Seven Things to Fix Before You Sell

Selling your home can be stressful enough and it may not necessarily be anything related to listing your home nor the transactional components after it’s under contract. There can be all sorts of “to-do” lists ahead of you from moving preparations to closing another chapter of your life. Depending upon the age and condition of your property, one of these challenges might be all the pre-listing work that’s almost unavoidable. Did you know there are things you should tackle before listing your home for sale? And, if you repair those items, you could stand to make more profit from your sale? The question becomes how to discern what items must be fixed and what can wait, prior to listing your home.

 

We’ve highlighted seven things you must fix before selling your home:

Right at the top of the list appears the presence of mold, which can be hideous and occasionally unhealthy for occupants of a particular room or maybe even those residing in the house itself. Mold spores can be nasty and chances are, if they exist, they cause havoc. Furthermore, buyers are completely turned off by the presence of mold. When it affects areas, particularly the basement or can be found on drywall or in bathrooms, it signals a deeper problem. In real estate, we always say that unwanted water is the root of all evil. If mold rears its ugly head, then there’s most certainly a water/moisture issue. As a homeowner, who’s getting ready to place their home on the market, any evidence of mold or water-related damage is a must-fix prior to listing. When homebuyers come into contact with mold in a listing, they usually will assume the worst: What else has the property owner been neglecting? If there’s mold on this wall, I can only imagine what’s behind it. There’s a snowball effect with water issues, at least in the mind of potential purchasers. Water and mold can signal doubts about the overall condition of the home.

Related to water, we discover two other areas that need attention before putting your home on the market, and they are roof damage as well as plumbing concerns. Leaky roof shingles or leaking pipes won’t put prospective buyers’ minds at ease and could be allowing unwanted water into your home, creating all sorts of problems. A roof that’s missing shingles or shows the existence of disintegrating ones, could indicate that water is creeping in through the attic or worse yet, into the framework, walls and ceilings of the house. If there’s roofing material that needs replacing, we would advise calling a licensed roofer to inspect the roof and identify all areas, which need to be corrected. Broken plumbing is another area that will need addressing before buyers preview your residence. If your plumbing is impaired, it could mean that you’re paying for an excess in water each month on your invoice or you might have a big problem on your hands. This complication, if not remedied, can lead to much more significant water damage. Again, whether it’s mold, water seeping in through the foundation, spoiled shingles or busted pipes, we highly recommend the right professionals are called to address the concern as soon as possible.

What do they say about a poor foundation? We understand that even a well-built home, is no longer so, if the foundation gets weak and is in need of repair. A solid foundation is essential for a home’s architectural stability. If and when cracks begin to appear, the owner should begin to monitor them and see if they get wider or larger over time. If you’re about to list your home and you suddenly notice cracks, it’s important to enlist the service of an inspector or structural engineer. They can provide you with next steps, if they identify any issues with the structural integrity of the foundation. Of course, it goes beyond cracks in walls or the foundation. If you notice any shifting, uneven floors, leaning walls or sunken ground around the exterior of the home, you would be wise to get it inspected, before a buyer sets foot on your property. You’ll rarely ever sell buyers on foundational or structural problems, which exist in the property. They might imply that other issues are lurking on site.

Yet, sometimes it’s not what lies behind the walls that’ll turn off buyers, but the cosmetics of the walls themselves. Wallpapered and tarnished walls in a home can immediately turn off prospective buyers from pursuing a home purchase. Wallpaper dates a home. What was trendy in a wall print, whether it be a pattern or floral arrangement, can lose its luster over time. Wallpaper can be a nuisance, plain and simple, and perhaps this is why many sellers don’t want to remove it prior to their home’s market release. Yet, this could be a mistake. Taking the time to remove wallpaper will put more money into your pocket. Of course, there’s another option as well – Sometimes it’s possible to skim coat (or mud over) wallpaper. Skim coating is the process of putting a thin layer of a compound over wallpaper, but you’ll want to make sure you don’t have any loose or bubbly areas of the paper remaining as this can cause your paint to bubble after it’s been applied. Skim coating isn’t ideal, but it could be an option, especially if you have stubborn, older wallpaper that’s really clinging to the surface of the walls. Tarnished walls are another eyesore potentially stopping a home from selling. Dirty, dingy walls give the idea that a home is unkempt, even if it isn’t. The quick fix is paint. It’s straightforward, it’s cheap and there’s an extensive palette to work with in updating your home to match with furnishings that are already present or to give a room a certain appeal if you’re vacating prior to selling. While you don’t have to be a professional painter to tackle unappealing surfaces in certain rooms in your home, proper preparations, time and effort should be given to the task to ensure the job looks clean-cut and inviting.

Another concerning area we see in homes that turn buyers right off is an outdated kitchen. Sure, usually there’s not much you can do with the size of a kitchen: Maybe it’s small, maybe it’s galley in nature, maybe it lacks an island or much counter space. Still, you can dress up the countertops and cabinets and go bold or neutral and appeal to mostly anyone in the market to buy. Paint obviously plays a role here and lighting too, in some cases. There are ways to open up even a small kitchen. Smaller kitchens have their advantages at times in that they use less materials when renovating the space. Sellers would be wise to make sure their appliances work, aren’t too outdated and match the renovation taking place. Remember, the kitchen is the focal point of the home, at least in the mind of many buyers and sellers alike. Even if you’re not a cook or don’t care to do much entertaining in this space, chances are potential buyers might be and they desire a kitchen which is suitable to their needs. Having an outdated kitchen could prevent your home from selling. Don’t overlook how important the kitchen is to those who enter it, hoping to make an offer.

