Real Estate Blog

Last week we talked about curb appeal…

Last week we talked about curb appeal, unfortunately if you planted flowers you had to cover them or bring your hanging baskets inside. I hope the frost is over and the warm weather is on the way. The next two weeks are full of change and new beginnings as WVU graduates will be turning their tassels this weekend and the local high school’s next weekend.

You should be seeing a change in traffic as the students head out for the summer. Our rental market is having a big turnover as we speak. But how does all of this affect our housing market? Well, as you may have heard its quite hot! Homes are going under contract in the first few hours of being listed with multiple offers over asking price. This is crazy! When will we see a break? Not anytime soon according to national experts. Housing prices are up 20% across the country and with rates being so low, it’s a seller’s market.

In other cities, across the country, buyers are paying over asking price, waiving inspections and bringing cash to closing. If you need to buy, get ready for some competition. When you see a house that interests you, you need to call your REALTOR® immediately as some buyers are making offers site unseen. But let’s talk about your REALTOR® for a minute. Just because we don’t have any inventory to show you, doesn’t mean we aren’t working lots of hours trying to find your home for you. We talk to each other. We search our MLS and FSBO’s (for sale by owners). We ask everyone we know if they are selling, so we can help you find a house.

So, stop calling the number on the sign if you are currently working with a REALTOR®. If he or she has been showing you property for some time now and you like working with them, don’t jump ship. If they don’t answer your call or return your call within a few minutes of your voicemail, give them a break. They saw you called. It’s possible they are talking to a seller to see if that home would fit your needs. We know you are excited and maybe desperate to find a house and trust me, we are searching.  Hang in there, be patient and trust in your REALTOR®.

We all have sellers that want to sell, but where will they go? If they list their home and it goes under contract quickly, they will be in the same boat as our buyers. It is such a weird time in our market. So, what does all this mean for the future? Homebuyers who can wait for the bidding wars to disappear, prices to stagnate, and listings to stay on the market longer will get more house for their dollar. Be patient, exercise caution and don’t pay more than you can comfortably afford.

As things start to reopen and sellers become comfortable with strangers trapsing through their homes, we should see an increase in inventory which in turn will level out the pricing. Have a great week and remember to do good things!

Curb Appeal.

Curb Appeal. We hear it on HGTV and read it in magazines. But what does it mean? Well, according to The National Association of REALTORS®, how your home looks on the outside can have a significant influence on the potential buyers’ perception of its value. We all know that buyers are cruising the neighborhoods, looking at real estate. If your grass is not cut and there are dead flowers from last spring still in pots, the buyer will keep moving.

It is finally Spring and time for new growth and new beginnings! If you are in the market to sell your home, then you need to spruce up the exterior so the buyer will want to see your interior. Where to start? We should talk flowers. How often do you drive through a neighborhood and see beautiful hanging baskets and think wow! This is curb appeal. You view the exterior as pretty and automatically assume the interior is kept in the same condition. This is what will help with showings. Many local nurseries are open. Support local.

Here are some tips to make your curb appeal to buyers. Stand in front of your house and look at it, with a visitor’s eye. Do you see dirt? Are your gutters covered with slime? Does your front porch need some sprucing? What needs painted? Develop a list of things that you can do to make the front of the home inviting.

Start by washing the windows inside and out. First impressions are best and dirty windows will have the buyer running to the next property. Power wash the gutters and siding if they have built up mold and slime from the winter. Place a flag or hanging flower basket on your front porch and keep it tidy at all times. Keep the grass cut and shrubs trimmed. No one wants to buy a house that looks like a jungle.

How is your roof? Did you know that this is probably the first thing a buyer sees when viewing your property? Why? Because it can be a huge expense if it needs replaced. Repair any loose shingles. If it is at the end of its life, consider replacing it now. This will help add value to your home when you list it for sale.

You need to view your home from all angles. Do you have a deck? Does it need painted, repaired or replaced? Buyers want to see themselves in your property, on your deck, on your porch. If it is not well maintained, they will move onto the next property. Paint your front door. Add some shutters. This is the time to do some home repairs. Remember first impressions are the best impressions. Ask your local agent for suggestions when they come to view your home.

The weather is looking good this week, so get out there and work on your curb appeal. I have my list! Happy Mother’s Day to all you amazing ladies! Remember to do good things!

