Browsing Category

home selling advice

Auto Added by WPeMatico

The Home Seller’s Guide To Striking the Right Deal Today—Despite the Pandemic

April 17, 2020

The Home Seller’s Guide to Striking the Right Deal Today—Despite the Pandemic

sureeporn/Getty Images

The coronavirus crisis has thrown a number of wrinkles into the home-selling process. Stock market fluctuations and job layoffs have some buyers rethinking whether to commit to a property purchase. Meanwhile, social distancing efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 has put many in-person open houses and home showings on hold.

All of which would seem to suggest that the strong seller’s market where sellers enjoyed bidding wars and top dollar for their home are over. But is this true?

Not necessarily. Even today, there’s room for sellers to negotiate. In the fourth part of our series “Home Selling in the Age of Coronavirus,” we offer insight into what sellers should know about getting the best deal for their home.

The coronavirus effect on housing supply and demand

For starters, sellers should take heart that buyer interest may not be dwindling as much as they might think.

“While some agents have reported diminished interest from buyers and sellers, there are still buyers and sellers who either want or need to buy or sell now,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com®.

Your own situation will hinge greatly on where you’re selling, and how far along your area is in its COVID-19 contagion cycle. If cases are peaking, that’s way different from an area where cases are dwindling or near nonexistent.

“Real estate is always a local business, and that’s going to be even more true now,” Hale adds. “The impacts of COVID-19 on the housing market are going to hit each area slightly differently, and with different timing.”

So far, nationwide, housing inventory remains low. The number of homes for sale in March fell 15.7% compared with the same time a year ago, according to realtor.com’s March Housing Trends Report. During the week ending March 28, the number of newly listed homes dropped 34% compared with a year earlier.

Ordinarily, fewer homes on the market means less competition for sellers, which is a good thing for people who’ve listed their property.

Should home sellers reduce their price?

Some buyers may look for deals, thinking all sellers are desperate to sell. But if this isn’t you, there’s no reason to cave or whittle down your home’s price. In fact, the median home price increased 3.8% in March, to $320,000, according to realtor.com’s trends report.

“Regardless of the events, there will always be buyers who will write a lowball offer,” says Ressie Krabacher, a residential broker with the Chicago Home Partner team of At Properties.

Meanwhile, a report by the National Association of Realtors® in March found that 72% of agents surveyed have noted no reduction in seller’s prices.

But even if you think you need to take any offer and sell soon—due to job loss or other economic hardship—make sure you explore all your options first.

“Banks have rolled out mortgage forbearance programs, so most sellers are not in immediate danger of losing their home, even if they just lost their job or their income has been significantly cut,” points out Caleb Liu, who flips homes in Southern California with HouseSimplySold.com. “Other sellers have opted to pull their listings and wait for better market conditions, so inventory remains tight.”

Another option if you need to sell quickly is to entertain offers from iBuyers—companies that can buy your home quickly, although typically for a bit less than you’d fetch on the open market. Bottom line is, options abound that could fit for you depending on your circumstances.

“I would advise sellers to step back and figure out their situation and timeline,” Krabacher says. “I would challenge and encourage them to look at the big picture, and we’ll figure out if it makes sense for them to take the offer now or to sit tight.”

How to negotiate an offer on your home today

Now is the time for home sellers to get their priorities in order. How low are you willing to go? What counteroffer strategies make sense based on your individual financial situation and motivations for selling your home? In the current market, you can—and should—get creative.

“Maybe you can negotiate a more extended closing date ideal for buyers to get your price, or agree to a lower price with the condition of a quick closing or that buyers take the place as is rather than make repairs,” Krabacher says.

Another good thing to ask for during such touch-and-go times? A solid earnest money deposit from buyers to show they’re serious.

“I also advise sellers to negotiate on higher earnest money between 3% and 5% of purchase price to ensure the buyer has more skin in the game,” adds Krabacher.

Depending on your individual market and its balance of buyers and sellers, you’ll want to at least be open to all offers on your home, even if they aren’t as high as you’d like.

“As a seller, if buyers in your area have decided to put the brakes on their home searches, you may want to entertain offers that you hadn’t previously considered, especially if you need to sell quickly,” Hale says. “However, it may be that buyers are still shopping in your market, but other sellers have decided to hold off on jumping into the market now. In that case, you may still see strong offers.”

The post The Home Seller’s Guide To Striking the Right Deal Today—Despite the Pandemic appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

How To Show Your Home During the Pandemic: The Definitive Seller’s Guide to Virtual Tours and More

April 15, 2020

Halfpoint/Getty Images

For home sellers in the era of the novel coronavirus, showing off your home to potential buyers may seem like an impossible task. As people practice social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19, most open houses are on hold, and in-person home showings are limited across the country.

But there are still ways to reach potential buyers and show your home in the best light—through virtual tours.

In the third part of our series, “Home Selling in the Age of the Coronavirus,” we highlight all the ways home sellers can give buyers an in-depth look at their property without actually opening their doors and risking the buyers’ health (or their own).

How virtual tours work

Virtual tours offer home buyers a remote, video-enabled walk-through of a property that will give them the sensation that they’re actually there—or at least darn close.

Real estate agents used virtual tours before COVID-19 as a unique marketing tool. Now, online tours are more important than ever, since they’re often the only easy way for buyers to check out a home without physically entering the property.

Virtual tours are recommended by the National Association of Realtors® as a way to avoid face-to-face contact while marketing homes during the coronavirus crisis.

