House Selling Tips in Kingstowne VA

6 Common Reasons Homes Come Back On The Market

6 Common Reasons Homes Come Back On The Market

No home seller or agent wants to go from pending to active and back on the market. Buyers and sellers make an agreement on a home and everyone including the agents hope the sale goes according to plan but, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. So, why do pending home sales fall through? There are quite a few issues that can come up leading to a home going back on the market.
 


Re-listing a home as active again can cause buyers to be concerned that there’s something wrong with the home. That’s a myth and not always the case. As long as your agent can determine what caused a contract to fail homes that come back on the market aren’t something to blacklist during your home search.

 

Whether you are buying or selling knowing why homes go back on the market is useful so that you can do your best to avoid these situations.

 

Home Inspection Problems

Problems from the home inspection are the number one reason a home comes back on the market. It’s a home inspector’s job to go through a home and identify problems.

 

After the home inspection is completed the home buyer may now be aware of some problems with the home and they could be costly. The seller can always negotiate to come to an agreement to have repairs completed, reduce the sale price, or credit the buyer. If an agreement can’t be made between the buyer and the seller the buyer can walk.
 


Home inspectors can make mistakes occasionally, after all, they are human. However, most of the time they are well trained and in Virginia they have to be licensed so odds are if they find a big issue it’s worth looking into.
 

There is a way to prevent a house coming back on the market due to home inspection problems. How? Get a pre-listing home inspection before you put your home on the market. Then you’ll know the condition of your home before it hits the market and can address any issues that need to be resolved.

 

Being prepared for the buyer’s home inspection always works in your favor. Follow these 5 tips for a smooth home inspection.

 

The Home Didn’t Appraise

If the buyer is obtaining financing and doesn’t waive the appraisal contingency there will without a doubt be an appraisal conducted on the home. An appraiser will analyze properties similar to the subject home and review recent sales in the area. Upgrades, special features, number of beds and baths, lot size, and location are all factors an appraiser will consider.

 

If the appraisal comes in at lower than the agreed upon price and the buyer and seller cannot come to terms the buyer can walk.

 

The Buyer’s Financing Was Denied

Buyers can get pre-approved and pre-qualified for a mortgage but, that doesn’t mean their financing is guaranteed. If a buyer loses his or her job they could find that buying a home is no longer an option.

 

It’s good business for a listing agent to contact a buyer’s lender to ensure they are able to qualify. Doing so doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing though. Some lenders pre-vet buyers better than others. Some buyers make dumb decisions such as taking out another loan during the process home buying process that causes them to no longer be able to buy.

Buyer’s Remorse

Real estate isn’t exempt from buyers getting cold feet. It can happen for a variety of reasons.

 

Perhaps they made an emotional decision because there were multiple offers and they got caught up in winning a bidding war. Maybe the home was just so perfectly presented they made an offer before thinking about it financially being a stretch.

 

Whatever the reason for buyer’s remorse it leaves sellers in a bad spot. Even if a buyer has to forfeit their deposit that still means the seller has to find another buyer. Deposits are in place to discourage this type of behavior.

 

The higher the deposit the better for the seller. Even with a high deposit that doesn’t mean there’s no chance of the buyer getting cold feet and backing out.

 

Buyers Could Be Submitting Offers On Multiple Homes

Unless a buyer can afford to buy more than one home at a time they shouldn’t be making offers on multiple homes. However, depending on market conditions there are cases where buyers are working with an incompetent agent who is willing to write offers on multiple homes at one time knowing the buyer can’t buy more than one.

 

All it takes is two offers being accepted at the same time and there’s a big problem.

 

Sound far-fetched? It’s not and it happens more frequently when markets are very competitive. It’s not only unfair to sellers and agents it’s just plain deceitful behavior.

 

To avoid a home going back on the market because the buyer made offers on multiple homes the listing agent should have a conversation with the buyer’s agent. The goal being to get as much information about the buyer’s sincerity in the offer before the seller accepts it.

 

It doesn’t remove the risk but, it lessens it for the seller. The more that’s known about the buyer’s intentions the better.

 

Title Issues Are Uncovered On The Home

Title issues can put a halt to a sale quickly. There are a variety of ways these can occur; illegal deeds, unknown easements, forgeries, unreleased previous mortgages, and liens.

 

As soon as a home is pending the title search should be done promptly. The most common title issue is a lien that is tied to a property. This means that the debt has to be paid before the owner can sell the home. If that can’t be accomplished the sale cannot happen.

 

Closing Thoughts

Homes come back on the market for a variety of reasons. There are cases when coming back on the market can be avoided and there are others where it can’t be. All parties, agents included should work together to the best of their ability to achieve a successful outcome.  
 

 

Additional Resources

Putting A Home Back On The Market Due To A Failed Home Inspection via Bill Gassett of RE/MAX

How To Get A Mortgage via Luke Skar of Madison Mortgage

 

 

 

 

How To Handle A Low Ball Offer

How To Handle A Low Ball Offer

Low ball offers are frustrating to homeowners and can be one of the top challenges when selling a home. Most, if not all homeowners have a certain amount they want to sell their home for and when an offer rolls in that’s $15,000 - $20,000+ less than asking it can be downright infuriating.

 


Real estate transactions have hurdles to work through and they’re not all easily put together. Negotiation is a part of real estate and it’s a regular occurrence for there to be back and forth between the buyer and seller before mutually agreeable terms are found. A low ball offer can be the start of negotiation but, it requires the proper steps be taken in order to turn that offer into something that’s acceptable for the seller and the buyer.

If you are selling your home and have received a low ball offer take a deep breath and consider the following advice on how to handle a low ball offer in real estate.

 

Why Do Buyers Make Low Ball Offers?

From trusting Zestimates or thinking the house isn’t worth what it’s listed for, to taking advice from their agent or family and friends there are a plethora of reasons buyers make low ball offers. Some buyers just like to throw something up against the wall to see if it will stick, testing the waters if you will.

