Category Archives: Real Estate Advice

Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Owning a home can be a big expense, but the good news is some of your expenses are actually tax deductible. Read on to see how you can maximize homeownership write-offs on your tax return. (Note that this information is valid for tax year 2015 only.)

Mortgage interest

You can deduct all of the mortgage interest (not principal) payments you make on your home, up to a $1-million loan for a couple filing jointly. This applies to your home equity line of credit (on a loan up $100,000) and second mortgage as well.

If you own a second home, such as a vacation cottage or mobile home, you can deduct the mortgage interest for it as well, so long as you reside there for the longer of 14 days per year or 10 percent of the time it is rented out.

Mortgage points and insurance

In addition to the mortgage interest, you can also deduct the points you pay on your mortgage for your main home in the year you pay them, as well as points paid for a home equity loan. Points paid for refinancing your home mortgage generally have to be amortized over the length of the loan.

You can also deduct any premiums paid for private mortgage insurance (PMI) on your loan if you earned less than $109,000 in 2015 and the policy was taken out after 2006.

Property taxes

As strange as it sounds, you can deduct taxes on your taxes! Your property taxes are a deductible expense. Keep your property tax bills and proof of payment.

Home office

If you have some sort of home-based business, you may be entitled to a home office deduction on your taxes. There are several hoops to jump through to qualify for the deduction, the two biggest being that your home must be your primary place of business, and that you use the office space only for work. (The IRS spells out the rules for claiming the home office deduction in Publication 587.)

There are two ways to calculate your deduction. Under the simplified option, you can deduct $5 per square foot of your home office’s area, up to a maximum 300 square feet.

The more complex (but often more advantageous) option involves dividing the square footage of your office by the total square footage of your home; this yields the “business percentage” of your home. You then multiply allowable home costs — namely mortgage interest and utilities — by the business percentage to arrive at the deductible amounts.

Energy credits

If you implemented energy-efficient improvements to your home, you can get a credit of up to 10 percent of the cost of those improvements, to a maximum of $500. This covers expenses like new windows and doors, insulation, and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. You could also get a credit for 30 percent of the cost of renewable energy systems, like solar power.

There could also be state tax credits for these items as well which you can stack on top of your federal credit.

Medical home improvements

If you have a medical condition that necessitates home improvements, such as adding a stair lift because you have arthritis or an air filter because your spouse suffers from allergies, you may be able to write off some of these costs as part of your medical deduction.

However, you can deduct only that portion of your medical costs that exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (7.5 percent if you are 65 or older).

And in most cases, you can deduct only the difference between the cost of the equipment and the increase in value to the home from this improvement. Some improvements (such widening doorways to accommodate a wheelchair) add no marketable value to the home but are fully deductible if you meet certain income requirements.

Home sales

If you sold your home in the last year, you could be eligible for some tax savings resulting from that transaction. The costs of your real estate agent’s fees, advertising, and title insurance are deductible expenses. You can also deduct improvements you made to the home in order to sell it, but only if you have a taxable capital gain from the sale.

Home damages

If your home was damaged by weather, fire, theft, or another disaster, you’ve suffered a casualty loss, a portion of which may be deductible. If your loss was greater than 10 percent of your income and was not covered by insurance, you can deduct the loss. You’ll need to be able to document the value of what was lost, however.

by Brette Sember

 

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Who Will Buy Your Home?

2015-08-12 13.01.23

Who Will Buy Your Home?

When it comes time to sell your home, whether you’ve lived there for three years or 30, you need to see it as a product for sale. And just like an item on a store shelf, you want your home to stand out from the competition.

Of course, your feelings and emotions about your home — and all of the memories you made there — may make it difficult to detach and view your home as a product. But sellers who quickly transition away from the emotional connection and into investment mode will reap the financial benefits many times over. Homes that go into contract quicker and with few (if any) price reductions ultimately sell for more money. And isn’t that every seller’s goal?

What’s on buyers’ wish lists

Homes that sell quickly probably have many of the features today’s buyers find desirable. Smart retailers try to understand better what consumers want, and then deliver to them. Home sellers should do the same.