“With the current shutdown, more and more home sellers are requesting that we offer buyers a virtual tour to help expedite the sale,” says Peggy Zabakolas, a real estate broker at Nest Seekers International in Bridgehampton, NY.

Real estate listing sites like realtor.com are featuring virtual tours on more and more listings. (Look for the virtual tour icon on the bottom of the listing page.)

Types of virtual tours

Virtual tours can be conducted in a variety of different ways, depending on time, technology, and budget.

Probably the least complicated is where sellers or real estate agents use their smartphone camera to record a video as they walk through the home, showing off each room.

A more interactive option is to livestream a one-on-one showing with the buyers. This will give them more control over where you are pointing the camera, via FaceTime or another video streaming app (“Could you take a peek inside that closet/outside that window?”).

Yet another option home sellers might consider is a virtual open house.

With gatherings of more than 10 people prohibited across most of the United States, real estate agents have been forced to cancel open houses. But many are using tools like FaceTime or Zoom to host live virtual open houses so they can show potential buyers around a home.

Buyers often enjoy seeing the “raw footage” that a virtual open house or showing can offer, as opposed to a professionally produced video, says Angela Hornburg, team leader at the Hornburg Real Estate Group in Dallas.

Buyers can also ask questions, which may help them to feel more secure that they can be fully informed about the property—or perhaps even allow them to make an offer on the spot.

3D tours

A more high-tech option for showing a home is setting up a fully fledged 3D tour. This is where a home seller, real estate agent, or a professional photographer uses a special 3D camera to capture images of the home.

These photos are uploaded into a proprietary software program that renders the visuals in three dimensions, creating a tour that can be uploaded onto a real estate listing.

Adding a 3D tour is a little more involved than taking a video on your phone, however—and it can also be pricey.

For example, the 3D visual platform Matterport offers packages ranging from $9.99 to $309 per month. Immoviewer’s prices range from $69 per month to $799 per year. Typically, a listing agent will pay for this as part of the marketing material.

While 3D tours are still rare, some people insist that they’re worth the cost, especially for higher-end properties. Homes can be viewed in several different ways, such as in dollhouse view, which shows how rooms are laid out in the house (see images below).

The dollhouse view provides a sense of the flow of the home.

Matterport/Realtor.com

Virtual tours show viewers a 3D model of a home’s floor plan.

Matterport/Realtor.com

Virtual staging

Traditional staging—where furniture and artwork are arranged in a house to present the space in the best light—is a great selling tool, but it may be difficult to pull off at a time when sellers are reluctant to let outsiders into their house.

There’s a workaround here, too: virtual staging, which provides simulated images of a property laid out with alternative furnishings.

“Virtual staging, like physical home staging, is aimed at enticing home buyers and helping them connect emotionally with a property,” says Ilaria Barion, a luxury home stager, who offers both in-person and virtual staging.

Virtual home staging uses software to reimagine new decor in a property, in order to enhance the appearance of the space.

Unlike on-site staging, virtual staging comes with unlimited options, for example, paring down homes that are filled with furniture and ornament and displaying them with a simplified, cleaner design.

Before: The living room of a New York City home before a virtual staging

Ilaria Barion Design

After: The virtual staging of the same living room highlights its features.

Ilaria Barion Design

Before: Bedroom before virtual staging

Ilaria Barion Design

After: Virtually staging the bedroom offers a more neutral design.

Ilaria Barion Flow

Just as with virtual tours, virtual staging was available before the coronavirus outbreak, but is especially important now. Even small, simple changes can make a big difference.

For instance: Does your property have an accent wall painted in a bright color that might turn off buyers? Virtual staging can wipe that away. Sellers should aim for “a neutral palette, so the new buyer can envision themselves living in it,” Zabakolas says.

Also, adding a few trendy accents can make a lasting impression on buyers.

“Small accents to dress up the home, such as flowers or centerpieces, help in any virtual or in-person tour,” says Tomer Fridman, a luxury and celebrity real estate expert at Compass in Los Angeles.

Staging a home virtually is cheaper than on-site staging, Barion says. Virtual staging costs a few hundred dollars and is usually paid for by agents, unlike traditional staging, which costs thousands. Virtual staging can also be completed in a matter of days.

“Virtual staging allows for many more options that would be cost-prohibitive in real life, like stripping down wallpaper, changing window treatment, adding a pool table, or replacing old furniture and fixtures,” Barion says.

How home sellers can use virtual tours to find the right buyer

Virtual tours and open houses can help buyers get to know a home, but the fact is that some may insist that they see a place in person before they feel confident about making an offer.

Although some areas, like the state of New York, are prohibiting in-person home showings at present, they are still happening in other places.

While it may be off-putting for sellers to allow buyers to enter their home, that may be necessary if they want to get an offer.

Virtual tours and showings nevertheless serve an important purpose: They help buyers get to know a property well enough to become serious contenders for a purchase.

In turn, virtual tours help sellers lower their risk of exposure to the coronavirus, by helping them whittle down the number of buyers who enter their house.

So how else can home sellers know a buyer is serious? Maggie Wellsreal estate agent at Keller Williams Realty Greater Lexington in Kentucky, requires that buyers have a mortgage pre-approval and have taken a look at the virtual tour beforehand.

Agents also make sure to keep hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and shoe coverings available for buyers to use during their in-person tour.

