Selling Tips

  • Disclosure

    While it may not reduce the actual value, a cluttered landscape can detract from the positive aspects of your home. Take action by reviewing your local laws, which should be on file at the public library, county law library or City Hall.

    For example, a typical junk vehicle ordinance requires any disabled car to either be enclosed or placed behind a fence. And most cities prohibit parking any vehicle on a city street too long usually no more than 72 hours.

    It also may be worthwhile to check into local zoning ordinances. An operator of a home-based business usually is required to obtain a variance or permanent zoning change in residential areas. In addition, if the neighbor's repair work produces loud noises, he may be breaking local noise control ordinances, which are enforced by the police department. Once you have a copy of an ordinance that addresses the problem, your troubles may be almost over. The neighbor probably has no idea that what he is doing is actually against the law. In most cases just presenting a copy to him will resolve the problem.But if the neighbor does not respond, report the violation to the appropriate authority.

    According to experts, sellers do not have to disclose other offers.

    Obligations to disclose information about a property varies from state to state. Under some strict state laws, the seller and the seller's broker, if there is one, are required to disclose attracts materially affecting the value or desirability of the property which are known or accessible only to them. Items sellers often disclose include: homeowners association dues; whether or not work done on the house meets local building codes and permits requirements; the presence of any neighborhood nuisances or noises which a prospective buyer might not notice, such as a dog that barks every night or poor TV reception; any death within three years on the property" any restrictions on the use of the property, such as zoning ordinances or association rules.

  • Pricing the Property to Sell

    Even in a down market, real estate experts say price and condition are the two most important factors in selling a home. So, the first step is to lower the price. Also, go through the house and see if there are cosmetic defects that you missed and can be repaired.

    Home sellers should make sure that the home is getting the exposure it deserves through open houses, broker open houses, advertising, good signage and a listing on the local multiple listing service.

    If the seller is using a real estate agent and the property isn't getting proper exposure find another agent.

    Because many buyers prefer to move in the spring or summer, generally the market starts to heat up as early as February. Families with children are anxious to buy so they can move during summer vacation, before the new school ear begins.

    To attract the largest number of potential buyers, put your house on the market in late winter or early spring. Weather conditions are less of a consideration in some areas more than in other parts of the country. Consequently, we tend to see the real estate market pick up as early as February, with the strongest selling season usually lasting through May.

    The market tends to slow down in the summer. July is often the slowest month because a strong spring will put pressure on rates and slow down the market. However, the market usually picks up again in the fall, making it the second-best time of year to list a property for sale and possibly the best time to buy. In the past, the most difficult time to sell a home was in November and December, when most people are busy with the holidays. But astute home- buyers now realize they can get better buys during the off-peak season, so this is no longer the case. And houses can look more attractive and inviting when they are decorated for the holidays. In addition, Sellers often wonder whether or not they should take their homes off the market for the holidays. Generally speaking, you'll have the best results if your house is available to show to prospective buyers continuously until it sells.

    Making your home look as nice as possible may seem obvious. Apparently, it's not, because many sellers don't do much beyond vacuuming the living room rug and Maybe cleaning the ring off the bathtub.

    Short of spending a lot of money, there are several steps people can take to make their home show better:

    • Sweep the sidewalk, mow the lawn, prune the bushes, weed the garden and clean debris from the yard.
    • Clean the windows (both inside and out) and make sure the paint is not chipped or flaking.
    • Be sure that the doorbell works. Clean and make attractive all rooms, furnishings, floors, walls and ceilings. It's especially important that the bathroom and kitchen are spotless.
    • Organize closets.
    • Make sure the basic appliances and fixtures work. Get rid of leaky faucets and frayed cords.
    • Make sure the house smells good from an apple pie, cookies baking or spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove. Hide the kitty litter.
    • Put vases of fresh flowers throughout the house.
    • Pleasant background music is a nice touch.

    It's critical to price your home right in relationship to the current real estate market an d to the conditions prevailing in your local marketplace. Because the real estate market is continually changing, and market fluctuations have an effect on property values, it's imperative to select your list price based on the most recent comparable sales in your neighborhood.

