Selling Your Home

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Selling Your Home When Facing Foreclosure

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Looming foreclosures can leave you feeling helpless. However, it is still possible to sell your home and avoid the foreclosure, if you can move quickly enough. Of course, trying to sell a home while racing against the clock is never easy. But don’t worry: there are ways to get aggressive in selling your home quickly and for a reasonable price.

Of course, the first order of business is to price your home correctly. This means not trying to eek out every extra dollar of your home. When you’re looking to move a home on the market quickly, you’re going to need to under-price the competition considerably. At the point of facing foreclosure, you just need to take what you can get, especially if the home is perfectly fine and is comparable to other homes on the market.

However, you want to make sure that you get a real idea of what your home is worth, so that you’re not selling yourself short. Your real estate professional can help you with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), which will outline recently sold properties that are similar to yours, while also comparing your property to those that are still in pending sales, and others still currently on the market. Some experts will suggest pricing your home 10% below the price of the most recently sold home in your neighborhood.

The next thing to do is communicate with your lender. During a foreclosure, you will need to get the go-ahead from your lender in deciding how low you realistically you can sell the home. Ask your lender to give you some indication of how low of a sale price they will accept. If you are owing more than your home is worth, it may be best to complete a short sale application with your lender.

Even in the face of foreclosure, you can still sell your home quickly and avoid the black mark of foreclosure on your credit report. While it may be hard to accept many thousands of dollars less than what you paid for your home, your credit report will thank you, and you will be better off in the long run.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing Your Home for Sale

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When preparing your home for a sale, it is incredibly important that you stage your house as soon as possible. You never want to wait until the last minute, because you want to make sure you’re one-hundred percent prepared. To help you out, here are some suggestions to help avoid common mistakes that home-sellers often make.

1) Street Appeal

One of the most important things to any potential home buyer is the house’s street appeal. If you take a picture of your house and it doesn’t look a house that you would want to buy, what could make it better? We can help you with that.

In any case, there is a great deal of value in having a freshly mowed lawn, trimmed shrubbery, and an otherwise decent-looking exterior, especially from the front. Also, any minor exterior maintenance issues that can be fixed at a relatively low cost should be taken care of as soon as possible.

2) Never Overlook Clutter, Your Potential Buyers Will Not!

Waiting too long to deal with clutter is a definitely no-no. Having things organized and clean is quite necessary to best position your house for sale. You never want to be embarrassed to show a particular room because it was too messy for presentation.

3) Personal Things Must Go

Any personal photos or other items should not be present at an open house. Also, anything related to politics or religion need to be out of sight during any open houses, as well. Even if you wouldn’t think your personal preferences should hurt the value of your house, they can in the eyes of prospective buyers.

4) No Kids and Pets Allowed

When you are scheduling an open house, be sure to have the kids away for the duration of the presentation. If you have any pets, make sure you have somewhere for them to go, especially birds, cats, and dogs. You do not want to have any distractions, and pets can definitely become distractions. Also, hide away any pet-related paraphernalia, including litter boxes and food dishes. Aquariums are okay, but make sure they look good, as well.

5) Let Your Agent Do the Work

As your REALTOR, we’re here to do everything we can to sell your house. During the open house, we suggest that you should be as far away as possible. Go on a walk or get some errands done. Let your trusted and trained real estate agent do the selling for you while you get on with your life. While you may feel that you’re the best one to answer certain questions, it’s been found that prospective buyers oftentimes would much rather ask the questions to an agent than the current homeowner.

Essentially, the best thing you can do in trying to sell your home is to make our job as easy as possible. By setting the stage as if no one has even lived there yet, it makes it easy for us as the realtor to do the rest of the work for you. We will be going into more detail about how to best prepare your home for sale in upcoming blog posts. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!

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How to Avoid 4 Common Mistakes When Selling Your Home

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Selling your home can be a daunting process. Doing your homework thoroughly and having expert advice are the best ways to guarantee a smooth real estate transaction. Here are 4 common mistakes for home sellers and how to avoid them.

1) Overpricing the property

Don’t: Some people will overprice their property just to see if anyone will bite. This “just because” strategy really doesn’t work if you can’t back up the reason for why you’re pricing your home above what the market is currently bearing, unless you’re adding in extras that other homes wouldn’t offer. Also, some home sellers believe that they can price their home using an automated software program. While the number that a program like this might give you could be reasonable, it’s not necessarily the best price – and in fact, could be well above or even well-below what your asking price should be.

