Dealing With Animals Or Children When Staging

If you have decided to put your home for sale on the market, you will have to consider all types of buyers; those who love pets and those who don’t. There can be many reasons behind that thinking so there is no need to be judgmental.

Before putting a house for sale in which pets have lived with the owners, you are going to need to do a lot of retouching and cleaning. You should move your pets temporarily to some other home, until till you get a new home for yourself.

Animal or Children Damage and Solutions

Children and animals damage things, there’s no denying that. There has to be a way to fix up the damages, remove the pets from site temporarily, and make the house look as if it had never been lived in by animals or small children. Here are some solutions to help you clean up the “mess” and make your visitors comfortable with the place.

  • Stains on the Floor – If you have carpeted floors, the stains might be difficult to remove. You can seek professional help when it comes to cleaning or washing the carpets, not just to remove stains but also to make them appear clean.

Wooden floors are susceptible to pet scratches and scratches made with toys by children. Consider refinishing if that’s the case in order to make the floor look new and almost unused.

  • Pet Odors and Smells – This is one thing most home buyers would definitely not want in their new home. Living in a house with pets makes you immune to the smell, but when an outsider pays a visit, they can instantly whiff pet smells in the house.

Use some professional solution to make these odors go away but don’t use air fresheners. These only provide a temporary solution.

  • Signs of a Pet – You don’t want your visitors to sense that a pet has been living in the house. Remove serving bowls, pet toys, pet beds, litter boxes and other things that belong to your pets to give a good first impression. Make sure you remove all pet things from all rooms. Don’t put up photos of your pets.

When it comes to kids, decluttering is one thing that helps achieve a big part of their clean-up. It is recommended to start at least a week earlier than the date you want to put the house on the market. Some sellers with kids allow at least a two-hour notice period for showing. This is to clean the house, clear the clutter, and remove or hide any freshly-made stains or scratches.

If there aren’t any hidden cabinets in your home where you can dump the entire clutter if somebody wants to see your home in ten minutes, be prepared to use the car trunk to throw the debris and clean up the place quickly.

Pay special attention to kids’ bedroom when decluttering your entire house. Organize the cupboards, pack away off-the-season clothes, put away some unused or broken toys, and get rid of gear that is no longer needed.

When you are done staging, take excellent photos of the kids’ bedroom as well as the lawn or front yard, to put them with an ad. Repainting is another important step when you decide to sell off your home that has been lived in by small children. If the walls are dirty, nobody would be interested in buying your home.

If you have older kids at home, get them involved with the staging process and tell them just how great it would be to move into a new home. Ask them to clean up their own room, and provide them with boxes or cartons to store away things they don’t need.

While kids at home can pose serious threat to your staging efforts, they can also become an inspiration for some people. For example, if you have a children’s playroom or toys room in the house, you can de-clutter it and make it neat and clean to show it off to the visitors.

Similarly, children’s study area can be an attractive thing for some buyers who have kids of their own and who would like to buy a place that is child-friendly.

Negotiating Without An Agent

Tips

There are some successful negotiating strategies you must always follow to win the game.

If you are poor at asking what you want, it is much less likely that you will get it. It is also important that you save as much as possible in the process. Smart negotiation always follows a strategy.

First, ascertain the outcome of a given negotiation. If it is not going to be profitable for you, give up the negotiation. If you remain focused on your objectives, you can deal effectively even with tough people.

While selling your home, you need to go by strong research, analysis, and clarification.

Just because you want to make more money, it is not right to price it too high for the given neighborhood or the economy.

If your home is already appraised, you are in a comfortable position to fix the price. This will have given you concrete figures with evidence to project to the buyers.

Make your expectations realistic in tune with the market trends. Remain open and flexible. You cannot expect to get everything you want during negotiation. Honestly accept any flaws the buyer might point out in the property.

You can, in fact, make it clear to the buyer that he is free to inspect any perceived defect or damage at his own cost. If the concerns regarding the flaws escalate, then come forward to lower your asking price to provide for the costs of repairs.

Never react personally to low offers. This will project you as a weak negotiator. Look into the buyer’s motivation and understand it thoroughly to be able to respond appropriately. Even if you have to reject the offer, you might have some valuable inputs to learn from it.

You can always take advantage of the possibility to make a counteroffer that you deem right. You may also explore ways to counterbalance the low offers. Maybe you can make the buyer agree to pay the closing costs. If the home selling takes longer, then you have to drag the process out unnecessarily and keep paying the mortgages.

Take into account the best setting to make the negotiation, how to put forth your case in the most powerful way, who you are negotiating with, the time frame you have to work with, and other factors while embarking on a negotiation. It is also good to have an alternative deal in the background while you negotiate with a given party.

In such cases, you will be wiser to stay out of the deal if it has to break. If the alternative seems bad, then you still have chances to go back to the earlier one if you deem it necessary.

Mentally prepare yourself to do the negotiation as effectively as possible. Be tough and professional at the same time. Never be emotional or subjective in reacting to the responses. Be focused, calm, and relaxed so that you have total control of the situation.

Negotiation is highly tricky. If you learn this art, you can succeed. Still, it is worth doing it through an agent as they are adept in this art, having handled several similar situations.

The Biggest Negotiation Mistakes

Negotiating is not a skill that comes naturally to an individual. It is a cultivated art learned after a long and sustained period working with the market and people.

If you are doing the sale of your home yourself, you might end up making some grave mistakes in negotiation that might ruin the deal or turn it into a bad one for you. Therefore, you must beware of the mistakes you are prone to make in the process.

Lacking confidence in negotiating can ruin the deal. Tenacity and preparation are at the base of a good negotiation. Identify the mutually beneficial terms and expected objections.

Project the deal confidently with a stance that appears less defensive to the buyer.

Never assume that something can be non-negotiable. You will come across oceanic opportunities if you decide that the terms of anything can be changed to become favorable. Powerful negotiations can help break the rules. By projecting an ethical and mutually acceptable solution, you can win the buyers.

Never enter into negotiation without building a relationship and trust first.

Be slow, get to know people and their motives, and gather the useful points by interacting with them so that you can use the inputs positively in your favor during negotiation.

Never fear rejection and the possibility of looking too greedy. You need to substantiate your expectation with a viable argument justifying it. If your offer is rejected, do not take it personally, since it does not mean you are rejected.

It is found that on average, people say “no” three times before they say the first “yes.” Therefore, never be put down when you hear “no” for the first time.

Do not talk more than necessary during negotiation. Often, silence can play a bigger role in negotiation than talking too much.

You can significantly increase the possibility of selling your home or getting some concessions in your favor if you can make effective use of silence, though it might look awkward at times.

Moving Tips

Moving is one of the most stressful and tiring things anyone can ever go through.

Whether the move is across cities or within the same locality, it always necessitates careful planning. From sorting to packing, labeling, unpacking and arranging all your stuff in your new home.

This usually calls for additional hands to help with the tasks that need to be done. And this help always comes at a cost.

Unfortunately, it is something that we have to go through at some point in our life. It is a necessity that can hardly be avoided or ignored.

Luckily, the stress can be minimized and the possible problems avoided with a bit of help and resources.

As with most tasks, organization and careful planning is key to moving. A checklist will help you remain organized with the tasks of sorting, labeling and packing your things.

Preparing your Checklist

Moving your entire home means that you need to prepare at least two checklists. The first is a checklist of all the stuff you will be bringing with you. They should be grouped according to the room they belong in.

Aside from indicating the room where each item belongs, it would be a great idea to number the boxes. This way, you can indicate on your checklist where each item is packed. It will make it easier to sort and identify your things while moving.

Another checklist that you need to prepare is a list of all the tasks that you need to do – packing, labeling, etc.

No task is too small for your checklist; it pays to be prepared.

To help you better with this list, here’s a comprehensive sample that you can refer to. You should divide it into segments of time to keep you organized.

A Month before the Big Move

  • Ask friends and relatives for referrals to moving companies and inquire about their services, procedures, and policies.

Get at least three quotations from different companies so that you can compare their services and be able to choose the best one that suits your needs and budget.

  • Go through all your stuff and identify the things that you will keep and those that you will dispose of. Remember, less is more.

If you no longer use it, give it away or sell it. This will make packing easier and quicker for you.

  • Keep a file of all your moving documents such as contracts, invoices, bills, etc.

This file should be readily available once you need them.

  • Inform your utilities company of your moving date so they can disconnect services (for your phone, water, electricity, cable, internet, etc.) on the date after your move.
  • Also, schedule an activation or transfer of these same services to your new address so that you already have them in place once you move in.

Three Weeks before the Big Move

  • Bring out the boxes and start packing the items you will not be using in the coming weeks.