Do you ever feel like you are in the center ring at the circus…

Do you ever feel like you are in the center ring at the circus, and everyone is watching you try to juggle? This is a good visual of how we all try to balance work and home life. If you don’t know how to juggle, you are going to drop the ball many times. When you have too many things pulling you in all different directions whether it may be work, kids’ extracurricular activities, chores at home or just life in general it can be overwhelming.

You can have balance of your work and home life, but you first must know how to begin. Finding time for yourself, creating a happy home life, and succeeding at work are not impossible if you learn to set limits, periodically say no, and forgo expectations of perfection in yourself and others. When you are asked to take on a task or volunteer for an organization, prioritize by not saying yes to all requests and learning to say no kindly but firmly.

As REALTORS®, we are constantly juggling our schedules with showings, listing appointments, client phone calls, emails and lots of paperwork. We truly work 24/7. Well, almost! Our workday begins with good intentions and one change can alter the entire day. How can you balance when things are so crazy? There are a few tips to follow and not just for our profession.

Take care of yourself. Eat right, get plenty of sleep, exercise and have some mental health time for yourself. Lack of sleep can affect our health and mental state so set a routine and try to stick to it. Get up early if you need to have some quiet time before the rest of the house rises.

Surround yourself with compassionate friends who understand your demanding schedule and won’t criticize your juggling act. If you cannot attend that dinner or social event, hopefully they understand when work or home is a priority. Send a quick text letting them know you are thinking of them and ask to reschedule.

Listen, ladies and gents our homes don’t need to be in perfect order. Southern living magazine is not coming to take pictures, so it is ok if you don’t fold that laundry tonight or run the vacuum to suck up the dog hair. Unless your house is on the market for sale and you have showings, then maybe light a candle and hide the laundry. In all seriousness, we need to learn to relax and enjoy some time doing things we love. Make memories.

Organization is the key word in all of this. Organize your time, your personal space, your home and work and things will run more smoothly. Ask your family to help when things are busy and return the favor when they need you.

Just remember to take time for yourself, enjoy those around you and be kind to others. You have no idea what may be going on in their lives. Maybe they haven’t mastered the juggling act yet.

Have a fantastic first week of May! Remember to do good things!

The busy spring real estate market is in full swing.

The busy spring real estate market is in full swing. Buying a home, whether it is your first or where you will retire, is an exciting time. What will your design style be? Where will you live? These are all important things to consider. Inspections are an important part of the home buying process. But do you think about pests? This type of inspection is usually done toward the end of the process. As a buyer or seller, would you freak out if the inspector said you have termites, carpenter bees or worse, rats?

A pest inspection is a crucial step when buying or selling a home, and in maintaining the home you may already own. Pest inspectors typically search for insects that cause wood damage, but they might also look for pests that can be a threat or nuisance in general. Many people never give a second thought to pest inspections until a problem arises, or until they are buying or selling a home.

It is an ugly truth that most homes have some sort of pest issues. If you are selling your home, spend the extra money upfront to get a pest inspection. It is always best to get ahead of these things and not be surprised. Pests can affect your home inside and out and can cause a lot of damage.

Common concerns that can plague homeowners and homebuyers alike include determining who pays for an inspection, who to hire, and how to exterminate any pests that are discovered. The cost and labor of having your home inspected is well-worth the peace of mind you will have in knowing you have prevented structural damages down the road, or a disruption in the home-buying process.

Many pests, including termites, are practically invisible. Often, the damage they do to a home remains unseen until it is severe, potentially causing structural damage. Hire the professional inspector trained to determine what pests may be invading your home.

Professional inspectors are thorough in searching for signs of infestation. They will examine both the interior and exterior of a house, including foundations, areas around windows and rooflines, and rafters. If they find a soft spot or other signs of infestation, they use a specialized probing device to poke a hole in the wood. This is a normal part of an inspection and should not upset homeowners. If an inspector can easily poke a hole in the wood, that simply serves as evidence of a far greater problem.

Pest reports identify areas of concern and list a pest company’s recommendations to cure any problems, including repairing decaying wood. If you are the buyer, you may be asking the seller to have the pest problem repaired prior to closing. If you are the seller, I recommend having this inspection done prior to listing the property. As a homeowner, it can save you in the long run if you keep up the maintenance in your home with quarterly inspections and treatments. I prefer to let the pests live outside and not in my home, so get that inspection done soon!

