You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!
Top Stories00:1500:36The Single Biggest Mistake For Your CareerAnd Company
Over the past few years, a real estate buying frenzy bid up home prices to eye-popping amounts. However, as mortgage rates have risen, buyer demand has cooled. Consequently, home sellers who enter the market today may need to reset their expectations.
The reality is, it’s no longer enough to stick a “for sale” sign in the yard and wait for buyers to bang down the door. If you want to get the most money possible for your property in today’s market, you’ll need an effective game plan and a skilled team of professionals to implement it.
Fortunately, we’ve developed a listing strategy that combines our proven approach to preparation, pricing, and promotion, all designed to help you get top dollar for your home. However, you will play an important role in the selling process, as well.
Here are some crucial steps you can take to set yourself up for success as a home seller in this market:
1. Make Strategic Repairs and Improvements
When you sell something, it’s important to consider what your customer wants to buy. And according to the National Association of Realtors, only 6% of today’s buyers report that they are looking for a DIY fixer-upper. The vast majority want a move-in-ready home, which means that any outstanding repairs or dated features can be a major turn-off.
Before your home goes on the market, we’ll conduct a thorough walk-through to identify any problems that could prevent it from selling. In some cases, we may recommend a professional pre-listing inspection. Finding and addressing issues like leaks, rot, and foundation problems up front can pay off in the final sale price. Plus, it prevents sales from falling through because of a red flag on the home inspection, a scenario no seller wants to face. Beyond repairs, we’ll also help you identify the simple upgrades that offer the highest return on your investment. For example, new paint can give your home a fresh look at a reasonable cost. However, it’s important to choose the right colors. One study found that painting your bathroom light blue could lead to a 1.6% increase in the offer price. Similarly, minor landscaping improvements can pay off in a major way. A healthy lawn offers an estimated 256% return on investment.
2. Declutter and Depersonalize
When buyers look at a home for sale, they try to envision themselves living there. That’s hard to do if it’s chock-full of the current owner’s family photos, children’s artwork, and souvenir collections. Plus, cluttered homes look smaller, and older items can make them feel dated. Decluttering before you put your home up for sale will help you in the long run, after all, you’ll need to move all your things to your new home eventually. Now is the time to shred, digitize, or organize old documents, donate old clothes, or move bulky furniture into storage. At a minimum, you’ll want to pack away excess items neatly before potential buyers view the home. Remove personal photos and other trinkets to create a blank slate that viewers can imagine decorating with their own prized possessions. If you feel overwhelmed by this process, we’d be happy to make recommendations or refer you to a local service provider who can help.
3. Stage Your Home for Success
Just as you take care to dress professionally for a job interview, you should always ensure your home looks its best for potential buyers. Home shoppers today are used to scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest, and they want to see the same wow factor when touring a home. The process of making your home look its best and appeal to potential buyers is called staging, and it can be a game changer. According to the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, an average-priced staged home sells 5 to 11 times faster than its nonstaged counterpart. Even better, most staged homes sell for 4% to 20% over the list price! Some sellers hire a professional stager, who may bring in furniture and decor to increase the home’s appeal. Others choose to stage their homes themselves. We can help advise you on which route to choose and how much to invest in the process. It’s also important to consider what buyers in your neighborhood are likely to be looking for in a home. We can help guide your staging choices with our local market insights. For example, in neighborhoods where a large share of residents work from home, it may be effective to stage one room as office space so potential buyers can envision their day-to-day routine.
4. Prep for Each Showing
Most of us don’t live picture-perfect lives, and our homes reflect that (sometimes messy) reality. But when your home is on the market, it’s important to ensure that it is always ready for viewers, even on short notice. A missed showing is a missed opportunity to sell your home!
Before your home hits the market, it may be worth hiring professional cleaners to get in all the nooks and crannies. After, try your best to keep things spic and span. Just a few minutes a day wiping down counters, sweeping the floors, and vacuuming can make a big difference.
It’s also worth noting that most buyers will open cabinets, drawers, and closets, so try to make sure everything is as neat and organized as possible. Keep toiletries and small appliances off countertops, and secure valuables and sensitive documents in a safe or off-site.
Want help finding a cleaning service to make your home shine for buyers? Reach out for a referral!
5. Price Your Home Correctly From the Start
In the past few years, you may have seen homes in your neighborhood sell for shocking amounts and wondered if you could get a similar price for your property. The temptation to list your home on the high side can be strong, but it’s best to be realistic from the start. Even in a hot market, some homes will sit for months. And the longer a property is listed, the more buyers worry that something is wrong with it.
Of course, you also don’t want to set your price too low and lose out on potential profit. That’s why it’s essential to work with real estate agents (like us!) who know the ins and outs of our local market and what buyers are willing to pay today. In a quickly evolving market, comparable sales from a few months ago can lag behind the current market reality.
