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4 Things Agents Consider When Setting Listing Prices

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There’s no online calculator for setting the perfect listing price for your home. It takes experience, market savvy, and even a bit of psychology. A strong listing agent can help you set the right, most competitive price for your home. Here are a few things they might look at:

1. The competition
Your agent will look at the prices of similar homes in your area that either are currently listed or sold during the past few months. They’ll take into account how many days the properties were on the market, and how the listing prices for those homes differed from the final sale prices.

2. Market trends
What’s affecting the market in your neighborhood, and your region? Your agent will consider national factors that shape the real estate market, such as possible rising interest rates, as well as local factors, like whether the average home price in your neighborhood has been rising or falling. They’ll also think about things such as new companies moving to the area in the near future, or plans for improving local amenities, like parks and shopping districts. All can increase the value of your home to a buyer.

3. Your neighbors
Although a home the same size and age recently sold for a high price, your own place might not fetch the exact same fortune if, say, junky cars continue to proliferate in your neighbor’s driveway. On the flipside, if the grass is in fact greener on the other side of the fence, your home’s value may be higher due to your neighbors’ curb appeal.

4. The Goldilocks price
Listing your home at a price that’s “just right” from the start is critical to selling it quickly, for the best price. Overpricing your home, and then dropping the price a few times while it sits on the market, could lead to a lower final sales price than if the home was priced appropriately from the beginning. And, of course, setting a price that’s too low leaves money on the table.

Wondering how much your home might be worth in today’s market? Find a local RE/MAX agent who can explain how these and other considerations could factor into a pricing strategy for your home.

8 Tips for First-Time Sellers

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If you’re selling a home for the first time, it’s quite a different ballgame from what you experienced as a first-time buyer.

Ultimately, you’re in control of the process. You call the shots on prepping your home for sale, deciding on a listing price, accepting (or rejecting) offers, and a host of other factors.

But you might want to heed the following tips:

1. Hire an experienced real estate agent
A real estate transaction is filled with complexities and nuances that a professional, skilled agent can help you navigate. Ask friends and family to recommend an agent they’ve used and were pleased with, or search for a local RE/MAX agent.

2. Detach yourself from the process
You’ve made memories to last a lifetime in your first home, and saying goodbye is hard. But be careful not to let your emotional attachment get in the way of making sound decisions, particularly when it comes to staging and pricing your home. Try to see your home as a potential buyer would. Pretend you’re a potential buyer and walk through your home. Make a list of what you like about each room – and the things you’d change.

3. Don’t overprice
Some sellers might think that in today’s low-inventory market they can overprice their home and get top dollar. In reality, if you price it competitively, you’ll create a flurry of activity and (possibly) get in a situation where multiple offers are rolling in. Overpricing at the start hurts your chances of getting a quick sale, especially if numerous price reductions are needed.

4. Declutter and stage for a quick sale
Buyers who tour your home will have a hard time picturing themselves living in it if they only see paint colors or décor that fits your own unique style. Repaint the walls with neutral, earth-tone colors, and remove excess decorations from walls. Consider renting a storage unit to store large furniture that overpowers your main living areas; rooms should appear as spacious as possible.

5. Make the necessary repairs/upgrades
Ensure that all systems and appliances are functioning properly, as these items will come up in a home inspection that might cost you more money and, possibly, the whole sale down the road. The rule of thumb is to make improvements to your home that will help the property show well, but don’t put a ton of money into capital investments such as a basement refinish or high-end flooring, particularly if such upgrades aren’t consistent for your neighborhood. You likely won’t get that money back in the sale.

6. Give your home curb appeal
Your home’s front exterior is the first thing potential buyers will see when they drive by, and it’s likely the first photo that will appear in an online search. Give your front door a fresh coat of paint, add some bright flowers to your entryway, and make sure that any cracks or major cement damage is fixed. Consider renting a pressure washer to get rid of the grime and buildup on the outside of your house, and definitely keep the yard mowed and tidy. A little elbow grease goes a long way to making a positive first impression on buyers.

