Real Estate

Price it correctly and it will sell

I believe the number one thing that causes a house to sell or not to sell is pricing. You can advertise and market the property like crazy, you can stage it and make it smell good; however, if the house is not priced correctly it is going to sit. I tell sellers all the time this is a beauty contest and a price war. And any objection can be fixed by pricing the house accordingly.
Sellers always want the most money from their property, and I understand that. If I had a property for sale, I would want the same. Knowing that buyers want the best deal and are likely to negotiate and for a reduction in price or concessions, sellers often want to price the house to give them some leeway to negotiate. But is this a good idea? I don’t believe so and here is why.
Home buyers are out viewing homes and comparing their features and benefits. They want and expect the home to be clean and generally in good condition unless they are looking for a fixer upper and that is a whole other article. They have a budget for a certain dollar amount and are looking in that price range. So if the seller prices the property $5,000 to $10,000 above value in order to negotiate, the buyer who is looking for a property like the seller’s may never see it. Buyers who do see it may believe that the seller is not willing to negotiate and get the price of the home in line with the market. And finally, the overpriced house may help to sell the neighbor’s house which is priced correctly because now it looks like a deal.
The thing I have learned over time is that you cannot underprice a home. If you price it a little under market then buyers will see the value in the home and it is likely that the seller will receive multiple bids. Often times when this happens the price goes up not down. It becomes like an auction atmosphere and the emotions of the buyers endeared to the property cause them to bid the price of the house back up to market value.
If you would like assistance with buying or selling real estate, please feel free to contact me at 405-213-2992 or http://www.sandiwalker.com

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Real Estate

Why has this house been on the market so long?

A buyer said to me the other day they liked this one house.  I looked it up.  They then asked how long it had been on the market. As a realtor I can see this on the MLS (Multi-listing Service). I said, 4 days, which is what it said.  My buyer said, “oh no I have seen this house before. I am sure it has been on the market before.”  So, I checked the history and sure enough this particular house had been on and off the market 3 other times over the course of the last year.  My client then wanted to know what was wrong with the house.  She wasn’t sure she wanted to waste her time actually going to look at the property.  She just wanted to know what was wrong with the property because someone would have, should have bought it if it was a good house. 

In the course of my career I have heard this same scenario play out several times.  If other homes are selling in 45 to 60 days or less and the very best homes are sold in less than 30 days, why has this house been on the market for a year with three different realtors attempting to sell it. Or the other question I get is, it’s been on the market for awhile, do you think the owner will take a low offer?

As a seller you want it to sell quickly and for the most money.  The very best offers are those that come quickly.  If the house is just sitting there and not selling, buyers are going to be asking questions just like my client.  

So what is a seller to do?

Your house should look like it is the best house on the market.  You can do that by making sure it is clean and move in ready and priced correctly.  If you don’t want to make repairs and want to sell it as is, then price it accordingly.  Everything sells for a price.  If the house is priced correctly and marketed effectively, it will sell.  Overpricing the house will always cause it to sit and become stale.  Homes priced at market value or slightly under will cause buyers to make offers.  An underpriced home will cause people to see the value and create a bidding war to bring the price back up.  You cannot underprice the house provided it is listed for the market to see in the MLS and is marketed effectively.

If the house isn’t selling, it is for one of two reasons—price or condition. Feedback is a good tool to know if there are items you need to fix. And remember, price fixes everything.  Although, I still contend it is sometimes less expensive to make repairs than to drop the price so that someone else is willing to do the repairs.

If you are interested in getting your house sold, please contact me to find out how I get homes sold for the most money in the least amount of time.  Sandi Walker  405-213-2992  or www.equityhomesteam.com

Real Estate

I don’t want to give my house away.

Sellers seem to always want to list their homes for the most money possible.  They tell me, we can always come down, but you can’t go up.  Let’s start several thousand dollars higher than what the comparable homes are priced at and if we don’t sell it in a few weeks we can come down. Unfortunately, the sellers often don’t want to come down because at that point they have associated this inflated price as the value for their home.  The seller may decide to remain at that higher price for much longer than the realtor would suggest—holding out for the price they want.  Eventually the listing contract may expire and the seller feeling defeated and irritated with their current realtor who couldn’t get them the inflated price may employ another realtor.  Surely the second or third realtor will be able to get more money for them.

