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Seller's Tips

Selling a home is a huge step. With the biggest name in real estate on your side, you can be sure it's a step in the right direction. Below is some helpful information to guide you along the way.

Agency Representation | Pricing Your Home | Staging For Showing
Home Warranties | Property Disclosure | Multiple Offers


Agency Representation

Whether you are buying your first home or your tenth, today's consumers have the option to choose the type of representation they want when enlisting the expertise and knowledge of a real estate professional. Traditionally, most agents represented the seller. Today, however, home-buying consumers have the option to seek assistance with their search for the perfect home from a buyer's broker - a real estate professional who will agree to represent their sole interest.

Buyer agency involves an agent representing the buyer in a real estate transaction for a fee paid by, or on behalf of the buyer. Many buyer agency agreements specify that the seller will pay the commission. A buyer's agent is employed by a purchaser to get the best possible price and terms for a buyer.

A buyer's agent represents the buyer just as a seller's agent represents a seller. Other types of relations that can exist include the following:

Seller's subagent - the agent represents the seller in a transaction, and works with the buyer as a customer.

Dual agency - the agent represents both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction. This may only be done with the informed consent of both the buyer and the seller.

Designated Agency - This is a form of dual agency where one agent is designated to solely represent the buyer and another designated to represent the seller.

Before deciding on what type of representation is the best for you, the Raleigh/Wake Board of Realtors recommends that, in addition to the various forms of representation, you understand that the term "agency" refers to the fiduciary relationship that exists between a buyer or seller and the real estate agent who represents them. Some form of written disclosure is recommended between agents and the consumers they are working with, to help ensure there is no misunderstanding regarding agency relationships.

Currently, 46 states and the District of Columbia have mandated agency disclosure through either legislation or regulation. This requires real estate agents to inform the parties to a transaction whom they represent. The North Carolina Association of Realtors worked with the North Carolina Real Estate Commission to establish legislation that requires mandatory disclosure of agency by all real estate licensees effective July 1, 1995.

The changes in the way real estate professionals are representing consumers can be attributed to a better-educated public looking for flexibility and options in the buying process. The National Association of Realtors and the Raleigh/Wake Board of Realtors endorse freedom of choice and informed consent for consumers of real estate services when creating agency relationships with real estate professionals.


Pricing Your Home

Pricing your home requires precision. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of selling a home is listing it at the correct price. It's one of several areas where the assistance of a skilled real estate agent can more than pay for itself.

Too high can be as bad as too low
If the listing price is too high, you'll miss out on a percentage of buyers looking in the price range where your home should be at. This is the flaw in thinking that you'll always have the opportunity to accept a lower offer. Chances are the offers won't even come in, because the buyers who would be most interested in your home have been scared off by the price and aren't even taking the time to look. By the time the price is corrected, you've already lost exposure to a large group of potential buyers.

The listing price becomes even trickier to set when prices are quickly rising or falling. It's critical to be aware of where and how fast the market is moving - both when setting the price and when negotiating an offer. Again, an experienced, well-trained agent is always in touch with market trends - often even to a greater extent than appraisers, who typically focus on what a property is worth if sold as-is, right now.

Square footage
When considering the purchase of a house, home buyers should avoid matching one property's cost per square foot to that of another property, as this can be as futile as comparing apples to oranges.

There is no standard by which to determine the square footage of a home. For example, one home might be 2,000 square feet, but a lot of that space could be hallways, stairways or even empty space. Another home might be 1,800 square feet and actually have more room than the first home because the measurements do not take into account stairs and halls.

To compare comparables, home owners should focus more on the quality of construction, amenity value, builder's reputation, layout of the home, and warranties.

Agent education, experience critical
When working with a real estate agent, it's critical that you have full confidence in that agent's experience and education. A skillful and knowledgeable agent should be able to explain to you exactly why your home needs to be priced at a certain level - compared to recent listings and sales of homes similar to yours.

Experienced agents also know exactly what the current pool of buyers are looking for in relation to particular styles and price ranges of properties. A skillful agent can recommend changes that will enhance the salability of your home, thus increasing the price - and/or decreasing the length of time before a sale.

Little touches can generate big returns
Some of these changes may be cosmetic, involving literally no expense on your part. It might be as simple as moving out some of your furniture and adjusting window coverings to best display desirable qualities of the home. Other changes might demand an investment, but the cost will likely more than pay for itself in the final sales price or timeliness of the sale.

