Short Sale Home Selling

short sale home selling
Housing Market Expectations 2021

As you probably know, it’s been a sellers’ market with many listings getting multiple offers.  With such a strong housing market, it would seem unthinkable that some home owners would be underwater on their mortgages when selling their homes.  But the fact remains that there are many home owners who have to go through the short sale home selling process to sell their homes.

On the face of it, the January 14th press release from ATTOM Data Solutions (attomdata.com) seems to add credence to the housing market’s strength, touting that foreclosure activity is the lowest in sixteen years.  The report stated that default notices, auctions, and repossessions decreased 57 percent from the previous year, and decreased 93 percent from 2010’s peak would seem to be terrific news.  But the low foreclosure activity stats are actually a manifestation of a government moratoria on foreclosure activities that was imposed due to the pandemic emergency. 

Rick Sharga, Executive Vice President of RealtyTrac, an ATTOM Data Solutions company, stated “The government’s moratoria have effectively stopped foreclosure activity on everything but vacant and abandoned properties. There is a backlog of foreclosures building up – loans that were in foreclosure prior to the moratoria; loans that would have defaulted under normal circumstances; and loans whose borrowers are in financial distress due to the pandemic.”  Further commenting on the foreclosure backlog, Sharga believes that the foreclosure wave won’t be as bad as what occurred prior and during the Great Recession.  But he cautioned that we won’t know how large the foreclosure wave will be until the moratoria expires. 

So, in the face of a strong housing market, there are many home owners who need to sell (due to job loss, job relocation, divorce, etc.) but can’t because the proposed sale price is short of the amount needed to cover the costs of selling (which typically includes mortgage, closing costs, realtor & title fees, etc.).  This is where a short sale can be considered.

A short sale is basically when your sales net isn’t enough to pay the mortgage(s) on the property.  In many cases, short selling home owners don’t have the funds to make up the shortage needed at settlement.  Instead, they seek lender approval to allow a lower mortgage payoff in order for the transaction to close.  Because short sales have become a common form of transaction in the real estate landscape, the process has become more standardized since the Great Recession.  Although the typical time to complete a short sale can take three to six months, short sales can take as little as forty-five days.  However, it’s important to note short sale approval can also take more than six months. 

Although the core process is the same, lenders have different requirements when collecting information and conducting their due diligence.  Having a professional negotiator helps facilitate your short sale.  Seasoned short sale listing agents typically work with experienced attorneys to negotiate and handle the process. 

If you are thinking of short sale home selling, interview several experienced and local short sale agents.  Ask about their track record for successful short sales and how they work on your behalf to get the job done.  Also talk to their negotiator, and ask about their track record in successfully negotiating short sales.   

When considering a short sale, consider all your other options as well and get professional advice from an attorney and CPA to determine your best solution. 

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2021

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Home Selling with Pets

home selling with pets
Home renovations (infographic from census.gov)

We love our pets, they’re part of the family!  If you’re home selling with pets, you’ll find home buyer pet owners will likely be drawn to your pet accommodations.  According to the 2020 Animal House: Pets in the Home Buying and Selling Process report (nar.realtor, April 2020) many home buyers make decisions with their pets in mind.  Some highlights include: 43 percent of pet owners would move to find a better home for their pet; paramount to 18 percent of pet owners is outdoor spaces and convenience to a vet; 68 percent of home buyers’ decision to buy or rent was based on the community’s animal policy.

But there are many other buyers who don’t have pets.  Non-pet home buyers are often turned off by a “pet home” for various reasons.  Some have pet allergies, and can be affected when they enter the home.  Others are turned off by pet odors.  And some are distracted by free-roaming pets while touring the home.  Is there a home selling with pets strategy that can make your home more appealing to all home buyers?

Professionally deep-clean your home. 

One of the most common obstacles home buyers encounter when viewing a home is that their allergies are triggered when they enter a home where a dog and/or a cat live.  A common cause for this is pet dander and odor.  These issues are typically addressed by hiring a professional to clean carpets and furniture.  Refusing to do this could devalue the home and stay on the market longer. 

Repair pet related damage.

Pets are wonderful, but they sometimes scratch walls, doors, and furniture. Carpets sometimes get ripped and stained.  Wood floors can also be scratched and stained.  Pets can also dig holes in the yard and garden beds. If your pet has done any of these things to your home, consider making repairs. Failing to repair pet related damage can turn off potential buyers, and devalue your home. 

Before a buyer visits a home.

Before buyers visit your home, vacuum rugs and furniture, and sweep up dander in any other areas.  Inspect your home to make sure there are no surprise droppings from your pet.  Put away your pet’s toys.  Professionals recommend placing non-toxic flowers and plants through the home to help provide a fresh environment.  Because not everyone is a dog lover, take your dog out for a walk while buyers tour your home.

