You Cannot Please All Of The People All Of The Time

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You simply cannot please all of the people all of the time.

This adage is particularly true with real estate and putting your house on the market- because homes, locations, and such are so much a matter of personal preference, some people will find something to criticize about even the most perfectly staged, perfectly priced property on the market.

As a listing agent, my job is not to try to make your listing be all things to all people- but you do want it to appeal to enough buyers that you get one great offer (and multiple offers never hurt anybody, either!). That said, you don’t want your listing to be the house that nearly every buyer and agent sees, rolls their eyes at and utters the same few, predictable, deal-killing criticisms.

Fortunately, what is predictable is avoidable. Unfortunately, many of the things that make a listing susceptible to critics are issues on the seller’s side of the preparation for getting it ready to sell. Let’s explore the most common things buyers hate about listings they see.

House Critic Complaint No. 1: Odors

You might think I’m beating a dead horse or even preaching to the choir. But as long as house hunters keep asking me why, in the name of all that is Real Estate related, they keep viewing homes that smell like all sorts of mishmash, I’m going to keep repeating this!

Viewing a home sounds like it’s all about the visual, and mind you, visuals are critical- your listing should be at its Sunday best when it’s being shown, in terms of being spruced, staged and clutter-free. But when a buyer comes to see your listing, they don’t turn off the rest of their senses. There is nothing that can turn a buyer off from a home they’d otherwise like more quickly than a powerfully bad odor, in particular, cigarette, pet odors, and food smells in a house that seems to have been well-cleaned create the concern that those smells might be permanent and that the buyer might not be able to get rid of them without dropping some serious cash on cleaning or even removing wall, window and flooring.

If I am listing a home and you know that someone has been habitually smoking in it or that the seller has had a “challenge,” let’s say, with pet accidents, I cannot ignore the problem. Do not think that because you had the carpet shampooed or the drapes cleaned, or because YOU can’t smell anything, that the problem is gone. The human sense of smell very quickly gets used to smells that it lives with or is surrounded with on a regular basis.

It’s one of my toughest jobs as an agent to point out bad smells and odors, no matter how painful the conversation, and to make sure they are eliminated by any means necessary before you place your house on the market.

Critic Complaint No. 2: Overpricing 

There’s the one kind of overpricing that makes a buyer say, “Hmmm, seems a bit high, but let’s go see it anyway.” The other kind of overpricing is one that makes the buyer say, “I’ll wait until a price reduction,” or worse, hold their sides because they are laughing too hard!

It is common in our market for agents and sellers alike to say, “Let’s see if we can get it!”, and price a home a little above market value. However, when overpricing is glaring, many buyers and buyers’ agents are less likely to actually come out and see the place, especially if they weed it out online after comparing it’s pricing to all the other homes in the area. Often, homes this severely overpriced simply don’t sell, or at least not until after they have had some serious price cuts or have been on the market so long buyers begin to feel confident about making lowball offers.

The goal is the opposite- you want your listing to stand out as a property that is not priced so low as to throw up red flags but does present a good value for the money- that’s what motivates buyers to get out of their chairs and into the property for a viewing, and hopefully gets you, the seller, into a multiple offer situation!

I don’t set the price of my listings, I can only suggest. It’s obvious that the agent-seller conflict about overpricing is one of those battles that have been fought since Moby Dick was a minnow!

Here’s how to Critic Proof your home’s listing against this issue: Fixate on the comparables. Smart sellers deactivate their emotional attachment and the very human tendency to overvalue their precious homes by poring over the sales prices (not list prices) of similar, nearby homes that have recently sold. The buyer that wants to purchase your home doesn’t see the value in the fact that Jr. took his first steps in the Great Room, and won’t want to pay for it! Walk through this data — don’t forget to note the overpriced listings that are lagging on the market, and also any value-priced listings that have sold for way more than asking.

When I get a seller that simply won’t budge off a dramatically high list price, I have to consider whether this listing makes sense to take in the first place, or I will also use my wonderful office and the combined experience of the agents in my market center in a listing tour. If the agents overwhelmingly comment that they think the home is significantly overpriced, it is my duty to communicate this feedback to the seller. It doesn’t do either party any good to have a listing that is just sitting out there, not selling.

