About: Sellers / The Selling Process

Choosing the Right Agent

CHOOSING THE RIGHT LISTING AGENT

The right Listing Agent CAN BE THE DIFFERENCE between just being FOR SALE and being SOLD. Any Agent can take your Listing, put on a lockbox, enter it into the MLS and wait for an offer.

We seldom use LOCKBOX’s. We will only use a lockbox (with your permission) if a condo or apartment is vacant and there is a high likelihood that showings will be requested on just a few minutes’ notice by Agents already showing other units in that building. If there is time, we will rush to be there, but we never want to lose a showing, even a last minute one, for serious Buyers.

We WILL be present to show the property. We like to meet Showing Agents and their customers because most homes benefit from being SOLD verbally. By this I mean GOOD features must be pointed out& emphasized, flaws acknowledged and downplayed or neutralized. Possibilities explained – “There is a storage area behind this wall that could be a great walk-in master closet…” or “Changing this window to a set of glass doors would change the whole house”. If there are known repairs necessary, we will be there with realistic figures so that when a Buyer says “A new roof could be 50 grand!” we can say, “We already have an estimate for a new one at $22,000, or repairs to this one at $4000”.

Many Agents showing a long list of properties will just let their Buyers look around by themselves while they catch up on calls or emails, and to be fair, they know nothing about the house to share.

It’s also valuable to hear what the customers (and their Agents) have to say about the house and about them. Have they been looking at houses MORE or LESS than this one? Is this the TOP of their range or the BOTTOM? Do they have to move by a certain date because they sold their place already? This gives us negotiating power if they DO write an offer.

It is OUR job to MANAGE THE PERCEPTIONS of a property. Recently I was given a listing that had already been on the market for several months with another Agent. It had been dropped in price over $50,000 during that listing period and still not sold.  “Vacant on Lockbox” the listing had stated. It was not selling because there was a 2 story apartment behind it that appeared to hurt the privacy of the back yard. Can’t be changed, right? There were very few windows on that part of the building and trees blocked those, but it was the PERCEPTION that was the problem… I actually RAISED the List price on the house, took off the lockbox, and attended all showings. When lookers (and I) got to the yard and the subject of the building came up, I pointed out casually that “The building actually gives you MORE privacy than just a fence and another house would, AND it blocks the road noise from the busy street beyond it…listen, no traffic!” You could actually SEE the changes in people’s faces – the perception had changed. The house was UNDER CONTRACT in 11 days for more than it had been LISTED by the previous Agent.

MARKET the property to people who may want to BUY it. We know how to market properties to sell them. We also know what doesn’t work. We have several proven marketing directions that we will choose from to target specific audiences for your home. Is yours a budget priced starter house or condo? We may target rental communities for 1st time buyers…a medium priced single family home? Maybe do color photo mailings to Townhome Owners with the angle “Tired of hearing you neighbors’ music?”Target specific buyer groups, not just aimless ads that no one will see.

Follow up all the way through.

Once we have your home Listed and UNDER CONTRACT, there is the entire Contract, Inspections, Appraisal, and Closing to look forward to. (See that part under CONTRACT through CLOSING)

Pricing Your Home

PRICING YOUR HOME

Most Agents will gladly take your listing if offered. They may even cut the commission or tell you a much HIGHER Listing price than is realistic just to get it signed. We call this “BUYING A LISTING”. It gets his sign in front of your home, which gets him calls and advertising but will not sell your house. You may get showings, but it won’t be long before you get the ‘price reduction call’ from him, maybe more than one, but by then the house is ‘stale’ on the market… “Oh that one, it’s been on for a while, there must be something wrong with it…”

We will determine (from recent sale of similar homes in similar locations, styles & condition) what the accurate price of your home or property SHOULD be in the CURRENT market. We will advise what dollar amount we should LIST it for, and give you a VERY good experienced based estimate of what figure the house should SELL for in a reasonable amount of market time. From there we will give you 2 other numbers to consider – We will make a suggestion for a slightly lower number that will price the house to sell quickly and easily if that is your goal, and a third price that will be “aggressive”, meaning a “try the market” price that is slightly over market value, but not completely impossible.

We will make our recommendation, but your LIST PRICE in that “Quick-lower/ Market Priced / or Aggressive-higher” price range will ultimately be YOUR decision.

Setting the Stage

Setting the Stage…

We hear Buyers. We hear every day what they like and what they don’t like about properties we see. We’ve learned over many years what odd little things they stick on, and what major things pass unnoticed…  No matter how many time we are told “Don’t worry, we have vision”, most don’t.

  • We may make suggestions to remove items or specific furnishings if we think they will negatively influence Buyers memories or perceptions of your home…
  • We may ask to have the windows cleaned professionally (you won’t BELIEVE the difference!). or change light bulbs in ceiling lights and chandeliers if they are mismatched or burned out…
  • We may even ask you to plant a bush or a tree in a specific spot… (To block out a direct neighbors window, or the view of trash cans or a ‘not pretty’ air conditioning unit…)
  • We won’t ever suggest fixes that cost any significant amount of money unless we are absolutely sure that the change will bring back a much greater return to YOU in selling price.

Believe me, we are not being critical of your home or you. We are anticipating the silly things that Buyers will fixate on and what will stick in their memories when they leave – “Oh, that house with the neighbors bathroom window looking right at the patio” instead of “That house with the great patio.” or “That house with all the burned out lights, don’t they take care of that place?” Small things can be perceived badly and look much bigger.

Colors should be as neutral as possible. It doesn’t help that HGTV shows one program where the Host paints a ‘feature wall” red and LOVES it, and the next show warns that you should NEVER do that… Its been my experience that few people will have furniture that matches that feature wall except you, so paint it out and take it off their ‘con’ list before it happens.

