Sellers Resources

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Seller Resources - Articles to help you navigate the selling process.

Low Inventory Levels Sells Homes Quick! As of January 08 2015 We are having a hard time finding good homes for our buyers.   As a seller this is great news!  It is the best time to put your home on the market.  Priced well, staged and ready to go it may end up getting multiple offers today!  Our biggest challenge today is pricing them right.  Of course our competitive market is changing daily, and we may have some challenges pricing our homes accordingly.  We have seen buyers come in  and make the offers, only to lose the sale due to a lower appraisal value and the bank will not loan more than appraisal value.   Therefore it is imperative to really price it well within comparable sales.  It is a sellers market!!!

Once your home goes on the market, real estate agents may call to show your home anytime, day or evening. Keeping your home "showtime" ready can be challenging, especially if you have children and pets.

What you need to stay organized is a handy checklist so you can be ready to show at any time. When you get the call that buyers are on their way, give everyone in the household a basket and assign them each to a room to pick up clutter quickly. Set a timer and tell everyone to grab up any toys on the floor, clear tabletops and countertops of junk, and quickly Swiffer-sweep the floors. Check for hazards like dog chews on the floor.

Turn on all the lights, and get ready to skedaddle. You have to let buyers have privacy so they can assess your home honestly. Take the kids for an outing. Put pets in daycare, sleep cages or take them with you:

Keep your home show-ready with these nine tips:

Eliminate clutter: Not only is clutter unattractive, it's time-consuming to sort through and expensive for you to move. If you have a lot of stuff, collections, and family mementoes, you would be better off renting a small storage unit for a few months.

Keep, donate, throw away: Go through your belongings and put them into one of these three baskets. You'll receive more in tax benefits for your donations that pennies on the dollar at a garage sale. It's faster, more efficient and you'll help more people.

Remove temptations: Take valuable jewelry and collectibles to a safety deposit box, a safe, or store them in a secure location.

Remove breakables: Figurines, china, crystal and other breakables should be packed and put away in the garage or storage.

Be hospitable: You want your home to look like a home. Stage it to show the possibilities, perhaps set the table, or put a throw on the chair by the fireplace with a bookmarked book on the table.

Have a family plan of action: Sometimes showings aren't convenient. You can always refuse a showing, but do you really want to? If you have a showing with little notice, get the family engaged. Everyone has a basket and picks up glasses, plates, newspapers, or anything left lying about.

Remove prescription medicines: Despite qualifying by the buyer's agent, some buyers have other intentions than buying your home. It's also a good idea to lock your personal papers such as checkbooks away. Do not leave mail out on your desk.

Get in the habit: Wash dishes immediately after meals. Clean off countertops. Make beds in the morning. Keep pet toys and beds washed and smelling fresh.

Clean out the garage and attic: Buyers want to see what kind of storage there is

Low inventory levels are bringing a faster turnaround for today's sellers. From 1987 through 2011, analysis of the NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers series showed the typical time on market was 6.9 weeks, while the existing-home sales series showed an average supply of 3.0 months, just above the high end for a balanced market.

It's time: Create a plan for 2015 success.

Today's median time for a home to remain on the market is 69 days (July 2014). This is down nearly 30 percent from the 98 days seen in July 2014. The NAR reports that during periods which see close to a 6-month supply, such a now, homes have a median selling time of 6 weeks.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there is a clear relationship between inventory supply and time on market. "As inventory has tightened, homes have been selling more quickly," he said.  "A notable shortening of time on market began this spring, and this has created a general balance between home buyers and sellers in much of the country.  This equilibrium is supporting sustained price growth, and homes that are correctly priced tend to sell quickly, while those that aren't often languish on the market."

"Our current forecast is for the median existing home price to rise 4.5 to 5 percent this year and about 5 percent in 2013, which is somewhat stronger than historic norms because of the inventory shortfall that is most pronounced in the low price ranges," Yun said.  CPI growth is projected at 2.1 percent for 2015 and 2.3 percent next year.

There's a new measure today from the NAR for days on market, which is showing a longer selling time than historic findings -- which measured traditional sellers of non-distressed homes. The new measure includes short sales, a significant part of today's marketplace.

"Factoring out short sales, the median time on market for traditional sellers appears to be in the balanced range of six to seven weeks," Yun explained.

How do today's numbers compare to the peak of the housing boom? Between 2004 and 2005, when inventory levels were historically low, the median selling time was 4 weeks. Prices rose in response -- at an annual rate of 10.3 percent, historically higher than the 3.1 percent average growth in CPI during the period.

In the economic downturn, time on market for non-distressed sellers peaked at 10 weeks in 2009 with a 10.0-month annualized supply.  The median price fell 12.9 percent that year, which was the biggest annul decline on record."Ironically, if housing construction doesn't pick up to normal levels within two years, supply shortages could be sustained for an extended period and lead to above average appreciation," Yun said. "Therefore, any unnecessary hindrance to housing starts, such as excessive local zoning regulations or stringent bank capital rules for construction loans, should be carefully re-examined."

