Not all real estate professionals are the same. And it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the options and information about working with real estate professionals to buy or sell your home. In fact, many real estate markets are oversaturated with agents.
To help you understand what makes top agents and market experts stand apart from the competition, the following are five key attributes of an amazing agent:
- A Pricing Specialist
If an agent has their real estate license, they know the basics of the transaction process. They know what goes into buying and selling a home. However, there’s a difference between knowing the process and navigating it for an ideal result. This ideal result often means buying or selling a home for the best price.
For buyers, amazing agents have a strong understanding of market trends, competition, and how to make your offer attractive to sellers. They can help you identify and secure a deal to ensure you get the home you want, within your desired budget.
If you’re selling a home, market experts have experience pricing homes optimally for the market and creating pricing plans to minimize the time spent selling the home. This will help you sell for your desired price, and avoid costs like additional mortgage and utility payments.
|Takeaway: Whether buying or selling a home, pricing can be tricky. Market experts can help navigate best-possible pricing strategies, and also secure the home you want within your budget.|
- An Effective Time Manager
It’s common to underestimate the amount of time it takes to buy or sell your home. The average real estate agent may not be utilizing the latest tools and technology to make the transaction easier and more cost-effective for their clients. Market experts have tools and strategies at their disposal to minimize the amount of time you spend on the process.
For sellers, market experts can make sure you only deal with qualified buyers, not the “window shoppers” who can waste your time. We also utilize the latest marketing practices to advertise and price your home effectively, ensuring it gets sold quickly.
When looking to buy a home, inexperienced agents may waste your time by showing you homes that are not a good fit for you. A market expert knows how to prioritize your needs and wants to find you the ideal home within your budget. They also know how to spot “red flags” and can steer you away from homes that are likely to turn up major issues in a real estate inspection, saving you time and money.
In addition, well-networked Realtors can gain access to the hottest listings before many websites do. Their extensive professional networks can help identify “pre-list” homes before they’re officially on the market. This can be invaluable in a highly-competitive real estate market.
|Takeaway: Even a well-intentioned agent may not have the skills, tools or technology to make the experience easy for you. There are lots of hidden activities that may take up unexpected time, and a market expert will save you time and energy.|
- A Market Insider
While most agents can pull market stats about a neighborhood, community or city, they may not understand important trends or developments that would affect your transaction. These can include the state of the school district, issues with a homeowner association, new businesses in the area, zoning rules or trends in home prices.
Market experts live and breathe local real estate and know the trigger points for buying and selling in this market. We also stay current on effective marketing and negotiation practices, resulting in our track record of success.
For sellers, we understand what features of your home and neighborhood are assets in the selling process. And for buyers, we share a deep understanding of market factors, including school and neighborhood quality, crime statistics, the speed of sales and more.
|Takeaway: Getting relevant and specific market knowledge can be difficult and time-consuming, which is why many real estate agents don’t have it. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, an experienced real estate agent is often the best source of information about a city, neighborhood, or even street … we’re literally conducting market research every day.|
- A Strong Negotiator
Amazing agents truly set themselves apart in their ability to negotiate. Unfortunately, a large portion of agents don’t commit their full time to increasing this key skill.
Real estate negotiations can be challenging, even for seasoned professionals. It takes skill, experience and a knowledge of how to fight for your client’s best interests. While any agent can enter negotiations to buy or sell a home, they may not know the effective strategies to exit those negotiations with the result you want.
Experienced Realtors focus on negotiation as a key skill. We understand what to do before entering negotiations (establishing the upper hand to set up the best outcome), as well as during the process (when to offer or accept concessions).
|Takeaway: Many agents can feel the stress of the negotiation process, and may agree to terms of the buyer/seller. Working with a market expert will help ensure you get the best deal, not just the fastest deal.|
- An Effective Closer
Closing a deal fast is often a good thing. For buyers, it means you found the home you wanted quickly. For sellers, it often means you can avoid the added expenses of mortgage and utility payments, and maximize the value of your home sale.
However, an agent solely focused on speed can make decisions that aren’t in your best interests. Top real estate professionals know how to not only achieve your real estate goals quickly but in the right way to avoid potential pitfalls.
Just like negotiations, the paperwork and process of closing a real estate transaction are complicated. And they can be overwhelming for the average agent who hasn’t handled a lot of transactions. Sales contracts, property disclosures, occupancy agreements and even lead paint records need to be executed with precision. Your agent not only needs to be familiar with these but also stay current on any changes in requirements or regulations.
