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Home Selling Guide

Expert Advice...

Becoming an informed home seller can save you a great deal of time, aggravation, stress, and possibly even prevent you from losing a well qualified buyer for your home. Below are several articles that explain the many aspects of your upcoming home sale. Whether you are getting ready to put your home on the market or are just thinking about selling your home, these articles are essential reading!

. Listen to Advice
. The Asking PriceThe Asking Price
. Will Your Emotions Set The Price?
. The Price of Overpricing
. Don't Ignore The First Offer
. The Market Weary House
. Tips on Showing Your Home
. The Value of a Yard Sign
. The Seven Rules of Selling
. What Services Does A Realtor® Provide?
. Choosing a Listing Agent
. The Highest Bidder
. Why Realtors Can Get You Top Dollar
Listen to Advice
By Thomas Irvin
A nationally syndicated real estate columnist
Reprinted w/ permission from author

One of the great ironies of the real estate business is that homeowners hire Realtors to market their homes, but are often unwilling to take the advice of the expert they have brought in to get the home sold. I think there are a number of reasons for this phenomenon. Let me offer a few that come to mind:

If you have bought or sold real estate previously, you may think you know most of the things necessary to do it again. This may or may not be the case this time around. Realtors have a feel for current trends and conditions. This is only achieved by daily involvement in an ever-changing real estate marketplace.

There are always a certain percentage of homeowners who feel that the uniqueness of their property may dictate a different approach. Some owners feel the selling strategy should appeal to the motives that prompted them to purchase the house in the first place. As logical as this may sound, it is not always the best answer to marketing to today's buyer.

Most owners want to sell their house for more than it is really worth. I'm sure we all would like to do that. It is difficult to hear and accept the bitter fact that our property won't bring a targeted figure we have in our minds. This is particularly common when someone needs a certain sum of money from his or her present property in order to purchase a more expensive home.

ADVICE: If you are going to hire an expert, be willing to listen to the experts advice. The Realtor® wants to sell your house for the highest possible selling price because his or her commission is usually a percentage of the final sale price. He or she also, however, can be more objective and circumspect when analyzing all the factors that will affect your successful sale

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The Asking Price
By Thomas Irvin
A nationally syndicated real estate columnist
Reprinted w/ permission from author

All too often, the asking price of a home is decided upon without good planning. In fact, the greatest mistake made in real estate is poor pricing. The asking price must accomplish three primary goals. Let's examine these all-important goals:

In the final analysis, it is buyers who determine what your home is worth. How do buyers determine value? Buyers learn about value by inspecting and comparing various homes that are for sale during the same time period. This process of comparison is used when buyers decide which homes they want to see. If your home is not priced in accordance with similar homes, you will not realize as many showings as those homes that are competitively priced. When attempting to price your home with the market, don't rely on hearsay or rumor about recent selling prices. Get the facts by asking your Realtor® for a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA).

Traditionally, in the home selling business, most buyers expect to negotiate. Everyone likes to think they got a "deal". In order to satisfy this need to negotiate, you should price your home so that you will be willing to accept somewhat less than the asking price. Although market conditions will certainly affect the amount of negotiating, most homes sell within 5% of the asking price. A poor market will make this percentage larger while a strong market may experience more full price offers and sometimes offers above the asking price.

Although pricing for the competition and for negotiation are important, the asking price must deliver the highest financial return for the seller in a reasonable period of time with the least inconvenience.

Like most other facets of our lives, properly pricing a home is best done by specialists who have all the necessary tools. Retain the services of a Realtor® to sell your home.

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Will Your Emotions Set The Price?
By Thomas Irvin
A nationally syndicated real estate columnist
Reprinted w/ permission from author

Every homeowner is always interested in getting the highest possible price for his or her home. This is certainly an understandable goal. The key to receiving the best selling price begins with the most appropriate asking price. Quite often, emotions play a major role in affecting the asking price. Here are some examples of emotions in action:

BASING PRICE ON EGO: "I am going to get more for my house than he did!" This is an example of letting ego take control in pricing decisions. If we don't like the home of a neighbor that was recently sold or don't approve of the way he or she kept the home, we may allow these feelings to influence us when comparing the value of both homes.

