Building Prosperity: 12 Tips For Selling Your Home For A Better Price

Are you planning to sell your home in 2019? A lot has changed about the real estate market in recent years, and if you want to get the best price for your property, there are a few important things you’ll want to consider.

The experts at Forbes Real Estate Council have an inside look at market trends and understand what it takes to make a profitable sale. We asked a panel of members to share their best tips for homeowners looking to sell this year. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Speak To An Agent Before Fixing Up The Home

Many homesellers spend a lot of time and money fixing up their home to sell — but it’s critical to speak with an agent before you do any work.  An expert agent familiar with your neighborhood and market can provide you with recommendations that will generate the best return on your investments and highest sales price. In many cases, agents can also recommend reliable and trustworthy vendors. – Lisa FettnerReferralExchange

2. Think S.M.A.R.T.

Selling your home in 2019 will be different from years past. Consider adding Smart technology to the house. Next, Market the property at a fair price with high-quality media and collateral. Then Add value to the buyer by offering unique incentives. Repair the obvious defects pre-listing, and Time your listing properly. Thinking S.M.A.R.T. in 2019 will help sell the home in a changing market. – Christopher LazarusSellect Realty

3. List Your Home For Slightly Less Than You Want

In a buyer’s market, I find that it’s often best to slightly underprice your home in order to get top dollar. By underpricing, you will create a sense of urgency and competition for your property that very well could result in multiple bids or even a bidding war. You never want to chase the market down, so even if you don’t get multiple bids, you will still attract interest while others adjust. – Stephen Glen KliegermanHalstead Property Development Marketing

4. Have Your Realtor Act As A PR Agent For The House

Armed with high quality, professional photos, your realtor can showcase the listing across online social media platforms, and possibly even pitch the home to major online publications. Getting the maximum exposure on your listing will garner the most interest and may even sway buyers who weren’t specifically shopping in that neighborhood. – Beatrice de JongOpen Listings (YC W15)

5. Research What Current Buyers Want

We’re late cycle and at peak prices, so the buyers shelling out top dollar have equally high expectations. I’d review online publications like Houzz, which releases yearly market data on what resonates the most with buyers. Everything from materials, color schemes, layouts and which fixes yield the highest ROI are included. If you’re a seller, this should be on the top of your to-do list. – Ari AfsharCompass

6. Price Your Home Ahead Of The Market

Price, market reach and negotiations will be key in 2019. Buyers are becoming more price-sensitive as the market shifts. Homes must be priced ahead of the market. Our jobs as agents will be to get the property in front of the buyers for whom it’s right for. Proactive marketing and strategic deal making will be key. Finally, savvy negotiations will get homes into escrow and keep them there. – Kofi NarteyThe Nartey Group – Compass

7. Stage Your Property

Staging a property is one of the most important things a homeowner can do when selling their home. It’s often difficult for a prospective homeowner to visualize a home’s potential without proper furniture placement and a modern design aesthetic. Getting your home staged will give it that extra “wow” factor. – Hillary LegrainFirst Savings Mortgage Corp.

8. Consider Your Timing And The Cost Of Waiting

Before locking into a long-term listing contract with a traditional real estate broker, test what the market will give you cash today. Do the math carefully on what it will cost you to wait to sell for three or six months on a traditional listing, and factor in weather and market direction risks. You might find selling sooner to an all-cash buyer is more profitable. – Kent ClothierReal Estate Worldwide

9. Update The ‘Money Rooms’

With the market shifting, buyers are more selective on the homes they make offers on. Most of them want a home that is turn-key, so focus on what I call the “money rooms.” They’re the rooms people spend the most time in: kitchen, family room, master bed and bathrooms. Updating those rooms, whether it be a major remodel or fresh coat of paint, will produce a higher ROI than other areas of the home. – Brad LeCompass

10. Justify Your Price Tag

Be thoughtful in the home you’re selling. Today’s buyers are looking for intelligence, and they want a much more holistic understanding of how their home is juxtaposed within their micro-market. People are willing to pay for better quality locations, unique yield on properties, construction, design, team, etc., but the price tag on everything has to be justified. – Cody VichinskyBespoke Real Estate

11. Consider Whether Your Home Can Be Divided And Rented Out

What will make your home stand out in a crowded marketplace?  Today, home buyers and property investors alike are seeking out the “unicorn property,” which is a home that is (or can be) divided to accommodate a secondary living space for the new revolution of shared-economy travelers. Put in a bit of work and investment and create a second unit that will help pay the new owners’ mortgage. – Garratt Hasenstab, The Mountain Life Companies™

12. Price Fairly For A Buyer’s Market

This year it’s not necessarily going to be a seller’s market because interest rates are going up and so is inventory. That means more product on the market than prior years. So if you don’t want your house sitting for a long time you should probably price it fairly. You don’t want to find a property that you want to buy but haven’t been able to sell. – Engelo RumoraList’n Sell Realty

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15 Ways To Add Value To A Home Going On The Market (Without Breaking The Bank)

Selling homes is a tricky business. There are so many facets of the transaction that need to be taken into account. During this time, many homeowners are also looking for ways in which to increase the value of their home before placing it on the market. Yet, no homeowner wants to pay out massive sums to increase the value when they will be selling it soon.

