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How To Add Value To Your Home When You’re Ready To Sell

Feel like your house would benefit from a refresh before you put it up for sale by owner? It can be a savvy strategy for many, depending on your market. But it’s important to consider what adds value before you start looking around for home remodel ideas.

The last thing that you want to do is spend money right before selling your home that you can’t recoup in the sale. Here are some guidelines to help you get the most bang for your remodeling buck.

Does Remodeling Increase Home Value?

While remodeling your home will typically increase its value, the increased value amount depends on the remodel itself (we have more on that later). However, other factors that are out of your control include the existing market conditions, such as your current competition and recent previous sales, but also the opinion of a buyer, which can be impossible to gauge.

“You have to be careful about spending more on remodeling than the market will return,” says Christopher Pagli, associate real estate broker with William Raveis Legends Realty Group in Tarrytown, N.Y. “Just because you spent a bundle on your remodel doesn’t mean you will necessarily get that back when your house hits the market.”

Chelsea E. Ialeggio, an agent in Marin County, California, agrees that the answer to what adds value to homes could be on a case-by-case basis, as you assess your particular market. “Ask yourself if you are able to take the risk of not seeing a return on investment if the property doesn’t sell at a certain price,” she advises.

And, believe it or not, some home “improvements” might actually detract, such as adding a pool. This reminder comes from Melanie Hartmann, owner and CEO of Creo Home Solutions, in Baltimore, Maryland, who has extensive experience in fixing and flipping homes.

Overall, it’s very important to not over-improve and to instead invest your remodeling budget on updates that actually add value to your home’s price tag.

Which Home Improvements Add The Most Value?

So with that word of caution out of the way, let’s proceed to the good news – the best ways to add value to your home. You may be surprised to find that they are perhaps not the ones you’d immediately think of.

In fact, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2019 “Cost vs. Value” report, the No. 1 home improvement that will have the largest return on investment is updating your garage door – offering a near-perfect 97% return on investment (ROI).

Proving that curb appeal is hot, adding manufactured stone veneer also scores in the 90s with a 94% ROI.

“Think of the outside of your home like the cover of a book,” says Hartmann. “Your home’s curb appeal is its first impression; the more appealing it is, the more offers it will attract, and thus the more value it will bring.”

Looking beyond mere dollars and cents, kitchens and baths tend to bring a good ROI, says Pagli. He also believes that “big-ticket items,” while costly, can add a lot of value. Again, this depends on your local market. Specific ideas include adding a bedroom, bath or deck, or upgrading your roof and windows.

“Highlighting these improvements in the listing should increase the marketability of the home,” he says. You also might want to underscore any energy-saving benefits they offer, to help keep bills low throughout the year.

Another great idea is to hire a home inspector prior to listing your home for sale. It will cost a few hundred dollars, but they will provide you with a list of any problems or defects in your home. These noncosmetic issues are great items to fix prior to listing to avoid costly repair negotiations.

How Can I Add Value To My House?

While those larger upgrades are smart, Hartmann believes that anything that packs a lot of punch for minimal effort or money are the best ways to add value to your home. And remember, if you are in the market to sell, you don’t need to look toward your own tastes, but rather think about what will be appealing to your potential buyer.

Hartmann says that major renovations, when done correctly, will add value to your home. However, rarely will the entire cost be fully recouped, so it’s best to stick to low-cost remodeling techniques that pack a big punch as you prepare to sell.

“If you are unsure on what styles are popular, look to rehabbed houses that have sold recently in your area to see what materials may be best to use in your house,” she says.

Here are some large renovation ideas that can add major value to your home – if done correctly.

  • If you have an unfinished space in your home, finish it. This could be a basement or attic storage space, for example. You’ll need to make sure that everything is permitted and up to code, but adding square footage is a great way to add major value to a home. Be careful converting garages to living space, as in many areas, buyers expect a usable garage.
  • Another way to increase the value of your home is to add a bedroom. You can do this without putting on an addition if you have an extra space in your home. This could be a loft, office, or other extra space. Research the legal requirements for a bedroom in your home and make the updates to that space to meet that threshold.
  • Renovating a bathroom can add a lot of value to a home, especially if the current state of the bathroom is dated or dingy. Focus on keeping things light, bright and neutral – bathrooms are not the place for bold design choices when trying to appeal to the masses.
  • Transforming a living space to be an open concept can add huge value to your home. Depending on whether walls are load bearing or not can have a huge impact on the cost of this project. But open concept homes are going to be much more appealing to a larger audience than one that has all rooms closed off.
  • If you plan to sell your appliances with your home, upgrading old appliances could be a good investment. Shop the sale rack or a discount store for a great deal on brand new appliances.
  • Update anything that seems high maintenance. If you have a very old HVAC system, roof, or hot water heater, for example, that might deter buyers who are looking for something more turnkey. These items are likely to show up on a home inspection anyway, so updating them in advance just opens your home up to more potential buyers – and a higher selling price.

How Can I Increase The Value Of My Home For Cheap?

First start with the very easiest: “A clean, well-organized home that has been styled will always present in a much more attractive manner,” notes Ialeggio. And then you can move on to cosmetic improvements.

Here are some top inexpensive home remodel ideas to try:

  • Repaint your entire home to remove scuff marks, wear and tear, and to make the space feel clean and new.
  • Refresh the basics, such as upgrading light fixtures and hardware and adding modern window treatments, recommends Pagli.
  • Paint the walls a neutral color that will have mass appeal. “This advice is tried and true for a reason,” says Hartmann, who adds that in 2020, paint trends are anticipated to remain neutral while transitioning to more natural colors other than gray.
  • Refinish or paint kitchen cabinets, especially if they are solid wood cabinets from the ’70s, says Pagli. Just make sure to use a paint formula specifically designed for cabinets.
  • Invest in light landscaping, such as adding color with seasonal plants and fresh mulch.
  • Refresh your curb appeal by painting or adding window shutters and window boxes. “This is appealing to potential buyers, as the outside of a home is a strong indicator of how well the house itself has been kept,” Hartmann says.
  • Paint your front door and add some potted plants and a new doormat to your porch for a welcoming entryway.
  • Metal fixtures can quickly become dated and age a home. Replace dated faucets, knobs and hardware for a more modern look. Go for a cohesive design across the whole home for best results.
  • Care for your floors. Hopefully a good professional cleaning may be all it takes to make your carpet look and feel brand new again, says Hartmann, although she recommends replacing it if it’s more than 5 years old. If you’re looking into new floor treatments, she says that buyers tend to be attracted to easy-to-clean flooring, such as vinyl planks, tile or hardwood, particularly in the areas of the home that get the most foot traffic.
  • One thing that you can do to help your home sell quicker that won’t cost a dollar is purge any unnecessary clutter and then give the space a deep clean. Potential buyers shouldn’t be distracted by your mess or filth when imagining their own possessions in your home.

