Realty Trac

Thursday, November 1, 2012

3545 Nettle Creek

Take a look at this gorgeous home.  Click the link below!

3545 Nettle Creek

New Listing!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Make a Home Sellers Checklist

Here is some valuable information for home sellers from a professional home stager:

Make a Home Sellers Checklist
By Anne Bourne

There is much more to selling a home than putting a For Sale sign on your lawn. Making a seller's checklist is a good start to help you stay organized.

Check the Numbers

Once you know the payoff of your mortgage, you can estimate the amount you'll need to make a profit. Make a list of all potential costs and add up the numbers. Allow fees for a title search and other legal documents. A percentage of the sale goes to the agent. If there are major repairs to make prior to closing, figure in the cost. Allow a contingency fund for unexpected expenses.

Consider a Home Inspection 

Once an offer is accepted, the buyer typically requests and pays for a home inspection. If you pay for an inspection prior to the sale, it serves many purposes. In addition to assuring the buyers your home is a solid investment, it allows you the opportunity to make necessary repairs. If a potential buyer is considering two properties, having an official home inspection in hand could influence the decision. It can save time for both parties.

Set the Right Price 

Your real estate agent will get an appraisal on your property and find comparable listings in your neighborhood. After looking at details of those listings such as the number of days on the market, any price reductions, and different features of the homes, your agent will advise an appropriate price range. Finding the right price is important. If you set the price too high, some buyers won't consider viewing your home. If you set it lower than the appraised value, you take the chance of getting low offers. But, you may also get multiple bids to drive the price up. In any case, you can reject any offers or make a counter offer.

Take Advantage of Marketing 

Although your agent handles official advertising, you can help promote the property. Social networking or free Internet listing services can help you advertise. Posting flyers where you do business or listing on community bulletin boards can get a buyer's attention. Word of mouth is also a good way to relay information.

Agree on Showings 

Besides organizing for open houses, let your agent know times when it's not okay to show your home. If you are hosting a party or gone on vacation, your agent needs to know. It's a good idea to check in every week to share arrangements for viewings and other important information. A professional agent can handle many details. But, as the homeowner you need to keep track of the necessary steps required to sell your home.

Anne Bourne and her team from StagingWorks are professional home stagers for those looking to get the most value from their property when selling in the greater Toronto area. Anne has been featured as an expert home stager in the newspapers the National Post and the Globe and Mail, and on the television shows CityTV News and On The Money.
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Friday, August 31, 2012

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ethics - A Two Way Street

The subject of ethics and ethical behavior is a sensitive one.  In real estate, with such large transactions being involved, there needs to be the expectation that everyone involved is acting in an ethical manner.

Realtors are bound by a strict Code of Ethics and risk significant penalties should they fail to adhere to this code.  These penalties can include monetary damages and the loss of their license.  That's not to say that everyone working as a licensed realtor is 100% ethical.  That would be an unrealistic assumption.  However, there are guidelines in place to prevent unethical behavior and to punish those that are found to have breached that code.

Clients, however, have no written code that they must adhere to.  As a realtor, I have to assume that everyone I work with is being completely honest and aboveboard.  In 99 out of 100 cases, that is true.  Every now and then, though, a situation will arise where information is provided that is patently false.  Or, in other scenarios, a client will omit certain facts that ultimately have a bearing on the transaction.  One result is that the transaction doesn't close and money and time is wasted.

Another result is something that I am currently experiencing.  Sellers sign listing agreements that provide written evidence of the relationship between the client and the realtor.  During the term of that agreement, the seller cannot reach out to another agent (nor would another agent want to be in contact with the seller - see Code of Ethics above).  It's clearly defined and easy to manage.

The actions of buyers, on the other hand, are not so clearly defined, unless a realtor compels a new client to sign an Exclusive Buyer's Agreement.  I, personally, have chosen not to go that route.  I find it to be oft-putting to the client when they show up to see their first house only to find a legal document thrust in their hand by a person they have never met before, asking for their signature.  It has been my experience that, once I meet the client and we've made a connection, that trust has been established.  As I said, that's true in 99 out of a 100 cases.

