“What’s the Big Deal About Appraisal? Isn’t it Just an Opinion of Value?”

Right now, lots of buyers are entering into bidding wars and this means they can be forced to pay top dollar. From the seller’s perspective, they are “testing the market” and pricing their homes higher than usual knowing buyers are willing to pay. It can all be very dramatic and exciting, but have no misconceptions; an appraiser can dump cold water on even the most exciting deals. 

Some buyers ask me, “What’s the big deal about appraisals? After all, isn’t it just an opinion of value?” Well yes, but it is also used by the mortgage company to make sure the house is worth what you’re offering. If a house is worth only $300,000 and you offer $400,000, then that’s an issue if you plan to acquire financing. After all, if you were to go back and sell the house a year later, there’s no way the lender would get their money back if it sold for fair market value (In this case: $300,000).

So what if a home doesn’t appraise? In that case, here’s what generally can happen:

  • The buyer brings the difference to settlement.
  • Seller drops the price so that the lender can approve the loan.
  • Both parties walk away.

Let’s focus on the 1st option: I was recently in a transaction where there were about 6 offers and my buyers were already offering $10,000 over list price. I come to find out that the winning offer was not only offering $15,000 over list price, but agreed to pay that extra $15,000 out of pocket if the house didn’t appraise. I kindly told my clients that I could never allow them to do such a thing. However, it begs the question: “Is there a scenario where a buyer should pay over appraisal and bring the extra monies to the table? 

The answer is yes. In fact, I have had buyers do it, but the circumstances need to be ideal. Think about it this way, when you do this you are essentially placing yourself “underwater” on the property since you’re not likely going to get the money back if you are to sell in the near future. This is the much-dreaded scenario many homeowners still find themselves in from the Great Recession and I don’t usually advise my clients to willingly put themselves there.

BUT…. Here are a few reasons it might be worth doing:

  • Prices in the area are rising
  • You can comfortably afford the extra monies
  • You think it’s a bad (or low) appraisal
  • You MUST have the house
  • You plan to live there for a while

Whenever considering paying over appraisal, it is imperative you closely consult with your Realtor to make sure it is the right move. While no Realtor has a crystal ball, they can give you insights into whether that money will be recouped in the future. Overall, appraisals are one of the least talked about parts of real estate transactions but they are an important consideration if you are to successfully get to the settlement table.

I would be happy to showcase your question in my next installment. Go ahead…Ask me anything! If I use your question, I will send you a gift card of your choice or donate money to a charity on your behalf.

Seth Lejeune – 610.804.2104 – seth.lejeune@foxroach.com / Berkshire Hathaway – Fox & Roach

Seth is a licensed REALTOR  and small business owner based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

 

“We Have Kids. Is It Going to be Impossible to Sell Our Home?”

I was asked this question point blank by a couple of parents, who we’ll call “Mr. & Mrs. C.” I suspect they were mulling a move since they have a third baby on the way. This is actually a very typical “should I stay or should I go” scenario. Does one stick it out in cramped quarters until after the baby is born or do you make a run for it and try to sell (and buy) before the new arrival. Can this be done? Yes. Countless families do so every year. Those families, if they are prepared, find this scenario to be manageable by taking certain steps. Simply read on and find out how!

Going directly to the “experts” seemed like a great idea with this one, so I asked moms who have actually been through it to give their tips and advice. After all, I’m a guy so there’s noooooo way I could understand, right?

Amy L. (Collegeville): “We hired house cleaners to do the deep cleaning every 2 weeks which made it a lot easier to keep up with the clutter. We did a major declutter and made sure baby toys weren’t everywhere when we showed the house. We tried not to deter showings, but we did request at least 2 hours notice. I was working from home so it was easier to be flexible. Another thing we did was make it a point to go out as a family while we were trying to sell. It really helped us from messing up the house.”

Amy A. (Horsham): “When we sold our house in Abington, the kids were 7, 5,  and 3. One trick I used is to have a laundry basket handy. There were times when the realtor wanted to show the house on a moment’s notice and I had a sink full of dishes or small toys laying around. Throw everything in the basket and put it in your car! Just get it out. Since we were moving, we started packing up toys and clothes that we did not need. Cleared the basement of toys so the room looked bigger too.”

