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June
8

The past few years have been one of the hottest real estate markets in recent memory! While it might seem like the perfect time to sell a home, the fact is, selling your home is a big deal. Whether it's your first time selling or the fifth, a lot goes into listing and selling your home.

Selling a home is a major life choice that involves your most valuable asset. Knowing when to sell to maximize your return is a bit of an art. Unlike buying or selling stocks or bonds, your home carries a lot of emotional baggage. It's about much more than buying low and selling high.

Knowing that you are ready to sell is about more than waking up and making a decision. It's never going to be the perfect time to sell and move on. Deciding to sell isn't a market-driven issue, it is a lifestyle choice. However, there are several ways to recognize if it is a good decision for you, your family, and your financial health.

In this post, we will identify some signs that it might be a good time to sell, regardless of market conditions.

Before You Start The Process

While there are signs that it might be a good time to sell, the fact is most of us are emotionally connected to our homes. To know if it is the right time to sell, you should first consider the answers to these questions:

Do you have a plan?

Having a plan in place is crucial. You will want to consider several potential outcomes and what-if scenarios to be prepared. Including having a post-sale plan. If you are selling, you are probably also buying so the economics need to make sense. Are some what-ifs to consider:

  • What if you can't find a buyer?

Have a plan so, for example, if you can't find a buyer, you'll either need to find a new realtor or decide to rent your home out.

  • What if the inspection comes back with issues?

Are you prepared for a home inspection? It may make sense to have your home inspected before a buyer makes an offer and you go under contract. Taking a proactive approach can give you extra ammunition before negotiations begin.

  • You have a decent offer on the first day. What do you do?

Having a plan can help you decide if it's the right offer. Maybe you want to wait a day or two before responding. A good realtor will determine the fair market value and can help you handle this situation.

  • What if you have multiple offers?

Having multiple offers is a good thing that can go bad if not handled properly. First, make sure that everyone understands that there are multiple offers. Then set a time deadline for all best and final offers. Focus on communication, or it may come back to hurt you. A good agent will not only generate great offers but will also follow through.

Have You Studied Your Local Real Estate Market?

All real estate is local. When selling your home, knowledge is your best friend! Study your local market to understand the climate. Look at similar properties, how long they were on the market, and the prices realized. Understanding local market conditions can help you to make an informed decision.

Consider these five factors:

  1. Homes that have sold
  2. Prices realized
  3. days on the market
  4. Local trends
  5. Interest rates.

This information will help you determine if it's the right time to sell. Once you've looked at the factors outside of your control, it's time to look at the factors you control.

Are You Financially Ready to Sell?

If you have owned your home for a while, you probably have equity built up. Maybe you were a first-time buyer, and you're ready to upgrade, or maybe, an empty nester looking to downsize.

Having a handle on your finances will help you understand if it's the right time to sell. It also helps to have a post-sale plan for what's next. Knowing your net will help you understand what you can afford. Talk to your realtor and ask them for a home seller net sheet. This can help you understand the financial impact of selling.

Are You Ready For a Change?

A change of scenery can be a good thing. There are many reasons you may want or need to change location. Maybe you've outgrown your current place or need to relocate for a new job opportunity. People in the United States move on average every five to seven years for many different reasons.

If you're simply looking for a change of scenery, make sure you're committed to the change before listing your home. If you're on the fence, it's probably not the best time to sell. Sometimes, you have no choice, for example, relocating for work. If this is the case, make sure you have a plan, are financially ready, and are not emotionally attached to your home or neighborhood.

Are You Emotionally Ready to Sell?

It can be tough dealing with an emotionally invested seller. While you don't have to remove the sentimental value to sell, just don't allow it to influence your decision-making process. If you can't control your emotions, it might not be the best idea to sell.

Before beginning the sales process, you must be 100% committed to your decision. Once you close, there's no turning back. Your home is no longer yours it belongs to someone else. Make sure you can handle that and are ready to move on to another chapter in your life. Most importantly, be open and upfront with your realtor!

Has Your Family Outgrown Your Current Home?

Outgrowing your home is common for first-time homebuyers or young families. This can be the perfect time to sell and find a new place with more room to grow. However, outgrowing your home doesn't necessarily mean it's the right time to sell. Have a post-sale plan, and make sure you are financially ready to transition to a new bigger house.

Some Final Thoughts...

A lot goes into reaching the decision to sell your family home. You want to make sure you have the time, knowledge, finances, and a plan of attack. If you're not 100% committed or worried that it might not be the right time to sell, you're probably right.

You'll know when it's time. Consult with a local real estate expert who can help. They will tell explain all your options. Speak with several professionals before choosing the right person to work with.

There are a lot of realtors in the world, and they are not all the same! Ask them about their marketing, understand their selling process, and ask them how they will generate buyer leads for your property.

