There are (5) basic reasons a property sells in a good or poor real estate market. They include (1) Property condition, (2) Price, (3) Terms, (4) Location, and (5) Agent. As a seller one has the ability to control four of the five reasons.
1. Property Condition
A. Outside Clean Up and Creating Curb Appeal
- Paint – A fresh paint job is one of the best ways to enhance the salability of your home. Be sure to prep and prime areas that need it; repair any gutters or down spouts; and replace any wood showing dry rot. Good color selection for the neighborhood is also critical.
- Front Entry – Give special care to this area as first impressions do make a difference. All woodwork needs to be freshly and neatly painted, including the door if necessary. Polish any door brass; replace worn or broken doorbells; and make sure the mailbox looks new. Put out a new door or clean door mat.
- Front Yard – Mow and trim yard. Weed flower beds; remove any dead plants or trees. Water regularly during the growing season and make sure bark dust or mulch gives a neat, finished look to the garden areas.
- Driveway, Garage/Carport – Remove grease or oil spots and clean driveway and best as possible. Be sure the garage door operates freely and automatic door opener is in good working order. Clean and organize garage.
- Backyard, Patio – Clean or replace any rusted or exposed metal on air conditioners or heat pumps. Correct any drainage issues. Stage backyard or patio with some outdoor furniture to enhance the “showability” of your property.
B. Inside Clean Up and Look at the Basics
- Windows – Repair or replace any torn or bent screens. Replace any cracked or broken panes. Drapery rods should be affixed firmly to walls and work smoothly; draperies should be clean and hang properly.
- Doors – Be sure all doors open and close freely, including closet doors and patio or sliding glass doors. Oil any squeaky doors. Tighten the hardware, particularly doorknobs. It is also a good idea to check and tighten all hardware on kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
- Walls – All holes or heavy use areas need to be repaired and repainted. A freshly painted interior will pay dividends. Wallpaper should be clean and adhere smoothly to walls.
- Floors – Repair or replace missing or damaged pieces of tile or linoleum. Clean and finish wood floors; polish if needed.
- Carpet – Steam cleaning is best for soiled carpets. If pet odors are present, clean the carpet some time before the home is placed on the market to be sure odors have been eliminated.
- Mechanical Operations – Consider a Home Warranty
a. Lights – Every light fixture in and around the house should have a good bulb of adequate wattage. Be sure to check outside, garage, utility room, halls, closets, over the kitchen sink, and in the oven and exhaust hood.
b. Switches – Repair or replace wall switches, outlets, and light fixtures that don’t work. Replace any broken switch plates.
c. Appliances – Those being included in the sale of the home should be in good working order. If there is specific equipment that does not work and you do not intend to repair it, be sure to point this out to prospective buyers.
d. Plumbing – Sinks, tubs, and toilets that are chipped or irreversibly stained should be re-enameled or replaced. Leaky or noisy toilets should be fixed, as well as dripping faucets.
e. Heating – Be sure to service your heating system if it has not been done recently and replace any dirty filters.
- Go for the spacious look
- Closets and storage areas – Open up your storage areas by removing items you are not using. Adequate storage space is a big requirement of most buyers.
- Counters and cabinets – De-clutter counters and cabinets, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms with the kitchen being most important. Store infrequently used appliances.
- Garage – Buyers may pay more for a garage if they can visualize it being of value to them. Move the excess to a mini-warehouse or other storage location.
C. Housekeeping Hints
- Bathrooms – Dirty bathrooms can kill a buyer’s interest instantly. Vanity, sink, faucet hardware, and mirror are the focal points and need to be spotless. Also give attention to soap residue in the shower, a moldy shower curtain, accumulated dirt in the track of a sliding shower door, soiled or missing grout, soiled toilet bowls, and dirty or battered bath mats.
- Kitchens – Buyers inspect the kitchen carefully. Clean the stove inside and out and replace stained or corroded reflector plates under the heating elements on electric stove tops. Clean the kitchen exhaust fan which is a good check point to see if the kitchen has been cleaned regularly.
- Windows – Clean windows are critical to creating a good impression and show off the home at its best. Open windows for fresh air if weather permits.
- Utility Areas – A clean water heater, washer and dryer set up, and utility sink can be easily spruced up and can really make an important impression on a picky buyer.
Too high and buyers may not consider it; too low and you’re selling yourself short. Be sure to get a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) that gives you an idea of how your home compares financially with similar, recently sold homes in your area. The analysis should also include an estimate of what you might expect to receive after closing.
How your home is purchased and the financial terms offered can many times make the difference in selling or not selling, particularly in a tight market when loans are difficult to come by.
This is the one factor a seller cannot control. Factors can change after a seller first purchases the home depending on the length of ownership.
