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 SELLING YOUR HOME - Andrew J. (Joe) Bihl, Broker

 Helpful Hints in Selling Your Home - Janet Lodwick, REALTOR

 Finding the Right Home - Andrew J. (Joe) Bihl, Broker

 Prequalifying - Andrew J. (Joe) Bihl, REALTOR, Broker

 Selling Real Estate Through A Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Broker:
Andrew J. (Joe) Bihl, Broker

 How do you establish a price range from which you can start to make offers?
Andrew J. (Joe) Bihl, Broker

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 SELLING YOUR HOME -
- Andrew J. (Joe) Bihl, Broker

If you've decided to sell your home, chances are you're caught up in a host of emotions. You may be looking forward to moving up to a new dream house or facing the uncertainty of a major move across country. You may be reluctant to leave your memories behind or eager to start new adventures. Whatever turbulent feelings you're experiencing right now, there are plenty of practical matters that need your attention. Keep in mind the following considerations to help the whole process go more smoothly.

Time Becomes Money

It's a good idea to place your home on the market as far in advance as possible of purchasing a new one. If you find a new home first and then try to sell your present home, you may wind up with two mortgages. If this does happen, ask your real estate agent or banker about a bridge loan to help you make the double payments. Lenders use the same criteria for offering bridge loans as they use for mortgages. Should you qualify for a bridge loan, beware of the expense; during the term of the loan you must continue to pay both mortgages. Shop around for the best terms.

Keep in mind that when people move, sell and buy, there usually is a domino effect. Closing and moving dates have to be coordinated, and the more firmly everyone commits to a window of dates and sticks to them, the better for all involved. Put all agreements about dates in writing, and protect yourself by negotiating financial penalties for failure to comply.

Check Your Curb Appeal

A home that's visually appealing and in good condition will attract potential buyers driving down the street. Use this checklist to view your property through an outsider's eyes.

  • Are the lawn and shrubs well maintained?
  • Are there cracks in the foundation or walkways?
  • Does the driveway need resurfacing?
  • Are the gutters, chimney and walls in good condition?
  • Do the window casings, shutters, siding or doors need painting?
  • Are garbage and debris stored out of sight?
  • Are lawn mowers and hoses properly stored?
  • Is the garage door closed?

On the Inside

Strong curb appeal will lure potential buyers inside, where you have to live up to their expectations. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy improvements you can make to your home's interior without spending a lot of money. Cleaning is No. 1. Your windows, floors and bathroom tiles should sparkle. Faded or dirty walls and worn carpets will reduce the sales appeal of your home. Why describe how your place could look ... when you can show how it looks with just a reasonable amount of redecoration. I've seen it time and time again in homes I list - a minor investment in paint or wallpaper pays big dividends in the form of a better price and quicker sale. I'll be more than happy to offer any ideas I might have to improve the "show" of your home. Contact me today.

Make sure you have clean heating and air conditioning filters. Shampoo dirty carpets, clean tubs and showers, repair dripping faucets and oil squeaky doors. Keep your home neat, clean and picked-up at all times. It may not seem fair, but a peek in the oven may be the hallmark by which a buyer judges how well you have kept up your home.

Remove unnecessary clutter from the garage, basement, attic and closets. Also remove any items that might make a statement that would be offensive to others who may not share your same views, beliefs or sense of humor. If your home is crowded with too much furniture, consider putting some things into storage. If a room needs a fresh coat of paint, use a neutral off-white. Think, too, about how your home smells. You may be used to the smell of a pet or cigarettes, but such odors can be a strong turn-off to others. The yap of a small dog can distract a buyer's attention. Even the feet of little children should be hushed during a showing.

Be certain to remove valuables such as jewelry and other items from view. It might be wise to put these items in a safe deposit box before showing your home. Finally, set a mood for the buyer. Turn the TV off and opt for the kind of seductive music used so successfully in guided imagery.

Make your house homey with live flowers and fresh guest towels in the bathroom. Place scented potpourri around the house or, on the day you're expecting a potential buyer, pop a batch of frozen cinnamon rolls into the oven for a welcoming aroma.

Remember, cosmetic changes do not have to be expensive. In fact, costly home improvements do not necessarily offer a good return on your investment when you sell. It's attention to the basics -- anything that says, "This home has been carefully maintained" -- that will help you get the price you want.

Go It Alone--or Choose an Agent?

Some homeowners decide to sell their homes themselves in order to save the commission charged by a real estate agent. The commission rate may vary, depending on where you live or what agency you choose, but it is generally upwards of 5%. However, handling your own sale means you will be responsible for placing ads, answering phones and showing your home to strangers. What's more, buyers who know you are saving on an agent's commission may offer less for your home, wiping out the financial incentive to do it all yourself.