 

How To Handle A Low Ball Offer In Real Estate

Control Your Emotions
Easier said than done, I know but, remind yourself this is a business transaction and emotions don’t mix well with business. Letting your emotions take control is only going to cause you more stress. A low ball offer might make you want to tell the buyer to pound sand however before you do that remind yourself that the offer is just a starting point.

The goal is to sell your home and if you tear up the low ball offer and trash it you’re not going to be any closer to achieving your end goal.
 


Always Respond With A Counter

If you don’t respond to a low ball offer you have zero chance of finding common ground and coming to agreeable terms. On the flip side if you counter there is always a chance through negotiation all parties will come to terms.

There are different strategies when countering a low ball offer.

Going back at full price is one that is very common to send a signal to the buyer that you aren’t messing around. This is not the best negotiation strategy in my opinion because it could deter the buyer altogether.

A strategy I’ve found to be more successful is to respond with the lowest and final price you are willing to accept. Taking this route can eliminate back and forth with the buyer and shows them you are serious about selling but, not at a low ball price.

Whatever strategy you opt to take always, always, always counter a low ball offer.
 


Review All Of The Terms In The Offer
Price is just one factor of an offer and while it’s an important one it’s not the only component to look at. There are other contingencies and terms in a purchase offer and when you’re deciding how to respond you want to look at each detail closely.

What other terms should you consider?

→Seller Concessions

→Earnest Money Deposit

→Inspection Contingencies (home inspection, radon, and termite in Virginia)

→Appraisal Contingency

→Financing Contingency or Cash Buyer

→Closing Date

 

It’s never just as simple as price when it comes to a purchase offer in real estate. An offer is a total package and while the price is often what you first look at it’s not the only term to consider.

 

Look To Your Realtor For Guidance
Low ball offers are just one of many reasons it’s imperative to hire a top Realtor to sell your home. If you are working with a pro a low ball offer is just another day at the office. Your Realtor will be able to guide you on how best to respond and remain calm and professional. Rely on your Realtor for advice and allow them to be your advocate.

 

Closing Thoughts On Low Ball Offers
You’re not the first seller to receive a low ball offer and you definitely won’t be the last. Take a deep breath and remove your emotions when it’s time to consider how you want to counter. Your end goal is selling your home and making that your priority is what matters most.

 

 

 

5 Seller Tips For A Smooth Home Inspection

5 Seller Tips For A Smooth Home Inspection

Home inspections are a big part of the process when it comes to selling your home. Most homeowners understand that after a ratified contract there will very likely be a home inspection. While there are some cases where there isn’t, the overwhelming majority of the time it’s the first steps after coming to terms with the buyers.

There are many reasons why a home inspection is necessary. Often, these inspections are part of a real estate transaction. However, some inspections are also done on new construction, before a builder’s warranty expires, or as part of a home maintenance checkup.

No matter the reason, people who are involved in a home inspection process want it to be as smooth and as thorough as possible.

 


The seller’s anxiety commonly associated with the home inspection process can be significantly reduced by the cooperative involvement of an agent. Hence, certain steps have to be taken to prepare a home for inspection and reduce the occurrence of any discrepancies that may occur further down the road. A proactive approach to home inspection helps make the closing process much easier and prevent the home seller from losing a deal.

When it’s time for the inspection every homeowner wants it to go smoothly and not be a deal killer. Home sellers have enough to worry about without having to wonder if their property will pass the home inspection. Any person who is familiar with the nature of buying and selling real estate knows how much work flipping a home for profit requires, so inspecting a home to make sure the buyer won’t have issues to deal with is a must.

According to John Fryer, “owner of Fryer Consulting, “Whatever is wrong with your house will be found out anyway… If you disclose problems in advance and provide potential buyers with an inspector’s report, it can go a long way to diffuse anxiety and help the transaction go through.”  

Follow these 5 tips for a smooth home inspection.
 

Replace Burned-Out Light Bulbs

If a bulb has burned out between going under contract and the day of the inspection replace it. If the inspector comes across a fixture that isn’t working they’re going to note it and while they may say it could be just a bulb you can avoid the remark altogether if you’ve replaced burned out bulbs. This is by far one of the easiest tasks a seller can do to avoid remarks about faulty lighting.

As simple as it may sound, make sure all the light bulbs in your home are working. Remember, home inspectors are required to report everything. Do not think it is insignificant, because a burned-out light bulb may indicate more serious problems than you may think. It could be because of a wiring problem or something else. Before having your home inspected, make sure all your lights work accordingly.

Replace Filters

This is probably the second easiest thing a seller can do to prepare for an inspection. A home inspector is going to check every filter in your home and if they’re dirty they’re going to note it and include it in the report. While you’re at it, make sure they also fit securely, improper size or fit is also something that comes up frequently in reports and is easy to avoid with proper preparation.

Access To All Areas

Have a shed that you keep locked? Be sure to leave it open or leave a key for it to be accessed with the day of the inspection. Have boxes or furniture in front of the electric panel? Move it out of the way. Have a crawl space that’s tricky to locate? Leave instructions. It’s an inspector’s job to examine everything about your home and in order to do that they have to be able to access it.

Unlock all your doors prior to the arrival of a home inspector. Seeing as how the investor needs to view every area of your property, it makes sense to prepare every area for the home inspection. Unlock all the gates and doors to a garage, shed or crawl space.

Also, make sure to provide unobstructed access to the service electric panel, water heater and all attic openings and crawlspaces. If there is attic access in your garage, move your car out of the garage.

It is also necessary that you provide the home inspector all the proper access codes for your lockboxes. Make sure that the codes you provide operate properly by testing them in advance. There are times when an inspector will try to gain access to a property only to find out that the code does not work.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

They’re going to be tested; make sure they’re fully functional prior to the day of the inspection.
 


