Wednesday, April 25, 2012

You Can Sell Your Home And You Can Sell It Yourself

You can sell your home-and you can sell it yourself
"All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come."
~ Victor Hugo
Anita and Stewart built their dream house in a perfect neighborhood. They enjoyed chatting with their neighbors as they took their evening walks. Everyone knew each other. It was a true neighborhood.
Then their oldest son was accepted into a prestigious private school that was so far away, it might as well have been across the Great Wall of China. After eighteen months of hour-long commutes to and from school, Anita was going crazy. Either their son would have to quit school, or they would have to move closer.
Anita and Stewart spent a night full of discussion and tears before deciding to list their house for sale-even though their friends and family were saying that "nobody" could sell a house during a recession.
They had to settle on a price. Anita said the house was "priceless." But Stewart, a wise CPA, looked at the prices other houses in the area had sold for. Their house had great amenities, but he realized that the price had to be based on the square footage, so that's how he priced it. On the second day, it sold for 99 percent of their asking price.
They didn't make the profit they once thought they'd need to make on their dream home, but they did make enough to relocate. Their son stayed in the school he loved and Anita got back ten hours of weekly commuting time.
Sometimes, selling is the right thing to do.
Who can afford to buy a home these days? Who can afford to sell their home? Look at all the foreclosures! Bursting bubbles. Low prices. Fire sales.
You might think that all these problems have to do with the economy. That's what the real estate industry says. Everyone knows how much impact this recession has had on America, so perhaps it's easier to just leave it at that: the news stories will fade and the industry will be happy to let us forget about awful adjustable-rate mortgages, the excessive inventory from overzealous homebuilders, and the lenders who don't know how to deal with foreclosures decently.
The real estate industry is certainly not going to bring up the fact that homeowners are left paying the same high commissions to their agents, even as they deal with declining home values. Yes, the economy has changed. Your 401K has dropped in value, and so has your home. The one dependable thing in today's world is the real estate agent's commission, which never seems to drop.
Unfortunately, when the economy has a cold, the real estate market has pneumonia. When the economy is in a recession, the real estate market is in a full-blown depression.
And while traditional methods for selling a house might have worked in a traditional economy, in a recession, all bets are off. We are being forced to look at new ways of doing things.
We once thought we could depend on our jobs, the government, and our investments. Now we realize we can only depend on ourselves.
So why on earth would anybody try to sell their house right now? It's simple, really. Sometimes life doesn't give you a choice.
Let's talk about being "house poor." I have been there. I have had to sell a home for financial reasons, and let me tell you, when you're under that kind of financial stress, even the dog is miserable. Your house becomes a symbol of all the stress in your life, so when you walk in the door at night, you don't feel like you're "home"-you feel like you're standing in the middle of an albatross that you can no longer afford.
I'll take a firm stand here and say I am 100 percent against the current loan modification programs for homeowners. They don't just kick the can down the road-they can do far greater damage that can't be measured in dollars. Independent research shows more than 85 percent of mortgage modifications end up in foreclosure. If you've had to renegotiate with the banks once, you will always feel insecure that it can happen again. That is the reality that the banks aren't considering.
Trust me, and I mean this with all my heart: sell the house before you get to the point of desperation. Life is not about how many square feet your home is, it's about living your life with peace of mind. Selling your house yourself will save you a commission you probably can't afford to pay, and it will re-empower you, no matter what your bottom line is.
I'm upside down, and it's turning my life inside out
There are many reasons to sell your own home. You may be coming around to the fact that you don't need to put tens of thousands of dollars in the pocket of a real estate agent for things that you can do yourself. You may be attracted to the idea because you want to gain a little more control over such a personal transaction-or you may just want to try your hand at a different kind of business.
But here's a pretty good common denominator: you could use the money. Who couldn't?
The money you'll save by selling your home yourself isn't just a "bonus" for doing the work yourself: the fact is, selling your home yourself may save you from ending up in an ugly financial situation.
Mortgage applications are down by 65 percent. That means we have 35 percent of the buyers we had three years ago. Don't be one of those sellers that get stuck in a place where there's no more room in the deal after the brokers get their split, or you might ultimately be unable to afford to sell your home at all.
Maybe this has happened to you or someone you know. Maybe that's why you're reading this right now! Let me walk you through the two common equity problems that lead to this situation.
Equity Problem #1: The old homestead just isn't worth what it used to be
Homeowners who bought their homes in the years when the market was stronger (a seller's market) might have experienced too much market equity loss to make a profitable breakaway with their home.
Real estate value never goes down, right? That's what we heard, over and over again. But in this decade, we have learned how wrong we were.
These homes become financial drains on the owners until they absolutely must sell-but because that profit margin isn't there, they can't afford to.
Equity Problem #2: The home as an ATM
Plenty of homeowners took out home equity loans. They have already spent what would have been the appreciation on their home's value. They used their home as an ATM! This is a common scenario, but it almost inevitably creates a problem.
After they withdrew the equity they had in their home and spent it, that money was tied up in whatever they spent it on. In some cases, that equity would have been the difference between making a profit and breaking even on the house.
And then the house dropped in value. Now in order to sell, they would have to dip into their pockets-and those pockets are empty.
Many people have the misconception that people who took out home equity loans were irresponsible, spending their equity on Hawaiian vacations. Maybe that was true for some, but most of those who refinanced did so because they needed the money to finish their educations or to survive when they lost their jobs. They behaved honorably, but they are left to deal with the shame of coming home and finding a foreclosure sign in the front yard.
If either of these problems applies to your situation, you might not be able to stay in your home. But you don't have to give up hope, and you don't have to feel ashamed. Keep yourself out of a financial situation that could turn ugly and problematic by selling when you have to. Minimize your loss by handling the sale yourself.
Of course, there are other reasons that people might want or need to sell their homes. Life changes, like maybe now you have a bigger family or smaller family. Maybe you have to move to another state to take care of ailing parents or to accept the only job you could find.
Whatever your reason, remember that you're not the only one in that boat. Get started by making the decision to handle your home sale yourself, and you'll be turning your real estate situation around in your favor-and you won't have to lose a big portion of your equity by paying it out as a commission to someone else.
The housing market may have pneumonia, but it's not dead on arrival. Houses are still being bought and sold every day. Some people are taking a loss, some are breaking even, and some are even making a profit. You won't know what you can do until you give it a try.
But you can be sure that you'll do better on this transaction if you don't have to pay commission to a real estate agent. Remember: The broker can only make you broker.
Have you already tried to sell your home by listing it with an agent-and the listing expired without an offer? I have studied many MLS listings in a variety of price ranges, and a huge number of them expire during the listing period-the house remains unsold.
In many areas, over half the people who listed their homes with an agent-willing to pay that agent a full commission-ended up not selling at all. Those agents were not able to make the sale happen, for one reason or another. An agent is by no means a guarantee of a sale.
If you're in the half of people who listed your home with an agent and didn't a sale, it is time to try selling it yourself.
Bottom Lines:
1. Many people are upside-down or over-remortgaged.
2. You can sell your house if you want to and you might even get your price.
3. Selling might be worth it even if you don't get your price.
4. You'll come out of the deal better if you don't have to pay a commission-especially when you consider what percentage of your equity that commission represents.
5. If your house was listed with an agent and didn't sell, it's time to try selling it again-this time without an agent.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ten Points To Check When Presenting Your Home

