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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
29

Learn the Advantages of an Accurate Real Estate Estimate and How to Get One

If you are considering the sale of your home, knowing your home's value is essential for pricing it accurately to get buyers interested. Whether you are considering a sale or just curious, it is always a good idea to keep on top of valuations, if for no other reason than to determine your ROI.

No matter what motivates you, having an accurate understanding of your home's estimated market value can come in handy. Today, there are several ways to do that, many of which are free and within reach online. However, some methods are better for getting an accurate real estate estimate than others. 

This post will compare working with a professional agent to get a real estate estimate of value versus sourcing the information online at a website like Zillow.

Finding A Real Estate Estimate On Zillow

In today's internet age, technology has given us the ability to perform many tasks ourselves. As buyers and sellers have become savvier, the first stop on the journey to buy or sell a home is the internet. 

Online tools and home value estimators are everywhere! While you have multiple platforms to choose from, one of the most popular is Zillow. But is a "Zestimate" as a Zillow estimate is known, accurate?

So, what is a Zestimate?

This is Zillow's version of an online home valuation platform and can give you an estimate on over 100 million homes all over the country. Zillow's algorithm automatically computes values. These are based on both public-submitted as well as user-submitted data points for each property.

Like many online value calculators, The accuracy of a Zillow Zestimate will vary widely based on several factors, including your location and how much data is available. 

While online sites like Zillow are helpful, you should never rely on them to make an accurate real estate estimate of valuation. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, you want accurate information to make an informed decision. 

Sites like Zillow have the potential to empower buyers and sellers. They have replaced the world of comparable sales and values that were once understandable only to real estate professionals. They give both buyers and sellers the ability to learn useful information about properties in their area, including their own.

Sites like Zillow do their best to provide accurate information as to the value of your home. However, Zillow is an automated system that is based on mathematical formulas and data analysis. It does not think for itself. It cannot account for variations – changes that can substantially affect the price of a home from any sort of "average."

When you are buying or selling, you cannot afford to be off on your real estate estimate by tens of thousands of dollars in your pricing or bidding!

How a Real Estate Professional Determines Value

While Zillow is fine if you are seeking a general idea of value, the fact is, analysis and a real estate estimate provided by a real estate professional will be more accurate. Real Estate professionals specialize in answering the question, "what is my home worth?" They do this for their clients by running a comparative market analysis. This consists of finding similar properties, or comps, that sold within the past 90 days and using this factual data to prepare their valuation.

The most accurate comp is a nearby home that is similar to yours in terms of square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Ideally, the lot size is also similar. Once your REALTOR® finds a few comps in your area, they will average these figures to determine a baseline home value. 

Today, sellers need to take into consideration that home buyers begin their search for properties online. Assume your agent has provided you with a real estate estimate that values your home at $503,000. Most people will search for homes using $20,000 or $25,000 increments. 

That means listing your home at its market value of $503,000 could prevent your listing from being seen by buyers searching the $475,000 to $500,000 range. Asking $500,000 for your home in this instance might generate more traffic and maybe even a bidding war that can push your final number well above your expectations!

Why Accurate Pricing is Crucial

If your real estate estimate is too high, your home can sit on the market, even in a seller's market. Valuing your home too high can be a big problem. If your home stays on the market too long (over 30 days), it can become stigmatized. Buyers often get suspicious when they see that a home has been on the market for an extended period. They may think that there is something wrong with the property.

If that is the case, the seller may need to significantly reduce the price, sometimes below market value, to generate interest. However, pricing your home below market in an attempt to generate interest and multiple bids can also backfire. Granted, in a hot seller's market, like we're living in right now, that strategy can be effective. However, pricing too low can lead buyers to assume that your property is only worth the list price.

While sites like Zillow can be helpful in the information gathering stage, your best bet is to work with a real estate professional. They can help you to price your home accurately and list it for close to the figure. When you are in doubt, turn to your local real estate professional. They understand your market and will help you cut through the haze to pinpoint the right price for your home.

August
23

Vermont Masiello

It's no surprise that national sources frequently rank Vermont among the top places to live in the United States. Our real estate agents take a deep dive into the features that make Vermont "A Place All Its Own" and the regions that make up this wonderful state.

Click Here to Read More...

July
21

Understanding The Realtor Commission, Commission Splits, and More

If you're like most people buying or selling a home, you'll choose to work with a local, licensed real estate professional or REALTOR®. These professionals know and understand the local market, have outstanding negotiating skills, and as we have mentioned in prior posts (internal link to REALTOR "overview" article HERE), can make the entire buying and selling process easier.

As compensation for their expertise, your REALTOR® is paid a commission based on the sale price of your home. There are several different commission structures based on the structure of your deal. Here's a breakdown of the role of the various players, how realtor commissions work, and who pays these fees.

The Realtor Commission Structure

When you decide to sell your home and enlist the help of a REALTOR®, you sign a listing agreement. In that agreement is an agreed-upon commission rate with the listing agent, which is typically a negotiable rate, typically between 4 and 6%.

This commission is often split evenly between the seller's agent and the buyer's agent (if they are working with an agent). Each agent pays a portion of their commission to their brokerage.

For example, for a home with a sale price of $500,000 and a 6% commission rate – split equally between the buyer's and seller's agents – each agent would receive 3%, or $15,000. Assuming each agent must split their commission 50/50 with their respective brokerages, each agent would make $7500 from the sale (before subtracting any additional marketing costs incurred).

While this is the typical arrangement, commission splits are not always 50/50 between the agent and the brokerage. For experienced agents who reach a certain commission level, the split can step up to 70% in favor of the agent. This brokerage model relies on the agent sourcing all of their own leads, clients, and business.

So, Who Pays The Commission?

Precisely who pays the commission can be a bit tricky. The standard practice is that the seller pays the fee. However, the fee is often wrapped into the home price, so the buyer ultimately ends up paying the fee, albeit indirectly.

Let's look at how this works using the above example.

Each with an agent, a buyer and seller agree to a deal on the $500,000 house. Assuming a 6% commission on the sale, the entire commission of $30,000 comes out of the home's sale. 

The buyer will pay the $500,000 purchase price. The seller would receive $470,000 ($500K minus the 6% commission). Depending on who is responsible for the closing costs and other fees, these fees could either come out of the seller's $470,000, or the buyer would have to pay all or part of these additional costs (or roll them into their mortgage). 

The listing agent's brokerage would then receive the entire $30,000 commission from the closing attorney. They would issue the buyer's agent or their brokerage a check for half of the commission, and each of the brokerages would pay their respective agents their 1.5% commission from the sale.

