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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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.
7 Important Things Home Sellers Often Forget to Do
When you’re selling your home there’s so much to do: find a Real Estate Agent, do touch-ups, get that balky air conditioner fixed, look into staging… It’s no wonder that sometimes things fall between the cracks. Big things. (We’re not pointing fingers, promise!)
Our arsenal of experts—aka real estate agents who have worked with many home sellers—identify the to-do’s that sellers typically overlook. We promise you, these tasks are well worth the time it will take to complete them (which isn’t very long at all).
FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Guide to Selling Your Home
Heed this sound advice, and there’s a good chance selling your house won’t be nearly as stressful as everyone tells you it is.
To-do No. 1: Google your address
Not all sellers scour the Internet to find out what’s being said about their property, but they should. Nearly all buyers – 90% – search online during their hunt for a home, according to the National Association of Realtors. You should be aware of what your online listing looks like, since it will influence the kinds of impression, questions and concerns buyers will have.
For example, Google Maps’ street view of your property may not show improvements that you’ve made, so you’ll want to be sure to include those updates in your listing.
To-do No. 2: Account for improvements and issues
If you’ve owned your home for a while, make a list of all the problems you’ve solved while you’ve lived there. This could include chimney fires, water damage, or a flood in the basement. Whether you solved the problem or not, you should disclose this information to the buyer so you don’t wind up in a lawsuit after the sale. Disclosing “invisible improvements” that you’ve made, like re-grading or adding a French drain system, can also be a great source of comfort for buyers.
To-do No. 3: Check your real estate agent’s references
An agent’s bad behavior or incompetence could cost you time, money, and peace of mind, so it’s well worth taking extra steps to find the best real estate agent for you. Ask friends for recommendations and check online reviews.
RELATED: Read Patrick Parker’s Online Reviews
Check that the Agent’s you’re considering have a current real estate license – with no complaints filed against them. Meet with the Agent and reach out to a few of their references directly.
Real Estate Agents should be happy to provide a number of references for a new client to call. As far as talking to your friends about a Real Estate Agent recommendation or reading online reviews, here are some things to look for:
• Did you have confidence in your Real Estate Agent?
• Do you think he/she had good knowledge of the local market?
• Did your Agent communicate well and keep you informed during the entire transaction?
• Do you think that he/she negotiated well on your behalf?
• Did your Agent have good vendors who could assist you?
• Did your Agent return calls/emails in a timely fashion?
• Would you recommend this person? Why? (Or why not?)
To-do No. 4: Insist on social media marketing
You staged your home beautifully, picked a competitive price, and listed the property, but there’s something else you’ll need to prepare before you’re fully ready to sell – a social media marketing plan. Video tours, floor plans, and photo galleries promoted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are must-dos.
You want to make sure that your Agent is using all avenues to attract the right buyer for your home. Make sure your home has a presence on your Agent’s website, their agency’s website, and is promoted on various sites that will market the home and give information about open houses.
To-do No. 5: Make sure the doorbell rings
Ah, attention to detail. It’s those little cosmetic repairs that could cost you your home sale. If buyers see that you can’t even be bothered to repair a busted doorbell, they’re automatically going to think about what else may need fixing and view the home negatively.
First impressions make all the difference. A well-kept home, starting with the view from the curb, gives the perception that the seller has great pride in the home and has taken good care of it – which translates into less energy and costs for the buyer as they prepare to move in.
To-do No. 6: Clean inside everything
Storage is a huge selling point for homes. So be warned: Buyers are going to poke around inside closets, drawers, cabinets, ovens, refrigerators, and even the dishwasher, whether they’re cleaned or not—so you’d better make sure they are clean.
Spending the money on a service to deep-clean your home will come back to you at least 10 times in your sales price. Even if you’ve swept up and scrubbed all surfaces to a shine, you’re not done until dust, crumbs, and creepy crawlies are cleaned out from within the small spaces too.
To-do No. 7: Clarify which items are not included
You don’t want a buyer to fall in love with your house because of the custom window treatments and then rescind their offer when they find out the curtains aren’t for sale.
The law says that anything bolted to the wall or ceiling goes to the buyer unless specifically excluded in the contract. If you want to take your flat-screen TV, chandelier, or custom pot rack, be sure to label it as soon as the house goes on the market, so that buyers don’t bank on owning that item and wind up disappointed.
Are you a recent seller who with items to add to our to-do list? Are you a buyer with feedback for sellers on how their property could have further won you over? We want to hear from you! Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this one 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.
