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Lawrence R Miller
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Rima R Sobhani
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ANSWERS
Have Your Credit Pre-Approved?

Getting a credit pre-approval means you receive a loan commitment from your mortgage company before you have found a home, based on a review of your credit and finances.
A credit pre-approval shows sellers that you're a qualified buyer and helps you establish a clear price range.
The credit pre-approval process.
The process of applying for a credit pre-approval is the same as a typical mortgage application, except that it doesn't include information on the property you will purchase. Your loan officer collects information on your credit, income, assets, and debts, and sends this information through an underwriting system. If the underwriting process determines that you qualify for a loan, you receive a loan commitment for up to a certain amount, which is contingent on the property meeting certain criteria.
Benefits of having your credit pre-approved
There are many good reasons for getting a credit pre-approval before you buy a home:
•It makes your home search more efficient by allowing you to focus only on homes you know you can afford.
•It lets sellers know that you can back up your offer, so they don't have to worry about whether you can get a loan.
•It lets you know early in the process if you will have difficulty getting pre-approved, so you have a chance to address problems before finding a home.
•It gets most of the mortgage process out of the way up front, so you can complete your transaction quickly after you find a home.
Pre-qualification Like having your credit pre-approved, getting pre-qualified can help you determine your price range.
The difference is that pre-qualification does not involve a credit check and is based only on your stated income, assets, and debts.
Because of that, a pre-qualification can't give you as precise an estimate of your buying power as having your credit pre-approved.
It also doesn't carry the same weight with sellers because your credit is still a question mark
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Go House Hunting?

Now that you've had your credit pre-approved and know how much you can afford, it's time to go house-hunting. You may look at one house or two dozen before you find the one that's right for you. Just keep an open mind, and focus on the things that are really important to you, and you're sure to find a place where you'll feel at home.
Choosing a neighborhood:
House-hunters should keep in mind the familiar adage about the three most important features of a home: location, location, location. That's because finding the right home for you and your family has as much to do with the neighborhood as with the home itself. In fact, you'll probably notice during your search that a home in one area costs much more than a similar home in another. Factors like safety, school quality, and proximity to shopping and entertainment all contribute to demand for homes in a given neighborhood.
Beyond price, what you look for in a neighborhood probably has a lot to do with your personal situation. How far are you willing to commute to work? How close do you want to be to family and friends? Do you have young children who would enjoy a nearby playground? Picturing your day-to-day life in a certain neighborhood is a good way to predict whether you will feel comfortable there.
Considering different house styles:
You may want to look beyond the traditional detached single-family home. Condominiums, town houses, and duplexes can be more affordable options, especially if you're looking in a densely populated area. These types of housing may not offer as much yard space or privacy as single-family homes, but those may not be as important to you as the chance to own a home in the neighborhood of your choice.
BuilIf you've looked and looked for your dream home without success, or if you want to be the very first owner of a brand new home, consider building. You'll have more opportunity to customize the home's features and design, more up-to-date appliances and building materials, and usually a builder's warranty to cover problems that come up in the first year.
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Make an Offer?

So, you've found a house you want to buy. Congratulations! Now you need to decide how much you're willing to pay to make it yours. In today's real estate market multiple offers on the same home are commonplace, so you may only get one chance to make an offer that the seller will consider. That's why it's important to think carefully about your strategy.
Your real estate agent should be able to give you a list of similar homes nearby that have sold recently, and for how much. Although you can't directly compare the home you want with the homes on the list without ever having been in them, you can use the list of comparable sales to get a general idea of the neighborhood's price range.
In addition to sale prices for other homes, there are several ways you can determine a good amount to offer:
•The condition of the house. Is the home in move-in condition, in need of paint and other cosmetic improvements, or a fixer-upper that needs some real work?
•The market. If you are in a buyer's market — where there are more homes for sale than there are people to buy them — prices are probably stable or falling. If you are in a seller's market — where there are more buyers looking for homes than there are homes for sale — prices are probably moving upward.
•Your threshold. If you've gotten a credit pre-approval, you know how much you can borrow for your home purchase. Of course, you may not be comfortable paying as much as you've been approved to borrow, so think carefully about your financial situation before making an offer.
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Get a Home Inspection?