The Value of Working with a Real Estate Professional

While it may seem like selling your property directly or creating a FSBO ("Fisbo" or "for sale By Owner listing and taking the real estate agent out of the process makes financial sense, in the long and short run, unless you're selling to a family member, it's rarely a good decision. 

A real estate professional is vital to the process of selling (and in today's market, buying) a home. They can help to facilitate the negotiations, manage the paperwork, and maximize your chances of selling your home at a fair price through staging, arranging professional photography, as well as virtual tours, and other marketing activities. Your listing or seller's agent will represent you and look out for your best interest, making sure that you receive top dollar and that all of the legal requirements of selling your home are met.

When working with a buyer's agent, you have the best possible chance of finding the perfect house that you'll love based on your needs. A buyer's agent will research your market to find the perfect home and increase the likelihood of a successful sale. 

Real estate professionals are there to ensure that the process moves smoothly. When dealing with your home, it's often the biggest investment you will make and is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you're on the brink of either buying or selling, they ensure that the process is fast, smooth, and easy. 

So Are Realtor Commissions Worth it?

One of the biggest contentions for selling (or buying) a home is that the real estate fees are too high or that the service isn't worth the cost. In fact, there are even newer services that will work for a flat fee – like $100 or $500 or a steeply discounted commission. While this can sometimes benefit sellers (and ultimately buyers) in terms of cost savings, typically, you get what you pay for in terms of representation.

When working with a real estate professional in a more traditional arrangement, your interests as both a seller and a buyer are protected. While it sometimes happens, if your home sells on the day it's listed, your agent could make a tidy sum for a relatively small amount of work – taking some photos, determining a price, and listing the home on the market.

However, this is rarely the case. Sometimes a home can take weeks, months, or in the case of very unique or expensive houses, can take years to sell.

For the seller's agent, this means spending hours marketing the home, making phone inquiries, staying abreast of other listings and sales in the neighborhood. The seller's agent will also bear the costs of keeping the house on the market, signage, and advertising costs. The fact is, most sellers wouldn't want to be paying their agent by the hour!

This is also true for buyers. Some might find a house immediately. However, most will look at dozens of homes over the course of weeks or even months before finding the right one. If buyers had to pay their agent by the hour, they would probably feel rushed into making a decision!

The Bottom Line on Realtor Commissions

Selling or buying a home is a complicated endeavor that is made easier by working with a qualified real estate professional or REALTOR®. Having a professional in your corner, whether selling or buying, can help you find exactly what you're looking for at the right price that is fair to both the buyer and seller. 

In exchange for the hours of work they do, agents receive a percentage of the sales price or a commission. While it's typically the seller who pays the commission, the cost is generally factored into the home's list price. In this way, the buyer ultimately bears the cost of any real estate fees.

While it's important to understand how commissions are structured and who is ultimately responsible for payment, it's equally important to keep in mind that commissions are always negotiable. For homeowners who are concerned about high fees and may opt to use a flat fee or discount broker or list their home as a FSBO, it's important to remember that, like many things in life, you often get what you pay for! 

Your home is often the most expensive and biggest investment you'll make in your lifetime making it important to understand what your realtor commission will cost and to trust who you're working with. It's a smart choice to work with a professional REALTOR® when selling or buying your next home!

  • Commission Splits
  • Realtor Commission
  • How do realtors get paid?

https://www.upnest.com/1/post/real-estate-commission-explained/

https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0611/understanding-real-estate-commissions-who-pays.aspx

June
23

The Brokerage Disclosure: Meet the Players in a Real Estate Transaction

It's often said that homes are sold by emotion. A buyer falls in love with a home, and the dance between buyer and seller begins. While the process is often driven by emotion, the bottom line is that a real estate transaction is at its heart a legal transaction.

As a legal transaction, numerous players, forms, and contracts are presented and signed in the average real estate transaction. One of these forms is the brokerage disclosure. The brokerage disclosure is a written explanation signed by the prospective buyer or seller of real estate, which clearly explains the broker's role in the transaction.

In this post, we're going to take a closer look at the roles of the various players in the process of selling a home, including the buyer's agent, seller's agent, facilitators, and broker. We'll also define the brokerage disclosure form and explain its role in the process.

Defining the Brokerage Disclosure Form

The brokerage disclosure form is just one of the many forms you'll see when buying or selling a home. While it is not legally binding, it is an ethically valuable piece of paper that defines the major players and their roles in the typical real estate transaction. 

When you work with a real estate agent or REALTOR® whether buying or selling a property, the National Association of Realtors requires that you be informed as to whom the agent is representing in the transaction. The brokerage disclosure form outlines each agent's role in the transaction.

While the brokerage disclosure document is a form and not a contract, each is geared to the brokerage's role in the transaction (seller's broker, buyer's broker, etc.), and each state's agreement is slightly different.

The Seller's Agent

As a prospective buyer or seller, you need to understand that unless the buyer chooses to establish a written Buyer's Agency Agreement:

  • Both the listing agent and the sub or selling agent are agents for the seller.
  • Their loyalty is always to the seller, and they must inform the seller of all important information that might affect the seller's decision regarding the sale of the property.
  • While neither the listing nor sub-agent is the buyer's agent, they can provide the buyer with information about available properties, sources of financing and aid the buyer in comparing the features of various properties as well as showing them and making an offer to purchase.

As a buyer, it's important to understand that the seller's agent is loyal to the seller and is bound to act in the seller's best interest. However, a selling agent must treat any buyer honestly and fairly. A good seller's agent will;

  • Educate the buyer on the buying process.
  • Locate properties that meet your needs via MLS listings.
  • Arrange property showings.
  • Provide you with market information, financial guidance, and disclose know facts about the property.
  • Provide information on services needed to move the transaction alone, like home inspection, appraisal, legal, and other services.
  • Coordinate all of the details to ensure a smooth transaction. The agent's duties do not end until you are in the home.

The Buyer's Agent

If you want agent representation when buying a home, you'll need to sign a written Buyer Agency agreement. The agent is then responsible to you and your best interests, not the sellers.

The buyer's agent is typically paid a commission via a split with the seller's agency, or their fee may be included in the mortgage. It should not cost the buyer any additional funds and often cost less under a Buyer's agency agreement than under a sub-agency.

With a Buyers Agency Agreement, you can expect fiduciary duties beyond the services that can be legally offered to you by the selling agent. This should be clearly disclosed in the brokerage disclosure form.

A Buyer's Agent's duties include:

Loyalty to the Buyer: The buyer's agent has a duty to act in the buyer's best interest at all times. Including negotiating the best price and terms for the buyer.