Critic Complaint No. 3: Dirt and/or Messes

Possibly the single largest source of Critic Complaints I’ve ever heard are the dirt, messes, and personal belongings that buyers find so distracting when they walk into a home for a viewing. Obviously, homes that are filthy from floor to ceiling are ripe for the picking for critics. What is underestimated is how often even savvy homebuyers are distracted (and disgusted) by relatively clean homes that just have a few outstanding messes, like piles of dirty dishes in the sink, piles of dog poo in the yard, or even piles of papers, mail, books or clothes lying out in plain view.

Will one or two such items ruin the sale of your home? It’s doubtful, however, a few of them (or more) can certainly distract a buyer enough that they fixate on the home’s messes and, in the process, fail to see what is so great about your property. As I see it, cleaning up faithfully before leaving for work every day and before every showing free-so it makes no sense to even run the risk of turning off a prospective buyer by letting messes get in the way of their ability to visualize themselves and their families flourishing in your home.

Make sure you brief the sellers in detail on what buyers expect, in the way of cleanliness. Also, set up a plan for giving them enough notice of showing appointments that they can do a quick, but thorough, house cleaning pass-through before every single viewing.

Critic Complaint No. 4: lots of little malfunctions

All of us tend to think our homes are in fantastic condition. After all, your sellers have had the furnace maintained regularly, they’ve installed granite and dual-paned windows, and maybe they even took your advice to have the floors refinished or the walls painted in preparation for putting the place on the market.

That’s all fantastic — all the noncosmetic work that’s been done to maintain and improve your listing should be trumpeted in your marketing materials, and the cosmetic items will (or should) speak for themselves. But here’s the thing: House hunters won’t be running the dishwasher or testing the furnace (at least not until inspections).

What they will do — almost unconsciously — is:

Flick light and fan switches.

Open or close window coverings, closet, room and entry doors.

Open and close drawers, cupboards, gates and fences.

Hold the handrails as they walk up and down the stairs.

They will hear leaky faucets and point out water spots from long-ago-repaired leaks, and they will notice (or potentially trip on) uneven exterior tiles, paths and walkways. And even though these items might be vastly less expensive to fix than the roof or sewer line you had replaced, they are much more visible and noticeable to a buyer. In fact, buyers don’t always even know that the little malfunctions and repairs that need doing are little or inexpensive. And when they notice a bunch of these sorts of things in a single property, they can jump to the conclusion that the whole place is rickety.

Since these little fixes are inexpensive to make, have them completed before you list, if at all possible. You might even ask your seller to walk through the property with you, pinpoint all the necessary little fixes and offer the a handyperson reference for someone you know works efficiently.

For professional real estate services, call me: (214) 609-7123 or jtrump@kw.com

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Rent Increases Expected To Climb Through 2015

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NBC’s Diana Olick recently reported that rents in the residential housing sector continued to rise in 2014. She interviewed Jed Kolko, Chief Economist at Trulia, who revealed:

“Rents are rising because of strong demand that supply hasn’t kept up with. Nearly all the new households are renters, and young people moving out of their parents’ homes will keep fueling rental demand.”

Where are rents headed in 2015?

The question now is where rents will be heading over the next twelve months. In a press release last week, Zillow chief economist Dr. Stan Humphries predicted residential rental prices will continue to climb in 2015:

“Home value appreciation will continue to cool down, from roughly 6 percent now to around 2.5 percent by the end of 2015. But rents will see no such slowdown, and will continue to grow around 3.5 percent annually throughout 2015. As renters’ costs keep going up, I expect the allure of fixed mortgage payments and a more stable housing market will entice many more otherwise content renters into the housing market.”

However, those potential buyers must make a decision quickly because, as Kolko explains:

“Paying more on rent makes it harder for would-be homebuyers to save for a down payment.”

Bottom Line

Ryan Severino, a senior economist at Reis, in Olick’s article stated the obvious:

“Landlords should still be able to push asking rent increases on to their tenants.”

If you are thinking about buying a home in 2015 instead of continuing to rent, it probably makes sense.