Selling a home requires you to work with a realtor that you trust. The goal should be to get the most money for your home and set the stage so that buyers who view your property will fall in love. While you remain emotionally detached when selling a home, your goal is to create an environment that buyers can envision living in.

Paint your home with neutral colors, remove personal items, and declutter to create more room in your home for buyers to visualize. Here are some additional tips to help make the process go smoothly:

  • Settle any financial obligations
  • Declutter
  • Deep clean
  • De-personalize
  • Talk with a lender

Chatting with a lender can help you know whether or not you'll be able to secure a new mortgage as well as where your credit score stands.

Selling your home is a highly personal decision. The better prepared you are, and the more questions you've answered, the easier it will be to make the decision to sell. If you're still unsure, talk to a local realtor to better understand the trends in the local market and all your options!

May
9

Patio Tips

If you're in the process of listing your home for sale, you've almost certainly begun staging the indoors to attract potential buyers. Have you done the same for the outdoors? 

Outdoor spaces are just as important to many buyers as the home itself. For some, they're the most important feature of any property. Staging your outdoor spaces properly can massively enhance your home's appeal and potentially raise its total value. Our real estate agents have decades of combined experience with the art of staging, including in outdoor contexts. Here are eight suggestions from them to help you make your yard and gardens look their best. 

Click Here to Read More...

March
29

Spring Home Maintenance

Spring is a perfect time to get some home maintenance done. As the weather warms up, the break in winter weather will give you a chance to inspect the outside of your home, repair any damage, and prep for spring rains, new growth, and the heat of the summer months. Here is a quick checklist of tasks our real estate agents recommend doing to maintain your home and yard this spring.

Spring Maintenance for Your Home

Click Here to Read More...

March
4

The Tell-Tale Signs It's Time to Sell Your Home

The past few years have been one of the hottest real estate markets in recent memory! While it might seem like the perfect time to sell a home, the fact is, selling your home is a big deal. Whether it's your first time selling or the fifth, a lot goes into listing and selling your home.

Selling a home is a major life choice that involves your most valuable asset. Knowing when to sell to maximize your return is a bit of an art. Unlike buying or selling stocks or bonds, your home carries a lot of emotional baggage. It's about much more than buying low and selling high.

Knowing that you are ready to sell is about more than waking up and making a decision. It's never going to be the perfect time to sell and move on. Deciding to sell isn't a market-driven issue, it is a lifestyle choice. However, there are several ways to recognize if it is a good decision for you, your family, and your financial health.

In this post, we will identify some signs that it might be a good time to sell, regardless of market conditions.

Before You Start The Process

While there are signs that it might be a good time to sell, the fact is most of us are emotionally connected to our homes. To know if it is the right time to sell, you should first consider the answers to these questions:

Do you have a plan?

Having a plan in place is crucial. You will want to consider several potential outcomes and what-if scenarios to be prepared. Including having a post-sale plan. If you are selling, you are probably also buying so the economics need to make sense. Are some what-ifs to consider:

• What if you can't find a buyer?

Have a plan so, for example, if you can't find a buyer, you'll either need to find a new realtor or decide to rent your home out.

• What if the inspection comes back with issues?

Are you prepared for a home inspection? It may make sense to have your home inspected before a buyer makes an offer and you go under contract. Taking a proactive approach can give you extra ammunition before negotiations begin.

• You have a decent offer on the first day. What do you do?

Having a plan can help you decide if it's the right offer. Maybe you want to wait a day or two before responding. A good realtor will determine the fair market value and can help you handle this situation.

• What if you have multiple offers?

Having multiple offers is a good thing that can go bad if not handled properly. First, make sure that everyone understands that there are multiple offers. Then set a time deadline for all best and final offers. Focus on communication, or it may come back to hurt you. A good agent will not only generate great offers but will also follow through.

Have You Studied Your Local Real Estate Market?

All real estate is local. When selling your home, knowledge is your best friend! Study your local market to understand the climate. Look at similar properties, how long they were on the market, and the prices realized. Understanding local market conditions can help you to make an informed decision.

Consider these five factors:

  1. Homes that have sold
  2. Prices realized
  3. days on the market
  4. Local trends
  5. Interest rates.

This information will help you determine if it's the right time to sell. Once you've looked at the factors outside of your control, it's time to look at the factors you control.

Are You Financially Ready to Sell?

If you have owned your home for a while, you probably have equity built up. Maybe you were a first-time buyer, and you're ready to upgrade, or maybe, an empty nester looking to downsize.

Having a handle on your finances will help you understand if it's the right time to sell. It also helps to have a post-sale plan for what's next. Knowing your net will help you understand what you can afford. Talk to your realtor and ask them for a home seller net sheet. This can help you understand the financial impact of selling.

