Sell That House: Seller Strategies That Might Help You

If you’ve decided to sell this spring, congratulations!  Good move. More homes sell between the months of April through June than any other part of the year. It’s prime time. When sellers have the best possible chance of selling for the maximum profit in the minimum time.

Realtor.com released a report about selling this spring and they agree it’s the peak selling season. Think about it. Prices are still rising, that’s good for sellers. Plus there are more home buyers than there are homes for sale. That’s good for sellers too. Because you might find that so many buyers want your place that they start a bidding war. The price could go way over list. But, talk that through with your REALTOR. Because if those bidding buyers are getting mortgages, there will be an appraisal. And that could be a problem.

The most important thing a seller can do is price the property correctly. No guess work, no pulling a price out of thin air. No thinking, “Hey, it’s a seller’s market, I can ask anything.” Because entering the market at a price that’s much higher than it should be, that’s not good news. Because the property might just sit there while you reduce the price again and again. That’s what some agents call the “death spiral”. Because buyers see the price dropping and they figure the sellers are desperate.  And then they’ll hit you with a low ball offer. Instead, use real market data that your REALTOR provides. They’ll go through all the recent sales and give you hard numbers about the best possible selling price for your home.

Next up, make that house shine. Make it look so good you might change your mind about selling it. So good the buyers will want to write an offer the first time they see it. To hit that goal your house needs to be squeaky clean with all the repairs done. Touch up paint, done. Lawn and garden clean ups, done. Here’s a great tip, set the dinning room table just like Thanksgiving. Use the good china, the good glasses, the good silverware, candles, and a center piece. Buyers will love that.

Finally, one of the best seller strategies out there – try saying yes more than no. If a potential buyer makes a request about the closing date or the curtains in the living room or even the gas grill they’d like you to leave behind, just try saying yes. If they’re offering really good money for the house, don’t let the little stuff get in the way. Stay on track towards a successful sale and it might the best spring of your life.

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Connected After the Closing

The closing – in which the seller sells, the buyer buys, everybody shakes hands and the real estate transaction is a success. However, even after its done there’s one last thing that connects the buyer to the seller. It’s something that’s not always pleasant. The mail! Say that you just bought a house but the former owner still gets tons of mail every single day. Or if you sell a house but you never get any of the mail addressed to your old place forwarded to you, nothing.  

Ok, I know, in today’s digital world some people never get any mail but most of us do. Whether it’s a bank statement, or a refund check, or a magazine subscription. So when the house changes hands, what happens? Well, for starters as the seller you should go to your local post office or go online and fill out a change of address form. That’s the best way to make you won’t miss any mail. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it works perfectly.
Now, what if you don’t do that, do the people who bought your house have a legal responsibility to forward each and every piece of mail that arrives? Or if the new owner never forwards any mail at all and just throws it out, are they breaking the law? It’s a great question, because the fact is it happens a lot. People just forget to do that change of address form and there you are in the new house when you realize you’re not receiving anything from your old address. No letters, no magazines, no flyers, nothing. So who’s fault is it? According to the postal service, it’s your mail, and your new address, so it’s your responsibility to make sure it gets to you.

So really, you should fill out that change of address form. But if you don’t, when it comes to the new owners of your old place, they have options. Assuming that they know your new address, they could write it on every piece of mail and put it back in the box and it would eventually get to you at your new address. But again, that’s asking them to do all the readdressing. And if you get a lot of mail that’s a lot of work. Other options, they could write NSP on it. That means no such person. Or RTS, return to sender, and they can put it back in the mail box. But of course, if they do that you’ll never get it. It would either go to the dead letter bin or back to the original sender.

But what if they do just throw it all away? If it’s bulk mail, that’s probably okay. According to the postal service, catalogues, restaurant menus, that sort of thing is okay to throw away. But if it’s first class mail, that my friend is a crime. You cannot destroy first class mail. But here’s the problem, how to you prove the new owners are really throwing out your mail?

So let’s get back to the real solution here. Change your address yourself. Do in person at the post office or do it online. Don’t rely on the people who just bought your house. Again, the postal service says it your job to make sure your mail gets to you at your new house. Because if you do it the right way, just think, the next time somebody says “The check is in the mail”, you’ll actually get it.

The Offer: Walking You Through Every Step

I want to talk to all you folks who will be selling your house this Spring. It’s exciting isn’t it? Buying a house is great, but when you do that you’re paying money. When you sell, you’re making money. And maybe a lot of money. At least that’s the plan.

So let’s talk about what to do when you get one or maybe ten offers on your house.

