5 Sizzling Reasons To Buy A Home During Housing’s Hottest Season

The Heat Is On: 5 Sizzling Reasons to Buy a Home During Housing’s Hottest Season
By Rena Behar | Jun 15, 2017
home-heat-wave3
flammulate/iStock; stevanovicigor/iStock
The days are getting longer. Ice cream truck jingles echo up and down the block. But the surest sign that summer is here? It just might be those “For Sale” signs popping up like dandelions in your neighborhood.

Yep, we’re smack dab in the middle of the most popular time of the year to buy and sell a home. If you’re thinking of starting your home search, your first instinct as a savvy shopper might be to stay away and wait for the weather—and the market—to cool down. Why battle the crowds and bidding wars if you’re in no rush to move?

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But there’s no reason to sweat the idea of buying in the summer. In fact, there are some distinct advantages to making your way into the marketplace during housing’s hottest season—as long as you can stand the heat of a little competition.

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1. Prices aren’t necessarily higher

“A huge myth about the real estate market is that homes sell for more in the summer and less in the winter. This is simply not true,” says Dippy Chhina of Dippy Real Estate.

Let’s be clear: Home prices do usually peak in June–August. And it’s a seller’s market in most areas. But other forces beyond the summer sun play a major role in a home’s asking price, Chhina notes. They include the number of similar homes also for sale in a given area, interest rates, and the job market.

“What is true, however, is that there are more homes on the market in summer than in the winter, and there is also a higher number of sales in the summer than the winter,” Chhina says.

Find homes for sale on
Which leads us to our next summer-buying advantage.

2. Inventory is broader

You wouldn’t buy a car from a dealer with only two models for sale, so why limit your options when it comes to picking a house? The open-plan kitchen you’ve been yearning for or a home in a stellar school district is much more likely to pop up in a busier marketplace.

“The large inventory offers significantly more opportunities for purchasers to identify specific floor plans, amenities, and locations,” says Sarah Lilly of Five Star Lakeshore Real Estate. Buyers “feel more confident in their search because additional properties hit the market every week.”

In some less competitive markets, knowing that there are plenty of homes for sale can give you more leverage for price negotiation, and peace of mind knowing that if you have to walk to away, another home will be just around the corner.

3. Buying and selling at the same time could be easier

If you need to sell your current home before you can buy another, you’ll likely have an easier time with the balancing act during the summer. Rather than getting trapped with two mortgages, you could have a more seamless transition in a busier market.

“If the client needs to sell a home before buying, the home will be more likely to sell, and potentially at a good price, allowing the client to purchase their new home sooner,” says Joe Lopez of Connect Realty.

But remember, these transactions take time, so if you’re planning on pulling off a double act, get ready as soon as possible so you can capture as much of that golden season as you can.

4. School’s out for summer

Any beleaguered parent can tell you why this factor is crucial. By waiting until summer to make your move, you can minimize disruption to your kids’ lives. Plus, their schedule is clear to bring them along to showings. (Beware, though, not all agents appreciate young kids underfoot.)

“House hunting during the summer break from school means that kids can more readily attend showings— important when offer time is of the essence and parents want each member to approve of the new family home,” says Orlando Regional Realtor Association President Bruce Elliott, of Regal R.E. Professionals.

And if the sellers have kids, they might also be trying to cement a sale in time for the new school year—and will likely be more motivated toward the end of the season.

“Sellers who find their properties still on the market as summer draws to a close and the ranks of buyers thin out may be more open to price negotiation,” Elliott says. “In addition, those buyers who were unable to secure a home after months of looking and making offers may become fatigued and drop out of the hunt.”

5. You’ll get to know the lay of the land

It’s easier to do a little detective work on your potential home when the weather’s nice and the days are longer. Trees and flowers are in full bloom, so you’ll get a better idea of your prospective new yard. You can step out on that back porch and envision what it will really, truly be like to live there and host your long-anticipated Margarita Mondays. Plus, everyone’s more active, so you’ll get a better feel for the community.

“Summer brings people out of their homes, so while you are home shopping with your agent, you will get the chance to take the pulse of the neighborhood and see your potential neighbors,” says Kyle Springer of South Central Homes.