Holiday Home Sales Tips

by Carla Hill

The holiday season can be an incredibly busy time of year. Families are traveling across town, state, and country to visit loved ones. Children are home from school, bringing with them vacation schedules.

This can be a difficult time for many sellers. They must find a balance between family time, showings, and open houses.

If you are finding this holiday season particularly problematic, then keep reading.

Just as your time for showings is limited, so is the time potential buyers have for touring your home. This means that if you are serious about moving your home in this season's market you must be willing to be flexible with your time. Making your home readily available may mean more showings or a faster sale.

You must put the needs of your family and children first, of course, but there should be room for compromise. Consider allowing other family members to host large meals and functions to lighten the load on your home's schedule this year.

You can also plan fun activities for the whole family to participate in while your home is being shown. Take the kids to see the latest holiday movie. Go out for yogurt or ice cream. If the showing is during the evening hours you can take a tour of neighborhood lights!

Also, do not let listing your home for sale deter you from celebrating the holidays this season. Feel free to maintain family traditions, but consider the effect your decorations will have on buyers. While you should feel free to have a tree and lights, it would be wise to keep everything tasteful and in moderation.

You may come across the random buyer that hates the holidays, but most people are not offended by someone else's beliefs. You'll find buyers are tolerant of most everything ... except tacky overdone decorations!

If you are unsure what constitutes tacky, then refer to popular home decor magazines for pictures and examples of what is acceptable.

Selling a home is about about putting the best foot forward. So, in addition to making it available to buyers and decorating tastefully, it's important to consider how your home will appear in wintertime photography.

Great photography is key when posting pictures to the MLS. This is your home's first impression, but the snow, ice, and dreariness of winter months can be a little boring.

Take your time to stage the best pictures possible. Take advantage of sunny days glistening across snowy banks. Let the charm of your living room shine with a perfectly trimmed tree.

Buyers also love to see how your home looks throughout the seasons. Talk to your Realtor about including pictures of your home when your yard is bursting with Springtime blooms or when your pool is full of sparkling blue water

The holidays can be a wonderful time for families, but with a few compromises you can also make a sale during this special time!

5 Feng Shui Concepts to Help a Home Sell


To put the best face on a listing and appeal to buyers who follow feng shui principles, keep these tips in mind.

1. Pay special attention to the front door, which is considered the "mouth of chi" (chi is the "life force" of all things) and one of the most powerful aspects of the entire property. Abundance, blessings, opportunities, and good fortune enter through the front door. It’s also the first impression buyers have of how well the sellers have taken care of the rest of the property. Make sure the area around the front door is swept clean, free of cobwebs and clutter. Make sure all lighting is straight and properly hung. Better yet, light the path leading up to the front door to create an inviting atmosphere.

2. Chi energy can be flushed away wherever there are drains in the home. To keep the good forces of a home in, always keep the toilet seats down and close the doors to bathrooms.

3. The master bed should be in a place of honor, power, and protection, which is farthest from and facing toward the entryway of the room. It’s even better if you can place the bed diagonally in the farthest corner. Paint the room in colors that promote serenity, relaxation, and romance, such as soft tones of green, blue, and lavender.

4. The dining room symbolizes the energy and power of family togetherness. Make sure the table is clear and uncluttered during showings. Use an attractive tablecloth to enhance the look of the table while also softening sharp corners.

5. The windows are considered to be the eyes of the home. Getting the windows professionally cleaned will make the home sparkle and ensure that the view will be optimally displayed.

Source: Sell Your Home Faster With Feng Shui by Holly Ziegler (Dragon Chi Publications,


5 Things to do Before Putting Your Home on the Market

1. Have a pre-sale home inspection. Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.

2. Organize and clean. Take down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and exercise equipment. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.

3. Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that are worn our or will need to be replaced soon, such your roof or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you don’t plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and will be handy when negotiations begin.

4. Find your warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house.

5. Spruce up the curb appeal. Pretend you’re a buyer and stand outside of your home. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? Are pretty flowers or plants framing the entrance? Is the walkway free from cracks and impediments?

8 Reasons Why You Should Work With a REALTOR?

Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS?. The term REALTOR? is a registered trademark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS? and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Here are five reasons why it pays to work with a REALTOR?.

1. Navigate a complicated process. Buying or selling a home usually requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multipage settlement statements. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.

2. Information and opinions. REALTORS? can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They’ll also be able to provide objective information about each property. A professional will be able to help you answer these two important questions: Will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?

3. Help finding the best property out there. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your REALTOR? to find all available properties.

4. Negotiating skills. There are many/negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, the purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.

5.  Property marketing power. Real estate doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. In fact, a large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioners contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, and family. When a property is marketed with the help of a REALTOR?, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR? will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

6. Someone who speaks the language. If you don’t know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it’s important to work with a professional who is immersed in the industry and knows the real estate language.

7. Experience. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. Even if you have done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS?, on the other hand, handle hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of their career. Having an expert on your side is critical.

8. Objective voice. A home often symbolizes family, rest, and security - it?s not just four walls and a roof. Because of this, home buying and selling can be an emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll every make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues most important to you.

