Selling your home

It would be amazing…

It would be amazing if all you needed to prep your home for fall was to hang a wreath and light a bunch of pumpkin spice candles. While yes, those are a crucial part of getting ready for the change of seasons, but there are more important (and not exactly fun) preparations that come with being a homeowner. The fall season is upon us. How do you prepare your home before winter? Fortunately, in the Morgantown area, we are still experiencing some warm and sunny weather. Take advantage of this weather and do the following to get your home winter ready.

Clean your gutters. With the leaves falling, you need to make sure they are clear of debris so rain and snow can drain properly. Check your windows for drafts. Heat loss through windows is responsible for 25 percent of heating energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. But it does not have to be that way, because weatherstripping is simple and probably the most cost-effective way to keep heating costs down. Drain your outdoor faucets. Drain and disconnect all garden hoses from outside spigots to prevent any water freezing. Not doing this can result in busted pipes.

 Bring in your outdoor furniture. You spent good money to set that outdoor space up, so if you want to get another summer season out of it you should store it in a garage or shed. If you do not have anywhere to store the items, you should cover them with a waterproof furniture cover. Fertilize your lawn. If you want to keep your lawn looking great in the spring and summer, you need to prep it for the fall and winter. Roots are still active when the grass is not growing, so applying fertilizer will prevent winter damage. Doing this will also help your lawn turn green faster in the spring, which is crucial, because who wants to look at a sad lawn come springtime?

There are things you can do on the inside of your home to prep for winter. Change your furnace filters. If your filters are clogged, it is harder to keep your home at the temperature you want it to be, which will increase your heating bills. Clean these filters monthly, not just before the fall. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Once a year you should be checking to make sure all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices are working.

If you are thinking of listing your home in the Spring, use this cold weather time to make some interior home improvements. Spruce up the paint, redo the floors or replace that old carpet and change out old light fixtures. This is still a good time to list your property for sale. Rates are low, buyers are looking so take that leap and contact your local REALTOR®.

Add some pumpkins, mums and fall decorations to your front porch and get ready for those buyers!

Have a great week! Remember to do good things.

Everyone seems to have some form of a pet these days…

Everyone seems to have some form of a pet these days, whether it be a dog, cat, reptile or rodent. Pet owners love their fur babies, consider them members of the family and ferociously defend them. That is noble and honorable, but it can be expensive if you are trying to sell your house. The question is, what do you do with your pet during showings? This can be a difficult situation especially if you work full time. If you are fortunate enough to have a family member or neighbor available to take them during a showing, that helps. If not, you may need to run home and take them out or crate them during the showing.

According to a study conducted by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 67 percent of REALTORS® said pet ownership has a “moderate to major” impact when selling a home. How do you keep beloved pets from costing you a small fortune when you sell your house? Do not panic; there are ways to remedy the problem.

Pet owners become “eye blind” and “nose blind” to the evidence their pets leave in and around the house. They don’t notice the scratched walls on the porch or the chewed stair railing. They don’t notice the holes dug in the yard or the bald patches in the flowerbeds. But potential buyers do notice; in fact, many are specifically looking for such things when touring a property. There are steps you can take to minimize the negative impression pets have on potential homebuyers. Most of the steps probably are not ways you want to spend your free time, and you may need to hire a professional for some of them, but they will help you in the selling process.

Clean out the litter boxes, hide the pet pads and scoop the yard. No one wants to see or smell any of that. Look at your floors, do they have pet stains or scratches? Have the carpets professionally cleaned or refinish the floors. Avoid air fresheners because some people are allergic to these. If you are going to deodorize the home on your own, try natural cleaners instead. Ask a friend to “preview” your home and give you an honest opinion of its condition.

Have your home professionally treated for fleas and ticks; if you have pets in the home, you may have these critters in the house. You will want to put this at the top of your list, not just for selling your home but for your pet’s safety, too.

As a REALTOR®, we want to know if there is a pet in the house, so we aren’t surprised during a showing. Even if we know they are there, it sometimes is a shock to open a door and find them in the cage in front of you. I am speaking from experience. You can ask your REALTOR® to give you advance notice before showings to allow time to make necessary arrangements.