“Families can often get a feel for the neighborhood’s kid population during the day in the summer,” Elliott says. “Here in Orlando, where daytime temperatures reach the high 90s and so many homes have pools, buyers listen for sounds of shouting and splashing.”

But beware! Sometimes the romance of summer can distract you from some red flags.

“It is fine to stop and smell the roses, but also pay attention to what lurks behind them,” says Jerry Grodesky of Farm and Lake Houses Real Estate.

For example: the eyesore of a junk pile in your neighbor’s yard. Or the giant cellphone tower you didn’t see through those beautifully full trees—that now you can’t unsee. And make sure that foliage isn’t blocking any potential problems with the home, such as foundation issues or peeling roof tiles.

You should also use this opportunity to test how the property holds up in warm weather. See how well the air conditioning works when it’s pushing 100 degrees outside, and open all the windows to see if any stick or simply won’t open. Of course, your home inspector will check these things, but it never hurts to get a jump-start.
Rena Behar is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn. She’s contributed to The Wirecutter, Groupon, Texas Monthly, and other publications. Follow @renadb

Could Paint Be an Energy Source for Homes?

Could Paint Be an Energy Source for Homes?

DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | TUESDAY, JUNE 20, 2017
The paint on the wall may soon be a source of energy for a home. Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, say “solar paint” will be available to homeowners in the next few years.

It’s a sunlight-absorbing paint developed by RMIT researchers that produces hydrogen fuel from solar energy and moist air. Even a brick wall could potentially be turned into an energy-harvesting form of real estate, says lead researcher Torben Daeneke.

“Our new development has a big range of advantages,” Daeneke told Science Daily. “There’s no need for clean or filtered water to feed the system. Any place that has water vapor in the air—even remote areas far from water—can produce fuel. … This system can also be used in very dry but hot climates near oceans. The sea water is evaporated by the hot sunlight, and the vapor can then be absorbed to produce fuel. This is an extraordinary concept, making fuel from the sun and water vapor in the air.”

Source: “Solar Paint Offers Endless Energy From Water Vapor,” Science Daily (June 14, 2017)

2014 Remodeling Trends

Home remodeling may have taken a backseat during the recession, but not anymore. According to a 2013 Hanley Wood survey, remodeling sales were up 10 percent compared to 2012, and 45 percent of remodelers surveyed expected another 10 percent growth in 2014.

Home remodeling is back in again, and with the desire to improve our homesteads come a bunch of new and exciting trends we’ll start seeing next year.

1. Modern Kitchens

According to data compiled by Hanley Wood and Remodeling Magazine, 61 percent of remodelers surveyed expect to complete kitchen remodels in 2014, more than any other room in the house. And, those remodels are expected to follow a new trend.

Not so long ago, remodeled kitchens had a rustic feel with warm paint colors and cabinetry, and wrought iron hardware and lighting. Now, modern is in, with white or gray cabinetry, simple countertops, glossy finishes and minimalist designs.  Appliances are more likely to be blended into the design or hidden away from view entirely to give the kitchen a sleeker appearance.

2. Brass Accents

Brass made a comeback at home-design and remodeling conventions this year and the trend is expected to pick up in 2014. While brass is nothing new, it has gotten a facelift. Highly polished, bright brass hardware and lighting is gone; rustic, dull and hammered brass is in. The new looks will be incorporated into kitchen and bathroom hardware as well as lighting and door hardware throughout the house.

Remodel

3. Updated Bathrooms

In the Hanley Wood survey, bathrooms came in second to the kitchen with 58 percent of remodelers planning to do bathroom remodels in 2014. As far as style, vintage bathrooms with wainscoting and claw-foot tubs won’t be as popular as resort-style bathrooms that feature amenities such as large walk-in showers with multiple shower heads, heated floors or towel racks, and jetted bathtubs. For coloring and style, glass tiles will be a popular feature as well as neutral and cool colors like ash gray, light blue and off-white.

Remodel 2

4. Vibrant Colors

While the kitchen may be getting the modern single-shade treatment next year, designers have a different idea for other rooms. Bright accent colors such as turquoise, yellow and orange that were popular in 2013 have a new twist; in 2014, they’ll be more of a focal point and even more vibrant with colors such as Green Flash, Lemon Zest, Nectarine and Rouge Red, according to Pantone, the international authority on color. Designers will start featuring vibrant accent walls, main paint colors and flooring throughout bedrooms and main living spaces.

