Ten Common Mistakes Home Sellers Make

Ten Common Mistakes Home Sellers Make

Several years ago when the real estate market was “hot” home sellers could list their home and would most likely have an offer in a matter of days, if not, hours.  I remember one home in particular that I went to show and when I opened the screen door, it fell off the hinges.  I remember thinking to myself, “why would a home seller not fix that door before listing it.”  The answer of course at the time was they did not need too.  It was going to sell anyway.

Those days are gone.  Home sellers need to be mindful of how there home is presented – not so much to get the best price, but to sell it period!

Here are ten common mistakes that home sellers make, in today’s market.

1.   The first mistake many home sellers make is not selecting the right real estate agent.  Who is “right” for one person may not be right for another, but there are some general areas that all sellers need to consider.  Be sure you are comfortable with the real estate agents “business” understanding of real estate.  All to often, the agent that walks in the house and raves about how beautiful the home is and how it should sell quickly, may be putting on a show and not necessarily looking at it from a business perspective.  Some agents will try to “buy” a listing by giving you a high end listing price.  If one agent tells you to list your home at $325,000 and another one suggests $400,000, the inclination would be to go with the higher amount for obvious reasons – it puts more money in your pocket and theirs.

Ask to see the numbers they used in the Comparative Market Analysis.  Be sure that they are using realistic numbers to arrive at your listing price.  Remember, it is not the seller or the agent that determines the selling price – it is the buyer.

You also want to have a discussion with the agent regarding your expectations.  Do you want open houses, how often do you expect to be updated on the listing, does the agent get back to you in a reasonable period of time.  These are all factors to determine which agent is right for you.  If you have an agent tell you that they will put your listing in the MLS, try not to laugh – that is expected.

2.   The second mistake home sellers make is listing their property too high.  Everyone will figure in a “little wiggle” room, but listing your property unrealistically high is the kiss of death in real estate.  Everyone thinks their property is worth more than the market right now.  It is critical that your REALTOR provide a CMA with a realistic price for your home.  Be sure your agent is comparing homes that have recently sold and homes that are currently listed.

If you list your property too high, the buyers who truly are looking at buying a property valued at that level will compare your home with the others that they looked at, at in all likelihood, yours will not measure up and will sit on the market.  The longer it sits on the market the more unlikely it is to sell.  Price it to sell, not list.

3. Waiting for a market rebound may also be a mistake that many home sellers make.  All to often sellers are looking to move up to their dream home while home prices are low.  They look at the house they would like to buy and get excited about how “cheap” that house is.  But when they look at listing their house, they do  not want to take the hit.  Home sellers that are looking to sell their house may in fact take a hit on their property, but will most likely gain by getting a more expensive home at a reduced rate resulting in a gain in net worth.  This may not be right for everyone, but it is certainly something that home sellers/buyers should consider.  As I always mention, talk to a REALTOR to get the facts.

4.   Don’t skimp on listing photos.  The Internet plays a large role in the real estate market today.  Those pictures that are included in the MLS will wind up on many, many web sites.  When potential buyers go to a Web site to look for their new home, they will almost without fail focus on the homes that have pictures.  Be sure the pictures that are included are pertinent.  All to often I see pictures of homes where they are showing the living room couch instead of the overall room.  With today’s digital cameras adding pictures to your home’s listing should be a given.

5.   What ever you do, don’t do false advertising.  With technology today, it is quite easy to “modify” pictures that are included.  I remember one home that I previewed and was astonished to find a telephone pole smack dab in the middle of the front lawn.  I pulled out the MLS listing and looked at the picture again only to learn that the picture in the MLS had been touched up by removing the telephone pole and adding landscaping.  Looked nice, but wasn’t what the property was.

6.   I am not a big fan of sellers incentives, and although there may be times when it will help find a buyer, more often than not, the buyer is looking for a rock bottom price, not a credit.  If a buyer is looking at a home, an incentive to pay the association fee for a year will not make the home any more attractive.  If the house fits their needs and they can afford it, that is much more important.  If you do feel that you need to do an incentive, offer money towards the  closing costs, that, in my opinion, is the best way to go.

7.   Don’t delay making necessary repairs.  Many times sellers think they can  list their home and offer some money toward the necessary repairs.  Unless, it is a large amount of money, most buyers don’t want to be bothered with repairs after closing on a house.  In addition, it may be more difficult to obtain the necessary appraisal.