Be sure to label the boxes with the room the items belong to. This will make unpacking systematic.

  • Make a list of the items that go in each box.

If you’re too lazy to do this, you can also take pictures so you’ll know where to find each item.

  • Decide on whether you’re going to hire a moving company to help you or if you decide to DIY.

If hiring, now is a good time to finalize the details of your big move with them.

  • Enlist the help of family and friends.

Let them know when they can come and help you with packing, or with unpacking.

  • Update all personal documents that include your address.

Notify your employer, banks and insurance companies of your change in address.

Two Weeks before the Big Move

  • Clean up every room once you’ve packed all the items in it.
  • Disassemble furniture that you will not be using in the following days and pack them away.
  • Set aside all items that you will not be needing and schedule for a pick up by the local Salvation Army or any organization you decide to donate them to.

If you are planning on a garage sale, now is the perfect time to do that.

  • File your leave from work for the days that you will be concentrating on the move.
  • Prepare a suitcase of things that you will need on the day of your big move – towels, toiletries, clean clothes, etc.
  • Check the new place you will be moving in to and make sure everything is ready for moving day.

Clean up all the clutter, check if the switches are working and if electricity is already available. Or, have someone do all of these for you.

  • Throw away all unneeded and unusable items, especially flammable stuff, like left-over paint, spray cans, propane, etc.
  • Call up your relatives and friends who enlisted to help with the packing and moving and inform them of your schedule.

One Week before the Big Move

  • If hiring one, make a last call to your moving company to confirm details such as time of arrival and pick up, etc.
  • Draw up a time-table for moving day – time to start loading your boxes, where/when to stop for lunch, estimated time of arrival at the new place.

This will give you a sense of what to expect and prepare for on the day itself.

  • With the help of volunteer family and friends, finish packing all your things, leaving behind only the essential items that you will be using every day.
  • Make sure that all your boxes are properly packed and numbered, color-coded by room if possible.

This will help you in the unpacking process. Make sure there are labels on the top and sides of the boxes.

  • Prepare a snack bag for moving day.

Make sure to bring lots of water and high energy food to sustain your strength while moving.

  • Have your check lists and pens ready with you in your bag.
  • Clean up your refrigerator, stove and other kitchen appliances.

Make sure most if not all the food in the fridge will be consumed by moving day.

  • Make sure all your items for donation/giving away are picked up or delivered to their new owners.
  • Check if all utilities are already working properly in your new home.
  • Prepare several pieces of post-it notes with your new address and your contact numbers to be given to your movers, or to your entourage on moving day.

On The Day of the Big Move

  • Pack away your beddings and disassemble all the beds in your home.
  • Have a last-minute meeting with your movers, if hiring one, and make sure they know how you want things to be done. Inform them of the box labels, where each box must go, how they should be loaded, etc.

Make sure all your items are loaded and nothing gets left behind.

  • Distribute your post-its with your contact numbers and the new address to every driver in the moving group.
  • Double check every room in the house before leaving, making sure that nothing is left.
  • Turn off all light switches, lock all windows and doors.
  • Make sure you arrive at your new home before the movers/entourage.
  • Inspect your new home, making sure all utilities are in working condition.
  • Clean up your new home while it is still empty of your stuff. Open windows and cabinet doors to let fresh air in.
  • Direct your movers with the unloading of your boxes, show them where each box must go.
  • Finally, unpack what you need for the rest of the day and set up your beds and beddings while you have help. 

Choosing and Hiring a Mover

The checklist above is as thorough as it gets, with the weekly tasks to tick off as you go along the way.

However, a big factor to consider is whether or not to hire a mover. Movers are a big help with all the items you need to pack, load and transport over a long distance.

If you have a lot of stuff to bring with you, hiring a moving company will definitely be the practical choice.

The big deal is choosing the right moving company to work with you. Here are some things to consider when hiring movers:

  1. Ask around for movers that friends and relatives will recommend based on experience.

Have at least three companies to compare services and reviews from before making your final choice.

  1. Choose local. Oftentimes, local companies are the better choice in terms of budget and availability.
  2. Ask for an in-house cost estimate.

Let them see your belongings and inform them of the distance to your new home so they can quote you an estimate.

  1. Look at the fine print.

Check their cost estimate for hidden charges, insurance coverage, payment terms, policy on damage to items, etc.

Compare these with the other movers you are considering and base your decision on your comparisons.

When making your final choice for a mover to hire, keep in mind that getting the cheapest mover doesn’t always guarantee that you’ll save on money.

Cheap could mean mediocre service, and that may incur unwanted problems along the way. Choose wisely and take all the above-mentioned factors into consideration.

Renting a U-Haul Instead

A U-Haul is a truck that you can rent to load your things when moving to a different location.

Unlike movers, you do the packing, loading and driving yourself. This may be a great way to save on moving cost, but only if you have a manageable amount of stuff to bring with you.

You can call on your friends for help in packing and loading your things into this rented truck. This will make it easier to do the moving without professional help.

To get the best U-Haul deal and pull off a successful and uneventful move, these are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Time your move.

Mid-month and mid-week are the best days to get a good price, since most movers say the weekends and month-ends are the busiest time for them.

  1. Look for cheap boxes to use in packing.

Used and recycled boxes are cheaper and you can resell them once you’re done unpacking.

  1. Start packing a long time off.

Don’t do a last minute stunt.

Plan months ahead which items you will bring and which ones to give away or donate.

  1. Organize a moving team.

You’ll need all the help you can get, from packing, to labeling, to unpacking, and sorting your stuff.

You won’t be able to do it all on your own, so might as well ask for help early on.

  1. Time your departure from your old place. Make sure you will be able to stop and rest when needed at convenient times and places. You want to be able to get to your new house while there is still light outside for ease in unloading.

If you do decide to do the move with a U-Haul, make a specific time table. Include all the things that you would be doing in preparation for your move.

If you will be proceeding without professional help, you may even want to ask for advice from people you know.

Their moving experience will provide you with tips on what to avoid and areas of preparation you may have overlooked.

Whether you make your big move with professional help, family and friends or by yourself, preparation and organization is key.

You may ask for all the help you can get and hire the best movers. But, without your personal involvement in planning and organizing, you will not be able to keep track of everything that needs to be monitored and prepared.

Promoting & Advertising Your Home Online

Way back in chapter one of this book, we spent some time talking about how to market your listings online, giving you an overview of how to use websites, video and social media to drive people from their couches to the driveway of a seller’s home.

Especially as this is the most effective way to get people to visit your listings in the real world (remember, NAR says 90% of buyers reported using the internet at least once during their search), we will now spend more time focusing on the online side of home marketing, going in depth on how to not only display the home but engage with your sellers and potential buyers.

Online ads

MLS listings are still the go-to source of information for a home.  They create a central hub for everything such as basic stats (how many bedrooms, square footage, yard size) to features such as underground sprinkling systems, out buildings, and workshops.

You can (and should) add a number of photos and even videos to your listing, making sure to effectively use as many different kinds of media as possible on a given site.

However, it is not simply enough to put the information on the site and hope that people will be interested based on mere data.

There is simply too much competition out there, especially these days where third-party aggregators like Zillow and Homes.com draw from all of the MLS data available, regardless of which realty agency they are from.  So you not only have to compete directly with your co-workers for attention, you are literally competing with every realtor in your area.  So, how do you get your listing to stand out?

Customize – First and foremost, if your agency website or local MLS sites allow you the ability to customize your listing page, take advantage of that to choose colors, themes and fonts that will give the page a warm and inviting appearance.

Using those choices consistently across your listings will also contribute to building a recognizable brand for your business. This can be used to highlight the basic data like bedrooms, bathrooms and square footage that buyers will very much be looking for.

These aren’t necessarily the things that will sell the home, but they will get it looked at in the first place.

Features – If the home has a feature that people may be interested in it should be included in the description. So make sure to talk about the smooth-top range, double ovens and sprinkler system.

Even seemingly mundane items like central air conditioning and French doors can be important.

Copywriting – Once upon a time, you could get away with simply putting all that information in a single paragraph description without hardly a single adjective.

Now, because of that competition I mentioned earlier, competition that was really tough a few years ago during the housing crisis, it is important that even the descriptions be warm and engaging. So no descriptions like this:

Three bedroom ranch for sale with two bathrooms. Two car garage. Nice lot in a quiet neighborhood. Home features central air, spa tub, and lots of shade.

Sure, there is a lot of information in a small space, but it doesn’t really say “Here is your new home! The search is over!” now does it?  Use your imagination a bit and try something more along the lines of this:

This three bed, two bath ranch has plenty to offer the first-time home buyer. With a well-appointed kitchen and an open concept design, you’ll be able to prepare meals while still interacting with friends and family. 