5. Agent (Real Estate Professional)
Doing some homework is essential as one determines which real estate professional would be a good match for one’s wants, needs and individual tastes, and whose personal and professional judgment you respect. Seeking references and recommendations would be essential in your screening process. Silverton Realty prides itself in being known as the “Home Town Experts.”
For more tips on selling a home go to http://www.hud.gov.selling/index.cfm
- How do I begin the looking process?
Begin your process by setting priorities for (a) location, (b) personal tastes and preferences, and (c) affordability. You need to become an informed buyer… drive by potential neighborhoods, check out communities and current listings on the internet, and interview potential lenders or mortgage brokers to begin the loan pre-qualification process. The more you know about the process the better you will be prepared to assist in the successful completion of your home purchase.
- Do I use a real estate professional to help me buy a home?
Buying a home is an exciting process but can become overwhelming whether you are a first time home buyer or experienced having purchased homes in the past. A good real estate professional, like those who work at Silverton Realty, has the skills and experience to help support your purchase and can provide you with the most current homes listed in the area through their membership in the Willamette Valley Multiple Listing Service (WVMLS). The purchase of a home is a major financial investment and having the help of a real estate professional means you will have professional experience in your corner when negotiations begin and won’t have to go through the process alone.
- How do I find the right real estate professional to work with?
Doing some homework is essential as one determines which real estate professional would be a good match for your wants, needs and individual tastes, and who’s personal and professional judgment you respect. Seeking references and recommendations would be essential in your screening process. Silverton Realty prides itself in being known as the “Home Town Experts.”
- How do I know how much home I can afford?
Affordability is critical and a major concern for all home buyers. The key is taking the time to meet with potential lenders or mortgage brokers and work through your personal budget to determine the price range you can afford or are comfortable. This process does not commit you to any one lender, but allows you to develop a clear picture of how much house you can afford.
- How does buying compare to renting?
There are advantages to renting which offers a lifestyle that is nearly maintenance free. However, renting does not offer the potential for developing equity, any tax benefit, and most likely any protection against regular rent increases.
- What should I consider when picking a community in which to live?
Good city services, good schools, parks and playgrounds, convenient shopping and transportation, a good hospital and medical care, and a track record of sound development and good planning. These are just a few considerations that are important to many people when they choose a community in which to live.
- Where can I get information about local schools?
Your local real estate professional is a good source as they know where the schools are and can provide you with valuable information about school districts. Each school district has its own web site to review and the Oregon Department of Education has a web site located at www.oregon.gov/ODE/ that can provide you with test scores and other information about education in Oregon.
- How do I find out what homes are selling for in a given neighborhood?
Home sales are a matter of public record and you can get all the information you want about recent sales, including prices and listing times, by contacting the county Recorder of Deeds. This is another service your real estate professional can provide as they are able to access the local MLS listing and sales information and/or can order reports through county records.
- How can I find out what my property tax bill will be?
This is also public information and will be included on the listing information sheet for the home you’re interested in. Remember that tax rates change and most property tax bills increase on an annual basis. To get the most accurate information you would need to contact the county assessor’s office.
- If I’m moving a considerable distance, is there any way I can screen homes before I start traveling?
Yes. The Multiple Listing Services (MLS), which includes most of the homes listed in any given community, have made it relatively easy for buyers to access detailed information on homes for sale practically anywhere in the country. Silverton Realty has made this simple for you as you can access the WVMLS at www.wmls.com.
- When I start visiting homes, what should I be looking for the first time through?
As you develop your priorities consider these important actors:
• Is there enough room for you now and in the near future?
• Is the home’s floor plan right for your family?
• Is there enough storage space?
• Will you have to replace the appliances?
• Is the yard the size that you want?
• Are there enough bathrooms?
• How much maintenance and/or decorating will you need to do right away? Later?
• Will your present furniture work in this home?
See Home Buyers Checklist
- How many bedrooms should I be considering?
Spare bedrooms come in handy when family and friends come to stay. Extra rooms are also useful as a library, den, or TV room. Extra space will make your home more appealing to a larger number of interested buyers when it comes time to sell.
- Is an older home as good a value as a new home?
Both new and older homes offer distinct advantages, depending on your unique tastes and lifestyle. New homes generally have more space in their living areas like a family room or the popular great room. They’re usually easier to maintain as well.
- What do I need to bring along when looking at homes?
Bring your own:
• Notebook and pen for note-taking
• Flashlight for seeing enclosed areas
• Tape measure for checking room sizes, clearances, etc.
• Camera (digital or 35mm)
Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek clarification on any issues that you observe when looking at a home. You want to be sure you feel comfortable in making the right choice when purchasing your home.
- What should I ask about each home that I look at?