5. Sustainable Materials

Going green is nothing new, but sustainability may get easier in 2014 remodels. According to Craig Webb, editor-in-chief of Remodeling Magazine, “Manufacturers and builders are constantly getting greener and greener in the way they source materials and put up homes.”  As a result, “Energy efficiency is becoming an assumption, not an add-on.” Next year, remodels will include more renewable materials such as bamboo, energy-efficient appliances and additional designs that incorporate the local climate.

More at http://stormteamrealestate.com

Boost Your Credit Score to Buy a home

credit scorePromises of loans for bad credit borrowers, while common amid the housing boom in the early 2000s, are now rare. If you’re interested in buying a home today, know that lenders will carefully check your credit and will rarely approve a loan for someone with seriously bad credit.

For that reason, it’s important to check your credit report and your credit score. Many consumers are surprised (pleasantly or unpleasantly) by their credit score and many find errors on their credit reports. Carefully review your credit report and focus in particular on negative items to see if there are ways you can address them and improve your credit profile and your access to a mortgage.

Credit Scores and Lenders

A lender can be a great source of advice about your particular credit issues and can tell you what minimum credit score is needed for a particular loan program. Different lenders have different loan standards, so while one lender may reject you if you have a credit score of 640, another could give you a loan approval.

In general, FHA-insured loans have lower credit score requirements than conventional loans. In addition, the FHA has loan programs that make it easier for some people who lost a home in a short sale or a foreclosure to get a new mortgage faster. While FHA loans can be easier to qualify for if you have damaged credit, the downside of this loan program is that you must pay mortgage insurance on the loan, usually for the life of the loan. FHA mortgage insurance is typically higher than private mortgage insurance that you must pay for conventional loans if you make a down payment of less than 20 percent. Private mortgage insurance is automatically cancelled when your loan-to-value ratio reaches 78 percent.

Conventional lenders base their interest rates on your credit score, among other factors, so if your credit score is above 740 you’ll pay a slightly lower interest rate than someone with a credit score of 700.

Lenders look at many factors when evaluating you for a mortgage loan, including your debt-to-income ratio, your income and assets, how much your down payment will be and your job history. These compensating factors can sometimes help you overcome a slightly low credit score, but your best chance for a loan approval is to improve your credit score.

Boost Your Credit Score

While there’s no quick fix for bad credit, taking steps to improve your credit profile can raise your score over time:

  •  If you have any collections or judgments against you, pay them off as quickly as possible.
  • Bring your over-the-limit and past-due accounts up-to-date.
  • Pay all bills on time.
  • Try to reduce your credit card debt to 25 percent or less of your credit line on each card.
  • Don’t open new lines of credit.
  • Don’t close your credit card accounts because then you’ll be using more of your overall credit limit.
  • If you have an old credit card that you haven’t used in awhile, you can use it and then pay the bill in full to show that you can responsibly handle credit.

A reputable lender can suggest specific actions such as which credit card bill to pay off if you can’t eliminate your debt, so it would be a wise move to visit a lender as soon as you’re considering buying a home.

More at http://stormteamrealestate.com

5 Traits to Look for in Your Agent

More at http://StormTeamRealEstate.com

BUYERS + SELLERS:  How did you find your agent? Any advice for those still looking for one?

AGENTS: What traits do you think are important for buyers and sellers to look for? Why?

In this internet era, we’ve gotten to a place where we require all of our information in bite-sized, white-and-charcoal grey pieces. But when it comes to creating interpersonal and professional relationships that really work, lists of interview questions and “what to Google” articles can fall short of fully fleshing out the factors that make us mesh with someone.

So let’s go a little deeper. Picking a real estate agent is a business and a relationship challenge – one which has a potentially massive impact on your finances and future enjoyment of the place you and your family live. If you take that seriously, here are a handful of characteristics I recommend you look for as you evaluate prospective agents.

1. Creativity. Some transactions go precisely as planned, clicking right along on schedule. Others – many others – get messy:

  • the loan underwriter issues bizzaro, last-minute document demands

  • the appraisal comes in low

  • the buyer backs out

  • you see 50 homes without any winners, or

  • the inspection reports reveal issues that make you wonder whether the home is a diamond in the rough or a money pit.

