Secrets for Selling Your Home, #5

I’m rounding out this month of luck with the last secret in our 5 Secrets of a Successful Sale — secrets that together will help you sell your home without a hint of luck or wishful thinking.⁣

Before jumping to Secret #5, a quick review:⁣

Secret #1: It’s your kitchen that’ll sell your home.⁣
Secret #2: Declutter, depersonalize, and stage your home.⁣
Secret #3: Don’t go overboard on upgrades.⁣
Secret #4: Find out what your home is worth, then shave 15-20% off the price to spark a bidding war.⁣

And last but certainly not least…⁣

Secret #5: Work with the right agent.⁣

How do you know I’m the RIGHT agent?  Just look at my credentials and testimonials!

~I was awarded Associate of the Year at Gables & Gates, REALTORS, for 2020
~I’ve been selling real estate for 23 years⁣
~I love Knoxville and have lived here for 31 years
~I’m just a phone call, text, or email away, and always respond as quickly as possible
~I don’t pressure my clients, but listen to them and work with their needs

“We worked with Janet in both the buying and selling of our homes, and in all instances she demonstrated the same determination and commitment to ensure our needs were met. She made our Real Estate transactions a pleasant experience, helping us every step of the way, even well beyond closing” ~ Forrest and Julie Stover

“I have purchased two houses and sold one using Janet. She has been exceptionally attentive and response to anything I needed. Her knowledge of the area is fantastic, and she helped guide me to sound purchases both times. Highly recommend her!” ~ Bob Sledzik

There are a ton of AMAZING agents out there. So don’t settle! Let me help you sell your home and I’ll make getting a successful sale as smooth as possible (and maybe that pot o’ gold!).

Secrets for Selling Your Home, #4

Got the kitchen looking great?⁣
Got your home decluttered, depersonalized, and staged?⁣
Chatted with a realtor about worthwhile upgrades?⁣

Fist-bump! You’re SO ready for Secret #4 in our 5 Secrets to a Successful Sale! ⁣

While this one won’t require any elbow grease, it will take a tiny leap of faith. Secret #4 is all about pricing your home to sell — fast.⁣

Secret #4: Find out what your home is worth, then shave 15-20% off the price to *hopefully* spark a bidding war.⁣

Sound scary? That’s okay — I’m here to walk you through every step. Here’s why I love this pricing strategy: ⁣

• Pricing your home just below market value instantly gets buyers’ attention and motivates them to schedule a showing ASAP.⁣
• Once buyers see your home (and LOVE it), they’re more likely to put in an offer if they feel like they’re getting a deal.⁣
• When they realize there are other offers on the table, buyers tend to get competitive and are willing to increase their bid to land the home they want.⁣

With interest rates at historic lows and a lower than normal inventory, if you’re looking to sell, you’ll 100% be in the driver’s seat. ⁣

Curious what your home is worth in today’s market? I’d love to run the numbers for you — just drop me a message.⁣

Secrets for Selling Your Home, #2

Got a sec? Great. All alone? Perfect! It’s time to lean in real close cause I’m back with Secret #2 in my 5 Secrets of a Successful Sale. ⁣

Secret #1: It’s your kitchen that’ll sell your home.⁣
Secret #2: Declutter, depersonalize, and stage your home.⁣

Buyers must be able to picture themselves living in YOUR home. Give ’em a chance to do just that by decluttering, depersonalizing, and staging your home:⁣

• Declutter: Picture your home as a vacation rental. If you wouldn’t see it out in a rental, you shouldn’t see it out during a showing.⁣
• Depersonalize: A few modest photos here and there is fine, but pack away the excess, take down oversized monograms, and remove wall letters from the kids’ rooms.⁣
• Stage: If you’re using the dining room as a craft area or home office, reset it as a space to dine. Also, get rid of unnecessary furniture to make your living room feel airy and spacious. Staging doesn’t have to be costly or complicated — it simply helps buyers make sense of your home and see its potential.⁣

When it comes to getting your home ready for the market, less is ALWAYS more. Need advice on how to get your home prepped? I’d love to help. ⁣

Stop back by tomorrow for secret #3!

