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This is an impressive post that brings out excellent points for both sellers and buyers. These are the kinds of things that we Realtors explain weekly, if not daily. Thank you Cara!
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Don’t go into the buying and selling process blind

As a layperson, you don’t know what you don’t know when it comes to handling the single largest transaction you’ll likely make in your life.

As with most important things in life, you wouldn’t try to handle a legal situation without an attorney, build your own house or take on the IRS solo to challenge a tax matter. Well, buying or selling a home is no different.

Here are 10 reasons you should never buy or sell a home without a agent.

1. Knowledge is not power

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing when it comes to real estate. At the click of a mouse or a tap on your phone, you can get an instant valuation of your property.

Is that value realistic? On which properties is it based? What did those properties have that yours does or does not? What were the dates and details of those sales?

That valuation could be significantly more or less than what your property is actually worth. Just like using the internet to self-diagnose a medical issue is not the best idea, the same applies to real estate.

2. What do you know about the market?

To the above point, as a seller, do you know what other options buyers are likely to consider when they are looking at your home? Do you know who the typical buyer audience is, where they are coming from and how to find them?

Do you know what agents likely work with this group? What is the average number of days on market for homes in your area, and what percentage of the asking price are they getting? Are there any particular terms of sale that are a trend in your area, such as sellers paying closing costs for buyers or other concessions?

As a buyer, what types of properties are most realistic for your price range and the kind of financing you will be doing?

A good agent educates you about “real estate reality” as far as what you can get for your money in your desired areas and criteria that are important to you.

Lastly, whether a buyer or seller, do you know why properties in one particular location sell faster than another? Are there challenges, perceived or real that could affect values?

A stellar agent can prevent you from making an expensive mistake when it comes to buying (such as a home near a soon-to-be-constructed highway or busy railroad tracks — no wonder it was priced so cheap). And alternatively, that same agent can help sellers position their property in the best way when taking into account external factors around it that can affect value.

3. Agents are expert problem-solvers

So what happens when the inspection reveals termites, a roof leak, a house that needs to be replumbed — or worse yet when an inspector paints a picture of a fairly minor repair issue in a far worse light than it is? What happens when an appraisal comes in at less than contract sales price?

These are run-of-the-mill issues that agents face every day. They don’t make our palms sweat and cause us to faint, but instead we stand tall in the face of the myriad challenges this business presents.

My first broker told me, “If you aren’t solving problems, you aren’t selling real estate.” How true this is.

If you are selling your home on your own and encounter these situations, can you prevent the buyer from running for the hills? Do you have a plethora of experts you can call upon, often at a moment’s notice, who can help?

As a buyer, do you really want to be addressing repair items with a seller directly? Sellers are so often in “repair denial,” particularly when they are trying to sell their home on their own — there are never any issues as far as they are concerned.

As a buyer, do you really want to be addressing repair items with a seller directly?

 

4. Overcoming objections is what agents excel at

You are selling your home on your own. Do you have a record of who has come through and when? If they had an agent, who it was and what the buyer thought of it? If they didn’t buy your home, what did they buy instead and why?

A real estate agent with two buyers

That’s what agents working with sellers manage. Are there any themes emerging? If there are concerns that are presenting as a challenge for buyers, do you know how to address them?

Are there ways to combat these objections by providing additional information or consulting with needed designers, contractors, landscapers, the homeowners’ association and so on?

Superstar agents can effectively address objections such as “didn’t like layout” or “needs too much work” and know how to position a property effectively, so buyers go from “just looking” to locking an offer up.

5. Effective negotiation skills are key

As a seller, you received a low offer on the property. Do you make a counteroffer, outright reject it or not respond?

As a buyer, you want to make an offer that asks the seller for everything and the kitchen sink (well, because it’s attached, it conveys as part of the house anyway).

How do you formulate a strategy? Do you know your opponent and have you gathered much intelligence about them? How much should you offer or counteroffer?

Does your response risk alienating the other side? What about more than one offer? How do you facilitate, manage and negotiate effectively to keep all interested buyers in play?

