7 Crucial Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Seller’s Agent

talking with a real estate professionalYour home is likely the largest financial investment you have, so it makes sense to carefully choose the right agent to represent you when you sell it. The best real estate agent will walk you through the whole process, showcase your home in the best light, give you feedback from showings and open houses, and let you know whether you should accept a buyer’s offer up front or negotiate for a higher price.

It’s a good idea to talk to more than one listing agent before you sign on with one. As you’re interview listing agents, ask these questions so you can determine which agent will best help you sell quickly and for the most money possible.

1. What’s Your Real Estate Experience?

A listing agent who has been in real estate for several years or has sold plenty of properties has seen all kinds of scenarios. If this agent has overcome challenging home-selling hurdles before, he or she will know how to avoid or mitigate these stressful situations during your home sale, should they arise.

2. What’s Your Sale-to-List-Price Ratio?

This percentage will tell you if this agent consistently sells homes close to or over the list price, which is the price that’s set when the home goes on market.

3. What are Your Average Days on Market Stats?

In other words, how quickly do sellers’ homes go under contract with this agent? Agents who sell homes quickly often use advanced marketing or advertising techniques and are highly skilled negotiators.

seller texting her real estate agent4. How—And How Often—Will You Contact Me?

How frequently does the agent you’re interviewing provide updates or check in with his or her sellers? The best real estate agent will keep you updated about everything that’s going on with your listing—and contact you over your preferred method of communication, whether it’s email, phone call, or text.

5. When are You Available?

If you contact your listing agent after office hours or on the weekend, is your agent going to get back to you before Monday morning? If you work regular 9-to-5 hours, getting in touch with an agent who also only works those hours might prove difficult or inconvenient.

6. How Do You Plan to Market My Home?

Marketing is key to getting your listing in front of as many buyers as possible, including those searching online for properties, glancing at magazine and newspaper ads, and driving by homes that are for sale. During the interview phase, ask for the specifics of each agent’s marketing plan.

7. Can You Give Me at Least Three References?

Ask the agent you’re interviewing for testimonials from past home sellers—which can include online reviews or video testimonials—or a list of references. Call the agent’s past clients and ask general questions about their experiences to get an idea of the agent’s responsiveness, helpfulness, and tech-savviness.

We’re Available to Answer All of Your Questions

We’d be happy to answer your questions about listing your home, whether they’re these seven essential interview questions or general questions about the home selling process. Just give us a call or shoot us an email.

Staging Your Home

It’s time to prepare your home to sell. So where do you begin?

It’s a good idea to take an objective look at your home to see what needs repaired or replacstaged home in New Albanyed. Your house will be scrutinized by potential buyers who won’t overlook smudges around the light switches, boxes stacked in the laundry room, or peeling paint on the back splash. A spruced-up home makes a good first impression, which is essential for getting buyers to investigate further. Ultimately, you want buyers to picture themselves living in your home. This means you will need to clear your home of all distractions, such as clutter and personal photos on the walls.

It’s not personal. It just helps would-be buyers to visualize the home as their own. Let us take you through the process.

Clear Out the Clutter in Every Room

Decluttering your home makes every room look larger and feel neater, and it gives the impression that it has been well cared for. If a house is cluttered, buyers have trouble imagining themselves in it.

Be sure every room smells as good as it looks, and pay special attention to pet areas, nurseries, and bathrooms. Fresh paint and a one-time professional cleaning service can make your home look like new!

If you have acquired too much stuff over the years, sell some, donate it to charity, or throw it away. If you can’t bear to part with it, store it out of sight. A good rule of thumb: When in doubt, throw it out.

Neutralize

Neutral paint, décor, and carpeting create a home for any lifestyle. Neutralizing also helps buyers see their own things in your house and visualize living there. Eliminating distracting colors and accessories lets the buyer concentrate on positive impressions.

Depersonalize

Help buyers see themselves living in your home by removing personal items like photos and collections. You want the buyer to look at your home, not your possessions.

Declutter Closets

Closets and storage spaces are important considerations for home buyers. Store unused or out-of-season clothes so that your closet looks bigger and more organized.

Deep Clean

Have your carpets cleaned professionally; if they are badly worn or stained, replace them. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to improve the appearance of your home.

