Frequently Asked Questions
It’s been awhile since I’ve bought or sold a home. How can you help to make sure I understand what’s going on in today’s market?
Real estate has changed a lot but that does not mean it has to be feared or uncertain. Knowledge is power in real estate as well as any other profession; and the more knowledge you have, the better outcome you will have--saving you time, money and frustration. This starts with an experienced agent that will just sit and talk with you about your goals, timeframes, location and costs. Then helping to create a plan with timeframes and your goals in mind.
So which agent should you hire? Let me ask a question; What do you call a med student that graduates with a ‘D’? Answer: A Doctor! That’s scary isn’t it? The same applies to Agents. You may not be able to see what their test scores were but you can tell by their experience (or lack of). Would you want a Part Time agent trying to navigate the the real estate market and learning at the same time you are? Would you want an agent that discounts their fees because they lack the clients and sales ability that seasoned agents have? Would you trust the largest sale or purchase you will possibly make to inexperience, lack of negotiation skills or fear of what the other agent might say?
You need a real estate champion that has been there many times and can help you every step of the way.
How am I qualified to help you go boldly through this process while saving you time and money? I have helped clients:
- Sell their home for top dollar
- Find their dream home
- Buy their home saving thousands
- Fix up their homes using my list of contractors
- Use real estate to fund their children’s college education
- Attain real estate for passive income
- Attain real estate for retirement income
- 1031 Exchanges
- Investing and rental income
- Increase cash flow
I personally owned up to 14 rentals at one time and have fixed and flipped many others. I have also attended many investment and real estate classes and seminars, and have designations in:
- GRI Graduate Real Estate Institute. Higher level of learning that most agents never achieve.
- CNE Certified Negotiation Expert. Negotiation is how you save or lose money in a transaction for clients and yourself.
- SRES Senior Real Estate Specialist. Advanced ways to help Boomers and Seniors navigate the different challenges facing them as they age in place or buy with that in mind.
- CDPE Certified Distressed Property Expert. Helping clients who are behind in payments by negotiating with banks, attorneys and foreclosure departments so the client, and all parties involved, agree to an outcome that is good for the client or that they have approved of.
- You found the agent with the knowledge, and now you have the power to make an informed and smart decision. The bottom line is, I have helped many clients like you, saving them time and stress and saving them thousands in the process. That’s what your Real Estate Champion does.
What makes you different from the other Realtors?
As a former World Dance Champion, I learned about dedication, tenacity and determination. My wife and I competed for almost 20 years. Most of the time we were looking for cool routines, the latest moves and tricks and we worked at it. We made it through the divisions, but did not start winning World Titles until we went back to the technique (the basics) and really incorporated it into our dances that propelled us. We won a total of five World Championships.
There are a lot of similarities in dance and real estate. Everyone wants the cool website, the latest technology, the smartest phones, etc. But what really counts is the technique (the basics). What does the client need? What are they trying accomplish with the purchase or sale? Is there a better/different way? How can I net them more money, save them time, stress and help them get what they want?
Texting and email is fine, but it does not replace a good old fashioned phone call or meeting in person to get to know each other and build trust (the basics). Listening to the client and delivering in a way that fits their needs and busy life is what really counts at the end of the day. That’s how you build “Raving Fans” and referrals. Clients recommend an agent they trust.
Which customers are you best suited to help?
Clients I have helped have been Attorneys, Pilots, Secret Service, FBI, CIA, Doctors, Health Care Professionals, Boomers and Seniors. Why? I relate to this group because they see the value in an experienced “Trusted Advisor” to guide them through the process and help them negotiate not only the sale, but also the time, paperwork, contract and closing. I am best suited to help busy professionals that don’t want their time wasted, nor do they have time for “do-overs”.
I help many clients de-clutter, fix and stage their home, downsize, upsize, additions for in-laws and/or grandchildren, estate sales, garage sales, local and cross country moves. I search for homes that meet their needs and wants and provide details about them so they can make informed decisions.
Boomers and Seniors have even broader needs. Some have been in their homes for 15-20-40 years and have accumulated many memories and treasures that are hard to throw out. Many feel overwhelmed with “where do I start”? My list of trusted professionals will help them with this and many other needs such as moving and storage, decluttering, staging, repairs, upgrades, curb appeal, etc. This whole group is usually friendly, well educated, active and looking for more than just a house. They want a place they can make their home with all of the amenities that go with it. That’s why I am “The Real Estate Champion’ for the upscale and active lifestyle.