Are You Ready For a Change?

A change of scenery can be a good thing. There are many reasons you may want or need to change location. Maybe you've outgrown your current place or need to relocate for a new job opportunity. People in the United States move on average every five to seven years for many different reasons.

If you're simply looking for a change of scenery, make sure you're committed to the change before listing your home. If you're on the fence, it's probably not the best time to sell. Sometimes, you have no choice, for example, relocating for work. If this is the case, make sure you have a plan, are financially ready, and are not emotionally attached to your home or neighborhood.

Are You Emotionally Ready to Sell?

It can be tough dealing with an emotionally invested seller. While you don't have to remove the sentimental value to sell, just don't allow it to influence your decision-making process. If you can't control your emotions, it might not be the best idea to sell.

Before beginning the sales process, you must be 100% committed to your decision. Once you close, there's no turning back. Your home is no longer yours it belongs to someone else. Make sure you can handle that and are ready to move on to another chapter in your life. Most importantly, be open and upfront with your realtor!

Has Your Family Outgrown Your Current Home?

Outgrowing your home is common for first-time homebuyers or young families. This can be the perfect time to sell and find a new place with more room to grow. However, outgrowing your home doesn't necessarily mean it's the right time to sell. Have a post-sale plan, and make sure you are financially ready to transition to a new bigger house.

Some Final Thoughts...

A lot goes into reaching the decision to sell your family home. You want to make sure you have the time, knowledge, finances, and a plan of attack. If you're not 100% committed or worried that it might not be the right time to sell, you're probably right.

You'll know when it's time. Consult with a local real estate expert who can help. They will tell explain all of your options. Speak with several professionals before choosing the right person to work with.

There are a lot of realtors in the world, and they are not all the same! Ask them about their marketing, understand their selling process, and ask them how they will generate buyer leads for your property.

Selling a home requires you to work with a realtor that you trust. The goal should be to get the most money for your home and set the stage so that buyers who view your property will fall in love. While you remain emotionally detached when selling a home, your goal is to create an environment that buyers can envision living in.

Paint your home with neutral colors, remove personal items, and declutter to create more room in your home for buyers to visualize. Here are some additional tips to help make the process go smoothly:

• Settle any financial obligations

• Declutter

• Deep clean

• De-personalize

• Talk with a lender

Chatting with a lender can help you know whether or not you'll be able to secure a new mortgage as well as where your credit score stands.

Selling your home is a highly personal decision. The better prepared you are, and the more questions you've answered, the easier it will be to make the decision to sell. If you're still unsure, talk to a local realtor to better understand the trends in the local market and all of your options!

https://www.rochesterrealestateblog.com/6-ways-to-know-its-the-right-time-to-sell-your-home/ 

https://www.businessinsider.com/signs-you-should-sell-your-home-2019-7 

December
20

Selling Tips

Our real estate agents want to make the whole home selling process easier for you. In many cases, that starts by giving you a firm idea of exactly what you can expect. While selling will always have its ups and downs, it becomes much easier when you understand how it all fits together.

Click Here to Read More...

September
22

Why Isn't My House Selling In A Sellers Real Estate Market?

Many cities across the country are experiencing the hottest real estate market in years as the pandemic, low-interest rates, and tight housing inventory have created the perfect storm! We have all heard the stories about friends who put their house on the market and sold it in less than a week for thousands of dollars over asking. 

So you decided to list your house to take advantage of this unprecedented market, and you got a ton of traffic. It is showing and showing, and showing some more, but you have not received a single offer. That means it is time to make some changes, especially if it has been on the market for 30 days or more.

The fact is, even in this market, some homes linger on the market for weeks or months, while the house next door might go under contract in days.

In a hot market, the rule is, if you have not gotten a contract after six showings, it is time to reassess. The answer almost always comes back to one of two variables: price and/or condition (although marketing can also play a role.) However, there can also be other factors to consider.

In this post, we will look at ten reasons that your house might not be selling, even in a hot real estate market.

First, Address the Basics

The factors that move real estate are price, condition, and marketing. As a general rule, if your home is not selling, it is probably how the property is priced or the way it is exposed.

Today, marketing should embrace a combination of traditional marketing like listing on the MLS and print advertising and digital efforts like email marketing, web-based marketing, and social media, among other digital tactics.

When it comes to real estate marketing, professional photography and easily accessible information can certainly help. But it also relies on your real estate agent knowing your neighborhood and the local market. 

Today, eighty-four percent of all homes are on a lockbox, and most prospective buyers never meet the listing agent. A few years ago, the selling agent would meet you at the property, making sure the drapes were open, and the house looked bright and inviting before anyone walked in. Today, not so much.

