How to Improve Your Selling Time
What factors influence the time it takes to find a buyer?
When listing your home for sale, ask your Realtor® for the average sale time for homes in your neighborhood. Let’s say the average for your area is 120 days. What can be done to speed up the time it takes to attract a buyer? The answer is “plenty.” There are really three main factors that affect the actual marketing time on a home:
Price is probably the biggest factor. If the condition of your home is equal to others currently for sale in your area, and you’re offering comparable terms, you can expect that it will sell in about the average amount of time your Realtor® gives you. If you want or need it sell it more quickly, you may want to consider adjusting your price downward slightly to present “a better value” to a buyer. Buyers do some comparison shopping before deciding and they will perceive greater value in your home if it is priced even just slightly below the price suggested by a Comparative Market Analysis.
Terms offered are another factor which may be adjusted to attract buyers. If your home is priced at its “market value”, consider offering to pay a portion of the buyer’s closing costs. Another option might be to make sure it will qualify for FHA or VA financing, even if that requires you to make minor changes or improvements. By doing so, you will reduce the amount of down payment a buyer will have to make and attract more first-time buyers. Your Realtor® can suggest other “terms” which may also help attract buyers in your specific locale or even a whole new group of potential buyers.
The Condition of your home alone can sometimes prompt a fast buying decision from an anxious prospective buyer, concerned that it may be “snapped up” because it is so desirable. Consider investing in attractive and currently popular upgrades and cosmetic improvements before putting it on the market. A good place to start is the outside; its “curb appeal” — a fresh coat of paint, a flawless roof and some neat landscaping can do wonders.
Inside your home, the biggest payoff is often in the kitchen and baths. Consider replacing “tired looking” kitchen appliances, flooring and countertops. Make the baths extra attractive with modern wallpaper, a new countertop or tile flooring. Scrub the tub and shower stall until they sparkle. A home that sparkles displays the previous owner’s pride of ownership. That alone can instill confidence in a prospective buyer and trigger a quick sale.
The key, then, to a shorter selling time on your home is to offer a unique set of benefits to your prospective buyers. While Price, Condition and Terms are not the only factors, they are surely among the most important factors. Ask your Realtor® for advice if a quicker than average sale is your goal.
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Choosing the Right One
So you’ve decided to sell your home and you’ve been interviewing potential “Listing Agents.” You’ve interviewed three and it’s time to select the one you’ll use.
Of those you interviewed, which one should you choose?
Do you pick the one that seemed sharp; who came to your door already knowing what your home was worth and it was more than you had hoped for? He even agreed that you should “start high — you can always reduce the price later if you need to.” And, he claimed to have Buyers lined up just waiting to buy a home like yours!
The first Realtor® sounds almost too good to be true — and, he is. The truth is that he was engaging in a despicable practice called “buying a listing.” He “buys” your listing by suggesting that you can get a higher sales price than a reputable agent would suggest. He may know your home will not actually sell at that price, maybe not even close to it. His intention from the start is to “get the listing now,” tying up your home with his “listing contract” for the next 3, 6 or more months. Then, after few, if any, prospective buyers have seen the home, he’ll talk you into lowering the price.
Why do agents “buy” listings? There are a couple of reasons. An inexperienced agent can respond inappropriately to pressure from a homeowner who has an inflated perception of the home’s value. And, being new, he really wants to “get some listings on the board.” On the other hand, there are some agents who engage in “buying listings” as a routine practice. Getting listings with unrealistic promises violates the Realtor’s® Code of Ethics
Or, do you pick the second one who seemed honest and sincere enough, but his suggested price, which he did have with him on the first visit, was lower than the first “hot-shot.” But, he didn’t give you much detail on “how he was going to market your home.” He had some colorful presentation materials, though. “Oh well,” you figure, “all Realtors® do about the same stuff anyway, right? Put it in MLS, put an ad in the newspaper once or twice, hold a couple open houses if you demand it and otherwise just hope the home sells itself.”