Make All Necessary Repairs

Making repairs eliminates buyer objections before they arise. If you think something is too much trouble to fix, chances are the buyer will think so, too. Buyers tend to think repairs will cost more than they do. Don’t start any major renovations since it’s unlikely you will recoup the cost, but do repair leaky faucets, slow drains, torn screens, broken windows and any other minor issues.

Curb Appeal

Creating an excellent first impression of your home starts from the outside and can make or break a sale. If potential buyers don’t like what they see on the outside, chances are they won’t look any further, so make your home’s exterior look its best.

It is crucial that your home look its best during showings. Buyers take this time to tour your house in person and consider whether it is their next home. Make this aspect of home selling easier with a concrete plan for before, during and after each showing. Your hard work will likely pay off in the form of an offer.

Contact us to learn more about home staging and selling real estate in New Albany.

9 Moments All Home Buyers Experience

You’re armed with your pre-approval letter, your wants and needs list, and your knowledge of the real estate market. Now comes the fun part: searching for homes! Like any part of buying a home, the home search has its ups and downs. But once you’re living in your new home, spending weekends shopping for furniture and décor, and enjoying all the amenities of your new location, you know you wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Here are the moments only home buyers understand.

home buyers searching for homes

1. When You Hit “Search” for the First Time

You put your price range, number of bedrooms, and a couple of must-have features into an online home search tool, then hold your breath while the results page loads. Look at all those listings! Your new home is just a click away!

sign pointing to home for sale

2. When You Make a Day of Driving Through Your Favorite Neighborhoods

You find yourself giving this excuse to friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and anyone else who wants to make plans: “Sorry, I’m busy all weekend. I’m going to open houses!”

buyers looking at homes

3. When You Fall in Love with Several Different Homes

You just can’t help it! You’re picturing yourself reading by the window, cooking meals in the kitchen, decorating the bedrooms, exploring the trails nearby, and even running errands to the closest grocery store.

buyer who's stressed out

4. When You Go Overboard on Your Must-See List

Your Realtor warned you not to have a long list of homes. Now that you’ve seen a handful of properties, each new home is starting to look just like the one before it, and trying to keep them all straight is making your head hurt. The home buying struggle is real.

parents stressed out about listings

5. When Your Favorite Home Goes Off the Market

Another buyer scooped up your favorite property before you could even call your real estate agent for a showing, or worse, the home goes off market just before you’re about to make an offer.

attic stuffed with boxes and clutter

6. When You Tour a Home That Clearly Isn’t Ready to Sell

For a second you think you’re in the wrong place. There are fingerprint smudges on the windows, dust bunnies in the corners, clutter in the closets, family photos on the walls, home décor that’s easily 30 years old… Yikes. This looks nothing like the online listing photos you fell in love with!

looking at new listings

7. When a New Listing with All Your Criteria Hits the Market

This property has everything you’ve been searching for, and it just showed up in your inbox! You scramble to schedule a showing, make an offer, and thank your Realtor for signing you up for email alerts.

buyer talking with a Realtor

8. When You Still Don’t Understand Parts of the Closing Process

Even though your agent explained everything that happens after you make an offer, you’re still confused about some things, like the difference between “due diligence fee” and “earnest money.” Due diligence is a courtesy amount of a few hundred dollars you pay the seller to take their home off the market. (You get this money back.) But earnest money, which is a fraction of your down payment, you don’t get back.

new homeowners unpacking

9. When You Finally Move Into Your New Home

All those days spent researching neighborhoods, cancelling plans to go to showings, and taking pages and pages of notes about your favorite properties have paid off. The home is finally yours!

We’ll Help You Find Your New Home

The home buying process has its ups and downs, but we’re here to help you every step of the way. We’ll sign you up for alerts of new listings, coordinate showings, and guide you from your home search to the closing table. Ready to get started? Just give us a call!

Sale of Home Contingency Explained

A common question we get from our clients is what to do when an offer on their home includes a Sale of Home contingency. In a nutshell, a Sale of Home contingency means that the potential buyer has a home to sell, and that they will only move forward with the purchase of the new home if and when their property sells. Our clients are often uncertain about how to proceed when they receive an offer with this contingency. Of course every situation is unique, but in most cases, we advise the following.

Should You Accept the Home Buyer’s Offer?

