi-gloss paint and some new grout can make a difference, so there you really have no reason not to consider customizing it.

For more involved renovations, buyers want to see updated vanities, tile or stone features and flooring, and floating glass or walk-in showers if the space can accommodate them. Be sure to keep at least one bathtub in the house; families with children require them for bath time. If a shower–bath combo fixture is the only thing that fits, accent it with unique shower curtains that fit the style of the home.

bathroom-remodel

Flooring
The floors of a house are another area that catch the buyers’ eye because they take up most of the space. Outdated tiles or dingy carpeting, wood that needs refinishing, or noticeable vinyl flooring are likely to be noticed – and red-flagged in a buyer’s mind – as something they’ll have to update after purchasing the home. Simple updates to important rooms can make a big difference in creating a sense of value.

Depending on your budget and style, you can choose from multiple ways to renovate floors. If wood flooring is the best fit for an area, options range from new or refurbished solid wood to engineered hardwood, which looks similar to solid wood but holds up better with time. The same goes for carpet, the pricing for which varies depending on the materials and thickness of padding you choose.

TIP: If you already have solid wood floors but they’re scratched or look lackluster, try refinishing them before you consider a total replacement.

The Bones
If the structural components of your home aren’t in good condition, your value will plummet. An appraiser will mark off major value points if anything is out of order, and buyers are likely to be scared off by a house that isn’t in certified working order. It’s a potential hazard to their health and safety, and the renovation project will be their responsibility after they purchase the home. In addition, if the inspector marks these areas on their checklist, you may have to fix the issues before the buyer agrees to close or risk legally disclosing the issues publicly in the future.

RELATED: The Benefits of An Advance Home Inspection

Because it’s still a buyer’s market, anything that’s not in the best isn’t likely to garner the same attention. For resale purposes, it’s critical that you have everything in working order. Realistically, everything already should be; you shouldn’t be living somewhere with faulty structuring, and neither should a future owner.

RELATED: To Sell Your Home Think Like A Buyer

TIP: If you find issues with the home and have to replace structural pieces, consider going with an eco-friendly option; buyers are becoming conscious of the trend, and it saves money and reduces waste in the long run. Check out New Home Source’s review of green building features to determine which ones will add the most value to your home.

Curb Appeal
A real estate book is always judged by its cover; before a buyer can see any of the high-value upgrades you’ve made to the interior of your home, they have to like its exterior. If the outside space isn’t updated and clean, potential buyers may not ever step inside. Simply put, if it looks like you don’t care about the outside of the home, it’s going to seem like you don’t care about the inside, either.

Updating your home’s curb appeal can as simple as cleaning things up a bit and keeping vegetation from getting overgrown and unkempt, or it can be as large and dramatic as replacing the lawn and xeriscaping with native, drought-ready plants.

Your home’s exterior is equally as important as your yard; fresh paint and clean windows can go a long way, and installing a new statement door is a guaranteed booster. If the outside looks organized and taken care of, buyers will have a sense of care and value – even if you invested minimal amounts of time and money.

If you have the space for a deck or porch, adding one is almost a guarantee that you will get your money back in the form of increased value. It’s important to have some sort of shaded structure that protects the front door – especially in areas with heavy weather and sun – so adding anything to a bare front will help. Manicured backyards are always a plus for buyers, even if they won’t use them. Regardless of your climate or the style of your home, decks and porches are features worth adding.

Runner Up
Realtors are often split on lighting renovation projects in terms of their added value; some say buyers love seeing built-in recess lighting and updated fixtures, but others claim that doing anything more than adding a dimmer to current lights is a wasted effort because buyers will probably customize the features anyway.

RELATED: Add Security and Serenity with the Outdoor Lighting Ideas

Time Sensitive
In the current real estate market, open floor plans are hot; if you want to sell soon, look for areas in your home where you can remove walls that aren’t load-bearing or take out clunky kitchen islands that don’t add to the room’s appeal. Buyers want a wide-open floor plan, and doing some of the work yourself isn’t likely to set you back too much.

Additional Tip for Today’s Sellers
Do your best to keep the value of the home in the same range as the other homes in the neighborhood; at first glance, it might seem like a good thing to out-value surrounding homes, but buyers are often wary of a house that’s too valuable to match its surroundings because it seems out of place.

FREE DOWNLOAD: How to Put Your Home on The Market and Attract Buyers Today

If the resell value is the only reason you’re renovating, it’s a good idea to conform to certain guidelines for each area of your home. If the changes are just for you and you’re only thinking about your selling ability in the future, have some fun and do it your way. Styles will always change, and if you love the updates now, they won’t represent wasted effort.

RELATED: Get A Complimentary Home Market Analysis

YOUR TURN

Did you recently sell? What improvements to your home did you find yield the best return on investment?

Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty email newsletter for articles like these delivered straight to your inbox!

