One common question home sellers ask is, “what should I do to get my home ready to sell?” This is a loaded question because the answer depends on their timeline, their budget, and the current market (sellers, neutral, or buyers). The answer for you will also depend on these factors.
No matter how much money you have allocated to get your home ready to sell, it’s your timeline sets the stage for what you are able to accomplish. If you need to sell quickly, forget the major upgrades and try to accomplish as many deferred maintenance items as possible, while considering what refresh items will provide the most benefit. Your real estate broker and their team will be able to help you create a punch list and prioritize the items based on your situation.
There are three areas to focus on when it comes to pre-listing home prep:
1. Major upgrades
What they include:
Major upgrades include large projects such as a kitchen remodel, renovating a master bedroom/bathroom, or adding a backyard patio.
Who should do them:
Typically, these work best for those with a hefty budget and lots of time on their side before looking to list.
Best time to do:
A great time to do any major upgrade is right after you buy the home, especially if you know you might sell it within the next 5-10 years. Who better to enjoy the upgrades than you! If you are going to end up footing 1/2 the bill you might as well get some enjoyment from it!
These types of projects will give you about a 50% return on investment. While it will make your home more appealing and raise the list price, you may end up a little disappointed at closing.
2. Deferred Maintenance
What it includes:
Think smaller when it comes to deferred maintenance. Instead of the “oohs and ahs” that major upgrades provide, these are the little items that show buyers you’ve tenderly cared for your home — leaving buyers questioning less about the condition of your home. (more…)
We’re sure you’ve heard how competitive and fast-paced the Denver housing market is these days. If you haven’t, we will confirm that it is still crazy, but not as crazy as it was three months ago. In April, the norm was for listings receiving ten or more offers, sales hitting far above list price, and little to no leverage for buyers during negotiations. We’re still seeing sales at or above list price, but now with only few offers and occasionally with some negotiating leverage.
Sale contingency is driven by your lender
If you’re getting your finances in order to purchase a new home, you may run into one common lender requirement (also called a condition): that you must sell your current home prior to buying your replacement property. While selling before you buy is the most common scenario (then removing the condition and allowing you to secure a new home loan), it is extremely difficult to get a contingent offer on a home accepted. On an initial phone consult, most real estate brokers will throw their arms up in submission when they hear you need to sell before you buy. Rest assured, there are ways to accomplish this:
The old fashioned way
The classic way to deal with this hurdle? Negotiate it! There are more opportunities these days to negotiate a contingency into your offer. To be successful in this, you must show the seller that you’re committed and that you aren’t just testing the waters. Having a plan to present to the seller is key. Having your home ready to list and press the “active” button on the MLS helps to convince a seller you mean business. Better yet, have a live listing that hits the market when you submit your offer, or even better — one that’s under contract!
A new option
We recently published an article on ways to sell (or not) before you buy your next home. While those techniques remain great options for accomplishing your next purchase, there’s a new kid (lending product) on the block that we want to tell you about! We’re continually vetting home financing products that would be a good option for our clients, and we were recently invited to use a new lending program that is only offered to a select few brokers in Denver and their clients.
This program essentially turns you into a cash buyer by purchasing the home for you and selling it back to you once you have sold your current home. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, there is a 1.5% fee for the service, which can be rolled into the purchase price when you’re read to buy the home back. There’s no free lunch, but it is a great service provided to contingent buyers so they can bypass the stress of selling their home until they’ve secured their new one. There are some restrictions on the loan amount, timing, etc., so reach out to us and we can fill you in on all of the details!
There are many different ways to sell your home and purchase a replacement successfully. Your first step is to sit down with a real estate broker who is familiar with all of the options and can help you come up with a solid game plan! If you’d like to utilize our expertise on this or for more detailed information about the market in your neighborhood, please reach out!
Feel stuck in your current home? If you are under the impression that you need to sell and move out of it before you buy a new one, think again! You’re not alone in that impression, but the reality is that selling and moving out before you buy is not always necessary. Looking for an alternative route? Read on for three options to consider that may help you succeed with your next home purchase.
1. Sell after you buy your new home
This isn’t your average uber-expensive bridge loan that only wealthy folks can afford. There are several new home loan products out there that specialize in this niche home lending area. We’ve partnered up with one of the best new out-of-the-box-thinking lenders to help our clients buy before they sell. The “elevator pitch” for the Knock Home Swap? It allows you to buy a new home before you even list your current one for sale. Knock will provide up to a 20% down payment on your new home, six months of mortgage payments on your old home, and up to $25,000 to get your old home looking its best before it hits the market! Take a minute (86 seconds to be exact) and watch our quick video explaining the program. Have additional questions? Any of our brokers can help! We’re all Knock certified.