Whether or not to accept an offer with a Sale of Home contingency depends on two key factors:

  1. The salability of the buyer’s property — You (with our help) need to evaluate how likely it is that the buyer’s home will sell within a reasonable timeframe. Factors such as how it is listed on the market (by a Realtor or FSBO, for example), its list price, location, and condition will all play a role in how quickly it sells.
  2. The dollar amount of the offer — If an offer is going to contain this type of contingency, then the dollar amount needs to be on the high end of what the homeowner is willing to accept. A “low ball” offer with a Sale of Home contingency is usually not worth considering.

If You Decide to Accept the Offer

If our clients consider these factors and choose to accept the offer, we strongly advise them to include language in the counter offer that will allow us to continue marketing and showing their home, even though it is in contract. We also include an escape clause that allows for our clients to accept a better offer. It works like this:

two professionals shaking handsOur clients receive another offer that they’d like to accept.

  • They accept the offer as a back-up offer.
  • They notify the first buyer of the new offer, and give the first buyer a certain amount of time (usually 48 hours) to remove the Sale of Home contingency.
  • The first buyer must either remove the contingency (and move forward with the purchase regardless of whether or not their home sells) or be “bumped” by the second buyer.
  • If the first buyer does not remove the contingency within the allotted time frame, then the second buyer takes over the primary position and the transaction moves forward.

Sale of Home contingencies are very common and, when handled properly, are just another component of a smooth transaction. We can provide more information about contingencies and what to expect when selling your home. Call us at 614-939-8944.

Beat the Winter Blues with Colorful Home Décor

The winter holidays and New Year’s have come and gone, and so have all the decorations. With no twinkling lights or festive ornaments brightening up its main living areas, your home can start to look a little bare. Not to worry! Here are a few winter home decorating ideas that can cheer you up and bring back the holiday sparkle. And if you’re planning to sell your home this season, these tips will also help you impress potential buyers with your warm, welcoming home.

seasonal wreath on doorKeep the Wreath on Your Front Door

A splash of color in your entryway can bring a smile to your face even on the gloomiest winter mornings. Add sprigs of holly, frosted pine cones, or a colorful bow to an evergreen wreath and hang it over your door for a fun and festive winter look. (Plus, home buyers pay special attention to your entryway, so a seasonal wreath is key to creating the best first impression.)

Get Cozy Around the Fire

Have a fireplace? Turn it on! Nothing beats a peaceful winter evening reading or sipping coffee by a crackling fire.

Spice Up Your Home

Cinnamon, vanilla, and spruce are cozy wintertime scents that can add a touch of magic to your home. The fragrances from scented candles will complement your winter home décor nicely (and create that special feeling of “home” for potential buyers).

blue and white furnishingsSwap Holiday Colors with Winter Palettes

An effortless way to transition from holiday décor to winter décor is to switch color schemes. These are color combinations HGTV recommends for decorating your living room, dining room, bedroom, and other spaces in your home:

  • Gray, white, silver, and turquoise
  • Red, silver, and white
  • Dark brown, dark purple, and reddish orange
  • Pale green, beige, and copper
  • Navy, beige, and white

Let the Winter Sunshine In

Keeping the curtains closed can make your home look dreary. Brighten up your living spaces with natural light during the daytime, and light a few candles when the sun goes down. Buyers love homes that are cheery, bright, and spacious; opening the windows not only fills your home with light, it also makes your home appear larger.

Keep Winter Blues at Bay When Selling

If you’re planning to sell your home this winter, keep these winter home décor tips in mind. Home buyers want to feel cozy and comfortable in a place they’ll soon call home; a bright and cheery interior will leave the best impression. We’re more than happy to talk with you about selling your home. Contact us if you’d like more staging tips and home selling resources.

Will 2017 Be a Buyer’s or Seller’s Market?

Buyers Road and Sellers Lane signsA common question as we enter the new year is “Will next year be a buyer’s or seller’s market?” Most economists agree that 2017 will likely remain a seller’s market. In some of our neighborhoods, the answer is obvious — we have been playing “catch up” on inventory all year. I expect the New Albany market to continue to skew toward sellers well into 2017, even with an uptick in mortgage interest rates. There are several pockets where inventory levels remain higher, primarily the +$1M market, that might be classified as a buyer’s market.

The National Association of REALTORS® defines a seller’s market as one with less than a 6-month supply of homes for sale. A balanced market will have a 6- to 7-months’ supply of homes for sale, and a buyer’s market generally has an 8-month supply or more. Supply varies from community to community as seen in the table below (based on inventory/trailing year sales as of 12/20/16):

Neighborhood Months’ Supply of Homes for Sale

CommunityMonths of Supply
New Albany Country Club (under $1M)4
New Albany Country Club (over $1M)12
Hampsted Communities2
New Albany Links Communities1
Windsor3
Preserve Communities1
Albany Park0

Where Will Mortgage Rates Go?