Fortunately, if you’ve owned your home for several years, chances are good that it’s worth much more today than you paid for it. That means you stand to walk away with a handsome profit. In fact, recent reports show that homeowner equity is at an all-time high.
6. Avoid Acting on Emotion
The past few years of over-asking-price offers with few contingencies have set certain expectations for many sellers. It’s only natural to feel hurt or even offended if an offer comes in lower than what you think your home is worth.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that those market conditions were unprecedented, and we are now returning to a more typical market. Home sellers who act rationally, rather than emotionally, are going to get the best results.
Remember: You can always counter a low offer. The same goes for repair requests and contingencies, everything is negotiable. However, it’s important to accept that the market is adjusting, and flexibility is key. Keep your expectations reasonable and remain open-minded. Furthermore, you can rest assured knowing that we’ll be by your side every step of the way to help you navigate the process and negotiate a great deal.
7. Work With a Local Market Expert
The economics impacting mortgage rates may be national, but real estate markets are hyperlocal. That’s why working with a professional agent who understands your neighborhood’s dynamics is essential. Through our experience, we’ve gathered insights that can help us position your home for success in this market. Plus, we have the resources to connect with qualified buyers searching for a home like yours.
Working with a knowledgeable agent is also the secret to getting as much money as possible for your home. We have access to extensive data on recent sales in your neighborhood, which we will use to price and promote your property. That’s one reason why homes sold by agents draw much higher prices than those sold by their owners alone. While for-sale-by-owner homes went for a median price of $260,000 in 2020, the median for homes sold by agents was $318,000.(8) That’s a difference of $58,000, and money you don’t want to leave on the table.
YOUR AGENT AND ADVOCATE
Selling a home in a fast-changing market can be stressful. You’re likely to hear conflicting advice and opinions from people in your life, and decisions like what color to paint your front door or how much to list your home for can be overwhelming.
That’s where we come in. The market may be adjusting, but it’s still highly advantageous for sellers, and we’re here to help you make the most of it. We’re listing experts in our area, and we know what steps you need to take for a smooth, profitable transaction.
If you’re considering buying or selling a home, we invite you to reach out to schedule a free consultation. We’re happy to talk through your specific situation and goals and help you identify your next steps.
The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.
Ask any agent and the best time to sell is usually "right now." The truth is, Winter 2022/2023 is a great time to list, and here are 3 reasons why.
1.) There is practically nothing on the market right now, which means buyers who have to move to have to make a choice based on what's available. Plus, supply & demand have higher price points and more negotiating power.
2.) Interest rates hit an all-time low a few weeks ago and are trending back up. Albeit, still single digits, as the interest rate continues to increase it will lower the amount of purchasing power a buyer has. So, we are advising buyers to take action now.
3.) It's cold and it's the holidays... people are around to look at homes. There's not much else to do.
If you have any questions about what you can do to prepare your home for the market, feel free to reach out to me via phone or email. I’d love to chat with you. Edward
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Deciding whether to jump into the housing market or rent is rarely easy, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer. But in today’s whirlwind market, you may find it particularly challenging to pinpoint the best time to start exploring homeownership.
A real estate boom during the pandemic pushed home prices to an all-time high. Add higher mortgage rates to the mix, and some would-be buyers wonder if they should wait to see if prices or rates come down.
But is renting a better alternative? Rents have also soared along with inflation – and are likely to continue climbing due to a persistent housing shortage. And while homebuyers can lock in a set mortgage payment, renters are at the mercy of these rising costs for the foreseeable future.
So, what's the better choice for you? There’s a lot to consider when it comes to buying versus renting. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to schedule a free consultation, and we'll help you with your options. You may also find it helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
1️: How long do I plan to stay in the home?
You'll get the most financial benefit from a home purchase if you own the property for at least five years. There are costs associated with buying and selling a home, and it may take time for the property’s value to rise enough to offset those expenditures.
The longer you own a property, the more you will likely benefit from its appreciation. A home purchase may not be your best choice if you plan to sell in less than five years.
2️: Is it a better value to buy or rent in my area?
One helpful tool for deciding is a neighborhood’s price-to-rent ratio: just divide the median home price by the median yearly rent price. The higher the price-to-rent ratio is, the more expensive it is to buy compared to rent.
Remember, this equation only provides a snapshot of where the market stands today. We can help you interpret the numbers to determine if buying or renting is your neighborhood's better long-term value.
3️: Can I afford to be a homeowner?
To determine your financial readiness, examine how much you have in savings. After committing a down payment and closing costs, ensure you still have enough left for ancillary expenses and emergencies. Then consider how your monthly budget will be impacted.
If you want to buy a home but aren’t sure you can afford it, give us a call to discuss your goals and budget. We can give you a realistic assessment of your options and help determine if your homeownership dreams are within reach.
4️: Can I qualify for a mortgage?