BASING PRICE ON OUR PERSONAL TASTES: As homeowners, we are entitled to decorate and furnish our homes in any manner suitable to our tastes. When we put our homes on the market, however, we must realize that potential buyers may look at our decorating ideas as a detriment and not an advantage. In fact, the buyers may offer us less than we want because they will have to incur the cost of removing the existing decor in order to replace it with decorating ideas they prefer. This reality is often difficult to accept because we feel that we should receive a premium price for the money and ideas we have invested in decorating.

BASING PRICE ON FUTURE CASH NEEDS: Many of us price our homes by adding up the money we will need to satisfy future financial needs. This is most often the case when we are selling a home to buy another. Because we need a certain sum of money in order to buy the next home, we just automatically decide that the current home will have to provide the necessary amount. Although this goal is desirable, it may not be possible considering actual market conditions.

ADVICE: Emotions are often at their peak when dealing with issues of family and home. Because of the importance of setting the right asking price, however, get the help of an emotionally detached and market-wise Realtor®.

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The Price of Overpricing
By Thomas Irvin
A nationally syndicated real estate columnist
Reprinted w/ permission from author

The biggest detriment to selling real estate is the all too common problem of overpricing. For the last 20 years, I have been approached by anxious sellers who want to know why their property is not selling. The answer is always the same: The asking price is too high.

Why do people make the common mistake of asking too much? There are several reasons. Some owners expect the present home to bring them enough money with which to purchase a more expensive home. In other words, they just are not facing reality. Others price it too high because they have not had their property evaluated by a professional. Relying on hearsay only, they put a price on their property that does not compete with other available properties.

An asking price must satisfy three basic criteria:
  1. The asking price must be competitive with the asking price of similar homes.
  2. It must allow for some negotiation so the buyer feels that he or she struck a fair agreement.
  3. The final negotiated price must give the seller the highest possible return considering the condition of the property and the marketplace.
f your home is overpriced, here is the sequence of events you can expect:
  1. Salespeople, knowing it is overpriced, will not show your home.
  2. Your home will sit on the market while others around you are selling.
  3. Prospective buyers, seeing your home on the market for a long time, will begin to feel that there's something wrong with your home.
  4. You will begin to get anxious and lose patience.
  5. Because of the time restraints you are under, you will reduce the price below the asking price of competing properties.
  6. Your property will sell for a lower price than it is worth.
Time and time again, is seems to happen as I have described above. An owner who did not know or ignored the market facts in order to try to get top dollar ends up getting less than fair value.

ADVICE: Be careful when setting your original asking price. Ask your Realtor® to present you with all the pertinent market facts.

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Don't Ignore The First Offer
By Thomas Irvin
A nationally syndicated real estate columnist
Reprinted w/ permission from author

Let's assume that you have had your home on the market for only one week. Your asking price is $144,900. Today your Realtor® calls to ask for an appointment to present an offer that a buyer has just made on your home. Of course, you are delighted to hear the news and anxiously await the Realtor's arrival to learn more about the terms of this offer.

The amount of the offer is $140,000. Because this is the first bid on your home and due to the short market time of one week, you feel quite certain that there will be many more if this sale does not go through. Your reply to the buyer is that you have decided to hold out for your full price of $144,900. The buyer chooses not to pay your figure and continues to look at other homes.

The weeks begin to go by with no other offers in sight. After a period of two months on the market, you begin wondering if you should have been willing to negotiate with a little bit more flexibility than you did. You ask your agent to see if the original buyer has found another home yet. Unfortunately, the buyer has already bought and moved into another home in your area. In an effort to get some new interest in your home, you decide to drop the asking price to $142,500. Five weeks later, another buyer becomes interested in your home and submits an offer in the amount of $135,000.

Because you have been trying to sell your home for over three months, you are getting rather tired of the whole situation and decide to counter this offer with a figure of $140,000. The buyer, who knows your home has been for sale for a while, agrees to split the difference at $137,500. Reluctantly, you finally settle for the $137,500 figure.

This scenario that I have just described is not at all unusual. It is normal to feel that other offers are just around the corner when you get an offer shortly after putting your house up for sale. Ironically, however, the first offer is usually the best offer you will ever receive. The longer your home remains on the market, the least likely you are to be in a strong bargaining position when an offer comes along.

ADVICE: The first offer is usually made by someone who has been waiting just for your type of house to become available. Don't ignore that first offer.