Do: The best thing to do when pricing your home is to call on a real estate professional, preferably a REALTOR, to help you research the local market and come up with the best number for your situation. It is also important to ask why they came upon that number, and how you might even be able to improve upon that number with the proper staging or cost-effective home improvements.

 

2) Not having the property ready to list.

Don’t: The worst thing you can do is put on rose-colored glasses and think that your home is fine just the way it is. Some people don’t probably prepare for home showings. If your home does not look its absolute best, most sellers will be turned off and never offer.

Do: Bring in a professional REALTORS, someone who has been involved in probably hundreds of real estate transactions, to help you decide what preparations to make for a home showing. Your professional may suggest hiring a professional stager, but you could be surprised about the very minor things you could do yourself to make your property ready for showing. We have a guide for the home staging tips that net you the most return on investment at time of sale for your perusal.

 

3) Hiring a Realtor with a Lack of Advanced Marketing Strategies

Don’t: Having a sign in your front yard and even using the Multiple Listing Service that many real estate agents provide is not necessarily enough.

Do: First of all, you want to have a presentable sign in the yard. Having a well-known agency such as REMAX on the sign certainly helps your cause, as well. But again, the sign is not enough. With over 90 percent today’s home-buyers researching online, it’s important to have someone that can market your home in places beyond just the MLS. You’ll want to share your home on social media and there are other places on the web to share real estate listings, as well. The more eyeballs you can put your home in front of, the better chance that you will have the ability to get the best offers from the best possible buyers.

 

4) Hiring a Disorganized Real Estate Agent With No Process or Proven Track Record

Don’t: Some people will hire their friends and relatives in trying to help them sell their home. Even if you have friends or family that have worked in real estate, don’t simply assume that they’re going to do a good job. You definitely do not want to avoid asking the tough questions, such as how many homes they’ve actually sold or how they plan to go about marketing your home.

Do: Ask your REALTOR how they keep themselves organized. Are they just good at selling real estate, but when it comes to paperwork, he or she is a living nightmare? Does your REALTOR have an assistant or a marketing department to help sell your home? Ask them about any failures your REALTOR has had. Why was that transaction ultimately a failure and what would they do differently to avoid such a failure in the future? Also, as with any professional you hire in life, you should always ask for referrals.

For more information on how to best go about selling your Metrowest Massachusetts home, contact us for a one-on-one, no-hassle consultation. Also, check out the many articles on our blog. We have all sorts of handy information for your reference. Hopefully, we can help you avoid the common pitfalls that often come with home selling and get the best price and the fastest sale possible for your home.

Photo credit: Pixabay, Public Domain

Advantages of Using Multiple Listing Services to Sell Your Home

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While these days there are plenty of options to sell your home, using the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) offered by many REALTORS is still the best option. While for-sale-by-owner sites like Trulia and Zillow are doing quite well, some home sellers find that their homes are not moving nearly as quickly or gaining the offers that they were expecting. With a Multiple Listing Service, your home is being put in front of an ever wider audience, giving you a wide range of benefits that listing your home yourself doesn’t have.

Listing Your Home with MLS

Not every REALTOR is affiliated with the MLS service. However, for example, all RE/MAX agents are active members. When you list your home with any RE/MAX agent, your home will be added to the MLS. Once the details of your home are in the system, your agent along with other agents in the metro area can match your home to one of their buyers for whom it will fit their needs.

The greatest advantage of listing your home with the MLS is that you don’t have to worry about multiple listings as you would in a for-sale-by-owner situation. You only ever have to deal with your one agent. That agent will also be fielding any questions for you, so that you can focus on other things. With the for-sale-by-owner sites, you will have to answer questions, some of which you may not be as well able to answer. Having the agent dealing with that means that you’ve been asked the questions that the REALTOR will likely need to answer from prospective buyers.

MLS is Offered at Absolutely No Cost to You!

How much does using the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) cost you? Absolutely nothing! Not only do you get the expert advice and experience of your real estate agent, but you get the support of their entire real estate network, as well. Plus, you have your home in front of more eyeballs and you don’t have to field the tough questions.

How does the MLS help buyers?

