The Real Estate Buzz

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Sept. 20, 2019

How Selling Your House Is Like Making Lasagna

How many layers are there in a lasagna?

There’s no right or wrong answer to that. Other than, “more than one” probably. Even two is pretty skimpy. 

So, let’s say three is minimal for argument sake. (But, four or more is better.)

The number of layers probably just boils down to using up all the lasagna noodles and sauce you have, or getting to the top of the pan you have to use. No exact amount. Use what you’ve got. 

But, if all you’ve got won’t stretch to make three layers in the size pan you have, perhaps you should use a smaller pan. At least have the three layers.

This isn’t a lasagna lesson.

You could say that it doesn’t really matter how many layers there are, as long as it tastes good. 

And, there really isn’t any rule that you can’t have a one or two layer lasagna. So, you’d be “right”.

It just wouldn’t look exactly right. Not a big deal. It’s lasagna.

But, this article isn’t really about lasagna, it’s about real estate. Specifically, the critical “layers” you need to have when you list your house for sale.

Like we were talking about above with lasagna, for the sake of argument, you definitely need three layers. More would be better.

So, let’s look at the three most important layers when listing your home for sale.

The 3 layers

The three “layers” you need to have when you list your home for sale are:

1- Price
2- Exposure
3- Ease of access

Price

The price of your home is the first, and most critical layer when you are listing your home. If you don’t nail the pricing, the next two layers won’t matter a whole lot.

It won’t matter how much exposure your home has if the price isn’t in line with the market. Buyers have a good handle on values, and they won’t waste their time looking at a house if the price is way out of whack.

There’s certainly a little room to be on the “high” side. You don’t need to “give your house away”. But, you really need to be priced well against the current competition, and justifiable against similar homes to yours which have recently sold.

Exposure

Exposure has gotten easier over the years because of the Internet. But the easiest way to ensure you reach every single buyer in the market is to make sure you’re on the local multiple listing service (MLS).

Beyond that, you want to make sure your listing “populates” or “syndicates” to all of the real estate sites out there. Again, the easiest way to do this is typically to list your home on the local MLS. Most agents have a system that then allows your listing to be picked up by more real estate websites than you can imagine. 

Beyond that, it doesn’t hurt to have some other exposure in terms of marketing. This will vary from agent to agent, and company to company.

But the bottom line is this — your home needs to be easily found. And since most buyers are actively looking online, make sure it’s on there as “everywhere” as possible.

Ease of access

Your home needs to be easy for buyers to come and see.

Sounds simple enough…

You want your home sold, so of course you figure you’ll make it easy to come and see.

But not everyone does. More people than you can imagine make real estate agents and buyers jump through hoops to schedule a showing. 

Saying no to a showing, or trying to corral every showing into a tight window of time during the week is going to hurt you. 

So, just make sure you keep your house ready to show at any given moment, and say yes to any request to come see the house. (Within reason, of course…)

If you just do all three of those things, you’re in pretty good shape to get your home sold for as much as the market will bear, in as short a time as possible.

But, it won’t necessarily be as good as it could be if you were to add just a few more layers to your “listing lasagna”.

The “extra” layers.

While the first three layers are more or less non-negotiable, and will most likely get you as close to the highest offer as possible, as quickly as possible, you may want to consider these extra layers.

Adding these into your mix will increase your chances of getting the highest and best offer possible, as quickly as possible.

1- Hiring an agent who knows and understands the market.
2- Hiring an agent who is a strong advisor.
3- Hiring an agent who can negotiate.
4- Hiring an agent who keeps things together.

Knows and understands the market

It’s easy enough to hire a real estate agent. There’s plenty of them. But, you should really make sure to hire one who truly knows and understands your local real estate market.

You want one who can analyze the activity on your house, and the overall market, so that the agent can…

Advise you 

There’s a lot of talk about selling homes “as quickly as possible”. The key words there are “as possible”.

Sure, you and your agent want your home to sell, and sell quickly. But “quickly” depends on the market. And you want an agent on your side who, after analyzing the market and activity, can advise you on what to do…

Should you stay firm on your price and just be patient?

Should you lower your price? If so, how much?

Is there something you can change about your house that buyers are getting hung up on? If so, is it worth doing, or will the cost be too much for it to make sense?