The garage is roomy, giving you plenty of space for both vehicles and room to walk around them and store bikes for leisurely rides on the nearby bike paths.

Tired at the end of the day? Retreat to the master bathroom and relax with a class of wine in the spa tub or sit outside in the private backyard or the inviting open front porch to talk to the neighbors.  Either way, you will find plenty of shade from the hot sun.

On days that are just too hot and humid to be outside at all, you can stay indoors where the central air system will keep you cool all year round.

Now that sounds a bit more inviting doesn’t it?

The example doesn’t contain much more actual information but it is presented in a way that treats the reader like a person, aiming to draw them in not only to the description but the home itself.

If you don’t have the necessary skill for this, consider hiring a freelance copy writer to craft your listings. There are many out there and are usually fairly low-cost.

Photos – If you don’t have any photos for your listing, it will be a red flag and most buyers will not even look at it.

The same if there are only one or two photos of the outside of the home. It tells buyers that there is either nothing worth seeing on the inside or that the realtor is trying to hide something.

Before you take your photos, make sure that your seller has done the necessary prep work of clearing out clutter and that any remodeling work done to support the sale has already been completed.

Those photos form the first impression for buyers and they will not be happy if what they see when they walk through the front door is different from what they saw on the listing.

Make sure you are taking good photos as well. Have a quality digital camera with a decent flash so you can take good pictures of a poorly-lit basement.

Try for a day with little cloud cover so you can take advantage of as much natural light as possible. Use wide angles for the most part so you can show context to the room.

Nothing is worse for a buyer than to be browsing a listing and find a bunch of close-ups of random corners and closets. Unless that closet is one of the best designed on the planet, don’t post a picture of it.

Focus on the features everyone talks about – the kitchen and the bathroom. If there is a well-done fireplace, capture that as well.  Give some shots from outside to show off the home’s curb appeal.

And don’t be afraid to work with the seller to improve that as well if necessary. It is amazing what a few plants near the front door and stake lights along a walk way can do to improve the look of a home.

Also, in the same slide show that you will create for the photos, include a floor plan of the home.

This will allow the buyer to really envision what the home looks like buy combining that plan with the photos.

Video – Video (or virtual) tours of homes have become a growing trend recently. And why shouldn’t they?

Realtors, like everyone else, are constantly working to improve their game and once most had gotten a handle on how to do photos the right way, video was the next logical step.

They have also never been easier to produce in terms of software for editing and processing and the equipment needed to shoot the video.

You’ll want to take the prospective buyer on a tour through the home, showing off the best features and highlighting how they can help make the house a home.

Feel free to get into the details a bit, talking about things like the mechanicals of the home (if they are newer and well-serviced) as well as extra touches like designer handles and pulls.

There are a couple of different ways to approach video production. One is to simply make it a slideshow with artful transitions set to music or a voiceover.

This is definitely the easiest to do but also adds the least amount of value to the listing. After all, if all you are doing is repackaging the existing photos and reciting the description there is nothing new there and the buyer will likely notice the lack of effort.

By taking a video camera around and talking through the tour, pointing out things as you go, you invite the buyer into the home and allow them to hear your voice.

If you also get in front of the camera and allow them to see your face, it will go a long way to building a rapport with the buyer and they will feel like they know you and the home before even meeting.

To facilitate that bond, add in some personal touches. How do the home’s features relate to your own hobbies and interests?

Obviously, if you love cooking, then talking about that in the kitchen is a good way to build that connection. Or if the backyard is clear of trees and the home is in the country, why not talk about how that is perfect for stargazing?

Get the buyer thinking out of the box about the home’s possibilities.

Finally, concerning those third-party aggregators we mentioned earlier, they aren’t going away. So you might as well accept the fact and learn to work with them.

You can do this by actively promoting your listings through those sites. Naturally, this isn’t free but given how often buyers are going to sites like Trulia before contacting an agent, it will be worth it to help get your listing to the top of the search pile.

Facebook

Social media makes up a significant portion of the time people spend on the internet, especially for mobile devices. In fact, if you factor social media and video streaming sites into things, then mobile devices actually account for most of the time we spend on the internet.

As a realtor, you can make use of that fact and get your listings moving faster than ever.

Listings – Naturally, you will be posting your listings here.   But be creative with it.  Just posting a link back to your MLS listing is far too cold and business-like for the personal nature of Facebook.

Post a picture of the sun room, mentioning how great it would be to relax there on a Saturday morning with a cup of coffee and a book.  Or in the evening with a beer.

You can also change your cover photo to reflect your latest listing, or even the latest sale.

By posting your listing here, your Facebook friends will see it and possibly view and share it, extending your market penetration into areas where it might not reach otherwise.

Photos – Just as with the MLS listing, you should be making use of lots of photos here.

Personal touch – Share little bits about yourself. You can let people know that you are going on vacation or offer your view of the current housing market.

Tips – This is a great way to offer advice to all of your clients.  Give tips on what sort of remodeling projects a seller should consider and how to get them done. Include links to helpful articles and even local businesses that can help do the work.

Give thanks – When it comes to those businesses that you regularly do business with, or would like to, offering a “thank you” for a job well done and a link back to their website can go a long way to building a rapport that you and your clients will benefit from.

The neighborhood – While you should certainly extol the virtues of the area you work in the listing, especially the specific neighborhood a giving listing is in, Facebook is a great way to help your prospective buyers learn more about where they might be living in the near future.

Include posts about local attractions and events, both entertainment and charity centered. Include links to the relevant websites to help people get more information.

Share when a school is being built or a new restaurant is open or when any local institution or business receives an award or appears in the local paper.

Local customs – What makes your area unique? Is there a quirky holiday tradition that only happens where you live?  Share it and draw people in with the unique charm and character of your region.  This is also a good way to share local history, making it easier for a buyer to see himself putting down roots there.

Contests – Put up a picture of an amazing looking home, or maybe one that isn’t the best and ask your followers to come up with a caption.

The best one gets a gift card to the local hardware store or carpet cleaning service. This provides a service to your clients buy pointing them to reputable local businesses and helps ensure quality service when your clients go there mentioning your name.

Happy clients – Always post pictures (with consent of course) of your happy clients getting ready to move into their new homes or of clients starting the next chapter of their lives next to a “SOLD” sign.

Interact – Don’t just post and run!

Pay attention to the comments people are making and respond where appropriate, showing that you actually care about what your customers think and are willing to treat them like people, not just a commission.

You can also post questions. “What is your favorite exterior color?” “How many are going to the blueberry festival?”

Questions like these allow your followers to offer constructive input. You can even ask what sort of tips they would like you to post next. And always, always respond to comments.

Email

After all that talk about social media and crafting virtual tours, it may seem a little anachronistic to suddenly move into talking about email. However, this is still a very good marketing tool and can result in many an unexpected sale.

Email is a simple way to share listings with people who are either current clients or past clients who for whatever reason did not in the end buy a home at that time.

You can even reach people who have never been clients by having a sign-up sheet at open houses. Many people who go to an open house are only there casually, checking out what is available on the market, while not necessarily intending to enter it anytime soon.

By sending out listings via email, you keep these clients and potential clients engaged and thinking about buying a home, and buying it through you.

While this technique may not convert to many sales, it can provide an unexpected surprise when you are contacted by a buyer you haven’t heard from in years in response to a listing you sent them the day before.

Things to think about when sending listings via email:

  • Keep the copy personal and engaging.
  • Use the best photos for each listing.
  • You’ll only be able to use one or two.
  • Include the basic stats.
  • Link to the listing site.
  • Include links to your site and Facebook page in the signature.

Other Online Methods

There are many other ways that you can engage your clients online.

Social Media: Twitter, Pinterest, Periscope, and Instagram are all different ways that you can expand your market reach and interact with clients.

Use the same principles as for Facebook but adapt them to the individual format. For example, Twitter’s 140-character limit is perfect for asking your clients questions or thanking someone for a job well done.

Blogs: With a blog, you can write more extensively about your listing and also events in your neighborhood, allowing you to really get into the history and character of your region.

Link your posts to your social accounts so that more people will be able to find them.

YouTube: There is no reason not to set up a YouTube channel for your business. It is completely free and has the potential to place your listings in front of millions of potential clients.

Use it to host all of your virtual tours, as well as videos in which you offer insights and tips, trips to the local fair and whatever else will both relate to your business and allow you to engage people.

Why People Sell FSBO

The advancement of technology constantly boosts the market economy and improves our standard of life. However, with an increasingly flexible job market, we are often required to move in order to grow personally and/or continue to develop our professional careers.

