The Ten Most Common Ways to Throw Away Money When Selling

The real estate game can be a strategic battleground for some, depending on how you look at it. If you have more money than you know what to do with, you probably aren’t worried about saving every dollar you can. For the rest of us who are trying to save where we can, this article is for you.

The real estate market can be quite unforgiving, especially when dealing with buyers. Sellers are quite capable of making mistakes that can cost them thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of dollars. These mistakes are quite common, so educate yourself on what NOT to do to save yourself some major cash.

Not hiring a professional to sell your house

Unless you are a real estate agent yourself, trying to sell by yourself is insane. You might think you know what you are doing, but you’ll likely miss something. Even if your home is quite awesome and you think it’ll sell fast, you still need the guidance of a real estate agent in order to get the best deal.

Not fixing repairs before you sell

If the buyer has to fix a few parts of the house, that’s often times significant money out of your pocket. It costs much less to fix them yourself, than losing that money on closing day. You will probably know what all is wrong with your house when you get an inspection. So do yourself a favor and fix what you can instead of dealing with it the last minute.

Not moving your junk prior to sale

Your junk can easily derail a deal by lowering your equity. With your stuff in the way, the house isn’t able to be seen for what it is. Get rid of it!

Selling your home completely empty

On the other hand the opposite is true. If you try and sell your home completely empty, buyers feel like they’re...

How to Appeal to Buyers in Today's Market

Today the home buyer’s trend is to be on the hunt in early spring and in hopes to find a home during summer and be moved in by fall for the school year. Because of this, a good portion of home buyers will not list their homes during the winter holiday seasons.  They also want to have the warm weather showcase their home in its best light.

This trend was predominately for families, but today’s buyers are mostly millennials and empty nesters.  They don’t typically care about school schedules, willing to search and buy in the winter months.

So if you have a home to sell, fall is an excellent time to list it. There will be less competition, and could even put the cards in your favor.  Here is how you will appeal to the two types of home buyers during the fall.

Advertising your home to millennials

Millennials are never “turned off”. With how connected they are to the world, they are always on the hunt. They can spend every day of the week looking for a perfect listing. Keeping your home in perfect shape is essential to appeal to them in fall.

Because they tend to be a bit “entitled”, millennials won’t wait for an open house and will be preferred to have a private showing during their time.

TO help yourself you will need great photos online the minute it goes to market. Nothing is more heart breaking to them than finding a great house that doesn’t have any pictures. Millennials are a visual group, so make sure you don’t skimp on the photos and hire a great agent. Good photos can get your buyer in the door. Give them what they want.

Marketing to empty nesters

Empty nesters are a bit older than millennials usually, who take their time on buying a house. There’s no need to rush them. Typically they are looking to downsize, which often means...

What To Do If Your Home Isn't Selling

A typical house in a strong market can usually be sold in six weeks. It has to show well and be fairly priced for you to hit a homerun with selling your house. However, not every house can sell in six weeks, and when they don’t, the seller becomes frustrated as their agents begin price reductions.

A seller begins to think the agent just wants to get this deal pushed through, but if you’ve got a quality agent, they truly want to get you the best deal possible. Houses soon lose their momentum as the house continues to sit. Potential home buyers might be turned off by this fact, thinking this is a stale house and something could be wrong with it. Fear not! Here are a few ideas to get that sale your after when your house isn’t receiving any offers.

Essential Factors: Price, Location, and condition

Changing the location of your home would be difficult, but you do have the power of controlling the other two factors. If you’ve sat on the market for a couple months and have had no showings or offers, you may want to modify the price and condition.

One choice to fix the condition is to take it of the market and do a little maintenance/update. Try de-cluttering, re-staging, or give the kitchen a quick face lift with a fresh coat of paint. If you happen to get a few comments about a certain part of the home, consider doing something to it.

If giving the house a quick face life is out of the question, your next option is to reduce price. Houses in more public neighborhoods tend to have a location problem. The best answer then is to drop price. If you are unwilling to drop the price, try renting it.

Be on the same page with your agent

If you and your agent are at two different places on selling strategy and price, you will probably have to ditch them and get a new one. Without the backing of a professional agent,...

Helping Yourself Sell Your House

Selling your house is a process. If your home is a midsized suburban home, you best get it ready to sell to a millennial, or a gen-Xer, because that is your market now. If you can update your home to appeal to that market, your house will be ideal for younger generations. Here are five tips to use when readying your home to sell to younger generations.