12 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your REALTOR?

Make sure you choose a REALTOR who will provide top-notch service and meet your unique needs. 

1. How long have you been in residential real estate sales? Is it your full-time job? While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate - like many other professions - is mostly learned on the job.

2. What designations do you hold? Designations such as GRI and CRS?, which require that agents take additional, specialized real estate training, are held only by about one-quarter of real estate practitioners.

3. How many homes did you and your real estate brokerage sell last year? By asking this question, you’ll get a good idea of how much experience the practitioner has.

4. How many days did it take you to sell the average home? How did that compare to the overall market?  The REALTOR you interview should have these facts on hand, and be able to present market statistics from the local MLS to provide a comparison.

5. How close to the initial asking prices of the homes you sold were the final sale prices? This is one indication of how skilled the REALTOR? is at pricing homes and marketing to suitable buyers. Of course, other factors also may be at play, including an exceptionally hot or cool real estate market.

6. What types of specific marketing systems and approaches will you use to sell my home? You don’t want someone who’s going to put a For Sale sign in the yard and hope for the best. Look for someone who has aggressive and innovative approaches, and knows how to market your property competitively on the Internet. Buyers today want information fast, so it’s important that your REALTOR? is responsive.

7. Will you represent me exclusively, or will you represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction? While it’s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, it’s important to understand where the practitioners obligations lie. Your REALTOR? should explain his or her agency relationship to you and describe the rights of each party. 

8. Can you recommend service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, make home repairs, and help with other things I need done? Because REALTORS? are immersed in the industry, they?re wonderful resources as you seek lenders, home improvement companies, and other home service providers. Practitioners should generally recommend more than one provider and let you know if they have any special relationship with or receive compensation from any of the providers.


9. What type of support and supervision does your brokerage office provide to you? Having resources such as in-house support staff, access to a real estate attorney and assistance with technology can help an agent sell your home.

10. What’s your business philosophy? While there’s no right answer to this question, the response will help you assess what’s important to the agent and determine how closely the agents goals and business emphasis mesh with your own.

11. How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction? How frequently? Again, this is not a question with a correct answer, but how you judge the response will reflect your own desires. Do you want updates twice a week or do you prefer not to be bothered unless there?s a hot prospect? Do you prefer phone, e-mail, or a personal visit?

12. Could you please give me the names and phone numbers of your three most recent clients? Ask recent clients if they would work with this REALTOR? again. Find out whether they were pleased with the communication style, follow-up, and work ethic of the REALTOR

Does Moving Up Make Sense?

These questions will help you decide whether you’re ready for a home that’s larger or in a more desirable location. If you answer yes to most of the questions, it’s a sign that you may be ready to move.

1. Have you built substantial equity in your current home? Look at your annual mortgage statement or call your lender to find out. Usually, you don’t build up much equity in the first few years of your mortgage, as monthly payments are mostly interest, but if you’ve owned your home for five or more years, you may have significant, unrealized gains.

2. Has your income or financial situation improved? If you’re making more money, you may be able to afford higher mortgage payments and cover the costs of moving.

3. Have you outgrown your neighborhood? The neighborhood you pick for your first home might not be the same neighborhood you want to settle down in for good. For example, you may have realized that you?d like to be closer to your job or live in a better school district.

4. Are there reasons why you can’t remodel or add on? Sometimes you can create a bigger home by adding a new room or building up. But if your property isn’t large enough, your municipality doesn’t allow it, or you’re simply not interested in remodeling, then moving to a bigger home may be your best option.


5. Are you comfortable moving in the current housing market? If your market is hot, your home may sell quickly and for top dollar, but the home you buy also will be more expensive. If your market is slow, finding a buyer may take longer, but you?ll have more selection and better pricing as you seek your new home.

6. Are interest rates attractive? A low rate not only helps you buy a larger home, but also makes it easier to find a buyer.


How to Get an Offer on Your Home

1. Price it right. Set a price at the lower end of your properties realistic price range.

2. Prepare for visitors. Get your house market ready at least two weeks before you begin showing it.

3. Be flexible about showings. It’s often disruptive to have a house ready to show at the spur of the moment. But the more amenable you can be about letting people see your home, the sooner you?ll find a buyer.

4. Anticipate the offers. Decide in advance what price and terms you’ll find acceptable.

5. Dont refuse to drop the price. If your home has been on the market for more than 30 days without an offer, you should be prepared to at least consider lowering your asking price.

Moving Checklist for Sellers

         Provide the post office with your forwarding address two to four weeks ahead of the move.

       Notify your credit card companies, magazine subscriptions, and bank of your change of address.

      Create a list of friends, relatives, and business colleagues who need to be notified about your move.

      Arrange to disconnect utilities and have them connected at your new home.

      Cancel the newspaper, or change the address so it will arrive at your new home.

       Check insurance coverage for the items you?re moving. Usually movers only cover what they pack.