Selling a home during the coronavirus crisis presents many unique challenges. Being adaptable will help sellers to reach buyers and to make sure that the home is sold.

The post How To Show Your Home During the Pandemic: The Definitive Seller’s Guide to Virtual Tours and More appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

How Do You Sell a Home Safely During the COVID-19 Crisis? Here Are the Steps To Take

April 14, 2020

How Do You Sell a Home Safely During the COVID-19 Crisis? Here Are the Steps To Take

AndreyPopov/Getty Images

Selling a home can be a headache. It often takes longer and costs more than you think, and it can be an emotional drain. That’s in normal times. Selling a home during a pandemic will add a slew of new safety concerns to the mix.

But even during the COVID-19 crisis, real estate transactions are moving forward. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently classified real estate as an essential service, although local laws might affect what’s allowed and might ban certain activities like open houses. (Be sure to check what’s OK in your area.) Suffice it to say, many sellers are still listing their homes, and buyers are still buying, too.

Yet selling a home during a pandemic is new for everyone. And we’re here to offer guidance through our series “Home Selling in the Age of Coronavirus.”

This second installment of the series offers insight into how sellers and real estate agents are adapting to the COVID-19 outbreak to make selling a home as safe as possible. Here’s an overview of some of the new processes.

Virtual showings could be the new norm

“Selling a home during a pandemic or uncertain market definitely left some of our sellers unsure on what they want to do,” says Ressie Krabacher, a residential broker with the Chicago Home Partner team of At Properties. “We do have sellers who do need to sell now, and we have implemented safety protocols and plan to take the necessary precautions to protect them.”

For instance? Eye-catching photos and video have long been a must for any home listing, but that’s more important than ever now, since so many people are sheltering in place at home and likely house hunting online. These days, sellers are taking their listings up a notch by offering virtual tours of their homes to drive interest among buyers and provide a more in-depth glimpse of the property.

“Sellers love virtual tours because typically what would be the inconvenience of leaving the residence for 20 to 30 minutes to allow potential buyers access now have the opportunity to allow them access without having to leave,” says Michelle Mumoli, CEO of the Mumoli Group, a residential and commercial sales and leasing firm in Hoboken, NJ.

Doing a virtual tour reduces the number of in-person visits to only those who are truly interested, says Angela Hornburg, team leader at the Hornburg Real Estate Group in Dallas.

“We are using virtual tours to pre-qualify interest to ensure that potential buyers don’t tour a home and say they didn’t like the flooring in person or something small like that,” Hornburg says.

Agents are taking extra precautions for in-person showings

Open houses with large groups of people are mostly canceled for now, but many buyers still want to view a home in person before making an offer. Sellers, however, may worry about having strangers in their homes. So, in places where face-to-face showings are still happening, real estate agents are taking some extra steps to protect homeowners and only allowing them in on a case-by-case basis.

“This is not a time for looky-loos,” says Mumoli, who is limiting in-person showings to buyers with loan pre-approval letters.

Along with a pre-approval, Hornburg says she makes sure the potential buyer has viewed the virtual home tour and the seller’s property disclosure statement before being allowed in.

“We also have delivered ‘showing kits’ to our listings that contain sanitizer, booties, and gloves for people to use during the showing,” Hornburg says.

Before a home showing, she advises sellers to clean and disinfect high-touch areas, like countertops and doorknobs, and to leave lights on and doors, closets, and cabinets open to limit what visitors need to touch. And, put a sign on the front door requesting people viewing the home to take off their shoes.

Also, make hand sanitizer and soap available with signs encouraging hand-washing. Once the showing is over, clean and disinfect thoroughly to lower your exposure risk to whatever the buyers may have brought in with them.

Inspections and appraisals may not need in-person contact

Home sellers usually have to allow the home buyer’s inspectors and appraisers into their homes before the real estate deal can go forward. But, these days, social distancing orders are allowing many inspections and appraisals to be done with minimal contact.

National home inspection company HomeMaster, for instance, now asks sellers to stay secluded in part of the home away from the inspector. Inspectors are also following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, with buyers wearing booties, masks, and gloves, and sellers wiping down everything with disinfectant wipes when the potential buyers leave.

If the lender allows it, appraisals can be done by driving by the home, or viewing photos of the property, so the appraiser never has to set foot in the home. So be sure to ask whether such options are acceptable in your area.

A remote closing may be possible

Remote home closings have been an option for buyers and sellers in some states even before the COVID-19 crisis. But, there’s a push to expand this practice nationwide.

Currently, 23 states have remote online notarization policies, allowing a notary and signer to execute electronic documents while in different physical locations. The National Association of Realtors® recently sent a letter to Congress asking lawmakers to expand the policies nationally to make real estate transactions safer and easier during the pandemic.

The ability to close remotely also depends on the buyer’s lender, and some don’t have the technology to offer a fully virtual closing or work with buyers in states that don’t allow them, says Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at LendingTree.

“This is definitely a hot topic right now,” he says. “Most lenders are working toward trying to make this happen, lobbying to get laws in place to allow this, and focusing on how they can make mobile closings with notaries more safe.”

If remote closing is possible, title companies prepare the required documents and mail, and then email or upload them to a portal. The title company verifies personal information and identification by video, and the documents are signed electronically.

Another option is using a mobile notary, who travels to a buyer or seller’s home or workplace to complete the closing to limit in-person contact, Hornburg says.

