Top 6 Real Estate Secrets When Selling Your Home

Top 6 Real Estate Secrets

#1: Open Houses Don’t Work.

Open houses are a thing of the past. Years ago, when you wanted to sell your home, the only way that buyers could see the inside of your home was to be invited to view your home via an open house or making an appointment with the agent listing your home. Now, if a buyer wants to see your home, they can just go online, to any of a dozen sites, and see the inside of your home without ever having to leave their living room.

The truth is open houses don’t work! Real Estate agents host open houses not to sell your home, but to obtain additional clients who are looking to sell their homes (including your neighbors). The fact is, you are more likely to win the lottery than sell your home with an open house in most areas.

#2: Marketing is Job Number 1.

If you are selling your home, the real reason you hire a Realtor is marketing. A Realtor’s job is to get as many qualified buyers to your home as possible so that you can sell your home for the highest price. Marketing is the cornerstone of the Real Estate business and a Realtor that does not know marketing, is not worth the commission. Many Realtors avoid the topic of marketing and try to confuse homeowners with internet terms and the size of their firm, all of which means nothing to the actual sale of your home. Here are the things you should be aware of:

* When you hire someone to sell your home, first make sure they are a Realtor and ask to see their Realtor card. There is a big difference between Realtors and Real Estate agents. Real Estate agents cannot list your home in the MLS, a database of homes for sale by participating Real Estate firms.

* Make sure you select a Realtor that truly understands marketing – proactive marketing. All agents use the internet, so that is no big deal. All listings will likely be on Realtor.com and Zillow. Have your agent do a S.W.O.T analysis for you, find out if they work full-time as a Realtor, and ask them what they do that DOES NOT involve the internet to sell your home. Find out how long they have been Realtors, and ask to see any 3 homes sold in each of the last four years. In a very short time, you will be able to sort through the wheat and chaff.

* Don’t be fooled by the most common secret. An agent will mention they work for a big firm, and therefore, your home will get more views on the internet. This is not true, in almost all cases, any home being listed by a Realtor will be listed on the website of all the Real Estate firms in the area and most national websites as well. So even if you list your home with “Mom and Pop Realty,” your home will show up on even the big companies’ Real estate websites.

#3: Discount Brokers/Limited Service Brokers Can Be a Good Choice.

Regardless of what the industry tells you (including real estate agents) these firms have a place at the dinner table and serve a vital function in the industry. Let’s be honest – all people are a little frugal, and if you could find a cheaper alternative to paying a Realtor, you would. On occasion, discount brokers/limited service brokers can save you money.

Here are two specific cases where we refer our clients to limited services/discount Realtors:

Scenario 1: You have a home under $120,000 (don’t be jealous, Californians and New Yorkers).

Real Estate is a business, and agents are people who rely on that business to pay their own bills. So, if your agent works at a firm that takes a cut of the commission (in many cases 30-50%), the agent must determine if selling your home is a good business decision. Lets look at the numbers:

* Home Price = $120,000

* 3% commission (Listing Side only) = $3600

* Minus Firm Split (35%) = – $1260

* Minus Taxes (25%) = – $900

* Minus marketing = – $800

* Leaves a net commission of $640, to the agent

If the agent only nets $640 on the deal, how much time can you reasonably expect them to spend on your behalf selling your home? In this case, using a limited service broker could save you $2000+ dollars on the listing side after the cost of the limited broker fees and expenses are deducted.

Scenario 2: You are in a super hot market.

If you are in a market that is so hot that all you have to do is put a sign in your front yard, then limited service is a good option. They put your home in the local MLS system and buyers just show up. AWESOME! The key to making this work is to have your home appraised before you call the limited service brokers to make sure you are selling your home for the right price. Once you get a contract from a buyer’s agent, hire another agent or lawyer to help you with the details on an hourly or fixed-rate basis. The key is making sure you only accept contracts from buyer’s agents. If you are not sure what that means, get clarification in your state. (I can’t give you all the secrets!)

