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

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

Uncategorized

An open letter of Gratitude regarding Trust

Many years ago before I became a licensed real estate agent, my husband and I bought our first home. Over the years, I have thought about the agent who sold us that home. I would like to share the letter of gratitude that I am putting in the mail to her.

Dear Jan,

I don’t know if you will remember my husband and myself. You helped us purchase our first home more than 23 years ago. While I cannot remember how we met, I do remember you taking the time to help us get our credit in line so we could purchase a home. You took us to various homes to view. We finally found a house listed in the paper and asked you to meet us there. It was a VA repo and needed work. We were young and excited to make this house our own. The house was part of a program where they would lend you additional money to repair the house. We closed on the house April 15, 1992. I was pregnant and due in August. We had 2 months to complete the repairs and move into our new home. We worked so hard. I have lots of great memories from that time. We completed the repairs and moved into the house. My husband decided to re-up in the military. We were sure we would be staying in Omaha another 3 years. Unfortunately, by December of that same year, we received transfer papers to Oklahoma City. We were devastated. We didn’t know what to do. We wanted to call you and yet we didn’t. I am not sure why we didn’t call you back. I remember saying we needed someone aggressive to get the house sold quickly. I guess in our immaturity we didn’t equate kindness and trust with aggressiveness; and in all honesty, I think we were too young to know what we really wanted or needed. We were scared.

We interviewed 3 realtors, choosing one that had a nice portfolio with letters from past clients. She listed our house with a 6 month listing agreement. We received an offer but we would have to bring money to the table to sell the house. We didn’t have any additional money to spare. My husband was an airman in the service. We just spent several months rehabbing the property and didn’t think it was fair to have to pay to get out of the house. The realtor was not kind. She tried to strong arm us into selling. We resisted and lost respect for her. I didn’t know how real estate worked, and was under the impression that if we decided to take the house off the market we would owe the commission. There was no way I was going to give that realtor my money. So we allowed showings to happen begrudgingly and told her that we would only sell for list price. In the meantime, my husband had to report for duty in Oklahoma City. I was left in Omaha attempting to sell the house with an infant.

We finally ended up renting the property. We managed the house long distance—not knowing what else to do. We were blessed to have two sets of good tenants. Four years later, I was expecting my second child when the tenants called to inform us that they were moving. I told my husband I was tired of being an out of state landlord. He asked me what I wanted to do. I said I wanted to call Jan, the lady who sold us the house. I felt like you would help us and tell us exactly what we needed to do. And more importantly I trusted you. We called you and asked if you would help us. I also knew I needed to put carpet in the dining room. My husband is color blind and I wasn’t able to travel since I was a little more than a month away from delivering our second child. I didn’t know if you would go with him to the carpet store to help him chose the carpet, but I asked. You said, yes.   After getting the carpet installed on a Wednesday, you put the sign in the front yard and had an offer on the house that Friday. We accepted the offer and closed on the house as the tenants were moving out.

As I look back I realize I never questioned the amount of commission you charged me or the price you told me. I accepted it as fact. Why? Because I trusted you. I believed you had my best interest at heart and still to this day believe that—more than 18 years ago. I think this was the biggest difference between you and the other realtor.  Although I am sure I said Thank you at the time, I don’t think your realize the impact you have had on my life. I have been a realtor for over 10 years now and I always think about trust when I think about how I am treating my clients. I think about what is best for them and how can I look out for them best. I always ask myself, if what I am doing is building trust and if not then what can I do differently to build that trust. The entire reason I chose to do business with you all those years ago is because I trusted you. Thank you for showing me all those years ago that the most important part of business is trust and caring.

Sincerely

Sandi Walker

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

Real Estate

Buying in a good market

Low inventories and low interest rates make for an interesting buying season.

After years of a down market, buyers entering the market are learning quickly that we are in a seller’s market. Many homes are having multiple offers and are selling in only a few days or weeks on the market. Homes that are clean with some updates and are priced correctly are being snatched up as quickly as the sign is going into the ground. So what should a buyer do in order to find their dream home and buy it before someone else does?

