Selling a Home

How Setting the Right Price Can Help Sell a Home

Setting the asking price correctly can help you with a swift and successful sale. The first few weeks a home is for sale on the market is the best chance for selling a home at a good price, in a reasonable amount of time,

right_pricing_home_for_sale_282Because of the low inventory in markets across the United States, home buyers are searching the MLS listings every day, waiting for the right home to go on the market. If your home is priced right from the beginning, you will be in the best position to attract home buyer attention and sell the house for a good price within a time frame you can live with. If your price is set too low, you might get a lot of attention and some lowball offers, but you stand a chance of losing out on thousands of dollars.  If your price is set too low, less people will come to look and offers to pay your impractical price will be few and far between. You could reduce your price, but by that time you will have likely missed out on home buyers who might have been interested.

How Are Prices Set?

Determining what an initial asking price should be involves research on the real estate market and judgment that comes from experience. The basic steps include, but are not limited to:

  • Assessing the homes against similar home in the neighborhood that have sold recently or are presently for sale.
  • Defining what features of the house make the home special among others currently up for sale in the area.
  • Deciding how much to invest in improvements that could increase the marketability of the home to earn the best sale price.

A good sale price will be close to the market value of the house, which is continuously shifting. Setting the right price from the beginning...

What You Should Know About "Pocket" Real Estate Listings

private_real_estate_listing_pocket_listing_sleeve_listing_640MPR recently did a story about the proliferation of private sales in the Twin Cities real estate market. I thought that I would take some time to talk about what a private real estate sale is and what its pros and cons are.

A private real estate sale, otherwise known as a “sleeve” listing or a “pocket” listing, is a property for which a broker holds a signed listing agreement from the seller, but it is never actually advertised on a multiple listing system (MLS). Instead of putting the house on the local MLS, which exposes it to home buyers and buyer agents, the real estate agent restricts access to information about the house, hoping for a quick sale.

Pocket listings are surging in the local Twin Cities real estate market, and in many other places in the U.S., because of incredibly low inventories of homes for sale, along with strong buyer demand and low mortgage interest rates. In competitive markets where real estate listings are scarce, private sales or pocket listings are a way to have utter control over the sale. The practice of marketing properties prior to listing them on the MLS is legal as long as agents explain the trade-offs sellers are making.

There are benefits for the seller. As the...

6 Mistakes for Home Sellers to Avoid

selling_a_home_540More and more home buyers and home sellers are entering the housing market now that it has finally begun to stabilize.

For people who are planning to sell a home, it is important to understand the tax implications that come along with selling a home. It’s also important to be aware of structural and cosmetic flaws in a home and neighborhood that could affect the asking price or cause a property to languish on the market.

Here are six tips for home sellers to avoid mistakes:

  1. Make your home neutral. If your interior or exterior walls are painted with bold colors or textures, it may turn off sellers. They want to be able to imagine themselves living there, and it could be hard if the colors clash with their ideal. It might be worth toning it down with a more neutral palette.
  2. Make reasonable repairs. If there are some obvious flaws with your home that are going to be a turnoff to buyers, such as a damaged roof or broken windows. Mismatched appliances, cabinetry and plumbing fixtures stand out. The same goes for worn floors or carpeting. If you can afford to make some more extensive repairs or remodeling projects, it may be worth it. But choose carefully, as some home remodeling projects have a better return on investment than others.
  3. Finish your remodeling projects. If you started a job and didn't complete it, most people won't want to take that on themselves, even with a significant reduction in price.
  4. Have your home professionally staged. Professional home stagers know how to maximize space and show off a home's strong points, while downplaying its defects. One place they’ll ask you to start is by decluttering.
  5. Pay attention to curb appeal. The front of your home is the first...

Celebrate Home Safety Month in June

During the month of June, the Home Safety Council celebrates Home Safety Month! The theme for this year’s Home Safety Month campaign is "Hands on Home Safety."

Home safety is of particular concern to people who are trying to sell a home. If a potential buyer is hurt on your property, instead of unloading a house you might gain a lawsuit!

The Home Safety Council (HSC) is an organization which encourages people to take easy steps toward making their homes safer for people and pets. For this year's Home Safety Month, HSC suggests simple hands-on steps to create a safer home environment from the five leading causes of home injury: falls, poisonings, fires and burns, choking or suffocation, and drowning.  Many household accidents like these can be avoided with precautionary measures!

