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    Home Selling

    Start with David's home selling guide below. It's filled with helpful information and lots of food for thought. Then take a look at the homes David is listing, or check out the MLS search to see homes for sale across the Northwest region.

     

    What should I know before I sell my home?

    Before you sell your property, you need to answer several questions:

    1. Is this really the best time for me to sell?
    2. What are the current market conditions in Seattle?
    3. What is my house actually worth?
    4. How long will it take to sell?
    5. How do I find a good Realtor?
    6. Should I sell my home myself?
    7. How much will cost me to sell my home?
    8. What do I have to do to get it ready to sell?

    I discuss these issues below. The information is taken from my free guide, "Selling in Today's Market" which you can receive by contacting David.

    1. Is this really the best time for me to sell?

    Timing can be everything. When you put your home on the market impacts the price you get. If inventories are low and there are buyers in the market for your type and price of home, you can get more than if you were competing with five similar houses in a slowing market. The time of year may impact property values as well. For example, real estate usually slows in December because no one wants to be in the market during the holidays. People usually buy in December because they have to, not because they want to, and inventories are generally lower. So sometimes December is one of the best months to get the highest price for a house. Because every situation is different, the sale of a home has to be evaluated at the time the house goes on the market, not using market conditions that are six, three, or even one month old.

    Do you really need to sell? Should you sell or keep your place and rent it? You need to carefully analyze your particular situation, and you need to explore all your options before you decide to sell.

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    2. What are the current market conditions in Seattle?

    You need to know what is happening in the market right at the time you plan to sell. News media is always saying this and that about the real estate market, but this is often far from what is actually happening. You may have heard how bad the real estate market is across the country, but you need to know what it's like where you are selling. While the rest of the country suffered, Seattle remained a "sellers market" up to the fall of 2007. At that point the market changed but is in nowhere as bad of shape as the rest of the country. I still see the occasional multiple offer. However, that is the exception and not the rule. Inventories have increased and average marketing times have increased, but there are still buyers in the market ready to buy good homes that are priced correctly.

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    3. What is my house actually worth?

    Determining the market value for properties in the city is different than for the suburbs. In the suburbs, in a housing development, size and condition largely determine price. You look at the last three months of sales of homes in the development and adjust for condition and amenities. In the city, pricing becomes more of an art than a science because no two homes are alike. You need to look at what homes sold for in similar neighborhoods, but adjustments for size, style, and upgrades become increasingly subjective depending on the property. For example, a particular three bedroom, two bath home may sell for $650,000 while another three bedroom, two bath home about the same size and condition may sell for $600,000 ... or $750,000 depending on the location and style. You must take great care in setting a price, because if a house is priced too high it will generally end up selling for less than it would have if it were priced correctly at the start. For a much more detailed look at home pricing, please contact David.

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    4. How long will it take to sell?

    Today the average DOM (days on market) time is about 30 to 90 days, but if you over price your home it could stay on the market much longer. Seattle buyers have an unusual trait: they would rather make a full price offer on a fairly priced home than make a low offer on an over priced home. If your home is correctly priced (and isn't particularly unusual), you should expect to have it sold within about 30 to 60 days, and another 30 days for closing.

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    5. How do I find a good Realtor?

    Good Realtors are not all that easy to find. Good agents possess a very strong sense of the market and are attuned to its nuances and subtle changes. Their approach to their clients needs are well thought out and documented.

    Here are a few things that I would do if I were to hire an agent: I would only work with agents that have been in the business for at least five years and that have some advanced designations, like Managing Broker, GRI, CRS, or ABR. Even if you think you know the right agent, you should interview several agents, or at least three. I would call the three top companies in the area and talk with the Designated Broker to ask who their top agents are, and who really works with both sellers and buyers. I think it is important to work with agents who both list properties and represent buyers, because they have a fuller view of the market. I would then interview the agents to choose who I think best understands my needs and would best represent me. I would probably talk with five or six agents over the phone, but actually sit down with only two or three. I would also call their references. Finding a good agent could be one of the most important decisions you can make. Selling your home or buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions there is to make. To get the highest possible price for the home you are selling, and to protect yourself from any possible problems requires the use of experienced professionals. Find one that is able to tell you the truth about your property and about the current market conditions. Don't choose an agent because they give you the highest price or because they have a bubbly personality; choose them because they have a proven track record and they know how to represent your best interest.

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    6. Should I sell my home myself?

    Some people are very successful at selling their home themselves. However, it does require work. When people tell me that they are going to sell themselves because they want to save the commission, the fact is they actually are going to earn the commission they expect to save. But not all of it. Many FSBO (for sale by owners) end up paying the buyer's agents some commission, usually 3 percent.

    One of the biggest problems with a FSBO is the difficulty in showing the home because the owner works. Another complication: it is always better if the owner is not present when a prospective buyer sees the home, but if you're the agent too, you need to be there, and typically at the buyer's convenience. Another potential concern is having a perfect stranger knocking on your door wanting to see your home. Real estate agents sell most homes, so a FSBO needs to market the home to all the other agents for the best chance of selling it. Even in the hottest of hot markets not all FSBO's sell, you have to price your home correctly, make it easily available to show, and market it effectively. And don't get overly emotional or take the negotiations too personally.

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    7. How much will it cost me to sell my home?

    If you list your home or condo with a Realtor and they sell it, the rule of thumb is that your closing costs will be about 9 percent of the purchase price. Typically, 6 percent is real estate commission and 1.78 percent is state excise tax. Title insurance and escrow fees make up the rest. In addition, other fees can arise for attorneys, pest inspections, and the like, but these can typically be avoided with good planning and preparation.

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    8. What do I have to do to get ready to sell?

    This depends on the market and your competition, but generally, home sellers believe they have to do more to their property than they really do. The first impression of a home is when you drive up to it and when you reach the front door. Those areas should be cleaned up to look in good order. Once inside, you should let in as much natural light as possible, and rooms should not be cluttered. Kitchens, particularly, should be free of clutter, and basements should be clean and bright (use 100 watt light bulbs) and have the windows cleaned. Typically, you don't need to paint or put in new carpet. If your carpets are very dirty, you might want to have them cleaned. Spend as little money as possible and don't get carried away. The people who buy your home will get carried away and repaint, put in new carpet, or tear out the old carpet and refinish the hardwood floors, and so on.

    The information on this page was taken from my free report "Selling in Today's Market." You can receive a copy of this report by contacting David today.

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