Or, do you pick the third one that required two visits; the first to tour your home making notes on its features, strengths and weaknesses and who asked a lot of questions. Then, she came back for a second meeting to give you a recommended selling price — perhaps a bit lower than the price offered by the hot-shot or the second agent neither of whom had even seen the home before announcing what it was worth.
The third Realtor® also spent time explaining her “marketing plan” for your home, not necessarily with a snappy presentation, but with facts and commitments. She pointed out, that contrary to common opinion, her job is not so much to sell the home herself, although she’d love to do that. But as your “Listing Agent,” her primary job is to make sure all the local area Realtors® who deal with Buyers know about your home and its features. She will do that by holding a “Brokers Open House” and providing each of them with a brochure on your home so every Realtor® would remember this home. In addition to the Brokers’ Open House, she offered several other ways she’d put your home in front of the widest possible number of prospective Buyers. Finally, she explained how important it is that the home be accurately described in Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so Realtors® looking for homes to show their clients will identify your property as a good value with all the right features.
In a nutshell, your Listing Agent’s job is to multiply the number of people working to sell your house by enlisting every other Realtor® in town, especially those who deal mostly with Buyers.
In summary, you should choose as your Listing Agent, a Realtor® who:
- is experienced at selling homes in your neighborhood.
- is honest enough to admit that one cannot give a reasonable estimate of the value of a home until he or she has toured the home.
- takes the time to document an honest comparison of your home to others that have sold recently and those currently on the market.
- has a clear and comprehensive “marketing plan” for your home.
- is someone with whom you feel comfortable discussing one of the most important decisions you can make.
Interest rates are at historic lows, a huge array of flexible low-cost loan programs are available, and there are several home-ownership assistance programs that can help just about everyone experience the joy of homeownership. There couldn’t be a better time than now to consider buying your first home and getting out of the “rent rat-race.”
However, if you been a renter for quite a while, you may not be aware of the steps involved in acquiring a home mortgage. This report will give you some important tips to make the purchase of your first home a much more pleasant and successful experience.
1) Clean Up Your Credit Rating First
During the pre-qualification process, you’ll learn if there are any potential problems in your credit history. This, of course, assumes that you are truthful with the mortgage professional. telling fibs or leaving out important facts isn’t smart. You may sneak something past during a pre-qualification, but everything will come out before you get to closing. So, if your credit isn’t spotless, be honest about it. Your mortgage professional may be able to help you clear up the problem or, at least, deal with it up-front rather than later at the final mortgage application when suspicious eyes will wonder why it wasn’t disclosed at the outset.
Review your credit report carefully with your mortgage professional. It is not unusual for non-payments to be listed that are not even yours. Your mortgage professional can help you address problems up on the credit report. Sometimes, just a simple letter to the creditor explaining the circumstances will rectify the situation. But, credit repair can also take months, so start early. To learn more about your “credit score,” be sure to also read our article entitled What is My Credit Rating.
2) Get to Know a Realtor® You Can Trust
As a first-time homebuyer, the biggest mistake you can make is believing that you can save money by not using a Realtor�. Buying a “For Sale by Owner,” home, known in the trade as a FSBO, seldom gets you the best price or the best protection regardless of the claims made by the Seller. Many FSBOs are selling it themselves because no Realtor®: would list the home at the price the Seller thinks its worth. The Listing Agent for a home may tell you that he or she can represent both you and the seller fairly (that means really representing neither of you). While that can be true, it’s generally better to be safe rather than sorry. Consider using a Realtor® who agrees to represent you and you alone, as “your Buyer’s Agent.” Particularly on your first home purchase, you want all the representation on your side that you can get. You may also want to read our article entitled Should I Use a Buyer’s Agent.
3) Estimate How Long You Might Own the Home
Probably the worst thing that can happen after buying a home is to find out that you need to sell it again within a year or two. If you must sell a home before its value has had a chance to appreciate enough or cover selling costs and commissions, you can put your yourself and your family in a bind. This is especially true if you buy a home with a down payment was less than 10% of the purchase price.