You may decide an agent's commission is a bargain the first time that a would-be buyer shows up unannounced at dinnertime. Also, be aware that a real estate agent probably knows a lot more about the business of selling a home than you do. Here are some of the advantages professional agents offer:

  • They will help you establish a fair asking price for your home.
  • They will promote your home to other agents and list your property in multiple listing services. A multiple listing service is a book or computer database that all real estate agents who subscribe to the service can access. Your home will get exposure to all those agents, one of whom may have the perfect buyer.
  • They will create, pay for and place advertising for you.
  • They will schedule appointments to show your home to prospective buyers even when you are not there.
  • They can weed out buyers who will not qualify for a mortgage.
  • They can refer you to sources for insurance, inspections, legal counsel and financing.
  • They will help you negotiate with the buyer.

If you decide to sell through an agent, ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. Talk to several agents before picking the one you want to work with. Taking a walk through your home with an agent should give you a feel for how that person will handle prospective buyers. Ask prospective agents how they plan to market your home. Don't sign with an agent just because he or she suggests the highest asking price. Negotiate the broker's commission prior to listing your home, and sign for a limited period of time -- usually three to six months.

Setting a Fair Price

Buyers purchase properties on a comparative basis, considering style, location, condition, size, amenities, financing and most importantly price. In fact, the asking price is the first question buyers ask about a property. Your asking price must sustain their interest.

For example, in a situation where two homes are similar in style, location and condition, but one is priced lower than the other, the lower-priced home is likely to sell first. Statistics show that a home priced 5% above market value has a 10 times greater chance of selling than one priced 15% above market value.

The old saying "I'll start at a high price because I can always come down" is flawed. Buyers are more sophisticated today and a slightly overpriced property only helps to sell its competition. Analysis of selling / buying factors that compare your unit to similar properties will determine the "indicated value."

Naturally, you want to get top dollar for your home. But, at the same time, you don't want to scare off potential buyers with a price tag that's too high. Setting an artificially high price may cause your property to languish on the market for months. Reducing your asking price later on may lead buyers to wonder if there is something wrong with your home. Here are some of the factors to consider in pricing your home.

  • Your location
  • Economic conditions
  • Supply and demand in the local housing market
  • Seasonal influences
  • Local schools
  • Average home prices in the neighborhood
  • Your home's extras -- pool, fireplace, central air, etc.

To determine the value of your home, you probably will want the advice of a real estate agent or appraiser. Ask an agent to prepare a market analysis for you, showing the recent selling prices of three neighborhood properties comparable to your own. The agent can help you adjust for the unique features of your own property.

Accessibility

If you desire to sell your property there are two factors that determine how quickly it sells. The first is price - specifically, the right price. The second is accessibility. The key to a quick sale is having your property accessible for showing at the moment a prospect is interested in looking. Not next week, or tomorrow afternoon, but right now, when the buyer is ready. The most attractive property in the world won't sell if no one sees it. Make it easy for a buyer to walk through your door, so you can walk off with a contract.

Qualifying a Buyer

Either you or your agent will want to quickly weed out potential buyers who cannot really afford to purchase your home. A number of factors will help determine whether or not you are wasting your time negotiating a sale.

  • The buyer's debt and credit history
  • The buyer's current income and employment
  • The buyer's cash position and availability of a down payment
  • The length of time the buyer needs before closing on your home
  • How interested the buyer appears to be in your home versus others

Tax Implications

Selling a home can have a major impact on your federal and state tax returns. Check with your tax consultant on the factors that may affect taxes resulting from the sale of your home. For example:

  • · Whether you purchased the home or acquired it by gift or inheritance
  • · Whether you used your home partly for business or rental
  • · Costs associated with selling your home
  • · Home improvements or additions, which may help to offset capital gains
  • · The sale of your home. In certain cases you can exclude up to $250,000 in gain ($500,000 for married couples filing a joint return) on the sale of property that was your principle residence for at least two years. Generally, you can use this exclusion every two years.

Legal Advice

If you have any questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact an attorney. Look for an attorney with experience in real estate transactions.

Andrew J. Bihl, Broker, Joe Bihl Real Estate 740-574-0056

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 Helpful Hints in Selling Your Home.
- Janet Lodwick, REALTOR

When planning to sell your home, I suggest these helpful hints. They will make the selling of your home a more pleasant experience for all of us.

Finally, may I remind you that our years of experience are always available to furnish you expert advice on any problems or questions that may arise.
- Janet Lodwick, REALTOR - Real Estate Gallery, Inc.

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 Finding the Right Home
- Andrew J. (Joe) Bihl, Broker

With all the choices in today's market, how do you go about finding the right home? It seems the more research you do, the more alternatives you discover.

It's important to visualize your needs and plan ahead. "Know what you want in a home, what's important to you, and what you can live without," Andrew J. (Joe) Bihl, REALTOR, says; "many of us start out with a champagne taste and a beer pocketbook, so it's important to be realistic."
Where and what you buy will affect you for as long as you live in the house. Get your priorities in order before you start looking or even talk to a real estate broker or sales associate.
For first-time home buyers this is a new experience, so it's especially important to do your homework. If you currently own a home, you know exactly what's lacking. You may need another bedroom or bathroom, or a good school nearby.