The goal is to sell your home and if it has a pet smell, it won’t sell. Have a great week! Remember to do good things!

What is an appraisal and why do I need one?

What is an appraisal and why do I need one? An appraisal is an opinion of value used for real-estate related financial transactions. Appraisals are required by a state licensed or certified appraiser for most transactions that are being financed by a bank or mortgage company. An appraiser’s report will typically include the type of property inspection, approaches to value required, and any lender-specific requirements.

During the listing process, the REALTOR® uses comparable active and sold properties found in the MLS to figure pricing for your home. This is based on similar properties in proximity to yours. When you receive an offer with an appraisal contingency, the appraiser will do a more in-depth evaluation of your home and find comparable sales.

What if your house doesn’t appraise for the sales price? A low appraisal may seem like a major misfortune when you are selling your house both for you and for your buyer. But low real estate appraisals are more common than you think. A low appraisal does not always mean a canceled deal. It sometimes means you must pivot and renegotiate.

If the appraisal comes in lower than your offer price, it’s either an opportunity for you to renegotiate the sales price with the seller or it’s going to completely derail your home sale, and you’ll have to start over again. Either way, as the buyer, you have some work to do to figure out what this means for your purchase and which avenue to pursue.

What are your options? First consult with your REALTOR® or lender. As the seller, you can request a copy of the report and ask the buyer to challenge the appraisal. This can delay the process and the buyer may not want to proceed. The seller can negotiate the sale price with the buyer, offer seller financing, or cancel the transaction and relist. It is tough to decide between your many options. Lean on your agent’s expertise and advice when discussing each of the below paths you could take.

Make sure you do your research before you place your property on the market. Ask your REALTOR® to guide you through the process and show you the comparable properties they are using to price your home. Be realistic in your pricing. Currently in our Morgantown market, it’s a sellers’ market which means prices could be a bit higher than usual due to the lack of inventory. Fingers crossed that you priced yours right and are currently negotiating multiple offers!

Have a wonderful week! Remember to do good things!

September is back to school time…

September is back to school time, the start of football season and the transition into fall but in the real estate world, it’s safety month. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has declared that September is REALTOR® Safety month. Being a REALTOR® can be fun, but it also comes with risks. Over the last decade or so, there have been many instances of REALTORS® being hurt, kidnapped and even murdered.

This is a good time for my fellow REALTORS® to re-evaluate their safety practices and procedures. Be aware, be smart and be proactive. So how can we apply the same safety practices that we follow to our sellers?

First, let’s talk about listing your home. Once your home is active on the market, chances are that it’s all over social media and the internet. People in your town are viewing your home online, so you need to prepare for those potential, in person showings. Strangers will walk through your home. Do a tour of your home through the eyes of a buyer and see what personal items should be removed.

The obvious things like guns, jewelry, and cash should be locked up or stored off site from your home. But did you consider spare keys, prescription drugs, and your mail as things you should hide? How easy would it be for a “potential” buyer to swipe a key when their REALTOR® is distracted or to take a prescription bottle off the shelf and slip it into their pocket? What about your mail? This can contain some personal information that someone could use to steal your identity and hack your finances.

What about family photos? While it may seem nice to display the school pictures of your children, do you really want everyone seeing them? Remember if the photograph is in your home photos, the world can zoom in and see them. So maybe clear things out and make a blank slate for your showings. You are moving, aren’t you? Time to start packing.

Make sure all doors and windows are locked before any showings and confirm they remain that way when you return. Installing a home security system can ensure you have video footage if a crime does occur. Some models and programs will even allow you to view your home remotely. Use this added feature to watch over people during showings or simply check it at night to ensure your home remains safe from vandalism and theft. If you have indoor cameras, you can keep track of those buyers touring your home but remember to let your REALTOR® know that you may be watching.

You are responsible for your pets. If possible, animals should be removed during showings. If your dog would attack a potential buyer, you will be held liable. Do your best to keep everyone safe. Do not show your home by yourself. If someone knocks on your door, tell them to contact your agent to schedule a showing. Not all buyers are who they say they are. As exciting as it is to have people interested in your home, stop, think and practice your safety.

Happy Labor Day weekend to you! Have a relaxing time and remember to do good things!

As seen on TV!