Obedience: As long as a request is legal and within the scope of the exercise of agency, a buyer's agent is obligated to do whatever the buyer requests. 

Disclosure: If a buyer gets swept away emotionally by a property, it is their agent's job to remind them that it may not be suitable based on pre-established factors. Seller's agents must disclose only material defects like structural problems or zoning issues but otherwise will stress the benefits of the property. A buyer's agent must disclose everything!

Confidentiality: The buyer's agent may not reveal by word or deed that the buyer is willing or able to pay more than the offered price. The buyer's agent must not disclose any discussions, including that they can not find a comparable property or any fact that may affect the buyer's negotiating position.

Reasonable Care and Due Diligence: The buyer's agent is obligated to be competent, make appropriate recommendations, and must call upon their full range of skills and knowledge on the buyer's behalf. 

Accounting: Not only does this include accounting for deposit money, it means seeing that everything the buyer expects is included in the contract to purchase. If the agent is being paid by any source other than the buyer, they must disclose it.

Unlike the listing and selling agent, the buyer's agent's role is not as a salesman but as an agent for the buyer. They must always act in the best interest of their client, not the seller or their agent. The brokerage disclosure form clearly outlines their role and responsibilities.

Real Estate Broker

An easy way to understand the role of a real estate broker is to understand that the relationship between the broker and agent is similar to the role between a principal and a teacher. A principal is not an entry-level job – you need a level of teaching experience before you can apply. While both can teach, the principal has more authority in the school.

In the US, a real estate agent needs to work under a broker for their license to be active. You don't just pass the test, walk out and start selling homes unless you're a broker; you must work under one. 

Real Estate Facilitators

This role is a little confusing. While the role of both the buyer's agent and the seller's agent are clearly defined, a facilitator is a little more complex. A facilitator is the role of an agent before the client elects the agent as either a buyer or seller's representative. 

In Massachusetts, MA law requires an agent to disclose their role at the first meeting. The law states:

" When a real estate licensee works as a facilitator, that licensee assists the seller and/or buyer in reaching an agreement but does not represent either the buyer or the seller in the transaction. The facilitator and the broker with whom the facilitator is affiliated owe the seller and buyer a duty to present all real property honestly and accurately by disclosing known material defects and owe a duty to account for funds. Unless specifically agreed upon beforehand, the facilitator has no duty to keep information received from a seller or buyer confidential."

The Bottom Line...

The brokerage disclosure form is a vital component of a real estate transaction. It is important to disclose and define each person's role in the process when buying or selling a home. However, at the end of the day, choosing an agent should be about more than a recognizable brokerage office, designation, affiliation, or years in the industry, although these factors are important.

The core of every real estate transaction is trust.While you need to understand the role of the players in every transaction and who they represent, the bottom line is that you need to do your due diligence and ultimately trust the professionals you choose to work with when buying or selling a home. 

 

 

Explain the role the buyer's agent, the seller's agent, facilitators, Transaction, Broker, etc., and others all play in the process of selling you a home.

It is a form, not a contract

Nuances by state

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!

May
26

Accepting an Offer

The Benefits of Selling Your Home with a REALTOR®

What Happens When the Offers Roll in...

Your REALTOR® has researched the market, determined your home's value, listed your property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database, and begun marketing your home to their contacts and other agents, literally throughout the world...

If they've done their job well, you should receive an offer for your home. Actually, in today's market, you'll most likely be receiving multiple offers. It can be a pretty long road between receiving an offer and scheduling a closing. This is where your REALTOR'S® expertise really shines! 

Your REALTOR® is there to help you sort through and understand any offers and help you to make an informed decision about which is the right one to accept. The Offer/Contract process can be tricky. It's the right time to have a REALTOR® on your team to negotiate the right deal.

In this selling your home post, we're going to explore the process and steps your REALTOR® will take from the moment an offer (or offers) is made until the day a Contract to Purchase is signed!

Selling Your Home: When You Receive an Offer...

Once you've received an offer for your home, there are several steps your REALTOR® will take that will keep the process of selling your home on track. An offer is the first step toward a signed Contract to Purchase. The buyer may have contingencies like home inspections, and your REALTOR® will take steps to verify that the buyer is pre-qualified.

During this part of the process, there is a lot of paperwork, deposits must be properly handled, and the buyer may need additional information that your REALTOR® should have in the Property File. Here are the steps and tasks your REALTOR® will manage from receiving an initial offer, culminating in a signed Purchase and Sale Agreement:

  • They will review all Offer to Purchase contracts submitted by buyers or their agents.
  • Based on their experience, they will evaluate the offer(s) and prepare a "net sheet" on each offer for you for comparison purposes.
  • Your REALTOR® will counsel you on the best offer, explaining the merits and weaknesses of each component of each offer.
  • They will contact the buyer's agent to review the buyer's qualifications and discuss the offer.
  • They will then fax/deliver the Seller's Disclosure form to the buyer's agent or directly to the buyer upon request. Before the offer, if possible.
  • Your REALTOR® will confirm the buyer is pre-qualified by calling the Loan Officer and obtain a copy of the buyer's pre-qualification letter.
  • Your REALTOR® will negotiate all offers on your behalf, setting time limits for inspections, loan approvals, and closing dates
  • They will also prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance, or amendments to the buyer or agent.
  • They will then fax copies of contracts and all addendums to the closing attorney or title company.

This process should culminate in a signed Offer to Purchase. When the Offer to Purchase Contract is accepted and signed by you, your REALTOR® will deliver the signed contract to the buyer's agent. They will then record and promptly deposit the buyer's earnest money into an escrow account, disseminate "Under-Contract Showing Restrictions," and deliver copies of the fully signed Offer to Purchase contract to you.

Your Realtor will also deliver copies of the Offer to Purchase to the selling agent and the lender. They will add copies of the contract to the office file and advise the seller in handling any additional offers to purchase submitted between the contract and the closing. At this point, the process of selling your home will enter into the final stages. This includes:

  • Changing the status in the MLS to "Sale Pending."
  • Updating the transaction management program to show "Sale Pending." 
  • Your REALTOR® will then review the buyer's credit report results with you and advise you of the best and worst-case scenarios. If you are financing the property, they will provide you with a copy of the buyer's credit report.
  • They will assist the buyer with obtaining financing if applicable and will follow up as necessary.
  • Your agent will coordinate with the lender on Discount Points being locked in with dates. 
  • They will next deliver unrecorded property information to the buyer.

If your home has a septic system and/or a well...