Whether your transaction will be easy-peasy or uber-messy, you cannot know until you’re in it. When you’re agent-hunting, it behooves you to look for someone who has the experience and creative problem-solving skill to help you methodically think through the facts, surface alternatives, propose solutions and engineer obstacle workarounds – just in case the going gets tough.

2. Deep, varied expertise. Buying or selling a home is much more of a lifestyle design experience than it is a financial transaction, truth be told. To do it with results that work well for yourself, your family and your finances for the duration, you need an agent that’s an eager partner with you. One that will deep-dive into all the nooks and crannies of your aesthetics, your psychology, your life plans, your financials and even your relationship dynamics.

You also need an agent with deep – not surface – understanding of homes, neighborhoods and local real estate market metrics, practices and contracts, and someone who deeply *gets* the home buying or selling process itself – so they can brief you on it and fruitfully coach you through it.

Have you ever taken a class from a novice teacher vs. a class from an experienced professor? The difference is nuance: a deep, mature understanding of a complex subject allows the more experienced instructor to give you insights into patterns they’ve spotted over time and repeat transactions. Same goes for your real estate pro: you want to make sure that either your agent or someone that will be working with them on your transaction (like their manager or broker) has deep knowledge and understanding in most or all of these areas, so they can share the nuanced insights and patterns they have spotted in the past which you can harness to your advantage in the present.

3. Calm resilience. When you lose out on a home to other offers, it can feel like the end of the world. When you list your home, stage it to the nines, and not a single offer is forthcoming, feelings of discouragement, frustration and even depression can easily arise.  In both cases, it’s easy to delve into fear (fear that you’ll never get the home you need, or will never be able to move on to the next stage of your life) or paralysis (freezing up because you just don’t know what to do – period).

A great agent – and there are thousands and thousands out there – can bring a massive, game-changing dose of calm resilience to the table. They’ve been through this before. They know that there are lots of homes and lots of buyers out there, so losing out on any one is not a death knell to your dreams. They also know how to tell the difference between a normal delay in receiving an offer or an acceptance on your market and when your approach requires some serious course correction (see #4, below).

A great agent will be able to receive the news that you’ve lost out on a home or take in negative feedback from a prospective buyer, call you and deliver it calmly and right along with some smart, constructive suggestions for action items you should work on next, to keep the process moving forward.

4. Frankness and optimism. You want – no – you need your agent to be frankly honest. You need them to be frankly honest with themselves and with you about all facets of the reality you’ll face as you proceed through your transaction. Sellers, you cannot afford to have an agent who will let you persist in fantasy-land beliefs about what your home is worth – contrary to all evidence as to what homes in your area are actually selling for and feedback (read: silence) from prospective buyers who have seen your home – without challenging you to look at the data and adjust your pricing strategy. Buyers, by the same token, you can’t afford to work with an agent who encourages or allows you to make 5, 10, or 15 lowball offers on a home without urging you to face the truth that you need to house hunt at lower price points or make higher offers in order to be successful.

You need an agent who is willing to tell you the truth and have these sorts of hard conversations with you even when you won’t like it.

That said, you want an agent who possesses both this frank integrity and an ultimate optimism that, with right thinking and strategic action, you can and will ultimately succeed at making a great buy or sale.

5. Bandwidth. This one might sound strange, but the fact is that it can be difficult to get the advantages of having the best agent in the world if the agent is wildly over-subscribed and so busy they struggle to respond to calls and emails. This is why I don’t always say a great agent will necessarily have years and years of expertise. Some agents who have wonderful experience and wisdom are simply too busy to do the time-intensive guidance your situation may require. And some agents who are new to real estate bring highly relevant expertise and skills they’ve developed in other careers, have ample time to devote to your transaction and can enlist the real estate-specific insights of an experienced team leader, manager or broker.

If you know you’re going to want to meet up weekly for a house hunting session or debrief with your agent, tell them this up front and ask them flat-out how much time they can devote to your process. Make sure you’re comfortable with their response or solution (example – their listing specialist or partner can meet with you when they can’t) before you make your pick.

My advice for agent-finding is to engage in a multi-step process:

  • First, make sure you get referrals from your friends, colleagues and relatives to the agents they have worked with and love.

