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Selling your Home

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!

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!

6 BIG Home Seller Mistakes

By the numbers:

77% Overpricing the Home

35% Making it difficult to show

32% Having too much Clutter

28% Ignoring Odors

21% Not being willing to negotiate

20% Not making obvious repairs

Want to learn more?  Ask Lisa!we-can-do-it

 

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