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September
26

Masiello Closing Tips

Closing on your home is exciting but also can be overwhelming, especially if you don't know what to expect. While we usually think of "closing" as being the day you sign all the paperwork, the closing process actually begins the minute the home goes under contract and only ends the day ownership is officially transferred. There's a lot that still has to be done during that time! Here is everything our real estate agents want you to know about closing, from beginning to end.

Click Here to Read More...

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...

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!

June
1

You've been dreaming of homeownership, have spent years preparing financially, and spent months searching for the perfect home. You finally found it, negotiated a price, and signed a purchase and sale agreement with the seller. Now, the seller wants to call things off—years of dreaming, months of planning, and piles of paperwork, all for nothing.

It doesn't often happen; however, it can be heartbreaking when it does! Why would a real estate seller have a sudden change of mind, and do you have any legal recourse?

In this post, we'll examine some of the reasons a seller might back out of a Purchase and Sale Agreement, the impact of a seller backing out of the deal, and what recourse you might have.

First, Take a Breath and Consider the Situation

Before you run out and lawyer up, take a breath and consider the situation on a human level. If your finances are in order, you've been upfront and interested in moving forward emotions, or a situational change may be behind the seller's change of heart.

Try to determine the seller's reason for putting their home on the market. For example, if the sellers were planning to move into a senior facility because one of them was seriously ill. But they made a miraculous recovery; there is little you can say to convince them to sell.

However, sometimes the seller just doesn't trust you to make good on the deal and has second thoughts. Maybe they have a reason to believe you can't make the down payment or get a mortgage approval, and they don't want to take their home off a hot market for long enough to find out. In this case, sit down and provide whatever evidence you need to allay their fears.

Another common situation is that the home is historically or personally significant emotionally (maybe it has been in the family for generations). The seller is concerned that you properly care for the home. Sit down with the seller and explain that you will honor the home's historical significance. Explain your plan to enhance the historical significance of the dwelling.

Sometimes, the seller got a better offer and decided they'd rather sell to that person. Yes, it's unethical, but it happens. Your legal solutions depend on where you are in the process.

Six Ways A Seller Can Walk Away From A P&S Agreement

If you have a verbal agreement, or the details in the purchase and sale are not met, a seller can walk away at any point. The P&S has legal value and backing out can be complicated. It's something most sellers and buyers want to avoid. Here are six examples of when a seller can walk away before closing:

  1. The contract has not been signed.
  2. A Standard contract provides for a 5-day attorney review period which provides a window for the seller, or buyer, to cancel.
  3. The seller has planted a contingency in the P&S, like a clause stipulating that they must find a replacement home before moving out.
  4. If the buyer doesn't stick to the terms of the agreement.
  5. If a buyer pushes the seller to do repair work that he is unwilling to do.
  6. Any unfortunate incident which turns their life around – like a seller getting sick.

If the deal is not finalized, it's easy for either party to back out. However, once a purchase and sale agreement are signed, backing out can have consequences for the seller.

The Consequences of Backing Out of a Signed Purchase and Sale

There are affects a seller faces when they back out without cause. They open themselves up to both legal and financial consequences.

A seller is subject to legal consequences if they back out of a deal after both parties sign a contract. The ball is in the buyer's court. They have a choice. They can sue to move forward with the transaction or withdraw their offer. Agents may also sue for breach of contract as they are at financial risk of losing their commission.

As a buyer, you have the option of suing for breach of contract. Judges often order the seller to sign over the deed and complete the sale. You can also sue for damages, but most buyers choose to sue for the property.

The seller is also subject to some serious financial consequences. The judge may allow the seller to keep the property, however, the seller will need to adjust the expenses incurred by the buyer during the entire period of house showing and legal work. They must also return any security deposit. The seller often also must pay the buyer's legal fees, along with their own, which could be a harsh penalty.

Create A Comprehensive Purchase and Sale Agreement

The purchase and sale is the contract that bears the details. A well-written purchase and sale contain clauses in clear language as to when a buyer or seller can back out of a sale without legal consequences.

One of the most frequently asked questions is if a seller can back out should they get a better offer from another potential buyer. A purchase and sale agreement protects you. Once an offer has been accepted and a contract signed, a seller can no longer accept another offer. That being said, it could happen, but the truth is that buyers often have more to lose, along with disappointment if a sale falls short because of a seller.

The purchase and sale agreement provides protection to both parties. Few legal options can provide an escape without penalties both legal and financial. A well-written and negotiated purchase and sale can certainly reduce the chances to back out of an agreement.

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...

November
1

Real Estate Myths

If you're planning to buy or sell a home, then you should be prepared to receive loads of advice from family, friends, and neighbors. When it comes to real estate transactions, everyone has their own unique perspective. While advice can be helpful and well-intentioned, it's important to weigh the advice based on experience. The average person is involved in a real estate transaction once every 5 to 7 years while the average Masiello agent manages 11 transactions every year. These uneven experiences have given rise to numerous industry myths.

Click Here to Read More...

November
10

What Is A Section 1031 Exchange, And How Does It Affect Tax Liabilities

Real estate has always been a great way to build wealth. When you buy a property by putting a relatively small amount of money down and obtaining a mortgage, you're leveraging your investment; in other words, you're getting an asset worth significantly more than the money you've invested as a down payment. 

If your home increases in value, you build equity based on the total price of the asset. Another significant benefit of real estate is the tax breaks. When you live in the home, the interest you pay on your mortgage is tax-deductible if you itemize your return. Thanks to the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, another tax break comes in reduced capital gains taxes. For example, when you sell your home, the first $250,000 gains are free from capital gains taxes ($500,000 for married couples). These tax advantages make owning a home a wise investment for many of us and allow us to build wealth relatively tax-free when investing in a residence.

If you're a commercial real estate investor, there is another rule you can also use to defer capital gains on your investment property to build wealth. It's called the 1031 Exchange Rule, and it has many moving parts. Real estate investors must understand the law before attempting to use it, and it can be complicated to follow. An exchange can only be made with like-kind properties. In addition, there are tax implications and time frames that must be strictly followed, or it may be problematic. 

If you're considering using a 1031 Exchange or want to learn more, we're going to help you gain an understanding of this investment benefit in this post.

What Exactly is a Section 1031 Exchange

In simple terms, a 1031 exchange (also known as a like-kind exchange) is a swap of one investment property for another. Although most swaps are taxable as sales, if you meet the requirements of 1031, you'll pay no tax or a limited tax due at the time of the exchange.

In effect, you are changing the "form" of your investment in the eyes of the IRS without cashing out or recognizing a capital gain. This allows you to grow your investment tax-deferred. Because there are no limits as to how many times or how frequently you can use 1031, you can continue to roll your capital gains from one investment property to another, and another, and another.

Even though you may be profiting from each swap, you avoid paying any taxes until you finally cash out many years (or even decades) later. If it works as planned, you'll pay a single tax at the current long-term capital gains rate (currently 15 or 20% depending on your income).

Most exchanges must meet the criteria known as "like-kind." However, this phrase doesn't necessarily mean what the name implies. For example, you can exchange an apartment building for raw land or a ranch for a strip mall. The rules are surprisingly liberal. You can also exchange one business for another. However, there are "traps" of which you need to be aware.

The 1031 rules are for investment and business property, although they can apply for a former primary residence under certain conditions. It's also possible to use the 1031 Exchange for swapping a vacation home, but this loophole has been made much narrower in recent years.

When You Might Want a 1031 Exchange

As a real estate investor, there are several reasons that you may consider using a 1031 exchange. These include:

  • You're looking for a property with better prospects for an ROI, or you might want to diversify your assets.
  • If you own investment real estate, you might be looking for a managed property rather than managing it yourself.
  • You may want to consolidate your holding for estate planning purposes, for example, dividing a single property into several assets.
  • To reset the depreciation clock (more below.)

The main benefit of a 1031 exchange over simply selling one property and buying another is the tax deferral. By deferring capital gains taxes using a 1031 exchange, you're freeing more capital for investment in a replacement property.

Bear in mind that 1031 might require a higher minimum investment and a longer holding time. 1031exchange transactions can be complex and should be handled by professionals.

Understanding Depreciation and Why It's Important

It's essential to understand the concept of depreciation to gain a proper understanding of the benefits of a 1031 exchange.

Depreciation is the percentage of the cost of an investment property written off every year, recognizing the effects of wear and tear. When you sell a property, capital gains taxes are calculated based on the property's net-adjusted basis, which combines the property's original purchase price plus capital improvements, minus depreciation. 

If your property sells for more than its depreciated value, you may need to "recapture" the depreciation. That means the amount of depreciation is included as taxable income when you sell.

Since the size of depreciation increases with time, you might want to consider a 1031 exchange to avoid the significant increase in taxable income that recapture would cause. Depreciation recapture is a factor to account for when considering a 1031 exchange.

The Replacement Property: Timing and Rules

The classic exchange involves a simple swap of one property for another between two people. However, it's long odds to find someone with the exact property you want, who wants the exact property you have. As a result, the majority of exchanges are delayed, three-party exchanges.

