Posts Tagged ‘buyers

14
May
13

Stuff Real Estate Agents Say

realtor

You say ‘cramped,’ agent says ‘cozy

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying a home, but beware of the misleading or downright dishonest things real estate agents sometimes say to make a sale.

In the competitive world of residential real estate, facts often are spun to generate buyer interest. Insiders call it “puffing.” Although agents may be held responsible for telling outright lies, there is plenty of leeway to stretch the truth.

Why say a house is small or cramped when you can describe it as cozy? If it has worn carpet and a leaking roof, a creative agent may describe it as “rustic” or even “quaint.”

Rhonda Duffy, an agent with Duffy Realty in Atlanta who advocates high industry standards, says using “fluffy language” to describe a home is common. “No seller wants us to say, ‘This is the ugliest house you’ve ever seen, but I am sure it will suit somebody.'”

What follows are examples of stuff real estate agents say that can be described as “puffery.”

‘It’s in great shape,’ except for the leaks

When an agent tells you a home is in excellent condition, be cautious. Perhaps it’s true, but the term is used so often that it has become an industry cliche with little real meaning.

Agents have plenty of horror stories about competitors who lured them and their clients to undesirable homes with grandiose descriptions. Kristie Weiss, a real estate agent in State College, Pa., recently visited a perfect-looking home only to find that a plumbing problem was sending water from the kitchen sink flowing into the basement.

“It may look pristine,” Weiss says. “The floors are gorgeous, and there are brand-new countertops and cabinets, but it needs a new heating system (or) it needs a new roof. There could be brand-new shingles, but what if they didn’t do the sheathing underneath?”

She recommends having a professional inspection before making an offer on any home, regardless of the appearance or an agent’s glowing description.

Peekaboo! ‘Enjoy the ocean view!’

For some homebuyers, the ultimate dream is a house within sight of the ocean. In coastal cities, agents are quick to mention ocean views, even if they are obscured by trees or buildings. In San Diego, longtime real estate agent Gary Kent, with Keller Williams Realty, says it’s not unusual for house hunters to visit such homes, only to wind up asking sellers to point out where the ocean is. Kent says the answers often go something like this: “See that tree? Look a little bit to the left. That blue stuff is water.”

Hawaii real estate agent Randy L. Prothero recalls taking a client to see such a home. “I took him to this property, and if you stood on the roof with a 30-foot ladder, you might see the ocean through the trees,” he recalls. “We call it a ‘peekaboo view.'”

That kind of exaggeration may bring people out to view homes, but it won’t close the deal, he adds. “I find that really annoying. It wastes everybody’s time.”

‘Remodeled kitchen’ — with old counters

Kitchen upgrades can raise the value of older homes. Owners install modern appliances and granite countertops to spruce things up. The problem is that the term “remodeled” can be loosely interpreted. Prothero says he has visited remodeled kitchens only to find worn-out, 40-year-old cabinets still in place. Weiss has had similar experiences.

“I tell the truth in my listings,” Weiss says. “I will not say ‘completely remodeled kitchen’ if it is only new appliances, but there are a lot of agents out there who do. You just have to be very careful. There may be new countertops, but what kind? You never know until you get into the house.”

One phrase to watch out for is “a kitchen with everything within reach,” she adds. That’s agent-speak for really, really small.

‘2-car garage’ that fits 1 SUV

You’d think something as easy to define as a two-car garage would be difficult to exaggerate. Unfortunately, it’s common for agents to attempt to pass off a large one-car garage as adequate for two vehicles.

Weiss says the widespread use of large SUVs makes it important to make sure the home you’re buying truly has enough space for your cars. “A good buyer’s agent should say, ‘Pull your cars in the garage, let’s make sure they fit.'”

Another thing to watch out for is two-car garages that have been modified to hold washers and dryers or storage areas. They may look standard size, but might not provide enough room for two cars.

A ‘fixer-upper’ that requires a rebuild

Fixer-uppers can provide wonderful opportunities for buying homes at bargain prices. If you’re handy with a hammer and don’t mind making multiple trips to the hardware store, this may be the house for you. It also could turn out to be a money pit.

Generally, a fixer-upper is considered to be a home that requires more elbow grease than money and construction expertise. The problem is the term often is used to describe homes that are badly in need of major repairs that are beyond the skills of your average homeowner.