When you’re preparing to sell your home, consider small renovations, updates, cleaning and even some light staging. I’ve seen sellers make significant upgrades to their home before listing, leaving them to question if they actually want to move.

Today’s buyers look for move-in ready and turn-key homes. The more bells and whistles, the better.

Focus on kitchens and baths

It’s a pretty well-established fact that kitchens and baths sell a home. If your kitchen or bathroom is tired or outdated, consider modest upgrades that pack a punch.

Painting cabinets white gives the kitchen a clean and fresh look. Consider new stone countertops like quartz or granite. And replace old faucets with shiny new ones.

Spending a modest sum can reap incredible benefits — tenfold.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it

Research shows that certain features help sell a home faster. Even if you don’t have time for renovations, you might luck out and already have some of the items on buyers’ wish lists.

For example, subway tiles in the kitchen or bathroom, barn doors, and craftsman features are proven to help homes sell faster. If your home has these, play them up, because today’s buyers want them.

Just like companies figure out the next hot car, handbag or shoe for their respective industries, smart home sellers must know their audience and market their product to meet customer demand.

When it comes time to sell, consider your buyer, and try hard to make your home into a top-notch product.

 

 

 

BRENDON DESIMONE- Zillow

 

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Curb Appeal

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Curb Appeal   Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Curb Appeal

Let’s face it, first impressions matter. We care about how we dress for a job interview, and we spent extra time in front of the mirror before that first date. When it comes to selling a home, first impressions matter, too. Its all about curb appeal!

The term “curb appeal” derives from real estate sales and home design. For years, buyers have formed their first impressions of homes while standing in the street or sitting inside the car, just beyond the curb. Before the advent of text messaging and smartphones, a buyer would get a phone call or fax from their agent about a new listing. The initial drive-by would determine whether or not they would go for an actual showing.

To get that buyer in the door, the seller spent hours, even days, seeding new grass and planting flowers, painting their front door, mulching, weeding and cleaning up the yard. If the home didn’t appeal from the curb, buyers moved on to the next house. Curb appeal was always the single most important piece of the home sale puzzle.

Expanded appeal

Today, curb appeal still matters — but it matters differently. Almost every buyer forms their first impression from a home’s online photos.

Instead of driving to your home, buyers will scroll through pictures of both the outside and the inside, before ever stepping foot inside. What’s more, they may never come to see it if they don’t like what they see online.

While the exterior of your home should be high on your priority list, it is most valuable only when the buyer walks up or drives by. But they may not ever get that far.

The interior also needs to show your home in its best possible light, because Web appeal has become the new curb appeal. And if your home doesn’t photograph well — either because you didn’t have it professionally shot, didn’t post high-resolution photos, or you haven’t taken the time to prep it — then curb appeal won’t even make a difference.

What sellers should do

Sellers need to spend ample time preparing the inside of their home and getting great photos, so buyers will form the best possible impression.

The downside for sellers is that they have to work so much harder than they did just 15 years ago. In our ever-more-visual society, buyers make immediate judgments about a home within moments of clicking on the new listing on their smartphone.

Sellers only have one chance to make a good impression. The home still needs to look good from the curb — but to get the buyers there in person, it needs to look great on the Web.

BRENDON DESIMONE- Zillow

 

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Pricing Your Home Right- from the Start

Front Kilkenny

Sold in 5 days!

Pricing Your Home Right- from the Start

One of the most important factors in selling your home is to price it as accurately as possible from the beginning. Some sellers want to “test” the market by offering their home at an elevated price point to see if they get any bites for the ultimate goal of walking away with more money in their pockets. Of course, that is goal of every home seller- to maximize profit to go forth with the next purchase, relocation or retirement but it will not likely be obtained by over-pricing your home listing, but pricing your home right from the start will.