In a delayed exchange, you need a qualified intermediary or middleman. He or she will hold the cash after you sell your property and then uses it to purchase the replacement property for you. This is a three-party exchange that is classified and treated as a swap. Here are two essential timing rules you need to follow in a delayed exchange.

The 45-day Rule

This rule relates to the designation of a replacement property. Once a sale occurs, the intermediary receives the cash. Within 45 days of the sale, you must designate the replacement property in writing to the intermediary, specifying the property you wish to acquire. The IRS rule states that you can select three properties as long as you eventually close on one of them. 

The 180-day Rule

The second timing rule you need to be aware of in a delayed exchange relates to closing the replacement property. You must close on the new property within 180 days of the sale of your original property.

One crucial fact to be aware of is that these periods run concurrently. That means the clock starts when you close on the sale of your original property. For example, if you designate a replacement property exactly 45 days after you close, you'll have just 135 days left to close on the replacement.

Tax Implications

While there are plenty of benefits to 1031 exchanges, it's essential to understand potential pitfalls if the transaction isn't handled correctly. For example, you may have cash left over after your intermediary acquires the replacement property. If so, they will pay it to you at the end of the 180 days. This cash is known as "boot," will be taxed as the partial sales proceeds from the sale of your property, typically as a capital gain. 

One way people can get into trouble with this type of transaction is by failing to consider loans. You must consider any mortgage loans or other debts on the replacement property. If you don't receive cash back, but your liability is reduced, that is treated as income to you – just like cash. 

For example, if you were carrying a mortgage of $1 million on your old property, but the mortgage on the replacement property you receive in the exchange is only $900,000, you will have a $100,000 gain. This is classified as "boot," and it will be taxed.

The Bottom Line...

While we've just touched on the highlights of 1031 exchanges, the fact is, 1031 is an intelligent tax-deferral strategy that real estate investors can use to build real wealth. The bottom line is that while using a 1031exchange strategy is a savvy business move, there are many complex moving parts that not only require you to understand the rules. It is important to enlist professional help, even if you're a seasoned real estate investor. 

November
3

Planning to Sell Your Home? Be Aware of the Cost to Sell a House

Selling your home is both time-consuming and expensive, often more than a homeowner might expect. It's easy to get excited when you look at the latest Zestimate and seeing how much more your home is worth than when you bought it. However, if you're considering selling your home, you need to factor the cost to sell a house into your calculations. 

It's important to factor in and be prepared for the hidden and sometimes overlooked cost to sell a house. Some expenses are negotiable, but sellers need to expect to pay the costs of selling their homes. Today we're living through one of the biggest seller's markets in our lifetimes, on average in a typical market, homeowners will spend seven months planning and preparing to sell their home, and three additional months with their home listed, pending, and closing. 

What follows is a breakdown of what a homeowner can expect when determining the cost to sell a house.

The Cost of Selling a House: The Common Expenses

Some expenses are common, and you can expect to pay them when selling a house. Some costs may be hidden or not commonly considered. 

The typical cost to sell a house includes:

  • Agent Commissions- The seller's agent typically charges 5 to 6% of the home's purchase price when the deal is completed. This is likely the highest cost you'll pay, aside from paying off your mortgage. When shopping for an agent, ask them about their commission fee. Some may be willing to negotiate their rates. Make sure you get any agreement in writing. The seller's agent may split their commission with a buyer's agent, but this does not affect you.
  • Taxes and Neighborhood Fees -You'll owe a prorated share of your property taxes when you sell. This amount might be close to zero if you've recently paid your taxes or several thousand dollars if the due date is coming up. In some states, you may also be charged a local transfer tax. This is a fee the seller pays to transfer the title to another person. Depending on the location this tax is typically .01% to 2% of the final sale price.  If you profit more than $250,000 ($500,000 if married) you may also be liable for capital gains taxes unless you can use a 1031 Exchange. You may also be liable to pay a prorated membership fee if your neighborhood has a homeowners association and possibly an HOA transfer fee.
  • Title Insurance for the Buyer - This is protection for the buyer in case there is an issue with the home's ownership. Buyers may also purchase a title policy if they apply for a mortgage, but this policy protects only the lender. In some areas, the seller pays for a separate policy for the new homeowner. The average cost is around $1000.
  • The Mortgage Payoff - Unless you own your home outright when you sell you'll need to pay off your lender. The payoff amount may be different from the balance due listed on your last mortgage statement because of interest charges. You'll want to know the exact payoff amount. If your mortgage has a prepayment penalty, that will be added to the amount due.
  • Home Repairs - Your buyer will most likely order a home inspection before closing. If the inspection finds any issues, you may be asked to pay for any repairs.
  • Moving Costs - Whether you buy and pack your own boxes and rent a truck or hire a moving company, you'll want to budget for your move after the sale is closed.

The Cost of Selling A House: The Optional Costs

Depending on how competitive your local market is, it may make sense to pay for extra services to attract more potential buyers. Many of these are optional, but they can help alert you to potential problems and help make your home stand out from others in the market.

  • Pre-Sale Home Inspection - This one is strictly optional, and it can cost you around $400 or more, but it can be worth it. Some sellers choose to make this investment to find any significant structural or mechanical problems before a potential buyer does.  Getting a pre-sale inspection allows you to make major repairs ahead of time. This removes the possibility of a buyer demanding them or using them as a negotiating tool to lower the price. Discuss this with your real estate agent. Remember, if the inspection reveals material defects, you'll need to repair or possibly disclose them, depending on your state's disclosure rules.
  • Home Staging - It's always a smart move to remove clutter and give your home a good deep clean before listing. Your agent may suggest going a step further and hire a home stager to make your home more appealing. A stager may re-arrange your existing furniture, change your interior design and replace old worn furniture. The typical cost is $500 to $2000.
  • Buyer's Closing Costs - Buyers are typically responsible for mortgage fees, home inspections, and appraisal expenses, which can often add up to be 2% to 5% of the final selling price. If you're in a slow market, or your buyer is on the fence, you can offer to pay some of these closing costs to help seal the deal.

Selling your home can be challenging and exhilarating at the same time. In today's super hot seller's market, it can also be lucrative. If you are planning or considering selling your home, make sure you factor both the typical and potential cost of selling a house into your plan. A REALTOR® can help you to better understand the exact cost of selling your home.

If you're considering selling your home, contact the REALTORS® at Masiello Residential Real Estate. We can help you get the best price for your New England home, can assist you to find the perfect new home to meet your needs, and understand the true cost of selling your home.

October
27

How To Lower Your Costs and Maximize Your Profits When Selling Your House

When selling your house, a primary goal is to make as much money as possible from the sale. Your profits can be rolled into a new house or used to fund another investment; either way, it's worth making an effort to maximize the profit from that final check! 

Making the interior and exterior more appealing, staging, upgrading your home's operating systems, and lowering your costs, are things you can do to make the most profit when selling your house.

Here are some actionable tips to maximize your profits and lower your costs when selling your house!

Eight Tips to Get The Most Profit From Selling Your Home 

Selling your home isn't always a straightforward endeavor. Sometimes for your sale to be a success, you need to take some simple steps and think outside of the box to create demand in creative ways. Here are some common ways to make your home stand out to get the most profit when selling your house.

  1. Research and Understand Your Local Market

Read your local papers, and consult with a local Realtor® to help you navigate the ever-changing real estate market in your community. Finding the right Realtor can help you understand the complexities of your market. 

  1. Improve Your Home's Curb Appeal

First impressions are crucial in real estate. They can leave an indelible mark on prospective buyers. Making significant improvements like replacing worn vinyl siding or installing a new door can boost your home's curb appeal and add to your home's value. 

If costly repairs are outside of your budget, simple improvements can make a difference. Ensure the hedges and trees are trimmed, give exterior accents some fresh paint, and pressure wash the driveway to clean up your home's look for prospective buyers.

  1. Landscaping

A well-landscaped lawn and a clean patio with comfortable garden furniture is a relatively inexpensive improvement that will add to your home's appeal and up your asking price. 

  1. Upgrades to Kitchens and Bathrooms

The kitchen and bathrooms are the most used rooms in the house. They are also the rooms that can help sway buyers when selling your house. Even minor remodeling and upgrades to countertops, cabinets, fixtures, or hardware can make these rooms look new. Upgrading appliances can also increase the value of your home and up its resale price. 

  1. Clear The Clutter

You always want to present your home in its best light. Before you begin showing your home, remove all clutter and clean and organize your rooms. A clean, well-organized space gives a good impression and can make your home look more substantial. Wipe down baseboards, cabinets, and vents to clean the home of dust and dirt.

  1. Upgrade With Smart Home Technology

Advances in Smart Home Tech have made automation and remote-controlled home systems standards in new homes. Smart thermostats, blinds, locks, and safety systems save money, add security, and up your home's saleability. Younger buyers expect this type of technology that can be run and monitored from their smartphones and tablets. 

  1. Price Your Home Accurately

Avoid going too high with your initial asking price in the hopes of getting more than it's worth. Even in a seller's market like today, pricing your home above the fair market price can cause your property to stay on the market much longer. Many professionals recommend pricing your home slightly below market value. This can attract more attention, and multiple offers giving you more negotiating power.