Minor Maintenance and Repairs

Homes take constant maintenance and while these really should be done prior to listing your home I see them come up in reports all too often. Cracked caulking around windows and doors, missing shingles, slow draining sinks/tubs, non-functional doors, missing or disconnected downspouts, cracked windows, broker shower diverters, and overgrown trees/shrubs.

In addition to the above items make sure your utilities are on and that you are prepared to be away from your home for a few hours. The time it takes for the inspection will vary by the size and type of home. If you have pets you’ll also need to remove them from the home for the duration of the inspection.
 


Being prepared for the home inspection and presenting your home in the best condition possible will decrease your chances of the buyer walking. The more you take care of upfront the less you’ll have to worry about or have to negotiate on in the future.

 

How Do You Find the Right Home Inspector?

You can’t underestimate the importance of finding the right home inspector as you prepare for a smooth home inspection process. Not all home inspectors are created equal—some are better in terms of knowledge than the others.

Here’s a list of the steps you should take to find the right inspector:

  • Find someone who wants you present

A good home inspector will always want the homeowner to accompany him throughout the home inspection process. That is because he wants you to get the most out of the experience, rather than just look at their report at the end.

  • Request for a sample report

Another good indicator of a good home inspector is the quality of his home inspection report. Since many home inspection agencies offer sample reports on their websites, you can check for clarity, formatting, and whether or not they include photos. If a home inspector can show you a good report, that’s a sign that he’s a good inspector.

  • Go through review sites

These days, reviews tell a lot about how good or bad someone or something is. If you want to know if a home inspector is a good find, Yelp, Google, Review and Angie’s List are great places to check for customer reviews. In addition to good ratings, a good home inspector will often engage with customers and address concerns.

  • Ask about experience and certifications

Interview the inspector regarding his work history, if he has certifications, as well as if he belongs to any professional organizations. This information can help you get a sense of his level of professionalism and commitment to his industry.

  • Double check his license and insurance

If you want to hire a good home inspector, make sure that you verify his license and insurance. Good contractors will always provide copies of these items even without you having to ask.

  • Know if he requires extra fee for additional items

Ask your prospect home inspector if he charges an extra fee for any areas that you want him to inspect that are not usually included in a typical home inspection, such as a septic system or foundation problems.
Additional Resources 
The Purpose Of A Home Inspection via Luke Skar with Madison Mortgage 

 

How To Prepare For A Home Inspection via Moving.com

 

 

 

Should Sellers Get a Pre-Listing Home Inspection?

Should Sellers Get a Pre-Listing Home Inspection?

A pre-listing home inspection is something I rarely see homeowners want to do. I can count on my fingers how many times I’ve had a client agree to one and while I see both sides of the story I think the benefits of having one outweigh the drawbacks. I’m not going to say one is needed on every single home but, more often than not I do recommend one be conducted.
 


The majority of the time a buyer is going to have a home inspection conducted, even if the market is competitive and it’s a void only contingency an inspection is highly likely going to be part of the puzzle that has to be put together before closing can happen. If you possess a solid idea of the condition of your home and the opportunity to fix any major problems before going on the market you lessen your risk of your home sale falling apart.

Let’s look at the pros and cons!

 

BENEFITS

Identifying Serious Problems Upfront

Surprises and real estate are not a good match. Finding out you have a serious moisture problem before you list is far better than finding out once you’re under contract.

 

Timing For Repairs

In Virginia, most homes close in 30-45 days and in a typical situation the home inspection contingency is 7-10 days after ratification. This puts pressure on sellers to get any agreed upon repairs done FAST. There’s no time to waste. If you know about them before you list your home you control the timing and can get multiple estimates and have the work done without the pressure of a closing date looming over you.

 

Cost-Effectiveness For Repairs

Timing also plays into the cost of repairs. Whether it’s a contractor of your choice or the buyers if you’re on a time crunch your options for who can do the work in the allotted timeframe may be limited. If there isn’t enough time to complete the repair or if the buyer requests a credit you can bet they are going to want more than what the actual repair costs due to the burden being placed on them to then coordinate the repair after closing.
 

Fewer Repair Requests

If you’ve already taken care of any deal breakers or large repair items it’s less likely you’ll get a laundry list of repair requests from a buyer. The overall condition of your home is revealed during an inspection and it can either leave the buyer feeling comfortable or make them want to run.

 

Trust

I’ve never met a buyer who didn’t appreciate a transparent seller. You can’t get more transparent than sharing your pre-listing home inspection along with repair receipts for any items you took care of. It sends the message to buyers that you’re not trying to hide anything.

 

The Report

An inspection report is an excellent tool to have – not only does it allow you to advertise to buyers up front that your home has been professionally inspected it also gives you a great comparison tool to use when the buyer obtains an inspection as well.
 

POSSIBLE BENEFITS (keyword – POSSIBLE … not always going to apply)

Higher List Price

If you get an inspection done and based on the findings determine you need to replace your HVAC or have a new roof put on you may find your agent recommends listing higher than if they’re old and in need of replacement. This is going to apply to significant replacement items, caulking the bathroom isn’t going to make a difference on your list price so you’ll want to rely on guidance from your agent when it comes to what will impact the list price.

 

Faster Closing

The less there is to negotiate on the faster closing can occur. If repairs have already been identified and completed you’re setting yourself up to be able to close faster. Now, not everyone wants to close fast so I understand this might not be seen as a benefit for every buyer and seller but, even just knowing you’re waiting to close and everything is ready to go vs. worrying over repair negotiations and timing for repairs is a benefit.

 

Competition

Based on my experience the odds of another homeowner completing a pre-listing inspection are low. Think about if a buyer is torn between your home and another home. Knowledge of your pre-listing inspection could sway a buyer or even attract a buyer faster. There’s something to be said for peace of mind when it comes to the condition of a home and that goes for buyers and sellers.

 

DRAWBACKS
Cost

A pre-listing inspection is going to cost you somewhere in the range of $300-$600 depending on what size and type of home you have.