By testing the market with an inflated price, one that is not supported by recently sold homes in the neighborhood, some sellers are actually achieving the opposite of their goal. The over priced listing may languish, and sit on the market for longer and the price will eventually have to be lowered anyway, and many times to below market value. Sadly, this type of listing is often overlooked because it has become stale. Both agents and buyers may summarily eliminate that home from their search because it has been on the market for a long time and they may assume something must be wrong with that property.

Pricing your home right means looking very honestly at the condition of the home, the up-grades (or lack of), the location with-in the neighborhood and most importantly the recently sold homes in your area. A good real estate agent will be able to provide you with the neighborhood market activity including what has sold in the last six months-, which is the criteria an appraiser will use when appraising your home for the buyers loan. And he/she will also show you what is currently for sale or under contract and help you compare your property with those homes. Listing at the right price will likely mean your home will be shown more and ultimately be sold for more.

By Tracy Tkac

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Your Home’s First Showing

Your Home’s First Showing

Let’s face it, buyers form their first impression of your home based on the online listing. As they say, Web appeal is the new curb appeal. So get ready for your home’s first showing by taking preparation seriously.

If you are serious about selling your home, you have to take your listing photo shoot very seriously. If your photos don’t excite buyers, they may not step foot inside.

You should prepare for your photo shoot as much as you would for an open house or private showing. Work alongside an excellent  local real estate agent , and follow these tips to make sure your home looks its best.

Never list your home online without photos

Today’s buyers get email and text alerts when a new home that matches their criteria hits the market. There is nothing more frustrating than to see the desired address come across as an alert, only for the listing to be incomplete.

Buyers (and agents) will punish you for jumping the gun. Will they go back later and look again, once you have the photos up? Maybe — but maybe not.

You’re adding an extra step for them, and it comes across like you don’t have your ducks in a row. That’s not a great way to start out with your future customer.

Clean, declutter, organize and remove

You should spend a good amount of time preparing for your photo shoot. This means that you fluff the pillows, put toilet seats down, put Fido’s bowl and toys away, and ensure the home  is in impeccable condition.

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A tidy home free of clutter appeals to buyers. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

People can zoom in, zoom out and play with photos in online listings. They’ll notice everything. If your photos don’t show your home well, it sends a message to the buyer that you don’t care, and that you are not a serious seller.

The buyer is your customer. You have a product for sale. Take the time to present it in the best possible light.

Poor photos won’t cut it

Images that are blurry, poorly lit, or distorted are not going to sell your home.

It’s a good idea to hire a professional photographer who will take high-resolution photos, and even bring extra lighting or equipment to enhance their work. They’ll also take dozens of pictures and work tirelessly to show your home in the right light and from the best angles.

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Well-lit photos show off your home’s assets. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Don’t skimp on the number of photos

When it comes to photos, the more, the merrier. You want to make it easy on buyers to get comfortable with and learn more about your home.

Not only are the listing photos their initial impression, but they serve to help orient the buyer after the first or second showing. Once they have been through the home in person, they are better able to relate to the floor plan and how it flows. Going back to the listing photos allows them to make connections and dig deeper. Encourage them to do so by posting plenty of photos.

BY BRENDON DESIMONE

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.
Tracy@Eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Going green can add value to your home

What is going “green” worth in Washington home real estate? If you rehab a house to exacting energy and environmental standards, or install a solar-panel array on your roof, does your house command more when you sell?

If you seal up all the energy-leaking areas in your house, install a highly efficient heating and ventilating system, new windows and a long list of other green improvements, will a future buyer pay you a premium price for your efforts?

A new study conducted by national appraisal experts says the answer most probably is yes — often tens of thousands of dollars more.

Funded by the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment and assisted by the nonprofit Institute for Market Transformation, the study employed a sophisticated “paired sale” analysis of homes sold in the District between February 2013 and June 2015.

Appraisers matched individual “high-performance” energy and resource-conserving houses against multiple homes similar in type and location but without green improvements. They then calculated the extra dollar increments buyers were willing to pay for the green features and found they ranged from $10,343 to $53,000, or an average premium of 3.46 percent. Some premiums on individual houses ranged as high as 6 percent to 7.7 percent, and were enhanced when properties had photovoltaic solar arrays to slash electricity costs.