How and why did you get in to real estate?<?strong
I was in the mortgage industry for 17 years. My wife and I bought, sold, rehabbed and flipped many homes. We held rentals and cash flow properties. I decided to get my real estate license to save money on all of these transactions and to help friends that wanted to invest the same way. Referrals started rolling in and my business took off.
I have taken many additional classes in investing, buying and selling, passive income, boomers and seniors, negotiation and helping my clients the best way I can. Trust is the most important thing you can give your clients. It takes time but is well worth it. Many become good friends.
How long will it take to sell my home?
There are three factors that determine how long it will take for your home to sell:
- LOCATION: You cannot change the location but this is a big part in the home selection of a potential buyer. Schools, close to work, daycare, interstate or easy travel routes, neighborhood and shops are all reasons buyers select location. Next to a highway, noise, big power lines, steep hill, etc. are some of the reasons why consumers pass on a home. What you do have control over is the next two items...condition and price.
- CONDITION: This is what a buyer looks for. Has it been updated for the current tastes of today’s consumer? Is it cluttered? Does it have odors, pet hair, worn out carpets, old looking floors? What about the kitchen (the heart of a home)? It should be warm and inviting, with pride of ownership. Kitchens and baths sell homes. Open floor plans and outdoor spaces add value. Finished basements can add even more options for someone to love your home. Staging can bring as much as 10% more in sales price and reduce the number of days on the market. Why do you think new home builders stage a home?
- PRICE: Everyone wants to get top dollar for their home. If you are in a hot market, you may get away pricing it a little higher. A strategy I often use is to encourage multiple offers. Some sellers want to price it higher thinking that they have “Negotiation Room” to come down. Unless you are in a hot market you need to be careful with this. Some buyers will bypass your home thinking it is overpriced and look at your competition first. A great agent can help you price it well and explain why. A weak agent will go along with the higher price (just to get the listing) and constantly hound you to bring the price down. If your home has a lot of “days on the market” it makes it a target for lowball offers. Be very careful pricing your home and rely on a good agent. You will net more $$ in the end.
How much are closing costs?
For a seller, the short answer is around 8%. You have title company and title fees, grantors tax, congestion relief fund, commissions, etc. Add to this anything that you may agree to in the contract such as buyer’s closing costs, home inspection items that need to be fixed and anything else you may agree to as the sale progresses.
For a buyer, the average is between 3% and 4% of the sales price (this does not include down payment.) If you are trying to get a cheaper interest rate and it has “points” added to it, then this will increase the closing cost bottom line. One point is equal to one percent or your loan amount. Another area that can make your closing costs rise is PMI insurance, depending on the type of loan you apply for. Your loan officer will be able to explain this in detail. A great agent with mortgage banking experience can help guide you through the process.
What do I need to do to get my home ready for sale?
The first thing I suggest to my clients is for me to run a detailed market analysis of the neighborhood and then on homes just like yours. This provides so much information for all of us if used correctly. It will show the average list price, sold price and any seller paid closing costs paid by the seller on the buyer’s behalf (this affects your net profit).
Then I email all of those listings to you. WHY? We can take a virtual field trip into every one of the homes to see the condition, upgrades, additions, paint colors, flooring, countertops etc. Compare that to the ‘sold’ price of that particular home, and we know what the market will bear with the updates the home has. This will allow you to compare the condition of your home to the market and will be very clear if anything needs to be done to get your home ready for sale at the sales price you were thinking of.
Remember, you can sell a home you don’t want to fix up at a reduced price. Homes which are inherited, the owners are in nursing care and the home is not updated, short sales etc. sell at a lower price and buyers are looking for these as well. The wording is in the listing, and how it is marketed, and can net you more money if it is done correctly. A good agent can help you with this.
Can I buy another home before I sell this one?
It depends on your finances and DTI (debt to income ratio). If you can afford your current payment and the payment of your next home without your DTI going over say 37 to 41%, you may be able to do this. There are a lot of loan programs out there and some allow higher DTI’s. If you cannot afford both, then get a contract on your current home. When an underwriter sees you are closing before buying this home then they will usually make it a condition for the current home to close first, then you can close on your new purchase, sometimes the same day. There are also Bridge Loans; this type of loan bridges the gap if the proceeds from one home are needed to close on the other.
