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Kristie Wheatley
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Why Use a REALTOR® When Selling...





A real estate agent helps you understand everything you need to know about selling
The selling process generally begins with a determination of a reasonable asking price. Your real estate agent or REALTOR® can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.
Marketing
The next step is a marketing plan. Often, your agent can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of the property. Marketing includes the exposure of your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, more than 50 percent of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer.  Your agent acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.
Advertising is part of marketing. The choice of media and frequency of advertising depends a lot on the property and specific market. For example, in some areas, newspaper advertising generates phone calls to the real estate office but statistically has minimum effectiveness in selling a specific property. Overexposure of a property in any media may give a buyer the impression the property is distressed or the seller is desperate. Your real estate agent will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® studies show that 82 percent of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts.
Security
When a property is marketed with an agent's help, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Agents will generally pre-screen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
Negotiating
The negotiation process deals with much the same issues for both buyers and sellers, as noted above under the buying process. Your agent can help you objectively evaluate every buyer's proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing -- a lot of possible pitfalls. Your agent can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.
Monitoring, renegotiating and closing
Between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your agent is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).
Why use a REALTOR®?
All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® are propertly called REALTORS®. They proudly display the REALTOR® logo on the business card or other marketing and sales literature. REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that almost 85 percent of home buyers would use the same REALTOR® again.
You be the judge
Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be foolish to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a REALTOR®.

How Much Is Your Home Really Worth?





Look at several sources to determine home valuation
Your home's market value is an important factor in a long list of financial decisions, including selling the home, refinancing your mortgage, borrowing against your equity, estimating your annual property tax bill, buying homeowner's insurance, calculating the expected return on remodeling costs, managing your other investments, estate planning and so on. The trick is figuring out how much your home is worth -- and remembering that how much you paid for it months or years ago isn't relevant to its
 current market value. It's not a bad idea to gather information from several sources and compare the findings, rather than relying on just one approach to home valuation.
 
Here are four suggestions to start:


  Call a couple of REALTORS®. Even if you're not planning to sell your home right away, many REALTORS® will be willing to prepare a comparable market analysis (CMA) for you as a marketing service with the goal of getting your business whenever you decide to move. A CMA shows the prices of recently sold homes that are comparable to yours and the prices of comparable homes on the market. A market-savvy REALTOR® can give you a rough idea of what your home would be worth, given its size and condition and local market conditions.
Purchase a professional appraisal. Unlike a CMA, a professional appraisal is rarely free. However, the several hundred dollars you'll pay for an appraisal, depending on size of your home and the complexity of the work, could be money well spent if you're making a major financial decision that hinges on the value of your home. Appraisers rely on an in-person inspection of your home, recent sales of comparable homes and other data to arrive at an opinion of value. The appraiser's report is a full-blown description of your home and the criteria used to formulate the valuation.
Go to neighborhood open houses. Open houses are a good opportunity to view comparable homes for sale in your neighborhood and chat with real estate professionals about the local real estate market. Two caveats: It's not easy to be objective about your own home and you shouldn't assume that the listing price on a for-sale necessarily reflects the home's true market value. If you keep those points in mind, information gathered at open houses can be worth considering along with data from other sources.
Do research online. A number of Web sites offer home valuation information free or for a fee. The Home Values tool on REALTOR.com can show you what houses around yours have sold for recently.
Tip: Price per square foot is a time-honored method of real estate valuation and not a bad rule of thumb. However, it doesn't account for a choice location, a move-in-ready home or personal criteria and you should factor in how the property was measured and whether the square footage includes the garage or other detached buildings on the property. 
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How to Price Your Home...




Pricing decisions should be grounded in reality
When the time comes to price your home for sale, you may be tempted to start with the price you paid for it, add a healthy markup and call it a day. Unfortunately, that strategy is unlikely to result in a true reflection of your home's market value.
Here are six strategies to help you figure out how much your home is worth:
1. Abandon your personal point of view. How much will a ready, willing and able buyer be willing to pay for your home? Buyers don't care how much you paid for the home, how many memorable moments you and your family shared in the home, how much cash you need for the downpayment on your next home or how much time and money you've invested in your home's hardwood floors, fresh paint, lush landscaping or other improvements.

2. Get a couple of CMAs.
 Invite at least three real estate agents to visit your home and give you their opinion of its likely selling price. Ask for a "comparative market analysis" (CMA), which shows the prices of comparable recently sold homes, on-the-market homes and homes that were on the market, but weren't sold. The on-the-market homes are the "competition" for your home. Ask the agents why each home was included in the CMA and whether any other comparable homes were eliminated from the CMA. Price recommendations based on CMAs aren't gospel. Some agents will tell you to under-price your home in hope of sparking a bidding war. Others will suggest a flatteringly high price to "buy" your listing only to demand a price reduction a few weeks later.
3. Do your own market research. Go to open houses in your neighborhood and try to make an impartial assessment of how those homes compare to yours in terms of location, size, amenities and condition. Assuming all the asking prices were the same, would you buy your home or someone else's?
4. Calculate the price per square foot. The average price per square foot for homes in your neighborhood shouldn't be the sole determinant of the asking price for your home, but it can be a useful starting point. Keep in mind that various methodologies can be used to calculate square footage.
5. Consider market conditions. Are home prices in your area trending upwards or downwards? Are homes selling quickly or languishing? Will your home be on the market in the spring home-buying season or the dead of winter? Are interest rates attractive? Is the economy hot or cold? Will you be selling in a buyer's market or a seller's market? Is the local job market strong or are employees fearful of staff reductions?
6. Sweeten the transaction terms. Some buyers have needs that go beyond the bottom line. If you're willing to close escrow quickly, you'll attract buyers who want to move in right away. If you can offer seller-financing, your home will appeal to buyers who need to stretch their financial resources. A lease-option can help first-timers who need downpayment assistance. The more creative and flexible you can be in meeting the buyer's needs, the more success you'll have in pricing your home to sell.