Categories
Blog Video

Keeping Your Staged Home Maintained And Clean

Once you’ve decluttered, depersonalized and arranged your furniture, you’re ready to start showing your home. But how do you maintain a staged home and keep it in show-ready condition for buyers while also living in it?

When it comes to maintaining a staged home, it helps to be proactive. Creating your own checklists and schedules and delegating chores to members of the family who are willing to help is a great way to get started.

Messy homes give buyers the impression that the owners don’t care about the house and don’t take good care of it. Some minor daily maintenance will go a long way to keeping dirt from piling up and small behaviors like returning items to drawers will help you prevent clutter.

Do staged homes sell better?

There are no guarantees when selling a home, but you should always aim to put your home’s best foot forward. Staged homes eliminate clutter and personal items in order to let potential buyers imagine themselves living in the space.

According to Forbes, “a staged home will sell for 17% more on average than a non-staged home, and 95% of staged homes sell in 11 days or less. That is statistically 87% faster than non-staged homes.” If you want the best shot at selling your house quickly and for top dollar, you should stage the home and keep it clean in between viewings.

Can you live in a staged home?

You can absolutely live in a home once it is staged, but be prepared for a potentially stressful situation. When you first stage your home, you’ll be doing a deep clean and purge of excess and personalized items. This is great if you plan to have a big open house or a full weekend of showings, but after the initial burst, showings usually come in one at a time, and often at the last minute.

You will need to keep your home as clean as possible and clean up as you go. Also, plan to develop a quick cleaning routine so that you’re able to get your home ready for last-minute showings. It might help to establish a staging area – like the attic or garage – to put a couple of big boxes to hold things you want to remove from your house. Just remember, potential buyers could open any closet door or check out the garage or attic, too.

It is equally as important to be realistic with your real estate agent about your availability for showings. A lot of real estate agents use apps to allow buyer’s agents and sellers to coordinate showing requests. Many agents will pressure you to accept any requested showing. However, if you have a strict work schedule, kids on a tight bedtime routine, or any other specific needs, you need to be clear in advance so they can mark those times as unavailable on the schedule. And if something comes up, you don’t have to accept a time, no matter what your agent says.

Cleaning Checklist

Here are some tips and tricks to help you keep your staged home maintained to sell once your home is decluttered and ready to present to potential buyers. Remember – hopefully you won’t have to do this for long.

  1. Plan Your Week

Many areas of your home don’t need to be cleaned daily, so try designating those areas to specific days of the week. Maybe you clean the hardwood floors on Monday, the tile on Tuesday, baseboards on Wednesday and glass surfaces on Thursday.

This is a great system for keeping your home at a certain base level of clean, but also be prepared to do some spot cleaning right before showings.

  1. Stay On Top of Landscaping

The front of your home is the first thing that potential buyers will notice. No matter what season it is, make sure that you have stunning curb appeal and buyers can easily access the front door. Keep the grass mowed and the sidewalk clear of leaves. Keep fresh flowers on your porch and don’t forget to water them. Sweep of the porch and shake off the doormat as needed.

  1. Keep the Entryway Clear of Clutter

Place mail, shoes and jackets in the proper place every time someone enters the home. Get out of the habit of tossing items on the table or ground and leaving them there to build clutter. You never know when you might need to quickly evacuate for a showing, so having this space clean and clear will make that process much easier.

  1. Clear and Wipe Down Surfaces

Every night before bed, take 10 minutes and remove items that don’t belong on your countertops, tabletops and vanities. This keeps the home looking cleaner and when you wake up in the morning there’s nothing to put away. Also take the time to wipe off countertops and the kitchen or dining table so there aren’t crumbs. Crumbs won’t make or break the sale of your house, but you want potential buyers to see a clean slate and not think the house is a mess.

  1. Keep the Floors Clean

Doing some light sweeping and vacuuming on a daily basis is extremely valuable. If you live a busy and active lifestyle it may be a good idea to invest in a robotic vacuum to take care of some of the mess while you’re at work. That way if a buyer calls and wants to see your home that evening, it won’t be a mad dash to get home and clean. Regardless, try to sweep up after any messes immediately to make getting ready for showings easier.

  1. Cover Up Lingering Odors

Avoid cooking smelly food in your home while it’s on the market and dine out for those foods instead. Run your garbage disposal with a little white vinegar or half a lemon to help kill odors. Always take the kitchen trash out with you when you leave for a showing.

If you have pets, don’t forget to manage their needs as well. Make sure you empty litter boxes regularly, scoop the poop in the yard and regularly bathe your furry friends. You can also add aromas that buyers find pleasing but don’t overdo it. Strong air fresheners can bother people’s allergies and make it seem like you are covering up a problem.

  1. Clean Dishes and Remove Garbage

Never leave dishes out when potential buyers are coming. Empty the sink and the drying rack. It’s actually best to put your drying rack away under the sink as they often look kind of gross and take up a lot of counter space. You want your kitchen to look clean and spacious and a drying rack can make it feel cramped and dirty.

You might also want to consider using paper plates while showings are going on if doing dishes becomes a problem for you. Always take out the trash before a showing and get in the habit of dumping any small trash cans, such as in the bathroom, into your larger kitchen trash can regularly. You don’t want your buyers focusing on your used tissues instead of on your beautiful bathrooms.

  1. Pick Up Your Clothes

Keep the laundry constantly moving throughout your home. Wash clothes as soon as you have enough for a load. Clothes should either be stored in a hamper or in your closet or drawers. Don’t leave clothes on the floor left or lying around because it shows buyers that there isn’t enough storage room in the home. Expect that buyers will look in your laundry room, so clean up the bottles or supplies that you have on the shelf and don’t leave dirty or clean clothes laying around.

  1. Make Beds Daily

You can instantly make the bedroom look put together when you make the bed. Make the beds neatly and place pillows each morning, so you don’t have to worry about it if there is a last-minute showing. If your kids have a lot of stuffed animals, arrange them neatly on the bed or place them in a basket in their bedroom.

  1. Keep Bathroom Clean

Make sure to wipe down the shower and surfaces daily so you keep mildew away. Pull shower curtains closed, but be prepared that buyers will likely peek inside. Be sure to use a toilet brush to clean your toilets regularly and put down the seats. Hang or stack towels. Many agents recommend picking up any bathmats so that potential buyers don’t get them dirty with their shoes and so that they can see the floors better.