Of course, no matter what updating you do, the most important things to consider when adding value to your home are your budget and goals. When in doubt, spend less money on updates. Money spent on over-improving will never be recouped.

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What Is A Real Estate Disclosure?

As a seller, you usually try to focus on the things that are great about your home when showing it off to potential buyers. After all, you want to highlight the things that might push a buyer to place an offer.

However, every home has some quirks, defects and other issues that could potentially lower its value or create headaches for its future owners. As a seller, you have a duty to ensure that your buyer is aware of any problems before the sale is final. This is where real estate disclosures come in.

What Is A Real Estate Disclosure?

A real estate disclosure is a statement the seller makes regarding any issues with the property that could affect its value. Real estate disclosures provide a layer of protection for buyers by requiring sellers to sign off on what they know about the state of the home and its components.

Real estate disclosures let buyers know of issues that might not be immediately obvious during a walkthrough. 

For example, say the home you’re selling has a leaky roof. Even if potential buyers don’t notice it when they tour your home, if you live in a state that requires disclosures, you’ll still have to disclose the fact to your buyer that you have a leaky roof.

Real Estate Disclosure Laws

The laws on disclosures vary by state. Some states have a lot of specific requirements for what must be disclosed in a real estate transaction, while a few states, known as “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware” states, don’t require any disclosures.

However, even in “buyer beware” states, sellers aren’t permitted to lie outright about the state of the home if a buyer or agent asks them questions about it. 

If you’re selling without an agent, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your state’s laws surrounding real estate disclosures to protect yourself legally and financially.

What Is A Property Disclosure Statement?

The property disclosure statement is the document on which you’ll make your disclosures. The form itself is typically fairly straightforward; it’ll go over different aspects of your home, its components and the area around it, asking about known issues or if repairs have been made. 

Since you aren’t working with a real estate agent who can provide you one, you’ll want to make sure to get your hands on your state’s residential disclosure statement in addition to all the other documentation you’ll need to sell on your own. 

Depending on the state you’re in, you may be required to provide the buyer with a property disclosure statement within a certain number of days of accepting their offer.

Common Disclosures

Here are some items a standard disclosure form will ask about:

  • Problems with the home’s components, including the roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical systems, appliances, etc.
  • Encroachments, boundary disputes or easements
  • Whether the home has previously been damaged by flooding, fire, earthquakes or other hazards
  • Presence of hazardous materials such as lead, radon or asbestos
  • Neighborhood nuisances
  • Pest issues
  • Information about a homeowners association, if applicable

Typically, you’ll be given a space next to each of these items to check “yes,” “no,” or “don’t know.” You should answer to the best of your knowledge, and you should never lie on your disclosure form.

The exact questions you’ll see on your disclosure form will depend on where you live, as each state or locality may have unique required disclosures. For example, some states require a disclosure if a death occurred in the home.

No matter what state you’re in, you’ll have to disclose if your home contains lead-based paint.

Under federal law, sellers of homes where lead-based paint may be present have to follow certain disclosure rules. If your home was built before 1978, you have a legal responsibility to provide your buyer with a lead-based paint disclosure as well as a pamphlet developed by the EPA called “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home.” 

What Happens If You Don’t Disclose?

If while filling out your property disclosure statement you are asked about something you know is an issue, do not simply pretend that you aren’t aware of the problem, as that can come back to hurt you later on.

If a buyer finds out before closing that there is an issue with the home that you didn’t disclose, they may choose to back out of the sale, often without penalty.

If a buyer finds out after closing that there is an issue with the home and they can prove you were aware of it and lied on the disclosure statement, they may be able to sue you for damages.

What For Sale By Owner Sellers Need To Know

When you’re preparing the property disclosure statement for your buyer, err on the side of over-disclosing rather than under-disclosing. Disclose everything, even if you think it’s inconsequential.

While you might be afraid that drawing attention to your home’s defects will hurt your chances of closing the sale, being honest and upfront will help you out in the long run.To get started with your own home sale, check out our packages for sellers.

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How To Sell Your House By Owner During Covid-19

Selling a home is a major life event under any circumstances, but selling in the environment created by the coronavirus does pose unique challenges.

While you certainly may have to take some different steps, selling your home right now is possible. This post will let you know what you need to look out for.

Can You Sell Your House By Owner During COVID-19?

Let me start this section by saying this is a difficult question to answer because it’s going to depend on the current legal landscape around measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 in your state.

In some states, gatherings outside of those you’ve been quarantining with may not be permissible. Although this is becoming less and less of a problem as states open back up, if you can’t get parties together to accomplish necessary form signing, it could be difficult. Because of the way this virus behaves, the rules could even be different from town to town, so make sure that you’re very familiar with policies in your local area.

Is Now The Time?

You may be wondering if it’s a good idea to sell during a forced period of change. While things certainly aren’t normal, there could be many advantages to selling right now. Here are just a few.

As of the time of this writing, purchase applications were actually running about 9% higher than they were at the same time last year, before we were going through any of this.

There are also two things that are keeping the market for existing homes stable and even in an upswing pricewise. One is the fact that some people have removed their home from the markets. This means that all those people who just applied for a mortgage are going to be willing to pay more for the houses that are available. Secondly, as of this writing, mortgage rates last week were at all-time lows according to Freddie Mac. Low mortgage rates mean more buying power, which can translate to higher offers.