It’s such a great moment, when your REALTOR calls and says “We have an offer”! Now, your first question will be “How much”? What price did the buyer come up with? And yes, that’s huge. It’s human nature to react that way. But, price isn’t everything. So you’re gonna want to sit down with your REALTOR and walk through the offer page-by-page. And if there are multiple offers on your house – well, first of all, well done. But in that case you might need a second pot of coffee. There will be a lot to talk about.

Now sure, even though price isn’t the only thing, it’s huge. So let’s start with price. Now if the price offered by one or more potential buyers is just sky high, more than you ever thought you would get. That’s pretty exciting but you might want to come down to earth. Because if those buyers are getting a mortgage, the house will still have to pass an appraisal. And if it appraises lower than that sky high offer, you’ll either have to reduce the price at that point or the buyer will have to come up with more cash or the whole deal just might end right there. So a nice, fat, realistic price is much better than one way up in the stratosphere. Now if it’s all cash, that’s completely different. If they offer an all cash deal at a widely high price, that’s awesome and good for you.

Next, you and your REALTOR will look at the terms. When does the buyer want to take possession? Does that work for you? How much earnest money is the buyer putting down? How many contingencies do they have? In other words, walk aways. Does the buyer seem committed or do they have a long list of things that might make them leave the deal all together. That’s why price is somewhat relative. You see, if one offer is really high but contains a half dozen ways the buyer can get out of the deal – that might not be as good as a slightly lower priced offer in which the buyer has fewer walk aways. You’re looking for the buyer that will go the distance all the way to closing.

And that brings us to one more really important issue. Can the buyer really afford to do the deal? Your REALTOR will help you there. A pre-approval letter should give you a pretty good idea of whether they have the horsepower to buy the house and make it to the closing table.

And finally, after you pick the best offer, you may need to make a counter offer. In fact, that happens most of the time. Very few offers are accepted as is or rejected as is. Most of them involve counter offers. And there might be several rounds. Just think of it this way, every time you do another round, you’re getting closing to a meeting of the minds. A ratified contract which will go all the way to the closing table.

Yep, getting an offer is a great moment. You feel like you did it. All the work you put into the house, all the showings, and all the open houses, all of that paid off because a buyer does want your house. But when you and your REALTOR go through every page of that offer and then make a counter offer that the buyer agrees to, well, that’s an even greater moment. Because the biggest transaction of your life is now in the final lap headed to the closing table. And that is awesome.

A Regrettable Emerging Trend in Real Estate

Bad guys. Guys that want to hack your smart home. Guys that want to cheat the closing company. Guys that want to steal your down payment. Guys that try to do all of that online.  You see, these days the bad guys never show their faces. They’re just at a computer somewhere trying to hack, cheat, and steal.

Now of course, online bad guys are nothing new. They’ve been around ever since the Internet was invented, but the unfortunate trend we’re seeing these days is that more and more of their online crime is being directed toward real estate. That’s why we are talking about it, because the more aware you are about what the bad guys are trying to do, the better protected you are against their criminal behavior.

So let’s talk about the bad guys, what they’re doing and how you can stop it before you’re affected. Let’s begin with hacking your smart home. Many of the really cool and really fun devices for our smart homes are apparently easy to hack. Hackers are targeting smart home devices to try and get into your network, and into your personal and financial data also. Two possible defenses here – use a special email address just for your smart home devices. So if they’re hacked the bad guys won’t have your primary email address. Also, you may want to have a separate network for your smart home devices. So if a criminal hacks into it they will not be in your main home network. They’ll be on a secondary network and they won’t be anywhere near your personal data.

Now the next thing the bad guys are doing is targeting the closing. We’ve heard that some title companies no longer accept certified checks, that’s right, certified checks. Because some people reportedly were photographing certified checks depositing them electronically into their bank account and then handing over that same check at closing. The solution, you wire the funds to the closing company. But that one requires a very careful approach. Because another bad guy real estate trend is that criminals are faking emails from your real estate agent, from the title company, or your lender. They’re telling buyers to wire their down payment to an account which turns out to be phony. They’ve stolen entire down payments. That money, it’s gone. This is grand theft real estate. Both the Department of Justice and the National Association of REALTORS have been getting the word out to make sure consumers know about it and to help them avoid being harmed by this cyber crime.

So here’s the best defense. Never rely on any email instructions to wire money. Never. If your agent or title company, or lender or anyone emails you with instructions on how to wire your down payment for the home you’re about to buy – delete it. Then call on the phone instead. Talk to your agent person to person. Talk to the title company person to person, or go to their office and meet with them face-to-face. Get the information on wiring your money directly from them. That way you can make the wire transfer with confidence.  But again, any instructions that come in an email, just delete it.

It’s unfortunate that we even have to mention fraud like this. But, fact is, it’s a trend in real estate. But, if enough people are aware of it and if enough people know how to stop it, then maybe stopping the bad guys before they do any harm will be the real trend of 2017.