#4: All Agents Are NOT Created Equal.

Just like any industry, there is a range of competence within the Real Estate world; However, many people believe that all agents are the same. I suggest that when you are interviewing agents, request that they send you the contracts ahead of time, and prepare a set of questions for them to answer. If you are in North Carolina, here are just a few questions I suggest:

* What is dual agency? And do you practice dual agency?

* What is the difference between due diligence and earnest money? And what happens if a buyer cancels the contract?

* Am I required to do repairs on my house, or is my home sold as-is?

* Show me the marketing plan for my home, not a generic presentation.

#5: Some Agents Will Try to “Buy the Listing.”

This is when an agent convinces a homeowner they can sell their home for a price significantly higher than market value. This tactic is successful when an owner uses money to select the agent. The agent’s intention is to have the owner sign the listing agreement under the auspices of an inflated sales price, and then the agent will steadily lower the price of your home until it actually sells.

#6: For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Homes Don’t Save Money and Time.

The company line for agents is that they will help you buy any home; however, most agents do not like to deal with FSBO properties. First and foremost, Real Estate is a FOR-PROFIT job. Owners selling their own home have made a decision not to pay a Realtor, but your agent does not work for free. Therefore, as a buyer, if you choose to consider FSBOs, you need to have a discussion about who is responsible for paying commissions. In many cases, you as the buyer could be responsible for paying the commissions on the deal in addition to closing costs and down payments

Top Home Remodeling Projects for a High ROI

If you are looking to add value to your home, be it to make it more perfect your needs or because you have plans to sell it, then you don’t want to invest money in a home remodeling project that has a low return on investment. However, determining what remodeling projects will bring the biggest bang for your buck might be a challenge – especially if you have a limited budget!

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of homeowners looking for ways to give their home’s a new look – but not every upgrade has an ROI worth talking about. Here are some of the top home remodeling projects for garnering a high ROI.

· Landscaping – While not actually a home remodeling project of the building type, research has shown that yards where the lawn is well-maintained and logically laid out can make a huge difference in the curb appeal of your home and thus, how much you can boost your home’s equity.

· New Roof – Want to get as much as a 105% ROI on a home remodeling project? Then talk to your local roofer about upgrading your home’s roof. While a new roof may not be the sexiest home remodeling project, it is one with a high return!

· Hardwood Floors – These too bring a huge ROI – in fact it is nearly a 100% ROI – perhaps more should you decide to do the work yourself, or happen to discover that underneath those tired carpets you have gorgeous hardwoods just waiting to be refinished.

· Patio or Deck – Boost your living and entertaining space while increasing your home’s value. Choose building materials known for longevity and get more value for your investment.

· Doors – From upgrading the front door to a safer more secure option such as a steel entry door to replacing old outdated garage doors for newer ones with better features and more insulation, upgrading the quality of your home’s doors can have a significant uptick in the value of your home.

· Kitchen Remodel – A minor kitchen remodel, say new countertops or cabinetry, can improve your home’s resale value by as much as 80%.

· Bathroom Remodels – This is a prime way to recoup a solid ROI. A home remodel that involves updating a bathroom with new fixtures, lighting and vanity, or perhaps adding anew bathroom to home’s layout are a great way to improve your home’s resale value and living space. It should be noted that you don’t want to make huge changes, however, as those can sometimes have a negative affect or not have as high an ROI.

Remodeling one’s home can be a fun project, whether you are doing to improve the resale value or simply to make your home more suited to your needs. If you have questions about improving your home’s resale value, then now is the to talk to a local home remodeling team and get started on crafting a home design that works for needs and your budget.

The Home-Buyers Guide to AC Systems – Part 3 of 3

Homeowners your hands one of the most important documents you can possess before you purchase a home! What every homeowner or potential homeowner absolutely needs to know and understand is this, you as a homeowner have ALL the responsibility to make sure your new home is going to function and be an energy efficient home.

