Archive January 2019

An important part of the home-selling process is showing it to prospective buyers. Unfortunately, that means tidying up even more frequently than you normally would, so buyers can focus on the house’s features rather than your household items. While it may not be possible to keep your home completely mess-free when you have children, below are some tips for keeping the chaos to a minimum:

Under-bed storage. If there’s enough space under their beds, encourage kids to keep their rooms tidy with rolling plastic or rattan storage bins. Then, use an oversized comforter or quilt—or strategically placed blankets—to hide the bins from sight.

Built-in storage. It may be impossible to keep things from leaving kids’ rooms and entering the living room. Utilize furniture with built-in storage, such as ottomans, or clear a drawer in the entertainment center specifically to tuck away any roaming toys, games and other items.

Baskets and trunks. If you don’t have much built-in storage or discreet space to take advantage of, consider buying decorative trunks or baskets with lids that you can place around your home.

Suitcases. If you need to store toys in the back of a closet, put them in suitcases that you can easily roll and move rather than bulky plastic bins. Suitcases are also a more discreet storage option than bins when buyers glance inside the closet to gauge how much space is available.

Donation. While your kids may feel attached to every toy, stuffed animal or plaything they own, it might be time to downsize the collection. Suggest that they start a donation pile, so that their unused items can bring joy to other kids instead.

Are You Prepared To Do These 5 Things to Sell Your Own House?

It’s a question thousands of homeowners ask themselves every year: Should I try to sell my house myself? If you’re considering putting your own house on the market, keep in mind that selling your home can be a long and difficult process. Before you choose to go it alone, consider that you have to be able to successfully do all of the following:

1. Pricing your home—so you don’t leave money on the table. That means going beyond the usual homework of pulling comparable properties in your area. You need to understand current market conditions and trends, availability and cost of financing to assign your home an accurate value, meaning the highest price a ready, willing and able buyer will pay.

2. Marketing the listing—to the right people. As an independent home seller, you’ll be in charge of holding open houses, working to ensure your home gets good word-of-mouth exposure, as well as developing and paying for advertising, including photographing and posting pictures of your home to popular listing websites.

3. Showing your home—to everyone. Your life could be overrun by home showings, between appointments and drop-ins, and you’re responsible for screening the “buyers” from the “lookers” (curiosity-seekers are common at self-listed homes).

4. You’ll have to negotiate a sale—that doesn’t shortchange you. Negotiations present another challenge, as you try to resolve any doubts your buyers might have, work to keep their interest high and make a final agreement as quickly and efficiently as possible.

5. You’ll need to draw up a contract—that makes no mistake. A contract is a binding legal agreement, so every independent home seller should pay an attorney or other qualified legal representative to preside over the process.

A Certified Residential Specialist would do all that (and more) to sell your home faster and for the best price. Selling your own home takes a lot of know-how, and making even a small mistake can be costly. Think of the services a CRS provides as an investment—one that repays itself in the efficient sale of your home.

7 Reasons to Stop Renting

Owning a home is the American dream for many, giving people the satisfaction and pride of having a place to call their own. But that’s not the only reason to consider giving up your rented space. In addition to gaining more living space, homeowners enjoy the benefits of independence and a sense of achievement.

No question about it, homeownership is a big investment, but in the long run, it’s an investment that pays for itself many times over. Here’s how:

1. Homeownership often costs less per month. In some places, rent is still affordable, but in many places, it’s higher than a comparable mortgage, especially when you consider that mortgage interest and property taxes are tax deductible. There’s also less cost variability over time, as long as you take out a fixed-rate mortgage.

2. Homeownership offers more value for your money. While a rental property is an expense, a home you own is an investment. Homeownership allows you to build up equity over time, so even though up-front costs may seem higher, buying a home is a better value in the long run.

3. Homeownership adds stability to your living situation. As a renter, you’re subject not only to rising rents, but also to building sales and changes in renters’ rights laws. When you own, your home belongs to you until you decide you’re ready to move.

