We wrote earlier this week on what a real estate agent can do for you other than just show homes. Today we’d like to give you some tips to help you help us serve you better.
Many people think too narrowly about real estate agents. All they do is show homes, right? Well, actually no. We can do a lot more than that to help our clients.
Realtor.com has published a fantastic infographic showing the profile of veteran and active duty home buyers and sellers. There’s lots of good information here, especially if you are considering listing a home.
Selling a home will be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. While some people like to go it alone, we advise against it for lots of reasons, and they aren’t selfish ones. You’re often too close to your home to make the best decisions, and sometimes you need someone else to “be the bad guy” when you can’t do it yourself.
That said, how do you find the right agent for you?
Selling your home is an emotional decision and process. Sometimes it seems like it’s just taking way too long, and you want to look for someone to blame. It might be that your agent is ineffective, but before you blame him, first make sure you aren’t making some of these common home seller mistakes.
If you’ve been thinking about selling your home this year, you may be wondering when’s the best time to list a house? Fortunately, the folks at Zillow have done the research, and they have the answer for us.
The first part of the answer is that it depends on what part of the country you live in. Zillow has done an extensive analysis and created a tool that can be used to compare the best times in various metropolitan regions of the country. As they say in their report:
Conventional wisdom says the best time to list is “in the spring,” but that’s not very specific – and in certain areas, it’s just plain wrong. Because real estate is local, listing a home for sale in March in one ZIP code might yield much higher sale prices, while in other ZIP codes, it could end up costing a home seller some serious cash.
Here’s a chart showing one example of their methodology in action:
How did they figure all this? Here’s an overview of their methodology:
To calculate the best time to list, we begin by grouping homes by the month they were first listed, then calculate how much those homes tend to sell for relative to their Zestimate, Zillow’s estimated value placed on roughly 100 million homes nationwide. The series is unique to each ZIP code, meaning the monthly/seasonal pattern for a specific home is derived from local market dynamics.
One of the interesting things they found in using their tool is that conventional wisdom used to say the best time to list was in March. Their data shows that May is now usually the best month. However, that’s not universal. Let’s take the Metro DC area as an example. In their follow on article, they published a chart linking their data to some major metro areas. The best time for Washington, DC is actually the second half of April, while for nearby Baltimore. it is the first half of May.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into deciding when and how to list your home. That’s one of the reasons we suggest using a real estate agent to assist you.
Most importantly, if you want to sell this year, you’d better get moving. Late April is going to be here before you know it. How can we help you sell your home this year?
The folks at Realtor.com have crunched a lot of data on what features sell homes faster, and some of their conclusions are interesting.
1. Style matters
There’s good news and bad news for us here on the East Coast. Apparently Spanish-style homes, of which we have almost none, sell the fastest while Victorian-style, of which we have many, sell more slowly.
What should you do if you own a Victorian? Make sure your upgrade are in order. If you’ve been thinking about renovating a kitchen or doing other work on your home, you might want to stop thinking and start doing. Remember that open design with lots of light does well. See if there’s a way to add some light to your home.
Oh, and the good news for those of you in this area. Ranch-style homes do sell fairly quickly.
2. City view is good
If you were thinking your urban view was bad, don’t worry. According to the numbers, they sell faster than golf course, lake or ocean view homes. Now, to be fair to those of you who have nature views, the reason could have as much to do with the cost of your home as the location. The more natural the view, the higher the cost often will be.
3. Stainless steel and granite reign supreme
One homeowner we are working with despises the stainless steel look, considering it too cold. However, according to the numbers, his view is in the minority. Granite counter tops also sell well.
Now before you run out to resurface your kitchen, stop and be realistic. Are you living in a small, older townhouse? Granite may be out of touch with the overall value of your home. A less expensive material might be more in line. Definitely remember, however, that a kitchen which looks like it was decorated in the 70s will not have aged well in the minds of potential buyers. (No, avocado really isn’t a popular color today.)
4. Location, location…you know the rest
Yes, location does matter, and not just for the view. “Good schools” routinely top search terms ,and the Realtor.com data supports what we’ve known all along.
If you believe you are in a less desirable location, don’t despair. We can work with you to make the sale happen (and your location may not be what you fear), but if you aren’t currently living in a home, keep location in mind now to make selling later easier.
What do you like most about the home you own now? Were any of your dream features on the list?
Are you thinking about putting your home on the market? If so, you’ll want to pay attention to how your home looks and feels to a buyer. Here are some home staging tips you can do yourself to make your home appealing to buyers.
1. Leave your lights on
See, we told you they’d be easy things you could do yourself. This one tip can make a big difference. When a buyer pulls up to the house, especially late in the day, the lights will make your home look welcoming. Leaving the interior lights on will subtly signal that you have nothing to hide.
2. Spruce up the exterior
If you’ve been maintaining your home, this one will also be a breeze. Power wash the exterior, mow the lawn, pick up yard clutter and make sure everything is ship-shape. If you need to paint or replace shingles, shutters or the like, make sure you do those things too, before your home is listed. Your exterior is the first thing a potential buyer sees. Make it look good!