Should I sell or should I remodel?

It’s the question every homeowner asks at one point or another: Should I sell or should I remodel? Here are a few questions to ask as you make the king-size decision.⁣

First up, Team Remodeling:⁣
• Do I love my current home’s location?⁣
• Do I have space (inside and out) for an addition?⁣
• Will remodeling address my biggest concerns about my home?⁣
• Do I have a place to temporarily move during the remodel (or the patience of a saint to live in an “under construction” house)?⁣
A YES to most of the above means remodeling is probably in your future.⁣

Next up, Team Time-to-Move:⁣
• Do you anticipate needing more space than a remodel can provide in the next 5 years? (more bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.)⁣
• Will remodeling put your home above neighborhood value?⁣
• Would you prefer a home that’s closer to your everyday places (work, school, shopping) or do you desire a different school district or a larger lot?⁣
Resonate with these questions? Find a realtor and at the very least, take a look at what’s on the market. Sometimes moving in one direction is just what you need to clarify your thinking.⁣

Whether you’re leaning towards remodeling or moving, send me a message. I’d love to do a quick analysis on your neighborhood and give you the stats you need to go along with your intuition!

The Do’s and Don’ts for Investing in Real Estate

Are you thinking about investing in real estate in 2021? It may be the perfect year to purchase a rental property, a vacation home, or to flip houses. I would be happy to help you find the perfect investment property, and I’ve put together this list of tips to help you get the best return on your investment.

First, consider what type of investment property is best for you and your family.

If you are thinking about a rental property, such as a vacation condo or rental home, consider how much time will be needed for things like maintenance, managing a website or rental listings, and vetting potential tenants. For rental homes, make sure the areas you are searching are attractive to tenants in terms of proximity to nearby business centers and transportation hubs, and in good school districts for family tenants.

Is a family vacation property more to your liking? Make sure you read any and all rules pertaining to owners and guests, as well as rules on renting your property out when you are not using it, if that is something you plan to do. Also be sure that your vacation property is somewhere you foresee your family wanting to travel to often enough to make it worthwhile.

For new house flippers, you want to find out what return you can expect to get in your market area and talk to contractors and suppliers to get realistic estimates on renovations, both in terms of price and time to completion.

Here are some additional Do’s and Don’ts for investing in real estate:

Do aim for at least a 15% return on investment.

Do look for homes priced in the low end of the median price range.

Do look for 3-bedroom, 2-bath single family homes for rentals or flipping.

Do focus on one neighborhood or area.

Do purchase rental properties close to your home if you plan to manage them yourself.

Do use one real estate agent to help with all your buying and selling needs.

Don’t purchase a second property until the first is earning revenue.

Don’t buy properties that you wouldn’t want to manage, even if you plan to use a property manager.

Don’t buy a home that you cannot afford to carry for several months in case of a slow market.

Don’t buy a home or condo without having inspections performed.

Don’t buy without title insurance.

Don’t buy more properties than you are able to manage.

As I said, I can help you search for investment properties. Sometimes buyers make the mistake of searching on their own and contacting the sellers or listing agents directly. Working with several different people wastes your time and increases the chances that you will miss out on a deal. Also, working with one agent allows that agent to learn your tastes, needs, and parameters, so I can be out looking for the right property while you are busy doing other things.

Why should you check for RADON?

What is Radon gas and why is it important to you, the homeowner?  Taken from the TN.gov website, “Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soils. Radon gas is tasteless, colorless and odorless. The only way to know if it is in your home is to test for it.”  The geological landscape of Tennessee makes radon gas a common enough issue that we recommend testing before purchasing your home. Some homes even have radon mitigation systems installed.