When you are making what is likely the largest investment of your life, you should know as much as possible about what you are buying. That's why it's a good idea to have a home inspected before you make your purchase. Most purchase contracts contain provisions for a home inspection to be performed within a certain timeframe, and sometimes they specify what action the buyer and seller may take if problems are uncovered.
Finding a home inspector:
It's very important that you choose a qualified inspector who has plenty of experience with residential homes. Contact a national or state association of home inspectors to find out what certifications it requires for membership and if there are any members in your area. You may also want to ask your real estate agent for a list of reputable companies.
What the inspection should cover:
At a minimum, the inspector should examine the following:
•Exterior structural components, including the foundation, roof, siding, and chimney.
•Interior structural components, including the basement or crawlspace, attic, flooring, and ceilings.
•Major systems, including heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical.
You should make every effort to be present during the inspection so that you will have an opportunity to ask questions and see first-hand what the inspector looks at. You should receive an inspection report with descriptions, and possibly photographs, of any problems with the home.
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Close the Deal?

You Have found your home, agreed on a price with the seller, had the home inspected, and now you?re ready for the closing, where you will officially take ownership of the property. Welcome to the end of the home buying process?and the beginning of your homeownership journey.
When to schedule your closing:
The closing date will depend on when the seller is ready to move out, when you are ready to move in, and when all of the mortgage details have been finalized. You may want to request a closing date near the end of the month in order to minimize the amount of interest you have to prepay on your mortgage.
Who should be there:
Closing practices vary based on location, but attendees may include the following:
•Buyer and seller
•Real estate agents for the buyer and seller
•Closing agent
•Title company representative
•Mortgage company representative
•Attorney
What happens at closing:
Despite all the new technologies that are streamlining the mortgage process, the closing phase remains very paper-intensive. You will have to review and sign a hefty stack of documents, some of them in duplicate and triplicate. You will also have to pay for any closing costs, including:
•Lender fees, such as an appraisal fee, credit report fee, origination points, and discount points
•Third-party fees for services not provided by your lender, which may include a settlement fee, title insurance, and attorneys fees
•Prepaid items that must be paid to your lender in advance, such as prepaid interest, hazard insurance, and deposits to set up an escrow account
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Move into Your New Home ?

So you're ready to start life in your new home — congratulations! Now all you have to do is get yourself, your family, and your belongings there intact. You can save time and energy by hiring a moving company, or save money by doing it yourself — it all depends on how much stuff you have, how far you're moving, and how much you can afford to spend.
Hiring a moving company:
The key to choosing the right mover is trust. To find a company you can have confidence in, look for one that:
•Has been in the business for a number of years.
•Has a clean record with the Better Business Bureau®
•Can provide several references to satisfied customers.
•Meets the standards of your state's professional association for moving companies, if there is one.
Moving yourself:
Your move may not require professional help, but pulling it off successfully does require a professional approach. You wouldn't want your moving company taking shortcuts, so why should you?
Preparations should start well before moving day. Download our moving checklist to stay on track during the weeks leading up to the big day, and keep these tips in mind:
•Get the right moving supplies, and plenty of them. High-quality boxes, padding, and other packing materials are a good investment.
•Take a room-by-room inventory of everything you will take with you, and get rid of the rest either in a garage sale or by donating it to charity.
•Label each box you pack, and keep a list of its contents to make unpacking easier.
•Set aside a box of items you'll need immediately after you arrive, such as cleaning supplies, kitchen utensils, dinnerware, bath items, tools, and a telephone.
•Have kids pack a box of their favorite things to unload right away at the new house.
Settling in:
Making yourself at home in your new surroundings is about more than unpacking. Try to explore the neighborhood and get acquainted with neighbors right away. Ask about stores, playgrounds, and places of worship, so you don't have to put your life on hold while you familiarize yourself with the area.
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What is an Appraisal?

