Tag Archive for: Selling Your Home

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.

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.

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.

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!

Best Month To Sell Your Home

Homeowners are incentivized to sell, if they’re in a position to do so, as we set sights on the spring housing market. It’s no surprise that last year was a stellar year for homebuying and selling. Unfortunately, many were left on the sidelines, especially first-time buyers who only had FHA loan approval or were relying on a more limited down-payment as they pursued homeownership. Often investors beat first-timers to the punch, swooping in and snatching up available homes for sale. The challenges still exist. You need only ask those who are still looking to buy.

Persistent low supplies, even locally, have driven up home prices. Fueling the fire was 2021 with its record-breaking growth in the housing sector. Appreciation in home prices was high at the start of the year and accelerated even higher by year’s end. “Price appreciation averaged 15% for the full year of 2021,” which was more than double the prior year.

Sellers who can afford to sell, and we use that term “afford” loosely, should do so. If you’re a homeowner thinking about selling, is there a better time of the year to put your property on the market? Is there an optimal time to sell? Is there a month or a very specific time of the year where a seller would be in a better position than if he/she waited? These are great questions. New and sold listings in our market will shed some light on this discussion.

New Listings in the Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS®
2021 2019 2018
February 172 244 228
March 267 324 320
April 330 400 364
May 387 432 448
June 374 381 434
July 368 360 387
August 397 331 353
September 329 329 313

*GSBR statistics 2018-2021

 

Sold Listings in the Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS®
2021 2019 2018
February 157 159 138
March 243 180 187
April 248 203 168
May 262 250 258
June 312 240 214
July 294 270 240
August 313 265 285
September 298 228 225

*GSBR statistics 2018-2021

The COVID-filled year of 2020 was a tale of two markets, an extremely silent one as well as a vigorous one beginning in June of that year, and therefore, we skipped it for obvious reasons. But the patterns of three of the last four years show a trend. New listings entering the market peaked in May/June and sales hit their highs in July/August. And this correlation between sales and listings is logical with an estimated forty-five to sixty days to close for properties in our market.

It might be advantageous for prospective sellers to circle the month of March on their calendars. Next month you say? Yes, March is the perfect time to list! ATTOM data would also suggest March or perhaps even April is the best time to put your home on the market. May and June experience the highest returns for those looking to make a profit in selling their property. But don’t sweat it, if you’re not ready to go in March or April, you might be able to catch some of that buyer activity during the summer months.

We would caution anyone looking to sell though as home price appreciation may begin to taper as this year comes to a close. The median home price was almost 12% higher than it was a year ago and that should continue short-term, according to realtor.com’s chief economist. But many forecasters believe a plunge in home prices is coming by year’s end. Sellers who are on the fence, should act soon. In fact, next month might just be the perfect month!