The negotiation landscape can get complex, which is why a third party is always beneficial in acting as a buffer zone to separate emotion from facts and work to reach an objective outcome.

6. Preventive medicine equals more money in your pockets

The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly applies when it comes to real estate because surprise is never a good thing when it comes to buying or selling.

Surprise is never a good thing when it comes to buying or selling.

A good agent walks you through the necessary steps before you start your property search or put your property on the market.

As a buyer, there are certain things you must do before starting your property search, such as getting prequalified — preferably preapproved — so you don’t waste time looking at properties that aren’t a match, and so that you don’t waste a seller’s time coming through a home that you cannot afford.

As a seller, are there items that should be addressed before putting your property on the market? Should you get a pre-listing inspection, and are there any repair items that need to be taken care of?

What about staging or editing your furnishings and decor? What items make the most sense for you to address to position your home for maximum exposure?

Do you need a floor plan created for your home? Is there any pertinent information you need to pull together that is critical for the sale?

In short, a top-notch agent guides you on critical steps you need to take before stepping into the market that will save you time, headaches and hassle when an offer comes through.

7. Marketing expertise is needed to sell your home

Image is everything when it comes to real estate, and a poorly presented property is like showing up at the Oscars without using a stylist.

Do you have access to the right photographers, video producers, stagers and interior designers to make your property shine?

Although you might think marketing your property on your own is easy, there is a difference between playing photographer and hiring someone with an objective, critical eye for what kind of marketing will attract the right buyers.

Are you able to find the money shot? What photos are going to best present the property? Should a drone be used, and for which shots?

Are you able to create a video to effectively tell your property’s story and how to best find that story and articulate it? What kind of marketing collateral can you prepare that’s going to communicate the features, benefits and advantages of your property over another effectively, and how is that collateral going to be distributed?

Do you have access to vendors that might be able to offer incentives or discounts for buyers who could benefit from their services with the new home?

A poorly presented property is like showing up at the Oscars without using a stylist.

8. Social network exposure is unmatched

Can you broadcast your property across numerous websites and various social media networks to pique buyer and agent interest — locally, nationally and possibly internationally?

Are you able to reach hundreds, thousands or even more with the click of a mouse? Are you able to use predictive analytics and targeted digital marketing to put your property in front of the right prospects? A top agent is skilled in making your property go viral in just seconds.

A top agent is skilled in making your property go viral in just seconds.

 

9. Agents have mad connections

Real estate agents are connected to just about everyone and everything. The three degrees of separation rule applies here.

Agents are constantly in the know — it’s their job to be. They leverage their relationships with real estate related service providers, lenders — and, most importantly, other agents — to help bring the sale together.

Agents exchange and share advice and ideas that can help one another, and by networking and information-sharing, they help bridge the gap between for sale and sold.

They also have access to properties that are not officially on the market and often know deals not advertised that builders might be offering in terms of discounts or specials that can help save you money.

Need a handyman or a really good painter? Ask your agent about the contacts he or she has, and get hooked up with great providers.

10. Trusted advice and an available point person are a seller’s best friend

Who else can you go to with a question or concern almost any time of the day or night? Yes, as much as we don’t like to admit it, there is no such thing as office hours for real estate.

A good real estate agent is your trusted adviser every step of the way, and unlike your attorney or accountant, you won’t get charged for every phone call or email.

Who else can you unload your qualms, fears and worries upon regarding the buying and selling process? When your peanut gallery of friends, family and co-workers are giving you confusing advice, who can you trust for objective information to make the best possible decision?

Don’t go into the buying and selling process blind. Let a real estate professional be your guide so that you can celebrate this incredible milestone without worry, knowing that the heavy lifting and problem-solving was done for you.

Cara Ameer is a broker associate and Realtor with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. 

 

539 Baywood Dr S

Selling a home is a very complicated process-more complicated and costly than homeowners realize resulting lower sales prices, hidden fees and taking more time to sell. Sometimes homeowners can not fully understand reports that they have found on the Internet or the information that homeowners receive from well meaning friends & family may not be completely accurate, which can result in under pricing or over pricing their home. Sometimes homeowners are not aware of the latest changes in the law, which forms are now required or the time constraints required. Here are a few good reasons, For Sale By Owners should consider using a Realtor to represent them in the sale of their home.

