Search

LisaLovesSanAntonio

You Will, Too!

Category

Sell your home

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!

A Realtor’s Job

What’s this Realtor really doing all day?

30 years ago most real estate agents were woman, over 50, with husbands that had great jobs…. as long as they made enough money to pay for their lunches and real estate expenses…and were home with dinner prepared most evenings….things went fine.  The office kept half their commission…but in exchange for half their commission the office did all of the marketing for homes for sale, paid for all the business cards, paid for any folders and flyers that went with the agent when the agent was being interviewed for a possible new house listing….the Realtors expense was:  gas, a nice car, lunch money in case they had to pay for lunch while showing homes and their real estate dues to the local board of Realtors.

Today it’s a lot different.  But a few agents still think the above is still happening and it’s hurting the industry…..as the old saying goes….”One bad apple spoils them all”.

I meet a lot of people who tell me when they retire they are going to become an agent and housewives who tell me they love to look at pretty homes so once the littlest is in school they are going to become a Realtor….and sometimes I have time to tell them what I really do…and sometimes I just move on….let them learn the hard way.

A Realtor that makes enough money to pay for the expenses of their job works somewhere between 50 and 60 hours a week.  I’ve had many years of working 70 to 80 hours a week.  2017 finds me somewhere between 50 and 60 hours a week.  I sometimes feel guilty……I am not used to having any free time….which is why I have several blogs and am constantly researching new ways to advertise the homes I have for sale.D&L4

If you’re used to working 50 plus hours….this is the job for you.

A Realtor can’t commit to picking the kids up from school or watching every baseball game your son is in…..some say they can….but let’s discuss this.  If you have buyers in from out of town to look for a house….count on being with them from 9 in the morning to sometimes 9 at night.  Your commitment to your family can’t be while a buyer flew in town for their home search…..they will find another agent if it is.

Dinner every night ready for your family?  Don’t count on it.  The phone call you get a 4:30 asking to see the house you just listed means you go open that house.  Sometimes you don’t even have time to put up what you got out to cook.

Weekends off?  Ha, ha, ha.  That’s when sellers are off work and can meet with you to discuss what they need to do to get their home on the market.  Weekends are also when buyers are off work and can go see that home.

So… based on that….you think you can be a Realtor working just nights and weekends?   Ha, ha, ha.  Monday through Friday I am at my computer placing my ads, researching the next place to drop an ad, analyzing the different programs I pay for to make sure everything is working properly, negotiating offers, calling sellers to tell them what I am doing for them, calling buyers to tell them what I have found for them, picking up signs, getting keys, putting out signs, designing ads, talking to title companies, checking to see that the settlement statement is correct, going to closings, calling lenders for updates, calling agents for updates, cleaning my yard signs, making sure I have enough yard signs, designing new marketing material….and more.

If you want to be a great agent (meaning; make enough money to justify working 50 and 60 hours a week) you need the following;

  1. You have to be internet savvy and like to learn new programs on your computer…not games…software.  The internet has changed this game and I am constantly changing with it.
  2. You have to be available Monday through Friday 8 to 5 and after 5 and on the weekends…..and be happy about it.
  3. You should have good grammar and great writing skills so you can write ads for yourself and homes you are selling.
  4. You have to know how to take great photos and have a great camera.   Sellers want to see their homes on the market and may not want to wait for your photographer to show up a few days later and then send over photos a few days after that.  And you can’t put a house in the computer for sale without great photos…shame on you if you use your cell phone.
  5. You have to be willing to spend hours researching neighborhoods, viewing homes to see what the competition is for your sellers and learning everything you can about the area you sell in…on a weekly basis.  Things change quickly….and you need to know what the latest change is.
  6. You have to be a great negotiator….or you will never get the SOLD sign in the ground or through inspections and appraisals so you get a paycheck.
  7. You have to be able to pay for all the expenses the broker used to pay for….you still need a nice car with a big enough trunk for several signs, money for lunch or dinner if you are caught away from your desk or have buyers in from out of town, money for your board dues, your Realtor.com dues, your website expenses, your FACEBOOK ads, your camera, your printer, ink for your printer, folders for buyers and sellers, business cards, name badges, signs, sign riders, ………..Count on spending $50,000 a year before you make a dime.  And that doesn’t include self employment taxes or the additional expense I pay to have private health insurance.

If you’re willing to do all the above…..I welcome you to our field.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Staging and Photos Sell the House

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Photos are everything…..since almost every buyer today is looking online and deciding which houses they want to see off their online search.