According to the study, green features in renovations and new construction represent “a growing trend” in the District. As of September, there were 457 LEED-certified homes and 329 Energy Star homes as of August. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED certification involves independent evaluation and verification that a building or an entire neighborhood meets high energy efficiency and resource conservation rating standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council. Energy Star certified homes must meet rigorous energy-savings standards prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Research published in 2015 documented strong demand for high-performance homes in the District: 18 percent of total residential sales and 29 percent of sales in the Friendship/Chevy Chase area (Zip code 20015) had one or more green features associated with the house. The high-performance homes used for paired sale analysis in the new study were scattered among neighborhoods in Northeast and Northwest and consisted of renovated older row houses, detached single-family homes and one high-rise condo unit. The median sale price was just over $693,000, though two homes sold below $500,000 and one went for $817,000.

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Perry, who teaches Latin at the National Cathedral School, says he and his wife weren’t even shopping for a house with green features. “We were mainly just looking for something that we could afford and that was old and had a good location,” Perry told me. Though they visited and considered a number of competing, non-green but comparable houses in roughly the same price category, they ultimately found the case for the Petworth property compelling.

“We were really intrigued by the solar panels and with the possibility of savings on utilities,” Perry said. The closer they looked at the green features, the more they saw: energy-efficient new windows, a commercial-grade air exchanger to keep the interior air fresh and recirculated at all times, super-heavy insulation, a heat recapture system that employs waste hot water to save on the energy costs of heating water, to name just a few. The solar array was bigger than the average system used for houses of this size and promised to cut electricity bills drastically, which it has in the months since they moved in. “We really like it,” Perry said, but he conceded that he has not quite figured out the “net metering” system that adjusts their bills based on how much energy they have been contributing to Pepco.

Even better, according to the study, Perry’s five-kilowatt photovoltaic equipment on the roof could be eligible for between five and eight Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) per year over a three-year contract. “Over this time period, the study reported, “the SRECs are valued at $7,500. Besides the energy produced by this [solar] system, the owner may receive income for three years.”

Tanya Topolewski, a D.C.-based green real estate developer who rehabilitated and sold two of the other houses appraisers selected for the study, says it is not surprising that Perry and his wife were not shopping specifically for a high-performance house. “The vast majority of people who come to see our houses are just interested in real estate,” she said in an interview. But once they see the advantages of buying a home with extraordinary energy efficiency, fresh air 24/7 and a positive environmental impact, “it’s kind of a no-brainer.” Topolewski says creating a truly high-performance home can be daunting, especially converting old, leaky rowhouses in the District. Both of her houses in the study are certified LEED Platinum, the highest rating possible.

But, she says, “there’s quite a bit of building science involved when you do a renovation from a low-performance home to a high-performance one. This has a name, actually — a deep energy retrofit” — and it is usually not a do-it-yourself type of project.

To read the whole article at Washingtonpost.com- https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/going-green-can-add-value-to-your-home/2016/01/25/e24c1486-8c86-11e5-acff-673ae92ddd2b_story.html

 

 

The message to buyers: Even though you may pay a modest premium for a high-performance house, it will probably save you substantial money over a period of years in energy costs and almost certainly will be a healthier place to live.

 – Washington Post

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Etiquette Rules Every Home Seller Should Know

8 Unwritten Etiquette Rules Every Home Seller Should Know

selling-etiquette

David Sacks/Getty Images

If you’re trying to sell your home, you’ve probably scrutinized it, staged it, and scrubbed it down from floorboards to rooftop as if the folks from Architectural Digest were stopping by for a cover shoot. OK, so it’s in immaculate shape—but your home isn’t the only thing under scrutiny here. You are, too! That’s right: No matter how nice your home is, your behavior can also affect how buyers feel about making an offer.

Last week we told you the secret etiquette rules that every home buyer needs to know in order to nail the deal. Today we’re focusing on the selling side of the equation. Here are the (previously) unwritten etiquette rules sellers should follow to show their home—and themselves—in the best possible light.