2. Don’t sell, and convert your current home into an investment property
Curious about investing? Why not buy a new home and own an investment property! The good news is that you’ve already got the latter. Most lenders will allow you to convert your current residence into an investment/rental property, provided the following criteria can be met:
- A lease signed by the future tenant who will occupy the home shortly after your new home is purchased.
- A security deposit from your new tenant, safely deposited into your bank account.
- A small cash reserve in an account owned by you. This amount varies between lenders, from 2 to 6 months of the investment property’s mortgage payment.
- Cash for your new home’s down payment.
Once these criteria are met, the debt magically disappears from your debt to income ratio and you qualify for the new purchase! The best part? Your new investment property keeps the same principal and interest payment you had when you lived there, you don’t have to refinance! This is a great way to diversify your retirement portfolio, generate passive income, and increase your net worth.
3. Sell before you buy, but continue living there while you search
If options one and two aren’t going to work for you, then number three has got you covered! Almost everyone who owns a home in Denver knows that it is a very competitive seller’s market right now.We all know if you submit an offer with a contingency to sell your current home, it immediately goes to the bottom of the offer pile. As part of your negotiation strategy, you should definitely employ a Post-Closing Occupancy Agreement, aka seller’s rent back. This agreement means that after you sell your current home, you become a tenant in it and you should have 60 days (or longer, depending on skillful your broker is) to find your replacement home, hopefully at no cost. If you go this route, you’ll need some tips for successfully finding and purchasing a new home in under 60 days:
- Be aggressive. See homes as soon as they hit the market and make sure you are getting your new listings from the most reliable and up to date source.
- Commit to one lender who will provide you a competitive rate (not the lowest) and who will be available during your search. I can’t say this enough: if the lender doesn’t give you their cell phone, don’t use them!
- Get pre-approved! And submit all requested documentation to your lender. And yes, there is a difference between pre-approval and pre-qualification.
- Review all of the purchase contracts and ask your questions before starting your search.
- Research and discuss the hot market strategies with your broker before starting your search.
Listing brokers who pitch their services have one goal: for you to sign that listing agreement. Remember, that isn’t always the best option for you! The current housing market can be a stressful realm for buyers, and careful consideration should be made before making a plan. Have conversations with your tax advisor, financial planner, lender, and real estate professional so that you make the best decision for you, not for a listing agent.
As we all know, for the last five years, Denver has been deep into a seller’s market in the single family home category. The problem isn’t selling the home, it’s finding a replacement if you plan on staying in Denver. The Contract to Buy and Sell doesn’t have any built-in contingencies for sellers to back out of the sale, unless your real estate broker has negotiated them into your contract. In fact, the buyers are in complete control most of the way to the closing table.
There are several strategies your broker can contractually negotiate on your behalf to reduce the stress of being homeless after the sale. Every situation is unique, so make sure you communicate your concerns, expectations, and the best-case scenario for your move to your broker prior to listing your home.
Price is only one piece of the puzzle.
Bidding wars end all the time with offers that are not the highest price submitted. The key to coming out on top is asking the right questions to find out what in the transaction is most important to the seller. Working with buyers who also understand this concept is key, as they typically ask questions and shape their offer accordingly.
Contractually, what does this mean?
Here are a few techniques to increase the success of a smooth transition into your new home:
- Seller Replacement Contingency – Written correctly, this allows the seller to terminate the contract within a certain period of time prior to the negotiated date, if they are unable to find an acceptable replacement home. Be prepared to reimburse the buyer any hard costs incurred during this period (think home inspection, appraisal, etc.).
- Post Closing Occupancy Agreement – This is a fancy term for a seller rent back (sometimes free) from the buyers after closing. You can usually ask for up to a 60-day rent back (sometimes more) after closing to allow more time to purchase your replacement property.
- Buying first, selling second – Sounds easy, right? Well, the tough part is getting a seller to accept your contingent offer to buy their home before you sell yours. The “secret sauce” here is to have everything ready to go on your current home, so the only thing left to do is hit the “active” button on the MLS. Being transparent with the listing broker and implementing some of the strategies mentioned above (i.e. asking the right questions) also helps to get your new home under contract.