Alex L. (Malvern): “Assign designated areas where the kids can play so any mess they make is contained instead of scattered throughout the house. Encourage your realtor to schedule as many back to back showings as possible.”

Keri T. (Lansdale): “My advice would be to motivate your kids DAILY to keep rooms/common space exactly as they found it. I used a small daily allowance but you can use anything. They would actually compete and wait for the text message on who ‘made it’ that day.”

Jess H. (Hatfield): “We sold in a pretty desirable area so we made plans that first weekend we were on market and just left the house so it was free for showings. With two little ones, it’s best to simplify instead of having to come and go. As a working mom, I am strapped for time, but I was able to take one full day off prior to listing the home to organize, purge and clean. It looked staged at that point.”

I have some additional thoughts for those who are still intimidated by the proposition:
  • The Family Huddle – I don’t know about all of you, but I see my family as a team. Therefore, I would suggest there be a “family huddle” of sorts to make everyone aware of what will be required of them and to answer any questions. Selling a house can be confusing for children too, so the earlier they are brought into the process, the better. Making a game of it or placing a positive spin is always a good idea if they’re on the younger side.
  • Use The Opportunity – There is no doubt, as Americans, we love our stuff. However, you should see this as an opportunity to really separate yourself from the things you don’t need. Be ambitious. Study after study shows that removing things from your house has mental benefits and selling a home is a perfect excuse.
  • Reclaim Your Living Space – Even if you don’t get rid of anything and just reorganize, this is an ideal opportunity to reclaim your adult space in the home. A lot of people have quasi-living room/playroom setups in their main floor (myself included) and it won’t be an attractive way to show the home, so you might as well use the situation to reclaim what is rightfully yours! Of course, if the kiddos are on the younger side or if the home is small and there’s no other place for it (typical in a condo), a clear segregation between a kid area and your space is sufficient and usually understood by buyers.
  • Communicate With Your Realtor – Make sure your realtor is on the same page and understands what is possible for showings. While typically, the owner (you) approve who comes and goes, your agent should have a clear understanding of your work situation & family schedules. Let your agent know if you’re going out of town too so they can try to drive showings to that time when you won’t be home.
  • Don’t Overprice – Whether you have kids or not, an extended time on the market can be pretty frustrating. Speak with your Realtor about how to price your home so you are competitive with others in your area. To be clear, I am not recommending you underprice your home, but even in a seller’s market buyers are not willing to overpay. (And their lenders aren’t going to allow them to do it either)

Much like anything else, with a well-defined plan of attack, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals! I’m sure I missed a few, so if you have anything that worked well while selling your home, then please comment below. Also, a very sincere thanks to the moms who took the time to be contributors.

I would be happy to showcase your question in my next installment. Go ahead…Ask me anything! If I use your question, I will send you a gift card of your choice or donate money to a charity on your behalf.

Seth Lejeune – 610.804.2104 – seth.lejeune@foxroach.com / Berkshire Hathaway – Fox & Roach

Seth is a licensed REALTOR  and small business owner based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

 

“When Should I List My Home For Sale?”

As I’ve said in previous posts, the idea of moving can be a daunting task, but with the help of the right people, it doesn’t have to be. Last month, I discussed “What Should I Do To Get My House Ready For The Spring” (here) and as a result, many of you called, texted, emailed, FB messaged or we simply met up in person. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations (and drank way too much coffee), but this month I am covering the question I got the most as a result of those discussions. When exactly is a good time to list my home for sale?

In Philadelphia, the traditional thinking used to be when the weather turned; the proverbial “Spring Market”. This meant no snow on the ground, milder temps, perhaps a little green coming in on the shrubs and trees and the birds chirping. However, once we entered a seller’s market a few years back, that starting point was moved back to “right after the Super Bowl”. The idea here is the same for buyers and sellers. Both are trying to get a jump on the market or they simply need to sell or buy.

Here’s the thing though: When answering this question, any good agent should go deeper than simply relying on weather trends. They should, in fact, rely on data…if they can. Opportunity is found by those who don’t rely on what everyone else is doing…or not doing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t occur to a lot of agents to lean on the data and they simply default to the conventional thinking. This isn’t to say that weather isn’t important because it is, but a quick look at the data shows historically there has been considerable activity prior to the Super Bowl in year’s past. In the Philadelphia area for example, in December of 2016, 2311 homes went “pending” and 2900 did so in January of 2017. What does this tell us? It says that buyers stuck it out through the holidays and found their home when most buyers were hibernating. Conversely, this tells us that finding a buyer for your home is not as impossible as the conventional wisdom states.