7. Keep an open mind for negotiations
What’s more important to you: Walking away with your asking price (or more)? A quick closing time? Putting out as little up front cash in closing costs as possible? All of these are considerations you’ll need to make as you evaluate offers. Also, keep in mind that you have the ability to negotiate with counter-offers. Sometimes, you can sweeten the deal by offering to pay a buyer’s closing costs (if feasible), or leaving some appliances behind. A few concessions can go a long way in the negotiation process, and your Realtor can work with you to carefully evaluate and respond to each offer.

8. Get ready for closing
Once you’ve accepted an offer and signed a sales agreement, you’ll start prepping for a closing. Also called “escrow” or “settlement,” closing is the final meeting between the buyer, seller, their agents and a loan officer (or an attorney, in some states) where the buyer pays their portion of the costs to the seller and the buyer’s new title and any mortgage liens are properly recorded. The closing agent will calculate what monies are due to the owner and what credits need to be applied to the transaction, such as taxes, title fees and other closing costs.

Ready to sell? Find a RE/MAX agent today who can help you navigate all these steps.

April Housing Report

The 2016 home buying season began in March with a 33.4% jump in sales from February among the 53 metro areas surveyed for the RE/MAX National Housing Report, which is a little better than the 31.0% seven-year average of February to March increases. March sales were also 3.6% greater than sales one year ago. So far in 2016, the average year-over-year increase in home sales has been 4.9%. The median price among the Median Sales Prices of the markets in the survey in March was $204,000, which was the same median price reported in March 2015. The inventory of homes for sale remains very tight in many markets across the country, with March seeing a level that is 13.3% lower than a year ago, the exact same difference seen in February. At the rate of home sales in March, the national Months Supply of inventory was 3.2, down from 3.7 in March 2015.

The April 2016 Housing Report infograph can be found here.

9 Tips for Taking Photos That Help Your Home Sell

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1. Turn off the flash.
Open the curtains and try to use as much natural light as possible. Flashes can create unattractive shadows and distracting bright spots.

2. Think big.
Shoot from the doorway or from the corner to include as much of a room as possible. Rooms shot from an angle seem bigger.

3. Avoid photobombs.
Yes, your kids and pets are darling, but you’re not trying to sell them (hopefully). Keep them out of your listing shots.

4. No selfies.
To avoid starring in your photos, shoot mirrors from an angle.

5. Shoot from the hip.
Or chest. Shooting from a kneeling position helps make a room seem more spacious.

6. Go for a close-up.
Highlight architectural detailing, such as molding or tile work, with a close-up image.

7. Overcast is underrated.
Exterior photos have more depth when they’re taken on a cloudy day.

8. Take tons.
Take several pictures from each angle and in different lighting schemes to give yourself some options.

9. Use photo-editing software.
There are lots of free, easy-to-use photo editing tools available online that allow you to brighten your images and crop away distractions.

Your Realtor can help you pick the best images of your home, or find a talented pro to take some. Find a RE/MAX All Pro agent here.

Sellers: How to Decide Between Multiple Home Offers

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What a splendid dilemma! You’ve received several offers on your property. Which one should you choose? It’s not always the highest one.

Here are just some of the areas your agent could ask you to pay particularly close attention to as you’re weighing the options.

1. Do the math
This goes beyond simply calculating the dollar difference between the various offer prices. Before you do that, be sure to do all the math. Subtract things like closing costs, fees and potential repairs to determine the net proceeds of each offer.

2. Consider the financing
Can the buyer provide proof from the bank that there are funds to back the offer? Your agent can help verify this – and help you understand the terms of the buyer’s financing.

3. Motivation
Do the buyers have a baby-sitting parent in the neighborhood? A new job just around the corner? Buyers with extra motivation to purchase your home are less likely to press for concessions and more likely to work harder to close the deal. Some buyers even include a personal letter with their offer to explain why they want the home. These letters can be particularly helpful in multiple-offer situations.

4. Timeline
Note the closing date each offer proposes. You’ll want a closing date that best meets your needs. You can always counter a closing date, too, if the best offer doesn’t quite meet your timeline.

Weighing the pros and cons of each offer can be tricky. An experienced agent can help you clarify, calculate and secure the very best deal for you. Find a local RE/MAX agent who can help.

