Your Home Sales Process at a Glance

By Sarah Vance

Looking to sell your home and don’t know where to start? Follow these 10 easy steps to get you started.

Step 1: Choose listing agency and sign the listing agreement. Price your home to sell based on FMV (fair market value) and CMA (comparative market analysis). Both of which your listing agent may provide as well as a better understanding of the market in your neighborhood.

Step 2: Prepare your home for the sale. Clean, de-clutter, depersonalize, and neutralize. You may also consider home staging, carpet replacement, and repainting. You only have ONE chance to make a FIRST impression, so make it a good one!

Step 3: Marketing your home. Approve your agent’s marketing campaign and advertising plan. This should include (but not limited too): MLS system, syndication to Zillow and Redfin sites, social media, personal website, etc.

Step 4: Show your home. Make it accessible via lock box or keypad rather than appointment only basis. Be flexible. Prepare for an Open House if your agent prefers to hold them. To Open House or not to Open House should be agreed upon in your marketing plan.

Step 5: Review and negotiate (if applicable) any offer using counteroffers. After you’ve accepted an offer your agent will open escrow and order a title policy for you. *Ask for a receipt for the EMD*

Step 6: Schedule an appraisal. Or if they buyer is getting a loan, the lender may order an appraisal. Be sure to check with your agent.

Step 7: Deliver seller disclosures. This is where any known material facts or problems with the property will be disclosed.

Step 8: Cooperate with all buyer’s home inspection scheduling requests. Ask your agent to provide you with a home inspection checklist so you’ll know in advance what the inspector will want to see. Prepare the attics and basement for inspections, too. Move stuff away from the walls in the garage, and make sure there’s a clear path for the inspector to get through.

Step 9: Negotiate Requests for Repairs (RR). If the buyer requests repairs, you as the seller are entitled to a copy of the home inspection. You also do not have to accept the buyer’s requests, but if their inspection contingency is still in place, they do have the option to back out of the contract. You may also find that the buyers may accept a closing cost credit instead of a repair. Ask the buyer to release contingencies. The buyer is not obligated to provide the contingency release if you don’t demand it. All contingencies must be released in writing.

Step 10: Close of Escrow. Finish signing any final paperwork and hand over the keys. The transaction records will enter into public record and, as specified in the contract’s buyer possession rights, you might be required to move on the day the home closes or even in advance.

All sale proceeds will be wired to your bank account (minus commissions, credits, and other feeds as outlined on your closing statement).

Need more information on the home buying process? Check out our previous blog post.

What Kind of Negotiator Are You?

Written by: Sarah Vance

There are 5 kinds of negotiators: competitive, collaborative, compromising, avoiding, and accommodating. What’s your style?

  • Competitive negotiators are results-driven, assertive, and aggressive.
  • Collaborative negotiators are honest, understanding, and creative in finding solutions.
  • Compromising negotiators conduct fair dealings and judgments even at the expense of their own superior outcome.
  • Avoiding negotiators hate conflict and are easily stressed or intimidated. They prefer to stay under the radar.
  • Accommodating negotiators build and maintain relationships; are attentive to needs; and sensitive to emotions.

5 Tips on Negotiating a Real Estate Deal

If you find yourself in a competitive market space and your clients agree, try locking in the property with an escalation clause. Escalation clause states that the seller agrees to pay a certain amount more than the highest offer received. There will usually be language capping the total sale price, to ensure buyers/investors do not agree to more than they can afford.

  1. Negotiate in person. Reactions to tone of voice and body language is often better received than guessing the intentions and tone of an email or text message.
  2. Never make the first offer. Most negotiations end up “splitting the difference.” Let the other party speak first. This allows for you, the second party, to define the midpoint. Also, there is a chance that the other party’s first offer will be better than the first offer you would make.
  3. Talk less and listen more.  Embrace the awkward silence, one party will likely offer concession to break the uncomfortable situation. Whether is 30 seconds or 15 minutes, expert negotiators will employ this tactic to receive successively lower offers without having to present a counteroffer.
  4. Do your homework. Know everything you can about the subject matter of your negotiation as well as the person you’re negotiating. Find out what’s important to the seller is it money, escrow period, contingencies, etc.
  5. Always ask for and receive the last concession (something the other party gives) in a negotiation. If the other party realizes that each time, they ask for something they will need to give something they will likely stop asking.

Need assistance in negotiating a real estate deal? Join a mentor program!

What is a Contingency?

What Contingencies Are in My Purchase Contract? By: Sarah Vance

Does Your Purchase Contract Protect You?

To start we should answer the question, what is a contingency in real estate? It is a condition or action that must be met. The contingency clause essentially gives parties the right to back out of the contract under certain circumstances without legal consequences.

