Thinking about renovation?

Have you thought about doing some “work” around the house to update/improve your home?  If your home is more than 10 years old, and still has some or all of its original fixtures, finishes, etc., it’s probably time for some changes.  But where to start?  And how do you know what to do (or not do) that will be cost effective over the long term?  In other words, what projects will give you the best ROI–return on your investment?

A lot depends on whether you’re thinking about selling your home and want to show it to its best advantage, or whether you’re planning to stay put, but just want to update/upgrade your space to get maximum enjoyment out of it.  But there are several things that will add value to your home, give you pleasure and enjoyment while you’re living in it, and will be most appealing to potential buyers if/when you’re ready to sell.

Of course, there are other, less costly, changes and upgrades you can easily make.  New fixtures, new lighting, hardware, carpet, paint, countertops, etc., are all great things to install that will instantly change the look of your home and make it more appealing.  Many of these are cosmetic upgrades and appeal depends on personal taste.  If you’re considering some or all of these cosmetic updates and you’re going to be selling your home soon, be sure to choose more neutral items that will appeal to a wide variety of potential buyers.

But the items listed above will be attractive to most any buyer and will add value to your home that will stand the test of time.

 

Mortgage Rates and Home Values

Click on the link below to read how some experts are predicting the impact of rising mortgage rates on home values.  Basically, as rates rise, and they are and probably will continue to during 2017, some buyers will be forced out of the market.  With fewer buyers, sellers may see a slowdown in activity when trying to sell their homes.  This could have the impact of slowing down appreciation in home values and prices.

Bottom line–if you’re thinking of selling, don’t wait to get  your home on the market!  Demand, at least in San Antonio, is strong right now, so take advantage of it and get in the game!

Call me for an analysis of your home in today’s market and to get the ball rolling!

https://goo.gl/YHVTXb

Sue Trautner, BHHS PenFed Realty

210-363-9282

 

Knock, Knock–Please Come In!

Selling your home is stressful, no doubt about it.  Selling your home while you’re still living in it just adds a couple more layers to that stress!  And when children and/or pets are involved, add on a few more layers!

Now for the good news–there are ways to handle the stress and make it all work for you, your family, and your prospective buyers!  But flexibility is key!  And patience and understanding from all parties.

Rule #1–if you want to sell your house,  you have to let people in to see it!  In my 16 years as a Realtor, I’ve sold one house sight unseen to a buyer.  99.9% of buyers want to see a house before they make a decision on whether or not to consider purchasing that house.  So you, as the homeowner/seller, must be willing to let people come into your home and see it for themselves.  Is it inconvenient?  Sometimes.  Is it required?  Only if you’re serious about selling.  And, frankly, if you’re not serious, then why are you even listing your house?

Rule #2–when you let people in to see your house, let them see it without your being there.  Leave!

I have been on 4 sides of this–as a seller, as a buyer (both before becoming a realtor), as a buyer’s agent, and as a listing agent.

When I was the seller, I wish I had understood the situation from a buyer’s side better.  My realtor tried to explain, but she did not convince me very well.  I think it took longer to sell my house because I was so stubborn about leaving the house.

When I became a buyer, it all started to make sense–all the things she had told me to do that were inconvenient, annoying, and just a pain to put up with!  Now, seeing it with different eyes, I understood what a difference those little inconveniences made to a prospective buyer.  I “got” it!  Better late than never!

As a buyer’s agent, I’ve had to deal with sellers being present while I was showing, or trying to schedule a showing at all with sellers who put in lots of restrictions on showing times, access, etc.

As a listing agent, I’ve had to work with sellers who just “don’t feel like cleaning up today” and declined showings, and then get upset because they haven’t received an offer on their house.

So, homesellers, please understand that when you live in a home you’re trying to sell, patience and flexibility will be required.  You will need to keep you home presentable most all the time.  You will need to be prepared to leave your home at times that may be inconvenient so that buyers can come in and see it.  And you will need to allow those buyers to come into your home at reasonable times.  If you’re willing to do that, then the right buyer will come along and you will be able to put a SOLD sign on the house!