Ask any questions you have about specific rooms, features, or functions. Pay particular attention to areas that you feel could become “problem” areas such as additions or areas that have been previously repaired. The bottom line is making sure your questions have been answered to your satisfaction.
- What should I tell my real estate professional about the homes I look at?
Tell your real estate professional everything you like and don’t like about each home you see. Don’t be shy about pointing out the homes shortcomings or what you really liked about the home.
- How many homes should I look at before I buy?
There is no set number of homes you should look at before you decide to make an offer on one. The perfect home may be waiting for you on the first visit or it may take some time to get a feel for the homes in the area before you are comfortable in making your choice. If you are looking in more than one community this will also play into the number of homes you will look at before making your initial offer.
- How do I know I’m getting the best value for my money?
A professional appraisal is the best way to tell if a home is priced fairly. A real estate appraisal is an unbiased opinion of a property’s value based on its style and appearance, construction quality, usefulness, and other factors, including the value of comparable properties nearby.
- I’d like to have a professional look at the home before I buy it. What does a home inspector do?
To make sure you are protected and getting your money’s worth, using a professional home inspector is highly recommended. A home inspector will check a variety of things such as your home’s plumbing, heating cooling, and electrical systems, and look for structural problems. The inspector’s job is to make you aware of repairs that are recommended or necessary. Consider a home inspector who has been certified and an experienced member by a trade association.
- Should I be present during the home inspection?
Yes. It’s not required, but very much to your advantage. Inspectors encourage buyers to meet with them at the conclusion of their inspection to go over the report and point out any concerns. This is also an important time to ask questions and clarify any concerns you may have observed in looking at the home.
- Are there any other inspections I need to have done?
In addition to the overall home inspection, you may wish to have separate tests conducted to check for insects, the presence of radon gas, and the quality of drinking water, to name a few. Talk to you Realtor for information about these test and companies in the area that perform them.
- Do I need to use a lawyer to buy a home?
It depends on the complexity of the paperwork needed to complete the transaction for your purchase. Some buyers prefer to work with an attorney. In most instances, the legal forms used by Realtors are sufficient to get the job done. However, any time additional legal agreements are needed it is best to seek legal advice.
- Do I need to talk to my insurance agent?
Yes. Most insurance professionals have a lot of experience in working with homeowners and can offer useful tips about homeownership, particularly regarding home safety and keeping your premiums low. Once you’ve found a home, your insurance agent will need to provide you with evidence of a fully-paid policy for your mortgage lender and will be a key component at closing. The sooner you can get the insurance binder in place the better.
- When I’ve found the home I like, how do I make an offer?
When you’ve come to the decision you want to make an offer, you will most likely be both excited and nervous. Your initial offer will be in the form of a written document that declares how much you are willing to pay for the home provided that certain conditions are met. Referred to as an Earnest Money Agreement, it is a legally binding contract that you will sign and date. Your offer should have a time limit for the seller to accept it, reject it, or made a counter-offer. If a counter-offer is made, you will have some time to respond. It is not unusual for several offers to go back and forth until an offer is accepted, or one party decides to end negotiations.
- How do I determine the amount of my initial offer?
There is no rule of thumb, but as a buyer you will want the best value possible. Recognize the seller will want the best price, but there can be many factors that can influence negotiations and a final selling price. The key is you have a good idea of what the home’s value is in the current market having done your research. You will need to consider what you can afford and make an offer that you consider to be fair.
- What is “earnest money” and how much do I need?
When you sign an offer to purchase or earnest money agreement, your Realtor will ask you for “earnest money.” This refers to a monetary commitment that shows you are serious about wanting to buy. Usually, you will be asked to write a check for somewhere between 1 and 10 percent of the sales price.
- Is there any way I can protect myself against emergency repair bills in my new home?
Yes. Home warranties offer you protection against many potentially costly problems not covered by your homeowner’s insurance. Such warranties have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. The coverage can save you thousands of dollars in the event of a major mechanical breakdown at a time when your cash reserves have been reduced by your down payment and moving expenses.
- There is so much to remember before I close. What do I have to do?
This is where a Realtor can really help by keeping focus on the following:
• Are all necessary inspections complete?
• Are all required repairs complete?
• When will you conduct a final walk through inspection?
• Is you attorney satisfied that title to the property is clear?
• Have you confirmed a date, time, and place for your closing?
• Who will conduct the closing?
• Is you insurance policy paid d ready to go into effect the day you close? You will need a receipt for proof of purchase.
• What form of check should you use to pay for closing costs?
• Has your closing sales professional told you the closing amount?
• Do you have receipts for the items you have already paid for, including your deposit and inspection fees?
• Bring your checkbook to cover any lat-minute extras that might have been overlooked.