Be Aware Of Local Rules

One thing worth specifically mentioning is that depending on the way orders are written in your area, people who work in real estate may be able to get back to work while operating under safety guidelines, but this doesn’t necessarily apply to you because you don’t work in the industry. You’re instead representing yourself.

One possible avenue to get around this limitation would be to work in tandem with the buyer’s real estate agent, if they have one, in order to accomplish any in-person showings that need to happen. In any case, you’ll have to be cognizant of local laws.

Check Local Real Estate Sources

Resources like the National Association of REALTORS® website have been doing a good job putting together guides on home buying and selling during COVID-19. However, the old saying about real estate being all about “location, location, location” is especially true in a situation like this. Understanding what the rules are and what’s best practice in your area will be crucial. Here are just a few things to think about:

Unless someone is independently wealthy and can buy with cash, they’re probably going to need a mortgage. Because the house serves as collateral for the loan, you need to allow for an appraisal. The good news is that many major mortgage investors are allowing desktop appraisals where they look at your house in relation to other recent sales in the area based purely on the known features of the home in order to come up with a market value. In other instances, a drive-by exterior-only appraisal can be done. In the event that an in-person appraisal is necessary, the appraiser may take extra precautions like wearing a mask, gloves and booties. If you’re ill, they’ll work to reschedule.

A home inspector may have the option to walk through with a camera while chatting with the potential buyers in order to get the inspection done. In other cases, they may take video and send it to the buyers if walking through with them proves impractical.

In terms of showing your home, there are a few different strategies you could employ. We’ll get into those down below.

When it comes to closing the deal, any closing agents and attorneys who might meet you will probably be taking precautions similar to what we mentioned with appraisers. It’s for your protection. To the extent that remote closings are allowed, you may be able to take advantage of that, but it’s not something that’s available in every state. You also may be able to e-sign certain documents and not others.

If physical signatures are required, a notary may lay down the documents and step back to give you a chance to retrieve them, sign the documents and step back before moving forward. If a deed or other piece of documentation needs to be recorded with the county, you may be delayed if the office isn’t open.

Be Flexible

Banking is considered an essential service pretty much everywhere, so the actual financial instrument won’t be the holdup. However, if a home inspection or appraisal are required as part of your contract and they have to be done in person, that may be considered something that can wait in many areas. You may have a clause inserted into your purchase agreements that gives additional flexibility based upon conditions directly or indirectly related to COVID-19 that might delay things.

It’s important to understand that while you can do this and there are ways to get the job done in this environment, you may not be able to do everything quite as quickly as you could normally, so just be willing to roll with the process.

A Different Kind Of Tour

Even before this situation happened, online house listings took on increased importance because more of us were previewing homes online before deciding to hit the pavement and purchase. Now it’s the primary mode of shopping because open houses aren’t really a good option as they draw crowds. In many places, they may not even be legal at the moment.

It’s important to be able to pivot to different strategies. Make sure you pay special attention to listing photos and take lots of them. Just like many of us are suddenly in front of the camera all the time for videoconferencing and have concerns about lighting and the way we look, you want to be able to put your house the best possible light in your listing photos.

Real estate agents and individuals alike are turning to virtual tours to go through a house and put a video on YouTube or a similar service. A growing number are even doing tours with live videoconferencing. Some states may allow in-person showings with a limited group of people, but you can work to accept the conditions under which you wouldn’t feel comfortable to have someone go through your house whether that’s distancing or masks, gloves and booties. It’s also perfectly reasonable to ask them not to touch anything. You can turn on switches and show things.

Selling a home right now, no matter how you’re doing it, is a different experience. But it can certainly be done. It’s just about getting the job done safely. To get started with your own home sale, check out our packages for sellers.

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What Is An Escrow Agent?

When you’re selling your home, money will eventually get transferred to you. But how it’s transferred isn’t as easy as someone just handing you money. Buyers will put cash into escrow where an escrow agent oversees the handling of it before it gets to you.

Escrow has two different, distinct operations, one before you finalize buying a home and one after you get a mortgage.

Learn about the role of an escrow agent and how they’re an essential part of the closing process by watching this short video by our preferred title partner, Amrock.

Click here to get Amrock’s For-Sale-by-Owner Guide for free! It’s filled with useful resources to help you successfully navigate your for-sale-by-owner closing process.

What Is Escrow Before You Buy A Home?

Escrow is the method by which money or an asset (like a title) is held in between two parties: the home buyer and the seller. Instead of the home buyer giving the seller money to buy the home, it goes into an escrow account with a third-party company that acts like a middle person between both. 

When the terms of a contract are met – usually when a buyer signs their contract at closing – the money in escrow is transferred to the seller. It’s good for the buyer, who can avoid putting their money in the hands of a fraudulent seller, and it’s good for the seller, who makes sure their potential buyer has the funds to buy their home.

This type of account is short-lived; once you go through with the sale, it no longer has a purpose.

What Is Escrow After You Buy A Home?

After a home purchase, a second escrow account is opened by your mortgage lender. This account is used to pay some of your taxes and homeowners insurance payments. Your lender uses the escrow account to make payments on your behalf to ensure they’re paid on time. 

The money for that escrow account is prepaid at closing. Some lenders require upfront costs, like a year’s worth of homeowners insurance, to be put in escrow when you close on your home. Property taxes will also go into escrow, but how much depends on what your lender requires. For instance, they might request 3 months’ worth of tax payments upfront. If your property taxes increase, your escrow payments will go up as well. If your insurance premium goes down, so will what you need for escrow.

What Is An Escrow Agent?

Escrow agents are people or entities in charge of handling the transaction between the buyer and seller. This is a neutral, third party that’s entrusted to handle the transfer of money or assets once all the conditions have been met. Responsibilities include:

  • Standing as a neutral party between homeowner and potential buyer
  • Handling the title insurance policy
  • Reviewing and ensuring that the buyer meets the lender’s requirements
  • Preparing escrow documents
  • Distributing funds to responsible parties (seller, agents, lenders, etc.)
  • Closing escrow once conditions are met

Who Can Be An Escrow Agent?