Buyers don’t always realize what they are getting into, says Kent. When he hears “fixer-upper,” he goes into detective mode to find out just how much needs to be done to make the home habitable. “Basically, it says the house needs work,” he says. “So you are put on notice.”

The ‘I’ll get a better price’ empty promise

Real estate is competitive, and everyone looks for an edge. Unfortunately, some agents make promises they can’t keep in order to get your business. A common ploy is to tell you they can sell your home for much more than other agents say it’s worth.

“We call it buying the listing,” says Prothero. “Usually the Realtors who do that fall into two categories: They are weak agents and probably don’t understand the true value of the property, or they don’t have any active listings, and they will do whatever it takes to get one. Some will take the listing knowing they can’t sell it at that price.”

Promises to sell homes for unrealistic amounts should be disregarded, Weiss says. Not all agents are equally skilled at marketing, but it’s not likely that one can get you far more than your home is worth. “That is just plain supply and demand, simple economics.”

Thank you to Emmet Pierce of Bankrate.com for this article
23
Apr
13

Four Signs Buyers Are Really Ready

buyYou have prospects who contact you expressing an interest in purchasing a home, but how do you know if they’re really serious — or able — to purchase a home?

MRIS, a large multiple listing service serving the Mid-Atlantic region, asked its real estate member network for some of the best signs for understanding whether potential buyers are really ready for the task of taking on home ownership.

Here’s what they found:
~ Buyers are increasing their savings: MRIS suggests home buyers save enough money for six months of mortgage payments and at least 3.5 percent of the purchase price for a down payment and closing costs. Buyers also haven’t forgotten about moving and possible home repair costs in setting up a savings
plan for a home purchase.
~ Buyers have their credit in shape: Home buyers know their FICO score and know how it can impact the mortgage rate they get.
~ Buyers know what they can afford: Home buyers are already pre-qualified for a mortgage so they know how much they can afford, what types of loans they can qualify for, and set a comfortable monthly mortgage payment goal.
~ Buyers are not making other major purchases: Big-ticket purchases, like a car, should be put off until after they buy a home. Potential buyers ready to go know that it’s best to keep their cash reserves high to prove to lenders they can take on mortgage debt.

Thank you to Old Republic National Title, Real Estate Digest for this article
19
Mar
13

6 Legitimate Reasons to Think Twice Before You Buy That House

think twiceBuyer’s remorse is no joke. It has killed many a home buying deal. But buying a home is serious, life-changing business, so some level of deliberation, concern and even rethinking the whole thing, before signing on the dotted line, is actually sensible and smart.

So it can be tough to know the difference between (a) the normal, unwarranted buyer’s remorse every home buyer should expect, think through and move past, and (b) the mental alarm bells that should be heeded because there is truly good reason to revisit whether this purchase is the right thing to do.

Home buyers, we’re here to help. If you’re suffering from a case of buyer’s remorse at any stage before your contingencies are removed, list out the things that come to mind when you fantasize about backing out of the deal.  If your list contains any of the following items, express your concerns to your spouse or co-buyer and your agent. Then, consult with your mind and your heart about whether you’re ready to move forward – or not.

    1.    It’s too expensive.  If you’re buying a house in 2013, it’s completely understandable to have a moment of panic at the sound of the price you’re paying or the sight of all those zeros. It’s a big purchase you’re making, possibly the biggest one you ever will, and those who enter into it with not even the slightest twinge of being nervous might not be taking it as seriously as they should.

That said, fears that a home are too expensive vis-a-vis the other recently sold homes in the neighborhood or the town’s market and future appreciation prospects in general are worth exploring and evaluating before you decide on your offer price or sign a final counter-offer. Your agent can help you understand the complex interacting factors you should consider, including the likelihood of the home to appraise at a given price point and the historical data on sales and home value trends in your area.

    2.    It’s too expensive for you.  For years, I’ve heard buyers express concerns about being ‘house poor,’ meaning that they spend so much on their monthly mortgage payments that they are too broke to do much else. Unless you’re fortunate enough to live in one of those parts of the country in which it is less expensive to own than to rent a home, it’s almost inevitable that there will be some sort of lifestyle revision you’ll need to make post-homeownership.

Most people who have been renting for a long time will find themselves having to make some sacrifices after they buy, in terms of eating out less, going out less, splurging on vacations, clothes and other discretionary spending – this is just par for the course, sensible, and not a good reason not to buy.