A much preferable alternative is to consider low-cost maintenance or improvement strategies that can boost the home’s value without digging too deeply into the homeowner’s wallet.

To help you find the ideal low-cost maintenance or improvement strategy for your home-selling situation, we asked 15 experts from Forbes Real Estate Council to share their top tip for adding value without breaking the bank. Their answers are below:

1. Declutter, Tidy Up, Repaint

While there is no need to jump into costly renovations or style upgrades before selling, getting the home to look as tidy and uncluttered as possible will surely make the listing photos stand out. I would suggest repainting the walls white or a light neutral color for the effect of a bigger, brighter space. For curb appeal, I recommend planting flowers and resodding any dead patches of grass. – Beatrice de Jong, Open Listings (YC W15)

2. Put Lipstick On The Pig

Focus on low costs and value add. The three most inexpensive ways to increase the value of your home when it’s time to put it on the market are simple: 1) A fresh coat of paint inside and out; 2) new ground cover or bark for landscaping; and 3) great cleaning service. If your house is spotless and looks fresh, it will sell for more. – Scott Menard, The True Life Companies

3. Make Sure The Kitchen Looks Clean And Updated

Typically the kitchen is one of the most important decision factors when viewing/buying a home. For reasonably cheap you can add a new kitchen faucet, cabinet door handles, lighting fixtures and, last but not least, look for a refacing company for the cabinets. – Joshua Fraser, Data Nerds

4. Handle The Handles

Keep your door handles/locks and hinges working perfectly and consistently; no one wants to jiggle the front door key to get in. That makes buyers think, “What else is wrong?” right out of the chalks. – Michael BuiEquity One Real Estate

5. Update The Fixtures

One thing that homeowners can do which makes a big difference in the feel of a house is updating the fixtures. The light fixtures, faucets, door handles and even cabinet knobs can make a huge difference in the feel of a house and be relatively inexpensive. – Mark Ferguson, InvestFourMore

6. Give It An Exterior Shine

Pressure wash the exterior, including all drive and walkways. Always keep the lawn well-maintained to ensure when someone drives by it looks as good as possible. Freshen up landscaping with seasonal plants, new bark, stone, etc. – Justis Smith, Rowe Enterprises, Inc.

7. Buy Inexpensive Smart Home Devices

If you want a relatively inexpensive way to capture the interest of the rising tech-savvy or millennial market, smart home devices are the key. On the cheaper side, smart/learning thermostats and video doorbells are excellent options. Both can be purchased for less than $200 each while giving off the smart home feel that buyers are coming to expect in high-value listings. –Daniel Huertas, Washington Capital Partners

8. Keep It Clean, Fresh And Light

Clean it thoroughly; throw away ugly furniture and replace it with affordable but well-designed pieces from one of the low-cost, high-variety furniture outlets; clean the windows; remove anything that obstructs views to let in as much light as possible; install more powerful and more beautiful and economic LED light fixtures, door handles and faucets; and install new doors and new closet shelves. – Elliot Bogod, Broadway Realty

9. Install A Water Softener System

While not always the most visible improvement, the installation of a water softener system — especially for homes located in areas with hard-water supply — can significantly improve the value and appeal of a home for the right buyer. Water softener systems can decrease the costs associated with cleaning, maintenance and replacement of plumbing fixtures as a result of mineral build-up. – Bryan McLaren, Zoned Properties, Inc.

10. Make Your Front Door More Inviting

Replace the front door and/or garage door. First impressions make a dramatic and lasting impact. You want to make sure that when a buyer first gets out of the car and walks up to your home, they’re not turned off by an old, discolored front door or garage door. Those doors are often the focal point of your home, so it’s worth the investment. – Brad Le, Compass

11. Sweat The Small Stuff, Not The Big Stuff

Many people get it wrong when they decide to do renovations before they sell. Here is a cheat sheet on where to put your money for the best return: paint, landscape and carpets. Change that carpet because nobody wants to play the game “guess where the stain came from.” – Chris Ryan, BEYOND Properties Group / eXp Realty

12. Take Out A Few Walls And Make It Look Bigger

We built a predictive machine learning algorithm that collected data on homes that were sold twice within five years and narrowed that list by checking if a renovation project took place in between. We were able to determine by neighborhood the projects with the best recoup values. The winner was open space (taking out walls) followed by a new front door and entryway. – Raf Howery, Kukun and PropenCity