  1. Take Advantage of Digital Marketing

We live in a digital world, and we rely on the Internet for everything today. Take advantage of online marketing opportunities in the real estate industry. Investing in professional photography or a video can up your home's appeal and generate more interest in your property.

Part Two: Reducing The Costs of Selling Your House

The secret to maximizing your profit when selling your home comes in two parts. The first half is taking the steps listed above to prepare your home for sale by putting it in the most presentable condition that you can. Part two of the equation is controlling the costs of selling. 

The first step to controlling costs is to start by understanding where the costs come When you know that, you can then put together a strategy for lowering them. Costs can vary depending on several factors, but in general, you can count on these costs at the time of your sale:

  • Repairs and Staging – Chances are you'll need to do some repairs (beyond those listed above) before you can sell. There are plenty of little issues homeowners put up with that a buyer will not want to deal with. You may need to stage your property for showings, and that can involve anything from painting walls or patching holes to renting furniture and putting yours in storage.
  • Agents Fees – Your agent is going to take 6% of your sales price. Often there are two agents involved in the sale – the seller's agent and the buyer's) and they will each take 3% as a commission. While it might not seem like much, 6% can be painful at the time of closing.
  • Other Closing Costs and Fees – The buyer typically picks the closing company, which means the seller is at the mercy of the closing company for fees. These can include paperwork processing fees, titling fees, and other line items that can add up. Speak with your broker about their fees and what you can expect at closing.

There are some steps you can take to minimize your costs, like:

Use a Flat-Rate Broker

Agent's fees are one of the substantial expenses you'll face when selling your house. They will be taking between 3 and 6% of the sales price, and that's a considerable sum. One option is to look for a flat fee real estate broker. Some companies will provide the services of a traditional agent, but at a flat rate so you can know exactly what you'll pay.

Do Repairs Yourself

Repairs and staging costs can add up quickly. One way to combat these costs is to do the work yourself. You can save thousands by doing any repairs yourself before putting your home on the market. Things like interior painting, cleaning, and minor repairs can be done on your own. 

Negotiate Fees

Many companies present their fees as non-negotiable, but that's rarely the case. Whatever fees you get presented, whether from the closing company, your agent, your lawyer, or the plumber who's doing repair work, don't be afraid to negotiate. 

Understand Your Tax Benefits

Another area that can eat into your profits is your tax responsibilities. Circumstances may vary depending on what you plan to do with the money from your sale. For example, if you use it to purchase another home, you'll face a smaller tax bill. There are several ways to lower your tax liability,  like taking deductions for things like advertising, closing costs, and even your agent's fees. Speak with an accountant to determine what you may be entitled to.

Selling your home can be stressful, challenging, and confusing. With a little work upfront, and with the help and advice of a REALTOR®, you can take proactive steps to minimize your costs, maximize your profits, and make the process run much more smoothly. 

October
20

Learn the Pros and Cons of a Rent-Back Agreement When Selling or Buying a New Home

If you're buying a new home while selling your current one, it's a good idea to get familiar with something called a rent-back agreement. Timing-wise it can require some good luck to get it right if your home sells before you've closed on your new one or even found a place. Without a rent-back agreement, your choices are couch-surfing or paying to stay in a hotel. Either way, you'll have to move twice... and no one wants to do that!

A rent-back agreement gives you, as the seller, a third choice. With a signed rent-back agreement, you will have extra time to live in the home after closing. It essentially gives you the right to become the new buyer's temporary tenants. Most don't last long – there are typically time limits built into the agreement – but it gives sellers a chance to close on their new home, pack up, and arrange for the big move.

For the buyer, offering a rent-back agreement can also provide a couple of serious benefits. For example, in a competitive market, an offer that's flexible on move-out dates can give you, as the buyer, an edge. Plus, the rent the seller will pay can help you recoup those hefty closing costs. 

When it's done right, a rent-back agreement can be a win-win for everyone.That being said, there are a few considerations before you jump in the pool!

What Exactly is a Rent-Back Agreement?

A rent-back agreement is a legally binding agreement made in writing between the seller and the buyer with terms much like a leasing agreement between a landlord and a tenant. However, some issues can get a little tricky, so it's crucial to understand how one works.

Essentially, the seller becomes a tenant in their old home, and the buyer becomes a landlord for the home they are about to possess, possibly with no experience.

The typical rent-back agreement covers the basics in a few areas:

• Terms and Possession

Before closing, all of the details of a rent-back agreement need to be worked out, including how the rent will be paid, what it will cost, and when the seller/tenant will move out. As a buyer, you just can't assume that the seller will agree to anything or behave as you expect just because you bought their home. The rent-back agreement needs to be written up with the same care as the purchase contract. While it is not common, you should make sure you understand the eviction laws where you purchased, just in case the seller decides they're going to stay as long as they can.

• Rent, Security Deposit, and Late Fees

Like any rental agreement, the buyer/landlord can collect a refundable security deposit. Both buyer and seller need to agree to fair market rent. At closing, the buyer pays closing costs, and the seller pays a security deposit and upfront rent. After the close, the buyer gets the keys, and the seller stays in the home. 

• Utilities

The agreement needs to specify which party is responsible for utilities. Usually, sellers will have the utilities switched to the new buyer at the close. However, in a rent-back agreement, it may be in the buyer's best interest to have the seller keep the utilities in their name and continue to pay them.

• Entry Rights

Make sure to cover the right to enter is in the rent-back agreement. If the buyer wants to begin painting or making any changes to the home while the seller is still living there, they will need to give proper notice, typically 24-hours, before entering the home.

• Maintenance

The agreement should also cove who is responsible for maintaining the interior and exterior of the home. Maybe the seller will continue doing the yard work, but if the stove or refrigerator stops working, the seller will call the landlord to get a new one. Specify maintenance to make sure there is an understanding for handling any unforeseen circumstances.

• Insurance

The new owner will have to have insurance coverage as per the lender's requirement – and because they are the new owner. However, the owner's insurance won't cover the tenant's possessions, so your agreement will need to include terms for the tenant to carry renter's insurance. As the buyer, include the right to ask for proof of insurance.

• Inspections

The new owner should walk through the property before the close to note its condition. Take photos to document. Do another walk-through upon taking possession at the end of the seller's rental term to determine any damages that may require compensation which can be taken from the security deposit.

The Pros and Cons of a Rent-Back Agreement

There are positives and negatives both for the buyer and the seller with a rent-back agreement. Here are a few to consider:

For the Seller:

A seller might want to consider a rent-back agreement if there is a significant gap between closing on the sale of their home and the purchase of their new home. In a tight market, getting some additional time to find your dream home can be a lifesaver. While a rent-back agreement is typically short-term – 30 to 60 days, that extra time can often make a big difference. On the downside, while you're still in the property, you need to remember that it isn't yours anymore. Technically, you now have a landlord. That means if you cause any damages, are late with the rent, or vacating the property, you may be liable and held financially responsible. 

For the Buyer:

If you're not in a hurry to move in, a rent-back agreement can be a factor in landing you your dream home. It is a way to make your offer stronger and stand out to the seller. However, there are some factors to consider since you are now technically a landlord. This means that you may be responsible for any repairs, for example, replacing a broken water heater or fixing a broken stove. And you may need to make the repairs immediately. You also need to be concerned that the sellers will move out on time. They rarely drag their feet, but it does happen. If it does, you may need to go through the legal process of having them evicted.

The Bottom Line...

All that being said, when properly and thoughtfully executed, a rent-back agreement can be a win-win situation for both the buyer and seller. Your REALTOR® and attorney can help guide you to create a proper rent-back agreement that is fair and beneficial to both parties. Just make cover all the bases and make sure that the terms of the agreement are very specifically spelled out. 

If you treat this situation like you would any other business relationship you should be ok. Buyers should never let sellers retain possession of the home without a formal occupancy agreement. A well-written agreement will protect both the buyer and the seller. 

October
13

Just Because It's A Seller's Market Doesn't Make It The Right Time To Sell

Before COVID, the housing market was robust as low interest rates and limited supply combined to make it a competitive market. Today, after spending 24 hours a day at home for the better part of a year, many renters have jumped into the market looking to buy, and many existing homeowners have decided they need additional square footage. 

When you add limited inventory and historically low interest rates into the mix, we've entered the hottest seller's market in recent memory, with no end in sight. The Federal Home Mortgage Corporation currently, there are 3.8 million fewer homes than needed in the US.

So that means it must be the perfect time to sell, right? Not necessarily. Believe it or not, it actually might not be the best time to sell your home. 

In this post, we will look at the reasons why a seller's market might not be the best time to sell. We will start by asking and answering a few key questions.

If You Sell, Where Will You Go?

Sure it is a hot seller's market in New England, but the market is hot EVERYWHERE! So if you sell, where will you go? If you do not have a second home or are not relocating for work, are you willing to go through the hassle of finding a place, putting your possessions into storage, and moving into a new situation? 

