Selling is an emotionally charged endeavor. You have a very personal perspective on your pending sale. Whether you are attached to the memories from your home or can't wait to dump your losing rental property - your emotions are part of the deal. It's my job to help you steer through the process with those feelings acknowledged and respected.
It's also my job to help you get perspective when it's time to price your home. The number one mistake sellers make is pricing their home based on their personal feelings about the property. The best thing you can do is get out of your own way and get real about the current market that you plan to sell in. The market will set the price for your home. Period. One of the best things a seller can do is to see other comparable properties nearby. See how areas, features, views, neighborhood amenities and several other factors compare. If your "wish" price is still higher than the list price your agent is suggesting, have your agent do a "CAMO" - where other agents come by just to help price the property.
Finally, trust in the consensus of the area agents. They know best what buyers will pay in the current market. If you clearly want to sell - price it right and avoid more heartache. An overpriced home is a lead balloon. Every agent in town knows if it's overpriced. Worse yet, buyers who can and would pay the true top price, won't see it because it is listed just above their search alert top price. The longer the home sits on the market the more buyers and agents wonder, "what's wrong with the property?" And when they call to check in with the listing agent, that's the first question they'll ask. Learn more about pricing in To market, to market...
I went into real estate after my personal experience in buying and selling five homes left me increasingly disappointed in the agents I hired. They just couldn't answer my questions. As a life-long learner and teacher, I was shocked to discover that nearly anyone can get a real estate license by taking three on-line courses and the state exam. And the exam only requires a 70% to pass - meaning you can miss 45 out the 150 questions! For a profession that requires such a wide breadth of knowledge and skills, this continues to amaze and concern me.
I set out to take my first three classes at the College of Marin and was
immediately impressed by the caliber and experience of my teachers. A soon as I began I committed to finish the broker's requirements (8 college level courses) and the additional business and finance requirements for an Associates Degree in Real Estate. I gained so much from taking all of those courses in-person. Not only did I have excellent teachers, there was a huge benefit to learning from my classmates over the three years earning my degree. I am currently studying for the broker's exam and plan to take it by year's end. Next year I plan to study architecture, only because I've accepted that I'm just too old to get my contractor's license.
Many people still think that selling a property “as is” means "buyer beware." And while properties are nearly always listed "as is," those two little words are defined by two bigger words - "disclosures" and “contingencies." One of my favorite “Rockyisms,” as we like to call quotable sayings from our wonderful CB Sales Manger, Rocky Vannucci, goes like this: ”We can’t sell a property as-is until we know what as-is, is.”
Disclosures of every manor are required of the seller under a number of laws governing requirements for residential sales. Through the disclosure requirements the seller must acknowledge all “material facts” about the property. In compliment to that, buyer’s are allowed a period for investigations that can be conducted under a contingency clause. During that time they can hold the property in a binding contract until they have concluded the period agreed to for discovery and investigations and have removed the contingency by written notice.
So while the buyer cannot conduct any investigations past the contingency period, any new facts about the property that surface later can present major problems for sellers if they failed to disclose something up front. In other words, “fess up now or get sued later.” If something is unknown by the seller but the buyer discovers it later, the seller is not liable. The moral to this story is - disclose everything, investigate everything. The more that is known about exactly what the property "is," - the better for both sides to have a smooth transaction. Several documents throughout the process warn buyers not to purchase without investigating. And while sellers want those "no contingencies" offers, it is rarely in their best interest to take them.
Why is it called a housing "market?" The short answer is because prices fluctuate constantly. But why? Again, the short answer is supply and demand. That is the biggest factor in fluctuations but there are many others that affect home prices from one location to the next. There - I just mentioned the first factor that everyone knows - location. Even within your small town or neighborhood there are more and less desirable influences across town and down the street.
But getting back to outside influences in the housing market, we have to start with mortgage backed securities and how they affect the mortgage rates. These things are all influenced by the bigger picture which includes the GDP, employment markers, new housing starts and many more. In other words - it's complicated. That is the nature of all "markets." So what does a seller need to know to price their home right? And what does a buyer need to know to purchase in the current market?
The most important thing is to have an agent in your corner who keeps abreast of all the factors influencing the market you are buying or selling in, along with the nuances of your location and how it is trending right now. As agents we have a variety of tools and information at our disposal to help us track the market in order to educate clients on pricing. To receive quarterly updates on the housing market in Marin, a specific town, or another county, just request a custom report and let me know what markets you would like to track.
"With the stiff competition among buyers in Marin, you need to be pre-approved and/or pre-qualified in order to write an offer. The most important step to organizing your finances - don't wait. Talk to me sooner than later about how you are planning to finance your new property.
