Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How are real estate agents paid?

Whether you're buying or selling a home, you'll probably work with a real estate professional during the transaction. If you're a seller, the REALTOR® that you work with will offer expert advice about the community and competition, provide marketing and advertising, and handle schedules for all the transactions that must occur. For buyers, the agent will help them identify properties that fit their needs, handle negotiations and also help with the paperwork and scheduling.

For all that they do, agents are paid by commission, rather than on an hourly rate. The commission they receive is based on the sale price and only after the completion of the sale. If they do not sell the home, or if they are unable to locate a home for a buyer, they aren't paid.

How much is the commission?

The typical commission is about 6 percent of the sale price, and it is usually split between the buyer's agent and the listing agent. The commission percentage that the seller agrees to pay is negotiable.

Who pays the commission?

The fee for the transaction is subtracted from the proceeds of the sale. It’s important to note that the fee comes out of the cost of the house and is not tacked on in addition to the sale price.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Don’t forget the garage when staging your home

It's well documented that staging your home for a sale helps you sell it quicker and for more money. It helps the buyer imagine what their stuff would look like in their new home.

Many homeowners forget that the garage is an extension of the home and use it as a storage space for all their clutter when getting ready for a sale. That's a big mistake.

The garage is an important amenity. Home buyers like the room for storing their stuff. So when staging the home, make sure to stage the garage so they can see the potential in it, whether they want to fill it with shelves for storage, put cars in it, use it as a shop area, or a man cave.

Here is the to-do list for staging your garage:


Get rid of all that extra stuff that you don’t use anymore, including the things from inside the home, and have a garage sale.

Use heavy-duty hooks to hang larger items that are taking up space.

If you have cabinets, shelves, or storage systems, organize everything in them. Get everything off the floor and into cabinets, shelves, or bins.

Put tools away in drawers or cabinets or hang them on a pegboard.

Make sure all flammable items, tools, and chemicals are stored correctly.

Clean everything

Dust the walls and corners, just like you would the rest of the house. If the walls don't come clean after scouring, they need a fresh coat of paint.

Clean the garage floor. Attack any stains and get rid of them. Like the walls, if the floor doesn't look great after a good scrubbing, consider painting and sealing it or adding a floor covering.

Don’t forget the garage door! Make sure it's clean and free of scuffs and marks. A fresh coat of paint will do wonders to increase the curb appeal of your home.

Maintenance and improvements

If it doesn’t already have one, install a smoke detector in your garage.

Check the lighting and replace all bulbs. If it's still dim, consider adding lights.

Make sure your garage door opener is working properly, along with all the extra functions, including the automatic light, automatic reverse, emergency release and wall control panel.

Tell your REALTOR® about any unique features, workbench, or extra storage space in the garage so they can be pointed out to potential buyers.

Making sure your garage is clean, organized and in good repair sets the stage for a good first impression. It may not be a deal breaker, but if a home buyer is on the fence about making an offer, it can be the small difference that tips the odds in your favor.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Should you FSBO?

On the surface, selling your own home seems like a good idea. After all, who knows your home better than you?

This is known in the real estate industry as FSBO, or For Sale By Owner.

Advantages of selling your own home

The biggest advantage of selling your home yourself is that you won't pay a commission to a REALTOR®. You also have complete control of the transaction. You don’t have to rely on anyone else. You schedule the showings, do the marketing, answer inquiries, etc.

Why it's better to work with a REALTOR®

First and foremost is experience. Most buyers choose to work with a buyers’ agent whose job it is to get a home at the best possible price for the client. As a rule, they are good at negotiation. The possibility exists that you could sell your home for less money, and you could leave yourself open to potential legal problems. If you do choose to go the FSBO route, have an experienced real estate attorney examine the contract.

Loss on the price

If you sell your home, you may end up selling it for less than you should. Real estate agents hire appraisers whose job it is to find things wrong with your home. You don't have access to all of the data that real estate agents do - including sale prices of comparable homes, the prices other homes in the area are listing for, etc.

Marketing expenses

You will have to pay for marketing, listings, signage, printing, and advertising (for which you'll pay more, because you won't get an agency's volume discount.)


Although it seems like you'll pocket what you would pay in commission - which is a tremendous savings - if you do sell your home, the buyer knows that you're saving commission, so they will probably negotiate for you to pay the buyer's commission, so expect to pay around 3% of the purchase price to the buyer's agent. And don't forget that you'll have to pay for a lawyer to review the contract.

Added time

Selling a home takes time, and because you'll be learning everything about the process on the fly, you can expect it to take longer.

Complicated process

Because selling a home is so involved, with many steps, government agencies and procedures that have to be accomplished before the sale can be finalized, there are things that will fall through the cracks.

Shrinking the pool of buyers

Because you may not be able to advertise as effectively as a real estate agent, you're going to miss some potential buyers. Also, some buyers may decide the best way to avoid any of the potential problems is to work with an agent and will avoid homes listed FSBO.

It’s not that it can’t be done, but FSBO is a tricky, time-consuming and somewhat costly endeavor. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons before making the decision.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Should you replace your roof before putting the house on the market?

One of the biggest concerns home buyers have is whether they will have to replace the roof. A new roof is worth a lot to potential buyers because it puts their minds at ease. A new roof is a big expense, particularly worrisome if the new homeowner is cash-strapped after a down payment and paying closing costs.

If you are considering selling your home, you may be asking yourself if you should replace the roof.

The first thing you should do is schedule a home inspection. The inspector will examine the roof and let you know whether you need a repair, replacement, or if it's in good shape.

If you own the home outright, your decision to replace the roof may depend on whether you are looking to maximize the sale price. Someone who still owes a great deal on the principal and wants to leave the deal with as much cash as possible may opt to not replace the roof.

If you can't afford to spend money out of pocket, you may need a home equity loan to replace the roof, which means more debt that will need to be paid when the house is sold.

Look at the competition in your area. If there are a lot of competitively priced homes, a new roof may be a major incentive to potential buyers.

Consider how much of a negative impact leaving the roof as is will have. If you have already seen leaking or if there is a possibility that damage could occur if the roof is left as is, there's no question that it should be replaced. Leaving it as is would make it difficult for a buyer to get a mortgage if the roof needs repair or replacement.

If insurance will cover part of the repair, it makes sense to go ahead with the repair.

It is possible that a partial repair can fix your problem. You could also offer to lower the sale price to cover the roof replacement.

A new roof can definitely help the sale of your home. Ask your real estate agent for advice regarding your ability to recoup the expense of roof repair or replacement.