8.   Don’t take offense at a low ball offer.  When a buyer makes an offer on a house, the seller has three options.  They can either accept the offer, counter the offer, or reject the offer.  Unless you have multiple offers coming in, I would suggest that you either accept the offer or counter.  There are many areas that can be negotiated to get you to an acceptable deal.

9.   Be sure on the front end that a buyer can afford your house.  Not being able to get financing is one of the main reasons closings do not happen.  When a buyer makes an offer, be sure to get documentation of their ability to get a loan for the mortgage amount.  If they do not have it, the contract should specify that the buyer will provide proof of the loan within a certain number of days.

10.  Don’t make your home inaccessible.  Real estate agents love to show homes that are easy to get in to.  If an agent needs to call numerous times to get into your home, chances are they are going to move on to another house.  Your agent should have a lock box through the local MLS service that will provide quick and easy access to agents.  I have heard many excuses why a house can not be shown, from the kids have to do their homework during that time, to I take a nap in the afternoon, to that is when my soap operas are on.  Remember, the goal is to sell your house.

A REALTOR will be able to walk you through these items and help you avoid pitfalls.  One other thing I should mention.  Do not write off a REALTOR who tells you something you don’t want to hear.  Listen to them and see how it will help you sell your house.  REALTORS are professionals and are there to help you.

As always, if I can help with any of your real estate needs, please don’t hesitate to text or call me at 615 417-8182 or email me at RolandLow1@gmail.com




Market Conditions of Real Estate

If you follow this blog or the news in general, you will notice that there is a see-saw effect in the economy.  One day something is up, the next day it is down.  It doesn’t matter if it is the stock market or real estate.  A good example is the Consumer Confidence.  After a sharp decline in August, September appears to be swinging up,  However, in the last few months there has been a net increase in real estate in general.  Prices in many areas seem to be climbing back up, inventories are decreasing and interest rates remain extremely low.

Home prices rose 0.9% from June 2011 to July 2011.  That may be a modest gain, but it is the fourth consecutive month of price growth, according to the Case-Shiller home price index.

Although the index is still lower than July, 2010, it does indicate that the gap is getting less, suggesting a move toward price stabilization.  That is good news.  The overall indication is that the housing market is improving.

It appears that banks and other lending institutions are once again resuming processing homes in foreclosure after a sabbatical to make sure they were in compliance with appropriate laws.  Never the less,  the inventory in many areas is decreasing which should result higher prices, especially once the back log of foreclosures are processed.

Couple that news with some of the best news to hit Middle Tennessee is that General Motors  will be opening the GM plant in Spring Hill.  There will be approximately 600 new jobs immediately and approximately 1,100 new jobs in 2012.  TRG has begun hiring for a new call center in Spring Hill.  They will be hiring 75 people immediately and an additional 400 by February, 2012.

 I would advise any one thinking of buying or selling property to contact a REALTOR® to get the facts on the market.  REALTORS® have up to the minute information regarding the market in your area and can help you with any questions or concerns you may have.

As always, If I can help you with any of your real estate needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me by text or phone at 615 417-8182 or email me at RolandLow1@gmail.com.


Five Common Mistakes of Home Buyers

Five Common Mistakes of Home Buyers

Buying a home can be a tedious proposition as anyone who has bought a home knows.  But there are some steps you can take to reduce the tension and help you get into the home you truly want with a lot less stress.

1.   The first error that many home buyers commit  is that they do not “shop” for the real estate agent that will best suite their needs.  Having the correct agent is the first critical step you should make when looking to buy – or sell for that matter.  Your agent can be the catalyst between the sellers (or buyers), the mortgage agent, home inspector, and on and on.  Who you pick for your agent depends a lot on what you need and how comfortable you are with this transaction.  All too often people pick someone who knows someone, and they may not be the best choice for them.

I always, and I mean always, advise clients to have their own REALTOR represent them.  Many times clients will look at a home during an open house and start talking with the agent on duty there.  That agent on duty represents the seller.  It is in your best interest to have your own agent who will represent you.  Don’t get me wrong, the agent representing the seller will most likely do a good job representing both parties, but the critical test will be at the closing.  Does that agent sit with you on your side of the table or do they sit with the seller?

In the majority of cases, there is no cost to the buyer to have their own representative.  It is my strongest advice to buyers.  Also, if you have an agent agreement, always tell any other agent you come into contact with.  It helps keep the matters clear.

