DON’T SHOP FOR HOMES ALONE

DON’T SHOP FOR HOMES ALONE

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Homebuyers are increasingly shopping for homes with a real estate agent. Eighty-eight percent of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker, up from 69 percent in 2001, says a new report from the National Association of REALTORS®.

That means your competition has professional help. Do you?

In 2014, buyers used a wide variety of resources in searching for a home, with the Internet (92 percent) and real estate agents (87 percent) leading the way. And 90 percent of home buyers who searched for homes online ended up purchasing their home through an agent. Buyers who used the Internet were more likely to purchase their home through an agent than those who didn’t (67 percent).

When buyers were asked where they first learned about the home they purchased, 43 percent said the Internet. That’s up from 36 percent in 2009. Thirty-three percent learned about their home from a real estate agent. That’s pretty impressive odds.

So in the age of home buying apps, why are more buyers using a real estate agent? A number of reasons. First, the bubble and implosion in housing values made buyers more cautious. Then the housing market rebounded, leaving many buyers unprepared for bidding wars, investors, and a tighter mortgage market. Last, buyers have been on the sidelines so long, that they’re entering the market with more maturity than buyers of past generations.

There’s no reason not to use all the help you can get. Licensing laws allow agents to work with both buyers and sellers as both fiduciaries and non-fiduciaries, depending on state disclosure requirements.

When an agent contracts with a seller to sell their home, the agent contracts commission fees with the seller to cover the costs of paying the buyer’s agent. Buyers may not realize that most agents are paid at the closing, and that they won’t be out any upfront money to hire their own agent.

Having an agent multiplies the buyer’s chances of finding the right home at the best price. The buyer’s agent networks with other agents to find the right home and they learn which homes are coming onto the market before the general public. Many homes are bought and sold without a sign ever going into the yard.

But, if a buyer goes to open houses, or builder model homes without registering their buyer’s agent’s name, or calls on a listing without mentioning their agent, the listing agent or builder’s agent has every right to assume the buyer is unrepresented. They may refuse to pay the buyer’s agent commission.

Today’s agents are like today’s buyers and sellers. They’re more technology-savvy and willing to work hard to please their buyers. They know that buyers eventually become sellers, and sellers become repeat buyers.

That’s how good agents build their businesses, through repeat business and referrals. They are highly motivated to do the best job possible for homebuyers.

Why wouldn’t any buyer want to take advantage of that?

Chris Maroc-As your professional real estate adviser, I will focus on your satisfaction.  My business is about service and I am not happy until you are happy. I will share in-depth knowledge of the area, recent sales comparisons, market data, and strong negotiating skills. I will find you a home that will best suit your needs and budget. Please call me at 914-215-2025

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How to Sell Your Home Without Dropping Your Price

by Blanche Evans

When your home is marked down from its original price, it’s a sure sign that your marketing plan failed. Not only have you missed the critical first two weeks when buyers and real estate professionals are most interested, but there’s no way for your home to compete with other homes that are better priced.

No one wants to waste time trying to deal with an unreasonable seller, so lowering the price may not help as much as you may think. Buyers may think something is wrong with the home, or they may decide that there’s room for even more discounts. Real estate professionals won’t get excited when your agent relists your home at a lower price because it’s not a new listing.

If you’re really ready to sell your home, don’t test the market. The best thing for you to do is to price it right in the first place and then sell as close to the original asking price as possible. For the best results, price your home at current fair market value — not where prices were in 2005, or where they might be in 2015.

Current fair market value means your home favorably compares to recent listings and closed sales of homes most similar to yours in size, finishes, amenities and location. It also means your home is on target with price trending. If homes are dropping in price in your area, you may want to set your original price under current fair market values in order to generate more interest from buyers. If prices are trending upward, stay current – don’t price ahead. That only works in the strongest sellers’ markets when banks are more comfortable about rising prices.

Next, make sure that buyers see your home in the best light. Among real estate professionals, the most important considerations is how your home looks from the curb and how it looks online. First impressions require that you spend particular time and attention on curb appeal, from keeping your walks and drives swept, to painting the front door a fresh new color, to putting out a new welcome mat.

Photography can be your home’s best selling tool when it’s done correctly and professionally. Stage the rooms that will be photographed by removing clutter. Fluff the pillows, clear tabletops and countertops, and remove the dog’s water bowl and your children’s toys out of the viewfinder. Take a few digital shots and look for flaws – the rumpled bed, the wastebasket full of paper, or the closet bulging with clothes. Once all the flaws are removed, you’re home is ready for the professional photographer who has the right lighting and equipment to help you market your home.

In homeselling, less is more. You want the home to come forward and your belongings to fade to the background. If you have too much stuff, put the excess in storage. As little as $50 to $250 for short-term storage could make the difference in the buyer’s offer price.

When buyers come to your home, they will be looking for flaws, so make sure the little details are done, especially small repairs. The less that needs to be fixed or replaced, the better maintained and the more move-in ready the home appears to the buyer.