 

Running a tight ship – a well-maintained home – can alleviate concerns from homebuyers as they preview your property. If you do some pre-listing homework and address major problem areas before buyers arrive, you’ll surely build buyer trust and increase your home’s appeal, in the meantime. All the best and remember, we’re here to help you on your home-selling journey.

 

There are other ways your home’s value can be affected, read about them here.

When it comes to moving, you have two options: Do-it-yourself (DIY) or hire professionals. Both have their pros and cons, and it’s important to weigh them before making that final decision. In this article, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of DIY moving.

Pros of DIY Moving

One of the main benefits of DIY moving is cost savings. Hiring professional movers can be expensive, especially if you have many possessions or are moving long-distance. By rolling up your sleeves and doing it yourself, you can save a significant amount of money. Maybe this is the third or fourth time you’re moving, and you’re practically a pro at this point.

Another perk of DIY moving is the control you have over the process. You can pack your belongings the way you want, especially over time (in most instances) and handle them with care. Depending on the nature of the transaction and timeline of the parties involved, you can also choose the most convenient time for the move and have flexibility in the schedule.

Cons of DIY Moving

One of the biggest drawbacks of DIY moving is the physical labor involved. Moving heavy furniture and boxes can be exhausting and time-consuming. It requires strength and stamina, while the risk of injury is a possibility as well. Furthermore, if you’re not physically capable or have health issues, DIY moving may not be an option at all.

Another disadvantage is the lack of professional expertise and equipment. Moving professionals have the experience and knowledge to handle fragile items and navigate through difficult spaces (or at least reputable ones should!). This is what movers do, year-round. They also have the right tools and equipment to make the process more efficient. Without these, you may risk damaging your belongings or injuring yourself.

DIY moving can be a cost-effective and flexible option for those who are physically capable and have the time and energy to handle the procedure. However, it’s important to consider the physical labor involved and the lack of professional expertise and equipment. For a smoother and less stressful experience, hiring professionals may be worth the investment.

Hiring Professionals

One popular option that many people consider is hiring professionals to handle their move. While this may come with a cost, there are several advantages that make it a popular choice. 

Pros of Hiring Professionals

One of the main advantages of hiring professionals for your move is the access to their professional expertise and experience. Professional movers have the knowledge and skills to handle fragile items, navigate through difficult spaces, and ensure that your belongings are transported safely. They are trained in proper packing and loading techniques, and can efficiently handle the logistics of the entire operation. The keyword there is trained. By opting for professionals, you can have peace of mind knowing that your move is in capable hands.

Another benefit of hiring professionals is the time and energy savings it affords. Moving can be an exhausting and time-consuming process, especially if you have a lot of possessions or are moving over a great distance. Though, moving over short distances can be tiresome too. By hiring professionals, you can focus on other important tasks related to your move, such as setting up utilities or transferring your address, while leaving the “heavy lifting” to the movers. This is sure to reduce stress and ensure a smoother transition to your new home.

Keep in mind however, that not all moving companies are created equal. While some may pack up your items, others may not. Realistically, it’s best to have everything boxed up and ready to be carried out the door by the time the moving company arrives. Additionally, it’s vitally important to ask key questions before hiring a moving company to ensure you’re on the same page.

Cons of Hiring Professionals

One of the drawbacks of hiring professionals is the cost involved. Professional movers can be expensive, especially if you own a larger home or are moving over a significant distance. The cost will depend on factors such as the square footage of your home, the distance of your move and the services you require. It’s important to consider your budget and weigh the cost against the benefits provided by moving professionals.

Another potential deterrent is the lack of control over the process. When you hire professionals, you’re relying on them to handle your things and ensure their safe arrival at their new destination. While even the most esteemed moving companies take great care in their work, there’s always a risk of damage or loss. It’s important to do your research and choose a trusted and dependable moving company to minimize this risk. Do you need moving insurance? Though most moving companies are insured, this would be something to look into as well. You might need to protect various items over and above what the mover’s insurance policy would cover.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re taking the move upon yourself or hiring a moving company, decluttering is essential. “Decluttering is key when selling your home,” expresses Christina M. Keller, REALTOR® with Realty Network Group. “Before the home goes on the market, a homeowner needs to begin cleaning and eliminating waste. Buyers need a clear vision of how their possessions will fill the space. Removing excess furnishings enables them to image the home as their own, without distractions. After an agreement is made between the parties, the seller can use the moving process as another time to organize and prioritize what makes the move and what gets purged.”

Hiring professionals for your move can offer several conveniences, including professional expertise, time and energy savings in addition to peace of mind. However, it’s important to consider the associated costs and potential lack of control over this operation. Ultimately, the decision between DIY moving and hiring professional movers will depend on your specific needs, budget and preferences.

 

Here are two other articles you might find helpful:

Moving and downsizing when a pet is involved.

Launching a new business from home while moving.