  • Also get a few names from our Agent Finder on Trulia, which allows you to get incredibly specific about what sort of homes, areas and transactions your ideal agent will have worked with.

  • Then, check all of your prospective agent candidates out online. Narrow them down a bit by what you see in terms of reviews and style of advice you see them providing on channels like their blog, website or social media pages.

  • Reach out to all the people on your short list through whatever medium you prefer to communicate – phone, email, etc. – and note how quickly you get responses.

  • Then book appointments to meet with a handful of agents and let them present their method to you.

  • Get references and check in with those past clients – ask them to tell you about their transaction experience, warts and all.

By the end of this process, you’ll likely find someone who fits just-right with your own personality, timing and transactional needs and possess these five traits.

4 Buyer and Seller Resolutions for 2014

At this time of year, New Year’s Resolutions are on the front burner in many minds, and for those who are planning to buy and sell a home in 2014, real estate resolutions rank right up there with the obligatory ‘lose 10 pounds,’ ‘take a trip to Paris’ and ‘call Mom once a week.’ But here’s the rub: the obvious overall resolutions to ‘buy a home’ or ‘sell this house’ don’t give us the details we need to be able to target our marketing to magnetically attract these Resolution setters. Rather, to market to 2014 buyers and sellers, we have to dive deep into their micro-resolutions, if you will: the baby step goals they are putting on their lists of wildly important goals (WIGs) for this coming year. Let’s explore 5 of the micro-WIGS that 2014 buyers and sellers are setting for themselves this very moment, and how you can use them to position yourself as their go-to local agent. Remember, the vast majority of sellers are moving on up, which means they’re planning to buy, too! For Buyers

1. Save/Find down payment money. Both buyers and sellers are concerned about making sure they have enough down payment money to seal the deal. And let’s face it, as we move from last year’s strong recovery into 2014, buying a home is just going to get more expensive in most markets. In fact, as Trulia’s Chief Economist Jed Kolko noted in his 2014 Housing Market Predictions, even though home-price increases should slow from this 2013 unsustainably fast pace, prices will still rise faster than both incomes and rents. And making matters even tougher, mortgage rates will be higher in 2014 than in 2013, thanks to the strengthening economy and the impending tapering by the Feb, which we’ve all heard so much about. But worsening housing affordability doesn’t have to mean grey skies for aspiring home buyers, and that’s where you–the real estate agent–comes in to help educate them through it! The truth is that despite rising home prices, buying throughout 2014 will remain cheaper than renting in most markets. As of September 2014, buying was, nationally on average, 35% percent cheaper than renting. What’s more, these higher prices will encourage home sellers who have been holding out to finally put their home on the market, meaning your buyers will have more properties to choose from. Plus, mortgages should be easier to get. Why? With the rising rates, there has been a significant decrease in the refinancing activity, which means that banks have begun to ramp up their purchase lending.

2. Pay down/off credit card debt. Financial goals like reducing or eliminating credit card debt generally fall into the top 10 resolutions set by Americans at large – and if we take an educated guess – that this goal is even more prevalent among buyers–to-be. If you send out a monthly client newsletter or your own resolution list includes starting a Trulia Voices blog, you can be sure to get the attention of 2014 buyers and sellers-in-the-making by posting content that supports their debt-reduction goals. Want a writing-light way to do this? How about curating and publishing your own list of credit-card debt-reducing blogs, websites, books or local resources, like non-profit credit counselors or support groups? Position yourself as the expert by adding your own strategic insights to make sure they don’t go overboard and make moves that can make it harder to qualify for a home loan, like closing out all their credit accounts or leaving everything with a zero balance.

3. Boost credit score. Remember, many of the buyers and sellers who will be looking to make a real estate move this year are coming out of the near-universal financial crises of the recession era. They might have had a past bankruptcy or foreclosure, or a job loss which interrrupted their income temporarily, causing them to make a few late payments which brought down their credit score. What can you do to market directly to those who are setting the baby step resolution to boost their credit score? Co-market a credit score clinic with local mortgage broker, actually running credit scores, putting individualized action plans in place and briefing buyers about what sorts of local homes they can get before and after they do the recommended work Place locally targeted ads in social or other media, positioning yourself as a specialist in helping those who need to boost their credit scores and get financially ready to buy a home. Create educational articles, blog and social media posts: Educating your local readers and followers on what their credit score really needs to be to qualify for a home loan – many will think the minimums are higher than they truly are. Encouraging them to begin pulling their own reports and giving them some basic, credit-boosting action steps to follow, plus the link to the free, government-mandated reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. Reaching out to your contact database and letting them know that you have resources for any of their friends and referrals who would like to buy but are worried about credit issues: you might be surprised at how many of your contacts will respond asking for help for themselves! For Sellers