This document is written for the homeowner to understand the city inspections. This article is not referring to the third party inspection completed by a licensed Professional Home Inspector.

If you are concerned about the energy efficiency for your new home the single most important item that impacts energy usage and monthly energy bills is the size of the home. The energy cost to operate your home is directly related to the size, shape and volume of your home. Home builders today are not supplying potential home buyers with two critical pieces of information you need to understand the energy efficiency of a particular home or if you are comparing the homes from two different home builders.

When an engineer designs and sizes the AC equipment for a building large or small he uses a load calculation method to determine how much heating and air conditioning capacity is needed to serve the new building. The same approach and method is supposed to be used today in new homes built in Texas. The home builders in Texas have been building homes in Texas since 2001 that will not meet the required energy code standard and design guides. The load calculation step is the very beginning and most important step in building a home for energy efficiency but is not being performed by builders today. This is simply because most builders do not pay attention, understand the energy code or understand load calculations.

The other problem or issue is that most homeowners have never heard about it and do not care as well. Most homeowners believe that someone else is taking care of this for them. As I stated earlier in this guide this is simply not true or being done.

Homeowners Have To Take Responsibility

How do homeowners know that one home is more efficient than another? The method used to
understand the efficiency of a home in regards to the heating and air conditioning systems is based on a unit of energy known as a “British Thermal Unit” (BTU). I am not going to get real technical here but I will give you the homeowner the information you need to go home shopping with and it is really very simple.

Three Efficiencies Regarding Home Building

1. Thermal Efficiency- Determined by the home construction methods and materials
used to build the home. It is the most important efficiency in home building.

2. Energy Efficiency – Measured and calculated by the conversion of energy input
(KW/BTU) into useful work output cooling/heating BTUH.

3. Overall Efficiency – Is the combination of both efficiencies above. Thermal Efficiency
has a huge impact on the Energy Efficiency rating and therefore will impact the
overall efficiency of the home.

As a homeowner this is what you need to know. The amount of energy required to heat and cool your home is directly related to the amount of heat gain your home experiences when it is warm outside and how much heat loss your home experiences when it is cold outside. This heat gain and heat loss is measured in BTUS. The amount of heat gain and heat loss is measured and defined on an hourly basis so the measurement is in BTUH. This stands for British Thermal Units per Hour. The higher the thermal efficiency of the home the lower the energy use is. As a homeowner you will receive a better return on investment for each dollar you spend to make your new home more thermally efficient than to build a very poor thermally efficient home and try to make up the overall efficiency with very expensive high end heating and air conditioning equipment. This approach simply does not work over the life of the home.

As a homeowner you have another measurement or consideration to think about and that is the “Return on Investment” (ROI) for your money. If you to take short cuts on the home construction side and purchase very expensive high end AC equipment to make up you may cost your self a lot more money over the life of with expensive repair bills. The cost to repair the high end AC systems is very expensive.

Below is a simple but real example.
– 14 SEER AC System – Replace a failed indoor fan motor. Cost= $250.00
– 20 SEER AC System – Replace a failed indoor fan motor. Cost= $1200.00

The newer systems are very complicated with a lot of electronic components that are very susceptible to power problems and lightning strikes during storms. As a homeowner you need to consider this when building a new home with the least cost to maintain and operate. Homeowners need to spend their money making their home more thermally efficient and use AC system(s) rated at 14-15 SEER instead of 20 SEER systems.

The Questions a Homeowner Needs to Ask a Home Builder

– Mr. Home builder what is the heat gain for this home on July 15th at 3:00 PM in the afternoon?

After he regains his thoughts he will probably reply with; what do you mean? This will give you a real clue here. He does not know anything about the thermal efficiency for the homes he is building!

“You might want to consider a new home builder at this point!”

– Mr. Home builder what is the heat loss for this home on January 15th at 3:00 AM in the morning?