It's critical to keep all these aspects of pricing in mind, regardless of whom you choose to list your home with.


Staging For Showing

As a homeowner, you can play an important role in the timely sale of your property. When you take the following steps, you will help your RE/MAX agent sell your home more quickly and at it's best possible price.

Make a Good First Impression
A well-manicured lawn, neatly trimmed shrubs and a clutter-free porch invite prospects. So does a clean, if not freshly painted, front door. If it's fall, rake the leaves. If it is snow-winter, shovel the walkway. The fewer obstacles between prospects and true appeal of your home, the better.

Invest a Little Time for Future Dividends
Here is your chance to clean up in the living room, bathroom, and kitchen. If your woodwork is scuffed or its paint is fading, consider some minor redecoration. Fresh wallpaper adds charm and likely value to your property. Prospects would rather see how great your home really looks than hear how great it could probably look.

Check Faucets and Light Bulbs
Dripping faucets raffle the nerves, discolor sinks and suggest faulty plumbing. Burned out bulbs leave prospects in the dark. Do not let minor problems detract from what's worth with your home.

Do Not Shut Out a Sale
If cabinet or closet doors stick, you can be sure they will also stick in a prospect's mind. Do not try to explain away sticky situations when you can easily plane them away. A little effort on your part can smooth the way toward a closing.

Think Safety
Homeowners learn to live with all kinds of self-set booby traps: roller skates on the stairs, festooned extension cords, slippery throw rugs and low hanging overhead lights. Make your residence as non-perilous as possible for uninitiated visitors.

Make Room for Space
Remember, potential buyers are looking for more than just comfortable living space. They are looking for storage room, too. Make sure your attic and basement are clean and obstacle-free.

Consider Your Closets
The better organized a closet, the larger it appears. Now is the time to box up those unwanted clothes and personal belongings, and move them away.

Make Your Bathrooms Sparkle
Clean bathrooms sell homes, so make them shine. Check and repair damaged or unsightly caulking around tubs and showers. For added allure, display your best towels, mats and shower curtains.

Create Dream Bedrooms
Wake up prospects to cozy comfort of your bedrooms. For a spacious look, get rid of excess furniture. Colorful bedspreads and fresh curtains can be helpful.

Open up in the Daytime
Let the sun shine in! Pull back your drapery so prospects can see how bright and cheery your home can be.

Lighten up at Night
Turn on the excitement by leaving all your lights on - both inside and outside - when showing your home in the evening. Lights add color and warmth, and make prospects feel welcome.

Avoid Crowd Scenes
Home viewers often feel like intruders when they enter a home filled with people. Rather than giving your house the attention it deserves, they are likely to hurry through. Keep your company present to a minimum, if not none.

Watch Your Pets
Pets are great companions, but not when you are showing your home. They have a talent of getting underfoot. So, keep them outside, or at least out of the way.

Think Volume
Rock-and-roll will never die. But it could kill a real estate transaction. When it is time to show your home, it is time to turn down the stereo or TV.

Silence is Golden
Be friendly, but do not try to force conversation. Prospects want to view your home with minimum distraction.

Do Not Apologize
No matter how humble your home appears, never apologize for its shortcomings. If a prospect volunteers a derogatory comment about its appearance, let your experienced RE/MAX agent handle the situation.

Keep a Low Profile
Nobody knows your home as well as you do. But RE/MAX agents know buyers - what they need and what they want. Your RE/MAX agent will have an easier time articulating the virtues of your home if you stay in the background.

Do Not Turn Your Home into a Re-Sell Store
When prospects come to view your home, do not distract them with offers to sell furnishings you no longer need. You may lose the entire sale after all.

Defer to Experience
When prospects want to discuss price, terms, or other real estate matters, let them speak to an expert - your RE/MAX agent who can conclude your negotiation satisfactorily.

Help Your Agent
Your RE/MAX agent will have an easier time selling your home if showings are scheduled through his or her office. You will appreciate the results!


Home Warranties

With so many of a home's vital systems hidden from view, it is easy to take them for granted - until something goes wrong. Now there is a way to help shield buyers from unexpected and costly disaster when buying a home. A home warranty service is available for buyers and even for sellers.