Appraisals are an Important Part of Your Home Buying Transaction
A real estate appraisal helps to establish a property's market value–the likely sales price it would bring if offered in an open and competitive real estate market.
Your lender will require an appraisal when you ask to use a home or other real estate as security for a loan, because it wants to make sure that the property will sell for at least the amount of money it is lending.
Don't confuse a comparative market analysis, or CMA, with an appraisal. Real estate agents use CMAs to help home sellers determine a realistic asking price. Experienced agents often come very close to an appraisal price with their CMAS, but an appraiser's report is much more detailed--and is the only valuation report a bank will consider when deciding whether or not to lend the money.
About Appraisers and Appraisals
• Appraisers are licensed by individual states after completing coursework and internship hours that familiarize them with their real estate markets.
• The lender might use an appraiser on its staff, or contract with an independent appraiser. If you are allowed to choose the appraiser, and it isn't someone the lender is familiar with, the results might be subject to review before they are accepted
• The appraiser should be an objective third party, someone who has no financial or other connection to any person involved in the transaction.
• The property being appraised is called the subject property.
• You will probably pay for the appraisal when you apply for your loan.
What You'll See on a Residential Appraisal Report.
Appraisals are very detailed reports, but here are a few things they include:
• Details about the subject property, along with side-by-side comparisons of three similar properties.
• An evaluation of the overall real estate market in the area.
• Statements about issues the appraiser feels are harmful to the property's value, such as poor access to the property.
• Notations about seriously flawed characteristics, such as a crumbling foundation.
• An estimate of the average sales time for the property.
• What type of area the home is in (a development, stand alone acreage, etc.).
Residential Appraisal Methods.
There are two common appraisal methods used for residential properties:
Sales Comparison Approach.
The appraiser estimates a subject property's market value by comparing it to similar properties that have sold in the area. The properties used are called comparables, or comps. No two properties are exactly alike, so the appraiser must compare the comps to the subject property, making paperwork adjustments to the comps in order to make their features more in-line with the subject property's.
The result is a figure that shows what each comp would have sold for if it had the same components as the subject.
Cost Approach.
The cost approach is most useful for new properties, where the costs to build are known. The appraiser estimates how much it would cost to replace the structure if it were destroyed.
So What Does the Appraisal Mean to You?
Your personal approval is accomplished early in the loan process, but final loan commitment usually hinges on a satisfactory appraisal. The bank wants to be sure its investment is covered in case you default on the loan.
If the property appraises lower than the sales price, the loan might be declined, but that isn't the only hurdle it must pass. Other facts on the appraisal can be a problem, too:
• The bank probably won't like it if the estimated time to sell the property is longer than the area average.
• If the appraiser notes that entry to the property is from a private, shared road the bank might want to see a road maintenance agreement signed by everyone who uses the road, verifying that maintenance is shared by all parties. Those are just a few examples of negatives that could stall your purchase. The lender will study the appraisal carefully before determining whether or not the property qualifies to serve as security for your loan.
An Appraisal Isn't a Home Inspection!
Appraisers make notations about obvious problems they see, but they are not home inspectors. They do not test appliances, look at the roof, check the chimney or do any other typical home inspection tasks. Never count on an appraisal to help you determine if the home is in good condition.
If the Appraisal Comes in Low.
Don't panic if the appraisal comes in low, because there are often steps you can take to make the deal work. If the appraisal uncovers other problems, remember that most problems are correctable. Try to keep your cool and work through issues one step at a time.
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What is a Title Policy?