Contingencies for a real estate contract are put in place to protect the buyer when they enter into a purchase contract to ensure that before close of escrow, they are satisfied with all aspects and conditions of the property. In a standard purchase agreement, the following contingencies are the most common:

  • Loan contingency giving the buyer time to obtain financing for the purchase of the property.
  • Appraisal contingency protects the buyer by ensuring the property is valued at a minimum, specified amount.
  • Physical inspection/buyer’s investigations, also referred to as due diligence, gives buyer the right to have the home inspected within a specified time period.
  • Sale of buyer’s property which allows the buyer to place their home for sale so that the escrows may work in tandem with one another.

Sellers may also have contingencies in place such as:

  • Finding a replacement property
  • Closing on a replacement property

There are other contingencies that may apply if the buyers and sellers agree to those circumstances during negotiation period.

The contingency removal period (ie: the removal date) is negotiable between the buyer and seller before signing of the purchase agreement. For this reason, the shorter the contingency period is more favorable for the seller because the sale may move forward more quickly without the buyer having opportunity to withdraw from the contract. On the other hand, a longer contingency period is favorable for the buyer because they have more time to ensure the property is the right fit for them. 

Choosing the correct negotiation stance can be a tricky business when you are trying to bring two parties into a purchase agreement that is favorable to both sides. If you find yourself in need of new, or refreshed, negotiation techniques you may want to seek guidance from a real estate mentor. REeBroker Group has an amazing Mentor Program with a team that will assist you step-by-step in all thing’s transaction related including negotiation tactics for listing, purchase and services. For more information, check out their website here: https://reebroker.com/MentorshipOnlineAgreementForm.aspx.

Next week we’ll be discussing contingency removals and what that means for your real estate transaction.

Top 3 Reasons Listings Expire

Avoid these common pitfalls on your next listing – by Sarah Vance

One of the most frustrating situations a Seller can find themselves in is having their listing expire with no escrow or buyer prospects. 

Here Are the Top Three Reasons Why Listings EXPIRE

  1. Property Price – Was the property priced accurately according to Fair Market Value (FMV) and current comparable homes in the neighborhood? Listing agents with a success record in the same market may have an upper hand in providing insight for property price. Note regarding FMV – buyers typically work with real estate agents, therefore, if the property is overpriced the buyer’s agent is unlikely to show the property. 
  2. Property Marketing – Online exposure is key in today’s real estate market. Make sure that a) the property has an online presence and b) that the presence is alluring. Good photos can make or break if a potential buyer will come view the home. Note – rarely do people buy a home sight unseen. Agents that go above and beyond just putting the property on the MLS may have an advantage. 
  3. Curb Appeal – Condition of the home is important. You want the buyers to visualize themselves living there as soon as they step onto the property. That means they must want to walk in the front door. And then once they are in the atmosphere should make them want to stay. Therefore, the property should be decluttered, eliminated of pet odors, and cleanly decorated. Agents that have an eye for curb appeal may be the key to a seller’s success. 

You need a real estate agent that is going to take the above three reasons into consideration when putting together your home’s marketing plan. All three of these are equally important in a Listing. Make sure you are being wise when choosing the agent and brokerage who will represent you in the sale of your home.

Make Your MLS Listing Stand Out!

Make sure that when leads are searching for their Dream Home that your listing shows up

When writing information regarding your new listing, don’t just regurgitate data and numbers. You need to create a descriptive story and build a lifestyle that draws in prospective buyers.

10 Tips on Getting Your Listing More Attention

  1. Get creative with your Listing’s descriptions. Yes, you’re limited in liberty but use the properties best features to draw in interest.  Use photos with unique features and angles. Create a video house-tour and let your creativity blossom. Create a narrative, a vibe, a mood while showcases the properties most valuable characteristics.  
  2. Optimize your search results by using your target market’s key word phrases. Use these words in your advertising and marketing.
  3. Use QUALITY real estate listing photos. If your budget allows, use a professional. If not, you can do your own photography, but pay attention to lighting, staging, curb appeal, etc.
  4. Utilize email to get your listing in from of leads. Use one or two of your best photos and include important items such as: location, notable features, etc. Have a call to action whether that is replying to the email, filling out a query form, or visiting a landing page. Make sure your subject like is clear and concise so your leads will open the email.
  5. You want to capture your target audience with a variety of marketing avenues. Therefore, create a special landing page and/or a specific property blog. This is where you dazzle your leads with photos and video detailing all valuable of the property and surrounding community. This is where you get creative! Have calls to action, simple capture forms, and a free download to increase your conversion rates. As in all marketing be sure to include those targeted key words throughout the post or page content to ensure maximum exposure.
  6. If your listing shows well – host an epic open house! Capture that lead in-person, face-to-face. Market the open house both offline and online. Stage and prep the home. You may also want to print out buyers guides with information about the listing and local community.
  7. Leverage all social media sites to increase your advertising efforts: Pinterest, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
  8. Send snail mail – email is great but target the local community with high-quality branded mailers. Use those professional-quality photos and create a beautiful postcard or brochure, but make sure to include an URL to your landing page, blog, video-tour, etc.
  9. Share the listing with other agents and brokers in your sphere of influence. Be personal and encourage them to forward your listing on to other agents/leads in their network. Real estate is all about how you use your network!
  10. Be consistent with your branding – present your listing as a unique experience that conveys similarly across all marketing channels and platforms. Use consistent text copy, font style, color theme, etc.

