5  Inconvenient Truths About Finding a Good Real Estate Agent

Finding a good real estate agent may not be as easy as searching Google or Yelp, read on to learn why you can’t believe everything you see on the Internet when it comes to real estate.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 1.05.40 PM1.     The “Premiere Agent” on Zillow has paid to be in that #1 position. Many agents pay third party search engines to pop up at the top of the list of real estate agents in your area. This truth extends to Realtor.com, Trulia.com and Yelp.com. Many times, your top local real estate experts who provide exceptional service and results stay in business through repeat clients, past client referrals, and general “word-of-mouth” networks. Ask your colleagues, friends and family who they recommend before jumping on the internet to look for an agent.

2.     All “public” websites that provide house searches include “for sale by owner” properties. Many buyers are thrown off guard when they find out that the house listed on Realtor.com and other real estate websites may not necessarily be offered through a real estate agency. Buyer beware as dealing directly with the owner may result in a “lopsided” transaction where the buyer is not aware of traditional real estate practices in their local area and many times is at a disadvantage dealing with the seller.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 1.34.09 PM3.     Internet sites that promote “We will match you with a Top Agent” usually send your information to several agents that have signed up for that websites services. These agents scramble to be the “first” to contact you and the agents pay a hefty “finder” fee to the service.

4.     Reviews may not tell the whole story about an agent. While it’s interesting to read the 5 star reviews, sometimes when you see a “plethora” of them you may need to ask “Why are there so many reviews for this one agent?” There are no rules or regulations governing the procurement of these reviews from previous customers. Let that sink in.

5.     Sometimes your “marquee agents” burn and churn their clients. Again, the agents that pay to show up on searches may not be the type of agent that you are looking for. Many so-called “top” producing agents are working with multiple agents on their team who are doing most of the work with the buyers and sellers. You may not have access to the “top agent” at all.

 

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Hurricane Season in Vermont?

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P: Mashable

This year, as Texas and Florida recover from Harvey and Irma, respectively, we are reminded how the weather effects the real estate industry. Yes, occasionally there is a rogue hurricane that whips through Vermont and causes flooding havoc like Hurricane Irene in 2011. But, for the most part, Vermont’s weather tends to be best known for cool autumn evenings and long, cold winters.

If you’ve lived in New England you know the saying, “If you don’t like the weather wait a minute and it will change.” Now, more than ever this seems to be the case. On the heels of a few weeks of cool, fall weather early in September many of us removed our window air conditioner units. Now, since the air conditioners are safely tucked away until next season, we are experiencing high humidity and summer-like temperatures that reach 80+ degrees during the day. It’s tough to think about mums and pumpkins when your annuals are still blazing with color.

What does this mean for Vermont real estate? It means that our local market is sensitive to changes in the weather. When it’s hot and humid few people find it appealing to look at houses. When it’s raining and snowing buyers like to look on-line rather than “in person.”

Roberts FallBut, does the real estate market slow down in the fall? How about winter? Years ago, real estate was more of a “seasonal” business, and, in some parts of the country it still is. Real estate market statistics are useless unless you see a “seasonally adjusted” number along with the monthly charts.

On the Weaver Team we have experienced the ups and downs of the years and the seasons, though none of our “trends” seem to hold from one year to the next. On one year we can have a record breaking December and the next year, not so much. A “January thaw” can jump start the next year’s sales. Due to the unpredictable nature of the weather and the market, it seems like real estate is turning into a year-round business, no longer dependent on the infamous “spring market.”

Many of our sellers decide to keep their houses listed and on the market through the holidays and winter months as the competition tends to drop off. We have sold houses right after major Nor’easter storms. You never know when a family will make a decision to make their home here, Home Sweet Vermont.

Specialist or General Practitioner?

19437377_1440448489379498_3950650927319035020_nDo you need to hire a “specialist” or do you need a “general practitioner” when assessing the best real estate agent when you are looking to jump into the real estate market as a buyer or seller?

If you come across a real estate agent that is touting themselves as a “specialist” here’s what you need to ask:

“I see you are a ‘Listing Specialist’ do you ever take buyers out to look at homes?”

“I see you are a ‘Buyer Specialist’ do you ever list homes and meet sellers?”

If the answer is no, then proceed with caution. The only way you can “specialize” in today’s real estate market is to understand the market from the buyer’s and seller’s unique perspectives, rarely do these overlap.

As a “general practitioner” I work with both buyers and sellers. The combination of meeting with sellers for listings and taking buyers on home buying tours invites a unique perspective on the whole marketplace, not just a segment.