For most of us, buying a home will be the single biggest investment we'll ever make. Title insurance provides the means for you to defend the investment in your home by protecting your ownership from legal challenges.
We've listed answers to a few of the commonly asked questions about title searches and title insurance. Please contact us if you have questions we haven't listed.
Q. What is "Title"?
A. Having "Title" to a property means that you are legally recognized as the owner. You are authorized to use the property within the legal restrictions imposed by authorities.
Q. What is Title Insurance?
A. Title Insurance is a policy that protects against possible defects in title documents and potential legal challenges to your ownership or "Title". "Title defects" include errors in deeds, errors in tax records, missing heirs, falsified records and misinterpreted wills. The full list is long. When challenges are made or defects are found, the legal costs to resolve the problems can be enormous. It is possible that you will lose the case.
Q. What Does Title Insurance Cover?
A. Title Insurance protects the policy holder by covering the costs of defending lawsuits challenging the insured title. The title company will resolve the problems or pay the losses incurred by the policy holder up to the amount of the policy.
Q. What are the Different Kinds of Title Insurance?
A. - The Owners Policy: This is the policy that protects the home purchaser. - The Mortgagee's Policy: This is for the lender (bank or other financial institution). Most lending institutions will not loan money for a property unless provided with a mortgagee's policy. - A Leasehold Policy: This is a policy primarily for long term leases by industrial and commercial organizations.
Q. How Much Does Title Insurance Cost?
A. The premium is a one-time payment. The amounts are set by the Insurance commission where the property is located. Premiums vary from state to state. The value of an owner's policy is usually the sale price. It doesn't cover increases in property values unless an "increased value endorsement" is purchased.
Q. What is a Title Search?
A. Before issuing a policy, the title company will check for defects in the title to the property by examining deeds, wills, tax records, liens, mortgages, bankruptcies and other public records. This search determines the current owner(s), any debts owed against the property and the condition of the title.
Q. Does Title Insurance Only Help at the Time of Purchase?
A. No. Not all title defects can be found by even the most diligent title search. Many claims and problems do not arise until months or years after the purchase.
Q. How Long Does Title Insurance Last?
A. An owner's policy is good as long as the owner or their heirs own the property, or remain liable for any warranties to the title when it is sold. If a title is transferred, you should keep the title policy. An owner's policy cannot be transferred to a new owner when the property is sold.
A new owner must buy a new owner's policy.
Q. Is Any Property Insurable?
A. No. Unfortunately, some applications must be refused. If the title search finds the title to be in a "sick" state, the property may be considered uninsurable. In such a case, if is specified in their contract to purchase the property that the title must be good, the buyer can refuse to complete the purchase.
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Choosing a Realtor to Sell Your Home?

Two of the biggest mistakes home sellers make when choosing a listing agent are:
Selecting an agent solely based on:
1.Highest List Price for Your Home
2.Lowest Commission At first glance, a seller might say, "What? Are you nuts?" Because sellers want the highest possible price and to pay the least amount of commission. But those two criterion have very little to do with hiring a competent agent and, in many instances, are completely irrelevant. Let's look at why. The Highest Suggested List Price Agents can't tell you how much your home will sell for. That's a fallacy. A listing agent can show you comparable sales, pending sales and active sales. But YOU choose the sales price and a buyer will tell you if the price is right.
•To get the listing, some agents distort the truth. Since agents can't guarantee your sales price, the listing agent who suggests the highest price is probably untruthful. Ask the agent to show you numbers supporting that suggested list price. They probably won't have them or the home sales will be located in a different neighborhood.
•Look for a listing agent who gives you a range. There is always a price range. It might be apart $10,000 on the low-end versus the high, or the spread might be greater. Many factors determine the range, among which are location, temperature of the market and improvements.