One caveat to consider though is the fact that while there are some buyers out and about during the winter months, there is less chance for a bidding war since there are simply less people looking for homes. Even without a bidding war, you can still get lower offers than you normally would in the months of March & April. However, if you’re a seller who really needs to get moving, the opportunity is there for you.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should list your home during a blizzard, but the point here is there are other factors than simply weather patterns to consider in this seller’s market we’re experiencing. And an even larger point is that you and your agent should be digging deeper when making strategic real estate decisions.

Unlike many REALTORS, I write my own stuff and would be happy to showcase your question in my next installment. Go ahead…Ask me anything or leave a comment in the section below!

Seth Lejeune – 610.804.2104 – seth.lejeune@foxroach.com / Berkshire Hathaway – Fox & Roach

Seth is a licensed REALTOR, entrepreneur and small business owner based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

 

“What Should I Do To Get My House Ready for the Spring Market?”

 

Tis the season for holiday gatherings and gift giving… When putting this article together, I seriously considered putting a picture of a big snowflake or some “Clark Griswold-like” decorated house, but I figured you all get your fill of these types of visuals throughout the holiday season. So I chose this picture (A beautiful home in the Masters section of RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve in Upper Providence Township, PA) because this month’s edition is about looking past the holidays and on to a Spring market that will be here before we know it. More importantly, lots of home sellers are asking this question of me right now. In fact, about half of my client meetings from Halloween to the New Year are to discuss prepping their home. So what can you do to be prepared? Here are 5 tips:

  1. HOME VALUATION – You should absolutely get a home valuation estimate from a licensed REALTOR. I know many of you out there are real estate hobbyists but respectfully, the resources available to the general public (Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, County Public Records) only tell part of the story and can often be wrong. In most cases, only professional agents have the correct information & market knowledge you need to make an informed decision about the value of your home. This is super important since it is the baseline for all of your preparation activities. For example, if margins are tight then you’ll want to refrain from going overboard since you won’t recoup that money when you sell.
  2. THE “POP-BY” – Have a REALTOR come by and take a look at the home well in advance. Not much is more frustrating for a seller to have spent their winter months doing their own prep only to have their agent come in when’s it’s time to list and tell them they need to do this or that (or they wasted money on this or that). To boot, this could lead to missing valuable time on the market if a change needs to be made.
  3. DECLUTTER – Any REALTOR is going to tell you to get rid of, hide or organize all the stuff in your home. Depending on the amount will dictate the proper method here. If you’ve lived in the home for a long time and you have a basement full of stuff then selling your home might be a good excuse to finally rid yourself of those unwanted possessions.  In most cases, buyers don’t want to see all your stuff, even if it is organized and neat. If you simply cannot part with it, then it might be a good idea to temporarily put it in a storage unit.
  4. REPAIRS & IMPROVEMENTS – Hopefully, you have kept up your home and don’t need any major improvements,  but even the most meticulously maintained homes often could use a little primping. Don’t forget, most agents work with sellers AND buyers so they’re used to seeing things through their eyes. Sometimes the work is simply slapping a coat of paint up and sometimes it requires more. If your home does need a larger project done, then your agent will usually be able to help and get you a contractor.
  5. DON’T FORGET THE OUTSIDE – First impressions count! Curb appeal is a real thing, so don’t forget the outside of your home! Make sure any remaining piles of leaves from the fall are gone and that your landscaping looks sharp. Here’s a pro tip: If you want to give the buyer the impression that your home isn’t well maintained, then let them catch a glance of leaves sticking out of the top of your gutters. This is an instant turnoff! A good exercise is to go out to the street, walk up to the house and try to see what buyers will notice. Look for things out of place and messiness. The old adage is true that you only get one chance to make a first impression and this is no exception.

If this seems overwhelming, do not despair: A simple call to a realtor can get you well ahead of the game so that when you’re ready to list your property, you can hit the ground running.
Unlike many REALTORS, I write my own stuff and would be happy to showcase your question in my next installment. Go ahead…Ask me anything or leave a comment in the section below!

