Entries in Home Sales (3)

Friday
Sep232016

6 Advantages to Selling Your Home In the Off-season

Selling your home in the off-season may be a better idea than you think: OpenHouse brings you 6 advantages to selling your home in the autumn.


Fall may not seem like the optimum time to sell your home, with a slower market, cooling weather, early sunset and more apparently working against you. But believe it or not, some of these factors may actually work in your favor, if you know how to take advantage of them. Here are 6 advantages to selling your home in the off-season.

1. Less competition

The market may be a little slower in the fall, but a smaller pool of homes for sale can actually mean a seller’s market: if you find a motivated buyer, there are fewer homes to choose from, and your property will be in higher demand. You may be in a better bargaining position than you think. It will be easier to schedule a showing, and appraisers and inspectors will be more flexible as well.

2. Realtors have more time for you

In the slower off-season, realtors may have more time to devote to you and your sale, giving you a better, more personalized experience. With more attention from your realtor, you have more chance of selling your home quickly, and more chance of getting asking price or better. A realtor with more time for legwork and paperwork means a better all-around experience for you, the seller.

3. Motivation

A buyer in the off-season probably has a strong reason for buying now, and is highly motivated. If they need to move quickly, you have the advantage when it comes to making a deal. A smaller, more motivated pool of buyers means fewer “tire-kickers” and more great prospects for a sale.

4. Staging

Colonial style New England Home - House Exterior

A little outdoor staging goes a long way in the autumn. If you have deciduous trees around your house, the colorful leaves can make a fantastic impression. Any outdoor improvements (paint touch-ups, decorations, lighting) will stand out immediately against the lawn and garden as they fade with the season. Fewer distractions means more chances for your home to make a great first impression.

5. Shorter days

Selling in the off-season: Suburban house with garden at dusk

Use lighting to your advantage. As the days get shorter, more of your showings will take place in the dark of the evening. Beautiful lighting can make for a comfortable, homey feel indoors, and judicious outdoor lighting can do amazing things for your curb appeal.

6. Cooler weather

Cooler weather can actually enhance the buyer’s experience when you’re showing your house. While the summer months are busier, the fall weather may be more comfortable for potential buyers – and a more comfortable buyer is a more agreeable buyer.

Bonus tip: Photos

Luxury house in autumn

Selling in the fall? Make sure to take up-to-date pics of your home. Use this to your advantage and bring some colorful fall foliage into the picture, or light your home beautifully to contrast with the subdued autumn hues.

Thursday
Sep222016

Beware of the Flip

Sparkling new quartz countertops, polished hardwood floors, stainless steel kitchen appliances. Aren’t your buyers lucky? But when sellers are flippers, a good buyer’s rep should help clients engage in some old-fashioned sleuthing.

looking at house with magnifying glass
 

Before the Great Recession of 2008, housing prices climbed dramatically, and homes sold faster than buyers could gush, “I love that spa bathroom.” Contractors and even handy DIYers got in on the uptick by buying fixer-uppers and improving them in the quickest ways possible, selling them, and reaping the profits. Enter the real estate phenomenon of flipping.

The trend waned a bit as the housing market hit the skids, but then returned with some significant differences. Today’s flippers are more often professional investors with access to cash as banks tightened mortgage loan guidelines and available work crews, says Seth Captain, managing broker of Captain Realty in Chicago.

But now, Captain notes changes: “Low inventory and many buyers’ eagerness for new construction and remodeled homes has caused some buyers not to do enough checking,” at least in Chicago, he says. And some buyers don’t insist on an inspection if sellers won’t permit it as a contingency, adds Frank Lesh, owner of Home Sweet Home Inspection Company in Indian Head Park, Ill., and executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), a national organization based in Des Plaines, Ill.

Your job is to guide buyers through this rough terrain. The first thing to do with a remodel is to look at the public record and see when the property your buyers are interested in last changed hands. If it’s less than a year ago, the property may require a more thorough examination. While not every flip represents a potential landmine, you can help clients by asking for information about who completed the work, says broker Mark Ferguson with Pro Realty Inc. in North Greeley, Colo. Ferguson, also a real estate investor and blogger at InvestFourMore, says most problems arise with work done by DIY owner-flippers, who lack the skills of licensed contractors.