All too often, this also means that while we are preparing for this big change in our lives, we also need to sell our homes.

We all know that owning a home is much better and financially wiser than renting. However, when it comes to moving, selling a house might not always be as easy as it seems. While some people consider the convenience and easiness of selling through a realtor the absolute best way to go, others decide that the extra thousands of dollars obtained by selling their house on their own is well worth the time, effort, and trouble that FSBO might imply.

As one may expect, the complex house selling market has its own tips and tricks that people need to respect in order to make the most out of their sale. Let’s see what makes people sell FSBO, as well as the pros and cons of this highly debated practice.

#1 – Why Do People Choose to Sell by Themselves?

FSBO, or “For Sale by Owner,” happens when homeowners decide to put their house on the market and advertise it without the help and support of a professional real estate agent.

FSBO implies that the owner must know how to professionally market, show the property, negotiate an advantageous selling price for the house, and (of course) manage to get all the necessary paperwork completed for the eventual home sale.

That last aspect usually includes finding an attorney to draft the necessary sale contract, as well as a title company to support and help complete the sale.

All these aspects can turn out to be pretty challenging for someone who is not duly and fully prepared to take on this challenging task.

It is also highly important to do extensive market research on the matter in order to avoid unwanted surprises. Based on reports, quite a number of people who start confidently with FSBO end up losing the sale or hiring a realtor.

So, if you are determined to sell your home on your own, make sure you have the energy as well as the necessary time to perform all these tasks before starting on the road to FSBO.

The number one reason why people to decide to sell their homes without a realtor is to save money.

That comes first and foremost because a real estate agent usually charges about 4% to 6% of the selling value as commission.

With that, the real estate agent also brings vast experience and a wealth of market-specific knowledge that the seller can truly benefit from. They also usually help owners set a fair, realistic market price for their house. That is an important aspect in order to manage to sell the property successfully in a reasonable amount of time.

The National Association of Realtors and Bankrate.com have reported on their sites that most FSBO homes are overpriced. That is true and is usually a natural effect of people knowing the actual cost of their property and the value of their hard built equity, all combined with a desire to draw some profit out of the sale. Sadly, overpriced properties are far less likely to be sold and far more probable to scare off potential buyers.

While the correct pricing aspect can be quite easily bypassed with some solid real estate and community sales market research, the following negotiating part cannot.

It is a known fact that a lot of owners who lack professional presentation skills and/or developed negotiation skills end up selling their houses at far lower prices than their home is actually worth.

Per statistics, a professional real estate agent manages to sell homes at an average price that ranges about $27,000 more than the prices that private homeowners settle for.

So, considering all these aspects, saving 4-6% of your house value in commission can be lovely and tempting at first glance, but is it really worth it considering the percentage you might lose on the final selling price?

If you lack negotiating skills and you don’t know anything about the real estate housing market, hiring a high-performing professional real estate agent might be a small price to pay. You’ll also get a fast, sweet deal on your property and get the matter solved with a nice, round profit – based, of course, on what the market can offer.

You get to work at your own pace, give the house a personal touch, and make all the decisions.

Some of the other aspects that frequently encourage homeowners to go the FSBO route is the privacy, knowledge, and decision-making aspects of a sale.

It is clear that the owner knows their house best, making it easy for them to focus on the good aspects of the house and stay away from the bad.

With this, however, comes the challenging part of cleaning and preparing the house for a viewing. Cleaning and preparing means that the house needs to be cleaned inside out, emptied of personal objects and unnecessary pieces of furniture in order to make the house look as cozy and comfortable as possible while neutral at the same time. The seller must not only be able to present the house in an appealing, professional way, but also help the buyer imagine himself living there, all while negotiating the best price.

FSBO does indeed enable the owner to make all the decisions without having them all brokered by an agent. That brings a definite plus as far as individual privacy goes, considering that the owner can schedule all viewings according to their own possibilities.

The final price negotiation will also take place between you and the buyer without an extra person in between. That sounds nice. However, making all the decisions and negotiating the final price yourself also holds a huge amount of responsibility. This is particularly hard to bear for those with no real estate experience and/or no extensive house market pricing knowledge, especially if they end up agreeing to sell their house under the listed market value.

#2 – The Unexpected Cons of FSBO

The debate over real estate agent vs. FSBO sales has been getting more and more heated over the past several years. However, even if the necessity and the roles of real estate agents have been seriously questioned, they remain America’s favorite way to sell and buy homes.

As per statistics, approximately 80% of American home sales are currently brokered by professional real estate agents. Numbers don’t lie.

So, let’s review some of the cons of FSBO in the attempt to further understand why so many people choose professional support when it comes to selling their homes.

Selling the property as FSBO takes longer than usual and requires extensive time and effort from the owner.

FSBO is not an easy task. On the contrary, it requires special knowledge, hard work, time, skill, and dedication to make it happen. Cleaning and preparing the house for showing can be a challenge in itself without professional help and counseling.

A home that has not been properly cleaned and prepared for selling will probably give the buyer the idea that the owner must have slacked in maintenance matters and thus leads to a decrease of the final selling price.

The owner must also consider that real estate agents present and sell homes as a full-time job and, therefore, be prepared to allocate a considerable amount of time to this aspect when choosing to put his/her house on the market without professional help and support. It is also a common fact that houses take considerably longer to sell through FSBO.

So, at the end of the day, when choosing between FSBO and a real estate agent, one has to wonder how much effort they are ready to invest in this aspect and how much their time is worth.

FSBO listing enjoys better support nowadays, but is still a far cry from the real estate agent pool.

FSBO listing now enjoys far better online support than it did a few years ago. There are several networks that support FSBO properties and their owners. These networks offer nationwide listing services and marketing tools, all at low or flat rate prices. However, they are still hard to compare to the large pools that real estate agents usually tap into.

All these aspects cause the house to take a longer average time to sell and thus cause further inconvenience to the owner.

FSBOs are usually overpriced, but still end up selling below market price.

Very few of the owners who opt for FSBO have extensive knowledge of the housing market or honed skills in the real estate trade. That and the emotional factor, combined with a natural want to draw profit out of the sale, causes owners to overprice their homes. Overpricing usually scares off potential buyers, leaving the house on the market for a longer period (which can be a real disadvantage to those who want a fast sale or actually need the money).

When these houses actually get interested customers, the owner might end up negotiating and accepting a lower price than a real estate agent would either because they are in a hurry or because they have an untrained negotiating muscle.

Overpricing and accepting final selling prices below the real market value of the property are two of the most common mistakes people make when selling FSBO.

Many buyers don’t trust FSBO and prefer to work with a real estate agent.

There is also the matter of trust involved. For fear of getting scammed or out of a desire to undergo a smooth bureaucratic sale process, buyers usually prefer to work with real estate agents.

The professionalism and experience of a high-performance realtor inspires confidence in buyers that the process can bypass paperwork effortlessly, which clearly puts FSBO at a disadvantage, no matter how you look at it. As we all understand, it is a buyers’ world out there, after all.

As a conclusion, FSBO might be a great strategy only for good negotiators who have great real estate trading skills, are not in a hurry, and are willing to dedicate a considerable amount of time and work to the process. The FSBO represents a huge responsibility for the owner, as it puts all decisions on his or her shoulders.

However, if you feel up for the challenge and are in search of a new adventurous experience, selling your own house is definitely the way to go.

On the other hand, it is strongly recommended for you to opt for a real estate agent if you find yourself busy, have no time to put in the required research, or cannot afford to take the required time

The same applies if you find it difficult to input the effort to prepare the house for showing, think with dread about the numerous home presentations, or are simply not confident in your negotiating skills.

While some might not have the necessary skills to handle negotiating or the hassle of the paperwork, others might simply value their time enough to choose a real estate agent and the benefits that come with this choice. Whatever you choose, make sure you take the time and consider all details and possibilities.

Your house is your life investment. Selling it is a big decision. Make it count!

The Guide Of Real Estate Agents For Home Buyers

It’s extremely important to know the ins and outs of real estate agents before you bring one along with you to help in your search for a home, just so you may know what to expect, and what will be expected of you.

Who a Real Estate Agent Is

You probably already know who a real estate agent is, but do you know exactly what they do?

In short, a real estate agent is someone who is licensed to list and sell real estate, implying homes, properties, etc. A Realtor, however, is somewhat different.

A realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors. Therefore, while a Realtor is always a real estate agent, a real estate agent isn’t always a Realtor.

How to Choose the Best Real Estate Agent for Your Needs

You may feel the urge to pick the first real estate agent who strikes you, but that’s something one should never do.

