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Sell House without Mistakes

Virtual Staging

I’d never tried virtual staging….but when I had a seller that had no interest in having furniture moved in and out of their home I realized quickly…no buyer was interested in even visiting the home because they couldn’t figure out how to place their furniture.

I ran across a very talented artist that offered virtual staging as a solution….so I sent him over 8 photos of my listing…and these are what were returned.

I know this is going to help sell this home…..it now looks warm and inviting…and it’s easy to see how pretty it can be with the right furniture.

Knowing where to put your furniture can be a challenge…and having a huge living room can be difficult for everyone.

Note how cozy the dining room looks with the added bar cart!

The master bedroom seemed very “cold” with the white tile floors….but once staged, you can appreciate the advantage of having a rug instead of wall to wall carpet.

Even secondary bedrooms can use the virtual staging help…look how much nicer these rooms look with furniture!

Walk AWAY from that house….oh, wait…RUN!

Sometimes it’s best to walk away from a house purchase…..even after spending money on an option fee and inspections.

In fact, that’s why we have an option period in Texas….so you can have professionals go out and inspect the house to see if it’s worth owning.

Yesterday we had the opportunity to have our buyers sign a “Termination of Contract”…..even though it wasn’t our buyers asking to sign it.

Our first warning should have been when the seller’s son-in-law called to let us know that all communication for the purchase would be directly to him….bypassing the agent on the Multiple Listing Service .  We knew a “For Sale By Owner” sign was on the property….but had also seen the property on the local MLS.  We checked our MLS….still showing as “active” but in remarks…it asked us to send all correspondence to the seller.  Turns out…not really the seller, the sellers son in law.

Our buyers hired a home inspector and also had a septic company go out to the property to make sure the septic system was in working condition.  A number of items were brought up by the home inspector that were items of concern…so our buyers asked for a few repairs.  The seller’s son (not a Realtor, nor the owner) immediately responded that no repairs would be made.  Our buyers decided to move forward…they really wanted the house.

Closing was to occur on October 5th and the offer was contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home.  The sellers son in law called on September 11th asking for our buyers to remove the contingency.  He also stated that if they didn’t release the seller from selling the house to them he would do his best to make sure the buyer’s didn’t ever get the  earnest money back.  His words (in WRITING) followed with an ugly email:  There is no “good faith” on this side because we feel we have been misled (?),  and mistreated (?), the appraisal has not even been completed, we want to be released from this contract immediately.  If your clients hold us up any longer and will not release us until 10/5 and do not close as promised and signed they can kiss the $1K earnest money goodbye, I will tie it up indefinitely.  Sign the release….get your $1K refunded.

The buyers, after reading the email, decided to forget about the purchase.  They don’t qualify without the proceeds from their home…..which is why it was contingent on their sale.  They had put new windows in their house, new siding outside, had it painted inside and out, replaced the fence….all done and ready to put on the market for a very quick sale at $200,000 on Sept 12th.  The house they were buying…..$310,000 and needed lots of updating. We have since learned the sellers daughter called the lender and told her they had another offer…but it wasn’t as good as this offer.  She also told the lender that the Mom, the seller, had borrowed money to fix up the new house she had bought in a new city and needed the funds from the sale to pay the borrowed money back.

I can’t help but believe if we had been able to work with another agent on this sale…..instead of the seller’s son in law, a hot head, we might have been able to close on this home.  We wouldn’t have seen an email that was so “heated” from the son-in-law…..we would have either got a call from the Realtor or an email asking how the process was going for putting the home on the market and getting it sold.   In San Antonio…homes that are fixed up and ready for quick move in for $200,000 or under FLY off the market….especially in North Central San Antonio with great schools and in a great neighborhood.  We probably would close sooner than  the next buyer…..and it appears, from the disclosed call to the lender, that the seller would have netted more from our sale than the next sale.  So…did the seller borrow the money from the son-in-law and he couldn’t afford to risk it not being back in his account by October 5th?  We’ll never know…..but I still believe you hire Realtors to get your home SOLD and keep the emotions out of the transaction….and everyone wins because they understand what is happening, when it is happening and why it is happening.  Without the Realtors you have this situation….a seller who has no clue what really is happening and why….and a seller that will end up with less money in her pocket because her spokesperson was a hot headed relative that didn’t know real estate.