If you are planning to take out any sort of loan, you should be talking to a mortgage broker months in advance. If you need a referral, I have an exceptional team of financial advisors and brokers to make sure you are prepared to purchase the home of your dreams. In Marin it's very important that you use local brokers to be competitive. If a listing agent is looking at your bid with a loan sourced by "your-brother-in-law-the-broker-in-Boston," compared to a trusted source they know in town - who gets our timelines and gets it done, your bid may loose big points.
If you are paying cash there are three things we need to know - is it local? is it liquid? is it your's? If the answer to any of these three questions isn't "yes," let's talk about how to make it so. If you need to move money, sell investments or get a personal loan, let's talk soon about your plans so we can be ready when the right property pops up so your cash can be king.
Sometime's seller's still believe they will save the agent commission cost and put that money in their own pocket if they just sell their property themselves. They plan to find a service where they pay a fee to get it listed on the MLS and expect to get the buyer's agent to do all the work. Sounds easy enough?... until buyers don't show up.
So below is a list on why this approach is a huge risk, and I will try not to get on my soapbox. The truth is, I had a partner who didn't want to hire an agent when we were flipping a house together. I disagreed but gave him a chance just to prove him wrong. In short, we lost 30% of the value of the property. Walking away with less, not more, is the norm for sellers who try "For Sale By Owner" or FSBO - pronounced "Fiz-Bow."
1) one of the most important jobs a listing agent does is help you price your home right using numerous tools and a detailed analysis that includes information sellers don't have access to; 2) buyer's agents won't want to show a home where they have no chance at a commission - that forces them to get a contract from their buyers to pay them directly so their buyer's price on your home just went up; 3) if the buyer's do go for that and are the only ones with an agent in the mix - that agent is working for their best interest - not yours; 4) do you know how to properly screen buyers to be sure they have qualified funds? - a buyer can tie up your home for months costing you thousands of dollars; 5) you are responsible for several statutory actions when you sell your home - do you know what all of them are and how to perform them and pay for them?; 6) if you omit any facts at all about your home (even something like a barking dog next door) you can be sued for huge sums of money for non-disclosure; 7) a large chunk of an agent's commission is spent on marketing your home properly to potential buyers - if all you do is put it on the MLS you are narrowing your buyers and reducing competition along with your final selling price; 8) numerous studies have been done which show that FSBO sellers take home anywhere from 6%-16% less (1,2); 9) it takes about 750 pieces of paper with required disclosures to sell a home in CA - do you know what that paperwork includes and how it all relates to your liabilities and responsibilities?
The bottom line - properties with agent representation sell quicker, for more profit to the seller and with less risks for lawsuits. After the crash of 2008, so many laws have been put into place to protect buyers and sellers by requiring each side to complete many steps and take prudent actions. Real estate agents provide the service of educating their clients and steering them through the process to be sure both sides meet all of their responsibilities and reduce their liabilities. Okay, that was a bit of a speech, but I hope it was worthwhile.
1. Selling Your Home Solo to Save Money? You’ll Actually Make Less Than You Think. Amanda Riggs; November 9, 2015. National Association of Realtors. / 2. Agents sell homes for more than FSBOs. Teke Wiggin; August 16, 2017. Inman.com
Because integrity will always be at the heart of my business, I do not "double-end" transactions. That means I won’t represent a buyer on one of my listings. As your hired agent, my legally binding fiduciary duty is to broker a deal on your behalf and protect your best interest throughout the process. While it's currently legal in California (and not in some other states), I personally don't feel that it's in anyone's best interest (including mine) to try to serve the "best interest" of two parties on two opposite sides of a deal. I wouldn't allow an agent to do that representing me, so why would I do that to you?
Some agents strongly disagree with me and one said, "well you just don't have the skill set to do it." Actually, I do, but I’d rather be able to sleep at night. The classic example is if my seller tells me, "My bottom line is 1 million, but I hope we can get more." And then my buyer tells me, "I could go to 1.2 million, but I'd like to bid less." Really? How should I advise my buyer to bid in that situation and represent "everyone's" best interest?
Of course I’m going to beat the bushes for buyers if I am representing your property. When I find one, I have an exceptional team of colleagues who can step in to assist unrepresented buyers. I receive a referral fee, but I have no further contact with those buyers and you will know who they are when the bids come in. If you’re a buyer client of mine and find that one of my listings is the perfect fit for you, I follow the same process.
Lastly, some agents will offer their sellers a discount if they double-end the deal. That type of deal is the best example of what “you get what you pay for” truly means.
Certified Luxury Property Specialist
REALTOR® |AS, SRES | DRE#01972699