The “Wow Factor” will simply wear off within a few minutes, even seconds. So when it comes to getting down to business, you need to know how to pick the best real estate agent for your needs.

Look for Proper Credentials

Would you trust a doctor who does not have credentials, or one that hides them?

Probably not. So, why trust a real estate agent who does not present theirs, or doesn’t have them at all?

It’s easy to find real estate agents who can get the job done, but finding agents with special credentials, those who have gone that extra step to take additional classes in certain specialties of real estate sales, is hard.

Here are just a few credentials within real estate that you should be on the lookout for:

  • Accredited Buyer’s Representative, or ABR – Completed additional education during representation of a buyer in his/her transactions.
  • Certified Residential Specialist, or CRS – Completed additional training during the handling of residential real estate, such as houses and apartments.
  • Seniors Real Estate Specialist, or SRES – Completed training during the purpose of helping sellers and buyers who are 50-years or more.

Similarly, if you stumble upon a real estate agent who is also a member of the NAR, the National Association of Realtors, it will be a bonus. However, make sure that they have at least one or two credentials that are relevant to your need(s).

Research their Licensing

Would you go to a doctor who does not have a proper medical training?

No, you would not. So, why go to an agent who does not have a proper licensing?

Your state will have a license board for all active real estate agents and realtors, which you can easily access.

You will also be able to see their information, disciplinary actions, complaints, or any other information that you will need to help influence your decision, especially since most of the information is posted online.

Try and Track Down Some of their Recent Clients

Ask the agent to give you a list of all the sales they have made in the past year, and a couple of phone numbers for references.

A good agent will do so, while a bad agent will give you excuses and essentially shoot the request down.

Ask the agent, before you call any of the numbers listed, whether or not the owners were pleased or disappointed with him/her. If the agent beats around the bush or does not give you a full answer, that tells you all you need to know.

Otherwise, call the numbers and inquire from them what the asking price as well as the final sales price were.

It would also be a good idea to ask their previous clients about the properties they sold, if you are a seller.

This way, you can figure out the closeness in similarities between the properties that the agent sold and yours.

After all, you will most definitely want an agent who specializes within the area of what you are selling.

Give Them the “What Else” Test

A good agent will know about all of the other properties that are for sale in the area. Also, a good agent always does his or her research regarding the events in the current market, and those that are out there for the taking.

In short, you want an agent who is an expert of the current market, and also someone who always stays on top of things.

Get Yourself a Winner

Real estate agents and realtors are typically given awards based on how they do their jobs.

For example, if you are thinking of selecting an agent who received the “Realtor of the Year” award through a local branch, or through the NAR, then you’ve made the right choice.

Typically, these awards are given to the realtor or real estate agent who has made the most sales and commissions during a particular year.

Therefore, you can trust how dedicated and serious they say they are because they have an award to prove it.

Research their Business Activity

Learning the type of market presence that a real estate agent has is the best way to figure them out.

Ideally, you’re going to want an agent who has been in the business for at least 5 years, specializes in one or two real estate markets , and one who understands a particular price range.

You can unearth this information by asking them, or by asking the state licensing authority if you’re not comfortable with asking the agent directly. Keep in mind that you’re better off with an agent who is engaged actively in one particular area and price range. For example, residential homes around the $100,000 range.

Check Out Their Current Listings

Once you know their area of specialization, check out the available current listings that they have.

Check out what they have on their own website as well as Realtor.com, which is a website that builds multiple properties for sale, known as the Multiple Listing Service, within an online database that you can search through.

The majority of buyers will start searching on the Internet. Therefore, if an agent does not have much of an online presence, or one period, then it’s best to move on.

Only the best agents will advertise themselves on multiple platforms, especially the Internet. You want an agent who will use every tool in the book to be successful.

The Basics of Buyers’ Agents and What They Do

If you’re buying a home and it’s your first time doing so, you’re going to need a buyer’s agent.

These real estate agents will work day and night, as long as you listen to the advice listed above and find the best one for you, to ensure that all of your needs and requirements are met when it comes to finding the right home for you.

What Buyer’s Agents Do for You

Your buyer’s agent will have a vast knowledge of the current real estate market for the area, which will include neighborhood amenities and conditions, the law, zoning issues, price trends, negotiations, taxes, financing, and insurance.

Once you meet with the buyer’s agent, he/she will generally help you to determine what your needs and wants are when it comes to finding you a home and a neighborhood.

The agent will aid you in learning about what you can afford, setting a budget, give you some insight on the current conditions of the market, and explain to you what you should expect while shopping for a home. In addition, he/she will help you find a suitable level of financing.

During the shopping-for-a-home period, you will probably meet with your agent for tours of homes that you might be interested in.

They will give your insight into the floor plans, the pertinent selling points of the home, and the overall crime rate of that particular neighborhood. They will also give you the rundown for cultural activities, work centers, shopping centers, and schools that are close by.

Your agent is responsible for ensuring that inspections of the homes are complete, as well as the disclosures therein.

They are also in charge of ensuring that coordination and completion is done through the roof inspector, attorneys, lenders, and all other professionals who are involved with the purchase of the home.

If bargains need to be made over the price, you will not have to negotiate a thing. Your buyer’s agent will do all of that for you along with signing the final closing documents.

They will be present whenever you need to go through and sign any document so as to ensure that you are safe.

Dual Agencies – The Basics

Dual agencies occur when a buyer is being represented by a brokerage firm that controls the listing. Once an agent represents both the seller and the buyer within the same transaction, the situation is known as dual agencies.

In multiple states, this is illegal because of the conflict of interest that can arise in regard to the broker.

All realtors hold the same responsibility, which is to inform their clients of all potential risks that may arise due to conflicts of interest. Legally, realtors are not allowed to work on both sides of any transaction without consent from the clients.

For example, if you are selling your home, and you do not want a realtor to be working with the buyer, it’s your right to say so in the listing agreement.

This is also true for the buyers; a buyer can get out of a buyer’s agency agreement, but only if their agent has a listing in which the buyer is interested in.

When it comes to dual agencies, there are actually quite a few pros for the seller, and they are as follows;

  • Trust has already been gained with your listing agent, so representation for the buyer has already been established.
  • Your agent brought you the buyer knowing that you are selling, even if your property has not yet hit the market.
  • Your listing agent will already have covered and researched your neighborhood’s market to gain buyer inquiries, which means that your agent will be working from all sides of the deal to sell your house faster and with more incentive.
  • Your agent works together with corporate relocation buyers who are in need of finding a house quickly, and they will ensure that it’s your house that is bought.

However, there are some cons when it comes to dual agencies, and they are listed below:

  • You cannot be advised by your agent as thoroughly as you’d probably like when he or she has to act as a dual agent, because of the fast that impartial facilitation is indeed required.
  • Your listing agent is not allowed to negotiate the best or highest price for you if you are also negotiating both best and lowest terms for the buyer.
  • Earning a full commission, if the opportunity arises, may tempt the agent to coerce a deal which you might not accept otherwise.
  • Your agent may inhibit all access to your listing through buyers with agents.

To avoid any surprises, or anything going wrong in general when going with dual agencies, always ensure that you properly represent and clarify your full relationship with your agent.

You can do this by using an exclusive buyer agency agreement, or a listing agreement. Even with dual agency, one cannot have too many surprises once everything is outlined there cannot be any surprises.

How Real Estate Agents Are Paid

In reference to the National Association of Realtors’ 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, approximately 9% of homeowners opted to put their homes up for sale during 2012 without using a real estate agent or Realtor.

A handful of “For Sale by Owner” transactions dealt with sellers and buyers who previously knew each other, or were related directly. 88% of the buyers chose to work with a real estate agent or Realtor, on the buyer’s side.

Real estate agents and Realtors, unlike professionals in different categories who bill by hourly rates or at the end of the project, get paid through a transaction at the end of each sale.

For example, if an agent has worked with a seller or a buyer for months at a time, they do not get paid for the time spent if there will be no transaction during that period.

Realtors, based on the selling price of the home, receive a commission once the transaction goes through to settlement. This means that once all of the transactions prior to have been completed, the commission is then given.

The commission itself is negotiated, in most cases, between the client and the agent. Typically, an agent will earn a commission of 6% from the sale price, but some brokerages have discount commission discounts for the sellers that they work with.

Essentially, the listing agent and the buyer’s agent will split the commission, but that can bring forth some issues.

For example, sometimes the split may not be negotiated evenly. A seller could have agreed to pay a commission of 5.5% that if further divided, the buyer’s agent would receive 2.5% while the listing agent receives 3% of the commission.

Even though some realtors are associate brokers, or brokers in general, from positions requiring licensing and extra training, all commission payments are instructed to go through to the broker who is managing the brokerage where the realtor is working.

