Thinking about selling? Get ready!

A home which is prepared for market and priced properly will  bring you:

Showings.

Lots of them. In the very first days. There are buyers out there, even in the quietest of areas. A proper list price should bring them out, and deliver them in droves.

Questions.

  • How old is the roof?
  • Do the washer and dryer convey?
  • How fast can the Sellers close?
  • Will they consider paying closing costs?
  • Will they consider that more seriously if those closing costs are worked into the sales price?
  • Can the appraisal support that increased sales price?
  • Is this a short sale?
  • Anything we need to know?
  • Hey Agent – where are the disclosures? We want to write an offer!!

A clear and smooth appraisal process. 

Over priced homes, even if they get an offer, often slide to a screeching halt at appraisal time, when the bank’s valuation team says that the property is not worth what the buyer said they wanted to pay. That means no loan unless everyone jumps through some hoops to work out an alternative to the original financing plan. This often involves extra cash the buyer had not counted on, and they walk on the deal. Which they are permitted to do if they cannot satisfy that financing contingency.

Clear title.

This means that the settlement companies are not spending a bunch of time trying to find out where a long lost family member is – someone who may have lawful rights to the property. It also means that there are not a bunch of leans, tax or other form of unpaid debt, clouding the title.

Clear survey.

If the neighbor’s shed is on the property, is there a document filed at the courthouse which addresses this? Who is responsible for that alley? Is there a road maintenance agreement filed?

Any of these categories which fail to carefully line up will, without question, cause problems with the sale of your home. Being prepared on the front end is crucial.

Because while inventory is shrinking in some areas, the most marketable homes put their best foot forward out of the gate, and sell within weeks of going on the market, not months.

Thinking about selling and not sure how to proceed? Consult your favorite REALTOR®! Staunton, Charlottesville, and Richmond – I can point you in the right direction to conserve energy and maximize profit.

Just give me a jingle. 540 294 5005. Or if you prefer, shannon@shannonharrington.com.

Happy New Year from all of us at Queen City Concepts!

This is Shannon. May I help you?

CALLER: Hey Shannon. We want to buy a house, and your former client Sarah told us to call you, that she had a great experience with you.

SHANNON: Awesome! I love Sarah, and any friend of hers is a friend of mine! Any idea what you are looking for? Do we get to find out together?

CALLER: Well, we are looking for a house with acreage, around $400,000. Definitely need a garage.

SHANNON: Cool. I think we can do that. How are you going to finance? I mean, do you have cash? Will there be financing involved? How will we do it?

CALLER: Oh, we need to get a loan. That’s okay, right?

SHANNON: Of course! Tons of folks get financing for their homes. Not very many people have that kind of cash. I know I don’t! So who is your lender?

CALLER: Oh we don’t have one. We got our numbers from a mortgage calculator online. We might work with our local credit union, but we are not sure. Also, my brother’s wife’s cousin is a lender in Ohio. We also might work with him. That’s okay, right?

AND, SCENE.

Above is a very common conversation in my world. Probably once a week or so.

There are awesome aspects to it! I love referrals, of course. They are the best. (Thank you!)

But there are aspects that need a bit of help and guidance, too. And that’s why I’m here. Happy to point folks in the right direction.

Here’s the thing. The internet is wacky. It’s cool but it’s wacky. And it will make people think that they have all of the knowledge that they need to make really important decisions.

In lots of cases, that’s not true, though. Most cases, really. Especially big cases – with big decisions attached!

Internet calculators can’t check someone’s credit snapshot. They can’t verify income/employment. They can’t find the best available loan products for price/condition/personal desirability. So when a person uses those to make preliminary decisions, they are already potentially way off base. Even knowing what interest rate that someone will qualify for is a process based on their personal snapshot – so whatever autofills there may not even pertain to the person doing the clicking. And a point or two can make a substantial difference in monthly payment.

And that’s what we really care the most about. The monthly payment – that check that gets stroked every month, right?

Lenders have been notorious for quoting best case scenarios to folks, and then not explaining how it breaks down on a monthly. This is not a functional way to make decisions, so we need to ask them to re-interpret for us, taking into consideration taxes, hazard insurance, and Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). On a monthly basis.

So the conversation continues with the $400,000 caller.

SHANNON: Okay – so tell me a little bit about yourself.

CALLER: Sure! I’m married to my fabulous wife, and we both have great jobs. No kids yet, but we are having three. We are definitely having three.

SHANNON: Awesome. Think one of you might like to stay home with those kids for more than a few weeks?

CALLER: Oh yeah – we totally plan on that. It’s very important to us.

SHANNON: Excellent. So I wonder if we should be looking at a place in the $250-300,000 range. What are your thoughts about that? Prepare for the one-income lifestyle for a while, huh?

CALLER: Wow – I hadn’t thought about that. Guess I was just so happy that it looked like we could afford so much!

So right out of the gate, having a true snapshot of that ongoing financial commitment is crucial. See what I mean?

This is why it’s very important that the first thing we do is get you to a trusted lender. Someone who knows their stuff, and can look over your situation with an eye for any potential snafus, as well as hope for getting us where we need to be in that home purchase.

