Blog : Home Seller Tips

3 Ways to Make Your House Sellable for Potential Buyers

3 Ways to Make Your House Sellable for Potential Buyers

We meet with a number of sellers on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and one common feeling we’ve gathered from partnering with homeowners is selling a home can be a stressful process.

If you’re a homeowner who is looking to move and you ever thought “I don’t know how I’m going to sell my house.”

Trust us. You’re not alone.

We understand the thought of packing up your entire life and moving it somewhere else can feel overwhelming — especially when you never sold a home before and don’t know where to begin.

The Erica Rawls Team is here to help!

We sat down with our project manager Robbi Guthrie, who is also an interior designer and owner of Mika Interior Designs, to learn the three things homeowners must do before placing their house on the market.

If you have ever worked with us before, you may have seen Robbi collaborating with us in one of our seller’s consultations.

Robbi understands what makes a house harder to sell and the things homeowners can do to make their house appealing to potential buyers. She spoke with us to share tips for sellers to help get their houses off the market.

In our post, we’ll share Robbi’s advice and explain the following three things you must do before selling a home and why they’re important:

  1. Get a Pre-Listing Home Inspection Before Listing Your Property
  2. Make Repairs and/ or Upgrades (That You Can Afford!)
  3. Declutter/Depersonalize Your Home For Showings

Before we get into the tips, we first want to help our sellers to understand…

The Most Important Thing to Consider When Selling Your House Is … Your Potential Buyers

It’s important to make buying a home a seamless process for potential buyers, according to Robbi.

“You want them to come into the space and feel comfortable and confident, and you want them to feel like, you know, this could be home,” Robbi said.

Aside from aesthetics, your potential buyers will consider the price and convenience of owning your home, so as a seller you want to make sure buyers are confident in your property.

This leads us to the first thing we advise you to do before selling your home…

1. Get A Pre-Listing Home Inspection Before Listing Your Property

Getting a pre-listing home inspection can give your home a clean bill of health when you put it up for sale — and a clean bill of health will give you leverage, even in a competing market.

You want to confidently say to your buyer: “I’m giving you a certified home that’s inspected so we know there are no issues with the HVAC system or roof.”

As realtors, we often recommend buyers get an inspection on a new home they’re interested in so they have an understanding of it structurally and mechanically as well.

If you know your buyer is going to get their own inspection, wouldn’t you want to be sure your home will pass?

As Robbi explained, if there’s a leaking faucet, your potential buyer may take a closer look at other things and scrutinize the entire property.

“And you know, that could make a buyer go and look at other properties, where otherwise, they would have stayed and made an offer,” she said.

For example, Jameel Poteat, a realtor and buyer specialist on our team, saw first-hand what can happen when we take clients to view a home and the sellers did not get a pre-listing inspection.

Jameel’s clients were the first to tour a new home on the market, and they loved it!

However, the clients noticed one thing wrong with the home and it happened to be a deal-breaker for them — they no longer were interested.

If the sellers would have obtained a pre-listing home inspection, they could have fixed the issue before the buyers even knew it existed and sold their home.

The benefits of getting a pre-listing home inspection will easily outweigh the costs.

Once you have the inspection completed, you can move to the next step. Which is…

2. Make Repairs And/Or Upgrades to Your Kitchen, Bathroom, or Roof (That You Can Afford!)

One of the benefits of a pre-listing home inspection is learning what repairs are needed, and determining if there are any upgrades you can do to make the house more attractive to buyers.

We highly recommend making any repairs you can, especially things like the roof – no matter the cost – because you’ll get it back in return.

If you know you need to replace your roof, it’s better to do it before the buyer learns about it from their home inspection report.

If you don’t make repairs you should be prepared for a buyer to ask for a deduction on the home. For example, if it would cost you $50 to fix a leaking faucet and you don’t, a buyer may ask for $1,000 off the home’s listing price.

Is There Anything In The Home Not Worth Fixing Before Selling Your House?

It depends.

