Finding the RIGHT REALTOR

Finding the right real estate agent to help you buy or sell your home is a task you cannot take lightly. With so many realtors out there making sure you find one tImage titlehat you can work well with and has your best interest can be a task. Remember you will be working with this person for months, possibly years and he/she will know everything about you and your family before the transaction is complete. Compatible personalities should be the first thing you look for and then look for knowledge of the market and industry as a whole.

It is unfortunate for our industry but many realtors are thrown out into the market
to find customers and sell homes but have very little if any training other than taking a web based training class and passing a state issued exam. While that is commendable it does not give you market insight or the knowledge needed to identify problems with homes and provide pricing advice as well as other advice that is expected of your real estate agent.

Make sure you interview several agents and ask your family, friends and coworkers for referrals as well. If they had a great experience with a real estate professional it is likely you will have the same experience with the same realtor. If you know you have specific needs such as a language need or handicap then call your local board of realtors and ask for some recommendations and Google names to do further research.

Your home buying and selling experience will be a fun and exciting time in your life with the help of the right professional so make sure you take your time casting that role. When interviewing real estate agents always ask why they got into the business and if their answer is “To work less and get paid more” or something similar then keep interviewing the best of us in this business do it simply because we love it.

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Why you need your own agent if you are building a new home

Have you ever stopped in at a builders model home in a new and upcoming subdivision and then been hounded for months by the on-site agent to come back and give it a second look or go see another subdivision being developed by the same builder? These aggressive sales tactics are an integral part of on-site training for most builders’ agents. The tactics obviously work or they would not continue to train them however most of these captive agents are bound by contract to only show homes in their builders developments so they are not likely to tell you about a great home less than .5 mile away built by a competitor that is 10k less and is offering 20k in incentives or the one year old home, same model one street over that the seller must sell because they are unexpectedly being transferred out of town.

These examples are just some of the reasons why it is in your best interest to have your own agent that works for you exclusively navigate the purchase of a new home or construction of a new home in a community. Other advantages include price negotiations, contract review, construction oversight and coordinating the inspections, closing, etc.

The best part is that it costs you nothing! The seller or builder in this case pays your agent to represent you. Would you sue someone and use the same attorney the other party is using? Of course not. Partly because the attorney would tell you it is a conflict of interest to have inside knowledge from both parties. This is no different. If you buy a home with the agent that is representing the seller (builder) you have the same conflict. This is what we can a dual agency and according to dual agency agreement the agent representing both parties is not able to provide advice about pricing or any inside knowledge they just prepare the contract and present it.

Is this the kind of representation you want on one of if not the largest transaction in your life? I doubt it so please do not allow an on-site agent to tell you that you can not have representation or they will get you a better deal if you use them exclusively. This is simply not true and most on-site agents will recommend you get your own agent to advise you throughout the process. Make sure any agent you choose has experience with new construction and is familiar with the local builders. Bottom line – have representation that has your best interest.

Yum! Huntsville’s growing food truck presence.

If you live in the Huntsville/Madison area you can’t help but notice the growing presence of food trucks in the area. We have food trucks dedicated to lobster, crepes, donuts and even bacon. No longer is a food truck a place you can grab a burger or a hot dog but rather specialized niche where you can find whatever your heart desires.

Donuts

Some are concerned that food trucks don’t have to follow the same health department guidelines as standard restaurants but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Food truck vendors are regulated by the Madison County Health Department just as restaurants are and must display their inspection results.

Late last year Huntsville passed a city ordinance that allows food trucks on the streets downtown everyday. This change along with the open container law changes are meant to encourage more downtown events and gathering. If you are interested but nervous about the food truck craze you can try them out during Huntsville’s Food Truck Festival that runs all summer long on Church St downtown. You can catch our local food trucks all over town and if you want something specific you can catch up with most of the trucks on Facebook. http://ourvalleyevents.com/huntsville-food-trucks-directory/

I highly recommend you give it a try. You won’t be disappointed and this girl for one hopes that Huntsville continues to encourage more food trucks to the area in the future.

Bacon

Is pricing the most important aspect of selling a home?

The answer is a very simple YES! Overpricing your house will not only cause it stay on the market much longer than your competitors but you could lose the ability to sell it at all after it has been on the market for month after month. I love the impact of this graphic and it really sums it up. The longer your home sits on the market the less a buyer is going to expect to pay for it because days on market equates to lost value.

sellers_pyramid

When you list your house for above market value you lose opportunity. So the buyer that is out with their agent looking in your neighborhood will pass over your house and buy the one across the street. I know that you may have upgraded your kitchen and that one across the street hasn’t but you can’t price above market value without a really good argument where the value is apparent for both the potential buyers and the appraiser. Here is the thing you ask whatever you want for your house but once you get an offer and come to an agreement on the terms the bank is going to send out an appraiser who will look at all the homes in the area that have sold and tell the buyer what the bank is willing to lend based on that data.