Again, from the TN.gov website, “The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) considers radon to be a very serious problem in our state.  No matter where you live in Tennessee, there is the potential for radon to enter your home. Radon gas has been identified as the second leading cause of lung cancer, second only to cigarette smoking. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year.  About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. As radon gas breaks down, it emits high-energy alpha particles. These particles are in the air we breathe, and once inhaled, they can be deposited in our lungs. The energy associated with these particles can alter cell DNA, thus increasing the risk of lung cancer. Persons who smoke and live in a home with elevated radon levels are at a very high risk to develop lung cancer.”

Do you have questions regarding radon in your area?  There are several businesses that can help you, and if you are looking for a home in East Tennessee, let me help you through this process. I’ve been selling real estate here for over 20 years, and have the experience and knowledge to guide you.

Sellers FAQ and Guide

“What do I need to know about selling my home?”  Is that a question you find yourself asking during this booming real estate market?  You aren’t the only one wondering these questions.  I’ve put together a FAQ of many of the common questions.

When is a good time to sell?

An easy answer is when it’s best for you! Obviously, if you are closing on a home purchase, moving for work, or want to get settled before the new school year, you have a timeline you need to work with. But, if you have the luxury of choosing when to sell, there are a few considerations. Spring is traditionally a time when there are more buyers looking, but you may also have more competition. Fall, and closer to the holidays, is a good time to get a higher price from buyers that need to move before the new year. Watching the market is always smart. A seller’s market, meaning there are more buyers than sellers, is always a good time to list.

What is my home worth?

Determining your home’s market value is one very important reason to use a real estate agent. I will do a comparative market analysis (CMA) to help you set the correct listing price. I look at recent sales of comparable homes, similar homes that are under contract, and homes that are listed in the same price range of your home. Then I compare features of the homes including the size, style, number of rooms, age of the home, amenities, condition, lot size and placement, and the location or neighborhood. (Note: the tax appraiser’s assessed value of your home has nothing to do with the market price.)

How do I determine the right listing price?

What your home is worth and what you should list it at are not the same. You always want to have room to negotiate with buyers, so setting a “firm” price to avoid the negotiation process is not usually a good strategy. Neither is setting a very high price to “see what we get.” Setting an unreasonably high price usually results in longer time on the market, which does not look good to buyers and will frustrate you. Many sellers ask about the price that Zillow or other real estate websites give for their home. These are not reliable because these sites are only taking into consideration very general demographics.

How long will it take to sell my home?

The length of time on market will depend upon the market in your area at the time of listing and whether the home is priced realistically. I am always working to get you the highest price in the shortest time possible. On average, a home that is priced right goes under contract in two to three months. If you need to sell fast, that should be reflected in the list price.

How much will I pay in commissions?

The standard real estate commission is 6% of the sales price, split between the listing and selling sides. Commissions are not paid directly to the agents, but to our brokers. They collect fees for marketing your home on MLS and other websites, administrative costs, insurance fees, and required fees for storing your transaction records as required by law. My broker then pays me for representing you in the transaction. As your agent, I will work very hard to represent you ethically and with your best interest always the priority. If you have any questions about the commissions, I’d be happy to talk with you further.

What do I need to do to get my home ready to sell?

I recommend that you give the home a thorough cleaning– get rid of anything you aren’t taking with you, declutter surfaces, take care of repairs, make sure the major mechanical systems are in good operation, have the exterior pressure cleaned and the landscaping spruced up. You may also consider repainting if it is overdue or if the home is painted in dark or bold colors.

How will the showing process work?

We will decide together on how to handle showings. We can set parameters as to the hours and days that showings are allowed, and how to notify you in advance. Homes show best when the homeowner is not present, but if this is not possible, we will work together to create the best experience for the buyer that also fits your lifestyle. Usually we use an electronic lockbox that allows buyers’ agents to access your housekey. These boxes also notify me any time they are opened, so no one is accessing your home without my knowledge. If you have pets in the home that need to be tended to during showings, we will work out the best way to handle them. Furthermore, I will try to get feedback from each showing and pass that information back to you.

Should I consider FSBO or a flat fee listing service?