  • Your REALTOR® will order a septic system inspection.
  • Receive and review the septic system report and assess any possible impact on the sale.
  • Deliver a copy of the septic system inspection report to the lender and the buyer.
  • Conduct and deliver a Well Flow Test and deliver copies of the report to the lender, buyer, and Property Listing file.
  • Verify that a termite inspection has been ordered.
  • Verify that a mold inspection has been ordered (if required).

Tracking the Loan Process 

Your REALTOR® may also work with the buyer to assist them in securing a loan. Loan approval is a major element of a successful sale and as such, your REALTOR® will spend time tracking the process. They will:

  • Confirm that the Verification of Deposit & Buyer's Employment has been returned.
  • Follow the loan processing through to the underwriter.
  • Add the lender and any other vendors to the transaction management program so agents, buyers, and sellers can track the progress of the sale.
  • They will contact the lender weekly to ensure that processing is on track.
  • When the buyer is approved, they will relay the final approval to the seller.

The Appraisal

The lender will require an appraisal to approve the loan. Your REALTOR® will schedule the appraisal and provide the comparable sales used in market pricing to the appraiser. After the appraiser has left the property, your REALTOR® will follow up with them and enter the completion of the appraisal into the transaction management program. If you have any questions about the appraisal report, for example, if it seems too low, your REALTOR® will assist you in questioning the report.

Home Inspection

Home Inspection

Your buyer and their lender will require a home inspection before approving a loan. Along with the appraisal, this is an important element. Your REALTOR® will work with you to coordinate the buyer's professional home inspection. They will then receive and review a copy of the inspector's report and enter its completion into the transaction management tracking software.

They will sit down with you and explain your responsibilities concerning loan limits and interpret any clauses in the contract. They will also ensure your compliance with any Home Inspection Clause requirements.

If issues arise, your REALTOR® will assist you with identifying and negotiating with qualified contractors to perform any repairs required by the seller or their loan underwriter. They will also negotiate payment and oversee the completion of all required repairs on your behalf if needed.

Once you've received an offer for your home, the process can move quickly, and there are many moving parts to selling your home before closing. Your REALTOR® has the experience, expertise, and contacts to assist you and make the process as smooth as possible. Should a problem arise, they are there to help you resolve it, whether it's hiring a contractor for needed repairs or explaining the appraisal or home inspector's report. 

In our next blog post, we're going to take a look at the final steps of the process when selling your home – the closing, and how your REALTOR will continue to work for you, even after you've given the keys to the new owner!

May
12

Selling your Home

Your REALTOR® Works Hard to Win Your Business, and your Trust

If you're considering selling your home, you will want to find a professional to represent your interests. Properly selling your home is a complicated process, from the initial market research to signing the papers at closing. Your REALTOR® works hard from before you choose to list your property with them until well after the new owners take possession. 

To properly and legally sell your home is not an easy task. For the typical sale, there are nearly 200 actions taken when selling your home. These include research steps, processes, and review stages in a successful residential real estate transaction that your REALTOR® and their team will undertake in return for their commission. Some take minutes, some may take days, and some may not be needed, but each is critical to a successful outcome. 

In this selling your home post, we're going to take a closer look at the elements of a sale that your REALTOR® and their team will undertake before they've even signed you to a contract and listed your home.

REALTOR® Pre-Listing Activities When Selling Your Home: Research and Preparation

  • Your REALTOR® will begin the process of selling your house by scheduling an appointment with you for a listing presentation.
  • They will follow up with a written or email confirmation of the appointment and will call to confirm.
  • Your REALTOR® and their team will review pre-appointment questions.
  • Research begins. Your team will research all comparable currently listed properties.
  • Research sales activity for the past 18 months from both MLS and public record databases.
  • Research "Average Days on Market" for properties of this type, price range, and location.

The second level of research begins. This includes the legal side of researching for your property, for codes, ownership, and more.

  • Your REALTOR® will download property tax role information.
  • Prepare "Comparable Market Analysis" (CMA) to establish a fair market value.
  • Obtain a copy of the subdivision plat/complex layout and research the property's ownership and deed type.
  • They will also research the property's public record information for lot size & dimensions and research and verify legal description, land use coding, and any deed restrictions.
  • They will research the property's current use and zoning, verify legal names of owner(s) in the county's public property records

Finally, your realtor and their team will prepare a listing presentation package with all of the above materials included. As a part of the presentation package, your team will perform an exterior "Curb Appeal Assessment" of your property and compile and assemble a formal file. As part of the report, they will confirm current public schools, explain the impact of schools on your property's market value, and review the listing appointment checklist with their team to ensure that all of the necessary steps and actions have been completed.

Selling Your Home: Your Listing Appointment Presentation

Once your REALTOR® and their team have completed their research, they will meet with you to give you a formal presentation. There will cover some general information about the market and some specific information they have compiled about your home. In this meeting, your REALTOR® will:

  • Give you an overview of current local market conditions and projections.Market Analysis
  • Review your agent's and company's credentials and accomplishments within the market.
  • Present you with a company profile and its position or "niche" in the market.
  • Present CMA results to you, including Comparables, Sold, Current Listings & Expired.
  • Offer you a well-researched pricing strategy based on their professional judgment, experience, and interpretation of current market conditions.
  • Discuss your goals in order to market your home effectively. 
  • Explain marketing options, including the power and benefits of the Multiple Listing Service, the market power of web marketing, IDX, and REALTOR.com.
  • Your REALTOR® will then explain the work your agent and brokerage do "behind the scenes" and the agent's role in taking calls to screen for qualified buyers, protecting you from curiosity seekers, and provide you with availability on the weekends.
  • They will present you with and discuss a customized strategic master marketing plan for your home.
  • Your REALTOR® will explain the different agency relationships and determine your preference.
  • Finally, they will review and explain all of the clauses in your Listing Contract and Addendum, and of course, they will obtain your signature on the listing contract.

As you can see, once you decide to list your home for sale, your REALTOR® begins working on your behalf to research, strategize, and organize your property listing to make sure that your home is positioned and priced appropriately for your local market. They will present you with a well-thought-out marketing plan, a well-researched and appropriate price for your home, and will review and organize property records to include in your formal file to prepare for the next steps in the process.

In our next blog post, we're going to take an in-depth look at the next steps your REALTOR® will take when selling your home once you've signed a formal listing agreement.

May
5

The Next Steps Your REALTOR® Takes Once You've Signed A Listing Agreement.

Once you've settled on terms, defined the agency relationship, reached an agreement, and signed your listing contract, your REALTOR will take the next steps. They will begin working in earnest preparing your home's MLS listing and begin organizing much of the legal paperwork and information needed when selling your home. 