Advantages

There are several advantages that a home warranty can provide to a seller. First, a home warranty affords added peace of mind to potential buyers, as it assures them that major appliances and systems in the house are protected. This can make the home more appealing and increase its market value. What a home warranty cost a seller? On the surface, home warranty benefits for sellers are typically at lower cost, because of various limitations in coverage. Yet coverage is an affordable alternative for homeowners, who are looking for their home to stand out from the field of competition. A one-year policy for single-family properties is roughly $500-$600, but varies from company to company, and could include additional add-ons at the request of the homeowner. Usually, sellers have the ability to be covered while their home is listed, even if it’s for a limited time for minimal cost. Often the coverage will include a period of time while the home is on the market, but in a sense, the clock doesn’t start ticking until the buyer settles on the home. The homebuyer and seller can always negotiate prior to entering into an agreement, but if the listing was marketed as including a warranty for the buyer, the cost of the policy would usually be deducted from seller proceeds on the sale of their home. Though there is a cost to the seller, it generally isn’t an upfront cost, which is appealing to many who deploy this tactic. Additionally, as implied above, a warranty can act as a selling point, giving the seller a competitive edge in a crowded real estate market. It can demonstrate that the seller is confident in the condition of the home and is willing to stand behind it. Of course, in a seller’s market, warranties are seldom employed, because there’s less incentive to stand out from other listings when buyer activity is high. Yet, in these instances, home warranties can still play an active role. They give sellers more negotiating power and should anything break before the closing, there’s an added protection in place. By investing in a home warranty, the seller can avoid potential disputes or costly repairs that may arise during the transaction, ensuring a smoother ride for both parties. Overall, purchasing a warranty can be a smart move for sellers (albeit, it’s not for every situation) , providing an extra layer of protection and enhancing the attractiveness of their property.

Common Misconceptions

Here are a few myths about home warranties. One misconception is that a home warranty is the same as homeowners insurance. While both can provide protection for your home, they cover different things. Homeowners insurance typically covers damage from natural disasters, fire, theft and liability, while a home warranty covers the repair or replacement of major systems and appliances due to normal wear and tear. There’s a big distinction there, and one that should be made. Next, some have the idea that the cost of basic warranty coverage can be quite expensive, but most enrollment for a year is only a few hundred dollars depending on the square footage and location of the home. Always do your homework, check with various providers and get quotes in order to keep costs reasonably low. Another myth is that home warranties are unnecessary. Some homeowners may believe that their new appliances or systems won’t have issues, so they view the warranty as wasted money. However, even new items can develop unexpected problems (they’re called lemons), and a home warranty can provide peace of mind and financial protection. Furthermore, if you’re improperly using or not caring for your home’s systems or appliances, a warranty won’t do you much good. Homeowners are personally responsible for properly maintaining their systems and appliances. Any intentional damage caused to a system or appliance will not be covered. Any neglect shown to a home’s system or appliance will also meet the same fate. Additionally, some people wrongly assume that all repairs and replacements will be fully covered by a home warranty. It’s essential to understand the terms and conditions of your warranty, as there are often limitations, deductibles and exclusions. Finally, there is a misconception that home warranties are only valuable for older homes. While it’s true that older homes are more prone to issues with systems and appliances, a home warranty can benefit homes of any age. It’s important to separate fact from fiction when considering a warranty to ensure you make an informed decision.

Maximize Your Home Warranty

In order to get the most out of a home warranty you have to understand the coverage and limitations before making any claims. This includes knowing what is covered, the dollar limits, and any deductibles or service fees. This is a critical step and the reason we suggest that you understand your terms and conditions well. If a repair person needs to come to the property, you should have an understanding of what repairs are covered and an idea of what questions to ask the service technician. Obviously, you’ll also want to be on site when the repair tech arrives. Keep in mind that maintaining regular and proper maintenance of the home’s systems and appliances can increase the chances of a successful claim. Moreover, it’s important to keep documentation of any repairs or maintenance done on the covered items. Finally, homeowners should familiarize themselves with the claims process and promptly report any issues as soon as they arise. Being proactive and responsive when dealing with repairs can ensure a smooth and efficient resolution. If an appliance fails, best practice is to contact the warranty company directly and right away. Normally, it isn’t best to send for your own repair person, at least without first reporting it to your warranty provider. While you may be able to hire your own contractor or technician, and it doesn’t hurt to ask, often you’ll need to rely on the services of a repair person endorsed by the warranty provider. By maximizing knowledge and taking necessary steps at the appropriate times, homeowners can make the most of their home warranty and enjoy the benefits it provides.

For more information about home warranty coverage and to find a warranty that’s right for you and your home, click here.

Homeownership isn’t for everyone! I know that can sound downright strange coming from a real estate firm. Yes, we are in the business of selling homes. We’re in the business of connecting buyers and sellers. We’re a company that’s predicated upon building and nurturing relationships with our clients, our agents, lenders, appraisers, inspectors and other professionals. Yet, while owning a home is typically seen as a sound investment, there are situations when it may not be financially advantageous to buy one.

For example, you might not want to own a home if there’s uncertainty about your future or your job security, as committing to a mortgage could prove burdensome, if income becomes unstable. Another factor to consider is if you’re carrying high levels of debt. If you’re in a financial deficit, it may be more feasible to rent and focus on paying off obligations before taking on the additional financial responsibility of a home. Paying down/off higher-interest debts can raise your credit score as well, which will help you achieve a better mortgage rate for your next home purchase. Additionally, if you plan to relocate frequently due to work or personal reasons, the costs associated with buying, selling and moving can make renting a more favorable option as well. Ultimately, the decision to buy a home should be carefully weighed against all personal satisfaction with your current residence, financial position and job situation.

