Archives for April 2011

Avoid Costly Mistakes When Selling Your Home

MISTAKE 1:  Putting the home on the market before it is ready.  Most of the time this happens because the seller gets impatient or is a procrastinator and has pushed himself up against a moving deadline without getting the pre-sale work done.  So, the home goes on the market with the horrible carpet or it is being painted while it is on the market.  Presentation is everything – so get the work done before advertising the property for sale.

MISTAKE 2:  Over-improving the home for the neighborhood.  This happens with additions, bump-outs, and upgrades that make the home stick out from the competition so much that it is an anomaly, instead of a nice addition to the community.

MISTAKE 3:  Pricing the home based on what a seller wants to net. This pricing strategy will inevitably end in failure. Sellers can control the “asking” price, but they do not control the “sales” price; the market does. It does not matter what the seller wants. The price is determined by the black-and-white, matter-of-fact reality of the current real estate market.

MISTAKE 4:  Hiring an agent based on non-business factors.  Make sure you are hiring a professional with a proven track record in your neighborhood.  It might be nice to put your largest asset in the hands of your nephew who just

got his license, but make sure he has a mentor to keep your deal from going south.

MISTAKE 5:  Making the home difficult to show.  Requiring the listing agent to be present for all showings complicates the process of showing a home to prospective buyers.  Some buyers’ agents will bypass your home if it involves coordinating an appointment according to the listing agent’s schedule as well as the buyers’ schedule and their own timetable.  Also, most agents show a number of houses and it becomes difficult to time the showings.  Consider having a lockbox installed; they can be timed for certain viewing hours and are extremely secure now.  I recommended to one seller that he leave a special greeting on his answering machine.  His message went like this, “…if you are an agent and would like to show my home, please leave your name and phone number and come on by and use the lockbox between 8:30 and 5:30 today.  If you need to come later, let me know the approximate time and you are welcome to show my home.”  This made the agents feel comfortable, we had a slew of showings, and the home was sold within a few days.

MISTAKE 6:  Getting emotionally involved in the sale of the home. This is one of the biggest challenges home sellers face when putting their house on the

market. Once you decide to sell your house, it’s no longer a home, but a commodity. It needs to be prepared as a commodity, marketed as a commodity, and priced as a commodity. It does not matter what you want, only what the market will bear, in regard to pricing your home. People are going to come in to kick the tires, so to speak, and you should not get emotional about how they may or may not appreciate the nuances of your home.

MISTAKE 7:  Trying to cover up problems, or not disclosing them.  A rule I like to follow is:  If you think a certain disclosure will be a deal-breaker, be sure to disclose it!

Home Warranty Policies for the Seller

When you put your home on the market, I recommend ordering home warranty coverage for the listing time and the escrow period.  It seems to never fail that when you care the most about whether all of your appliances, etc., are in working order, there will inevitably be something that fails.  One listing that I had quite awhile ago, had what was then a very expensive instant hot water heater ($950).  The owner accepted an offer and wouldn’t you know it, the water heater ceased to operate.  The agent representing the buyer told the seller, “If your agent had ordered seller’s coverage, you would not have to pay for installing a new water heater.”  Because my clients are dear to me and I want to be their “Realtor for life”, I paid to have a new water heater installed.  I haven’t forgotten that experience, as I felt that I had not given the seller the best possible service.  Now I try to always inform clients that there is such a policy and that on average for less than a dollar a day their home’s systems and appliances can be covered and their only responsibility would be to pay the service charge of about $55, regardless of the cost to repair.  In future posts, I will speak more about the value of home warranties for landlords and buyers.

Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

The purpose of homeowners insurance is to insure your home, its contents and other personal possessions cialis generique paypal.   Your policy also should include liability coverage for accidents that might happen on your property. One way to save is to make sure you have the right amount of coverage for your home. It sounds straightforward, but it in practice it can be challenging to make sure your home is not over- or under-insured.

What’s the right amount of insurance?  Remember that the market value of your home includes the value of the land, which is usually 75% or so of the total value.   Ask your insurance agent for the average cost per-square-foot to rebuild in your county and multiply that figure by the square footage of your home to arrive at a pretty good estimate of what it would cost to re-build the structure.   Be sure  you have adequate insurance so that in the event of a fire, theft and other perils, you are fully covered.  If you own a condominium, the Homeowners Association’s policy will cover the structure, but does not include your personal possessions.  For a minimal monthly fee you should be able to have the interior of your unit and your personal belongings covered. 

Once you are satisfied with your coverage, ask about discounts for security systems, deadbolt locks and other safety features such as safety glass or storm shutters. Some insurers will provide a discount if they cover both your home and your automobiles. You can also consider increasing your deductible amounts to lower premiums, if you can pay the deductibles in the event of a loss. Finally, if you’re not satisfied, be sure to shop around; you may be able to find comparable or better coverage for less money.

How to Hold an Online Garage Sale

With Spring’s arrival, you may be thinking about emptying closets and ridding yourself of unwanted items. And if you’re thinking about moving, one important step is to get rid of clutter that may have accumulated around your home.Organizing a traditional garage sale can be a hassle when you have to gather all your unwanted items, tag inventory, post neighborhood signs and online ads, and then spend your weekend haggling prices. If you don’t have that much time, consider holding your garage sale online.

Swap boards, donation directories and even online auction sites make it easy to do. Craigslist and eBay are the best known of these sites, but there are many to choose from. What’s more, eBay once estimated that the average household has $2,000 worth of unused goods waiting to be sold. You may already be thinking of a few items that should find a new home before you do.

Here’s how to hold a successful online garage sale:

Plan—or Not – The beauty of an online garage sale is that you don’t need to gather all your unwanted belongings at once. Instead you can post them online as soon as you decide to get rid of them.

Price It Right – Search online to learn prices of comparable items. Remember: if you don’t want to lug that item to your next home, it may be worth selling at any price. But if you’re still attached to it, you can set the price a little higher.

Show and Tell – Multiple photos are important—they draw attention to your item over similar ones. Also use them to answer anticipated questions. If you’re selling a piece of furniture, for example, include close-ups of unique details, dings and the upholstery pattern. Also provide detailed written descriptions.

Deliver the Goods – If you’re selling locally and have a vehicle big enough to hold your item, offer to deliver for a small fee. If you’re auctioning the item, you can add a flat shipping fee to the price, or allow buyers to compute and pay for shipping costs.

By getting rid of unwanted items through an online garage sale, you’ll have fewer items to pack when you decide to make a move.