Published On: July 14, 2011
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It took two years, but Kerry Tramel and his wife Vy finally sold their four bedroom home in Moore, Oklahoma last December.
In the process, Tramel learned a lot about how to sell—and buy—a house in a devastated real estate market.
"We paid $350,000 for it and that's what we sold if for," says Tramel, who heads a local mattress manufacturer. "I was going to do everything I could not to lose on it."
The two-story house with 3,300 square feet was originally offered at $379,000. Tramel admits he could have sold the home right away if he was willing to take less money.
"I passed up an offer of $350,000 one month after it was listed by the agent," says Tramel, who has two young children. "I thought we might be able to get more, but we didn't."
As the housing market struggles to punch its way out of an economic collapse, selling a home these days might seem like an impossible task. But some houses, like Tramel's, can be sold. It just takes patience, a little luck, and a willingness to lower your price.
Even then, it's not always under your control. A key factor still appears to be that time-worn principle—location.
"It's really based on where foreclosures and falling prices haven't hit too hard," says Mary Cassidy, a real estate agent with Bronxville/Ley Real Estate in Westchester County, New York. "Housing's hurting, but there is activity."
Areas that saw the biggest gains from the housing boom are still the slowest to recover.
"For places like Las Vegas, and Phoenix where foreclosures are still happening, home sales are going to take a long time to recover," says Bob Walters, chief economist at QuickenLoans.com. "Other areas of the U.S. have OK sales, like the middle of the country or the East Coast."
While waiting for a buyer for their house, Tramel says he and Vy became "professional house shoppers" and learned how to be a buyer as well. They saw more than 90 properties.
"We were doing both at the same time, buying and selling," Tramel says.
In the process, Tramel picked up a lot about the local real estate market.
"I noticed we didn't have the runup in homes prices that other areas of the country did and we didn't have a lot of foreclosures," Tramel adds. "Home prices haven't had that far to fall, at least from what I can see."
Eventually, Tramel found a buyer. They were renting out their current home and looking for another place to live.
"They had been looking for a long time and knew it was a buyer's market," Tramel says. "But once they knew my price was at the lowest it was going to be, we negotiated on other items such as what may stay in the house. That's how we worked things out."
That allowed Tramel and his family to find for a new home themselves.
"We found a house just a few miles away in Norman that I really loved and we put in a low bid. We put in another offer but nothing happened."
Tramel used Halloween to break the impasse.
"I purposely took my two boys to the neighborhood for trick-or-treating and I saw the owner on the porch of the house we wanted," Tramel says. "I said, 'I'm trying to buy your house' and he said 'We'd love to sell it to you. Why don't you call and we'll work it out.' So that's what we did. The real estate agents still got their commissions and we got what we wanted."
What Tramel got was a 3,900 square foot house for $475,000 that included a home entertainment theatre. It had been on the market for just two months. Tramel says the owner took a loss but was willing to do that in order to move. After both parties came to an agreement, it was just a matter of closing the deal.
"I put 20 percent down and had to go through requirements for the loan with a local mortgage banker, but it was not really that bad a process," Tramel says. "The people that bought my house got a VA loan without any down payment. Not sure how that will work out, but I intend to stay in my house for a long time. I hate moving."
While Tramel was able to move up in price and space, other sellers are looking for a way to downsize.
Published On: November 12, 2009
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Home Selling Tips & Advice
Ready to sell your home? Sellers that take a hands-on approach are in a better position to accomplish their goals. Whether you're selling your home for the first time, or you're a real estate veteran, you may want to consider adopting the following suggestions:
Setting the Right Price for Your Home
A key part of the marketing plan is setting the list price. If a home is priced too low, you won’t benefit from the optimal profit. If a home is priced too high, potential buyers may be scared away. To determine the best asking price review the cost of recently sold homes, evaluate the competition and study marketplace trends. CENTURY 21 Sales Associates are trained to use this information to help you reach the right asking price. It is also helpful to discuss other terms and conditions, such as timing and items that can be included with the sale of the home. Both of these can make your home more attractive to potential buyers.
Location: You can't get away from this one. If your house is located in a desirable area that is in demand, you will be able to get a higher price than you can for the same house in a less desirable area.
Condition: A house that has been better maintained and shows better will always sell for more than one that has had deferred (neglected) maintenance and needs work.
Desirable amenities: If a house has amenities that are currently popular in the marketplace, it will bring a higher price.
Calculate the price per square foot: The average price per square foot for homes in your neighborhood shouldn't be the sole determinant of the asking price for your home, but it can be a useful starting point. Keep in mind that various methodologies can be used to calculate square footage.
A formal written appraisal 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. Appraisers consider the location of the home, its proximity to desirable schools and other public facilities, the size of the lot, the size and condition of the home itself and recent sales prices of comparable properties, among other factors.
Create a Marketing Plan for Your Home
Selling can entail a variety of marketing strategies. Once listed, it's likely that the home will be quickly entered into the local MLS (Multiple Listing System) and placed on Century21.com. Much of an agent’s work will be quiet and unseen – yet important. The quiet telephone calls, the work with contacts, arranging for and marketing open houses, the follow-ups with open-house visitors, conversations with ad respondents, web postings and other outreach efforts are all part of the process required to sell homes.