Some sellers are building rent-back agreements into their marketing – sometimes up to a year after closing. This arrangement can work for some buyers, for example, if they are looking for an investment property to write off of their taxes and have no immediate need to take occupancy. But how many buyers will fit into that mold? Most buyers want to move in immediately, especially if they have been renting.

When You Sell, What Will You Buy?

If you do sell and do not want to rent, you will need to buy another home... in the hottest seller's market in recent memory. Good luck! Depending on what you are planning to buy, it may not be the best time to sell after all. 

On the one hand, it is great to be a seller in this market. However, when you sell you then become a buyer and may find yourself in a tough spot if you can't find what you are looking for. It depends on where you are planning to go and what you plan to buy. 

You need somewhere where your dollar will go farther. Will that be the same market in a different part of the area or the suburbs versus the city? You need to do your due diligence and think through the entire prospect. If you end up moving to another location with an inventory shortage, you could end up overpaying, or worse, may not find anything. 

What About Custom Build – When and How Much Will it Cost?

Some people who cannot find a replacement home may consider building one. But right now, thanks to the pandemic, lumber prices are skyrocketing! The National Association of Home Builders reported that the cost of building a home v increased an average of $35,872, putting custom builds out of the reach of many. Lumber is up 300% over last year, there is a concrete shortage, and builders are in high demand and booked for months in some areas so you may have a bit of a wait!

Even Though It Is A Seller's Market, Can You Get the Best Price?

Even in a seller's market, you should do your due diligence. Find out what neighboring homes and comparables are selling for before you place your home on the market. Are people in your area getting a premium, and if so how does it compare to when you purchased your home? If you wait, you might be able to get even more if you are willing to hold on to it.

Do not skimp on the updates. Presentation is the key to getting the maximum value. Have you done smaller improvements or updates recently? If you don't have someone already booked, it might be challenging because everyone else is updating before selling. Contractors are in high demand.

Even in a seller's market, (or especially in a seller's market), your home still needs to look its best to attain the highest price. You do not want to leave money on the table because you did not fix the kitchen cabinet door. Put a fresh coat of neutral paint, freshen up the bathroom grout, and take care of any details that give your home a "lived-in" look or make it look like it needs work.

A Different Approach – Turn Your Home into an Investment Property

Before you rush out and put your home on the market, consider taking a slightly different approach. Explore the possibility of turning the home you are moving out of into an investment property, and you may see significant benefits.

Low interest rates coupled with double-bottom-line financial benefits you will get from rent payments and appreciation make an investment property an attractive choice. It may make more sense to hold onto your home for a while longer. Consider these three factors driving this market: interest rates, housing supply, and housing demand.

1. Interest Rates

Mortgage interest rates remain near all-time lows, which essentially allows buyers to purchase more homes for the same payment. Rates will likely tick up in the coming years, but no one anticipates a surge. The Fed has said as much

2. Housing Supply

Inventory is at half the level of a year ago. If supply does increase, it will likely take months to be meaningful. Building materials are up as much as 300% over last year, and so are builder's prices. It is unlikely we will see major inventory increases soon.

3. Housing Demand

In terms of demand, there are signals it is pent-up based on the number of homes entering bidding wars that drive prices even higher. When the neighbor's house enters a bidding war, the value of your house goes up as well.

With these three factors being in play, home prices will logically continue to rise. If you sell now, you will almost certainly lose out on the appreciation in value you would see if you hold on to your home.

The good thing about real estate is unlike stocks that change in value day-to-day, real estate values and market shifts generally take months or years to play out. To know when it is time to sell, watch inventory. As inventories fall, prices go up, like today's market. When inventory stops falling or holds steady near a multi-year low, that will be a signal that it is time to sell. Even for a few months beyond the change.

Whatever You Choose, Work With A Real Estate Professional

Whatever you decide to do, whether it is selling into this market or converting your current home into an investment property and renting it out, the best course of action is to work with a professional real estate agent or REALTOR®. They can help you make sense of your options. A REALTOR® can help you market your home to get the maximum return or work with you to find a renter. Then, when it makes sense, they can help you prepare and list your home for maximum return!

Your real estate professional understands the local market and can help you to navigate through the current complexities of this seller's market. If you are looking to maximize your home's value, talk to your local REALTOR®!

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.

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!

September
7

Cleaning Tips Listing a Home

When it's time to sell your home, it's important for your house to create a positive impression with prospective buyers. Our real estate agents recommend thoroughly cleaning your home before listing it to attract homebuyers and help you command the highest asking price.

A messy, cluttered space indicates to buyers that the property hasn't been properly maintained and may be a haven for expensive repairs. Check out this list of cleaning tips to prepare your home to list. 

Click Here to Read More...

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
30

Are There Advantages To An All Cash Offer When Buying or Selling Real Estate?

Part Two of our Three-Part Series On Making an Offer When Buying A Home

When it comes to buying a home, an all-cash offer can be a pretty powerful tactic, especially if there are multiple bids on a piece of property. However, making (or accepting) an all-cash offer is not always a no-brainer, either for the buyer... or the seller.

One big difference between an all-cash offer and a financed offer is that the cash offer can close quicker. As a general rule, while an all-cash offer might seem suspicious, if it's from a valid buyer, it is usually easier, with a lot less red tape.

In this post, we'll look at the pros and cons of the all-cash offer from the perspective of the buyer and the seller.

Defining the All Cash Offer

Recent data from the National Association of Realtors for 2019 found that 12% of all buyers purchased their homes with cash. As the name implies, an all-cash offer means that you have the ability and liquid cash available to purchase the house outright. You don't literally pay with a briefcase full of hundreds, but you'll need access to all of the funds in a liquid account that allows immediate withdrawals or transfers. For most people, that means a checking, savings, or money market account.

An all-cash offer means that you will not be getting a mortgage loan for any portion of the sale. This is important to the seller because it eliminates the financing contingency of the purchase agreement. A seller makes their decisions based on the terms of your offer, including contingencies. An all-cash offer also makes several other contingencies optional. That can be a powerful tool when engaged in a bidding war with multiple buyers. These can include:

• The Appraisal Contingency

Lenders require an appraisal, cash buyers do not. If you're confident you're getting a good price, you can waive the appraisal contingency. 

• The Inspection Contingency

As a cash buyer, an inspection contingency is also optional. However, this is one contingency you might want to keep in your agreement.

• The Sales Contingency

A sales contingency means that your current house must sell before you close on the new property. This is pretty much the opposite of liquidity. While you can include this contingency, it diminishes the attractiveness of an all-cash offer.

The bottom line? An all-cash offer means you have liquid funds available, so you will not need a mortgage loan. You may also waive certain contingencies to make your offer even more attractive to the seller.

The Pros and Cons of an All Cash Offer: For The Buyer

An all-cash offer offers homebuyers some significant advantages. Here are some of the pros and cons of an all-cash offer:

The Pros: 

• Limited Contingences

As previously mentioned, one key benefit of making an all-cash offer is the ability to pick and choose which contingencies to include. Not only will this save money, but in a competitive market, this is very desirable to most sellers.

• Less Hassle, Lower Fees

All cash offers are also good for the homebuyer because you do not have the hassle of dealing with a lender. That means no need to gather paperwork like tax returns, income statements, proof of employment, credit scores, or asset lists. You will also save on closing costs associated with getting a mortgage loan.

• Streamlined Closing

As a buyer, an all-cash offer gives you more control over the closing timeline. This means you can close faster because you are not waiting for bank approvals. This can be significant for sellers who need to move quickly.

• Possible Pricing Benefits

As mentioned, sellers are often attracted to an all-cash offer because of fewer contingencies, fewer hassles, and a faster timeline. As a result, you may be able to make a lower offer and have it accepted, even in a multi-offer situation. An all-cash offer can give you leverage to negotiate a better price that can mean savings and increased equity right from closing!

The Cons:

There are some drawbacks to making an all-cash offer. You need to consider all of the positives and negatives before you commit to any deal. Here are some negatives to be aware of.

• Loss of Liquidity

This should be a top consideration before making an all-cash offer. Real estate is a non-liquid asset which means it can be challenging to get cash out when you need it. 

• Loss of Diversification

If you place much of your liquidity into a home purchase, you may lose out on potentially larger gains that could be realized elsewhere. Real estate typically earns around 2 or 3% annually. 

• Tax Implications

If you itemize deductions, mortgage loan interest is tax-deductible on your federal income taxes. Without a mortgage loan, you lose that deduction.

• Less Free Cash for Homeownership

Owning a home requires more money than the purchase price. You still need to budget for closing costs, any renovations, and general maintenance and upkeep. Make sure you have enough money to cover taxes, repairs, and other items.

The Pros and Cons of an All Cash Offer: The Seller

As with buyers, there are pros and cons for sellers when an all-cash offer is made for your property. Several situations encourage an all-cash offer. In recent years a new phenomenon has emerged: direct homebuying online. Companies like Open Door, Redfin, and most recently Zillow are buying homes directly from sellers.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of an all-cash offer as the seller.