From there, the commission is then split to the agent and the broker according to the agreement that has been made.

The split will vary, sometimes newer agents will earn a small portion of the commission compared to the experienced or successful agents who generally sell more expensive properties or homes.

Paying the Commission Itself

Based on technicality, the overall commission is paid for at the settlement period by the seller. The fee is taken from the proceeds of the sale of the home or the property.

However, the buyers pay the commission because they are literally paying to purchase the house, while the sellers take the commission for the realtor into account during the process of determining the price for the listing.

From there, the commission is then divided during the settlement process between the buyer’s agent brokerage and the listing agent’s brokerage. Afterwards, the agents who are working the real estate sale are further paid by their brokers.

Knowing Real Estate

If you know all of the basics, and the technicalities with regard to real estate, you will have no trouble making the best decision on which real estate professional to hire, know what to expect, and how to go about transactions and deals-you will have the smoothest sale of your life.

Single Property Websites

As a realtor, you know that for a potential buyer to find a seller’s property to purchase, marketing is a crucial part of the process to close.

It sounds downright obvious, but let’s explore this topic a little further.

More than making sure the home is properly staged, in saleable condition, and other preliminary preparations for sale, a realtor’s ultimate responsibility to their client(s) looking to sell their property is to ensure that the home is marketed in the best way as possible.

Marketing makes the difference between a fast, no-nonsense closing, or a seller’s home stuck in “listing limbo.” Again, pretty obvious.

What is not obvious is how many realtors don’t make use of the most current and effective tools available to them, relying on the tried-and-true sure-bets of yesteryear without updating their methodology.

The outcome is that the entire selling process takes longer than it should, with lower commissions at the closing. Sellers eventually are forced to drop their asking price to make it more attractive.

Have you guessed what realtors are missing out on yet? One of the most effective but overlooked tools is creating a single-property website.

Let’s take a look at this how realtors can get up to date and start raising their commissions.

What’s a Single-Property Website?

Basically, a single-property website is as exactly as it sounds: a website exclusively dedicated to advertising your client’s property. Unlike MLS, or “multiple listing services,” there are no links and advertisements to other properties held by competing realtors.

Single-property websites can include multiple listings at the same location (i.e. a condominium, apartment complex, etc.)

The effect is still the same: you exclude other listings while creating an impressive professional web presence that can go beyond an MLS listing (which is still perfectly valid as one facet of an online marketing strategy).

Let’s take a look at more specific ways that a single-property website can benefit realtors. You’d be surprised what a website can do!

Why Do I Need a Single-Property Website?

While some realtors out there may still be thinking that creating a website from scratch is unnecessary or simply isn’t worth the investment, here are some reasons that might make you think otherwise:

Staying Competitive

Want a significant competitive advantage from the get-go?

Most real estate agents don’t feature this service for their clients. Instead, they rely on the outdated online methods (i.e. only listing on MLS) that may have worked like a charm in the past, but are no match for the instant-access world we now live in.

Offering this perk for sellers and buyers shows that your business is aware of the best currently-available tools and web-trends to sell property faster than other less web-savvy realtors.

Outsmarting the competition has more its rewards.

As you’ll have more instances of the property and the pertinent information available online, which drives leads, higher search engine rankings, potential buyers, and traffic to your other related websites (i.e. other single-property websites, your business’ homepage, related social media) that other’s miss out on.

Plus, a single-property website shows you’re worth your commission by going the extra mile.

Thinking Outside the Box

The flexibility of the web allows you to have unlimited customization for websites, whether it’s on a smartphone or home computer. Every website can be tailored specifically to showcase the best features of the property.

For instance, creating a section of the website dedicated to the history of a historic home adds to the value and stokes the curiosity of buyers. The only limitation is how creative the realtor can be!

Price Negotiation

From a seller’s point of view, it is never wise to place similar properties side-by-side. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what multiple listing services do.

The property may be overlooked among price comparisons and already gives buyers leverage for negotiating the price down significantly.

Cost-Effectiveness

Worried about the cost of building a single-property website and how it affects your ROI? Creating a website has never been cheaper and the formerly time-consuming barriers-to-entry have been reduced dramatically.

With cheap hosting services and domain registration costing less than your last business lunch, it makes no sense why the majority of realtors shy away from creating an effective website.

There are a number of tools, tutorials, and templates available online (see below) that can have a new listing up and running in a few hours, even starting as a complete beginner.

If you’re time-strapped, there’s an ever-growing number of freelance web designers that specialize in creating real estate listings at affordable rates.

Lack of Distractions

There’s nothing more off-putting to your clients than seeing advertisements on the web page, especially if they’re unrelated to the task at hand, which is learning information about the home.

Worse, pop-ups can subconsciously frustrate or fatigue the buyer before they even get a chance to decide if the house is attractive. Having a dedicated website to the property ensures that only you get to.

Exclusivity

This might be the hidden X factor that wins over clients: how many people can say they had a bespoke website built for their property? Purchasing a new dream home and selling a treasured house are both significant milestones that people love to share with friends and loved ones. But then again, who doesn’t like to show off a little?

Having a website completely dedicated to the property in a sleek-looking website (without the clunky and generic look of most MLS websites) will have them oohing and ahhing when they imagine the prestige of living in such a nice home. Plus, who doesn’t take a peek at the price tag?

Don’t write off how important this fringe benefit to can be when it comes to closing the sale.

What Should Be on the Single-Property Website

So, what exactly should be included on a single-property website? While there’s no one answer that fits all budgets and properties, there are various types of content that can increase the value of the property and expand the audience that views the property.

Walk-Through Videos

Creating a video of listed properties works as a great supplement to the pictures, bringing to life the content you’ve provided on the website. House hunters want to take in as many details as possible about the property.

A walk-through video provides a physical sense of the location before they even set foot at an open house.

There are a number of options out there for including video on your website, and you’d be surprised about some of the options available to realtors.

Anything from interactive videos to flying drone-based tours is fair game, as is creating video content for your realtor profile to attach to the website. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular options available.

DIY Video

For realtors working with a limited budget, making inexpensive videos for your single-property website can give potential buyers a sense of the property that doesn’t necessarily need a full-fledged production.

For instance, creating a video introducing yourself as an experienced local realtor can be created in minutes and can be made informally. Similarly, videos that include neighborhood features accompanying each listing may need to be produced often, with very little overlap between similar properties.

Even including testimonials by local homeowners that you’ve helped buy or sell their property is valid. DIY video fits these purposes and more.

The DIY approach also includes video-editing software. Most computers nowadays have free pre-installed programs that are surprisingly versatile, including Windows Movie Maker and iMovie.

However, don’t forget to factor in the time-investment for creating DIY videos. Editing and learning how to use the software can be time-consuming, so you may want to delegate the task or consider other methods.

As for the type of camera that works best with DIY methods, most smartphones can produce remarkable-quality videos in an instant.

The advantage of using a smartphone is that it not only showcases the properties, but it also builds your brand with a familiar, informal approach.

If you’re worried that the low-budget aesthetic might make you less professional, don’t be.

The key is to convey authenticity; full-fledged productions might seem TOO flashy and worry cost-conscious buyers about how much negotiating room they’ll have when it comes to the closing. And if it’ll be billed along with the commission!

(Remember that you don’t necessarily have to limit yourself to this approach, but blend it in with some of your more “evergreen” content featured on each single-property website to cover all of your buyer’s questions.)

Professionally-Produced Video

Smart realtors typically realize the limitations of their skills and wisely outsource their walk-through videos to professional production companies.

Not only do you save time versus the aforementioned DIY approach, but you also have access to a wider variety of types of video and editing styles.

With a professional production crew on hand, you can create home tours that blend in top-notch editing, appropriate lighting, and state-of-the-art drone videos.

In addition, with video technology rapidly evolving, the options of creating interactive videos has exploded. Some companies offer 3D visualization.

The catch is that these videos are pricey, with some running as high as several thousand dollars. It’s up to you to determine if the cost is worth selling a property quicker or featuring them on every single-property website.

For high-ticket properties, a professionally-produced video is mandatory.

(QUICK TIPIf you’re looking for a professional-quality video but don’t have deep pockets, there is a workaround: consider hiring film students or cinematographers looking to build their reels/portfolios. It’s a win-win decision, and you may end up getting a high-performing video at a fraction of the cost.)

Maps

Consider creating a map on the single-property website that indicates the home’s location in relation to the local neighborhood. It’s important to show how close schools are, county lines, hospitals, fire departments, parks, and so forth. This is also appropriate for when buyers are trying to estimate how much their other costs of living, like homeowner’s insurance, will really be.