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P: msrealtors.org

If you don’t take buyers to see houses, how do you know how houses compare to each other in your local market? Likewise, if you don’t counsel sellers on pre-marketing strategies, how do you know the best way to position their house in the market compared to other houses you have taken buyers to see? The short answer is – you don’t! You don’t know how houses compare in your local market place unless you are “all over” the market in terms of buyers and sellers.

Instead of a “specialist” you need a general real estate practitioner. Much like a family doctor who sees a wide range of maladies, your general real estate practitioner deals with the whole market, buyers and sellers. At the core of a general real estate practitioner, one who deals with buyers and sellers, is a true “specialist.”

 

Staging With A Purpose

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P: cathyhobbs.com

When a buyer steps into your house, you want them to be able to easily envision living there – not trying to figure out what to do with that tiny bedroom that seems to be your storage room.

If you are using a room in an odd way, maybe you turned the dining room into your children’s playroom, it may work for your needs but will likely leave potential buyers feeling bewildered, and moving on to the next house.

Follow these 3 tips to stage each room with a purpose:

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    P: urbanpresentations.com

    Make it simple. Stage rooms for their original or most obvious purpose – a bedroom should have a bed, a dining room should have a table and chairs, etc. If you have a large finished basement, carve out a space for a rec room, theater room, or exercise room.

  • Spell it out. If your home has an undefined or awkward space, stage it with your suggestion for how to use it. For example, a small alcove or under the stair nook could be staged as a home office just by adding a desk, lamp, and chair. Stage each space so there is no question what it’s for.
  • livingroomopenconcept

    P: stagemyownhome.com

    Lay it out. Open floor plans are popular, but can be confusing to a buyer trying to figure out how to arrange the space. Don’t try to cram too many uses into one great room – stick with the basic dining area and family room.

If buyers have to guess how to use a room, they may leave thinking the house won’t fit their needs. Make the purpose of each room clear so that buyers can visualize where they will put their own furnishings and accessories in the house.

6 Home Staging Don’ts

We talk a lot about what to do to stage your home, but what about what NOT to do? Here are 6 staging mistakes to avoid:

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P: Fox Hollow Cottage

  • Don’t go over-the-top with decor. Less is more in home staging – keep decor simple and neutral to appeal to a variety of buyers.
  • Don’t make your home smell like the department store perfume counter. Any type of overwhelming scent, whether something good or bad, will send buyers running for the door.
  • Don’t stuff all of your junk in the closet. Buyers will open every door to check out the storage space in the house, a messy stuffed closet will give the impression that there is not enough storage space.
  • Don’t do major renovations. Finishes and fixtures that you love may not appeal to every buyer. Limit any work to essentials like replacing old flooring, small repairs, updating old fixtures, and minimal painting.
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    P: Retro Ranch Revamp

    Don’t misuse rooms. A bedroom should be staged as a bedroom, not that ‘extra’ room where you store your odds and ends.

  • Don’t defer yard work. If you have overgrown shrubs, an unruly lawn, and a broken fence, chances are that potential buyers won’t take that extra step to look inside.

Prepping Your Home For Sale

Hi everyone! This is Jennie, Marketing Director for The Weaver Team. I’m always posting tips on home staging, getting ready to move, etc. but I thought speaking from my own experience might really hit home for you all. My husband and I recently decided to put our condo on the market to move on up to our first house. SO exciting, but also SO stressful!

P: Shutterstock

P: Shutterstock

Just looking at all of the stuff we’ve accumulated over the years was giving me heart palpitations. And I am a total neat freak – so it probably wasn’t even that bad. I had so many thoughts going through my head, there were so many things I wanted to clean or fix up before putting our condo on the market. There was just so much to do that I didn’t even want to start.

Once we started looking at houses, we decided it was time to buck up and get our condo on the market – sellers aren’t very enamored with offers contingent upon selling your current property. We were getting ready to head out on vacation for 10 days and I thought it would be the perfect time to list, that way the condo could be shown any time and we wouldn’t have to get out, figure out what to do with the dog, or clean up after ourselves.

So now we had a deadline to get our place ready, which was just the kick in the pants we needed. After all of the homes I’ve photographed and all of the staging tips I’ve poured over the past couple years, I knew the first step would be to declutter and depersonalize. We rented a small 5 x 10 storage unit for our ‘overflow’, I highly recommend a storage unit if you don’t have a basement or garage where you can store things.