These are the questions that any potential home buyer should ask if they are concerned about energy efficiency and the monthly energy bill for their home. If you are a homeowner who operates on a monthly budget then energy efficiency is very important for your new home. Let us use the example below to demonstrate how the real energy efficiency of two homes should be compared.

– Home A- single story with 2500 square feet of air conditioned living area, all electric home, all energy star rated appliances, and all the lighting fixtures are compact fluorescent and the high efficiency type. The home has a 5 ton 14 SEER rated AC system.

– The heat gain for the home in July is 49,500 Btuh.
– The heat loss for the home in January is 72,000Btuh.

– Home B- single story with 2700 square feet of air conditioned living area, all electric home, all energy star rated appliances, and all the lighting fixtures are compact fluorescent and the high efficiency type. The home has a 4 ton 13 SEER rated AC system.

– The heat gain for the home in July is 44,000 Btuh.
– The heat loss for the home in January is 66,000 Btuh.

Which home is more efficient? Many homeowners would choose Home A simply because it has the largest AC system and highest SEER rating of the two homes. The most efficient home is Home B. This home is larger and is being served with the smallest AC system. Even with the lower SEER rating for the AC system the system is rated at 4 tons and is able to cool the home adequately. The difference in heat gain and heat loss values is what makes home B the most thermally energy efficient. The size of the AC system does not make a home more thermally efficient. The AC systems in homes are sized to meet the heat gain and heat loss values of the home. The lower the heat gain/loss number the higher the “Thermal Efficiency” is for the home. What makes the home more thermally efficient is size, construction, direction the home faces, window type, wall construction and insulation values to name a few. The thermal energy efficiency of the home is determined by the construction methods and materials not the heating and air conditioning equipment. The AC equipment only makes a difference in the conversion of electrical energy or the conversion of fuel into useful work- cooling output (Btuh) or heating output. When the SEER rating is higher the conversion of electrical energy is more efficient and therefore the energy bills are lower for the home. A home that only requires a 3 ton AC system to meet the cooling load will be less efficient if the same home has a 5 ton system installed no matter what the SEER value is.

Example:
– Home C- Has a 12 SEER 3 ton AC system that is properly sized and works properly
– Home C- with a 16 SEER 5 ton AC system will not function correctly and will make the home uncomfortable because the system will short cycle and this reduces the energy efficiency (SEER) of the AC system.

Homeowners do not fall for the bigger is better sales pitch! Bigger is not better regarding AC systems EVER!

Let’s talk about heating systems now. If you are building a new home, buying a new home or purchasing an existing home you need to consider how your new home is heated. The method of heating a home today is not quite as simple as it once was. My personnel first choice for heating a home is by using a natural gas or propane system. I like the warmth and feel of the gas systems. At one time it would have been considered the most economically method to heat a home. In today’s constantly changing energy markets the price of a MCF of natural gas is not always the least cost to operate. I will list the methods of heating a home in order based on cost, comfort and reliability below.

The Southern Part of the Country

1. Gas Heat- If the price of natural gas or propane is least expensive on a consistent basis

2. Heat Pump System- If the home is total electric a heat pump system is a must for energy
efficiency.

3. If the home is total electric the last choice would be electric resistive heating. This is a very
expensive choice for heating.

The Northern Part of the Country

1. Fuel Oil – If the price of fuel oil remains less than natural gas or propane on a consistent basis

2. Natural Gas – Would be the second choice over electric heating.

3. Heat Pump System- If the home is total electric a heat pump system is a must for energy
efficiency.

4. If the home is total electric the last choice would be electric resistive heating. A very
expensive choice for heating.
5. In areas where wood is available and the home has a good wood heating system.
Home AC System Design

Questions to Ask Your Builder

1. What is the heat gain for the home? July 15th 3:00 PM _____________ Btuh

2. What is the heat loss for the home? January 15th 3:00 AM ______________Btuh

3. How many units (systems) are in the home?

Recommendations
– Single Story Homes less than 2000 sq ft- Single System
– Two Story Home less that 2000 sq ft- Two Systems, One Up and One Down Stairs
– Single Story Homes > 2000 but 5000 sq ft- Need to consult with a mechanical engineer with experience with
energy efficiency designs and energy conservation. Ask for references. Suggest
someone not in relation to the AC contractor to get the best objective design and solution.
– Discuss the heat gain/losses with your AC contractor or mechanical engineer to find out
what you can do to lower these values by making changes in the design and materials for
your home.

