Archive April 2018

How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale

Garage sales can be a great way to get rid of clutter and earn a little extra cash before you move. But make sure you plan ahead; they can take on a life of their own.

  • Don’t wait until the last minute.  Depending on how long you’ve lived in your home and how much stuff you want to sell, planning a garage sale can take a lot of time and energy. And that’s on top of the effort of putting your home on the market!

Contact your local government.

  • Most municipalities will require you to obtain a permit in order to hold a garage sale. They’re often free or cheap, but the fines for neglecting to obtain one can be hefty.

See if neighbors want to join in.

  • You can turn your garage sale into a block-wide event and lure more shoppers. However, a permit may be necessary for each home owner, even if it’s a group event.

Schedule the sale.

  • Sales on Saturdays and Sundays will generate the most traffic, especially if the weather cooperates. Start the sale early — 8 or 9 a.m. is best — and be ready for early birds.

Advertise.

  • Place an ad in the newspaper, free classified papers, and websites, including the date(s), time, and address of the garage sale. Add information about what will be available, such as kids’ clothes, furniture, or special equipment. On the day of the sale, use balloons and signs with prominent arrows to grab attention.

Price your goods.

  • Clearly mark rounded prices (50 cents, 3 for $1, or $5, for example) with easily removable stickers.

If it’s junk, recycle or donate it.

  • If it’s truly garbage, throw it away or place it in a freebie bin. Don’t try to sell broken appliances, and have an electrical outlet nearby in case a customer wants to try plugging something in.

Display items nicely.

  • Organize by category, and don’t make customers dig through boxes.

Stock up on supplies.

  • Having a stock of old shopping bags that can be reused encourages people to buy more items. Newspapers are handy for wrapping fragile goods.

Manage your money.

  • Obtain ample change for your cashbox, and have a calculator on hand. Assign one person to man the “register,” keeping a tally of what was purchased and for how much.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a REALTOR®

How long have you been in residential real estate sales? Is it your full-time job?

Like most professions, experience is no guarantee of skill. But much of real estate is learned on the job.

How many homes did you and your real estate brokerage sell last year?

This will touch on how much experience they have, and how up-to-date they are on the local market.

What designations or certifications do you hold?

Real estate professionals have to take additional specialized training in order to obtain these distinctions. Designations and certifications help define the special skills that an agent can apply to your particular real estate needs. One designation sellers might ask for is the CRS®, or Certified Residential Specialist, but there are also specialists for military customers, seniors, and those who are considering a short sale, among others.

How many days does it take you to sell a house? How does that compare to others?

The REALTOR® you interview should have information about their performance on hand and be able to present market statistics from their local MLS to provide a comparison.

What’s the average variation between your initial listing and final sales price?

This is one indication of a REALTOR®’s pricing and negotiating skills.

What specific marketing systems and approaches will you use to sell my house?

Your agent should have an aggressive, innovative plan and understand how to market property online.

Will you represent me exclusively, or might you also choose to represent the buyer?

While it’s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, your REALTOR® should be able to explain his or her philosophy on client obligations and agency relationships.

Can you recommend service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, make home repairs, and so on?

Practitioners should be able to recommend more than one provider and let you know if they have any special relationship with any of the providers.

How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction?

The best answer here is a question. A real estate agent who pays attention to the way you prefer to communicate and responds accordingly will make for the smoothest transaction.

Could you please give me the contact information of your three most recent clients?

Ask their former customers if they would use the agent again in the future.

How to Improve the Odds of an Offer

How to Improve the Odds of an Offer

Price it right.

Set a price at the lower end of your property’s realistic price range. Consider:

  • Comparable properties: A “comp” is what real estate professionals call home sales that can be reasonably used to help determine the price of your home. But just because you’re in the same neighborhood doesn’t mean that the houses will sell for the same amount. Your real estate professional will help you determine how to compare your home in terms of size, upkeep, and amenities.
  • Competition: How many other houses are for sale in your area right now? Are you competing against new homes or condos for sale in the area?
  • Contingencies: Do you have special needs that might turn away buyers? A common one is refusing to be flexible about a moving date.
  • Asking a lender: Since most buyers will need a mortgage, the home’s sale price should be in line with a lender’s estimate of its value.
  • Accuracy: Studies show homes priced more than 3 percent over the correct price take longer to sell.

Prepare for visitors.

Get your house market-ready at least two weeks before you begin showing it. Make all your repairs, and then do a deep clean (or hire a cleaning service to help).

Consider an appraisal.

For a few hundred dollars, a qualified appraiser can give you an estimate of your home’s value. This is useful for sellers going through a divorce or needing to divide the proceeds for other reasons. Be sure to ask for a market-value appraisal, and find someone who understands the area and type of home you have. Your agent should be able to offer recommendations.

Be flexible about showings.

Spur-of-the-moment showings are disruptive, and making sure your home is constantly ready to show can be exhausting. But the more amenable you can be, the sooner you’ll find a buyer.

Anticipate the offers.

Decide in advance the price range and terms that are acceptable. Be clear with yourself and your agent about what kind of offers you’re comfortable with. It’s critical to know what price you’ll accept before entering negotiations with a potential buyer.

Don’t refuse to drop the price.

If your home has been on the market for more than 30 days without an offer, be prepared to at least consider lowering your asking price.

How To Buy in a Tight Market

Increase your chances of getting your dream house in a competitive housing market.

Get prequalified for a mortgage.

You’ll be able to make a firm commitment to buy and your offer will be more desirable to the seller.

Stay in close contact with your real estate agent.

Your agent will be on the lookout for the newest listings that meet your criteria. Be ready to see a house as soon as it goes on the market — if it’s a great home, it will go fast.

Scout out new listings yourself.

Browse sources such as realtor.com and local real estate listing sites. Set up alerts for the neighborhoods and characteristics you’re looking for. Drive through your target neighborhoods, and if you see a home you like for-sale, send the address and listing agent’s name to your agent, who can schedule a showing for you.

Be ready to make a decision.

Spend plenty of time in advance deciding what you can afford and must have in a home so you won’t hesitate when you have the chance to make an offer.

Bid competitively.

Your first inclination may be to start out offering something less than the absolute highest price you can afford, but if you go too low in a tight market, you will likely lose out.

Keep contingencies to a minimum.

Restrictions such as needing to sell your home before you move can make your offer unappealing. Remember that, if the market is tight, you’ll probably be able to sell your house rapidly. You can also talk to your lender about getting a bridge loan to cover both mortgages for a short period.

But don’t get caught in a buying frenzy.

Just because there’s competition for a home doesn’t mean you should buy it. And even though you want to make your offer attractive, don’t neglect inspections that help ensure the house is a sound investment.