 

7 Home Fixes Before You Sell

If you’re thinking of selling your home, here are some things to look at before you put it on the market.  If anything needs to be fixed, do it now, before you list.  It will make your life much easier and make your sale transaction much smoother!

  1. Exterior:  Look at siding, stucco, wood trim.  Patch cracks, replace rotted wood, paint and freshen up.

2.  Landscaping:  Remove dead plants, trim back overgrown bushes/hedges.  Remove weeds, fresh mulch in beds, mow/edge lawn.

3. Cosmetics:  Paint/neutralize strong colors; touch up paint where necessary.  Replace/update light fixtures, switches, fans, hardware.  Paint front door and replace hardware.

4.  Kitchen:  Update if necessary–hardware, backsplash, counters, appliances.

5. Bathrooms:  Caulk tubs & showers, clean tile, update fixtures, lights, mirrors if necessary

6. Flooring:  Clean or replace

7. Structural & Mechanical:  Have HVAC serviced and replace filters, have licensed professionals check plumbing, electrical, and roof.  Make repairs if needed.

Taking care of these items now will make your house more appealing to buyers.  They’ll feel confident that the home they’re considering has been maintained and is in good condition.  There will be less for an inspector to note and less to negotiate.  You’ll know you’re offering a home that is ready to go and is move-in ready.  Buyers will know they can move in and not have to deal with repairs right off the bat.  Win/win for everyone!

 

 

Tips for Home Sellers

Are you thinking about selling your home?  If so, this is a great time to do so in San Antonio!  Inventory is low, demand is high, particularly in certain areas and/or price ranges!  The cost of a loan, i.e. interest rates, is low so that more buyers can qualify for more house and your pool of potential buyers is larger.  People are moving into and around in San Antonio so market activity is high.

If you’re a first-time home seller or if it’s been a long time since you’ve sold your home, there are some things for you to consider and decisions to be made before you take that final step of putting a sign in the yard.  These steps could make a big difference in getting your house sold quickly and letting the process drag on and out.

  1. What’s your plan?  Are you living in the home?  If so, what’s your plan for vacating once you’re under contract?  What if it goes under contract within the first week?  Many homes do, sometimes even quicker than that!  For a buyer who’s financing his purchase, you’ll have about 30-60 days from contract until it closes and you have to be out.  If you’re lucky enough to have a cash buyer, closing can happen even quicker–almost right away!  Where will you go?  Do you have a plan for that?
  2. If you have to sell your home and get the proceeds in order to purchase another home, better have the logistics for that figured out in advance!
  3. Find a good realtor to assist you with selling your home, and possibly purchasing a new one.  Ask for referrals from friends and colleagues, check their online presence, interview, and choose someone who you feel comfortable with and who you feel confident will market your home and help you through all the ins and outs of the transaction.
  4. Get your home ready for the market.  Paint, repair, declutter, clean clean clean!  Remember, once your home is on the market, it’s competing with all the other homes, including builder model homes, that are also on the market.  Make yours shine and stand out!  It’s a product on the market now, time to start letting go of the emotional connection to the home and try to view it with a buyer’s eye.
  5. Position your home correctly in the market.  This is crucial!  A good realtor will help you come to a list price that will position your home so that buyers who are looking for what you have to offer will see it and consider it.
  6. Make your home available for buyers to see.  Setting strict limits on showing times and availability will make it difficult for many buyers to schedule a time to see it.  Just because you really don’t feel like picking up or cleaning the kitchen or bathroom is not going to work!  Suck it up, buttercup!  That’s part of what you have to do to sell your house!
  7. When you get an offer or offers, keep an open mind.  Let your realtor explain all the terms, and remember, it’s not always all about just the price a buyer is offering.  There are other things to consider as well so don’t reject an offer just because a buyer is offering less than you’re asking or wanted.
  8. Once you’ve accepted an offer, cooperate with your realtor, the buyer’s realtor, and the inspections and other visits that may be necessary for the buyers to move forward.  Now is not the time to relax your vigilance on keeping the house in good condition and show ready.  If you’ve agreed to do any repairs, get them done in a timely manner and hold onto receipts so that you can pass them along to the buyer.
  9. As closing day approaches, be sure you’ve contacted your utilities, cable, phone, service people, etc. to discontinue service on a certain date so that the buyer may transfer these things into their names.
  10. On closing day, leave the home clean and ready for its new owner.  Empty the trash and mow the yard.  Leave the house as you would want to find it if you were moving in.  And, it goes without saying, be sure all your personal belongings are out and everything you’ve agreed to leave behind is there.  Time to say goodbye to your house and hello to the next one!