First, decide where you want to live. A big part of the answer hinges on where and how you earn a living. If your job requires a lot of reading or is quite stressful, public transportation may offer valuable time to sit quietly. Regardless, you should practice the commute in rush hour before you make a commitment. A seemingly quiet road can transform into gridlock during peak hours.
People with children have other major considerations: school and safety. If you plan to send your children to private schools, you can live where you want assuming you can easily arrange transportation. On the other hand, a lavish public school system may indicate high local real estate taxes. Check them out. Obviously, life-style is an important consideration. People who frequently dine out, go dancing and attend the theater probably belong in the city or a close-in suburb. In other words, make sure you're in close proximity to the things that matter most.
It used to be that homes came in a limited variety, but today, you have many choices.
In addition to the traditional single-family home, you can buy a townhouse, condominium or apartment condominium or co-op. In planned unit developments (PUDs), you can find almost any combination. In condos and other such communities, make sure the rules and regulations, as well as the by-laws, match your life-style. This type of housing is great for people who want to own their own space without being responsible for mowing the lawn or repairing the roof; a management company handles that. On the other hand, you'll pay fees for these services. In addition to checking the documents and financial soundness of the homeowner's association, you must determine if the monthly fees are worth the services and additional amenities such as a swimming pool or exercise room.

Affordability can be a factor not only in the type of housing, but whether it's new or an existing home. Old houses often have fine woodwork or interesting nooks and crannies not normally found in new homes. They generally sit on landscaped lots with mature trees and grown bushes. New homes may cost more, but you can make many more decisions on amenities, colors, carpeting and fixtures. Make sure you're dealing with a reputable builder, and have an attorney review all documents.

Selecting a real estate professional is an important first step in beginning your search. Ask for personal recommendations to find an individual who is knowledgeable about the neighborhood and has access to the local Multiple Listing Service. Make sure you feel confident about his or her knowledge and skills, and understand the business relationship that you have established.

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 Prequalifying
- Andrew J. (Joe) Bihl, Broker

Prequalifying Helps Determine How Much House You Can Afford. Before you start your house hunting in earnest, the real estate professional with whom you are working likely will "prequalify" you to determine a price range you can afford. According to the Andrew J. (Joe) Bihl, prequalification is a necessary part of the home buying process that helps save you time and money.
Don't be shy or withhold information about your income or credit status. Your real estate professional isn't trying to pry. Rather, he or she must know all details related to your ability to obtain a mortgage. By candidly discussing your financial situation, you'll give the agent the information necessary to show you homes you can afford. If you don't open up, you are placing the real estate professional in the role of a tour guide, not someone who can help you find a home within your budget. You'll wind up wasting your time and that of the seller.

Once you have signed a contract to purchase a home, you must choose a lending institution or mortgage company from which to obtain your home loan. Your loan application will request financial data including your place of employment, assets, and liabilities (including recurring debts such as credit card bills and car payments).

Here are two important tips on loan qualification: 1) Do not borrow the down payment without disclosing the loan, submit fake letters-of-credit or gift letters, or make secret financial arrangements. 2) Accurately list your income and assets, all debts and the approximate amounts you owe.
You'll most likely be charged a credit report fee by the lender, which will cover the cost of having your credit history examined. Credit reporting agencies compile credit reports on consumers, including bill payment history, as well as whether you have been sued or filed for bankruptcy among other information.
Federal credit reporting laws do not give you the right to inspect the actual credit report at the reporting agency or to receive an exact duplicate of the report. But, you are entitled to a summary containing the sources of the report's information. If your ability to obtain a mortgage is adversely affected by the credit report, you have the right to challenge its accuracy and seek corrections.
The credit report is part of the information the lender uses to determine if you qualify for a loan. It is not a mechanism to prevent you from buying. Remember, lenders want to make loans, not turn them down.

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 Selling Real Estate Through A Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Broker:
- Andrew J. (Joe) Bihl, Broker

Selling real estate through an MLS broker gives you the advantage of having potentially 100 ± REALTORS working to sell your property. When you list (contract) to sell your property, ask your REALTOR (agent) to present you with a copy of the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) computer printout. This printout should be available to you in 48 hours or less.

The following are some checks that will insure that your property with all of its features and information are available to all of the MLS REALTORS. This will provide you with the greatest opportunity to quickly sell your property.

Do you want one REALTOR selling your property or do you want the potential of 100± Realtors selling for you?

 Andrew J. (Joe) Bihl, Broker

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 How do you establish a price range from which you can start to make offers?
Andrew J. (Joe) Bihl, Broker

A question that came to me recently was, "How do you establish a price range from which you can start to make offers?"
My opinion is that some of the time there is no direct correlation between asking price and the value of a property. Therefore it would be futile, based on the asking price, to attempt to establish a range from which to make an offer. When working as a Buyer Agent, I would start with some research, into basic information that is available, to establish the real value of the property. All factors should be considered, as would be practical, including the buyer ideas as to the value of the property.

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