Every lender will have its own criteria. But, in general, you can expect a creditor to scrutinize your job stability, credit score, savings, and debt obligations. You must also pass a mortgage stress test if you borrow from a federally regulated lender.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is always a good idea before you start house hunting. Let us know if you’re interested, and we’ll give you a referral to a loan officer or mortgage broker who can help.
5️: How would owning a home change my life?
It’s important to consider how homeownership would affect your life, aside from the long-term financial gains. You should be prepared to invest more time and energy in owning a home than renting.
However, you might relish the chance to tinker in your own garden or make HGTV-inspired improvements. The great thing about owning a home is that you can generally do what you want with it – even if that means painting your walls fiesta red one month and eggplant purple the next. The choice – like the home – is all yours.
HAVE MORE QUESTIONS? WE’VE GOT ANSWERS
The decision to buy or rent is among the most consequential you will make in your lifetime. We can make the process easier by helping you compare your options using real-time local market data. So don't hesitate to reach out for a personalized consultation, regardless of where you are in your deliberations. We'd be happy to answer your questions and identify actionable steps you can take now to reach your long-term goals.
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The residential rental market is now the fastest-growing segment of the housing market. In the United States, the demand for single-family rentals, defined as either detached homes or townhouses, has risen 30 percent in the past three years.And in Canada, rentals units now account for nearly one-third of the country’s homes, with particular demand for multi-family units, including apartments and condominiums. At the same time, the short-term, or vacation, rental market is also booming. The popularity of online marketplaces like Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO has helped the vacation rental market become one of the fastest-growing segments in the travel industry.Now, more than ever, there is an abundance of opportunity for real estate investors. But which path is best: leasing your property to a long-term tenant, or renting your property to travelers on a short-term basis?In this post, we examine the differences between the two investment strategies and the benefits and limitations of each category.
WHY INVEST IN A RENTAL PROPERTY? The Top 5 Reasons
Before we delve into the differences between long-term and short-term rentals, let’s answer the question: “Why invest in a rental property at all?”There are five main reasons that investors choose real estate over other investment categories:
Appreciation is the increase in your property’s value over time. And history has proven that over an extended period, the cost of real estate continues to rise. Recessions may still occur, but in the vast majority of markets, the value of real estate does grow over the long term.
2. Cash Flow
One of the key benefits of investing in real estate is the ability to generate steady cash flow. Rental income can be used to pay the mortgage and taxes on your investment property, as well as regular maintenance and repairs. If appropriately priced in a solid rental market, there may even be a little extra cash each month to help with your living expenses or to grow your savings.
Even if you only take in enough rent to cover your expenses, a rental property purchase will pay for itself over time. As you pay down the mortgage every month with your rental income, your equity will continue to increase, until you own the property free and clear … leaving you with residual cash flow for years to come.
3. Hedge Against Inflation
Inflation is the rate at which the general cost of goods and services rises. That means as inflation rises, the money you have sitting in a savings account will buy less tomorrow than it will today. On the other hand, the price of real estate typically matches (or often exceeds) the rate of inflation. To hedge or guard yourself against inflation, real estate can be a reliable investment choice.
Leverage is the use of borrowed capital to increase the potential return of an investment. You can put a relatively small amount down on a property, finance the rest of the investment with a mortgage, and then profit on the entire combined value.
5. Tax Benefits
Many potential investors forget the tax benefits that can come with a real estate investment. From deductions to depreciation to exemptions, there are many ways a real estate investment can save you money on taxes. Consult a tax professional to discuss your options.
There are some of the many reasons why investors choose real estate, but what’s the best use of an investment property? In the next section, we explore the differences between long-term and short-term rentals.
LONG-TERM (TRADITIONAL) RENTAL MARKET
Traditionally, when most people think of owning a rental property, they imagine buying a property and renting it out to tenants who live there for years. They use their rental property to generate an additional stream of income while benefiting from the property’s long-term appreciation in value.
That steady and predictable cash flow is one of the top benefits of owning a long-term rental. And as an owner, you don’t have to worry about paying the utility bills or furnishing the property—both of which are covered by the tenant. Add to this the fact that traditional tenants translate into less time and effort spent on day-to-day property management, and long-term rentals are an attractive investment option.
However, there are also limitations to long-term rentals, which often come down to your ability to control the property. Perhaps the most obvious one is that you do not get to use the home or closely monitor its upkeep (this is different from a short-term rental, which we’ll share in the next section).
In addition, while you can usually generate a steady, predictable income stream with a long-term rental, you are limited in your ability to adjust rent prices based on increasing or seasonal demand. Therefore, you may have less income to account for the greater wear and tear typically experienced with long-term renters. In fact, according to data from Mashvisor, in the 10 hottest real estate markets, short-term rentals produced “significantly higher rental income” than long-term rentals
SHORT-TERM (VACATION) RENTAL MARKET
Short-term rentals are often referred to as vacation rentals, as more and more travelers enjoy the benefits of staying in a home while on vacation. In fact, according to Wells Fargo, vacation rentals are steadily growing and are predicted to account for 21% of the worldwide accommodations market by 2020.