The MLS also makes house-hunting easier for prospective buyers. Because your agent has access to a wide range of homes that those in his or her network also have for sale, the range of homes a buyer has to choose from is quite large. An agent will ask a buyer specifics about the home that is being sought out, and be able to search the MLS for homes that meet those criteria.

Also working with an agent means that buyers are able to view homes more quickly as they will be able to set up appointments far more easily than in most for-sale-by-owner situations.

Are there any cons to the MLS?

As a home seller, there really aren’t too many cons. But as a home-buyer, because the homes being viewed on the MLS are being seen by such a wide range of people, the competition for those homes becomes rather intense. Obviously, this is great for home sellers, especially if their home has been staged properly, because well-staged homes will often sell rather quickly and often very close to asking price when listed on MLS. But as a buyer, you have to act quickly as those homes can tend to go quite quickly.

The problem with “pocket” listings, as listings that aren’t on MLS have come to be called, is that only about 10 to 15 percent of homes on today’s market are listed that way. So you’re not going to have the selection that you would as a home buyer on the MLS. While a well-made “pocket” listing could easily outperform other “pocket” listings, as a home-seller you’re still not getting the same reach and potentially missing your best buyers. You then also have to field your own questions and not have the omnipresent advice of a real estate agent on your transaction.

That being said, it is fairly clear that the pros of using the MLS far outweigh the cons as a seller. As a home-buyer, also, it’s important to consider that homes on the MLS will be represented by experts where as those in “pocket” listings may have unintentionally (or intentionally) left out important details that would greatly impact the value of the home being sold. You will not run into that problem as a home-buyer on the MLS, plus as a seller, all of the pertinent questions will have been answered or will be answered if one that hadn’t come up arises. It’s protection for all parties involved.

If you want to sell your home quickly and for the right price, it makes the most sense to hire a knowledgeable REALTOR, preferably one who has access to the MLS service. Sell My Metrowest Home has been using the MLS system for quite some time now with great success. If you’re looking to sell a home in Metrowest Massachusetts, please contact us. Likewise, if you’re looking to purchase a home in Metrowest MA, we have quite a selection to choose from!

The advantages of using the MLS are quite clear. We hope that you will consider using the service in your search for a home, or a buyer for your home.

Home Staging: Sell Your Home Quickly and at a Higher Price

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With 90% of today’s home buyers researching homes online before they ever look at them in person, it’s more important to ever to stage the scene for the potential home buyer. People researching online have far higher expectations of what they mean to find when they visit a home that tickled their fancy from what they had seen online. Obviously, making a strong impression online is extremely important, with good photography and properly staged rooms for the eventual visit. But what are the real benefits when it comes to final sale price and how long your home stays on the market?

It seems that the numbers are a bit all over the place as far as statistics are concerned. But the return on investment, no matter whose numbers you consider, is definitely well worth the time.

Staged Homes Sell Twice as Quickly?

The Real Estate Staging Association found in controlled tests involving the sale of identical homes those professionally staged vs those not were not staged, non-staged homes took an average of over 100 days, whereas the staged homes sold in an average of 45 days. They also estimate that only one out of ten potential home buyers can actually properly estimate the true potential of a home, meaning that 9 out of 10 of those who visit a home will not be able to look past the simplest imperfections, dirt, or clutter.

A 2011 Home Gain survey found that staged homes spent about 83% less time on the market than non-staged homes. Also, a Coldwell Banker survey of 2,800 properties found that staged homes sold in about the half the time of non-staged homes. While these numbers are all a bit different, as the samples were certainly not the same, you can pretty much count on a staged home taking approximately half of the time that a non-staged home would.

Return on Investment for Staging

Home Gain has found that sellers spending at least $500 on their staging efforts often recovered as much as 350% of their initial investment at time of sale. That means for about every $500 spent you’re getting somewhere around a $1500-1750 return on investment. But in a 2009 Home Gain survey of over 2,000 Realtors, home staging could provide as high as a nearly 600% return on investment. That’s about a $3000 return on investment for a few hundred dollars put into staging.