While some states and jurisdictions permit attorneys to serve as escrow agents, it’s always a neutral third party that serves that role. Because of this, neither the buyer’s nor the seller’s representative can serve as an escrow agent. However, both agents might recommend an individual or a company to serve as an escrow agent.     

Do You Need An Escrow Agent?

In order to transfer money from the buyer to the seller once all the sales conditions are met, there should be escrow agent. 

Sellers and buyers typically aren’t responsible for finding their own escrow agents. That’s usually a job left for the real estate broker or lender to handle; however, if you need to find one on your own, it may not be as hard as you think.

In real estate functions, like selling a home, an escrow agent is usually a title company.

The buyer will wire transfer money – usually a down payment – to the title company. The title company will hold onto funds while the buyer and seller meet the necessary conditions for a sale to be completed.

Once the conditions are met, the title company acting as an escrow agent will transfer the corresponding money or assets to the seller.

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Sell a House

Who Pays What When Selling Your Home FSBO

Before going through your first home buying experience, it’s easy to assume that the financial obligations of each party are fairly straightforward: The buyer pays for the house and the seller, well, sells it.

The reality is a lot more complicated. Buying and selling real estate comes with a host of legal requirements, inspections, fees and insurance policies that all cost money. Who pays those costs can vary depending on the agreement between buyer and seller, but most transactions are handled in a similar manner.

Here’s what you need to know about the extra costs associated with the home buying process and which party is generally responsible for each.

Learn about which fees are paid by the seller and which by the buyer by watching this short video by our preferred title partner, Amrock.

Click here to get Amrock’s For-Sale-by-Owner Guide for free! It’s filled with useful resources to help you successfully navigate your for-sale-by-owner closing process.

Who Pays For The Home Warranty?

A home warranty is like an insurance policy for appliances and major systems, such as plumbing and air conditioning. These policies generally cost $350 – $600 a year, not including the per-visit deductible.

This is an optional expense, but the seller may include it to sweeten the deal. The seller usually won’t include a home warranty if the housing market is hot, in which case the buyer needs to decide if they want to purchase a policy. 

Who Pays The Real Estate Agent Fees?

In almost every home sale, the seller pays the real estate fee to their agent, who then splits it with the buyer’s agent. The fee is usually 5 – 6% of the home’s final cost.

Sellers who don’t use an agent can still offer to pay the buyer’s agent a commission, usually 2 – 3%. It may be hard to find a buyer otherwise, because agents won’t facilitate a purchase without earning a commission.

Who Pays For The Land Survey?

A land survey determines the exact legal boundaries of a property. Although it may seem obvious where a property line ends and begins, there are instances where a homeowner surpasses their legal dimensions. This can result in a complicated and costly legal headache.

Land surveys are most common for new houses and usually aren’t required for existing structures. The cost ranges from $200 – $1,000 and is generally paid for by the buyer.

Who Pays The Cleaning Fees?

Unless the buyer and seller have come to a different arrangement, most homeowners are required to leave the house relatively clean when they sell it. This includes removing all belongings, throwing away trash and basic tidying up.

Sellers can hire professional cleaners, but that’s a personal decision. It’s not on the buyer to recoup any cleaning expenses. 

A deep clean costs $200 – $400, but may be more depending on the state and size of the house. Smaller cleaning companies may charge less than national chains. 

Who Pays The Closing Costs? 

The term “closing costs” refers to an assortment of expenses that are usually paid for by the home buyer.

Who Pays For The Appraisal?

The appraisal is the cost to get the home and land value measured by a professional appraiser. The average cost of an appraisal is $300 – $650. 

The home buyer pays for the appraisal as well as any additional appraisals if the value comes back lower than expected. If the appraisal value is lower than the sale price, the buyer either has to pay the difference or negotiate with the seller for a lower asking price. 

Who Pays For The Home Inspection?

A home inspection is conducted by an independent inspector to see if the property has any major outstanding repairs or problems. A home inspection costs $200 – $500 and is paid for by the buyer. The price may be on the higher end if the buyer requests optional services such as a radon, mold or lead test. 

Some buyers may also want to pay for a sewer scope, which will examine the pipes with a camera to scan for potential issues. This usually costs an extra $250 – $500, but can save thousands if the pipes are degrading or heavily clogged. 

Who Pays For The Title Insurance?

Title insurance is an insurance policy that covers the legal costs of a title dispute on the house. This can arise if a previous homeowner died and left the home to an heir, legally entitling them to the house.

There is a separate title policy for the homeowner and one for the lender. The home buyer pays for both policies, which usually costs .05% – 1% of the loan. 

Who Pays The Escrow Fees?

When a buyer puts an offer on a house, they have to pay an earnest deposit to confirm their commitment to buying the house. This money is put in an escrow account, where it’s held until the sale is finalized. If the buyer rescinds the offer, the earnest money is then transferred to the seller.

The cost of an escrow account is 1 – 2% of the sale price. The buyer and seller usually split this cost 50/50.

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Sell a House

What Happens After You Find A Home Buyer?

You’ve spent weeks preparing your home to sell. You patched and painted and staged, hoping to catch the eye of a new buyer … and thankfully, you succeeded! 

But now what?

Putting your home up for sale and finding a buyer, while often stressful, is only the first part of the equation. Now it’s time to work through the list of what needs to be done now that you have a home buyer ready to go.

You’ve found a buyer – now what?  Before taking your next steps, watch this short video by our preferred title partner, Amrock.

Click here to get Amrock’s For-Sale-by-Owner Guide for free! It’s filled with useful resources to help you successfully navigate your for-sale-by-owner closing process.

First Things First: Do You Need An Agent To Sell Your Home?

Whether you’ve advertised your home or have existing friends, neighbors, or tenants who want to buy, you’re probably reading this because you want to sell by owner. A for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) transaction can be one way to save money as a seller since you won’t have to pay a commission to a real estate agent. But is it allowed?