5 Next Steps When a Sale Falls Through

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Remember Charlie Brown, lying dejected on the ground after Lucy yanked the football away at the very last second? That’s how it can feel when your home sale falls through.

Unfortunately, several things can derail a sale, from lenders rejecting your buyer’s mortgage application to buyer’s remorse. Your agent may suggest several different next steps after a sale collapses. Here are some possibilities.

1. Go to Plan B
In the best-case scenario, you’ll have several backup offers on your property and, without re-listing or re-marketing, your agent can simply move on to the next buyer.

2. Re-inspect
Do you take issue with the report filed by the buyer’s home inspector? Hire your own for a second opinion.

3. Don’t despair – repair
Did the buyer present you with a list of improvements they wanted addressed? Your agent can help you decide which, if any, of those items might be worth fixing before relisting.

4. Is the price right?
Your agent may look at any changes in your local market that took place in the time since you first listed your home. You may consider bumping your listing price up, or down, to more accurately reflect the current market.

5. Update your listing
Freshen the listing content with new photos and descriptions based on some of the feedback from prospective buyers. If your home has been on the market through a change of seasons, new pictures of the exterior are also a good idea.

Sales can fall through for a wide range of reasons. Work with an experienced agent who can lay the groundwork for a successful closing. Find one here.

6 Tricks to Help Sell Your Home in Autumn

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It’s easy to boost buyers’ impression of your home in new, inexpensive ways with each season. Here are a few things you can do in the fall to make it as inviting as a basket of Halloween candy.

1. Light it up.
Shorter days and longer shadows mean you need to be particularly careful to maximize natural light with open drapes and blinds, and add more light where needed with floor and tabletop lamps. Replace any burned-out bulbs in outdoor lights. And schedule showings earlier in the day, when the light is stronger. Adequate lighting makes a bigger difference than you might think.

2. Rake in the leaves (and the buyers).
Keep up with your yard work to help hike curb appeal. Clean up the leaves, and trim back any overgrown or dead plants. Cut back trees and hedges that hide or overshadow windows and porches.

3. Stash the toys.
Store all those pool toys, bikes and croquet sets. A less-cluttered yard appears larger. Leave the grill, though. One that’s shiny and clean can help buyers see the possibilities of living out their hamburger-and-steak fantasies. If you have nice patio furniture, arranging it around a fire pit – even just a portable or tabletop one – creates a warm, social atmosphere.

4. Mum’s the word.
They’re cheap. They’re cheerful. And they’re hard to kill. A pot or two of orange or gold chrysanthemums can brighten up your porch, deck and steps. Pumpkins also can add a bright, seasonal touch as well, but be careful not to overdo it. You’re decorating a home, not a department store.

5. Burn, baby, burn.
If your home has a fireplace, now’s the time to let it shine. Of course, you probably don’t want to light a blaze for showings, just in case the fire’s unattended between appointments. But you can make sure it’s clean. Tasteful fall décor, like a simple vase of pinecones can add a nice seasonal touch to the mantle or hearth. If your agent will be hosting an open house, a crackling fire with lots of comfy seating can be a great touch.

6. Two words: pumpkin spice.
Don’t worry, there’s no need to actually bake a pie. Before showings, simply burn scented candles with seasonal aromas, like apple, cinnamon and ginger, to add to your home’s coziness.

If you’re looking for more personalized recommendations for selling your home, find a local RE/MAX agent who can help you show your home at its best. Contact a local RE/MAX All Pro agent today.

11 Tips for Selling a Vacant Home

2015-05-A-vacant-homeYou’ve moved to your new home but have yet to sell your former property. What should you do to ensure the safety and security of the vacant house?

1. Set the thermostat at no lower than 60 degrees to prevent frozen pipes. If necessary, your Realtor can turn up the heat the day before a showing, but not by much as sudden shifts in temperature can also damage pipes. If you have gas heat, check the level on your tank so it doesn’t run out.

2. Another tip to avoid frozen pipes: Leave faucets dripping ever so slightly.

3. Check the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Some automatically send a signal to local authorities even if a home is empty.