Investing in a short-term rental or funding your second-home purchase by renting it out can offer many benefits. If you purchase an investment property in a top travel destination or vacation spot, you can enjoy steady demand from travelers and still enjoy the home yourself when it’s not rented. In addition to greater control over how your property is used, you can also adjust your rental price around peak travel demand to maximize your returns.
But short-term rentals also have risks and drawbacks that may dissuade some investors. They require greater day-to-day property management, and owners are typically responsible for furnishing the property, yard maintenance, and utilities.
And while rental revenue can be higher, it can also be less predictable based on seasonal or consumer travel trends. For example, a lack of snowfall during ski season could mean fewer bookings and lower rental revenue that year.
In addition, laws and limitations on short-term rentals can vary by region. And in some areas, the regulations are in flux as residents and government officials adapt to a new surge in short-term rentals. So make sure you understand any existing or proposed restrictions on rentals in the area where you want to invest. To lower your risk, consider investing in resort communities that are accustomed to travelers. Urban centers or suburban communities may be more resistant to short-term renters, thus more likely to pass future limitations on use.
WHICH INVESTMENT STRATEGY IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Now that you understand these two real estate investment options, how do you pick the right one for you? It’s helpful to start by clarifying your investment goals.
If your goal is to generate steady, predictable income with less time and effort spent on property management, then a long-term rental may be your best option. Also, if you prefer a less-risky investment with more reliable (but possibly lower) returns, then you may be more comfortable with a long-term rental.
On the other hand, if your goal is to purchase a vacation or second home that you’ll use, and you want to defray some (or all) of the expense, then a short-term rental may be a good option for you. Similarly, if you’re open to taking on more risk and revenue volatility for the possibility of greater investment returns, then a short-term rental may better suit your spirit as an investor.
But sometimes the decision isn’t always so clear-cut. If your goal is to purchase a future retirement home now to hedge against inflation, rising real estate prices and interest rates, then both long- and short-term rentals can be strong options. In this case, you’ll want to consider other factors like location, market demand, property type, and your risk tolerance.
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It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of buying a home. Once you’ve had an offer accepted on your dream house, you’ll probably be anxious to move in. However, before you make a significant financial commitment, it’s best to know exactly what you’re buying.
When you hire a home inspector, you get a professional, in-depth examination of the property’s structures and systems. It’s a worthwhile investment that can save you money in the long run, either by warning you away from a bad purchase or by providing a list of deficiencies you can use to negotiate with the sellers.
The inspector’s report will also list minor repairs that, if made, will help to maintain your home over the long term. Additionally, a good inspector can often predict the standard life expectancy of your roof, HVAC, and other big-ticket items so you can start planning for their eventual replacement.
However, many buyers make mistakes during the inspection process that cost them time and money and lead to unnecessary stress. Avoid these eight common buyer blunders to minimize your risk, protect your investment, and give yourself peace of mind and confidence in your new home purchase.
MISTAKE 1: Skip Your Own Inspection
Many buyers rely on their home inspector to point out issues with the property. However, by conducting your own visual assessment before you submit an offer, you can factor expected expenses into the offer price. Or, if you suspect major problems, you may choose to move on to a different property altogether.
Examine the walls and ceilings. Are there suspicious cracks, which could point to a foundation issue? Any discoloration? Yellow spots can indicate water damage, while black spots are typically mold. If there’s a basement, look for powdery white deposits along the walls and slab, which can result from water seepage.
To assess the plumbing, start by turning on a bathroom sink or tub, then flushing the toilet. Check for a drop in water pressure or a gurgling sound coming from the pipes. You can also try running the water in sinks and tubs for several minutes to test for drainage issues. Peak underneath sinks to spot signs of leaks or drain pipes that go into the floor instead of the wall.1
Look for fogged or drafty windows, which may need replacing. Examine the roof for signs of cupped, curled, or cracked shingles. Check siding, decks, and other wooden structures for evidence of rot.
Overall, does the home appear to be well maintained? Unless it’s a highly-competitive seller’s market, consider the overall condition of the property BEFORE you submit an offer. Work with your real estate agent to factor in repairs and updates you know you’ll need to make when you determine your offer price.
MISTAKE 2: Hire the Cheapest Inspector
We all love to save money, but not all inspectors are created equal. Before you hire one, do a little research. You may even want to start shopping for an inspector before you complete your home search. Inspection periods are typically short, so it never hurts to be prepared.
You can start by asking around for recommendations. Check with friends and family members, as well as your real estate agent. Then contact at least two or three inspectors so you can compare not only price but also levels of experience and service.
Ask about their background, years of experience, and the number of inspections they have completed. Verify their certifications and credentials, and make sure they carry the proper insurance.
Find out what is (and what isn’t) covered in the inspection and if they utilize the latest technology. Ask to see a sample report so you can compare the style and level of detail provided. Finally, make sure you feel confident in the inspector’s abilities and comfortable asking him/her questions.