As seen on TV! We have all experienced those products, but did you know that the “as seen on TV real estate programs” may not be real? Have you ever been flipping through the channels, only to find yourself glued to the couch in an HGTV binge session? We have all been there, watching entire seasons of shows like “Property Brothers,” “Fixer Upper,” and “Love It or List It,” all in one sitting. When you are in the middle of your real estate-themed TV show marathon, you might start to think everything you see on the screen must be how it works in real-life. However, you may need a reality check.

Buyers do not necessarily look at three homes and then buy one of them. Sometimes it takes much, much longer. There may be buyers who fall in love and buy the first home they see, but according to the National Association of REALTORS®, the average homebuyer tours 10 homes as a part of their search.

On reality TV shows, they are often staged and already sold. In a real-life search, we may be showing “staged” homes, but they are still active on the market. The real estate TV shows cannot show the entire purchase process in 30 minutes, so they tend to choose buyers that are further along in their buying decision. While in real life, the buyer is just pre-approved and ready to look at 10 homes as they start their search.

Some may think if they list their home for sale, it will always sell at the open house. Of course, this would be great! Open houses are important to guarantee the most exposure to buyers in your area, but they are only one piece of the overall marketing of your home. Keep in mind, many homes are sold during regular showing appointments as well. Marketing is important as buyers are looking online as they start their search.

If you think that homeowners decide to sell their homes after a 5-minute conversation, then you may be watching too much HGTV. When in reality, like the buyers portrayed on the shows, many of the sellers have already spent hours deliberating the decision to list their homes and move on with their lives and goals. While the property-themed real estate TV shows are entertaining to watch, it is vital to remember what you are seeing on TV is not an exact portrayal of real-life. It is hard to fit what truly happens into a 30- or 60-minute time slot.

With the introduction to online internet searches years ago, buyers are more educated when it comes to seeing the property. They have already viewed the interior pictures online and with virtual tours. Many times, the pictures may make the home seem larger or smaller than it is. It is important to view the property live with your REALTOR® and not “as seen on TV”.

Hope all the parents survived the first week of school! If you are ready for more space, it is a great time to list your property. Contact your local REALTOR® today!

Until next time, remember to do good things!

Did you ever wonder how REALTORS® price your home?

Did you ever wonder how REALTORS® price your home? Do they just guess or is there some method to the price they suggest? Well, let’s explore how this process works. First, the REALTOR® will view your home in person looking for upgrades, additions and any other improvements. The REALTOR® has already done his or her research before they come by in person. We have access to assessor.org to see how the county has assessed your property, what you paid for it, the size and details of your property.

This is a public website that anyone can use. You can see aerial views of property lines and all details about the property. In addition, REALTORS® have access to the local MLS where your property is located. They can see the history of your property including past sales, photos and updates. This can help the REALTOR® determine the market value of your property. Next, they will do a comparative market analysis looking at active and sold listings similar to your property.

 A REALTOR® determines your home’s value by more than just one factor. While they look at price per square foot to get a starting point, they consider other details such as location, lot size, upgrades and amenities. Layout is important too. If the rooms are smaller in size than other comparable properties, this can affect the price.

Market conditions are a huge factor when determining price. Are houses flying off the market? Is your economy booming? If there is a large amount of inventory, prices may be lower than during a sellers’ market or lack of inventory. If your town has pending layoffs or a lack of jobs, it may be more difficult to sell, and your REALTOR® will suggest a price that fits the area more appropriately.

If you’re selling your house, your goal is to find a buyer willing to pay your asking price. Pricing your home too high may cause it to sit on the market for way too long. Calculating the fair market value of your home can help you price your property right. Market value is what the buyer is willing to pay. If you need to upgrade your kitchen or baths, the buyer may see that as money they need to spend. This may lower your market value.

Most areas across the country are experiencing a Seller’s market or lack of inventory. Multiple offers, cash deals and quick closings are some of the terms I am sure you have heard on the news. The Morgantown area is no different. We currently have 157 single-family listings for sale in the area. The average days on the market are 123. This is a seller’s market. If you are considering listing and have somewhere to go, this may be the time to sell. Contact your REALTOR® today to get your market analysis.