There’s way more than that to list, but those are just a few examples of advice your agent should be relied upon for, and be able to provide to you. 

Negotiate

This is another thing that gets a lot of lip service. But an agent who negotiates well is a huge asset. 

Sure, you want one that will negotiate a “win-win” enough to make a deal come together. But, you really want one that gets you the fatter end of the win. And that isn’t always just about price.

A good negotiator will get you the best price and terms. 

And, more importantly, it’s important to have an agent who will…

Keep the deal together

There’s a lot of time, and a lot of things that can lead to a deal falling apart between signing the deal and a closing.

Things go wrong. People get cold feet. Buyers get greedy and ask for credits and repairs, or threaten to bale on the whole deal. Appraisers throw their opinion into the mix.

Again, just to name a few examples… but there are so many things that can make a deal fall apart.

Having a strong agent on your side, who can almost predict and nip problems in the bud before things get out of control, is a huge layer to add to your listing lasagna. And, if things do get dicey, you want an agent who can wrangle it all in and get things back on track.

Looks can be deceiving.

People often look at selling a house as pretty simple. And the truth is, it is pretty simple…in terms of the first three layers. 

But that doesn’t necessarily make the best “lasagna” possible. It might look OK enough to be called lasagna, but it’s not gonna be quite as tasty as it could be, if you take enough care to add the next four layers.

Feb. 7, 2019

11 Ways to Sell Your Home Faster (WITHOUT Dropping the Price)

Jan. 17, 2019

Should You Go Directly To The Listing Agent When Buying A House?

 

When you’re looking to buy a house, you might think it makes sense to go directly to the agent who’s listed the property for sale.

Some of the more common reasons people give for doing so are:

  • Why not? Doesn’t it just make sense… The agent listed the property and is the one selling it. They know all about the house. 
  • They know all about the owner, so maybe you can get some inside scoop and a better deal than if you had your own buyer’s agent in the mix.
  • Isn’t it like buying a car? You have to go to the dealer selling the car, so don’t you go to the agent who’s selling the house?
  • Some people say they just didn’t know any better.
  • It’s just easier than finding and working with a buyer’s agent.
  • It’ll be easier to deal with owner.
  • And, last but not least, if the agent is representing both the buyer and the seller, people feel like the agent will get them a lower price. Either because the agent is getting “both ends of the deal”, and therefore making more money, so the agent has more incentive to get you the better deal… Or, since there’s no other agent involved, people feel that the price can be reduced by the amount of commission saved.

Some of the above is true to some degree. But, much of it is wishful thinking…or a complete misunderstanding of how things work.

So, let’s get into a few thoughts to help you decide if it truly makes sense for you to go directly to the listing agent when you’re buying a house.

The listing agent represents the seller.

OK, in most areas the listing agent can represent both the seller, and the buyer. As long as it’s disclosed that he or she is representing both parties, and both parties agree.

That doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for you…or the seller.

Think about it for a minute. It’s pretty hard for someone to represent the best interest of both parties entirely. It isn’t impossible. But it’s tough. 

And the first person the agent represented in the scenario is the seller. So it’s safe to assume that the agent probably has more allegiance to the seller. And if the listing agent doesn’t…if the listing agent helps you, the buyer, get an upperhand, well, that just doesn’t feel or sound right.

But, if that sounds good and right to you, and you find a listing agent who’s cool being in cahoots with you, then more power to you. The thing is, most real estate agents don’t play that way. 

So, at best, you are “hiring” someone to represent your interest and the interests of your opponent. Think of it this way, would you hire the same lawyer to represent you and the person you’re fighting in court?

No, buying a home isn’t always that kind of battle, but the transaction is certainly large enough that it makes sense for you to have your own representation.

You should have someone representing you as the buyer. Hire your own buyer’s agent. Hire someone who’s going to help you get the best house, at the best price and terms. 

If a listing agent pushes you to work with them…

Sometimes a listing agent will either hint at, or outright say that if you want to get the home for a better price, or get the home at all, you need to work directly with them.

The minute you hear that, run for the hills. Go find another agent. Work with the other agent to buy the house. And consider reporting the listing agent who said that. That is a huge red flag.

You have every right and option to choose your own agent to work with. No incentive or fear of loss should be implied for you to work directly with the listing agent.