4. Paint/carpet/landscape/remodel. Most sellers will wait to work on the nitpicky staging projects until after they reach out to list their homes for sale. But many who have a 6-12 month time frame for sale are very well aware of some major projects they are assuming they’ll need to do to the property, and will move forward with them in advance of contacting agents for listing presentations. If you farm a particular neighborhood, why not offer a Pre-Listing Property Preparation Consult in your monthly newsletter, email or postcards? Include a data point about how your listings (or well-prepped/staged homes in general) sell faster and for more than average. Then offer to come in as much as a year in advance and give sellers resources and a personal consult for getting their home ready to sell, including advice about what investments they should not make and your own personal list of recommended, cost-effective vendors. Chances are good that the agent that meets with sellers and gives sound strategic advice months in advance will have a major leg-up when it’s time to sign a listing agreement. As real estate pros, it’s essential that we spend our spare time exploring what’s inside the mind of our prospective clients. How better to serve and satisfy their needs, as well as marketing to and for them? If you want to become a buyer or seller’s agent for life, understand their goals and Resolutions – at all times of year – and provide resources that assist them in realizing their aspirations. You’ll become a trusted advisor in multiple areas of their lives, as well as their undisputed go-to resource for all things real estate.At this time of year, New Year’s Resolutions are on the front burner in many minds, and for those who are planning to buy and sell a home in 2014, real estate resolutions rank right up there with the obligatory ‘lose 10 pounds,’ ‘take a trip to Paris’ and ‘call Mom once a week.’ But here’s the rub: the obvious overall resolutions to ‘buy a home’ or ‘sell this house’ don’t give us the details we need to be able to target our marketing to magnetically attract these Resolution setters. Rather, to market to 2014 buyers and sellers, we have to dive deep into their micro-resolutions, if you will: the baby step goals they are putting on their lists of wildly important goals (WIGs) for this coming year. Let’s explore 5 of the micro-WIGS that 2014 buyers and sellers are setting for themselves this very moment, and how you can use them to position yourself as their go-to local agent. Remember, the vast majority of sellers are moving on up, which means they’re planning to buy, too! For Buyers 1. Save/Find down payment money. Both buyers and sellers are concerned about making sure they have enough down payment money to seal the deal. And let’s face it, as we move from last year’s strong recovery into 2014, buying a home is just going to get more expensive in most markets. In fact, as Trulia’s Chief Economist Jed Kolko noted in his 2014 Housing Market Predictions, even though home-price increases should slow from this 2013 unsustainably fast pace, prices will still rise faster than both incomes and rents. And making matters even tougher, mortgage rates will be higher in 2014 than in 2013, thanks to the strengthening economy and the impending tapering by the Feb, which we’ve all heard so much about. But worsening housing affordability doesn’t have to mean grey skies for aspiring home buyers, and that’s where you–the real estate agent–comes in to help educate them through it! The truth is that despite rising home prices, buying throughout 2014 will remain cheaper than renting in most markets. As of September 2014, buying was, nationally on average, 35% percent cheaper than renting. What’s more, these higher prices will encourage home sellers who have been holding out to finally put their home on the market, meaning your buyers will have more properties to choose from. Plus, mortgages should be easier to get. Why? With the rising rates, there has been a significant decrease in the refinancing activity, which means that banks have begun to ramp up their purchase lending. 2. Pay down/off credit card debt. Financial goals like reducing or eliminating credit card debt generally fall into the top 10 resolutions set by Americans at large – and if we take an educated guess – that this goal is even more prevalent among buyers–to-be. If you send out a monthly client newsletter or your own resolution list includes starting a Trulia Voices blog, you can be sure to get the attention of 2014 buyers and sellers-in-the-making by posting content that supports their debt-reduction goals. Want a writing-light way to do this? How about curating and publishing your own list of credit-card debt-reducing blogs, websites, books or local resources, like non-profit credit counselors or support groups? Position yourself as the expert by adding your own strategic insights to make sure they don’t go overboard and make moves that can make it harder to qualify for a home loan, like closing out all their credit accounts or leaving everything with a zero balance. 3. Boost credit score. Remember, many of the buyers and sellers who will be looking to make a real estate move this year are coming out of the near-universal financial crises of the recession era. They might have had a past bankruptcy or foreclosure, or a job loss which interrrupted their income temporarily, causing them to make a few late payments which brought down their credit score. What can you do to market directly to those who are setting the baby step resolution to boost their credit score? Co-market a credit score clinic with local mortgage broker, actually running credit scores, putting individualized action plans in place and briefing buyers about what sorts of local homes they can get before and after they do the recommended work Place locally targeted ads in social or other media, positioning yourself as a specialist in helping those who need to boost their credit scores and get financially ready to buy a home. Create educational articles, blog and social media posts: Educating your local readers and followers on what their credit score really needs to be to qualify for a home loan – many will think the minimums are higher than they truly are. Encouraging them to begin pulling their own reports and giving them some basic, credit-boosting action steps to follow, plus the link to the free, government-mandated reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. Reaching out to your contact database and letting them know that you have resources for any of their friends and referrals who would like to buy but are worried about credit issues: you might be surprised at how many of your contacts will respond asking for help for themselves! For Sellers 4. Paint/carpet/landscape/remodel. Most sellers will wait to work on the nitpicky staging projects until after they reach out to list their homes for sale. But many who have a 6-12 month time frame for sale are very well aware of some major projects they are assuming they’ll need to do to the property, and will move forward with them in advance of contacting agents for listing presentations. If you farm a particular neighborhood, why not offer a Pre-Listing Property Preparation Consult in your monthly newsletter, email or postcards? Include a data point about how your listings (or well-prepped/staged homes in general) sell faster and for more than average. Then offer to come in as much as a year in advance and give sellers resources and a personal consult for getting their home ready to sell, including advice about what investments they should not make and your own personal list of recommended, cost-effective vendors. Chances are good that the agent that meets with sellers and gives sound strategic advice months in advance will have a major leg-up when it’s time to sign a listing agreement. As real estate pros, it’s essential that we spend our spare time exploring what’s inside the mind of our prospective clients. How better to serve and satisfy their needs, as well as marketing to and for them? If you want to become a buyer or seller’s agent for life, understand their goals ate.