Here are more ways you can be an advocate for buyers who plan to purchase a house that’s being flipped. Many of the caveats reflect the same type of thoroughness that should be undertaken with any sale.

1. See it yourself

Don’t buy at auction or without seeing a house in person, says Eric Workman, senior vice president of marketing at Chicago-based Renovo Financial, a private lender. Buyers should inspect the structure so they see firsthand if visible problems exist that may be red flags for deeper trouble. This is the first step before they call in experts.

2. Learn the history of a home

Workman suggests asking officials in your community and real estate salespeople if they know how long a home may have been vacant. The number of seasons a property goes through while being empty of occupants can help predict whether its plumbing and other mechanical systems may have been neglected or damaged.

One of the most important reasons to trace a home’s lineage is that if no one has lived in the remodeled house yet, it’s hard to know how well the systems work, Captain says. “There may never have been a heavy rain to know if the home’s drainage system will stand up, or if termites are chewing away at support joists and not visible,” he says. He suggests buyers ask for names of others who’ve bought from the same flipper to learn how well their houses have fared over time.

A buyer can also request to see the permits that the flipper pulled to perform work, especially important in cases where the floor plan was changed or a load-bearing wall was removed, Ferguson says. Or, if mold was a problem, a buyer can ask if the work was done by someone licensed to handle mold remediation, he says. They can also check the area’s Better Business Bureau to see if complaints or lawsuits have been brought against the seller by a prior buyer or real estate commission.

3. Understand the flipping process

Is Your Buyer a Flipper? 

Mark Ferguson, a real estate broker at Pro Realty Inc. in Greeley, Colo., cautions wannabe flippers about the difficulty of making a sizable profit. “You may see flippers on TV shows appear to make a lot of money, but it is extremely rare to make $100,000 or even $50,000 unless you are dealing in high-value, high-risk properties.” Most shows leave out the costs associated with a flip such as financing, real estate sales commissions, closing costs, homeowners’ insurance, property maintenance, taxes, and possibly homeowners’ association dues. These additional costs can be 15 to 20 percent of the sales price. “A $100,000 profit on TV may only be a $50,000 profit in real life,” he says. Ferguson, an experienced flipper, has found his average profit ranges between $20,000 and $40,000 on a purchase that cost him between $75,000 and $150,000. In addition, many buyers don’t understand the time frame, he says. “It can often take me six months or more to sell a flip once I buy it,” he says. But it may be worth it if you’re motivated by more than money, he adds: “It can be fun, done on a part-time basis if you do the repairs yourself, and you can make money with realistic ideas of costs and profit margins.”

Because a flipper’s goal is to make a profit in a relatively short period, many changes are cosmetic, such as refinishing hardwood floors and painting kitchen cabinets. Captain notes flippers often replace countertops, appliances, and fixtures in what tend to be buyers’ favorite rooms: the kitchen and bathrooms. They may forgo fixing the more expensive, time-consuming, and less visible problems. For example, a rotted subfloor may be deemed not worth fixing if it’s underneath gleaming boards, and dated plumbing may be left as long as faucets work and water pressure seems okay, Captain says: “They don’t want to kill the deal, but won’t go above and beyond. They also know that most buyers reach a point where they want to be done looking and are happy to focus just on what’s new and pretty.”

4. Hire a certified home inspector

Even if the flipper says the home was preinspected, advise buyers to bring in their own expert to avoid surprises later. But even home inspectors can miss signs of problems beyond the surface, Lesh says. “Perhaps water wasn’t run long enough during the inspection to find out that pipes hidden behind newly tiled walls are corroded,” he says. A good inspector will follow up on possible trouble spots — say, a wall that sounds hollow and may be lacking solid backer board and studs — with requests for more information. “We might ask, ‘What’s going on here?’ We won’t rip off the wall, but will request receipts to show work was done properly.”

Inspection fees typically vary by a home’s price, size, and age. Lesh charges between $650 and $700 for a 15-year-old $500,000 house. Cultivate a list of inspectors you trust, and give it to buyers so they can choose the one they want to work with.