Your agent will create a marketing plan for your home that will help distinguish it in your local marketplace and attract buyers to your property. This may include posting your listing on the Internet, holding an open house and more. Your CENTURY 21 Sales Professionals often use the CENTURY 21 Customized Marketing System to create a personalized selling program for clients. Its purpose is to sell a home at the best price possible in the shortest amount of time.
Showing Your Home for Sale
Although the buyer is a guest in your home, you want the buyer to imagine owning the home. You don't want to make the buyer feel like an intruder.
Now it's time to get your home ready for the spotlight. Start with a good cleaning, then eliminate any clutter, add a fresh coat of paint and tidy up the yard. Talk to one of our Century 21 Realty Alliance Associates about other tips that can help boost a home's curb appeal and impress potential buyers once they're in the door. One way to make a home more attractive is to purchase a Home Protection Plan. This insurance protects you, the seller, from paying repair or replacement costs of major items during the listing period. It also protects the buyer during their first year of homeownership.
Check the Temperature
If weather permits, open the windows -- if there is too much noise outside, close them. And if it's cold enough to wear a sweater to stay warm, turn on the heat. You want the temperature inside to be comfortable and to give the buyer more of a reason to linger, especially on hot or cold days!
Create a Mood Light
A fire in the fireplace, and if you have water fountains, turn them on. They are especially useful for drowning out traffic noise.
Play Up the Visual
Open all the window coverings to let in light. Keep blinds partially closed that otherwise show undesirable outdoor scenery such as a dilapidated fence or a nearby structure that obstructs views. If you have seasonal photographs showcasing flower gardens, leaves bursting in color or a snow-covered lawn twinkling from street lights, then display them in a prominent position. Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights. Brighten dark rooms with few windows by placing spot lights on the floor behind furniture.
Negotiating the Real Estate Deal
When a buyer is ready to make you an offer they will contact you or your agent to let you know. Buyers should present their offer formally with a contract to purchase and sale. These documents can be obtained from the buyers or sellers agent, lawyer, or notary. If you are going to use their services to review the contract, and later transfer the property title to the successful buyer, they will happily supply you with some blank copies for free. It is also advisable to review one to become familiar with a typical real estate purchase and sale contract.
Most home buyers and home sellers want to arrive at a win-win agreement, but that's not to say either side would regret getting a bigger “win” than the other. Successful negotiating is more than a matter of luck or natural talent. It also encompasses the learned ability to use certain skills and techniques to bring about those coveted win-win results.
Start with a fair price and a fair offer
There's no question that significantly overpricing your home will turn off potential buyers. Likewise, on the buying side, making an offer that's far lower than the asking price is practically guaranteed to alienate the sellers. Asking and offering prices should be based on recent sales prices of comparable homes.
Respect the other side's priorities
Knowing what's most important to the person on the other side of the negotiating table can help you avoid pushing too hard on hot or sensitive issues. For example, a seller who won't budge on the sales price might be willing to pay more of the transaction costs or make more repairs to the home, while a buyer with an urgent move-in date might be willing to pay a higher portion of the transaction costs or forgo some major repairs.
Be prepared to compromise
"Win-win" doesn't mean both the buyer and the seller will get everything they want. It means both sides will win some and give some. Rather than approaching negotiations from an adversarial winner-take-all perspective, focus on your top priorities and don't let your emotions overrule your better judgment.
Real Estate Closing
Closing-- or settlement or escrow -- is essentially a meeting where the closing agent (the party who conducts settlement) takes in money from the buyers, pays out money to the owner and makes sure that the purchaser's title is properly recorded in local records along with any mortgage liens. All papers have been prepared by closing agents, title companies, lenders and lawyers. This paperwork reflects the sale agreement and allows all parties to the transaction to verify their interests. For instance, buyers get the title to the property, lenders have their loans recorded in the public records and state governments collect their transfer taxes.
The closing agent reviews the sale agreement to determine what payments and credits the owner should receive and what amounts are due from the buyer. The closing agent also assures that certain transaction costs are paid (taxes and title searches).
Closing is also the time when "adjustments" will be made. For instance, suppose you've pre-paid taxes four months in advance. In this case, the closing agent will compensate you for the prepayment at closing by having the buyer pay you additional money.
It could also work in reverse. If you are behind on property taxes, the closing agent will reduce the money due to you at settlement by the amount of the unpaid taxes.
Published On: November 12, 2009
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Home Buying Tips
Many people find the process of buying a home a little daunting and sometimes overwhelming. You're not alone. No two buying experiences are the same, but these home buying tips provide an idea of the different steps you may encounter when buying a home.
Despite recent slowdowns in some markets, housing remains a good long-term investment, and demographic demand favors housing over the longer term. Homeownership offers immediate benefits and long-term value. Homeowners accumulate wealth for the future while enjoying the benefits of a shelter that they can use, improve and sell.
And our Century 21 Realty Alliance associates are ready to help you make an informed decision to get you on your path home.
Contact us at 650-558-5200
Download our Consumer Confidence brochure by going to http://www.century21.com/pdfs/buyercontent/consumerconfidencebrochure.pdf to gain a better understanding of what to expect in the home buying process. For your convenience, helpful resources are also included in this brochure.
You will learn:
-Why is Real Estate Still One of the Best Investments You Can Make?
-Is Now the Right Time For Your New Home Purchase?
-How Much Can You Afford?
-What is Right For You?