The Pros:

  • It's FAST

The traditional route of using an agent and listing on the MLS, or going "FSBO" offers no guarantee your home will sell. Assuming you've priced it right, it should sell, but it can take months to get the deal you're looking for. Realtor.com data suggests that it takes about 65 days to sell (which can vary widely by location). Once under contract, escrow can last 30 to 60 days, or longer. That being said, if you need money fast, going the traditional route has drawbacks. Online direct homebuying, for example, can get you an offer in a fraction of the time.

• No Repairs

If you're in a hurry or don't have cash on hand, the idea of repairs that might be needed to maximize your home's value may not be doable. Cash sales are typical "as-is." You'll still need to disclose defects, but if your home needs repairs, and you're not in a position to do them, an all-cash offer may be the way to go.

• Fewer Contingencies

This was also a pro for the buyer. A traditional sale often comes with a list of contingencies. If it's a buyer's market (not applicable right now!) your buyer might even request a home sale contingency which can drag out your sale for months.

The Cons:

While it seems like there are a few great benefits of receiving and accepting an all-cash offer, there are a couple of drawbacks to be aware of:

• Less Money / Lower Offers

This is the big one! If you're looking for top dollar for your home, then an all-cash offer will often disappoint. In a seller's market, like today, an all-cash offer is a good tactic for a buyer to win a bidding war if you're selling to an individual who is looking to live in the home. However, investors are buying homes to resell them. They will offer less if they are coming to you with an all-cash offer. If you're selling to a company like Zillow they may offer less and give you great terms like a 10-day close and no contingencies. It depends on your situation as to whether it's a good deal.

• Make Sure The Money is "Real"

If you're dealing with a reputable company like Zillow or Redfin, or a REALTOR® or agent who has vetted their client this isn't a concern. However, if you received a "We Pay Cash" postcard in the mail, make sure they have the cash they're offering. Ask to see a bank statement or "proof of funds" letter. In these types of deals, since all-cash offers often have a short escrow (sometimes as short as 7 to 10 days) you may want to negotiate a lease-back so you don't have to rush into a move. This is a smart tactic. In the event the deal falls apart, you'll have fewer worries.

The Bottom Line On An All Cash Offer

The all-cash offer brings with it both benefits and drawbacks for both buyers making the offer and sellers who accept it. The bottom line is that for buyers, the all-cash offer is an interesting tactic in a hot market that can help make them stand out from among the crowd in the event of multiple offers on a property. There are some considerations including contingencies and closing dates you'll need to think through.

For the seller, the all-cash offer can mean a quick close and fewer hassles, but unless it's a seller's market, it's likely to be below the market value of your home. But it is fast and convenient. In the end, whether you're the buyer or the seller, you need to consider all of your options including which factors are most important to you in your unique situation.

If you missed part one of this three part series on Making an Offer when Buying a Home, here is the link to part one: https://www.masiello.com/news-and-updates/2021/06/16/the-logistics-of-a-seller-backing-out-of-a-purchase-and-sale

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
19

Listing and Marketing Your Home 

Until this point, your REALTOR® has been researching, preparing, and compiling information and documentation to ensure that selling your home is a successful project that delivers a maximum return. Now it's time to take the process of selling your home further and actually place your home on the market and list it on the Multiple Listing Service.

This is where working with a REALTOR® really pays off. Your REALTOR® Even before your home is listed on the MLS, your REALTOR® and their team have already performed dozens of actions to prepare your listing to this point. These actions reflect the level of skill, knowledge, and attention to detail required for successfully selling your home and underscore the importance of having help and guidance from someone who completely understands the entire process.

In this selling your home post, we will take a look at the specific steps required for selling your home. From entering your home in the MLS Database to how your realtor will design a marketing strategy to build interest in your property, drive traffic to your online presence, and generate serious offers for your home.

Selling Your Home: Listing on the MLS Database

Once your REALTOR® has taken care of all the previous steps and tasks and gathered the proper documentation for the property file and property listing file, they will review everything with you. This includes their Curb Appeal Assessment and Interior Decor Assessment. They will provide you with their recommendations for selling your home, including preparing and staging your house. They will then list your home in the Multiple Listing Service Database. This process includes:

  • Preparing the MLS Profile Sheet – your Agent is responsible for "quality control" and the accuracy of the listing data.
  • They will then enter the property data from the Profile Sheet into the MLS database and proofread the listing for accuracy, including ensuring your property is properly placed in the mapping function.
  • They will arrange to take any additional photos for upload into the MLS, or to use in flyers and other marketing materials. They will use this opportunity to discuss the efficacy of panoramic photography and video listings.
  • Finally, they will add your property to the company's Active Listings and provide you with signed copies of the Listing Agreement and MLS Profile Sheet Data Form within 48 hours of listing your home.

Selling Your Home: Marketing Your Property 

Once your home is listed on the MLS database, this is when the real work begins. Your REALTOR® is a marketing expert when it comes to selling property. A well-planned and executed marketing strategy is the key to attracting attention and interest for your listing. A poorly executed marketing plan can result in your home languishing on the market with little interest, little traffic, and no offers. 

Your REALTOR® understands the market and has proven marketing strategies and processes that they will customize for your home. They will have already performed a detailed market analysis to determine the proper price for your home, and they will now prepare marketing materials to get the word out. Your marketing plan will include both digital and traditional components, and your REALTOR® will take the following steps:

  • They will create print and Internet ads with your input.
  • Prepare a property marketing brochure for your review.
  • Prepare mailing and contact lists 
  • Prepare flyers and feedback faxes
  • Generate mail-merge letters to the contact list.
  • Mail out a "Just Listed" notice to all neighborhood residents.
  • Arrange for printing or copying a supply of marketing brochures or flyers and delivering them directly to agent mailboxes.
  • Reprint / Supply brochures promptly as needed.

Once they have prepared your home's marketing materials, they will next begin to distribute them through their company's networks, social media platforms, and company website and notify other agents. Your REALTOR® will take steps that include:

  • Your REALTOR® will upload your listing to the company and agent's Internet site, if applicable
  • Advise Network Referral Program of the listing.
  • Submit Ads to the company's participating Internet Real Estate sites.
  • Provide "Special-Feature" cards for marketing. 
  • They will provide marketing data to buyers coming through international relocation networks.
  • They will also provide marketing data to buyers coming from referral networks.

Along with preparing and distributing materials, your REALTOR will place ads and maintain your home's Internet marketing strategy. As your property generates interest, they will continuously manage the marketing plan and monitor the results. Managing your campaign includes:

  • Coordinating showings with owners, tenants, and other REALTORS®. They will return all calls and emails – weekends included.
  • They will install an electronic lockbox with your approval and program it with agreed-upon showing times.
  • They will regularly monitor and review comparable MLS listings to ensure your property remains competitive in price, terms, conditions, and availability.
  • Your agent will convey price changes to all Internet groups and promptly enter any price adjustments into the MLS database. 
  • Review and update loan information in the MLS as required.
  • Your team will also review the weekly Market Study to stay abreast of any broader market changes.
  • They will maintain contact with buyer's agents sending feedback emails/faxes to them after showings.

Your REALTOR will keep you abreast of any and all developments. They will place regular weekly calls to you to discuss marketing and pricing. They will discuss feedback from showing agents to determine if changes will accelerate the process of selling your home.

Ultimately, your home's marketing plan will drive traffic, increase showings and spark interest in your property. All of this effort will generally lead to an offer, or in this current market, multiple offers which your REALTOR® will present to you.

In our next selling your home blog post, we're going to look at the steps your REALTOR® will take when offers are submitted and your home is placed under contract.

May
17

Staging Your Home

In a seller's market, such as we have today, sellers might feel like they can skip some steps before listing their home. After all, sellers are getting their asking prices, aren't they? But is that the only thing to consider? Our real estate agents know staging your home is important in any real estate market. Here's why. 

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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
6

What It Means To Be in a Sellers' Market

What It Means To Be in a Sellers' Market | MyKCM

If you've given even a casual thought to selling your house in the near future, this is the time to really think seriously about making a move. Here's why this season is the ultimate sellers' market and the optimal time to make sure your house is available for buyers who are looking for homes to purchase.

The latest Existing Home Sales Report from The National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the inventory of houses for sale is still astonishingly low, sitting at just a 2-month supply at the current sales pace.

Historically, a 6-month supply is necessary for a 'normal' or 'neutral' market in which there are enough homes available for active buyers (See graph below):What It Means To Be in a Sellers' Market | MyKCMWhen the supply of houses for sale is as low as it is right now, it's much harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. As a result, competition among purchasers rises and more bidding wars take place, making it essential for buyers to submit very attractive offers.

As this happens, home prices rise and sellers are in the best position to negotiate deals that meet their ideal terms. If you put your house on the market while so few homes are available to buy, it will likely get a lot of attention from hopeful buyers.

Today, there are many buyers who are ready, willing, and able to purchase a home. Low mortgage rates and a year filled with unique changes have prompted buyers to think differently about where they live – and they're taking action. The supply of homes for sale is not keeping up with this high demand, making now the optimal time to sell your house.