Leave

Sure, you’re dying to know if prospective buyers will love what you’ve done with the kitchen, but Realtors® agree sellers should not be there lurking in the shadows during an open house or showing.

“Buyers don’t feel as comfortable when the owner is at the home watching their every move,” explains Nicholas Kensington of Scottsdale Real Estate. “Get out of their way so that they can start to picture themselves living there instead of being spied on.” So take a powder. Or at least hide.

Take your pets with you

You think Humbert is the cutest labradoodle ever, but not everyone is bound to share that opinion. In addition to having allergies, some home shoppers may not be in the market for a run-in with an animal they don’t know.

“Imagine, as a buyer, having the background music set to ‘barking dog’ while you are trying to take in the home’s nuances that you, as the seller, have worked so hard to hone,” says Brenda Hayward, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker. “To say nothing of the stress it puts on your beloved pet. Take your mutt for a car ride, to the dog park, or for a long walk. It will do you both good.”

Your pooch may not love the idea of strangers paying your home a visit.

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Your pooch may not love the idea of strangers paying your home a visit.

Betty Clark, who claims an “irrational fear of birds,” says she was shocked by how many open houses she ran from due to unexpected tweeting and chirping from caged and uncaged feathered friends. Don’t alienate would-be purchasers by forcing your pets on them.

Move your car

“Make it easy for visitors to park and view the home,” Kensington notes. “No one likes parking issues. Having them is a sure way to get a viewing off to a bad start.” In fact, if potential buyers have to park a block away and walk, they may just skip taking the tour of your home. Or if they’re willing to make the hike, they may be in a lousy mood by the time they enter your home. Why risk it?

Lay out important documents

If questions arise while buyers are on the premises, it may help them decide to put in an offer that much faster if they can find answers quickly and in writing.

“Leaving necessary documents in an easy-to-find spot isn’t just good for selling, it’s also good selling etiquette,” says Kensington. “Put out the home inspection report, appraisal, home warranty, monthly bill information—gas, oil, electric—and proof of any major repairs are all good things to let people look through when they are considering buying your home.”

Offer some refreshments

House hunters can get parched and peckish. You can help!

“Putting out a few small bottled waters in a small bowl of ice is always appreciated, along with some light, easy grab-and-go sort of refreshments like mints or cookies,” says Cara Ameer, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker.

Be patient waiting for feedback

Of course, you’re dying to know what buyers thought of your home, but that information may not flow back to you instantaneously. Buyers often want to process what they’ve seen and think it over before making an offer. If one comes through, don’t worry, you’ll hear about it!

“It is reasonable to ask for feedback from your Realtor after the showing, but understand it may take a day or two for the buyer’s agent to respond,” Hayward says.

Don’t be greedy

Who doesn’t want top dollar for their home? But an unwillingness to negotiate can kill a possible deal and keep your home on the market long after you were hoping to be unpacking at your new place.

“Focusing on your bottom line is always important, but greed can lead to disaster. Remember a little of something is better than a lot of nothing. Generosity will lead you to your promise land,” says Josh Myler, a Realtor with The Agency.

Listen to the professionals

If your Realtor has some suggestions for improvements that may help sell the home faster, take them to heart but don’t take them personally.

“Don’t shoot the messenger,” says Caroline Gosselin, a Realtor with Sotheby’s Prominent Properties. “Keep emotions out and listen to what a licensed, trained, professional has to say about the house, be it a Realtor or an inspector. It’s immature and unmannerly not to be able to take criticism and be able to move on.”

By
Liz Alterman

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Warm Up to Cozy Spaces

Warm Up to Cozy Spaces

It’s funny how after the holidays, living in a Winter Wonderland becomes a whole lot less wonderful. Whether you’re enduring thunderstorms, snow, or gusts of wind, snuggling up at home near a crackling fire or in your personal reading nook is the ideal way to wait out the weather.