We know everyone can’t afford to make all the major repairs their home may need before selling it, so we suggest putting a small fund together and asking your realtor what is the most important thing or things to focus on.

Is It Worth Making Upgrades to Your Home?

Yes, if you can do it!

When it comes to determining what price to sell your home, upgrades can make a significant impact.

According to Robbi, if you want to get a little more for your home than where it’s sitting now, you should invest in the following high-value upgrades that buyer’s love, which include:

  • The kitchen
  • The bathroom
  • The roof

If the spaces have been recently upgraded or you can’t afford to repair anything that’s not required, there are other things you can tweak that will make a difference to potential buyers.

Think about the last time your carpet was replaced. Was it over five years ago? Consider replacing it.

Have pets? You never know what unpleasant smell could linger in the house, and because you’ve lived in your home for so long, you could be immune to it. Ask a friend what they smell when they first walk into your house.

After your home is inspected and you’ve made your necessary repairs and desired upgrades, you’re ready to begin showing your home to potential buyers. Before you do, Robbi highly recommends you…

3. Declutter / Depersonalize Your Home Before Showings

Once you know for sure you want to put your home on the market, you must begin to look at it from the eyes of the buyer, Robbi explained.

In today’s society, the first time your potential buyer may see your home is via pictures from an online listing. You want to allow the person to see themselves in the space, which means you need to have less of YOU in the space, Robbi said.

This means removing family photos and other personal items or painting bright or bold colored rooms and accent walls to neutral tones. Just because you love your red accent all doesn’t mean your potential buyer will.

This can be hard because your home can have sentimental value for several reasons:

  • You lived there for 10-15+years
  • You raised children or grandchildren there
  • You purchased the home single and now you’re selling it to get married
  • You love your first family home but you’ve outgrown it and need a bigger one

Despite all of the reasons you may be attached to your time, it’s time to depersonalize it for potential buyers, especially when it’s time to stage your house for showings.

Do Homes Sell Better Furnished or Unfurnished?

Furnished — every time.

As realtors who also work with buyers, we know they want to be emotionally tied to the house they’re looking to make their new home. Furniture plays a huge role in that.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR)’s 2019 Profile on Home Staging, when staging a home:

  • 83% of buyers’ agents said it made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.
  • 28% of sellers’ agents stated saw staged home on the market for slightly shorter times
  • 22 % of sellers’ agents reported an increase of 1% – 5% of the dollar value offered by buyers, in comparison to similar homes.
  • 17% of respondents stated that staging a home increased the dollar value of the home between 6% and 10%.

Bottom line – furnished homes sell faster and for slightly higher prices than unfurnished homes.

However, there’s a difference between staging a furnished home and keeping everything in your house as-is for showings.

And that’s where Robbi’s role as an interior designer/project manager comes in.

“My job is to quietly and strategically tug at the heartstrings of the potential buyer,” Robbi said.

When staging is well done, you can walk into a room and it has an essence to it. A furnished home goes a long way to making a space feel comfortable.

Contact The Erica Rawls Team – Let Us Help You Sell Your Home Today!

Doing the right things in the right order when you place your house on the market will help you sell your house in the timeframe you need.

Are you preparing to sell your home and need some assistance learning what you should be doing in the process?

Let us help you!

If you’re not sure what things need to be improved in your home, contact The Erica Rawls Team!

Complete our online form or call us at 717.500.2116 today!

To learn more about Robbi’s interior design services visit www.mikainteriordesign.com.

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a Home in 2020

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a Home in 2020

It’s exciting to put a house on the market and to think about making new memories in new spaces, but we can have deep sentimental attachments to the homes we’re leaving behind, too. Growing emotions can help or hinder a sale, depending on how we manage them.

When it comes to the bottom line, homeowners need to know what it takes to avoid costly mistakes. Being mindful of these things and prepared for the process can help you avoid some of the most common mishaps when selling your house.