4 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 Home Sellers

time

Some people like resolutions, others hate them. And according to one recent survey, as many as 80% of people who set them fail at them.

But I’ve found that many people – maybe even most people – love a challenge. Getting your home sold is one of those experiences that ranks as a complex business challenge and a series of emotional, logistics and financial challenges all rolled up into one.

If you plan to sell your home in 2014, you might be inventorying your action items or drafting your action plan as we speak. (If not, you should be – here, we’ll give you a kickstart.)

Beyond the basics tasks and actions involved in pricing, preparing, marketing and selling your home, there are a number of umbrella approaches and perspectives you can choose whether or not to take – each of which has the power to make or break your deal and make or break the angst or awe with which you experience the year ahead. If you’re not the resolution-setting type, or you are and you’re open to new approaches, consider challenging yourself to start and finish your home selling process with these next-level resolutions:

1. Resolve to do your own due diligence – cutting no corners.Here’s the thing no one tells you about selling your home: it’s exhausting. You have to:

  • spend hours interviewing agents

  • review all the neighborhood sales and try to figure out where your home fits among them

  • nitpick everything that’s wrong about your home

  • figure out what you can afford to fix and what makes sense not to

  • source contractors or gear up to DIY

  • have a bunch of little projects – and maybe a few big ones done

  • deal with staging and decor projects

  • then clean your home to within an inch of its life every single day, in some markets, sometimes for weeks or months on end.

And that’s all before you get offers.

Knowing that other sellers find this list daunting, too, helps. You are definitely not alone. But the sheer scale of this list causes some sellers to take shortcuts at some or all points along the path. They don’t meet with more than one agent, or they don’t check references, and end up with an agent they less than love. They don’t pay attention to the detailed questions the disclosure forms ask them and end up omitting some crucial detail that comes back to bite them later, in the form of a lawsuit. They fail to tidy up before showings and buyers report back that the place smelled funny or was so cluttered during the viewings that they were too distracted to seriously “try on” the home in their mind’s eye.

