A Super Month in Reno Real Estate

One of the things I like best about my job as a Realtor in Reno: Helping people across the life spectrum realize their real estate goals.

In the last month I had four terrific transactions that illustrate this.

Lifetime achievement

After owning a lovely home on 2.5 acres with a spectacular view off Lakeside Drive in Southwest Reno for nearly 30 years, my clients decided to downsize. They purchased this property in the 1980s. The home offers timeless design with vaulted, beamed ceilings, large rooms — and an unbeatable view. They also decided to sell the 2.5-acre undeveloped lot next door, which they bought to protect their view. The combined list price topped $1.6 million.

These two properties went on the market in mid-July, accompanied by a strong marketing campaign that included regional, national and international exposure. I also held numerous open houses.

In just over a month, the sellers accepted an offer for 99% of list price for both properties from one buyer. The two properties closed 76 days after being listed.

That’s an interesting statistic. Comparable resale properties priced at $1 million or more in Reno this year took 210 days to close and sold for about 94% of list price.

Several factors helped this sale: A home in excellent condition, a desirable location and proper pricing. Each played a key role in delivering value to the sellers for their long-term investment.

A word to open house skeptics: The buyers came through the open house “just to see it.” They fell in love with it and knew it was “their home.” Never discount the value of hosting an open house!

 

 

Working from Home 

Some Realtors shun working with buyers. Not me. Relocation is a specialty. As a journalist writing about real estate, economic development, schools, neighborhoods and special events for 15-plus years I know the nuances and micro-neighborhood characteristics of nearly every corner of Northern Nevada. I use the knowledge I’ve gained to match buyers with properties that fit their wants and needs.

This month, a couple relocating here from Arizona chose me to negotiate the purchase of their ideal home in the Wingfield Springs area of Sparks. The $449,900 property had everything they wanted — including no backyard neighbors and great mountain views.

Lacerta Front Photo

Wingfield Springs, a master planned community in Spanish Springs Valley north of Reno-Sparks.

Telecommuters and consultants like these buyers choose to base themselves in Northern Nevada for numerous reasons, including:

  • Taxes: Nevada’s lack of income tax gives them an instant raise
  • Location: Set at the base of the Sierra Nevada, finding outdoor adventure means opening the front door. World-class skiing, biking, off-roading, hiking, kayaking take mere minutes to access. Plus, it’s easy to get to and from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
  • Weather: Four seasons, combined with more than 300 days of sunshine a year, is tough to beat.
  • Affordability: Californians — and those from high property tax states — are amazed at what their housing dollars can buy here. People moving from the Midwest or the South, are shocked at housing costs. The prices are somewhat offset by lack of income tax and relatively low property tax. For many new Nevadans the price vs less tax may balance out.

First-time Buyers 

This month, I helped a lovely family finally close on their first home. They found their dream home in the Cold Springs neighborhood about 18 miles from downtown Reno. The house needs some updating, but they bought a 2,700-square-foot home that works for their family for $293,000.

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Cold Springs — an area of moderately priced homes about 25 minutes from downtown.

This transaction had many “hiccups” along the way right up until the morning they signed. It nearly didn’t close, but thanks to a truly dedicated team that included the lender, the escrow company, the listing agent and me, it came together. A day late — but it happened because none of us gave up. The family could not be more grateful, and it is truly satisfying to deliver the key to people who worked so hard to become home owners.

Many people struggle to buy their first home. Income, credit score, job history all play into qualifying for a mortgage. Finding a lender that offers a “road to home ownership”  and a loan officer willing to take on complex loans is key.  In Nevada, people with moderate incomes qualify for various financial grant programs, rural housing loans and other incentive programs to help buy a home.

Across the price spectrum

Sellers and buyers hire Realtors to protect and promote their real estate wants, needs and goals. That’s more complex than many people realize. Negotiating happens at every stage  — not just on price and contract terms, but throughout the process with inspectors, repair people, lenders, escrow and title officers. Many transactions have at least one serious challenge, when one side or the other (sometimes both) get s angry or disappointed at some aspect of the process. Emotions run high when money is on the line. Staying calm and finding a way to satisfy both sides to reach a win-win solution takes patience, skill and determination.  It’s the best job I have ever had.

Holly O’Driscoll is a Realtor with Chase International Real Estate in Reno, Nevada. You can reach her at hodriscoll@ChaseInternational.com or 775-850-5900. 

Visit her real estate website https://hollyodriscoll.chaseinternational.com

 

 

 

 

 

 


FSBO Follies: 8 Reasons NOT to Sell Your Own House

Why selling without a real estate agent could lead to disaster

 

Sure, Reno’s housing market is hot, and prices are rising. Homes priced correctly sell pretty darn fast. Some sellers in Reno wonder why they should pay a Realtor to “help” with the transaction. They think they can do it all themselves — and save the commission.
Ha! What most people don’t know about selling real estate can cost them money — or land them in court.
Do-it-yourself home sellers are called FSBOs: For Sale By Owner.  Below are just a few of the pitfalls hovering over such sellers. Selling a home on your own may risk time, money, and most importantly, a final sale that leaves you in the clear. Some of the ideas and tips below come from a recent article in Inman News, a specialty real estate publication.

Factors to consider: Time, Hassle and Money

1. Let’s start with the big motivator: Money 

How much would you save? Quite possibly nothing. Overall, data show that FSBO homes sell for less — sometimes a lot less.