1. Overpricing Your Home

When inventory is low, like it is in the current market, it’s common to think buyers will pay whatever we ask for when we price our homes. Believe it or not, that’s far from the truth. Don’t forget that the buyer’s bank will send an appraisal to determine the fair value for your home. The bank will not lend more than what the house is worth, so be mindful that you might need to renegotiate the price after the appraisal. A real estate professional will help you to set the true value of your home.

2. Letting Your Emotions Interfere with the Sale

Today, most homeowners have been living in their houses for an average of 10 years (as shown in the graph below):3 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a Home in 2020 | Simplifying The MarketThis is several years longer than what used to be the norm, since many homeowners have been recouping from negative equity situations over the past 10 years. The side effect, however, is when you live for so long in one place, you may get even more emotionally attached to your space. If it’s the first home you bought after you got married or the house where your children grew up, it very likely means something extra special to you. Every room has memories and it’s hard to detach from the sentimental value.

For some homeowners, that makes it even harder to negotiate, separating the emotional value of the home from the fair market price. That’s why you need a real estate professional to help you with the negotiations in the process.

3. Not Staging Your Home

We’re generally quite proud of our décor and how we’ve customized our houses to make them our own personalized homes, but not all buyers will feel the same way about your design. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you stage your home with the buyer in mind. Buyers want to envision themselves in the space, so it truly feels like their own. They need to see themselves in the space with their furniture and keepsakes – not your pictures and decorations. Stage and declutter your home so they can visualize their own dreams as they walk through your house. A real estate professional can help you with tips to get your home ready to stage and sell.

Bottom Line

Today’s seller’s market might be your best chance to make a move. If you’re considering selling your house, let’s get together to help you navigate through the process while avoiding common seller mistakes.

The #1 Reason to Sell Your House in the Winter

The #1 Reason to Sell Your House in the Winter

Many sellers believe spring is the best time to put their homes on the market because buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year. What they don’t realize is if every homeowner believes the same thing, then that’s when they’ll have the most competition.

So, what’s the #1 reason to sell your house in the winter? Less competition.

Housing supply traditionally shrinks at this time of year, so the choices buyers have will be limited. The chart below was created using the months supply of listings from the National Association of Realtors.The #1 Reason to List Your House in the Winter | Simplifying The MarketAs you can see, the ‘sweet spot’ to list your house for the most exposure naturally occurs in the late fall and winter months (November – January). 

Temperatures aren’t the only thing that heats up in the spring – so do listings!The #1 Reason to List Your House in the Winter | Simplifying The MarketIn 2018, the number of homes on the market increased from December to May. Don’t wait for these listings and the competition that comes with them to come to the market before you decide to sell your house.

Added Bonus: Serious Buyers Are Out in the Winter

At this time of year, purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the marketplace. You and your family will not be bothered and inconvenienced by mere ‘lookers.’ The lookers are at the mall or online doing their holiday shopping.

 Bottom Line

If you’ve been debating whether or not to sell your house and are curious about market conditions in your area, let’s get together to determine the best time to place your house on the market.

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall

Below are 5 compelling reasons listing your home for sale this fall makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase…and are in the market right now. More often than not, in many areas of the country, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy the same home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal market. This means that in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers.

Historically, a homeowner would stay an average of six years in his or her home. Since 2011, that number has hovered between nine and ten years. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years due to a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

Many homeowners were reluctant to list their homes over the last couple years, for fear that they would not find a home to move to. That is all changing now as more homes come to market at the higher end. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until additional inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler, as buyers know exactly what they can afford before shopping for a home. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time needed to close a loan is 43 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up. There is currently ample inventory for sale at higher price ranges. This means if you’re planning on selling a starter or trade-up home and moving into your dream home, you’ll be able to do that in the luxury or premium market.

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 5.2% over the next year. If you’re moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to these questions. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Homeownership Will Always Be a Part of the American Dream

Homeownership Will Always Be a Part of the American Dream

On Labor Day we celebrate the hard work that helps us achieve the American Dream.