Your selling real estate commission may average about 6% and other closing costs can add another 1.5% to 2%. So, unless the home appreciated in value by more than at least 8 – 10% while you owned it, you may lose all or a portion of your down payment or worse, you may need to “write a check” to close on the sale. To be safe, make sure your plans include staying in your new home close to 5 years before you’ll need or want to sell it.
4) Know Your Rights Regarding a Mortgage Application
There is a federal law called RESPA, which stands for Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act which gives you certain rights that you ought to know about. RESPA requires all lenders to disclose information to potential customers throughout the mortgage process, by doing so, RESPA protects you as a borrower from abuses by lending institutions. RESPA mandates that lenders fully inform borrowers about all closing costs, lender servicing and escrow account practices, and business relationships between closing service providers and other parties to the transaction. For more information on RESPA, go to the RESPA website or call (800) 569-4287 for a local RESPA counseling referral. Your Realtor® will also be able to help you understand rights under RESPA.
5) Shop Around for A Mortgage Professional
Like most other areas, the quality of mortgage professionals and the program they offer varies significantly. Don’t immediately settle on the first lender you talk to. Shop around at least as much as you would if you were buying a car. Don’t settle on one until you feel you can completely trust the professional and the company he or she represents.
6) Get Pre-qualified for a Mortgage Before You Start Looking
Before you even think about looking for a home, get pre-qualified by a mortgage professional. Pre-qualification is free. It’s simple, and it gives you a definite advantage in the buying process. Sellers like to know they’re negotiating with a party that can go through with a deal once it’s agreed to. They’ll often accept a little lower offer when they know the buyer is pre-qualified. Further, the pre-qualification process will clarify your financial situation, and give you a good indication of how much home you can afford. This will help you avoid wasting time and the aggravation that comes from looking at homes you cannot afford.
7) Compare More Than Just Interest Rates
While interest rates are certainly a significant factor, compare the total cost of the transaction you are planning. Different firms charge fee for different things leading to very different total costs when you get to your closing. Demand to see a full accounting of all the fees you will pay at closing. Ask how long the pre-qualification is good for. You don’t want to go to the pre-qualification process only to have it expire before you find the home of your dreams
8) Know What “Kind” of Mortgage You Want
There are several different kinds of mortgages:
- Fixed Rate – where the interest rate will stay the same for the life of the mortgage.
- Adjustable Rate – where the interest rate will be adjusted periodically to the “market rate.”
- Two-Tier Rate – where the interest rate may be low for the first several years and then convert to either a fixed or variable rate at later point in time.
- Hybrid of Special Programs – a variety of programs generally designed to help first-time homebuyers or special local or national circumstances
There is nothing particularly good or bad about any of these. You just need to understand them and see how they fit with your situation.
9) Decide what features you “need” and those you just “want.”
You are going to see a lot of homes before you find the one that’s right for you and each one will be different. To avoid being “swept away” by all the features and amenities there are in some homes, do yourself and your Realtor®: a favor. Make a list of the items that are “must haves” and another of “wish list” items and give it to your real estate agent. It will help him or her identify homes to show you. You can change the list as you go along, but just having it in writing in front of you will help keep you focused and on-course to finding the right home for you and your family.
10) Keep Everything Stable While Looking for a Home
Don’t make big purchases or move money around before applying for a mortgage. Approval of your mortgage depends, in part, on the ratio of your income to current debt. Buying a new car or a home theater system could put your debt ratio over the limit. Similarly, during the approval process, the mortgage broker will review your “sources of funds.” It helps if your checking, savings and investment accounts remain stable and in the same place while you’re getting a mortgage commitment and searching for a home.
Following the steps above and enlisting the assistance of a professional Realtor® will make buying the “home of your dreams” and ending the “rent rat-race” a much more pleasant and rewarding experience.
