Words of Wisdom: A Seller’s Checklist

Preparing your home for sale not only increases your chances of a quick sale, but also increases the possibility of getting top dollar as well. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are ready to place your home onto the market:

  • FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE LASTING. The front door greats the prospective buyer. Make sure it is fresh, clean and scrubbed looking. Keep lawn trimmed and edged, and the yard free of refuse.
  • DECORATE. Faded walls and worn woodwork reduce appeal. A great investment for a higher rate of return would be to do something as simple as applying a fresh coat of paint to help brighten up the interior.
  • LET THE SUN SHINE IN. Open draperies, curtains, blinds and let buyers see how cheerful your home can be.
  • FIX THAT FAUCET! Dripping water can cause discoloration in sinks and could suggest faulty plumbing.
  • REPAIRS CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE. Loose knobs, sticking and squeaking doors and windows, warped cabinet drawers, and other minor flaws can detract from a homes value – have them fixed. Some buyer’s believe there could be another ten problems for every one they have seen.
  • FROM TOP TO BOTTOM. Display the full value of any and all utilities spaces you may have by removing all unnecessary articles.
  • SAFETY FIRST. Keep stairways clear. Avoid cluttered appearances and possible injuries.2
  • MAKE CLOSETS LOOK BIGGER. Neat and well organized closets assist in showing of ample space within a closet.
  • BATHROOMS CAN HELP SELL HOMES. Check and repair caulking in bathtubs and showers. Make the bathroom sparkle!
  • NEATLY ARRANGE BEDROOMS. Remove and excess furniture. Use attractive bedspreads and freshly laundered curtains if they are installed.
  • HARMONIZE ELEMENTS. Radio and stereo on softly and the TV off. All lights on, drapes open. If it’s hot out, cool the house and if it’s cold outside, warm it up.
  • YOU CAN SELL PRIDE OF OWNERSHIP FASTER AND FOR MORE MONEY.  Cleanliness appeals to buyers. Put sparkle into your home, with a lot of focus on the bathrooms and kitchen.
  • WHEN ANY AGENT SHOWS YOUR HOME, REMEBER “THREE’S A CROWD”. Avoid having too many people present during showings, preferably let them and their agent have the house to themselves. Buyers could feel like an intruder and could hurry through the house.
  • MUSIC IS MELLOW. Turn down the blaring radio and off the television. Let the salesperson and buyers be able to talk, free of any disturbances. Soft, background music is good.
  • PETS UNDERFOOT? Keep pets out of the way – preferably out of the house. There are some people who are uncomfortable around animals.
  • SILENCE IS GOLDEN.  If you do remain at the house, be courteous – but don’t force conversation with the buyer. They are there to view the house.
  • BE IT EVER SO HUMBLE. Never apologize for the appearance of your home – it has been lived in. Let the trained sales associate answer any objections, this is their job.
  • PLEASE DON’T STAY IN YOUR HOUSE WITH HOUSE HUNTERS. Let the agent handle it, and remove yourself if you are able to. Remember, that agent has worked many hours with these people, and knows what they are looking for, and how to work with them. Let them do their job without interference. You may feel that an agent isn’t showing the important features o your home to their clients, but the agent knows people aren’t sold by details until they’ve become emotionally involved with the big picture. The presence of any member of the seller’s family cannot help, could unnerve possible buyers, and could even prevent a sale.
  • WHY PLACE THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE? Trying to dispose of furniture and furnishings to a potential buyer before they have purchased the house could possibly end up in a lost sale.
  • A WORD TO THE WISE. Let your agent discuss price, terms, possession, and other factors with buyers.

Components of a Contract

For a contract to be valid and/or enforceable, it needs to be made of the following six features – without these characteristics in play, any contract into is not valid nor can it be enforced:


  1. There needs to be a “meeting of the minds”. An unqualified acceptance of the offer so that the seller clearly understands the terms of the buyers offer and the buyer clearly understands the performance required and the timing of the obligations
  2. The contract must be in writing – except if it a lease for one year or less
  3. There needs to be consideration, such as money or a promise to pay money
  4. There needs to be at least two competent parties to the transaction, as to a buyer and seller
  5. Names and signatures of all parties need to be on the contract
  6. The exact address of the property needs to be on the contract

Is It The Right Time to Buy?