  1. Store Personal Items

Store personal items out of sight whether it’s shampoo, jewelry or medication. You don’t want to distract the buyer or risk anything going missing from your home. Try to clear off the counters in your bathrooms of all toiletries as well as any dresser tops or vanities that might have a lot of small items on them. Consolidate and minimize for a streamlined, buyable looking home.

  1. Prepare the Living Areas

One of the most important rooms to many buyers is the family room. Take the time to lovingly arrange any blankets or pillows on your sofa. Put remote controls in a basket or drawer and clear off the coffee table. Make this space feel homey and inviting – but not like you just walked into the other room to get a snack – to make potential buyers feel at home.

These crucial tasks could make or break the sale of your home, so have the whole family pitch in to do their part. Consider making a game out of cleaning or have a reward system. Remind them this situation is not permanent, but it could be good practice for when you move into your new home.

Remember that you’re in competition with many other homes for sale and buyers need to be able to visualize themselves in your home despite your occupancy. Focus on these tips to keep your home in good condition and show-ready.

Categories
Blog Video

Holiday Home-Staging Tips To Help Sell Your House

It’s that time of year again when family and friends descend on your home to carve the turkey, light the menorah or trim the tree. If you play your cards right, the holidays can be a great time to sell your home; there’s less competition in the market and home shoppers are highly motivated.

Even with less competition, it is important to stage your home in a way that will appeal to the masses to attract the most potential buyers to your home, even if it means changing your personal decor for a while. If you’re looking to sell your home during this busy time of year, making your home festive while also keeping it show-ready is a delicate balance. Try these tips to keep your home in the holiday spirit while on the market.

1. Be Tasteful At The Curb

Curb appeal is the first thing that potential buyers notice about your home. Keep the tinsel, multicolored lights and those blow-up characters in storage. Remember that neutral decor has mass appeal and, when in doubt, keep it simple.

The entrance to your home should be understated. Try using white lights for elegance. Keep to a simple color scheme to highlight your home’s exterior colors. Use natural elements like pine cones, seasonal flowers and greenery. Don’t forget to hang a seasonal decorative wreath on your door or windows.

Remember that potential buyers will be driving by your home at all hours, even if they don’t have a showing scheduled. Keep your lawn cut and clear of leaves, keep your driveway and sidewalks free of snow, and sweep off your porch more frequently than you might otherwise. You want to be sure that your home looks extremely well-maintained from the street.

2. Light Up Your Home

With the days getting shorter, it’s important to focus on your light sources. You will want to have good lighting on both the inside and outside of your home. Since it gets dark before dinner time, many of your home showings will likely be after dark. Have a bright porch light so potential buyers can clearly see the front door and the key to get in. White twinkle lights add a festive touch and help to provide a little extra lighting.

When buyers or guests approach the house, having all your interior lights on illuminates the home and lures them inside to a warm, inviting atmosphere. If you have a home showing during the day, keep the curtains open to let in natural light. A well-lit home allows potential buyers to see your entire space and appreciate every detail.

3. Holiday Style Should Enhance Home Style

Every home has an architectural style – specific features that characterize a home – and you should include that style in your holiday decor. Before you put up the holiday trimmings, make sure they match the home’s theme and color scheme to avoid any distractions.

If you have a traditional home, classic decorations will accent better than contemporary decorations. Midcentury modern homes should be paired with vintage decorations. Keep holiday decor in line with your home’s style to best accentuate the selling features of your space.

4. Seasonal Vs. Religious Decor

While Thanksgiving is commonly celebrated regardless of religious beliefs, Chanukah and Christmas are connected to their respective religions and excessive religious decoration could be a turn-off for interested buyers.

Keep your religious decor to a minimum and show your spirit with seasonal accents instead. Seasonal decor could be snowflakes, greenery, winter branches, wrapped gifts, ornaments, owls or reindeer.

Try not to use decorations that are too personalized, because buyers will have a hard time picturing themselves in the home. This is not the year to display all of your kid’s pictures with Santa. Keep it simple and remember that you have no idea who your buyer might be or what they might like, so go for things that are universally likeable.

5. Reuse Current Decor

If you plan to put out a bunch of holiday decor, you really should remove some of your everyday decorations to keep the space from getting too cluttered. To keep your holiday decor simple, plan on using items that you normally have lying around your home. Reuse lanterns, candlesticks, vases or bowls, cake stands, picture frames and other accessories, but dress them up with festive trinkets to change the look of the piece. Less is more on house showings.

For example, place ornaments inside the lantern, add pine cones in an apothecary jar or wrap a colorful ribbon around the bottom of a clear vase with seasonal flowers. If you have a lot of framed photos, consider temporarily swapping the photos with holiday wrapping paper for a subtle festive touch. Small accents are really all of the holiday decor that you need when selling your home.

6. Pay Attention To The Color Scheme

When adding holiday decor in your home, you’ll want to think about the current colors you are displaying. While silver and gold go with any color, Christmas bright red can clash with your light blue walls or be too bright for an earth tone color scheme. So, use colors that will complement the palette rather than be an eyesore. Try to have your colors blend in more than you usually would.

When in doubt about what will look best in real estate photos, take some photos yourself. Before the official photographer comes over, snap a few pictures on your phone. Look at them – or better yet, show them to someone who does not live in your home – and note what draws your eye. If the holiday decor is overwhelming, you need to scale it back. You want your home to be the star of your listing photos.

7. Accentuate Your Home’s Positive Features

When staging a home, it’s important to make focal points stand out. To do this, avoid blocking beautiful views, cluttering up the shelves or mantel, or hiding any other unique features in your home.

Don’t display large collections of holiday decor. Rooms filled with decorations can feel smaller and collections distract from features of your home. You want potential buyers to walk away remembering your wonderful home, instead of only remembering your overwhelming Christmas village.

Choose a few specific areas of the home to decorate and key accents to show off those highlighted features. If your house has a high ceiling, accentuate the space with a tall, narrow tree tastefully decorated to showcase the space. If there are arched windows or doors, highlight the shape with garland. Keep holiday decorations simple and let your home really shine.