13. Focus On Overall Maintenance First

When you go to sell your home, no buyer is entering the home with intentions to buy that home unless the exterior draws them in. Basic things to do are paint and caulk. This will also help on the inspection. Make sure the mailbox isn’t rusty or crushed. And if you paint the front door, do a good job or hire someone. Overall maintenance needs to come first, before any renovations. – Michelle Ames, HorsePower Team Texas/Independent Realty

14. Separate Your Living Spaces

Is there a relatively easy way for you to separate your living spaces in order to create an accessory unit? If so, you’ve just broadened your market significantly to investor buyers who are seeking income-producing properties. A home with a dedicated short-term rental space that can help pay the mortgage is one of the best investments you can make, whether you keep the property or plan to sell. – Garratt Hasenstab, The Mountain Life Companies™

15. Go To A Local Hardware Store

Instead of staging, ask a local hardware store to virtually render your home with modern furniture or different designs and finishes for the bathroom or kitchen. You could even print these renovation designs out and put them on easels during showings. This allows prospective buyers to see the potential of your spaces without the pain and cost of actually renovating. – Robert Rahmanian, REAL New York

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Don’t Forget To Ask These 14 Questions During Your Property Inspection

Whether you’re purchasing a home or an investment property, the final inspection before the sale closes is one of the most important steps of the process. This is your chance to review any issues with the property and negotiate with the seller about who’s responsible for fixing them.

Once you and the seller come to an agreement on this, there’s no going back on it, so it’s important to learn as much as you can about the home’s condition and what kinds of problems it may cause down the road. Doing this means knowing the right questions to ask the inspector. Forbes Real Estate Council members recommend bringing these 14 questions up during the property inspection for your new home.

1. Can You Recommend An Expert To Look Into This Further?

I think many homeowners only go by what the inspector says and do not look into possible problems more deeply. An inspector is knowledgeable about many subjects, but are often an expert at nothing. If there is a problem with the heating, electrical or another major system, an expert in that field should be brought in to evaluate things further. It may be worse or better than the inspector thinks. – Mark FergusonInvestFourMore

2. What Should I Repair First?

Homebuyers need to know that no home is 100% perfect. I encourage my clients to ask the inspector to prioritize any repairs or concerns. For example: What needs to be fixed now and what can be fixed later? This way, the results of the home inspection are in perspective. Focus on the big stuff in the request for repairs, and choose an agent with affordable contractor referrals for the rest. – Courtney PoulosACME Real Estate

3. What Would You Do If You Were Buying This House?

I always like to ask the inspector what they would fix right away if they were buying the home. Typically, there’s a laundry list of minor repair items that come up in an inspection, especially in older homes. This way, you can prioritize the list of repairs and also have a better idea of what is a serious issue that should be addressed now versus something that can be taken care of down the road. – Brad LeCompass

4. What Else Could Go Wrong?

During the inspection, the inspector will identify issues and suggest repairs. Before deciding who should repair it, it is important to consider a few things: How serious is the issue, is there a potential of finding more during the repair and is this something I would want the seller repairing from a quality of work perspective? Inspectors can provide some insight and then consult other pros. – Michelle AmesHorsePower Team Texas/Independent Realty

5. How Much Will This Cost?

Every home inspection will overturn a list of repairs, regardless of the property age. While seeing this list can be daunting, it’s important to consider that everything is fixable. If the seller is unwilling to do repairs, it doesn’t need to kill the deal. Buyers should ask how soon repairs need to be done and consider the costs alongside the value of the home. – Beatrice de JongOpen Listings (YC W15)

6. What Fire, Safety, Health And Water Hazards Exist Here?

Forget cosmetic repairs and focus on fire, safety, health and water hazards. Look for repairs such as a gas leak, a water leak in the attic, evidence of mold, out of date GFCI or out-of-code electrical wiring. If any of these items pop up on your report, make sure you have the items repaired or your home loan may not be approved for underwriting. These issues could also cause harm to your family. – Angela YaunDay Realty Group

7. What Would You Do To The Property If I Gave You The Money For It?

When buying multifamily, I always ask the property manager, “What would you do to the property if I gave you $200,000?” Framing it as a positive question, I often hear the truth about the true state of the property, especially with parts of the property that has issues that have not been discovered during the initial inspection. – Ellie PerlmanBlue Lake Capital LLC

8. Can I Speak With Your Current Tenant?

In commercial, nothing is more paramount than finding out how a tenant is doing by talking to the tenant directly. A tenant may have three years left on a lease agreement but if sales are low and they have not paid back reconciliations for the prior years’ expenses, a lease may not be worth much at all. – Bethany BabcockForesite Commercial Real Estate