2.   Shop around for a mortgage.  Not all mortgage companies are the same and it is important for such a large investment that you get the right mortgage.  Ask questions of any fees or issues you may not understand.  Again, the mortgage representative should welcome any questions you may have.  If they do not seem to want to answer your questions, find a different mortgage broker, it’s that simple.

Most of the larger mortgage companies will welcome any questions you may have.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

3,   Right now, it is a buyers market, but in time that will change.  There are many homes to choose from and sellers will most likely be happy to receive any reasonable offer.  However, it is important that once you have made a decision to make an offer on a house, to move quickly.  The saying in real estate is “Remember, the house you looked at today, and wanted to think about until tomorrow, may be the house someone looked at yesterday, and wanted to think about until today.”   You do not want to get into a bidding war with another potential buyer.

4.   The age-old battle is that the buyer wants the lowest price possible while the seller wants the highest price possible.  Many times a buyer will come in with an offer that is very low.  The seller, who can counter offer, accept or reject the offer will many times either reject the offer outright or dig in their heels and not want to budge on the price of the home.  Getting either side to start giving in can be a nightmare for a real estate agent.

If you are making an offer on a home, talk to your agent about the reasonableness of the offer.  Remember, the seller wants to sell, and the buyer wants to buy.  Getting them on the same page sometimes takes the patience of a saint.

There is nothing wrong with offering a low bid.  If that is necessary to make the deal happen, that’s fine.  There may be other areas that a buyer can compromise to make the deal more palatable to the sellers, such as a longer period before closing to enable them to move out or to find their next home.

5.   The last item that I want to mention is to always consider re-sale.  On average, homeowners stay in their homes from 4 to 7 years before relocating.  First time home buyers, on average, stay in their home for 4 years.  Those whose career requires relocations may move every few years.

Whether it is the schools or proximity to something of interest, resale should always be considered when buying a home.  Researching the area to learn what is going on can be a big plus.  If you learn that the local planning commission in entertaining the idea of a dump site, find out more information, it can affect your resale.

I have mentioned in many of my postings, your REALTOR can be a big help in sorting out these issues.  Talk to a REALTOR to get the facts on what is going on in the market.

As always, if I can help with any of your real estate needs, please don’t hesitate to text or call me at 615 417-8182 or email me at RolandLow1@gmail.com.


FSBO – For Sale By Owner

One of the hottest topics in real estate is whether to retain the services of a real estate agent or to put your home on the market as an FSBO – for sale by owner.  Just as there are any number of reasons why people may be selling their house, there are just as many reasons why someone would try to sell their house themselves.

One reason of course is that the seller is not obligated to pay a commission to a real estate agent.  In most markets that can be anywhere from 5% – 7% on the sale price of the home.  A few years ago 8% -9% was acceptable.  That is not the case today.  If an agent has a client whom he believes may be interested in buying a FSBO property, the agent may approach the seller and ask if they would entertain the idea of paying the buyer agents commission.  Many times the FSBO seller will be happy to do that.  If not, the agent can still present the property to the buyer, but in all liklihood, the buyer would be responsible for the agents commission.  That alone will many times knock the buyer out of the market.  Of course by not being willing to pay a commission to an agent, you limit the amount of traffic or prospective buyers that you may encounter.

There are many times when a FSBO makes sense and I would encourage a seller to look at that as an option.  For example: if you are selling your property to a relative or someone you know, it may simply be a question of dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s and processing the paper work.  But even a FSBO (not including relatives) need to comply with certain legal requirements such as a property disclosure statement.

Recently I talked to someone who was telling me that they had sold their house by themselves (this was several years ago when the market was hot) and he was very proud of that fact.  He went on to explain that he had mold in the basement of the house and was very glad to get rid of the house.  I asked him how the buyers handled the mold issue and he replied that he didn’t tell them.  I asked him if he had provided the buyer with property disclosure statement and he replied quite assuredly that he did not have to because he sold it FSBO.  Not true.  Unless you are selling to a relative or in a few other circumstances, you are required to provide a property disclosure statement.  In the case I mentioned above, neither the seller nor the buyer used a real estate agent.

FSBOs can encounter several unexpected issues that they have to content with, such as the property disclosure statement.  They also have to handle any advertising that needs to be done and it must be done consistant with the law.  For example: you can not market your property to a specific age group, or race or even religion.  Mentioning that your property is within walking distance to a partcular church may be in violation of the law.  These are issues that a licensed real estate agent can walk you through.

Additional issues may be handling phone calls, showing the property and then the negotiating of the price and any others items to be negotiated.