So bottom line is make sure you understand the market in your area when decided on the list price and put away your emotional ties to the house because at the point you decide to sell your house it is just an asset and no longer “your” house. The quicker is sells the more you will net off that sale…bottom line. Don’t lose the momentum you have with a new listing by overpricing if you truly want to sell your home. Call/email/text me if you want to learn more about what your house can sell for 256-513-7299 or visit my site at http://www.sellingrocketcity.com

couple buying

House Hunting Tips for Couples

  1. Before you start to seriously search for that perfect home visit as many open houses and builders model homes as you can and make notes on floor plans you prefer, exterior styles, amenities that are a must and neighborhoods you really like. Knowing what you agree on beforehand will not only help your agent find the perfect home but will cut down on your frustration when you go out seriously looking.
  2. Interview several REALTORS® to find one that meshes with both your personalities because throughout this process you will be spending a lot of time together.
  3. Be flexible – It is highly unlikely that you are going to find a home that has everything you both want. As long as you can agree on the location, price and floor plan other items can be easily changed.
  4. Have fun – Remember that the home buying experience should be fun and rewarding so don’t get hung up on the little things and keep the bigger picture in mind. Can you see yourself enjoying this house for years to come and will it meet you and your family’s ever changing needs?
Winter Home

Preparing your home for the winter months

With bitterly cold temperatures around the corner I wanted to take a minute to remind homeowners about the important maintenanceImage items that ignoring can be costly. In case you missed my article in the Real Estate section of the Huntsville Times recently here is a recap of the 5 most important items to take care of before the freezing temps arrive.

When preparing your home to transition from warm to cold weather I always think of the word winterizing and what that means to your home. Here are the top five things that you should do every year as the temperature dips and we transition seasons.

  1. Have your furnace inspected by a licensed HVAC technician. This will insure your furnace is in tip top shape and minimize your utility expenses.
  2. If your home has a wood burning fireplace have a chimney sweep come out and inspect the chimney before use. If you have gas logs in your home make sure you have removed any dust that has accumulated over the spring and summer from the gas igniter.
  3. Inspect all your gutters for debris and make sure they are clean before the leaves start to fall and remove any debris from downspouts and make sure they are draining properly.
  4. Install weather stripping around any doors or caulk any windows with a draft.
  5. Most importantly this is a great time to change all the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Maintenance is the number one tip I can suggest in order to keep your home in tip-top shape and help avoid those costly repairs. Have your furnace and air conditioning inspected yearly, check your roof for leaks at least twice a year and your gutters and downspouts for debris, have your home and decking power washed annually to avoid fungus and mildew build-up, and inspect your basement/crawlspace and attic for any signs of moisture or pests.

What features are you willing to sacrifice for the right location?

You hear the saying “location, location, location” all the time but what are you willing to give up for your perfect location? A perfect example of this is in SE Huntsville where the majority of the homes are 40+ years old but you can’t get a better location in town. It is close to great private schools as well as some of the highest state ranking public schools, close to the major highways, golfing, river for boating and fishing, and access to Redstone Arsenal but you may not find your dream home here. You can turn a home into your dreamhome with a little intuition. SE Huntsville has always been one of the most desirable zip codes in town and lately there has been an even higher demand for the area. Before you start looking at homes in this area you need to seriously discuss what type of updates you are ok with and what is a deal breaker. My word of advise is this.

1. Ugly bathrooms while horrible to look at are a fairly simple undertaking. Many of the home improvement stores now carry all in one vanity/counter sets that look very high end. You can also look into reusing the existing tub with a cover or refinish paint and that can save a furtune. The thing to ask yourself is are you ok with the location of the bathroom because moving walls, plumbing and electric is a much more specific skill set.
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2. Hideous light fixtures are a conversation starter but probably not something you want to look at day in and day out in your home. Light fixtures are an easy thing to replace and can be done yourself with instruction just remember you are playing with electricity.
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3. Curb appeal is a biggie. Many buyers will not even take the time to look inside if the exterior is not appealing to them. Well keep in mind that landscaping can do wonders and is another fun do it yourself project. Also, brick can be painted, shutters and exterior doors replaced or painted and voila you have a new house (from the outside anyway).

4. Those kitchen cabinets look like they came from my grandmother’s house. Ask yourself if they are solid wood can they be painted and put on new hardware or if not could you re-face them? These are huge money savers but just like the bathrooms if you want to extend the space or change the layout all bets are off. Painting the cabinets, new hardware and countertops may turn that stale dated kitchen into a Pinterest most wanted.

5. I hate popcorn ceilings and that wallpaper has got to be the ugliest thing I have ever seen. These are the cheapest fixes of all but can be very messy and time consuming so make sure you are prepared to undertake this update. Paint is one of the easiest things you can do to transform a space and its cheap.
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While these are just some of the easy fixes I am sure I could spout off twenty more I am just trying to get you to look at potential homes with an open mind.

The updates that you want to make sure are done include big ticket items like HVAC, roof, mold, panel box to code, updated plumbing and any structural issues. These things can kill your budget and turn your new dreamhome into a nightmare. Make sure you use a highly recommended home inspector and walk with him during the inspection so you won’t be surprised when you see the official report.