Buyers and Sellers Wish They Would’ve Done Sooner….

Due to the limited inventory on the market, listings seem to be flying off the shelf – especially within a certain pricing bracket.

With the spring home buying season upon us, we are expecting the market to become competitive. Based upon research conducted, when it comes to Home-For-Salethese competitive markets, both buyers and sellers had wished they had prepared a lot sooner.

Over 13,000 people were surveyed and it was found that sellers regretted not preparing their home for selling and buyers regretted not starting their property search sooner.

Zillow Groups chief marketing officer, Jeremy Wacksman, stated that “this spring, both buyers and sellers should be prepared for fast-moving sales, intense negotiations, and even bidding wars.”

Here are a few important tops for home buyers:

  • Keep options open
  • Have a realistic budget
  • Arrange a mortgage in advance

Overall, whether you are selling or purchasing, choosing a good real estate agent is important.

How Well Is Your Agent Representing You? Does Your Value Matter to Them?

Having been an agent for over 11 1/2 years, one of my biggest pet peeves with other agents is there representation of their clients – be it the write up in regards to the property, the amount of pictures they take, or the quality of the photos taken. Some do “shotty” work no matter what the price range is, while others base it on the price range of that home – are you one of those victims? And, yes, I said victim. Agents who do this are not taking your best SKMBT_C35161130105000_0001interest to heart, or they are just plan lazy. With our world being so virtual/digital, it is important for your listing that it is being represented in the best way possibly. Their job is to draw the consumer in, to peak the consumers interest, to make them want to gain more information about your home. And how is this done? By taking quality photos and by story being told through the write up describing the property to its fullest benefit. They job is to sell your property.

Just today, I was going through some listings for one of my clients and I came across a $200,000 listing that had one sentence in the description and three pictures of the front of the house only. Do you think this agent is representing their client very well? Do you think this type of advertising will draw a buyer over another listing in SKMBT_C35161130105001_0001the same price bracket, that has a description painting a vivid picture of the property for them, and has 20 photos showing the home and all its features?

With the way our multiple listing service works, all listings entered by the agents is then launched onto on of the
top three largest home search engine portals used by consumers today – This same “lack” of information is being presented to thousands of potential buyers and is competing against 100s, if not 1,000s, of other listings out there.

I’m not going to lie, there have been times I have had writers block. There have been times I just couldn’t think of what to saw, but that did not give me an excuse to put out there a one sentence description, and it pushed me even more to ensure that I had quality photos available so the consumer was able to see what I was not able to put into words.

When interviewing listing agents, ask them to supply listing sheets – of either past or current listings. You can ask for ones in different price ranges or for ones that are in the same price bracket as your home. Ask them for sample photos to view for those same listings and how many photos they placed with that listing. Remember, these agents are looking to represent you and not the other way around.

Get Your House Ready to Present in Ten Minutes

Oh my gosh, quick! You just received a phone call and the house is going to be shown! You need to quickly get the house show ready before the buyers and their agent get there. Here are some tips to help you have the house shown in the best light, quickly.

  • Turn on all lights, even during the day
  • Open all drapes and shades to let in the natural light
  • Pick up the rooms. Hide clutter
  • Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Take everything off the countertops
  • Put toys in the toy box or under the bed
  • Move bikes, wagons, and skateboards to their place in the garage
  • Turn on the radio to a classical or light rock station and turn off the television
  • Take the family out of the house during the showing
  • Keep pets outdoors or caged when your home is being shown
  • Let the real estate professional show your home to the buyers they are representing. If you happen to be at home during the showing, try to remain in an area of the home that is not being shown by the real estate agent
  • When evening showings occur, have your home well lite. Be sure to turn on outside lights, both in the front and the back of the hosue
  • Smells are important. Pop a frozen bread product into the oven
  • Park the cars down the street
  • Sprinkle salt on the frozen steps
  • Take out the trash


There have been so many times I have heard of an agent going to a listing appointment and loosing out on the listing because another agent came in at a much higher list price than they did. These same listings then sit on the market for 70, 80, 90, over 100 days; have multiple price reductions; and either sell for the list price quoted by the other agents (if not under) or they do not sell at all – which, sadly, tends to be the case a majority of the time.

Properties that sit on the market for extended periods of time, due to overpricing, become stagnant. Buyers will either wonder what is wrong with the property or will play a “waiting game” to see how low the property will go and once it is listing for undervalue, will pounce on it and score a great deal.