 

 

Photos source: HGTV

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Economists’ Top Tips for Selling a Home in 2016

If you’re planning to sell your house this year, well, you’re in luck.

“The 2016 housing market is forecasted to be mainly a seller’s market, filled with increasing home prices, relatively low inventory, and fierce competition between buyers,” says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com®.

But you could still make missteps on the way to the bank. Yes, your house will likely sell, but when?

It’s truly about understanding the ins and outs of the local market so you can optimize the price of your home and close quickly.

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Here is an analysis of market trends of top tips for homeowners looking to sell in 2016:

1. Price your home to the market
The most important factor in selling your home quickly is getting the price right. And getting the price right the first time. Consulting with an Agent and getting a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) is the absolute first step to take.

Sellers who work with a local Realtor to optimize the price of their home based on its unique features and surrounding neighborhood are often able to receive the highest price for their market and sell more quickly.

RELATED: Get a Free Comparative Market Analysis Online Now!

In 2016, prices are expected to increase nationally 3% year over year. Local price changes are anticipated to be more dramatic but it is important to understand what is true of your own neighborhood. This is why a CMA is so important.

Making the error of going for a price that’s well above the market price is a recipe for being let down and potentially not selling the home. A home that sits on the market eventually will turn off buyers, who will suspect that something is wrong with it.

Tips for selling your home

RELATED: The Importance of Proper Pricing When Selling Your Home

2. List during peak season
Unlike buyers, who want to minimize competition, sellers benefit from demand. Prime home-buying season begins in April and reaches its peak in June. Sellers who list their home during the prime spring and summer months benefit from a larger population of buyers and potential bidding wars, which often result in higher prices and faster closings.

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Home Sellers Guide for 2016

3. Offer incentives
This one seems counter-intuitive, given what we’ve said about a seller’s market, but… last year – the best for U.S. home sales in nearly a decade – 37% of all sellers offered incentives to attract buyers.

The nature of this market is that you’re going to have more first-time buyers, who are more dependent on financing. Getting a loan is one thing; coming up with a chunk of cash for closing costs, on top of the down payment, is another.

If you’re a seller and you’re able to offer some money toward closing costs, you’re actually making it easier on that buyer, and they might be more willing to give you the full asking price or more! You could end up with a faster sale and bigger profit.

RELATED: Speak to a Patrick Parker Realty Expert About Incentives When Selling

YOUR TURN

Are you preparing to sell? Which of the above tips excite you most?

RELATED: Get a Free Comparative Market Analysis Online Now!

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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20 Best Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent… and the Answers You Want to Hear

new-jersey-real-estate-monmouth-county-agent
Looking to hire a real estate agent to sell your home?  Play 20 Questions.

Ask these questions of real estate agents before you hire one. Compare as many agents as you need until you feel comfortable and confident with one:

1. Do you work full or part-time as a real estate agent?

Full-time agents are likely to give you (and your potential home buyers) more time and attention.

2. How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood in the past year or two?

Ideally, you want someone with a track record in your neighborhood and preferably in your price range. If you live in a town that has different property types (e.g. co-op, condo) see how much experience they have selling what you have.

The more stats and data the agent is willing to provide (houses sold, prices, average sale to list price ratio, average days on the market, etc.), the more confident they are in sharing their expertise and their ability to sell your home.

3. How many sellers are you representing now?

This can cut two ways; a busy agent may be too busy and an agent with no clients may have more time to market your home. You should try to read the situation and consider how they answer your other questions.

4. What aspects of the transaction will you personally handle and which will be delegated to others?

You want to know the extent of your agent’s work and involvement in the process. While some delegate – and that’s not necessarily bad – others are hands-on and take you through the process from beginning to end.

This question ultimately tests the agent’s knowledge of the process; marketing/advertising / signage, open houses, negotiation of price and terms, qualification of buyers, contract negotiation, title, home inspections, closing.

5. Are your fees negotiable?

Most real estate agent compensation is negotiable. There are many ways to go, from a flat fee to a traditional percentage of the sales price. Business models are continually evolving. If you are the creative type and have an idea on compensation, run it by the agent.

6. At what price do you think my house will sell in the current market? And why?

This will give you an understanding of the agent’s knowledge of the market and their thought process in pricing your home, the most important decision you’ll have to make.

An experienced Realtor will refer to the recent market data, the current pool of comparable homes on the market, and your home’s condition and amenities in giving you an answer. If they rely solely on a value based on Zillow or any computer generated home value … run!

RELATED: The Importance of Proper Pricing When Selling Your Home

7. Can you give me a written CMA and a list of homes currently on the market?

All agents should give you a written comparative market analysis (CMA). The detail (or lack thereof) of the report will tell you a lot about the agent and their knowledge of the market. If there are comps in there you know are crappy, play it cool and ask the agent why so-and-so’s home is comparable. Their answer will be revealing.