MISTAKE 3: Miss Attending the Inspection
Make every effort to be on-site during the inspection. Buyers who aren’t present during their inspection miss out on a great opportunity to gather valuable information about their new home.
If can attend the inspection, don’t spend all your time picking out paint colors or chatting with your new neighbors. Instead, use your time there to shadow the inspector. It’s the perfect chance to find out where everything is located, ask questions, and see first-hand what repairs and updates may be needed.
Of course, if you do choose to tag along with your inspector, exercise good judgment. Don’t get in the way, become a distraction, or do anything to jeopardize your (or the inspector’s) safety.
If you ain’t make it to the inspection, ask if you can schedule a time to meet in person or speak by phone to go over the report in detail. It will give you an opportunity to ask questions or request clarification about issues in the report you don’t fully understand.
MISTAKE 4: Skim Over the Report
Inspection reports can be long and tedious, and it can be tempting to skim over them. However, buyers who do this risk missing crucial information.
Instead, you should read over the report carefully, so you don’t miss anything significant. Now is the time to address any areas of concern. You have a limited window of time to request repairs or negotiate the selling price, so don’t squander it.
Your inspector may also flag some minor items that you wouldn’t typically expect a seller to fix. However, ignoring these small issues can sometimes lead to bigger problems down the road. Make sure you read everything in the report so you can take future action if needed.
MISTAKE 5: Avoid Asking Questions
Some buyers are too embarrassed to ask questions when there’s something in the inspection report they don’t understand. Afraid they might look foolish, they avoid asking questions and end up uninformed about important issues that could impact their home purchase.
The reality is, questions are expected. You hired your inspector for their professional expertise, so don’t be shy about tapping into it. For example, you might ask:
● Would you get this issue fixed in your own home?
● How urgent is it?
● What could happen if I don’t fix it?
● Is this a simple issue I could fix myself?
● What type of professional should I call?
● Can you estimate how much it would cost to make this repair?
● How much longer would you expect this system/structure/appliance to last?
● What maintenance steps would you recommend?
Don’t bother asking your inspector if you should buy the property, because he/she won’t be able to answer that question for you. Instead, use the information provided to make an informed decision. A skilled real estate agent can help you determine the best path.
MISTAKE 6: Expect a Perfect Report
Some buyers get scared off by a lengthy inspection report. But with around 1600 items on an inspector’s checklist, you shouldn’t be surprised if yours uncover a large number of deficiencies. The key is to understand which problems require simple fixes, and which ones will require extensive (and costly) repairs.
Your real estate agent can help you decide if and how to approach the sellers about making repairs or reducing the price. Whatever you do, try to focus on the major issues identified in the inspector’s report, and don’t expect the sellers to address every minor item on the list. They will be more receptive if they perceive your requests to be reasonable.
MISTAKE 7: Forgo Additional Testing
There are times when an agent or inspector will recommend bringing in a specialist to evaluate a potential issue. For example, they may suggest testing for mold or consulting with a roofing expert.
Some buyers get spooked by the possibility of a “red flag” and decide to jump ship. Or, in their haste to close or desire to save money, they choose to ignore the recommendation for additional testing altogether.
Don’t make these potentially costly mistakes. In some cases, the specialist will offer a free evaluation that takes minimal time to schedule. And if not, the small investment you make could provide you with peace of mind or save you a fortune in future repairs.
MISTAKE 8: Skip Re-inspection of Repairs
Most buyers request receipts to prove that repairs have been correctly completed. However, it’s always prudent to go a step further and have negotiated repairs re-evaluated by your inspector or another qualified professional, even if there’s an additional charge.
While the majority of sellers are forthcoming, some will try to save money by cutting corners, hiring unlicensed technicians, or doing the work themselves. A re-inspection will help ensure the repairs are completed properly now, so you aren’t paying to redo them later.
To avoid having to go back to the sellers, be specific when requesting repairs. Identify the problem, how repairs should be completed, who should complete the work, and how the repairs will be verified.
Some buyers prefer to avoid this step altogether by completing the work themselves. They either request that the seller fund the repairs or reduce the selling price accordingly. Whichever path you choose, protect yourself and your investment by ensuring the work is done properly.
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When you’re buying or selling a home, it’s crucial to work with a qualified real estate agent. Not just a professional, but an amazing agent and a market expert. So how do you ensure you’re hiring an amazing real estate agent? There are currently more than two million real estate professionals in North America.1,2 With so many options to choose from, how does a prospective home buyer or seller choose the right agent or broker? According to the National Association of Realtors, trust and reputation are the top deciding factors consumers use when hiring an agent. But how do you measure trust and reputation ... and what criteria can be used to help you make your decision?
In this guide, we've outlined the top attributes that amazing agents possess, as well as the questions you can ask to make sure you’re working with the right market expert to achieve your real estate goals.