4. 6. Ask for the AC contractor’s name and for references. Talk to homeowners who have been in their home more than two years or so. This will give you a better understanding of how well the contractor designed the AC systems and how they performed in both the cooling and heating seasons.

5. Ask the contractor to give you some estimates in writing to replace the indoor fan motor and the compressor for the AC systems you are considering. If you are trying to decide between a system rated at 15 SEER and one rated at 20 SEER this will help you understand what the overall cost is and what your ROI could be over the life of the system(s).

6. If you are looking at purchasing a home that will require major remodeling and the heating and air conditioning system to be replaced you need to make sure you understand the following about the AC contractor you hire.

– Is the contractor licensed?
– Is his licensed current?
– What level of general liability insurance does he have?
– Is his insurance policy current?
– How many technicians will be working in your home?
– Have these technicians been registered with the state? A state of Texas requirement
– Have you checked the contractor out with the Better Business Bureau?
– Ask for a copy of his license and insurance policy.
– Verify the insurance policy is current with the policy provider, this is very important.

Insurance Requirements for AC Contractors Texas (Verify Requirements for Your State)

Homeowners AC contractors in Texas are required to carry a general liability insurance policy in order to perform work in the state of Texas. In 2003 the state of Texas stopped requiring AC contractors to prove they have general liability insurance prior to renewing their license each year. This puts homeowners at risk all over Texas when using and hiring AC contractors. You as a homeowner have to take the initiative to verify the AC contractor you are working with has a current general liability insurance policy.

– Class A license holders are required to carry a $300,000.00 policy.

– Class B license holders are required to carry a $150,000.00 policy.

Homeowners you need to determine if the value of your home and personnel possessions have a value higher than the required limits for the AC contractor you hire. Check with your homeowner insurance provider how this impacts you as a homeowner in the event your home is damaged or destroyed because of poor workmanship or faulty equipment. You may want to ask your contractor to provide a higher level of liability insurance before starting work in your home.

Homeowners do not become a victim of an unlicensed and uninsured AC contractor!

Third Party Inspections and Resources

Many cities and homeowners are using third party inspectors today. As a homeowner you are ultimately the responsible party to make sure your home and your investment is protected. Just because someone is a third party inspector means they are any better than the local city code official. I would recommend that you take the time to talk with two or more inspectors to find out who you believe is the best one that can help to insure you receive the best value for your money and the best AC system for your home. I always recommend that homeowners talk to their neighbors, friends and family to find out if they can offer you some good advice or to help steer you away from someone who does not understand what they are doing. A few simple phone calls or few minutes talking to someone can save you thousands of dollars and headache.

Summary

Homeowners if you are considering purchasing a new home you have a lot on your mind. The AC system(s) for your new home are a very important piece of the equation to being satisfied and happy with your new home. We covered a lot of information in the “The Home Buyers Guide to AC Systems” and I believe you probably have learned some helpful tips and a whole lot about heating and air conditioning. Do not let this overwhelm you but simply take it in a step by step approach when deciding what type of heating and air conditioning system for your home. If you take the information you have learned and start to discuss it with home builders and AC contractors you will find out they are not going to be very open and willing to work with you. When home builders and AC contractors know they are doing business with a potential homeowner that knows something about AC systems they become a little uncomfortable. This will go to show you that home builders and AC contractors have had it their way for a long, long time. It is time for homeowners to receive the best AC systems for their new homes. You can do this and be very
successful at the same time.

Good Luck with Your New Home or Next AC Project!