4. Add a lock-bar in the pane of sliding windows for extra protection.

5. Install a timer on lights to give the appearance that the home is occupied.

6. Stop your mail and ask a neighbor to scoop up flyers, takeout menus or phonebooks that may accumulate on your porch.

7. Check your weather stripping for cracks or tears and replace worn-out strips. You’ll keep out mold-producing moisture and prevent critters from setting up shop.

8. Unplug any appliances. It saves energy and also prevents dangerous short circuits. Prop open freezer or fridge doors a crack to prevent potential mold buildup.

9. Let your neighbors know your home will be empty, and how they can reach you and your Realtor in case of an emergency or if things just don’t look right.

10. Clean the gutters. Clogs can cause water to pool and tear away from your home.

11. Arrange to have your yard mowed regularly and weeds tended to during warmer months.

The right agent can help minimize the time your home sits vacant. Find a RE/MAX All Pro agent here: www.remax.com/officeagentsearch/.

Selling Your Home? 3 Ways to Help Kids Cope

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Here is what they might be thinking as you begin the home-selling process, and strategies to alleviate your child’s concerns.

1. “Who is this stranger invading our lives?”
Your listing agent will become a frequent presence in your home, and your child may see him or her as the catalyst of all the changes to come. Help form a positive relationship between your kids and your agent by getting everyone together over coffee (hot chocolate for the little ones) or dinner.

2. “Where did my stuff go?”
Staging a home often means prepacking some of a child’s favorite things. Involve kids in packing as much as possible. This gives them an idea of where their toys and clothes have gone rather than fearing they’ve disappeared forever. The personal favorites – a blanket, stuffed animal or even family photos – should be the last to go. It’s easy to store them under the bed during a showing. You can even have your child put them away so he or she will know exactly where they will be when you return from an outing.

3. “Why can’t we go home?”
Vacating a house for a showing can be disruptive to kids’ schedules. Take them somewhere special so they see it as a treat. A movie, the local bookstore or a special restaurant are all good options.

If possible, it may be a good idea to let your child accompany you on a showing so they understand what visitors are doing when you have to leave your house for a couple of hours. You can also ask your agent to set up a “mock” showing of your current home for your children.

RE/MAX agents are well known for their years of experience. An agent will have even more ideas on how to make the process of selling your home a positive experience for your child. Find one here: Find My Agent

6 Questions to Ask on a Home Tour

2015-7-6-questionsThanks to the Internet and your Realtor’s digital tools, you can learn a lot about a home before visiting, such as when the house was built and the HOA or tax costs. Some things, however, are best to ask the agent in person when you’re touring a property.

1. Why are the owners selling?
The agent isn’t obligated to tell you, but he or she might. The answer could reveal issues not included in the listing description. Is there a new highway planned nearby? Are the HOA restrictions too much for the sellers to handle? If the agent does reveal, for instance, that the owner is desperate to close quickly, you might be able to use that to your advantage when negotiating price.

2. What’s the sellers’ timeline?
Do the property owners need to relocate immediately for work? Or are they waiting for their children to finish the current school year? It’s important that your timeline for moving into the home and the owner’s timeline for moving out line up.

3. What, exactly, is for sale?
Find out precisely what’s included in the sales price. That nifty new fridge with the built-in smart screen you admire might be going with the sellers to their new home. Learn whether the appliances and fixtures, such as ceiling fans, are included in the sale price.

4. Are there any issues with the property?
Yes, the sellers are required to reveal most problems, but a chatty sales agent might reveal more than is included in the disclosure document. It certainly can’t hurt to ask.

5. How are the neighbors?
Ask about the types of people that live nearby. Retirees? Young families with kids? College students? The primary population will influence the overall culture of the neighborhood and can help you determine if this is the home for you.

6. Have the owners completed any major home projects?
Lots of recent home improvements could mean the property is in better shape than ever, ready for you to enjoy. It could also indicate more work will need to be done in the future. Be sure to get the full story about any recent property updates.

You’ll have tons of questions as you search for your next home. A RE/MAX agent can help you find the answers. To meet an agent, start here: www.remaxallpro.com/agents.