While every state – and even county – can set its own regulations, they all allow owners to sell their homes without hiring an agent. So no, you aren’t required to have a real estate agent facilitate the sale.

Of course, not hiring an agent to act in your interests may limit your ability to market your home and can impact the negotiation process. If you already have a buyer, though, and the negotiations are amicable, this may be a moot point.

Real Estate Attorneys

While you can choose whether or not to hire a real estate agent when selling your home, you may not have a choice when it comes to hiring a real estate attorney. In fact, having a real estate attorney handle some of the closing documents is a requirement in many states.

Plan to hire a real estate attorney if you are selling your home in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, or West Virginia. 

Even if you don’t live in one of these states, it might still be wise to hire an attorney for your home’s closing documents. They will usually charge an hourly rate for their services.

Prepare Your Seller’s Disclosure

A seller’s disclosure is a form that you will prepare for your new buyer, outlining the condition of – and any known concerns relating to – the home. 

Your seller’s disclosure may include things like past improvements, upgrades, and renovations. You should also include any known issues with pests, appliances, or systems within the home, as well as any past or present liens on the property. Anything that seems important, or legally required, to mention should be included on this form.

Handle Earnest Money

While earnest money isn’t required when selling your home, it can help boost the confidence of both parties during the transaction. 

You’ll want to be sure that any funds received are kept in a proper account. For those selling by owner, it might be easiest to have the title company hold these funds. Oh, and be sure to keep a copy of that check in a safe place, for your records.

Inspection and Appraisal

After accepting an offer from your buyer, you’ll want to prepare for an inspection and/or appraisal of the home. 

Appraisals are often required by lenders to determine a house’s fair market value. Many factors go into calculating this value such as the home’s location, its age, comps from other sales in the area, improvements and upgrades made to the home, and its overall condition. 

An appraisal is especially important if your buyer plans to finance their purchase with a mortgage. That’s because many lenders have limits on the loan amount they will approve compared to the fair value of a home. 

Some mortgage lenders will also require an inspection, and even if it’s not required it can still be very beneficial for buyers to receive one. 

A licensed inspector will evaluate your home, inspecting the entire structure from its roof to its floors, and everything in between. This includes electrical systems, plumbing, windows and doors, and heating/cooling systems. Certain additions to the property – such as septic systems, pools, sprinkler systems and individual appliances – aren’t usually included in this report. 

Title Company

If you accepted earnest money from your buyer, you may have already chosen a title company to hold the funds in escrow. If not, though, you’ll need to select your title company soon. They’ll help gather the necessary paperwork for your home’s sale, research and prepare the title, and oversee the closing.

Your title company will also be in charge of scheduling the closing date, so you will need to coordinate with them and your buyer. 

Close On The Sale

Your home’s title has been researched and deemed clear. The inspection and appraisal (if applicable) have been completed and provided to the buyer. And any necessary repairs have been completed.

Now, it’s time to sign the closing papers!

Closing day marks the end of your selling journey. It’s the day you’ll hand over the keys to your home buyer and accept your funds from the sale. Now, you just need to decide what to do with them.

Put The Proceeds To Work

Deciding what to do with the money from your home is one of the most important aspects of the sale. This choice can affect everything from your tax burden to your next home purchase, interest earned, and more.

It may make sense to put the funds in a money market account or certificate of deposit (CD), so you can earn interest on the balance until you’re ready to spend it. You’ll also want to be sure to research the current tax laws regarding home sales and tax exclusions, as these are subject to change at any time. If you’re unsure of what to do with your proceeds and how to best optimize them, you may want to consult with a financial professional.

Keep Records Of Everything Afterward

Long after your home has been sold and the keys handed over, you should still keep records of everything involved in the sale. This includes appraisals and inspections, your seller’s disclosure, closing documents, and even documents relating to your original purchase of the home.

All of these can be useful down the line. For instance, if you plan on claiming related expenses on your taxes, you’ll need to have receipts and other proofs available. And if you’re ever audited, these records will prove imperative.

Selling your home can be an exciting, though sometimes stressful, experience. However, knowing what happens after you find a home buyer can help you better prepare for the second half of the process, and ensure that both you and your buyer walk away happy.

Categories
Sell a House

How To Get More Buyers To View Your Home

When selling your home, it’s crucial to reach as many potential buyers as possible, especially when you’re selling FSBO. Luckily, we have some marketing strategies that are sure to help increase your buyer pool. Read on to learn about how you can get more buyers to view your home. 

Learn how to increase the number of potential buyers coming through your door by watching this short video by our preferred title partner, Amrock.

Click here to get Amrock’s For-Sale-by-Owner Guide for free! It’s filled with useful resources to help you successfully navigate your for-sale-by-owner closing process.

Make Sure People Can Find Your Listing

First, make sure your listing is easily accessible to buyers. While this might sound like an obvious step, it’s important that your listing is viewable so it can attract as much attention as possible. You can do this by posting your listing online. 

The first site you can list your home on is ForSaleByOwner.com. This site is the leading website to list homes being sold by their owners, and it specializes in advertising listings and providing resources for sellers. For Sale By Owner allows sellers to list their homes in five easy steps, and helps them along the way from initially pricing the home to finally selling it.

The second site sellers can list their home on is a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). An MLS is a marketing database created by real estate brokers to store information about properties for sale. It can be used to compile listings and connect home buyers to sellers interested in purchasing a home.

Market Your Home

Now that you have your listing available to potential buyers, it’s time to talk about some marketing strategies that are sure to increase your buyer pool.

Let’s start simple and focus on the inside of your house. You can attract more attention to your listing by staging your space. Begin with a deep clean, remove personal items, and make sure the house is clutter-free. Next, choose neutral pieces of furniture and decor to make the house look homey without being over the top. Try to create a space that will make it easy for potential buyers to envision a future there, and remember the importance of first impressions!

Once the house is staged, it’s time to capture the interior and exterior beauty of the house with photography. Some sellers often overlook this step, but good photography can actually make a huge difference when selling a house. Potential buyers evaluate homes by looking at their photos, so if you want more buyers to be interested in your home, you need professional-quality photos to share.