“We’ve had one done this way so far and saw the notary wearing a mask, booties, gloves, and she opened up new pen packs for the sellers to sign with,” she says. “They also sat 6 feet apart.”

Social distancing is also affecting in-person closings. To limit contact, only the parties signing are allowed at the closing these days, says Maggie Wells, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty Greater Lexington in Kentucky. Closings are starting to be delayed because people are limiting in-person contact and working from home.

Selling a home during the pandemic is an adjustment for everyone, but Wells says buyers, sellers, and agents are working together to make transactions run as smoothly as possible.

“I’m not sugarcoating anything or making guarantees to sellers,” she says. “I just let them know everyone is taking every precaution possible.”

The post How Do You Sell a Home Safely During the COVID-19 Crisis? Here Are the Steps To Take appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

5 Bad Omens That Could Curse Your Home—and Jeopardize Your Sale

February 26, 2020

mediaphotos/iStock

An outdated kitchen and a lack of curb appeal aren’t the only things that can keep buyers from biting. When it seems like there’s just no explanation for a perfectly good home sitting on the market, you might consider other possible causes.

Certain items, colors, and symbols have been thought to attract malicious forces to an otherwise peaceful abode. And while some people scoff at such beliefs, others take them seriously—and not just around Halloween.

“There are countless folkloric beliefs, and savvy homeowners are smart to acknowledge and respect such beliefs, whether they share them or not,” says Benjamin Radford, deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and co-host of the “Squaring the Strange” podcast.

Whether or not you believe in bad omens, you might still be interested in covering your bases. After all, there’s no telling what prospective buyers of your home believe.

To get you started, here are a few supposed bad omens related to houses that you might want to avoid. Because it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

1. Empty rocking chair

Photo by Schumacher Homes

Irish legend says an empty rocking chair brings dark spirits, and if the chair rocks, the evil spirit is already here. This could be of particular interest to sellers in the South, where rocking chairs are often placed on porches. One look at a chair that’s rocking by itself could send a seller running. But that doesn’t mean you have to remove it when you show the house.

Radford suggests keeping the chair still by placing a stone or doorstop under the legs to brace it.

“It just takes a few seconds, and might help seal a sale,” he says.

2. Green-painted walls

Photo by Connor Mill-Built Homes

Pantone may have chosen Greenery for its official Color of the Year in 2017, but some people believe that green on the walls can bring bad vibes.

Back in the day, green paint was made using arsenic, and the presence of this toxic chemical is believed to have killed a number of people. While arsenic is no longer found in green paint, some still consider it bad luck to use it in the home.

If you want luck on your side, consider using blue paint instead. In the Southern United States, it was traditional to paint porch ceilings blue to keep evil spirits away.

“In many places around the world the color blue is considered lucky—originally associated with the sky and divinity—which is why many window and door frames are painted blue,” says Radford. “Blue windows likely won’t make or break a sale, but if you like the color and need to repaint anyway—why not?”

3. Red and white flowers in a vase

Red and white roses
Red and white roses

Chalongrat Chuvaree/iStock

Red roses mean love and white flowers designate purity and innocence. As innocuous as a flower arrangement like this may seem, according to Victorian superstition, combining the two in a vase means death will soon follow.

But that doesn’t mean you should nix all flowers during an open house. They’re vital to elevating the appearance of your home. Instead, professional home stager Krisztina Bell of Atlanta suggests going green by using succulents and other types of greenery throughout the house. We’re also partial to eucalyptus branches, monstera leaves, or a pothos plant.

4. Old calendar

Make sure your calendar is up to date! A calendar showing the wrong month is believed to cut short a person’s life.

If you’re still stuck on the beautiful art that accompanies the calendar, cut it out and frame it for decor. Just make sure your calendar is flipped to the current month.

5. Black cats

Black cat at home
Black cat at home

michellegibson/iStock

Your sweet black cat might be minding its own business, but to potential buyers who happen upon it, your cat could be a bad omen. Black cats have been associated with witchcraft since the Middle Ages; but in Britain, Japan, and Ireland, black cats are seen as bringing good luck.

“Some people love black cats, while others look at them with suspicion. If you have a black cat, crate him or her up while showing the house,” says Radford.

In fact, that goes for other types of pets, too. You want potential buyers focusing on your home, not your four-legged friend.

The post 5 Bad Omens That Could Curse Your Home—and Jeopardize Your Sale appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

5 Sweet Tax Deductions When Selling a Home: Did You Take Them All?

February 24, 2020

MariuszBlach/iStock

You may be wondering if there are tax deductions when selling a home. And the answer is: You bet!

Sure, you may remember 2018’s new tax code—aka the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—changed some rules for homeowners. But rest assured that if you sold your home last year (or are planning to in the future), your tax deductions when you file with the IRS can still amount to sizable savings.

Want a full rundown of all the deductions (as well as tax exemptions or other write-offs) at a home seller’s disposal? Check out this list to make sure you miss none of them.

1. Selling costs

These deductions are allowed as long as they are directly tied to the sale of the home, and you lived in the home for at least two out of the five years preceding the sale. Another caveat: The home must be a principal residence and not an investment property.

“You can deduct any costs associated with selling the home—including legal fees, escrow fees, advertising costs, and real estate agent commissions,” says Joshua Zimmelman, president of Westwood Tax and Consulting in Rockville Center, NY.

This could also include home staging fees, according to Thomas J. Williams, a tax accountant who operates Your Small Biz Accountant in Kissimmee, FL.