Some clients are truly unaware of the reciprocal process of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and believe, for example, that they need to talk to a RE/MAX agent to see RE/MAX homes and a Century 21 agent to see what they have to offer.  Once I explain the MLS and how it works - that all agents have access to everyone's MLS-listed homes, it usually isn't a problem after that.  If they continue to contact multiple agents at that point, I can only assume that they have some ulterior motive.

The frustrating point is that a client can choose to work with any agent they choose.  If at some point they no longer feel comfortable with that agent or aren't happy with the service the agent is providing, then they have the right to look elsewhere.  It's the client who has two agents working simultaneously, unbeknownst to each other, who I really find bothersome.  These are the clients who will call the first agent about seeing a house on Saturday afternoon, only to find out the agent is already booked for that time period.  The client then turns around and calls the 2nd agent to make the appointment.

This situation can go on for a long time, with both agents putting in countless hours and driving untold miles while trying to help "their " client.  The matter is discovered when the client has one of the agents submit an offer that is accepted.  Only one of the agents is on the contract and is due the commission.  The other agent (in this case ME) is shut out and receives nothing for the work done to that point.  

There are remedies for this, however.  Negotiations between brokerage firms many times result in a split of commission.  Or, if all else fails, arbitration by the real estate board can resolve the issue.  However, both agents were fully expecting to receive the full commission once they closed and now are in a battle to get the maximum split they can.  Both end up with a really bad taste in their mouth.  The client, however, happily closes on their property and moves on.  The commission is paid by the seller, so they don't even have to worry about it.

My recommendation to prospective buyers:  choose a realtor, meet with them and, if you like how they work and they are responsive, work solely with them and they will help you find your dream home.  There is no advantage in working with multiple agents as we all have access to the same properties.  If, however, you aren't happy with your realtor, be upfront and tell them so. It doesn't have to be a loud, emotional discussion.  You have the right to work with anyone you choose.  Your buying experience will be much smoother and when you finally get handed the keys at the closing table, you will have gained a trusted professional that you may choose to work with again, or to refer to your family and friends.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Using a Realtor

This subject gets pondered a lot, by both buyers and sellers.  I want to address it, but I want to disclose upfront that I am a realtor, so my perspective will be somewhat biased.

If you are purchasing a new home, I would always, ALWAYS recommend using the services of a realtor.  First of all, and this may be your most important reason, you do not pay for any of the services provided.  That's because the realtors on both sides of the transaction are paid by the seller as part of their Listing Fee.  

Beyond any economic reasons, however, a realtor will have access to every property for sale that is listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for your area.  Simply by providing a few details about what you are looking for and where, a realtor can literally make hundreds of homes available to you for your review (depending on how specific your parameters are).  That gives you the chance to review the list from the comfort of your home and weed out those properties that don't suit your needs.  If any questions are raised during your research, your realtor will be the one to track down the answers for you..

When you have narrowed down your selection and have chosen properties you'd actually like to visit, working with a realtor is key.  Most sellers that list their home, do so in order to make sure that their home is being shown to "real" buyers being accompanied by a licensed real estate professional.  For convenience, most listings provide for a lockbox or Sentrilock box for secure access to the home.  Obtaining the lockbox code will be impossible unless you are a licensed realtor.  Homes that are being sold by the owner (FSBO's) are a different matter and I will get into that later in this post.

The buying process includes a number of steps that a realtor can not only facilitate, but expedite, as well.  Once a buyer has decided on a property, the realtor can prepare your offer documents (contracts, addenda, disclosures, etc.) for your signature and present them to the seller.  One your offer is accepted, your realtor can guide you through the process to a successful close of escrow.  This will include having the home inspected, the attorney review of the contracts and the processing of your mortgage financing.  If a buyer doesn't have access to an attorney, lender or home inspector, a realtor will be able to provide references for those services.