The consensus seems to be that mortgage rates will rise from the historically low interest rates we’ve enjoyed for the past eight years. In fact, we’ve already started to see an increase. When the Federal Reserve raises its rate, it inevitably puts pressure on rates that lenders charge for mortgage interest. We don’t believe the rates will increase to levels where affordability will be substantially impacted.

Key Takeaway for Sellers: If you are planning to sell your home in the next two years, 2017 is likely to be the better year in which to do so. Call us for more info: 614-939-8944.

The Top Real Estate Resolutions (And How to Keep Them)

Want to visit the gym more? Finally complete the home improvement project you’ve been working on? Save money for that new watch/car/house/vacation? January 1 is the perfect time to jumpstart your goals. If you’re like most people, according to Money Magazine, you probably have “stay fit,” “spend less,” or “enjoy the most out of life” on your list of New Year’s resolutions.

Did a few real estate goals make it on your list, too? You’re not alone. Here are a few of the most popular home-buying or home-selling goals, and a few tips on how to achieve them.

Buy Your First Home

brand new homeownersYou’re ready to take that first step to homeownership in the New Year. You likely already have an area or neighborhood in mind, and you have a few features that you’d like in your new home.

How to keep it: Buying a home is a major project. It may be easier for you to achieve this goal if you set smaller, more manageable goals, such as putting aside money every month for a down payment, reviewing your budget, and researching reputable lenders.

Make Extra Payments on Your Mortgage

If you currently own a home, you might be trying to pay it off quickly, knowing that paying even a fraction of your mortgage ahead of time can cut out a few years (and hundreds of dollars in interest). You might have even taken some time to determine how much you could feasibly pay extra every month.

How to keep it: Don’t feel like you need to make dramatic changes to your monthly payments. Instead, save up just a few dollars a week to put aside toward your mortgage.

Put Your Home on the Market

You’ve decided that 2017 is the year to sell your home. Maybe you’ve started getting rid of household items you no longer need, or maybe you’ve started making a few small home improvements. This is a great first step to achieving your real estate goals.

How to keep it: Forbes shared the secret to keeping New Year’s resolutions, and one of the top tips is to make your goals specific. If you want to sell your home for a high price, for instance, determine what amount you want for your home. Start researching which homes near you have recently sold to get an idea of market conditions and what prices are realistic. Just ask us for a Neighborhood Sold Report or a free home evaluation.

Invest in Your First Property

investing in real estateHave you been thinking about investing in real estate to make extra money? Because this type of investment requires a little more real estate and financial knowledge, you might have already started doing a little research before you begin. Knowing common terms, understanding the basics of investing, and having a good handle on your finances can save you time and effort down the road.

How to keep it: Maintain detailed records of your finances. Do your research. Give yourself a deadline to have your down payment and cash reserves (if you don’t have the cash to buy the property outright). Determine how much money you want to make. Then, set aside the time to meet with a real estate agent to talk about your goals and which properties would be best for you.

We’ll Help You Achieve Your New Year’s Goals

Whether you’re buying or selling a home in 2017, we will do everything we can to help you with your resolutions. You can take the first steps now by viewing the resources available on our website, or you can contact us directly to talk about your plans.

Selling Your Home in 2017? Here are the Latest Market Predictions

notebook with new year's goalsIt’s that time of year: Many homeowners are looking to the New Year and planning their 2017 real estate resolutions (sell the house, move to the suburbs, buy that dream vacation home, etc.).

If you’re planning your own New Year’s real estate resolutions, you might be researching 2017 housing market predictions to figure out when you should sell your home and what tomorrow’s home buyers are searching for. After all, you’ve invested your time and money into your property. Don’t you want to see your hard work pay off?

Here are a few real estate predictions for 2017 that may come into play when you sell your home.

Buyers Want the Best of Both Worlds

If you live in a suburban community that’s surrounded by urban amenities, chances are good that your location will be a selling point for buyers. MarketWatch predicts that buyers want “surban” homes just steps from shops, restaurants, schools, and parks.

These Home Features are “In”

Formal dining rooms and dark kitchen cabinets are out. Open layouts, white kitchens, and first-floor master suites are just a few of the “in” real estate features of 2017, according to Builder Online.