Make it your resolution not to be that shortcut-taking seller. Decide up front that if you’re going to do this, you’re going to do it right and pass your home onto the next buyers with pride. That might seem silly, but I can assure you that the sellers I’ve known who took exactly that stance almost always received the reward of a fast sale at top dollar. Buyers can sense the pride you take in your home and your disclosures. It’s a good look.

2. Resolve to keep your eye on the prize – and the priorities. What is your mission for moving?  What is the vision you’re trying to create? When you decided you wanted to sell, you were in some state that motivated you to make a change – your home had grown too small, too large, too costly, too old, too new, too fancy or not luxurious enough for your life, or because the location no longer worked for you. But that’s only one side of the vision equation.  On the other end, there’s an ‘after’ picture: some state you want to be in. Maybe it’s another neighborhood or a new-and-improved set of amenities or a totally different look of a home.  Maybe it’s a totally different school district, city or state, or a chic condo when your last home was a sprawling ranch house.

Whatever it is, get very clear on the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of your vision for this life change you’re trying to create by selling your home, and resolve to stay that way until escrow has closed. Focusing on your vision will force you to focus on your priorities. In turn, that will help you resist the urge to overprice your home, underprepare it or bicker with the buyer over silly small issues and amounts. It becomes much easier to let things that would normally irritate you roll right off your back when you realize that doing so will serve your own personal priorities of getting your home sold quickly for a great price, so that you can move on to the next exciting stage of your life.

3. Resolve to think things through from the other side of the table. By definition, a first-time buyer has never been in the seller’s shoes. But as the seller, chances are good that you have been in the buyer’s position before. It is to your strong advantage to hearken back to those days when you were desperately seeking a home of your own. That perspective shift is the closest you’ll be able to get to momentarily detaching emotionally; you can walk through your home, view it’s marketing and even think about how it is priced from the perspective of the very buyers you want to attract.

Remind yourself of how you felt when it seemed like you’d never wade through all the mortgage paperwork, when you felt like the lender wanted to know your mother’s shoe size, when you were frustrated with what you saw on the market in your price range or when you couldn’t access the information or get into the property you wanted to, at a time that was convenient for you. Don’t let your home be the listing that causes these frustrations for your target buyers. Instead, from the time you start looking at comps to price your home to the time you start reviewing offers and buyer’s requests for repairs, try to think things through from your perspective and then to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.

Even if you don’t slash the price or give them everything they ask for, chances are good that you’ll end up creating more win-win situations if you take the other side’s wants and needs into account.

4. Resolve to keep your head out of the sand. The truth hurts, the saying goes. I think that’s misleading, in the context of selling your home and in life. You see, sometimes the truth does hurt, the way a shot of penicillin or getting a tooth filled hurts. But even when it does hurt a bit, the truth never harms you. On the contrary, avoiding the truth about what your home is worth or the truth of buyers’ and agents’ feedback about it is akin to avoiding a shot if you need it, or avoiding the dentist if you have a cavity. It causes something much worse than hurt: real harm.

Confronting the truth that the comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for lower than you’d hoped to get might hurt, but once the sting is gone that knowledge empowers you to make an appropriate pricing decision, stage your home to the nines or even decide to stay put for awhile longer.

Facing the truth that your home needs a lot of repairs and upgrades compared to the nearby Open Houses you’ve toured might hurt. But after the hurt, you’re in the power position, with the knowledge about either what to do to your home or to its price to get the leg up on the competition.

Acknowledging the truth that you have borrowed so much against your home that you won’t be netting as much cash on the sale as you’d hoped to definitely hurts. But after the pain passes, you have the power to make wise decisions about how much to put down on your next home and to avoid overleveraging it the next time around.

In all of these cases, avoiding the truth poses the potential for real harm: the harm that you’ll overprice your home, underinvest in its preparation for the market or commit the same financial errors with your next home. Make it your resolution to keep your eyes wide open, head above the sand and boldly face the truth throughout the course of your home’s sale, no matter what might happen.

ALL: What are your real estate-related New Year’s Resolutions?

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