3 Reasons Why Daylight Showings Are Best

205 Fiddlehead Ln SPRINGWelcome to Daylight Savings 2018 where we “fall back” an hour on November 4 and await March 11, 2019 when we adjust our clocks again to “spring forward.” Until the Winter Solstice, December 21st losing a minute or so of daylight every day. By the end of November, the sun will set around 4:15pm in Vermont.

At this time of year real estate agents receive requests from buyer clients to see homes in the evening hours, usually after work. And yes, while we all know that real estate agents are “on call” for night and weekend showings there is an exception to these circumstances during the winter months.

There are 3 reasons why you should see property in the daylight:

DSCN5098Location, Neighbors and Views – You will want to be able to see the boundaries, tree lines, fences, etc. when you visit the house. In the dark you won’t be able to discern any of this. Also, you will want to see check out the view from all of the windows. Just “driving by” doesn’t give you a good sense of what you will see when you look out the windows onto the side yard or back yard. One buyer drove by a house, fell in love, then when finally able to get inside the house and look out the back window she realized that she was staring at a neighborhood playground that wasn’t visible from the street.

Condition of the Exterior and the Roof – Sure, you can shine a flashlight on the exterior, but who wants to circle the house in the dark hoping to see peeling paint on a fascia board? It’s even more difficult to see the condition of the roof.

DSCN4994Natural Light – Yes, you have a compass app but it is still no substitute for being inside the house to experience natural sunlight. How dark is the house, really, during the day? Is there enough natural light? You will only know if you view the property in the daytime hours.

You just can’t “see” in the dark, whether it be views, neighbor’s houses, boundaries, or the condition of the exterior. Carve out some “daylight” time to visit houses with your real estate agent. You will save yourself the frustration of guessing what the house offers in the daylight.

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Are you Looking for a House or a Home?

DSCN4282Are you looking for a house or a home? This question seems redundant. Is there a distinct difference between a house and a home? Houses exist everywhere, they are easy to find. Finding a home is more elusive.

Looking out my kitchen window I can see two houses across the street. Opening my KW app (download the app here) on my phone it’s easy scroll “nearby houses” with photos and prices of houses in Williston. Jumping in my truck and driving to Shaw’s at Maple Tree Place I pass village houses, neighborhood houses and a condominium community all within my four-mile drive. These are all physical places where people live.

A house is a building where people live. Location, size, bedrooms, bathrooms typically define a house. For example, a friend may call and ask me to look for a 4-bedroom house within walking distance of UVM Medical Center. Moving involves changing your physical location from one house to another. Often, when showing a house I am asked, “Why are they selling?” In all cases, it’s simply because they are moving.

DSCN4717When it’s time to change your physical location, or move to a new house, many real estate agents will engage you in a “Buyer Consultation.” Notes from this meeting include your wants, needs, and wishes for your new house. Most of the time, this involves the components or features of a house. For example, small yard, space for a garden, privacy, flat driveway, ½ bath on first level, walk-out basement, two-car garage, pool, etc. Most important, though, is your preferred location. Discussions about location involve a particular lifestyle that will, eventually, lead to finding a home. Another conversation follows involving personal questions. These are lifestyle questions, which, may sound intrusive or prying, but this is what I need to know to help you find a home. To assist in this quest for a change in location, there is a need to assess your lifestyle. Hence, the need to tell me about yourself. From parrots to parties, please “tell all.” No need to feel self-conscious as I am not judging you, just trying to help you find a home. Include your preferred forms of recreation, shopping, eating, traveling, exercising, etc.

Finding a home is more elusive than finding a house. The word “home” elicits an emotional connection to a physical place where one reads, cooks, relaxes. Your home does not need to fit the physical definition of a house. It can be an apartment, a boat, a trailer, a cabin, a room over a garage, or a yurt.

600x600bb-85If you’re still skeptical, watch one of my favorite HGTV shows, Love It or List It. A simple premise of “should we stay or should we go?” The “Love It” portion involves designer Hilary. “List It” features David a real estate agent. While it may seem counterintuitive for me to cheer for the “Love It” part of the show, let me explain. David finds them a physical house that seems to meet their expressed need to move. Yet, the physical house that he finds does not meet their lifestyle needs. Either the commute is too long, the schools have changed, they are no longer near their favorite gym, restaurant, juice bar. In the end, the talented Hilary has revamped their living space to make it truly a “love it” and the place that they call “home.” In conclusion, the perfect house may not be the perfect home.

Who Finds the House, Anyway?