Market experts have a strong understanding of real estate contracts, timelines, clauses and contingencies within the closing process. In fact, avoiding pitfalls during the closing process is where many sellers find an experienced Realtor is a huge asset.
|Takeaway: Many agents don’t have a firm understanding of contracts. Because a real estate transaction often involves a significant investment, even a small mistake can mean serious trouble. With that in mind, it’s often best, and most responsible, to work with a true market expert.|
If you are ready to talk with a real estate expert, give Sonja a call at 661-979-9000 or email her at Sonja@sonjabush.com.
People love to give advice when it comes to fixing up real estate to put on the market. However, a lot of those suggestions can include expensive upgrades, costly renovations or pricy professional opinions that you usually don’t want to invest in a home you’re about to leave.
Don’t get frustrated! You can sell your home fast without all the fancy fixer-uppers. With the help of your Realtor® and a little hard work, the tips below will increase your home’s appeal to a wide variety of buyers without breaking the bank.
- Improve the curb appeal. You not only need to stage the inside of [city] real estate, but also the outside. Trim hedges, maintain the lawn, power wash the walls and try to inject some color with a simple holiday wreath or festive greenery. If buyers don’t like the look of the yard, then they might not even step foot inside.
- Lighten up the place. Open all the windows, replace any burnt-out bulbs and consider adding outdoor lighting to your landscaping. Extra sunlight provides an airy feeling while interior lights provide a cozy glow. Also, keep the home lit until you go to bed in case potential buyers drive by in the evening; it’ll look cheery instead of dark and gloomy.
- Store any unnecessary furniture and personal objects. Less is more when it comes to showing your home — less to distract buyers and to keep clean. Pack up nick knacks, stacks of books and your children’s fridge-covering artwork and put them in storage. Be sure not to throw it all in closets because you’ll want those clutter-free as well.
- Paint a pretty home. A new coat of paint will freshen up any room, but be sure and stick to neutrals like warm grays and tans. Also consider repainting any rooms in which you used bright, fun colors. You don’t want buyers to get diverted from the potential of the home by focusing on things they’ll want to immediately change.
If you’d like more inexpensive staging tips to sell your home fast, please call me at 661-979-9000 or email me at Sonja@sonjabush.com.
When you see “motivated” seller in real estate listings, does that mean the seller really wants to sell and is open to negotiation? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes, it might be the listing agent who could not talk the seller down in listing price, trying to get a buyer to submit a lower-than-asking price bid, and wake the seller up to the realistic price he should be at.
If the seller is motivated to sell his Mammoth Lakes home, this is what it could mean:
- Price might have room for further price reductions
- Seller likes the cat-and-mouse negotiations
- The Mammoth Lakes home could be in or near foreclosure
- Seller wants to see an offer before canceling the listing
How to deal with motivated sellers:
- First, decide if you really want to buy the Mammoth Lakes home
- Ask the listing agent why the seller is selling…if there is no viable reason, you could be wasting your time.
- Consider giving a low-ball offer to see how the seller responds. If the seller does not give a counter offer, you have your answer. If they give a full price counter offer, they just may want to negotiate.
- Wait for a price reduction. Most listing agents will ask for a price reduction after so many days from the original listing.
- Ask if other offers have been made. If so, find out why, and try to overcome the seller’s objections.
Sometimes, “motivated seller” means nothing. With the right questions and just talking to the listing agent and seller, you will be able to determine this and move on to the right properties.
Owning a house is the American Dream. Figuring out if it’s worth the risk to buy at today’s prices is something each person needs to figure out for their situation.
When you are ready to find your Mammoth Lakes home, call me at 661-979-9000 or email me at Sonja@sonjabush.com to help you.
How to deal with motivated sellers
Closing costs can seem to be endless, annoying in nature and end up in a lot of cash. Closing costs are itemized in the closing statement, which can be referred to as a HUD-1, the settlement statement, and of course the closing statement. The net effect is that the seller ends up with less cash after paying all the closing costs on their [City] home.
A buyer’s closing costs typically range from 2%-7%, where the seller’s costs can be increased by 4%-7% just for the agent’s fees.