9. What Kind Of Condition Is The Roof In?

Ensure that your comprehensive inspection includes the roof, which is often overlooked but could result in causing the deal to fall apart for inspection objection or insurance objection if there are age or damage issues. If the roof is over 35 years old, most insurance companies will not insure the property. – Garratt HasenstabThe Mountain Life Companies™

10. What Is The Current Delinquency Rate?

High delinquency rate usually provides useful information about the stability of the revenue stream. If the existing tenants have high delinquencies rate, it might signal poor resident screening and a potential risk. It also might signal potential evictions. – Noam HameiriDEELS Properties | California Home Builders

11. Are Any Of These Issues Normal Wear And Tear?

The main factors here are first-time homebuyers panicking when they see a long home inspection list or green investors not being thorough enough with the items that really cost a lot of money. The home inspection report can be scary. Ask what items really need to be fixed right away, or not. Find out which problems are typical or normal wear and tear, and which ones are really problematic. – Kent ClothierReal Estate Worldwide

12. What Warranties Or Maintenance Contracts Will Be Transferred To Me?

Always ask about the most costly repairs and prioritize in order what needs to be repaired by the seller and a timeframe to complete. Request the latest roof repairs for warranties, HVAC exiting maintenance contracts to replace filters, any former asbestos removal, electrical replacements, water heater repairs, parking and driveway repairs. Most importantly is to get everything in writing. – Pamela J. GoodwinGoodwin Commercial

13. Will The Trees On The Property Be A Hazard Down The Road?

Trees are so often overlooked as a potential hazard until it’s too late. Yes, they look great, provide privacy and all that, but that towering oak that looked so great in the photos is a potential disaster waiting to happen. During inspections, hire an arborist who can identify if certain branches are hazardous, if the tree is diseased or if the root structure is damaging the home’s foundation. – Ari Afshar, Compass

14. Do I See Any Of My Own Personal Dealbreakers?

Create the list of all things you wouldn’t want to discover about your new apartment the morning after you moved in, and ask questions about every single one. Here are a few of mine: Are there smokers living in the nearby units, on the same floor or above and below? Are all the listed amenities included in the common charges? If a washer and dryer aren’t installed, are they allowed? – Elliot BogodBroadway Realty

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12 Unconventional Property Listing Details That Could Help You Land The Sale

Many potential homebuyers look for specific characteristics when searching available properties, like proximity to public transportation and hardwood floors. Some might not even consider a listing that lacks such features, meaning potential buyers and sellers could be missing out on a great opportunity.

As a real estate agent, it’s important to understand what your buyers are looking for in a property so you can craft your listings accordingly. We asked a panel of Forbes Real Estate Council members to share some unconventional details of properties and communities they think should be included in residential real estate listings. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Ceiling Heights

Even just a small number of inches in ceiling height makes a big difference in how a room feels. It’s the missing dimension in a calculation of the volume of a room. Including the ceiling height in the living room would be a great way to help potential buyers understand how the space will feel. – Deborah Rabbino BhattVesta New York

2. Access To Sharing Economy Amenities

Proximity to “sharing economy” amenities is increasingly more vital to marketing a property — for example, if the home is located close to a bike or car share service, or office co-sharing program. With more people working remotely, emphasizing conveniences that make everyday life more accessible is extremely important. – Elizabeth Ann Stribling-KivlanStribling & Associates

3. Accommodation For Multi-Generational Housing

There’s a trend for buyers seeking multi-generational housing. This could be where elder parents are moving in with their adult children, or twentysomethings staying home longer. Listings should include if there is the possibility for this type of living situation — separate entrances, guest house, etc. – Katie BrownTogether For Vets

4. Energy Efficiency Ratings And Average Utility Costs

The more information we provide homebuyers in the property listing data, the better. Energy efficiency ratings are starting to be added nationwide for homes, with listing data indicating home energy features like radiant floors or solar heating. Adding what it costs to maintain a home would be helpful: average annual utility costs would help buyers better compare apples to apples. – Lane Hornungzavvie

5. Crime And Safety Scores

Purchasing a home or moving is often one of the largest tasks we will undertake, and it’s critical to adequately research the future home that we will sleep in. Formal safety scores do not exist yet but I strongly believe in the near future someone will create one on the relative “safety” of a neighborhood including several crime statistics. – Joshua FraserData Nerds

6. Home-Sharing And Short-Term Rental Features

With the rise of the home-sharing economy, luxury ski home markets have become the gravy train for vacation rental owners. Property investors are increasingly seeking homes with dedicated accessory units that enable the owner to rent part or all of their home while occupying as desired. Listings often do not expressly note this critical feature, thus sellers miss out on potential investor buyers. – Garratt HasenstabThe Mountain Life Companies™