It is SO important to price a property correctly (reflecting the type of market in play) because those first initial days on the market set the whole tone for getting a property sold. A listing will generally have more activity the first few days on the market, compared to a listing that has been on the market for more than 30-days.

If an agent does a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) for you, really look at the comparable properties being used and the type of adjustments made – all which leads to the agent coming up with a “fair market value” for your property. Ask questions and to how that particular agent came up with their value.

Pricing your home accordingly, based upon the current market and other properties, is key successfully getting your property SOLD.

Home Buying: Mortgage

If you want to be respected and considered a “real buyer”, then you need to have the evidence that you are prepared. One way to show that you are prepared is to have that preapproval letter from you lender in hand. Further, your agent would love to see you having that preapproval before they take you out to view homes because it not only protects you, but them as well. Overall, when you are preapproved, you are ready to buy!

Your preapproval letter should include the information that has been checked and evaluated (credit history, employment), along with the maximum loan amount, the type of loan (FHA, VA, USDA, Conventional), and the interest rate you are approved for.

Here is a fun fact for you, did you know there is a difference between a mortgage broker and a mortgage banker? A mortgage broker is a licensee through the state, who is able to sell loans to consumers. A mortgage banker is someone who works directly for an institution loaning the money, they can also issue you a preapproval letter directly.

When it comes time to apply for your loan, your lender will need the following financial records from you:

  • W2 forms or business tax return form if you’re self-employed, for the last two or three years for every person on the loan
  • Copies of one or more months of pay stubs from every person on the loan
  • Copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements for both checking and savings accounts

A lender will also, most likely, require a credit report as well.

Tip: Compare loan programs first! When you are ready, then let the lender pull your credit. Wait to compare interest rates when you are ready to lock.

Your credit report can be defining factor is your ability to obtain a loan, even the amount of loan you are able to get. Here are five factors that determine your credit score:

  1. Your payment history
  2. How much you owe
  3. The length of your credit history
  4. How much credit you have
  5. The types of credit you use

When it comes time to compare loans, you should compare the interest rates among the lenders at the same time on the same day; ask for a written estimate of fees; ask for better terms if you can see that there are certain fees that are negotiable. Following are also ten questions that you should/could ask your lender:

  1. What are the most popular mortgage loans you offer?
  2. Which type of mortgage plan do you think would be the best for us? Why?
  3. Are your rates, terms, fee, and closing costs negotiable?
  4. Will I have to buy private mortgage insurance? If so, how much will it cost and how long will it be required?
  5. Who will service the loan? Your bank or another company?
  6. What escrow requirements do you have?
  7. How long is your loan lock-in period? Will I be able to obtain a lower rate if they drop during this period?
  8. How long will the loan approval process take?
  9. How long will it take to close the loan?
  10. Are there any charges or penalties for prepaying the loan?

When you are out there shopping for a mortgage that will work for you, remember that you are also shopping for the right lender as well. Be prepared to ask everything you need/want to know to assist you in making the best decision.

Home Buying: The Professionals

With the technology available this day and age, it is extremely easy for home buyers to look up properties via the internet – causing some consumers out there to question the value of real estate agent. Here are seven reasons why hiring an agent can increase your chances of successfully purchasing a home:

  1. They are market specialists
  2. They are neighborhood experts
  3. They have more information about homes than you do
  4. They can save you time
  5. They can work with you the way you want to work
  6. They share your risk
  7. They now how to close a deal

Some agents out there also specialize as “Buyer Agents”. They are experts in the home purchasing field, they cam:

  • Evaluate the specific needs and wants of the buyer and locate properties that fit those specifications
  • Assist buyers in determining the amount that they can afford and show them properties in that price range and locale
  • Assist in viewing properties and accompany the buyer on showings, or they can preview properties on behalf of the buyer to ensure that the identified specifications are met
  • Research the selected properties to identify any problems or issues to help the buyer make an informed decision prior to making an offer to purchase the property
  • Advise the buyer on structuring an appropriate offer to purchase the selected property
  • Present the offer to the seller’s agent and the seller on the buyer’s behalf
  • Negotiate on behalf of the buyer to help obtain the identified property, keeping the buyer’s best interest in mind
  • Assist in securing appropriate financing for the selected property
  • Most important, fully represent the buyer throughout the real estate transaction

