Selling your home

Is your Home smart?

Is your Home smart? Remember the cartoon, the Jetsons? We may not have flying cars or jetpacks as our mode of transportation, but modern technology has allowed us to make our homes smart!

Have you ever been looking at a home for sale and the agent tells you that the seller has cameras? This has become increasingly common as technology changes. Consumers are curious about smart home technology, and they’re turning to real estate agents as a vital resource for information. Sellers inquire about staging their homes with smart technology and how it may impact the sale of their property.

This technology is not just for plain old security anymore. You can turn on your lights. You can raise and lower the temperature of your home. You can check the exterior by viewing your cameras to see who is coming and going. You can lock your doors and open your garage. The list is endless.

How does this all impact the sale of your property? For the seller, it can allow them to see the buyer and get live feedback. This can be positive and negative. For the buyer it limits them from really telling their agent how they feel about the property, until they leave. The important take away from all of this, we as REALTORS® need to let all parties know that there are cameras. As a seller, I wouldn’t want to hear negative things about my property from strangers. As a buyer, I would make sure I am careful to keep all emotions inside while viewing the property.

Does this mean we shouldn’t equip our homes with smart technology? Of course not. Technology is cool! It does mean that if we list the property, we need to be prepared for all kinds of feedback. When the REALTOR® calls for that next showing, turn up the heat, dim the lights and turn on the cameras so you can hear the wonderful things the buyer says about your home.

The consumer can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on smart home technology. You just need to make sure its either portable for when you sell or consider the cost when pricing your home. Start small and maybe just get the “clapper” to turn on and off your lights. You remember that commercial, right? And I bet now you are saying it in your head.

Did you know you can set the thermostat to warm up the home before you get out of bed, turn on the coffee pot and get a text when the washer is done? Now, if someone would just fold the laundry and put it away, I would love that technology. Whichever smart system you choose, do your research to make sure it best fits your needs.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Whether you spend it with family or friends, cherish your time together and be thankful for those around you. Have a great week and remember to do good things!

If your home is listed for sale, should you decorate it for the holidays?

If your home is listed for sale, should you decorate it for the holidays? The answer is yes. Buyers are still searching for the perfect property and those looking now are quite serious about purchasing. So, keep that house listed and get those decorations ready!

Here are some tips to get buyers in the right spirit of the holidays! Before you decorate, you should stage your house. If your living room is already piled high with clutter, your Santa figurines are only going to add to the sense of overcrowding. Go ahead and box up those extra trinkets. Next, create a cozy vibe. The less-is-more mantra of home staging may tempt you to forgo holiday cheer this year. But a few subtle touches like a bowl of pinecones, an evergreen wreath, or a pot of cider simmering on the stove can create a warm and festive feeling in your home.

Before you start untangling your tinsel, make sure your holiday collection matches your current decor. If your living room is painted a soothing ocean-blue hue, skip the clashing red garland and opt for white snowflakes or a silver glass-ball wreath. If you have an earthy color scheme, accent with rich tones like cranberries, forest greens and gold. Too many trimmings may distract buyers, but the right accessories can draw attention to your home’s best features. Don’t block a beautiful view with stick-on snowflake decals or clutter an elegant fireplace with personalized stockings.

Scale down the Clark Griswold lights this year! We all love that movie, but that much bling may distract the buyer a bit. Step away from the inflatable snowman. One man’s “merry” is another man’s “tacky,” so tone down any garish light displays while your home is on the market. (No, your neighbors didn’t pay me to say that.) Instead, use simple string lighting to play up your home’s architecture or draw attention to the gorgeous fir tree in your front yard.

A tall Christmas tree can help you show off your two-story great room, but make sure the wide base won’t overwhelm the floor space. If your living area is on the small side, save space with a skinny tree. Keep the tree decorating simple. Trim your tree in a cohesive theme with similar ornaments and lights. A few decorations can stir the holiday spirit, but do not feel obliged to hang every ornament. Limit yourself to a few hints of holiday flair but stash the rest in the basement for now. If you start to miss your Santa figurines, just remember that with a little luck, you’ll be celebrating next year’s holidays in a new home. Then you can decorate that place any way you please.

I hope everyone has survived the time change so far. It is a good time to change those smoke detector batteries too! Have a great, albeit chilly, week and remember to do good things!

On most days, the question is, How’s the market?