Deciding when to buy a home is a personal, financial, and emotional decision. Exploring the idea, stages and requirements involved in home buying is a good first step to making the right decision.

RENTING VS. BUYING. It is important for your mortgage or rent payment to be manageable, but take into consideration the mortgage interest deduction, or the emotional comfort of having your own home.

CURRENT INTERET RATES AND HOME PRICES. The market is cyclical and the value of owning a home isn’t just in the equity you build, but also in the memories you build.

YOUR FINANCIAL STATUS. You should consider all costs involved: Down payment requirements, mortgage payment, homeowners insurance, property taxes, association dues, etc.

FUTURE PLANS. There are options of what to do with your property in the short or long term, like living in it, renting it or selling it. These options will depend on future market values and if you are planning to expand your family, or eventually move.

BUILDING WEALTH AND INVESTING IN YOUR FUTURE. You will build equity in your home over the long run by paying down your mortgage or realizing an increase in value when you sell.

THE COMFORT OF A HOME. It is a place to create a comfortable environment, a place for family and friends, and a place to create memories.

Negotiation Game Plan

Being smart when negotiation your home means you have to have a game plan. Here are eight considerations and questions you must consider when negotiating your home.

  1. Is the buyer qualified? Ready, willing, and able? How, when, and can they prove it?
  2. How long has your property been on the market? Why and what would happen if it stayed on the market again for an equal amount of time?
  3. Given the market conditions, how attractive is the offer compared to other properties that can be bought?
  4. Does their offer allow you to meet your original set of goals and timetable? If not, can you negotiate on your purchase harder (if you have one)?
  5. Where, if anywhere, are you able to compromise? Price, terms, dates, team members, or maybe you can throw in personal property like a timeshare week., the chandelier, a car, or the above ground pool?
  6. If you counter their offer, you’ve bought the property back on those same terms and conditions. Are you willing to risk the buyer “walking”? Remember, any offer is revocable prior to acceptance
  7. Make a list of the strengths and weaknesses of the offer. When you see the strengths and weaknesses all written down, the strengths sometimes override the weaknesses
  8. Considering the terms and conditions of the offer, is the offer in your best interest both emotionally and financially? There is more to life than money, sometimes family ,faith, fun, friends, future, freedom, and fitness can sometimes come before finances

Closing Delays


  1. Lender does not properly pre-qualify borrower – 2+ week delay*
  2. Lender decides last minute they don’t like borrower – 2+ week delay*
  3. Lender decides last minute they don’t like property – 2+ week delay*
  4. Lender wants property repaired or cleaned prior to close – 1 to 3 week delay*
  5. Lender raises rates, points, costs – 2+ week delay*
  6. Borrower does not qualify because of late addition of information – 2+ week delay*
  7. Lender requires last minute re-appraisal – 2+ week delay*
  8. The borrower does not like the fine print in the loan documents received three day before close – 3+ day delay*
  9. Lender loses file – 1 to 3 week delay
  10. The lender does not simultaneously ask for information from the buyer, they ask for information in bits and pieces, this infuriating the buyer – 1 to 4 week delay

The Cooperative Agent:

  1. Won’t return phone calls – 1 to 3 day delay
  2. Transfers to another office – 1 week delay
  3. Did not pre-qualify the client for motivation – 2+ week delay
  4. Does not understand or lacks experience in real estate – 1+ week delay*
  5. Poor people skills – 1 to 3 week delay
  6. Gets client upset over minor points – 1 to 3 week delay*
  7. Does not communicate with their client – 1 to 4 week delay

The Buyer:

  1. Did not tell the trust on the loan application – 1+ week delay*
  2. Did not tell the truth to their agent – 1+ week delay*
  3. Submits incorrect tax returns to lender – 4+ week delay*
  4. Lacks motivation – 1+ week delay*
  5. Source of down payment changes – 1+ week delay*
  6. Family members do not like purchase – 1+ week delay*
  7. Is too picky regarding condition – 1+ week delay*
  8. Finds another property that is a better deal – 1+ week delay*
  9. They are “nibblers” (always negotiating) – 1+ week delay*
  10. The buyers bring an attorney into the picture – 2+ week delay*
  11. They do not execute paperwork in a timely manner – 3+ week delay*
  12. They do not deliver their money in a “check cleared” fashion to the closing agent – 1 to 2 week delay
  13. Job change, illness, divorce, or other financial setback – 3+ week delay*
  14. Comes up short on money – 1+ week delay*
  15. Does not obtain insurance in a timely manner – 1 to 4 week delay