7. Retail Anchors

The proximity of the property to local anchor retail stores or businesses is important. Many large chains do not invest in areas that they will not have strong foot traffic and sales. Thus if large corporations are willing to invest in your neighborhood, you know you have purchased in a great location. – Ali JamalStablegold Hospitality

8. Home Orientation For Optimal Sun Exposure

One of the most important factors in any home, which is often overlooked by real estate agents and homebuyers, is its orientation. Many buyers prefer to get maximum sun exposure in a home for warmth, natural light and comfort. Highlighting the fact that a home is positioned for optimal sun exposure is a good idea since it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce heating and cooling bills. – Brad LeCompass

9. Smart Home Features

Many of today’s buyers are very technology-oriented which makes smart-home features a property asset that can make the deal. Smart appliances, security features, lighting and temperature controls with smartphone access should be called out in listing descriptions. Pet-friendly attributes, community on-call maintenance person, Wi-Fi included in association fees are other excellent selling points. – Joe HoughtonRE/MAX Results/The Minnesota Property Group Team

10. Feedback From A Wide Range Of Current Area Residents

Assume that your potential buyers know nothing of the area, and even if they are from the area, reminding them of the simple things can sell them. Words are like pictures and can hook you in without you realizing. You are different than the buyer 99.9% of the time as well, so asking people of different genders and ages who live in the area for feedback before you finalize the details in the listing is a must. – Chris RyanBEYOND Properties Group

11. An Aerial Neighborhood Tour

Using aerial drone photography can help listing agents provide a complete view of the surrounding neighborhood and its many amenities. They can capture whether there’s a school nearby, the “feel” of a neighborhood and how close a home is to public transportation and highways. In the digital age, having this information visually available is key to gaining buyer interest in a property. – Brian BaldufVHT Studios

12. All The Small Amenities

Luxury amenities sell new condo developments. We see more and more amenities in new condo developments in NY and Miami. Developers now realize that it often is the building up of small amenities that helps sell the total package. Close proximity to the train, a nearby grocery store or hardwood floors alone may not be enough to sell multimillion dollar condos. – Elliot BogodBroadway Realty

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13 Reasons First-Time Homebuyers May Regret Their Big Purchase

Compared to previous generations, millennials are delaying many life milestones, including buying a home. Those who have taken the plunge are already feeling the pangs of buyer’s remorse: A survey by Bank of the West found that nearly 70% of millennial homeowners regret their purchase.

Survey respondents cited overspending on the down payment, underestimating ongoing costs and settling for a home that wasn’t quite right as the major reasons for this regret. The experts at Forbes Real Estate Council agree that these mistakes, among others, are common among first-time homebuyers, and often lead to dissatisfaction with their purchase. According to 13 members, here’s why some homebuyers wind up in such regretful situations.

1. They Focused On Investing, Not Living

Too many people look at their home as an investment and make their purchase decision on that basis. If they instead focused on finding a place they would truly love to live for the next 10 years or more, they’d be far happier, and still enjoy the two best benefits of home ownership: not worrying about being asked to leave, and using a 30-year fixed mortgage to never have a rent increase. – Sean O’ToolePropertyRadar

2. They’d Rather Have Experiences Over Mortgages

Millennials have different priorities than their parents and grandparents. Home ownership was once the ultimate symbol of achievement, but now that people are getting married later and delaying having children, putting down roots is not as much a priority. Younger generations would rather spend extra cash on experiences, not mortgages. The key is finding a situation that allows for both. – Elizabeth Ann Stribling-KivlanStribling & Associates

3. They Didn’t Know How The Process Works

I think most people buy a house without knowing what they are doing. They don’t know how the loan works, what values are or the expenses they will have. They trust the agent, the lender and the title company. If someone learns what is involved in buying a house, they can get a good deal and make a great investment, instead of just going with the flow. – Mark FergusonInvestFourMore

4. They Bought Out Of FOMO

I believe millennials are experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out) and reacting to that when spending their money on a mortgage payment. Adjusting to a new budget, especially after draining your bank account of the savings used for your down payment, doesn’t feel like fun. In the end, investing in property will pay off, so I believe the FOMO is only a temporary buyer’s remorse. – Beatrice de JongOpen Listings (YC W15)

5. They Didn’t Run The Numbers Before They Bought

Purchasing and maintaining a home can be more expensive than expected. Many first-time buyers don’t take into account all of the expenses involved in maintaining a home once it’s purchased. Prospective buyers should estimate all costs on a monthly basis prior to moving in, and then practice living with that budget to make sure that you can afford the property you want to purchase. – Lisa FettnerReferralExchange