Why you need a Realtor when you sell a house

I’ve become a fan of Pinterest in the last few months.  I find a lot of interesting information there, have tried a bunch of new recipes I found there, and just enjoy browsing through the posts when I have some time to spare.

One of the topics I follow is, of course, real estate!  For buyers, sellers, homeowners, there’s a ton of information on Pinterest! And of all the posts there, one topic I see frequently is how to save money by selling your home by yourself, or as we say in the business, FSBO–For Sale by Owner.  There’s a whole lot of information online about how to do it, where to market, save money, etc.  But one thing that almost never gets discussed is the downside of selling your home without representation by a Realtor.  And there is definitely a downside!  Here are a few things to consider before deciding to sell your home yourself.

  1. Your local market.  How well do you know your local market?  And by local, I mean not only your city, but your area, sometimes even your neighborhood.  Are values up, down, or steady?  What homes have sold recently–i.e. in the last 6 months?  For how much?  How did the final sale price compare to the list price?  What concessions, if any, did the seller give to the buyer?  What was the average days on market for those properties?  How many price changes did a home have between original listing and contract?  How many homes are on the market now in your neighborhood?  What is the absorption rate?  These are all things a Realtor will be able to tell you to help you determine where to position your home in the market.
  2. Price/Market Position.  How will you determine your list price?  There are many online resources that can give you an idea, but they don’t know your area like a Realtor does.  Their estimates are based solely on stats, and do not take into consideration the particulars of your home and neighborhood. If you overprice, you will miss a segment of potential buyers.  If you underprice, you may sell quickly, but you might end up with less in your pocket than you could have with a more accurate market position.
  3.  Marketing and showing your property.  Are you prepared to allow total strangers into  your home unaccompanied?  Will you allow a realtor to show your home to a potential buyer? Are you willing to pay a fee to a realtor who brings a buyer for  your home?  Are you prepared to answer questions about the property?  How will you let potential buyers know about the home?  What is your marketing strategy?  Are you prepared to be available to set up showing appoinments and be home/available when buyers come?  Do you know how to prepare your home for showing?
  4.  Evaluating an offer or offers.  What are your terms for sale?  Do you know how to evaluate the pros and cons of an offer you may receive?  What about multiple offers?  How will you deal with that scenario?  How will you know if a potential buyer is qualified and able to complete the transaction?
  5.  Contracts and legal stuff.  The contract form used by Texas Realtors is 9 pages and 23 paragraphs long.  It addresses most all the possibilities that could arise in a transaction and how those possibilities are to be resolved.  As an unrepresented seller, you are not allowed to use that contract form, but if a realtor brings a buyer for your home, he or she will present an offer on that form.  Do you understand all the terms of the contract and how they affect your position as well as the buyer’s?  A contract, when signed by all parties, is a legally binding document.  Are you entering into this transaction with full understanding of your position and what happens if …….?

These are all things that a Realtor who represents you in the sale of your home will handle on your behalf.  We do a lot behind the scenes to ensure that transactions proceed smoothly and close on time.  Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish!  If you’re thinking about selling your home, contact a Realtor!  We can’t eliminate all the hassles, but we can minimize them and help you through the process!

 

 

 

Buying or Selling a Home? Time to get Tech-y!