No matter your interior style, there’s always room to add a few cozy touches. Here are some favorite ways to warm up your home design and to warm up to cozy space to face the wintry days ahead.

Fireplaces: Light up the night (or day)

There might be nothing in the world as comforting as a beautifully decorated fireplace. While it’s typical to have these fixtures in the living room or even the dining room, consider the charm of having one in your own bedroom.

The soothing crackling of a fire is the perfect way to wind down at the end of the day, and with so many styles to choose from, you’re sure to find one that fits your interior style.

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Courtesy of Mitch Wise Design, Inc.

Reading nooks: Bookworms’ paradise

Creating a little getaway within your own four walls is a fantastic way to warm up on a particularly cold day. A reading nook can inspire calm and creativity with a few simple furnishings and accessories.

Pair a fun patterned chair with an ottoman, and a unique side table to set your reading material on. Make sure you have sufficient lighting and a cozy throw blanket nearby for those days when you just want to curl up with a good book.

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Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Window seats: Room with a view

On your day off, there’s nothing quite like sipping a cup of coffee while enjoying a beautiful view. What better way to soak up your surroundings than with comfy window seating?

Traditionally found in older homes with Victorian style, window seating is versatile and complements most styles of design. If your home is modern, consider a bright white seating display with patterned pillows. If your look is more traditional, opt for textured seating in a timeless print.

Whatever your choice, you won’t regret spending time in this cozy spot.

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Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Area rugs: Keeping toes toasty

Hardwood floors are a luxury, but they can be painfully cold in the winter months. Help insulate your home with plush area rugs throughout the space for visual warmth and added coziness.

Rugs with texture like shag or a high pile offer extra comfort while walking around the house. Put one in each high-traffic area, as well as under your bed to ensure you wake up with warm feet.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Buyers Final Walk-Through

Buyers Final Walk-Through

The buyers final walk-through in real estate was designed so that the buyer can confirm the home is in the same condition as when they made their offer and had the home inspected. Its also an opportunity to make sure the seller has actually vacated.

From time to time, a buyer and seller will have negotiated any number of fixes during escrow. The walk-through gives the buyer a chance to make sure all the agreed-upon work has been done to specifications, and that everything is in working order.

Sometimes, buyers are so excited to close that they quickly whisk through the walk-through without taking time to inspect the property. This can lead to small issues once the buyers take ownership. On the other hand, the final walk-through can raise both positive and negative emotions during this final part of the sale process.

It’s smart to take the buyers final walk-through seriously. Don’t see it as simply checking a box.  You should run all the faucets and check for leaks. Flush the toilet bowls, open every window and close it and make sure the appliances work.

Here are some tips for buyers to help complete a smooth and effective walk-through.

Don’t do the walk-through the day of closing

A walk-through can uncover repairs that need to be made, but that you didn’t know about before. If you do the walk-through the same day as the closing, there may not be time to get problems remedied.

It’s not uncommon for two walk-throughs to happen. The first identifies some issues for the buyer, and the second makes sure those issues were addressed.

The alternative is to push the closing back to address the issues.  The problem here is that your lender may not have approved a delayed closing. It’s better to hammer out any issues in advance.

Use your mobile phone to check the outlets

Plug a phone into all of the outlets to make sure the electricity works. You want to avoid moving in all your stuff, only to realize some outlets don’t work, and you lack light in a bedroom.

Bring your phone and charger to the walk-through and test all the outlets. It’s quick and easy.

Be on the lookout for the sellers’ leftover belongings

Sellers are notorious for leaving junk behind, so take the time to check the garage and attic, and under the deck. The sellers may just assume you want their old paint cans or a propane tank for a future grill.

In fact, they should leave the place completely empty. Some left-behind items, such as the paint, can be toxic or require special provisions for disposal. For example, one seller left behind all kinds of used oil that needed to go to a certain, state-approved car repair shop to be disposed of properly. These unwanted items become yours after you close.

Be emotionally prepared for a surprise

Buyers often fall in love with a home that’s full of furniture, art and belongings. They see it as a home, and remember a warm feeling.