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Expired Real Estate Listings
Buyers and Investors Have Access to Them Too
Expired Real Estate Listings have been the near exclusive domain of real estate agents for as long as I can remember. Top producing agents know that expired listings don’t require a lot of effort to get yet yield a high return on their time and money invested in marketing them. And all you must do to find them is log into your MLS system enter the dates that you’re interested in and presto there they are.
The days of exclusivity may be ending as buyers and investors are competing for those same expired listings. They too are starting to realize that expired listings offer special opportunities for them as well but instead of listings they get to bid on properties that are suddenly off the market and may be reduced by at least the cost of the real estate listing fee which is no longer in effect because it expired too.
Buyers and sellers are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to expired listings they don’t have easy access to the MLS system. They can’t just log into the MLS system they don’t have access to it.
Instead they must be a little more innovative. Some sign Buyer Broker Agreements whereby they hire and pay agents to help them buy real estate. And since the agents will get paid by the buyer they can then expand the properties shown to their prospective buyers to include expired listings real estate listings fsbos and even properties that are actively listed in MLS systems.
Suddenly buying options for buyers and investors expand threefold. Agents are now free to show them almost any property on the market and the Buyer Broker contract ensures that they’ll get paid.
The concept is a little unorthodox and is not utilized by many but those that do know about it are finding that there are more buying options than they would otherwise have.
My first Buyer Broker experience was as an agent and it was a wonderful experience. At the time I was struggling to pay gas to usher clients around town to look at houses only to have them walk away without buying anything or go on to another agent and buy something.
And what was so good about it is that I got a pretty sizeable nonrefundable retainer fee so if they had walked away I would have felt adequately compensated for the time spent with them. But I didn’t have to worry about that because they ended up buying a home and I got a full fee for my services.
So, listen up buyers and investors. If you’re looking for a great deal you might want to seriously retain an agent to search expired real estate listings for you which can in some instances be as good as buying foreclosures. Sellers are motivated to get their properties sold and are likely to be very happy to work with your agent to negotiate a sale.
For all you agents out there. A Buyer Broker contract to find expired listings can open a new channel of possibilities. So, what are you waiting on?
Visit Real Estate Whitefish to learn more about expired real estate listings and other lead generating strategies.
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Flathead Property Search Find Whitefish Real Estate
You can find all the available Columbia Falls real estate listings, search Columbia Falls homes for sale, and get lots of insight about the Columbia Falls real estate market at Real Estate Whitefish.
Get instant access to a lot of relevant information about Columbia Falls, Montana County, MT real estate, including property descriptions, photos, maps and Columbia Falls demographics You can also use the map view to find homes and apartments for sale based on amenities in Columbia Falls, Montana County, MT that you may want close by. There’s information on the Columbia Falls, Montana County, MT real estate market at the bottom of search results pages, if you’re looking for an overview of the area. With Real Estate Whitefish Search Console, you can easily browse through Columbia Falls, Montana County, MT single family homes for sale, townhouses, condos and commercial properties, and quickly get a general perspective on the real estate prices. If you are buying or selling land in Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Kalispell or anywhere in the Flathead Valley, Tom is an experienced Whitefish real estate lawyer who will help you decide whether a Warranty Deed, Quit Claim Deed, Special Warranty Deed or another type of Deed is the best for you.
If you are buying or selling land in Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Kalispell or anywhere in the Flathead Valley, Wink Jordan is an experienced Whitefish real estate broker who can help you through the entire process by reviewing the buy-sell contract, title commitment, settlement statement, deed, bank loans, seller financing, trust indenture, mortgage, easements, surveys and road and well agreements. You can find all the available Kalispell real estate listings, search Kalispell homes for sale, and get lots of insight about the Kalispell real estate market at EXIT Realty Flathead Valley Our dedicated real estate agents focus on meeting all your real estate needs and exceeding your greatest expectations while you’re looking for property in Kalispell. You can find all the available Flathead County real estate listings, search Flathead County homes for sale, and get lots of insight about the Flathead County real estate market at Real Estate Whitefish.