  Clean out appliances and prepare them for moving, if applicable

      Note the weight of the goods you?ll have moved, since long-distance moves are usually billed according to weight. Watch for movers that use excessive padding to add weight.

       Check with your condo or co-op about any restrictions on using the elevator or particular exits for moving. 

    Have a "first open" box with the things you'll need most, such as toilet paper, soap, trash bags, scissors,

hammer, screwdriver, pencils and paper, cups and plates, water, snacks, and toothpaste.


Plus, if you're moving out of town,

       Get copies of medical and dental records and prescriptions for your family and your pets.

       Get copies of children's school records for transfer.

        Ask friends for introductions to anyone they know in your new neighborhood.

       Consider special car needs for pets when traveling.

      Let a friend or relative know your route.

      Empty your safety deposit box.

      Put plants in boxes with holes for air circulation if you?re moving in cold weather.




Simple Tips for Better Home Showings

1. Remove clutter and clear off counters. Throw out stacks of newspapers and magazines and stow away most of your small decorative items. Put excess furniture in storage, and remove out-of-season clothing items that are cramping closet space. Don?t forget to clean out the garage, too.

2. Wash your windows and screens. This will help get more light into the interior of the home.

3. Keep everything extra clean. A clean house will make a strong first impression and send a message to buyers that the home has been well-cared for. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, mop and wax floors, and clean the stove and refrigerator. Polish your doorknobs and address numbers. It's worth hiring a cleaning service if you can afford it.

4. Get rid of smells. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Open the windows to air out the house. Potpourri or scented candles will help.

5. Brighten your rooms. Put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms and basements. Replace any burned-out bulbs in closets. Clean the walls, or better yet, brush on a fresh coat of neutral color paint.

6. Don't disregard minor repairs. Small problems such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but they'll give buyers the impression that the house isn't well-maintained.

7. Tidy your yard. Cut the grass, rake the leaves, add new mulch, trim the bushes, edge the walkways, and clean the gutters. For added curb appeal, place a pot of bright flowers near the entryway.

8. Patch holes. Repair any holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.

9. Add a touch of color in the living room.  A colored afghan or throw on the couch will jazz up a dull room. Buy new accent pillows for the sofa.

10. Buy a flowering plant and put it near a window you pass by frequently.

 11. Make centerpieces for your tables. Use brightly colored fruit or flowers.

12. Set the scene. Set the table with fancy dishes and candles, and create other vignettes throughout the home to help buyers picture living there. For example, in the basement you might display a chess game in progress.

13. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light. Show off the view if you have one.

14. Accentuate the fireplace. Lay fresh logs in the fireplace or put a basket of flowers there if it's not in use.

15. Make the bathrooms feel luxurious. Put away those old towels and toothbrushes. When buyers enter your bathroom, they should feel pampered. Add a new shower curtain, new towels, and fancy guest soaps. Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight.

16. Send your pets to a neighbor or take them outside. If that's not possible, crate them or confine them to one room (ideally in the basement), and let the real estate practitioner know where they'll be to eliminate surprises.

17. Lock up valuables, jewelry, and money. While a real estate salesperson will be on site during the showing or open house, it's impossible to watch everyone all the time.

18. Leave the home. It's usually best if the sellers are not at home. It's awkward for prospective buyers to look in your closets and express their opinions of your home with you there.

Make your home more appealing for yourself and potential buyers with these quick and easy tips:

1. Trim bushes so they don?t block windows or architectural details.

2. Mow your lawn, and turn on the sprinklers for 30 minutes before the showing to make the lawn sparkle.

3. Put a pot of bright flowers (or a small evergreen in winter) on your porch.

4. Install new doorknobs on your front door.

5. Repair any cracks in the driveway.

6. Edge the grass around walkways and trees.

7. Keep your garden tools and hoses out of sight.

8. Clear toys from the lawn.

9. Buy a new mailbox.

10. Upgrade your outside lighting

11. Buy a new doormat for the outside of your front door.

12. Clean your windows, inside and outside.

13. Polish or replace your house numbers.

14. Place a seasonal wreath on your door


12 Tips for Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

1. Get at least three written estimates.

2. Check references. If possible, view earlier jobs the contractor completed.

3. Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau for complaints.

4. Be sure the contract states exactly what is to be done and how change orders will be handled.

5. Make as small of a down payment as possible so you won?t lose a lot if the contractor fails to complete the job.

6. Be sure that the contractor has the necessary permits, licenses, and insurance.

7. Check that the contract states when the work will be completed and what recourse you have if it isn't. Also, remember that in many instances you can cancel a contract within three business days of signing it.

8. Ask if the contractor?s workers will do the entire job or whether subcontractors will be involved too.

9. Get the contractor to indemnify you if work does not meet any local building codes or regulations.

10. Be sure that the contract specifies the contractor will clean up after the job and be responsible for any damage.

11. Guarantee that the materials that will be used meet your specifications.

12. Don't make the final payment until you're satisfied with the work.


Understanding Capital Gains in Real Estate

When you sell a stock, you owe taxes on your gain - the difference between what you paid for the stock and what you sold it for. The same holds true when selling a home (or a second home), but there are some special considerations.