Simultaneously, they will prepare your listing, take photographs, prepare a profile, organize and prepare your Property File and Property Listing File before moving on to the next step; entering your property in the MLS and developing a marketing strategy to maximize exposure for your property in the market. 

In this selling your home post, we're going to examine all of the steps your REALTOR® will take from the time you signed a listing agreement until it's time to list your home on the MLS and begin marketing your home.

Selling Your Home: Once Your Property is Under A Listing Agreement

Your REALTOR® will have done a lot of preliminary work even before you've signed a listing agreement. They will have conducted a significant amount of research to determine the status of your local market, pull together preliminary documents, determine legal statuses like ownership and zoning, and developed a preliminary marketing strategy. 

Now the work begins. Selling your home means pulling together the detailed information, data, and legal paperwork needed to prepare your MLS listing and compile your property listing file.

  • Review your home's current title information.
  • Measure overall heated square footage and interior room sizes.
  • Confirm the lot size via the owner's certified survey, if available. Note any unrecorded property lines, agreements, and easements.
  • Obtain and review house plans if applicable and available; make a copy.
  • Order plat map for retention in property's listing file.
  • Prepare showing instructions for buyer's agents and agree on a showing time window with the seller.

Once they have gathered the documents needed for the property listing file, your REALTOR® will gather your current financing information that includes:

  • Obtaining the current mortgage loan information including companies, and loan account numbers.
  • They will then verify the current information with the lender(s). 
  • Check if the loan is assumable, and note any special requirements.
  • Discuss possible buyer financing alternatives and options with you your home's current appraisal if available.

Selling Your Home: Dealing with a Homeowner's Association 

If your home is in a neighborhood with a Homeowner's Association, it may be necessary to adjust your sales plan to meet the HOA bylaws. Your REALTOR® will research and contact the HOA to verify fees and bylaws.

  • They will identify the HOA manager if applicable.
  • Verify HOA fees with the manager, including the mandatory or optional and current annual fees.
  • Your REALTOR® will then order a copy of the Homeowner Association bylaws if applicable.

Preparing A Cost Analysis for Your Property: Calculating Utilities

The next step is to gather and analyze all utility information to include in the MLS listing and property listing folder. This is an important element of preparing a cost analysis for any potential buyers so they can understand your home's operating cost. This step includes the following tasks:

Research electricity availability, including the supplier's name and phone number.Utilities

  • Research and verify city sewer / septic tank system.
  • Research natural gas, verify the availability and supplier's name and phone number.
  • They will then take this information and calculate average utility usage from the last 12 months of bills.
  • Research your home's water system – if it's on city water, they will calculate usage and average water fees or rates from the last 12 months of bills. If your home has a well, they will confirm the well's status, depth, and output from the most recent well report.
  • If you have a security system, your REALTOR® will verify the current term of service and whether it's owned or leased.
  • They will also verify if you have a transferable Termite Bond and ascertain the need for a lead paint disclosure.
  • To complete this series of tasks, your REALTOR® will prepare a detailed list of property amenities and assess the market impact. They will also prepare a detailed list of the property's "Inclusions and Conveyances with Sale" and compile a list of repairs and maintenance items.

If Your Property Includes A Rental Component

If your home has a rental component, your REALTOR® will complete this next series of tasks to prepare the information a buyer will need to assess the rental potential of your property. If there is no rental component, they may not need to take all of these steps. These tasks include:

  • Your REALTOR® will send you a "Vacancy Checklist" if the property is vacant and will also explain the sales benefits of including a Home Owner Warranty in the sale.
  • They will assist you with the completion and submission of the Home Owner Warranty Application.
  • When the Warranty is received, they will place it into the property file for conveyance to the new owner at the time of sale.
  • Your REALTOR® will verify if the property has rental units involved and if so, make copies of all leases for retention in the listing file.
  • They will also verify all rents and deposits.
  • A member of your real estate team will inform the tenants of the listing and discuss how showings will be handled.

The Final Steps Before Listing on the MLS

At this point, your REALTOR will take the final steps necessary for selling your home, including the preparation and staging of your home before it's officially listed in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) databases. This includes:

  • Making an extra key for the lockbox
  • Arrange for the installation of the yard sign.
  • Assist you with the completion of the Seller's Disclosure form.
  • Complete their internal "New Listing Checklist."
  • Review the final results of the Curb Appeal Assessment with you and provide suggestions to improve salability.
  • Review the Interior Decor Assessment results with you and suggest changes to shorten "time on market."
  • Load the listing into the transaction management software program.

Up to this point, you have a signed Listing Agreement, and your REALTOR® will have taken all of the necessary steps to gather the needed information to prepare your home's MLS listing properly. They will have all of the legal information necessary in the Property File and Property Listing File, which will include verified square footages, operating costs, utility information, and any additional information needed, for example, rental and lease data.

In the next selling your home blog post, we'll look at the next steps in the process of marketing and selling your home, which includes entering the property in the MLS Database and creating a marketing strategy for your property to build interest, drive traffic, and generate offers for your home.

April
26

selling a home

Considering FSBO? Learn the Value of Using a REALTOR®

Your home is one of the biggest investments you'll make in your lifetime. When it comes time to sell, some homeowners will take it upon themselves to sell their own home. This is known as "FSBO" or "for sale by owner." Over half of FSBO sellers (63%) choose to sell their own homes to avoid paying a commission.

Today, with Facebook marketplace, social media, and services like Zillow, many homeowners are under the mistaken idea that it's easy to sell a home. Just check the price trend on Zillow, and create a social media post, and your home is "sure" to sell. However, the fact is that unless you have experience selling homes, a FSBO listing is almost always a bad idea. It just might end up costing you in the long run. 

To properly and legally sell your home is not an easy task. There are nearly 200 typical actions taken when selling a home. They include research steps, processes, and review stages in a successful residential real estate transaction normally provided by a full-service real estate brokerage in return for their commission. Some may take minutes, hours, or even days to complete depending on the transaction, while some steps may not be needed.

More importantly, these actions reflect the level of skill, knowledge, and attention to detail required in today's real estate transaction. This underscores the importance of having help and guidance from someone who completely understands the process – a REALTOR®.

 In this post, we're going to take a general look at the key elements of a transaction that your real estate professional will address when selling your home. In future posts, we'll break down the steps in more depth.

selling a home

Pre-Listing Activities

Your REALTOR will begin working on your sale, even before you've home is listed on the MLS. Before listing your home, a fair amount of research must be done. This includes researching comparable homes in your area, sales records for the previous 18 months, and "average days on the market" for properties similar to your home's style and location. 