Don’t be a pest, just do good things!

Is it time to downsize?

Is it time to downsize? You may ask yourself where to begin? Do not stress, just declutter. Here a just a few tips to help you get started.

Start early. If you and your family have decided it is time to move, then start the decluttering process before you list your home for sale. Pace yourself and get the whole family involved if you are not an empty nester already. There are so many methods you can use like KonMari where you declutter by category and if the item does not bring you joy, you toss it. Also, the One Day Method is a good way to start the downsizing process. This way describes letting go of one item per day that corresponds with the date. For instance, if its day 12 of the month, then you get rid of 12 items that day. Do what works for you but do not get overwhelmed.

If decluttering your whole entire home at once is giving you anxiety, then take one room at a time. Pick a room and clean out the drawers one day and the closet the next. Everyone has a junk drawer or unorganized cabinet. Take some time and match those Tupperware lids with their containers. Trust me, you will be much happier. Donate gently used clothing or household items to a local charity.

You should have an idea of the size of your next home so you can determine what to keep and what to donate. What if your living room furniture will fit and you decide to sell it? Or if you want to keep the piano but find that your new home does not have the space. You cannot plan for all of it, but at least determine what things you know will not fit.

Downsizing is also a lifestyle change. If you are moving to warmer climate, I can bet you will not need the snowblower. If you have chosen a condo, then sell that lawnmower. There are just some things you know you will not need. Ask yourself why you are considering this life change and then set goals to get there.

Make sure when you are tossing stuff out, that you are not just moving it from one location to the next. The experts recommend going room by room. As you determine that the item should go, get rid of it. People tend to box up personal items and other things they have accumulated over the years only to discover when they move that they did not declutter at all.

For those nonessential items you do not plan on moving with you, have a sale to offset moving expenses or updating your décor in the new home. Organize and label as you declutter. This will help in the move as you box items from drawers and closets. If you are still feeling overwhelmed, ask a friend or family member to help you. They will have a fresh idea to help you declutter so you can downsize.

Yes, this market is crazy! Lack of inventory is driving up prices in our area. Good time to sell if you are ready! Have a great week and remember to do good things!

One of our most frequently asked questions is how do REALTORS® get paid?

One of our most frequently asked questions is how do REALTORS® get paid? We are paid on a commission basis. In most cases, the seller pays a sales commission based on a listing agreement with the real estate company. In our area, a commission of 6% of the sales price is common for a residential listing. That 6% is split amongst the listing agency and the selling agency. 55% is awarded to the listing agency and 45% to the selling agency. However, this could be different in other markets. Then the agents that represented the buyers or sellers get a percentage of that percentage based on their experience and agency splits.

Sounds easy, huh? Well, let us look a little further into what it takes for the real estate companies to get paid. There are inspections, appraisals, financing and sometimes surveys. For the sale to be completed, all these things must work out for the seller and the buyer.

There are home, radon, mold, and pest inspections. These are usually recommended by the selling agent to be completed early in the transaction. If everything looks good and/or repairs can be agreed upon, then we move onto the appraisal. The appraiser must find comparable sales to be able to substantiate the sales price of the home. The appraisal is ordered by the lending institution and can take several weeks to complete. What is the REALTOR® doing during this time? He or she is making sure inspections occur on time, they are keeping their buyers and sellers updated and possibly preparing addendums for repairs or other changes to the transaction.

Let us assume all inspections have been completed and the appraisal comes in at or above the sales price. Keep in mind we have probably spent a good thirty days at this point in this transaction. Remember the REALTOR® is paid on commission, which means they are not getting a bi-weekly paycheck. The next step is that the loan will go back through underwriting with the lending institution to make sure all items have been taken care of to proceed to closing. The average closing time, in our area, from the day the offer is accepted until the actual closing is between 45 and 60 days. Your REALTOR® has not been paid during this time unless he or she has other closings that are taking place.

So now let us assume this sale is not going to happen. What could be the cause? The buyer could lose their job and/or financing, something could come up in the inspection that all parties cannot agree upon or maybe the home does not appraise. In this instance, the REALTOR® does not receive any commission.

Some may look at this as a negative. But I personally do not see it that way at all. Working for commission drives us to work harder. I learned years ago that commission-based sales were the best way for me to earn a living. I am driven by a challenge and by helping people achieve their dreams.