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P: Realtor.com

When I first meet with buyers they ask, “Why do I need a real estate agent if I find the house?” They also show me the various apps they are using to search – Realtor.com, Zillow, etc. This is a good question, and one that many in the industry ponder. You enter your criteria on these websites, wait all day for your phone to ping, ring, or buzz, and then you contact your agent for a showing. Sounds easy, right?

After about three of these pop up showings, buyers tend to get discouraged. “But it looked so much better in photos,” and “I didn’t know that the neighbor had pit bulls until we drove up to the house,” are just some of the disappointments that befall the buyer.

libn.com

P: libn.com

And, to add to more stress and discouragement, some houses that pop up on your phone are not actually available to see as they may already be under contract with another, more fortunate buyer. Or, so the buyers think.

These scenarios occur when a buyer is “chasing the market.” You need to get ahead of the market by working with an experienced, professional real estate agent that knows the local market inside and out.

In fact, the house you are looking for is most likely going to be brought to your attention by your agent.

Since real estate expertise is something accumulated over years of going in and out of houses, townhouses, condos, and neighborhoods on a daily basis, it’s safe to say that an experienced agent will be able to find you a house that meets your needs.

Property MapOnce I know what you are looking for, I can “edit” the list of potential homes and hone in quickly on prime candidates. After we see a few houses together I will be able to figure out what will be ideal. What does that mean to you? It means you can relax. Don’t jump every time Zillow sends a notification. While it may meet your Zillow criteria, it may not meet your other wants and needs.

I only take on a few buyers at a time to give exceptional service and “house finding” expertise. Is the perfect house on the internet? Maybe, but an experienced agent will keep you “ahead” of the market, which is preferable to “chasing” the houses.

What is the Best Website or App for Finding a House?

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P: Realtor.com

Over the past several years the internet has opened up the “wide world of real estate” to buyers and sellers. Realtor.com and Zillow have been advertising heavily to promote the use of their websites and mobile apps for your home search. If you have been searching for a house for a while, you are probably asking, “Isn’t there anything else?” While each of these consumer sites has its pros and cons, the best source for up-to-date local real estate information continues to be your favorite real estate agent.

It’s happened to most all home buyers. After months of sitting on a couch perusing houses, photos, and prices you will have to email or call a real estate agent to see a house that you think may work. You finally take that next, bold step only to hear, “oh, sorry, that house is no longer available.” Or, “yes, that is a good price, all of the pipes have been stripped out and it needs to be a ‘cash only’ transaction.” Sigh, this is harder than you thought.

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P: Zillow

After several weeks of clicking on the “preferred” agent for an online property and fielding many call backs, you are frustrated. It’s not as easy as it looks on the Realtor.com or Zillow television commercial. First, some of the houses are no longer available for sale. Second, some houses have incorrect information. Third, some houses are ‘for sale by owners’ and what if you want to use a real estate agent? What is missing here? Do you feel like you are chasing the Holy Grail?

At this point in your search it is best to cut your losses, bite the bullet and make a call to find a professional, experienced real estate professional to help with your search. But why, oh why? Can’t you just continue to look on your own unhampered by another human? Yes, you can go it alone but you will continue to be frustrated. Best thing to do is ask your friends, relatives, and/or colleagues for a referral to a local, trusted real estate agent.

dscn2729The benefit to you, the consumer, is that once you have decided to reach out to a professional, you are in good hands. In the real estate world at KW Vermont, Keller Williams Realty, our culture of sharing and helping one another succeed results in a cooperative environment that may result in a quicker, smoother process. Some houses are not yet out in the “wide world of real estate” for various buyer or seller reasons. We work with buyers and sellers every day and network to find houses, sell houses and get our clients “out in front” of the market.

So, stop chasing houses. Get in “front” of the market. Ditch your app for a human.

Why It Does Not Make Sense To Buy Direct From The Homeowner

P: terencetait.ca

P: terencetait.ca

When searching for a home you are going to come across For Sale By Owner properties, either while looking online or driving through a neighborhood you’d like to live in. You may think that buying direct from a seller should be much simpler than involving real estate agents, but FSBOs offer their own set of challenges.