Many professionals advise pet owning home sellers to hide traces of their pets as much as possible.  However, it many feel this is more work than they signed on for.  Is there a balance where you don’t have ot remove your pet while selling?

Melissa Dittmann Tracey, in her NAR article Can You Stage the Household Dog? (March 26, 2012; nar.realtor) relates her experience about selling her home by getting her dogs in on the sale.  The staging is basically making the pet area more homely.  Tracey dressed her dogs for a photo to be placed in their area. The photo said “Welcome to our home.”  She related that when she removed her pets, she didn’t get an offer.  However, when the pets where in the home, she received two offers.  Of course, Tracey’s experience is purely anecdotal, but it’s something to think about as an alternative staging idea.

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2021

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Clean your home

clean your home
Top renovations when selling your home (infographic from keepingcurrentmatters.com)

“Clean your home” is one of the most underrated activities when preparing to sell your home.  Although it’s seemingly the easiest thing to do to get a higher price and faster sale, it’s often misunderstood or shrugged off. because there’s so much going on when selling a home.  Besides getting the home ready to list, you’re likely planning a move.  With so much on your mind, it’s easy to put it off. 

A New York Times piece by Tim McKeough (Market Ready; nytimes.com; July 25, 2012) gave advice from a real estate broker and a cleaning professional on properly cleaning before listing a home.  The real estate broker commented on cleaning windows and floors; as well as polishing furniture.  Paramount is the condition of home entry, kitchen and bathrooms.  The entryway is important because it’s the area where the home buyer gets their first impression of the home.  The kitchen and bathrooms get much of the home buyers’ attention, and should also be a focus of a deep cleaning.  It’s advised that the entryway be decluttered, and the kitchen and bathrooms should be “spotless.” 

Attention to detail is important, such as cleaning the oven/range, clean tile grout and a new shower curtain.  Because dirty grout can leave a bad impression with home buyers, consider regrouting.  “Horizontal surfaces” (such as windowsills, picture frames, baseboards, and shelves) should also be a focus of cleaning.  Also, a deep cleaning should focus on areas where cleaning finger prints are found, such as light switches and door knobs.  When showing the home, the sink should be clean and dishes put away, as well as putting away toiletries and making the beds.

When your agent recommends to clean your home, they mean to get a deep cleaning. However, home sellers often misconstrue “deep cleaning” as a routine cleaning.  Don’t get me wrong, cleaning your home anytime is positive.  However, a deep cleaning goes after dirt and grime that has accumulated while you lived in the home.  A deep cleaning includes and goes beyond the basic cleaning.  A deep cleaning typically includes (but isn’t limited to) shampooing rugs and carpets, cleaning grime from oven and range burners, cleaning bathroom grout, cleaning windows, cleaning baseboards and corners, and ceiling fans.  If you have a pet, your deep cleaning should also focus on removing pet hair, dander and lingering odors. 

Most home sellers hire a cleaning service for the “deep clean.”  The Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) offers these tips when hiring a cleaning service: 1) Research the company. Ask friends, family members, and neighbors for recommendations.  Interview at least three companies.  Check if the company has complaints.  2) When interviewing the service, ask to also meet with someone who will be doing the cleaning to understand their process.  Also ask what cleaning products are used, especially if anyone in the home has sensitivities and allergies.  3) Most important – check credentials. Check if their operating license is in good standing.  Ask for proof of their bond and insurance.  Request or conduct your own background check.  4) Ask for and contact past client references.  5) When talking about the cost, consider the time that will needed for the cleaning.  Make sure that the service includes everything that you need to be cleaned.  A home walkthrough is recommended to provide a service estimate.  Although it’s typical to be attracted to the least expensive service, it may not be the best value.  6) When you decide on the service, get it in writing and make sure it’s specific as to what the service will do and the time they will be in your home. 

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2021

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Price is Everything

Price is everything
Home owner equity

Home sellers want to get top dollar, and home buyers want value.  This is a hard to truth to acknowledge, but regardless of your home’s condition, location, etc. it all comes down to the home sale price.  Don’t just take my word on it. There’s plenty of peer reviewed research on the topic.  For example, Han and Strange’s study that demonstrates how home price effects home buyers’ response and motivation to visit and/or make an offer on your home (What is the Role of the Asking Price for a House?; Journal of Urban Economics; Volume 93, May 2016, P115-130).  The conclusion indicated that list prices that are consistent with neighborhood values (not overpriced) maximize home buyer engagement.  Price is everything .

The “price is everything” concept applies to any housing market.  It applies when the market is slow, and even when the market is doing well.  Take for example this year, when it seemed as if any home that come on the market sold quickly. However, there’s a caveat: homes that were priced correctly sold quickly.  Homes that were overpriced took much longer to sell.  For those overpriced homes that sold, they sold for less than original list price. 