Will you hold an Open House?
Absolutely, if you want one. But instead of a regular old boring open house, let’s make it an event. Neighbors are the usual suspects in an open house. That’s where 90% of the first batch of flyers go because they want to know the sales price and condition of the home. Why not? They have a vested interest in what you are doing.
I like to have an open house for the neighbors on a Thursday evening with food and wine. Invitation only, and give them all of the information. Why? They have friends, coworkers, Facebook friends, Linked-in networks, etc. What a great way to advertise your home to lots of folks for a few bucks. Then we do an open house for the public. Advertise it everywhere so we can get a lot of prospective buyers. The professionally narrated video tour of your home should be playing on your TV or at least a laptop so they can see all of the unique features of your home. A brochure needs to go home with each one.
Who will see my home? How will you advertise?
Great question, Most agents still use the 3P's:
- PUT it in the MLS listing
- POUND a sign in the ground
- PRAY that it sells.
Old school advertising will not do very well in today’s high tech world. The MRIS is a fine place to start, but a professionally narrated video tour of your home needs to showcase all of your home’s features as well as the neighborhood it is located in, and the shops, dining and attractions nearby. This needs to be added to the MRIS, then sent to all of your friends, family and network using Facebook, Linked-in, Google, email etc. The agent needs to send it to their network as well as making sure it gets to sites like Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, and hundreds more sites that consumers use and search by.
A company that has a National and Global reach like RE/MAX will get even more exposure, especially to buyers relocating across the country and investors looking to buy U.S. Real estate. My philosophy in selling a home is “Tell The World”. This is no time to be a “Secret Agent”. The flyer box in your front yard should have 4-6 page glossy brochure with an insert of all of the fine points of your home screaming how great your home is. Every person knows at least five other people buying or selling in a year. Use that power to get the word out. A great agent can make this easy and uses it everyday to market and sell homes. A professional presentation of your home attracts professionals…plain and simple. So I don’t skimp on the extras.
Do you offer a discount on your commission?
Discount Agents are easy to find. Most want to discount because they do not have much business. They either can’t sell or don’t have the experience. The next group is Part Time agents. They have other jobs but think that selling real estate is easy. Either way, would you trust one of your largest investments to agents like these?
Then there are agents that are on a salary with real estate companies. They list the home and hope it sells, but really have no motivation to hustle because they get paid anyway. They cannot afford to market your home properly and that could cost you thousands of dollars.
Then, there is the marketing aspect. When I agree to take a listing on, I call for a professionally narrated video tour of the home with HD photos and video, use high gloss brochures and inserts showcasing all of your homes features and benefits, and post it on as many sites as possible. The initial investment made in a listing is $1,000 out of the agent’s pocket. That’s just the start. Then there is Facebook advertising, flyers to all agents within a 30 mile radius to let them see your home for a potential client and Pay per Click advertising. A discount agent can’t afford to do this. A discount agent cannot even come close. You get what you pay for. If an agent cannot negotiate their own commission, would you trust them to negotiate the best deal for you in perhaps the single largest transaction you have? Think about it.
Do I need 20% down to buy a home?
The short answer is no. Most lenders have programs with 1%, 3%, 5% or even No Money down loans at very competitive rates. Veterans can normally get a 100% loan. Most consumers can get away with 1% or 3% down. Your mortgage loan officer can help you here. They are very familiar with the guidelines to many different programs. Don’t be afraid to open up and discuss your financial situation with them. Trust me, they have heard it all and probably have a loan for it.
Tip: Talk with a loan officer before you need a loan. They will guide you through:
- Helping you improve your credit score
- Helping you get debt under the percentage needed to get a loan
- Give you the maximum sales price and loan you can comfortably afford
- Show you how much you will need for down payment and closing costs
- When ready they will issue you a Pre-Approval letter to submit with your offer to buy a home. Why is this important? When a seller is looking at a buyer in a contract and the buyer offered less money, the seller has choices. If you have a pre-approval letter that means you are as good as cash to the seller. If they accept your offer, they have a great amount of trust that you are going to be able to close on that transaction on time.
Another tip: Let’s assume you put an offer on a home and multiple offers are in on the same home. If you are pre-approved, this gives you an advantage to the seller since your loan is already approved. Anyone else without that lender letter still has to go through that process. All things being equal, which offer do you think the seller would choose?