When first considering buying or selling a home, many people will take to the internet for answers to their questions. The information available is vast and trying to decide who to believe can be difficult. There are some great sources of real estate information available like Realtor.com Trulia and Zillow. However, nothing beats the personal interaction with a real estate agent. For those who are not ready to talk to an agent, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions by buyers and sellers.
The Most Common Questions Asked by Home Sellers—Answered!
Selling a home you’ve lived in and loved over the years isn’t exactly like unloading your collection of old Slayer LPs on Craigslist (or is it…?). It’s hard. It’s emotional. And above all else, it’s complicated. A slew of questions will likely pop into your head throughout the process—and possibly keep you up at night.
Last week, we revealed the most common questions asked by home buyers. Since people on the other end of this deal have a lot on their minds, too, today we’ll tackle the most common questions that real estate agents hear from sellers—along with some answers, of course.
Q: How much needs to be done to my house before putting it on the market?
“Many sellers have extreme anxiety over the thought of having to clear out and fix up their home, so much so that it can prevent them from putting the place on the market in the first place,” says Alyssa Blevins with Pierce Murdock Group. But in most cases, there’s no need to panic here—or to overshoot your goals. “Very often, there’s far less to do than homeowners think.” So before spending months and millions (figuratively) upgrading your place—or just throwing up your hands and giving up before you begin—show your home to a Realtor®. You might be pleasantly surprised by your current sales prospects.
Q: How much is my house worth?
While the median house price as of December 2017 is $270,000, the exact price of your own home will depend on its size, neighborhood, and lots of other factors. Further complicating matters is your own skewed perspective: We tend to mentally inflate our home’s positives and airbrush out the flaws that are all too apparent to the cold, calculating eyes of buyers. “People always seem to compare their house to the most expensive sale in the neighborhood,” says Mary Ann Grabel, an agent at Douglas Elliman in Greenwich, CT. Instead, look at the prices of similarly sized homes that have recently sold in your area—data that agents call comparative market analysis, or “comps.” Then, price your place strategically. “If you price too high, the home is likely to linger on the market,” says Grabel. Meanwhile, pricing low can have major upsides, resulting in multiple bids that could ultimately jack up your price. So, do your homework. Then, discuss a number with your Realtor that feels right—and is realistic. Get your FREE MARKET ANALYSIS HERE.
Q: How long will it take to sell my home?
Right now, nationally, houses spend around 83 days on the market before they sell, although the time varies wildly based on area and price. So, price competitively and make sure that you and your Realtor are getting the place in front of as many eyeballs as possible. “The higher the exposure, the faster the offers,” says Felise Eber, a real estate associate affiliated with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate and part of the Miami Beach luxury real estate sales team The Jills. Spread the word through your own social networks——real ones and virtual ones. You never know whose passing it along to that special someone will lead to a sale.
Q: Is staging really important?
On average, a staged home sells 88% faster—and for 20% more money—than a home that’s left as is. The reason it works, of course, is it gives buyers a “stage” onto which they can play out their home-owning fantasies and envision themselves living in your home. “Choose neutral paint colors and remove any family photos,” says Johnson. Give would-be homeowners a blank canvass that they can mentally fill with their loved ones and themselves.
Q: Should I be present when buyers view my house?
“NO!” says Johnson. (Hey, no need to shout. We’re right here!) “There is not any situation in which this is appropriate. Having the owner in the house makes the buyers uncomfortable. They feel as though they can’t make comments or ask questions that could be offensive. The owner—who has a history and attachment to the house—has the tendency to argue if a potential buyer makes a comment that could be a little negative. This can turn off buyers and lose you offers.” Got it.
Q: What is the agent’s commission?
While the commission can vary, it is typically 6% of a home’s sale price—and that’s usually shared with the buyer’s agent. But what’s implied by this question is “What are Realtors doing to earn that fat check?” Here are some facts to keep in mind: Unlike lawyers who get paid by the hour, or doctors who are paid by the appointment, listing agents don’t get paid unless they make a sale. For every hour an agent spends with a client, he or she will typically spend nine hours on average working on that client’s behalf doing everything from networking to finding potential buyers to filling out paperwork. And no, not all agents are created equal.
The Most Common Questions Asked by Home Buyers—Answered!