Along with marketing, price is also crucial. Many sellers in a market like this will price their property based on what they want to get rather than what comparable homes in the area are selling for. You need to price your property based on facts, not fantasy. Buyers today are savvy and have access to a ton of information. They are educated and have access to websites, apps, and online home valuation tools, so they know what a home is worth before they step through the door.

While a home that is not updated will sell, the price needs to reflect the condition. If it is priced anticipating that it will need updating, buyers will not be scared away. Even in a seller's market, the basics apply. Removing clutter, sprucing up your curb appeal, opening the blinds, having an active agent, and using professional images in your marketing will help it sell faster. 

While the basics are often the place to start, there are other reasons that your house may not be selling in a hot market.

10 Possible Reasons Your Home Is Not Selling

Price, condition, and marketing are excellent places to start if your property is not selling. However, sometimes there are other factors to consider. Here are ten reasons why your home may not be selling even in a hot real estate market.

1. You're Overconfident

Just because we are in a hot real estate market does not mean that your house will get snapped up for a premium, no matter its condition. Of course, it might, but you should not count on it. 

Be realistic from day one. Although you may love your house, it may sit on the market for quite a while, no matter the market. Start with the basics and position your property well.

2. Your Home is Uninsurable

This is especially true in some states like Florida, where you can't get homeowner's insurance without inspecting the electrical, plumbing, roof, and cooling systems. Even in other states, companies can refuse to insure a home that does not meet basic standards. This can reduce your pool of buyers to those that can afford to pay cash and renovate to meet the insurance requirements.

3. Lenders Will Not Lend on the Home

The Federal Housing Authority has tightened the standards a home must meet before they approve a mortgage. Other lenders may set guidelines for the condition of roofs, electrical systems, or other components. If parts of the home are in poor condition, a lender may not be willing to lend.

4. There is a Problem with the Title

Title problems can spook buyers. For example:

  • Conveyance without a recorded deed. (this can sometimes happen when transferred between family members)
  • A paid-off mortgage that is still showing as a valid lien.
  • A mechanics lien that a subcontractor filed for work done on the house.

Contact the title company before listing to make sure everything is in order. If not, ask them what needs to be done to prepare for selling your home, then do it!

5. Your Agent Just Does Not Seem to Care

Sometimes there is nothing wrong at all; your home is priced right and well-maintained. Maybe your agent is turning off prospective buyers. Some agents have no personality, and some are just plain burnt out. Find an agent who you find pleasant and interesting. Chances are, so will potential buyers. But, remember to dismiss your current agent before signing on with the new one.

6. The House Smells Bad

There is a saying among agents... "If I can smell it, I can't sell it." The remedy might be a simple as burning a scented candle or baking cookies during showings. But if there is a persistent odor, like mold or mildew, pet urine, or cigarette smoke, address it immediately!

7. Your Appliances Are Outdated

Stainless is in. Old yellow refrigerators are out! Potential buyers will realize that they can replace the refrigerator, but if your appliances all look like they were new in the 70s, buyers might wonder what else is old and on its last legs, like the HVAC or water heater!

8. Your Staging is Bad

It might not seem important, the buyer is buying a house, not your furniture, but staging matters more than you think! Staging helps potential buyers recognize the possibilities and put themselves in the home. They do not want to see your choices in art, or worse, a big empty u. The fact is, a tastefully staged home will sell for 1% to 5% more than a vacant or unstaged home. And they sell faster too!

9. You Have A Specific Problem to Address

Even if showings do not result in a sale, they can provide critical data. Buyer feedback is essential. Have your agent conclude their home tour with questions like "what's wrong with this home?" or "what would need to change to make you want to buy this home?" If you get the same answer from multiple people, you know you have a problem. Once you have identified a problem, address it. For example, if multiple buyers are concerned about fitting a king-sized bed in the master, update your staging to illustrate the solution.

10. You Are Getting Bad Advice

Just about everything in this post could have been prevented by working with an experienced REALTOR®. They should help you with staging, pricing, marketing, and curb appeal, as well as collecting data from showings and adjusting their game plan to reflect new information.

Unfortunately, working with the wrong agent can cost you. You may end up taking a lot less for your home, or it may stay on the market for months. The good news is, with the right adjustments to your home's price, listing, staging, or condition, it will eventually sell. There really is a buyer for every home!

August
4

The Value and ROI of Selling a Home With A Finished Basement

If you're considering selling your home now or in the near future, you may be wondering if finishing your basement provides a good ROI as a value-added improvement. As a general rule, the answer is yes, but that does not mean that a finished basement is the best way to invest your limited home improvement dollars. 