 

Doesn’t Replace The Buyer’s Inspection

Although it’s possible the buyer will waive their inspection if you’ve already had one done it's not likely. The majority of buyers will still want to hire their own inspector and quite frankly they should. The pre-listing inspection is provided to a buyer for information only, not in lieu of the buyer having an inspection conducted.
 

Variance

No two inspection reports are the same. Don’t expect for something new or different not to be found during the buyer’s inspection if you’ve had a pre-listing inspection. Inspectors are human and that factor alone means there’s going to be varying opinions and findings.

 

Disclosure

This is going to vary greatly by each state so I won’t go into much detail but, I will say in most states if you know of a serious issue with your house it needs to be disclosed. Some states require far more disclosure than others so this is something to check with your agent about.

 

This post was inspired by a comment from Jay Markanich, Northern Virginia Home Inspector who has also experienced the majority of homeowners opt not to have a pre-listing inspection conducted. Think about the confidence you could have when buyers come through the door of your home knowing that you’ve done everything you can to get your home ready to sell.

Have you sold a home before and conducted a pre-listing inspection? If so, were you glad you did?

 

 

First Time Home Seller Tips

First Time Home Seller Tips

When it’s time to sell a home for the very first time it can be downright intimidating and stressful. Where do you start, what should you expect, how do you prepare your home for sale are all questions that pop into first time home sellers minds. Below are tips I recommend for first time home sellers to not only get your home sold but, to do it for the highest price possible with the least amount of stress possible.
 

Hire A Real Estate Agent

Not just any real estate agent, one that you trust and who you know has a proven successful track record. You’re going to have a lot of questions before your home ever goes on the market and you need a trusted partner to give you honest answers. According to The National Association Of Realtors for sale by owners (FSBO) in 2018 accounted for only 8% of home sales and the typical FSBO home sold for $200,000 as compared to $265,500 when represented by an agent.

 

Allow Yourself Plenty Of Time To Prepare Your Home For Sale

As soon as you start to think about selling your home is when I recommend making your hiring decision for an agent and then enlisting their expertise to give you guidance on what your home needs to be market ready. Rushing your home to get it on the market never turns out well. You want a polished and well-presented product and that takes time. Very few of us live in our homes the way we position them to sell. Which is why allowing plenty of time to prepare for your sale is important, it will mean less stress and a favorable outcome than trying to pull an all-nighter to get your home ready.
 


Pricing

Pricing is the biggest reason a home doesn’t sell and getting it correct from the very start is the best way to sell quickly and for top dollar. I always tell my clients no one pays top dollar for stale bread and if your home sits on the market for months on end that’s exactly what it will become. Pricing is unique to each home, its location, and updates. If you’re considering making updates before you sell it’s another reason to enlist the expertise of an agent early on in the process. A great agent who knows your neighborhood will be able to tell you what updates are going to give you a strong ROI and what updates aren’t a good use of your money. From there the agent will then be able to tell you where your home should be priced. If they’re really on top of their game they’ll be able to give you a comparison to show you where you can list if you do XYZ updates and where you can list if you opt not to make changes.

 

Put On Your Buyer Eyes

Speaking of updates, do you remember when you were touring homes as a buyer? What stood out to you, better yet, was there something in particular about your home that made you feel like it was the one? As hard as it can be, putting your buyer eyes on before you list your home and really being honest with yourself about its current condition will give you a lot of insight. Buyers like updated and turnkey ready homes and they’re willing to pay top dollar for them. If your home has maintenance issues, has become outdated, or even just needs some minor repairs the time to do them is before you list.
 


Timing To List

Knowing when to list your home for sale is not something that comes up as often as it should. Most homeowners contact an agent when they’re ready to list their home – as in get it listed as soon as possible. This all goes back to contacting an agent early on in the process. An agent can help you plan ahead and create and implement coming soon marketing if they have the lead time to do it. Think of a big motion picture, it doesn’t just pop into theatres one day unannounced. There is marketing dispersed to build curiosity and put it on moviegoers radar long in advance which of course boosts box office sales. Targeting home buyers before your home is for sale decreases the number of days it’s on the market and has them waiting and ready for it to go active.

 

Prepare For Photos

Updates and maintenance items are part of the big picture when preparing your home for sale but, then there are all those little details that come into play when preparing for photos. Any clutter has to go, it’s rare I see a seller who doesn’t have items to get rid of or donate that they no longer need. I recommend looking at it and asking yourself if you want to pay to move it. That normally helps with the decision making process. After you’ve de-cluttered then focus on de-personalizing. You want your home to feel welcoming and inviting but, not over-personalized. This allows as many buyers as possible to envision themselves living there. Some level of staging will also likely be needed, this is one to rely on your agent to assist with. The amount of staging needed for each home varies and it could be as simple as removing or rearranging furniture or as advanced as hiring a professional stager.
 


Prepare For Showings

When your home is active your daily routine is going to change. If you leave for work every day you’re going to need to allow extra time each morning to get your home show ready. Making beds, doing dishes, straightening pillows, opening blinds, cleaning off vanities isn’t something all of us do as part of our daily routine and it takes time to accomplish. If you have pets have a plan in place to remove them from the home for every showing and be sure to have their belongings tucked away. Be prepared to not be able to come home at your normal time and be flexible. Not all showings are going to give you a ton of advanced notice. I always suggest my sellers have a basket on hand to put extra items from the counter or bathrooms in quickly. If you get a last minute showing request you can either stick it somewhere out of site or better yet just throw it in the car and take it with you. If your house can’t be shown it also can’t be sold.

 

After You’re Under Contract

Once you’ve accepted an offer on your home you may then need to be prepared to allow the buyers in for a home inspection, or your agent to meet the appraiser. Inspections that are needed vary and will be in the contract you’ve signed. Your agent will guide you on the next steps. You’ll also want to arrange for your actual move once you’re under contract. Whether it’s hiring movers or renting a moving truck it’s best to do so in advance to ensure you can get the date and time that’s best for your schedule.
 


