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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Getting your home ready for the performance of its life!

Also known as home staging.
We stage homes to show at their best. Even in a sellers market, properly staging a home can cause the house to sell for more money, faster. You would not go on a first date dressed in yesterdays gym clothes, or on a job interview wearing every piece of clothing that you own. So why let your house, which you want to be attractive to other people, be dirty and smelly, or over crowded with possessions?

It helps to bring in another person. Your REALTOR, for example. When you are immersed in a situation for any length of time the surroundings become normal and expected. This makes it difficult to step back and see what a new set of eyes will see. Bringing in a new set of eyes, that are not planning on buying your house, and understand what buyers will see can be one of the most valuable contributions to selling a house.

Proper home staging can be many things.Home staging is not buying brand new furniture from a  trendy shop and painting the walls the latest color scheme. In reality it is much more practical then that.
Imagine you walk into your house after a long day at work. You pat the family dog on the head. Your kids are out back playing with their toys in the yard. You like to relax by reading one of the books that you have collected from rummage sales will you wait on dinner. Your spouse tells you about her day at work and all the things she has accomplished since she has been home. Which include baking enough cupcakes for the kids in you child's classes, and finishing up both of the school  play costumes.
Pretty normal scenario.
Now picture walking into this house through the eyes of a buyer:
When you walk in the door the first thing you notice is the odor of dog and dog  food mingling in the air. As you walk through the house you see that the master bedroom is jammed full of unidentifiable stuff (looks vaguely like a pirate hat on top of a pile of rags, but you don't take the time to look, that smell is getting to you). Into the kitchen. You can tell they straightened up by pushing everything against the back splash of the counters, which you can not imagine could hold your household items, since you see so little available space. Looking into the kids rooms you can see all the dings and crayon marks that are going to be a pain to paint over. When you try to go into the finished basement and through to the garage, you have to stop at the foot of the stairs and just look because there is no way you can walk through that mess with out spraining an ankle.
Is this house attractive to you?

Now if the sellers had just taken the time to do a good cleaning  and get some air freshener the dog smell would go. They could box of a few possessions, donate some of the items they have not used in years and properly store  the rest in closets and attractive chests or a storage unit.  In the kitchen just remove all but one or two things from the counter tops. The rest can go in a cabinet until needed.

None of these tasks are expensive, or difficult. Just a little time and forethought, and your house will sell in no time, and your wallet will be a little heavier too.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lease Purchase -To do or not to do

Every agent gets a variety of phone calls on a listing. Lately, a lot of those phone calls have asked if the seller would be willing to lease purchase a property.
What is a lease purchase? It is where a buyer signs a lease agreement, with a contract to buy at the end of the lease. These lease agreements can run as short as six months, or as long as 30 years. The monthly payment is applied to paying down the purchase price, either the full payment or a percentage of the payment. The down payment generally covers half of the commission and puts a little padding in the sellers pocket in case the buyer defaults. None of this is refundable if the buyer decides to leave the property before the purchase is completed.
Now, this is an example of a lease purchase (and the way I think is best), however if you ask a number of other agents you will get just as many different answers.

The benefits: The seller gets out from under the mortgage payment each month. It also opens up the property they are trying to sell to a much wider group of purchasers. When the seller offers a property for lease purchase, generally the price is firm, the buyer not usually negotiating the price because they are asking the seller to lease it to them first. The buyers benefit by being able to buy a house even if they could not get a mortgage at the time.

The negative: It is more work. The seller,  if he still has  a mortgage, is still responsible for that mortgage and making sure he collects the money each month. The seller usually will not negotiate the price with the buyer since they are asking him to lease  it.

With the positives and draw backs, this is becoming a widely used way to sell a house.  Today's market , as with many other types of markets, people are becoming more and more creative to get what they ultimately want. As long as you have cooperative parties on each side (and always get everything in writing) a lease purchase is a viable option in today's market!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Finding Real Estate, why use a buyers agent?

Why use a buyers agent?
Recently a young man called me about a house he found online in a high priced part of town. I agreed to go show him and his fiance the house on Sunday afternoon. According to the mls, it was a foreclosure listed at 160,000.  5 bedroom, 3 bathrooms. I checked with him to make sure he had his financing in order, and he assured me he did.
When we met, he and his girlfriend   (Not fiance I discovered) walk around and look at the property like deer in the headlights. I had already emailed him the information on the house prior to our meeting, to make sure he had the correct information.
After I spent all Sunday afternoon preparing to meet, and showing the house to this couple of kids he tells me that he is looking in the 60,000 price range, and had thought this house was only 59,000. Also that he thought it was a 3 bedroom and no bath house. (Who wants a house with no bathroom?!?) I discover that he has gotten all his information from the internet. A website, that however popular it is, does not feel the need to verify its information. Within a few days of this I receive another phone call. This one is from an irate homeowner who found my phone number on the same website and wanted me to correct the errors in his home value(which was undervaluing it by at least 150,000 if not more). I patiently explain to him that unless he chose to list with me I have no power to edit the information since I am not an employee of the website, I just advertise on it as do all the other agents.

Why is this relevant?
There is so much information available to the public today. Far to much of it is completely unreliable and undermines the publics perception of value. The kids thought they had stumbled upon the deal of a lifetime, and consequently wasted a day of their vacation, and a day of my time. The man who wants to sell his house is now in danger of buyers viewing him as over priced, even if he is actually under priced.

Here is where a buyers agent comes in handy. For the kids, obviously a buyers agent will get them the correct information and keep them from wasting their time, and money looking at properties that are out of their price range, or are not longer on the market.
How would a buyers agent help the man who wants to sell his house? Well, a good buyers agent will run a cma for her clients on the property they want to write an offer on. That way the buyers know what is a good value in this sellers neighborhood, and they do not miss a good house at a good price because of a misprint of information on the internet.

I value the internet for the wealth of information it can bring in a  instant. However, at this time no one can remove the human element. It takes the knowledge and experience of a professional, and the human eye for error to truly maximize the usefulness of the internet.
This is where a buyers agent's work begins.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 27, 2011

Yesterday tornado's ravaged the south east. So much destruction, so close to home. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has lost someone, or something. Destruction of a home can be almost as devastating and hard to come back from as the loss of a friend or family member. No one would chose to lose either. The count of loss of life is up to 192 over 5 states now.  Events like this help you put into perspective the issues in life.  Yesterday my biggest problem was a buyer who wasted my time.... Now, as I wait to hear from all the people I know, that does not seem so bad.  So for my second blog, I took a  moment to divert from real estate, and think about all the lives and homes lost around the south east. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

First Post

Hello everyone!
This is my first post! Who-hoo!
 I intend to blog just about every day. I will include different aspects of the real estate business, local news and my personal experience all rolled into one! I am pretty new to daily blogging. This should be interesting.

First off, let me talk about myself a little.

 I had a birthday yesterday. So I slacked off (as is my birthday right) just a little. Now I am back to work and enjoying it. I have needed to spruce up my website and work on my blogging skills. This is the focus of my day. I am in central Alabama, and we are under tornado warnings all day. I really enjoy stormy weather (though not the damage that can come from it). Since I had two of my favorite things (pizza and cake) yesterday for my birthday, I am also having them again this morning for breakfast... Yumm... If there is a tornado I might as well enjoy myself, right?