I hope everyone is enjoying the summer, maybe taking some trips and seeing family and friends. Have a great week and remember to do good things!

Congratulations, you just accepted an offer…

Congratulations, you just accepted an offer on your home and the closing date is set. What should you do next? In addition to packing and potentially purging items you do not want to take with you, it is time to start planning your move.

If you have a confirmed closing date, go ahead and call the utility companies and plan for terminations. Let them know if you are transferring to another property, that way you won’t have to set up new accounts. Contact the post office and schedule to forward your mail. Keep in mind they will only forward for up to 6 months, so it is a good idea to contact those that send you mail directly.

Your insurance agent should be contacted to schedule for the cancellation of your homeowners’ policy. We always recommend having it set to cancel a few days after closing in case something would happen. The WV DMV requires you to change your address on your license within 20 days to avoid any fines. The human resources department, for your employer, will also need to know your new address. These may be places we do not always consider.

Go through your files and leave any appliance manuals for the new buyer. Ask your REALTOR® if the buyer would want leftover paint that you have used in the home. Any materials that pertain to your house should be left in the garage or attic. This could include shingles and siding or any supplies you have used.

Next, make sure you clean the home and leave it the way you would want to find it. If you can afford it, hire a professional to steam clean the floors and carpets and just do an overall deep clean. Did you remove the family photos and find that you left some holes? Maybe patch those up and paint for the new buyer. You want to make them feel welcome as they already love your home.

Some buyers are very receptive to meeting the homeowner at the property so they can be shown all the ins and outs of the home. It is always good to know if the light switch works an outlet only or how often they flush out the hot water tank. These are all quirky things that only the current owner may know.

As important as the interior is to be cleaned, make sure you are keeping the exterior tidy as well. Cut the grass, clean up the weeds and remove all trash right before closing. No one wants to start their journey in the new home with clutter and dirt.    

If you can’t meet the buyer in person, maybe leave them a note with some things that you love about your home and neighbors. A forwarding address is important too if you are expecting any packages or mail that hasn’t been delivered. These are just some tips that may make the buyers transition pleasant and memorable.

We should see some nice weather this weekend. Best wishes for a relaxing time and remember to do good things!

What is a multiple offer?

What is a multiple offer? A seller may like them, and a buyer may not. A multiple offer means that the house is priced right, in a desired location and many buyers are interested. But the true meaning is that many people are competing for the house that you as a buyer so love and there are several offers. This a good reason to hire a REALTOR®. A multiple offer situation can be very confusing and frustrating.

So, let us discuss what to expect if you are a seller. You have several showings, back-to-back, within the first day or two of the listing. While this can be a bit overwhelming, it is a good thing for you as the seller. The more showings, the more chances of offers. Your agent may bring you several offers and will help you negotiate each one. But do you have to negotiate with each offer? You do not. The best option is for your agent to send a multiple offer form and ask for all offers to be in by a certain time. Every offer will be different. You should do what is best for you and your family. Do not let emotion guide you, consider not just the monetary value but the inspection dates and buyers requests.

How do you negotiate all the offers? First, you should review them and determine if the terms meet your selling needs. Do they want a 60-day closing and you need 45 days? Do they want you to assist them with closing costs and money is tight? Are they asking for your washer and dryer and you need to take them with you? These are all things that you can negotiate. Let your REALTOR® help and guide you. He or she is working to represent you and to get you the best and highest offer.

A buyer may not be as excited as the seller to learn of multiple offers. Some may not want to compete; others will go over asking price. Again, your REALTOR® can help. Emotion will be driving you to get the house. Make sure you are not going over market value when making the offer.

Sometimes homebuyers wonder if it is even worth trying to compete against other buyers in a seller’s market. It is not unusual for a seller to receive 5 offers when there’s little inventory on the market. It is almost always a good idea to write an offer anyway. Somebody will be the winning offer. Why can’t that person be you?

In the end, a multiple offer situation will be exciting and scary at the same time. You can only accept one offer so make sure you ask advice from your family, REALTOR® and any other advisor that you trust. This is a huge purchase for everyone and must not be taken lightly.

Happy Graduation weekend to all the high school graduates and especially my beautiful daughter. Have a great weekend 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!

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!