Your realtor can also provide significant help in the negotiating process.  They know the current market and can tell you whether the home is priced accordingly.  They will also be able to assess the market value of the home based on its condition or any upgrades the seller has made.

From a buyer's perspective, it only makes sense to utilize the services of a professional as you search for your dream home.  This is especially true when you consider that you pay no fee for those services.  

As a seller, the decision becomes a bit more complicated.  Many sellers are discovering that the market value of their home is not as much as they had hoped and they have to sharpen their pencils in order to break even.  When you consider a realtor may charge a listing fee of anywhere from 4-6%, the list of costs to sell your home, after the payoff of your mortgage, can make that break even point difficult to attain.

The advantages to listing your home with a realtor are myriad.  They include, but are not limited to, the accurate analysis of your home's market value, the Open Houses, staging recommendations, signage, Multiple Listing Service inclusion and, most of all,  the extensive marketing of the home (THE most important advantage). 

If a homeowner decides to sell their home by themselves (FSBO or For Sale By Owner), all these costs are borne by the seller.  Obviously, the marketing becomes the most costly item.  Putting a For Sale sign in your yard and paying for a 2" x 2" ad in your local newspaper will not reach the amount of prospective buyers needed to sell your home in a reasonable amount of time.  The speed at which a home is sold is directly proportionate to the amount of buyers that view the home.  A realtor's marketing campaign, if effective, can produce a consistent stream of showings.  Showings produce offers and offers lead to successful closings.

In the final analysis, a seller has to look at their net proceeds to determine the viability of listing with a realtor.  Even with all the advantages listed above, if a seller has to bring money to the closing table, that will weigh heavily on their decision.  Being a realtor, I would always recommend listing your home with one of my esteemed colleagues.  However, I am not oblivious to the economic conditions that many homeowners face and many people have successfully sold their homes as a FSBO.  

Whatever your decision and whether you are a buyer or seller, there are always going to be obstacles that you must overcome.  If you find you can't seem to navigate these obstacles your local realtor.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Foreclosures - Myth vs. Reality

In today's real estate market, foreclosures are a hot topic.  The sheer number of foreclosed homes that are available (and that continue to hit the market every day), as well as their discounted prices, make them desirable for owner occupants and investors alike.

If you talk to home buyers, which I do every day, there is a common perception that foreclosed homes have been damaged by the previous owners and that significant amounts of money will be required to repair this damage and make the home livable. While this is true in some cases, I can tell you from experience that the market is rife with foreclosures that are nearly move-in ready.  Many of these homes are only a few years old, thereby making them even more attractive to the prospective buyer.

What generally happens, however, is that foreclosures in good condition don't stay on the market for very long.  In addition, because they are so desirable, there is usually competition for these homes.  Don't be scared off by that either!  If a multiple offer scenario exists, it usually means that the property ends up selling at (or sometimes above) the listed price.  Keep in mind, however, that the foreclosed home is normally selling at well below the market price anyway and with the exception of some paint or carpet replacement, a buyer won't have to sink large amounts of cash into repairing the house.

With that being said, even at list price, a buyer will get a great deal on a house that provides immediate equity.  It requires quick and decisive action on the buyer's part, along with all the requisite financial requirements in place (a pre-approval in hand).  With these types of deals, you don't get a lot of time to "mull it over"  before you decide to make an offer.  Don't worry, however, as you will still be able to have the home inspected if your offer is accepted.  

Foreclosures are "As Is" purchases, but if your home inspection turns up a problem that you anticipate would be cost prohibitive, your purchase contract provides for the buyer to terminate the contract and have their earnest money refunded.  Just be advised that should the home inspection find issues that you will accept, you will not be able to ask the seller to make repairs or provide a credit at closing.

So, if you're considering a foreclosure, don't be apprehensive.  Contact your local real estate professional, give them your buying parameters and let them work for you to find that perfect home.  Good luck!!