A 2011 Home Gain found these were the elements of staging that provided the greatest returns on investment at time of sale:

  1. Clean and declutter: 872%
  2. Lighten & brighten: 572%
  3. Landscaping (both front and back): 473%
  4. Paint interior: 250%
  5. Update kitchen: 237%
  6. Update bathroom: 172%

It really isn’t surprising that cleaning and decluttering would have that great of an impact, honestly. Also what they mean about lightening and brightening is to make sure there aren’t a bunch of dark rooms – turning on all of the lights during showings goes a long way to making the home look even more appealing. The landscaping, especially for curb appeal, is another fairly obvious element of staging – something you should do anyway, especially if you live in a higher-end neighborhood.

It is a bit surprising that the interior painting and kitchen and bathroom updates don’t have more of an impact on staging return on investment, but they have benefits in final sale price in other ways.

There was also a survey by Duke University that rated the importance of certain aspects of home staging on a scale of 1 to 7. Here are the ones that ranked with at least a six.

  1. Remove personal items: 6.5
  2. Use rooms for intended purposes: 6.49
  3. Remove evidence of pets: 6.48
  4. Turn on all the lights during showings: 6.39
  5. Show homes furnished (as opposed to empty): 6.39
  6. Remove personal photographs: 6.02

These all seem like common sense for stagings, but there are plenty of people that don’t do one or more of those things. Also, their survey found that having cookies baking during showings is too cliche and that scented candles may make visitors believe that you’re using them to hide something. If you do want to hide unseemly odors, the use of battery-powered candles with subtle scents is perfectly okay.

Staging Your Home Yourself vs Using a Staging Professional

There are certainly quite a few aspects of staging a home that can easily be done yourself, especially the cleaning and decluttering aspects. But since the statistics do find that the return on investment for staging is greatly worth the expense, hiring a professional to give you their advice and assistance is well worth the cost. The real benefit to staging is especially in moving your home on the market in half of the time, and any extra money on the final sale price is a bonus. It is, of course, extremely likely that the more potential online home seekers you impress, the higher your offers are going to be, and more plentiful. So from the numbers, while there are some disparities in the actual monetary return on investment, you’re going to sell your home about twice as quickly and get far better results. Heck, with the right staging, you may even be able to raise your asking price!

We would recommend seeking out staging assistance before putting your home on the market. You may never know just how much more you’ll get for your home with professional staging assistance. But even if you don’t have it in your budget to hire a pro, just cleaning, decluttering and doing as many of the other things that the Home Gain and Duke University surveys recommend, you’re well on your way to having your home perform above average on the market.

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5 Ways to Make Sure Your Home Sells

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Couldn’t sell your house last year? You’re not alone. The real estate market is finally starting to recover, but many people are still having difficulty selling their homes. A recent article in the New York Times states that there is still a lack of demand throughout the country. Fortunately, it is still possible to sell your house if you take the right steps.

We’d like to help. So, here are the 5 biggest reasons that you aren’t receiving more bids on your property, and how you can solve them.

1. Your Price is Too High

Overpricing is one of the biggest reasons that people have difficulty selling their homes. The National Association of Realtors states that a house may be overpriced if the seller hasn’t received any bids within 30 days.

You will want to lower your price if you are not receiving any offers. Pat Maddock, a Realtor for Coldwell Banker Bain said that buyers are reluctant to make a lower offer and may think that there is something wrong with your house if it has been on the market for a while.

2. Focus on the Wrong Improvements

Many sellers feel that they need to fix every problem that they find with their house. They may start making some improvements, but quickly realize that they don’t have the budget to fix everything. They may even find that the most important problems haven’t been resolved.

You need to consider the factors that potential home-buyers will be considering the most. Buyers are most concerned with kitchens and bathrooms, so these should be your biggest priorities. Don’t worry about fixing problems with your pool, because only about 20% of home buyers are looking for a house with a pool.

3. Failing to Make a Great Presentation

First impressions are essential to selling a home. Making improvements alone isn’t going to cut it. You need to make every aspect of your house look great before a buyer will even consider making an offer. Kathy Braddock, founder of Rutenburg Realty, said that many people don’t even bother to clean their house before showing it to a potential homeowner. A buyer is less likely to make an offer if they see dishes in the sink or clothes strewn across the floor.

You should also hire a professional stager. The National Association of Realtors states that stagers cost about 1-3% of the value of the home, but offer a return at least four times that amount.

4. Not Tailoring the Home to the Buyer

You may have spent years living in your home. It has almost become an extension of you. However, it is time to finally let go. You need to let the buyer envision the home as their own. You should remove any memorabilia of your favorite 1950s TV shows that are on the wall. They may impress many of your friends, but the buyer is probably not interested. Be courteous and let them see the home with a clean slate.