- What should I look for on a final walk-through?
You’ll be given the opportunity to inspect the home immediately prior to closing. At this time, it’s important to check on any work the seller agreed to have done in response to your initial inspection. You should also look carefully at the conditions of walls and ceilings from which window treatments, pictures, or any other attached furnishings have been removed.
- What will happen on the day of closing?
Closing will take place at the title company or possibly at the Realtor’s or attorney’s office. The escrow officer or attorney will then walk you through the closing documents for signatures as follows:
• The lender’s agent (escrow officer) will ask for you paid home insurance policy.
• The agent (escrow officer) will provide you a copy of the closing statement which includes the money you owe the seller (e.g. the remainder of the down payment; prepaid taxes) and what the seller owes you (e.g. unpaid taxes; prepaid rent).
• You will sign the mortgage note (the promise to pay the loan in regular monthly payments).
• You will get title from the seller in the form of a signed deed.
• The lender’s agent (escrow officer) will collect the closing costs from you and give you a settlement statement of all the items you have paid for.
• The deed and mortgage will be recorded in the town or county Registry of Deeds.
- Is there anything I should do immediately after closing?
The first thing you may want to have done is have the locks changed. Also, put you deed and other important paperwork from the closing in a secure place, preferably a safe deposit box. Even though it is fine with the county, it’s smart to know where your copies are and have access to them at all times.
- Should I move myself or use a moving company?
In almost every case, you can save time and energy by using a reputable moving company to help you move. For more tips on buying a home go to http://www.hud.gov/buying/.
- 10 important tips to help with a smooth mortgage loan closing.
- Don’t change jobs or become self employed
- Don’t buy a car, truck, or van unless you live in it.
- Don’t use your credit cards or let your payments fall behind.
- Don’t spend money you have saved for your down payment.
- Don’t let anyone else check your credit score.
- Don’t make any large deposits, other than your pay check.
- Don’t change bank accounts.
- Don’t co-sign for anyone.
- Don’t purchase anything on credit.
- Don’t increase balances on and credit cards.
- Where does one start when looking for a place to rent?
There are three initial steps one should consider:
• Be realistic by knowing what you need vs. what you want,
• Know what price range you can afford in your budget and be sure to factor in costs for utilities, and
• Research the neighborhoods you will consider living in to be sure you feel safe and have access to stores, mass transit, or whatever needs you may have as a priority.
- Should I use a property management company to help me find a place to rent?
This will be up to you as a renter and your individual preference. If you feel comfortable calling on private advertisements and working with landlords one-on-one without a property management consultant to help explain the process, then go it alone. However, if you are a first time renter or like the idea of having a property manager who works with multiple landlords, a property management company may be the choice you want.
- What are some of the basics to renting one should understand before starting out on a search?
• Rent is the agreed upon payment paid to the landlord or property management company for use of the rental unit for specific period of time normally on a monthly basis.
• In addition to rent a tenant will pay one or more deposits up front to the landlord or property management company for security or for cleaning the rental unit when one leaves. These deposits may or may not be refundable depending on the rental agreement.
• Property management companies and many landlords will charge an application fee to review and screen your rental application. This may include the costs of a credit or criminal records check and are normally non-refundable.
• What is the rental agreement? The rental agreement or contract is normally a month-to-month agreement or a lease agreement that spells out a specific time period (i.e. six months or a year). It identifies what the landlord and tenant will be responsible for during the agreement, how the rent will be paid, and who to contact if there are any problems that occur during the tenancy.
• Who is responsible for utilities? The rental agreement will spell out who pays for what in terms of utilities such as Gas, Electricity, Water, Sewer, Trash Removal, Phone, Cable, or Internet Connection.
• Is there additional cost for parking? This will depend on the type of rental unit and what is agreed to in the rental agreement.
• Are pets allowed? This will depend on the landlord’s pet policy. If pets are allowed, there is normally an additional deposit to cover any damage caused by the pet.
• Who takes care of the grounds (lawn and garden)? In a rental complex the grounds are normally cared for by the landlord. In single family home rentals the grounds are normally the responsibility of the tenant. This will also be spelled out in the rental agreement between the tenant and the landlord or property management company.
- What are some other tips to think about as one prepares to rent?
• Understand your rights under the Oregon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. Oregon law spells out the responsibilities or both landlords and tenants and potential consequences when those responsibilities are not met.
• Be sure to have a Check-in and Check-out inventory. These are important and will protect the interests of both the landlord and tenant. Take pictures to verify condition when you move in and out.
Be sure to have renters insurance. The landlord will provide insurance coverage for the rental unit but not its contents or the tenant’s personal property. It is cheap and worth the protection should there be theft or a fire.