DSCN1976We removed all photographs of ourselves, family, and dog – including from the walls, shelves, and refrigerator. We had a few ‘extra’ pieces of furniture including a console table, wine tower, and 2 dining room chairs that we removed to make the space look as large as possible, but without making it look sparse. We have storage under the stairs, so to show how large the space is, we packed it all up and put it in storage. The same for our closets, buyers are looking for storage space so if your closets are filled to the brim it gives a sense of very little storage space. We packed up seasonal clothes and shoes and off to storage they went.

Next we washed ALL of our walls and doors, just a bucket of water and a cloth, wiping them all down top to bottom. You will not believe the difference it made! And don’t forget the kitchen cabinets which tend to get extra grimy. We also wiped the ceiling fan blades, man those get dirty.

DSCN1981Once everything was hauled off to storage and everything had been wiped down, I went back through and redecorated. Yes you should declutter and depersonalize, but you don’t want your home to feel cold and unwelcoming. We have a cluster of shelves above the couch where I added candles and small picture frames will cool wallpaper. I put a runner on our dining room table with some candles and added a few small colored vases to a shelf above the TV.

Finally, as an added touch, we created a flyer that called out the features of our condo and also some additional perks like being within walking distance of the Village, local events, and being near the bus line. You don’t know if the agent showing your home is familiar with the area, so why not let them know why you love living there?

Let me tell you – staging works! Our condo, listed with The Weaver Team of course :), sold in 1 1/2 weeks! If you are going to list and have a vacation coming up, definitely list before you go, it will save you a ton of hassle with showings. And hopefully, like me, your home will sell while you’re away!

Stay tuned for my next post on buying a home.

The Importance of Home Staging

We here at The Weaver Team are strong believers in the power of staging – you only have one chance to make a first impression and it’s important to create a positive impact on buyers the moment they enter a room!

Unlike interior decorating that makes a home appeal to its homeowner’s unique tastes, home staging makes the home appeal to a variety of tastes. The goal is to draw the eye to the best features of the home, and improve any weaker elements.

BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER

The very first rule of staging is DECLUTTER! You want prospective buyers to see how much space your home offers, not how much stuff you have filled it with. Start by removing items you have no use for, if it’s been sitting in the basement unused for a year, it’s probably time to get rid of it. Separate items into piles to sell, donate, and store. If you don’t have a basement or garage to store items, rent a storage unit.

Updates as simple as rearranging furniture or adding new decor can make a world of difference. If you have very large furniture pieces, it’s best to remove them from a room all together to make the space look as large as possible. Also try floating furniture away from the walls and arrange sofas and chairs in conversational sets – this will open up the room.

BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER

In some cases, you may need to take it a step further with paint and/or installing new fixtures. You may be thinking, ‘What’s the point in painting when the new owner will just come in and paint on their own?’ Buyers are fickle, and most cannot see beyond a simple fix like paint, or even your personal decor. Remember – you want your home to appeal to a variety of buyers, and while you may love your elegant eggplant dining room, it may be a major turn off to buyers. Stick with neutral paints for your walls and update any brass fixtures that tend to make a home look dated.

Can’t get enough of home staging tips? Like us on Facebook – we post a Tuesday Tip every week!

Is Fall A Good Time To List?

P: guardiancarpetcleaning.com

P: guardiancarpetcleaning.com

The question that crosses every seller’s mind – when is the best time to list? Spring is the busiest season for buying and selling, so most sellers think it’s best to wait to list their home. But what if you need to make the move now? Good news – fall is the 2nd busiest season in real estate!

Buyers looking at homes in autumn tend to be more serious and motivated to move than the numerous window shoppers that come out in spring. There are many reasons – job relocation, downsizing, change in family status, etc. and most want to buy by the end of the year.

Fall offers certain benefits to home buyers including:

Year-end tax breaks – Both mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible from gross income, so purchasing a home and making a payment prior to year’s end will give you an extra deduction. In addition, if you have prepaid some interest prior to your first payment, that interest can also be deducted.

Pleasant weather – Fall is an ideal time to plan a move, the weather has cooled from the heat and humidity of summer and you get out ahead of the freezing temps and icy conditions of winter.

Broad selection of homes – With a bit less demand than spring, buyers will find a wider array of homes available in the fall, increasing the odds of finding the perfect property.

P: betterdeco.blogspot.com

P: betterdeco.blogspot.com

A bonus for fall sellers – autumn decorations and colors will make your home feel more inviting and warm to potential buyers. Put some brightly colored mums and pumpkins on your front porch to up the curb appeal. Add a couple gourds and colored candles to your dining room table or fireplace mantel. Always remember to keep it simple – people hate clutter!