1. Your stuff is great, but it’s ugly.
Please don’t be offended. We’ve all got beautiful things collected over the years and comfortable furniture that we would never get rid of, but buyers do NOT want to see it. They want clean, uncluttered, and newish. You have to be able to give them the space to envision their things in your soon-to-be-former house. So my recommendation? Start packing. If you can’t bring yourself to put away all but a few items, then you might want to consider waiting until the market gets better.
2. Wallpaper – NO!
I’ll be short with this one. Before selling your house, unless you want to sell it at a deep discount, remove all your wallpaper. Immediately. Wallpaper is like art – it’s very personal. The same goes with very bright colored paint. And vinyl floors. And florescent lighting. And pet smell.
3. Your house may be considered a ‘fixer upper’ even if you don’t think so.
Because there are so many homes to choose from and financing for house projects is scarce, most buyers want move-in ready. Meaning – they don’t want to do more to a house than add their favorite paint color and fix minor items, unless it is priced as a fixer-upper. If you don’t have granite counter tops, if you’ve got carpet in your living areas, if your grass and/or landscaping is non-existent, if your floor plan isn’t somewhat open, then get ready to price your house accordingly.
4. Speaking of…your house will probably sell for much less than you think it’s worth.
I hate to say this but imagine the price you are thinking of for your house, then subtract 15%. That’s your number.
5. It was the worst of times…it was the best of times…
Now we all know about the mediocre state of real estate but let’s address whether or not NOW, right now, is a good time to sell. Late November, December and early January are typically the worst months to sell a house because all but the smartest of buyers are not out looking during the holidays. However, most people interested in selling their house adhere to that philosophy and so wait until the early spring to put their house on the market. Plus, all signs point to the banks unfreezing foreclosures after the holidays – read – even more houses on the market. As a matter of fact, right now we’ve got the lowest number of homes on the market in Charleston County since January of 2007. There are even a few hot pockets out there where the pickins are slim. If your house fits into one of these, you are lucky.
- Renovated houses under $250,000 in Wagener Terrace or North Central.
- Renovated houses with a garage under $500,000 in Wagener Terrace. There are none.
- A renovated 2BR condo with a stable HOA for under $500,000 south of the Crosstown.
- Renovated million-dollar houses in Harleston Village. You know how I feel about this.
- Houses over 3000 square feet and under $1,000,000 in Snee Farm in Mount Pleasant. (6 of the 7 sold since the beginning of the year sold in the last 6 months and there is only one available.)
- Any house at all in Bayview Acres in Mount Pleasant. There are only two for sale.
6. Photos photos photos photos photos.
Great photos. And lots of them. Once you decide to sell your house and have made it ready, the single most important thing besides the price, are the photos. I used to think I was a pretty great real estate photographer – I take 20 shots of each room, I stage each shot, I use a tripod, I edit for hours – until I hired a professional with a wide-angle lens. Now I’ll never go back. If you are working with another agent, INSIST that they do the same. If they won’t, I’d suggest looking for someone else. It’s that important.
To get a good laugh – check out this guys hilarious presentation on “Unbelievably Bad Real Estate Photos Hall of Fame”
At any rate, I realize I wrote this post in a most un-Southern, un-passive aggressive, un-delicate way – but I know many of you are ready to move, want to downsize, NEED to downsize, or want to upsize to take advantage of the current deals. Treating this situation with kid gloves won’t help you at all. As my husband says, real estate these days is a domino effect. All it takes is one house to sell to start the ripple. Could yours be that one?
I think Fall has finally made it to the south. Our windows are open, the breeze is just grand and it’s time for block parties. Life couldn’t get much better than this ( unless my husband Mark were home – he is further south playing golf at Shoal Creek.)
Coming to you is October’s E-Newsletter. There are two articles I found interesting. “How Buyers Compete in a Seller’s Market” and “What to do Now if You are Planning On Selling This Fall”. I found the first interesting because this is clearly not a typical seller’s market – it is an investor’s market and many of the current sellers are lenders ready to make deals if an investor is ready. To be ready you to provide proof of downpayment funds, ready cash or a loan committment letter in hand, had property inspections performed, everything you can do to get a leg up on the other investors looking for that good deal.
Fell free to call me with any questions.
Happy Halloween if I don’t see you first!
Betty Poore – Realtor
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These are crazy times. Seems we have fallen down the rabbit hole, and many of the old rules of real estate no longer apply. Unfortunately, most of us know by now what a short sale is. For those that don’t know, consider yourselves lucky. For many sellers facing the harsh reality of our economy, the decision to sell is no longer entirely theirs. Those of us you trust to complete the complicated short sale transaction have discovered a new animal preying on these misfortunes.
Sellers are presented with an offer which falls (usually) well below your mortgage(s). You may be tired, resigned and inclined to accept the offer, but now we must add to the contract “contingent upon third party approval”. In other words, we must now submit this “agreement to sell” to our lender(s) for their approval. Now you wait (usually months) for an answer. Anything can happen; yes, no, maybe, try again or no answer at all.