 

 

 

 

What stays with the house?

Not sure what is supposed to stay when you’ve sold your house?

When you sell a lot of houses you tend to have some pretty amazing stories about items that weren’t clear to the sellers…..how about these?

  1.  The sellers moved the water bed and forgot they carpeted around it….so a big hole without carpet was in the master bedroom for our walk through before signing to buy.
  2. The buyers drove up to discover all the rose bushes were missing….the sellers said they thought they were theirs because they planted them in honor of their Mom years ago (this happened twice….both my sellers blamed it on Mom)
  3. The front door was not the leaded glass door that was there when they bought it…it was a much cheaper door.  The seller wanted the old door for the new house but forgot to tell anyone.
  4. The curtains in a guest room were the same color…but not the eyelet fabric….the seller told me this a few weeks after closing bragging that the buyer hadn’t even noticed that she took the curtains…..when the buyer called me years later to sell the house for her she pointed out that she would leave the same curtains that were up in that room and would not be replacing them with eyelet fabric.
  5. All the curtains were gone and holes in the wall from where the curtain rods had been.
  6. All the curtains and rods were gone and the holes patched.
  7. The gas logs in the fireplace had been removed (by the seller…..caution….this could be  a gas leak).
  8. The lamppost light in the front flower bed was bent from the seller trying to dig it up as the buyers drove up to their new house.
  9. No floor molding or tile was behind the desk the seller removed from the kitchen (it was personal property but once again….they had installed the tile floors around the desk that they decided was a personal item later).
  10. An older black stove was in the kitchen instead of the new black double oven stove that had originally been in the house when the buyer wrote the offer.

If it’s attached, it probably stays…unless you have something in the contract specifically stating it doesn’t stay.

So…what stays?

In Texas, all appliances….except the refrigerator.  That means dishwasher, stove, microwave.  Your washer and dryer are yours unless you agreed in a Non-Realty Items addendum to leave them or sell them to the buyers.

DishwasherStove

 

 

 

 

Your faucets, the disposal under the sink, the water softener, chandelier, light fixtures and fans are the new buyers.  The mirrors above the bathroom sinks stay.  If you have cabinets in the bathrooms, kitchen, utility room and garage….they stay.  Even shelves can become an issue if you remove them.  This does not mean replace them with cheaper versions before closing….the items that were in the house when the buyer saw the house must be in the house at closing.

 

The curtains and rods stay…unless you have agreed in the contract that you are allowed to take them.  The lampshades on the chandelier remain with the house.

The fireplace screen remains—unless you have agreed in the contract that it does not stay.

Per the Texas Earnest Money Contract:  “The house, garage and all other fixtures and improvements including appliances, valances, screens, shutters, awnings, wall to wall carpeting, mirrors, ceiling fans, attic fans mail boxes, television antennas, mounts and brackets for televisions and speakers, heating and air conditioning units, security and fire detection equipment, wiring, plumbing and lighting fixtures, chandeliers, water softener system, kitchen equipment, garage door openers, cleaning equipment, shrubbery, landscaping, outdoor cooking equipment, and all other property owned by the seller and attached to the above described real property.”

“Accessories:  window air conditioning units, stove, fireplace screens, curtains and rods, blinds, window shades, draperies and rods, door keys, mailbox keys, above ground pool equipment and maintenance accessories, artificial fireplace logs, and controls for garage doors, entry gates, and other improvements and accessories”.

Mirrors are considered realty items if they are attached above sinks.  Always check before you buy if a beautiful mirror is staying….just because it is attached to the wall doesn’t mean the seller is leaving it.  Lots of homes have room for large mirrors in closets and bathrooms that could be considered “personal property”……always ask if there is a question…and add a “Non-Realty Items Addendum” to avoid problems later if you believe it could be questionable later.

Brackets for television and speakers can be tricky…..if the seller has a huge TV in the living room and you aren’t planning on putting a TV there….discuss this during your option period.  Know before you close if wires are going to be left dangling from the ceiling from the surround sound speakers the seller removed or if you will have a huge bracket for  a TV that you didn’t want to hang on that particular wall.  The seller may prefer to take the TV bracket and patch the hole for you…..these items can (and should) be negotiated before closing day.