The Big Picture

Remember – home buyers are not buying your stuff. If your holiday decor is overwhelming or distracting, they may not be able to see or appreciate the home underneath.

Categories
Articles Blog FAQs Marketing Virtual Agent

Tips For Showing Your Home For Sale By Owner

Your home is on the market. You’ve created a solid marketing plan, spread the word online and organized a house showing schedule. Now buyers will come to see your home for themselves.

How you conduct your showings and open houses can have a major impact on how quickly you sell your home, not to mention the price you’re able to fetch. Check out these simple house showing tips for sellers so you make a strong first impression on potential buyers.

Do: Stage Your Home

If you want to know how to show a house, start by making sure the house is clean, neat and free of clutter, inside and out. Pack up the things you won’t need until after your move, including family photos and personal belongings. These can serve as distractions for potential buyers when their focus should be on your home’s best features.

However, don’t just shove things into closets or the garage – remember that buyers will look in those spaces, too. Overflowing closets give potential buyers the idea that your home doesn’t have enough storage room. Worst case scenario, you can store bulky items in the trunk of your car temporarily or neatly to the side of your garage.

Plus, buyers want to imagine themselves living in your home, and any signs that someone else is living there can make it more difficult for potential buyers to envision their own belongings in the space.

If your home has bold decor choices – such as brightly-painted walls or cabinets – you might want to neutralize them before placing your home for sale. Remember that while your bold choices may appeal to a particular person’s style, neutral choices are unlikely to offend or put off any buyer. Even though paint is easy to change, many people won’t look past it.

Also, open the shades and turn on the lights, even during the day. In general, make sure everything is light and bright, but also let common sense be your guide. If the lights in your kitchen can be as bright as an operating room, you might want to bring them down a bit.

Don’t: Skimp On Heating Or Cooling

Make sure your home is a comfortable temperature. A home that’s too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter will have potential buyers questioning the integrity of the insulation, windows and HVAC systems. Plus, if a home is uncomfortable, buyers are less likely to stick around for long. Don’t let it feel uncomfortable just so you can save a few bucks on your electric bill.

Do: Pay Attention To Curb Appeal

Outside, touch up your landscaping if needed. Rake the leaves, mow the lawn, trim the bushes and add a few potted flowers for some color. It’s also a good idea to brighten up the exterior of your house. Add a fresh doormat and use a damp rag to quickly wipe any dirt or debris off your front doorstep.

Clean the windows and power wash the brick or siding so your home looks sharp the moment someone pulls into your driveway. If you have a deck or patio, make sure it’s clean and inviting. Remove covers from any outdoor furniture or grill and position them to face the house’s back door.

Don’t: Go Overboard With Cleaning

Unless your home hasn’t been cleaned in months, you shouldn’t need to remove all your furniture and hire a team of professionals to scrub it from floor to ceiling. The goal isn’t to turn back the clock and make your home appear brand-new. This can get expensive and likely won’t net you a positive return on investment.

Our sense of smell can be as influential as what we see, so you should avoid cooking any fish or spicy foods before a home showing and take out the garbage. But resist the urge to light a ten-pack of scented candles. What smells nice to one buyer might not to another, and someone walking through clouds of lavender vanilla or fresh cut roses might think you’re trying to cover up something foul.

Do: Prepare To Answer Questions About Your Home

Anticipate buyer questions. You should get a lot of them. You’ll look uncertain about the merits of your home if you stumble through answers. Try to answer with facts rather than opinions. If someone asks about upgrades, be ready to talk who did the work and when it was completed. Know things like how old the furnace and AC units are. Have property tax, gas, electric and water bills available for buyers to inspect.

You should also be able to talk about the surrounding area at your home showing. Instead of saying you live in a good school district or a safe neighborhood, know objective school and safety ratings. Point out awards that local schools have won. Do some research on nearby shops, restaurants and parks so you can speak to the perks a home buyer can’t see during their visit.

Don’t: Reveal Too Much About Your Situation

Try to educate home buyers about your home – not your personal circumstances. Even small details can give buyers leverage. If you let someone know you’re moving because you’re starting a new job in a month, they’ll know you’re under a tight deadline to sell and might float you a low-ball offer.

You don’t need to lie if a buyer asks about why you’re moving. Just explain that it’s time for you to start a new chapter, keep your answers vague and return the conversation to the home as quickly as you can.

Do: Practice Your Home Tour Routine

Have a plan for your home showing ahead of time. Practice the order you’ll show all the areas of your house and how you’ll describe them – but be flexible if a visitor wants to move about the house in a different order or even asks if they can explore on their own.

Make a list of the highlights of your home – including any upgrades like cosmetic or energy efficient updates – and make sure to highlight those. Practice explaining these updates and answering common questions about your home so you appear professional and knowledgeable.

Don’t: Follow Buyers Around Your Home

As a rule of thumb, try to minimize your presence as buyers look things over. Most people want their space as they imagine living in a new home and feel uncomfortable if a homeowner is pressuring them to move from room to room. Let buyers enter each room first and resist the urge to sell them on your home’s features unless you’re asked a question.

Do: Schedule Open Houses For Weekends

Cleaning and getting your home perfect for each showing can get exhausting. So, holding an open house at one specific primetime is a great way to get the most bang out of your clean house.

Saturday and Sundays between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. are the most typical times for open houses and home tours. Having your home ready and available during these optimal times is key to maximizing the number of people who can tour your home.

However, be flexible for other showing times as well. Most buyers try to schedule multiple showings in a row on one day. If your home is unavailable, they’ll just skip over to the next home. Try to be available as much as possible.

Don’t: Let Surprise Visitors Throw You Off

One of the best ways to get the maximum number of house tours is to be as flexible as possible with tour times. This isn’t too hard to do for one weekend or even a week or two, but it can get old over time. If you have small kids, pets or work from home, vacating at the drop of a hat can be even more logistically complicated.

Decide ahead of time whether you’ll accept last minute requests to visit without an appointment and what you’ll say if the situation comes up. For your own well-being, don’t change your mind in the heat of the moment.

What you don’t want is for a potential buyer to stroll through while you have dirty laundry piled up or family members going about their lives, which can come across as unprofessional and turn off a buyer who may have otherwise made an offer.