And that couple who is now going to spend less? My job is finding them the most smoking-hot deal around – and for that price that will keep their money in their pocket as much as possible so that they can live better day to day. Homeownership can be designed as a way to create freedom, not worry and stress.

By the way – if this scenario above is not you, never fear. Just because it’s a common interaction doesn’t mean that this is the only snapshot of our clients. Everyone needs a place to live! My job is helping you find the right one that suits your special, location, and financial needs. It’s fun!

Thank you for inviting me be of service, and trusting me for so many years. Here’s to many more!

 

WHY?

WHY!? Remember asking that question incessantly when you were a kid? Or hearing it incessantly as a parent? I do. And it is still one of the most used words in my vocabulary. Why?

Why should I? What’s great about it? What’s the benefit?

Why shouldn’t I? What bad might happen if I do? What are the potential consequences if I fail to…

Fail to what, though?

My business is Real Estate. Buying, Selling, Renting, Investing, Renovating, Advising, Consulting. That’s what we have going on here. I am a professional REALTOR®, and have been for a long enough time that one could feasibly consider me seasoned. But hopefully not ever grizzled.

It’s a hard job. Time consuming. High stakes. Requiring creativity and stamina. Requiring knowledge of contracts, process, and architecture. Requiring looking at a million different personalities and agendas, and pulling it all together to get a job done – lots of times with someone I have never met as my co-pilot. A much higher than 40 hour work week, but without health benefits. It’s not easy.

So why did I decide to pursue this path? That’s for another day. The why I am concerned with here is about you. Why should you care? Why should you care that REALTORS® exist?

We are going to talk about that a lot. Caring. Why Real Estate is important. But this insertion is about why REALTORS® are important. Why are we important to you. Your future.

Recently some tenants of mine asked me about buying the home that they have been renting for a good amount of time. Over two years. It’s a perfect match for them. They LOVE it! I was game. Then came the sad part. They thought that they might be able to buy it for a figure in the 130,000′s.

WHY? Because Trulia told them that’s what it was worth. $137,000. As well as showing an incorrect photo of it.

Homes.com said $151,000.

Zillow’s got it at $123,994.

Even Realtor.com is in on it. Three estimates, each with a high, low, and “list here” type price. The lowest was $96,663 and the highest came in at $185,035. (I’d say that right now this home is worth about $195,000)

So this is a stretch, huh? From $96,000 to $185 from publicly available estimates. And still not as high as as manual valuation from a person familiar with the neighborhood, licensed to interpret the data.

How might you feel if this were your property?

Well it is! Look your home up. Do it! You may find a similar stretch between the high and low figures.

Why? Because Real Estate figures and stats require interpretation. Same reason we like local appraisers. Interpretation requires some knowledge of more than figures – although this rift in figures is quite notable.

Real Estate is like any business. If you want it done properly, hire a professional who is good at what they do. Who spends time on it and in it. Who knows the product and the potential pitfalls and systems. This person should also be someone you feel you can talk to – about really important and personal topics, too.

The Real Estate market is rebounding quite a bit in many markets. Inventory is depleating. Prices are rising. There is competition again for good products, properly priced – and sometimes the competition is fierce. Getting top market value is in your hands, and the best thing that you can do for yourself is to consult a REALTOR®. A professional who you know to be honest, knowledgable, and creative. (And pssst – they should know how houses are made, too. Not just sales…)

Your competition is not just other homes on the market that are similar to yours. Your competition is your home’s online footprint. What is the assessment? People can see that. What is the value at the 3rd party sites like Trulia, Zillow, Homes.com, Realtor.com? People can see these figures, too. And some people trust them! It’s our job to be aware of what our property’s digital footprint is in the world.

Call me and I will show you how to take inventory of these trackers, and make adjustments where necessary in order to have your internet home value reflect as closely as possible with what we find in the true and active market.

If you are thinking about selling in the Spring, the time for that is now.

5 Tips for Buying a Home

Looking to buy a home? Here are five essential tips for making the process as smooth as possible.

Get your finances in order.

Start by getting a full picture of your credit. Obtain copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you find. Next, find a suitable lender and get pre-approved for a loan. This will put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house.

Find a house you can afford.

As with engagement rings, there’s a general rule of thumb when it comes to buying a home: two-and-a-half times your annual salary. There are also a number of tools and calculators online that can help you understand how your income, debt, and expenses affect what you can afford. Don’t forget, too, that there are lots of considerations beyond the sticker price, including property taxes, energy costs, etc.

Hire a professional.

While the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings and resources, many aspects of the buying process require a level of expertise you can’t pick up from surfing the web. That’s why you’re better off using a professional agent than going it alone. If possible, recruit an exclusive buyer agent, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.

Do your homework.

Before making a bid, do some research to determine the state of the market at large. Is it more favorable for sellers or buyers? Next, look at sales trends of similar homes in the area or neighborhood. Look at prices for the last few months. Come up with an asking price that’s competitive, but also realistic. Otherwise, you may end up ticking off your seller.

Think long term.

Obviously, you shouldn’t buy unless you’re sure you’ll be staying put for at least a few years. Beyond that, you should buy in a neighborhood with good schools. Whether you have children or not, this will have an impact on your new home’s resale value down the line. When it comes to the house itself, you should hire your own home inspector, who can point out potential problems that could require costly repairs in the future.