Monthly Archives: January 2017

Homesellers, It’s not personal…It’s Real Estate

In every aspect of life, some people are apt to get their feelings hurt easily. If someone doesn’t like your outfit or says your kid doesn’t play soccer well, etc. But in business, people try to get a thicker skin by saying, it’s not personal…it’s business. When selling your home, you need to remember the same thing when under critique. It’s not personal…. it’s real estate. Homesellers need to keep in mind that homebuyers have to find what is best for their needs and wants and if it is not this house, it will be the next. What the seller likes or wants in the home or its decor or use is not relevant to what the buyer will want. Different strokes for different folks. The goal is selling the home at the best price in the fastest time.

Here’s what I have heard sellers say….If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for them. They can take me as I am and the house as it is. They are nit picky. They don’t understand that this cost me $$. They are too young and don’t know any better. They should appreciate… They don’t know…. or IF THEY DON’T LIKE IT, THAT’S THEIR PROBLEM.

If you want your home to stay on the market forever or sell for less money, keep thinking that way. But if you change your thinking, this is what you need to do to prepare for the mindset of selling a home successfully.

1. THINK “It’s no longer your home…it’s a means to an end – a product.” You want to get where you are going and selling your home is the means. You need to think of it as a retail product and “stage” it to appeal to your target market home buyer. Homes sell faster and for a better price if they appeal right away to the target homebuyer…with as little work possible. Sometimes your target homebuyer will be about as far away from your taste as possible. To sell, you need to appeal to them and make changes, even if it doesn’t appeal to you.

2. BE REALISTIC…REALLY understand the good and bad points of your house. Sometimes you can fix the bad points, sometimes you can’t. Upgrading or not, staging or not and pricing must be based on the market and your home. What you think your home is worth isn’t always what the market thinks. Homebuyers look at the market. The market wins. Listen to your expert Realtor advice, which they should be able to substantiate with comps. They are the market, don’t ignore them.

3. FEEDBACK….Feedback from home buyers and other Realtors is important and hard to get…so when you get it, don’t dismiss or ignore it. This is what people are thinking who could have bought your home….but instead there was a reason they bought another home. They may not like the decor or the layout, etc. You have to figure out if it is cost effective to fix or change it or you may need to adjust your price….or you can ignore it, make excuses and sit on the market forever.

And if they don’t like your wall-to-wall mirrors or southwestern decor…don’t take it personal. That is why you should not be in the house when they are there. They don’t want to hurt their feelings, so they will not say what they need to say and their Realtor can’t do his or her job explaining the home and countering objections. Once they have it in their heads they don’t like something, it is tough to reverse or change.

4. FINANCING…Whether you agree or not, times are different now than when you were starting out and buying a home. Many first-time homebuyers these days have very little down payment and no extra for closing costs. Often they will ask you for closing costs, but what you are really doing is allowing them to finance the costs into the mortgage. Negotiate your bottom line like a business….don’t get caught up in how much they are putting down or whether or not they want to finance closing costs. It should only matter if they are capable and likely to get the loan and you are getting a net price that works for you.

5. INSPECTION…It is wise to have an inspection done on a home or a used car, or anything before you make a major purchase. The inspector’s job is just like a doctor doing a physical. They will tell these homebuyers everything that is wrong with the home. That is their job, some are better and putting things in the right perspective and some are not. The key is again, don’t take it personally. You may not agree with what is said is wrong with the house, you may think it is nit picky, but the point is the home buyers do care and if you want to complete the sale, you need to decide if the price is worth making some repairs or negotiate what is or is not important to them. Also remember, once you know there is a problem, if there is, you have to disclose it for the next buyer.

REMEMBER – home buyers are your customer. They have the money.

The Best Homes for Super Bowl Entertaining

Super bowl is said to be one of the biggest entertainment and gathering events of the year. No other event pits the challenges of food and television more to a host. So, when I am showing a house, I often look at the spaces in the “how can I entertain in this house.” Because even if you don’t entertain, the same principals often apply to everyday use. So here is my criteria for the perfect Super Bowl entertaining house.

1. Space. Space is a given for most entertaining. The more space you have in a kitchen, the more food you can put out and the easier it is for people to “graze” for several hours. This is true of any entertaining and gathering event like holidays and special occasions where you host family and friends.

But coupled with a television event, you also need seating and gathering space for a lot of people to hover around the biggest screen. Space is important and in this case, bigger is better.

2. Open areas. When hosting, it is extremely helpful to have open gathering spaces where people can move and mingle between food and conversation easily. Open floor plans between the kitchen and family room help facilitate ease of not missing out on either snacks or the TV main event. And when even the commercials are important, an open floor plan can mean you don’t miss a minute.

3. Kitchen Island. Kitchen islands are a great invention. They add counter and storage space, can double as a table or snack counter, can elevate small hands and eyes when baking, can be a table for homework. The benefits are endless. But when hosting a food gathering, they can be the main event. The kitchen island can be the place where the food goes. With four accessible sides, it is easy to move around and create your plate or just pop in to snitch something. It also frees your other counterspace for preparation and isolates more of the mess to certain areas.

Sometimes basements are a great space for all this, but family room kitchen combo seem to be the preference. It has everything, your main cooking space, natural light and access to the door for guest coming and going. This house for sale pictured at 648 Larkspur in Matteson, Illinois shows the perfect set up for a great Super Bowl party.