Have a great week and remember to do good things!

Did you know April is Fair Housing month?

Did you know April is Fair Housing month? What exactly does that mean, you may ask? The Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 to prohibit discrimination upon race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities. In 1988 the Fair Housing Act was amended to add two protected classes of disability and familial status. Each April, REALTORS® commemorate Fair Housing month to reaffirm their continuing commitment to fair and equitable treatment for all.

The National Association of REALTORS® opposes discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and national origin. This policy is embodied in NAR’s Code of Ethics. NAR’s Fair Housing Action Plan abbreviated ‘ACT,’ emphasizes (A)ccountability, (C)ulture Change, and (T)raining to ensure America’s 1.4 million REALTORS® are doing everything possible to protect housing rights in America. 

I feel this is an important topic to discuss. Many people are coming together during this pandemic to help each other. Fair Housing should not just apply to real estate, but to all the things we do and situations we encounter. I have seen so many people doing good things this week. Just today, someone paid for my coffee. Pass on the kindness to others. Whether it be in the news, on social media or in person. It is refreshing! I am looking for the good in all things. Treat everyone equally.

How is all of this affecting our local real estate market? It is no surprise sellers who don’t have to sell right now are rethinking listing their home. Inventory is low. Buyers are ready to buy! Many times, we can’t even show the property without it already having multiple offers. To put this in perspective, there are 317 active single-family listings on the market in our area. The average of days on the market are 79 with an average list price of $385,000.

When you find a REALTOR® to work with, understand they can guide you through the process from the beginning to end. They can show you any listings, even if they are not listed with their company. If you are buying, get pre-approved so you are ready to make that offer. Contact your REALTOR® as soon as you see a new listing. If priced right, it won’t last.

If you are selling, prepare your property for the market. See your property as a buyer. What needs fixed or painted? Look at your curb appeal. Would you want to come inside if the lawn is a mess and trees aren’t trimmed? You can sell much quicker if your property is ready for public viewing.

Regardless as to what position you are in, remember to treat others with respect and kindness. Have a wonderful Easter holiday! Remember to do good things!

Are you in the market to buy your first home?

Are you in the market to buy your first home? Do you know where to begin? If not, maybe I can offer you some guidance. You will need to know your budget, get pre-approved, hire a REALTOR® and find a home. Sound easy? It can be if you have the right people working for you. Let us look at the process.

You should get pre-approved with a local lender, in your community, to see how much you can afford. It can be frustrating to look at homes out of your price range. Most lenders can pre-approve you over the phone. You will need to provide some financial documents and your work history, but all of this can be uploaded and emailed. Simple so far?

Next, find a REALTOR®. Ask your friends and family for recommendations. Interview them. Check out their social media and websites. Your REALTOR® is working for you so make sure you have a good relationship and strong communication. You are halfway through the process now.

The fun part? House hunting. I know many of you watch HGTV and those shows are entertaining. Let me tell you something, house hunting is nothing like “as seen on TV”. During the busy market, you are lucky to get to see the house before it has multiple offers, over asking price. So back to the pre-approval? Be prepared. If you see a house, contact your REALTOR® immediately to see if you can view the home.

Time to make an offer! Hopefully, YOU are not in a multiple offer situation and the seller accepts! Make sure your REALTOR® explains the ins and outs of the contract, so you understand the process. There are inspection deadlines that you do not want to miss, or you will not be able to ask for repairs from the seller. Again, ask around and hire a qualified inspector that meets your needs.

Do not forget to keep your bank in the loop. They need a copy of the purchase agreement so they can order the appraisal. The appraisal can be a long process, especially during a busy market season. Try to get all documents requested to your lender as soon as possible.

There are a few takeaways from all of this. Listen to your lender and your REALTOR®. Do not contact the listing agent or seller directly. This can cause you to lose the home and will most likely make someone mad. You will need a Real Estate attorney to do your title search and closing. Ask for recommendations.

Now that all inspections are done and the home appraised, you wait for a clear to close. Don’t make any large purchases like a new car or new furniture until after your closing. The bank may pull your credit one more time and this can affect the loan process. Call the utility companies, find a moving company and schedule to have your mail forwarded to your new home. Best of luck and congratulations on your new purchase!

Have a fantastic week and remember to do good things!