  1. Get preapproved with a local lender.
  2. Work with a realtor who is familiar with the neighborhoods where you are wanting to buy, also make sure this person is a full time realtor. If the realtor is working another job, they may have time restraints on when they can show you property.
  3. Be realistic in your asking price. If the house just came on the market, chances are the seller is not going to take a low offer. In fact, if the house is priced well and several people are interested in the property the list price may become irrelevant as the market bids the price significantly over the original list price.
  4. If you are going to ask for closing costs, you may want to limit the dollar amount of the closing costs. I made an offer the other day where the buyer wanted all of her closing costs paid.  I advised her to maybe ask for $3000 rather than $4250 but she wanted the larger number. We lost the offer on the house. The listing Realtor told me it was close. Afterward I learned had we gone in with only $3000 in closing costs we would have had the house. Unfortunately there is no way to know this at the time of bid.
  5. Limit the amount of the repair cap.  A seller may be more interested in an offer that doesn’t require a bunch of repairs. It may be wiser to ask for a home warranty and no repairs.
  6. Be flexible with your closing date. A seller with a vacant house will probably be more anxious for a short closing while a family with lots of stuff may need a longer period of time to move.

If you need help buying a home, I would love to help you. Sandi Walker-405-213-2992

Real Estate · Uncategorized

What is the difference between mortgage insurance and home insurance?

Sometimes my clients get confused with the difference between the types of insurance products that are part of a home loan. So to clarify the difference between them, I have summarized the difference between the two types of insurance policies.
Mortgage insurance is a fee that the buyer pays to insure the lender in case they default on the mortgage. This fee is needed if the buyer invests less than 20% in the property or obtains a FHA loan. As of June 2013, a buyer will pay the mortgage insurance for the life of the loan on a FHA loan. On a conventional loan the buyer will pay mortgage insurance until the value of the property reaches a 80/20 value rating. If a buyer purchases a home on a conventional loan with less than a 20% investment for below market value and then improves the property significantly (maybe a foreclosure) it would be advisable to get a market analysis to see if the property has a 80/20 value rating after the improvements. This can save the buyer significant money.
Home Insurance protects the home owner from the perils of nature and thief. It is required by the mortgage company if a loan is on the property. And personally I am not sure why you would not have home owners insurance even if your home was paid off. It is a protection for your investment. You will want to shop around for insurance as premiums and what they cover can drastically differ from company to company. Home insurance does not cover everything. One thing that it does not cover is flooding. If your home is in a designated flood zone, you will need a separate flood policy.
If you have questions regarding real estate, please feel free to contact me at 405-213-2992 or visit my website http://www.sandiwalker.net

Real Estate

Selling your home “as is”

I get calls from sellers who want to sell their home “as is”, sometimes. Maybe it needs more work than they want to put into it or they think “I live here and it all seems to work” or they don’t have the money to make repairs. I can understand all of those reasons.
But when selling a home we need to think about the person who is going to buy the house. I always say, “If you don’t know who is going to buy your house, how are you going to find them.” Meaning== are you Mr or Ms.. Seller, looking for a first time buyer, move up buyer or investor.
Most first time home buyers do not have the resources or the expertise or desire to make repairs to their first home. They are looking for a move in ready home. They are more likely to want the seller to make repairs that the home inspector suggests. As such, they may forego buying a listing that refuses to make repairs.
A move up buyer may be in a position to make repairs and may be willing to overlook some outdated items in the home or be willing to replace the carpet, but they will most likely take those repairs into consideration when making an offer.
If the property needs major repairs and the seller does not have the ability or resources to make the repairs but has equity in the property, then the best idea may be to sell the house “as is” and discount the property where a buyer would be willing to make the repairs. A buyer is not normally going to be willing to pay retail for a home that they are going to have to update or repair.
Keep in mind that depending upon the repairs the house may or may not be financeable. If the house is not financeable then the pool of buyers has just dwindled to cash buyers. And if I know anything about buyers, a cash buyer looking at a dilapidated property is looking for a deal.
It may be more beneficial for a seller to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls, clean or replace the carpets and do some touch ups before listing the property. And then be willing to make some repairs to the property. Regardless of whether you are selling the property or not a buyer has the right to inspect the property and if they find major deficiencies, they are most likely going to want adjust the price accordingly or they will walk away without buying it. In addition, the seller needs to disclose any property defects to potential buyers.
If you have questions about real estate, please feel free to call me at- 405-213-2992 or http://www.sandiwalker.net