On the other hand, if you are a property owner, welcome to the wonderful world of ownership (and maybe lower taxable income too). With that being said, did you know, there are ways that you can increase or likewise decrease the value of your home? And this can happen even over short timeframes.

Increase Your Home’s Value

Increasing the value of your home in less than one year can be achieved through different ways. One effective method is to focus on curb appeal by enhancing the aesthetics of the exterior. This can be done by maintaining a well-manicured lawn, planting flowers and shrubs, and adding a fresh coat of paint to the front door (choose that color wisely!). Upgrades to your home’s exterior can be relatively affordable. This is the one area where sellers can give themselves a boost when debuting their home for sale. Another approach is to update key areas in the house such as the kitchen or bathroom, as these rooms often have a significant impact on the overall value of the home. Maybe it’s time that your kitchen finally got a face-lift. The condition of the kitchen and the bathrooms are often the hinge on what buyers tend to gravitate towards or away from when engaged in their search. The kitchen, like the main living area, is a frequently visited room, and as such, potential buyers are looking for modern beauty and convenience here, when possible. Additionally, improving energy efficiency by installing energy-saving appliances/lighting, improving insulation and opting for eco-friendly materials can boost the value of your home too. Smart home technology has been one of the safest investments in recent years. The ability to adjust the temperature, security or lighting in your home from a distance is a real game-changer. There’s a certain peace-of-mind in this sector of home improvement and unfortunately for some sellers, this is a must-have for a handful of buyers.

If you have other questions about valuation or selling, in general, click here.

Negatively Impacting Your Home’s Value

On the flip side, there are several actions that can quickly diminish the value of your home. For one, neglecting maintenance and repairs is one of the easiest ways to decrease value. This includes ignoring necessary fixes like leaking roofs, faulty plumbing or electrical issues. If homeowners avoid addressing a major issue, it could balloon into something intolerable. Water is a good example of this. A water dilemma, left to its own devices, could become a big financial headache for owners of a property. Another pitfall you might want to evade is engaging in excessive customization that may not appeal to the general public, such as unconventional color choices or highly specific themed rooms. Lime green or Pepto-Bismol pink, anyone? Or think solarium or home theater. While you might love those colors or while these might be intriguing rooms, a real hub for excitement in a home, they’re not for everyone. In fact, there’s a segment of homebuyers who would never have a use for either color or room. Lastly, failing to maintain an overall clean and tidy household, including proper hygiene and cleanliness, can also reduce the overall value of your home or at least its perceived value. Many of the buyers we work with are thankful for their ability to rely on their five senses during their home search. Sight and smell are as important as any and they can single-handedly make buyers do an about-face upon entering a residence.

There are also some pretty strange elements which can impact your home’s worth. Some of them might catch you off guard.

 

As you examine your property, probing the aspects you can – remember, you’re probably not a licensed home inspector. Take note of what requires your attention and make a plan based upon that, calling upon professionals when needed. Pinpoint areas where updating will raise the value of your home. Maintenance, repairs and upgrades will positively affect the valuation of your property as well as your confidence as a homeowner.

Packing your whole life up into a large truck might be one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have in your lifetime. I mean after you’ve put all that effort into getting your home ready to market, dealt with your fair share of stress while your REALTOR® worked their magic, isn’t the “delight of moving” the next logical step towards sanity? Gearing up for the task of shipping some of your priceless belongings with a group of total strangers is completely normal.

All kidding aside, moving from one residence to another is daunting and has been known to rattle some sellers as they seek to begin a new chapter of their lives. It could be the mental energy we commit to those things, such as moving, which tends to drain us and in some cases, leave us feeling a little desperate. Quite honestly, this is why it’s critical whenever we’re faced with such a task as this, we unplug from our negative past experiences and truly take time to prepare for the move.

You can also find a helpful moving checklist on page eight of our homebuyer’s guide. In this post, we’re covering four ways moving is made easier. Having said that, we in no way want to make light of the experience. I, for one, don’t love the idea of packing up a room into boxes and then unpacking them on the other side, but I’ve always been able to deal with it in a healthy manner. We hope you can too and we feel confident these four tips as well as our checklist will help you navigate your way into your new home with minimal anxiety.

Give Yourself Time

Preparation is important whether you’re buying or selling a home. In fact, we advise many of our clients to give themselves extra time when they’re thinking about a life change. Big decisions can take time, especially getting used to them. Sellers who need to make repairs to their house, should factor in more time than they think to complete those jobs. Heck, even if a professional is making the repairs/updates, you’ll want to pack in additional time. The same can be said for those who are confronted with the challenge of moving.

Moving for some is excruciating, like on the level of public speaking bad. Yet, if you give yourself extra time in anticipation of unforeseen issues arising in the process, you’ll be much better equipped to handle them and stay calm. Our advice is you don’t procrastinate throughout the moving process. Whether you’re moving out of an apartment or a home, whether you’re the buyer or seller, once that switch is activated and your life is headed in another direction, act.