Regardless, it is important that, as a buyer, you get the service and support you need. When it comes time to find an agent to work for you be sure to interview three different agents, and while interviewing look for professionalism. Further, evaluate their answers according to your needs. The agent should be knowledgeable, a good educator, capable, a good communicator,  and experienced. From there, you should be able to select the best candidate. Here are some questions that you can ask when interviewing:

  1. How long have you been in residential real estate?
  2. What designations do you hold?
  3. How many homes did you and your company sell last year?
  4. How close to the initial asking prices of the homes you sold were the final sales prices?
  5. Will you represent me exclusively, or will you represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction?
  6. Can you recommend service providers who can assist me in obtaining a mortgage, making repairs on my home, and other things I need done?
  7. What type of support and supervision does your brokerage office provide to you?
  8. What’s your business philosophy?
  9. How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction? How frequently? Using what media?

Home Buying: Introduction

Buying a new home can seem like a daunting task. It will most likely be one of the largest investments you will ever make. When it comes to starting the process of purchasing a home, there are several things that you need to ask yourself and options that need to be considered. For example:

  • Hiring a real estate agent
  • The costs and rewards of homeownership
  • Deciding how much home to buy
  • Preparing your finances
  • Finding the right lender/loan program
  • Shopping for homes
  • Choosing the right community/lifestyle
  • Advantages an disadvantages of new homes and existing homes
  • Making an offer
  • Steps of a typical transaction
  • Who pays for what?
  • Moving day

Over the next couple of weeks, I am planning on covering most of these topics for you. In the hopes that you are able to gain a greater understanding and to become comfortable with the whole home purchasing process.

Twenty-one Questions You Should Ask an Agent Who has a Clue

First — you have to find a good agent. One who cares about getting you the most money for your home before they get a commission. If you discuss these questions first, before you sign a listing agreement — you will get a feeling for the quality of an agent. Bring them up and discuss the answers.

  1. Does the house or any part of the house need painting?
  2. Should I re-seed the lawn and get my landscaping in top shape?
  3. What about the screens? What about the windows?
  4. Does the carpet need cleaning? How about replacing?
  5. Should the pets be under control at all times?
  6. Are the appliances something that we should include?
  7. Should I stay out of a prospective buyer’s way?
  8. What is the buyer’s first impression of the exterior of our house? What can I do to improve it?
  9. What is the buyer’s first impression as they step inside my house? What can I do to improve it?
  10. Since the buyer will be looking in the closets, should I take some of the clothes out to make them look roomier?
  11. Can I take items from the kitchen cabinets to make them more spacious?
  12. Is there any furniture that I could store or dispose of to make the rooms appear larger?
  13. Do any cabinets need to be touched up or refinished?
  14. Should I give you a list of things that my family likes about the house and the neighborhood?
  15. What about the door mats? Should I replace them with new ones that are neutral and omit our family’s name?
  16. Should I remove an ornate item that a buyer may want as part of the house? For example, a special chandelier? Or a wall system?
  17. Should I ask you for a list of recommendations prepared specifically for helping market my home?
  18. Is the price and terms offered going to appeal to most of the buying public in my price range?
  19. Do I need to be aware of other houses similar to mine also being offered for sale?
  20. Are the garage and storage areas as clean and neat as the should be?
  21. Before spending needless time and money, could I have a list of items to fix in priority of importance?

Now you either have a good idea how to prepare you home for top dollar or you have an agent who has a funny look on their face.


70% of Home Sellers Would Not Do Business Again With Their Real Estate Agent!

A few years ago a survey stated that 70% of buyers and sellers would not repeat business with their real estate agent. Talk about a wake up cal! I knew then and there that I never wanted to be included in a survey like that! Giving educated answers and consistent service is the key. That may sound like an easy answer, but in reality, it’s hard to consistently carry through. This is not necessarily an agent’s fault. The entire real estate system is just not set up to provide stellar service to one’s clients! Most agents are expected to do a multitude of tasks all by themselves. Unfortunately, there’s just no way a single agent can do everything — the paperwork, the showings, the contracts, the marketing — all by themselves and still give great service.

The Right Question to Ask a REALTOR

It may sound like a self-serving statement, but I know something about successful real estate. Poor and average agents are fine choices, if everything goes smoothly; it’s hell, if it does not! Most REALTORS sell only a small number of homes in their careers. With limited experience in real estate, how are they capable of maximizing the profits from your home sale? Many home sellers make the critical mistake of thinking all REALTORS are the same. They list with the first agent who comes along. Does it make good business sense to put the responsibility of selling your home with someone who has no plan or qualifications? This special letter will educate you with valuable information to help you make the best decision concerning which real estate agent to choose.