Seth Lejeune – 610.804.2104 – seth.lejeune@foxroach.com / Berkshire Hathaway – Fox & Roach

Seth is a licensed REALTOR and small business owner based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

“What Are The Pros and Cons of A Cash Offer For A Seller?”

I was recently in Virginia and received a voicemail from my good friend, Ashley Fusarelli, that goes something like this: “You said to ask you anything, so I am wondering what is the benefit of a cash offer for a house? I know someone who just recently received one and want to know whether that is a good thing or a bad thing?”

Pros

Fewer Contingencies – Most buyers need a mortgage, so built into those mortgages are certain contingencies like appraisals, interest rates & proof of income. Some loans (such as VA & FHA) require even more conditions are met before lending money. With a cash offer, these potential hurdles for the seller are neutralized. As long as the buyer can show “proof of funds”, the process is far more straightforward and less risky.

Shorter Time Frame – With fewer contingencies and tasks to accomplish, cash offers tend to close sooner than ones where lenders are involved. This saves the seller money in terms of mortgage payments (if any) and hassle of waiting weeks for settlement. Every day you wait for settlement is another day something can go wrong with the deal.

Waiving Inspections – Some cash buyers in a competitive market like the one we’re seeing in the Philadelphia area find that their cash offer is not enough to lure the seller so they might waive inspections altogether to make it even more attractive. Obviously, it purely depends on the home, but if a cash buyer has deep pockets, he might take the chance of simply buying it outright.

Cons:

Low Offers: Some cash buyers understand what I’ve outlined above and feel they can now leverage these benefits in the form of a lower offer. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In a competitive market, a seller might be willing to roll the dice on a buyer who needs financing if the offer is higher. If the seller feels their home will appraise for their asking price, they will sometimes take the higher price even if a lender is involved.

More Requests During Inspections: In the same vein as above, the buyer sometimes feels as though they can leverage the simplicity of their cash offer (shorter duration) to get the seller to make more repairs.  Of course, it is up to the seller how much they’re going to repair prior to settlement, but keep your eye on the big picture too. It might be worth remembering the seller is already saving money on another mortgage payment they’d otherwise be paying with a buyer who needs to wait for financing.

Get Ready to Move: As mentioned above, some cash deals can close in a few weeks and that can be a challenge since if the seller’s not ready to move or haven’t found their next house, that can put a seller in a bind. Sellers often like the idea of getting their home sold really fast until they realize that they need to start boxing things up and find a place to live. Be careful what you wish for.

Ultimately, no offer is solely based on financing (or lack thereof) since there are other factors, but a cash offer will get almost any seller’s attention. After all, CASH IS KING!

I would be happy to showcase your question in my next installment. Go ahead…Ask me anything or leave a comment in the section below!

Seth Lejeune – 610.804.2104 – seth.lejeune@foxroach.com / Berkshire Hathaway – Fox & Roach

Seth is a licensed REALTOR and small business owner based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

“I’m Thinking About Buying, So When Should I Speak With a Lender?”

home-investment-tipsGenerally in these articles, I will elude to a “grey area” since many topics pertaining to real estate can be complex and everyone’s situation is different. Thankfully, this topic is more cut and dry. When should you speak to a lender? The answer is: TODAY.  

While some heed my advice and pick up the phone right away, the more cautious buyers usually say, “I’m not ready to speak to a lender.” Here are a some reasons why that’s probably not true:

  1. Believe it or not, there is a misconception that if you speak to a lender, it will adversely affect your credit. A conversation does not do that and even if they ask your permission to check your credit, it only slightly affects your rating. (Usually 2-4 points).
  2. Even if you’re not ready to buy for some time (1+ years), speaking to a lender can help you prepare for when the time comes. I’ve seen too many instances where a buyer is personally & professionally ready only to find out that financially they are not. Almost always they waited too long to speak to a lender.
  3. Lenders have all types of loan options out there which can save you lots of money and increase the amount of home you can afford, but the only way to know is to ask. Also, if your credit rating is on the cusp of being in a higher tier, the lender can advise you how to boost it and you can save some serious dough!
  4. Speaking with a lender does not prevent you from shopping around; you’re not locked in.
  5. Just because you were denied or given an unfavorable rate by one lender does not mean every lender will. Not all lenders are created equal.
  6. You might be doing something that’s not helping your credit or worse yet, hurting your credit. This isn’t uncommon since there are countless websites out there giving bunk advice for managing your credit.
  7. No, your father, uncle & brother-in-law are (most likely) not suited to pre-qualify you for a loan. Much like the internet, there’s plenty of bad advice and preconceived notions being thrown about by family member’s these days. Don’t take their word for it… consult a professional who does this every day.
  8. People think that if they talk to a lender and are not ready, they are wasting their time. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Lenders will happily work through the process with you…no matter how long it takes.
  9. As they say, “The Truth Hurts”… Some people are embarrassed by their financial situation. Believe me when I say, lenders have seen worse, especially in the wake of the Great Recession. This is business, nothing more…they’re not there to judge… they’re there to help.

I’ve said time and time again that the real estate process doesn’t have to be some big complicated thing for most buyers. If you have a realtor and a lender who know what they’re doing and have the information they need, it can even be fun. The trick is to be sure you’re proactive about contacting a lender since if you have no one to lend you money, you have no way to buy the home.

I would be happy to showcase your question in my next installment. Go ahead…Ask me anything or leave a comment in the section below!

Seth Lejeune – 610.804.2104 – seth.lejeune@foxroach.com / Berkshire Hathaway – Fox & Roach

Seth is a licensed REALTOR and small business owner based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

 

 

“Can My Home Be an Investment?”

 

Thank you to Jeff Groon for the question on my Facebook page. Being the Director of Financial Aid at the Wharton School of Business, Jeff is a smart guy who knows the investment world and how to manage money, but even seasoned professionals need to be reminded of the perennial truths of homeownership. Never being at a loss for words, I’m happy to weigh in! LOL.

Going back as far as I can remember, there has been this image of a modest house in the post WW2 era. It shows a white picket fence, dog running in the yard, father washing the car, mother planting flowers and kids playing out back. But what was this image trying to convey? For me, it depicts the “American Dream” and represents freedom, accountability, discipline, and success. But what does that picture look like now? Has it changed?

Absolutely! Now, I will be the first to admit that our financial lives are more complicated these days. However, the idea of homeownership and its viability has not really changed, but what HAS changed is the way we approach it. Below I have outlined strategies that have worked for a very long time, but perhaps forgotten:

Additional Principal Payments

When you get a mortgage, the bank lays out a plan of repayment, but remember this: IT’S THEIR PLAN, NOT YOURS! Too many homeowners get their mortgage bill, write a check for the amount shown and go spend the rest somewhere else. (Target perhaps?) Do you make only the minimum payment on your credit card? If not, why only make the minimum payment on your mortgage? Banks make their money from people following their payment plans! I personally feel terrific when I add extra to my payment! Paying more than what you’re supposed to builds equity interest-free and shortens the life of your loan. Financial guru, Dave Ramsey, states that “your grass feels different under your feet when you’ve paid off your mortgage”. That feeling he’s talking about is FREEDOM and every additional dollar gets you that much closer! It also has an added benefit of saving you boatloads on interest! Go ahead…disappoint your bank every month by paying more than they ask!

Home Improvements

Many homeowners get what I call “Pinterested” or “HGTV’d”. Every Saturday morning, homeowners flock to their local Home Depot to reproduce what they’ve seen online or on TV. Once complete, they stand back and congratulate themselves for their DIY project and start calculating how much they’ve increased the value of their home. Here’s the thing though: Most improvements don’t add nearly as much value to the home as homeowners think. Yes, even kitchens and baths…. To be safe, one should talk to a professional real estate agent to find out what improvements have attracted top dollar in their neighborhood. Even then, you must complete these upgrades in a manner that are desirable to as many homebuyers as possible. (Note: You can actually reduce the value of your home by doing this wrong.) If you’re itching to put money back into your home, you might wanna simply send it to your bank in the form of an added principal payment that we talked about above. An over-improved home is one of the biggest problems I see in the marketplace and leads to some tense conversations between realtors and homeowners when they go to sell.

How Long?