Gather Intel

For some, changing scenery is welcomed, for others there’s apprehension. Whatever flavor the move provides, it’s important you eliminate as much of the unknown as possible. Chances are you’ll erase some of that stress, if you gather information on your new town or neighborhood before setting down new roots. What is your new city/neighborhood like? What places would you like to visit after your move? What are some of the activities you’d like to do once you get settled? The more comfortable you are with your new surroundings ahead of time, the easier this transition will be. Those who put the effort in from day one, are better suited to handle the curveballs which may come their way. Learn all aspects of your particular process – mentally prep yourself.

Moving apps, like Sortly and Updater, have helped others organize their thoughts and well as their possessions. They could potentially aid you as well.

Hire A Reputable Mover

Not in all situations, but many moving endeavors do require the assistance of a moving company. Someone once said: “you never know how much you accumulate until you move” [author unknown]. Boy, isn’t that the truth! If you do need to choose a professional moving company, do your due diligence and research which options are best for you and your circumstances as well as your timetable. Prior to contacting movers on the phone, it’s important to make a list of five or more and read testimonials from other buyers and sellers who faced a similar task of having to hire one. What are the good and bad stories people are sharing? Make sure to do your homework and investigate registries like Angi, NextDoor, Yelp, Google, Facebook and others.

After you whittle your list down, make sure to compile a list of questions you’ll want to ask each of the moving companies. Need help creating your own? This is a great place to start. And there may be other factors you’ll need to consider such as special services required like packing/storage services or budgetary concerns or how you want your valuables transported. For starters, you’ll want to ask each company stuff like if they have a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) registration number and how do they estimate costs for a particular job (binding estimates are usually better) and what fees are added on (hidden fees?) and what type of insurance they offer their customers.

Based upon this research and the responses to your questions, you’ll have a better idea of who you’d hire. Let’s face it, in real estate, banking, heck even cuisine, there are many choices… narrowing it down isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If one’s required, finding a reliable moving company should be at the top of your list. We hope these pointers provided you insight into making the right decision.

Soothe Thyself

Throughout the process of packing your life away and dealing with a real estate transaction, it’s vital to take care of yourself. This might sound puffed-up and maybe also a tad holistic, but stepping away from this process when it’s happening is healthy too. The self-care aspects shouldn’t be forgotten at this time. If you love to read first thing in the morning, then continue to do that even if you need to cut back slightly. If taking a walk in the evening in a park or on a trail is your thing, then keep walking. If working out a few times a week makes you feel better, gives you energy and relaxes your nerves, then by all means, do those burpees. If enjoying a glass of wine on your porch helps pacify your mind, then don’t let moving oust you from outdoor happiness.

If you have an area of your home where you and your family really take in life and the room acts like a sanctuary for you, don’t box that up until the last possible day.

Also, it’s important to keep ties to those you might be leaving behind, such as family, friends and neighbors. Set aside time to get together with neighbors and those in the community you’ve enjoyed getting to know, who you might not see again (depending on the distance of your move). Schedule your next return trip with family and friends, which will give you and them something to look forward to.

 

Moving is a trying time, yes, but there are methods we can take, which will help us deal with the challenges ahead. Stay focused on what matters, sure, but give yourself time and try not to beat yourself up when things go sideways. We’re here to help you throughout this process. Call one of our professionals should you want any assistance along the way.

Don’t let your home sit, let it stand above the rest of the competition and be noticed. If there’s one thing we counsel our clientele on today, it’s making a distinction between their home and others “on the market, not selling.” What are the unique selling points of their home? What is the state of the market, even as granular as their neighborhood? What are comparable properties selling for now? Putting together a vivid picture of the subject property and how to elevate it above other similar homes could mean the difference between less time on the market and maybe even a multiple offer situation.

But before you get carried away, here are five ways to position your home for a quicker sale:

Pricing

This is the obvious. The elephant in the room. We’d be deceiving ourselves if we didn’t mention this one first, because it’s the most important and for good reason. Remember, the whole process for a buyer begins (or should begin) with an honest assessment of what they can afford and tailoring their search around that benchmark. The buyer consults a mortgage lender, discovers how much they’re pre-approved for, compares that to their financial situation, determines their must-haves when previewing homes and investigates the market. Homebuyers, especially if they’ve been searching for some time, have an eye for present circumstances and how compatible properties have fared.

Sellers, who better understand what buyers are witnessing in terms of pricing, will be better able to estimate and position their property for its initial release. This is why having a REALTOR® generate a competitive market analysis (CMA) specifically tailored to the seller’s home is ideal for understanding how they should be pricing it. Although we might be in a period of correction, the market still favors sellers. Because of this, real estate professionals are advising some homeowners to set their list price toward the higher end of its range of value.

Repairs

When an owner anticipates selling their home, they should review all aspects of their property to conclude what’s in need of repair and what could benefit from an upgrade. Ideally, this should be done months ahead of when they plan to sell. They should consult their REALTOR® in order to judge which repairs/updates would help sell their home and which ones should be evaded. Soon-to-be sellers want to avoid alterations that buyers, for the most part, could care less about – repairs or updates that won’t add value, and in some cases might even have a negative impact.