I tell sellers two things are true. First, something is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. Regardless of what you believe it is worth or what I believe it is worth or what the comparable say, the consumer will eventually decide what the value of a home is worth.  An experienced and educated realtor will be able to advise the seller where to price the home to sell in a reasonable amount of time.  Second, you cannot underprice a property.  If you list a property slightly below market value (I am not talking about listing it at 50 cents on the dollar) and market the home effectively you will have multiple offers on the house.  The consensus will be market value.  There have been times when I have listed a home slightly under list price and then marketed it to the public in a way that causes multiple offers and a majority of the offers are for the exact same price. 

Recently, I had a home that was listed at $130,000. It needed some cosmetic work however the bones of the house were good.  The house would have been worth more money if it was updated.  The seller did not have the money to do the repairs.  I listed the house and held it open that first weekend. The seller instructed me they would look at offers after the open house.  We had 4 offers.  One was a low offer, two were identical and the one we took was slightly higher than the two that were identical.  The seller closed the house at $123,000 with no closing costs or repairs.

Another time, I had a house which we listed for $ 50,000. It also needed work.  We received 17 offers on the house and sold it for $60,000.  We had several offers at or around $60,000. We accepted the one that was willing to take the house without any contingencies.   

The point is you cannot under price a house.  The market will correct for that.  You can overprice a house and the market will respond with it sitting there unsold. Regardless of condition or location, there is a market value for all homes. My job as a licensed realtor is to help you determine accurate value so you can get the house sold for the most money in the quickest amount of time. 

If you are looking for an experienced realtor to guide you through the buying or selling process please contact me at 405-213-2992  or visit my website:  www.equityhomesteam.com

Real Estate

Stability in Homeownership

Recently I have had the opportunity to be involved in a transaction where a tenant had been living in a home for 16 plus years.  That person felt like the home was their own. They raised kids there, entertained there, and lived a good portion of their lives in that house.  They did not however own the property. The owner had been renting this property to them at a rate which was far below the market value and they had become accustom to this rent rate. Unfortunately, for this tenant life came to a huge reality check one day.  The owner was getting up in years and decided it was in his best interest to sell.  He gave them more than the required time to move by law to help them locate a new home and yet when the tenant started looking for a new rental they quickly became aware that the rent they had been paying was half or less of what something else would cost them to rent.

The market value of the house these tenants were living in had appreciated out of their price range and the tenant who had not been saving or preparing for the day they may have to move did not have the means to purchase the house.

We look at home ownership as a way to build wealth.  People always assume property will appreciate and for the most part it does.  They want something  to leave to the kids, a legacy—the family home. Perhaps they are looking for a way to shelter income and save money on their taxes.  The new tax law may make it so fewer people can deduct the mortgage interest from their taxes. The freedom of renting does allow you the opportunity to move if you don’t like the area or the neighbor.  

I think people think less about stability.  The fact is that if this tenant had purchased the home on a fix rate mortgage 16 plus years ago, the house payment today may not have been much more than what they are currently paying and they would not have to move because someone else was making the decision to sell and now the current value of the home precludes them from buying it. They would be in control of this decision. I personally think the power to choose whether I sell and move or not, is priceless.

The value of being a homeowner is sometimes measured in things far beyond what is first presented.

If you are thinking about buying or selling, please feel free to contact me at 405-213-2992 or visit my website:  www.equityhomesteam.com

Real Estate

Floor Ducts should not be Rusted

Homes in Oklahoma with central heat and air have either have floor ducts or ducts in the ceiling.  Floor ducts can be made of metal or pvc.  Metal ducts in the floor sometimes erode, rust and deteriorate. They can deteriorate to a condition where there are holes in the ducts and sand in the vents. 

Once this happens, you can do one of two things to correct the problem.  You can fill in the ducts and take them overhead in the attic.  The other option is to have a company come in and line the ducts with a water based latex material to coat the ducts.  This option is usually more economical.