On most days, the question is, How’s the market? For the last several months, my response has been, its rough. That word can mean many things. Busy? Frustrating? Overwhelming? REALTORS® are busy, buyers are frustrated and overwhelmed. These are great descriptions of the Morgantown market. We have no inventory. When you hear someone say this, don’t misunderstand, there are homes on the market however many don’t last long. We all watch the news, read the articles and search the web but do we know the reasons why the real estate market is so rough right now?

There are several contributing factors. The first being the pandemic. 2020 was a pivotal time for everyone. Most of the population adjusted to working from home. What did we do? We searched the internet for news stories. We read and researched everything. We looked at real estate. We saved money on gas, eating out and shopping. We made plans and started mentally renovating our homes. Buyers did this as well and they were ready to buy. But the sellers weren’t as comfortable to list so this lack of inventory drove up the prices and the bidding wars began.

This isn’t necessarily a new concept in real estate. We have had many seller’s markets before the pandemic. But there has never been a housing market quite like this. While the market has, in fact, begun to cool off just a little, it’s still a highly challenging time to be looking to buy given the severe housing shortage. Builders can’t keep up with the demand. Contractors struggle to get needed supplies which can extend the building process.

In a perfect real estate world, home prices would need to rise at the same pace as people’s wages for regular folks to become homeowners. Yet over the past decade, Americans’ average wages have increased by about 2% to 3% each year, according to the U.S. Labor Department. But home prices have risen at a rate of about 7% each year over the same time. Since COVID-19 upended the world in March 2020, prices have risen 13.5% through August.

There’s just a 2.1-month supply of existing homes for sale, according to the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). That’s a tiny amount, up only slightly from February’s record low of 2.0 months of supply. Such a tight supply creates its own self-perpetuating cycle: Homeowners who had been thinking of selling realize it’s going to be hard to find a home to move to, so they decide not to sell.

 According to experts, the market seems to be shifting again, hinting at a 2022 that might even be considered somewhat normal: steadier production and supply to meet solid demand for homes, but with more typical levels of price appreciation. This forecast of a changing market could change my answer next time to the market is good!

Happy Halloween to everyone! Watch out for our little ghosts and monsters wandering the streets tonight in search of the candy. It’s almost November, remember to do good things!

What is the best way to market your property?

What is the best way to market your property? The answer? There are many ways to get your property noticed. As a seller, the first thing you should do is to prepare your property for the market. Start with the exterior including lawn maintenance and landscaping. Do your gutters need cleaned? Should you power wash? Curb appeal is important as buyers are driving by your home. The interior of the home should be show ready. Paint the trim, walls and doors if necessary. Declutter all rooms and closets. Clean carpets or replace old, dingy flooring.

Now it is time to list. Your REALTOR® will take photos, offer advice for staging, place a sign in the yard and prepare your home to market. With new age technology, they can offer 3D technology, drone footage and professional photography.

Once your home is ready for the MLS, your REALTOR® will put the marketing plan into action. Print and digital advertising are equally important. With print advertising, you will reach the market of those that may not look at online advertising. Print can include flyers posted in public areas, direct mail postcards to potential buyers and the local newspaper.

Digital advertising can consist of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Facebook can reach thousands of viewers by targeting potential buyers. Instagram and Twitter will focus more on the younger, first-time home buyer generation. Both allow creative options for advertising. As a seller, you should share those posts to reach your friends and family. The idea is to spread the word and reach as many viewers or potential buyers as possible. Your REALTOR®’s website will also showcase your home by reaching their viewers. When your REALTOR® places the listing in the MLS, other third-party sites like Zillow, Realtor and Trulia will pick up the listing for their viewers.

Open Houses can be effective if your home is in a neighborhood or community near other homes. This is a way for buyers to preview your home during a convenient time for them. Many times, the REALTOR® will ask a local lender or home inspector to be on site to answer any buyer questions.

Word of mouth advertising can be highly effective. Tell everyone you know that your home is on the market. The sign in the yard is a terrific way for buyers to see that your home is for sale. Some REALTOR®’s will contact their buyers and past clients to inform them of the specifics of your property.

Inventory in our area is exceptionally low. It is a seller’s market. We currently have 133 single family active listings in the MLS. Prices ranging from $39,000 to just under $4 million. Average days on the market is 166. Homes under $250,000 are selling quickly and sometimes with multiple offers. If you are ready to list, contact your local REALTOR®. Buyers are still looking for a new home. Could it be yours?

Have a wonderful week and remember to do good things!

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!