On the other hand, there are occasions in which buyers are approved for mortgages beyond what they can truly afford and maintain financial integrity, in terms of still having enough money left over post-mortgage payment for saving, investing and other monthly budget line items that the mortgage banks don’t consider (e.g., children’s school tuition, medical expenses, etc.). If you have set yourself a home buying budget lower than your lender has set for you, get and stay clear on what the wiggle room is – if any. If you feel like you’re exceeding it or getting in a red zone with a particular property, heed those internal read flags.

  3.    The location is not quite right.  I’d probably rank location choice right up there in the top 3 home selection regrets I hear after the fact from home owners.  Clearly, the location you can live in is limited by your budget – you can’t expect to live in Beverly Hills on $100K.  But I’m talking more about the various location choices and judgments every buyer has to make within their price range:

  • between a home in the city, near work, or a home in the quiet suburbs where you get much more space – and a much longer commute,
  • near shops and conveniences, or off the beaten path
  • next door to a school or at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac
  • in a row of townhomes with shared walls and an HOA or in an older neighborhood with lots of land between homes –

    you get the gist.

Location compromises should be made carefully and consciously. If that electrical pole in the front yard really bothers you and you talk yourself out of that concern, ask yourself: are you going to end up hating to drive up to your house every night?  The neighbors who seem to take a lot less care with their yards now might become a real thorn in your side over time.  That extra 20 minutes of commute time might not be as minor a lifestyle change as you can talk yourself into believing – in fact, researchers have found that the longer commutes lower overall happiness, so don’t lengthen yours without serious consideration.

In particular, don’t dismiss noise and traffic concerns without giving it real thought – a friend of mine quickly moved his young family out of the home they’d bought in a new town when they realized that the street was so busy that it was nearly impossible to even pull in or out of their own driveway – much less to let the kids play outside.

To finish reading 3 – 6, CLICK HERE  

25
Sep
12

5 Surprising Home Buyer Turn-Offs

The prospect of selling your home effectively makes you a marketer. And effective marketing requires that you understand the mind and priorities, likes and dislikes of your target buyer. In real estate, we all know that buyers like to see homes that are pristine, huge and well-located. Sometimes, though, it’s much harder to recognize when our own homes might actually be triggering buyers’ distaste – or disgust.

Whether you’re preparing to sell your home, or you’re in the market to buy a home and want to be aware of what the property’s resale prospects might be, here are five home features and characteristics that are big-time turn-offs for today’s home buyers.

1.  Pools. Twenty years ago, having a pool was seen as a luxurious amenity – almost a status symbol that you had made it, if your home had one. Fast forward a couple of decades, though, and many home buyers are turning down homes specifically because they have a pool.

There are a couple of core buyer subgroups who love pools: people who live in places where summers are super hot and people who really like to swim. But those buyers are vastly outranked in number by these other subgroups:

  • people who know they won’t swim enough to use a pool, and think that maintaining one would just be a waste of their time, energy and money
  • people who would rather have a yard, and are looking for homes in areas where they either have a pool or a backyard – but not both, and
  • people who have young children and see a pool as a safety hazard.

If you happen to have a pool, your best bet is to market your home as best you can to those buyers who truly want one, and to mitigate the perceived negatives of pool ownership by being both pragmatic and creative:

  • ensuring the pool has a well-functioning fence and cover,
  • staging the rest of the backyard in a way that maximizes the non-swimming activities a buyer will see as possible in the outdoor space, and/or
  • offering to pre-pay for a year of the buyer’s pool maintenance as an incentive of the home sale transaction.

2.  Your stuff.  Yes – your taste is immaculate. But it’s your taste. What buyers are really looking for when they come to view a home is a palate on which they can envision easily applying their tastes. Accordingly, a primary goal of smart home preparation is depersonalization or neutralization, simply removing most or all of the personalized touches that make your home reflect you unless they are also neutral enough that any buyer, from any age group or cultural background can step in and put their mind’s eye to work at filling in what the place would look like if they lived there.

That said, it’s also entirely possible that your things might not be as attractive, nice or tidy in the eyes of a buyer as you perceive them to be. In the same vein, the tchotchkes, knickknacks and memorabilia that you see as cozy and warm are highly likely to be seen by buyers as dumpy clutter. I have personally been in homes with a number of buyers where the fact that the sellers still had so much stuff or such bad stuff throughout the home distracted the buyers from appreciating the property’s true potential, and what it might be like if they simply made some cosmetic edits and redecorated.