Growing up, many of us thought about our future lives with great ambition. We drew pictures of what jobs we wanted to have and where we would live as a representation of a secure life for ourselves and our families. Today we celebrate the workers that make this country a place where those dreams can become a reality.

According to Wikipedia,

Labor Day honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the development, growth, endurance, strength, security, prosperity, productivity, laws, sustainability, persistence, structure, and well-being of the country.”

The hard work that happens every day across this country allows so many to achieve the American Dream. The 2019 Aspiring Home Buyers Profile by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says,

“Approximately 75% of non-homeowners believe homeownership is part of their American Dream, while 9 in 10 current homeowners said the same.”

Looking at the number of non-owners, you may wonder, ‘If they believe in homeownership, why haven’t they bought a home yet?’. Well, increasing home prices and low inventory can be part of the reason why some haven’t jumped in, but that does not mean there is a lack of interest. The same report shows the increase in the desire to buy in the last year (as shown in the graph below):Homeownership Will Always Be a Part of the American Dream | Simplifying The MarketAs we can see, there are more and more people each quarter who want to buy a home. The good news is, as more inventory comes to the market, more non-homeowners will be able to fulfill their dreams. Finally, they’ll be able to move into that home they drew when they were little kids!

Bottom Line

If you’re a homeowner considering selling, this fall might be the right time, as there are buyers in the market ready to buy. Let’s get together to determine how you can benefit from the pent-up housing demand.

5 Real Estate Reality TV Myths Explained

5 Real Estate Reality TV Myths Explained

Have you ever been flipping through the channels, only to find yourself glued to the couch in an HGTV binge session? We’ve all been there, watching entire seasons of shows like “Property Brothers,”Fixer Upper,” and “Love It or List It,” all in one sitting.

When you’re in the middle of your real estate-themed TV show marathon, you might start to think everything you see on the screen must be how it works in real life. However, you may need a reality check.

Reality TV Show Myths vs. Real Life:

Myth #1: Buyers look at 3 homes and decide to purchase one of them.
Truth: There may be buyers who fall in love and buy the first home they see, but according to the National Association of Realtors, the average homebuyer tours 10 homes as a part of their search.  

Myth #2: The houses the buyers are touring are still for sale.
Truth: Everything is staged for TV. Many of the homes shown are already sold and are off the market. 

Myth #3: The buyers haven’t made a purchase decision yet.
Truth: Since there is no way to show the entire buying process in a 30-minute show, TV producers often choose buyers who are further along in the process and have already chosen a home to buy. 

Myth #4: If you list your home for sale, it will ALWAYS sell at the open house.
Truth: Of course, this would be great! Open houses are important to guarantee the most exposure to buyers in your area, but they are only one piece of the overall marketing of your home. Keep in mind, many homes are sold during regular showing appointments as well. 

Myth #5: Homeowners decide to sell their homes after a 5-minute conversation.
Truth: Similar to the buyers portrayed on the shows, many of the sellers have already spent hours deliberating the decision to list their homes and move on with their lives and goals.

Bottom Line

Having an experienced professional on your side while navigating the real estate market is the best way to guarantee you can make the home of your dreams a true reality.

The Benefits of Growing Equity in Your Home

The Benefits of Growing Equity in Your Home

Over the last couple of years, we’ve heard quite a bit about rising home prices. Today, expert projections still forecast continued growth, just at a slower pace. One of the often-overlooked benefits of rising home prices is the positive impact they have on home equity. Let’s break down three ways this is a win for homeowners.

1. Move-Up Opportunity

With the rise in prices, homeowners naturally experience an increase in home equity. According to the Homeowner Equity Insights from CoreLogic,

“In the first quarter of 2019, the average homeowner gained approximately $6,400 in equity during the past year.”

This increase in profit means if homeowners decide to sell, they’ll be able to put their equity to work for them as they make plans to move up into their next home.

