Bridge and Real Estate……a good match!
One of my lesser known passions is playing competitive duplicate bridge. Bridge? As in….cards….like what your parents or grandparents used to do way back when? I learned to play while in law school, and it was a great way to exercise my brain and my competitive nature while taking breaks from studying. The infinite combinations of 52 cards, head to head combat with others, and increasing complexity of the game as one advances to more competitive levels of play has never failed to hold my attention.
So what does that have to do with being a successful Realtor? A lot, actually! Bridge involves constantly processing information, spotting potential issues, choosing the best play to make, then re-analyzing and re-evaluating every time a card is played, possibly changing the line of play, or trying a new tactic in order to get the best score in the room on that particular hand. Each hand is a new problem with a whole new set of decisions, and bits of information. One must stay focused for hours. Unexpected mistakes and mishaps happen, but it is important to stay calm and take them in stride.
In my real estate practice, I have to do all of those things and then some. Every single transaction is different, and presents its own set of issues and challenges. There are a lot of moving parts, and the players are never the same. It is a huge responsibility to keep everything moving together towards the ultimate goal of closing with the least amount of stress to the parties.
Today I picked up a beautiful hand with lots of winning cards, had a flawless bidding sequence with partner, landing in the perfect contract that seemed fool proof. What could go wrong? The opponents could make a killing lead, trumps could split badly, or a key finesse could be off. What’s my back up plan, and how can I combine my chances to put the odds on my side? Maybe this hand doesn’t go my way……how can I shake it off, and put it out of my mind in order to make the most of the next deal?
Last week I got a full priced offer on one of my listings. We accepted this very clean offer with a few minor corrections, sending the paperwork back right away for final initials. After an entire day went by with no response, I pressed the agent for answers. It turns out that the buyer now does not want to proceed, for unknown reasons, and I cannot seem to get very much information from the agent. I am re-evaluating our pricing, and having a few potential repair items assessed on the home. At the same time I am trying to help the sellers recover from this disappointment, and look into various options if we do not get an accepted offer on their current home before we close on their new home.
I will always give you honest, well thought out advice which will enable you to make informed decisions about your largest investment.
Home Improvements that SELL
How to add value to your home through improvements and updates
I am often asked what are the best home improvements or updates that can add value to your home as you prepare to sell in the near or distant future.
Kitchen-the heart of the home: this is where most of your family time and entertaining happens. A facelift can make a huge difference: fresh paint, a new faucet, fixtures, and pulls. If your budget allows, re-facing or painting cabinets, updating countertops, matching appliances also give you a good value.
Bathrooms: another great area that can be easily updated without a huge budget by repainting, updating faucets/fixtures/toilet, making sure everything is caulked, and cracked/broken tiles are cleaned or replaced. Another way to quickly update your bathroom is by replacing that old, worm out tub/shower with an all-in-one bath/shower enclosure.
Curb Appeal: For minimal money and time you can pressure wash driveway, patio, sidewalk, and give it a fresh coat of paint. A little money goes a long way in the yard: mow, trim, edge, mulch, plant. Replace rotten wood, clean out gutters, seal cracks and renew caulk. Buyers do not want to worry about deferred maintenance.
Outdoor Living: We live in Florida, so it always pays to increase and upgrade outdoor spaces for entertaining and enjoying our weather……add a patio or deck, flower beds, shade trees, screen in a porch, add a privacy fence, water feature or pergola.
Flooring: Refresh your look by making sure your flooring is clean and not worn; new flooring options will also make your home more inviting.
Major Systems: ensure all are in good working order and evidence of being maintained. Have the AC serviced, ducts cleaned, all plumbing fixtures tightened with no drips/leaks, secure any loose/exposed wiring, update any out-of-date plumbing or lighting fixtures and switch plates.
Windows/Doors: Your front door is like your business card to the world….make sure you are conveying the right message. It should be freshly painted, not worn, dirty or damaged, and should have nice new shiny lock and handle set. Check your windows and make sure any broken or fogged windows are replaced, windows open/shut/lock easily. Replace old, worn out window treatments and broken blinds,
Do not over improve or make changes that do not fit with the neighborhood. There are many big ticket improvements that are a horrible return on investment and should be avoided, unless you accept the fact that you will enjoy them in the meantime.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me when considering home improvement projects. I am your professional real estate consultant.
Negotiating the Offer
Why You Need a skillful professional handling your transaction
In preparation to sell your house, you did all the right things: decluttered, updated fixtures, removed wallpaper, neutralized paint colors, pressure-washed, and planted some beautiful flowers. You were realistic in analyzing the recent market data and priced your home intelligently. After being on the market about a month, you have had about 2-3 showings per week with mostly positive feedback, and here comes your first offer.
It is about $10,000 below list price, they are asking for you to pay some of THEIR closing costs, a home warranty, AND they want the washer and dryer. You are shocked and insulted. Your agent agrees with you about how horrible this offer is, because your house is just so unbelievably amazing that they should have of course offered full price. You tell your agent that you don’t even want to counter, because you are too far apart, and the agent agrees that is absolutely what you should do.
Your agent calls the buyers’ agent, tells them that the offer is just way too low even to consider. Is the buyer even approved for this price, or did they make the mistake of looking beyond their price range? The home was just reduced and the list price is such a great value for the area. The seller will counter at full price and hope they will come back with something more reasonable.
The buyers’ agent is determined to remain professional, and discusses the counter with the buyers, asking them if they wish to give it one more try. The lack of a real counter really left a bad taste with the buyers, and that very afternoon a home they had viewed that was under contract had just come back on the market. They withdrew their offer on the first home, tendered a strong offer on the new home, it was accepted, and about 30 days later they closed.