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How to Avoid Rental Scams and Pitfalls

A recently publicized rental scam on Craigslist put unsuspecting renters in a home the “landlord” did not own and put the unsuspecting owner in a position where he had squatters to get rid of. The renters thought they had a legitimate lease and paid money only to lose their money and the place of residence. The scam artist came away the richer. These type of rental scams purveyed on even legitimate website rentals are rampant. Vacant homes are usually the target of these con artists. When you are renting, how can you avoid getting left in the cold with these scams?

Another big problem are landlords who owe money on the property and are not paying. Foreclosures do not have to honor leases and you can get kicked out of the property with very little notice, usually without your security deposit.

1. Seek help from a professional Realtor. The services of a professional Realtor do not cost you any money as a renter and can save you from these schemes. Professional Realtors have access to the MLS where the rentals are legitimate. Plus, they know the best way to apply and can help you save you time and hassle calling and arranging a bunch of appointments – one stop shop. Also realtor’s have access to lien, tax and property information to double check the landlord and if they have foreclosure judgments. A professional Realtor is the best possible chance for success finding and getting a rental property.

BUT if you choose to go it alone, this is what to look out for.

2. Check property records to ensure the person you are talking to is the actual owner. This can be tough, but if you can get the PIN number or look up the tax records on the county website, you can get an idea of who the tax bill is mailed to. Call the county clerk office to see what you can find out the owner of the property. You always can complete a freedom of information act to get some information.

3. The county recorder of deeds knows liens filed on any property and you can find out if the property is in foreclosure and maybe even find the property owner there. Sometimes this information is right on their website.

4. Beware of obscure websites or sites that allow anyone to market rentals for FREE. This is the harbor of scammers because they don’t have to pay and there is less paper trail. That is why Realtors and the MLS are the best source of legitimate rentals. Even popular real estate websites like Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, Postlets, etc. can have fraudulent, as well as real listings. And Craigslist seems to be a favorite hot spot for these scammers.

5. If you are rental challenged, you will be a good target for these cons. People who have low credit, evictions, criminal records, etc. will have a harder time being accepted for rental. If you have been turned down by everyone else and this person takes you, be a little more skeptical and do some homework.

6. Ask neighbors. This is awkward for a potential renter to knock on the next doors and don’t expect a great reception as neighbors don’t typically like renters, but you will find out for sure then who really owns the home.

7. Ask questions of the landlord. I know this is usually the reverse, but ask about how long they have had the property, did they live there? Do they own a lot of properties? Is a corporate or personal landlord? You can ask things in conversation and watch for the answers. A scam artist will be pretty good at lying, but you can sometimes tell.

8. Ask the village or police. Some villages have to have landlord’s licensed. They would know who owns the property.

9. Do your internet research. Google the address of the home to see it if is really for sale. Drive by to see if there is a sign. Google the phone number, email and name of the prospective landlord. And check the scam sites for any similarities. There is a lot of information out there at your fingertips.

10. Look for signs. In most cases, hindsight is 20/20, but people usually say they should have known it was a scam due to one reason or another. If they are not easy to contact to see the property. If they don’t have easy access to the property. If they don’t know a lot about the property or the area. If they are not easily available to give rent to or contact for repairs, etc. Sometimes where they want to send the rental check or how you get the keys can be a big sign. Scammers very often say they are out of town or abroad and you can send security and rent to them via wire or money order, etc.

11. If it is too good to be true – it usually is…If the rental price is so much less than others in the market, there is usually a reason.

Can you Handle the Truth in Selling Your Home

There are many euphemisms about the benefits of the truth. The truth shall set you free as a homeseller, as you need to be ready, willing and able to handle the truth from your expert team. But many homesellers prefer to listen to what they want to hear instead of the hard truth, which can end up costing them time and money to sell their home.

When considering selling their home and interviewing Realtors for advice on selling, most homesellers ask these two questions “Tell me what I can sell my home for? and Tell me what should we do to get our home ready to sell?” Unfortunately, it is really like asking someone “does this outfit look good on me.” You think you want the answer, but you don’t really want the answer.

Some Realtors will tell sellers what they want to hear just to get the listing. They ask you – what do you want to sell the home for? Then they tell you – Sure – that is what the home will sell for. But do they have any statistics to back that up? No, because sometimes what the seller would like to sell the home for is not consistent with the market value of the home.

That same Realtor will tell you, nothing needs to be done to the home to market it, for fear that if they tell the seller the home is dated, untidy, unclean or the home needs to be staged, the homeseller will give the listing and another Realtor who lies to them. But then what is the point of getting expert advice, if you have no intention to listen to it?

Some Realtors actually rely on the feedback from other Realtors who show the home to push the blame away from them and tell the seller what really needs to be said to sell the home.

Lying to a seller about price especially is illegal and unethical for a licensed Realtor and will definitely end up costing the seller precious listing time. And in the end, that same Realtor will ask them for price reductions, staging and changes or upgrades to the home to get the home sold.

So, sellers, would you rather waste time with a Realtor who tells you what you want to hear and doesn’t give the expert advice they should or let your market time increase and then eventually change things, which will cost you time and money?

Remember the story, “The Emperors New Clothes.” Everyone was afraid to tell the emperor the truth and he would up walking around his kingdom with no clothing. Home sellers, are you ready to handle the truth and benefit from a better sales price and shorter listing time?