October 2017 - Comey & Shepherd Realtors

Hiring an Agent to Sell Your House May Cost You NOTHING!

There is no doubt that it is easier to sell your house when using the services of a local real estate professional. The agent will provide:

  • Greater exposure to more buyers
  • The skills of a professional negotiator
  • A layer of protection from possible legal liabilities
  • Professional guidance in navigating any pitfalls that may arise
  • A level of safety while showing the home

There is no doubt that these services are valuable to any family that decides to sell. The only question is – how valuable? One of the main reasons For Sale By Owners (FSBOs) don’t use a real estate agent is because they believe these services are not worth the fee an agent charges. But, what if those services didn’t cost the seller a penny?

A study by Collateral Analytics, however, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save anything and, in some cases, may be costing themselves more by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.” (emphasis added)

Why would FSBOs net less money on their own than if they used an agent?

The study makes several suggestions:

  • “There could be systematic bias on the buyer side as well. FSBO sales might attract more strategic buyers than MLS sales, particularly buyers who rationalize lower-priced bids on with the logic that the seller is “saving” a traditional commission. Such buyers might specifically search for and target sellers who are not getting representational assistance from agents.” In other words, ‘bargain lookers’ might shop FSBOs more often.
  • “Experienced agents are experts at ‘staging’ homes for sale”which could bring more money for the home.
  • “Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war for the property.

Three conclusions from the study:

  1. FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by Realtors using the MLS.
  2. The differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%.
  3. The sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, FSBOing may end up costing you money instead of saving you money.

How To Move Out Without a Hitch

Well, dear home sellers, we’ve come a long way—together! From the first coat of paint you used to freshen up your house’s trim to the stress of wrangling your way to a deal, we’ve been with you every step of the way. Now you’ve made it to the final hurdle of selling a home: moving on out!

Don’t worry, this is the easy part… but you want to do it right. Here’s how to get through the last leg of your journey without a hitch.

Get your timeline in order

Once the paperwork is signed at closing, the buyers will officially own the house … and you won’t. That means that, technically, if you or your stuff is still there after the close, the buyer could evict you. So make sure to have your exit strategy in place!

Still, most buyers will understand if you need a bit more time and have a legitimate reason—like if you can’t move until the weekend due to your work schedule. Just be sure to discuss these issues as soon as possible before the close, so your buyers can plan accordingly.

Decide what to leave behind

To make sure you’re leaving behind everything the buyer wanted—and that you agreed to—double-check the closing documents. There should be an itemized list of what comes with the house. And even if the buyers didn’t formally request them, it’s just good form to leave certain types of things behind.

Such as? Generally speaking, you should leave anything that’s bolted to the wall. Some homeowners want to take their fans and blinds to the next home, but generally if it’s screwed in, it stays.

Also, if you and the buyers agreed to transfer any services—such as alarm monitoring or pest control—be sure to set that up before you go. Leave the buyers a detailed note in the house, or ask your agent to get in touch with theirs to make sure the transfer goes smoothly.

If you do inadvertently take an item that the buyers had requested, they have the right to ask for it back—and they could potentially sue you in civil court for the cost of a replacement. So, when in doubt, feel free to check with the buyers before you grab and go.

But don’t leave anything else behind

Just as important as what you leave behind is what you don’t. Your buyers have a right to move into a home that’s been cleared of furniture and other movable items they didn’t expressly request.

Some folks leave all kinds of unwanted clothes, furniture, paint cans, and other items, thinking they are helping the buyers. If you truly think your buyers might love to have your old planting pots or kiddie equipment, go ahead and ask—but please don’t assume they’ll welcome your leftovers.

Even if you’re careful, you might forget something—at which point the buyers may contact their agent to get it back to you, but they also have the legal right to just keep or get rid of it. So double-check areas (e.g., the attic, garage, basement, storage shed, kitchen, and bathroom drawers) where people commonly overlook items.

Clean up

It’s common courtesy to leave the place not only clear of your possessions, but also clean. However, that doesn’t mean you have to leave it immaculate.

In most cases, a simple broom-clean will do. That means wiping down the countertops, cleaning out drawers, sweeping or vacuuming all the floors, and giving the bathroom and kitchen appliances a once-over so the new owners aren’t grossed out when they arrive.