5 ATTRIBUTES OF AN AMAZING AGENT
As we mentioned above, not all real estate professionals are the same. And it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the options and information about working with real estate professionals to buy or sell your home. In fact, many real estate markets are oversaturated with agents. To help you understand what makes top agents and market experts stand apart from the competition, following are five key attributes of an amazing agent:
1. A Pricing Specialist
If an agent has their real estate license, they know the basics of the transaction process. They know what goes into buying and selling a home. However, there’s a difference between knowing the process and navigating it for an ideal result. This ideal result often means buying or selling a home for the best price. For buyers, amazing agents have a strong understanding of market trends, competition, and how to make your offer attractive to sellers. They can help you identify and secure a deal to ensure you get the home you want, within your desired budget. If you’re selling a home, market experts have experience pricing homes optimally for the market, and creating pricing plans to minimize the time spent selling the home. This will help you sell for your desired price, and avoid costs like additional mortgage and utility payments.
Takeaway: Whether buying or selling a home, pricing can be tricky. Market experts can help navigate best-possible pricing strategies, and also secure the home you want within your budget.
2. An Effective Time Manager
It’s common to underestimate the amount of time it takes to buy or sell your home. The average real estate agent may not be utilizing the latest tools and technology to make the transaction easier and more cost effective for their clients. Market experts have tools and strategies at their disposal to minimize the amount of time you spend on the process. For sellers, market experts can make sure you only deal with qualified buyers, not the “window shoppers” who can waste your time. We also utilize the latest marketing practices to advertise and price your home effectively, ensuring it gets sold quickly. When looking to buy a home, inexperienced agents may waste your time by showing you homes that are not a good fit for you. A market expert knows how to prioritize your needs and wants to find you the ideal home within your budget. They also know how to spot “red flags” and can steer you away from homes that are likely to turn up major issues in a real estate inspection, saving you time and money. In addition, well-networked Realtors can gain access to the hottest listings before many websites do. Their extensive professional networks can help identify “pre-list” homes before they’re officially on the market. This can be invaluable in a highly-competitive real estate market.
3. A Market Insider
While most agents can pull market stats about a neighborhood, community or city, they may not understand important trends or developments that would affect your transaction. These can include the state of the school district, issues with a homeowner association, new businesses in the area, zoning rules or trends in home prices. Market experts live and breathe local real estate and know the trigger points for buying and selling in this market. We also stay current on effective marketing and negotiation practices, resulting in our track record of success. For sellers, we understand what features of your home and neighborhood are assets in the selling process. And for buyers, we share a deep understanding of market factors, including school and neighborhood quality, crime statistics, speed of sales and more. Takeaway: Even a well-intentioned agent may not have the skills, tools or technology to make the experience easy for you. There are lots of hidden activities that may take up unexpected time, and a market expert will save you time and energy.
4. A Strong Negotiator
Amazing agents truly set themselves apart in their ability to negotiate. Unfortunately, a large portion of agents don’t commit their full time to increasing this key skill. Real estate negotiations can be challenging, even for seasoned professionals. It takes skill, experience and a knowledge of how to fight for your client’s best interests. While any agent can enter negotiations to buy or sell a home, they may not know the effective strategies to exit those negotiations with the result you want. Experienced Realtors focus on negotiation as a key skill. We understand what to do before entering negotiations (establishing the upper hand to set up the best outcome), as well as during the process (when to offer or accept concessions).
5. An Effective Closer
Closing a deal fast is often a good thing. For buyers, it means you found the home you wanted quickly. For sellers, it often means you can avoid the added expenses of mortgage and utility payments, and maximize the value of your home sale. However, an agent solely focused on speed can make decisions that aren’t in your best interests. Top real estate professionals know how to not only achieve your real estate goals quickly, but in the right way to avoid potential pitfalls. Just like negotiations, the paperwork and process of closing a real estate transaction are complicated. And they can be overwhelming for the average agent who hasn’t handled a lot of transactions. Sales contracts, property disclosures, occupancy agreements and even lead paint records need to be executed with precision. Your agent not only needs to be familiar with these, but also stay current on any changes in requirements or regulations. Market experts have a strong understanding of real estate contracts, timelines, clauses and contingencies within the closing process. In fact, avoiding pitfalls during the closing process is where many sellers find an experienced Realtor is a huge asset.
Takeaway: Getting relevant and specific market knowledge can be difficult and time consuming, which is why many real estate agents don’t have it. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, an experienced real estate agent is often the best source of information about a city, neighborhood, or even street ... we’re literally conducting market research every day.
Takeaway: Many agents can feel the stress of the negotiation process, and may agree to terms of the buyer/seller. Working with a market expert will help ensure you get the best deal, not just the fastest deal.