Is being a REALTOR® a hard job?

Is being a REALTOR® a hard job? It can be extremely rewarding and demanding at the same time. Real estate agents can be successful and have a lot of freedom. That does not mean it is an easy career or that everyone succeeds. It takes hard work, dedication, and perseverance to become a successful real estate agent. You must take classes, pass a state test, and find a broker to sponsor you. Once you get your license, the training begins. You will learn to sell houses, know the ins and outs of listing and purchase agreements and always work in the best interest of your buyers and sellers. If you can make it through the licensing process and the first few months, real estate can be a great career.

Being successful and making a sustainable income as a real estate agent is hard work and, in most cases, it requires a substantial commitment of time and effort. REALTORS® do not work from 9 to 5. In this market, of multiple offers and showings, many of us are working 7 days a week and many long hours. You must be ready to show at a moment’s notice.

One of the hardest things about being in real estate, for newer agents, is the financial aspect. It is financially challenging because most people are used to salaried positions. They are accustomed to getting a paycheck every two weeks after putting in a certain amount of work. The REALTOR® is the last one to get paid. If the transaction falls through, we do not get a commission. You must develop a strict budget to be prepared for such instances.

We often wear multiple “hats”. We are advertisers, counselors, cleaners, jugglers and more. We must figure out marketing budgets, methods, branding, and generating leads all while trying to pay the bills. When working with multiple buyers and sellers, it can sometimes be overwhelming, so you need to be organized. As a REALTOR®, it is important to keep track of your transactions and communicate often with your buyers and sellers.

Because we are constantly growing our business, we feel the need to work all the time. There is always more work that could be completed. This creates a compulsion to work as hard as possible and a feeling of ‘slacking off’ when trying to relax. We work on our vacations, during family dinners and events often taking away from quality time with our loved ones.

What are the benefits of becoming a REALTOR®? We meet some awesome people from all over the state and country. We get to help people buy and sell homes to fulfill their dreams of homeownership. Everyone has a different story. Whether they are first time homebuyers, relocating to a warmer client or downsizing due to becoming an empty nester, the REALTOR® is there to help! So, if you are ready for a career change, check out the West Virginia Real Estate Commission for more information.

The market in North Central West Virginia is hot! Find your REALTOR® and make your move today! Have a great week of sunshine and remember to do good things!

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

From the time we started kindergarten, we were taught to be kind to others and to be honest. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” was a common theme in my home. I have adopted that as my motto. In a world where we can be anything, be kind.

Did you know that REALTORS® are also told to be kind and trustworthy and they are held to a Standard of Practice called the Code of Ethics? The first code was approved in 1913 at the Annual Convention in Canada. There are 17 articles written into the Code of Ethics. The 17 Articles of the Code establish standards of conduct which the REALTOR® must satisfy. These Articles govern the REALTORS® conduct in everyday business dealings with clients, customers, and other REALTORS®. Failure to observe these standards can result in disciplinary action.

Professionalism in Real Estate practice is taught so the REALTOR® is aware of their ethical obligations, to ensure a smooth transaction. We are trained to uphold the Code of Ethics in our everyday business dealings. Our duties to work with other REALTORS®, represent our buyers and sellers in their best interest and be ethical, always, is the foundation for our business.

Our duties are to the clients and customers, the public and other REALTORS®. The clients and customers should always be represented to the best of their interest. It is our obligation to submit all offers, disclose what we know and to never mislead or misrepresent in the transaction. It is the duty of the REALTOR® to preserve confidential information provided by their clients in any agency relationship. This is our duty to the client and customer.

Article 10 of the Code of Ethics states that REALTORS®, in their real estate employment practices, shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS® should be honest and truthful in their real estate communications of advertising, marketing and other representations. The REALTOR® must make clear to the public their Broker information when advertising. This is our duty to the public.

REALTORS® shall not knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses, or their business practices. This is stated in Article 15 of the Code of Ethics. We are taught not to contact the other parties in the transaction, to work diligently to ensure the transaction runs smoothly and to treat each other with respect. This is our duty to other REALTORS®.

So, what is the takeaway from all of this? It is simple. Be kind, be honest, be ethical and respect those around you. Spring is here! The birds are singing, and the flowers are blooming! I hope you remembered to set your clocks ahead one hour! Have a great week and remember to do good things!