Selling a home is a big undertaking but, when you work with an agent you trust to guide you through each step you’ll find your home goes under contract quickly and that all of your preparation pays off.

 

Additional Resources

7 Crucial First Time Home Seller Tips via Luke Skar with Inlanta Mortgage of Madison

Tips For First Time Home Sellers via Bill Gassett with RE/MAX

8 Successful Habits All Successful Home Sellers Have In Common via Realtor.com

 

5 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring A Real Estate Agent To Sell Your Home

5 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring A Real Estate Agent To Sell Your Home

Selling your home might look and sound easy on the surface but, behind the scenes, it’s complicated with a lot of details and hurdles to work out. Far too often I hear of someone who hired a real estate agent only to be completely unsatisfied, let down, or downright angry with how the sale turned out for varying reasons.
 


Selecting the right agent to sell your home is a very important decision. Many people work with the first agent they come across with, and that’s recipe for disaster. When you’re talking about selling (or buying for that matter) one of life’s biggest investments, you want to work with the best of the best. Selecting a real estate agent because they’re a family member, friend, or any other reason that isn’t tied to their skill, level of service, and how they conduct business is a mistake. Ask for recommendations, do your research and conduct interviews to find an agent you not only know is qualified for the job but, who is also an agent you like and trust.

One of the signs you should be looking for when looking for a quality real estate agent is the questions they ask you. Chances are, the more the real estate agent knows, the more questions they're going to ask you. 

In return, you should also be asking them questions on how they plan on selling your home. Here are some of the most important questions you should be asking them:
 

How Will You Market My Home?

I’m not talking about putting a sign in the yard or putting your home in the MLS. Those are basics. You want your home to sell for top dollar in the shortest time possible and that means you want an agent who has a custom marketing plan for your home. Ask to see what the agent has done to market their past listings. Seeing examples of their work will show you if it’s the quality of marketing you want for your home. Check to see how they market homes. Do they use direct email campaigns? How often would they advertise your home? What kind of photos would they use to make the home you are selling more appealing to potential buyers? Are the photos high quality with the right lighting? Photos are essential since these will be the primary visuals that potential buyers will see before they decide to visit your home for viewing.

How would the staging be? Staging is also important since this would be the initial preparation of your home to make a lasting and positive first impression on potential buyers. 

Do they have a well-established blog that ranks well with Google? Having a highly visible blog on Google will definitely increase the chance of your home to be bought in no time. The more visible the real estate agent's site is, the more people will be able to view the home you have for sale. 

Do they target market on social media? Aside from online marketing, a good real estate agent would think of other things to increase the visibility of your home. They could set up an open house so that potential buyers can get a better look and feel of the house that's for sale.

Have they thought about who is likely to buy your home? If you have a 1 bedroom, 1 bath condo, the odds of a family with children purchasing it aren’t high so you need an agent that knows who and how to target. Marketing is not just throwing things against the wall to see if they stick. Effective marketing should be planned out from start to finish, and a good real estate agent will be able to see the potential problems you could encounter along the way. 
 


What Do You Think My Home Is Worth?

Next up is determining a suitable price for your home before you put it up for sale in the real estate market. Pricing is a key component of a listing agent’s job. In order to determine the proper price for your home, a real estate agent must create a comparative market analysis. This would help them gauge the worth of your house by means of comparison with other homes for sale nearby. Having a comparison, you will have a better idea of what your house is actually worth, and how much people are willing to purchase your house.

An agent has to price your home just right and that means they need to understand the current market and be able to thoroughly research and correctly interpret data. Data is readily available to the public but, data is worthless if you don’t know how to analyze and correctly interpret it. Ask the agent why they think your home is worth the amount they tell you. If they’re a great agent, they’ll be prepared to show you the data and then explain it in detail.

And please, do not just go with the agent who gives you the highest number. Although a high price does sound attractive for you financially, remember that your home is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay and if an agent gives you a number that isn’t supported by market data, your home isn’t going to sell. There are unfortunately some agents who will tell you what you want to hear just to get you to agree to list with them and then you’ll be facing a price drop when your home doesn’t sell.
 

 


What Is Your Average Sale To List Price Ratio On Past Listings?

Determining a real estate agent's ration depends entirely on the market. If you are comparing agents and ask this question, you will get an idea of how accurate the agent is on pricing a home and how well they can negotiate. Remember, a good real estate agent has the capability to haggle sales prices that are close to the list prices. Be sure to ask for the ratio from the original list price. Working with an agent who has a strong sale to list price ratio average can be the difference in thousands of dollars. For example, with an average sale price of $500,000 - if one agent has an average sale to list price ratio of 95% and another agent has one of 97% that’s a difference of $10,000!
 

What Type Of Communication Will You Provide?

You’re entering into a relationship when you hire an agent to sell your home and while it might be tied to business it’s like any other relationship – good communication can be the difference in success and failure. As a seller, you need to be in the loop and be constantly updated with what's happening with your home for sale. Your agent should be able to tell you how often you can expect to receive updates, what hours of the day you can contact them, how long you can expect for it to take them to respond, and what methods of communication they use. Most of the time, real estate agents fail to give updates to their clients and would only contact them once an offer has been placed. Even though an offer hasn't been placed on your home yet, your real estate agent should be able to give you updates on what people are looking for in your home based on previous viewers. This way, you could make the necessary improvements in your home and be able to sell it as soon as possible. An excellent agent is going to ask you what methods of communication you prefer because they’ll want you to feel comfortable and well informed. Some real estate agents would offer to send you emails, give you daily calls, while others are even willing to go as far as seeing you personally to let you know the status of your house for sale. 