  • Your Realtor will also look into your home's public record information, including land use coding and zoning, and verify legal ownership.
  • They then prepare a listing presentation for you using this and additional information, including an exterior "curb appeal assessment" on your property.
  • They also take all of the information they have compiled and create a listing appointment presentation to sit with you and present their plans for listing and selling your home.
  • The agent explains their role in taking calls to screen qualified buyers, present strategic marketing plans, explain different agency relationships, and determine your preferences.

Once Your Home is Under a Listing Agreement

Once you've signed a listing agreement contract with your REALTOR®, they will begin working in earnest to prepare your home's MLS listing.

  • They will review your current title, measure the overall and heated square footage, confirm the lot size, and note any unpaid and unrecorded property lines, agreements, and easements. 
  • Next, they will verify all utilities, including city water/sewer or septic system, electric availability, and natural gas. They will calculate all utility usage for the past 12 months. If there is a rental component, they will verify any rents, deposits, and leases and assist the seller with completing the seller disclosure form 74.
  • Finally, in preparation for listing in the Multiple Listing Service database, they will conduct a Curb Appeal Assessment and Interior Decor Assessment. Upon reviewing the results, they will suggest changes to improve salability and shorten time on the market.

Entering Your Property on the MLS and Marketing Your Listing

As soon as your REALTOR® verifies all of your information, they will prepare your home's MLS listing and implement their marketing strategy to sell your home.

  • They start by preparing an MLS profile sheet. Your agent is responsible for "quality control" and the accuracy of the listing data. 
  • They will then enter your property data from the MLS Profile Sheet in the MLS database and check it for accuracy, including ensuring it is properly placed into the mapping function.
  • Once this process is complete, your agent will provide you with signed copies of the listing agreement and MLS Profile Sheet Data within 48 hours.

When your home's MLS listing has been verified, your REALTOR® will begin implementing their marketing strategy for your home.

  • They will create print and internet ads with your input. Post your listing on their website, social medial account, and prepare mailing and contact lists and prepare mailing pieces and flyers. 
  • Your agent will regularly review comparable MLS listing to ensure that your property remains competitive in price, terms, conditions, and availability throughout the entire process.
  • They will call you weekly to update you and discuss marketing and pricing.

When the Offers Come

This is where the experience of your REALTOR® shines. In today's market, you will likely receive multiple offers. When the offers come in, your agent will receive and review all Offer to Purchase contracts submitted by buyers or buyer's agents.

  • They will evaluate the offer(s) and prepare a "net sheet" for you for comparison purposes. They will counsel you on all offers, explaining the merits and weaknesses of each component of each offer.
  • Next, they will confirm that the buyer is pre-qualified and negotiate on your behalf, setting the time limit for loan approval and the closing date. They will also prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance, or amendments to the buyer's agent.
  • When the Offer to Purchase is accepted, your agent will record and deposit the buyer's earnest money into an escrow account and begin to track the loan process as they work with the buyer and the buyer's agent to coordinate the home inspection process and schedule the appraisal.

Selling a Home: The Closing

If everything is approved and the home passes inspection, a contract is prepared and signed by all parties. Your agent will coordinate the closing process with the buyer's agent and lender to ensure everyone has all of the necessary documentation needed and schedule a time and place for the closing occurrence. 

  • They will then confirm the date and work with the buyer's agent to schedule and conduct the final walkthrough before closing.
  • Before the actual closing date, your agent will prepare all of the final figures, including tax, HOA, and other prorations, review all of the closing figures and provide the earnest money deposit check from the escrow account closing agent.
  • Upon the closing, they will close out the listing.

Post-Closing Follow-Up

Even after your home is sold, your REALTOR® is working to ensure that the buyer is satisfied. They remain available to answer any questions they might have about filing Home Owner Warranty claims. They also remain available to clarify and resolve any conflicts about repairs if the buyer is not satisfied and respond to any follow-up calls for additional information your buyer might request.

Selling your home is an important milestone. Engaging a REALTOR® to handle all of the details is a smart decision. It's a fact that working with a real estate professional can help you get the best price for your home and make sure that all of the details and legal necessities are taken care of properly. 

Your real estate professional possesses the level of skill, knowledge, and attention to detail that's required when selling a home. They are there to guide you and protect your interests in an often complicated and sometimes complex transaction. And it's important to remember that your REALTOR® has pledged to uphold the stringent, enforceable tenets of the REALTOR Code of Ethics in all of their professional dealings with the public. Not every real estate licensee holds REALTOR® membership. Make sure yours does!

April
5

Masiello Home Improvement

Home improvement shows can be pretty intriguing. With the exquisite finishes, the grand reveals, the hugs, and the grateful smiles, it's easy to get sucked into a five-hour marathon session of entertaining reality TV. Unfortunately, these shows can be misleading. They give viewers unrealistic expectations of what can be accomplished when it comes to remodeling, flipping, buying, and selling a home. Our real estate agents reveal 5 things that home makeover shows never tell you.

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October
26

Home Inspections for Sellers

Home inspections are an important part of the home selling process, and in some cases, they can complicate or even derail the sale. That's why it's important to understand exactly what a home inspection covers and how it can affect the pricing and sale of your home.

Our real estate agents share the following things that sellers should know about home inspections:

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October
19

Displaying Wall Art

Whether you're using photographs, paintings, or tapestries, wall art offers many great options for adding visual interest to your home, but selecting the pieces is just half the job. Our real estate agents share top tips on hanging wall art for optimum effect.

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September
28

Maine's Lakes region

With social distancing giving a boost to the already growing work-from-home trend, any place with a WiFi signal can become an office. If commuting is no longer an issue, why not live in a Zoom Town, where every day is a vacation?

Leave the urban hustle and bustle behind. Our real estate agents share some appealing reasons why Maine's Lakes Region should be your new home. 

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September
21

Zoom Town Trend

With this year's pandemic accelerating the shift towards remote work, living near the office is quickly becoming a thing of the past. With so many people working from home, many are taking advantage of the opportunity to reconsider their home's location. Not only is this spurring a quick recovery for the housing market, but it's also leading to an exciting new trend that's popping-up here in 2020: the rise of the Zoom Town.

So what exactly is a Zoom Town? It's often a beach town, lake town, or even just a peaceful secluded area of the country. More importantly, it's far away from the normal bustling cities that have traditionally served as the heart of the business world. Zoom Towns are seeing rapid growth this year, as many people are choosing to work where they vacation and vacation where they work.

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September
14

Packing Tips

You've bought your dream house. You're ready to move in. Now comes the really stressful part: packing and moving. Remember that the key to a smooth move is good organization. Even if you're hiring professional movers to take some of the load off you, it's still wise to have a plan when you move.