Bottom Line

Home prices are appreciating in today's sellers' market. Making your home available over the coming weeks will give you the most exposure to buyers who will actively compete against each other to purchase it.

 


Ready to get started?

Start by learning what your home is worth in this market by clicking here: https://www.masiello.com/my-home-value

March
9

Home Listing Tips

If you plan to put your home on the market, it's better to start your preparations sooner rather than later. Our real estate agents find that homeowners who complete home repairs and maintenance tasks are more likely to produce spaces that appeal to potential buyers. Follow this checklist if you plan to list your home this spring. 

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January
25

Clean Home Tips

Many of us are still spending more time than usual at home, which may continue for a while. If you're finding you've got time for extra cleaning projects, try to make the most of it and let your home's natural sparkle come out. Our real estate agents can always recommend cleaning tasks that homeowners may overlook when preparing a home for the market.

Here are some tips for enhanced cleaning in your home.

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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
9

With all of the economic chaos that is 2020, real estate has remained a bright spot.

There are 4 major economic factors affecting home prices:

  • Unusually high buyer demand

  • Historically low interest rates

  • Near-historic low inventory

  • Extra high buyer demand due to a major resettlement to northern New England of work-from-home buyers looking to move out of the major urban centers like Boston, New York City, metropolitan Connecticut & New Jersey.

As a home seller, you can take advantage of the market and, essentially, get a premium price for your home.


But here's the catch: you then have to become a buyer in the same market of low inventory & high demand.

This is the exact reason to engage a Better Homes & Gardens, The Masiello Group REALTOR. We recommend consulting with a Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate The Masiello Group REALTOR to determine these 3 parameters to help hand-craft a solution for you:

  1. The current market value expectation for your home in today's market.

  2. Your ideal next home, moving time frame and other unique conditions that may exist in your world (think: specific home needs, locations, retirement schedule, children's school schedules to name a few)

  3. Your purchasing power in the market based on the current low rates. (Your Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate The Masiello Group REALTOR can connect you with our Great East Mortgage Partner to confidentially determine your new home price range).

Next, your Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate The Masiello Group REALTOR can approach other home owners with properties like the ones that best fit your ideal new one. These will likely be other owners who, like you, are not currently on the market but would move if they could find a home. See how the chain can work?

At BHGRE The Masiello Group, our agents have 2 important tools in our internal website to make this work for you:

  • The "Haves & Wants" function

  • Our Reverse Prospecting tool

The Haves & Wants System is like a bulletin board for our agents to share info on people, like you, that are looking for something that is not yet on the market as well as sellers who would sell if they could buy.

Our Reverse Prospecting Tool matches information about registered users on our website to each other. For example, a potential seller in Portsmouth, NH looking to buy in York, ME gets matched to a buyer in Portsmouth, NH.

While technology provides many answers, only an experienced Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate The Masiello Group REALTOR can apply their market knowledge, street wisdom and technology to your unique situation.

 


Reach out today and let's explore what this market could do for you & your family.

Click here to contact our expert agents.

August
17

Reasons to List Your Home

The real estate industry is changing fast. There are many challenges, but our REALTORS® are excited about the opportunities. Sellers just like you around our community are finding out something surprising: Now is a terrific time to list your home for sale.

Yes! If you were waiting for a better market before you list, now's the time.

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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. 

July
6

Budget Friendly Kitchen Upgrades

Is your kitchen looking a bit worn and outdated? One thing our real estate agents have learned in our many years buying and selling homes in Northern New England is that the kitchen is the most important room in the home. Here's how you can update yours on a budget. 

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May
8

Every day that passes, people have a need to buy and sell homes. That doesn't stop during the current pandemic. If you've had a major life change recently, whether with your job or your family situation, you may be in a position where you need to sell your home – and fast. While you probably feel like timing with the current pandemic isn't on your side, making a move is still possible. Rest assured, with technology at your side and fewer sellers on the market in most areas, you can list your house and make it happen safely and effectively, especially when following the current COVID-19 guidelines set forth by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

You may have a new baby, a new employment situation, a parent who moved in with you, you just built a home that's finally ready to move into, or some other major part of your life that has changed in recent weeks. Buyers have those needs too, so rest assured that someone is likely looking for a home just like yours.

According to the NAR Flash Survey: Economic Pulse taken April 5 – 6, real estate agents indicate, not surprisingly, that there's a noticeable decline in current homebuyer interest. That said, 10% of agents said in the same survey that they saw no change or even an increase in buyer activity. So, while buyer interest is low compared to normal spring markets, there are still buyers in the market. Don't forget, you only need one buyer – the right one for your home.

Here's the other thing – people are spending a lot of time on the Internet right now, given the stay-at-home orders implemented across the country. Buyers are actively looking at homes for sale online. Some of them are reaching out to real estate professionals for virtual tours and getting ready to make offers too. Homes are being sold in many markets.

There Is Less Competition Right Now

The same survey indicates that 56% of NAR members said sellers are removing their homes from the market right now. This can definitely work in your favor. If other sellers are removing their listings, your home has a better chance of rising to the top of a buyer's search list and being seen. Keep in mind, listings will pick up again soon, as 57% of the respondents note that sellers are only planning to delay the process by a couple of months. If you need to sell right now, don't wait for the competition to get back into the market again.

This year, delayed listings from the typically busy spring season will push into the summer months, so more competition will be coming to the market as the pandemic passes. Getting ahead of that wave now might be your biggest opportunity.

Your Trusted Real Estate Advisor Can Help

Real estate agents are working hard every single day under untraditional circumstances, utilizing technology to help both buyers and sellers who need to continue with their plans. We're using virtual tours to show homes currently on the market, staying connected with the buyers and sellers through video chats, and leveraging resources to complete transactions electronically. We're making sure the families we support remain safe and can keep their real estate needs on track, especially as life is changing so rapidly.

Bottom Line

Homes are still being bought and sold in the midst of this pandemic. If you need to sell your house and would like to know the current status in your local market, contact our expert real estate professionals to create a safe and effective plan that works for you and your family.

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.

    Click Here to Read More...

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.

    Click Here to Read More...

April
16

Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

With all of the unanswered questions caused by COVID-19 and the economic slowdown we're experiencing across the country today, many are asking if the housing market is in trouble. For those who remember 2008, it's logical to ask that question.

Many of us experienced financial hardships, lost homes, and were out of work during the Great Recession – the recession that started with a housing and mortgage crisis. Today, we face a very different challenge: an external health crisis that has caused a pause in much of the economy and a major shutdown of many parts of the country.

Let's look at five things we know about today's housing market that were different in 2008.

1. Appreciation

When we look at appreciation in the visual below, there's a big difference between the 6 years prior to the housing crash and the most recent 6-year period of time. Leading up to the crash, we had much higher appreciation in this country than we see today. In fact, the highest level of appreciation most recently is below the lowest level we saw leading up to the crash. Prices have been rising lately, but not at the rate they were climbing back when we had runaway appreciation.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

2. Mortgage Credit

The Mortgage Credit Availability Index is a monthly measure by the Mortgage Bankers Association that gauges the level of difficulty to secure a loan. The higher the index, the easier it is to get a loan; the lower the index, the harder. Today we're nowhere near the levels seen before the housing crash when it was very easy to get approved for a mortgage. After the crash, however, lending standards tightened and have remained that way leading up to today.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

3. Number of Homes for Sale

One of the causes of the housing crash in 2008 was an oversupply of homes for sale. Today, as shown in the next image, we see a much different picture. We don't have enough homes on the market for the number of people who want to buy them. Across the country, we have less than 6 months of inventory, an undersupply of homes available for interested buyers.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

4. Use of Home Equity

The chart below shows the difference in how people are accessing the equity in their homes today as compared to 2008. In 2008, consumers were harvesting equity from their homes (through cash-out refinances) and using it to finance their lifestyles. Today, consumers are treating the equity in their homes much more cautiously.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

5. Home Equity Today

Today, 53.8% of homes across the country have at least 50% equity. In 2008, homeowners walked away when they owed more than what their homes were worth. With the equity homeowners have now, they're much less likely to walk away from their homes.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

Bottom Line

The COVID-19 crisis is causing different challenges across the country than the ones we faced in 2008. Back then, we had a housing crisis; today, we face a health crisis. What we know now is that housing is in a much stronger position today than it was in 2008. It is no longer the center of the economic slowdown. Rather, it could be just what helps pull us out of the downturn.

 


We encourage you to reach out to our expert agents to discuss your unique buying or selling situation. We're here for you!

January
6

Staging for Real Estate Photos

Although it might be a cliche, there's truth to the old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." This is particularly true when you're trying to sell your home. The truth is, most potential home buyers start their search online and will decide whether they're interested in your house before they even see it in person. That's why our real estate agents always stress the importance of staging your home the right way. 

Not only will great staging make your home stand out from the sea of other houses online, but it will also make the interior warm and inviting when potential buyers do decide to visit. While staging a home is fairly straight-forward, it's important to understand the basic principles, especially before you get your real estate photos done. Follow these tips, and you'll be off to a great start. 