TRUE STORY ! A buyer chose to buy a 1 bedroom/1 bath condo (my Listing) that had a ‘not great’ street view over a 2 bedroom/2 bath (someone else’s Listing) in the same building that had a very pretty pool view for almost the same price. At closing, (after it was done) I asked him” Why did you pick this one over the 2 bedroom by the pool?” His response (I kid you not…) “The colors in that one were awful, my furniture wouldn’t have gone with anything.”  PAINT!  He didn’t buy it because of the wall colors.

SO Trust us. We’ve heard & seen it all. We wouldn’t ask if we didn’t think it would make a big difference.

From Contract to closing

FROM CONTRACT TO CLOSING

CONTRACT–When a Buyer has made an Offer…

In Florida, the standard Contract form most widely used is the AS-IS Contract (FAR-BAR ASIS-2). Our contracts are created by the “Florida Association of Realtors & the Florida BAR Association” and cannot by law be altered or changed by us in any way. The Offer will have the terms & conditions the Buyer would like, and have attached any appropriate Addendums necessary for the property like a Condominium Rider. Offer Price, amount of Deposit (escrow amount), an expected Closing Date, what is and what’s not included in the sale (most appliances & fittings are pre-printed), whether they are Cash, or Financing and the terms. This Contract/offer should have a Proof of Funds (if cash) or Pre-Approval (if financing) in the Buyers name. If it is acceptable, you, the Seller, signs & dates and that is then the “Effective Date”. If we change something and counter-offered, the date the last person signs the last agreed upon term becomes the Effective Date. That’s when the clock starts ticking for all terms and dates in the contract. Usually the Deposit or “Escrow” either accompanied the offer or it is due “Upon Acceptance”. Inspections are usually within 5-7 days “from acceptance”.

INSPECTIONS- Home Inspection

“AS IS” means that the Buyers have the right to do a Home Inspection for their own knowledge & information. It is NOT a tool to make demands from you for repairs, but will let them know what, if anything, is not working correctly, what will likely need replacement in the near future and what is good to go for long term. There are a few instances where requests can be made, but those are the exceptions, not the rule. They have the right during the Inspection Period “at Buyers Sole Discretion” to cancel the contract and receive your deposit back – No questions asked. If something sizable or major is discovered during a Home Inspection, it may be in your best interest to repair/replace to satisfy the Buyers and keep moving towards Closing. This is because that discovered defect or needed repair must now by law be disclosed to future Buyers anyway. Letting the Buyer walk away may result in you having to make another mortgage payment, another month of taxes & insurance, and possibly getting a lower offer from the next Buyers. “A bird in the hand…”

FINANCING APPRAISAL – “A SNAPSHOT OF A HOMES VALUE”…

Appraisals are always ‘interesting’ here in South Florida. To begin with, an Appraisal is a mathematical equation using 3 or more homes that are considered ‘Comparable’ properties (similar size, location, & amenities) to the property that is under contract. Appraisers will not compare waterfront to ‘non-waterfront’ or pool homes to ‘non-pool’ homes unless there is no other choice. They presently will only use properties that have Sold within the last 3 months (but will stretch that to 6 months if there aren’t any). They will adjust those 3 Sold prices up or down to match the condition and amenities of the Under Contract house, average them, and that number is what the Under Contract property will “appraise at”.  Unfortunately there is also a lot of OPINION of the individual Appraiser doing the report that makes them vary widely and sometimes very problematic. Example: Recently, a home with a contract price of $439,000 appraised the 1st time at $407,000 which was unacceptable to the bank involved, who then ordered a 2nd appraisal. That one, 6 days later, came in at $500,000. Same house, 6 days apart, 2 different Appraisers $93,000 apart! Very few agents attend the Appraisal appointment. WE DO, armed with a list of the ‘upgraded’ value points of you property and the Comparable Sales info FOR him. Most Appraisers welcome that information and it usually makes the report & value more accurate.

CLOSING – THE FINISH LINE !

Once a “Clear to Close” is given by a Lender/Underwriter, (or any other Contingencies have been met by Cash Buyers) the Title Company will prepare Final documents for Closing.

We will do a “Final Walk Through” with the Buyers just before to the Closing to confirm that the property is empty and clean. “Broom swept” is the contract term- and that everything is there that should be, regarding appliances, chandeliers…etc. The property should be in the same condition it was when the contract was made, no changes.

DO NOT plan on moving the day of Closing. That never goes well. The movers will be late, and you will be rushed & exhausted. If the move runs over and prevents the Buyers from doing a Final walk through, it may delay the Closing. Always plan your move for at least the day before if not earlier. The property must be empty and swept. Please DO NOT think you can leave ‘leftover’ furniture or contents ‘for the next owners’ unless they have specifically agreed in writing. It may end up costing you a disposal fee at the Closing. You cannot go back to the property after the Closing “to get a few things”. Once you Close, that’s it.

The Closing Package will show that figures from the Seller, the Buyer, the Government, and the Bank etc. all agree and that all money is accounted and exchanged as agreed. Title Insurance guarantees that the Seller holds a clean clear Title to the property and is now turning that clean Title over to the new owner in full. If Buyers cannot be present, their documents can be done and sent overnight as what’s called a “mail-away”, or pre-signed by you at an earlier time or day. The most important part of a closing is Funding. The Closing Agent cannot ‘fund’ or pay out until the wire from the Buyers or their Lender is confirmed, and a Funding number is given upon approval of all the signed Closing documents. Keys & possession must wait until that happens. If everything is done correctly and on time, Closing can seem a little anti-climactic with just a few hundred signatures and the handing over of keys. Your proceeds can be in the form of a Title Company check or wired directly to your bank.