6. They Were Looking For Instant Results

In this day and age, some buyers expect instant returns on their home purchase. They check their home’s Zestimate on a daily basis and continue to scan the MLS for comparable homes for sale or recently sold to help justify their purchase. The key is to stop looking at your home like a short-term stock, but something tangible that you can enjoy and reap the long-term benefits of. – Brad LeClimb Real Estate

7. They Underestimated The Work Involved

Home ownership is not easy; it requires work. Maintenance, upkeep, taxes and cost of ownership all are important factors. Millennials, who are used to a fast-paced, always-plugged-in lifestyle will likely have a better experience buying something that is new and turnkey, and less likely to need repairs and constant attention that older homes may require. Less work equates to more enjoyment. – Ridaa MuradBREAKFORM | RE

8. They Didn’t Do Their Homework

I advise first-time buyers to carefully choose their property online to select a few choices and write a pros and cons list to determine the best possible purchase candidate. Buyers shouldn’t borrow money for a down payment, and should budget monthly carrying costs and select the best possible property. Use a property inspector and do the punch list inspection with an additional walkthrough before closing. – Elliot BogodBroadway Realty

9. They Felt Tied Down To One Location After Buying

Millennials move often. We live in a world that is open to many opportunities and I’d assume that millennials feel very tied down when owning a property. I’m on my third property at 28 years old, and I wish I would have understood my finances better when applying for the first mortgage. Secondly, I would have studied homebuying education courses before buying. – Joshua FraserData Nerds

10. The Home Didn’t Fit Their Lifestyle

Buyer’s remorse can be the result of a bad fit. Some regret buying too small for their lifestyle or too far away from their work, friends and family. Still, others say too much home, financially speaking, forced them to give up dining out or travel to pay for it. It’s important to understand your wants and needs as well as what you can afford, then look with an agent who understands your needs. – Blake PlumleyCapital Pursuits LLC

11. They Didn’t Have Sufficient Education From An Agent

The millennial generation is able to more easily access information, but it can often be bad information. They see people “do it themselves” all over TV and the internet. The reality of those TV homebuying experiences is not brought to light in 30 minutes or less. The job of an agent is to educate people about real estate transactions and then help them gather information to make their best decisions. – Michelle AmesHorsePower Team Texas/Independent Realty

12. They Made One Or More Common Homebuying Mistakes

After the tax benefits, think twice if you can rent for less than the cost of buying. Buy where you want to live, and do not bank on appreciation. Put down at least 20% to have a cushion in case the market goes down, and don’t be “house poor.” Buy what you feel comfortable paying for. Make sure to budget for renovations and get your own appraisal. – Holly WilliamsMQ Ventures, LLC 

13. It Didn’t “Feel Like Home”

A common reason for regret when buying a first home is not finding the desired “feeling of home.” Making a house a home can take a lot of physical work, but more than that. It’s about your neighborhood and the community created within it. There should be a sense of pride in where they live. That intangible offers great value to a house — or anywhere you choose to live — and helps make it a home. – Benjamin PleatDoorbell Communities

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13 Evergreen Real Estate Tips That Hold True In Any Market

Anyone who’s ever purchased or sold property knows the real estate industry is a fickle one. Changing demographic makeups, economic conditions, interest rates and other factors play a role in how “good” the market is for a buyer or seller, and in a few short years, prices in any given area can dramatically shift.

Despite the ebbs and flows of local and national real estate markets, there are certain things about the homebuying and selling process that remain constant. We asked a panel of Forbes Real Estate Council members to share their evergreen tips for prospective buyers and sellers that hold true regardless of market conditions. Here is what they had to say:

1. Always Conduct Thorough Research On The Current Market 

Although real estate values fluctuate due to local supply/demand dynamics and broader national economic considerations, it’s important to remember that properties always sell for no more or less than what the market will bear at that time. Whether buying or selling, do your research, plot your data points, use a variety of resources so that you’re confident in your list or offer price. – Garratt HasenstabThe Mountain Life Companies™

2. Don’t Reject Low-Priced Offers Without Negotiating

Selling your home can feel like giving up something you love, so a low-priced offer can leave sellers feeling insulted. Homebuyers base their offer price largely on their own affordability, but will consider raising it if the location is just right or if there is value in renovations already done. Stay open to negotiations and working with the buyer rather than turning down a low-priced offer. – Beatrice de JongOpen Listings (YC W15)

3. Buy Whenever You Can

There’s never a wrong time to buy. There is only a wrong time to sell. If you look at real estate trends over the last century, prices go up and down and we have booms and busts. The buyers who win are the ones willing to ride the wave, see a purchase through the cycle. Buy when you can, and hold till the sale is profitable. – Courtney PoulosACME Real Estate

4. Get Into The Rental Market Where It Makes Sense 

People will need shelter for the rest of their lives. With the life expectancy what it is here in the in the U.S., that’s a lot of rent to be paid. Buy what you need now and do it in an area where the population is on a rising and sustainable course. – Michael J. PolkPolk Properties