Take a look at these tips and live by them as you organize and pack. You'll be glad you did.

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August
24

Interior Design Trends to Avoid

Fashions in interior design come and go. When getting ready to list your home, you might be tempted to try the latest trends to help make your home stand out from other listings. But sometimes, those trends can have the opposite effect. If you're planning on selling your New England home, our REALTORS® can help you sort through fads and nail down the fashions as you get your home ready for the market. 

Here are some timely warnings about what to avoid. 

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August
10

Tricks to Make Your Home More Spacious

If you find yourself spending more at home this year, your living space may be starting to feel a little cramped and claustrophobic. A comfortable living space is important, and studies have suggested small spaces can negatively impact your overall mood and mental health. Not only does more space equal more happiness, but it can also increase your home's overall value.

Luckily, when it comes to interior design there are simple ways to make your home appear more spacious. Our real estate agents have several tips for making your home appear more spacious. Whether you're looking to put your home on the market this year or simply looking to make things more comfortable, consider these design suggestions that can actually trick the eye into seeing more space:

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July
20

Staging Mistakes

Staging your home is an important step to take before putting it on the market. It helps your real estate photos look more appealing, which brings potential buyers inside your door. And once the buyers are there, a perfectly staged home lets them visualize their family living happily in your home. Home staging mistakes, however, can have the opposite effect.

Our real estate agents point out the following common staging mistakes you might be making in your home. 

  1. Failing to Start with a Plan
    Start your home staging process by having a plan and strategy. Keep in mind who your home is likely to appeal to and stage your home accordingly.

  2. Neglecting to Make Improvements
    Making quick, inexpensive improvements to your home and fixing major problems that can't be ignored are important to prospective buyers. The most beautiful, appropriate staging won't hide maintenance issues that need to be addressed.

  3. Ignoring Your Home's Lighting
    A home with lots of artificial and natural light will look brighter and cheerier than a dark one. Take down dark or heavy window treatments and replace them with ones that let the light shine through. And add cool LED lighting to any space that has fewer than four lights.

  4. Too Much Furniture
    Including some furniture in your home staging is a good idea. Just make sure you don't have too many pieces since it can make your home seem small and crowded.

  5. Failing to Clean Thoroughly
    Even the nicest, best staged home will turn off buyers if it doesn't look and smell clean. Deep clean all areas of your home including your floors, windows, entryway, and garage floor.

  6. Keeping Things Too Personal
    Your home should have a neutral palette instead of boldly colored paint, furniture, and flooring. Personal items such as photos should also be removed and replaced with geometric artwork or something similar.

  7. Making Your Home Decor Overly Neutral 
    Neutral decor is important, but too much of it will make your home seem drab and unforgettable. Include some visual contrast by adding a pop of color with items like a decorative pillow, rugs, and wall art.

  8. Neglecting to Paint
    Paint looks dreary over time, so a fresh coat can help make a home look and smell new. This not only applies to your walls but also your ceilings.

  9. Misplacing Your Furniture
    Don't place furniture like couches and chairs up against walls or hiding in corners. Instead, move them a few feet away from the wall so you create natural pathways. Just make sure you don't create any barriers to a natural traffic pattern.

  10. Ignoring the Outdoors
    Taking care of the inside of your home is vital, but don't neglect the outside of your home. Outdoor areas that are well-tended show that you're taking care of your home. Take a little extra time and effort to add some touches such as a bistro table.

Contact us to learn more about how to avoid staging mistakes so you can present your home in the best possible way. Our agents have a great deal of experience buying and selling homes and can advise you on how to stage your home to attract buyers. 

June
15

Moving to a New State

Our real estate agents love welcoming new residents who are relocating from another state. While every move is exciting, there's something really special about starting the next phase of your life in a completely new location. 

However, moving from one state to another also requires a bit more thought. Here are a few of the most important things to consider before taking the plunge. 

  1. The Job Market
    If you haven't already secured a job in the new state you're considering, you'll want to take a close look at the current local employment opportunities. The last thing you want to do is uproot your entire life only to find that you're not able to make a living in your new home state. 
  2. Click Here to Read More...

June
8

Garden Maintenance

Our real estate agents know one of the biggest reasons many people look forward to owning a home is to have a garden. Gardening is a fun and rewarding hobby, but it also means staying vigilant for that ever-present pest: Weeds.

National Weed Your Garden Day is June 13, a Saturday this year. It's the perfect time to get some fresh air and work on the best ways to protect your garden from weeds. Here's how to stay one step ahead of these troublesome invaders:

  1. Minimize Soil Disturbance
    Most lawns have been heavily infiltrated by weed seeds. So, why aren't there weeds everywhere you look? It's because only seeds that reach the top two inches of soil get the sunlight needed to germinate. To prevent weed seeds from seeing the light of day, dig only when you need to. 
  2. Mulch Early and Often
    Mulch helps your soil stay cool and moist while also keeping light away from weeds. Organic mulches can be attractive to crickets and beetles that actively feed on weeds, too. Mulch is best at a depth of about two inches – more than this can reduce the oxygen content in the soil. Spread mulch over a thin layer of biodegradable fabric to maximize your weed protection.
  3. Choose Your Mulches Carefully
    Mulch is vital. But, it can give cover to unwanted guests. Get rid of all existing weeds before you mulch, and use only weed-free mulches from a reliable source. Leaf compost is a great option for most garden beds. When making your own mulch, use a straw instead of hay. Straw is virtually always weed-free, but hay can be rich in weed seeds.
  4. Weed at the Right Times
    Believe it or not, there's a best time to weed. Weeding is best done right after a major rain. If you have gone a long time without a good rain, you have options: Weeds sliced off just above the soil line will quickly wither away. After severing a weed, settle mulch over the area.
  5. Optimize Your Plant Spacing
    Shading the soil between plants helps prevent weeds from emerging. Design your garden with drifts of closely spaced plants, and you'll be off to the races. Many plants will thrive even with about 25% removed from the recommended spacing. The exception? Plants that are vulnerable to foliar diseases. These plants need space and shouldn't touch other plants even at maturity.
  6. Use Irrigation and Fertilizer to Your Advantage
    A whole book could be written about the best way to irrigate your garden – and has! The right irrigation approach will make your plants healthier and save you money at the same time. Drip hoses are ideal for this, as you can place them beneath mulch directly around your thirsty plants. Don't forget to give your garden a fresh helping of good compost regularly.
  7. Use Cover Crops and Low-Growing Plants
    Cover crops can be a terrific way to add character to your garden and defend yourself against weeds at the same time. Clover, barley, and wheat are just a few of your options. Not only are they beneficial to most other plants, but they will happily block out weeds for you. Always look for ways to prevent bare spaces, since these are where weeds are likely to pop up first.