Do: Have Handouts And Refreshments

Show copies of the disclosure statement, property survey and homeowners association documents to potential buyers and suggest they pick up copies on their way out. It’s also a good idea to have property flyers printed that they can take home with them. Flyers are a great way to stay top of mind with potential buyers as they consider which home to make an offer on. Consider these tips on how to create a great house for sale by owner flyer.

It’s also a nice touch to have light refreshments available. Think bottled water, lemonade or iced tea to go with some cookies or brownies (without nuts).

Don’t: Have Pets Around

Some may love being greeted by a golden retriever, but it could be a major turn-off for others. There are also liability issues. While your dog or cat may be well-behaved, it’s not worth the risk to have an animal roaming around the home during a home showing.

Arrange for your pets to be out of the house with enough time to put away their toys and accessories. If you can’t find anyone to take care of your pet, the next best option is to keep them in a contained space and let the buyer know of its presence ahead of time.

If you do have pets, take the time to clean up after them thoroughly. Put away their food bowls, toy boxes and beds. Scoop any litter box or pick up poop in the yard. You don’t want to lie and call your house pet-free if it’s not, but you definitely don’t want to put off potential buyers who don’t like animals.

Do: Take Safety Precautions

You should make sure that at least one other person will be present with you during showings – it’s never a good idea to meet with a stranger alone and out of public view. In addition, let your neighbors know that you’ll be showing your home, so they can be on the lookout for anything unusual. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Additionally, if you want to be cautious about health safety, provide hand sanitizer or shoe coverings for your potential buyers, then wipe down surfaces with disinfectant wipes when they are gone.

Don’t: Leave Valuables Out

Be sure to put jewelry, passports, bank statements and other financial information out of sight. The same goes for medications. Even if it’s unlikely that a visitor will swipe something while you’re around, it’s best not to advertise any valuables in your home. Also, don’t forget to shut off and password-protect your phones, computers or devices.

Do: Get Feedback from Visitors to Improve

One of the most important house showing tips is to get more house showing tips from your audience. When buyers visit your home, try to keep notes of their name (or their buyer’s agent name), phone number, email address and the showing date. If you don’t hear from the buyer within a day or two, send out an email asking for their overall impression of the home, how it compares to other homes they’ve seen and what they liked and didn’t like.

The best way to make your home more appealing to buyers is to hear from buyers themselves. Sending an email, as opposed to asking in person, will make it easier to get honest answers. You don’t need to act on every comment or suggestion, but if you see a trend in what people are saying, you can take steps to improve your home and generate better offers in the future.

For more tips on showing your home like a pro, check out our six step guide to showing your home.

Categories
Articles Blog FAQs Preparing Virtual Agent

Documents To Sell A House For Sale By Owner

Whether you’re selling your home on your own or with the help of a real estate agent, there’s tons of paperwork involved. After all, it’s the biggest sale in most people’s lives. Read on to learn more about the documents you need and where to get them. You’ll also get the answers to frequently asked questions about how to sell your house yourself.

Where Can I Find The Right Paperwork To Sell My Home?

Before you start having showings of your home, you’ll need to line up all of the necessary paperwork. Different states have different regulations. What may be relevant in one state may not be applicable in another, so be sure to thoroughly research the local requirements. You can check your state and county government websites and fill in any cracks with information that can be found on the sites of your state land title association and local real estate agent associations.

If you need some help, a real estate attorney can provide this information for you and might take on your home sale at this point for a flat fee. You can also check out these do-it-yourself real estate forms and guides to get access to attorney-prepared, state-specific information that you can instantly download and start using.

What Documents Do I Need To Sell My Home?

While this varies by state, some examples of documents you may need to sell your home are:

Property survey: This is a legal document that shows the buyer the boundaries of your property. It also includes other details such as where any fences, driveways or other structures are located. This is typically ordered by the buyer.

Receipts and warranties: This information will help you document any new appliances, finishes and upgrades to your home.

Plans and permits: If you did any additions or upgrades, be sure to have the plans and/or permits handy.

Certificates of occupancy: These certificates show  that your home is compliant with municipal building codes and is safe to inhabit. You’ll need to get this from your municipality, have the permit pulled, have the inspection done, do the repairs (if applicable) and then have your home re-inspected.

Loan documents: This document typically includes the first mortgage, second mortgage and any home equity lines of credit.

Latest utility bills: These bills show buyers the amount your household has paid for electricity, water and/or gas each month.

Latest property tax bill: This bill gives buyers an idea of what they will pay in taxes should they purchase your home.

Title: The title shows that you own a legal or equitable interest in the home.

Homeowners association covenants and agreements: This will show buyers the rules established by the body that governs your neighborhood or condominium. It can include information about parking, pets, noise levels and more.

Floor plan or blueprints, if available: This gives buyers more insight into the layout and size of each room in your home. One way to stand out to buyers is to play up anything about your home that may be historically significant, such as a framed blueprint or a newspaper article about the home.

Once you have all your documents gathered, have at least two copies of anything that pertains to the house or your ownership. This way they’re available to potential buyers to inspect when they visit your home.

How Do I Sell A House By Owner?

Selling your home is a big thing to take on, but you can see significant savings by doing it yourself. There are five main steps to take:

  1. Assess your home’s value
  2. Get your home ready for sale
  3. Promote your home’s sale
  4. Negotiate the sale
  5. Close on the sale

Let’s get into the details of what each of these means.

Assess Your Home’s Value

Before listing your home, you want to accurately determine its value. A home that’s listed over its value can deter buyers. Later on in the process, it could cause problems with a buyer’s mortgage lender if the appraisal comes in too low.

On the other hand, you don’t want to list your house too low because you won’t get its full value. So how do you figure out its proper value?

First, you can easily look up an estimate online. Sites like Rocket HomesSM offer free home value estimates. This gives you a general idea, though it may not be completely accurate.

For a small fee, For Sale By Owner offers Pro Pricing. A licensed professional will perform an in-depth evaluation on your home. Within 5 – 7 business days of visiting your home, you’ll have a detailed report.

The other avenue is to hire a licensed appraiser. Most will charge $300 – $500 for the appraisal. You can use this valuation in negotiations with buyers. Unfortunately, a buyer’s mortgage lender won’t accept this appraisal and will order another.