How to Calculate Gain

In real estate, capital gains are based not on what you paid for the home, but on its adjusted cost basis. To calculate, follow these steps:

1. Purchase price: _______________________

The purchase price of the home is the sale price, not the amount of money you actually contributed at closing.

2. Total adjustments: _______________________

To calculate this, add the following:

Cost of the purchase - including transfer fees, attorney fees, and inspections, but not points you paid on your mortgage.

Cost of sale - including inspections, attorney fees, real estate commission, and money you spent to fix up your home just prior to sale.

Cost of improvements - including room additions, deck, etc. Note here that improvements do not include repairing or replacing something already there, such as putting on a new roof or buying a new furnace.

3. Your home?s adjusted cost basis: _______________________

The total of your purchase price and adjustments is the adjusted cost basis of your home.

4. Your capital gain:  _______________________

Subtract the adjusted cost basis from the amount your home sells for to get your capital gain.


A Special real Estate Exemption for Capital Gains

Since 1997, up to $250,000 in capital gains ($500,000 for a married couple) on the sale of a home is exempt from taxation if you meet the following criteria:

        You have lived in the home as your principal residence for two out of the last five years.

        You have not sold or exchanged another home during the two years preceding the sale.

       You meet what the IRS calls "unforeseen circumstances," such as job loss, divorce, or family medical emergency.

What to Have on Hand for the New Owners

         Owner's manuals and warranties for appliances left in the house.

        Garage door opener.

         Extra sets of house keys.

        A list of local service providers - the best dry cleaner, yard service, plumber, etc.

        Code to the security alarm and phone number of the monitoring service if not discontinued.

         As a courtesy, you could provide numbers to the local utility companies.

        If it's a condo, leave information on how to contact the condo board.


One of the hardest, most important decisions homebuyers face is how much to offer for their home.  And the glut of information on the web about real estate only makes buyers even crazier than the decision itself does.  Supply, demand, foreclosure rates, mortgage rates ? buyers think they need to run spreadsheets and do fancy math to make a smart offer.  And THAT can be super intimidating.

But the fact is, there is a pretty short list of steps you need to take to make a smart offer ? one that gets you a great value, but is also likely to be successful at getting the property. (A low offer does not make for a great deal if you don?t get the house!)  And most of the same steps apply to sellers trying to set the list price that will lure the most buyers (and net them the most cash)!

Step 1: What do the "comps" say?  First things first. When it comes to pricing a home, or making an offer to buy one, the ?first thing" is the home?s fair market value. Both buyers and sellers should work with an experienced, local agent to understand what the home?s value is. Most agents will do this by offering you a look back at similar properties that have recently sold in the neighborhood ? i.e., the  comparable sales, or comps.

Ideally, look for comparable's that are very recent sales (3 months or less before you?re listing or buying), very similar properties (i.e., same number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage; and similar style, condition and amenities). If you do get into contract, these may be the same comparable's which will be considered by the appraiser, so looking at them before making an offer can:

(a) provide factual support for a lower-than-asking offer or for the asking price, in a negotiation, and

(b) result in a sale price at which the property will actually appraise, later on - avoiding the common glitch of the deal falling through because the appraisal comes in way below the agreed-upon price.

Also, looking at comps is the first step for locating a homes seller and prospective buyer in the reality-based universe of current home values.  The fact that you bought or refinanced the place at a given value 5 or 6 years ago is entirely irrelevant to what it?s worth today, as is the buyer?s belief that the place was worth $100K less at the trough of the market, in 2009.

Step 2:  What can you afford?  This step is much more critical for buyers than for sellers. (Unfortunately, sellers, the facts that you need to net a particular amount to buy your next home or pay your existing mortgages or credit card bills off has no relationship whatsoever to the price at which you should list or will sell your home.)

Step 3: What?s your competition? (And whats theirs?)  This is another step at which it?s critical to check in with your agent. You need to know what level of competition you?ll face ? whether you are a buyer, or a seller.  As a seller, you can find this out by looking at things like how many comparable homes are listed in your town or your neighborhood in your general price range (your agent will brief you on this).  Sellers should also consider what type of transactions their home will be up against ? the more distressed properties (foreclosed homes and short sales) with which your home must compete, the more aggressive you must be with your pricing to get your home sold.

The more competition you have, as a seller, the lower you should tweak your list price to attract buyers to come see your home. (And the more buyers come to see your home, the more likely you are to get an offer!)

Buyers should also be cognizant of the competition level they will face for homes.  Believe it or not, even on todays market there are properties and neighborhoods in which multiple offers are the name of the game. Work with your agent to understand the list price-to-sale price (LP:SP) ratio , which lets you know how much under or over the asking price properties are selling for in your target homes neighborhood; the higher the LP:SP ratio, generally speaking, the less competition there is among buyers.