I have a network of trusted professionals that I partner with, and all have one goal in mind: To make the selling and buying experience the best possible experience that it can be! Contact me at (214) 609-7123 or jtrump@kw.com

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5 MIstakes That Could DECREASE The Value Of Your Home

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Renovating or improving something too much sounds like an oxymoron, however when it comes to attracting a buyer and generating a return on investment, it is possible. The decisions you make may be best for you and your family, but it is crucial to consider the mindset of potential buyers.

Here are five common renovation mistakes that may decrease your home value:

  1. Over improvement: Your home should be similar to other homes in the neighborhood. If your home costs much more than other homes in the neighborhood, potential buyers may choose that the updates you made do not outweigh the increased cost.
  2. Over personalization:You may love bright paint, built-ins, and elaborate tiles but the potential buyer may see changing it as too much of a hassle. You want buyers to be able to picture themselves living in the home so it is helpful to have a neutral design aesthetic when you show your home.
  3. Inconsistency: It is better to spend smaller amounts on many projects than spend a large amount of money on one project while neglecting other parts of the home. Instead of spending upwards of $30,000 installing a pool while keeping old and outdated appliances, it is a wiser decision to update the appliances.
  4. Removing a wall: It may seem as though knocking down a wall between two small rooms to make one larger room is a no brainer but having more rooms is almost always better when it comes to increasing the value of your home. Your family may be smaller than the potential buyers and, for them, it may be better to have more rooms regardless of their size. Removing bedrooms can also decrease the value of your home. Turn an extra bedroom into an office or gym while you are living there, but switch it back to a bedroom when you are getting ready to sell.
  5. Functional Obsolescence: Make sure that your renovations make sense. For example, potential buyers will probably not want to have the only way to enter one bedroom be to go through another bedroom. Another example would be turning a garage into a guest house. Although having a guest house might be better for your family, many families would prioritize having a garage.

Remember these mistakes when you are choosing renovation projects around your home. What seems like a good idea might not actually lead to a return on investment or, worse, may detract someone from buying your home.

Contact me for professional real estate services at (214) 609-7123 or jtrump@kw.com

Home Prices Continue To Rise

“Broad-based Slowdown for Home Prices”

That is a headline you might have seen over the past weekend. And though it is true, we must understand the story behind the headline. Case Shiller reports on the year-over-year difference in home values. Their latest report revealed that the rate of appreciation has slowed – not that prices are falling!! Here is exactly what they said:

“The 20-City Composite gained 4.9% year-over-year, compared to 5.6% in August.”

Prices are still up this month over last year’s values (4.9%) just not as much as they were last month (5.6%).

Home Prices are NOT Falling.

As a matter of fact, the latest Home Price Expectation Survey by Pulsenomics (a survey of a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists) showed that home prices will continue to appreciate for the next several years.

Projected-Prices

Bottom Line

Both first time buyers and families thinking of moving-up to their dream home can be assured that their investment in their new home makes sense.

For professional real estate services, call Jim Trump @ (214) 609-7123 or jtrump@kw.com

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The Top 5 Benefits Of Using A Professional To Buy A Home

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Every year the National Association of REALTORS releases their Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, in which they reveal the results of a yearlong survey of buyers and sellers. The latest profile revealed what actual buyers saw as the benefits of using an agent during the home buying process.

Here are the Top 5:

#1: Helped the Buyer Understand the Process

Whether it is your first time purchasing a home, or you’re an experienced buyer, there are over 230 possible actions that need to happen during every successful real estate transaction. Having someone to guide you through the process who can simply explain what is going on at every step of the way was sited as the top benefit by 63% of all buyers (that number jumped to 83% with first time buyers).

#2: Pointed Out Unnoticed Features/Faults with the Property

When you start the process of buying a home, you may be too excited to see each potential home for what it is, good and bad. An experienced professional can help you realize the potential hidden gems or risks before you make an offer.  Nearly 60% of all buyers listed this as a major benefit of hiring a professional.

#3: Improved the Buyer’s Knowledge of Search Areas

Whether you are looking to relocate to a new state, or just across town, having someone who knows the neighborhoods in which you are looking can be an invaluable asset.

#4: Negotiated Better Sales Contract Terms/Better Price

In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer, to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

#5: Provided a better list of service providers

A great agent has relationships with mortgage professionals, home inspectors, appraisers and other experts that you will need in securing your dream home.