Just remember that you can’t deduct these costs in the same way as, say, mortgage interest. Instead, you subtract them from the sales price of your home, which in turn positively affects your capital gains tax (more on that below).

2. Home improvements and repairs

Score again! If you renovated a few rooms to make your home more marketable (and so you could fetch a higher sales price), you can deduct those upgrade costs as well. This includes painting the house or repairing the roof or water heater.

But there’s a catch, and it all boils down to timing.

“If you needed to make home improvements in order to sell your home, you can deduct those expenses as selling costs as long as they were made within 90 days of the closing,” says Zimmelman.

3. Property taxes

This deduction is capped at $10,000, Zimmelman says. So if you were dutifully paying your property taxes up to the point when you sold your home, you can deduct the amount you paid in property taxes this year up to $10,000.

4. Mortgage interest

As with property taxes, you can deduct the interest on your mortgage for the portion of the year you owned your home.

Just remember that under the 2018 tax code, new homeowners (and home sellers) can deduct the interest on up to only $750,000 of mortgage debt, though homeowners who got their mortgage before Dec. 15, 2017, can continue deducting up to the original amount up to $1 million, according to Zimmelman.

Note that the mortgage interest and property taxes are itemized deductions. This means that for it to work in your favor, all of your itemized deductions need to be greater than the new standard deduction, which the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act nearly doubled to $12,200 for individuals, $18,350 for heads of household, and $24,400 for married couples filing jointly. (For comparison, it used to be $12,700 for married couples filing jointly.)

5. Capital gains tax for sellers

The capital gains rule isn’t technically a deduction (it’s an exclusion), but you’re still going to like it.

As a reminder, capital gains are your profits from selling your home—whatever cash is left after paying off your expenses, plus any outstanding mortgage debt. And yes, these profits are taxed as income. But here’s the good news: You can exclude up to $250,000 of the capital gains from the sale if you’re single, and $500,000 if married. The only big catch is you must have lived in your home at least two of the past five years.

However, look for the rules of this exemption to possibly change in a future tax bill.

Ralph DiBugnara, vice president at Cardinal Financial, says lawmakers might push to change this so that homeowners would have to live in the property for five of the past eight years, instead of two out of five.

The post 5 Sweet Tax Deductions When Selling a Home: Did You Take Them All? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Home Won’t Sell? Yawar Charlie on ‘Listing Impossible’ Explains Why

January 29, 2020

Amy Sussman/Getty Images; realtor.com

If your home isn’t selling, what should you do? Real estate agent Yawar Charlie, star of a new reality show, “Listing Impossible,” can offer some hope and helpful advice.

CNBC’s “Listing Impossible”—which premiered Jan. 15 and airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST—follows Charlie at the Los Angeles brokerage Aaron Kirman Partners as he and his colleagues devise fresh ways to revive stale listings and entice buyers to bite. There’s even a surprise appearance from David Hasselhoff!

“It really gives you the nuts and bolts on what it takes to sell challenging homes, and what it takes to sell a home in general,” Charlie told realtor.com in an exclusive interview. “It’s not candy-coated, so the viewer really gets to see the process and the journey—not only of the home, but of the sellers.”

Curious why certain homes won’t sell and what can be done to make them move, we talked with Charlie to hear his advice—for home sellers and buyers—plus the surprising story behind how he bought his first home.

Listing Impossible
Yawar Charlie of “Listing Impossible”

CNBC

How did you end up buying your first home?

I used to be an actor in L.A., and I had worked pretty steadily. But when you’re my type, and this is back 15 years ago, there weren’t a lot of opportunities. I kept getting the note “too pretty for a terrorist.”

I can laugh at it now, but at the time it was very annoying. Still, I was on a soap opera for a while and I took that money I earned and I saved it. I was thinking I should do something smart with it, and decided that I really wanted to buy a house.

I didn’t know where to start, so I sought out a casual acquaintance who was a real estate agent. However, this person was a horrible agent and didn’t take good care of me. It all ended up working out, though, because I ended up doing a lot of the research on my own, so I learned from that. In fact, I learned I had a real affinity for real estate.

How did you transition from home buyer to a real estate agent?

I casually set up a couple of real estate deals for friends and family. And my partner at the time said, “You know, Yawar, you’re really good at this, why don’t you consider this as sort of a supplemental career until acting really kicks in full gear?”

That was about 13 years ago, and within the first nine months of getting my real estate license and joining a team, I was the top new agent in my office. It was a real blessing because when you’re a creative person, you have to find an outlet for that creativity.

For me, when I work with someone selling a home, I find the creative side of things. I say, “Let’s tell a story of this house, let’s figure out a way to connect someone to it emotionally when they walk in the room.”

Yawar Charlie
Listing Impossible — Wexler House — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/CNBC)

NBC

Your new show is all about moving homes that seem impossible to sell. Why do you think certain homes sit on the market?

When something is sitting on the market, 9 times out of 10, it comes down to the price.

As simple as it sounds, if you price a property too high, it will sit unless it finds that one person who falls in love with it and has to have it. But that kind of Cinderella ending only happens in fairy tales. People want to make sure that they’re not overpaying on a house.

Home sellers should have an honest conversation with their real estate agent about what their house is worth. An agent who takes a house that’s overpriced does that seller a disservice, because an overpriced house is going to sit.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of agents who will underprice a property to get a quick sale or multiple offers. And I really think that sometimes that’s the way to go. However, it requires the seller to have a leap of faith that you’ll be able to get multiple offers, that someone won’t lowball you.