Your agent can also brief you on:

(1)    The number of offers if any - that have been presented on "your" property (which the listing agent will usually, gladly tell).  If there are other offers, you'll want to make a higher offer to compete successfully against them; and


(2)   The number of days the home has been on the market, relative to how long an average home stays on the market before it sells ? the longer it has, the more pressure is on the seller, price-wise, and the less competition the buyer is likely to have.  (One exception is the sweet spot scenario, when a property that has been on the market for a long time has a price reduction and gets a bunch of offers as a result! )

4.  How much do they need to sell (or buy) it?  Buyers: Has the listing in which you?re interested been reduced at all?  By how much?  Has the listing agent informed you that her clients are highly motivated, flexible or have an urgent need to sell?  

Sellers...most buyers are not in a high state of urgency to buy these days, given the long-term, high affordability of homes and interest rates, except when they have an urgent personal reason for moving, e.g., buyers who are relocating for work.  Of course, all of real estate is hyperlocal, so its important to understand how motivated buyers are in your local market, generally speaking, before you set your list price.

The higher these numbers are, the stronger of a buyers market it is, and the more bargaining power buyers likely have.   And if you?re the seller, the higher these numbers are for your area, the lower you may need to price your home to be successful at getting it sold.


5.  How much do you want to buy, or sell, the place?  Step #4 was about taking the motivations of the folks on the other side of the bargaining table into account when formulating your offer and your list price.  This step is all about you ? what?s your level of motivation?  Now, buyers, you certainly shouldn't offer a price way above what the place is worth (see Step #1) just because you really, really want it, unless you have the cash to throw around.  But within the range of the home?s fair market value, it may make sense to move higher within that range if you are highly motivated to get that particular property.

Sellers: think of your list price as the most powerful marketing tool at your disposal. if you really want or need to sell, get aggressive about setting your price as low as makes sense for your your home's value and local market dynamics to attract qualified buyers and help your home stand out against all the competition.

Here's another reason to hire a very tech savy listing agent!!!!  E-PRO

In todays market 92% of all buyers use the internet to find their new home.

I-pads, mobile phones are becoming the new devices to get sellers the exposure they need!!! Hire a professional that has the experience and training to expose your home to more buyers than ever!!!  


That's me! I am an E-Pro.  A trained professional designation with the skills earned in tech savy internet marketing and social networking. 


Nearly half of Internet users have mobile access

The percentage of Americans who use the Internet and who can also access it on the run using smart phones and other mobile devices is expected to grow from 39 percent in 2010 to 59 percent in 2014, according to a new Yahoo Inc. white paper.


This year, more than 126 million Americans -- or 47 percent of the total online population -- are expected to have mobile Internet access, Yahoo said, citing research from IDC Digital Marketplace.


Many real estate portals, brokerages and agents now offer mobile apps. Some of the most popular iPhone apps for real estate among consumers include offerings from Zillow,, Coldwell Banker, Trulia and ZipRealty, according to app-ranking site


A number of companies offer mobile apps designed for real estate agents or useful to them, including Top Producer, DocuSign and Open Home Pro.


Yahoo's white paper -- aimed at marketers looking to integrate mobile into their advertising campaigns -- notes that usage patterns among mobile users mirror the early days of the Internet, when e-mail dominated.


Among U.S. mobile Internet users, e-mail consumes 25 minutes of each hour spent online, followed by portals (7 minutes) social networking sites and blogs (6 minutes), search (4 minutes), and news (3 minutes).



Mobile Internet access tends to complement Web surfing on a personal computer, with six in 10 mobile Internet users saying they sometimes visit a site on their mobile device and then follow-up later from a PC, the paper said.


Some 86 percent of mobile Internet users said they surf the Web while watching TV -- Yahoo has documented an increase in mobile Internet usage during large prime-time TV events, such as the Academy Awards and the World Cup soccer finals.


The paper also takes note of projections that tablet sales may outstrip sales of notebooks as soon as next year. The number of tablet users is expected to leap from 10.3 million in 2010 to 82.1 million by 2015, the paper said, citing projections from Forrester Research.


The deeper level of engagement facilitated by the tablet's larger screen and keyboard may be one reason iPad users spend 2.7 times more time on their online sessions than iPhone users, the paper said.


While 51 percent of iPad users said they use the devices for e-mail, they were also popular for downloading applications like games (39 percent), accessing social network sites (33 percent), reading digital books and magazines (31 percent), playing downloaded or pre-installed games (30 percent), and downloading pictures (29 percent).


More than one in four iPad users said they use the devices for video-streaming, watching full TV shows or mobile TV, downloading music, online game-playing and watching downloaded or recorded videos.


Where iPhone users typically spend five minute or less on "snackable" news sessions, "these expand to lengthier, more immersive newsgathering sessions on the iPad," the paper said.


In integrating mobile into marketing plans, the paper recommends treating mobile as a channel -- like TV, print, billboards, transit, radio, and online -- not a strategy.


As a real estate agent, I told my clients to de-clutter as much as possible so potential buyers could see the bones and get a sense of living there themselves. If there is too much of you in the house, they get distracted when looking and may not be able to visualize themselves having coffee, watching a movie, raising children or entertaining in what could be their new home.


Put away pictures, knick-knacks and family mementos.