  1. Backyard deck – Everyone, including millennials, love back yards and decks. If you have a tiny one, or don’t have one, consider building one. It gets them a place to relax outside.  If you cannot afford an all wood deck, do some research on composite deck materials. These are not as expensive, and require less maintenance than traditional pine wood decks. If you can put some lights aro0und your deck, it will surely add a pretty touch.
  2. Fancy kitchens – The kitchen is the one room that will always give you the highest ROI. It’s the one room where families spend most of their time. But what is a fancy kitchen compared to a regular kitchen? Here are the keys to a gourmet kitchen: state-of-the-art appliances, colorful and quality countertops, and plenty of storage spots.

Gourmet kitchens have multiple ovens. They have heating ovens, conventional ovens, and microwaves. This gives fancy cooks options when practicing their craft. They will also have multiple coolers/freezers in the kitchen too. The extra freezer is made for storage.

The counter tops are the real visual appeal. In the last decade, granite and marble countertops have been the hot trend. These look beautiful, and will last a lifetime. If you cannot afford these countertops, go for a laminate counter top that mimics granite or marble.

The last aspect of a kitchen is storage space. These include sliding spice racks, large pantry closets, and plenty of cabinet drawers. If you cannot afford all these updates, then go for a cosmetic update. Just throw in a new paint job, and some new counters, and it will look...

How to Tell How Fast Your Home Will Sell

Anyone familiar with the real estate industry knows the term, “Location, location, location”. While this is a highly reputable term, it isn’t the only worth focusing on. Homes are likely to fly off the market often have similarities between them. Here are four that will give you a solid piece of mind when looking to sell.

  1. Relax, the price will come – Yes the market is recovering, but slowly though. This takes time and won’t happen in a couple months. Whatever you do, don’t over price it. Homes that are priced 12 percent above their Zillow estimated value are almost half as likely to sell within 60 days versus those estimated values. The sweet spot is to find that middle ground.
  2. Take pictures, but not too many – 16 -21 photos are the ideal amount of photos for a listing. Always be over prepared than underprepared. Aerial shots are beginning to take flight as the new form of photographic advertising.
  3. Size matters – smaller homes, typically under 1,100 square feet, sell the fastest. They usually sell about 9 percentage points faster than larger homes in larger markets within 60 days. However, in markets like San Francisco, and Indianapolis, these little homes take the longest to sell. It all depends on your market, and where you are.
  4. Advertise – The more you advertise, the luckier you make yourself. Getting to the right advertising platforms severely increases your chances of selling within the time you’d like.


It’s good to be back from the west coast! Get that house sold!


When Not to Sell in a Seller’s Market

Trends in real estate can always lead us to thinking what we want to do is a good idea, but that isn’t always the case. Read these tips before you follow through with your “genius” idea.

The current market states that housing prices are on the rise yet again, and my guess is you are getting that itch to sell. There are several reasons why you shouldn’t scratch that itch and sell in this seller’s market.  Stay put and read this article before making any rash decisions.

The Return from Distress

If you have been living in a distressed neighborhood and finally hear the good word that home prices are increasing, this brings hope to your heart. Yes they might be increasing, but they could very well still be below the norm. So if your house fell 30% and the median home price increased 14%, then you’re still down. Look at the national real estate market as a whole and decide if the appreciation will likely continue or not.

It’s not about selling when it’s the best time to, it’s about selling to recoup the cost of the house and then a little more. Don’t get greedy and lose sight of your properties potential by some appealing numbers.

Assessing your Rental Market

Check out your local renters market before you sell. Rentals are on the rise because housing is becoming less affordable, and people are moving around a lot more for their jobs. Since rental rates are climbing, maybe this is your next option. Sit down with a real estate professional and see if a property like yours is worth renting out and what you could gain from it.

A Combination Approach

Sometimes it’s best to rent out your current home while you buy your next home, but only if you don’t need to proceeds of your last home to go towards the new...

5 Ways to Deal with the Neighborhood Eye Sore

You are moments away from finally putting your beautiful home on the market, and then it hits you; the eye sore next door is going to create quite a problem. There are people who will try to hide and cover up these eyesores, trying to fool prospective buyers, but in the end, without proper attention the eyesores still remain.

You can always embrace the eye sore and view it as a prairie instead of a lawn, but for those of us who nearly go blind looking at them, here are a few ways to fix this problem.