Post the home’s photos on your online listing, and think about generating ads to share as well. When it comes to advertisements, you can choose to place them in print publications, share them on digital platforms, or send them via direct mail. Consider your budget when choosing what advertisement options work best for you as a seller.

Once the listing attracts attention from advertisements, you can start holding open houses for buyers who are interested in the property. To get even more buyers to view your listing, hold an open house and specifically invite buying agents to attend. Don’t forget to place a for sale sign on your property! For sale signage can be provided on ForSaleByOwner.com listings.

Use Your Own Network

Many sellers don’t realize how powerful their own networks can be when looking to increase their property’s buying pool. There are many ways you can utilize social media platforms to engage with people you know who may be interested in buying a home. Word of mouth can spread very fast, so start by posting your listing on popular social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This will share the listing with your network, and maybe even create buzz among your followers and their networks!

Reassessing Your Pricing

As the market fluctuates, so can the prices of properties for sale. You should only revise the price of your listing as a last resort, but sometimes this move can be beneficial if you find your pricing is not in line with the market. 

Relisting 

Finally, if your home has been on the market for too long, you might want to consider relisting. Like repricing, this should only be used as a last resort, but sometimes it can help to take down a listing and relist it with stronger photos and descriptions. 

You can list your home for free with ForSaleByOwner.com.

Categories
Sell a House

Marketing Techniques To Sell Your Home FSBO

When marketing your home, you need to put your best foot forward. As more and more home buyers are searching for their dream house online, you might be wondering how to develop a winning marketing technique that will wow potential buyers and sell your house fast. Marketing your house on your own brings up a unique set of challenges to navigate, but with these easy strategies, you’ll have buyers knocking on your door in no time.

Learn how to market your home more effectively and attract potential buyers by watching this short video by our preferred title partner, Amrock.

Click here to get Amrock’s For-Sale-by-Owner Guide for free! It’s filled with useful resources to help you successfully navigate your for-sale-by-owner closing process.

How To Sell Your Home 

Love it or list it? Making a choice to sell your home is a big decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Once you’ve made up your mind to take the plunge, it’s time to set your plan into action. Before you list your home, make every effort to clean and declutter your space. Take the time to renovate and update any broken fixtures or appliances to put your home in the best light. Once your home is picture ready, hire a professional photographer to take interior and exterior photos, or do it yourself. The goal is to provide people with a full experience of what your property has to offer. The next crucial step is to list your property online by providing an engaging description and beautiful home photos!

Marketing Techniques

Attracting buyers to your property starts with giving your home a mini makeover. The good news is that you don’t need a reality series budget when marketing your home to make potential buyers swoon over your listing. Start by showing off the best features of the house like that cozy fireplace or the hardwood flooring. 

Here are seven simple marketing techniques on how to sell your home and get more attention from buyers online. 

Brighten Your Home With Natural Lighting

Let the sunshine in by opening blinds and curtains. By using the power of natural lighting, your home will appear warmer and more inviting. Get creative by adding unique light fixtures to areas that don’t have windows. And when it comes to cramped spaces, decorate with reflective surfaces to brighten up narrow hallways and small bathrooms. 

Freshen Up Your Space With Greenery

Make the best first impression with newly planted flowers and freshly trimmed shrubbery. Tidy up outdoor areas by sweeping pathways and mowing the lawn before taking exterior photos for your listing. If possible, take any outdoor pictures during warmer seasons like summer or spring before the colder months set in with snow.

Make Guests Feel Warm & Cozy

No matter what time of year your guests arrive, you’ll want to make them feel comfortable, and that includes the temperature. Queue the heater during winter or air conditioner during summer months before any tour begins to ensure that potential buyers feel at ease in your home. Making the environment relaxing is just one step to ensuring your potential visitors become permanent residents.

Get A Head Start Before Spring

Spring and summer months are notoriously busy seasons for buying and selling homes. In these times, it’s essential to get a head start on marketing your home before the spring kicks off. You’ll find that there are fewer homes to compete against, giving you a strategic market advantage.

Get Expert Real Estate Help

Preparing to sell your home requires a significant amount of paperwork and even negotiation skills. Having an experienced real estate agent can help you navigate one of the most significant financial transactions you will make in your life. Speak with friends or relatives for referrals. Look online for active MLS listings to locate real estate agents working in your area. Consider hiring an online real estate agent to help with listing your property, negotiating agreements with buyers, and support a smooth closing.

Draw In Buyers With Free Coffee Or Tea

Who can resist free drinks? Getting visitors in the door can be as simple as offering a complimentary beverage. Open houses and tours can start off on the right foot when buyers begin with a great feeling. And a little extra caffeine and sugar can’t hurt. Make sure to offer disposable cups, lids, and decaffeinated options for guests when they visit. 

Make Buyers Feel At Home

Although you might be tempted to ask visitors to remove their shoes when they enter your home, you never want to make potential buyers feel uncomfortable. Treat your guests like royalty, and if you’re worried about trekking some dirt inside of your home, put out a welcome mat near the entrance. 

How To Sell Your House Yourself 

Selling your house by yourself without a real estate agent can be a demanding process, including paperwork, negotiations and marketing. However, with the right techniques, you can successfully sell your home on your own. One of the first steps you can take is to evaluate the fair market value of your home by searching online for property values, hiring a licensed appraiser, or even asking an agent to create a market analysis report. After you list the property, try to schedule open houses and post signage to let others know that your home is on the market. Next, negotiate with potential buyers and ensure that all essential documents are completed. The final step is to complete the signing process, generally conducted at a title company office. This part of the process ensures that you are released from any liens like a mortgage, and transfers the property ownership to the new buyers.

How To Sell Your House Fast In A Slow Market

Preparing to sell your house in a slow market can feel like prepping for a high dive into freezing water. Chances are that homeowners will eventually face a buyer’s market with aggressive competition. In cases like these, it’s important to look for ways to enhance your marketing approach. 