  • Lower sales price: Research data from 2016-2017 shows that FSBO listings sell for about 5.5 percent less than comparable properties, according to Collateral Analytics.  So FSBO sellers lose money right off the top — Especially if they end up paying a buyer’s agent a commission of 2-3 percent. (Any buyer without their own agent faces a whole other set of problems!)
  • Knowledge: What you don’t know can absolutely hurt you financially, and it can come back to bite you in a lawsuit. A real estate agent’s knowledge is priceless. Realtors know how to make sense of the data and the entire selling process so that sellers and their home are fully prepared before hitting the market, navigate the complicated escrow process and close the sale with the fewest possible hassles.
  •  Time Everyone’s time is valuable, but as a seller, do you truly have time to schedule showings or to personally show your home in a safe manner at any given moment? Do you want strangers knocking on your door when they see the sign in the yard? What is your plan for days you work, or go on vacation?
  • Negotiating: Do you feel confident to negotiate with a buyer or a buyer’s realtor? Are you capable of answering questions about home conditions without getting defensive?
  • Disclosures: Realtors have a legal duty to be honest with all parties in a transaction. A FSBO seller must be honest about the property as well, even when it means disclosing uncomfortable facts about the property. If a buyer questions an issue or has a concern, can do you have access to inspectors, repair people or other experts? If not, you may lose the sale.  Can you say lost opportunity?

2. Preparation and Presentation = Money 

Image is everything when it comes to real estate.  Good Realtors explain how to prepare your home to show it’s best, and ranges from re-arranging furniture to fixing long-neglected items that turn buyers off — from chipped paint to leaky faucets.Realtors offer dispassionate advice that may translate into a higher sales price.

Hint: Buyers notice everything. A dirty oven can scuttle a potential offer. 

Photos: Realtors pay for professional photography Fsbo graphicout of their commission.  As a FSBO seller this cost — anywhere from $150 to  $500 (or more) falls on you and cuts into your “savings”.  Will you invest in photography? Or will you take cell phone photos, because in Reno, homes sell no matter what?

 

  • Fact: Studies show that homes advertised with dark, out of focus photos, or photos of messy homes tend to garner fewer visits, take longer to sell and lower offers.
  • Fact: More than 90 percent of people look at a property online before visiting it. This is a money issue. For me, it is part of my branding whether I am representing a condo or a castle.

 3. Marketing

Do you have a the facts, a plan and a marketing budget? Do you know the buyer demographics for your property? The neighborhood? A competent Realtor does, and can show you the difference between what you “want” and what the market will pay. Numbers (generally) don’t lie.

Reno home prices are rising. At the same time, buyers are not stupid. Nor are lenders and appraisers. Sellers confuse sentimental value and “news” with what buyers will actually pay and the data appraisers use to support a loan.

4. Pricing

An overpriced home will sit, or sell for thousands less than a properly priced home. Do you know the buyer demographics for your neighborhood? Your type of home? A good Realtor will.  Some websites such as Zillow allow FSBO sellers to post information. Will that be enough? It won’t be in the Reno Sparks Multiple Listing Service — cutting out thousands of potential buyers.  What other marketing will you do (and pay for)?

Chase International Real Estate has extraordinary worldwide connections and marketing networks to share information about your property. Some other brokerages also offer expanded marketing. Some just input data into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), then sit back an wait. What if your property needs a wider audience? Homes listed for sale at Chase International receive local, regional, national and international exposure.

5. Negotiation experience

When an offer comes in, how will you evaluate it? What parts of the purchase agreement impact your bottom line? How would you evaluate multiple offers? By price alone? A Realtor digs deeper into the terms and conditions. How do they strike a delicate balance between protecting their interests as a seller and working with the buyer toward the goal of putting an agreement together?Here’s where what sellers don’t know can hurt them the most.

6. Inspection and repair know-how 

Inspections and repairs can be the most difficult parts of a real estate transaction, even for Realtors. Do you know which inspections are needed/advised? Inspections often reveal items or systems that need repair. There’s a protocol for divvying up who pays for what. This can cut into your “savings.”  Lenders may require certain repairs as a condition of funding a loan. Certain types of loans prohibit a buyer from paying for some repairs. Are you, as a seller prepared to deal with this? Do you know licensed repair people who will come to your house immediately  — at a fair/reasonable cost? Fixing it yourself or hiring an unlicensed worker can land you in court years down the road if the repair fails.

7. Transaction management

Once you accept an offer, how do you shepherd it through the escrow process? Who makes sure all the provisions of the contract are met? Who makes sure the deed is clear, that the sale transfers properly? How do you verify the buyer’s financing? How do you follow up to make sure the financing actually happens? Have you disclosed everything required by law? If you “forget” to say there was a leak years ago, or a tree fell, or any of thousands of other defects, a buyer could sue you years down the road.

homeselling proccess8. Clunky Closings 

Finalizing the sale — the escrow and closing process — is generally handled by a third party in Reno. Last minute issues often arise — the lender needs an addendum, the buyers or sellers have to waive a condition of the contract, one party or another makes a concession that must be documented. If the paperwork isn’t right, the sale (and your money) is delayed.

Are the “savings” worth it?

Only you can decide. Consider: The funds you “save” on commission by listing your house as a “For Sale by Owner” could quickly disappear. The perceived savings can evaporate through uninformed decisions and costly mistakes that — in the long run — end up costing sellers more money than if they had used a Realtor to protect their interests and help them justify their home’s value in the first place.

 

Holly O’Driscoll is a full-time professional Realtor with Chase International Real Estate in Reno, Nevada. Search for property here