What should home sellers do if their listing isn’t drumming up enough interest?

Our show is a good representation of what happens when properties have been sitting too long on the market. We come in, retool, rebrand, and relaunch each property. That includes staging, some light construction, decluttering, price adjustment, and the right marketing. These are all things that sellers need to think about.

We put together a list of items that I encourage the seller to repair or address before we go on the market.

I bring our stager in and have the quote for that. In today’s market, homes must be staged. If a house isn’t staged, it will be devalued. Because a lot of times, buyers don’t have imaginations. They’re like, “Oh wow, will my TV fit there? Will a couch look good here?”

We have to lay it out for them. Of course, there will be those visionaries that will walk through the door, but more often than not, people need to see it.

Yawar Charlie
Listing Impossible — Wexler House — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/CNBC)

NBC

In addition to selling hard-to-sell homes, you work with a lot of first-time home buyers. What’s your best advice for them?

Some first-time home buyers think that they’re going to walk into something in their price range and, automatically, it’s going to have everything they want. But that’s usually not the case.

Buying that first home is important because, if you’re renting, you are essentially setting money on fire. Even if it’s a smaller place, it’s important to get into something you own because there’s a tax deduction that people can take advantage of, and owning a home is like a forced savings account. That payment that you’re making every month to pay off the principal is paying into equity, so therefore when you go to sell that house, that equity will be there for you.

I like working with my first-time home buyer clients and setting expectations, which are: This won’t be your dream home, it’s not meant to be your dream home. It’s meant to be something that you like, that you are proud to live in, but that most importantly will build you wealth.

When they buy that first condo, they’ll be able to trade that in, in three to five years, for a larger condo or a single-family home. And then they’ll be able to flip that single-family home into a larger home that does really fit their dream. But it takes the second or third home to reach that dream home status for most people.

What advice would you offer both buyers and sellers on finding the right real estate agent?

Make sure you’re working with a real estate agent who is not a “yes” person, who will tell you the hard truth. Because at the end of the day, it does everyone a disservice if you’re working with someone who just tells you what you want to hear. There’s a reason we’re the professionals. We’re boots on the ground, we see the market trends, we’re showing homes every day. Work with someone you know and trust who’s going to do right by you.

The post Home Won’t Sell? Yawar Charlie on ‘Listing Impossible’ Explains Why appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

When Is the Best Time to Sell Your House? 5 Factors to Consider

May 8, 2019

When is the best time to sell your house?

supawat bursuk/iStock

When is the best time to sell your house? Timing can make a big difference in terms of selling your home quickly and for the most cash. But here’s the thing: The rules on pinpointing that best time might not be what you think.

The assumption that spring is always the best time to sell is not necessarily true. The general direction of your local economy and mortgage interest rates come into play as well.

There’s no crystal ball for reading the housing market, but there are ways to stack the deck in your favor. Here are five things to consider before putting your house on the market.

1. Spring isn’t always the best season to sell your house

Though conventional wisdom maintains that the spring home-buying season (April to June) is the best time to sell, that’s not always the case. In fact, one recent study even found that sellers typically net more above asking price during the months of December, January, February, and March than they do from June through November. Surprised?

One reason may be that the spring home-buying season generally means you’ll have more competition from other home sellers—and that may require you to price your home more aggressively in order to attract buyers.

“Listing in the spring means you are positioning yourself to compete with several other homes,” says Jersey City, NJ–based real estate agent Cheyanne Banks. “So as a seller in the spring, you have to price and market your home flawlessly to show buyers that your home is more desirable than the place next door.”

Additionally, a number of experts recommend listing a home in February or March so that the property hits the market before the competition ramps up—which may explain why a 2018 study by ATTOM Data Solutions of 14.7 million home sales from 2011 to 2017 found the second-best day of the year to sell a home is Feb. 15, with sellers netting an average premium of 9% above their house’s estimated market value on that day. (Sellers nab a 9.1% premium above market value on June 28.)

Winter is also a hot time of year for people relocating for jobs, says Jennifer Baldinger, a real estate broker in Scarsdale, NY.

“One of the biggest months for corporate relocation is January-February, so those buyers who need to move quickly are out in full force looking for new homes,” she says.

2. Keep an eye on the local economy

The strength of the U.S. housing market as a whole certainly plays a role in home prices. According to a realtor.com analysis of annual price growth rates, a home’s value generally increases 3% to 4% a year when the economy is strong, driven by inflation and natural population growth. From 2011 to 2016, the national housing market was recovering from the bubble at a slightly higher speed: 6.3% a year, on average.

You’ll want to assess your local economy’s conditions when figuring out when to list your home. One benchmark you can use is the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which monitors single-family home sales in 20 major U.S. cities. Another valuable resource is the Metropolitan Median Area Prices and Affordability tracker from the National Association of Realtors®.

3. Mortgage rates matter, too

Generally, more people buy homes when mortgage rates drop, historic data shows. As a result, prospective sellers should be monitoring the mortgage market, says Jack Guttentag, author of “The Mortgage Encyclopedia.”

Need help keeping an eye on interest rates? Realtor.com has a mortgage rate trends tracker, which lets you follow interest rate changes in your local market.

4. Wait until your home’s in good shape

To fetch top dollar for your home, the property must show well. This may require you take time to make repairs to your house.