As a seller, here is what you can expect to pay in closing costs:
- Cost of the survey
- Broker’s commission
- Broker’s processing fee
- Courier fee to pay off the loan
- Title insurance
- Recorded release of the mortgage
- Lenders fees
- Prepayment penalties
- Local city, county, and state transfer taxes, and state capital gains taxes
- Credit to the buyer of unpaid real estate taxes
- Interest on loans to be paid off
- Attorney’s fees
- FHA fees and costs
- Condo/co-op move out fee
- Homeowners Association transfer fees
- Paid utility bills
- Certificate of compliance with building and zoning codes
- Home inspection fees
- Home warranty
- Homeowner association reserves
- Other credits to the buyer
- Unpaid mortgage or home equity loan, or line of credit
- Upside down loans
- Notary fees
As you can see, the seller pays many fees from the proceeds of the sale of their Mammoth Lakes home. Most of these will apply no matter where you are, some will not. This list will also vary from state to state, city to city. Make sure you talk to your real estate agent or real estate attorney to find out what will have to be paid ahead of time.
When you are ready to put your Mammoth Lakes home up for sale, call me at 661-979-9000 or email me at Sonja@sonjabush.com to schedule an appointment to talk.
Seller closing costs
Broker’s processing fee
Short sales have become more and more popular since the housing market began its struggle during the recession. Though the term is thrown around more loosely now, there are still a great deal of people who do not understand exactly what a short sale is.
What is a short sale?
A short sale is a carefully agreed upon sale of a property for less than the amount of the mortgage balance, executed as a means for both a homeowner and a mortgage lender to essentially cut their losses.
Typically, short sales are for extreme cases when the bank or lender decides that it is in their best interest to take an early loss instead of enduring costly foreclosure proceedings.
If you have missed multiple mortgage payments and are facing foreclosure, the bank or lender won’t automatically offer a short sale. You need to prove that your situation merits a short sale, which typically involves providing documentation that proves you are indeed in a crisis with no other viable options.
Submitting a letter of hardship.
To prove your case, you’ll need to spend some time on a cover letter explaining your hardship and provide full financial disclosure; the original purchase contract; a balance sheet of your income and expenses; asset statements, proof of income; bank statements; two years of tax returns; and a professional who knows the ropes.
Simply stating, ‘My house is worth less than the loan and I don’t want to pay any more,’ will not be acceptable.
Along with the required documentation, you stand the best chance of getting through the two- to seven-month short sale ordeal if:
- The home is marketable
- The second mortgage holder (if there is one) gets a cut or otherwise goes along with the deal
- The same lender holds all mortgages
- There is enough time before foreclosure (at least about 4 months).
Lenders prefer handwritten letters and are more apt to agree to a short sale for those who lost jobs or encountered significant medical bills, as opposed to careless spending.
Your best approach to a short sale is by contracting with a real estate professional familiar with the transaction. If your home’s value is significantly less than debt tied to the property, you are a candidate for a short sale. You are not selling a home on the open market so much as you are selling your case to the lender. Call Sonja today at 661-979-9000 or email her at Sonja@sonjabush.com to discuss this in more detail.
Letter of hardship
No matter the season, staging, or the concept of showing your Mammoth Lakes home at its best, even more important. Follow these tips to make your home irresistible:
- Make every surface shine – shine bathroom fixtures, stove, refrigerator, faucets
- Clean off your front porch – sweep away all those leaves in the corners
- Clean, Clean, Clean – everything from light fixtures and bulbs to baseboards
- Place fresh flowers on the dining room table
- Remove all clutter from the house and depersonalize – put it in storage or a friend’s garage, take down all your personal pictures. Buyers want to picture their belongings in their new house, not yours.
- Burn potpourri or bake something to leave out for potential buyers, a soft scent to make the buyer feel welcome
- Leave every light on and every interior door open
- Take advantage of natural light – Encourage showing during daylight hours; have all curtains and blinds clean and open
- Wash the windows! – Buyers act on first impressions; the strong winter sun can reveal grime and turn away prospective buyers
- Create a little atmosphere by playing music softly in the background – tune the radio to a classical station, turn it down so that you barely hear it in the background.
- Show off hardwood floors – pull up that wall-to-wall carpeting, clean the floors, pull up all the throw rugs, show the wood!
- Freshen the walls – at a minimum, clean the walls, top to bottom. If that isn’t good enough, give them a fresh coat of paint. That is the quickest and fastest way to freshen up a room.
- Use the rule of 3 – Three items per surface, in every room. Make it look uncluttered and clean by doing this.
If you are ready to sell your Mammoth Lakes home, I can help you get it on the market. Call me today at 661-979-9000 or email me at Sonja@sonjabush.com for more information.
Clean, Clean, Clean
Use the rule of 3