These terms are handy to know terms when you are involved in either buying or selling real estate:
Disclosure Statements These are most often prepared by the person selling a property. They can include a property condition disclosure, a lead based paint disclosure (for properties built prior to 1978), and a septic disclosure to name a few. You should ask for copies prior to preparing a written offer.
Good Faith Estimate A lender is required to provide a borrower this document at loan application. It provides the borrower a breakdown of their loan costs, closing costs and downpayment required. It also gives an estimate of the total monthly payment. The numbers from the Good Faith Estimate and the closing statement should align fairly close, if not you should ask questions.
MIP This stands for Mortgage Insurance Premium. If your obtaining a mortgage with a loan to value greater than 80%, then the lender will require mortgage insurance in most cases. The premium is usually paid as part of your monthly house payment. For some loan programs a portion of the premium is collected when the loan is funded.
Lien This is a claim by someone or a company on a property, usually for money owed. In Tennesse a Deed of Trust is filed with the Register of Deeds in the county where the property is located. This document reflects the terms of the loan, and is a matter of public record.
Buyer’s Market This is a a term used when the market is in the buyer’s favor. The buyer usually has the advantage when it comes to negotiations. A buyer’s market occurs when there are more homes for sale than there are buyers to purchase them, thus forcing sellers to me more aggressive with pricing. Usually homes take in excess of six months to sell in this type of market.
Seller’s Market This term is used when there are not enough homes available for the number of buyers looking to purchase. This environment gives the seller the advantage when it comes to negotiations. In this type of market you will see home prices on the rise as many properties will receive multiple offers. In this kind of market, homes that are priced right and in good condition may only be on the market for a few weeks.
Selling a home For Sale By Owner (FSBO) is not an easy task, that’s why most FSBO’s end up hiring a REALTOR®. Nationally the success rate of FSBO’s is very low. Over 80% of all FSBO’s end up hiring a REALTOR® to get their home sold in the end.
Why is it so hard to sell without a REALTOR®?
1. Determining the right listing price – Pricing a property correctly is probably the most important step when placing your home up for sale. If your home is not priced right, then you stand a slim chance of selling in a competitive market. A REALTOR® will have access to the sales data, plus their experience to best advise you on a proper listing price.
2. Buyer’s want your commissionsavings – One of the things most sellers don’t understand when deciding to go the FSBO route, is that many buyers know you are marketing you own home in order to save the commission, and they want a part of that savings. Many of the buyers will take 5% right off the top regardless of whether the home is priced well or not.
3. Availability for showings – It’s hard for many homeowners to be available to show their home at the time buyers want to look. Buyers can come at all hours of the day and night. Most serious buyers are looking at a number of homes within a given time period and are not willing to rearrange their schedule to accommodate an unworkable seller. One advantage of having a REALTOR® is they can take care of all showings, thus freeing you up to keep your life as normal as possible during the selling process.
4. Showing to unqualified buyers – It’s a waste of your time and the buyers if they are unable to obtain the financing needed to complete the purchase. If a REALTOR® is involved, in most cases only pre-qualified buyers will be looking at your home.
5. Negotiations & inspections – This is an area where an inexperienced seller can put their self at great risk. When your dealing directly with the buyer you can be put of the spot with answering questions and making decisions without thinking them over carefully. You might unknowingly commit to something without understanding all of the cost and time considerations. Negotiating buyer inspections on your home can be tricky as well. These are areas were a REALTOR® will look out for your best interest.
While it’s not impossible to sell your home on your own, you can see there are many pitfalls along the way if your not experienced. By hiring a REALTOR® studies have shown that you will usually sell your home for a higher price, and you will have someone on your side to make the process much easier.
Before you decide to list your home take a look at these areas to see if changes are warranted:
1. Curb appeal – This is your first chance to make a good first impression with a buyer. Stand in the street and take a hard look at your home’s exterior. Are the shrubs overgrown, is the lawn neatly trimmed, should you add some flowers, do you need a new mailbox and etc. You want to have landscaping that’s welcoming, looks great and will keep the buyer interested.
2. Exterior – Walk around the outside of your home and make an assessment of the condition of its exterior. Do you find some damaged trim, do you need to paint, are the window screens in good order, do you find areas that need to be caulked and etc. If the buyer finds the outside of your home to be in good repair, then you’ve set the stage for a more favorable showing on the inside.
3. Kitchens – They can often make or break a sale. You want the buyer to walk-in and fall in love with your kitchen. Take an objective look at your kitchen; could it use some improvements? It could be as simple as a fresh coat of paint, or all the way up to a full blown renovation.
4. Baths – A nice bath rates high on a buyers list. It much like the kitchen in that you can simply improve it with a fresh coat of paint or do a full renovation. Many small improvements on a bath can have a great impact, such as, new lighting, new towel bars, a new sink and the like.
5. Decorating – You may love the color schemes in your house, but many buyers may not. You want to have your house decorated so that it appeals to the masses, not a select few. Generally neutral color tones work best.
6. Pets – Pets bring unwanted issues when trying to sell. If at all possible try to find a good temporary home for your pet while your house is on the market. If that’s not possible, at a minimum remove your pet from the home when it’s being shown.