Another question to ask about communication is if you will exclusively be working with the agent or if the agent has a team that will be involved. If you want to work with an agent who operates their business by providing exclusive contact with you this is an important question to ask. There is no right or wrong answer, it’s just a matter of what you are looking for in an agent. Not every agent operates their business the same way. 
 


Do You Have Any Questions For Me?

I think this is the most important question you can ask an agent. Anyone can ask how much you want to sell your home for, how many beds and baths it has, or even what you want in a new home but, an agent’s priorities and mindset are exposed by the questions they ask you. As with any other professional, not all agents are created equal. An agent who takes the time to get to know you, learn about your goals and what your priorities are is priceless. What differentiates a good agent from a rock star agent is their ability to learn, understand, and deliver the level of service you’re looking for.
 

There are still a whole lot of other questions you could ask a real estate agent before you decide to hire them. This is far from an all-inclusive list of questions to ask an agent when it’s time to sell your home. These items are here to give you an idea of where to start to get a dialogue going with the agents you select to interview. Do your homework and work with an agent who you trust and feel confident will not only provide your home with the best marketing but, who will also provide you with the best service.

 

 

Home Selling Tips – How To Prepare Your Home For Picture Day

Home Selling Tips – How To Prepare Your Home For Picture Day

If you think taking a few random snaps of your home for sale is alright, then you might want to think again. Most of you might be thinking, "what matters is what the house looks like in person, not what it looks like in the photos." However, pictures can make or break a home sale. The first place potential buyers are going to see your home is online. Gone are the days that the first impression is when they pull up for a tour inside your home. I’d even venture to argue that the first showing for your home occurs online. Since we live in a technologically advanced era, people will take advantage of the convenience that the internet has to offer and check your home online first to see if it's worth their precious time. If buyers don’t like what they see online, chances are they’re not going to come to see a home in person. You want to make sure your home is staged and ready for picture day. Below are tips about how to prepare your home for photos as well as what key areas of your home you should be focusing on dolling up for potential buyers.
 


Interior Tips For Picture Day

Furniture

Although having plenty of furniture inside your home might look appealing for you, it's actually not as appealing as it is for potential buyers. Rooms that are packed with furniture will not only appear small in photos, they’ll also appear small for showings. Less is more. Work with your agent or your stager to determine which pieces should stay and which pieces should be removed. Anything you remove for picture day should stay out of the house for showings as well. Leave the task of filling up the room with furniture for the buyer. It's your job to make the house look like a beautiful blank canvas for them to paint on. 

 

Countertops

Countertops photograph best when they’re clear. Again, this creates the illusion of space and cleanliness. For the kitchen, this means small appliances, paper towel holders, cutting boards should be the only things visible. Clunky items such as knife blocks need to be removed or stored away. In the bathroom, take the toothbrushes, soap, makeup, lotion, and any other personal items off the top of the vanity and put them out of sight. The same goes for nightstands and dressers – have their surfaces clear. The fewer clutter countertops have, the more appealing they are for potential buyers. Think of it this way, if you were the one viewing your home, do you think it is necessary to see all those objects placed randomly all around the house?
 

 


Refrigerator

No magnets, photos, artwork, or calendars allowed. Have the exterior of your fridge completely clear to give a clean and classy impression of your kitchen. It should stay this way the entire time your home is on the market, as well. While it doesn’t have to be done for picture day, don’t forget that when it’s time for showings, the inside of your refrigerator needs to be organized and clean. No one wants to see the leftover meal you had from two days ago. It's just downright unhygienic. 

 

Cabinets

Make sure the exterior of all the cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms are clean. Wipe them down as needed prior to the photographer arriving. Pay close attention to spills, drips, and dried toothpaste. Potential buyers never want to see a dirty home as this would entail that they would have to clean up more once they decide to buy the house. 

 

Showers and Bathtubs

Shampoo and conditioner bottles, soap, razors, and anything else inside the shower or tub need to be removed. Showers and bathtubs should be completely clear including anything hanging on the wall. If you have glass shower doors, wipe them down and remove any soap scum or water spots. Again, you'd want your house to look as if it's brand new for its next owner. 
 


Lighting

Go through your entire house and replace any burned out lightbulbs. Consider replacing bulbs that don’t put off bright light to achieve better lighting the day of photos. On picture day, turn on every light in your home. Lights on ceiling fans should be on too but, the fan itself should be off. Better lighting would result to better photos. Better photos means better chances of reeling in a buyer. 

 

Throw Rugs

Entryway, hallway, and bathroom rugs need to be removed for picture day. Having them on the floor causes rooms to look small and cluttered. It also gives the impression that the house is untidy which is why there's always a need for throw rugs. 

 

Loose Wires

Lamp, TV, and electronic device wires should all be concealed. If that’s not possible, at the very least, they need to be wrapped neatly and zip tied to avoid being an eyesore in photographs. Imagine, if you get irritated at the sight of unruly wires from your computer or television, what more would potential buyers think? Also, loose wires tend to accumulate dust and dirt. We wouldn't want those to show in the photos. 

 

Beds

Every bed needs to be made, not just your everyday make-your-bed routine. Take time to make sure the sheets and blankets aren’t showing from under the comforter. Smoothen the comforter out and ensure it’s even on all sides. Add a throw pillow to the end of the bed for an added touch. Fluff and arrange all of the pillows. Getting a bed ready for photos isn’t a quick task. Allow plenty of time to arrange these during the morning when the pictures will be taken. You'll want the potential buyers to view your home as a relaxing space. What better way to give them that idea than to fix the bedroom? 
 


Toilet Seats

This one is a pet peeve of mine anytime I see it in photographs of a home for sale. Make sure toilet seats are all down. Nobody wants to see what the inside of your toilet looks like, regardless if there's nothing there to see. If you have a professional photographer, they’ll likely put them down for you or if your agent arrives prior to photos commencing to walk through your house, they probably will too. But, regardless of who takes care of it, just make sure it gets done.
 