This is especially concerning if you are already working with your own agent, and the listing agent knows that, and suggests or pressures you to not work with the agent you are already working with. If that happens, make sure to tell your agent. Let your agent take it from there…and don’t worry about it losing you the house or a better deal. It probably won’t.

Buying is a process.

At least buying should be a process. 

Haphazardly looking at homes you come across online, or by driving by can cause you to miss homes that agents are seeing come on the market. Or ones that you may have overlooked, that they may point out to you as a great option, once they get to know you and your wants and needs.

When you work with one agent for the whole process, (at least a good buyer’s agent), you’re more likely to find, and not miss the best house for your needs. As much as the Internet allows you a lot more access to the inventory nowadays, it can be hard not to miss something, or overlook a great option on your own.

And when you work with an agent from start to finish, you build considerable trust. And that trust translates into getting yourself a better home, at the best price possible. 

But when you’re just out there on your own, going to see every house you look at with a different agent, with no intention of working with that agent if you don’t buy that one house they are showing you…that spells disaster. If the agent only has that one shot with you, there’s a higher chance of an agent pushing you or selling you on doing something.

A great buyer’s agent who you have a committed relationship will look out for you and your best interests. So, before you even get serious about looking at homes to buy, do yourself a favor and find a great buyer’s agent and hire him or her. 

Going directly to the listing agent has less upshots than it does potential downsides.

Oct. 4, 2018

4 Mistakes To Avoid The First Time You Buy or Sell A Home

If it’s your first time buying or selling real estate, you don’t know what you don’t know. There are tons of potential pitfalls and challenges along the way that it’s hard to anticipate when you don’t know what to expect.

But luckily for you, most of the missteps taken by first time buyers and sellers are pretty universal, which means you can learn from their mistakes and avoid falling into the same traps.

Here are four common real estate mistakes to avoid the first time you buy or sell a home:

1. Thinking you know the right price

via GIPHY

The price of a home – whether you’re buying or selling – is one of the most important components of a real estate transaction. But there’s a lot more that goes into pricing than what meets the eye.

Pricing a home is a kind of science. There are so many factors that come into play – time of year, current market conditions, how quickly homes are selling the neighborhood, the current value of the home. The real estate agent takes all of those factors into consideration when coming up with the right price for a home.

Without a real estate background, it’s impossible for you to understand all of those conditions and how they affect the price of a home. If you’re selling, you’re likely to think your home should sell for a higher price because of the value it holds for you. If you’re buying, you’re likely to think a property should sell for less because that means a better deal on your end.

But ignoring your real estate agent’s pricing advice because you think you know what the price of a property should be is a mistake. As a seller, you’ll end up overpricing your house (which will leave it sitting on the market). As a buyer, you’ll end up lowballing your offer (and losing the house in the process).

The first time you’re buying or selling a home, it’s your best bet to leave the pricing to the experts. Your real estate agent will always work to get you the best deal – and keep you from pricing yourself out of the deal you want.

2. Not budging on negotiations

via GIPHY

Another mistake first time buyers and sellers make is being too rigid when it comes to negotiations.

Most real estate transactions require a bit of compromise. As a seller, you might need to give in on some of your buyer’s demands and as a buyer, you might need to work with the sellers a bit in order to close the deal. It’s just the way real estate works. And if you’re not willing to give an inch, the deal can very quickly go south.

Now, just to be clear: you should never compromise TOO much. Don’t compromise on the things that are important to you. But if a minor repair is all that’s standing between you and closing your real estate deal, giving in can be much easier than walking away.

3. Not thinking outside of the box

via GIPHY

If there’s a mistake that nearly all first time home buyers make during their home search, it’s not thinking outside of the box.

Most first time buyers have a very specific idea of what they’re looking for in a home. And while it’s fine to know what you want, refusing to look at properties that don’t check off every single item on your wish list is a major mistake – a mistake that can keep you from finding a home you’re in love with.

If you want to find a home you love, it pays to get creative and see as many properties as possible. Have certain non-negotiables (like a specific number of bedrooms or a designated outdoor space) but allow for some wiggle room on everything else. You’ll end up seeing more properties, and who knows? You might fall in love with a house that’s totally different from what you thought you wanted – a house you would never have seen if you didn’t think outside of the box.