Falls are the leading cause of injury at home, according to the HSC. Steps that can be take to prevent falls include:

  • Make sure that stairwells and hallways are well-lit
  • Stairs should have handrails on both sides, secured along the full length of the stairway
  • Fix uneven or broken stairs
  • Ensure the halls and stairs are unobstructed
  • Make certain that smooth walking surfaces are dry
  • Place rugs at doorways and in the kitchen in front of the sink to provide traction in potentially slick walking areas

Falls can easily happen outdoors, too. Cracks in the asphalt that result in uneven pavement or a gap can cause people to trip. The concrete doesn't need to be entirely replaced, however. Mud jacking and sand jacking services can help to raise part of the concrete to reduce the gap. Landscaped paths with brickwork or stepping stones that have become uneven over time should be re-leveled.

Check out the safety articles HSC has provided for a variety of potential issues, including fire, water, cooking and child safety. It also might be worth checking out their summer safety guide.


10 Fall Lawn and Landscaping Tips to Maintain Curb Appeal

It's the end of September. Whether you are trying to sell your home or not, now is the time to perform autumn landscaping and lawn care duties. Though the sun is disappearing, there is still plenty to do, not only to prepare the yard for winter, but maintain the curn appeal of your home if you are trying to sell it.

1. Clean up fallen leaves and grass clippings.  When a home is for sale, piles of leaves in the yard and landscaping offer potential buyers a poor first impression of the home.

2. While raking the leaves, kill 2 birds with 1 stone by also dethatching the lawn.

3. Remove the leaves so they don’t smother the grass over the winter.

4. Though you may be ready to stop mowing, cut the grass as late as possible so that it is shorter when it goes dormant. Never cut it lower than 2 to 2-1/2 inches. When it stops growing, you can stop mowing.

5. Overseed bare patches now to fix brown spots in next year’s lawn.

6. Fall is a great time to prune trees, but avoid pruning until after the tree has gone into dormancy. Pruning too soon might encourage new growth and increase the risk of frost damage.

7. Ensure that the lawn and trees receive enough water in the fall to carry it through the winter. Water trees deeply.

8. Consider planting a few perennials. Now is a good time because the season is late and the temperatures are already cooler. As a result, the plants won't concentrate on growing leaves or blooms, but on building a healthy root system.

9. Pull annuals when the low temperatures kill them to reduce the appearance of dead, dying and dry plants.

10. Spread 6 to 8 inches of mulch (straw or leaves) over perennials to give them an added layer of protective insulation.

When it comes to selling a home, performing the tasks listed above are even more important if the house is vacant...

Early Spring Home Maintenance Checklist II

About a month ago, I wrote a post called Early Spring Home Maintenance Checklist. Well, this is going to be part two, or II, of that checklist. The first was spring home maintenance that could be taken care of, regardless of how bad the weather might get outside. It is Minnesota, after-all, and I don't need to tell you how unpredictable it is. Remember the snow storm on April 11, 2008? Ugh. This is a list of stuff you can probably start doing now that it seems to be really warming up outside (knock on wood). The spring selling season is really gearing up, so following these steps to make sure your home is in tip-top condition could make a big difference in its curb appeal.
  • Check and maintain roof shingles
  • Unclog and Secure Gutters and Downspouts
  • Inspect siding, brickwork, or stucco for deterioration
  • Pressure wash siding
  • Paint exterior if it needs it - before it gets too hot to do it!
  • Inspect decks and porches for rotting and unsecured boards or railings
  • Pressure wash deck & patios
  • Examine putty/caulk lines & weather stripping around exterior windows and doors
  • Check and Re-caulk Flashing
  • Grade ground around house from up to down to funnel water away
  • Inspect and seal asphalt or concrete driveways (use correct sealer for climate)
Though you might be tempted, like me, to get into doing some yard work, this brief article in the Star Tribune has some common sense approaches about what projects you might want to hold off on. It's no coincidence the day after this article was published I started my own little potted garden to tide me over. And there you have it! Some more spring maintenance tips to get you started on preparing for the home selling season....

Early Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

Okay, maybe it’s a little early to be thinking spring, but we are nearly half-way through March already – warmer weather is bound to come soon!  And with spring comes home maintenance, especially if you’re thinking of selling your home this summer. 

So I’ve scoured the Internet to put together some home maintenance projects that will help you gear up for the home selling season.  There will be another checklist coming later once it starts warming up out there, but these are things you should be able to do right now.  Many of these steps will also help you get a head start on increasing your home’s curb appeal.