Are you a tech geek?  If you are, good for you–the paperwork part of buying or selling a home will be a lot easier for you!

If you’re not, or don’t think you are, then time to brush up and/or learn some new skills!  There’s a lot of paperwork involved in buying and selling a home these days.  Paperwork from your realtor, and even more from your lender!  And just when you think there couldn’t possibly be anything else, there will be!

There are some tech tools that will make things a lot easier for you during the home-buying process.  And your realtor and lender will appreciate that  you can comply with their requests easily and quickly.  If you don’t already have some of these tools at home, it’s a good idea to find out where you can access some of them–at work, at a retail outlet, etc.  It will save you time and hassle later.

Many realtors today are going paperless.  Maybe not 100%, but as much as possible.  Many operate completely without putting pen to paper.  If you want to speed up the process and make things easier, here are a few tools and programs you should be familiar with.

1. Smartphone.  Most everyone has a smartphone these days, whether an iPhone or a Windows phone or an Android.  No matter which carrier and platform you’re using,  you should be able to send and receive text messages and emails on your phone and use wifi to get online.  Text and email are preferred ways of communicating these days.

2. Tablet or laptop.  There are some things that will be easier to do on a laptop or tablet rather than a phone.  If you’ll need to read a document, the larger screen certainly makes it easier to do that!

3. Scanner.  There are apps that will scan and send a document from your phone or tablet.  Many home printers will do that too–if they’re the all-in-one variety.  For sending the countless financial documents that your lender will require, a regular scanner may work better than a scan app.  If you don’t have that at home, check to see if you have access at your workplace.  Or a FedEx Office or UPS Store also might work–although they may charge for their service.

4. Fax.  Not used as much now as just a few years ago–scanning and emailing keeps the document more legible, especially after multiple transmissions, but most lenders and title companies still have fax #’s so they haven’t gone away completely.  If you have a fax at home or at the office you can use, it will be less costly than using the service of a FedEx Office or UPS Store.  They charge by the page and that can get costly!

5. Electronic signatures.  Many realtors, myself included, use a program called DocuSign to send documents for signature.  Many lender do also.  And electronic signatures are accepted by most lenders and title companies.  There is another program that is used by some agents called DotLoop.  Both programs send the documents to each signer with instructions on where to click to “sign” and then a final click to send the “envelope” on to the next signer or back to whoever sent it to you.  It’s easy and quick, and saves countless hours and gallons of gas trying to coordinate schedules to meet somewhere for signing.  In these days of homes flying off the market, the time saved could mean the difference between having your offer accepted and being beaten out by another buyer who got their offer in before yours!

6. Computer and printer.  Most everyone has a home computer these days and a printer.  Or has access to one.  When documents are sent to you electronically, if you want a “hard copy” you’ll need to be able to download and print things out yourself.

7. Digital file storage.  Dropbox has changed my life!  It’s my electronic file cabinet where I keep all my files and personal information.  Another program in wide use is Evernote–you can save notes, web sites, videos, pictures, documents, everything in Evernote.  Both Dropbox and Evernote have desktop versions for the computer and mobile apps that allow you to access your files remotely from your phone or tablet.  Game changers!

 

So, if you’re not familiar with some of these tech tools, check them out and be prepared to use them during your transaction.  There are many aspects of the process that are time-sensitive and the quicker you can submit your documents, sign your paperwork, and communicate back and forth, the easier and smoother your transaction will be.

 

 

Are you set to sell? Or to buy?

The real estate market in San Antonio is moving and active!   Mortgage rates are affordable and so is living in San Antonio!   The economy is bustling here and people are moving–moving in and moving up!

If you’ve been thinking about selling your home, it’s a great time to do so!  Our inventory levels are at a low point and homes that are positioned correctly in the market, are in good condition, and are in our average/median price range of $150,000-$250,000 are just not staying on the market very long.  If  your home meets these criteria, and you’re ready to sell it, my advice to you is to have a plan B for moving!  My best case/worst case scenario–your home goes under contract in the first month or less that it’s on the market and is scheduled to close within 45 days.  Where will you go?  Think about that!  There are always options, so consult  your REALTOR® to discuss them and be prepared!