•Pricing is an art. The best time for an offer is within the first 30 days on market. If the home is priced right, you'll get an offer. If it's priced too high, you might not get any showings at all; buyers will shun your home and you'll eventually end up reducing the price, leaving buyers wondering what's wrong with your house. Should You Choose an Agent Based on Commission? Real estate agents are not equal; each is unique. Remember about 10% of the agents do 90% of the business. Each has their own marketing techniques and advertising budget. By choosing an agent with a large advertising budget and company dollars to match it, you will gain greater exposure to the largest number of buyers, which is ideal. Reaching greater numbers of buyers equals better chances of a good offer.
•Why would an agent willingly work for less than competitors? There is always a reason why a broker or real estate agent would discount a real estate fee. Sometimes it's the only way the agent feels it's possible to compete in a highly competitive business, because the agent can't stand apart from the competition on service, knowledge or negotiation skills. If the sole benefit an agent brings to a table is a cheap fee, ask yourself why. Is the agent desperate for business or unqualified? Do you want to work with a desperate agent? Sometimes full-service agents will negotiate a lower commission under special circumstances such as:
•You're buying a home and selling a home at the same time, giving both transactions to one agent.
•You're willing to do all the legwork, advertising, marketing, and pay for expenses related to the sale.
•You promise to refer more business to the agent, which would result in multiple transactions.
•You're selling more than one home.
•You don't have enough equity to pay a full commission.
•The agent accepts you as a pro bono case.
•The agent will lose the listing unless she matches a competitor's fee.
•The agent wants the signage (exposure to traffic) over charging a full commission. If you are interviewing agents who offer similar services and can't decide between them, ask to see a track record of each agent's original list price and final sale numbers. Odds are the lowest-fee agent will show more price reductions and longer DOM. The difference between an agent who charges 5% and 6% is 1%. Ask yourself how you come out ahead if your price ends up being reduced 2% because you chose a lower-fee agent who could not afford to actively market your home. Tip: If your home is located in a hard-to-sell neighborhood, hire an agent who lives in the neighborhood / sells homes in that neighborhood. Don't hire an out-of-area agent who can't adequately tackle the challenge without first-hand knowledge of the area. Importance of Agent Marketing Beyond the expensive car or fancy clothing, a good listing agent lives and dies by marketing. Because marketing sells homes. Ask to review a complete copy of the agent's marketing plan. Precisely, what is the agent going to do to sell your home? Here is the bare-bones minimum you should expect:
•Professional signage, including agent's cell phone number.
•Lockbox. •Daily electronic monitoring of lockbox access.
•Follow-up reports on buyer showings / feedback to the seller.
•Broker previews.
•Incentives for broker / office previews.
•Staging advice.
•Weekly advertising in major newspapers.
•Advertising in local newspapers.
•MLS exposure with 8 to 12 professional photographs.
•Virtual tour.
•Distribution to major Web sites.
•Four-color flyers.
Financing flyers for buyers.
•Minimum of 2 open houses, providing its location is a candidate.
•Direct mail to surrounding neighbors, out-of-area buyers / brokers.
•Exposure at Board of Realtor meetings. •Feedback to sellers on buyer sign calls and buyer showings.
•Updated CMAs after 30 days.
•E-mail feeds of new listings that compete. •Updates on neighborhood facts, trends and recent sales. Remember, no single tactic sells homes. It's a combination of all those methods that sell homes. Characteristics of a Good Listing Agent Here are some of the characteristics sellers say they want in agent:
•Experience. Let new agents learn the business on somebody else's dime.
•Education. Ask about degrees and certifications. •Honesty. Trust your intuition. Your agent should speak from the heart.
•Networking. This is a people business. Some homes sell because agents have contacted other agents.
•Negotiation skills. You want an aggressive negotiator, not somebody out to make a quick sale at your expense.
•Good communicator. Sellers say communication and availability are key.
Finally, ask for a personal guarantee. If the agent won't guarantee performance and release you from a listing upon request, don't hire that agent.
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Setting Your List Price?