If you decide to purchase, buyers should always think about whether their house will be attractive to a large swath of buyers in the future. Your home should appreciate in value regardless, but in a shorter term, this needs to be carefully considered. Pay special attention to this suggestion if your “thing” is high-end, exotic or specialty properties since they are the first to become undesirable in a soured market or fall out of favor with buyers in the long run. After all, if you buy a unique property, usually that means you will need a unique buyer and require patience. If the answer to this question is an educated “yes”, you are most likely on your way to making a solid real estate investment, especially if the goal is to stay put for a number of years.

Conclusion

KEEP IT SIMPLE. With homeownership, the “tried and true” methods of the past still work! Get in the house at a decent price, maintain it well & wisely, make necessary upgrades and pay it off early. It’s not super sexy and will require discipline, but hey…you can always rent and pay someone else’s mortgage for the rest of your life!

I would be happy to showcase your question in my next installment. Go ahead…Ask me anything or leave a comment in the section below!

Seth Lejeune – 610.804.2104 – seth.lejeune@foxroach.com / Berkshire Hathaway – Fox & Roach

Seth is a licensed REALTOR and small business owner based in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. 

 

 

 

Why Do Realtors Always Say “It’s a Good Time To Buy”?

From time to time, I open the floor to my friends on Facebook to answer their questions regarding real estate. I enjoy the real-time banter and often get direct responses and PMs asking me typical questions such as whether we are in “a bubble” or where do I see interest rates heading. (“What’s Going on With Interest Rates?”)

However this question from Conshohocken restaurateur, Brian Pieri, really stood out toPushy Salesman me and it’s a good one. Why do a lot of real estate agents reflexively tell you it’s a good time to buy?

My answer: You might be talking to the wrong real estate agents. As in any profession, there are good people and bad people. To be fair, most real estate agents I associate with have their client’s best interests at heart, but there are those who are focused on themselves and will try to get any business that comes their way regardless of whether it’s right for their client.

Personally, I didn’t get into this business for awards and sales volume recognition. I got into it to help people. That’s not just a sappy line, it’s the truth. So many buyers (especially my age & younger) really need the help of a licensed real estate agent to get themselves into the right situation or out of a terrible one. Perhaps they’ve made a bad investment in the past and need to get out from underneath a terrible mortgage. Perhaps a couple is going through a divorce and one of them needs to find a new home 3 towns over. Perhaps a young couple is expecting a new baby and needs more room. Sometimes, a buyer’s circumstances are independent of interest rates, housing inventory and other market conditions…. sometimes you just gotta move, much like you need a new car or a new job.

And sometimes, the best course of action is to stay put! 

For example, I had a client that I had been showing homes for almost a year and we finally decided that now wasn’t the best time. They simply had too much student loan debt and they were running the risk of being “house poor”. (I’ve been there…it sucks) Of course, any job has a profit motive attached, but I do need to look myself in the mirror too. I need to look my kids in the eye and know that what I do is making people’s lives better…not simply herding buyers & sellers to a settlement table.

It boils down to this: If a realtor out of hand says it’s a great time to buy and you feel like you’re being sold, you probably are. At that point, it’s time to walk away and find someone you can trust will give it to you straight. Fortunately, for you, I know just the guy! 😉

Have questions? Go ahead…ASK ME ANYTHING! Maybe I’ll use your question in my next installment.

Seth A. Lejeune, REALTOR – Berkshire Hathaway – Collegeville #RS331494

610.804.2104 / seth.lejeune@foxroach.com / http://www.yourpahomeworth.com

 

 

“Why Won’t My Home Sell?”

So this real estate question I don’t get very often, but it’s an important one. Of course, my first inclination is to say, “It’s because you didn’t list your home with me!” But in all seriousness, the truth is that there are many reasons a home won’t sell, but below are the biggest culprits:

Funky Smells – Pets, smoke, mold, exotic foods, rotting animals…you name it, I’ve smelt ashtrayit. Even before potential buyers and I take in what we’re seeing, that first whiff indicates safety or danger. I’ve shown multiple properties that were otherwise great, but the smell immediately turned off the buyer. If possible, take corrective measures to eliminate the odors such as removing pets, priming and painting walls, placing a dehumidifier or removing furniture which might contain the odor. (Caution: Most buyers get spooked by a lot of air fresheners. I was recently in a home where every room had one…the buyer mentioned it and we quickly moved onto the next property.)