It’s worth mentioning, some homeowners pursue a “pre-listing” inspection, where a professional home inspector evaluates their home and pinpoint areas they might want to address, making the proper repairs, before listing their home for sale. Though this approach isn’t as common as one might think, it can be extremely beneficial to owners in certain instances.

Curb Appeal

It seems like we overemphasize this point time and time again (because we do!), but we believe it’s that important. Do you want increased engagement and more prospective buyers to see your home? Of course! One of the quickest ways to get more eyeballs on your home, both online in addition to in person showings, is to create an inviting atmosphere that draws buyers in. The exterior facade of your home will either captivate or deter onlookers. It’s that simple. A fresh coat of paint on the front door and front porch, fresh landscaping, cut grass, trimmed shrubbery, new garage door, replacing that weathered mailbox, etc. make a statement and appeal to buyers.

There’s certainly a lot to say about curb appeal as it’s a very effective tool for selling, but homeowners shouldn’t go overboard either. They should refrain from changes, which won’t appeal to a majority of buyers. Sellers might want to consider taking a more simplistic approach to the peripheral of their home in hopes that potential buyers won’t see a yard that requires too much upkeep. As with any upgrade, sellers need to be cautious not to dump money into aspects of the home that have little to no return on investment (ROI).

Buyer Incentives

One way to really make your home stand out is to offer buyers and their agents perks that will truly differentiate your home from the rest. An incentive some deploy is offering would-be buyers a home warranty. In fact, there’s relatively affordable coverage available that will protect the home for the seller while it’s listed in addition to a year from its closing date. Thus, this coverage benefits both the owner and the buyer.

Another incentive to entertain is concessions or a closing credit giving a boost to those looking to purchase the seller’s property. Seller concessions are a portion of the costs the seller has agreed to pay in order to lower the amount the buyer needs to close on the property. This assist or contribution is typically rolled into the buyer’s mortgage. A closing credit can be a great way to attract buyers as well. Usually a percentage of the purchase price or a flat credit is presented to consumers in hopes that it will attract more parties to put forth an offer.

A rare, though effective means of reducing those days on market can also be achieved by incentivizing agents to bring their clients into the seller’s abode through offering a buyer’s agent bonus. Agents make money beyond their portion of their agency’s commission, and thus will be much more eager to bring buyers into that seller’s home.

Marketing

Finally, investing in a real estate professional, who understands the current conditions and can effectively position a seller’s home for maximum exposure, will reduce market time. Experienced agents know the state of the market and know how to best approach it. How will current trends affect market time? Sellers need to rely on their agent to sift through the data to discover what’s selling, what’s not selling and why it isn’t selling.

Sellers would also be wise to team up with a REALTOR® and brand, who are well versed in exposing their home to the largest pool of buyers. Their agent should be aggressive, regardless of the conditions that exist, willing to go the extra mile for their clients. Their agent should have a drive to succeed, despite the challenges which may exist. Their agent should have a plan on how to elevate their client’s listing to get noticed and shown.

 

As a homeowner, there are things you can’t change like location or maybe even costly upgrades to a home, but the above five are within your control. Sitting down with your agent and creating a strategy corresponding to these tips, among others, may ultimately reduce the number of days your home is on the market. There’s a lot on the mind of today’s sellers, but having a meeting with your agent will help ease your mind too!

If you’re thinking about listing your home, even many months from now, it’s never too early to create a plan for when the time comes to sell. Contact one of our professionals today to get started right away.

Choosing To Live On A Lake

“Lake life” isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The bugs, the smells, the dew and fog in the early morning hours, the sounds encapsulating your abode, to name a few, keep many at bay. But these are the exact same reasons people gravitate towards lakes in Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA). If you own a residence or second home on one of our region’s lakes, you understand the experience as well as the peace that comes with living on or near a lake. Don’t you?

Of course, there are numerous benefits in addition to disadvantages when living near a body of water in our area of Pennsylvania.

Pros include wildlife, fishing, outdoor recreation (good luck trying to get the kids to come in for dinner), sunrises/sunsets, relaxation, neighbors, community, privacy and entertaining. Furthermore, property value is a big bonus for numerous homeowners situated waterfront or near the body of water itself. Valuation on these homes varies depending on surrounding amenities, the view of the lake itself not to mention access to it, which most everyone wants. In a way, when you sell a lake house, you’re selling a particular lifestyle. Is there the option to entertain outside on a deck with an exterior kitchenette, dock and/or pool? These are things, which help prospective homebuyers realize they’re buying more than a home, they’re purchasing a vacation-like lifestyle. And the value far exceeds the lifestyle! In fact, homes located near a lake see an increase in property value of about 25% or more versus their in-land comparables.

Besides having the sense you’ve made a good investment and you’re always on vacation, there are definitely cons to buying a lake house. While not all of these are relevant to each lake house, similar to the pros as well, they’re important to identify when considering a lake house purchase. Some of these challenges include more regular upkeep and maintenance on homes exposed to the elements surrounding lake house living. More money may need to held in reserve to not only protect your investment, but also come to the rescue if storms and natural disasters strike. While privacy can be a plus for those making a move to a lake, lack of privacy in some cases is a stumbling block. Certain times and seasons on a lake pose a threat to tranquility. The summer months will often usher in various forms of commotion and entertainment, not suited for everyone. Higher insurance costs and lake association dues could also be seen as hardships for those not used to lake house living.