The company that does this will scope the ducts to see what they look like under the slab. This is the only way to truly know what is going on in the ducts.  They will clean the ducts of the sand, debris, and any other substances prior to putting the lining on the ducts. Then they will spray the duct boot and the ducts and perhaps the plenum if necessary.

It is important to make sure the ducts are in good condition to get good air flow through out your house. Also, you want the air to go through the vents and into your home and not be lost. And finally, you want to know you are breathing good clean air and not air which has dirt and sand mixed into it. 

When looking at houses to buy, I think it is a good idea to open the floor registers and look inside.  If you see holes, rust or sand, that is a good indication that their may be more problems.  If you are wanting to purchase the house still, I would suggest you get a camera inspection of the ducts as part of your inspection process.  You may want to negotiate the ducts being repaired upfront provided they appear bad.

I saw these ducts in a house the other day where I had the listing.  There was sand in the duct boots and a hole in the side wall of the duct. The home inspector did point out the damage to buyer and suggested he have them scoped.  The buyer chose to not spend the money to have them scoped so we don’t know what they looked like throughout.  Although my experience tells me they most likely need to be repaired.

As a realtor, I tell my clients we are inspecting the property, so we know what is wrong with it.  Every house has something that needs to be fixed. While we may not care about small things like sink sprayers not properly working or a loose toilet seat.  We do care about large ticket items which need to be repaired.  Rusted floor ducts are an expensive repair.

If you are looking to buy, sell or invest in real estate, I would love to help you. Please call me Sandi Walker at 405-213-2992 or visit my website www.equityhomesteam.com

Real Estate

Monitor your foundation

The foundation of your house is extremely important.  It is what is supporting your house.  In Oklahoma our newer homes tend to be built on slabs. These foundations are built with a sand or gravel base which is used for drainage and then a cement slab is poured over that based. Dirt or sometimes a concrete walk way is placed around the house. 

People in Oklahoma have become very conscience about cracks in walls or the brick veneer as a sign that the house has structural issues. However, you also need to be aware of erosion around the house which can cause water to get under the cement slab and wash out the sand base underneath.

I took a picture of the house with this foundation. 

 The elevation of the house is higher than the neighbors house.  This house doesn’t have gutters and the grass is thin on this side of the house.  Over time it appears that water has eroded the dirt from the side of the house so much so that now water can enter in under the cement slab. 

I spoke to the homeowner after I saw this.  I explained to her that she needed to get some dirt around the house.  She proceeded to tell me that she lived on a limited budget and couldn’t afford to buy dirt or to fix the problem.  I explained to her that dirt was cheap compared to the structural problems she would have if the problem was not corrected.  Once the slab slips then she will need to have a pier company come raise the foundation back up and she will still need to add dirt around the house. 

Maintenance on a house is important.  It is the number one con to home ownership because you have to maintain the home if you own it rather than someone else maintaining it if you are renting and it costs money.  Taking the time to notice repairs and fixing them prior to them becoming large issues will help you save money.  This issue here could have been avoided with proper guttering and making sure grass was maintained in this area from the beginning. 

If you have real estate questions or are looking to buy or sell or invest in real estate, call me Sandi Walker 405-213-2992 or visit my website, www.equityhomesteam.com.

Real Estate

Neighborhood Housing Services has a Home with Down Payment Assistance for Sale.

 

Would you like to buy a house that is in great condition and has been updated?

Have you thought you might not be able to purchase a renovated home on your salary? Are you one of those hard-working people who has not been able to save a lot of money to buy a home and yet are tired of renting?  Do you live on a limited budget? Did you know there is a program that will allow you to purchase a home with little money out of your pocket? Usually 1% to 1.75% of the purchase price.  Neighborhood Housing Services and Community Action have grant programs for those who qualify.  These grant programs are federally funded assistance programs with the intent of helping low to moderate income families achieve the American Dream of home ownership.. 

The grant program will pay your down payment and closing costs not to exceed a certain dollar amount. Depending on the program, this could be up to $12,750, $14,299 or $40,000.  The grant programs change every year and so the actual dollar amount will most likely change.