We have locations in both Whitefish and Columbia Falls and have been serving our real estate clients in all the Flathead Valley sub-markets for over 20 years. Lindsay Fansler has Whitefish Montana real estate listings of homes, land, and commercial properties for sale in the Whitefish area. Real Estate Whitefish provides buyers and sellers with outstanding real estate service in the cities of Whitefish, Kalispell, Columbia Falls and Bigfork, as well as throughout the state of Montana.
Real Estate Whitefish Search Console has Flathead County commercial real estate properties including land for sale, gas stations, multifamily homes, hotels, shopping centers, farms, retail space and office space for sale or for lease. Columbia Falls offers the second-lowest price point in the Flathead Valley, behind Kalispell with a median home value of $239,000. Sales inside the Kalispell city limits, representing nearly 30 percent of the Flathead market, increased 14.5 percent in 2014, and the median price increased 6.3 percent to $177,500.
With the Real Estate Whitefish Search Console, you can easily browse through Flathead County, MT single family homes for sale, townhouses, condos and commercial properties, and quickly get a general perspective on the real estate prices. With 5,241 people, 2,047 houses or apartments, and a median cost of homes of $215,502, Columbia Falls real estate prices are well above average cost compared to national prices. Browse through our real estate listings in Columbia Falls, MT. Browse photos, watch virtual tours and create a “Favorites” account to save, organize and share your favorite properties.
You can search all available MLS listings in Columbia Falls including single family homes, apartments, townhouses, and many other types of properties, as well as find information about Columbia Falls such as schools and nearby amenities like restaurants, banks, airports and shopping centers. Columbia Falls Montana real estate offers residential homes, and commercial properties, as well as acres of land. Below are 6 Columbia Falls commercial real estate listings out of over 500,000 total properties available on.
Visit Real Estate Whitefish to learn more about expired real estate listings and other lead generating strategies.
Decrease The Supply Of Available Homes Not The Demand
One way to rebuild a healthy real estate market is to decrease the amount of homes available for sale. Most of our recent efforts have been geared towards increasing the demand to buy homes. It’s pretty obvious that several experts and the media aren’t going to stop highlighting every negative aspect in the real estate market, so it might be a little difficult to increase demand. It’s their job to report the news but why can’t they report positive news as well? When you want to know about something don’t you turn to the news or a well-known expert?
What if a program or several programs were developed that encouraged owning a rental property or keeping your home off the market? If there were a few programs homeowners could choose which works best for their situation.
The government could give tax incentives to sellers that agreed to keep their property off the market for X amount of years? This might entice investors or homeowners because their payoff from the sale of their home if they agreed to hold onto their investment would be greater because of the tax incentives.
The government or lenders could offer an annuity type of loan to homeowners. The loan would slowly tack onto the principle of the home loan each month. Homeowners wouldn’t receive a large lump sum of money, but their mortgage payment would decrease by X amount each month and would slowly increase over the years. The lender and borrower would determine how much of a loan was suitable based on the homeowners needs and the lenders ability. The lender could stop paying the annuity at any time if a borrower failed to meet their payment obligations.
Lenders could offer locked or lower interest rates to homeowners that agree not to refinance or sell their homes for X amount of years same concept as a prepayment penalty. They could set the homeowners up on steadily increasing payment plan giving them lower payments initially similar to an ARM but instead of giving these incentives to new customers lenders will be trying to avoid costly foreclosures.
Hopefully these programs would keep homes off the market and help regulate when homes are placed back on the market. Programs like these would interest some sellers because many of them can’t sell their homes right now; in many cases if they do they’ll take a loss. I think most sellers would love to hold if they could cover or minimize their negative monthly cashflow and others will be happy with keeping more of their money from the eventual sale of their homes. Not everyone would qualify or benefit from programs like these, but it could be a nice way to decrease the supply of homes for sale and improve the health of the real estate market.