If you want your house to stand out (and sell for a higher price and in less time) it’s critical that you use a home stager and Realtor that are savvy to today’s buyer.

This house did not sell….and when the current sellers called us the first thing we did was apply our ten plus years of staging experience to get the house ready for fantastic photos.

How you live in your house is different than how you sell your house…..the house must be staged to sell and staged for those online photos.

The photos are examples of why this house sold in just a few days…..need to sell or get your home staged to sell?  Call Lisa now at (210) 497-0657.

 

 

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.

VA Appraisals: Good versus Bad

When you sell your home the chances are good that the buyer will be getting a home loan to purchase your house….and, in San Antonio, they could be getting a loan from the Veterans Administration since so many buyers in San Antonio qualify for a fabulous “zero down” loan because they are or were military.

If you are the seller you may have questions about this process.  If you are selling your home to a buyer that is getting a loan to buy your home the buyers lender will order an appraisal.  If the buyer is getting a VA loan the buyers lender will throw their ring in the pool of VA appraisers and a VA loan approved appraiser will randomly be chosen to do the appraisal on your home.

  1. The VA appraiser could be a great appraiser that is fair and honest and take time to do an appraisal considering size, upgrades, schools and builders.
  2. The VA appraiser could be from another city and not familiar with home builders, home values in your neighbor or schools.
  3. The VA appraiser could seem to go out of his or her way to find comparable sales that really aren’t what any Realtor, Seller or Buyer would consider “comparable”….but you are probably stuck with whatever the final value of the appraisal comes in.

Thankfully, over the last couple of years, we have only had 3 VA appraisals (out of over 100 sales)  that we felt were done by an appraiser that reflects numbers 2 and 3.

We have been told various different “stories” from these appraisers either in writing or verbally and below are a few:

  1. “Greenbelt lots don’t get an increase or adjustment” if our seller’s were on a greenbelt and “greenbelt lots do get an increase or adjustment” if the comparable properties were on a greenbelt.
  2. “We can’t use properties that were not sold in the last 90 days” and “I picked the comparable properties based on the homes that had the most in common and it doesn’t matter that other homes have sold more recently, comparable one sold within 15 days of a year ago and it will be counted without any adjustment even if the market is worth 3% or 5% more than it was last year”.
  3. “A pool is worth $15,000 whether or not it was built last year or 20 years ago, has a hot tub, is heated or was recently installed for $75,000” if our seller had a pool.
  4. “We don’t give upgrades for granite, wood floors, new roofs, new carpet, etc” if our seller had all those items and “I deducted value because your seller did not have granite counters, wood floors, a new roof, new carpet etc” if other comparable properties had those items.

What can a seller do when the appraisal comes back with a value that is less than the sales price?

  1.  You can negotiate with the buyer and seller and see if the buyer is willing to pay more for the home than the VA value.  This is money the buyer must come out of pocket with on top of any other funds owed at closing. Some VA buyers might make a lot of money….but have no savings.  Hard to believe…but because they will get a monthly retirement check many just don’t save for retirement.  Some buyers  feel like the VA appraisal, even if it would seem unfair to an unbiased third party, is the value of the home and will not pay more for it.
  2. You can put the house back on the market and sell it to a buyer that has cash or is getting FHA financing or Conventional financing since the VA appraised value will stay with the home for 6 months after the appraisal.  In a great market (like we have today) this would appear to be the thing to do.  But keep in mind, by the time the VA appraisal is back in the lenders file, the house has been off the market for 30 to 45 days….some sellers have made arrangements to move and are overwhelmed with the idea of “starting over”.
  3. Your seller can reduce the sales price to the appraisal price.

Our first one (in many years) to come in low came in just $3,000 below sales price.  At $207,000 versus $210,000.  No credit given to the seller for granite counters, a deck, wood floors, newer appliances or the fact that it was a one owner home that you could “eat off the floors” because it was so clean and well maintained.  The appraiser told me I could request a “Reconsideration of Value”….which meant almost 8 hours of filling out paperwork, printing comparable properties, adjusting those properties and resubmitting to the lender requesting a new value.  2 days later I was told “No”….so I wondered if the appraiser (the same appraiser who did the original appraisal  makes the final call)  just wasn’t having some fun wasting my time.  In the end, the seller and buyer agreed to “meet in the middle” with the seller accepting $1500 less than value and the buyer paying $1500 out of pocket to buy the home.