  1. Ask the neighbor to fix the issue

This is no easy task. How do you tell your neighbor their yard looks like crap and it’s hindering your ability to sell your home?  One way is to write a friendly note and leave it with a bottle of wine or case of beer. When doing this make sure to mention the more your home sells for, the more their home is worth.

  1. Be neighborly

Some people live a certain way for so long they don’t notice what might look ugly to others.  This often happens with the elderly because they don’t notice, or don’t have the means to keep up with the maintenance of their homes. Just do not recommend a townhome or condo. It’s kind of offensive in a way.

You might try asking them if you can spruce it up yourself. Hopefully they’re not hoarders who want to keep the weeds growing out of the sidewalk. You will be surprised how often people like being helped. So try asking them to fix the wobbly fence, or the rotting paint around their house. Chances are they would be glad to have you help them work on it.  

  1. Notify your HOA

If you live in a HOA, write them and make sure they are aware of the unkempt house nearby. One of the main reasons HOA’s exist is to prevent this from happening. They are there to prevent eye sores from popping up and devaluing your home.

The HOA will send the offending neighbor a letter requesting them to fix whatever...

3 Tips for Evaluating Multiple Offers

Selling your home is a process, sometimes an unpleasant one, but sometimes it can be fun. Usually it’s only fun when you get a slew of interested buyers waiting to make you an offer. Figuring out which offer to accept is of utmost importance, and which one will go through is crucial.

The sellers dream is receiving as many offers as they can handle as quickly as possible. Once multiple offers start coming in, brace yourself, there will be a ton to look over. This is when you know you’ve staged your home to the best of its ability and priced it correctly. Having multiple offers will be stressful, because which offer should you accept? Here are some tips to decide which offer.


Identify the best buyer and work with them to make a deal

When I say “best buyer” I mean the person(s) that have been to the house multiple times, and has made themselves known to you and your agent. Do not confuse this with the person who placed the highest bid. If the best buyer was the highest bidder, there’s a chance you could be caught in a bidding war, or they get cold feet and walk away after an inspection.

This best buyer is the one who is working with a local agent, and has been pre-approved with a mortgage, and has been in the market for some time. A quality listing agent will be quick to point out who is the best buyer. The buyer who is committed to a home and wants to close is the buyer for you. The second you accept an offer or sign a contract, the work begins.


Use the terms of a lower-priced offer with your best buyer

If you have a couple offers, they might run the gamut for over-asking to lowballing you. Try not to take offense to any offer, because every offer you get, the more times you will have to figure out a counteroffer.

If your agent can contact the buyer’s agent and say they’ve received five offers, it will make the top two buyers want it even more! If you price is low,...

How to Protect Your Belongings During an Open House

Don’t want to get your jewelry stolen during an open house? Well be sure to secure them from the people who will be rummaging through your closets, drawers, and cabinets.

An open house is pretty much an open invitation for complete strangers to walk through your house while you are absent. You post a sign in your yard saying you won’t be home during these hours, so come on in and take a look around.

There are a few risks once you put your home on the market and make it open to the public. As humans we expect a common code of decency when we let humans in our home. It doesn’t hurt to be proactive in case the common code is undervalued. Chances are they’re not going to help themselves to your valuables while you’re gone, but I definitely wouldn’t give them an open invite to do so.

People are just curious, it’s in our genes, and they are given a right to be curious during an open house.

The target spots will be your medicine cabinets, jewelry boxes, and your trinket room. Be sure to scan your rooms and look for easily pocketed items. This will include your prescriptions, notes with personal or valuable information, checkbooks, and jewelry.

Do NOT overlook the potential opportunities for identity theft; this is a growing crime in America. This means all bills, bank statements, and mail need to be put away where no one can stumble upon them. Don’t stuff them in a drawer, that’s just dumb. Lock them up!

Also be sure not to obsess over whether it is secure enough. This could create a state of fear and paranoia. No one in their right mind will walk out of your home with your brand new plasma TV, but they might put the $100 bottle of wine in their purse on the way out.

Here are your safety tips

  • Find a reputable agent and ask him/her how to safeguard your home during an open house.
  • Make sure your agent has a sign-in sheet for everyone who enters your home.
  • For multilevel homes,...

6 Factors You Don't Notice That Are Hurting Your Home Sale

Having a difficult time selling your home? It could be what is on the outside versus the inside that is delaying this process. It isn’t always what’s on the inside that counts.

