Real Estate Tips & Tricks

Real Estate Buyers

How much is your home worth?

Most homeowners who consider selling their homes face a resounding question: how much should I ask for? This question perpetually echoes in the back of soon-to-be-sellers’ minds for one very important reason—selling time (or in some cases a sale, period) is directly related to the asking price of a home. This isn’t to say the “cheaper” the listing price, the quicker the sale—in many cases this could be just the opposite. Listing prices must be determined for each home on an individual basis with the three most important determining factors being location, condition, and “specials.” A home in a great neighborhood, for instance, can be sold for a higher price than if the exact same home were in a less desirable neighborhood; a well maintained home will, in most cases, sell faster and at a higher price than a fixer-upper; and incidentally, a recently remodeled home, or one with exceptional features, will sell faster and at a higher price.


The exact science of determining an asking price should always be left up to a professional. A REALTOR® can perform a CMA (or a Competitive Market Analysis) and guide you though the entire process of selling your home. A CMA will provide an estimated sales price based on the condition of the market, the average sale price of homes in your area, and an analysis of your own home. “Work With a REALTOR® Who Will Work With You.” house selling real estate home selling

Understanding Capital Gains in Real Estate

When you sell a stock, you owe taxes on your gain—the difference between what you paid for the stock and what you sold it for. The same is true with selling a home (or a second home), but there are some special considerations.

A Special Real Estate Exemption for Capital Gains

Since 1997, up to $250,000 in capital gains ($500,000 for a married couple) on the sale of a home is exempt from taxation if you meet the following criteria:

You have lived in the home as your principal residence for two out of the last five years.

You have not sold or exchanged another home during the two years preceding the sale.

Also note that as of 2003, you may also qualify for this exemption if you meet what the IRS calls “unforeseen circumstances” such as job loss, divorce, or family medical emergency.

Courtesy of National Association of REALTORS® house selling home selling

Sold Real Estate

5 Things To Do Before You Sell

1. Get estimates from a reliable repair person on items that need to be replaced soon, a roof or worn carpeting, for example. In this way, buyers will have a better sense of how much these needed repairs will affect their costs.

2. Have a termite inspection to prove to buyers that the property is not infested.

3. Get a pre-sale home inspection so you’ll be able to make repairs before buyers become concerned and cancel a contract.

4. Gather together warranties and guarantees on the furnace, appliances, and other items that will remain with the house.

5. Fill out a disclosure form provided by your sales associate. Take the time to be sure that you don’t forget problems, however minor, that might create liability for you after the sale.

Courtesy of National Association of REALTORS® house selling real estate home selling

Tips for Holding a Yard Sale

Use a yard sale to reduce the clutter in your home and get rid of items you don’t want to move.

1. Check with your city government to see if you need a permit or license.

2. See if neighbors want to participate and have a “block” sale to attract more visitors.

3. Advertise. Put an ad in free classified papers, put up signs and balloons at major intersections and in stores near your home.

4. Price items ahead and attach prices with removable stickers. Remember, yard sales are supposed to be bargains, so don’t try to sell anything of significant value this way.

5. Check items before the sale to be sure you haven’t including something you want by mistake.

6. Keep pets away from the sale.

7. Display everything neatly and individually so customers don’t have to dig through boxes.

8. Have an electrical outlet so buyers can test appliances.

9. Have plenty of bags and newspaper for wrapping fragile items.

10. Get enough change, and keep a close eye on your cash.

Courtesy of National Association of REALTORS® house selling real estate home selling

10 Ways to Make Your House More Salable home selling

1. Get rid of clutter. Throw out or file stacks of newspapers and magazines. Pack away most of your small decorative items. Store out-of-season clothing to make closets seem roomier. Clean out the garage.

2. Wash your windows and screens to let more light into the interior.

3. Keep everything extra clean. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates. Mop and wax floors. Clean the stove and refrigerator. A clean house makes a better first impression and convinces buyers that the home has been well cared for.

4. Get rid of smells. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Open the windows.

5. Put higher wattage bulbs in light sockets to make rooms seem brighter, especially basements and other dark rooms. Replace any burnt-out bulbs.

6. Make minor repairs that can create a bad impression. Small problems such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression that the house isn’t well maintained.

7. Tidy your yard. Cut the grass, rake the leaves, trim the bushes, and edge the walks. Put a pot or two of bright flowers near the entryway.