The second one was a home built by a superior builder than the other homes in the neighborhood.  It had high ceilings, rounded corners, wood floors, granite counters, was 7 years younger and was on a greenbelt.  The appraisal came in $20,000 below sales price.  The appraiser allowed me to submit a “Reconsideration of Value” which meant approximately 8 hours of my time.  That appraisal gave no credit to my sellers home for being on a greenbelt, being newer or having all the upgrades our seller had that the other homes in the neighborhood did not have.  The appraiser picked homes from another neighborhood (even though plenty of homes had sold in the neighborhood in the last 90 days, 6 months and over a years period) and the neighborhood he picked for comparable sales had been recently involved in a lawsuit with the homeowners successfully suing the builder because their foundations were failing….something that the out of town appraiser did not know.  Our sellers were young with very little equity and the buyers were young with zero money.  The VA buyer paid for a home inspection, pest inspection and an appraisal….adding up to approximately $1,000.  We put the home back on the market and sold to an FHA buyer (the VA appraisal sticks with the house for 6 months) for an even higher sales price than the VA buyer and closed in less than 4 weeks from the date we put the house back on the market. The new sale put $22,000 more dollars in our sellers pocket than the VA appraisal.  I always wonder….how was that fair to our Veteran?  How could 2 appraisals be so different?  Maybe because the appraiser lives in another city and isn’t familiar with values in San Antonio or neighborhoods?

Our latest appraisal fiasco was a horrible one.  Beautiful corner lot with pool, spa, 5 bedrooms, 3 and a half baths and a downstairs master.  List price $350,000.  We knew it was larger than the tax office measurements so we had the seller pay an appraiser to measure and the measurements came in at 3724 square feet…quite a bit larger than the almost 3,000 square feet the tax office had.  The VA appraisal came in at 3429 square feet.  No debate.  Not allowed to question if his measurements were correct…..so naturally, we had a problem with value.  The appraisal came in $20,000 less than sales price.  Once again, we were asked to submit a “Reconsideration of Value”…another 8 plus hours filling out paperwork the appraiser should have done correctly from the beginning.  Once again….told “tough”.  The VA appraisal would stick to the property for 6 months.  Even though he used a “comparable” sale that was sold 2 weeks short of a year ago that sold at a higher price per square foot than our property value was given…and it was a home that most of us would say “barked” it was so beat up and in need of updating.  Good for the VA buyer….but not good for our seller.

 

What is a seller to do if the appraisal comes in using what appears to be very unfair comparable properties or adjustments?  Not sell or offer to sell to our hardworking Veterans because they want to use one of their greatest benefit, the VA loan?  I hope not….and hope that we will continue to see a small percentage of VA loan appraisals that come from the appraisers that greedily accept appraisal opportunities from areas that they are not familiar with or just seem to enjoy looking for opportunities to “kill the sale” for unknown reasons we have yet to figure out.  Having a bad day, maybe?   I don’t know….but because I am a military brat I will still fight for our Veteran and be sad when I realize that a Veteran spent sometimes over $1,000 on expenses for a home he or she didn’t get to buy because an appraiser didn’t do his or her job.  Possibly the “Reconsideration of Value” methods will be changed in the future to allow a third party appraiser to review.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 3 Reasons to Stage Your Home

we-can-do-it

  1.  It will sell for MORE!
  2. It will sell FASTER!
  3. Your online photos will stand out!

89% of all buyers start their search online!  Don’t you want more money?

How to Stage an Empty House

Fresh White Towels
Master Bathroom Staging

A dated bath doesn’t mean it can’t look fresh and inviting….roll up new white towels, new soap dispensers in a relaxing blue from Bath and Body Works, new soaps with fresh scents and white flowers to add a hint of luxury!

Don't forget to add mood lighting with candlestick lamps in a large kitchen.
Fake coffee in a coffee cup and funny signs can make an empty house feel more like a home.

This house didn’t sell the first time it was listed….it needed the addition of minor staging in the baths and kitchen…..and don’t forget to add something to those recessed areas where a TV would normally be!

 

Buyers love a walk in closet….and when it’s empty it’s not very appealing to an online photo!  Add some shopping bags to give the closet depth and add a luxury edge to that empty home.

Good smells sell!
https://Lisa.MyGC.com will take you to my website to buy a scent that will make your house smell like home! Cinnamon Vanilla or Sugar Cookie are the way to SOLD!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