Are you thinking about buying a new home or a move-up home?  This is a good time for that also, as mortgage rates are still very affordable.   Before you start looking at homes, do your homework and get pre-approved for a mortgage loan.  Sellers will want to see a pre-approval letter with any offer you make, so having that ready in advance will put you in a good position.  I always tell my buyer clients to take the time they need to find a home they like and want, but once you identify that property, be prepared to make an offer right away, and make your best offer!  If you like a home, I can guarantee in this market that someone else does too!  Multiple offers on homes are becoming more and more common, so making a low offer initially so  you can come up later doesn’t work!  When a seller has more than one offer to consider, he/she is looking at all the terms of each offer.  The offer that will be the best for the seller is the one that will be negotiated and accepted, so make your best offer if you’re serious about the house!

Sellers, remember that the real first showing of your home to almost every buyer out there these days in on the internet.  A house with no pictures or just a few pictures will be passed over by most buyers in favor of one that gives them a lot to look at.  Buyers these days are looking at inside, outside, google street views, everything they can find out about the house, before they ever decide whether or not to come look at it in person.  Be sure your home is well represented and photographed for those internet shoppers!  You can’t change the location of your home or the neighbors’s homes, but you can make yours stand out by cleaning, de-cluttering, updating if necessary, repairing small things, and making sure you have great curb appeal.

Buyers, remember that all your online research is great for gathering information, but sometimes–actually most times–you should go and see a home in person.  Pictures give you a great idea of the general look of a home, but you need to see it for yourself before you pass final judgement.  It’s difficult to judge the size of a room, the layout of a home, the size of a yard, etc. just from a photo.  Photos are taken to show off a home’s best features, but they don’t always give you the “big picture” of a home, its neighborhood, the condition, etc.  If you’re liking what you see online, then go see the real thing and then decide whether or not it will fit your criteria and needs for a home.

Spring is springing in San Antonio!  If you’re ready to purchase or sell a home, or both, this is a good time to be in the market!

If you’re in San Antonio, I’d love to help you!  And if  you’re not, I can help you find a realtor where you are. Contact form.

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Bring on the Holidays!

 

ThanksgivingWow–Halloween’s been over less than 48 hours and while out doing errands on this beautiful Saturday morning, I already saw Christmas trees up in shopping centers, found Christmas paper goods, cards, food, candy at the grocery store, and I’m seeing Christmas ads on TV!  Bring on the holidays!

Are you thinking of buying or selling a house?  Are you already in the market?  Wondering what effect, if any, the holidays have on home sales?

The short answer is that yes, the holidays definitely affect home sales.  Activity traditionally slows down toward the end of the year as everyone’s thoughts and efforts focus on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s–the gifts, the parties, the football, the family!  Lots to do!  And if buying or selling a home isn’t a top priority, most people will put it on the back burner for a couple of months and get through the season.

But, some folks don’t have that luxury.  Some people have to move and the fact that it’s November or December isn’t relevant!  So, there are definitely still people looking to buy a home and sell a home!  The best news is that buyers who are out looking this time of year are serious!  They’re looking because they need to find a home!  So, Sellers, don’t think there’s no chance you’ll sell your home during the holidays!  That just might be the best gift of all!

What can you do to keep your home attractive to buyers if your home is for sale?  Don’t go overboard with holiday decorations!  Put up a tree, have some holiday things out if you like, but don’t do the whole house thing this year.  And if you put up lights outside, be sure that cords are  out of the way so no one can trip on them.  And safety first!  Be sure  your lights are approved for use outside as well as your extension cords.

If  you have gifts out, keep them under control.  Remember, some buyers may have children with them when they’re looking–sometimes it’s hard for little ones to understand that what they see belongs to someone else!  If you have family  heirloom ornaments or decorations, keep them out of reach or just leave them packed up this year while people are going through your home.

