Important Information for Sellers - The Sellers Advantage

Where ever we look in our daily lives we can't help notice teams. They’re are all around us. Football teams, basketball teams, baseball teams, cheer leading teams, you name it. In the game of selling your home, it's the collective philosophy of our team that generates the desired outcome, the successful sale of your home. As the team owner, it's your decision making process that will make it or break it. To accomplish this you need a team manager, a professional real estate agent (Hopefully a REALTOR®) who provides you with the critical information required for you to make these decisions and the guidance to stay on track in what can be a complex and tricky market to navigate. Our determination, drive and dedication to excellence will help you realize your real estate goals. After thirty years of experience working with residential developers and the public alike, we are leaders in the field when it comes to providing the most comprehensive and complete analysis on the local real estate market. Our unique programs provide an expansive window into the market for which no other company has, we will help you effectively price your home and attain the most out of your investment. If this all sounds like a lot of work, it is. But it’s to be expected when you’re selling anything of such great value. If you have a real estate question or need, please feel free to eMail us at Properties With Style. We will provide you with the information that will guide you in making your paramount real estate decisions.

For most people, selling their home means cashing in on their biggest asset. In other words, it must be handled with great care if you hope to protect—and capitalize on—your investment.

Selling your home is one of the most important steps in your life. Here are essential tips you must know.

Top Ten Legal Mistakes Home Sellers Make

This is important!

1. Accepting the buyer with the highest offer without regard to the other contractual terms.

2. Not properly handling multiple offer situations with multiple buyers.

3. Not properly handling backup offers.

4. Entering into an agreement with no earnest money deposit from the buyer, or a very small amount.

5. Entering into an agreement without verifying the buyer's financial ability to close escrow.

6. Not disclosing known material facts affecting the value or desirability of the property.

7. Not providing the buyer with legally required disclosures.

8. Not obtaining the buyer's written acknowledgment of disclosures.

9. Not considering whether to require the buyer remove contingencies.

10. Not excluding items from the sale that the seller wants to keep.

From the California Association of REALTORS® July 2, 2012.

The Importance Of Pricing

If you don't read anything else for sellers on our site, you must read this next paragraph!

The most critical factor in selling your home is whether you price your home correctly . . . AT THE OUTSET! Overpricing your home will have the effect of selling competitive homes in your market before yours. It will endorse the attraction of the wrong type of buyers wasting precious time and confusing the process. Professional REALTORS® with serious clients will steer clear of your property because of the perception that you’re not serious about selling. Buyers are quick to see new listings on the market. If your home is over priced they will leave and never return. Think hard, and then ask yourself this question, do you want to own it or sell it? There are numerous benefits to proper pricing: Your home will sell faster — thereby saving you those additional months of making mortgage payments and paying taxes and other associated cost of your home. Buyers will be less likely to make very low bids on your home out of fear they will lose a good value. Your final sales price is likely to be higher if your home sells faster than if you overprice it initially and have to come down several times before the home eventually sells. A quicker sale means less inconvenience for you. Additionally, REALTORS® will bring their clients to see the property, knowing there is a better chance they will sell a house. These benefits notwithstanding, over pricing your house actually can hurt you in the long run. In a flat or declining housing market, (Such as the current market) it’s even more critical to price your home accurately. If a home is priced too high, by the time it’s shown to prospective buyers, its value may have dipped well below that asking price. By the time your price has been reduced to the market level, it will be a stale or tired listing, sometimes known as "shop worn," as it is called in the real estate industry, and is often ignored by professional real estate agents. These "shop worn" listings occur because the majority of showings of newly listed homes occur early in the marketing period. REALTORS® immediately show new listings to their customers who are actively looking for a home. Once this group has seen the property, showing activity usually decreases to only those few buyers new to the market. This is why it’s important to have your home in the best possible condition and price when it’s first exposed to the market.

Inspect Your Property Before You Place It On The Market

Let’s face it, today’s real estate market isn’t what it used to be. If you want to sell your house, you may be thinking of ways to set your home apart from others. How can you make the decision easier for the buyer and help yourself as well? One way is by doing a pre-sale home inspection. A pre-sale inspection can benefit both the seller and buyer. With a pre-sale inspection, you’ll know what condition your house is in before it goes on the market. This information allows you to have a better idea of what your house’s listing price should be, and it avoids surprises that might arise after it goes into escrow. "Discovering conditions early in the sales process," states Max Curtis, an American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) certified inspector, "allows the seller to decide how to handle the conditions when they arena’t under the additional pressure of already being in contract." It also helps avoid a possible disclosure lawsuit. With a pre-sale inspection, the buyer also benefits by knowing the condition of the property before making an offer, which can mean a quicker and easier sale. At a pre-sale inspection, an inspector will look at your home’s structural, roof, plumbing, electrical, heating, and air conditioning systems; fireplace (if applicable); solid fuel-burning appliances; insulation; and ventilation. Common maintenance concerns an inspector might find can range from a roofing defect to dirty filters in a gas furnace. The costs of a typical pre-sale inspection should not differ from the costs of an inspection done by the buyer and should be based on the property’s square footage. Fees vary nationwide, but can typically run about $300 to $500 or more. If you want to do a pre-sale inspection let us know. We can help you locate a reputable inspector. As the real estate market changes, so does the approach toward selling. Pre-sale inspections are becoming more popular. Pre-sale inspections allow you to know what condition your house is in before an offer comes in.

Even if you have a recent home inspection of your own, the buyer should have their own independent third party inspection at the time of purchase. Your inspection was not paid for by the buyer, consenquently your inspection company would shun from any errors or omissions for your inspection report to that buyer, however, this does not relieve you of your legally required disclosure of "material facts" to the buyer from that inspection.

Additional Resources:

American Society of Home Inspectors (
California Real Estate Inspection Association (
International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (
By Michelle D. Alderson©
From the California Association of REALTORS® Magazine

Crucial Selling Factors

Know Why You're Selling

The reason you look closely at why you want to sell is that your motivations play an important role in the process. They affect everything from setting a price to deciding how much time and money you’ll invest to getting your home ready for selling. For example, what’s more important to you: the money you walk away with, or the length of time your property is on the market? If your goal is a quick sale, that can dictate one kind of approach. If you want to maximize your profit, the sales process will almost certainly take longer. Today's economy is not the time to test the market.

Once You Know, Keep It To Yourself

Your reasons will affect how you negotiate the sale of your home, but they shouldn't’t be given as ammunition to the person who wants to buy it. For example, a prospective buyer who knows you must move quickly has you at their mercy in the negotiation process. When asked, simply say that your housing needs have changed. Your reasons are nobody’s business but your own. However be forthcoming to your real estate agent. Selling your property is a team endeavour.

The Right Motivation

The right motivation has everything to do with the successful sale of your home. Like a car engine, if it’s running on half horsepower then you will not be pleased with the performance. Given all of the time, energy and cost associated with the successful sale of your property it demands motivation, not only from you but your real estate professional. You must be firmly committed to this endeavour else you risk months on the market, possibly at a significant dollar loss and perhaps may have missed the market all together as has recently happened with sellers nationwide. Be committed, motivated and realistic.

Have Realistic Expectations

Having realistic expectations is also crucial to the successful sale of your home. How does your home fit in with the current market, its condition ,the neighbourhood, square feet, lot size, amenities, upgrades, year built, curb appeal and so on? If you have a home in a subdivision it will be easier to assess. However, if you have a substantial element in your home that elevates (or deflates) your probable value and marketability then understanding where you will fit in the market gets a little more complex. A large custom home needs something far advanced than the regular CMA’s (Comparative Market Analysis) used by most real estate firms today. All were trying to impart here is that “nature dictates a certain amount of reasonableness.” Have reasonable expectations.

Favourable Market Conditions

The recent real estate market peaked during 2006. (See our 13 year median price charts) Since then, sales have continued to nose-dive. However, even in this market sales are still taking place. If you follow the guidance above and place your home on the market accordingly you will place yourself in a favorable position for a successful sale of your home. Is the market favourable right now. Well, we’ve seen better times for sure but sellers are making deals as you read this. If you wish to be one of the deal makers eMail us at Properties With Style. It won’t cost you a thing.

Acceptable Loan Programs

The lending market has seen many changes during 2003 through 2012. The sub prime and Alternate-A and stated income loans have all but dried up. Predominantly, the newspapers focus on this market. Short sales continue to be problematic. The HAMP and HAFA programs have little following with lenders and banks. Besides, these programs are only sponsored for treasury backed loans. You know, GSE's (Government Sponsored Enterprises) like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, V. A., etc. This amounts to less than 50 percent of defaulting loans. Still, there are many equity sellers, meaning a standard sale transaction. Buyers searching for a primary home are first attracted to equity sales. For fear of losing a good home to another buyer, they will act, but can they get the loan? Simply stated, buyers need income, a good, no incredible FICO score, better than 20 percent down and a seasoned loan officer. Jumbo loan 9up–scale market) remain available but change frequently. With the recent lowering of the conventional purchase price limit (different limits for different states) places many homes over the conventional limit which translates to a more costly loan and more difficult to obtain. Most high-end purchasers usually pay a larger percentage of cash down and finance a smaller amount, or, they just pay all cash.

Maximize Your Home's Sales Potential

Each year, corporate North America spends billions of dollars on product and packaging design. The lesson here is that appearance is critical—and it would be foolish to ignore this when selling your home. The look and “feel” of your home generates a greater emotional response than any other factor. What has proven to be the number one clincher in receiving an early offer is the WOW factor. It hardly ever fails. As the buyers enter your home their jaws drop, they go silent, they stop in their tracks, they gasp. That is the peak moment. They are seduced into making an offer for fear of losing your home to another buyer. In the preparation of your home anything you do to attain this response is of the utmost importance. You may price your home to sell, but a prospective buyer first reacts to what they see, hear, feel and smell. Odd smells kill deals quickly. All traces of food, pet and smoking odors must be eliminated. Even when you’re sure they’re gone, don’t encourage prospective buyers to imagine things. If they know that you’re a smoker or that you have a dog, they’ll start smelling odors and seeing stains that may not even exist. Sometimes sensory overload will over power an otherwise expected reasonable offer. Be safe—don’t leave any clues. Remember, you’re not just competing with other people’s homes, you might be going up against brand-new homes as well.