I’m pretty sure that well need to develop several solutions to fix some of the mistakes or oversights that helped fuel this over correction. I know real estate is cyclical but feel that some decisions have led to a rougher market. There are some possible downsides to this solution such as the probable increase in new home cancellations possibility of homeowners defaulting on new agreements and difficulty in implementing these plans but there definitely could be a viable solution found in focusing on our supply of homes for sale as opposed to trying to increase the demand. Many of our markets have great potential and with a little help we could be back on track!
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Like shopping for anything expensive, shopping for a home requires research and a game plan. When you have a list of steps to take, the process will be far less perplexing and far more enjoyable. You’ll also be more successful if you have a strategy, so let’s take a look at some of the initial steps to take to get you into that new home. Check them off as you complete them.
Get ready to buy a home – check your finances
No, working on your finances won’t be the most exciting part of the process, but it just may end up being the most rewarding. Just as you wouldn’t go car shopping without knowing exactly how much you can afford to spend, neither should you step foot in even one home for sale without understanding where you stand financially.
A good place to start is with your credit score. If you haven’t checked it in a while, order your credit reports. By law, you are entitled to one free credit report (from each of the three reporting agencies) every 12 months. The only company that is authorized by the Federal Trade Commission to supply consumers with these free reports is annualcreditreport.com.
Go through the reports and dispute any errors you find. Fixing even one error may significantly impact your credit rating.
Then, go over your budget (if you don’t have one, create one using the template here). Tally up all of your debts and figure out how much money you have coming in every month.
Finally, determine where you can make cuts or how you can bring in more money to set aside for your down payment and closing costs. Your down payment requirement will depend on which loan program you use and closing costs, although variable, typically run between 2 and 7 percent of the loan amount, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Shop for a mortgage
Meeting with a lender is the next important step in the game plan. Based on the outcome of your first meeting with a loan officer, you can request a preapproval letter, which puts you in a strong negotiating position with home sellers.
Lenders want stacks of paperwork, all proving that you can afford a home. Plan on supplying your lender with at least the following:
- Tax returns, including Schedule C if you are self-employed
- Pay stubs,
- Bank statements (all pages, including the blank ones)
- Identification, including your Social Security card and driver’s license
The self-employed and those pursuing jumbo loans may be asked for additional documentation.
Make a list of must-haves in your new home
Now that you know how much you can spend on a home, it’s time to make a shopping list, which can include items such as:
- Location – proximity to public transportation, schools, shopping or whatever is important to you.
- Neighborhood must-haves – community pool, security gate, guard, trails, clubhouse, etc. Do you want friendly neighbors or those that keep to themselves? A neighborhood with or without kids?
- Architectural style – if you have a particular style in mind, such as colonial or Victorian, list that, as well as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need.
- Interior features – If there is anything you absolutely must have, such as a formal dining room or a chef’s kitchen, make note of it.
- Exterior – Do you need a large lot or just a small yard? Is a carport sufficient or do you require a garage? Don’t forget to list pool, spa, fencing and any other exterior features you want in your new home.
Finally, organize the list, placing the three most important items at the top. These are your priorities, and you should share them with your real estate agent.
Tip: To determine your priorities, think about what you find intolerable about your current living situation. For instance, if barking dogs drive you crazy, vow to find a quiet neighborhood. If you’re sick and tired of mowing the lawn when you’d rather be relaxing, seek a home with low-maintenance landscaping.
Find a real estate agent
Since you’re now ready to look at homes, you’ll need a real estate agent’s help from here on. Remember, the services of a buyer’s agent won’t cost you anything – the seller pays all real estate commissions, so there really is no reason not to have your own representation and many, many reasons you should.
While all of the steps in the above checklist are important, and should be taken in the order listed, securing the services of a professional real estate agent to help in the purchase of a home is critical. Having a pro represent your interests, negotiate on your behalf and walk you through all the piles of paperwork — at no cost to you – will give you peace of mind during the process.
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