Friday, January 24, 2014

Biggest Home Seller Mistakes

I came across a very interesting graphic yesterday and wanted to share it with you. The survey asked 1000 real estate agents what they thought was Sellers' biggest mistakes when putting their house on the market and subsequently not achieving either their monetary or timescale goals.

Here are the results:
Biggest seller mistakes

Not surprisingly, the top reason is overpricing the house.  Of course, I am sure that isn't a surprise to anyone. Even though each home is unique - that's the nature of the business - the asking price must be based on facts only. A good way of understanding that is putting yourself in the buyer's shoes. Look at what is on the market at the time - if you were to visit 4-5 houses in the same ballpark price and size as yours, is yours the highest priced? If it is, then you need to objectively compare it with the others and price it competitively so that buyers are compelled to consider it. The first month on the market is by far the most critical - a common mistake is to overprice the house at first, and planning to lower the price after a month on the market in hopes of getting an offer at the higher end at the beginning but then lowering the price if there isn't any offers after a set time. The problem is that buyers tend to stay away from houses that have been sitting on the market for too long. Even if there is nothing wrong with it, they will tell themselves that there must be something wrong with the house if it is still in on the market. Strike while the iron it hot - pricing your house competitively right from the get go is the best strategy for getting it sold faster and for a fair price!

The second most popular answer is showing availability. Although I have rarely come across this issue personally, having worked with very accommodating sellers so far, I have had personal experience with this while shopping for our home. There is one home that we could just not come to an agreement as to when to see it. The tenants were moving out and even though we insisted that it didn't matter that it would be in disarray, the owners told us that we had to wait a couple of weeks before seeing it. We just couldn't wait that long since we had already seem another house that interested us and couldn't wait 2 weeks before putting in an offer. I think about that house everytime I drive by it and wonder if we would have bought that one instead! We might have - but because we didn't get a chance to see it, it fell be the wayside. Don't be that seller!!! Most showings only take 15-20 minutes - what a great time to go for a walk, or get some errands done. Just try to be as accommodating as possible. It is inconvenient for you, but it could transpire into a faster sale!

The third most popular answer is cluttered space. I have talked about this in an earlier blog entry. It is quite extraordinary just how much you can accumulate over the years. Who doesn't have boxes full of school textbooks, old clothing and sports gear laying around in a closet or in their basement? I always tell my sellers that decluttering before putting their house on the market is a great way to start their packing by sorting through all their stuff and making decisions about what to give away and what to keep. In some cases, renting out a storage unit is a great way of decluttering your living space and getting a head start on your packing. A neat trick that I use is taking a photo of the space as is and showing it to the sellers. It is amazing how your eyes immediately see the clutter instead of the room. Clear all countertops, tables and desks, and remove all fridge magnets, and you will be amazed at how much roomier your house looks.

The next three reasons: unpleasant odors, unwillingness to negotiate and needed repairs are usually not deal breakers unless they are substantial. There is always room to negotiate - if not monetary, then in the form of real property or timeline. Buyers and sellers need to think outside the box when it comes to negotiating - what does the other side want and what can I get in return if I accommodate him or her? Needed repairs can also seem daunting to potential buyers. What if they really like the house, but it really needs a new kitchen or a new roof and they don't have the funds to do the work? With some great renovation loans available, some of these stumbling blocks can now be eliminated by including the cost of the repairs into the mortgage loan. Unpleasant odors, be it tobacco smells or pet smells can really turn off buyers. The sense of smell is almost as important as sight when shopping for a house. It is really hard for a buyer to "see" past certain smells, and I have seen buyers walk away from houses without even looking at them because of foul smells. Sellers must be aware of this and take necessary action to deal with unwanted smells. There are some great products out there which neutralize (not cover!) smells, and that, along with a good cleaning, usually does the trick. 

Have you had experience any of the above? I would love to hear your story!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Top 5 Entry-Level Home Sales in Dec 2013

I am starting a monthly series focused on identifying the top 5 entry-level homes that sold in the last month in the greater Burlington area. Why do these make it in my top 5? I am using the following criteria while judging the sales:
1) price point. I am considering anything below 220,000$
2) state of the house. Is it move-in ready? How much work needs to be done. Many first time buyers have already used their cash in order to make a down-payment and to cover closing costs. For many, they cannot afford to start pouring more money into expensive house removations.
3) neighborhood. Granted, this is a little bit more subjective, but I am evaluating ease of commute, and traffic volume.
4) re-saleability. For many, this first investment is not for the long term. How easy will it be to sell in 5-10 years?

So, without further ado, here are my top 5 for December 2013.

123 Birch St, Burlington.
This makes my top 5 not only because it was sold for under 175k$, but also because of the great hardwood floors throughout the ranch and that is was built in 1991, making it post lead-paint, and less than 25 years old. The downside is that there is no garage.

12 Cherokee, Essex
Sold for 182,000$. This is situated in a great neighborhood, on a quiet street. Could be a great starter home, but also could be something longer term, as there are many expansions possible when dealing with a cape. 

47 South Summit, Essex
Another Essex home! Sold for 185,000$. Finally, a garage! Which, in these cold climates is a definite plus both for the owner and for when you want to resell the house. Again, as with most ranches build in the 1950s, beautiful hardwood floors are found throughout the house. Bonus is updated kitchen and bathroom.

40 Lincoln, Essex
For something a little older style, here is a 1900 farmhouse which sold for just under 200k$. Also has a 2-car garage, which makes up for the smaller village lot. Many updates throughout the house. The downside of this one is that it is a 2 bedroom, which can make it a little more challenging to sell.

30 Brookwood Dr, South Burlington.
3 bedroom colonial with attached garage for 212k$. It is situated on a quiet street, on a big lot. The only downside is that it backs up to the interstate.

And that ends my top 5 of December 2013! What do you look for when house shopping? What are your top 5 criteria?