1. For Sale By Owner (FSBO) homes generally sell for less

In 2015, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) report, FSBOs lost about 16% of the sales price with a median selling price of $210,000 (Realtor-assisted homes sold for $249,000). If the seller sold to someone that they knew, the median dropped to $151,900. 

  • Eighty-seven percent of buyers recently purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker.
  • Eighty-eight percent of buyers would use their agent again or recommend their agent to others.
  • Only eight percent (down from nine percent) of recent home sales were FSBO sales. This is the lowest share recorded since this report started in 1981.

Homeowners don’t realize how much time & effort it takes throughout the complicated process, may not understand market reports and don’t have the resources & connections to market the property properly-on the Internet & to other Realtors who may bring the buyer.

2. For Sale By Owners spend more time on the market

Unless the homeowner knows someone who wants to buy their home, FSBOs take longer to sell than homes listed with a Realtor. On average, 18% of For Sale By Owner homes were unable to sell within their expected time and took a year to sale.

3. Paperwork can be overwhelming

According to 2015 National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers finding & understanding all of the paperwork was one of the most difficult tasks for the sellers, especially without the guidance of a Realtor. Depending on the state, there are a many legal forms that are required, including but not limited to a sales contract, property disclosures, occupancy agreements and lead paint records. Also how the escrow must be held in their state.

4. Marketing is limited when owners sell their own home

For sale by owners have limited resources to market their homes. The 2015 NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers showed 42 percent use only a yard sign, 32 percent rely on friends and family, and about 15 percent use social media. Even paying to just be on the MLS listing isn’t enough because it doesn’t go on real estate companies’ websites & their various Internet connections. It also is not sent out to other Realtors, offices or discussed at Realtor Networking events or at “pitch” sessions. These are just a few of the many resources that professionals have at their fingertips. 

5. Hidden costs can add up

Most For Sale By Owners’ first thought is about saving money. But they usually don’t realize they will be paying for a lot of extras: signs, flyers, photography, MLS listing, attorney (required in multiple states for FSBOs), home warranty (optional but hard to sell FSBO without one), home inspection, a wood destroying pest inspection, credit report for buyers (if applicable), contracts and the list goes on. The marketing costs are generally included in the Realtor’s commission.

6. Inspections can be problematic

Homeowners may not know which inspection companies are fully licensed & which inspections are required. Some states require a general home inspection, wind mitigation, 4 point and/or a wood destroying pest report. Homeowners who don’t know the rules may have unnecessary and costly repairs as well. A Realtor can advise & negotiate on the necessary repairs.

7. Liability is all on the seller

Everyone makes mistakes. A seller (or buyer) who doesn’t have the representation of a licensed agent pays for those mistakes. So if homeowner lists something as a feature and the buyer notices that this is incorrect, chances are the seller is going to pay for that mistake. A Listing Agent would have corrected the mistake before the home was listed. A Buyer’s Agent would have pointed out the mistake to the buyer, which could result in a lower price on the home.

8. Horrible as it sounds, scams can happen

Common scams include fraudulent papers (appraisals, loan documentation), fraudulent escrow deposit information, foreign buyer deposits (scammer sends too much in a bad check and then requests a refund), purchases through a third-party (a fake attorney, etc.) and asking for personal information to be used for identity theft.

9. Time costs the seller money

How much time does the homeowner plan to take to fully market the home? How much time does the homeowner plan to take off from work? Is the homeowner willing & able to answer calls from buyers at all times of the day & night? What will it cost & how much time will it take for an attorney to review the contract, if they choose one. How will the homeowner show the home, screen the buyers for safety, screen for qualified buyers, set up an escrow account, and maintain a marketing campaign? A For Sale By Owner home will take a homeowner a whole lot longer to sell. Homeowners don’t have the expertise or the access to the resources agents have.

 These are just some of the issues that For Sale By Owner must address but there may be more.Realtors can save sellers time, money, liability and hassle while guiding them through this ever-changing complicated process.