Get Your Home Ready For Sale

Before you consider putting your home on the market, you need to make sure it’s in tip-top shape. While you may have gotten used to your home’s quirks, a potential buyer may see them as faults.

Make minor repairs, touch up paint and marks on the walls, clean the carpets and declutter. Think about how you would clean if a celebrity or royalty came to visit.

You want buyers to see the full potential of the space. Make sure it smells clean and is sparkling.

If you’ve already started packing, make sure all boxes are in a storage area and out of the main living spaces. You could go a step further and rent a storage unit to keep your stuff while transitioning.

Promote Your Home’s Sale

It may sound old school, but start with a great yard sign to promote your home’s sale. People hunting for houses in your neighborhood will see it and make note of it.

Get your house listed. Start by listing on popular home listing sites, like ForSaleByOwner.com. If you want to take it a step further, pay to have your home listed on a multiple listing service (MLS). An MLS is a catalog of homes accessible to real estate brokers and agents. With a listing on an MLS, you’ll get more traffic.

Organize and host an open house. Advertise it on sites like Facebook and Craigslist. Place signs on major roads nearby to lead people to your home.

Negotiate The Sale

Once you get an offer in, you’ll need to negotiate. A buyer may offer below your asking price or ask for you to pay closing costs.

This is the stage where you’ll need documentation. Within days of accepting a buyer’s offer, you must get a copy of their mortgage approval. Once a buyer submits a written offer that’s acceptable to you, a written contract must be drawn up.

This contract will include price, closing concessions, closing date and location plus a list of contingencies. These contingencies protect the buyer and allow them to back out of the contract if things go awry. For instance, if there’s a problem discovered during a home inspection, a buyer will have the option to back out.

Close On The Sale

Depending on your state’s laws, the closing will either take place at a title company or a real estate attorney’s office. The date of closing is when the buyer and seller come together and finish the sale.

Your house doesn’t sell until this moment. Make sure to keep communication channels open between yourself, the buyer and the closing agent. When asked for documentation, provide it as soon as possible to keep the process moving.

Why Do I Need A Disclosure Statement?

Before any potential buyer visits your home, you’ll want to make sure you complete a disclosure statement and have copies available when you show your home or hold an open house.

Required by most states, the disclosure outlines key defects or dangers about the property. This might include, but isn’t limited to, radon, structural problems, flooding, mold, lead paint, asbestos and other potentially problematic conditions.

Disclosure typically comes in the form of boilerplate documents (put together by the local or state REALTOR® association), where the seller is responsible for answering a series of yes/no questions detailing their home and their experience in it. You should be able to download a disclosure statement form for free from your state’s REALTOR® association.

It’s only fair that the buyer knows about such problems before making an offer. At the same time, a thorough disclosure statement protects you from post-sale claims by the buyer that they didn’t know about defects in the house.

What Should Be Included In A Real Estate Contract?

Nothing is more critical to your home sale than preparing and executing a proper legal agreement between you and the buyer. This contract between the buyer and seller outlines the terms of the agreement and should include:

  • Property and its characteristics: The type of property (condo, single family home, multiunit), address, lot size, parking, property identification number, etc.
  • Identity of the parties involved: Typically the buyer and seller
  • List of fixtures/personal property: What’s included in the purchase price
  • Purchase price: The agreed-upon price of the home
  • Earnest money amount and financing terms: The money paid to confirm the contract and details on the buyer’s financing
  • Target closing date: The date intended for the home sale to occur
  • Contingencies: Examples of this include attorney review, inspection provisions and/or a home sale/close contingency
  • Prorations: What the seller and buyer owe on items such as taxes, assessments and utilities
  • Title: What type of title clearance the seller is obligated to provide
  • Closing costs: Which party must pay for which closing costs
  • Notice or default legalese: What happens if a party breaches the contract
  • Miscellaneous provisions: Any other provisions the parties agree on

Before that first offer comes in, be prepared. If you can’t give the buyer the proper documents or be able to fill out a contract on the spot, your offer could fall through.

Are There Closing Costs On Homes For Sale By Owner?

There will always be some sort of fee for you as the seller, even if you’re not using a real estate agent. The good news is that almost everything in a FSBO transaction is negotiable, though.

Something else to keep in mind is that closing costs will vary, sometimes quite a bit, by state. Some common examples of closing costs you can expect are a deed transfer tax, excise tax and document preparation. Sometimes you may also need to pay for the owner’s title policy.

If you want to ensure your home sale goes smoothly, you’ll need to be absolutely sure you have all the required paperwork and documents to sell your home in order. If you need more guidance, check out our packages for home sellers. We’re here to help!

Categories
Privacy and Use

California Consumers Privacy Act

Your California Privacy Rights
Effective January 1st, 2020

The California Consumer Privacy Act permits our consumers who are California residents to request certain information regarding their disclosure of personal information to ForSaleByOwner.com, LLC.

 

Data Collection and Data Sharing

These are the types of data we might collect about you:

  • Identifiers
  • Any personal data described in subdivision (e) of Section 1798.80 of the California Consumer Privacy Act
  • Characteristics of protected classifications under California or federal law
  • Commercial data
  • Biometric data
  • Internet or other electronic network activity data
  • Geolocation data
  • Sensory data
  • Professional or employment data
  • Education data
  • Inferences drawn from any of the data used to create a customer profile

We might share your data with third parties for business purposes for any of these reasons:

  • Auditing
  • Detecting fraud
  • Debugging
  • Providing services
  • Internal research
  • Quality control

With your consent, we might share your personal data with third parties, including our affiliates, real estate network partners, mortgage partners and service providers, for these reasons:

  • Business purposes
  • Marketing
  • Analytics
  • Pre-populating your information to make your experience easier

To opt out of sharing your data (Effective January 1, 2020) please click here to contact us.

 

Sale of Data

We’ll never sell your data.

 

Your Privacy Rights – Effective January 1, 2020

If you’d like to review, access, revise or delete personal data we’ve collected about you.

To exercise this right, please contact the Rock Holdings Inc. Client Relations team. (Effective January 1, 2020).