Before you take the plunge into purchasing direct from the Homeowner there are a few factors to consider:

  1. The Homeowner is not required to disclose any information that is not in their best interest. They may have immediate answers to all of your questions but they do not need to be held accountable for any misinformation or “fluffing” of the facts.
  1. Homeowners who are selling on their own have lots of time on their hands. They are in no rush to sell and will hold out for the highest price possible, even if it means waiting two or three years.
  1. The Homeowners typically overprice their property. They are not saving you any money. They are saving themselves a fee for service that Realtors charge for selling the house and adding it to their side of the transaction. Many buyers fall in love with the “by owner” and are willing to overpay for the property.
  1. You will feel pressured not to give the Homeowner accurate feedback about the property. Homeowners will try to convince you that their house is the best ever. They will take you through every nook and cranny to show the value of their house. It just isn’t human nature to give a truthful opinion to a Homeowner.
  1. You never know if the Homeowner is really interested in accepting your offer. Many will tell you they have “another interested party” or an “out-of-state buyer” that is chomping at the bit to buy their property.
  1. The best properties are listed with a Realtor who has taken the time to make sure all of the proper Seller Property Disclosures and inspections are in order.

With so many drawbacks to buying direct from a homeowner, it makes sense for buyers to focus on homes sold by agents. As a buyer it only benefits you to have a Buyer’s Agent (read our previous post on Why Do I Need A Buyer’s Agent) who will walk you through the entire purchase process from putting in an offer to closing – and make sure that you are getting the best value for your money.

Why Do I Need A Buyer’s Agent?

P: Chicago Agent Magazine

P: Chicago Agent Magazine

You’ve been searching for homes online for months, browsing through hundreds of photos, reading about features and amenities, and narrowing down your favorites. So why do you need a buyer’s agent? An agent is no longer the keeper of the listings, but rather your guide through the home buying process, master negotiator, and voice of reason. While you may be able Google anything you’d like to know about buying a home, there is no substitute for the experience and knowledge that a licensed agent offers.

Here’s a shocker – not all of the info you find on the Internet is true or accurate! Especially when it comes to home estimates, the most popular being real estate site Zillow’s Zestimates. A recent LA Times article stated that “nationwide Zestimates have a “median error rate” of about 8%.” An experienced agent will know the local real estate market and will be able to determine the market value of a home for you.

Just as you can’t believe everything you read, don’t believe everything you see. Online listing photos are taken in a way to paint the property in the best light, which is why it’s beneficial to go and look at homes with a buyer’s agent who has your best interest in mind. When you tour a home with your agent, he/she can point out features that are upgrades or are not common in the price range. Your agent can also compare the house you are viewing to homes that he/she has personally toured or sold in the area. You will gain insight into how one house compares to other houses in the same price range and neighborhood or county.

Do you know how much paperwork is involved in the purchase of a property? A lot. Luckily your buyer’s agent will handle it all for you – he/she will write up an offer to include all the necessary contingencies and will deal with the seller’s agent directly so you don’t have to.

P: iStock

P: iStock

Once an offer is accepted, your agent will keep you on track to make sure you hit all necessary deadlines. If there are any issues found in the inspection, your agent will advise you on what requests are reasonable and will negotiate the problems with the seller. In addition, if any problems arise with the appraisal or financing, your agent will be able to give objective, professional advice to resolve issues and move the transaction to closing.

Buying a home is a major life event and is most likely the biggest financial transaction you will ever have to navigate. Having a buyer’s agent to guide you through the process will not only save you time, but will give you much needed piece of mind. And with the seller paying the agents’ commissions, what’s there to lose on your end?

The Best Apps To Help With Your House Hunt

In today’s increasingly mobile world, there’s usually an app for that – and house hunting is no exception! Want to see homes for sale nearby? Find out what you can actually afford? Keep track of the pros and cons of the homes you’ve seen? Here are our top picks of apps to simplify the home buying process:

Buyer AppsBankrate Mortgage App: Lusting over million dollar properties? Perhaps it’s time to get realistic and see what that new home will cost you. This app is great for calculating monthly mortgage payments with easy-to-use sliders to adjust the loan amount, term, and interest rate. It also provides a pie-chart to see how your total monthly payment is broken down. If you are seriously looking to purchase a home, you should see about getting pre-approved to know exactly what your budget is.

Doorsteps Swipe: It’s like the Tinder of the real estate world – swipe to “like” and the listings will be saved to your account. The app provides stats on the homes you’ve saved so you can see what your type really is and what is most important to you in a new home.

House Hunter: This app allows you to keep track of and compare all of the homes you’ve seen. Start by scoring home features on a scale of 0-10 by importance to you, then the app will give each home a score based on your criteria. You can also add your own photos and notes.

Buyer AppsKeller Williams App: Okay, so we may be a bit biased since this is our app, but it is super handy!  If you’re driving around checking out new neighborhoods to see where you may like to live, open the app and you can see all the homes for sale nearby. See something you like? Contact your agent right from the app.

AroundMe: It’s all about location! Use this app to find the closest necessities like banks, grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants.

Your agent is also a wealth of local knowledge, so if you have any questions – ask!