Start by doing a few hours of research. Ask around. Get to know who has the most signs, ads, and marketing material in your neighborhood. Who’s the most active agent? Compile a list of agent names and use these questions to help you determine which agent is right for you.

  1. Could you email some information about yourself or link to the best sections of your site? — You can often get a good idea of which agents are the most professional by looking at their promotional materials. If the materials aren’t professional, how are they going to market your home, if they can’t market themselves? Track how long each agent takes to respond to your request and how quickly they follow up. If they don’t respond efficiently to your listing requests, imagine how they’ll handle potential homebuyers.
  2. How many homes have you listed and how many homes have you sold in the last six months? — Look for an agent who has experience with homes similar to yours and is active in your area. If your home has special features, look for an agent with experience in those areas. Your agent should have a good record of selling homes, not just listing them — after all this is your ultimate goal!
  3. What is your average length of time from listed to sold? — Don’t automatically assume the shorter time on the market, the better. The time on the market could reflect selling homes quickly at low-ball prices. Look at what the asking price was compared to the selling price. An agent who sells close to the asking price and quickly is effective at helping clients determine the right price and helping them get it. Ask for their list price to sale ratio.
  4. How long have you been in business and what professional organizations do you belong to? — The length of time a real estate agent has been licensed is not a sure-fire sign that they’ve been an active seller. They may have been in business for ten years but only part time, whereas an agent who’s been in business for two years may be a real top producer. Also, take into account what professional organizations they belong to. A non-impressive minimum should be a licensed professional who’s a member of the local real estate board and multiple listing service as well as the state and National Association of REALTORS. Local community groups and associations are also pluses in terms of networking and commitment.
  5. Do you have an assistant or support staff? — By employing someone to handle the details of their business, the agent can spend more time servicing your needs. However, make sure you know how much time an agent will spend and how much time their assistant will spend on the sale of your home. It may be fine if the assistant does most of the legwork as long as the agent is there at the most critical times of the transaction period.
  6. How often will you hold open houses? Will they be public or by appointment only? — Simply putting a sign on your lawn and holding open houses every Sunday will not sell your home. Too frequently open houses make the property a target for low-ball bidders. Look for an agent with a specific plan for each open house. Fifteen minute, well marketed, open houses can work better than all day endeavors.
  7. What listing price do you recommend and what is that price based on? — Pricing is the most critical step to selling your home. Take great care in choosing an agent with the knowledge to price your home effectively. Keep in mind the selling price should attract prospective buyers to your home, get you top dollar in the current market, and reflect the condition of your home. Be realistic and avoid “yes” agents who will say “yes” to your price, while your home languishes on the market. Also, low-ball agents will try to talk you into a low price to simply sell as fast as possible.
  8. What does the listing agreement entail, what are the beginning and expiration dates, and what are the fee amounts I will be paying? — Have your agent go over every detail in the listing agreement until you understand it completely. Make sure the beginning and ending dates are on the agreement, a good standard for length is six months. Know exactly what fees you will be paying, and remember less is not always better. If the agent stand to make very little commission, you can bet it will be reflected in the amount of time and effort that is spend marketing your home. If the agent reduces their commission to get the listing, it may mean they will do the same to your price. The normal commission is between 6 and 7 percent for a top performer who gets top dollar in the shortest time.
  9. What disclosure laws apply to me and what do I need to be aware of? — Make sure your agent helps you with locating professional inspectors for the various mandatory home inspections required in your area. Create a home marketing file including a property fact sheet, a property transfer disclosure statement, pest control report, applicable CC&Rs, applicable study zones report, home inspection report, property profile from the title company, plans for alterations or additions, and special equipment report for pools, spas, sprinklers, alarm systems, and permits on all improvements. Your agent should be able to handle all this for you.
  10. What types of things separate you from your competition and will you give me some feedback? — How effectively will you advertise? Do you have twenty-four hour advertising capability? What is your internet strategy? Will you or your team follow the leads?

These questions should receive clear, quick answers. Agents who are innovative and offer new methods of attracting homebuyers will measurably out-perform agents who rely on methods of the past. To market effectively in today’s market requires progressive technology strategies plus one must add value and service for both buyers and sellers!