In terms of home value, a finished basement is not as valuable as improvements made to the main floor living space, like adding an above-grade bedroom or upgrading your kitchen. Of course, a project like a main floor addition is more valuable than a finished basement, but it is also much more costly. 

The terminology we often use to describe the basement, either finished or unfinished, leaves a bit to be desired. Just because a basement is unfinished does not mean that the space is a problem. For example, you may want to consider a home with an unfinished basement to customize your living space.

If you are considering purchasing a home with a finished basement, or you are a seller wanting to maximize ROI, make sure the value of the space is included and noted in the appraisal process.

So, Should You Finish Your Basement?

Like any significant home improvement, you need to consider a few factors and define your goals. Whether you should finish your basement depends on your lifestyle, local real estate market, and goals for the space. 

For example, if your family loves movie nights, and you are staying put for a few years, building a home theatre in the basement might be a smart investment. Not only will you see a 70% return when you do sell, but you will also have years of memories with family and friends and an improved lifestyle until you do sell!

The Value Difference Between an Unfinished and Finished Basement

Different states may have various regulations in terms of defining space and appraisal values. In many cases, basements - even when finished – are not included in square footage calculations. That is why you will sometimes see a listing for a 3000 square foot property with an additional 1000 square feet of basement space.

For our purposes, a finished basement means that the space is insulated, up to code, painted, and has flooring and trim like any other room in the house. There is also electricity and temperature control, meaning that a finished basement is usable and habitable.

For this reason, a finished basement tends to add value to your home. A finished basement increases the total amount of usable space, even if your local authorities prevent you from officially accounting for the square footage on the MLS.

However, that does not mean that an unfinished basement does not have its own set of merits. There is a ton of potential in even the most cobweb-infested, darkest basement, which means there is appraisal value there.

After all, the future homeowner can choose to finish the space to meet their unique needs, like an in-law apartment, media room, office, or playroom for the kids. Maybe they just want the storage space. As far as actual value, that really depends on who you ask. In any improvement like a finished basement, there is the appraised value and the consumer value. 

The Types of Finished Basements

There are basically three types of finished basements. Each offers benefits and drawbacks. The type you choose depends on your home's existing structure, your needs, and how much you are willing to invest.

• Walk-Out Basement

Generally, this offers the most value to buyers. They typically feature a ton of natural light. A true walk-out features a full-size door (often a slider) that exits to an outdoor space like a backyard or patio. This type of basement allows for full-size windows and more natural light. With a walk-out basement, the main floor is at street level in the front of the home, but elevated from the back, often with a porch or deck. In some markets, the MLS will count a walk-out as above-grade when calculating square footage, and the price per square foot.

• Standard Lot Basement

This is the traditional basement. A Standard lot basement is underground with little natural light, typically from small window wells near the ceiling. A standard lot usually pushed the main level a few feet above the ground, so there may be a couple of steps to get from the main level to the backyard. Because of the lack of natural light, a standard lot basement is less attractive to buyers at resale.

• Garden-Level Lot Basement

This is the middle ground between a walk-out and a standard basement. A garden-level lot basement is partially above and partially below grade due to a sloping lot. A garden-level lot basement may have a combination of full-size, and window well windows but typically does not have a walk-out door to the backyard.

Finished Basement ROI

Much like any major remodeling, it is crucial to understand that you will only recoup a portion of your investment with a finished basement. The best course of action is to finish the basement for your family to enjoy, then when you sell down the road, recoup a portion of your investment.

Of course, there are plenty of buyers who are actively seeking homes with a finished basement. And in a competitive market, a nicely finished basement can help your home to really stand out. 

According to Remodeling Magazine's Cost VS. Value Report, a mid-range basement remodel (meaning builders grade finishes) costs an average of $70,000 nationally and recoups about 70% on resale. However, it is important to understand that this can vary widely based on the region of the country. In the Pacific Northwest, for example, the average cost for a remodel is $84,000, but brings a return of 86.4%, compared to New England where the return is the lowest in the US at 52.8%, with a $76,500 cost.

How Your Finished Basement is Valued By an Appraiser

If you're considering selling your home, you may be considering a basement remodel for resale or marketing purposes. In that case, understanding how a finished basement is appraised will give you a better idea of a finished basement's impact on your bottom line. 

There are three key terms appraisers use to explain how they calculate value. They are:

  • Above-Grade – Above grade refers to a room that is located above ground level.
  • Below-Grade – Refers to rooms or living space in the basement or below ground level.
  • Gross Living Area – According to the Appraisal Institute, the gross living area of your home is the total area of finished, above-grade residential space. It's measured using the perimeter of the house and only includes complete, habitable, above-grade space. So your finished basement is typically not included in this number.