5. Your Home is Invisible

Like the old saying says: out of sight, out of mind. Nobody is going to buy your house if you don’t make it easy for them to find you. You need to do market your house carefully to bring buyers to your door. Jim Crawford, a Realtor in Atlanta, said that one of the biggest reasons that people can’t sell their homes is that buyers can’t find it. To make sure that they can, here are some things that you will need to do:

• Publish listings of your house in multiple places

• Work with a reputable broker

• Make sure that you have a visible “For Sale” sign outside the house

• Make sure that the address and directions are published so potential buyers can find you easily

By following these five tips, you should be able to find good potential buyers quickly, and also be able to find a good one to sell to quickly. If you have any questions, feel free to give Sell My Metrowest Home a call!

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Why to Hire a Realtor: The Code of Ethics

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If you are considering selling your home on your own, we would advise against it. There are many dangers for doing a sale by owner. You don’t always know who you’re dealing with, and if those who are looking to buy your home are being honest in their ability to actually purchase it. There are also those who may be interested in buying your home, but may not be convinced that you are providing full disclosure of everything about the property you are selling.

However, when a real estate transaction is done through a Realtor, everything is done by a code of standards. The Realtor Code of Ethics, now over 100 years old, exists to protect all parties involved in a transaction. The basic tenets of this Code include:

  1. Protect and promote their clients’ interests while treating all parties honestly.
  2. Refrain from exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts related to property or transactions.
  3. Cooperate with other real estate professionals to advance their clients’ best interests.
  4. Make sure that contract details are spelled out in writing and that parties receive copies.
  5. Give equal professional service to all clients and customers irrespective of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation.
  6. Paint a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations.
  7. Make only truthful, objective comments about other real estate professionals.

 

Honesty is the key word in this code. When doing a sale by owner, you can’t always count on all of the facts necessarily being presented truthfully. A Realtor’s duty is to seek out all of the facts to make sure both sides of the transaction are being treated fairly. If you don’t have a Realtor working on the transaction, it’s possible that certain pertinent facts may be conveniently left out, often at your expense. By working with a Realtor, you also will be better prepared for questions potential buyers may ask, and have someone to know how to truthfully answer them.

Another highly important part of the Code of Ethics is concerning contracts. The last thing someone wants is a nasty dispute over a contract issue. A Realtor will work on making sure that no important details are left out and that both parties receive copies of all contracts. The Realtor will make sure that the terms are written in clear and easily understandable language and that both parties completely agree to the terms. Realtors also work with other real estate professionals, such as mortgage brokers, to help the transaction go smoothly. Failure of communication can be a downfall in many situations, especially in transactions that can be as complex as real estate transactions. This way you don’t have to handle all of the details on your own.

Also, when someone is looking to sell a home, the seller is of course going to want to paint the property perfectly. A Realtor is obligated to be completely truthful about the true nature of the property being sold and to reflect that in any representation being made of it. This both makes the seller look better and protects the buyer. Additionally, any other professionals involved in the transaction must also be treated fairly. When there is a hang-up on a particular part of the transaction, the Realtor will work to make sure things get back on track.

We are proud to be in an industry that has such high ethical standards. By having an honest, third-party professional working to make an equitable and fair real estate transaction, you can rest assured that your home’s sale will not experience potential problems that are preventable by using a Realtor.

Photo credit: Realtor.com

Financial Preparation Advice from Rick Scherer of MSA Mortgage

Before you put your home onto the market, it is very important to be financially prepared for the costs that come with it. One of the most daunting aspects of putting your home on the market is putting up a down-payment for the P&S (Purchase and Sale) agreement.

There are several ways to come up with this money. Borrowing money as a gift from family and friends or borrowing against your 401k or investment portfolio are common ways of having this money available. However, many people also have plenty of home equity to borrow against. Home equity lines of credit are one of the easiest ways to acquire the money necessary to be ready for the costs of putting a home on the market.

Rick Scherer of MSA Mortgage has provided us with a quick video offering some tips on how to be financially prepared before putting your home on the market.

If you’d like to contact Rick, you can call him at 617-778-0024 or email him at rscherer@msamortgage.com.