    A comparative market analysis provides the background data on which to base your list-price decision. Study the comparable sales material presented to you by the different agents you interviewed initially. If the analyses are more than two or three months old, have your agent update the report for you. If all agents agreed on a price range for your home, go with the consensus.

    Watch for an agent whose opinion of value is considerably higher than the others.

    Even in a down market, real estate experts say that price and condition are the two most important factors in selling a home.

    SO, the first step is to lower the price. Also, go through the house and see if there are cosmetic defects that you missed and can be repaired.

    Secondly, home sellers should make sure that the home is getting the exposure it deserves through open houses, broker open houses, advertising, good signage and a listing on the multiple listing service (MLS).

    Another option is to pull the home off the market and wait for overall housing conditions to improve.

    Finally, frustrated sellers who have no equity and are forced to sell because of a divorce or financial considerations could discuss a short sale or a deed in lieu of a foreclosure with the mortgage lender.

    A short sale is when the seller finds a buyer for a price that is below the mortgage amount and negotiates the difference with the lender.

    In a deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure situation, the lender agrees to take the house back without instituting foreclosure proceedings. But these would be considered more radical options than lowering the price.

    Most sellers like to make all minor repairs before going on the market in order to seek a higher sales price. In addition, buyers include a contingency inspection clause in the purchase contract which allows them to back out innumerous defects are found. Once the problems are noted, buyers can attempt to negotiate repairs or lowering the price with the seller.

  • Short Sales

    Bankruptcies and foreclosures can remain on a credit report for 7 to 10 years. There are lenders, however, who will consider an applicant who went through a bankruptcy as recently as two years ago, as long as good credit has been reestablished.

    Depending on when the bankruptcy was discharged and what kind of credit a borrower has reestablished since then, it needn't be an obstacle to obtaining loan approval The longer ago the discharge occurred, the better off a loan applicant will be. Also, depending on the circumstances surrounding the bankruptcy, lenders will lean one way or the other. For example, if a borrower went through a bankruptcy because his or her company had financial difficulties owing to, say, defense industry cutbacks, that says one thing to a lender. If, however, a borrower went through bankruptcy because he or she over extended personal credit lines and lived beyond his or her means, that says quite another thing.

    A foreclosure or distressed sale begins when the owner stops making the mortgage payments. After the delinquent owner has missed several payments, the lender will record a notice of default against the property. There are typically three opportunities to buy a foreclosure:

    • After the borrower is delinquent on the mortgage payments but before the trustee sale.
    • At the trustee sale.
    • Or from the foreclosing lender after the trustee sale.

    Dubbed a "short sale", home sellers who are upside down on their mortgage and the home's value can sell for less than the amount of the mortgage. Sometimes home owners can negotiate with lenders and have them split the difference between the sale price and loan amount, which still must be paid. A short sale may be complicated if the loan has been sold into the secondary market because then the lender will have to get permission from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to negotiate a short sale. Fannie Mae says the secondary market giant has a policy of looking at each loan individually. If the loan was a low down-payment mortgage with private mortgage insurance (or PMI), then the lender also must involve the mortgage insurance company that insured the low-down loan.

    Sellers sometimes pay for all or a portion of the closing costs involved in the sale of a property, depending on local real estate market conditions, other terms of the purchase contract, the seller's cash and timing considerations.

    Seller concessions, as they are known in real estate jargon, for at least part of the closing costs are more common in a buyer's market than in a seller's market. These concessions will typically be agreed upon during the offer, counteroffer acceptance cycle, though sometimes a seller will make further concessions during the escrow process. Such concessions would generally be acknowledged in the form of an addendum to the purchase contract.

    In addition, most lenders will allow a credit from the seller to the buyer for the buyer's nonrecurring closing costs. But they usually won't allow a credit that reduces the amount of the buyer's down payment, or that includes any of the buyer's recurring closing costs, which include such expenses as fire insurance premiums, interest on the buyer's new loan, property mortgage insurance and property taxes. Lenders' policies vary on how large a credit for nonrecurring costs they'll allow.