“Any defect or condition that affects the intended function or operation of a major house system should be fixed,” says Kathleen Kuhn, president of HouseMaster, a national chain of home inspection offices.

Translation: Taking care of leaks, built-in appliances not functioning properly, insect infestations, plus any imminent safety or environmental hazards, is crucial before listing your home. Even making cosmetic changes (e.g., repainting the kitchen or sprucing up the property’s landscaping) can make your home significantly more appealing to home buyers.

Keeping up with your neighbors is also important. If all the houses on your block are beautifully furnished and landscaped, then it’s likely worth it to spend the extra cash—and the time—primping your own home for sale.

5. Your personal preparedness is a priority, too

Yet no amount of timing should eclipse what time is right for you—personally, professionally, and otherwise. Are you ready to move on, or up into bigger digs? Many homeowners sell when they change jobs or when their children switch schools, or when the kids fly the coop and the parents are ready to downsize. So, take stock of your own situation when deciding whether to put your house on the market now or wait.

Michele Lerner contributed to this article.

The post When Is the Best Time to Sell Your House? 5 Factors to Consider appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

5 Nonlazy Reasons to Skip Remodeling Before You Sell

April 24, 2019

reasons to skip renovation before selling
skynesher/iStock

Home sellers often hear that if they ever hope to find a buyer, they must whip their house into perfect shape—fix this, paint that, overhaul your horribly outdated kitchen. But just looking at the list of renovations is exhausting!

This leads many to wonder: Do I really need to do all that just to sell my home?

If that’s how you feel, here’s some good news: There actually are some good reasons—meaning reasons other than sheer laziness or lack of budget—to not bother renovating before you sell. Really.

Surprised or secretly relieved? Here’s why you should give yourself permission to skip certain upgrades before putting your house on the market.

1. You can’t read your buyers’ minds

Talia McKinney, a licensed real estate salesperson for Nest Seekers International in Brooklyn, NY, once had a seller who updated her kitchen floors and countertops and splurged on high-end, stainless-steel appliances in the hopes of getting more money for her sale.

Unfortunately, “the buyer who got into contract wanted a different color floor, different countertops, and black matte appliances. They basically wanted to rip out and change everything my seller just renovated,” says McKinney.

The moral of this story: Don’t assume you know what can drive a potential sale.

“When a buyer comes into a home, they have a vision of what they want. Just because something is new and renovated doesn’t mean they’ll pay a premium on that,” McKinney says. “Leave the property as is or do minor touch-ups rather than put a lot of money into upgrades.”

2. Renovate on the cheap, and it’ll show

It’ll make a difference all right—but not for the reason you may think.

“Every time I walk with a buyer through a home that has laminate floors, Home Depot light fixtures and vanities, or cheap cabinets, there is a visceral disappointment factor—an ‘Add that to the list of things I need to budget for once we close,’” admits Courtney Poulos, broker-owner of ACME Real Estate in Los Angeles.

“Rarely does the cost of any home renovation increase the value of the property enough to offset the renovation costs, time, and energy,” says Terrie O’Connor, broker and president of Terrie O’Connor Agency, which handles luxury real estate listings in Saddle River, NJ, and other towns.

3. Small upgrades won’t change the house itself

“I have seen instances in which a flipper buys a cute, little house that needs work, and thinks that just by some painting, tiling, and a new builder-grade kitchen, they can sell the house for two-thirds more than they paid,” says Lori Hoffman-Chlapowski, a licensed real estate broker for William Raveis Real Estate in Chappaqua, NY.

They seldom do, she says. “The house is still small, and buyers are keenly aware when a renovation is cheaply done.”

And so, the property sits on the market. Until, she adds, “the seller can finally find a buyer willing to pay just a bit more than the renovation itself cost.”

4. Taking the DIY route might make things worse

Jose Hernandez, a real estate consultant in Chicago, once had sellers forgo professional contractors and redo bathrooms themselves to save money.

“But while the tile and vanity were new, it was all improperly installed,” he remembers.

Cheap repairs don’t add value, Hernandez cautions. Rather, “sometimes they negatively affect the value because the buyer sees it as another project that has to be redone.”

5. You might end up going overboard

First, you fix the floor. Then you realize the kitchen cabinets need to be replaced. And the countertops. And the sink. And, hell, you might as well do the appliances, too. Once you start fiddling with stuff in your kitchen (or bathroom, or any other room of your house), you may realize you keep finding more and more stuff that needs to be (cheaply and quickly) redone.

“I’ve seen plenty of clients overspend or design too specifically and then net less money than they would have if they had just sold the home in its prerenovation condition,” says Mark Cianciulli, a Realtor and a co-founder of the CREM Group, in Los Angeles.

And while a full renovation can return you a lot of money when you sell, there’s no guarantee. And by the way, did you really mean to do a full renovation?

What you should do instead

Want to get your house ready to sell without going overboard? Here’s how to tread that fine line.

Take care of major problems: First things first, “fix any maintenance issues that might prevent a future buyer from getting financing,” says Amine Aghzafi, managing partner and real estate agent with the Sheehan Agency, in Jupiter, FL.

If your roof, water heater, or plumbing are ancient, consider replacing those items before they cause issues at inspection time.

Not sure of your home’s problem areas? “Consider having a presale inspection before putting the house on the market,” says Aghzafi. “This will bring to light any major points that need addressing and help prioritize costs if your budget is limited.”