You know you have one of the best homes on the block, and your agent knows it too; but it has been sitting on the market far longer than either of you expected. In order to sell your home, you have done everything you agent said, and even went above and beyond by reading forums online for all the “how-to’s”, but the problem still lingers.

Sometimes it isn’t what’s on the inside, but the outside. Look around the yard, driveway, exterior of the house, and figure out what it needs. Here’s some of the often things that are overlooked:

  1. Electrical Substations: Real estate forums teem with people who worry as if it was their job about potential electrocution from nearby substations. The only way these electrical substations can be dangerous, is if they blow up. They also fear that this box will electrocute a trespasser. You just need to know how to defuse this fear. Things you’ll want to know, when was this built? Where are the underground cables, what level is the electric charge? And even show someone how to take electric readings to show the magnetic field is of no danger.
  2. Parking Problems: Parking your car could be a problem. Maybe there isn’t enough space for a second car in the driveway, which leads to parallel parking, and then mass tickets come street cleaning day. There isn’t really anything that can be done to fix the parking problem. My advice for you is to try to make it a sweet deal. One thing you can do is offer a month’s fee to a nearby garage, or buy a parking sticker for them.
  3. Lawsuits: It’s no secret neighbors can be a terror whether you are living in a condo or a house. Sometimes people argue and get in tiffs. Occasionally these tiffs lead to lawsuits. And lawsuits can become...

Selling or Refinancing with Low Equity

If you are looking to sell or refinance, but don’t quite have enough equity, your best bet is to find the right mortgage broker to reveal all your options. Feeling underwater is never good, and all you can think about is breathing. Even though the economy is picking up again, a lot of people were hit by the housing crisis. You, or someone you know could steal be dealing with a home that is underwater.

More than 10% of homeowners in 2014 with a mortgage were regarded as “under-equitied”. This means they have less than 20% equity in their homes.

You cannot say that you’ve thought about running if you currently owe more than it’s worth. Of course there are the 6%-10% fees when you do finally sell your home. You could also end up having to bring some money to the closing depending on how much you owe. This compensates for the lack of equity.

Another option is to have a short sale. However, your lender has to agree to this. Besides getting you away from your mortgage, it will do quite a number on your credit, meaning it will be next to impossible to find another mortgage in the near future.

There is always the possibility of delaying your home sale and working to correct your financial situation. You could even make a profit in the long run, but remember this will not happen overnight.

Ideally, it’s best to take on more than one strategy, and reduce your loan-to-value ratio. Hopefully below 80% in a matter of time. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Contact your lender: Banks generally hold programs in place to help you refinance and make your payments more affordable. Even though it may not be an option to refinance, or a bit too expensive, the bank could have other options as well. This considers your loan-to-value ratio, and if it is above 80% you will be forced to pay for the added expense of mortgage insurance. You should also ask if you would qualify to refinance...

What's Stopping You From Selling Your Home? Probably YOU!

 There’s no doubt about it, selling your home is stressful. Moving in good time and at a good price makes you feel the pressure. So now you have your agent, know what you’re getting into, and put in the seat to make your home shine, and it is ready to sell. So why is the home not selling, and why has the market turned cold all of a sudden? Hate to say it, but it may be YOU.

You may not believe me, but just take a listen. If your home isn’t selling, and the obvious bases are covered, you may want to look a bit harder in the mirror to figure this problem out. Here are a few ways you could unintentionally be sabotaging your own home sale.

Limiting Property Access

One of the biggest things you can do for yourself is let interested parties actually view the property. It sounds quite obvious, but if you limit the availability of views, you are driving potential buyers away. We know, weekends aren’t good, and evenings aren’t the best for you, but the goal is to sell your house. Set aside some time and make your home available to the public and get it sold!

House-showing Drama

If you are demanding to be present when you show your house, chances are you aren’t helping your home get sold.

Agents and buyers need their space to speak openly and honestly about the condition of the home. Having the owner of the house can be quite awkward and can limit what is said. Don’t be a third wheel; give the buyer some space without you being in the back of their mind.

Ignoring Advice

You are working with an agent because they are the professional in this situation. Follow their advice when they suggest an upgrade here, and a repair there. If you are ignoring their input, why did you hire them in the first place? Also, if you continue ignoring your agent, and the home isn’t sold after a period of time, they may just wipe their hands clean of it and walk...

Reasons to Reconsider Selling your Home by Yourself

Many metropolitan areas have seen property values increase in the past couple years. In 2014, those increases slowed significantly. But now that winter is almost over, home selling is about to pick up again.