There are two issues that FSBOs will encounter in handling the transaction that can be a stumbling block.  The first one is determining the listing price.  When a real estate agent does a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) they use a wide array of data and experience in determining the listing price.  It is important to detach the emotions involved in the property when determining the price.  All to often FSBOs list their property based on what they want out of the transaction rather than what the market determines.

The second stumbling block is the negotiating process.  Buyers look at the property and think about the money they are spending.  The beautiful red paint in the dining room that the sellers recently applied is the first thing the buyers may look at and determine they will have to spend money to repaint the dining room.  That  is when the feathers begin to fly.

I remember clients I had that were looking at a property and commented that they would have to paint the interior.  The sellers, who had not left, reacted instantly and were offended that they did  not like their “designer” paint.  Feathers flew and they did not buy the house.

Studies have shown that statistically speaking, homes that are sold with the use of a real estate agent typically sell for 17% more than FSBOs.  Even if you deduct the commission most FSBOs would be better off utilizing the skill and expertise of a real estate agent, especially in this market.

Never the less, there are some sellers who want to do it themselves.  And that is OK if they know what they are up against and are willing to deal with that.  I would suggest that anyone who is thinking of selling their property by themselves to at least talk to a REALTOR® to get the facts on the market conditions.  REALTORS provide much more service than what I am covering in this posting and it is important to look at all the information before making this decision.

Most REALTORS® that I know would be happy to spend some time with FSBOS and talk about the process.  Some may even be willing to hold an open house for you provided you will pay their commission should they find a buyer.  In any event, and as I have mentioned many times, talk to a REALTOR® to get the facts.

As always, if there is anything I can do to help you with any of your real estate needs, please don’t hesitate to text or call me at 615 417-8182 or email me at RolandLow1@gmail.com.


Mortgage Rate Update – The Economic Reality

A day doesn’t seem to go by without the media reporting how bad the economy is.  It reports about companies that are laying employees off; retail sales slumps; companies closing; and of course the roller coaster ride of the stock market.  Tucked somewhere in all that chatter the media reports that mortgage rates are down.

I have stated many times on this blog that interest rates for mortgages are at an extremely low rate – 4.1% as of September 12, 2011 for a 30 year fixed.  Adjustable rate mortgages are at 2.8%.  These rates are the lowest they have been for “at least 40 years” according to the National Association of REALTORS®.  Yet, there are few buyers jumping into the market!

There are a lot of reasons for buyers not wanting to get into the market, and there are as many reasons as there are buyers.  But some of the more common reasons revolve around the job market and the ability to get a mortgage.

With the unemployment rate around 9.2% there are literally millions of men and women who have lost their job or may be underemployed.  And, there are millions more who undoubtedly are concerned waiting to see if their job will be the next to go.  Bank of America just announced laying off 30,000 employees in the next couple of years.  Several other companies have announced lay offs and that has to wear on those who are employed.  Retired individuals who rely on their savings have seen dramatic drops in the stock market and many of those folks have seen large drops in the money they expected to receive.

Yet, there are millions of people – in fact the majority of people – who are working and have the money to get into the home market, yet, in large part, they do not.  Why?

Again, there are as many reasons as potential buyers why someone does or does not do something, but there is one reason that seems to be a recurring theme.  Banks are not loaning mortgages.

Even though home prices have fallen dramatically in the last few years and interest rates are at historical lows, potential buyers are not able to obtain the mortgages needed to purchase homes.  People with pristine credit ratings are complaining that the banks are requiring them to “jump through hoops” to obtain a mortgage.  The normal credit score for a 30 year fixed mortgage historically was 650, now the banks are requiring a credit score of 700.  Even with the higher score, buyers are bewildered with the requirements banks are insisting on to approve a loan.

To make matters worse; when a potential buyer hears of interest rates in the vicinity of 4.1% and then talks to the mortgage lender and are told that they will  only qualify for an interest rate of say 6.5%, they feel ripped off.  Even though 6.5% is still a respectable interest rate, buyers are put off and walk away with bad feelings.

I encourage anyone who is thinking of buying real estate to talk with a REALTOR to get the facts of todays market.  If you do not know a mortgage broker who can help you get through the maze of information, your REALTOR will be able to help you with that.  Real estate is still a viable option in attaining wealth and this is a good market to buy a home.

As always, if I can help you with any of your real estate needs, please don’t hesitate to text or call me at 615 417-8182, or email me at RolandLow1@gmail.com.