Buyer-friendliness is a factor that can’t be underestimated. If you want a certain price for your home, make sure to give the buyer something extra to make it worth paying full price. Offer to pay closing costs up to a certain amount, or offer to leave the washer, dryer and refrigerator.

It’s not just the home that needs to be attractive. As the seller, you’re part of the whole package. You should appear buyer-friendly, just as your home should appear move-in friendly.

A home that is priced to reflect current market conditions and shows well in person and online will always sell for more than homes that aren’t maintained and marketed as well.

Please call me, Chris Maroc at 914-215-2025 for a free market evaluation.

Are you interested in renting your home in Stamford?

So You’ve Decided to Rent out Your Home? Some Tips

Cynthia Kent and her husband, John, didn’t set out to be landlords, but career choices made it necessary.

“We have rented out our home in Florida for nine years because we move all over with the military,” says Kent, who recently relocated her family from Nevada to Alabama for yet another posting.

Some people become accidental landlords because of a job change or difficulty selling a house. Others find they need to rent out the home of an elderly parent who has moved into a care facility. More than 3 million owner-occupied homes were converted to rental properties between 2007 and 2011, according to a 2013 report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

Some advice for those taking on this challenging new role:

FINDING THE RIGHT TENANT

A credit check and legal background check can help you find reliable, honest tenants, says real-estate agent Gail Carpenter of Northwood Realty in Pittsburgh.

“Sometimes a credit check alone” will rule out an applicant, she says.

Personal references can be useful if the applicant is local and you have mutual acquaintances. Otherwise, be wary.

“Do not take ‘personal’ references too seriously,” says New York City condo owner Sharon Lynch, who rented her home to tenants while spending a year in California. “Anyone can get a friend to write something nice about them.”

Lynch suggests using an online directory to search for an applicant’s current address and get contact information for their neighbors. “Not only can these people tell you if your applicants are good neighbors, but they can also supply you with the landlord’s contact information,” she says, “just in case your potential tenant is faking you out, pretending a friend was his or her landlord.”

Meet applicants in person and really talk with them, Carpenter says.

And request a rent that doesn’t price good applicants out of the market. You might earn more over time with a slightly lower rent, she says, because “that can help you keep your property occupied, versus asking for the moon and then it sits there vacant.”

PREP THE HOUSE

Once you’ve found your tenant, clean your home thoroughly and “make the property as safe as it can be,” Carpenter says.

You may also want to tackle any looming home improvement jobs now, rather than leave your tenant to handle (or ignore) them when they become larger problems.

If you plan to return to the home eventually, it can be practical to drop the rent slightly and fill one room with belongings you’re leaving behind, rather than paying for a storage space. Put a new lock on that door and take the key with you.

DOCUMENT AND DISCUSS

“It helps to take pictures of the house inside and out,” Kent says, to document its condition and cleanliness.

Don’t skip anything, and don’t assume one panoramic shot of each room will do. If you’re leaving furniture, also photograph the condition and cleanliness of each piece.

When Lynch returned to find her tenant had damaged the kitchen countertop, such “before” photos were key in being able to use the tenant’s security deposit to help pay for repairs.

When your tenant arrives to inspect the home before moving in, Kent says, “have tenants sign a document of the pictures, showing the condition at move-in.”

That walk-through inspection is vital for both parties. “Always be present for the move-in and move-out inspections,” says Babette Maxwell, who has rented her home to tenants several times during her husband’s Navy career and founded “Military Spouse” magazine to advise other military families about challenges like this one.

Also, Maxwell suggests, “Provide your renter with a baggie of ‘approved’ nails, screws, picture hangers.” And if you “have specific products you want used on your counters, cabinets, floors, yard,” she says, “list them in the lease.”

TEND THE OUTDOORS

As you negotiate the lease, don’t forget to have a detailed discussion about outdoor space, too. Will you or the tenant pay for lawn cutting? Who will keep up with pulling weeds and trimming bushes? Is the tenant permitted to plant flowers and do other gardening?

You may want to do an outdoor cleanup before you leave and then have the tenant agree to maintain that level of neatness.

Scan the property for any trees that could fall on the house and assess their health. Better to pay now to have a sick tree removed than worry about the outcome of a storm.

PLAN AHEAD

If there are repairs or upgrades that you promise your tenant, set a schedule in your personal calendar for completing them in the weeks after they move in.

Kent also recommends leaving a “welcome binder that stays with the house with local information, cleaning requirements and other details.”

Make sure your tenant knows how to contact you and how to handle problems that might arise. Have a reputable contractor or other professional on-call in case something needs to be repaired, says Carpenter.

“A lot of landlords grumble about getting a call in the middle of the night,” she says, but things will inevitably happen.

Then, stay in touch. If you won’t be living close enough to check on the property yourself, arrange for a friend or hire a property manager to do so.

Being a landlord “isn’t just signing the lease and disappearing,” Carpenter says. A tenant will respect you and your property more if you remain involved.

If you are interested in renting your home, please call Chris Maroc, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage at 914-215-2025.