2. Gain in Seller’s Profit

ATTOM Data Solutions recently released their Q2 2019 Home Sales Report, indicating the seller’s profit jumped at one of the fastest rates since 2015. They said:

“A look at the national numbers showed that U.S. homeowners who sold in the second quarter of 2019 realized an average home price gain since the original purchase of $67,500…the average home seller gain of $67,500 in Q2 2019 represented an average 33.9 percent return as a percentage of the original purchase price.”

Looking at the amount paid when they bought their homes, and then the amount they received after selling, we can see that some homeowners were able to walk away with a significant gain.

3. Out of a Negative Equity Situation

Negative equity occurs when there is a decline in home value, an increase in mortgage debt, or both. Many families experienced these challenges over the last decade. According to the same report from CoreLogic,

“U.S. homeowners with mortgages (roughly 63% of all properties) have seen their equity increase by a total of nearly $485.7 billion since the first quarter 2018, an increase of 5.6%, year over year.

In the first quarter of 2019, the total number of mortgaged residential properties with negative equity decreased…to 2.2 million homes, or 4.1% of all mortgaged properties.”

The good news is, many families have moved beyond a negative equity situation, and no longer owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home.

Bottom Line

If you’re a current homeowner, you may have more equity than you realize. Your equity can open the door to future opportunities, such as moving up to your dream home. Let’s get together to discuss your options and start to put your equity to work for you.

Should I Refinance My Home?

Should I Refinance My Home?

With the recent lower interest rates, many homeowners are wondering if they should refinance.

To decide if refinancing is the best option for your family, start by asking yourself these questions:

Why do you want to refinance?

There are many reasons to refinance, but here are three of the most common ones:

  1. Lower your interest rate and payment – This is the most popular reason. If you have a 5% interest rate or higher, it might be worth seeing if you can take advantage of the current lower interest rates, hovering below 4%, to reduce your monthly payment and overall cost of the loan.
  2. Shorten the term of your loan – If you have a 30-year loan, it may be advantageous to change it to a 15 or 20-year loan to pay off your mortgage sooner.
  3. Cash-out refinance – With home prices increasing, you might have enough equity to cash out and invest in something else, like your children’s education, a vacation home, or a new business.

Once you know why you might want to refinance, ask yourself the next question:

How much is it going to cost?

There are fees and closing costs involved in refinancing, and Lenders Network explains:

“If you were to refinance that loan into a new loan, total closing costs will run between 2%-4% of the loan amount.”

They also explain that there are options for no-cost refinance loans, but be on the lookout:

“A no-cost refinance loan is when the lender pays the closing costs for the borrower. However, you should be aware that the lender makes up this money from other aspects of the mortgage. Usually pay charging a slightly higher interest rate so they can make the money back.”

If you’re comfortable with the costs of refinancing, then ask yourself one more question:

Is it worth it?

To answer this one, we’ll use an example. Let’s assume you have a $200,000 home loan. A 4% refinance cost will be $10,000. If you want to lower your interest rate from 6% to 4%,  then refinancing is going to save you $244 per month. To break even ($10,000/$244), you need to continue owning your home for over 40 months.

Now that you know how the math shakes out, think about how much longer you’d like to own your current home. If you plan to stay for more than 3 years, then maybe it is advantageous for you to refinance.

If, however, your current home does not fulfill your present needs, you might want to consider using your potential refinance costs for a down payment on a new move-up home. You will still get a lower interest rate than the one you have on your current house, and with the equity you’ve already built, you can finally purchase the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line

There are many opportunities for growth in the current real estate market. To find out what’s right for your family, let’s get together to help you understand your options and guide you toward the best decision.

The Impact Staging Your Home Has On Your Sale Price [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Impact Staging Your Home Has On Your Sale Price [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • The National Association of Realtors surveyed their members & released the findings of their Profile of Home Staging.
  • 62% of seller’s agents say that staging a home decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market.
  • 50% of staged homes saw a 1-10% increase in dollar-value offers from buyers.
  • 77% of buyer’s agents said staging made it easier for buyers to visualize the home as their own.
  • The top rooms to stage in order to attract more buyers are the living room, master bedroom, kitchen, and dining room.