This article gives you a deeper glimpse into the advantages and disadvantages of choosing life on a lake.

Whether or not you’ve ever dreamed of living near a lake, we invite you to experience what it’s like. Poet Richard Milton Grahn draws you into “lake life,” a medicine for the lucky (perhaps).

Butterflies in brilliant light
What a sight as dreams take flight
Whatever comes, whatever goes
The ripples in the lake still flow

[excerpt from “Lake of Dreams” by Richard Milton Grahn]

As spring emerges so too does the foliage and critters around the lake. Summer makes way for water play, boats, kayaks, jet skis, swimming and fishing. Autumn supplies us with brisk clean air and the sounds of the ripples on water. Winter invites us to recall a year that was and listen to the stillness left behind. We hope to see you on one of our many beautiful lakes in NEPA. If you’re interested in discovering more about our lakes or would like to purchase a lake house, take a tour here.

Always make sure you have a lake house or waterfront real estate professional on your side as you begin to pursue lake living.

When The Home You Bought Does Not Appraise

As a homebuyer, the landscape can be downright intimidating these days. Yes, multiple offer situations exist now, but this is changing and by July they might all but cease. First-time buyers can especially have concerns in this market, which is still a seller’s market, even though the pendulum is shifting. Why the concern? Well, interest rates have climbed and aren’t going down anytime soon. Furthermore, there’s still competition from other buyers who are eager to purchase, have been looking for a while and haven’t been priced-out of the market yet. There are many forces to consider when given the opportunity to buy real estate. Buyers in our region (Northeastern Pennsylvania) are paying about $300 more per month for a home via lender financing than they would have only six months ago for the same house. This is because rates have crept up about 2.5% points since January.

Lately, the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS® (PAR) made some clarifications to one of their standard forms, the Appraisal Contingency Addendum (ACA), in an effort to clear up a little of the confusion surrounding buyer and seller rights and obligations surrounding the purchase of a property, specifically if a home fails to appraise. These changes will take effect on July 1, 2022. There’s been a misunderstanding in recent years about what the appraisal contingency means exactly for both parties and why the buyer doesn’t have the right to terminate an agreement of sale, if the appraisal contingency falls away, but that’s another conversation altogether.

As we mentioned above, there are still homes selling for over list price and there will be pockets of this type of activity I’m sure during the next few weeks. The concern for many potential buyers today is where does it put me if the appraised value of the home I’m looking to purchase comes in lower than the actual purchase price? This is a legitimate consideration. Thankfully, in Pennsylvania, the purchaser, through guidance from their REALTOR®, can rely on what’s called the “minimum appraised value” to protect them in the transaction. This would be the lowest value an appraiser could produce that would require the buyer to continue with the purchase. The ACA is there to accompany the sales contract and help these parties make every effort to continue forward in good faith toward settlement.

Of course, it doesn’t always work out for one or both parties, but protections like the appraisal contingency can help buyers sleep at night. “Homes failing to appraise happens more than you might think, even now,” asserts Maria Muchal Berta, Associate Broker for Realty Network Group and Owner/Certified Residential Appraiser of Chiave Appraisal Group. “It really depends if the buyer has the money to close the gap between the purchase price and its appraised value. How badly do they want the home? In some cases where the appraised value falls short of the purchase price, where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Angelo Ambrosecchia, Loan Officer for Guild Mortgage breaks down many of the intricacies involved in the following scenarios where homebuyers are seeking to secure funding for a home purchase.

“Prior to us getting involved, many transactions are negotiated that up to a certain price point, the buyer will pay the difference out of pocket, if a home appraises low. For example, someone is buying a home for $290K. If it appraises for $280K, they agree to pay the difference out of pocket, again, up to a certain amount. With inventory levels so low, we’re seeing this more as buyers don’t want to lose out on a home, if they can avoid doing so. In this example, if they were putting 5% down and getting a conventional loan, they would now be putting 5% of $280K down, and on top of that, paying $10K to make up the difference for the low appraisal, in addition to closing costs.”

“If the borrower has enough money down and they’re agreeable, we can adjust the loan-to-value to keep their out of pocket money the same. Here’s what I mean by that. We have someone buying a home for $290K and putting 20% down. This would make the loan amount $232K and down payment $58K. Let’s assume the home appraises for $280K and they want to keep their total out of pocket money the same, but agree to pay a total of $290K. We can lower the down payment from $58K to $48K and they can use that $10K to make up the difference. This keeps their total out of pocket funds overall, the same. In this case, they would now be putting $48K down on $280K and the loan-to-value would go from 80% to 82.9%. This would add a small PMI payment, but help the borrower accomplish their overall goal when it comes to total money, out of pocket.”

“As lenders, we can only lend up to the lesser of the appraised value or the purchase price. Always the lesser of the two.”

“If this isn’t agreed upon upfront, we first go to each REALTOR® and ask for any additional comparable properties the appraiser may have missed. At the permission of the buyer, we’ll have the buyer’s agent review the appraisal with them to see if any material items were missed. Is the bedroom count correct? Bathroom count? Square footage? Etc.”

“If no mistakes were made and the value isn’t able to be met, the REALTORS® involved would need to see if any re-negotiation can take place. If all parties can work it out or compromise on it, we move forward. If not, unfortunately, it may be a dead deal.”