Trash Cans

All trash cans need to be hidden and that includes the kitchen trash can. Your home is the product you are selling, not trash cans.

 

Pets

Sure, your furry friends might be the most adorable thing in the world for you but who's to say that the potential buyer thinks so, too? Not all people are animal lovers. Some might even be allergic or traumatized just by seeing animals. So, no matter how cute they are, make sure that your pets are out of thr picture when taking a photograph of your home. It goes without saying to remove your pet the day of photos but, don’t forget to remove your pet's belongings too. Beds, bowls, and food storage should not be photographed nor should they be present for showings either. Some buyers do not want to purchase a home if its apparent pets live there.
 


Exterior Tips For Picture Day

Don’t forget the exterior when preparing for picture day. It’s equally as important as the interior.
 


Front Door

You might easily ignore the importance of the front door, but this is usually a key factor in sealing the deal with a potential buyer. Place an attractive flower pot leading up the walkway or on a pedestal by the front door; something with an inviting color that doesn’t overwhelm the space. Adding something by or near the front door gives a welcoming vibe in photos.

 

Landscaping

The surrounding environment of your home plays a huge part in its attractiveness. Having a beautiful and neat landscape would send potential buyers flocking from all corners. Make sure to trim trees and bushes, pull weeds, mulch flower beds, and mow the yard. If the weather hasn’t warmed up enough for the grass to grow and there are bare spots with dirt showing in the yard, have sod put down. Having a touch of gorgeous nature would give potential buyers the idea of having endless days of peace and relaxation. 

 

Cars

Remove cars from the driveway and garage. If you have any sports equipment in the driveway or in front of the garage, it should be removed as well. Always remind yourself that you are selling the home. You wouldn't want potential buyers to think that your car is up for grabs too, right? This would save you possible inquiries in the long run. 
 


Trash Cans

Even the trash cans on the exterior of your home need to be removed for pictures too. Buyers aren’t interested in photographs with trash cans in them under any circumstances.

 

Yard

If you have pets, make sure the yard is free of any calling cards they’ve left. If you have children, remove their toys – there shouldn’t be any random items left out in the yard on picture day. The garden hose is an item that is often overlooked and it should be put away if it's lying on the ground.

 

Windows

All the windows in your home should be closed for picture day – blinds, however, should be open. Don’t forget to clean them prior to the photographer coming. Having open windows would make your house look more welcoming. From the inside, it also gives off beautiful natural lighting. 
 


Preparing your home for picture day takes a lot of attention to detail. I make it a point to arrive 45 minutes to an hour ahead of the photographer so that I can go through each room of the home and make any final adjustments. It’s easy to overlook little things when you don’t prepare a home for photos every day and it’s a costly mistake to make. Think of the photos you’d share if you were creating an online dating profile, they’d only be your absolute best. The same mentality applies to your home. Take the time to go room by room and get it ready to shine on picture day!
 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
Getting Your Home Ready For A Spring Sale via Luke Skar with Inlanta Mortgage of Madison

What Updates/Repairs Should We Do Before Listing via Joan Cox Broker-Owner House To Home in Denver Co


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Should I List My Home In The Winter Or Wait Until Spring?

Is The Winter A Good Time To List My Home
 

 

A question I frequently receive this time of year from sellers is should I list my home now or wait until spring. My answer is it depends – the decision should be based on your personal circumstances and what the current market conditions are in the area your home is located.

There are a lot of sellers that think waiting until spring is best but, if you know you want to sell in the spring it is a good idea to contact your agent now and find out what the local market conditions are in your area.

What if very few homes are for sale? It’s proven that when there’s less of something available it sells for more money and homes are no exception.

The myth that homes don’t sell during the winter seems to continue and the truth is that’s just not accurate. Real estate doesn’t stop during the winter. I think because in our area it gets cold and people spend more time inside it causes sellers to think that it’s not a good time to sell. This just isn’t accurate and it may even be easier to sell between January – March than it is in June – August.
 


Things To Consider When Selling Your Home In The Winter

If you are going to sell your house listing in the winter can lead to favorable results. The holidays are over and life isn’t as busy as it was for the last month giving you a little more time to decide when to list your home for sale. Before you decide to list your home in the winter there are a couple of things to consider.

 

Inventory Is Often Lower In The Winter

Let’s think about how many sellers wait until spring to list. More homes on the market equate to more competition for your home. Inventory in Kingstowne and many other areas in Alexandria is extremely low right now. Fewer homes for buyers to choose from plays in your favor.

Homes that are listed in the winter often sell quickly and for an excellent price; all of which are factors to consider when determining if you want to list before April. All markets are local but, speaking on Kingstowne I have found listing just before the spring rush is a great time to sell.

Many sellers are convinced that winter is a bad time to sell and that impacts how many homes are on the market. There are also homes that never sold during the summer and even the fall that have been pulled from the market with the intent to be relisted. Some even state in the remarks they’ll be relisted in the spring.

Our MLS requires a home to be off the market for 90 days before the days on the market will reset and the majority of the sellers who withdrew their home will wait for the 90 days to pass to reset the days on the market.
 


Buyers Are Motivated In The Winter

Keeping the cold temperatures in mind and the overall decline in activity that comes with winter in our area – buyers who are out and about looking for a home during the winter are more motivated than many of the buyers who are out on a beautiful and warm spring day.

Buyers are working with their own agent and they know that winter isn’t the most popular time for home sales but, yet there’s a reason they’re still out looking. Maybe they’re relocating, they may be motivated by the recent decrease in interest rates, and they may have a life change that causes them to need a bigger or a smaller home. There’s an endless list of reasons they could be out looking but, it’s safe to say a nice day to cruise around and enjoy the beautiful weather isn’t one of them. They are serious about purchasing a home.
 


