How can I reduce the hassle of keeping my house in showcase shape?

TowelsHere are some inside tips to keep your home shining between showings and be ready for a buyer in two minutes. Literally!

  • 1. Have A Game Plan
  • Map your moves. Assign responsibility for each room to a family member so when the "two-minute drill" starts, each person knows which rooms to straighten.
  • Rely on a bail-out box. Eliminate a frantic search for keys, wallet, dog’s leash and shoes when you are leaving to let the agent show your house. Keep a small box with pertinent items stashed in a handy place such as the coat closet floor.
  • Plan your get-away. Know where you’ll go when you vacate the house for show time. Take the kids to the library, park, playground, fast food restaurant, or to visit friends. Do your grocery shopping, pick up the cleaning, buy Aunt Jane’s birthday present.
  • 2. Best Defense Is A Good Offense
  • Keep the bathroom shining. If you’re a two-bathroom household, consider using only one, so you only have to keep one clean. For a lasting shine on tiles, wipe them down with a squeegee after every shower.
  • Note the keepers. To forestall questions, you might want to label special items "to convey" or "not to convey."
  • Blossom out. Fresh flowers are nice when your house is being shown. Wildflowers or your own garden flowers work as well as those from a florist. Or buy long-lasting flowering plants.

We’ll be happy to consult with you on other ways to showcase your house. Call or e-mail for answers to your home-selling questions.

How do I overcome a sluggish market to sell my house?

GiftWhen a house is stuck in seller’s limbo, one way to jump-start the sale is to offer a mortgage subsidy. While the amount of money involved is less than a price reduction, the bottom line is often more attractive to buyers.

  • Here's how it works: The seller offers a fixed dollar amount per month in cash to buy down the mortgage payment. The subsidy could be less for the second year, and even smaller – if it is continued at all – for the third year. The total amount of the subsidy would be placed in an escrow account at settlement.
  • For example: A $200 per month subsidy would cost the seller a total of $2,400 the first year. Reducing the buyer's payment by $150 per month the second year would cost an additional $1,800 for a total expenditure of $4,200, considerably less than a $10,000 price reduction, but more likely to attract attention in a slow market.

What is the difference between a “Buyers’ Market” and a “Sellers’ Market?”

For Sale

  • Buyers’ Market A buyers' market refers to a marketplace that favors home buyers because more homes are listed than can be expected sell in the near future. If, for example, 20 homes are listed in a neighborhood, and 5 were sold in the last month, the neighborhood has a 4-month supply of homes for sale.
  • Sellers’ Market Of course, the market can – and does – change based on general economic conditions such as rising or falling interest rates, or the local business climate such as a new company opening nearby. If, for example, all 20 homes listed plus 5 new listings sell within a few months, then the market has become a sellers' market, where buyer demand meets or exceeds the house-for-sale supply.

Is it a good idea to put the house on the market through the holidays?

OrnamentsIf you really want to sell your home, consider putting it on the market during the holiday season. You may find it inconvenient to show your house during the holidays, but there’s good reason to consider marketing it during this special time of year.

  • Dressed to sell. The house shows very well when it's dressed for the season. Holiday baking, decorations and music make your home even more appealing.
  • Serious buyers. While you may have fewer showings in December – because typically there are fewer prospects – you'll find prospects are motivated and serious about buying. Keep in mind, some others will likely take their home off the market during this season, so your chances of selling are better.
  • It’s your house. Remember, you can always ask your agent to temporarily not show your home for a few days when houseguests arrive or for a family celebration. We'd be happy to help you work toward a fast sale while working around your holiday plans. Just give us a call!

Call or e-mail us or click on “Ask Your Own Questions” for professional assistance and answers to your home-selling concerns.

What is earnest money?

Getting a LoanEarnest money is a cash deposit buyers make when they sign a contract to buy a house. It makes the contract binding and signifies the intention of the buyer to complete the purchase. At closing, the earnest money becomes part of the down payment. If the buyer defaults without a good reason, as spelled out in the contract, the earnest money becomes payment for damages suffered by sellers and their agents.

The earnest deposit is typically several thousand dollars, but usually less than five percent of the purchase price. If the seller does not accept the buyer’s contract, the money is returned to the buyer.

Why do I pay a commission on the sale of my house?

Handshake with AgentThe commission pays for the services we provide and the expenses we incur in selling your home. Some of our services include:

  • Develop a tailored marketing plan
  • Advise you on fix-ups
  • List the house with a multiple listing service
  • Put up a yard sign where permitted
  • ttract buyers with advertising and open houses as appropriate
  • Screen potential buyers and follow up with agents
  • Negotiate the best contract on your behalf
  • Supervise a zillion details all the way to settlement for inspections, appraisal, walk through, repairs if needed
  • Help you plan your next purchase and your move.

If another agent brings the buyer, the commission is shared with that agent.

What is a walk-through and what should I expect?

Welcome MatWhether you are selling a relatively new house or one that was built years ago, most buyers will want to make a final inspection before settlement. This walk-through should be scheduled long enough before settlement so any problems can be repaired before closing.

What Buyers Typically Look For

  • Check out contingencies. The buyers will examine the house closely to see that any contingencies you agreed to have been resolved
  • Unseen blemishes. Buyers look for any flaws that might have escaped their notice earlier. For instance, how does the house look without your furniture? Have any changes been made since the buyer saw the house before?
  • Consider a negotiated solution. In some cases, problems will have to be taken care of after settlement. Just make sure you have a written agreement to that effect (with a timetable specified), to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Buyers aren’t shy. Don't be surprised if buyers ask lots of questions during the final walk-through. After all, this may be their last chance to become familiar with their soon-to-be home. Some have been known to bring an experienced inspector or consult a home maintenance book during the walk-through.
  • Expect any requests in writing. If the buyers do have concerns after the walk-through, expect them to put their requests in writing as soon after the inspection as possible. We can help resolve any concerns.

We have answers to your questions and more professional tips to make selling your house easier. Call or e-mail us or click on “Ask Your Own Questions.”