4. Trying to do everything on your own

via GIPHY

Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make the first time you buy or sell a home is trying to do everything on your own.

Buying or selling a home is not only hard work, but it requires a certain level of knowledge and expertise. You need to know where to look for hot properties, how to market to buyers, how to negotiate, how to file all the paperwork… if you’ve never bought or sold a home, it can be completely overwhelming.

Which is why you need a real estate agent to walk you through the process. When you work with a great real estate agent, they make the experience of buying or selling a home easier, faster, and more profitable.

Trying to do everything on your own is a mistake. But hiring a real estate agent can quickly rectify that.

Buying or selling your first home can be overwhelming. But now that you know the most common mistakes to avoid, you’re well on your way to a stress-free first time buyer or seller experience.

Sept. 25, 2018

4 Tips For Buying A Home From A Distance

Chances are, if you’re looking for a new home, you’re ready for a change of scenery. And while that might mean just a new property or a new neighborhood, for many potential homebuyers, that often means a new city. And if you’re considering buying property in a city other than the one where you currently reside, you probably have a lot of questions about the process. Will you have to fly to your new city every weekend to look at properties? Will you miss out on hot properties? Is it even possible to buy without physically being in your city?

Buying a home from a distance certainly presents its own set of unique challenges, but by no means is it impossible. Here are four tips for buying a home from a distance to make the process easier, faster, and less stressful for you and your family:

1. Gather information

When you’re buying property in an unfamiliar city, the first thing you need to do is educate yourself. Gathering information on the city, the neighborhoods, the cost of living, and general property information is essential to help you make an informed decision. Without it, you’ll likely waste time and energy exploring homes that ultimately aren’t the right fit for you.

For example, you might see a home that matches all of your criteria and think “Great! We should look at this home!” But once you do your research, you might learn that while the home is great, it’s in an undesirable area, doesn’t have the walkability you’re looking for, or has a subpar school system that wouldn’t be the right fit for your children.

Thoroughly researching your new city and the different areas within it will help you save time by only viewing properties that fall within the neighborhoods you want to live in. Do research on the internet and, if possible, connect with residents of the city (friends of friends are always a great resource) to get their take on where to live and where to avoid.

2. Choose the right real estate agent

The key to successfully buying a new home from a distance is choosing the right real estate agent. You want to work with someone who’s an expert in your new market and who you trust to check out properties on your behalf when you’re not around.

Since you’re not in town to pop by and view properties, you only want to spend time on properties that check all of your boxes and that could be a serious contender for purchase. Ideally, your real estate agent will act as your eyes and ears, going to see properties, eliminating ones that aren’t the right fit for you, and only bringing your attention to the ones they feel hit the mark.

You also need a real estate agent with a sense of urgency. Most markets move quickly, and since you’re at a distance, you need to trust that your agent is working for you and making sure you don’t miss any hot opportunities.

3. Decide your boundaries and parameters up front

Once you find your agent, it’s important that you set your boundaries and parameters up front. How often will you fly in to view properties? If the perfect home came along, would you purchase it sight unseen? Do you want a virtual tour of every home your real estate agent is considering or just the ones they feel are perfect?

By setting proper expectations up front, you’ll avoid any miscommunications or misunderstandings during the purchase process, which could otherwise be exacerbated by the distance between you and your agent.

4. Leverage technology

Thanks to technology, there’s never been a better time to search for properties from afar. And if you want to have the easiest, fastest, and most positive experience with distance homebuying, you need to leverage the technology available to aid your home search.

When exploring neighborhoods, use sites like WalkScore and BikeScore to get an idea of how easy to navigate your new neighborhood is. Use real estate sites like Zillow and Redfin to explore everything from selling history to school systems and ratings to estimated taxes for properties you’re considering purchasing. Have your real estate agent use video conferencing technology like FaceTime or Skype during property walk-throughs so you can get a sense of the layout and flow of properties. And when you’re finally ready to buy, have your real estate agent use a file management program like DocuSign to get all the necessary documents signed and delivered (without you ever having to leave your computer desk).

Trying to find and buy a home in a city you don’t live in can be a challenge. But when you do your research, know what you want, find the right agent, and make technology work in your favor, finding your dream home in a far away zip code won’t be as difficult as you might think.

July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates