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 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.


5 Reasons to Buy a Home in Winter

Evans Ave Front pix

On the Market: 1056 Evans Ave., Reno, NV: The sellers of this 4-bedroom home near the University of Nevada, Reno, are motivated! The property was listed in December for $529,000. 

 

The “best deals” for home buyers often happen in winter. Sure, there are fewer homes on the market to pick from, but homes newly listed or still on the market when it’s cold outside, are there for a reason: Sellers either need to sell now, or the property didn’t sell earlier in the year.

Plus: With fewer buyers out looking, there’s less competition for those homes. In a tight market like Reno/Sparks, that can make a huge difference in actually getting a home. Multiple offers still happen, particularly in the lower price ranges, but a buyer in Reno/Sparks might be up against one other offer vs. six.

Here are five great reasons to buy a house between December and May:

  1. Bang for your Buck   

In a tight market like in Reno/Sparks, prices tend to jump several percentage points as the weather warms.  On average, about 40% of homes sell in spring and summer (May – August), according to The Housing Wire. Homes generally sell for $1,500 – $3,000 more than those sold in winter, according to Zillow.

  1. Sellers are Motivated (or Finally Ready) 

Whether a house is a new listing, or simply didn’t sell earlier, sellers tend to be serious, and ready to consider all offers, during the winter. This may give buyers more room to negotiate and perhaps get a better deal.

  1. Fewer Choices = Easier Decision

Fewer homes may seem like a disadvantage at first, but perhaps it’s not.

There’s an overabundance syndrome known as the paradox of choice. This happens when people have so many good options they dither and end up losing out or second guessing themselves. They dwell on the “what ifs” – which leads to less satisfaction with whatever choice they make.

  1. More Attention

Buyers flood the market in spring and summer, which strain the time resources of Real estate agents, lenders, title companies and other professionals. In winter, homes may not sell in two days. And, once in contract, it takes less time to arrange for appraisals, inspections and repairs.

  1. Furnishing a New Home May Cost Less 

Need new appliances or furniture for that new home? In general, winter sales offer great savings, according to Consumer Reports.

Conclusion: A buyer may indeed find that perfect home in winter. If not, looking now helps buyers clarify what “perfect” means. By doing their on the ground research now, when that ideal home does come up for sale, they’re ready.

Buying a home is the largest investment most people ever make, and should not be done in haste just to save money. Consulting with a lender, personal finance professionals all come into play before buying a home at any time of year.

That said, do consider starting your search soon. Forecasters say the housing shortage in Reno/Sparks will continue for some time.

Holly O’Driscoll is a Realtor (R) with Chase International Real Estate in Reno, Nevada. Email her at Hodriscoll@chaseinternational.com or call her at 775-850-5900.

 

Thanks to Mike Pulley, who contributed to this article.

 


Will Fixing Up a House to Sell Pay Off?

By Holly O’Driscoll
Chase International2525 Rio Alayne Ct Sparks NV-print-003-20-09-2500x1668-300dpi - Copy

Many of my real estate clients start their house hunt saying they’re interested in a “fixer upper.”  They want to save money when buying a home. Yet, in reality, that phrase spans a wide range of home conditions. Once buyers see what qualifies as a true “fixer upper” in the real estate world, reality sets in.

In many cases, buyers can’t see past old/bad interior paint. Turns out, “fixer upper” to many people actually means move-in ready, without even minor fixes.

Fact: Homes with today’s styling sell faster, and for more money.

Maximizing Potential Profits 

The basics: Updating a home built in the 1990s or earlier with neutral interior paint, changing hardware such as door knobs and light fixtures, installing new carpet/tile/wood floors can pay off. Other attractive upgrades: getting rid of any and all 6×6-inch tile in the kitchens and baths.

Home buyers willing to tackle those projects can buy more house for less money. Home sellers who have the skills to renovate — or are willing to hire professionals — to tackle those jobs, likely will sell faster, and for more money.

It’s a matter of choice. Even in a seller’s market like Reno/Sparks, buyers want what they want. Most don’t have the time or skills to renovate, so buyers will pick, and pay more, for a house with other flaws if it feels modern and well kept.

On the seller’s side: Smart renovators know their skill limits and are willing to hire professionals to tackle certain jobs. Badly executed renovations are worse than no renovations!

In the home above, the sellers added wide-plank hardwood floors, replaced light fixtures and painted — among many other renovations. My clients received multiple offers on this property and were in contract within two weeks — for above asking price .

Now on the market! 

Another client paid professionals to redo most of the 1970s ranch-style home pictured bleow — including systems you don’t think about (the roof, wiring, plumbing), as well as features you use every day (the bathrooms, kitchen, flooring).lwk_3575-2lwk_3543

2985 Rustic Manor Circle in Reno, is a 5-bedroom/3-bath 3,070-square-foot home is on a cul-de-sac in southwest Reno (Jesse Beck Elementary school zone). It backs to a canyon, has a walk-out lower level and no lwk_3564HOA.

It is available as I write. If you would like to see it … call soon! 775-762-7576

Price: $579,900.lwk_3554


Christmas is a Great Time to Buy a Home!

Selling or buying a home in winter poses unique challenges — and real estate opportunities.

Seasonal swings in home prices and number of homes on the market happen in many cold climates, including Northern Nevada. Trees lose leaves, lawns turn brown. Hopefully, there’s snow on the ground. Sellers fret that buyers can’t see and appreciate the lovely landscaping they worked so hard on. Buyers must use their imaginations or rely on photos to understand the summer beauty of a home on the market in mid-winter.

Yet people buy and sell homes all year long. Families grow, promotions or new jobs require people to move, and many other life-changing events  prompt people to list a property for sale in winter.

Whether buying or selling a home, use these tips to get the most out of this real estate season!

Are you a  Buyer? 

Fact: There are fewer homes on the market from December – Marc2525 Rio Alayne Ct Sparks NV-print-006-1-11-2500x1668-300dpih, so buyers have fewer homes to tour and from which to select. BUT those homes that are available are there for a reason — their sellers are motivated! In many cases, price points may be less than homes that get listed in spring.

Fact: In many markets, prices frequently jump in the Spring and early summer, then level out or even retreat for the rest of the year. In winter, some sellers are more willing to negotiate, if not on price, on other points. Buyers who wait until spring to start looking, may miss the boat. If prices jump again, but a buyer’s budget doesn’t, then they may have to buy less house.

Fewer buyers = better chance at getting a great property at a better price.

Timing: The weeks before and after Christmas are great times to make an offer on a house!

The reason: Many agents and many buyers take the holidays off. Less competition may mean a better deal for those in the hunt for a great home.

Are You a Seller?

Homes for sale in mid-winter fchristmas-front-doorace the challenge of fewer buyers. Make the most of what your home has to offer with these tips:

• Turn the lights on! Outside  may be blustery, cold and dreary, so make the house you’re trying to sell warm and inviting.

Home buying is emotional.  Create a comfortable environment for buyers. Add lights to dark corners, Consider installing recessed lights in dark hallways. Add lamps on a timer. Both are fairly inexpensive, yet very effective tactics to make your home sparkle on a dark day.

• Keep the heat on! No one likes a cold house. Many modern thermostats have timers for night and day. Use one, especially in a vacant house. Set the daytime temperature at about 68 degrees.  If a home is barely warmer inside than it is out, clients just won’t stay very long. Don’t lose a sale over a few dollars for heat.ornament 2013

• Consider professional staging. Smart designers can re-purpose or re-arrange your furniture to give it a better flow for touring. Decorate — but not too much. Pack up your personal items — photos, toys, games, “stuff” you are moving anyway. Look at model homes — which maximize a room’s features by strategically placing a minimum amount of furniture. Just enough to give an idea.

Odd fact: empty rooms look smaller than furnished rooms. Again, play into the emotion of buying a home. You want a buyer to pick your property over all other options. Focus on staging the master bedroom and the rooms you spent the most time using and enjoying. Kitchens: Only one item on the counters, and perhaps a small breakfast table staged with coffee cups hint at cozy conversations.

• Show the summer scene with photos!  An album, 8×10 display stands clearly show buyers how much shade the now-barren trees provide your yard. Colorful fruit trees? Glorious roses? Share photos of how lovely your garden will be in just a few months.

dollar sign artReno Market Insights: Inventory is still low. Is buying new construction the answer? Maybe not. Developers used to price homes below existing homes in Northern Nevada. Not no much today — especially when factoring in lot premiums, nearly mandatory “upgrades” plus the hidden costs of window coverings, landscaping and customized paint. Buyers who think they really want brand new, may  find their dollars go farther in “used” home — especially before the traditional spring price hike hits.

So from today through January ‘Tis the Season to, perhaps find a great deal! 

For more information, call/text 775-762-7576 or send an email to hodriscoll@chaseinternational.com

Holly O’Driscoll is a Realtor with Chase International Real Estate in Reno, Nevada. 

 


Million-dollar Home Sales Spike at Tahoe

25 Back 4 10611 Buckhorn Ridge Ct. High Res (36 of 59) Back

10611 Buckhorn Ridge, Truckee offers outstanding craftsmanship at $2.999 million

By Holly O’Driscoll

Not all homes around or near Lake Tahoe sell for more than $1 million, but many do and activity in that price bracket pushed overall sales in the region up 8 percent for the first quarter of 2016.

Here’s an interesting data point behind the numbers: Sales of homes priced above $1 million jumped 11%, while the number of homes sold that were priced lower dropped 9%!

How often does that happen?

These numbers are part of a report released by Chase International Real Estate,comparing all MLS sales from January 1, 2016 through March 31 to the same time frame of 2015.

  • Biggest increase: Incline Villagesaw the biggest jump in sales and a 19% rise in the median sales price to $949,000
  • Losing ground: Tahoe Citywhere sales were down and prices dropped 3% to $529,950.
  • Most affordable:South Lake Tahoe with a median home price of $393,000 (up five percent) and average price of $453,830 (up two percent).
  • Hot Hot Hot:Truckee saw a 110% leap in homes selling for more than a million and 25% increase in homes selling for under a million. The median price of a home rose 13% over last year’s numbers at this time, to $655,000.

Truckee and Incline Village are less than 30 minutes from Reno and serve as the gateway to the rest of the communities around Lake Tahoe.  Spectacular scenery and outdoor adventures surround every home. It’s why we love living here!

 


Getting Too Personal with Marketing Can Backfire

TechnologyFree-Farmhouse-Plans-with-Wrap-around-Porches makes it easy to access public records and to tailor messages directly to consumers. Beware. Getting too personal when trying to connect with your customer can backfire big time.

This is particularly true with fiance and real estate. Many Real estate agents “farm” for listings by blanketing a neighborhood with marketing materials.  Some take it too far. Each tactic below is a valid way to generate business – when done right. It’s a fine line.

The three cases below happened to friends and neighbors. Each offended several potential clients. The agents (all were new) not only hurt their own business, they hurt their agency’s reputation.

Three real cases:

  • Canvasing the neighborhood. Sounds innocent enough, right? Pass out flyers touting an open house or an achievement. That’s fine.
    • Offensive: Going door to door – not ringing the bell, but pounding on the door. This agent’s goal: to find a house to buy in a popular neighborhood. For himself – not for a client. This agent hoped to use insider knowledge to snag a personal bargain.
  • Direct mailers. Many announce nearby sales, offer a discount or provide information. A successful tool when done right.
    • Error: Buying a list, using “mail merge” and mailing it – with misspelled names. In this case, my husband and I received a “personalized” letter – with the last name spelled Driskll. My last name is O’Driscoll. In the body of the letter, the agent misspelled the neighborhood name AND used bad grammar.
  • Too Much Information. Sending out price trends for a neighborhood may generate interest from potential customers.
    • Invasive: Sending multi-page individual property analysis going back 20 years, showing every permit, every sale, identifying owners, tax payments and liens. All this is gleaned from public records, and may be of interest to a buyer. The homeowners felt violated and were offended the agent had so much personal information on them – and spent money sending it in hopes of getting a listing.
    1. Bonus wrong: When sending the “personalized” letter with the property analysis, this particular agent under estimated the neighborhood’s value by close to $30,000 compared to recently sold homes. And the recipients knew it.

People told me how offended they were by these agents. In each case, the agent invested time and money into efforts that crossed a line of privacy and/or professionalism.

Educating people on the value of their home and explaining your expertise in getting top-dollar for a property is a valid marketing tactic. The problem: each of the examples above crossed a line. The people who brought each to my attention were offended. Most had no interest in selling in the first place, and they resented the pushy formats – and some teetered on the edge of feeling victimized.

My friends and neighbors are still talking about the incidents above — and want me to “do something” about it. That “something” is this column.

What are your best tips for farming tactics – that generate interest without offending people?


7 Reasons Video Improves Your Website 

 

Video Advantages

1. Quickly Deliver Your Message

Most of us tend to digest information we see and hear faster than information what we read — on the internet, that means VIDEO!  People tend to just scan intense blocks of type. Using bullets, bold subheadings and phrases all catch a reader’s attention — but video does more.

Adding a welcome video to your homepage allows you to get your message across quickly — and you set the tone and control the message. Video lets people feel they know you – and people prefer to do business with people they know.

2. Interact with Visitors

Video improves your Google search rankings. It offers another “entry point” to your message – and gets visitors to spend more time on your website. It allows potential clients to see – and hear — your value proposition. It’s an opportunity to voice a direct call to action.

Video engages your audience — which increases response rates. People get to know you, your product or service before they call.  Connecting with customers involves emotions. They’ve already visited your website. Seeing and hearing you connects them with your product, helps them understand your service.

3. Drive Traffic, Raise your Website Profile

New content drives search engines. Adding video to your site – and to your (free) custom YouTube channel – ups your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with Google. Using one or two key words in the video title and copy adds another SEO benefit, as does promoting it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Your video can be on multiple locations, without creating issues of duplicate content.

4. Get Personal

Introduce yourself and your unique value proposition directly with a video – Smile.

5. Expand Your Reach

Integrating video into your social media marketing strategy expand your opportunity to be discovered — to convert casual browsers into customers. Take an expansive approach by sharing your video through your own social media networks and allowing visitor to share it as well. Millennials love video — and adding a YouTube channel for your company also boosts your Google profile.

6. Stay a Step Ahead of the Competition

Video helps you and your company to stand out. Depending on your industry, it can give you a leg up on competitors – or keep you from being left behind. Video has been around for years, yet many companies resist integrating it — or do it very badly. Professional video is worth the investment — the quality of lighting, sound and editing all make it worth the investment. Using video on your website definitely gives your company an edge!

7. See the Numbers!

Most companies live by numbers. Executives want to see the metrics. Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for websites with video is one more tool to help increase unique visits, contact requests, and, ultimately, sales. Video on a website allows you to deliver your message anytime — it’s available 24/7. It also works as a sales tool — you and your sales team — can include this personal message in emails and presentations to clients.

Have you integrated video into your strategy? Did it make a difference? If you haven’t — let’s talk!

Holly O’Driscoll is a PR/Media Strategist with Communications Strategies in Reno, NV. You can reach her at 775-762-7576.