By Phone:

888-444-7492

By Mail:

Rock Holdings, Inc
PO Box 44587
Detroit, MI 48244

 

Right to Know

You have a right to know what personal data we’ve collected about you, what data we’ve sold, who we’ve sold your data to, and what data we’ve shared for business purposes.

To exercise this right, please call 888-444-7492.

 

Right to Access

You have the right to see what specific pieces of data we have about you, and to get this data in a portable and easily accessible format.

To exercise this right, please call 888-444-7492.

 

Right to Delete

You have the right to request that we delete your data. We’re legally required to keep some data about you, but we’ll delete everything we can. Keep in mind that we might reacquire some of your data if we purchase data from a third party.

To exercise this right, please call 888-444-7492.

 
Categories
FAQs

I’m being asked for my credit card to use the The Independent package. Will I be charged a fee?

No – this information is only used to create your account. There are no hidden fees and you will not be charged unless you upgrade your package or select a paid service.

Categories
Checklist Closing FAQs Virtual Agent

How to Get from Accepting an Offer to Closing – To-Do List

Congratulations – you accepted an offer on your home! Now what?

Before you do anything, take a moment to savor that signed purchase agreement. It typically means all the energy you spent marketing your home has led to the right offer. It’s a major milestone – but it also means you have a new set of tasks ahead of you. If you’re selling your home on your own, use this for-sale-by-owner closing checklist to make sure you’re on the way to a successful sale!

1.      Hire an Attorney (If You Need One)

You may have heard that you should hire a real estate attorney when you sell your home. But do you really need one? Legally speaking, it depends on where you live. Some states (and in some cases, certain regions within states) require that an attorney prepare certain legal documents or oversee the closing of a home sale. You might need to do a little digging to find the requirements in your area.

Even if you don’t need to hire an attorney, it still might be a good idea. An attorney will make sure your paperwork is in order and that your rights are protected. Sometimes transactions get complicated – especially when there are questions of title, property distress, judgments or liens – so having an attorney to sort through all the red tape can be a lifesaver.

If you decide to hire an attorney, try to do so immediately after the purchase agreement has been signed. That way, your attorney can review the contract right away and negotiate any repairs or adjustments to the terms.

2.      Order Title and Arrange for Escrow

A home buyer and seller can negotiate who hires a title company and pays associated fees. In most cases, the home seller pays for the owner’s title insurance policy while the buyer pays for the lender’s policy. If you’re the one responsible for ordering title, be sure to have everything sorted out before closing day.

When it comes to escrow, you can typically use your title company as an escrow agent at no extra charge. Your escrow agent will order the title, property tax information, loan balances and other necessary paperwork.

The escrow agent will also serve as a third party who holds money in trust until a property sale closes. Say you received an earnest money deposit from the home buyer or have contracts that need safe keeping. Deposit these with your escrow agent, who will ensure smooth transfer of all money and documents after closing.

3.      Prepare for the Appraisal and Inspection

Two of the biggest steps to closing on a house are the appraisal and the inspection.

An appraisal is an estimate of the fair market value of home, typically ordered by a buyer’s lender during the mortgage loan process. This means a licensed professional will evaluate your home’s value based on things like age, condition, upgrades, location and the surrounding housing market. The purpose is to let a lender know the proper loan amount to provide. If an appraisal comes in below the sale price, a buyer and seller may be forced to renegotiate to cover the difference.

Similar to an appraisal, a home inspection is ordered by the home buyer to evaluate the structure and systems of a home, from the roof to the foundation. It covers things like the home’s heating system, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical systems, windows, doors, ceilings and floors. The main purpose is to find out if any major repairs are needed, in which case you may need to cover the cost.

So, how do you prepare for these home evaluations? Ensure that there’s easy access to all areas of your home and take care of the little things that could raise bigger questions. Replace burnt light bulbs, which could point to electrical problems. Eliminate slow drains with any of your sinks to remove doubts about the plumbing. Change your furnace air filters and be sure your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working. Basically, get your home in the best shape possible to pave the way for a smooth appraisal and inspection.

4.      Negotiate Repairs

If there’s an inspection contingency in your purchase agreement, that means the buyer can negotiate repairs based on the findings of their home inspector or cancel the contract.

The purpose of a home inspection is to identify major defects that would require a major investment of time or money – not to come up with a list of minor repairs for you take care of so the home is in flawless condition. Keep that in mind when the home buyer comes to you with their list of issues.

You’ll most likely need to do some haggling. Resist agreeing to fix all cosmetic issues like cracked tiles or loose doorknobs, as these are minor inconveniences that a buyer could have easily seen when touring the home. Major defects you should address include mold, electrical issues, lead paint or leaking roofs – the types of issues that will require major investments of time or money.

No matter the extent of the repairs you agree to address, it’s wise to provide inspection credits as opposed to taking care of the repairs yourself. The buyer will likely be far more critical about the work done than you will be. Providing cash value for repairs upfront will likely spare you and the buyer from tension down the road.

5.      Get Your Paperwork in Order

You’ve already filled out one of the most important forms to sell your home – the purchase agreement. As you move through the closing process, you’ll also need to produce additional paperwork to reach the finish line. Here are some of the most common documents you’ll need.

Title. This proves that you are entitled to transfer ownership of the home. You’ll also need to have the deed if you own the home outright.

Property taxes. Have your most recent tax statement ready, which will give the buyer an idea of what they’ll need to pay after purchasing your home.

Loan documents. Gather paperwork on your first mortgage – and second mortgage or home equity lines of credit if applicable.

Property survey. This is usually ordered by the buyer. It shows the boundaries of your property and where fences, driveways and other structures are located. You probably received this when you bought your home. If not, try checking with your lender or title company who may have a copy. If all else fails, you might need to contact a local engineering firm to produce a new one.

Plans and permits. If you’ve done any work on your home like additions or upgrades, you’ll probably need to show documentation that proves everything was above board.

Homeowner’s insurance information. Make sure you have the documents that detail your current policy for the home – and be sure not to cancel your policy until after closing.

For more on the documentation you’ll need to sell your home, check out our blog on The Paperwork Every FSBO Home Seller Needs to Organize.