 Yes, we do have one main office; our location in Irving, TX has been open since 2004.

Setting the list price for your home involves evaluating various market conditions and financial factors. During this phase of the home selling process, your REALTOR® will help you set your list price based on:
-Pricing considerations
-Comparable sales
- Market conditions
-Offering incentives
- Estimating net proceeds
Pricing considerations:
In setting the list price for your home, you should be aware of a buyer’s frame of mind. Consider the following pricing factors: If you set the price too high, your house won’t be picked for viewing, even though it may be much nicer than other homes on the street. You may have told your REALTOR® to "Bring me any offer. Frankly, I’d take less." But compared to other houses for sale, your home simply looks too expensive to be considered. If you price too low, you'll short-change yourself. Your house will sell promptly, yes, but you may make less on the sale than if you had set a higher price and waited for a buyer who was willing to pay it.
TIP: Never say "asking" price, which implies you don't expect to get it.
Using comparable sales No matter how attractive and polished your house, buyers will be comparing its price with everything else on the market.
Your best guide is a record of what the buying public has been willing to pay in the past few months for property in your neighborhood like yours.
Your REALTOR® can furnish data on sales figures for those "comps", and analyze them for a suggested listing price. The decision about how much to ask, though, is always yours.
The list of comparable sales a REALTOR® brings to you, along with data about other houses in your neighborhood presently on the market, is used for a "Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)." To help in estimating a possible sales price for your house, the analysis will also include data on nearby houses that failed to sell in the past few months, along with their list prices. This CMA differs from a formal appraisal in several ways. One major difference is that an appraisal will be based only on past sales. In addition, an appraisal is done for a fee while the CMA is provided by your REALTOR® and may include properties currently listed for sale and those currently pending sale. In a normal home sale, a CMA is probably enough to let you set a proper price.
A formal written appraisal (which may cost a few hundred dollars) can be useful if you have unique property, if there hasn't been much activity in your area recently, if co-owners disagree about price, or if there is any other circumstance that makes it difficult to put a value on your home.
TIP: If you do order a market value appraisal, make it clear you don't need an elaborate, or full narrative report -- the kind that's complete with photos of the house and neighborhood, a map specifying the site, and floor plans is sufficient.
Consider market conditions:
A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) often includes Days on the Market (DOM) for each comparable house sold. When real estate is booming and prices are rising, houses may sell in a few days. Conversely, when the market slows down, average DOM can run into many months. Your REALTOR® can tell you whether your area is currently a buyer's market or a seller's market. In a seller's market, you can price a bit beyond what you really expect, just to see what the reaction will be. In a buyer's market, if you really need to sell promptly, offer an attractive bargain price.
Your Money:
Make the most of your money. Our Agents can give you information about banking, loans, insurance, taxes, investing and more.
Offering incentives:
Some sellers list at the rock-bottom price they'd really take, because they hate bargaining. Others add on thousands to the estimated market value "just to see what happens." If you want to try that, and if you have the luxury of enough time to feel out the market, sit down with your REALTOR® and work out a schedule in advance. If there haven't been many prospects viewing your home after three weeks, you may need to lower your list price. If that doesn't bring any prospective buyers, you may need to lower your list price again. Plan on doing that regularly until you find a level that attracts buyers. Make a written schedule in advance, before emotion takes over and you're tempted to dig your heels in.
Sometimes cash incentives are as effective as lowering the price, especially in the lower price range where buyers may be "cash poor." You may offer to pay some or all of a buyer's closing costs and discount points required by the buyer's lending institution. If you haven't had much traffic through your house and you’re in a hurry to sell, you may want to add the offer of a bonus to the selling broker, in addition to their commission. An example of the wording for such an offer may be "to the broker who brings a successful offer before Christmas."
Estimating net proceeds:
Once you’ve been given an estimate of market value by your REALTOR®, you can get a rough idea of how much cash you might walk away with when the sale is completed. This can be particularly useful as you start looking for another home to buy. From the estimated sales price, subtract:
Payoff figure on your present loan(s)
Broker's commission
Any prepayment penalty on your mortgage
Attorney's fees, if any
Unpaid property taxes
In addition, your REALTOR® can tell you whether local customs or rules dictate that the buyer or seller to pay for the following items:
Title insurance premium
Transfer taxes
Survey fees
Inspections and repairs for termites and the like
Recording fees
Homeowner Association transfer fees and document preparation
Home protection plan
Natural hazard disclosure report
As far as closing costs are concerned, you and your eventual buyer may agree on any arrangement that suits you, no matter what local practice dictates. Your REALTOR® will assist you in estimating what your final closing costs will be.
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The Worst Home Selling Mistake?

There's a great saying in the real estate business. To succeed in life, you want to be:
■The First Child
■The Second Spouse
■The Third Realtor