Contact us for expert advice on buying or selling your home.

May
4

Real Estate Terms to Know

If you're a first-time homebuyer or seller, you may not be familiar with the lingo used during the process. Even those who've been involved in a real estate transaction can usually do with a little brushing up. While this list isn't comprehensive, it'll get you started with some of the real estate terms you might run into.

  1. Adjustable Rate Mortgage
    This is a conventional loan where the interest rate can change at five-, seven- or ten-year intervals. Adjustable rates may not work for those who plan to stay in a home for a while, as rates can zoom upwards quite suddenly.
  2. Amortization
    Amortization combines interest and principal in payments so a homeowner can build more equity in the loan, rather than pay off the interest at first.
  3. Annual Percentage Rate
    The APR is how much interest is charged on your loan yearly.

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April
27

Virtual Open House Prep

You've decided to sell your home, and now want to show it off to potential buyers. More potential buyers are attending virtual open houses and showings to find their dream home from the comfort of their current residence. Just because they won't be there in person, doesn't mean you can skip vital steps in presenting and staging your home. Our real estate agents compiled a checklist for a virtual open house, so your property stands out from other New England homes for sale. Make sure to do these things before your virtual open house or showing. 

  1. Eliminate Clutter 
    Virtual open house attendees will want to see every room and every angle. So clutter has nowhere to hide! Box up and remove as much as half your belongings so that the home seems more spacious. Give away what you can, and store the stuff you want but don't need in a storage unit. Hosting a virtual open house in a cluttered home can deter buyers.  
  2. Remove Personal Items 
    Even if you're not ready to empty your home, at least make personal things vanish. That includes pictures and collected items so potential buyers can envision their own lives in your home.

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April
6

Bathroom Remodel Ideas

With a few small changes, you can transform your bathroom from blah to beautiful. Remodeling your bathroom can have a significant impact on how much you enjoy your home, and it's also a project that can increase your home's resale value. 

Our real estate agents suggest the following seven bathroom remodeling ideas you'll want to try:

  1. Maximize Your Space 
    If you have a small bathroom, design the space with the idea of making it look larger. Installing glass doors for showers and tubs creates an open look, and you can also choose a pedestal sink since it will take up less room than a sink with cabinets underneath. If you still need storage, use racks that fit above the toilet.

  2. Update Your Fixtures 
    For comparatively little money, you can update your bathroom fixtures such as light fixtures, faucets, towel racks, and drawer pulls. These will give your bathroom an updated look and make a larger-than-expected difference in its overall appearance.

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February
24

VA Loan 2020

If you are planning on using a VA loan to purchase a home this year there are several changes you should know about. 

Following the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, veterans and military service members will enjoy more borrowing power but pay slightly higher fees when applying for VA home loans. The Act was signed into law in June 2019 but took effect Jan 1, 2020.

Navigate these changes to VA loans with a little help from our team. Our REALTORS® highlight everything you need to know about using VA loans in 2020!

No VA Home Loan Limits in 2020

The VA loan limit is the maximum loan amount the Department of Veterans Affairs can guarantee a veteran or military service officer without making a down payment. The loan limit adjustment is a big win for veterans across the nation, especially for those buying in pricier markets. Extending the zero-down purchasing power will save many veterans a lot of cash and help them remain competitive.

However, the elimination of loan limits doesn't signify unlimited borrowing power with no down payment. Veterans will still need to have adequate income and meet their lender's credit demands to qualify for the VA loan amount. And if you still have impending VA loans or have defaulted on a previous loan, the loan limits will still be applicable throughout 2020.

Before this act went into effect, VA loan limits equaled the limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency on complying loans. In 2019, the limits were set to $484,350 in a typical US county and slightly higher in high-cost counties.

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February
3

Home Purchase Questions

Our REALTORS® are there to guide you every step of the way when it's time to buy a home. Still, it's important to understand what you're getting into – and how to advocate for your interests.

Buying a home can include twists and turns, even when everyone has the best intentions. Knowing which questions to ask will help you get the information you need to make an informed decision about your real estate options.

Don't forget these vital questions when you're getting ready to buy a home:

  1. Why is the Seller Leaving?
    Understanding the seller's motivations will put you in a position to get a better deal. You don't have to offer more money to make a seller's day: For example, if there's a tight timeline for moving, you may be able to get price concessions in return for making a prompt commitment.
  2. How Long Has the House Been for Sale?
    The longer a house is on the market, the more negotiating power a prospective buyer has. Houses can end up lingering on the market when the original asking price is too high. If more than 30 days go by, it means a more motivated seller. More than 60 is "red alert" for most sellers.
  3. What Are the Neighbors Like?
    You might not see them every day, but next-door neighbors can be a blessing or a curse. Inconsiderate or loud neighbors can leave you dealing with a whole host of worries, from midnight noise issues to lawn debris ending up on your side of the fence. Meeting the neighbors in person is often a good idea!

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November
4

Airbnb Investment

The landscape of the real estate market is changing dramatically, thanks to short-term rental properties. The increasing popularity of Airbnb and other similar services is encouraging property owners to invest in homes and condominiums that tourists find desirable. Our REALTORS® want you to make the best long-term investment choices possible. When considering properties to invest in for these purposes, we encourage you to ask the following questions:

  • Which area is ideal for investing?
    Although you may earn renters with a home in any location, one reason renters choose Airbnbs is convenience. They desire a comfortable, affordable space that places them right where they want to be. Look for investment homes in up-and-coming neighborhoods or in established neighborhoods which are hotspots for tourism. Choosing an area close to reliable public transportation, amenities, and attractions is also a wise decision.

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June
24

Real Estate Agent to Sell Home

Our REALTORS® strive to help everyone they meet make informed decisions about buying and selling a home. No matter if you choose to use our team in the long run, you deserve to have all the facts that will help you achieve the results you want.

One of the most important things a seller can understand is the value of professional advice when it's time to list a home. "For Sale By Owner" may seem fast and convenient, but most sellers who try to do things all on their own will find themselves frustrated – and never reach their goals.

A REALTOR® provides benefits you won't want to pass up. They include:

  1. Better Final Sale Price
    Research has shown that professional help with your listing can translate to tens of thousands of dollars for your final sale. A REALTOR® supports your financial goals by ensuring your home is priced attractively, yet maximizes value. When you sell on your own, you are leaving money on the table and sacrificing your valuable time, too.

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