While home improvements are an important part of any real estate sale, it is not recommended that the homeowner mortgage the house in order to make repairs. However, basic improvements in appearance are always a good idea. If there are any defects in the home or problems that may prevent a sale, they should also be repaired before placing the home on the market. The quickest, most effective remedy for normal wear and tear are flooring and painting.

Go Home Shopping Yourself

The best way to get to know your competition, identify features that are popular and learn what turns buyers off is to check out other open houses. Many home sellers ignore this tip. If, after you have selected a REALTOR®, drive with them to visit open houses in your neighbourhood. It's a real eye opener. Remember, asking prices do not forecast home values but they need to be considered for strategic price-positioning.

Find a Professional REALTOR®

Find a good REALTOR®! Nearly two-thirds of the people who sell their own home say they wouldn't’t do it themselves again, according to research by the National Association of REALTORS®. Selling a home yourself usually eats up more time and effort than you might initially expect.

Disclose Everything

Smart sellers pro actively go above and beyond the laws to disclose all known defects to their buyers—in writing. California probably leads the nation in this respect. The hundreds of disclosure paragraphs literally are laws born out of prior non disclosure lawsuits. Your REALTOR® will be able to inform you of the required disclosure documents. These documents are critical to the transaction. I can’t stress this enough – disclose everything! If the buyer informed about an issue, he or she cannot come back with a lawsuit later on. Over all, few transactions fail because of sellers disclosure.

Don’t Sign a Deal On Your Next Home Until You Close the Deal on This One

p> In today's market the seller of your new home wouldn't dare enter a contract with you with a contingency of sale. If circumstances conspire to force you into closing on your new home while you’re still making mortgage payments on the old one, you might end up turning yourself into a seller who is eager (or desperate) for the first deal that comes along.

Don’t Deviate From the Contract

Resist the temptation to diverge from the contract. For example, if the buyer requests a move-in prior to closing, just say no. Now is not the time to take any chances of the deal falling through. Do not negotiate with the buyer over your washer and dryer or any other item in the real estate contract. If you wish to negotiate with the buyer in this manner, do so outside of the real estate contract. I have seen otherwise solid transactions totally fail to close because washer and dryer negotiations failed and anger prevailed. Don't lose a good transaction because of this.

Determining Current Market Value

Comparable Sales (Most Commonly Used)

Checking out the prices of other real estate values in the same general area is always a good indicator of what is available on the local market and the price ranges that are likely to be paid for a house. There may still be unforeseen circumstances that the homeowner is unaware of resulting in inaccurate listing prices being published, (A regular occurrence with today's short sale listing agents) which will ultimately be detrimental to a quick and easy real estate sale. (Here is where a professional REALTOR® can help).

County Tax Assessors Valuation

The first thing that comes to many minds is the county tax appraisal. Real estate taxes are figured differently than an appraisal. In California, via Proposition 73, county assessors are limited to 2% increase per year. But with the devastating market we are in, tax revenues are being reset with every new low price real estate sale. Don’t even think about the county tax assessors' figures as a measure of market value.

Independent Appraisal

Another option is the property appraisal. Almost all lending institutions require the purchaser to obtain a property appraisal. Rarely is it necessary for the current homeowner to spend the money in order to get this appraisal completed. For good reason. A “value” appraisal with no purchase involved and a “purchase money” appraisal are viewed differently by appraisers. Why? An accepted offer involving an arms-length-transaction where there is a buyer and seller meeting of the minds usually establishes reasonable value and the appraiser will appraise at the accepted offered price, barring extenuating circumstances.

Professional REALTOR®

Always remember this. Get at least two or three professional REALTORS® to present listing presentations personally to you, preferably at your property. Allowing a qualified REALTOR® to set the listing price may or may not be a good idea when selling a home. Many times, a REALTOR® may not be well informed, or they may be among those who will put their personal interests above the needs of the client. Having two professional listing presentations is your key to weeding out the less than exciting opportunity. Explain to REALTORS® that you’re thinking about putting your home on the market and you’d like to meet to talk about pricing and marketing. By having this "group evaluation" done, you should end up with a fairly tight price range to help guide your decision. Any REALTOR® who is substantially higher or lower than the group should be able to justify their estimate. Just as you should be concerned with too low of a price, beware of an agent who gives you the highest price—they may be trying to buy your listing. When most, or even all of these factors are considered equally for a particular property, a more accurate understanding of what exactly mandates the fair market value of a home will result. This will facilitate an objective look at all relevant information to arrive at a competitive price-point for the current market to effect a successful sale in a reasonable amount of time. Of all of the decisions a homeowner faces during the process of selling their home, price is the most challenging. I say, fundamentally, it doesn't’t need to be that way.

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