Fast-forward to the close of escrow and you’re faced with an empty home, which can feel cold, sterile or hollow.

Buyers are often surprised by how they feel entering an empty home. Not only is it absent any furniture and “stuff,” but sometimes an empty home shows its imperfections, too.

The sun may have slightly bleached floors, showing the outline of a rug. There may be carpet stains or holes in the wall from a flat-screen TV or paintings. An empty home tends to show poorly, so prepare yourself before the walk-through.

The journey toward homeownership is often a long one, filled with lots of excitement and ups and downs. The final walk-through is one of the very last steps of what could be a multiple-year process.

Consider the walk-through in advance and prepare for it mentally, emotionally and physically. Know what you want to look for, have a checklist, and keep your emotions and feelings in check. Doing so will make for a smooth ride to the close of escrow.

BY BRENDON DESIMONE – Zillow

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Factors to Consider When Pricing Your Home to Sell

Unlike the cost of a gallon of milk or a flat-screen television, a home’s price can be hard to pin down. It’s complicated because each home is unique, and has its own story to tell.

When it comes to pricing your home to sell, the only thing to do is to look at the recent sales and active listings of similar homes in your area. Combine this research with the inside market knowledge of a local real estate agent, and you can confidently choose your list price.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when determining how much to ask for your house.

Make sure to look at recent comps

Markets change fast, so it’s best to find comparable sales within the past three months. If you go back too far, you will see homes where a deal might have been made many months before it closed.

Real estate markets can turn on a dime, so a deal put together more than six months ago isn’t applicable. Pending sales are your best indicator of the current market’s conditions.

Understand that fixtures and finishes matter

Let’s face it, buyers prefer a tastefully home renovated home with neutral finishes and fixtures over an unrenovated home, one stuck in the ’80s, or one with outlandish decorations.

When looking at comparable houses online, you must be objective. If your home isn’t updated, it’s not going to sell for as much.

Here’s the good news: The amount of money it would cost to upgrade your house is probably a lot less than the difference in value. Be open to making some small changes before listing.

No two homes are alike

The 2,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath home with two-car parking on a quarter acre down the street just closed for $500,000. That means your home — also a 2,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath house with two-car parking on a quarter acre — is also worth $500,000, right?

Not so fast. What you don’t realize is that the other home’s three bedrooms are not all on the top floor, and that the home lacks an en-suite master bathroom, its kitchen is closed off from the living areas, and the layout is choppy.

Buyers pay more for better floor plans and flow. Your home, with an open concept kitchen/living area and three bedrooms all near each other, is much more valuable.

Small nuances in the market will affect price

Understand that each comparable home requires some serious research before calling it a “comp.” A house down the block may seem like it’s the same location as yours, but it could be in a different school or tax district, which will affect its value.

A smaller home may have sold for 20 percent more than yours, but maybe it was on a double lot that could be split, which makes it more valuable to a builder or developer.

If you see a nearby home with a price that seems off the mark, there must be a reason. Dig deeper to uncover what it is, and realize that the home may not, in fact, be a comparable one.

Go see homes for sale

Rarely does anyone decide to sell overnight. Once you realize a sale is in your future, get out and see what’s in your market. Check out open houses nearby to see the interiors for yourself.

Homes you see in January will likely be pending or closed by the time you list in April. Or they may still be on the market, which is an indication of poor pricing.

Check out the different floor plans, finishes and fixtures of nearby homes for sale, and consider whether each is more or less valuable than yours.

The best seller is the informed one. So don’t rely solely on your agent’s word about a particular house, or the market in general.

Use your agent as a resource

The earlier you bring a local real estate agent into the fold, the better. Top agents tour properties regularly, and know their market inside and out. They can likely explain the seemingly inexplicable, and offer tips to help make your home more valuable.

A good agent has the inside knowledge on pending homes sales and their finger on the pulse of the market 24/7. But remember to research independently, and never rely solely on the advice of your agent.

BY BRENDON DESIMONE ON 11 JAN 2016

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com