An appraiser will start with a rough gauge based on the price per square foot in your home, and how much of your house is above-grade, versus below-grade. Below-grade space is approximately half of the above-grade price. So if the price per square foot is $150 in your location, your basement would add an additional $75 per square foot. 

An appraiser will also run comps of similar homes in your area with finished basements to determine a final appraisal price for your home.

The Bottom Line on Finished Basement Values

If you've already have a finished basement and it's time to sell, the good news is you'll enjoy a 50 – 70% return on your investment. If you're planning on staying put for a while, finishing your basement can give you several years of enjoyment for you and your family, and you'll still get the same 50-70% return on your investment.

If you have an unfinished basement, working with an experienced real estate professional can help you to navigate the waters in terms of the value and potential, along with what the market expects. It's also important to understand that a proper home inspection (very different than an appraisal) is extra important if you're a buyer considering a home with an unfinished or finished basement. 

Structural issues and water damage can be hidden or easily go unnoticed in an unfinished basement, so even if the market is tight, and you're eager to snap up that great home before someone else does, don't neglect your due diligence!

https://www.homelight.com/blog/buyer-appraisal-value-of-unfinished-basement/

https://www.zillow.com/sellers-guide/does-a-finished-basement-add-value/

July
14

Learn About the Multiple Listing Service And What It Does

When it comes to real estate, everyone involved is working toward a common goal: putting the keys in the hands of the new owner. Every buyer wants to find their dream home, every seller wants their home to go to the perfect buyer, and every real estate agent wants what is best for their client. And that is what the multiple listing service is designed for!

If you have ever been involved in a real estate transaction, then you are probably familiar with the multiple listing service. The multiple listing service is a technology that is in place to help make real estate transactions more efficient. In fact, 64% of National Association of Realtors members have said the MLS is the most valuable technology they use in their business.

Buyers and sellers should both have a good understanding of the MLS and why it is valuable. Through the multiple listing service, brokers can more easily connect buyers sellers for mutual benefit. 

In this post, we will examine the history of the multiple listing service, what it is and what it does!

First, A Little MLS History

In the late 1800s, real estate brokers would regularly gather together at the offices of their local associations to share information on the properties they were trying to sell. They agreed to pay the other association members who helped them sell their properties, and the original Multiple Listing Service was born. It was based on a principle that is unique to real estate... "help me sell my inventory, and I'll help you sell yours."

Today, there are more than 800 MLSs where brokers share information on their properties and invite other brokers to cooperate in the sale in exchange for a commission if they produce a buyer. Sellers benefit by gaining widespread exposure for their property. Buyers benefit because they can obtain information about all the properties listed on the MLS while working with only one broker.

What is the Multiple Listing Service?

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the MLS is a private database created and maintained by real estate professionals (agents, brokers, etc) to help clients buy and sell a property. 

The MLS is a tool to help listing brokers find cooperative brokers working with buyers to help sell their client's homes. The MLS is a powerful force for promoting competition. MLSs level the playing field so the smallest brokerage can compete equally with the largest multi-state firm. Buyers and sellers can work with the real estate professional of their choosing, confident that they have access to the largest pool of properties for sale in the marketplace. 

In most cases, MLS listing information is provided to the public free of charge by participating brokers.

How it Works

Today, most of the MLS process takes place online. The database provides information on properties for sale and includes pictures and detailed descriptions along with documents like seller disclosures. The MLS is updated throughout the day, so brokers can find homes their clients will love almost immediately. 

The MLS provides buyers with more homes to choose from and helps sellers get their listings in front of a bigger pool of buyers. Today there are multiple regional MLS networks. Each network must follow the regulations set by the NAR and can only be accessed by licensed real estate professionals who pay a membership fee. 

This means that sellers cannot list their homes on the MLS on their own, and buyers cannot search the database. The seller's agent can list their homes on the MLS, and buyer's agents can search the database to find potential homes that meet homebuyer's needs. Both buyer and seller's agents use the MLS to prepare comparative market analyses. 

Every listing on the MLS is different. The information it contains depends on what the listing agent chooses to include. The most common information most listings include is:

  • The age of the home
  • The size of the home
  • The number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Any unique features 
  • Interior and Exterior pictures

While listings may also be available on other online real estate sites, the MLS includes additional information that is not always available to the public on those sites.

The Benefits of the Multiple Listing Service

The MLS benefits everyone involved in a real estate transaction – buyers, sellers, and real estate professionals. As previously mentioned, it can level the playing field by allowing small firms to compete with larger firms. The MLS helps real estate agents provide the best experience for their clients. Whether that is helping a buyer find the right house or helping a seller market their home. 

With the help of their agent, buyers can find the home that best meets their needs. They can also find additional options they may not have considered. The MLS gives agents access to homes almost immediately when they are listed, allowing them to beat other potential buyers to the property. 