Simple maps can be made via Google Maps or any other online software.

The advantage to these sites is that users can also create a satellite and terrain map, answering some of their question of just how close the neighbors really are!

Copywriting

Don’t forget that it’s not only the pictures and videos that make or break a sale on a single-property listing.

Having up-to-date information on each listing is crucially important, as well as an appropriate description of the property.

Try aim for the right tone: if it’s a luxurious property, by all means include how the backyard makes for a great place to sip pina coladas while the sun sets.

Vice versa, not using a drier tone for an unassuming property might make the realtor come off as deceptive.

Also, beware accidentally including any typos or grammatical errors; while this may just be a small oversight, buyers might assume that the realtor may overlook other details, as well.

Pictures

Having a sleek and modern-designed website helps to display pictures on your website. Include a large number of photos of the property; in fact, there may be no such thing as too many pictures. Be sure to include every angle and various lighting situations (i.e. noon vs. dusk) that highlight the property’s best features.

Don’t forget to add captions, as well, to give the viewer a sense of just where the picture was taken and what the particular features are indicated in the photo.

As a general rule, use the highest-quality photos that you can.

There should be no excuse for poor image quality, as pictures are the most important element to your single-property listing. If you cannot afford a high-performance camera, consider hiring a professional photographer to ensure that the photos are captured in the best light, as well as edited appropriately for the web.

Social Media and Beyond

Want to multiply your results and get far-reaching traffic with a single-property website?

The answer is social media. By crafting a well-organized marketing plan that includes popular social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and so forth, you maximize how your single-property website (and related links) is disseminated.

Most of these websites offer a built-in advertising platform that resembles traditional pay-per-click advertising, but the secret is the ability to share information through social networks. Word-of-mouth is especially effective, as all of your friends, family, and other social media contacts pass the links around to their contacts.

This process repeats itself, with your website’s reach growing exponentially in a viral fashion.

The advantage to this process is that the realtor becomes a part of this growth, as s/he is responsible for facilitating the sale of the property through this effective marketing strategy.

When the property eventually sells, new buyers send their network of contacts the news and details of the transaction, with the realtor’s information right along with it. This introduces you to new leads and prospects based on the verifiable social proof of your success at no additional cost and effort—it happens organically.

Virtual Tours

Buyers that are looking for a way to view property that they’re interested in can be both taxing on their gas tank and a drain on their free time.

Instead of driving from listing to listing, or narrowing down the field of potential properties to a select few, technology comes again to make the process more efficient with virtual tours.

Instead of being physically present in the home in order to view some of the finer details and dimension from photos, a virtual tour creates an immersive experience from the convenience of your computer. Allowing for a complete 360° view that the user can pan and zoom to their preference, virtual tours go one step further than pictures and video can do alone.

Panoramic virtual tours aren’t necessarily new technology, but their user-friendliness has certainly made it easier for realtors to create virtual tours for each listing.

What Are The Costs Of FSBO

When engaged in a transaction, it can be confusing understanding all the costs. Regardless of whether an agent is involved in the process or you are selling the property on your own, you have selling costs. This chapter will help break down the different costs so you can easily understand the costs associated with selling your house while putting more money in your pocket through these proven strategies.

Breaking Down the Bottom Line

Included in this section are a list of the costs that you may incur while selling your property. Some items may not refer to your specific situation, but if they do, write in the amount for each section.

Back Payments and Taxes = $________________

When you go to sell your house, if you missed any payments or if your house is in foreclosure, there may be back payments that you will be required to catch up on.

There may be other liens on your house, including Home Owners Association (HOA) fees or other taxes.

An important thing to keep in mind is that there may be penalties for the back payments, liens, or taxes. These costs are important to factor in because you will not be able to sell your house until they are paid.

Loan Pre-Payment Penalties = $_________________

Some loans, usually non-government loans, have a pre-payment penalty. A pre-payment penalty means if you pay off your mortgage, typically within the first five years, there is a penalty for doing it too quickly.

If you are unsure if this applies to you, pull out your paperwork and see if you have a “pre-payment penalty” or “pre-payment rider” on your note. If you do, that section will outline the terms and conditions.

Sometimes, there is a penalty for settling the loan within a set period, regardless of the circumstances. Other times, there is only a penalty for certain situations. FHA, VA, and USDA loans never have a pre-payment penalty whereas other non-government (conventional) loans do. This penalty can impact your bottom line, so it is important to know if you have a pre-payment penalty and what the terms are.

Selling Commission = $ ____________________

Real estate commission can take a huge part of your profits, especially if you are using a real estate agent.

There are many instances, especially in the current market, where the seller has to bring money to the closing deal. Don’t let this be the case for you!

The national average is 6%, but typically, a real estate agent takes 6-7% commission on the purchase price.

If you sell your house for $100,000, the commission fee is $6,000, or even if you sell your house for $200,000, the commission fee will still be $6,000. This fee goes to both the buying and selling agents, and unless otherwise noted, the two agents will split that 6% commission evenly.

Most selling agents take photos of your house, write a listing ad, and list your house on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Your agent may hold an open house once or multiple times, and the listing price provided will be based on the amount similar houses sold for in the area within the last six months. Depending on your agent, they may list your house on different platforms: Zillow, real estate publications, or in the newspaper.

Once an offer comes in, the agent negotiates on your behalf, providing all proper legal disclosures and the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

The agent handles all the closing arrangements, and all you are responsible for is showing up to the deal and signing a bunch of documents.

The buyer’s agent shows the buyer different properties found on the MLS and is responsible for organizing viewing each listing. He works on behalf of the buyer to negotiate the terms of the sale, sets up the inspections, and coordinates the closing agreements. This agent also works with the buyer’s lender to help ensure that the process goes smoothly while maintaining contact with the selling agent throughout the process.

Holding Costs = $ _________________

Holding costs are costs that you still have while you wait for your house to sell. Most real estate experts suggest that you will need to pay 4-6 months of payments even after you have listed your house. Some of these costs include:

  • Monthly mortgage payments
  • Monthly taxes and insurance
  • Utility bill: electricity, water, gas, trash
  • Maintenance: lawn care or snow removal
  • Pest control

Research statistics from Realtor.com state that nationally, home are on the market for about 86 days. Looking at your area’s average days on market, or their “inventory age,” gives you a good idea of how long your house may stay on the market.

This information is accessible either through Realtor.com or through Zillow.com.

To gain a better idea of what your holding costs may be, let’s use the national average of 86 days, or about three months. Once an offer is put in on your house, the buyer’s lender usually takes about 45 to 60 days to close; however, that process can be even longer. Keep in mind that until you officially sign the closing documents, you are still paying your monthly mortgage payments.

So, if your house is on the market for three months and you spend at least two months in the contract, you will end up with five monthly payments. Regardless of whether you are living in your house or not, you will still be responsible for your monthly mortgage payment and holding costs.

You may run into a situation where you accept an offer from the buyer, start the closing paperwork, and then the contract falls through. According to Realtor Magazine, about one-third of all real estate transactions fall through. If this is the position you find yourself in, you may need to fix the problems and start this same process all over again.

Transaction Expenses = $ ______________

Commonly referred to as “closing costs,” these expenses may account for 2-3% of the total amount of the loan. If you live in a high-cost region like California or New York, closing costs may be much higher and can account for roughly 5-6%.

If you are unsure of the average closing costs for your area, you can talk to a lender who specializes in your county or state.

Fortunately, transaction expenses are typically negotiable between the buyer and seller, so if you can negotiate for a higher selling price but pay some of the closing costs, it can go a long way, as the buyer will not have to bring as much to the table.

Cosmetic Fix-Up = $ __________________

Most houses need some kind of cosmetic design fix-up, whether it is a new carpet, paint, or yard work. If you want to sell your house for the top dollar, your house needs to be in excellent, move-in-ready condition. When buyers view your property, they are mentally assessing what they will need to change or update. If they choose to put an offer in, they take these changes into consideration, which may lower the purchase price.

Properties that are in move-in-ready condition generally sell faster and for a higher price than properties that have not made any renovations or changes. In today’s market, a FOR SALE sign is no longer enough to sell your house.

If your house needs more than paint, carpet, or yard work, then you may need to consider selling it as a fixer-upper or adjusting the selling price to include the renovations needed.

Remember: this can limit your potential buyers, but if you invest in those minor cosmetic changes, you will definitely see a faster selling time and a higher purchase price.

The Bottom Line

Selling a house without a real estate agent can save you thousands of dollars in sales fees. Even though this can save you money, there are many costs associated with selling a house that an agent habitually covers in their commission fee.

