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Selling your Home

How to Pick a REALTOR

With all the REALTORS running around these days it’s hard for a consumer to decide which one is best….and who all these companies are. Used to be we knew who the major players were in the real estate market:

1. RE/MAX: known for top producing agents that paid a fee for their office space and got 100 percent of their commissions.

2. Coldwell Banker: Good Training for their agents and have a good reputation.

3. Century 21: Good training for their agents and have a good reputation.

4. Sotherby Realtors: every major city had at least one office and the agents in those offices tended to sell the higher priced properties.

Now we have almost 14,000 agents in the San Antonio area attached to companies we’ve never even heard of. And the latest? The new MLM agent….your Realtor might not be just selling real estate…it’s like AVON….the more agents they recruit, the more money they make. Do you want an agent that sells houses or an agent that recruits other agents?

So…how do you pick your real estate agent when their are 14,000 of them and almost as many companies?

Ask these questions:

1. Are you fulltime? Do you work nights and weekends?

I promise you….about 10,000 of these agents aren’t available 100 percent of the time to manage you or your house. When you have an offer come in….do you want to wait until Monday morning to find out about it? In today’s busy market…that buyer may get anxious and have moved on if they wrote the offer on your house on Friday night and had to wait until Monday to find out if the offer was accepted. If you’re the buyer…do you want to wait 3 days to find out if your offer was accepted? If they work at a fulltime job during the week….how can they negotiate the offer that comes in before their shift starts? I’ve met REALTORS that are also UBER drivers….do you think that REALTOR can negotiate while driving to the airport with people in the backseat? And….do you want the people in the backseat knowing about your personal business?

2. How many people are on your team?

If they are on a “team” you get them right now…and then another person takes over for inspections, and then a third person might take over for the closing process…..do you really want to work with someone you don’t know on the most important purchase of your life or the largest sale of your life? Be sure to ask about the transfer process and confirm they are still available 100 percent of the time for ALL your questions.

3. Tell me about your office…..this might be a really great question. If the office just opened up and has 2 people in it or if the office has been in business for 25 years….I can promise you that the office that has been in business for 25 years has probably done a lot of great things to stay in business that long. How does their office operate? An office that recruits for a percentage of stocks might not be the right fit for you if your house sale isn’t as important as the next recruiting session or training of their agents.

4. How long have you been in the business? With 30,000 sales a year in San Antonio and almost 14,000 agents…..the only agents that have been in the business for 10 years or more are agents that sold more than 2 houses a year. Currently 5,000 agents wash out and leave real estate within their first 3 years….and that’s been happening for over a century in San Antonio.

Make sure who you choose to represent you is one of the agents that has been around a while…in an office that has been around a while who job is to sell real estate…..lots of real estate!

The odds are in your favor for a favorable closing when you stack the odds in YOUR favor!

Hot Market? Try 88 Days….

88 days is the average days on the market for homes in San Antonio as of today…..so why do we keep hearing about houses flying off the market?

Some do….but usually the ones that “fly off the market” are the more affordable homes…..AND homes that don’t need a lot of repairs.

So if you are considering putting your house on the market…..clean, clean, clean.  Pretend you are a homebuyer…..and take a good look around your house.  Open the front door with the key….if it’s hard to open, it immediately sends a message to the buyer to look for more items that might need to be repaired.

Todays buyer wants a house in MOVE IN condition….so if your house needs new carpet….install it now.  If your appliances are worn out, replace them now.  If you have walls that need paint….and the list goes on and on.  Every buyer I show homes to is looking for a house they don’t need to do work on…..because buyers don’t have time to do that work.  Unless your house is an incredible price…they will just pass on it and move to the next house.

The press says we don’t have a lot of homes on the market…. but the number of homes on the market is 7,767.  That’s right….seven thousand, seven hundred and sixty seven homes to compete with.

When you do have your house ready to sell…don’t make it hard for the Realtor to show it.  They might be showing ten homes in an afternoon to the same buyer….and if you make it too difficult, they will just pass and might not come back.

If you need help getting a list of what you need to do to get your house ready to sell  I’m happy to help.  (210) 273-6161

Pocket Listing

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I had the opportunity to visit with an old friend who shared with me her most recent real estate transaction/experience. She needed to help her daughter sell her daughter’s condo in Colorado. None of the Realtors she knew responded to her emails requesting they contact her…..I didn’t press to find out how many Realtors she emailed or if she called any of them…….but she shared that her next step was to complain to another friend about how none of the Realtors wanted to help her sell her daughters condo because none of them responded to her emails (shame on them)……..so the friend recommended a Realtor to help.
The Realtor referred to her was young, innovative, aggressive and had an idea that she had never heard of…..he would sell the condo for only 3.5%! He told her to think of ALL the money she would save by only paying 3.5%! He also told her that if he sold it himself….he was only going to take THREE percent! AMAZINGLY…..he sold it himself in just a few months…..so “THEY SAVED TONS OF MONEY by only paying 3 PERCENT”!
What this “innovative, aggressive and young” agent did to sell her daughter’s condo wasn’t anything new….but I didn’t burst her bubble by explaining why. She is a friend and thinks she got a fantastic deal. It’s called a “pocket listing”.
MANY years ago….before the internet…..no one had a chance to know when a new house or condo went on the market unless the agent that listed the property shared the information with others in their office. When a property doesn’t go into the multiple listing service I always wonder….if buyers from all over the world knew about this property….what would it sell for? Would it sell for more if more people knew about it or just the handful of people that found out? Who was the “young, aggressive, innovative agent” really representing? His paycheck or the sellers bottom line?
The ONLY times I recommend a “pocket listing” ;
Celebrity owners…..lots of real estate agents wont be able to resist showing their friends and family homes of the rich and famous……..selling your home does not mean part time agents or new, inexperienced agents should be allowed to waste your time and mine.
Your home is considered a “luxury” home……again, part time agents or new, inexperienced agents might enjoy showing friends and family a home that they might never get to see in their lifetime and wasting your time and mine.