Go for truly easy DIY upgrades: Swap out old light fixtures, switch out new handles on your kitchen cabinets, and paint the trim in your home to instantly improve the contrast with the current paint. These are all “inexpensive upgrades that add significant value to your home and will cost a fraction of a full or partial remodel,” Cianciulli says.

Stage your home: Home stagers systematically pack up your personal items, clear out your clutter, and rearrange (or remove) furniture to optimize your home’s flow. Then they bring in their own gorgeous furniture and accessories.

“The proper furnishings showcase the home’s best features, while drawing attention away from any negatives,” says O’Connor. “It creates a mood for the buyer.”

A staged home will also shine in the online listing, which is crucial.

“Buyers today are getting that big first impression of a property long before they physically see it,” says O’Connor.

Choose a price buyers can live with: “Price your home in a way that allows buyers to accommodate making personal choices,” says Poulos. “Some buyers really want to put their own stamp on their new home.”

Don’t think of this strategy as “giving up.” After all, the faster your home sells, the more money you’ll save in the end.

The post 5 Nonlazy Reasons to Skip Remodeling Before You Sell appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

5 Sweet Tax Deductions When Selling a Home: Did You Take Them All?

February 28, 2019

MariuszBlach/iStock

You may be wondering if there are tax deductions when selling a home. And the answer is: You bet!

But there’s also a new tax code—aka the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—causing quite a bit of confusion this filing season. Rest assured that if you sold your home last year (or are planning to in the future), the tax deductions may amount to sizable savings when you file with the IRS.

You’ll want to know all the tax deductions (as well as tax exemptions or other write-offs) at your disposal. So here’s a rundown.

1. Selling costs

Good news! These deductions are still allowed under the new tax law as long as they are directly tied to the sale of the home and a married couple—or a single taxpayer—lived in the home for at least two out of the five years preceding the sale. Another caveat: The home must be a principal residence and not an investment property.

“You can deduct any costs associated with selling the home—including legal fees, escrow fees, advertising costs, and real estate agent commissions,” says Joshua Zimmelman, president of Westwood Tax and Consulting in Rockville Center, NY.

This could also include home staging fees, according to Thomas J. Williams, a tax accountant who operates Your Small Biz Accountant in Kissimmee, FL.

Just remember that you can’t deduct these costs in the same way as, say, mortgage interest. Instead, you subtract them from the sales price of your home, which in turn positively affects your capital gains tax.

2. Home improvements and repairs

Score again. The new tax law left this deduction as well. If you renovated a few rooms to make your home more marketable (and so you can fetch a higher sales price), now you can deduct those upgrade costs as well. This includes painting the house or repairing the roof or water heater.

But there’s a catch, and it all boils down to timing.

“If you needed to make home improvements in order to sell your home, you can deduct those expenses as selling costs as long as they were made within 90 days of the closing,” says Zimmelman.

3. Property taxes

This deduction is still allowed, but your total deductions are capped at $10,000, Zimmelman says.

If you were dutifully paying your property taxes up to the point when you sold your home, you can deduct the amount you paid in property taxes this year up to $10,000.

4. Mortgage interest

As with property taxes, you can deduct the interest on your mortgage for the portion of the year you owned your home. However, the rules have changed slightly from last year.

Just remember that under the new tax code, new homeowners (and home sellers) can deduct the interest on up to only $750,000 of mortgage debt, though homeowners who got their mortgage before Dec. 15, 2017, can continue deducting up to the original amount up to $1 million, according to Zimmelman.

Note that the mortgage interest and property taxes are itemized deductions. This means that for it to work in your favor, all of your itemized deductions need to be greater than the new standard deduction, which the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act nearly doubled to $12,200 for individuals, $18,350 for heads of household, and $24,400 for married couples filing jointly (for comparison, it used to be $12,700 for married couples filing jointly).

5. But what’s up with capital gains tax for sellers?

Lawmakers tried to change the capital gains rule, but it managed to survive—so it’s still one home sellers can use. It isn’t technically a deduction (it’s an exclusion), but you’re still going to like it.

As a reminder, capital gains are your profits from selling your home—whatever cash is left after paying off your expenses, plus any outstanding mortgage debt. And yes, these profits are taxed as income. But here’s the good news: You can exclude up to $250,000 of the capital gains from the sale if you’re single, and $500,000 if married. The only big catch is you must have lived in your home at least two of the past five years.

However, look for the rules of this exemption to possibly change in a future tax bill.

Ralph DiBugnara, president of Home Qualified and vice president at Residential Home Funding, says lawmakers might push to change this so that homeowners would have to live in the property for five of the past eight years, instead of two out of five.

The post 5 Sweet Tax Deductions When Selling a Home: Did You Take Them All? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Quiz: Are You Really Ready to Sell Your House?

February 7, 2019

gerenme/iStock

Are you ready to sell your house? Sure, you may think you’re ready. In fact, you may be dying to move right now, either because you outgrew your space, got a sweet new job in another city, or are tired of condo life and have always dreamed of inhabiting a huge Victorian instead.

Whatever your reason for feeling good and ready to sell your house, that doesn’t mean you’re really ready. Meaning: Do you know everything you need to in order to orchestrate a successful sale, in your desired time frame, and for a fantastic price?

To find out, take our home-selling quiz below to see where you stand—and what areas of your know-how may need some brushing up before you plant a “For Sale” sign on your lawn.

The post Quiz: Are You Really Ready to Sell Your House? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.