The widespread sharing of information helps to simplify the selling process for homeowners. The MLS can increase your property's visibility getting it in front of more potential homebuyers. For both buyers and sellers, the MLS helps you understand market dynamics and can help with pricing a home strategically by providing in-depth information on the local market. 

The Bottom Line...

The MLS can help all parties in a transaction by providing valuable information on the homes for sale in your local market, and getting them more exposure. However, it is crucial to understand that it is only accessible to real estate professionals. If you work with an agent, they can provide you with access and help you to search the database and compile a list of homes that check off your boxes. 

The Multiple Listing Service provides valuable information that can help move buyers, sellers forward.Educating yourself on the process of home buying, and home selling can also help with any transaction. Understanding the multiple listing service and how it works help make it easier to navigate your local real estate market.

https://www.homelight.com/blog/buyer-what-is-the-mls-multiple-listing-service/

https://www.nar.realtor/nar-doj-settlement/multiple-listing-service-mls-what-is-it

https://www.rockethomes.com/blog/home-buying/multiple-listing-service

June
16

Can A Seller Back Out Of A Purchase and Sale Contract?

It doesn't happen often, but like buyers, sellers can get cold feet. Between the work of personalizing your home and the memories you've created there, sometimes it's hard to let go. Even if you don't get cold feet, there are plenty of other reasons to change your mind about selling.

Buyer's who back out of a deal forfeit their earnest deposit money (typically 1-3% of the offer price). As a seller, if you decide to cancel after the home is under contract, you can either be legally forced to close, or sued for financial damages. Of course, the specifics depend on the terms of your sales contract.

So, Can a Seller Back Out of a Contract?

While technically the answer to this question is no, it's actually not uncommon, especially in a hot market. Selling a house is complex, time-consuming, and can be expensive. When a deal is struck and closed, there's usually a sigh of relief. 

That being said, even when the seller doesn't have a clear legal right to back out, it can happen. This is generally tough for the seller. While a buyer has the benefit of contingencies that can make it easier to walk away, it's hard for a seller to do so without a penalty.

As a seller, if you're selling your home, you should not enter into any purchase and sale agreement if there is any doubt on your part. There is really little wiggle room for doubt, second thoughts, or cold feet. Buyers have ways out, the seller, not so much!

Why Would A Seller Renege on a Purchase and Sale?

Sellers may have many reasons for trying to back out of a purchase and sale agreement. While some may hold up in court, others are actionable and can result in penalties. 

Among the reasons a seller may give for backing out of an agreement include:

  • They get a higher offer from another buyer.
  • The seller has unable to find a suitable replacement home.
  • Their situation has changed, for example, a family member dies making it financially difficult to move.
  • The seller has emotional ties to their home and gets cold feet.
  • There is a disagreement within the seller's family about leaving the house.
  • The property appraises for significantly more than the buyer's accepted offer.

Both sellers and buyers should understand that any offers, counteroffers, and acceptances should be in writing and signed by both parties agreeing to the contract. 

Typically, when a seller accepts the buyer's signed offer, or counteroffer and communicates that acceptance to the buyer, or the buyer's representative it is considered a binding agreement. Until that time, there is no obligation on behalf of the owner to sell. An oral agreement is typically not binding. A contract for selling real property must be in writing and signed by both parties.

There are some instances when a seller can back out of an agreement without consequence. Here are a few examples:

  • If you only have a verbal agreement. Based on the statute of frauds, any contract to purchase real property must be in writing. This statute is enforceable in most states.
  • If the contract is not signed by BOTH parties.
  • If you have included a new home contingency into the purchase and sale. This contingency allows the seller to back out if they can not find a new home to meet their needs. This would be written into the original contract with the buyer.
  • During the attorney review period. In most states, there is a 3 to 5-day period during which a seller can cancel based on their attorney's review of the signed contract. In some states, this review period is mandatory.
  • If the buyer agrees to the cancellation. If the buyer is sympathetic to your reason (for example, the death of a family member) they can let you out of the agreement without suing.
  • By capitalizing on the buyer's contingencies. Buyers often put multiple contingencies into their offers like a home inspection or appraisal contingency. Refusing to negotiate after the findings of these reports can derail the deal.

The Potential Costs of Backing Out of a Purchase and Sale

A home seller that backs out of a purchase and sale can be sued for breach of contract. A judge could find the seller at fault and may order the seller to sign over the deed and complete the sale. A seller that loses in court is often ordered to pay the buyer's legal fees along with their own and there could be a harsh penalty. 

broken bank

The seller may also be ordered to:

  • Return the buyer's good faith deposit with interest.
  • Pay the buyer back for all inspections and appraisal fees
  • Pay for lost equity the buyer may have realized
  • Pay any other reasonable expenses
  • Reimburse the listing agent for the lost commission and all marketing costs.