5. Factor In The Fees

In real estate, there are middlemen and a lot of them — the escrow company, the title company, the brokers, the lender, etc. Each one of them is taking a drop from the well. While these fees will all likely go down, they aren’t ever going away and buyers and sellers need to accept that. – Ridaa MuradBREAKFORM | RE

6. Buy A Home To Secure Personal Rent Control

Although the real estate market fluctuates over time, there’s one thing would-be first-time homeowners often overlook. Yes, there are tax advantages. Yes, you paint the walls any color you want. Yes, you build financial equity. But you also have a built-in rent control. With a fixed-rate mortgage, you’ll know what your house payment will be for the next 30 years — not so when you’re a renter. – Eileen LacerteHawaii Beach and Golf Properties

7. Always Invest Based On Location

Regardless of the interest rate or transaction environment, good locations with strong demand and access to transportation infrastructure will continue to outperform in the long run. Location is certainly the evergreen factor telling you where to invest. Interest rates and transaction volumes are better indicators of when to invest. – Marc RutzenEnodo Inc

8. Find Trustworthy Partners In The Real Estate Process

In an industry that is heavily commission-based, it is very important to find and work with trustworthy and genuine individuals who will have your best interest at heart over their own pocket. – Engelo RumoraList’n Sell Realty

9. Keep Your Home’s Condition Pristine If You’re Looking To Sell

Well-maintained houses always sell faster, even in a slow real estate market. Buyers appreciate houses that look move-in ready and are updated versus those that need a lot of work. In a hot real estate market, most houses sell quickly. But during a cooler market period, buyers can get very picky, so it will be the nicer ones that continue to sell. – Jeremy BrandtWe Buy Houses®

10. Be Selective And Don’t Be Afraid To Walk Away

The old real estate adage is true: You make your money when you buy, not when you sell. By being selective about your real estate purchases and using larger amounts of cash in the transactions, you insulate yourself from the ebbs and flows of the market. Deals don’t always work, so do not be afraid to step away. Sometimes the best investment to protect principal is no investment at all. – Blake PlumleyCapital Pursuits LLC

11. Approach Negotiations From A Collaborative, Not Competitive, Standpoint

It’s a mistake to go into real estate negotiations thinking that the other side is your adversary and to be fixated on a specific price. The goal should always be working together to come to an agreement that satisfies both parties. Digging in your heals can sabotage a negotiation. Take a step back and put yourself in their shoes. What’s a win-win for everyone? – Brad LeClimb Real Estate

12. Find An Experienced Local Real Estate Agent

The internet has changed real estate forever. Home sellers and buyers can get more information about real estate than ever. But what they can’t get online and can only get from a local real estate agent, is that insider knowledge. That local “go-to” agent who is a neighborhood expert knows things about the homes and the community you just can’t Google. Their value will never change. – Lane Hornungzavvie

13. Remember That A Home’s True Value Is Determined By The Buyer

No matter what the market conditions are, one aspect always remains the same — the true market value of a home is only equal to what a buyer is willing to pay. Just because a seller believes their home is worth a certain amount of money, it does not mean that the ask will be equal to what a buyer believes to be an appropriate “bid” price. – Matt PettinelliCapGrow Partners LLC

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15 Dos And Don’ts Of Property Maintenance Homeowners Should Be Aware Of

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Forbes Real Estate Council

Many homeowners take great efforts and spend time to renovate their homes to provide that personal touch. While there is nothing wrong with making upgrades to enhance the appearance of a property, the next buyer may not appreciate them as much as you do. You may think that when it’s time to sell you’ll get back every penny you stuck into your remodel, whereas a new buyer just sees the improvements they will have to make in order to make a home their own.

Fifteen members of Forbes Real Estate Council share some of the most common dos and don’ts of property maintenance that homeowners should be aware of to make sure they get a good deal when they decide to sell.

1. Don’t Overcustomize

I painted the walls of my first condo tangerine orange. When I put it on the market, I didn’t understand why it didn’t sell quickly! Now, as a real estate pro, I understand that overcustomization is a deal-killer for resale. Buyers want the experience of enjoying a home’s potential — you must remove crazy wallpaper, overly artistic bathroom tiles and odd/unusual fixtures you’ve installed over time. –Courtney Poulos, ACME Real Estate

2. Always Consider The Costs

Most homeowners fail to consider the cost when making repairs or keeping up their house. The main one I’ve seen recently is the maintenance of the landscaping. The drought in southern California has encouraged people to not water their yard. Less water is good, but over time the landscaping can die. If the property has no landscaping it discourages buyers who see it as a lot of work or expense. – Jeff Maas, National Realty Group