  • Price your home to sell – Your purchase price can make buyers excited or turn them away. Make sure that your listing amount isn’t overpriced for the market by reviewing similar homes and purchase prices in your area. 
  • Stage your home – A picture is worth 1,000 words, and a bad photo can cost you thousands. Set the right mood for your home buyer by having your home professionally cleaned and staged before you snap some new photos to help your property stand out. 
  • Get creative with marketing – When the going gets tough, the tough get going. It may be time to start marketing aggressively with new tactics like adding a virtual tour to your listing, taking out ads in local newspapers, posting drone footage, or doing a Facebook Live showing the best features of your home. 
  • Throw in bonuses – If buyers are scarce, it doesn’t hurt to add special incentives. Adding new appliances, furnishings, or tools can sweeten the deal for new home buyers looking for a turnkey property. 
  • Showcase a home’s best features – Put a spotlight on unique aspects of a home such as open-concept floorplans, a finished basement, or recently renovation kitchen. A descriptive listing and professional photos can go a long way to turn potential buyers into big fans. 
  • Offer more closing costs – Consider offering a higher amount of closing costs rather than lowering your purchase price to motivate buyers.

How To Sell Your Home Fast In 5 Steps

Patience is a virtue, but sometimes you need a shortcut. If the circumstances call for a quick turnaround on the sale of your home, use these five straightforward strategies. 

  1. Remove and update your listing – Newer listings are seen first by home buyers online. When you take down your listing for 5 or more days and update it with professional photos and intriguing description, your post will have a better chance of being seen. 
  2. Decrease the purchase price – Dropping the price is one of the best ways to sell your property. In the case that you want to sell your home fast, try knocking off 5% off the purchase price from the most recent home sale in your area. 
  3. Offer a 24-hour flash sale – Urgency is critical when selling online, and homes are no exception. Try taking out an ad in the newspaper, using Craigslist, printing flyers or adding signage to your home, emphasizing the dates and times of your flash home sale. Once you receive the bids, you can determine if you want to accept the proposition. 
  4. Provide a unique incentive – If your standard incentives like appliances and furniture don’t work, get flexible with your closing cost terms. Create a valuable offer buyers can’t refuse by adding a unique experience like a vacation or an exclusive spa package! 
  5. Stand out to buyers – You can never make a second first impression. Stand out to buyers by paying for professional staging to common areas like living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms. Add curb appeal with fresh greenery and new paint. 

Conclusion

Marketing is part of a larger process when selling your home by yourself. By getting creative with marketing techniques such as local advertisements in newspapers, offering innovative incentives and marketing a 24-hour sale, you can increase the chances of selling your home quickly.

Categories
Blog

What You Should Know About Real Estate Disclosures

When you’re buying a home, a seller is required to share some details about the house. Some details you might be able to notice without a seller’s disclosure, and some you may have missed when touring the house. You should know when a house has problems, whether you can see them or not. 

Without a seller’s disclosure, you could inherit major home issues without ever knowing it. Here’s what a real estate disclosure can include and what you should look out for when reviewing one.

What Is A Real Estate Disclosure?

A real estate disclosure is a document that details the condition of a seller’s home. The point of the seller’s disclosure is to make sure the buyer understands what the seller knows about the home. For example, if the roof was replaced when the current sellers were living in the home, that information would be in the disclosure form.

Seller’s disclosures are to inform buyers of what they could potentially inherit in a home, but they also serve another purpose: They’re meant to protect the seller from any future legal action. If the buyer takes over a home knowing about something they saw in the real estate disclosure, they can’t later sue the seller if something goes wrong.

What Does A Seller Have To Disclose In A Real Estate Disclosure?

Most property disclosures include details about the property in many different forms, including:

  • The structure and appliances of the home: You’ll see details about the structure of a home, including the ceilings, foundation, walls and windows. You’ll also learn about any damage to major appliances in the home, like heating and cooling systems, electrical units and even the sprinkler system, if applicable.
  • Termites and pests: If there have been any wood-destroying attacks on the home, like termites, fungi or other pests, the seller needs to share their awareness.
  • Flooding: As a buyer, you have the right to know if the home has ever had any water intrusion, drainage or flooding problems. You’ll also learn if the home is in a flood hazard area and if the property requires flood insurance (not all properties do).
  • Plumbing: Discover the type of drinking water source your potential future home has (like public, private or well, for example). Also learn if there have been any defects to the water system (or systems) or plumbing leaks for as long as the owner has had the property.
  • Roof: The seller is required to share if they are aware of any roof-related issues, including leaks, repairs, replacements or anything else. The owner is also required to disclose the age of the roof.
  • Sinkholes: You might learn that a home could have had settling or sinkhole issues – sometimes it’s not the house you’re looking to buy but homes near it.
  • Homeowner information: A seller is required to share information about the homeowner’s association requirements or other similar membership requirements for buying a home. You’ll also learn about any boundary or access road concerns. For instance, if the property you’re looking to buy shares any walls, fences or features with adjoining properties.
  • Environmental concerns: Homes built before 1978 are legally required to give potential buyers disclosures about lead-based paint. You’ll also learn about other types of environmental hazards, like asbestos, mold, defective drywall, contaminated soil and other concerns.
  • Governmental claims: Sellers are required to disclose administrative claims against the property as well as any claims brought up from municipal or county assessments. If the seller knows of any litigation or claim, the buyer has a right to know it as well. The seller is required to share information about permits pulled on the home, whether by them or previous owners.

Seller’s disclosures can vary based on where you live. Different laws exist at the state and local level. You might have other disclosure information included in yours that isn’t listed here. 

How Do I Find Out About Home Disclosures?

Since disclosures are different by state, county and jurisdiction, you may need to pay the city office a visit. When you visit your city’s building services department, you’ll learn about records, permits and build inspections for your potential home.

You can also ask your real estate agent or attorney for the home disclosure. The seller’s agent or attorney should have a copy of the real estate disclosure for you after an offer to buy the home is agreed upon by both parties.

A disclosure is not the same as a home inspection. A disclosure is a form provided by the seller detailing the seller’s best knowledge about their home and any potential issues. A home inspection is done by a licensed professional that checks every area of the home. Those areas are included in a home disclosure, but issues might be found that a seller either didn’t know about or didn’t share in the disclosure form. If a seller deliberately hides information about defects in the property, you as a buyer have a right to legal action.