Bottom Line

If you are considering purchasing a home, whether as a first-time or move up buyer, sit down with a local experienced real estate professional in your area and see what they have to offer. Contact me for professional real estate services at (214) 609-7123 or jtrump@kw.com

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Will New Construction In My Neighborhood Alter My Homes’ Value?

investment-basicsThe terms “seller’s market” and “buyer’s market” describe the party most likely to benefit from a real estate transaction in certain conditions; deriving from the basic economic principle of supply and demand. Put simply, when more houses are listed for sale than there are buyers willing to buy those houses, prices will go down. The opposite is also true. Here’s why.  

Where There’s Choice, There’s a Price Drop

When the Apple Macintosh computer, the world’s first affordable computer, was released in 1984, it cost $2,495. In today’s money, that equates to almost $5,500! How many people today would pay over $5,000 for a computer? Walk into a tech store and you can pick any number of models for a fraction of that cost.

The thing that has changed, of course, is competition. Basic economic theory suggests that if you have a large supply of a something, its value will go down. When there are more products for sale than buyers willing to purchase those products, suppliers must drop the price to attract the buyer and encourage a sale. In the real estate market, a large supply happens when there are more houses listed for sale than buyers willing to buy those houses. Buyers with multiple real estate options can bid down prices. More often than not a seller will accept a low ball offer because it is the only offer he will receive.

House values are determined by reference to the sale prices of comparable properties in the neighborhood. Over time, an oversupply will cause values to drop across the board.

New Construction Increases Housing Supply 

Housing inventory is in a constant state of flux, new construction; conversion and renovation add to the housing stock, which happens at local, regional or national level. For example, housing may be in short supply across the state but a popular city within that state might experience an oversupply of new development. All things being equal, a glut of new construction property in your neighborhood will increase supply and depress property prices. But supply is only one side of the equation. The concept is meaningless unless you also consider buyer demand.

Factors that Affect Housing Demand   

Multiple factors affect demand for housing, the primary factor being population. If a neighborhood experiences a population boom, demand for housing will increase. This frequently happens when a new employer moves to an area or a school district boasts outstanding results. In this scenario, new construction is needed to meet demand for housing. As long as demand keeps pace with supply, the value of local properties will not fall. In fact they will probably rise, particularly if the new development boosts the desirability of the area or signals that the neighborhood is on the up.

Another factor that affects housing demand is the buyer’s purchasing power. In a growing economy, workers typically experience greater job stability and rising wages. Homebuyers are more likely to qualify for mortgage financing, especially if interest rates are low. Existing homeowners find themselves with the cash to trade up, and people who previously rented can finally place their feet on the property ladder.

The opposite is also true. In a falling economy, wages stagnate. If inflation is high, true wages fall. Home seekers may struggle to get mortgage finance and demand for housing is typically weak. Listed properties may linger on the market without a sale. Over time, reduced demand will cause prices to fall.

The Verdict? 

New construction in a neighborhood may raise prices, reduce prices or have no effect at all. The outcome depends on the number of buyers and homes in the market, the quality of the subject property and external factors such as interest rates and attitudes to lending. The only way to figure out the true value of your property is through a comparative market analysis, which takes account of supply and demand factors in your local market. I would be happy to prepare this for you with no obligation.

For professional real estate services, contact The North Texas Home Hunter @ (214) 609-7123 or jtrump@kw.com

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NOW Is The Best Time To Sell Your Home. Here Is The Proof~

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Most homeowners believe that the winter is not a good time to sell. This belief is based on the fact that historically the number of buyers decreases in the winter and then increases dramatically during the spring buying market. Though this is still true, there is an interesting pattern developing over the last few months. The number of prospective purchasers actively looking at a home (foot traffic) has remained strong going into the fall. As a matter of fact, the foot traffic far exceeds the numbers reported for the same months last year (see chart):

Foot-Traffic

At the same time, the National Association of Realtors revealed that the months’ supply of housing inventory has decreased from 5.5 months to 5.3. That equates to less competition for homeowners selling today as compared to next spring when many homeowners will decide to put their home on the market.

Bottom Line

Since buying activity is still strong, this might be a great time to put your house on the market. Call The North Texas Home Hunter for professional real estate services, (214) 609-7123 or email jtrump@kw.com