5 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT
So how do you know if you’re working with an amazing agent? The first step would be to “shop around.” Many people work with the first agent they come across without a firm understanding of their level of experience. It’s always a good idea to interview a number of agents before selecting one. If you’ve gotten referrals from people you trust, then you may only need to interview 2-3 agents. However, it can be tough to know what to ask in the interview process. Here are some questions that can help you qualify the best agent to help you achieve your real estate goals:
1. Can you send me some information about yourself? Look for professionalism and consistency. What are their professional accomplishments? Also, try to identify how they approach their work. Look for a business person who has a strategy and solid support system. If they’re a newer agent, ask about their team’s dynamic and accomplishments.
2. How long have you been in real estate? The average Realtor has 10 years of experience4. But while longevity is important, even more telling are the number of transactions they have closed or been involved in. So feel free to also ask: “How many homes have you sold in this area?”
3. What will you do to keep me informed? Do you want daily or weekly reports from your agent? Will the agent be able to meet these expectations? Determine how much communication you want, and then find an agent who will give you the attention and time you want and deserve.
4. Can you provide me with further resources I may need? From market reports and pricing trends to school performance and crime statistics, top agents have resources at their disposal. In addition, market experts have built strong relationships with their extended team of professionals, and can often get expedient service or be able to “cash in a favor” for you should a need arise.
5. Seller only: Can you share with me your plan to market my property? Many agents will simply put your home in the MLS and wait for it to sell. An amazing agent should have a detailed plan of how to get your home exposure on social media, to their local networks, and more.
Now that you’re armed with the 5 Attributes of Amazing Agents and the Top Questions to ensure you work with the best possible real estate agent, you’re ready to start interviewing agents. We’d love an opportunity to win your business. Schedule a free consultation with us to find out how true market experts can help you achieve your real estate goals!
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More than 77 percent of people own a smartphone.1 The average person checks their smartphone 46 times a day, with people under the age of 24 checking it an average of 74 times a day.1 We check it while we’re waiting in line and during our leisure time, whether we’re scrolling through social media, reading emails or getting up-to-date on the latest news. Smartphones are not only a useful tool for communication. With the following apps, you can get organized (whether you plan to buy or sell), save money, learn about the homes in your neighborhood and get inspired for your next renovation project. If you’re like 81 percent of people, you have your smartphone with you during most of your waking hours; let it help you stay organized and make your life easier.
Apps For Homeowners: Get Renovation Inspiration
These apps not only offer ideas for your next remodel or home décor project, some of them even give you a preview of what your home may look like once it’s finished.
1.) Houzz (Free)
The Houzz app is the number one app for home design and it’s no wonder; the app gives you access to all the inspiration, blogs and design ideas from the Houzz site on your phone or tablet. The app features View in My Room 3D, which allows you to view products in your home before you buy. Just take a photo of the space and a 3D version of the product will appear. Browse products, save photos of designs you’d like to view later and connect with local professionals in your area. Whether you’re gathering ideas for your next renovation and décor project or you’re just browsing, the Houzz app will satisfy all your design needs.
2.) iHandy Carpenter ($1.99)
Make sure the photos, shelves, mirrors and other artwork you hang are even and aligned with this helpful app. It’s an all-in-one tool kit that features a plumb bob, surface level, bubble level bar, ruler and protractor. No need to purchase these tools separately; just hold your smartphone up to the wall and the app will take care of the rest.
3.) Color911 ($3.99)
If you’re thinking of changing the color scheme of your home or want to find the right shades for lamp shades, rugs or throw pillows to match your vintage sofa, the Color911 app provides pre- elected color palettes to match any color scheme. Take a photo of the room or the furniture and the app will create a custom palette full of complementary colors. Write notes about your palette and organize it all into folders to share with family, friends or your design professional.
Bonus Apps for Homeowners:
Hungry and looking for a local hotspot? Meeting friends at a coffee shop nearby? Or just need to find the closest ATM? AroundMe allows you to search for the nearest restaurants, banks, gas stations, book a hotel or find a movie schedule close to where you live. Open the app and start learning more about your neighborhood. (iOS, Android, Windows)
From keeping things clean to making them colorful, Brightnest, developed by Angie’s List, is loaded with suggestions on how to make your home a better place to live. With categories of customized tips (money-saving, cleaning, eco-friendly, healthy, cooking, and creative) there are plenty of great ways to pull inspiration from the app. BrightNest will help you tackle important home tasks with easy-to-follow instructions, a personal schedule and helpful reminders. (iOS,
Apps For Sellers: List & Sell Your Home Quickly Are you a homeowner who is thinking of selling? If you’re preparing to sell, you know there are a lot of tasks to complete before putting your home on the market. These apps help you manage your to-dos so you can list and sell your home more efficiently with fewer distractions.