 

Pinellas Realtor Organization

 

 

NEIGHBORHOOD ADVOCATES INITIATIVE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida Realtors® recently released the 2016 first quarter (January through March) real estate market statistics for the state. I wanted to be sure you had an overview of how our area is performing.

The single family homes real estate markets in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco Counties are looking very strong for the first quarter of 2016. Higher median sales prices, more closed sales, and faster time to contract are all good news for sellers.

Decreasing inventory and lower Median Days to Contract mean fewer homes on the market and a likelihood of more competition for buyers.

As your local Realtor® and Neighborhood Advocate, I am your resource for data that affects our communities and your property value. Homeownership affordability and accessibility is a cornerstone of the Realtor® advocacy efforts at every level – local, state and national.

Here are some highlights from the Florida Realtors® Quarter 1 2016 Statistics Release for the Single Family Home Market Segment:

  • Closed Sales: Up for Pinellas County, Hillsborough County and Pasco County for Quarter 1 2016 from Quarter 1 2015. This statistic is a good indicator of the overall health of the market, and lots of closed sales mean both sellers and buyers are achieving success.
    • Pinellas County: 3,167 Closed Sales Q1 2016 vs. 3,021 Closed Sales Q1 2015, a 4.8% increase
    • Hillsborough County: 3,934 Closed Sales Q1 2016 vs. 3,773 Closed Sales Q1 2015, a 4.3% increase
    • Pasco County: 2,184 Closed Sales Q1 2016 vs. 2,082 Closed Sales Q1 2015, a 4.9% increase
  • Median Sale Price: Up for Pinellas County, Hillsborough County and Pasco County for Quarter 1 2016 from Quarter 1 2015. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half the homes sold for less.
    • Pinellas County: $195,000 Median Sale Price Q1 2016 vs. $163,319 Median Sale Price Q1 2015, a 19.4% increase
    • Hillsborough County: $200,000 Median Sale Price Q1 2016 vs. $178,000 Median Sale Price Q1 2015, a 12.4% increase
    • Pasco County: $157,025 Median Sale Price Q1 2016 vs. $137,525 Median Sale Price Q1 2015, a 14.2% increase
  • Inventory (Active Listings): Down for Pinellas County, Hillsborough County and Pasco County for Quarter 1 2016 from Quarter 1 2015. When inventory is low, there are fewer houses on the market and buyers are often competing for homes or have a tougher time finding a home that suits their exact needs. Flexibility and preparation are key to being able to make an offer on a home when you do find what you’re looking for.
    • Pinellas County: 4,015 Active Listings Q1 2016 vs. 4,470 Active Listings Q1 2015, down 10.2%
    • Hillsborough County: 5,098 Active Listings Q1 2016 vs. 5,454 Active Listings Q1 2015, down 6.5%
    • Pasco County: 2,759 Active Listings Q1 2016 vs. 3,344 Active Listings Q1 2015, down 17.5%
  • Median Days to Contract: Down for Pinellas County, Hillsborough County and Pasco County for Quarter 1 2016 from Quarter 1 2015. The midpoint of the number of days it took for a property to receive a sales contract during that time. The faster a home goes to contract, the less time it is on the market for sale. Another good indicator for sellers and a tool for buyers to understand how to thrive in a hot market.
    • Pinellas County: 36 Days Q1 2016 vs. 49 Days Q1 2015, a 26.5% decrease
    • Hillsborough County: 46 Days Q1 2016 vs. 58 Days Q1 2015, a 20.7% decrease
    • Pasco County: 44 Days Q1 2016 vs. 59 Days Q1 2015, a 25.4% decrease
If you would like to discuss the market statistics further, or would like me to keep you informed, I would welcome the opportunity to provide monthly stats for you. Please don’t hesitate to email me at AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com or call me at 727-804-6566 if I can be of service. Thank you so much!

© 2016 Pinellas Realtor Organization

There are three dominant trends in real estate that sellers should be aware of going into the new year. CNNMoney recently asked industry insiders to share what will be important when it comes to selling a home in 2016. Do you agree?