1. Appeal to the senses, primarily sight is the biggest one, so get rid of the clutter and make your home into a magazine spread. OK, so you don't have to go overboard and you still want that homely feeling.
2. Smell. This sense is always overlooked. The dog, the cat, the python, whatever it may be, please use some air freshener and/or fresh air to rid that smell.
3. Make repairs. It's obvious, but we gotta tell you, it's all too common to have a faulty hinge, loose door knob or dints in the wall that get noticed by the buyers. As an agent you despise it when one buyer points it out and other buyers hear it and murmur in agreement!
4. Wash and clean. Cleaning the windows makes a massive difference, as does shampooing the carpets, waxing the floors, cobwebs - get rid of and make the street appeal exactly that - appealing!
5. Outside. Taking it further, you want the lawn mown, the hedges trimmed, the common property vacuumed and the building clear of debris. Get on top of your body corporate if the common areas are no good.
6. Hide or lock your expensive goods. Enough said really.
7. Let there be light. Open up curtains, wash the windows (as mentioned before) and clean the sky light. People love the light/northerly aspect and if possible show your home when the natural embers of the sun are at its most prominent. If you have a dark room or house, consider a lick of paint in light colours to brighten things up.
8. Towels, mats and rugs. Why? As after the inspection you don't want to be left with the dirt, smudges and water dripping through your house. This comes with the territory in showcasing your home, you just have to grin and bear it.
9. Cleaning out the closets. People are nosey and people will open your doors. Make sure they are clean and tidy and showcase what spacious storage you have! You don't want to appear that you have simply stuffed all your belongings away, if necessary, hire a storage unit for 1 month to ease the pain, or better yet do a spring clean!
10. Your agent. Make sure their shoes are polished, their hair is tidied, they are groomed well and dare I say it, their breath is palpable. There is a fellow real estate agent out there in my area that is renowned for his stench; your agent should be big enough to handle the criticism! Tic Tacs are your (and their!) best friend at this stage.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fort Lauderdale Real Estate

The Fort Lauderdale real estate market has turned the corner from being a buyer's market to a seller's market, thanks in part to being a highly desirable destination.

A buyer's market is one in which there is an overabundance of homes on the market in relation to the amount of buyers. In this scenario, it is not uncommon to see seller's vying for a buyer's attention by offering incentives like paying closing costs, lowering the sales price and offering closing bonuses.

In contrast, a seller's market is one in which there is a shortage of inventory on the market in relation to the amount of qualified buyers. In this scenario there are often bidding wars, which drives up the price of a home.

It's no secret that the Miami-Fort Lauderdale real estate market was one of the hardest hit areas during the recent housing crisis, often landing in top five lists of cities with the most recorded foreclosures. In addition, plummeting house values, an overabundance of inventory and a shaky economy made the real estate market situation bleaker.

Fort Lauderdale continues to be a popular destination for living and vacationing. The area features world-class resorts, pristine beaches, tournament-ready golf courses, fine and casual dining, year-round sunshine and comfortable temperatures. So, it wasn't a surprise when investors saw an opportunity to buy distressed property and low prices, gambling that property values would increase quicker in this market than most.

It was not uncommon for investors to purchase multiple homes at a time and pay cash. This made it very difficult for the average buyer to compete. In addition, banks and lending institutions resumed strict lending practices, which made it harder to qualify for a loan.

Today, inventory levels are at an all-time low, which is driving up the value of homes. It is not uncommon to hear of multiple bid offers on a home. The amount of homes listed for sale decreased 24.7% when comparing July 2011 with July 2012. Also, the final sales price versus the original list price homes increased from 93% to 95% for the same time period.

More good news for the this market comes from the online market place Zillow's Q1 2012 Real Estate Market Report, which predicts the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro market to be the second highest for 2012 home value increase.

While home prices are rising and inventory levels are decreasing, the Fort Lauderdale real estate market still has many wonderful options. Contact a Realtor to learn more about the state of the market, or to get help finding a Fort Lauderdale home.