Furthermore, the time that is involved in selling a house without an agent is transferred to the FSBO seller. A meaningful amount of time and money are involved when selling a home by FSBO.

The costs involved in selling a house without a real estate include:

  • Determining the sales price of the property

The seller can do this by comparing recent sales prices of similar properties in the area and adjusting their price to match those, or they can use a professional appraiser ($350 and up).

  • Writing a sales contract

You can get a real estate attorney to write one up for you, or you can purchase a boilerplate contract or find one free online ($200 and up).

  • MLS Listing

You can purchase a listing on MLS from some real estate agents, as agents are the only ones that can list on MLS. If you use this option, you must stipulate a commission amount you are willing to give a buyer’s real estate agent ($200-$500 for the MLS service plus a 2-3% final sales price commission fee).

  • Advertising the property

Advertising costs can vary widely. Several websites like Craigslist will list a house for no cost, but others like eBay can charge for a fixed price listing. Advertising materials such as FOR SALE signs, brochures, pictures, or classified advertisements can become costly ($50- $2,000 on average).

  • Home Inspection

Having a professional home inspection is strongly recommended for many FSBO sellers.

Most buyers will hire a professional inspector to find any flaws or deficiencies in the house they are considering purchasing. A seller is liable for main deficiencies in the house that they know about (or should know about).

Having a home inspection done gives the seller guidance on what a buyer will find in the house and offers the seller a chance to repair any deficiencies before listing the house for sale ($200-$500).

  • Surveying the property is important in order to define the exact scope of the property being sold.

Usually, you can find this information in a local tax office and for a small fee, you can get a copy of the property boundaries ($15-$200 or more).

  • Open Houses

Most real estate agents will hold at least one open house, but you’ll need to prepare your house and advertise for your open house on your own ($100).

  • Other costs include: staging your house to impress buyers, assessing the buyer’s financing on your own, your own financing of the deal, house warranties, the closing attorney, and negotiating the deal with the buyer.

Compared to a Realtor

Choosing whether to sell your house FSBO or through a real estate agent depends on your position and how motivated you are to take on this process by yourself.

There are plenty of options and resources available to you regarding selling your house, but as seen in the previous section, costs can become quite hefty.

Using a real estate agent, most of those fees are covered in their commission rate. Even though 6% seems like a lot, when you break down the costs individually, it isn’t that much, and it may expedite the selling process.

Unexpected Costs

If you start planning ahead of time, you may find ways to reduce some of the costs whether by handling the tasks yourself or getting competitive bids.

Before the sale, here are some expenses you should expect:

  • Cosmetic repair whether by painting, window washing, carpet repairs, landscaping, or other fix-ups.
  • Staging your house can help impress buyers in a large way.

If you choose not to stage your house, add decorative or new items to your house.

  • Pre-inspection reports and other holding costs

When closing the deal, you’ll hopefully get a good payout, but there will still be some expenses, including:

  • Real Estate Agent commissions, other credits to the buyer, transfer taxes, house warranty for the buyer, capital gains tax, and moving costs.

Can Inspections Affect The House Value

The short answer would be “Yes, they can”, but do not count on it too much.

As we were saying, the role of the home inspection is to protect the buyer from inheriting major issues along with his purchase. Home appraisal, on the other hand, makes sure that a lender does not pay more than he has to.

During the appraisal, the specialist determines the market value of the house basing on its square footage, the number of rooms, bathrooms, size of the outside territory and the garage, etc.

He is interested in analytic data and makes his summary basing on complex mathematical calculations. Home inspections, as we already know, focus on home conditions.

If those conditions are not obvious, the home appraiser will not consider them.

For example, tilted facade and moldy basements are highly noticeable, and will be reflected in the appraisal, but squeaky doors and inside water pipes will not.

Some mortgage guarantors require home inspection along with the appraisal, as they have specific requirements towards what should and should not be in the house.

A property that possesses any of the red flags cannot be approved until all of them are eliminated.

But in most cases, home appraisal cannot vaguely influence the home value.

If inspections are made properly, you will be able to know your future house’s exact conditions.

Make certain that you have a trustworthy and reliable home inspector on your side – essentially, the whole deal now depends on him.

Do not panic if you find a lot of written issues in his report. And do not take it too lightly as well.

All you need to do is to read it carefully and give it a good thought.

At the end of the day, some of the written problems may appear minor or cheap and easy to fix, some of them will not matter, as you are probably going to make some renovations, and some will not matter as much as for you to refuse to buy the house of your dreams.

Direct Mailing

While direct mailing may not yield a vast number of sales in a short period of time, it can result in a steady flow of clients listing with you because they first saw your name in a postcard or brochure that had arrived in their mailboxes.

As a matter of fact, at least one realtor had executed an extensive postcard campaign and continued to get clients from it for five years after sending the last postcard.

But how to do this?

And does the benefit really outweigh the costs? Fair questions to be sure but rest easy, if you are willing to invest a little extra time and money into the process, you will likely be reaping the benefits of your labor for years to come.

Postcards – The typical realtor postcard will tend to feature a generic but nice looking house, the agency logo or mascot and a picture of the agent doing the mailing along with some contact information.  These are certainly well and good.

Such mailings get your name and number out there and a number of recipients may well put it in their junk drawer for later reference. But that generic approach does not really get much attention to you in particular or provide a compelling reason to act sooner rather than later.

Get creative with different designs and catch phrases to encourage those potential clients who may be riding the fence on whether or not to enter the housing market to get off the fence and jump in.

Here are a few examples to try:

Get the deal of your dreams in today’s buyer’s market! – Couple this with a picture of someone sleeping.  Include a thought bubble filled with a picturesque home with a big yard for better effect.

This can be directed at apartment complexes filled with first-time buyers or starter neighborhoods with young and growing families.

Tired of throwing money away? Stop renting and buy now! – Put this over a picture of a landfill, possibly with a bulldozer pushing piles of money around.

With a little help from Photoshop, this should be easy to accomplish. Clearly, this is directed to apartments and neighborhoods with a lot of rental properties.

Time to move up! – Include an image of a ladder.  A close up or a wide angle shot with a family climbing up it.

Maybe even with that picturesque house at the top. Again, this is marketed mostly to the starter neighborhood.

Sell high and have something left over. – The picture possibilities are endless here.

You can use a stack of bills changing hands, images of various kinds of vacations, from the beach to the mountains, a new car (parked in front of a home to minimize confusion) or even a new larger home.

This can be marketed to many people from starter neighborhoods to retirees.

It’s a seller’s market.  Move now and pad that nest egg! – The image here could be a bird carefully arranging hundred dollar bills around its nest. Send this one to older couples likely looking to downsize now that the kids have moved on.

These are just a few ideas. You can mix up the designs, change the fonts (just don’t do anything too elaborate), alter color schemes and more to suit your taste and keep things fresh.

In fact, if you are planning on doing postcards over an extended period of time, make sure that you do change this up a bit just to avoid repetition.

The big thing to remember is to always have your name and essential contact information (website, email, phone number) on the card.

You can also include postcards that feature recent listings to encourage people to buy or even postcards with recently sold homes.  Target these to the neighborhoods the homes were sold in to show that you know the area and can succeed in it.

This should help people to get off the fence a little sooner.

Brochures – Brochures offer a little bit more versatility than a postcard as they have more room for text and pictures. Again, try to avoid generic and get creative with what you include in the final product.

Things to try:

Rather than just putting agency’s office building and logo on the front cover, go with a family staring down a street of homes filled with “For Sale” signs.

Put a bold font “Confused?” or “Overwhelmed?” over the image and you have people’s attention.

Another cover option would be using a set of scales with money on one side and a house on the other. “Weighing your options?” could be your headline. The point is to use your imagination to get people interested.

On the inside of the brochure you can include some stats on the housing market in the area and even some recently sold listings to show what kind of homes are moving in the current market.

If you have homes that sold for more than asking, those should definitely be highlighted.

Throw in an image of a “SOLD” sign at the end and you have a brochure.

Feel free to get a bit outside the box here as well. Use the brochures to tell one or two stories of satisfied clients and how you helped them move from a two-bedroom ranch to a four-bedroom colonial. Just remember to use more “you” and “they” than “I.”

You are trying to get their attention but you want them thinking about how you can help them.

Newsletters – One other option is to use a newsletter format.

These can include recent listings, reports on the local market, profiles of local business that specialize in home improvement or tips on homecare and what to do to sell a home.

Think of this as the hard copy version of the email newsletter we described in the previous chapter.

Whichever option you choose, or if you use all three, make sure that you are keeping the focus on the customer and include your contact information so that when your marketing material has inspired someone to sell or buy, you are easy to reach and ready and willing to help.