In the mean time, your property has been marked in our MLS system as “active contingent”. This tells all agents a contract has been signed and a contingency is waiting to be solved. In the past, only the buyer was seeking loan approval but now the seller is waiting for lender approval also. Once tagged “AC” future buyers and real estate agents may be more inclined to seek other properties instead of mixing it up with an existing “buyer”. It’s not like there are no other properties for sale.
But what if the buyer of your property knows how to work the system? What if that buyer knows where to look in the public records for upcoming foreclosures and wishes to keep other buyers away? Simply make an offer, and hope the seller is resigned to sell at any price to avoid foreclosure. This buyer may know the lender can not respond in a timely manner. So they sit back with the property tied up. Then show up at the court house sale. Everyone loses (the lender, the agent, the seller) except the buyer. Seller (and agents) beware.
Word to the wise, always seek the advice of an attorney specializing in foreclosure law when presented an offer to purchase on a short sale. Have your attorney contact the lender to slow the foreclosure process until an answer can be secured from your lender.
When I look at our real estate inventory and the numbers of days most are on the market, the answer may be that it is not! Generally speaking, there are a number of factors to consider when selling your home. One of the most critical is the listing price.
Many people set the list price of their home based on their ‘needs’ rather than what the market is saying about the value. Well meaning, but misinformed parties may offer advice that is based on incorrect assumptions. The home owner may allow their own positive emotions about the home to influence what they think the house is worth. Some home owners think they need to allow a negotiating cushion in their listing price. What is the result of any of these pricing strategies? A listing price that is above the current market value!
Houses that are priced at or below the current market value draw buyers and sell quickly, even in a buyers market. Well priced homes will sell in a shorter time and at a higher sales price.
- Cost doesn’t equal value. If you’ve converted a bedroom into a home theater for $20,000, it does not mean you have added $20,000 to the value of your home.
- Put your money where buyers will see it. A fresh coat of paint, cleaning your carpets, sprucing up your front door and entry way are examples of good returns on your money. Don’t expect to get the same return on insulation or wiring or even a swimming pool.
- Do not over-improve! The addition of a fifth bedroom when most of the homes in the neighborhood are 3 or 4 bedrooms may not not give you the return you would like. As a guide, use the typical improvements in your area.
- Most quality home improvements cause a home to sell quicker but not necessarily for more money. A timely sale will lessen the carrying costs and stress. Do not underestimate the value of smart improvements.
Everybody wants a deal, and now is the time. Don’t believe it’s the time to buy Real Estate yet? I disagree.
I must admit as a Realtor I may sound somewhat biased, but I practice what I preach. I’m a Buyer myself. I’ve purchased 3 homes myself in the last 2 years and tried for a fourth just last week losing out on a home that had 6 offers on it within days of coming on the market. Are you thinking that must have been a good deal? It was. 1600 square foot ranch home on James Island in a great neighborhood (mine in fact). List price…$99,000. Not a short sale. Not bank owned. It was an estate sale being executed by an attorney. Motivated Seller.
I avoid short sales. When I hear short sale, I think headaches and heartbreak for almost everyone involved. You can find a deal that way. And if you really love a property in a short sale situation, I would definitely attempt to purchase it via short sale first. But in my experience, you still may be paying more than you need to… but that’s a conversation for another day.
Motivated Sellers come in all forms and I do my homework to find them. I watch bank owned and estate sales. I watch for multiple reductions in a short period of time. I watch for major reductions. But these are not the only telling factors. People need to sell for all kinds of reasons…job transfer, loss of job, marriage, divorce, kids, up-sizing, downsizing, graduation, retirement, travel, health reasons and yes, financial reasons. These motivating factors happen in any market.
Here are some examples of the motivated sellers I’ve found for my buyer clients in the last 6 months:
Downtown Charleston – 1025 sq ft house with 2 off street parking spots and a yard. 1 block from Marion Square and steps off Calhoun .
Purchased for $190,000 – Tax appraisal valued the land alone at $228,000. Bank owned multiple offer situation.
(Link to listing – 2912368)
Folly Beach – Full .24 acre street to street lot with main house of 1500 sq ft and two 1 bedroom cottages on same property. 3 blocks to the beach.
Purchased for $360,000 – 3rd lowest residential purchase on Folly Beach in the last 3 years. Estate sale multiple offer situation.
(Link to listing – 2902489)
Mariners Cay – 2 bedroom, 2-story condo with views overlooking Folly River and the Marina
Purchased for $215,000 – Lowest priced purchase in Mariners Cay the last 5 years. Motivated out of town Seller.
(Link to listing – 2906274)
James Island – 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1528 sq ft ranch home in Lighthouse Point
Purchased for $120,000 – Bank owned property multiple offer situation.
(Link to Listing – 2828792)
West Ashley – 2 bedroom, 1 bath single family home in Parkwood Estates
Purchased for $101,000 – Bank owned property multiple offer situation.
(Link to Listing – 2921950)
There ARE deals out there. When they are this good, they don’t last more than a few days and sometimes they are under contract in hours. I can notify my clients within minutes of them coming on the market. I’m not a salesman. I present my clients with the facts, the comparable sales and they decide for themselves. The Charleston area is full of deals, and I can help find them. Feel free to call or contact me with questions.