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The Market Weary House
By Thomas Irvin
A nationally syndicated real estate columnist
Reprinted w/ permission from author

Have you noticed a house that seems to stay on the market for a long time? What thoughts do you have concerning that house after you continue to see the for sale sign in the yard month after month? Overpriced? Poor condition? Do you wonder if there is something wrong with the house like a leaky basement? We have all had these thoughts from time to time. It is always exciting to hear of a home that has just been put up for sale, but many buyers are not interested in seeing a home that has been on the market for a while.

Pricing, condition, location, and timing affect the salability of every home. Of course, you cant do anything about the location. If your home has been for sale for a long time, however, you can make decisions regarding pricing, condition, or timing.

The quickest decision that will have the greatest immediate impact is to reduce the listed price. This may be necessary because your original price was too optimistic, or perhaps the market has softened since you began marketing your house. A price reduction is a news item that can motivate new buyers to see your home and may cause previously interested buyers to reconsider your home once again.

If you don't want to reduce the price, will you consider investing more money into the house? Dollars well spent may be the inducement needed to generate enthusiasm among real estate agents and their buyers. Your home may require carpeting, painting, drapes, or other decorator items. If more expensive work such as new kitchen appliances is needed, you may want to rethink your unwillingness to reduce the price.

If your house is not selling and you do not want to reduce the price or spend more money fixing it up, you may be better off taking the house off the market for a while and offering it for sale at a later date.

ADVICE: Don't choose any of the above alternatives without consulting with your Realtor®.

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Tips on Showing Your Home
By Thomas Irvin
A nationally syndicated real estate columnist
Reprinted w/ permission from author

Here are some important tips to consider when showing your home to prospective buyers:

CLEANLINESS: A personal inspection of every room is a must. Cooperation from all family members is important during the entire time that your home is for sale. Even though your Realtor® tries to give you adequate advance notice, it isn't always possible. Consequently, only last-minute cleanup may be possible. The two areas needing closest attention are the kitchen and bathrooms.

LIGHTING: Your home should have a bright and cheery appearance. Lighting plays an important role in displaying your home to its best advantage. Whether it is a sunny day or after dark, turn on many lights throughout the house.

ODORS: While your home is for sale, it may be necessary to temporarily avoid cooking certain foods. Strong smelling foods may be offensive to a prospective buyer. Check the entire house for any musty or distasteful odors.

NOISE: All stereos, television sets, radios, and record players should be turned off while the home is being shown. Many homeowners feel that soft background music enhances the sale. Not so. Any noises may tend to distract the potential buyers from concentrating on the features of your home.

HOMEOWNER: Many homeowners feel that they should personally conduct a tour of their home for both the Realtor® and his or her customers. Do not do this! This will make them feel uncomfortable and anxious to escape as soon as they can. Although Realtors don't know all the features of your home as well as you do, they do know the personality and needs of their customers. Excuse yourself and be available for questions. Let the Realtors do the selling.

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The Value of a Yard Sign
By Thomas Irvin
A nationally syndicated real estate columnist
Reprinted w/ permission from author

Homeowners sometimes question the value of a "for sale" sign when listing their home with a Realtor®. There are those who feel that they may be able to enjoy more privacy if a sign is not used. Actually, the opposite is true. The use of a Realtor's sign can help you maintain your privacy while allowing the Realtor® to answer buyer's questions. More importantly, the yard sign is a very effective selling tool for the following reasons:

The sign attracts the attention of people who live or work in your area. They, in turn, may know fellow workers, friends or acquaintances who are interested in buying a home in your location. You never know where a lead for the buyer may originate. Sometimes, a neighbor may know of someone who has expressed an interest in buying in your neighborhood.

If a potential buyer makes an inquiry about a certain home because of the "for sale" sign, he or she may be an excellent prospect. It is obvious that the calling party was impressed with both the outward appearance of the house and the immediate neighborhood. Because location is the most crucial factor in real estate, a sign call guarantees that the location of the house is a plus rather than a minus in the mind of the inquiring party.

Because all buyers have differing tastes, it is sometimes difficult to find a home that appeals to the buyer from an emotional point of view. Because the sign motivated a potential buyer to call, it is obvious that the caller has been emotionally attracted by the property and its surroundings. This is another reason why an inquiry from a sign is usually more productive than other sources of prospective buyers.