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution for when the home in a real estate transaction fails to appraise, but we’ve attempted to give structure to variables that might come into play. We hope homebuyers have gained some valuable insight and can proceed with more confidence toward settlement.

 

For a related topic, see Why would I need an appraiser?

Mind of Today’s Seller

Considering selling? What can today’s homeowner be thinking? There are a mix of variables in today’s market, which add an element of mystery to forecasting, similar to a meteorologist’s predictions you might say. But the storm of buyers, at least in our region, remains. They cover the area, a dense fog destined to stick around until there’s a sudden boost in inventory and/or perhaps a series of half-percentage-point rate increases from the Fed. The concerns are real. On the other hand, the hope for a surge in listings to our market might be in the cards, but those are based upon a survey’s findings, they’re only another tool for speculation. Nonetheless, it’s a valid approach to entering the minds of home sellers.

Nowadays, the mind of a seller is certainly a mess, one could argue so too a buyer’s. It’s a seller’s market though, no? While that’s true, there’s an anxiety for many prospective sellers in prepping or listing their home for sale. Some also need to buy after they sell, a cause for hesitation and some Pepcid AC. “Sellers in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania, believe it or not, are still a little apprehensive about our market,” underscores Christina M. Keller, REALTOR® with Realty Network Group. “While inventory is low, very low in fact, making life much easier for my clients, who are thinking of putting their home on the market; some feel rushed attempting to get all their ducks in a row.”

Despite the jitters for some sellers, most are in a great position to move forward and with frugality. “Sellers are opting to save their money by not doing some of the basic upgrades we normally would see them do only a couple years ago,” indicates Mrs. Keller. “They don’t sense the need to replace worn flooring, repaint interior rooms or update their kitchens and baths. My sellers are smart and they understand this is the furthest thing we’ve had to a buyer’s market in quite some time. Armed with the knowledge there are fewer homes for buyers to choose from, they’re counting their savings and are letting the new owners do the work themselves post settlement. It’s been my experience that many home shoppers in the Greater Scranton area have come to expect this and are willing to take on the challenge to make their own updates. Unless of course, there are structural defects in the home, then they need to address and resolve said issues before getting to the closing table.”

“I don’t see buyers asking for the simple repairs to be done nearly as much as I experienced in the past. Buyers are simply happy to be chosen as so often there are multiple offers on the table for a single listing. Buyers who are willing to accept the property ‘as is’ are often the deciding factor and make the difference between the sellers accepting their offer or moving on to another. This can happen even when another offer comes in higher than the winning bid. Good news for sellers, not so much for buyers. The end result of this is we simply can’t negotiate a price reduction as easily as we did in the past.”

If you’re a seller who’s looking for a slight edge, listing your home mid or during the latter part of April might be the ticket.  According to realtor.com, April 10-16th is the best time to list.  “Sellers…can expect to find relatively high buyer interest, coupled with limited competition from other sellers, that equates to fast-selling homes at top dollar,” says Danielle Hale, the chief economist for realtor.com. Likewise, in looking back at 2021 home sales, Zillow has determined the end of April (21st through 28th) is “the most opportune time” to list.

It appears the next few weeks could be the sweet spot for sellers in 2022!

Importance of a Residential Real Estate Appraiser

As a homeowner, why would I need the services of a real estate appraiser? And is one needed if I already have a business relationship with a REALTOR®? These are great questions, but before we dive in and answer them, let’s establish what we mean when we say “appraisal.”

For our purposes here, we’re not concerned with commercial real estate appraisals. These are a whole different animal and are sought after less than residential ones in our region. By appraisals, we’re referring to an accurate estimate of a home’s current/fair market value (emphasis added). We’ll break down the difference between this and how we understand a comparable market analysis, but it’s safe to say appraisals hold much more weight. Furthermore, an appraisal, which is required by a homebuyer’s lender, for instance, is completed by a licensed appraiser and not solely a real estate agent.

While some homeowners, who are looking to sell their home, might request from a REALTOR® what’s called a comparable market analysis (CMA), it’s critical to recognize the distinction between it and an appraisal. While agents might use methods of comparison similar to appraisers, they aren’t licensed appraisers with no motivation for the sale of the property. Generally speaking, CMAs are for agent purposes (listing a home for sale, data to support a buyer’s offer) and appraisals are for lending purposes. Read more about their differences here.

Regardless of the business relationship you have with a real estate professional, unless he/she has a license to appraise property in that state, his/her assessment on what a property is worth won’t hold water with the mortgage lender actually making the investment on the home on your behalf (whether you’re the homeowner or mortgagor). Not all appraisals involve banks though. “There are many reasons someone would hire an appraiser,” exclaims Maria Muchal Berta, Owner/Certified Real Estate Appraiser for Chiave Appraisal Group and Associate Broker with Realty Network Group. “One reason is if a buyer is using cash to purchase a property, meaning there are no banks involved in the transaction. It gives the buyer a piece of mind knowing they’re not overpaying for a property. Other common reasons for hiring an appraiser include divorces, settling estates, refinancing, applying for home equity loans, appealing tax assessments or they’re just curious about their home’s worth.”

We hope this elucidates why someone might need the services of a real estate appraiser. It’s a complicated market out there! Make sure you have the right people and tools at your fingertips. If you need further clarification regarding homebuying, look into this resource.