A standard home warranty pays to repair or replace, for a period of one full year, an existing home's covered mechanical systems and major built-in appliances that break down due to normal wear and tear. The types of breakdowns that are covered, and the limitations and exclusions of coverage are usually described in detail in a service contract provided by the warranty underwriter.

The benefits for home-sellers are that a home warranty can help:

  • Sell a home faster because it may provide a competitive edge over other listings on the market and state confidence to the buyer.
  • Sell for a higher price because when a buyer has confidence in a home he or she is buying, it can discourage downward price bargaining.
  • Sell with less inconvenience because after the seller has moved out and the buyer has a mechanical or systems problem, he or she will call the warranty service provider, offering the seller potential after-sale liability protection.
The benefits for homebuyers are that a home warranty offers:
  • Security when a buyer buys a home because any repair or replacement expenses with existing mechanical systems or appliances will be the last things he or she would want to come across.
  • Budget protection because a breakdown service call usually costs a low trade fee to be paid by the buyer.
  • Convenience because this type of home warranty service is usually provided 24-hours a day, and 7 days a week by calling a toll free number to schedule a service appointment.

Property Disclosure

North Carolina General Statute requires homeowners of residential real estate (single-family homes and dwellings with up to four units) to fill out a property disclosure statement when they are selling their properties. This statement form is available from any RE/MAX Preferred office. A disclosure statement must be furnished to all potential purchasers in connection with the sale, exchange, option and sale under a lease with option to purchase (unless the tenant is already occupying or intends to occupy the dwelling). A disclosure statement is not required for some transactions however, including the first sale of a dwelling which has never been inhabited and transactions of residential properties made pursuant to a lease with option to purchase where the lessee occupies or intends to occupy the dwelling.

Homeowners who attempt to sell their homes on their own (for-sale-by-owner) are not excluded and they have the same obligation to provide this disclosure statement to potential buyers, whether or not they are assisted by a licensed real state broker or salesman.

Exemptions to this requirement are as follows:

  • New constructed never occupied homes
  • Transfers from one co-owner to another
  • Transfers to a spouse or persons in the lineal line
  • Transfers between spouses as a result of a divorce
  • Transfers pursuant to a court order, foreclosures, bankruptcy, or by trustees or estate administrators
  • Lease with option to purchase contract where the lessee occupies or intends to occupy the dwelling
  • Transfers between parties when both parties agree in advance not to complete a residential property disclosure statement

Multiple Offers

Most real estate agents are probably confident in their ability to handle negotiation of a single offer to purchase. However, they may feel less certain when they are presented with more than one offer for the same property.

Listing agents must promptly present each offer to their seller-clients, whether there is only one offer or several offers on the same property. In no event may an agent wait more than five days to present any offer. If multiple offers arrive at the agent's office before he or she has had a chance to deliver any of them, the agent should present all of the offers to the seller at the same time.

There is no "first come, first served" rule, just because an offer is the first to arrive does not mean that it has priority over an offer that arrives later. The seller may accept any offer, without regard to the order in which the offers were made and received. Alternatively, the seller may choose to negotiate with any prospective purchaser so long as the choice is not made for a reason that would violate Fair Housing laws.

The listing agent should inform the agent working with each prospect that other offers have been made on the property, unless the seller prohibits him from doing so. However, if one agent is notified of a multiple offer situation, then all agents must be notified. A Listing agent is not permitted to disclose the terms of competing offers to one or more of the buyers, which is called "shopping" offers to purchase. The law requires that real estate agents treat prospective buyers honestly and fairly. An agent who discloses the terms of competing offers to one buyer gives that buyer an advantage over the others and thereby breaches the duty of fairness owed to the other buyers. An agent who informs each buyer that there are competing offers for the property, without disclosing the terms of the other offers, keeps all the buyers on an equal playing field, and thereby fulfills the duty of fairness.

Once offers are presented to the seller, the listing agent may then assist the seller in determining which offer is best for the seller and whether or not the best offer should be accepted. If none of the offers is acceptable, the seller may reject all of them. In that case, the listing agent should advise the agents working with the prospective purchasers to invite those prospects to make new, better offers. The listing agent may orally outline what price and terms the seller would be willing to consider.

Alternatively, the seller could make a counteroffer to one of the prospective buyers. However, listing agents should be careful not to allow the seller to make written counteroffers to more than one buyer and thereby run the risk that each will be accepted.


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