10 Low-Cost Tweaks to Help Your Home Sell
Many homeowners won’t even consider listing their home, because they can’t afford extensive remodeling to get it ready for sale. But sometimes it’s not the major renovations that buyers notice.
Consider this checklist of cheaper to-do’s before hanging that for-sale sign.
1. Quick-clean the exterior and landscape.
They don’t call it curb appeal for nothing. Check for loose or clogged gutters and broken or missing flashing materials, which help prevent leaks behind the gutters. Cut the lawn and trim the bushes. Make sure the garage doors open and close properly. Wipe down lawn furniture. Fix any dangling shutters.
Estimated costs: Completely replacing gutters can be expensive; replacing just parts is more economical. A 10-foot gutter starts at $6; downspouts start at $8. High-end garage doors cost $1,000, but a decorative garage door hardware kit starts at $19.
2. Make that door (and doorbell) stand out.
Many homeowners don’t come in through the front door, but prospective buyers do. If you’ve ever gone house hunting you know it takes a moment for your Realtor to get inside that lockbox to get the door open. During this time, buyer’s are sizing up the immediate exterior. Fix cracked or peeling doorways with a fresh coat of paint and be sure the bell actually rings.
Estimated costs: Exterior paints start at $30 a gallon; doorbells are $10 and up.
FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Guide to Selling Your House
3. Evaluate every entrance.
It’s not just the front door that will get the once-over. Doors offer a huge bang for the buck visually, so update interior doors or at least replace hinges and knobs. Junky bifolds with double-swing or heavier solid-core doors can also stand to be replaced.
Estimated costs: Bronze door hinges can cost $3; solid-core, unfinished pine interior doors start at $99.
4. Look down.
People walk in and wipe their feet. One of the first things they’ll notice is the condition of the floor, says Goode. Stained carpets, raggedy rugs and scratched floors are fairly easy fixes.
Estimated costs: You can rent a carpet steam cleaner for $60; the cost of area rugs varies significantly.
5. Select the right scent.
Beware the four most dreaded words in real estate: “What is that smell?” Buyers will associate musty odors with mold damage or disrepair, so eliminate any nose agitators. Clean out litter boxes, make sure your animals are bathed, banish the kids’ stinky sports equipment to the basement or garage, and throw out that science experiment in the fridge. Find one scent (or complementing scents) you love and use it throughout the house to avoid scent overload.
Estimated costs: Scented candles can cost $10; plug-in odor eliminators start at $17.
6. Spot treat any blemishes.
Walls are an excellent canvas, but they also clearly display age, dirt, indifference, even foundation issues. Fix any scuff marks, nail holes and paint cracks. Remove all peeling wallpaper and repaint in neutrals to maximize the natural light.
Estimated costs: Spackling paste starts at $18; interior paint costs $28 a gallon and up.
7. Have a place for everything.
If buyers see that your stuff doesn’t have a home, they won’t want your home. Make sure anything that’s not on display — shoes, coats, papers, pots, pans — is tucked away and neatly organized.
When closet space is at a premium, repurpose other areas for storage. Finish the garage walls and floors and add some simple storage to make the room part of the home. This can yield great return on investmet!
Estimated costs: Attractive bins and baskets cost $20 and up; basic shelving systems start at $200.
8. Check the tracks. You may no longer notice that lopsided utensils drawer, but potential buyers will. New cabinetry may be out of the question, but fix bent drawer tracks and slides, replace dangling pulls and tighten screws and handles.
Estimated costs: Basic rail-drawer-track kits start at $3; decorative cabinet knobs start at $4 each.
9. Give the appliances some elbow grease.
Buyers want stoves that shine, not evidence of last week’s tuna casserole. Clean the oven, refrigerator, microwave, sink and any other appliance that will be included in the purchase of the home.
Estimated costs: Most cleaning products start at $4; elbow grease is free.
10. Finish with finishes.
Bathroom gut jobs can be pricey, but replacing finishing elements such as faucets, showerheads, towel racks and toilet paper holders can significantly brighten a room. If you have polished chrome faucets or shower valves, you can pick up any chrome accessories and they will match, unlike satin nickel or oil-rubbed bronze. New shower curtains, towels and mats will also help the room look updated and clean.
Estimated costs: Showerheads can cost $40 and up; bath towels start at $10; faucets are $70 and up.
What tips do you have for sprucing up the home on a budget? Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter feed or on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty HOME ADVICE eNewsletter for articles, tips and guides like this delivered straight to your inbox.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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