  1. Fails to notify agents of unsigned or unreturned documents so that the agents can cure the problems relating to same – 1+ week delay*
  2. Fails to obtain information from beneficiaries, lien holders, title lien holders, title companies, insurance companies, or lenders in a timely manner – 1+ week delay*
  3. Lets principals leave town without getting all necessary signatures – 1 to 2 week delay
  4. Incorrect at interpreting or assuming aspects of the transaction and then passing these items on to related parties, such as lenders, attorneys, buyers, and seller – 1+ week delay*
  5. Too busy – 1 to 3 week delay
  6. Loses paperwork – 1 to 3 week delay
  7. Incorrectly prepares paperwork – 3+ week delay
  8. Does not pass on valuable information fast enough – 1 to 4 week delay
  9. Does not coordinate, preventing items that can be done simultaneously – 1 to 4 week delay


  1. Loses motivation (i.e. job transfer did not go through, etc.) – 1+ week delay*
  2. Illness, divorce, etc. – 1+ week delay*
  3. Has hidden defects that are subsequently discovered – 1+ week delay*
  4. Unknown defects are discovered – 1+ week delay*
  5. Home inspection reveals average amount of small defects that seller is unwilling/willing to repair – 1+ week delay*
  6. Gets attorney involved – 1+ week delay*
  7. Removes property from premises that buyer believed was including during closing process – 1 to 3 week delay
  8. Is unable to clear up problems or liens – 1+ week delay*
  9. Last minute, solvable liens are discovered – 1 to 3 week delay
  10. Seller did not own 100% of property as previously disclosed – 1+ week delay*
  11. Seller thought partners signatures were “no problem”, but they were – 1+ week delay*
  12. Seller leaves town without giving anyone power of attorney – 1 to 4 week delay
  13. The notary did not make a clear stamp when notarizing t he seller’s signature – 3 day to 1 week delay
  14. Seller delays the projected move-out date – 1+ day*

Acts of God:

  1. Earthquake, tornadoes, fire, mudslide, hurricane – 1+ week delay*

The Appraisal:

  1. The appraiser is not local and misunderstands the market – 1+ week delay*
  2. No comparable sales available – 1+ week delay*
  3. Appraiser delays (too busy, etc.) – 1 to 3 week delay
  4. Incorrect appraisal – 1 to 3 week delay
  5. Appraisal too low – 1+ week delay*

Inspection Company:

  1. Too picky – 1+ day delay*
  2. Scares buyer – 1+ week delay*
  3. Infuriates seller – 1+ week delay*
  4. Makes mistakes – 1 to 3 week delay
  5. Delays report – 1+ week delay*

Title Company:

  1. Does not find liens or problems until last minute – 1+ week delay*
  2. Poor service – 1 to 3 week delay
  3. Loses paperwork – 1 to 2 week delay

Fifteen Contract Contingencies You Should Be Aware Of

Following is a list of fifteen contract contingencies that any seller should be aware of in regards to a purchase contract for their home. Many of these contingencies can make or break any transaction.

  1. Building inspection contingency
  2. Survey and flood plain contingency
  3. Stigmatized property contingency
  4. Accountant review and approval contingency
  5. Environmental hazards contingency
  6. Planning department approval contingency
  7. Lead paint contingency
  8. Loan approval contingency
  9. Attorney review and approval contingency
  10. Title inspection contingency
  11. Occupancy permit contingency
  12. Sale and/or closing of current home contingency
  13. Appraisal contingency
  14. Termite/pest inspection contingency
  15. Subject to someone else’s signature contingency


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.


There are many agent’s out there who brag about receiving “multiple offers” on their listings, how the are able to get homes sold for over asking price, and/or they were able to get a home sold within a few days on placing this property on the market.

These facts all sound enticing from a Seller’s standpoint, but there is something that should be questioned (especially if such activity does not fit with the current real estate market) – were these homes underpriced?

If it is a “hopping” market and properties are just flying off the shelf, then such activities (as described above) are to be expected, from ANY AGENT.

If it is a slow market, with low buyer activity and extended list days on the market, then I would really start to question those select agent who are claiming these “attributes”.