- Bridge Loans – This is a great strategy if you have sufficient equity in your home and you’re okay increasing the cost of your replacement home financing. This allows you to submit non-contingent offers on your replacement home before you sell your current home. There’s also a scenario where you can use this as a contingency and still pull off selling your home and buying your replacement on the same day!
While this list isn’t meant to be all-inclusive, it is meant to show you that there are ways to accomplish selling and buying in a super-competitive Denver market. The key to success is partnering with a seasoned real estate professional who can advise you of your best options.
Source: Andrew Dodson of the Denver Business Journal
Beginning this January, real estate agents will no longer be allowed to market listings as “coming soon.” The driving force behind this? Agents will try to market to their network and score both sides of the transaction. This new rule creates an even playing field for all buyers and agents, but some brokers aren’t happy with the change.
Source: Aldo Svaldi of the Denver Post
If you were to search “overpricing a home” on Google, you’d find pages upon pages of articles and blog posts advising that it’s a bad idea. A year ago, one could get away with overpricing a home since putting it on the market alone would garner positive attention. Today, things have changed. Highlighting his reasoning with real time Denver market statistics, this article’s author advises slightly under-pricing a home when listing it these days. Agents and buyers not only know what the home is worth; they also know that a listing price must accurately represent the home’s worth in order to see a quick sale.
Source: Aldo Svaldi of the Denver Post
Companies that buy homes directly from sellers in enormous quantities have surged in popularity by simplifying the process for the seller. One of the most prominent companies with this model is Opendoor, who collects data on what home buyers are looking for — and what they’re not. Carpeted floors are at the top of Opendoor’s “not” list. Read the full article to see how much money carpet could knock off your sale price and what else Opendoor recommends avoiding.
Source: Carley Milligan and the Denver Business Journal Staff
It probably comes as no surprise that homes in Denver with a garage are selling at a higher rate than those without; but just how much higher? A whopping ten percent! For an average home in Denver, that’s roughly $35K extra for a roof over your car. For cities like Chicago, it’s an even more sought after commodity, where the snow fall (and lack of sunshine to melt it away) makes it less inviting to be outside and a real challenge to scrape off your car.
Check out the full article below for more information on where in the U.S. a garage will get you the most return!
Admittedly, before venturing into real estate as a profession, selling a home without representation crossed my mind a few times. Now, I frequently take calls about For Sale By Owner (FSBO) listings and inquiries on properties where the buyer only wants to talk to the listing agent because they are representing themselves. Having peeked behind the curtain to see the intricacies of the real estate transaction, I’m glad to have hired a Realtor® to guide my way to the closing table.
Selling Your Home without a Realtor®
When selling your home, the “commission carrot” can cloud your judgement and tempt you to go it alone. A good real estate broker will provide value that far exceeds the fee charged at the closing table. Here are the three main steps in the home selling process where utilizing a professional can most benefit you:
The biggest mistake owners make is setting the listing price incorrectly. They usually base their pricing on the internet, typically by Zillow’s Zestimates. Big mistake. Nearly 25% of Zestimates are off by more than 10% from the sale price. Zillow even states in the fine print that these estimates are a starting point for determining value. Overprice your home, and the phone might not ring after your listing goes live. Underprice it, and you may leave money on the table at closing.
According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 66% of all buyers hired and interviewed only one agent. There’s nothing wrong with hiring the first agent you meet, but make sure you ask the right questions and more importantly, that you get the right answers. We’ve compiled a list of questions to ask any potential real estate suitor to help get the conversation started.
Why Are You in Real Estate?
It has been proven time and time again that to be good at what you do you have to love what you do. This is a great conversation starter, and it lets you get to know the agent and their background that led them to their real estate career. If the agent deflects and just wants to ask his or her questions about your price range, number of bedrooms, location, etc., then they probably think they have you in the bag. Business is about relationships, you will be spending a lot of time in person and on the phone with this agent over the next several months. Personality conflicts will add a barrier to effective communication and can make it hard to respect the real estate advice that you receive.
Are You Full-Time or Part-Time?
You don’t hire a part time lawyer, surgeon, dentist, or pilot so why would you hire a part time real estate agent? To be great at a trade you need to be 100% invested in that trade and practice it day in and day out. When was the last time you re-programed your all-in-one TV remote from memory? Chances are if you don’t do it multiple times a week you will have to reference someone for help.