Buying a home is thrilling, scary, sometimes weird, often epic, and never dull. You’re ponying up a huge wad of cash for a place you’ll inhabit hopefully for years to come. As such, you’re bound to have a lot of questions throughout every step of the process. So to head you off at the pass, we asked real estate agents to spill the beans on most common questions buyers ask them—and the answers, of course. You’re welcome.
Q: What home can I afford?
That depends, of course—on your income and other financial obligations; plug them into realtor.com’s Home Affordability Calculator for a ballpark figure. And do it before you start shopping, says Alyssa Blevins of Pierce Murdock Group in Alexandria, VA. “If you see houses you love outside your price range, it opens you up to disappointment,” she says. Meet with a lender to get pre-approved for a home loan (added bonus: pre-approval makes you much more attractive to sellers).
Q: Can I buy a home and sell my current one at the same time?
Yes, you can—but it’s the real estate equivalent of walking a tightrope. “This is one of the trickiest questions to answer,” says Cedric Viquerat of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Bradenton, FL. On the one hand, if you buy a home before you sell the one you’re in, you’re overextended financially; if you sell before you buy, you might need to rent awhile before finding a new place. But there are ways to do both at once, and one option is to instate a “sale contingency” in your contract. This means you only agree to buy a home if you can sell the one you’re in. The only downside is if your seller doesn’t agree (which is possible if they want the timing set in stone).
Q: How many homes should I see before making an offer?
Up to you, sport! While home shoppers these days can look at hundreds of homes online, they only hoof it to check out 10 homes on averagebefore they put in an offer. But keep in mind, “This varies tremendously for each person,” says Will Johnson, a Realtor® in Hendersonville, TN, and founder of Sell and Stage. “Some people find their home within hours of hunting. For others, it takes months.” If you want to streamline the process, it can help to really hone in on a particular neighborhood you’re keen on; that said, if you feel limited by your options, it may be time to expand to surrounding areas.
Q: What do you think the seller will accept as a fair price?
As a rule of thumb, knocking 5% off the list price won’t ruffle any feathers. If it’s been sitting on the market for months, you can venture below that, but the bottom line is, “You never know how low a seller will go, as they have different motivations for selling,” says Marc Castillo of Coldwell Banker in Atlanta, GA. If the sellers are eager to move, you could luck out and score a deal.
Q: How do I know if the property is a good deal?
While there’s no crystal ball on whether a certain home is a bargain and will appreciate, rest assured that with research, you can keep surprises to a minimum. The best way is to check out comps—what similar properties are selling for in the area—“and whether those prices have been going up or down in the recent past,” says Felise Eber, a Miami Beach real estate associate with Coldwell Banker.
Q: How quickly can I close?
“Typical escrow periods are 30 to 45 days,” says Rina Camhi, a Houston, TX-based agent and founder of 10MinRealty. “This gives you enough time to do the investigation on the property and get a loan completed.” And yes, this due diligence counts (see our next point).
Q: Should I get a home inspection?
While buyers often wonder if a home inspection is truly necessary, most Realtors unequivocally say yes, yes, and yes. “A home inspector takes a weight off of your shoulders by looking into the condition of the roof, electricity, heating and air, plumbing,” says Johnson. “Ensuring these things work prevents you from paying to fix them in the future. If some things are not up to par, you can negotiate with the seller to get those fixed before you sign the paperwork.”
Q: When can I back out if I change my mind?
While buyers can always back out of a deal, doing so without good reason may forfeit their earnest money (the cash put down to secure the offer, typically around 1%-2% of the home’s price). But there are some ways to walk with your earnest money in hand.
“Contingencies are great loopholes,” says Bridges. “For example, upon an unsatisfactory home inspection, the buyer can ask for their deposit back. Another loophole is ‘subject to appraisal.'” That means you can back out if the lender for your loan doesn’t think the property is worth what you offered.
Platinum Realty Network Realtors Serve both Buyers and Sellers
Platinum Realty Network is a full-service Concierge Style Real Estate Brokerage licensed in Arizona. We focus on the client making their real estate transaction painless and stress-free. Brokerage specialties include: Residential, Golf and Country Club Properties, Commercial, Commercial Leases, Land, Ranches, REO properties, Short Sales, Re-Zoning, Loss Mitigation, Negotiation, and Development. We take the clients request and work with them diligently to meet and exceed their expectations. We are here to help our clients every step of the way.