We’ve talked a lot over the years about the idea of simply pre-packing, staging by boxing up everything but the very most basic daily essentials and get them ready to move – some sellers find that to be a much more effective way to think about the project of decluttering.  Also, you can reset your own perspective on what you need to get rid of or move out to put your home on the market by visiting professionally staged Open Houses, hiring a stager just for an hourlong consult or even asking your agent to walk through your home and stick mini-Post It notes on things that need to be moved out before the listing goes live.

3.  Carpet.  Obviously, old, dirty, pet-impacted and bizarrely colored carpets (red?!) are not a draw for buyers. But this generation of home buyers takes the carpet conundrum even further, exhibiting a distaste for carpet – period. Concerns about the relative difficulty and expense of cleaning carpets, to the cost of replacing them when you want a decor change, to the tendency of carpets to hold pet hair, mites and other allergens that may impact family members with respiratory issues are, collectively causing carpet to fall out of favor with today’s home buyers.

The majority of home buyers express a desire to have hardwood floors in their next home; other hard floor surfaces, from bamboo to tile to concrete to cork, are rapidly outpacing the popularity of carpets (though some buyers do still prefer the softness and warmth of carpets in their bedrooms).

If you were thinking about replacing your carpets before you put your home on the market, consider replacing at least the living and dining areas with hard wood or a similar finish.  And if your home has carpet over hardwood, talk with your agent about exploring the idea of ripping it up – it might not be as expensive to repair or refinish as you think, and in many areas, buyers prefer even an imperfect hardwood floor over nice carpets.

4.  Gold bathroom fixtures.  Gold bathroom fixtures are part of a larger category of buyer turn-offs perhaps best described as things that are old, but not old enough to be vintage, retro, classic or historic. As a general rule, this includes household appliances, finishes and decor that dates from the ‘70s and ‘80s, give or take a decade, depending on where you’re at. For instance, the popularity of Mad Men has driven a massive amount of interest in all things mid-century modern, bringing the 50’s and 60’s decor and design aesthetics that just seemed plain and old when I was a child back into vogue – but somewhat more in urban than suburban taste zeitgeists.

This means that those goldenrod refrigerators and wallpapers with marigold, orange and avocado floral patterns are decidedly passe. Similarly, gold bathroom and lighting fixtures, popular in the 80s and 90s are seen as dated by buyers, who much prefer sleeker, matte-er stainless, brushed chrome and even bronze or white finishes where metal finishes are necessary.  Is this just another trend? Yes.  But replacing gold bathroom finishes and recessed lighting can covers is relatively inexpensive to do; touch base with your stager or agent regarding whether they think these micro-home improvements will make much of a difference with buyers in your area and your home’s price range.

5.  Elaborate gardens and/or vast landscaping.  A huge backyard seems like it’d be a big draw.  So do the flower and botanical gardens that the seller obviously spent hour upon hour designing and tending to. But they also seem like a lot of work to today’s time-strapped and cash-conscious buyers. Not long ago, a buyer I know actually de-prioritized a home they otherwise loved, because it was surrounded by an enormous Japanese garden, bonsai’s and all, that the buyer admired, but knew they could and would never be able to care for.  Same can go for elaborate, high-maintenance food gardens or even super-large front and backyards: some buyers simply know they don’t or won’t put the time, money and water into their care, so would rather not take them on.

Nothing about this should stop you from creating such an outdoor space if that is part and parcel of the lifestyle you want to live in your home. But it should be a factor you consider if you are concerned about reselling your home in the near future, and it might impact how you market your home if it has any of these sorts of features. If you have a miniature botanical garden at your home, why not find out if the local botanical garden or garden society has a newsletter you can place an ad in? If you have bees and chickens in the middle of Chicago or the heart of L.A., is there an urban farming club or blog that reaches that audience?

Work with your agent to research where local buyers who would love your home’s unique or high-maintenance features, then market your home to them via publications, websites or organizations in which they already participate.  Once you understand that the average buyer might find these features to be less-than-desirable, it’s time to get creative about finding the buyer who will find them to be just what they’ve always wanted.

Agents and Buyers: What turn-offs have you encountered while house-hunting? Let us at Title Junction know!!

Thank you to Tara-Nicholle Nelson of REThink Real Estate for this blog!




Jennifer Ferri, Owner

Title Junction Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 272 other followers

Twitter

Find Us On Thumbtack