  • Clean windows and repair screens
  • Check life expectancy of appliances
  • Lubricate door hinges and hardware
  • Vacuum out-of-the-way spots
  • Change furnace filters
  • Change batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
  • Prune shrubs and trees (Cold weather is the perfect time to do this!)
  • Have a professional chimney sweep clean/inspect your active or decorative chimney
  • Test GFCI Outlets
  • Test Sump Pump
  • Clean AC System
  • Check Attic Fan
  • Inspect and Maintain Laundry Appliances

This is just a short list to get you started. With the cold temperatures out, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to pressure wash the deck and siding. There’s also most likely a lot of ice and snow in the gutters yet. Watch out for more spring home maintenance and curb appeal tips in the next few weeks!


Nearby Foreclosures Affect Your Home Sale

Yesterday I wrote about how truer home appraisals are being requested by mortgage lenders before they will dispense a loan.  Today I will write about how two major things right now are directly affecting your appraisal value: foreclosures and short sales. 

For a few months, pending home sales in the Twin Cities have gone up and the excessive inventory of unsold homes has been slowly going down.  However, the local real estate market, and markets in the nation at large, still faces some opposition.  Growing unemployment, wilting wage growth, higher down-payment prerequisites, and stringent mortgage qualifications are all contributing to tumbling real estate prices. Furthermore, the increasing number of foreclosures sales and short-sales taking place are hitting home sellers hard in particular. 

An abrupt increase in foreclosures across the nation is being blamed for dives in home prices that have stunned the economy. The foreclosure crisis has moved lenders and the government to launch broad efforts to keep people in their homes, even if it means renegotiating the terms for thousands of loans and in some circumstances, banks taking a loss. Most troublesome, the high foreclosure rate has translated into home sellers cutting their asking prices just to compete with short sales and foreclosure sales.

While it is true that about one-third of all home sales in the metro area during the July-September quarter were "lender-mediated" transactions, not all communities have been hit in the same way, according to data compiled by the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.  In Brooklyn Center, for example, 64% of home sales so far this year have been lender-mediated, while in Edina only 8.3% were. Regardless of what city or neighborhood you live in, if there are foreclosures or short sales happening on your block...

10 Tips for First Time Sellers

Last week, I wrote a lot of content to help first time home buyers prepare to buy their first home.  I provided information about “hidden costs” of owning your own home, budgeting tips for first time home buyers, and information on how people with bad credit can still purchase a home.  But sellers are important, too.  More to the point, what if you’re a first time home seller?  With inexperience and a sluggish real estate market making headlines nationwide, I could understand why selling a home for the first time could seem daunting. Here are some tips especially for those who may be trying to sell a home for the first time.
  1. It Can Be Done. Some 5.25 million existing homes were sold in 2001. 5.65 million existing home were sold even in 2007, the fifth highest year on record, though that was 12.8% short of the 6.48 million sold in 2006.  Even in this down market, other owners have sold their homes and you can, too!
  2. Don’t Go It Alone.  Though you knew it was important to have representation when you bought the house, it’s especially important to have a Realtor looking out for your best interests when you sell a home.  After all, it is your equity. And don’t just choose your cousin or best friend from high school, who happen to be Realtors, sell your house.  For your home sale to truly be successful, you must have a strong negotiator in your corner to help you get the both the best price and terms. This takes some research and interviewing multiple real estate agents until you find the right one for you.
  3. Times Have Changed. If it has been a while since you purchase your home, know that today's real estate market is a radically different place. Potential home buyers are very informed through use of the Internet, ask for seller...

Strange But True: Eat, Drink & Buy a House

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a while, as evidenced by my resource-article’s age of nearly one whole month!  That’s okay, as I recall there was another “Strange But True” around that time as well.  I didn’t want them to appear too closely to each other.  So, without much more delay, I’ll get to this Strange But True real estate related story.

As evidenced recently by our Minneapolis and St. Paul market analyses, the number of homes on the Twin Cities real estate has been pretty high in comparison to how many closed sales have been occurring.  Particularly, there have been an unusually high number of upper-bracket homes for sale out there.  Homes are also spending a lot longer on the market on average before they finally sell.  In this kind of atmosphere, doing all that is possible to make a home stand out amongst the rest may mean the difference between the house selling quickly and it languishing on the market for a while.

This brings me to the point of this post: real estate soirees.  Brunches, cocktail parties and progressive dinners that showcase a luxury property have become increasingly popular as a marketing strategy.  These events can vary from simple wine-and-cheese affairs to elaborate garden parties.  This non-traditional style of open house are not only taking place in the Twin Cities, but all across the United States. Agents who host the gatherings hope that by inviting influential business associates, neighbors and other agents, they'll be able to attract more attention to the house and in turn sell it more quickly.  Maybe even for a higher price than originally anticipated!

Last month (when...

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