Buyers, be flexible with your showing appointments.  Everyone has extra activities going on with holiday guests, parties, etc.  Try to understand if the time you want to come through is not a good time for the sellers.  But, Sellers, this goes both ways!  You need to be flexible too–buyers may be in from out of town and not have the luxury of coming back tomorrow–if you want to sell your home, try to accommodate them as best you can–you never know if this is the buyer who’s going to fall in love with your home.  Do you want to risk losing them because you won’t let them in?

I have moved right before and right after Christmas in past years, with small children and school-age kids as well.  I have never been more organized before or since for the holidays!  One year, we moved across town on Dec. 22.  By the end of the day on Dec. 23, the tree was up, stockings were hung, presents were under the tree, and Santa showed up at the new address right on schedule!  We had a great Christmas that year and I’ve tried to get my act together like I did then ever since–still trying, but this is going to be the year!  Right!!!  (probably NOT!)

Happy Holidays!holly

Sellers and The Home Inspection

Congratulations!  Your home has been on the market and now a buyer has submitted an offer which you have negotiated and accepted!   Now you’re in that period known as the option or inspection period when the buyer can have a home inspector come evaluate your home and report on anything that’s not working properly or needs repair.  This is a stressful time for most sellers–what will the inspector find, what will the buyer do with that information, will I have to do expensive repairs, how will we decide what to do?  All these questions run through a seller’s mind until the inspection is complete and they have received a request for repairs (or not) from the buyer.

Inspection time is when your diligence as a homeowner (or lack of it!) will reward you (or come back to bite you!).   Most inspectors will always find something to report, but if you’ve maintained your home while you’ve been living in it, there shouldn’t be anything major that you were unaware of.   Still, there are some things you can do to make the process smooth and help put the buyer’s mind at ease.

If you really want to avoid surprises, many sellers are doing what we call a pre-sale inspection.  Before the house goes on the market, some sellers are choosing to hire a home inspector to inspect their  home so that they know what issues need to be addressed and can take care of them in advance.  If you’re considering this option, be aware that if you have an inspection report, you may be required to disclose that report to a buyer.  That is the case in Texas, but if you’re not in the Lone Star State, check with your realtor to see what the rules are in your state.  And if you do opt to have repairs done, be sure you hire licensed repair people to do the work and keep all receipts to prove that the work was done.

When it’s time for a buyer to have an inspection done, you, as the seller, can make things easier for the inspector with a few simple preparations.  First, plan to be out of the house for the inspection.  Take pets with you, if possible, or at least have them confined and out of the way if you can’t.

The house should be clean, neat, and show-ready.  If you’re still living there, please have things neat and tidy.  Empty the dishwasher, put away laundry, pick up clutter, wash dishes and put them away.  Make sure attic access is available and clearly marked or identified.  If you have a septic or well, please leave instructions to find it if it’s not clearly visible.  If you have a pier and beam foundation, make sure access under the house is available and identified.  The inspector will test appliances that remain with the house–he’ll run the dishwasher, turn on the heater and then the air conditioner to test the temperatures, turn on and test oven temperature.  So be sure all built-in appliances are prepared.  (I heard of a  homeowner who had stashed a bunch of plastic containers in the oven to get them out of sight, forgot about them and left them in there.  When the inspector turned on the oven to test it, he didn’t check the inside, and only discovered the containers when a funny smell started  to permeate the house!  Big mess!)

Smoke alarms will be tested also, so be sure yours have fresh batteries.  If you have automatic sprinklers, and the controls are not easily found, leave a note where to find them–they’ll be tested too!  So will pool equipment if you have it.

For safety and liability reasons, inspectors will not move furniture to get to a panel or attic or something else, so make sure those things are accessible.

If you’re not currently living in the house, be sure all utilities are turned on so an inspector can test what he needs to test.

Taking these few steps in advance will help ensure a smooth inspection and keep a buyer at ease.  It will also help make any repair negotiations easier since everyone has had a good experience up to that point.

Good luck!