Underpricing a home means that the seller looses out on selling their property for its “true” market value and not receiving top dollar for their home – which also means money is lost out for the seller; it is also unethical for agents to “underprice” a home. Agents take a pledge to protect, along with promote, their clients interests; and one of those interests is being honest with the seller.

This is why so many recommend that sellers talk to more than one agent – at least three. Ask that each comes up with a WRITTEN Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) for the property. Look closely at the CMA and the comparable properties being used. To not be afraid  to ask questions, such as how the agent came up with the recommend home value and why the agent chose the comparables being used.

The biggest and most important advice that I could give you, is to plain and simply go with your “gut instinct”! What is your “gut” telling you about what is being presented? How comfortable do you feel around that agent? A comfortable, trustworthy relationship is key in having a successful, business partnership because that is what you are establishing – a partnership.

How Shasta County Stacks Up In Affordability

Surprising enough, Shasta County is doing pretty well compared to the rest of California, when it comes to home affordability. In Shasta County the median household income is $46,870, the median home price is $231,820, the house price that a median income household can afford is $236,910, which makes a difference of -$5,090 (or -2.1%); this means that homes are affordable within Shasta County – with Shasta County being one of the six areas that can boast this (the others being San Bernardino, Fresno, Kings County, Madera, Merced, & Tulare). Following is a breakdown of how California, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are fairing compared to us:

  • California: $60,240 median income, $446,980 median price, $304,490 price that median income household can afford, $142,490 difference (46.8%)
  • Sacramento: $53,880 median income, $282,770 median price, $272,310 price that median income household can afford, $10,460 difference (3.8%)
  • Santa Cruz: $70,960 median income, $672,570 median price, $358,650 price that median income household can afford, $313,918 difference (87.5%)
  • Los Angeles: $54,510 median income, $436,010 median price, $275,530 price t hat median income household can afford, $160,481 difference (58.2%)
  • San Francisco: $75,910 median income, $1,247,570 median price, $383,670 price that median income household can afford, $863,899 difference (225.2%)

FHA Changes, Post September 14 (Continued)

  • (rental income continued) If there is available history of rental income, it is necessary to calculate the rental income by averaging the amounts shown on the Schedule E. Depreciation, mortgage interest, t axes, insurance, and any HOA dues shown on the Schedule e may be added back to the net income or loss. If the property has been owned for less than two years, it is necessary to annualize the rental income for the length of time the property has been owned. Finally, if the rental income is being derived from the property being vacated by the borrower, the borrower must be relocating to an area ore than 100 miles from their current principal residence; 25 % of the equity in the property must be verified with a full appraisal. The appraisal does not have to be completed by a FHA roster appraiser; a lease must be obtained of at least one year’s duration from closing, and obtain evidence of the payment o the security deposit or first month’s rent. As for the requirements to document income (if there is limited or no history of rental income) an appraisal evidencing market rest is needed, along with the borrower having at least 25% equity in the property: Two-to-four units – verify and document the proposed rental income by obtaining an appraisal showing fair market rent and the prospective leases; one-unit – verify and document the proposed rental income by obtaining a FNMA Form 1004/FHLMC Form 70, Uniform residential Appraisal Report; FNMA Form 1007/FHLMC Form 1000, Single Family Comparable Rent Schedule; FHLMC Form 998 (Operating Income Statement, showing fair market rent); and the prospective lease; history of rental income – obtain the most recent two-years tax returns including Schedule E. In conclusion, the calculation requirements are as follows: Limited or no history of rental income – to calculate the rental income from real estate other than the subject property where there is no history of rental income since the previous tax filing, deduct the principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) from the lessor of the monthly operating income report on FHLMC Form 998, or 75% of the lesser of the fair market rent reported by the appraiser, or the rent reflected in the lease or other rental agreement. History of net rental income- calculate the net rental income by averaging the amount shown on the Schedule E provided the borrower continues to on all properties included on the Schedule E (depreciation shown on Schedule E may be added back to the net income or loss; if the property has been owned for less than two years, annualize the rental income for the length of time the property has been owned; for properties with less than two years of rental history, document the date acquired by providing the deed, settlement statement or similar legal documents; positive net rental income is added to the borrower’s effective income. Negative rental income must be included as a debt/liability).