Wait! Are you forgetting anything?

Before you close the door for the last time, run through a quick checklist. Did you eyeball every room for stray items? Have you forwarded your mail and turned off the utilities? Is the water running in the pool? Have you left behind incriminating evidence of a capital crime? (We’re kidding on that last part … we think.)

We all get in a bit of a rush even in the best planned moves, but you won’t be able to get back in, so it can’t hurt to do a final run-through.

Once you’re ready, it’s time to leave. You can drop a line to your Comey & Shepherd Realtor® to let her know you’re out, although it’s usually a courtesy more than a necessity. If you’re feeling truly gracious, feel free to leave a note, card, or bottle of bubbly congratulating the people who’ve inherited your former home. Given all the fond memories you’ve built between those walls, wouldn’t it be nice to start the home’s new owners off on the right foot?

And buy yourself some Champagne, too. Make it the good stuff—you’ve earned it.

How to Prepare Your Home For Fall

The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting cooler. The kids are trudging off to school again with their backpacks and light jackets, and leaves are starting to fall from the trees.

Yep, it’s official: Fall is here. Now is the time to finish up any last-minute late-summer maintenance projects, and get your home and yard ready for fall.

Just follow our easy checklist, and your home will soon be clean, warm, and ready for the cool days to come.

Exterior prep

  • Fix cracks in concrete and asphalt. Depending on where you live, these may be the last weeks this year when it will be warm and sunny enough to repair driveway and sidewalk cracks.
  • Clean out the gutters. No one loves this job, but we all need to do it annually. A few hours of work can prevent big problems later on. And while you’re up on that ladder, visually inspect your roof for damaged shingles, flashing, or vents. You can also inspect the chimney for any missing mortar, and consider tuck-pointing if needed.
  • Turn off outdoor plumbing. Drain outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems, and cover them to protect them from freezing weather to come.
  • Start composting. If you don’t already have compost bins, now is the time to make or get some. All those accumulated autumn leaves will bring you gardening gold next summer!
  • Clean outdoor furniture and gardening tools. It may not be quite time yet to put them away, but go ahead and make sure your outdoor furniture and gardening tools are cleaned up and ready for storage over the winter.
  • Plant bulbs for spring-blooming flowers. A joyous and beautiful sign of spring is when tulips and daffodils start popping up everywhere. Plant bulbs in October, as soon as the soil has cooled down, to reap big rewards next spring. If you’ve never planted bulbs before, select a spot in your yard that gets full sun during the day.

Interior prep

  • Prepare your furnace for winter duty. If you didn’t already do it last spring, consider getting your furnace professionally serviced in time for the cold season. At the minimum, though, visually inspect your furnace and replace the furnace filter before turning it on for the first time.
  • Clean the fireplace and chimney. Clean out the fireplace, make sure the flue is operating properly, and that doors and shields are sound. Have the chimney professionally swept if needed. Now is the time to stock up on firewood!
  • Keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside. Inspect your windows and doors. Check weather stripping by opening a door, placing a piece of paper in the entryway, and closing the door. The paper should not be able to slide back and forth easily. If it does, the weather stripping isn’t doing its job. Also, now is the time to re-caulk around windows and door casings if needed.
  • Light the way. Bring as much light into your home as you can for the colder, darker months. To accentuate natural light, clean your windows and blinds, especially in rooms that get a lot of sunlight. Add lighting to darker spaces easily with new lamps. And consider replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.
  • Create a mudroom. Even if you don’t have a dedicated mudroom in your home, now is a good time to think about organizing and stocking an entryway that will serve as a “mudroom” area for cold and wet weather. Put down an indoor/outdoor rug to protect the floor. A fun and rewarding weekend project is to build a wooden shoe rack, coat rack, or a storage bench for your entryway.
  • Home safety check. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and CO2monitors. A good way to remember to do this is to always replace the batteries when you change the clock for “fall back.” Create a family fire escape plan, or review the one you already have. Put together an emergency preparedness kit so that you are ready for winter power outages.

Once you finish with your autumn home checklist, you will be ready to relax in your warm, comfortable home, and enjoy the season.