4.) Homesnap (Free)
Using the Homesnap app, you can snap a photo of any home, nationwide, to learn more about it. When you’re ready to sell, snap a few of the homes in your neighborhood to find out their valuation. This app isn’t perfect, which is why you should always consult with a local real estate agent. However, it can give you a general idea of the value of your home compared to others in the neighborhood. (iOS and Android devices)
5.) Docusign (Free)
Use the DocuSign app to complete approvals and agreements in hours—not days—from anywhere and on any device. Quickly and securely access and sign any documents. The benefit to using the app (over your desktop computer) is you will receive push notifications when a document is waiting for your signature and you can view and organize all your docs on-the-go. Using the easily downloadable app, receive and sign documents for free. You can receive and sign documents for free, but will need a paid account to send documents; pricing starts at $10 a month. (iOS, Android, Windows, Web).
6.) Wunderlist (Free)
Designed for use on the Web and mobile devices, Wunderlist is a well-designed to-do list and task management program that makes it easy to create a list and add tasks, due dates and reminders. Organize your ideas or focus into separate lists or create tasks within one list. You can also email them with whomever you collaborate, such as a spouse or your real estate agent. (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Web)
Bonus App for Sellers:
Real Estate Dictionary (Free)
Not sure what all those industry specific terms mean? Search thousands of words and phrases from real estate, mortgage, and financial dictionaries for clear, in-depth definitions. This is a handy app for anyone who’s buying or selling and wants to learn more about the process. (iOS,
Apps For Renters: Get Ready to Buy
Not ready to buy a home just yet? These apps will help you get into the perfect rental while you save money, build a budget and get on track for homeownership.
7.) Mint (Free)
Do you know where your money goes each month? Manage your bills, budget and credit score all in one place. Mint is a free app that helps you view your complete financial picture and track your spending. We recommend this app to anyone, but it’s especially useful for renters who need to crack down on their spending in order to save for a down payment. Use Mint to look for areas you can cut spending in order to save a little extra each month. (iOS, Android)
8.) Acorns ($1 a month to start)
Acorns is modernizing the practice of saving loose change with their automated savings tool. The app rounds up your purchases on linked credit or debit cards, then sweeps the change into a computer-managed investment portfolio. Acorns is free for four years for college students and everyone else pays $1 a month until their account balance hits $5,000, then 0.25% of their account balance per year. This is a useful tool for those who have a hard time saving. (iOS,
9.) Neighborhoods & Apartments
Built for the on-the-go apartment hunter, this app from Walk Score takes the hassle out of finding your next home or apartment and helps you live near the people and places you love. They collect listings from top rental listing sites and we like them because they share how walkable each address is, determined by access to public transit, things to do, bike trails, shorter commutes, etc. (iOS, Android)
Bonus Apps for Renters:
Wally is a personal finance app that helps you compare your income to expenses, so you can understand where your money goes each month, and set and achieve goals. Wally lets you keep track of the details as you spend money: where, when, what, why, & how much. We love how simple it is to set a personalized savings target and scan receipts. (iOS, Android)
Credit Karma (Free)
If you’re preparing to buy, boosting your credit score is likely a goal you’ve set. Credit Karma is a free app that allows you to safely monitor your score and receive updates on ways you can improve it over time. They provide financial calculators and educational articles to help you better understand what credit is all about. Check as often as you want, and it doesn’t hurt your
score. (iOS, Android, Web)
Apps for Buyers: Find the Perfect Home
When you’re ready to buy, there are several apps that can help you stay on top of the process. Whether you’re browsing online at different neighborhoods and homes and can’t seem to remember where all your saved data and information went or you want to save an important task or a neighborhood or listing clipped from the Web, these apps help you keep it all straight.
10.) Dwellr (Free)
Dwellr is run by the U.S Census Bureau and provides demographic information about the neighborhoods you are considering moving to. You get a variety of education/school, real estate, transportation, and population statistics to give you an idea of what it would be like living there. If you want to get the feel of a potential neighborhood, then Dwellr may just be the app to help you find the best home. (iOS, Android)
11.) Evernote (Free for the Basic version, $34.99 per year for Plus and $69.99 per year for
Collect ideas, notes and images in one place to access later on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Categorize your notes so you can find them quickly and easily and share them with others in a group notebook. Add the Web Clipper feature to your browser and clip and save articles, blogs and images from the Web. Whether you’re collecting research on a business idea or you’re looking for inspiration for a home renovation, Evernote can help you keep it all together. (Web, iOS, Android)
12.) Mortgage Calculator (Free)
There are a lot of free mortgage calculators available for download that will help you quickly determine what your monthly payment will be while you’re house hunting. We recommend picking your favorite and using it to help you shop in your price range. These numbers should be used as a guide, work with your agent and mortgage professional to learn exactly what type of loan you’ll qualify for. (Web, iOS, Android)
Bonus App for Buyers:
Google Maps (Free)
Google Maps is a must-have for anyone who’s house hunting. When you’re ready to visit a property or check out a neighborhood, you can use Google Maps to give you turn by turn directions to the house. You can use their satellite view to get a good idea how far important things like schools, parks, shopping, bus stops, and restaurants are to a home you are interested in and check out the other houses on the street. (Web, Android, iOS,)
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