A home inspection might reveal issues that need to be addressed before a buyer can close on a home. For instance, outdated electrical panels may require the seller to replace the unit in order for the seller can get home insurance. Structural issues, including the roof, might require the seller to pay for updates or repairs before going through with a home closing. This might push back the potential closing date. But without home insurance, you may not be able to buy the home. A disclosure paired with a home inspection can be the determining factors in getting the best house for you.If you’re looking to sell your home and want to make sure you have the proper paperwork in place, use our tools to get started. If you’re considering selling your home by yourself, it’s important to make sure you have what you need ready to go. Real estate forms, including a seller’s disclosure and a lead paint disclosure, are great starting points.

Categories
Blog

How To Market Your Home When Selling It Yourself

If you’re thinking about selling your home for sale by owner, the idea of saving money on agent fees probably sounds pretty nice. However, unless you live in a hot real estate market, there can be challenges when selling your home without the help of a professional. But with a little knowledge and a strong real estate marketing plan, selling your own home can be a very manageable task.

Why Would I Want To Sell My Home By Owner?

Before we go into some of the different real estate marketing techniques for selling your own home, let’s talk a little more about why you want to go down this path in the first place. The major reason might be to keep more money in your pocket after the sale.

When you sell a home, the typical commission is 5% – 6% of the home’s selling price. This amount is split between the buyer’s agent and the selling agent. However, if you choose to sell your own home, you’re cutting that commission in half by eliminating the selling agent’s fees.

For example, let’s consider a $300,000 home where there is a 5% commission split evenly. If you hired an agent to sell your home, the total commission would be $15,000. But if you choose to sell the house yourself, the commission would be $7,500 to the buyer’s agent. That’s $7,500 back in your pocket.

How Can I Sell My House Quickly?

Selling a home by owner can be a difficult task, but it can be even harder if the owner is on a time crunch. If you’re looking to sell your home quickly, act fast and follow these steps.

Make Your Home Look Picture Perfect

If you want to sell your home, it’s important for it to look picture-perfect to potential buyers. Start fixing up your home’s interior appearance by giving it a deep clean. Remove clutter and unwanted items, and make sure to organize everything you leave in the house. It might be smart to get a storage unit to remove items that would take up unnecessary space in your home.

Next, make repairs in your house. While you probably don’t have time to make huge renovations, you can improve your interior by applying a fresh coat of paint to the walls, fixing loose tiles and repairing door handles and leaky faucets. You might even think about updating appliances or light fixtures.

Finally, stage the inside of your house and boost the exterior curb appeal. This will make potential buyers more interested in your home!

Set A Reasonable Price

Sometimes setting a price can be the hardest part of selling a house by owner. However, this stage is very important because pricing your house right can help it sell fast. When pricing your house, it’s important to consider the market and think about how much value your home and neighborhood have. You can do this by researching price trends and seeing how much similar homes in your area have sold for.

After you decide on a reasonable price, it’ll finally be time for you to create a marketing strategy to sell your home. Read on to become a real estate marketing expert.

How Do I Market My Home For Sale?

Once you make decide to sell your own home, it’s time to come up with a good real estate marketing plan. This plan will help attract as many people into your home as possible, increasing the chances that your home will sell fast. Here are some of the best real estate marketing techniques you can apply.

Listing On The MLS

More than 80% of all homes sold can be found on a multiple listing service. Given that statistic, you can see the importance that the MLS will have on your ability to sell your own home. Most buyers use agents when they’re searching for a new home. These agents typically use MLS listings to find homes that match their clients’ needs. So if you’re planning to make the sale on your own, listing your home on an MLS is one of the most important things you’ll need to do.

Photos And Videos Drive Traffic

Being on the MLS is crucial for people to find your listing, but so is having photos and videos that make your home stand out and get people in the door. We already pointed out that you’re going to save a lot more money selling your home yourself, so use a portion of those savings on hiring a photographer. A great photographer can help bring your home to life. Just make sure to hire someone who has experience with home listings because they will be better able to make the important parts of your home stand out.

Print Advertising Is Still Important

Although we live in a digital world, print advertising is still very important when selling a home. You can start your print advertising strategy by adding a for sale sign to your front yard. This will help let people know your house is on the market when they drive by. It’s also important to have an informational flyer you can hand out that will help other people know more about your home. A flyer lists the features of the home and includes a few images to give potential buyers something to look at after they leave the showing.

Direct Mail Works

Would you be surprised to know that 66% of people have purchased something because of direct mail? While many people might think of snail mail as being an outdated form of marketing, it’s still very powerful. For that reason, many real estate agents are still using it successfully. Direct mail can give your home the opportunity to stand out. Anything you send out about your home should include information about the property, the price, the square footage, the property’s best features and some of the home’s best photos.

Don’t Forget About Digital Advertising

The goal of your marketing campaign is to get people inside your home. Then the house will hopefully sell itself. Thus, digital advertising should be an important part of your real estate marketing plan. Start by setting up a simple website for your home. This should include all the basic information, including the price, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the square footage and all the home’s features. Include interior and exterior photos as well. You can also create e-flyers that can be sent to agents who frequently work in your neighborhood, or post on social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Make Sure You Hold Open Houses

Hosting an open house is a great way to get more potential buyers in the door. Put up signs throughout your neighborhood so that it’s simple for people to find your home. You can also advertise your open house online and in your local newspaper.

Are There Closing Costs When You Sell A Home For Sale By Owner?

Yes, there are closing costs when you sell a home yourself. Closing costs usually add up to 2 – 4% of the purchase price. In some states, buyers pay closing costs; in others, the seller and buyer share the costs.

Hopefully with this FSBO advice and marketing tips, you’re now ready to market and sell your house like a real estate agent. However, selling a home can still present some hurdles and challenges. If you find yourself needing some more guidance or have additional questions, ForSaleByOwner.com is here to assist with FSBO professionals and tools to help you along the way.