Take out as much furniture as you can, even if you have to put it in storage.

Put away your countertop appliances.

Do small repairs touch-up painting, window washing, deep cleaning if necessary.

Think curb appeal.


Selling a home is an emotional act


I went through and sorted every room and closet to see what I needed to keep, what I wanted to keep for the girls, and what I could sell or give away. I made several trips to the public library with books and magazines, to Habitat for Humanity, and the freebox at our recycling center for just about everything else.


I packed away things I didnt need right away and that I would take with me to a new house ? framed pictures, the girls? artwork, 35+ years of journals, spring needs for the greenhouse. My storeroom and shed were full of packed boxes!

One morning, as I was going through the kitchen cupboards, I found an extra 1/4-cup measuring cup and put it in a container of coffee that I keep in the freezer. I stopped and thought, ?What if I need this for baking?? and immediately I said to myself, I dont bake now that the girls are gone, and then I started to cry.

Not only was I selling my house, I was selling a precious time of my life raising my girls here.  The kitchen was where we baked cakes, cookies, corn bread and pumpkin rolls, and made hundreds of tortillas that we ate warm with butter. My younger daughter, at about 12, made a cherry pie from scratch in this kitchen.

Selling a home means personal disruption

Sad Woman Selling A Home  What To Expect Emotionally

My de-cluttered home didn't feel homey. It was more like a museum or a hotel. Few of my personal things were out, and my routine was disrupted! I had to look for things I used every day. I put the kitchen hand soap in a drawer, and never remembered that when I went to use it. I had the kitchen trash in a different place, an inconvenient place, but ?out of the way? of a potential buyer?s view.

I washed and put away my dishes all the time, and put the dish drainer under the sink when I was done. I made my bed every morning. I kept my clothes picked up and dirty laundry, again, ?out of the way.? I didn't feel like I really LIVED here anymore! There weren't curtains on the windows, so buyers could easily see the amazing views, but I felt totally exposed at night. It was very hard, and a constant reminder of the crappy economy and losing my children to adulthood to live on my own again.

I had no restrictions on showing times, so anyone could come any time. It would have taken just one showing to send me and my memories packing into the unknown. I was unsettled, physically and emotionally, all the time!

I was worried about the future. Where would I go? Would my utilities be as low? Would it be sunny? Warm in winter and cool in summer? Would I be able to grow food? Have great views? Have kind and helpful neighbors? Would it be safe? These are all things I already had and did not want to give up!

Using the power of pre-inspection

Imagine finally finding a buyer for your home, negotiating the offer, opening up escrow and beginning to pack your prized spoon collection when disaster strikes. The home buyer's pest and dry rot inspection has revealed issues that have caused the buyer to panic. Your sale is now in danger of failing!

While most states require that sellers disclose all known defects to a buyer, it's the unknown issues that inspectors are hired to find. These paid consultants have the tough job of crawling into the nooks and crannies of your home, the places most of us rarely if ever visit, to identify problems that can haunt the home buyer if not addressed prior to closing.

So how can you avoid a nasty surprise? One popular way is to consider the power of pre-inspections. A pre-inspection simply means you have your home inspected before you receive an offer from a buyer. The advantage to this approach is that if your home does have some challenges you can fix them before you receive an offer. Also by having a pre-inspection you may be able to outflank your competition by advertising the fact that your home has a "clean" bill of health which will potentially help you sell faster and for more money.

So what kinds of pre-inspections might you consider? There are a wide range of inspections that can be performed on any home and choices vary by region, which is why it is always best to consult with a local agent before deciding on which pre-inspections are right for your home. All of that being said, some of the most popular inspections include:

Whole home inspections - A top to bottom review of your home from the foundation to the roof. These inspections are often very extensive and include detailed reports on all of the systems of the home including plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling, and structural components.

Pest and dry rot inspections - These inspections are focused on identifying evidence of active (and inactive) wood destroying organisms like carpenter ants and termites and the damage they may have caused. In addition inspectors will identify issues that can cause rot in a home like leaking water pipes, poor ventilation, earth to wood contact, and moisture problems.

Well and septic inspections - In rural areas many homes use well and septic systems for drinking water and sanitation. Inspections of wells focus on gallons per minute production and the safety of the drinking water while septic inspections focus on making sure the tanks and lines moving the waste water away from the home are functioning properly.

Pool inspections - In areas of the country where pools are popular it is common for buyers to request a pool inspection. These inspections often review the area around the pool for safety including the pool itself, the pool deck, pool liner, lighting, heating and pump systems, and filtration systems.

Roof inspections - A roof inspection will evaluate the current state of the roof system identifying problem areas such as missing tiles, valleys and flashing which may need repair, gutter systems, downspouts, and the estimated life span of the current materials.

Foundation inspections - Often a foundation inspection may be called for if a home is built on a soil type or area that has a history of slippage, or if the foundation is showing signs of fractures. In addition many buyers order a foundation inspection if a home is older or if the home has beams which are sagging due to a lack of support.