  1. Clean Up the Outside
    The front of your home creates the first impression, so it's important to make it look as inviting and well-cared for as possible. Plus, more than likely this will be the first photo potential buyers see online. Prepare this space by removing your vehicles from the driveway so potential buyers can get a good view of the house and the parking area.

    Also, make sure you remove garbage cans from the front of the home and put away bicycles, toys, and lawn tools. Finally, make sure to mow the lawn, edge sidewalks, and walkways, and sweep up lawn clippings.  

    Click Here to Read More...

December
6

Get in the Zone…Well, Safety Zone comes to mind if you are in the middle of a mess, but we're talking about creating zones in your home that create a feeling and a purpose to every space you live in.

New to staging? No problem! Here are a few quick tips to get your started!

Dive in to a Deep Clean

"Remember staging your space is putting your home's best foot forward so that you can reap the benefits", explains Interior Designer, Erika Gaudreau.

The first step isn't fun, but it's a must! Dig in to a deep, deep clean (if you haven't already read our first three blogs in our "Clean Up Series", check it out for some key clutter busting tips). We're talking power washing the outside, clean all inside surfaces, scrubbing grout, cleaning windows, steaming carpets and all. It's worth hiring a pro, if necessary.

Staging can be as Easy as Moving Furniture!

The three most important rooms to focus on are the living room, master bedroom and kitchen. Taking these spaces to the next level could be just a matter of moving the furniture you already have, getting rid of extra pieces or renting what you need to create a space that will sell buyers – literally!

Create More Space

Place living room furniture away from the walls (this creates the illusion of more space, we promise) and bring it all together with a beautiful area rug. Make the space into an area where you can envision family and friends sitting and hanging out comfortably together.

Focus on a Focal Point

Highlight one area or unique feature in each room. Just one. Work with the furniture you have and strategically place everything to highlight the positive. Place pieces across from new, bright windows to show off the natural light or an out of this world view. Does your living room have a fire place? Face furniture towards the hearth – it will draw wondering eyes to what you want them to see!

Out with the Old…

Say Goodbye to the couches you've owned for 12 years. Worn furniture gives the impression that the home is not well kept. While you're at it, oversized furniture can go too. You want to create more space, don't take up your entire room with a giant couch. This rule goes for any lamps, tables and odds and ends that are not being used. Throw additional items in storage or get rid of them for good (who wants to move unused items anyway).

…In with the New

Rent or buy furniture to enhance what you have!

Extra room or finished basement? Purchase, borrow or rent an inexpensive bed, nightstands and bureau. Voila! You have a guest bedroom! Dress the bed with a big, soft, gender-neutral comforter and add some decorative pillows and a cozy throw.

If you're wanting your living room space to feel casual, opt for a new sectional sofa and a cozy recliner. Going for formal? Two matching sofas or beautiful sofa and two classy arm chairs across from each other with an elegant coffee table placed in the middle will do the trick. 

One Word: Nostalgia

What are your favorite things about where you live? Do you have bike trails? Do you have a bay window that overlooks a gorgeous garden or body of water? You want home owners to feel an emotional connection to your home and all that it offers (beyond the space), after all, they'll want to create their future memories there! 

"I bought a $200 vertical bike rack when we listed our home in Boston just so people could imagine commuting into the city or grabbing the bike for a ride along the Charles. You're creating an environment people can see themselves in" suggests Gaudreau.

Just like adding a bike rack, highlight that bay window by keeping the curtains and shades wide open, add lots of pillows, a book or two and a beautiful blanket. Make memories for the house hunters they haven't even thought of yet.

Ready to get rearranging? Staging can be a lot to take on, but remember, it can also mean less time on the market and more money in your pockets. Cha-ching!

 

December
9

Winter Curb Appeal

When winter arrives, it's time to put away warm-weather clothing, boats, and other summer items. But when it comes to New England homes for sale, there's no offseason.

According to Money.com, average home sales net a higher amount above asking price during December through March, even in cold-weather areas. Make your home stand out above the competition with these tips from our REALTORS® to boost winter curb appeal. 

  1. Clear the Snow
    This is the top winter yard care rule for two reasons. In addition to making a home look untended, snowy walkways are a hazard to family, visitors, and potential buyers. Be sure to clear the driveway as well.

  2. Organize the Garage
    While it's not visible from outside, a messy and cluttered garage is an immediate turn-off to buyers. Today's garages often multi-task as vehicle shelters, storage and workrooms, so it pays to make yours look as spacious and organized as possible.

    Click Here to Read More...

November
21

Clear out clutter for GOOD

If you're anything like the typical couple or family getting ready to sell your home, hiding clutter is your idea of cleaning before a home showing. We know – throwing some clutter in a few bins and storage solutions is a go-to quick fix for emergencies (see our first post in this Clean Up series), but cleaning up and getting rid of the stuff you are just shuffling from spot to spot is key – especially if you're getting ready to move!   

  • Marie Kondo your home. Yep, I said it. Does it bring you joy? Nope? Say goodbye. There is no need to keep items that are just taking up space. Having trouble parting with items? Decide where you can donate them. A children's home? Homeless shelter? Local school/community center? Donating items will help you part with them a little easier.

  • And just like our friend Marie Kondo would say…tidying starts with your closets! Empty each closet out and create piles to "Keep", "Donate", "Throw Away".

"My rule on clothes? If you haven't wore it in a year, get rid of it!" says Erika Gaudreau, Real Estate Agent/Interior Designer.

  • Don't forget the coat closet! How many coats do you actually wear? Lots of Coat Drives take place before winter weather sets in. Donate your unused winter coats to someone who needs it.

  • Set aside items that are in re-sellable shape in a bin or portable closet. Price these items as you go through them. Host a yard sale and make some extra cash to use towards something you need in your new house!

  • Do you hoard cleaning rags, drop cloths or towels? As you fold your laundry, have a trash basket nearby, anything in less than great shape – toss! Including most of your cleaning rags. Less to pack up! Plus, you may want new towels to match the new décor in your new home! How many times can we say "new"?

  • Remember to clear out the pantry too!

"That panini grill you got as a wedding gift that's still in the box? Toss it. No one will know" Gaudreau continues, "unused items just take up usable space."

Discard any small appliances collecting dust, outdated food items, opened spices, sauces, flour, etc. that have been sitting on the shelves longer than you can remember!  Plus, home buyers will want to SEE your pantry, so, be sure it is organized and not stuffed to the brim.

So, how do you KEEP it all CLEAN for GOOD?

Part of the stress of selling a home is keeping the home you're living in clean – consistently.

  • Set a timer for 10 minutes and spend that amount of time picking up/cleaning one room. It can be one room a day, or 10 minutes per each room a day.

  • Sort mail and paperwork the second it gets in your pretty little hands. Stand by the recycle bin and toss junk mail and unwanted papers before you even enter your home. Pay and file away bills/invoices and other important paperwork in labeled file folders. Store folders in a file cabinet or drawer for safekeeping that's out of sight.

  • Have designated spaces for everything, and make sure that place makes sense. Coffee mugs should be in a cabinet or shelf by the coffee maker, chargers should have a home at a charging station on your desk. Important paperwork should be kept in labeled folders in a file cabinet. Cooking utensils, pot holders and recipes should be near the oven and easy to grab, quickly. Toys and children's books should be all in the playroom or a designated play space. See where we are going with this?

Cleaning is CONSTANT.

As you may have guessed, decluttering is more than a one-time deal. It's something you have to keep up with in order to keep things in order. When the entire family is home, set aside time to all focus on cleaning up. Give each person a specific job before they enjoy free time…grown-ups included! Albert Einstein once said; "Out of clutter, find simplicity." 
Decluttering will give you the peace of mind you never knew you needed. So, as you prepare to pack and move into a new space, really dig in and dig out of the mess that may be holding you back! Moving won't seem like a huge hurdle when you have fewer things to pack - and unpack!

November
14

ultimate challenge

You've Cleared all the Clutter... now All Hands-on Deck! Parents, get kids in on the clean up before moving out!

Promise, they can help (after they have a meltdown because you asked them to do something other than play Minecraft)! Getting kids involved in your family's home-selling plan gives them some control and makes them feel they are part of the process. It is important to keep rooms, especially bedrooms, picked up before you have an Open House or home showing because we all know; less clutter shows off your space and most buyers are looking for bigger and better! If potential new homeowners see objects scattered around, taking up desks, counters, etc. they will assume the home is too small or it doesn't offer enough storage options. Not to mention, they can't visualize their family's stuff in the home either! So, get your cleaning crew (this is your family, by the way) ready! Here are 5 tips to get your kids to help clean up – quickly!  

  1. Everything's a game! Have them tackle the' playroom (or wherever toys are hanging out). Ask those angels to clean up the red toys first, then blue, etc. Another way to make clean up less overwhelming is to separate toys by type too – blocks, vehicles, balls, the list goes on! Have them pick up one grouping at a time.

  2. Music Maestro! Put on their favorite tunes and tell them the person who picks up the most toys by the end of the song, WINS! Or – just enjoy a dance party while picking up! Music makes every chore fly by.

