Frequently Asked Questions
The real estae process can seem confuisng and feel overwhelming. Below are some commonly asked questions that I've encountered throughout my years and the answers I've developed.
As soon as you have decided you are going to sell it. People buy and sell homes because of changes in their lives, not changes in the seasons. Although some people still follow a traditional lifestyle and wish to plan their home sale or purchase around their children’s school schedule, market forces such as interest rates, competition from other sellers or buyers, lease expiration, job transfers and changes in marital status can determine a buyer’s motivation to buy and should motivate a seller to get their home in front of the buying market as soon as possible.
The best way to price your home is to research what other homes like yours in similar locations have sold for. These homes are proven sales that create a justifiable value for your home. Then compare those sales with what unsold homes like yours are listed for. Your effective list price will be somewhere in that range. Avoid relying on appraisals that were made to refinance you home and pay off your credit cards. Avoid “tall tales” you hear from friends and co-workers that can’t be documented. Avoid Realtors who give you a higher price just to get you to hire them.
The homes that sell the fastest and for the most money are the ones that show well. All my clients receive free staging advice from a professional as part of the cost for my services. My stager will help you make sure your home is uncluttered, well lit, and have your furniture staged for the most effective showings. Get your yard and landscaping in good shape. Get all the little problems fixed. Sometimes you must buy new carpet, repaint, or do some other project to get your home into good marketing condition if you expect a successful sale.
Some homeowners try to sell their homes on their own and some succeed. Homeowners who go it alone risk foregoing a large Realtor network working with most homebuyers. Many Realtors avoid for sale by owners for fear of rejection and take their buyers only to homes that are listed. Eventually many homeowners turn the job over to a Realtor when they discover how time consuming it can be or how confusing it can be to administer something they know nothing about. In doing so they expose their home to the largest real estate network in our community. Realtors have the time to devote to marketing and showing your home, they spend their money on your advertising and have the experience to negotiate sales with buyers and get the transaction to the closing table.
Do you think all teachers, lawyers and doctors are alike? Not all Realtors are alike either. Some are better at marketing, negotiating, and closing than others. Some have better tools and networks than others. Some homeowners often choose a Realtor because the Realtor is a friend, church member, or family member and they feel obligated to give that Realtor their business. Some homeowners select the Realtor that suggests the highest price for their home and some select the Realtor who agrees to work for the lowest fee. These are simply emotional reasons for choosing a Realtor. What you want is a Realtor who will shoot straight with you, who can communicate with you, who will tell you what you need to hear, who has a good plan to sell your home, who has experience, who has good negotiating skills, who has good closing skills, and who is motivated to get your home sold and closed in the quickest time possible.
This time is subject to agreement between you and the Realtor. Most Realtors ask 6 months because of the non-refundable advertising costs they pay and the fact that the average selling time in our market is 90 days.
Yes, commissions are negotiable between you and the Realtor. Both you and the Realtor have the option to pay or work for a certain fee.
Yes. The seller must disclose hidden defects in the property that cannot be discovered reasonably by the buyer. However, Alabama is a “Buyer Beware” state as it applies to defects that can be discovered by a reasonable inspection. It is best to disclose anything you feel may be a problem to establish trust with prospective buyers. Some homeowners have their homes inspected in preparation for marketing to find defects and correct them.
Federal law prohibits discrimination in the sale of real estate based on race, color, sex, religion, familial status, handicap, or national origin.
Lockboxes have become very successful marketing devices. All Realtors expect to get the key to your home at the front door from a lockbox.
The most effective advertising tool today is the Internet. Make sure your Realtor can advertise your home on all public and private real estate websites. Today, Buyers find homes on line and then email or call their Realtor to make an appointment to see the home. Yard signs are still effective. Print advertising probably causes 1% or less of sales today.
Open houses are not as effective in finding buyers as you may think. Sometimes nobody attends an open house. If 3 or 4 people do attend, that is considered by many to be successful attendance. Often people who attend open houses are just curiosity seekers or are out looking for ideas to use in their new home or are just dreaming.
There are three things you control in this process that you can change if your home doesn’t sell. 1) The price you select for your home: if your home doesn’t sell for the price you start with, you can change it. 2) The condition of your home: if you get consistent feedback that you need to work on your home, you can do it. 3) The Realtor you select: if you become unhappy with your Realtor you can change to another one when your agreement expires or sooner if your Realtor agrees. If you change your mind about selling, you may take your home off the market. If you then sell your home before your listing period expires, you may owe a commission.