8. Patch holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.

9. Clean your gutters.

10. Polish your front doorknob and door numbers.

Courtesy of National Association of REALTORS® house selling real estate home selling

5 Ways to Speed Up Your Sale

1. Price it right. Set a price at the lower end of your property’s realistic price range.

2. Get your house market ready for at least two weeks before you begin showing it.

3. Be flexible about showings. It’s often disruptive to have a house ready to show on the spur of the moment, but the more often someone can see your home, the sooner you’ll find a seller.

4. Be ready for the offers. Decide in advance what price and terms you’ll find acceptable.

5. Don’t refuse to drop the price. If your home has been on the market for more than 30 days without an offer, be prepared to lower your asking price.

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Understanding Agency

It’s important to understand what legal responsibilities your real estate salesperson has to you and to other parties in the transactions. Ask your salesperson to explain what type of agency relationship you have with him or her and with the brokerage company.

1. Seller’s representative (also known as a listing agent or seller’s agent). A seller’s agent is hired by and represents the seller. All fiduciary duties are owed to the seller. The agency relationship usually is created by a listing contract.

2. Subagent. A subagent owes the same fiduciary duties to the agent’s principal as the agent does. Subagency usually arises when a cooperating sales associate from another brokerage, who is not representing the buyer as a buyer’s representative or operating in a nonagency relationship, shows property to a buyer. In such a case, the subagent works with the buyer as a customer but owes fiduciary duties to the listing broker and the seller. Although a subagent cannot assist the buyer in any way that would be detrimental to the seller, a buyer-customer can expect to be treated honestly by the subagent. It is important that subagents fully explain their duties to buyers.

3. Buyer’s representative (also known as a buyer’s agent). A real estate licensee who is hired by prospective buyers to represent them in a real estate transaction. The buyer’s rep works in the buyer’s best interest throughout the transaction and owes fiduciary duties to the buyer. The buyer can pay the licensee directly through a negotiated fee, or the buyer’s rep may be paid by the seller or by a commission split with the listing broker.

4. Disclosed dual agent. Dual agency is a relationship in which the brokerage firm represents both the buyer and the seller in the same real estate transaction. Dual agency relationships do not carry with them all of the traditional fiduciary duties to the clients. Instead, dual agents owe limited fiduciary duties. Because of the potential for conflicts of interest in a dual-agency relationship, it’s vital that all parties give their informed consent. In many states, this consent must be in writing. Disclosed dual agency, in which both the buyer and the seller are told that the agent is representing both of them is legal in most states.

5. Designated agent (also called, among other things, appointed agency). This is a brokerage practice that allows the managing broker to designate which licensees in the brokerage will act as an agent of the seller and which will act as an agent of the buyer. Designated agency avoids the problem of creating a dual-agency relationship for licensees at the brokerage. The designated agents give their clients full representation, with all of the attendant fiduciary duties. The broker still has the responsibility of supervising both groups of licensees.

6. Non-agency relationship (called, among other things, a transaction broker or facilitator). Some states permit a real estate licensee to have a type of nonagency relationship with a consumer. These relationships vary considerably from state to state, both as to the duties owed to the consumer and the name used to describe them. Very generally, the duties owed to the consumer in a nonagency relationship are less than the complete, traditional fiduciary duties of an agency relationship.

Courtesy of National Association of REALTORS® house selling home selling

20 Low-Cost Ways to Spruce Up Your Home

Make your home more appealing for yourself and for potential buyers with these quick and easy tips:

1. Trim bushes so they don’t block windows and cut down on light.

2. Buy a new doormat.

3. Put a pot of bright flowers (or a small evergreen in winter) on your porch.

4. Put new doorknobs on your front door.

5. Put a fresh coating on your driveway.

6. Edge the grass around walks and trees.

7. Keep your garden tools out of site.

8. Be sure kids put away their toys.

9. Buy a new mailbox.

10. Upgrade your outside lighting.

11. Use warm, incandescent light bulbs for a homey feel.

12. Polish or replace your house numbers.

13. Clean your gutters.

14. Put out potpourri or burn scented candles.

15. Buy new pillows for the sofa.

16. Buy a flowering plant and put in a window you pass by frequently.

17. Make a centerpiece for your table with fruit or artificial flowers.

18. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light.

19. Buy new towels.

20. Put a seasonal wreath on your door.

Courtesy of National Association of REALTORS® house selling real estate home selling