3. De-clutter the interior
Pick up magazine, toys and anything else that’s just lying around. It’s fine to keep an attractive coffee table book on an end or side table, but otherwise keep surfaces clear. If your shelves are cluttered with books and knick knacks, clear them out and just leave the most attractive ones in place.
Definitely NO dirty laundry anywhere except in a hamper in a closet or your laundry room. Preferably, not even there.
Renting a storage unit for extra items and furniture is an inexpensive way to clear out your house and leave more space. You need enough to give a room character but not so much that it distracts the buyers from imagining their own stuff in the rooms.
4. Clear off kitchen counters and clean appliances
Yes, buyers will peek in the stove and fridge, so make sure they are clean. Remove any excess items from the counter and tidy up cupboards. If it makes you go “Yuck!” imagine what buyers will think.
5. Clean the windows
If you’re like most homeowners, your windows are streaked and grimy. You may even have cobwebs, dirt or leaves in the sashes. Clean all of them. Open and close all the windows to make sure they operate smoothly. Wash the glass until it shines.
6. Set the dining room table
Arrange with plates and attractive place mats as if you were having guests over. It will make the room inviting and remind you to clear clutter from the table. Bonus points if you can add a centerpiece. Avoid flowers, though. You never know when a potential buyer has an allergy.
7. Organize the bedrooms
Make the beds. Clear the clutter. Dust all surfaces. Fold and put away the laundry. Again, you don’t want anything to distract or put off potential buyers.
8. Clean the bathrooms
We shouldn’t need to say it, but trust us, we do. Nothing turns off a buyer faster than a messy, dirty bathroom. Be careful with bathroom sprays to conceal odors. They may also trigger allergies in a potential buyer, and sneezing is not a selling point!
Those are our tips. Follow them and your home should be in great shape to show. Anyone want to share their favorite tips in the comments?
We decided to get creative and make some graphic calendars to help both buyers and sellers understand the timelines of their various transactions. While we won’t write about everything in the calendars, we did want to highlight a few points.
1. Finding a great agent
Note that this happens at a different time, depending on whether you are buying or selling. We suggest finding an agent six months out if you are selling and three months out if you are buying. If you are selling, it’s likely there is work to be done on your home before you can put it on the market. Finding an agent well in advance will give you time to complete the work. Note that if you were thinking of selling your home this year, you’d better get looking for that agent. It’s almost too late to get your home ready for the summer selling season. Of course, we’re ready and able to help you out!
Getting pre-approved six months out if you are buying is an excellent idea, especially if you suspect your credit rating may need a bit of work. Meet with a lender early to evaluate your situation and be certain you are prepared if your dream home hits the market unexpectedly.
3. Three months to two months out is busy for sellers
You need to do quite a bit to get your home ready to list. You’ll want to be certain to be well-organized and on top of everything in that busy time. Completing all those tasks in a timely fashion can be the difference between your home selling on schedule and not.
4. Two months out is the time to submit an offer
Did you know that you will be submitting an offer on the house you want to buy two months out? Yes, it’s that far out. Buying a house isn’t like buying a car. There’s a lot more involved in the sale process, so be prepared for that closing to be a few weeks later than you might have been expecting.
2016 looks like it’s going to be a great year for real estate, and we hope this will help keep you on track.
Images created with the help of Canva
If you’ve been reading our blog, then you know winter is actually a good time to sell your home. If you’re thinking about selling this winter, you’ll want to pay attention to these handy tips to boost your cold weather curb appeal.
1. Take your pictures before the leaves fall
If you are fortunate enough to take your pictures just after a fresh snowfall, then go ahead and do it. However, especially if you live in Northern Virginia, most winters just don’t get that much snow, so you might not be able to get that new-fallen snow look. That means your best bet is to take your pictures in the fall, while there are still colorful leaves on the trees. That will give you a great look on social media and your listing site.
If your home stays on the market past winter, take new pictures again in the spring to make sure your listing looks fresh.
2. Finish renovations early
We wrote earlier this month about renovations you’ll definitely want to consider before putting your home on the market. Make sure you finish them early, before the weather gets bad. Certain exterior renovations can’t be done while it’s cold. You don’t want a job half-finished just as you’re planning to list your home.
3. Keep up your landscaping
Do keep your yard raked. Piles of rotting leaves do not give potential buyers the warm fuzzies. If it snows, shovel promptly and thoroughly. A snow day might give a buyer an opportunity to go house hunting, and you’ll want to make sure yours is ready to view. Un-shoveled or icy walks don’t look good, and they are hazardous. You’re not going to sell a home by injuring potential buyers.
Consider some cold weather plants for your lawn or garden. Talk to your local nursery about possible plants that will both look good and survive the cold.
4. Pay attention to exterior lighting
With the short days, buyers may end up viewing your home after dark. Make sure your exterior lighting allows a good view of your home from several angles. If you decorated for the holidays, pay attention to how many lights you use and how they are arranged. One home in our neighborhood had Christmas lights just thrown over a tree. As they blinked, it looked like lightning hitting the Santa in the yard. Perhaps that was they effect they were going for, but we’re glad they weren’t trying to sell. That’s not a good impression to leave with potential buyers.
Any tips we missed? Let us know in the comments.