3. Think Like The Next Buyer

Preventative maintenance ignored throughout the years can create costly issues and challenges for homeowners when the time comes to sell their home. Make sure to keep up on HVAC, plumbing and roofing maintenance, especially. Also, updating with a different style in every room can create a very disjointed feel in the home and turn away buyers. Keep any light upgrades tasteful and cohesive. –Tracy Royce, Royce of Real Estate

4. Concentrate On The “Bones” Of The Property

When the time comes to sell and the buyer performs an inspection, your big ticket items are the bones (plumbing, roof, structural, etc.), not the cosmetics. They’ll probably want to choose their own paint and carpet anyway, and high-ticket repairs could scare them off. Keep up the maintenance on the structural part of the home before the cosmetics. – Alex Hemani, ALNA Companies

5. Use Neutral, Classic Designs

Upgrades should be for the purpose you are creating for the property. If you are going to sell it, keep it to neutral, classic designs rather than trendy designs. Trends typically last two to four years. Keep that time frame in mind when making upgrades. – Susan Leger Ferraro, Peace, Love, Happiness Real Estate

6. Document All Improvements

We’re great at keeping every maintenance slip for our cars knowing that when we sell it or trade it in, those records are gold for firming up its resale price and reducing buyer haggling. Yet for our homes, we fall short. When did we replace the washer and dryer? The stainless steel appliances? Five years ago or longer? The hot water heater is how old? Bad data can cost a seller a lot of dough. – Kevin Hawkins, WAV Group, Inc.

7. Renovate To Fit The Neighborhood

When renovating a property, you need to keep in mind what fits in the neighborhood. You might love your 2,000-square-foot addition, but if your home is overbuilt, it might be hard to sell. Appliances, paint color and landscaping can all impact resale value. If you do want to build to your specific tastes, just recognize that you might have to “remodel your remodel” prior to listing it. – Lisa Fettner,ReferralExchange

8. Know Your Audience

Often, homeowners make upgrades that are too idiosyncratic to themselves and don’t resonate with the buying audience. My recommendation has been to look at home improvement and interior design-centered publications to see what is most popular. Buyers like unique homes, but striking the balance between market forces and individual character is essential when it comes time to sell. – Ari Afshar,Compass

9. Don’t Overimprove Your Home

Some homeowners move into their new home and believe they are decorators or architects. The weekend warrior of home improvement can make terrible mistakes to their homes by not going to trusted sources and getting good advice. A great source is the agent they purchased through. Getting an outside opinion is regularly free and very important prior to upgrading or adding to your property investment. – Rita Santamaria, Champions School of Real Estate

10. Do Regular Inspections

I’m a bit surprised this isn’t a more common practice, but I always encourage my clients to do a property inspection every three to five years, depending on the age of the home. In our area, it’s common to do inspections before selling your home. But by doing inspections every few years, you can stay on top of ongoing maintenance of your home and any potential repairs needed. – Brad Le, Climb Real Estate

11. Stay Within The 10% Margin

Unless you plan on living in your current house until you pass to the other side, stop upgrading immediately if you have exceeded 10% of your original purchase price in upgrades. Maintenance is mandatory and having a home warranty plan in place to cover repairs will pay for itself over time. Choose upgrades that are less expensive. Following this plan will almost guarantee a profit when you do finally decide to sell. – Angela Yaun, Day Realty Group

12. Leave Yourself A Buffer

The biggest problem that a lot of landlords and homeowners have is they fail to leave themselves a buffer. In other words, all the income the property generates is immediately spent on personal expenses instead of setting aside a portion for regular general upkeep of the property. Instead of spending that money, you need to put money toward fixing the property every month and getting it ready to sell. – Engelo Rumora, List’n Sell Realty

13. Clean House

At the end of the day, the largest turn-off to buyers is a dirty, cluttered home. Remove everything from your home that’s not needed daily, and clean from top to bottom. Buyers stop looking at a home the second they are distracted by dirt and clutter. Cleaning, organizing and decluttering are all free ways to improve a home’s marketability and increase the odds buyers will overlook the need for updates. – Coni Dean, Venture Realty & Investments

14. Invest In Visible Improvements

Don’t put your money into branded expansive decorations and furniture. Don’t wire your property with boomboxes and subwoofers. Investors should put money into visible improvements and those that make a property appraise well. Kitchen, flooring, new windows, new bathrooms, tile, marble and staging of the residence are good ways to improve value. – Elliot Bogod, Broadway Realty

15. Do It Now

Many homeowners take a “we’ll get around to it later” stance on exterior maintenance, and that is one of the most costly mistakes I regularly see — either coming up when it is time to sell and prep the house or on an inspection. Also, regularly servicing your HVAC system can save tons of money down the line. – Megan Jumago-Simpson, Keller Williams Realty Portland Premiere

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