As home prices continue to appreciate, home sellers are eager to push the envelope when setting their list price.  But home buyers are savvy and won’t overpay for a home, so creating a realistic pricing strategy is key to your home sale success.  Things to consider include your home’s condition, your local market, and your competition.

The main tool to help you decide on a list price is the CMA (comparative market analysis), which you can get from your agent.  The CMA is not an appraisal, but it is a snapshot of market activity for similar homes in your market area.  The CMA can show how homes like yours (that are similar in size, style, age and condition) sell by price and days on market.  Typically, the CMA is broken down into 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month segments to show how home sales are trending.  Compare active homes to homes that sold as well as those that didn’t sell for sale price and days-on-market).  Also be aware of any seller concession, which can affect your net sale.  Finally keep track of neighborhood active listings, this is your competition that can also help you modulate your price if needed.

To help sellers understand how their homes compare to the competition, I used to advise clients to visit neighborhood open houses.  This was helpful in understanding how to prepare their homes by comparing the homes’ condition and features.  Although visiting open houses may not be practical for you these days, technology makes it easy to see the interior of home via HD pictures, virtual tours and floor plans. 

Another pricing strategy that many home sellers use to get more buyer traffic is “just-below” pricing.  Just-below pricing is reducing your decided list price below the rounded number.  For example, if your list price is $450,000, the just-below price might be $449,900. This strategy was demonstrated through research by Beracha and Seiler (The Effect of Pricing Strategy on Home Selection and Transaction Prices: An Investigation of the Left-Most Digit Effect; Journal of Housing Research; 2015; Vol. 24, No. 2, pp.147-161).  Just-below pricing works best the list price is rounded down to the nearest hundred or thousand.

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2020/12/20/price-is-everything/

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2020

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Real Estate Agent Personality

real estate agent personality
Working with a real estate agent (infographic from keepingcurrentmatters.com)

Many home buyers and sellers don’t give much thought in choosing their real estate agent. They may decide to work with an agent after meeting once or a phone call.  But having the right agent by your side can mean the difference in having an event-free home buying or selling experience, or one that is full of pitfalls and non-communication.  Besides professional expertise and experience, is there a real estate agent personality trait that gives you an advantage?

Lee Davenport conducted a groundbreaking study comparing real estate agent personality differences (Home Sales Success and Personality Types: Is There a Connection?; Journal of Real Estate Practice and Education; 2018; Vol 21, No 1; p29-57.)  The study investigated the question whether there is a connection between successful real estate agents and their personality type.  Success was measured through lead generation (e.g., meeting new clients).  Although you might think there is a personality that is better suited for real estate, the study concluded that there wasn’t one specific personality type that correlated to real estate success.  However, he suggested that there should be further research to understand why there is no difference in the success among real estate personality types.

Back in 2014, Graham Wood wrote an article for NAR that also questioned if there was a perfect agent personality (Are You Sure Your Agents Have the Right Personality for the Job? nar.realtor; April 11, 2014).  Although the article was not a study published in a peer reviewed journal like Lee Davenport’s, it does provide food for thought and an obvious conclusion. 

Wood, like Davenport, questioned which personality dimension on the DISC test was better suited for real estate.  After testing himself, Wood believed his personality traits were not suited for a people-skills intensive field (such as real estate sales).  However, after interviewing several brokers, he learned that there is place in real estate for pretty much any personality type.  The DISC (discprofile.com) is a behavioral assessment tool that helps people be more self-aware, and increase productivity. 

What should you look for when choosing your agent?  First, make sure they are licensed in the area you intend to buy and/or sell.  I can tell you that there are agents who try to do business over state lines where they are not licensed.  It happens more than you think. 

Second, what’s their experience and expertise?  In today’s market, most agents don’t confine themselves to specific neighborhoods.  The idea of “neighborhood specialists” is antiquated.  Information is abundant to agents and consumers, and can easily be applied to any neighborhood.  You can learn more about an agent by how they handle adversity. Instead of asking about how many sales they have or neighborhood experience, ask about specific transactions where they overcame obstacles.

Other considerations include getting a referral from a friend or relative. But referrals should be vetted.  Just because your friend had a good experience with their agent, doesn’t guarantee success for you.  Sometimes agents and clients connect and work well together, and sometimes they don’t. Just in case, make sure you can walk away from your agent by ensuring your buyer or listing agreement provides for termination without a penalty.

Also, it doesn’t hurt asking the agent for a couple of references from recent clients.  You can get insight into the agent’s business by calling the references and asking about their experience with the agent. 

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2020

Original located at https://dankrell.com/blog/2020/11/28/real-estate-agent-personality/

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.