  3. Everything has a home…Ask them to put scrap paper, markers, dolls all in designated bins and place books back in the bookshelf. Use pictures to show what belongs in each bin or bag so small children can easily help put them away. If you have specific spots for everything, clean-up is easier – and faster!

  4. Are kids hesitant to help? Tell them anything left on the floor after the 10-minute timer blares will be whisked away and donated to a child who will take better care of their toys. Having a big ol' trash bag in your hands really helps get the point across!

  5. Say "Goodbye"! Next time the kids clean up, ask them to set aside toys they feel they have outgrown or they don't play with anymore. Have the kids decide where they would like to donate their toys and have them tag along with you to help bring the bags of goodies to a children's home or shelter. Some fire stations accept gently used stuffed animals to help comfort kids in crisis too! Getting rid of the extra toys and unused games now before you start packing, will make your move a lot easier!

In general, after playing with toys or games, always clean up before moving on to the next activity. Practice this every time they play so the expectation of picking up is always there. This will become a habit and not a chore…and it will be super helpful when it comes to keeping your new home tidy!

Now that the kids are on board, check out the next post in our cleaning series, Clearing out Clutter for GOOD.

November
7

Clean up Clutter - fast!

Owning a home and having people live in it are two completely different things, right? If you're like most people, panic sets in when a friend suddenly decides they'll stop by in an hour…even worse…if your home for sale and you have a last-minute showing (Yay for potential buyers, though!). You are well aware that a day wouldn't be long enough to clean up the clutter scattered throughout the floors let alone a measly hour, so now what? Before you tackle what seems to be an impossible task, here are some tips that will have you on the fast track to a tidy home (even if you have to fake it).

SURPRISE! Your house needs to be picked up…NOW!

No one knows the stress to impress like home-sellers! For a surprise last-minute house showing with potential buyers (or any unexpected visitor) you just can't say "no" to, here are a few tools and tricks that will help you hide away clutter before guests knock on the door! 

  • Invest in hide-away furniture! I am not talking about a hide-away bed, either! Storage ottomans are a man and women's best friend. Throw toys, blankets, etc. in there to hide clutter FAST!

  • Baskets, baskets EVERYWHERE! Keep baskets on your steps and label one for each family member (including your spouse). Collect their clutter and toss the person's items in their respective baskets. Each family member needs to bring their basket up to their rooms and put the items where they belong. Move it, people!

  • Speaking of baskets, baskets and bookshelves offer the perfect combo to put away small items in a hurry. Invest in pretty, coordinating baskets and use them to store (eh hem - hide) small toys, board games, remotes, Legos (ugh, the LEGOS), magazines – the list goes on. Keep things looking neat by adding colorful cubes with chalkboard labels for quick reference! This not only will look great when you are showing your home to sell but baskets with covers (or stackable containers) are easily portable when it comes to moving day!

  • Behind closed doors…Armoires are great in the bedroom, but this statement piece can work as a beautiful piece of storage furniture too! You can just shove items on the shelves and CLOSE the DOORS (thank you, doors)! Keep one in the kitchen to store bowls, glasses, towels, etc. especially if cabinet space is limited. The living room is a great spot for this piece of furniture too! This large, glorified cabinet can store family games, cards, books, even extra sheets and pillows for guests. Clear, stackable bins that fit on the shelves work great for keeping things in their place and finding them quickly too!

  • Hiding spot = CHECK! If you're lucky enough to have a few good closets, keep a large storage bin in each one – if there are items or a few things scattered on the floor that need a hiding spot, fast – toss them in the bin until you have time to find a home for it all. Warning! When selling your home, potential buyers peek in the closets (guilty as charged), so keep them as neat looking as you can! The neater they are, the larger they look which is a turn-on for your next homeowners!

  • Keep small decorative laundry baskets in each bedroom. This will help keep clothes off the floor, hopefully, and help keep laundry separated for the designated launderer. Plus, if you are showing your home, do you really want future homeowners or renters to see your unmentionables scattered about?

  • If a miracle happens and you have extra time, run the vacuum (after all, everything is finally off the floor). A quick once over on the wood floors and carpets brightens up the place!

Take a second and catch your breath. Now that you've rested (that was fast, right?), you must find some energy to really clean and organize your home - for good - at some point. Sorry to burst your bubble! Cleaning up comes with moving out. You don't want to pack up anything that will sit in storage and collect dust. 

May the odds be forever in your favor.

Before you tackle the bigger project at hand, check out the next post in our series, The Ultimate Challenge: Cleaning with Kids!

November
11

Staging During the Holidays

The holiday season is a wonderful time of the year. If you're like many homeowners, you look forward to adorning your home inside and out with stunning decorations, dazzling lights, and holiday cheer. However, when you're hoping to sell your home during the holiday season you may run into a bit of a problem — how do you decorate your home?

In December, New England turns into a winter wonderland, and it's expected that home sellers will want to decorate their house before they wave goodbye. Our REALTORS® understand that you want to make the best decisions for your property while still enjoying the last few weeks in your home. We've gathered together these tips on staging your home for sale during the holidays so you can celebrate the holiday season while still properly presenting your home.

  • Focus On Everyday Presentation
    November through January is quite a whirlwind for many families. However, you still need to prioritize your home's presentation regardless of the holiday season. You interior needs to look and smell clean while your exterior should be tidied up as well as possible. Remember, potential buyers will look at every detail of your home.

  • Minimize Religious Décor
    While it is common to see many examples of religious decorations throughout New England homes, we caution our home sellers to avoid displaying these pieces. We never want to offend any potential buyers or their beliefs which is why we insist that you respectfully keep religious decorations stored.

  • Use Seasonal Décor Instead
    Even though you need to store your religious décor, you can still happily decorate with seasonal pieces. Nature-inspired decorations or those which symbolize the winter or harvest season are safer ways to jazz up your home in a neutral way.

  • Consider Coziness Over Clutter
    Close your eyes and think of the winter season — there's a good chance that nights around the fireplace, hot cocoa, and warm blankets enter your mind. You can create a cozy and seasonal-appropriate atmosphere in your home without putting up too many decorations. Consider toning down your decorating to declutter your space and instead focus on achieving a welcoming, warm, homey environment.

  • Don't Cover Up Important Features
    Keeping your space decluttered is important, especially when it ensures that notable features of your home are still showcased appropriately. For instance, although you may convert a nook into a Christmas tree display, we suggest leaving the space as it normally is. You want the buyers to view the top elements of your home in a context which allows them to imagine their possessions in the space.

  • Don't Disrupt Your Color Scheme
    It's not uncommon to use a variety of bright and beautiful colors in your decorations. You must also be aware of how these colors might impact the look of your home's existing color scheme. Silver and gold are normally able to blend with other colors, but bright reds, greens or multi-colored items could clash with the colors of your walls, furniture, and décor. We suggest limiting colorful banners or garland.

Decorating correctly for the holidays when you're trying to sell your home can be a difficult task. For more advice on making your home's presentation, look as professional as possible during the holiday season, contact us.

October
21

Cost of Selling Your Home

With so many reality real estate shows on TV today, it sometimes seems like there's nothing to buying and selling houses. How hard could it be? In less than 30 minutes, each program showcases even the most rundown home as an instant seller after a little renovating and staging. Don't get us wrong — our real estate agents love these fun shows as much as you do. However, the realities of the real estate market aren't always as sunny.

The cost of selling your home might shock you. From planned renovations to unexpected repairs, a wiser seller knows that you've got to spend money to make money. Here are a few hidden costs involved in selling your home:

  • Repairs/Renovations
    Although you may believe that your home is ready to sell as-is, performing a few quick fixes around the house can increase its value. Interior painting, new flooring, replacement garage doors, and updated appliances are a few of the smart investments you can make to increase the appeal and value of the property.

    Click Here to Read More...

September
16

 

Seller Disclosures

When you're selling your home, wanting to present it in the best light possible is only natural. However, it's also important to be honest about any issues with the house, including past repairs and current problems. Disclosure isn't just the right thing to do – it's also the law. Our real estate agents are here to help you navigate the process, with a guide to everything you need to know about disclosure when selling your home.

  • Pay Attention to State and Federal Disclosure Rules
    The exact rules for what you need to disclose and how you handle the process vary by state. It's critical to research disclosure rules for the location where you're selling a home. Most disclosure regulations are controlled by the state, except for one key issue. Federal regulations require that you disclose lead paint if the home was built before 1978. Homes built before 1978 will need to be checked for lead paint before you sell.

    Click Here to Read More...

September
9

Home Selling Tips

You're full of eager anticipation when you put your home on the market, but there comes a time when you have to admit it's not selling. Our real estate agents have successfully helped many sellers overcome roadblocks to closing a deal. Here are 10 common reasons why your home may not be selling as quickly as you'd hoped.

  1. Overpriced
    When looking for reasons why a home isn't selling, price is the obvious starting point. Even in a seller's market, the price has to be consistent with the value of the home in relation to those around it. Research the sale price of other homes in the area and make sure you're not being too aggressive.

    Click Here to Read More...

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.

    Click Here to Read More...

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