I strongly discourage those routes, not only because I want to help you sell your home, but also because they can be a huge burden and don’t get you the best price. Buyers know that when a home is sold FSBO or on a flat fee service, that the seller is paying little or no commissions, so they will offer less. Consider that when you sell your home by yourself, you will have to be present for all showings, and you won’t have someone to advocate for you through all the steps of the contract and closing process. If something goes wrong, you’ll want me in your corner to prevent problems or save the deal, so you don’t have to start over.

What marketing will you do to help sell my home?

Hands down, our best marketing tool is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS.) This is the database all real estate agents use when searching for properties for buyers. And buyers are using websites like Realtor.com, which is why all my listings automatically show up on these websites. My broker will list your home on our company website, and I may also use additional avenues such as open houses, brokers’ opens, and direct mailing, depending on your home and market.

Should I offer incentives like a home warranty, closing costs, or selling agent bonus?

Incentives are something I like to consider on a case-by-case basis. There are certain circumstances where it may be smart to offer an incentive. Some incentives can be offered from the start. For example, if your home is in an area that doesn’t get a lot of traffic, we may offer an incentive to agents to bring us a buyer. Or if you know the appliances are at the end of their lifetime, you may offer a home warranty to help the buyers replace them. Other incentives, like helping with closing costs, are better used during the negotiation process.

What do I need to disclose?

It’s smart to disclose any issues right up front. Your buyers will have the right to inspect the home, so it’s best they not be hit with bad news after going under contract. If you know of problems with the appliances, plumbing, electric, HVAC, roof, foundation, property lines, or deed, these need to be listed on the Seller’s Disclosure. If there are repairs that you can have done before listing, go ahead and take care of those. Anything that cannot be remedied before listing should be considered when setting your list price.

What happens if my home doesn’t appraise above the contract price?

It sometimes happens that a home does not appraise at or above the contract price. When this happens, we go back to negotiations to determine if we can save the deal by adjusting both the sales price and the terms of the contract to the satisfaction of both buyer and seller. Usually we are able to work it out and save the deal. You always have the right to refuse to lower the price to meet the appraisal, but it’s usually in your best interest to try to work with the buyer to resolve the issue as the next appraisal could result in the same valuation. If you are concerned about the appraisal value, go ahead and have your home appraised before setting the listing price.

How do you negotiate multiple offers?

A multiple-offer scenario is a fun position to be in as a seller. I will help you through the negotiation process to select the right buyer– and that is not always the one with the highest offer. We need to consider how strong the offer is, whether they are offering cash or financing, how much they are financing and what type of loan they are using. How much they are offering to put in escrow and the terms of the inspection process are indications of their commitment to the deal. You may also draw on sentiment: are they buying your home as an investment or a place to raise their family?

I’m here for you.  I’ve also put together a Seller’s Guide of Information that I can provide for you to read at your leisure.  Let me help you with your real estate needs; it’s what I’m here for!

Our Top First Time Home Buyer FAQ’s answered

Mortgage-Related

How do I know if it’s time to buy instead of rent?

If you know where you want to live, have a steady and secure income, and are ready for the responsibilities of homeownership, then it’s a great time to invest in property.

How much do I need to save up for a down payment?

A conventional loan down payment is usually 20% of the sales price, but other types of financing require as little as 3.5% to 15%. A mortgage lender can tell you what types of loans you qualify for.

How do I know if I qualify for a loan and how much I can afford?

Contact a mortgage lender to get pre-approval for a loan. The lender will ask you some basic questions about your income and debts and can tell you what amount you can be approved for, and how much your mortgage payments will be.

What does the lender need from me to give me a loan?

Usually, you are asked to provide your last two tax returns to show proof of income. You should also provide recent bank and credit card statements and proof of your current pay rate. You will also be asked for your social security number so they can run a credit check.

What’s the difference between pre-approved and pre-qualified?