The Politics of Real Estate

As the nation continues to endure a shaky economic recovery, the National Association of REALTORSÒ, of which I am a member, is working hard to provide stability and growth in the housing market, which will lead to a quicker and greater economic recovery.

History has shown that the housing market has almost always led the economy to recovery – and that is what we truly need today.  According to an article in REALTOR magazine (July 2011) by Robert Freedman, “…the housing market today, while showing signs of recovery, remains weak, in part because of all the talk in Washington about changing the rules of the game.”  In addition, mortgage companies continue to make it  difficult for borrowers to obtain the mortgages they need to buy homes.

The unemployment rate, holding at 9.1% makes it difficult for many people to make the purchases needed to drive the economy.  But it is the housing market that I believe needs to be kicked into high gear.  Once the housing market increases there will be an upturn in the economy, provided Washington does not make legislative changes that will prevent homeowners from making purchases.

The importance of home purchases driving the economy can not be overstated.  In addition to the purchase of the home, most homebuyers need to buy a list of other items; such as furniture, appliances, lawn mower and on and on.  It is that domino effect that will drive the market out of the slump that it is currently in.  I remember a college professor in economics that said the most important thing in an economy is how often money changes hands – that is what drives an economy and that is what our economy is lacking.

One area that Congress is looking at is the QRM (Qualified Residential Mortgage).  The QRM is a proposal that would have the effect of requiring a minimum 20% down when purchasing a home.  Although this proposal seems to be supported by a relatively few individuals, if passed, this proposal would have a detrimental effect on the housing market and the economy in general. This would make it significantly harder for people to obtain a mortgage to buy a home.  This would obviously have a detrimental effect on the economy.

In a separate and unrelated discussion,  there has been talk about eliminating the mortgage interest deduction from federal taxes. It appears that there is very little support for that measure in Congress.  Never the less, it is that type of talk that has made buyers – and lenders – hesitant to leap into the housing market again.

One other comment that I would like to make.  In the news recently, you have heard a lot about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  These two organizations are part of the “secondary mortgage” market and has come under a lot of scrutiny and have been the target of what is wrong with America lately.  I want to mention that it is important to remember that in this country we have always held home ownership as an important part of who we are as a people.  The secondary mortgage market has been a major factor in making home ownership a reality in America.  You only need to look at other countries to realize what we have here.  Let us not give up on institutions that were part of what got us to the level of success we have enjoyed.  Lets fix what needs to be fixed and not throw the baby out with the bath water.  Talk to your elected officials and let them know how important you think the housing market is to the success of this country.

As always, I remain optimistic about home ownership.  So if  you, or someone you know, is thinking about buying or selling a home, talk to a REALTORÒ
to get the facts needed to make your decision.

If I can help with any of your real estate needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  You can text or call me at 615 417-8182 or email me at rolandlow1@gmail.com


Best Cities to Live In!

I know that I am probably beginning to sound like a broken record when I talk about the benefits of home ownership and particularly living in Tennessee.  However, once again a study has been conducted and the Nashville market has come in with glowing scores.

A recent blog that I published on August 15 by Forbes magazine listed Nashville as the number 3 ranking city.  They looked at 52 of the largest metro cities in the United States and ranked them based on various data indicating past, present and future vitality.  They looked at data from the past ten years and focused on how the cities were growing in the last two years to account how cities were dealing with the recession.

The top two cities in the Forbes study were no surprise.  They were Austin, Texas and Raleigh, North Carolina.  The third place city was Nashville, Tennessee.  The Forbes Magazine went on to say, “Perhaps less expected is the No. 3 ranking for Nashville, Tenn. The country music capital, with its low housing prices and pro-business environment, has experienced rapid growth…”

Another study, just released by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance,  rated Nashville as the number three place in the nation in their study.  Their study was based on its unemployment rate, median household income and cost of living among other factors.

In their study Omaha, Nebraska came in first place while Charlotte, North Carolina came in second place.  But once again, Nashville ranked in the top level of best cities to live in coming in third! 

I should also mention that Tennessee was the only state to have two cities within the top six: Nashville came in third while Knoxville, Tennessee came in fifth.  That has got to say something about this market.

I would encourage anyone who is thinking about buying a home to contact a REALTOR and get the facts on the real estate market.  The most recent interest rate for mortgages is 4.2% making this a great time to buy.

As always, if I can help answer any questions you may have regarding real estate, please don’t hesitate to contact me: You can text me at 615 417-8182 or email me at rolandlow1@gmail.com.  I look forward to helping you