Neighborhood Housing Services has some great homes that they rehab as well as some new construction. The homes they rehab are brought up to current code and evaluated so they are a good home for the new buyer. Older homes are tested for lead based paint and remediated as needed.  While not every home gets the same upgrades, you can often expect to see new plumbing, electrical, heat and air, roofs, kitchen cabinets, and counter tops as well as appliances.  These homes are then offered to the general public at a fair value.  The buyer does need to be an owner occupant to purchase these properties with the intention to live there a minimum of 5 years.  They will also need to qualify for the program based on income guidelines per family size.  As of this writing (2017) a single person will need to make $36,050 or less a year, while a family of 4 can make up to $51,500.  If your income is close, please apply.  Sometimes certain types of income are not counted, only the home buyer specialist can tell you for sure.

Currently Neighborhood Housing Service has a fabulous home at 2808 NW 14th Oklahoma City, OK 73107.  The neighborhood has been getting a facelift with several investors updating homes in the area.  This 2 bed, 1 bath home built in 1912 has almost everything new–new drywall, insulation, kitchen cabinets, counter tops, vinyl flooring, carpet, refinished wood flooring, new deck and wood fence, new wiring, plumbing, heat pump HVAC, roof, reworked windows, electric box, hot water tank, and carport.  The improvements in this house would cost the average homeowner a lot of money.  They are done for you and the house is ready to move in.  This house is currently priced at $105,000, with you the buyer receiving up to $14,299 towards down payment assistance and closing costs.

If you are interested in viewing this house or have questions regarding down payment assistance, please feel free to give me, Sandi Walker, a call at 405-213-2992 or visit my website http://www.equityhomesteam.com.

Real Estate

Affordable Housing in Oklahoma City

Affording a home of your own on a limited budget seems to be getting harder and harder. The cost of housing continues to increase faster than most people’s paychecks. This includes both to rent and to purchase. Part of this is the constant increase in taxes and insurance. In addition, as people continue to move here it increases the demand for housing. As demand rises the cost of housing goes up. So, what is a person to do. In most cases buying is still less expensive than renting provided you are planning on living here for a length of time. If you are planning on living her 3 years or less, renting may be a better option.
When trying to maximize your buying budget, find a Realtor who knows the market and can help you know a good value when you see one. You may be able to get a better deal on a home that needs some cosmetic updates versus one that has been all dolled up and staged. Be careful of large projects if you are unfamiliar with construction repairs as those could cost you more than you originally budgeted for.
Look around for insurance. Call three or four different insurance companies and get a quote. You may want to transfer your car insurance in order to get a multipolicy discount. Ask the agent how that would affect your policy. Make sure that you review your policy yearly. You may need to change insurance companies if the rate is going up too much. Just make sure you know your roof will be covered if you change. It would be awful to change carriers for $100 a year difference and then find out that the hail damage your roof received should have been covered under your old insurance company.
Review the property taxes. You will get a new assessment of the homes value every year, generally around March. Look at it. Does the county believe your property has gone up or down in value? This is the taxable value and not the amount of money someone will pay you for it. The county does get it wrong sometimes. I saw a lady’s taxes fluctuate year to year significantly because she lived near a golf course. The years when the homes that backed up to the golf course sold her taxable value would go up $10,000-$15,000. The next year homes on the gold course wouldn’t have sold and her taxable value would hold or go down a few thousand dollars. She was living on a small income and was having a hard time with the payment due to the increase in property taxes over the years. I advised her to review her assessment yearly and protest the increases with the county. You cannot wait until you get your tax bill in November or December to talk to the county. Do it when you get your assessment. You only have 20 days to protest. She was also older and would shortly be eligible for a senior freeze. This would freeze the valuation so that it would not continue to go up yearly.
Being diligent in reviewing your taxes and insurance is one way to help keep your payments affordable. If you have real estate questions or are looking to buy or sell or invest in real estate, I would love to visit with you. Feel free to contact me at 405-213-2992 or visit my website. http://www.equityhomesteam.com