While often used interchangeably, these terms don’t mean the same thing. Pre-qualification is an estimate of what you may be approved for based only on the verbal information you provide. Pre-approval means the lender has verified your income and debt information and run a credit check.

How do I know which mortgage option is right for me?

Your mortgage lender is the best person to advise you on this question. Their products and qualifications change from time to time, so they would know best what products are available to meet your needs.

Searching for a Home

What should I do when I see a house online that I like?

Call your buyer’s agent: the agent you are working with to find your home. It’s best that you work with one real estate agent throughout your search because that person learns what you like and dislike and will invest a lot of time vetting properties for you. That person also represents your best interests only. When you call the agent advertising the home, you are dealing with the seller’s agent, so, while they can assist you, they are also trying to get the best price for the seller.

Can you show me a house if it’s not your listing?

Absolutely. As a buyer’s agent, I can show you any house listed in our MLS system, and I will contact FSBO sellers on your behalf. As mentioned above, working with me as your buyer’s agent ensures that your interests are protected.

How do we write an offer?

When you find the property you want to make an offer on, I will run a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to help you determine a fair offer amount. I will also guide you through the additional terms of the contract, such as the escrow amount, closing date, and any additional terms you want to be added to the offer. I will write the offer on a contract form and submit it to the seller’s agent.

What if I want to back out of a contract?

You always have the right to back out of the purchase, but you may lose your escrow deposit. If the contract is contingent on a property inspection, you usually have the right to cancel for any reason during the inspection period. Once the inspection period has passed, you cannot back out and keep your deposit unless the seller agrees, or an additional term has not been met.

What happens if there are other offers on the house I love?

If a seller receives multiple offers on their home, usually their agent will inform the buyer’s that multiple offers have been received and the buyers have another opportunity to alter their original offer to present their “highest and best” offer. Keep in mind that many factors may influence the seller in addition to the offer price, such as the down payment amount, closing date, and inspection terms.

What happens when my offer gets accepted?

Once both parties have agreed on all terms and signed the contract, your escrow deposit must be made and you should schedule the home inspection. Your lender will receive a copy of the contract and will begin processing your mortgage application.

We’re Under Contract!

What does “under contract” mean?

Under contract means that all parties have agreed on terms, have signed the contract, and the signed contract has been delivered to both buyer and seller. Payment of the escrow deposit is expected but is not a requirement to make a binding contract.

What is escrow?

The escrow money, escrow deposit, or good faith deposit is money that is offered with an offer, or as soon as an offer is accepted, to show the seller that you are serious about moving forward with the purchase of the home. Because you forfeit this deposit if you back out of the purchase for any reason not allowed for in the contract, the larger the escrow deposit, the more seriously your offer is taken.

Do I need an inspection?

We always recommend that you have a home inspection done. In the scheme of things, paying a few hundred dollars to have peace of mind that there are no hidden dangers or problems is well worth the money.

How much are inspections?

The cost of the home inspection depends on the size of the house and additional inspections requested, such as swimming pool, septic tank, termites, insurance four-point (HVAC, plumbing, roof, and electrical,) wind mitigation, and radon. An average home inspection, without additional inspections, is about $300.

What if my loan doesn’t get approved?

If you have gone through the pre-approval process and have been forthcoming with all the information requested by your lender, it’s unlikely you will be turned down, but it does happen. Make sure you do not change jobs, purchase big-ticket items on credit, take out a car or boat loan, or open any other new credit accounts while your mortgage is being processed. If your loan does fall through, talk with your lender about changing to a different loan type.

When can I start moving?

When you have the keys! When you are financing your purchase, it takes four to six weeks for your loan to be processed. Once the lender gives the all-clear, closing is scheduled. You will sign your loan documents and both parties will sign documents transferring ownership to you. Unless other arrangements have been agreed upon by both parties, the sellers should have completely vacated the home when they sign the closing papers. You can have your belongings ready to move, and a moving company scheduled before you go to closing. At closing, you will receive the documentation you need to provide utility companies with proof of your new residence.