Ironically, you finally decided you should counter, but it was a little too late, and your home ended up selling about two months later for over $10,000 lower than the buyers’ initial offer. You also didn’t realize it, but the buyers were willing to pay nearly full list price, but you never got that far.
There are a lot of lessons in this story. Selling your home is stressful, and receiving a less than ideal offer on your home, where you have created memories and raised your children…..feels like a direct hit to the gut. That is why it is so incredibly important to have a professional and skillful consultant who has been through this many times, and can guide you calmly through every step.
I am an experienced Realtor with 13 years of negotiating and guiding transactions from start to finish. I will be able to help you approach these tenuous negotiations armed with facts. I will always lay out the numbers for you, and look at the pros and cons of various courses of action. Often your first offer is the best one, so you really want to look at it objectively and come up with some sort of counter offer, rather than letting your emotions get the best of you. I will help you make a thoughtful choice that furthers your goals, so that you do not regret the one that got away or leave money on the table.
Regina Is With You
Through All The Steps Of Your Transaction!
I was talking with a new friend from my running group on Friday, and asked him how he went about choosing his Realtor® when he purchased his last home. The response was interesting ……he researched homes online and clicked links for more information. He googled agents who responded and looked at their websites.
In this age where we get our news online, keep in touch on Facebook, and purchase anything with just a few clicks that makes sense. But what about knowledge, skills, work ethic? Those things don’t show up in a Google search. What about the value added to the transaction by being an attorney and having a solid track record of transactions where outside the box thinking saved the day at the last minute? Those things you only find by doing more homework on an agent, to include talking to them about their background and track record.
This person stated that he could do his own research online, and just use the Realtor® to open the door, scribble an address and price on our “Standard Contract,” and wait for closing. That can be a big mistake. I must put these misperceptions to rest.
There are a lot of people and entities in a real estate transaction including but not limited to: the listing agent, seller, buyer, buyer’s agent, insurance agent, various inspectors, various contractors, buyer’s lender and those who work or and with them, appraiser, appraisal management company, homeowners association representative, management company, local municipality, government agency, the IRS, Fannie and Freddie, title company, title underwriter, closer, surveyor, home warranty company, buyer’s employer, short sale lender, MI Company, various attorneys, admins, judges and trustees, moving company, and family members of the parties………
If every single person who has to “touch” your transaction is 100% honest, ethical, accurate, thorough, skillful and timely in completing their part of the transaction…….then your transaction will be a piece of cake, and you probably don’t need any professional help. In the real world that’s not always the case.
If you are not working with a skillful Realtor®, you may not even get to first base..........getting a fully executed contract. Your Realtor® will give you invaluable information on how to structure the terms of your offer to be attractive to the seller. We have access to more information and how to interpret it than the consumer does. It is very important the offered price and type of property conforms with your financing. Does the community have latent qualities that could be problematic for you later on? Should you ask the seller to pay for part of your closing costs? Will you be able to close within your necessary timeframe? Are there competing offers? What if the seller counters? Does the offer need to be in writing and if there a different contract or addendum required with unusual terms? Do you need earnest money set aside? How much? The above is only the tip of the iceberg. Without well thought out advice from a Realtor® who knows this market, the offer process and paperwork....the seller may not really consider your offer. After spending time narrowing down your choices and selecting your perfect home, you could become frustrated with the whole process and give up on your dream of home ownership.
The Three Keys to Selling Your Home
Home Condition - You Control
You would not walk into an interview for your dream job with a dirty t-shirt, flip flops, and uncombed hair; expecting the employer to use their imagination and look past your appearance, would you? Of course not!!! I am always surprised that people proudly display their home, their most valuable asset where they hope to make a great return to thousands of potential buyers in this same manner. You need to put your best foot forward and make your home shine, so that buyers can see all the great features and imagine themselves living there. In general you want to tidy up, neutralize, de-clutter, and make sure everything is in working order and doesn't look old and tired. An experienced Realtor, like me, can give you invaluable advice to put your home into the best showing condition possible.
Exposure to Market - I control
My job, as your listing agent, is to expose your home to as many qualified buyers and Realtors working with qualified buyers as possible. I do this by taking professional photos of your home and surrounding neighborhood, and copious notes about all your home's bells and whistles that matter to buyers. I then make sure all this information is displayed on over a variety of websites where Watson Realty ensures that our listings appear higher on searches. I also do target mailings, create beautiful flyers, business cards for you to pass out, contact agents who sell homes in your area, and put your listing on Home Connect TV! I constantly monitor internet and phone inquiries from agents and buyers, provide quick answers to questions, and make sure we don't miss anyone who may be interested in your home. Watson's Ebusiness division mines internet leads from sunrise to sunset, and my office has live agents answering our phones 7 days per week, 363 days per year, arranging showings on your home, and qualifying potential buyers.
The Price - The Market Controls
We can set any list price you want. However, any buyer who is qualified to buy your home is internet savvy, has been perusing the market of offerings for some time before even contacting a Realtor to start their search. They are very familiar with what is being sold in your area, and they will want to pay market price or less for your home. Both the buyer and their Realtor is going to look at this same market data when they decide what to offer you for your home, and later on the appraiser is going to use this same data to determine the appraised value needed to approve the buyer's financing. With very minor exceptions like a cash purchase buyer, who has a special interest in your home, the market data of recent sales in your area will set the sale price.