4. Homeownership allows you to benefit from mortgage interest. When you own your home, you can deduct mortgage interest from your income tax. That benefit goes to your landlord if you rent.

5. Homeownership allows you to deduct real estate taxes. Just like mortgage interest, real estate taxes are deductible if you own your home, while that benefit goes to your landlord if you rent. Local tax benefits are also available in many areas.

6. Homeownership gives you a better credit history. A major indicator of financial responsibility and stability, homeownership gives you the chance to build a strong credit history. Depending on your rental situation, your landlord may not report your on-time rent payments at all, meaning it won’t help you build good credit.

7. Homeownership helps you build a retirement nest egg. If you’re married and filing jointly, you can enjoy tax-free profits up to $500,000 from the sale of a primary residence that you have occupied for two of the last five years. If you’re single or married and filing separately, you can enjoy tax-free profits up to $250,000. When you’re ready to give up renting, a Certified Residential Specialist can help you achieve your dream of homeownership. With a mix of real world experience and advanced training, a CRS has the tools necessary to help you find the right home.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your House

The home-selling process is a complex one, and can be full of opportunities for you to come out on top—or for buyers to score the upper-hand. While you can’t predict everything that could botch a sale, there are a few common mistakes you need to avoid.

Mistake #1: Overlooking repairs

Making repairs before selling is a must, or you are guaranteed to lose money. “Things that are safety issues or big-ticket items are always a focus,” says Amy Broghamer, a Certified Residential Specialist and owner of the Amy B. Sells Team with Keller Williams in Cincinnati, Ohio. These include electrical issues, water damage, rotten or chipped flooring, or a leaky roof. Broghamer recommends getting a pre-inspection to uncover necessary repairs that might spook buyers and cause them to lower their offer or back out of the deal.

Mistake #2: Overpricing your home

Buyers are going to compare a sale price to other homes in the area, so your home should be priced competitively. CRS REALTORS® can provide a comparative market analysis to help establish a competitive price. Experienced agents also have their own system for helping you price your home.

Mistake #3: Over-sharing with buyers

Another costly mistake is having too much communication with potential buyers, says Nancy Braam, CRS, with RE/MAX Whatcom County Inc. in Bellingham, Washington. If you are emotionally invested in your home, you may end up giving away too much information. Braam advises that you either make yourself scarce during showings or think carefully about what you disclose to buyers.

“Think of it this way: anything you disclose about your motivation is asking the buyer to offer less,” Braam advises. “Staying out of the way is the best way to preserve what negotiation advantage you have.”

Instead, have an experienced CRS agent there to represent your interests and negotiate for you.

Mistake #4: Poor staging

Both a cluttered home and an empty home will be unappealing to buyers, so proper staging and curb appeal are important. “Finishing off minor handyman items, like replacing rotten trim and adding a fresh coat of paint, go a long way toward a quick sale at the highest price possible,” says Danni Springfield, CRS, ABR, Lead Agent with The Springfield Group of Keller Williams Legacy in San Antonio, Texas.

A majority of buyers are shopping for homes online these days, so Springfield’s team brings in professional staging and photography services.

Mistake #5: The wrong attitude

This includes both patience and setting expectations too high. Not every prospective buyer will submit a bid—some are just window-shopping or are interested in a nearby home. Remembering that browsers are part of the home-selling process will help keep disappointment at bay.

It’s also important to remember that once you do receive an offer, you should take it seriously. “When we list the house, we should never think of it as a ‘first’ offer, but as potentially the only offer. That way we treat each offer with the respect it deserves,” says Kim Laforet, CRS, associate broker with Coldwell Banker Hubbell BriarWood in Lansing, Michigan.

Want to avoid these mistakes? Talk to a CRS agent when selling your house. Due to their advanced training, education and verified experience level, a CRS is truly the best real estate agent around.