RELATED: Request a Complimentary Comparative Market Analysis

8. What is your advertising and marketing plan for my house?

A blend of online and offline marketing will reach a broader spectrum of buyers. Know the manner and frequency of advertising and any open houses. The issue of open houses is hotly debated by professionals, many who feel they do not produce buyers. There should at least be brokers’ open.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Getting Your Home Sold! Your 25-Point Marketing Plan

Photos: The more photos a listing has, the more attention the home will get. Ask how many will be taken and by whom. A professional photographer is preferable. There is an ongoing debate whether video is necessary for a listing to sell. A video of the home and/or neighborhood, done by a professional videographer will make your home stand out – so ask.

Ask to see sample marketing materials. All agents will list your home in the local MLS and on their website (make sure they have one) so that’s a given. You want to know what else will be done. Compare it to the marketing plan and materials of other agents.

9. How long must I list my house with you?

Most consumer experts say a three month or less listing period is preferable. In this market, that may not be enough time to evaluate the abilities of your agent but you can always renew the listing agreement. If you have the free right to cancel the listing agreement (if you are unhappy with the agent), the term is not that important.

10. How long have you been a real estate agent?

Generally an agent with at least four years’ experience shows a dedication to the profession and an ample opportunity to acquire a good sense of the market. As far as education goes, by law, agents are required to take classes to keep their license in good standing — so look for education that goes above and beyond their minimum requirements. Ask what kind of ongoing coaching they receive in-house at their brokerage.

11. Is your real estate license in good standing and have you ever been subject to a client complaint?

There are websites to check an agent’s license. Ask the agent to provide it to you.

TIP: Check the New Jersey Real Estate License Search

Enter the name or the agent and select “Actively Licensed” from the Select License Status dropdown menu. You should not need Ref Number or License Type. If you liked the agent you met with but were unable to find them, ask why, it may be an issue with the full name they are licensed under, or a Ref Number of License Type can help.

12. Can you provide me the names and phone numbers of past clients as references?

Ask if any of the references are relatives. Check out the references.

TIP: Another option is to check New Jersey Real Estate Agent Reviews on sites such as Zillow

These are often unsolicited, unbiased and show a client’s interest in sharing their experience with others… this says a lot about that experience.

13. Do you work with stagers or will you stage my home?

In this market, your house has to be dressed to sell. Home staging truly is a must. It is one thing to take a listing and market it and quite another to sell it. Ask the agent to make suggestions to improve the salability of your home – it will probably involve your kitchen and baths, the most common areas of buyer interest and generally the best home improvement return on investment (ROI).

Don’t be offended if an agent asks you to remove personal items. We know it is your home, we know these items are sentimental, but you really want prospective buyers to see themselves in your home. And your home in their future. Their future does not include the family photos you are so proud of. It is hard, but try and think like the buyer on this one.

RELATED: The Importance of Home Staging

14. How often will you communicate with me?

Ideally, your Realtor should communicate with you regularly, updating you with any new information/concerns. They must inform you of all offers. They should have email and be reachable most of the time should you have a question or concern. Ask when they are not reachable.

Another good question to ask is their preferred communication method. Everybody has one, even you. Perhaps you’ll get a quicker response via text than you will via email. It is helpful to know these things.

15. Why should I hire you over your competition?

The agent should have a ready answer. Most sellers are looking for a real estate agent who is:

– Honest
– Experienced in the local market
– Excellent negotiators
– Readily available by phone or e-mail
– Good communicators
– Quick to return calls or emails
– Friendly
– Analytical
– Successful in getting results

16. May I see the documents I will have to sign?

These should include, of course, the listing agreement and sales contract. If the listing agreement does not have a cancellation clause, ask if you can cancel if you are unhappy with the services. Again, if you have the free right to cancel, the length of the listing agreement does not matter much. Read all documents and ask questions if you don’t understand anything. There are several types of listing agreements. Like any legal document, you can run it by an attorney.

17. What will be my closing costs?

A feel for closing costs helps sellers understand the process more completely. And understanding removes anxiety.

RELATED: How Does the Closing Process Work?

18. Can you explain the process to me?

This will give you all the steps involved in selling a home and why an agent is a valuable expert to have on your side.

RELATED: The Home Selling Process

19. Do you have a website and/or blog?

Virtually all agents have a website. Visit it to get a sense of the agent and the brand. Not many agents have blogs – though if you’re reading this you know Patrick Parker Realty does. Visit and read Real Estate Blog Posts. You will not only get a feel for the expertise of the Agent and their team, but blogging is a critical aspect to overall marketing these days… content of value pulls qualified buyers inward toward your Listing!

RELATED: Patrick Parker Realty Taking Marketing to the Next Level with Innovative Content Strategy

20. What haven’t I asked you that I need to know?

This catch-all can prevent surprises later on.

Your Turn

What apartment decorating and rental rules have you broken? Sound off on our Facebook or Twitter pages and don’t forget to sign up for our monthly Patrick Parker Realty eNewsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox!


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