6.      Close with Confidence

You’ve gathered the documents you need, and now you should receive one more. After the terms of your purchase agreement have been met and all the loan paperwork is ready, your escrow agent will fill out and deliver a HUD-1 settlement statement. This form details all transfers of money. It’s important for you and your buyer to review this statement before your closing day when you’ll sign all the final documents.

On the day of your for-sale-by-owner closing, gather up all your paperwork and make sure you have a photo ID and your checkbook on you. When you meet with the buyer (and their real estate agent, if they have one), you’ll sign all the paperwork required to transfer ownership of your home.

You’ll typically need to make a few payments, such as your mortgage balance, the buyer’s agent commission (if applicable), escrow or attorney fees, title fees and any pending property taxes or bills. If you’re making a profit after all expenses are paid off, you should receive a check for the balance. If not, you should have a cashier’s check ready to square your end of the bargain.

7.      Tie Up Loose Ends

After you get through the closing, you’re almost home free.

You might feel like you’ve been tying up loose ends for a month by now, but chances are there a few more to go. Here are some common to-dos to get through before you exit your home for the final time.

•  Start packing and hire a moving company if you need one

•  Submit a change of address form to the post office

•  Contact your mortgage company and make final payoff arrangements

•  Call your homeowner’s insurance agent, as you may receive a refund for any prepaid premiums

•  Close accounts for things like utilities and newspaper subscriptions

•  Gather the house keys, gate keys, remotes, etc. in a kitchen drawer

•  Stack up appliance manuals, receipts, warranties, security alarm codes, etc. on the counter

•  Close all the curtains and blinds, turn off all the lights and lock all the doors on your way out

Once you lock up and head out, your home closing checklist should be complete. And that means you’re ready to start the next chapter of your life – free and clear!

Give Yourself a Pat on the Back

Selling your home on your own is no easy feat. It’s an accomplishment worth celebrating, and chances are you saved yourself some money in the process. Plus, with all this experience under your belt, selling your next home should go even smoother!

If you need any help buying from someone who’s selling on their own, we’ve got you covered there too. Check out our blog on How to Buy a Home Directly from the Owner.

Categories
Deciding FAQs How-to Guide Virtual Agent

Should I Sell My House? A 3 Step Guide to Deciding

Planting a “for sale” sign in front of a house might seem like the beginning of the home sale process. The truth is, it’s only one step of a journey that typically starts weeks or even months earlier. Setting a price, listing a home for sale and showing the home to potential buyers are all vital steps, but perhaps the most important step is the first one: clarifying your goals and making sure it’s the right time to sell.

Before you move forward with selling your home, start by answering these questions:

• Why do I want to sell?
• What will a new home offer that my existing home does not?
• Do I need to sell within a certain amount of time?
• How much preparation or repair work is needed to sell my home?
• Do I have enough equity in my home to make a down payment on a new house and/or achieve other financial goals?
• Is making a profit on the sale of my home a must? If so, how much of a profit?

The answers to these questions can help you figure out whether you should sell now or wait for a better opportunity. When you get to the financial questions, take these three steps to make a fully informed decision.

Step I: Gauge Your Current Finances

If you’ve paid off all your debt (aside from your mortgage) and have an emergency fund to cover at least six months of your expenses, that’s a good start. However, when you sell your home, you’ll need to cover several upfront costs in the process.

Your first order of business? Do some math to see approximately how much money you’ll have to work with before purchasing your next home. To do that, calculate the equity in your current home. Here’s how:

Current value of your home – What you owe your mortgage lender = Your equity

If you aren’t sure about the value of your home, you’ll need to come up with a solid estimate. There are several ways you can approach this. One is to simply hire a professional appraiser, who will examine all the data on recent nearby sales and factor in your home’s size, features, age, condition, location and other traits to provide an unbiased estimate. Another way is to ask a real estate agent for a comparative market analysis (CMA), which is a detailed report on recently sold homes in your neighborhood. The information in a CMA will help guide you to a competitive asking price. If you’re willing to put in a little time and do the research yourself, you can conduct your own comparative market analysis.

Once you have an estimate, check out your current mortgage bill or other mortgage documents for the amount you owe your lender, including any second mortgage or line of credit you might have as well.

Now you can subtract what you owe from what your house is worth to get a rough idea of your equity. For example: if your home is worth approximately $265,000 and you owe $135,000 to your mortgage lender, you have $130,000 of equity ($265,000 – $135,000 = $130,000).

Your next step is to figure out your net equity, which is your total equity minus the expenses you expect to pay as you move through the selling process, including:

• Home repairs or improvements
• Listing fees if you sell by owner or seller’s agent commissions if hire an agent
• Appraisal fee
• Title insurance and other charges

At this point, take a long look at the condition of your home. Gauge the investment you’ll need to make before listing. Identify the repairs your home needs before you put it on the market and what kinds of upgrades would help you sell more quickly.

Once you have these numbers, add them up on a spreadsheet to see where you stand. If you hire an agent to sell your home, your spreadsheet for that $265,000 home could look something like this:
 
Total equity (ex. $130,000) minus the following:

Home repairs/improvements: $5,000
Traditional Agent Commission: $15,900
Appraisal: $300
Title Insurance: $1,200
Attorneys Fee: $500
Moving: $1,500
Other fees (inspection, etc.): $500

Net equity: $105,100

 

You can save on commission fees and increase your net equity by using The Independent package from ForSaleByOwner.com:

Total equity (ex. $130,000) minus the following

Home repairs/improvements: $5,000
ForSaleByOwner package fee: $0
Buyer’s Agent Commission: $6,625
Appraisal: $300
Title Insurance: $1,200
Attorneys Fee: $500
Moving: $1,500
Other fees (inspection, etc.): $500

Net equity: $114,276

 

Whatever your circumstances are, establishing that net equity number is a critical part of making your home selling decision. This will help determine if you’re in good position to move forward and what the best method for selling your home will be.
 

Step 2: Consider Your Home Selling Options

Should You Sell with an Agent or on Your Own?

Your home-selling strategy and the proceeds you can expect to receive from your sale will revolve around your decision to hire an agent or sell your home on your own.

Hire an agent and your home will likely be seen by a high number of potential home buyers instantly – but you’ll probably need to pay commission fees when your home sells. Sell your home completely on your own and you won’t have to pay commission fees.