For the homeowners who want to sell, but are waiting for their home to increase in value is quite natural. They want to maximize their profit, which means cutting out the middle man and selling themselves.

Here’s the reality: Selling your home yourself isn’t going to make much of a difference. You won’t be saving boatloads of money as you planned. The money you planned on saving from commission doesn’t add up to much when you consider the amount you would have gotten for your home if you used an agent. They bring pricing expertise, negotiating skills, and access to the table. They are professionals and can get the top dollar for your home, while getting your home sold in a timely manner.

The numbers don’t lie. It usually takes longer to sell when a home is “for sale by owner”, and sells for less. These numbers come from the National Associates of Realtors. These agents know the process quite well. It’s how they make their living so you can trust them. Here are five quick tips on why DIY is only good for home repairs and not home sales.

  1. Pricing- The biggest aspect of getting your home sold is to make sure it is priced correctly. You lose money when it is priced too low, and you don’t sell it when it is priced too high. The emotional connection between a home seller and their home creates a sense of inflated value. The professional real estate agent knows the true market value and isn’t looking at it through jaded eyes.
  2. Negotiating- Selling your home is a major transaction. The three important negotiations in the sale: the initial offer, the counter offer, and the postoffer period that includes inspections and requests for concessions. You need a skilled negotiator for this process.
  3. Exposure- To get your...

6 Tips to Winning A Negotiation

Negotiating can be a tough obstacle in your home buying process. Never do you want the seller to feel like you’re trying to low ball them. It’s best to negotiate in a way that both sides can walk away feeling happy with. Once you learn how to handle negotiating encounters it gets easier, and you can thrive.


When selling your home and you receive such a low an offer that makes your jaw drop, remember to relax and consider all your options. Here are six tips to help you win this negotiation game.


  1. Price is right- There is a difference in the price you believe your home is worth vs. the price the market will allow. Look at neighborhood sales in the recent past to give you a more realistic idea.  Be sure to ask your agent about what benchmark is most probably.
  2. Consider the first offer – Generally your first offer is your best one, so pay attention to it. It might appear insulting at first, but usually from then on out these offers tend to get worse.
  3. Think like a salesperson – Before you list your home for sale, establish your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement). This is your fallback option in case a no deal happens. This also pushes you into a strong negotiation position. If you do not receive your absolute bottom line, then maybe you will rent it out and stay try in the near future. Or maybe you’ll renovate and stay. Having a BATNA in mind will stop you from receiving a bad deal out of desperation.
  4. Don’t get emotional – IT is vitally important to stay level headed throughout this process. Business is business, and has no room for emotions. Business skill, rational and logical thinking, and negotiation skills are what this is all about. Also ask your agent to find out the buyer’s prequalification amount from the bank, or what the buyer’s desired purchase price is. The more information you have about a buyer’s financial standing, the better you...

Pros and Cons of Financing as Seller

Seller financing can benefit both parties in a home sale despite the natural risks. This is essentially taking out the middle man, and middle men do the work no one really wants to do. If you can shoulder the burden, do it and get rid of the third party.

Who wouldn’t want the banks and mortgage lenders out of the picture if they could be? It’s probably people who don’t know what they’re doing, which is most people. Shouldering the financing does involve risk.

Seller financing is when the seller is the lender in the transaction. The seller doesn’t just give the buyer money in the form of a loan like the banks and mortgage lenders do. The seller allows the buyer to make payments. They might let them rent first, and if they record is clean, and then they can buy. Now though, the expenses of property taxes, homeowner insurance, and maintenance then fall on the buyer.

The buyer almost always signs a promissory note to the seller listing the interest rate, repayment schedule, and default consequences. These are usually short-term deals. Sellers don’t want to be dealing with this for 30 years. The loan is usually amortized for 30 years with a balloon payment after the first five years, this would be the standard deal for seller financing. Balloon payments are the repayment of the left over principal sum, made at the end of a loan period.

                Pros for buyers:

  • People who cannot get a mortgage are able to buy a home though seller financing. A seller might give you the green light when a traditional lender would not.
  • Closing process is much faster and cheaper.
  • A down payment can be whatever is agreed upon.

Cons for the buyer:

  • Interest rates might be sky high.
  • A credit check will still be run on you even though the lender isn’t a real bank. You still have the potential to be turned down.
  • You need to ensure...