A seller that wants to walk away and avoid a court fight could offer to pay the buyer enough to make them whole and hope they agree to cancel the contract.

Generally, a seller can not cancel without cause. Your attorney should look at any purchase and sale agreement and make sure that there are protective measures included to protect the seller in the event of a change of heart. 

The bottom line in this instance is to think through the purchase and sale before taking any action. If there is a potential for a change of heart, do not sign any agreement unless and until you are sure. Think about your initial reasons for selling your home. Chances are these reasons will hold up and perhaps is just a temporary bought of remorse that will fade with time, or when the check clears!

June
2

Closing

Selling Your Home: The Closing

When selling your home, a REALTOR® completes dozens of steps and tasks to get you to the point at which the closing occurs. Some of these steps include;

  • Researching your market
  • Accurately pricing your home
  • Listing it in the Multiple Listing Service database
  • Marketing

Your REALTOR® has been there every step of the way, keeping your best interests front and center. They fielded offers, negotiated terms, and kept you abreast of every development regarding your home. From arranging the septic inspection to monitoring your buyer's financing to arranging the inspections to keep you compliant with the Contract to Purchase terms, your REALTOR® has made the process of selling your home a smooth one and has brought you to the final step... the closing!

This is the stage where your REALTOR® will "dot the i's and cross the t's." It's the stage where all of their hard work, compiling documents and preparing all of the forms needed to complete the closing comes to fruition. Even after the closing is complete and the new owners have the keys, your REALTOR® is still there working on your behalf.

In this post, in our selling your home series, we will examine the final steps your REALTOR® will take to prepare you for closing, close on your home, and follow up post-closing to answer any questions or resolve any issues that may arise.

Selling Your Home: Closing Preparations and Duties

You've arrived at the closing. Your REALTOR® has arranged inspections, worked with your buyer to secure financing, and completed a few dozen other tasks since the buyer signed the Contract to Purchase. Any repairs or issues have been addressed, the bank approved the financing, and now it's time for your REALTOR® to put together all of the paperwork and schedule your closing. As the seller, your REALTOR® will typically act as your representative at the closing. 

These are the steps they will take before closing day.

  • They will make sure that all parties sign the contract.
  • Once the contract is signed, they will coordinate the closing process with the buyer's agent and lender and update all of the closing forms and files.
  • Your REALTOR® will ensure that all parties have all of the forms and information needed to legally close the sale.
  • They will select the location where the closing will be held, confirm the closing date and time, and notify all parties.
  • They will assist in solving any title problems (boundary disputes, easements, etc.) or obtain Death Certificates if required.
  • They will work with the buyer's agent in scheduling and conducting the buyer's Final Walk-Thru before the closing.
  • A member of your REALTORS® team will research all tax, HOA, utility, and other applicable prorations.

At this point, your REALTOR® will begin the final processes, starting with a request for the final closing figures from the closing agent (attorney or title company).

They will receive and carefully review closing figures to ensure that they are accurate.

  • Forward the verified closing figures to the buyer's agent.
  • Request a copy of the closing documents from the closing agent.
  • Confirm that the buyer and buyer's agent have received the title insurance commitment.
  • They will provide the "Home Owners Warranty" for availability at closing and carefully review all of the closing documents for errors with the closing agent.
  • At the closing, your REALTOR® will provide the earnest money deposit check from the escrow account to the closing agent.
  • Coordinate this closing with the seller's next purchase and resolve any timing problems.
  • Have a "no surprises" closing so that the seller receives a net proceeds check at the closing.

Upon closing, your REALTOR® will forward all of the closing documents to you as the seller, as requested. If applicable, they will refer you to one of the best agents at your new destination if needed.

The last step is changing the MLS status to sold, entering the date, price, selling broker, and Agent ID numbers, etc. Finally, they will close out the listing in their transaction management program.

fireworks

Selling Your Home: Follow Up After Closing

Even though your home is sold, and your listing is closed out both internally, and on the MLS, your REALTOR® remains ready to answer questions and provide support even after the sale. They are available to the new buyer to answer questions about filing claims with the Home Warranty Company if requested. 

They will also remain available to clarify and resolve any issues or conflicts about repairs if the buyer is not satisfied. Your REALTOR is on call to respond to any follow-on calls and provide any additional information required from their office files.

Working with a REALTOR® to sell your home is a smart business decision. They are pledged to uphold the stringent, enforceable tenets of the REALTOR® code of Ethics in all of their professional dealings with the public. A REALTOR® has the level of skill, knowledge, and attention to detail that's required in today's complex real estate transactions. Not every real estate licensee holds REALTOR® membership. If you want a smooth transaction, make sure yours does!

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