I got a phone call last year from an agent that was walking the property with her buyer before the buyer went to sign the final papers to purchase.  Her question?  “Where are the surround sound speakers?”  This was the first discussion about speakers…..clearly, from the contract, they were not sold with the house.  I assume that was a long ride to the title company for that agent and buyer.

Once your house is under contract…if something breaks before closing it needs to be repaired.  I recommend you tell your Realtor and buyer the item  broke and you are repairing it.   If it didn’t work when you put the house on the market….put this information in your sellers disclosure.

The number one reason why Sellers  gets sued after closing is for not disclosing items properly on their sellers disclosure….so carefully fill the seller’s disclosure out correctly.  If something is in the house that you want (Mom’s Roses, a chandelier, a mirror above a sink, curtains and rods)….if possible, remove them before you put them on the market.  If that isn’t possible….make sure in your MLS write up that that item is discussed and THEN make sure it is written in the contract as not remaining.

When it’s all said and done….the happiest Sellers and Buyers are those who are informed.

 

 

Buyers Option Period

Today is day 8 of a buyer’s ten day option period and we don’t have an amendment back from the buyer’s agent…..but we did receive a call yesterday from the agent telling us that she was in the process of writing an amendment up.

What buyers (and sometimes their buyer’s agents) don’t understand….when we don’t get an amendment within a few days of the home inspection (done 5 days ago) the seller begins to believe they have no repairs to worry about.  When an amendment requesting repairs shows up at the last minute  (to sellers two days before the option up seems like “last minute”) it is difficult for me, as the seller’s agent, and the seller’s to decide if we should agree to making any repairs….because the seller doesn’t have time to get contractors over to their house to get bids.  Signing a blank check doesn’t typically work for most seller’s….they have a bottom line.

When a list of repairs gets sent over with an amendment to the contract…..I like to go over the request with the seller’s and also get bids on the repairs requested….before the seller’s sign an amendment agreeing to repairs.  Thankfully, I work with my husband, David, Broker Associate, who is familiar with repair costs and can estimate what repairs might be…..but those are estimates….not actual bids so we are “guessing” when it comes to repairs that might be required on expensive items like air conditioner repairs.  A repair to an air conditioner or heater can be under $100….or it could be a total replacement….sometimes costly over $10,000 or more.

So buyers….when you are “active option” in Texas (have a signed contract and have an option period to do inspections) PLEASE get the inspection done as quickly as possible AND submit an amendment if you want to negotiate repairs.  Keep in mind…some seller’s wont agree to making any repairs.  Some will…..but most want to know how much the repair is going to cost.

One thing I am certain of………if you wait until the last few days of your option period…you may find the seller unwilling to make any repairs.  Many folks don’t like agreeing to a “blank” check…and that is what you are requesting them to do when you wait until the final days of your option period to submit an amendment requesting repairs.

Why Experience Matters

Last month we had two transactions that would have closed and netted our sellers less money than they deserved…in one case an expense of approximately $400 and in another over $3500.

The $400 question….we provided the seller with a copy of the survey from his purchase of the home we sold him several years ago and also gave him a T-47 to have notarized in front of a notary proving that he did not do any structural changes to the outside of the property and provided it to the title company and buyers agent within the 7 days requested on the contract.

4 days before closing….the title company stated we would need a new survey.  Per the title policy, the survey did not have the correct unit number of the subdivision so a new survey would be required.  Lisa obtained the correct subdivision of the property and attached that information in an email to the title company…three emails later they realized they had incorrectly written the wrong subdivision on their title policy.   The title company revised their paperwork so a new survey would not be required.

The $3500 plus question…..the title company provided us with a settlement statement that showed the seller netting approximately $3500 less than Lisa estimated the day before closing….Lisa reviewed both the settlement statement provided along with her net sheet and realized taxes were not being collected properly by the title company.  Lisa provided the title company with the county tax assessors printed statement and the settlement was corrected.  Trying to get a rebate for overpayment of taxes you don’t owe isn’t easy and sure isn’t easy if you aren’t even aware that you overpaid.

Why do you need an experienced agent?  Someone needs to protect your bottom line!  When your agent has reviewed over 1,000 settlement statements she knows when a mistake has been made….and mistakes that cost money aren’t acceptable to us!

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