My out of state friends daughter was NOT a celebrity nor was her condo considered a luxury property…..It will probably take a few lawsuits to occur before sellers that tried this “innovative and aggressive new idea” realize they might have sold in less time and at a higher price if they had put the property in the MLS system and let the world know about it….nothing drives up price better than having millions of buyers view your photos and wonder if another buyer might also be considering buying your home….but until then….PLEASE don’t suggest that this is a “new idea”…..we quit doing things that way when we began putting homes on the internet with photos. And if you are a celebrity or have a home that would be considered a “luxury” home…you can count on me to keep your information private and get it sold quickly and for top dollar.

Virtual Staging

Photos are everything……since we are all looking online before we go out to see a house we might consider purchasing.

Lots of buyers can’t vision how or where to place their furniture…..and some sellers don’t want the drama or time involved in actually adding furniture to their empty homes they hope will sell quickly.

Virtual staging allows buyers to see where they will place their furniture and gives them ideas on how to decorate for their purchase.

I LOVE the before and after….what are your thoughts?

2017 Average Sales Price

Last year the average sales price was $249,000 for homes sold/listed with a  Realtor.

The average price was $210,000 for homes sold by an owner without a Realtor.

The average price was $151,900 if the buyer and seller knew each other and didn’t have a Realtor.

Let’s hope that the $151,900 folks at least were related.

 

Information for this blog is from Inside Sales Predictability 2.17.2018 Michael Reese.

 

 

 

San Antonio Home Sales for January

Everyone is always talking about how great the real estate market is in San Antonio…..but is it really the “hot” market they are saying it is?

This January 1760 homes sold….versus 1687 homes in January 2017.  The days on market for a home in January was 67 days….last January it was 62 days.

Some homes do “fly” off the market….so if you like a house, don’t wait for someone else to put their offer in.   67 days really isn’t very long for a house to get a SOLD sign and interest rates are starting to creep up.  If you’re thinking about a move….you should consider updating that prequalification letter and start your search before everyone else realizes that the house they could have bought last year is now out of their price range because of rising interest rates.

We’d love to help you sell your home or find your new one.

Give us a call at 210-273-6161 or email us at Lisaharder@live.com.

Buyer Ready

Most buyers have to see your house in person to decide if they want to buy it.  You can have great photos, a great virtual tour and a great Realtor….but being prepared for the buyers visit can make or break the sale.

Here’s a quick checklist to make sure you are ready:

  1.  Make your house easy to show.  A buyer might be driving by your house to visit another house and decide they want to see your home before they make an offer on the house down the street…..if they have to wait until tomorrow or wait an hour or so to see your house….they might just decide it’s not worth waiting for.  Have your home set up for immediate access if possible…if you have dogs or kids and need a few minutes…make sure you are ready to jump in the car within minutes and wave bye at them as you drive off.  The easier it is to show your house…the more likely it will sell.
  2. Keep it clean and ready for a quick exit at all times….so you can jump in the car and leave.
  3. Try to never reschedule the appointment.  Some buyers fly into town to see houses for a day or two….which means they are looking at houses in one neighborhood and heading in another direction half an hour later.  Trying to reschedule the appointment means they have to reschedule all the other appointments that have been made…..which sometimes means they decide you might not be very motivated to sell and never return to view your house.  If they can’t get inside….they probably won’t buy your house.
  4. Make sure it smells clean.  If you have pets, hide all evidence that you have a pet if possible.  We have had buyers decide against a house because they realized a cat lived there.  Crazy…but true.
  5. If it isn’t possible for you to leave (you just sat down for dinner) and you realize that the agent is sitting outside the house…don’t be upset.  Be glad they decided at the last minute to show your home.  Remember….if the buyer doesn’t visit your house….they probably wont buy it.  Explain you are sitting down to dinner but you will happily allow them to show your house….open the door with a smile and explain you’re eating and that you’ll stay out of their way.  And stay out of their way.
  6. If you’re house bound….in a wheelchair…..leaving is probably not an option.  Do yourself a favor….say “hi” with a big smile and also add “I’ll be out of your way….if you have any questions, my agent asked me to tell you to give her/him a call since I’m paying them the big bucks to help me”.  That will usually avoid the buyer’s agent (remember….they represent the buyer) to question you if the refrigerator can remain with the sale, or if the washer and dryer can remain with the sale….and other questions about items you might not be willing to sell with the house and then feel obligated to sell because you want to sell your house and they asked you while visiting.   If they ask you questions like “Why are you moving” or “Where are you moving to”….very nicely respond with “My agent told me to make sure I asked you to call them (him/her) if you had any questions”.    It’s easy for you to give away furniture, appliances, curtains….lots of things you really didn’t want to leave….because you talked to the buyers agent or buyers.   That’s why your Realtor really doesn’t want you home if possible.  All negotiations should be done by the Realtors…that’s why you are paying them!

Today’s market makes some sellers feel they don’t have to clean their house….can only show it with a days notice….or even worse, don’t have to make any repairs to very obvious things that need repairing.  These sellers are the houses you drive by and wonder why they haven’t sold.  Don’t be one of those houses.

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.

 

 

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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