ADVICE: A yard sign is certainly not the only tool provided by your agent. Multiple listing membership, newspaper advertising, referral organizations, and motivated salespeople. who are paid on a straight commission basis, are also very effective. Yet, the "for sale" sign plays an essential role in any marketing strategy. Be sure to allow your Realtor® to use a sign when your house goes on the market.

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The Seven Rules of Selling
By Thomas Irvin
A nationally syndicated real estate columnist
Reprinted w/ permission from author

In order for you to obtain the highest possible selling price for your home, you must work closely with your Realtor®. The seven rules of selling listed below comprise the items that a homeowner can contribute to a successful marketing effort.

Many homeowners are very hesitant to invest additional money in their home at the time they are selling it. Although understandable, these feelings may rob you of a much higher selling price.

Price your home in accordance with the current realities of your local real estate market. Ask your Realtor® for a competitive market analysis.

Some homeowners limit the effectiveness of the Realtor® by prohibiting "for sale" signs, open houses, or lock boxes. Don't eliminate any selling tools.

You may not get much advance notice that potential buyers would like to see your home. Try to keep bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen in "better than usual condition" so that you won't panic when getting ready for a showing.

Turn the lights on even during daylight hours. Be sure that the house doesn't have the odor of strong smelling foods. Let the Realtor® conduct the tour.

Sometimes, the best way to get top dollar is to reduce your asking price. The original price may have been a little too ambitious or perhaps the interest rates or the local economy have changed since the original price was set.

Some owners become very emotional at the time an offer is made on their home. Don't let these strong feelings cloud your judgment when considering an offer.

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What Services Does A Realtor® Provide?
By Thomas Irvin
A nationally syndicated real estate columnist
Reprinted w/ permission from author

Homeowners sometimes wonder if they would be dollars ahead by selling their house themselves and saving the fees that are paid to a Realtor®. People with a sales background in some other field are particularly tempted to do it on their own. Twenty years ago, when things were much simpler, some people did have success selling their houses themselves. Today, we face a much more complicated world in every endeavor including home sales. Here are some of the services that a Realtor® provides:

It is not easy to determine the proper asking price. Realtors now have computer terminals in their offices that notify them of new listings, recent sales, and price changes as they occur. This vital information reflects the current market in your area as it really is. After making many comparisons between your home and like properties, your Realtor® can recommend an asking price that is competitive with similar homes on the market. After the house is listed, periodic checks can be made into the computer system to assure you that your price does keep pace with ever-changing market conditions.

Because the sale of your home profoundly affects your financial well-being, it is no undertaking for an amateur. It is best to get the help and advice of someone who is working in the real estate business everyday. Realtors also possess selling tools not available to the average homeowner. These include membership in a multiple listing service, large advertising budgets, access to the transferee through referral organizations and corporate relocation departments and home financing expertise used to qualify buyers.

Handling an offer and counter-offer require the right touch. This is only learned through experience. Once the offer is signed and accepted, the job is still not complete. Now, the sale must be guided through numerous closing procedures that involve financing, inspections, conditions, legalities, and a myriad of details.

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Choosing a Listing Agent
By Thomas Irvin
A nationally syndicated real estate columnist
Reprinted w/ permission from author

How should you select a Realtor® to sell your home? It is an important decision. You may think that it doesn't matter who you choose as long as they are a member of your local multiple listing service. This is not true. Your listing agent will have a major impact on your success. Here are some guidelines:

Don't go with the "highest bidder." Your decision should NOT be determined only by the asking price recommended by a particular agent. There may be no relationship between the person quoting the highest figure and the person most qualified to market your home. In fact, this is the most common mistake made by homeowners when selecting a Realtor®.

Can you get along with this person? Are you impressed with his or her personal knowledge and credibility? Remember, you and your Realtor® actually become partners while your home is for sale. Each partner must do their part to have a successful sale. If you're going to choose a partner, get someone you can work with.

What resources will the agent use to sell your home? Success is not an accident. It is the result of good planning. It is quite rare for a listing agent to actually sell his or her own listing to a buyer. Most listings are sold by other agents. So, it is important to find out how your agent will promote your home to other agents.