Priced Too High – 2017 is shaping up to be a seller’s market for sure, but built into that reality is that some sellers get a little too ambitious. Sure, in some cases a home is priced perfectly and it is simply waiting for the right buyer to walk through the door (generally the case at higher price points). However, if your home is on the market anywhere from $400,000 or below, the property presents well, is properly marketed, and it’s still not getting offers or even showings, then you know that something is amiss. Even in a selling environment like we are seeing in the Philadelphia area, homeowners and their agents can price themselves out of the market. If you suspect this is the case, have your agent re-run comparables to make sure you’re in line with the market. Also, physically take a look at some comparable properties with your agent to see what else is out there.

Outdated/Exotic Finishes – This one is a little harder to remedy unless you wish to invest backplash asamoney in the property. I tell my clients to be smart and keep potential buyers in mind when choosing their finishes. That really cool backsplash you see on HGTV might otherwise make for some eye candy when seeing it on the television, but in real life is it going to be something most buyers find palatable? If you’re finishes are a little funky, they might be scaring away some buyers.

Poor Marketing – There are some agents who simply hammer a sign in the lawn, list the property on the internet and perhaps hold an open house. To be fair, sometimes that is enough to sell a home in certain price points and markets, but if your home is situated in a more challenging market, you should ask yourself whether your agent is doing everything they can to showcase it. In fact, you should never sign on with an agent unless they have outlined their marketing plan. I personally present a “multi-channel” approach to marketing in order to maximize your home’s exposure.

Again, there are other reasons homes sit on the market, but these are the places to start. Home selling can be a relatively stress-free experience for many, but only if you’re armed with the right people around you to get the job done.

If you’d like to ask me a question, please leave the comments in the section below, email me at seth.lejeune@foxroach.com or give me a call @ 610.804.2104

 

“What’s Going on With Interest Rates?”

Lots of people are asking me this question, but what they’re REALLY asking is: “Are interest rates finally going up?” The answer: Yup…and they’re not going back down anytime soon.

Shiny Percentage Up - Dollar Textured Front

Industry expert Mike Thompson from Envoy Mortgage agrees when he says, “the ultra low rate environment we’ve experienced over the past 5 years (3% range) is gone while a “historically”low range of 4 – 5% should remain thru 2017.”

To put the rise of rates in perspective, let me share the following example: On October 15th, my clients and I settled on a property with a 3.75% on a 30-year conventional mortgage. On January 30th, I submitted an offer on behalf of very similar clients on a similar property at a rate of 4.375% on a 30-year with the same lender. That’s over a half a percentage point in three months!

But if you go back and read what Mike said and you’re an optimist like me, you’ll notice he is suggesting a silver lining: while interest rates are on the move, they shouldn’t exceed 5% and even at that level, they are still at historic lows.

Translation: there is an opportunity here…

Quite simply, if you’re a buyer (especially a first timer) it’s a good idea to talk to a real estate agent (and a lender) to determine a path forward. Real estate is still a terrific investment with the guidance of competent professionals at your disposal.

I try to explain to people that even if your plan isn’t to move right away, getting a sense of what you can afford allows you to develop a strategy to achieve your goals. One of the worst things I see in this business is a couple coming to me and say, “We’re ready to buy!”

They’ve looked at homes on Zillow, they know what they are looking for and where they want to live. In some cases, they’ve even picked out their finishes for a bathroom or kitchen remodel…the problem arises when they finally talk to a lender and find out that their savings won’t get them there. Preparation is key.Savings Thermometer Measuring Money Nestegg Increase

Sellers should be paying attention too especially if they’ve been waiting out the market since rising interest rates will compel more buyers to enter the marketplace. When there are more buyers, home prices go up…simple economics. Also, sellers should consider the cost of waiting since they are subject to the increased rates if they are buying another home.

No matter your real estate goals, if you’re looking to do something in the next few years you should be talking to someone about this ever-changing real estate climate. If the last six months are any indication, those who have done their homework will be the ones who ultimately save some serious money. This is not a sales pitch…just a reality of the real estate market and a friendly (and professional) head’s up.

If you have any thoughts, questions or have a topic you’d like me to discuss in my next installment, please leave it in the comment section below.

Seth Lejeune, REALTOR, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services

610.804.2104 / seth.lejeune@foxroach.com