Don’t have any of these features in your current home? Don’t worry. We can help you add value to your home so you can sell for the most money possible (no costly renovations required).

Sustainable and Smart Homes are a Priority

house with smart entertainment systemEven though green homes aren’t a new idea, the trend will likely continue into 2017. Since many buyers are eager to save money on monthly energy bills, energy-efficient home features and “smart” home systems are inching toward the “needs” column on buyers’ wants and needs lists. REALTOR® Magazine’s 2017 design trend predictions include more efficient HVAC systems, low-E window film, and even circadian lighting.

Thinking about making “green” upgrades to your home? We can help you determine which energy-saving features will give you the highest return when you sell.

Determined to Sell Your Home in 2017?

We can help you check “home selling” off your list of New Year’s resolutions. We offer invaluable resources on our website about preparing your home for sale, understanding the current market, and pricing your home. Contact us and we’ll help you get started.

How 2016 Technology Has Changed Your Home Search Forever

scrolling through mobile phoneWhen was the last time you hopped in your car to start your home search? Most home buyers today just pick up their phones to instantly view properties all around the country — no car required.

Each year, new tech changes the way that we interact with the world. Here are just a few of the ways 2016 technology has changed the way buyers find real estate.

You Can Access Anything On the Go

Your home search doesn’t stop while you’re out and about. Today’s technology has made it easier to access information when you need it. While you’re waiting in line at the store or idly scrolling through your phone, you can find articles about the home buying process on social media, see listings on a mobile search app, or check commute times from homes you’re considering.

Video Tours Have Evolved

Listing photos are incredibly helpful for home buyers who are looking online for properties. But now, video tours make deciding on homes even easier. Instagram, Facebook Live, and even Snapchat are just a few of the many platforms that you can use to find video tours.

“Smart” Home Features are Becoming a Priority

Remember earlier this year when the Pokémon Go mobile app was released? Proximity to a “Pokéstop” — a point of interest where players could collect items for the game — was listed as a feature in property descriptions, at least for a little while. The Pokémon Go craze is just one of many instances where technology is becoming a priority in and near homes that buyers are considering.

home with smart featuresToday’s home buyers can purchase smart home security cameras, install programmable thermostats, and invest in the security systems of tomorrow. Green homes, energy-efficient appliances, and home energy monitoring systems help homeowners save money. With the right mobile apps, your smartphone can control just about anything in your home, from lights to locks.

One Thing That Will Never Change…

The Internet is saturated with information, both good and bad. But one thing you can’t glean from technology is the ability to navigate the complex real estate process. Even with all the innovations in technology, you’ll still need an experienced real estate agent to help you buy a home.

Are you searching for a home in our area? We’ll help you find just what you’re looking for and handle every detail of your transaction. Contact us and let’s get started.

6 Simple Holiday Decorating Ideas for Your Home

What really makes your home warm and merry this holiday season is the people you welcome into it. Sometimes we get so consumed with the details – cleaning, decorating, shopping, cooking – that we forget to stop and take the time to enjoy the best part of the holidays – spending time and making memories with our loved ones. So here are some super simple holiday decorating ideas to help make your home more festive and leave you plenty of time and energy left to enjoy what matters most.

  1. Fill a glass vase (or other unique container) with colorful glass balls. This adds color and cheer to any room, and allows you to showcase your crystal vase or glass bowl that rarely come out of storage and make use of those “extra” ornaments.
  2. Fill a fireplace (that you are not planning to use, of course) with several poinsettia plants. This can really brighten up a room and add a cheery focal point. Finish the look by draping some garland over the mantel for a framing effect.
  3. Highlight a large light fixture with a little garland and/or a sprig of mistletoe. This is a great way to add some decorations to a room without taking up any table or floor space, which can be limited, especially if you are entertaining.
  4. Cover empty boxes in various sizes with shiny, colorful holiday wrapping paper. You can arrange tiny boxes on a serving platter and use as a centerpiece, and fill empty corners or display shelves with larger boxes.
  5. Hang a single, small to mid-size wreath in a feature window.
  6. Tie a swag or two on your mailbox. Add some ribbon for an added pop of color.

We Can Assist With Your Holiday Real Estate Needs

Are you buying your next home or selling your current home during the holidays? We are here to help with anything you need. Call us at 614.939.8944.