If you are inclined to list with relatives or friends, ask them the same questions you would ask any other agent. This will establish a better business relationship that will hopefully not interfere with your personal relationship.

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The Highest Bidder
By Thomas Irvin
A nationally syndicated real estate columnist
Reprinted w/ permission from author

Should you list your home with the REALTOR® who suggests the highest asking price?

The three goals of every seller are to sell at the highest price, in the least time, with the least inconvenience. If you list with the REALTOR® who puts the highest price on your home, will this person be able to get you the highest price? You may say yes. If this person believes that the house will go for this price, then he or she will be much more enthusiastic about getting the higher amount.

As much as it might seem logical, it usually doesn't work this way. REALTOR®s don't decide what your home will sell for; buyers make that decision. The proper role of the REALTOR® is to monitor the real estate market and present you with a factual report of current values.

Buyers will decide what they think your home is worth. How do they come up with a figure? They compare your home and its features with other homes they inspect and they also receive market information on recent sale prices. As buyers go through this learning process, they become quite knowledgeable about home values and are usually able to recognize a property that is obviously overpriced.

There is an old adage in the real estate business that refers to those brokers who give sellers an overinflated price. This practice in known as, "buying the listing." This phrase simply means the listing was obtained, not on the merits of the REALTOR®, but rather by appealing to the natural tendency of all sellers to want to hear a high value put on their property.

SUGGESTION: Don't make the error of listing your home with the highest bidder. If you find that one REALTOR® prices your home significantly higher than other estimates, something is wrong. In order to be sure that you are making a proper pricing decision, be sure to ask for actual written market information regarding recent sales so that you may price your home competitively from the outset.

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Why Realtors Can Get You Top Dollar
By Thomas Irvin
A nationally syndicated real estate columnist
Reprinted w/ permission from author

It is not unusual for homeowners to consider selling their home without the services of a Realtor®. It would appear that the seller would save money by avoiding the cost of a sales commission. As logical as this sounds, the opposite is often true because Realtors usually have the ability to get a higher sales price than an amateur. Here are some things to consider:

A Realtor® can create more demand for a home than an owner acting alone. This increase in demand increases the price of the supply of homes that are available to meet this demand. Demand is created by commissioned salespeople who don't receive a paycheck unless they make a sale. So, Realtors are motivated to produce results. Realtors are always advertising to attract buyers to their listings. These advertisements provide a constant supply of buyers who are interested in buying homes in certain geographic areas.

Realtors also belong to multiple listing services. These services swing into action when a home is listed by a member firm. Information on each home is broadcast by computer to every other real estate agent who belongs to the service. This allows hundreds of agents to show your home to potential buyers at the invitation of the listing agent.

Correct pricing is best achieved by someone who is in real estate on a regular basis. The asking price must attract buyers, be competitive with similar homes, and allow for some negotiation. Many sellers lose money at the outset with improper pricing. It is best to use a professional when making the critical decision of the asking price.

There are numerous situations in which it is better that the buyer and seller not communicate directly with each other. A seller could become intimidated by the buyer and sell the home for less than it is worth. The seller also may betray how anxious he or she is and give the buyer reason to drive a hard bargain while negotiating. An objective and experienced Realtor® can help protect the interests of the seller and obtain a fair market price.

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  Steve Hatfield
REALTOR® ABR, CRS, e-PRO Certified
CENTURY 21 Curran & Christie
25636 Ford Road
Dearborn Heights, MI 48127
Office: (313) 274-7200
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Licensed Realtor® Since 1987 (#6501221773)
realtor Accredited Buyer Representative Certified Residential Specialist e-PRO

Steve Hatfield, Realtor® provides professional real estate / home buying services to buyers and sellers in Dearborn Michigan, Dearborn Heights Michigan, the Wayne County MI (Southeast Michigan) communities of Livonia, Canton, Redford, Westland, Garden City, Plymouth, Northville and the Oakland County cities of Farmington / Farmington Hills and Novi Michigan.

Equal Housing OpportunityIn accordance with the law, the properties, real estate services and homes for sale featured on this web site are offered without respect to race, religion, color, creed, national origin, sex, physical limitations / disabilities or familiar status.

REALTOR® is a registered collective membership trademark that identifies a real estate agent / professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict code of ethics.

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Copyright © 1996 - Steve Hatfield
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