Whichever option you decide, chances are the process will involve considerable effort on your part. Either way you’ll be responsible for gathering most of the relevant documents, getting your home ready to sell and ordering and paying for any pre-inspections or appraisals. In some states, you’ll also have to hire (and pay) an attorney or an escrow agent to complete the sale.

If maximizing your profit is key to your decision to sell, becoming a For Sale By Owner may be the way to go. If selling your home fast with minimal effort is more important, hiring an agent is probably a better option.

Should You Sell Your Current Home or Buy a New One First?

A big part of the decision to sell your current home is figuring out when you should buy your next home. There’s no right or wrong answer for whether you should buy or sell first. For some, it boils down to preference. Some people do everything they can to avoid the stress of carrying two mortgages for a time, which is what you’ll probably need to do if you decide to buy before you sell. Others are more resistant to the notion of being “homeless,” which is unavoidable if you sell before you buy.

If you’re open to either scenario, looking at your current housing market can help you decide. In a buyer’s market, you have a better chance of making an offer on a home contingent on the sale of your current home. That means you can secure a purchase and have the home waiting for you while you go through the selling process. If you’re in a seller’s market, homeowners can be a lot more selective about the offers they receive. That means they’ll be far less likely to accept a contingency that forces them to wait around.

When Is the Best Month to Sell a House?

According to a recent study by ATTOM Data Solutions, most people wait until the summer to sell, with June, July and August accounting for the most home sales since 2011. But getting out in front of the crowd tends to yield the best results. The most profitable month was shown to be May, with homes selling at 5.9% above estimated market value.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should rearrange your schedule and wait a year if you start to think about selling in June. There are pros and cons of selling in every season, and every market is different. If you have your choice of any season, however, you may want to plan for a springtime sale.

 

Step 3: Price It Right from the Start

You may have a solid estimate of your home’s value, but setting your asking price will take some research and consideration. One of the advantages of working with an agent is that you’ll have a market expert to help you arrive at a precise, competitive asking price. Without an agent, getting the price right might seem like a major hurdle. It’s true that you’ll need to do a little extra legwork, but determining an optimal price is actually a fairly simple process.

Researching homes that are “comparables” in your local market is the key. Find out what your home is worth using our Pricing Scout tool which can help provide a solid estimate in minutes.

What Makes a Property Comparable?

Both appraisers and real estate agents will base their price opinions on comparable sales, ideally those that occurred within the last three to six months in your neighborhood. When looking for comparable sales to use as a yardstick for pricing your home, consider each home’s condition, age, square footage, location and the number of bedrooms and baths. The sale date is also important since it will reflect the most recent changes in your market.

Typically, the most important home feature to concentrate on is the number of bedrooms and baths, which usually play a bigger role in valuation than square footage. For example, a two-bedroom home in a neighborhood of predominately three-bedroom homes – no matter how ample the square footage – will almost always sell at a discount. The same is true for a home with one bath, since a majority of buyers look for more than a single bath. Along the same lines, if most homes in the neighborhood have a certain feature – like air conditioning – the absence of that feature will drop the price.

Once you identify several recent sales as potential comparables, take the time to drive by them and see how they shape up from the outside. You want to make sure a home’s lot size and landscaping are similar to make sure it’s a true comparable.

Get Down to Pricing

You’ve already taken an important first step toward understanding what your home is worth. Next, seek out additional reliable sources of home pricing trends that you can use to construct your own market analysis. For instance, the Federal Housing Finance Agency has two tools that draw from home sale data pulled from federally insured loan programs.

The FHFA’s House Price Index tracks home prices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and most Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA). If your metropolitan area is included, FHFA’s index is a great gauge of your local market.

FHFA’s House Price Calculator allows you to plug in the price you paid when you purchased your home, so you can get an estimate on the likely market value of that house today. Other good sources of information include local property taxes sites which contain the most recent sale prices of homes like yours in your neighborhood.

You can also scope out information on properties via public records online or scour lists of recently sold properties on a weekly or monthly basis in local newspapers. Add homes that make sense to your database and you will be able to further zone in on your asking price.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to visit comparable homes for sale during open houses. Checking out your competition will help you determine the right asking price, and it might give you an idea of how you can improve your home so you can get an edge.

Resist the Urge to Overprice

The temptation to overprice is strong. Almost everyone believes their home is the exception and will fetch more than similar houses. But that is rarely, if ever, the case. Buyers today are savvy. Chances are anyone who looks at your house — with or without an agent — has spent time both online and offline scoping out properties. Most buyers and real estate agents will know right away if a property is overpriced.

An over-inflated price means your house will be competing against homes that have more bedrooms and baths, or square footage, or a better location. The buyers who are in the market to purchase your home will be less likely to see it since most buyers are searching lower price points. This is the main reason homes sit on the market for months, with the price usually coming down to where it should have been from day one.

 

A Few Other Things to Keep in Mind:

1. Whoever buys your house will most likely need a mortgage, which means their lender will require an appraisal. If your home doesn’t appraise at or above the agreed upon sale price, the buyer will need to come up with the additional funds to close the gap between the appraised price and the actual sale price. Even then, there is no guarantee the lender will underwrite the loan.

So, even if you find a buyer willing to pay your price, unless they are paying cash they most likely will not be able to complete the sale. This will cost you time and put your plans — and your next home purchase — on hold.

2. If you haven’t already, it might be worthwhile to consider paying for a certified appraisal at this point in time. Without question, an appraiser will provide the most authoritative price opinion. Additionally, if your house is unusual or in a neighborhood that is difficult to value, it might be a good idea to have an appraisal done.

Determining your asking price is a tricky balancing act between maximizing your appeal to buyers and attracting offers that reflect the actual value of your home. Once you’re confident you have your home priced perfectly, however, you’ll have a clearer picture of what you stand to gain and when you should sell your house.

 

 

Categories
MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

Do you offer guaranteed placement in the MLS?

Yes, when you select The Professional package and have entered into a Listing Agreement, ForSaleByOwner.com guarantees that your property will be listed in the MLS within 5-7 calendar days. This is a key differentiator between us and most of our competitors.

Categories
MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

How do I find my listing on national real estate listing search sites?

You can typically search by city or street address to find your property on the national real estate listing search sites like Realtor.com.