5. Bring in additional specialists

Certain systems warrant calling in a skilled expert. Glen Gallas, vice president of operations for the Mr. Rooter franchise based in Waco, Tex., advises having a plumbing inspection even if all seems perfect. “With today’s technology, a licensed plumber can do a video camera inspection of the main sewer line to see if there are mechanical defects in the pipe, which most home inspectors don’t see,” he says. “There might be a small leak in the line from roots growing, but it could take several seasons for them to be large enough to cause problems, and that could be long after the purchase. By then, [repairs would] also be more expensive,” he says. An average plumbing inspection ranges from $150 to $400.

In the case of electrical work, a new junction box may suggest all’s well, but that doesn’t mean wiring was brought up to code, says Keith Pinkerton, owner of a Mr. Electric franchise in Huntsville, Ala. “Houses built in the late 1960s and early ’70s often were wired with aluminum, which was outlawed, and copper was required. But some might not know because they’re behind walls. We pull off the panel cover and look,” he says.

Some buyers may be content waiting to hire an expert only if the general home inspector picks up on problems such as foundation cracks that could reflect structural defects. At that point, a structural engineer can determine the seriousness of the problem. And many home owners find that it helps to bring in a structural engineer in cases where a house is very old since more problems may lurk beneath floors, below floors, between walls, and above ceilings.

6. Avoid legal glitches

Before buyers sign on the dotted line, be sure a lawyer has checked that there are no legal problems with the transfer of ownership, advises Alan Doran, executive vice president and general counsel with OneTitle National Guaranty in New York. All kinds of issues may arise when buying a property that has been flipped, he warns: “For example, if sellers acquired a property through a short sale, they need to obtain detailed information on the short sale to ensure that both transactions comply with state regulations and the original lender’s short-sale requirements,” Doran says. There may also be a requirement that the flipper owned the property for a minimum amount of time before selling, and proofs of payment of liens must be verified, he says.

With all this information in hand, your buyers can decide whether a flip is still worth buying, particularly if the seller won’t deduct estimated repair costs or fix problems. But, as Captain notes, if a flip passes muster, it may be just as desirable as any other purchase: “What difference does it make if a flipper made money in a short time if the buyer finds a wonderful home?”

Tuesday
Dec162014

Tips for Selling Your Home in Today's Market

Resources for Sellers

GET STARTED ON THE RIGHT FOOT!

  • Why Hire an Agent?

    Studies show that sellers who use a real estate agent generally get a better price than those who choose to sell the home themselves. As an agent it is my job to stay up to date on the latest market trends and fluctuations. Utilizing an agent means no surprises during the selling process, as you will have latest information at critical junctures in the process. Let me put my experience to work for you to ensure you get the best price for your home!

  • Before Your Home is Listed

    Prior to listing your home, you'll want to ensure everything is in good showing condition before buyers start to tour the home. Here are some important things to consider:

    • Start Packing

      Now is the time to put things in storage, clean out the basement and garage and start preparing to show your home. Remove any family photos or personal items. Remember, you want buyers to see themselves in your home!

    • Spot Paint

      Touch up both interior and exterior paint.

    • Update Carpet

      Clean or replace carpet in areas with heavy wear.

    • Extra Cleaning

      Keep the interior and exterior clean and odor free.

    • Curb Appeal

      Trim any overgrown bushes, mow the lawn and keep it free of leaves or snow. Make sure the front of the home is clean and appealing. You want to make a strong first impression!

    • Find Potential Problems Early

      Once you've completed these steps you may want to hire someone to perform a pre-listing inspection. Buyers will be hiring professional inspectors too; this is your chance to find and address problems before it's time to sell.

  • Professional Staging

    Consider hiring a professional stager to help give buyers the appeal they're looking for.

  • During the Listing Period

    You'll need to plan to have something to do during the times potential buyers visit your home. If initial offers don't meet your expectations, don't dismiss them immediately. You may need to consider lowering your asking price if months go by with few or no offers. However, by working with your agent you will be able to arrive a price that works for all parties.