One word of caution: anything you learn as a result of a pre-inspection will no doubt need to be disclosed to a potential buyer (even if you don't fix it) because of disclosure laws. Check with a local agent or attorney for details in your state.

So where can you find a reliable inspector? One source is the American Society of Home Inspectors, the oldest trade group in the nation specializing in overall home inspections. In addition you may be able to find a trust-worthy inspector simply by asking for a referral from your listing broker. They have the experience to give good referrals based on past experiences.

Before you list your home for Sale!!

Today's market presents some very unique opportunities for buyers. With affordability near record highs and interest rates near record lows, many homeowners are making the decision to move up or on. Here a few simple tips to take into consideration when listing your home for sale.

1. Curb Appeal: Buyers make snap judgments about each home they view. These judgments are drawn largely from first impressions. Be sure your home has impressive curb appeal. Fresh flowers and mulched beds, along with trimmed hedges and grass are a must. If your home needs a fresh coat of paint, now is the time. And even if your paint or siding is in good repair, consider painting your front door an eye-catching color, such as red or blue.

2. Inspection: An inspection can make or break a deal. Even after they've fallen in love with your house, a buyer may decide foundation issues or faulty electrical are too much of a headache. The benefits of having an inspection done prior to listing can be two-fold. First, your buyers will be aware of what repairs are needed before they make an offer. Second, you can choose to address these repairs and therefore have them removed from the scenario altogether.

3. Repairs: Buyers are turned off by long lists of needed repairs. This goes double for time-consuming and costly repairs, such as roof work or foundation issues. By identifying and addressing the issues, you may be able to yourself save time and money in the long run.

4. Organize Paperwork: There may be contracts or warranties you have on your home that will transfer to a new buyer. These can include appliances, builder warranties, and even contragts with lawn and pool companies there were paid up-front.

5. Talk to your lender: How much new home can you afford? Are you able to sell your home for enough to cover the remaining balance of the loan? These are important questions to get answered prior to listing!

6. Prepare for showings: Staging a home for sale has multiple different layers. First, you should clean and organize. Have carpets cleaned and repaint dirty or loudly colored walls. Next, remove large and bulky furniture, as these make rooms appear smaller. And finally, take down personal pictures, trophies, and memorabilia that could distract the buyer from what they are actually interested in ... your house!

Every seller needs a competitive edge in today's market. By being prepared for selling prior to listing, you can gain an advantage. Talk to your real estate agent for more tips!

The most popular real estate slogan has always been "location, location, location." Well, folks, there's a new slogan in town, and his name is "price, price, price." You can have the most fabulous Malibu beach house, but if you are overpriced, you won't sell in today's market.

How do you know where to price your house? How do you know that your real estate agent has priced accurately to sell?

Here are a few tips to steer you in the right direction.

Appraisals: Your real estate agent or brokerage will have a list of local appraisers. An appraisal costs just a few hundred dollars, but it affords you a clear idea of the amount for which a buyer can be approved. 

Comparables: What are homes like yours selling for? Comparables can be found by analyzing homes in your neighborhood, or in nearby neighborhoods, that have similar square footage, upgrades, and amenities. If a comparable home sold for $150,00, there's little chance you'll find a buyer willing to pay $180,000 for your overpriced home. You always want to be the least expensive home in the neighborhood, when it comes to selling, not the most! Everybody loves a deal.

Be Competitive: Underpricing a home is a strategy that some agents employ to garner interest and to create a bidding war through multiple offers. A well-priced home is sure to get more showings than a home that costs more than the competition. More showings mean more exposure, which ups the chances of you receiving an offer.

Lender Communication: Lenders will only allow a buyer to borrow up to the amount a home appraises for. That means if you are overpriced, even an eager buyer may hit a lending road block.

How bad You Need to Sell: This is the real kicker. Some homeowners want to sell, but they don't need to. That means they can wait out a down market, or even wait for the "perfect" buyer. If, however, you find yourself needing to move across town, or across the state, then you will have to be more willing in today's market to compromise. And compromise is all about price when it comes to real estate.

Buyers are savvy. Technology allows them to search the local MLS, research the latest trends, and even see how your neighborhood's prices have changed over the last 30 days. They will know if your home is overpriced. It is best to error on the side of too little than too much in this numbers game. If you price your home right, however, you're sure to find a ready and willing buyer.


A new year brings changes. Some homeowners will decide that this is the year to move on with

their lives in some way. Some will move south to join children and grandchildren. Others will

move either east or west in search of a better career opportunity. Growing families may decide

to purchase a larger home with a bigger back yard. Empty nesters may determine to downsize

and begin to prepare for their retirement.

 Every homeowner wants to maximize the sale of their house by achieving the highest price possible.

If you are considering selling your home in the next year, sit down with a local real estate professional today. Let them explain what is taking place with prices in your community. If they suggest a price less than you had hoped for, do not immediately eliminate them as your agent. Ask them to explain their thinking and, if they can do that in a simple and effective way, consider yourself lucky.

You have just found a professional

Patricia Bergren
Patricia Bergren
18113 NE 201st Ct Brush Prairie WA 98606
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