It Gets Dark Early In The Winter

You might be thinking what the heck does that have to do with selling my home. Once it gets dark it’s not a good time for a buyer to see a home. I’m not saying you won’t have some appointment requests after dark but, you’re far less likely to have late evening appointments during the winter than the spring and summer. When I’m representing a buyer I discourage showings after dark because without light you can’t truly see all of the home or get a feel for it.

Winter will provide you with a little more flexibility and peace of mind that you’ll be able to maintain your daily schedule, especially in the evenings than if you sell during the spring.

 

Corporate Relocation Peaks In January

Corporate transfers happen year round but, they peak in January. Buyers who are being transferred for work are not only on a set timeframe they’re also highly motivated. This won’t apply to markets where people don’t tend to be transferred to for work but, in our market, it’s definitely something to consider. The more buyers interested in your home the better, and knowing that January is the most popular month for corporate transfers can mean more potential buyers for your home.

 

Closing Thoughts

Real estate is local and every market varies so if you are trying to decide whether it’s best for you to sell your home during the winter or wait until spring you should consult with a local agent who has a proven successful track record selling homes in your area and who is someone you trust. Receiving the best advice based on your personal circumstances and local market conditions will ultimately help guide you on what decision is best for you.
 

Additional Resources 
Winter Curb Appeal Tips from multiple real estate professionals – article by Inlanta Mortgage

Tips For Winterizing A Vacant Home – article by RISMedia 

 

 

2018 Kingstowne Home Sales Market Review

2018 Kingstowne Home Sales Market Review

The tune of it being a seller’s market played in Kingstowne throughout 2018. Final numbers show that the number of homes sold remained fairly consistent, an increase of 16 from 2017. Sale prices were a different story; up by over 5% in 2018 and days on the market were down by over 11%. Sellers also saw a 98.7% sale to list price in 2018.
 


So what does this mean for Kingstowne real estate? It was an excellent year for sellers. Inventory remained low (and still is) which causes buyers to wait for new homes to become available and they are poised to act as soon as they do. We currently have less than a one month supply of inventory. If you’re considering selling your Kingstowne home reach out to me and let’s talk. Winter might be in full swing but, that doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent time to list your home in Kingstowne.

 

Kingstowne home image winter

 

It’s still important to keep perspective as a seller and not have a pie in the sky price in mind for your home. If you price your incorrectly and buyers perceive it as a poor value it will sit on the market. Bottom line, it’s an excellent time to list your Kingstowne home but, you have to be realistic about pricing and keeping perspective is key.

 

If you’re planning a move to Alexandria, Kingstowne is an area buyer's often consider due to its close proximity to DC, Tysons’s Corner, Old Town, major commuter routes, and public transportation. Kingstowne is an urban community with tree lined streets and over 1,200 acres of green space. You’ll find apartments, condos, townhomes, and single family homes along with amenities including a lake, walking trails, outdoor pools, fitness centers, sports courts, and tot lots.
 

 

Kingstowne lake winter

 

A question I’m frequently being asked” “Is the market crashing? I heard on the news that it’s down.” No the market is not crashing, it is stabilizing in some areas and not everywhere is a seller’s market, some areas are even a buyer’s market but, real estate local. Hyper local. Market conditions vary in different neighborhoods so when you’re listening to the news just understand that what they’re saying isn’t specific to your market. If you’re a property owner interested in knowing the current market trends reach out to me. I’m happy to provide you with a free market analysis for your home! amanda@amandadavidson.com or 703-431-3755.

 

Search For Homes In Kingstowne 

 

Resources
Tips For Selling Your Kingstowne Home 

Kingstowne Home Buyer Tips 

 

 

5 Staging Tips For Selling During The Holidays

5 Staging Tips For Selling During The Holidays

Tis the season for holiday festivities, gift giving, strained budgets, and in this area bitter cold and grey days. This time of year can be hard on sellers but, it doesn’t have to be. Buyers who are out looking in our less than ideal temperatures are serious. They’re certainly not out because the weather is beautiful and the grass is green! Selecting the right holiday décor will have them wanting to toast the New Year in YOUR home.
 

Holidays are personal on many levels but, when selling your home during the holiday keep your décor neutral.

Try these tips to get buyers in the right spirit:

Clean and Stage - this tip is not holiday related but, it will get you ready to decorate. If you already have dust bunnies rolling across the floor and clutter overflowing on the bookshelf adding decorations is only going to make your home feel smaller. So many sellers overlook having their home spotless for buyers and it’s a big mistake. Hire the professionals if you can both for cleaning and staging.
 

Less is more – don’t let this idea keep you from adding holiday decorations to your home altogether. The right touches will make your home feel welcoming and cosy. A holiday wreath hung on the door, a new holiday welcome met, or pinecones in an attractive vase will all make your home feel festive without causing it to look cluttered.
 


Equal Opportunity – remember above when we mentioned neutral décor? This is not the year to break out your life-sized Nativity set. Anything overly religious should not be included when decorating a home that’s for sale during the holidays. You want to attract any buyer and you’re not going to do that if they feel uncomfortable or offended by your décor. Think snowflakes, pinecones, mistletoe, and nutcrackers.

Clark Griswold – leave the inflatables in storage. What might be merry to you could be downright tacky to a buyer. This is not the time cover your yard in inflatables and light up the block. Stick to minimal string lighting, preferably white lights and play up the positives of the exterior of your home.
 


Tree Time – select a tree based off the space you’re putting it in. Have a two-story foyer or great room? A tall tree can be the perfect accent to showcase it. Be mindful of your floor space and don’t get one that overwhelms it. If you have a tight living space go with a skinny tree. Your tree needs a theme, this is not the year for family ornaments to trim your tree.

With the right holiday décor, your home can immediately get buyers into the holiday spirit. You just have to remember you still want your home to look spacious. Don’t decorate every nook and cranny and keep a theme for your decorations to create consistency. For most of us that means using just a tiny bit of our décor and that’s ok. Just remember, your goal is to be in a new home for the next holiday and then you can decorate any way you’d like!