But We Want More Money
When the average seller sits down to interview real estate agents , it's easy to get caught up in the excitement over choosing a sales price. More money means more financial opportunities for the homeowner. Perhaps it means the seller can afford to buy a more expensive home, help pay for her child's college education or take that greatly overdue vacation. Unfortunately, uninformed sellers often choose the listing agent who suggests the highest list price, which is the worst mistake a seller can make.
Establishing Value
The truth is it doesn't really matter how much money you think your home is worth. Nor does it matter what your agent thinks or ten other agents just like her. The person whose opinion matters is the buyer who makes an offer. Pricing homes is part art and part science. It involves comparing similar properties, making adjustments for the differences among them, tracking market movements and taking stock of present inventory, all in an attempt to come up with a range of value, an educated opinion. This method is the same way an appraiser evaluates a home. And no two appraisals are ever exactly the same; however, they are generally close to each other. In other words, there is no hard and fast price tag to slap on your home. It's only an educated guess and the market will dictate the price.
Is it Too Low?
Homes sell at a price a buyer is willing to pay and a seller is willing to accept. If a home is priced too low, priced under the competition, the seller should receive multiple offers to drive up the price to market value. So there is little danger in pricing a home too low. The danger lies in pricing it too high and selecting your agent solely on opinion of value.
How It Starts To Go Wrong
The seller of the Spanish home pictured on this page didn't even interview her real estate agents. She plucked the first one off the Internet because, "He looked like such a nice guy." He priced her home at $1.3 million. This agent never heard the local agents chuckling behind his back because he worked in a different city. After 90 days, the listing expired.
Continues To Go Wrong
The next agent, also from another town, listed the home at $1.1 million. Months passed. Eventually the price dropped to just under $900,000. Still no takers. A few lookie-loos, but no serious buyers.
More Than a Year Later
By the time the last agent was hired to list this home, the seller had grown weary and exhausted. It was now 12 months later. Together, the seller and her agent priced the home at $695,000. It immediately sold for all cash. The sad part is the comparable sales in the neighborhood fully justified a price of $835,000, but the home had been on the market for too long at the wrong price, and now the market had softened
Agents Specialize in Expired Listings
There is an agent in my office whose basic real estate practice is comprised of calling sellers of expired listings and relisting them at market value. He sits in a small room with a phone, desk and chair, dialing number after number. Last year he sold more than 34 homes valued at more than $13,600,000, and he has 18 active listings right now. He makes a pretty good living repackaging sellingahouse overpriced homes.
Protect Yourself
The question is how much money have those expired listings cost the sellers? The financial loss often exceeds the extra mortgage payments paid and goes beyond the uncompensated hassle factor of trying to keep a home spotless during showings. It affects the value that a buyer ultimately chooses to pay because it's not a fresh listing anymore. It's now stale, dated, a market-worn home that was overpriced for too long. Don't let it happen to you. Don't be that seller of an expired listing.
TIP: If you do order a market value appraisal, make it clear you don't need an elaborate, or full narrative report -- the kind that's complete with photos of the house and neighborhood, a map specifying the site, and floor plans is sufficient.
Consider market conditions:
A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) often includes Days on the Market (DOM) for each comparable house sold. When real estate is booming and prices are rising, houses may sell in a few days. Conversely, when the market slows down, average DOM can run into many months. Your REALTOR® can tell you whether your area is currently a buyer's market or a seller's market. In a seller's market, you can price a bit beyond what you really expect, just to see what the reaction will be. In a buyer's market, if you really need to sell promptly, offer an attractive bargain price.
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Make the most of your money. Our Agents can give you information about banking, loans, insurance, taxes, investing and more.
Offering incentives:
Some sellers list at the rock-bottom price they'd really take, because they hate bargaining. Others add on thousands to the estimated market value "just to see what happens." If you want to try that, and if you have the luxury of enough time to feel out the market, sit down with your REALTOR® and work out a schedule in advance. If there haven't been many prospects viewing your home after three weeks, you may need to lower your list price. If that doesn't bring any prospective buyers, you may need to lower your list price again. Plan on doing that regularly until you find a level that attracts buyers. Make a written schedule in advance, before emotion takes over and you're tempted to dig your heels in.
Sometimes cash incentives are as effective as lowering the price, especially in the lower price range where buyers may be "cash poor." You may offer to pay some or all of a buyer's closing costs and discount points required by the buyer's lending institution. If you haven't had much traffic through your house and you’re in a hurry to sell, you may want to add the offer of a bonus to the selling broker, in addition to their commission. An example of the wording for such an offer may be "to the broker who brings a successful offer before Christmas."
Estimating net proceeds:
Once you’ve been given an estimate of market value by your REALTOR®, you can get a rough idea of how much cash you might walk away with when the sale is completed. This can be particularly useful as you start looking for another home to buy. From the estimated sales price, subtract:
Payoff figure on your present loan(s)
Broker's commission
Any prepayment penalty on your mortgage
Attorney's fees, if any
Unpaid property taxes
In addition, your REALTOR® can tell you whether local customs or rules dictate that the buyer or seller to pay for the following items:
Title insurance premium
Transfer taxes
Survey fees
Inspections and repairs for termites and the like
Recording fees
Homeowner Association transfer fees and document preparation
Home protection plan
Natural hazard disclosure report
As far as closing costs are concerned, you and your eventual buyer may agree on any arrangement that suits you, no matter what local practice dictates. Your REALTOR® will assist you in estimating what your final closing costs will be.
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