  1. A seller’s market dominates. Home prices have been climbing so much that they’re even matching their 2006 highs. Seller’s markets are more dominant in certain cities such as San Francisco, where bidding wars are widely reported and offers go well above asking price. “The more lucrative a region’s economic future appears to be, the easier you can expect it to be to sell a home,” according to the article.
  2. Mortgages will get pricier. Low mortgage rates have been the standard in the last few years, but that will soon change. The Federal Reserve is gradually beginning to raise rates, which will move mortgage rates higher and dampen affordability. Sellers should be aware that it may become more difficult for prospective buyers to secure financing.
  3. Tax benefits still abound. The largest tax break for ordinary taxpayers who qualify remains the exclusion on capital gains for the sale of personal residences. Single taxpayers are able to exclude a maximum of $250,000 in gains from the sale of a home. Joint filers get double that: $500,000.

Source: “Selling a Home in 2016? Here’s What You Need to Know,” CNNMoney/Motley Fool

Estoppel-Postcard_Front

January 2016-Here’s an upcoming issue for homeowners in Florida.

When you’re selling or refinancing your home, if you’re part of a condo association or a homeowners’ association, you need to provide the buyer or lender with something called an “estoppel certificate”. That is a statement of your financial status with the association: Are you current on your association dues? Are there any liens on your home? Since buyers and lenders don’t want to be surprised, providing them with an estoppel certificate is reasonable and a good business practice.

Florida law does allow condo and homeowner associations to charge a “reasonable” fee to prepare one of these estoppel certificates. The issue is what exactly is “reasonable”.

Condo and homeowner associations are required by law to maintain current records of any assessments or liens on the properties they oversee. So the work required to put together an estoppel certificate is fairly minimal. Many associations charge a reasonable fee – $50 or $100 – to provide the certificate. Others, however, have turned this into a revenue stream, charging over $1,000 in some cases to provide a simple piece of paper.

Well, during the 2015 session, Rep. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) and Rep. John Wood (R-Winter Haven) have introduced bills to cap the amount charged by condo and homeowner associations. They’re looking to reintroduce that bill in the 2016 session. The pertinent facts are:

  • $200 cap on fees for any homeowner who is not delinquent on paying association dues and fees;
  • Up to an additional $200 if the homeowner is delinquent; and
  • Up to $100 for an expedited certificate.

Plus, the bill would require associations to provide the estoppel certificate within 10 days, and have the certificate be valid for 30 days.

On the one hand, this seems like a no-brainer to ensure that consumers aren’t being overcharged. $1,000 just to prepare a piece of paper, with information the association already has, does seem like a stretch. On the other hand, there are people who wonder if this isn’t just another example of government intervention and regulation into private businesses. And of course, there are people who think that the bill doesn’t go far enough: even $200 cap seems too high for them.

If you’re a homeowner who belongs to a condo or homeowner association, I’d love to get your take on this. You can email me at AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com or call me at 727-804-6566.

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 I came across this article the other day at http://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com & thought it was definitely worth sharing.

Selling Your Home? The Importance of Using an Agent

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Selling Your Home? The Importance of Using an Agent | Keeping Current Matters

When a homeowner decides to sell their house, they obviously want the best possible price with the least amount of hassles. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is to actually get the home sold.

In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed the purchaser’s behavior during the home buying process. For the past two years, 92% of all buyers have used the internet in their home search according to the National Association of Realtors’ most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers.

However, the report also revealed that for the second year in a row 96% percent of buyers that used the internet when searching for a home purchased their home through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% purchased their home directly from a seller whom the buyer didn’t know.

Buyers search for a home online but then depend on an agent to find the actual home they will buy (53%) or negotiate the terms of the sale & price (31%) or understand the process (63%).

Stephen Phillips, the Chief Operating Officer for HSF Affiliates LLC, put it best:

“Home buyers are more informed than ever with their Internet searches and ongoing research; however, there’s a critical need to transform that information into analysis and advice that helps consumers make the best home-buying and selling decisions.

The plethora of information now available has resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers that reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots”. This is obvious as the percentage of overall buyers who used an agent to buy their home has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling your home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process.

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

(727) 804-6566
AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com

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