Need to join an Association or MLS board to get your listing process started? Check out REeBroker Group who has broker membership to over 55+ Associations through California.

Top 10 Lead Generation Tips

By: Sarah Vance

1. Build partnerships. Your success begins with networking with other local businesses and real estate professionals in complementary industry niches such as insurance companies, title companies, bankers, lenders, staging companies, landscapers, cleaning services, etc. Anyone that is you can form a mutually beneficial alliance with will help you in being more successful.

2. Send a handwritten note. Personalization goes a long way when communicating with past and present clients. You can also follow up on the card/note with a phone call days later to ensure they received it, have any questions, and ask for a referral.

3. Advertise. You will want to invest in yourself and your business with paid advertising. There are many companies that will allow you to create a campaign within your budget no matter how big or small. Some effective ways to advertise yourself include traditional and technology or internet-based such as billboards, local newspapers, neighborhood canvassing, Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, Google ads, blogs, etc. 

You may also want to consider advertising options specific to real estate agents such as REALTOR.com, Zillow, Trulia, etc.

4. Build your own website. Personalize your brand and web presence by brandishing your specialties, niches, and client reviews. SaleCORE allows you to customize a website unique to your market area: https://salecore.com/pages/12514564/salecore-for-reebroker-group-agents.aspx

You can optimize your personal websites by writing valuable content regarding the buying and selling process. Create a unique and helpful “how-to” video.

5. Develop a niche. Choose a niche and become an expert! A niche will allow you to focus your targeted marketing efforts and become the go-to real estate professional for those buyers and sellers. 

Check out some of our REeBroker Group webinars on choosing and building a niche.

Some examples of typical real estate niches are historic homes, luxury homes, neighborhoods, student rentals, school districts, first-time home buyers, condos, distressed properties, seniors, divorcees, commercial, land, etc. The possibilities are endless!

6. Use “Coming Soon” and “Sold” signs. These are tried-and-true ways to generate interest – so don’t skip these integral items!

7. Generate leads on LinkedIn. Join LinkedIn Groups for your target audience and contribute to the conversations with knowledgeable answers and comments. Build rapport before pitching your services.

8. Organize educational events. Host educational events that will build rapport with your niche market and community. This will help boost your personal brand as well as get some new business prospects. 

Partner with other local businesses and set-up a home-buying seminar over lunch. Co-hosting will broaden your audience base and increase leads. 

9. Don’t neglect leads. Whether hot or cold. Even if you showed that prospect a dozen homes before they realized they weren’t ready to commit. Don’t discard their information – send them follow-up postcards, emails, texts, etc about new market developments. You want them to remember you when the time comes that they are ready!

10. Target FSBO listings and Expired Listings – for more information of how to earn their trust check out our previous blog post.

Buying a Short Sale (REO Property)

By: Sarah Vance

A typical short sale transaction may run through (any or all) of the following steps:

1. Identifying potential short sales – buyers can look at pre-foreclosures online, courthouse, legal ads, etc.

2. View the property – go physically inspect the property and consider what renovations/repairs that may need to be completed. 

3. Do your research – What’s the FMV? Is there profit potential?

4. Find all liens and mortgages.

5. Figure out the financing – have your financing figured out, because once an agreement is approved it may be too late to shop mortgages.

6. Contact the lender.

7. Complete the lender’s short sale application.

8. Assemble to proposal.

9. Negotiate the terms – it’s not uncommon for counteroffers, so establish your limits and budget beforehand. Don’t be afraid to walk away!

10. Seal the deal.

What to Expect – time, patience, and understanding through closing. The process can be complicated for the seller and therefore may take additional time. The buyer is receiving a great deal and investment as long as they are willing to put in the time. 

Example of timeline process events: appraisal, inspections, approval of seller’s bank, and buyer’s lender.

Common mistakes of short-sale buyers – don’t make these mistakes!

+ Ignoring property problems

+ Skipping the home inspection

+ Ignoring legal and insurance information

+ Leaving too little time of closing

+ Falling hard for a bad home

The time frame of the contract to close – average about 3 months (min 2 weeks to 6 months)

What affects the time to Close Of Escrow:

+ Number of lenders and who each of the lenders are

+ Types of lenders

+ Homestead property

+ Retrieval of documents, responses, and all other communications from all parties

+ Offer contract terms? Bank’s counteroffer?

+ Buyer’s financing option

Submitting the “right” offer – know the seller’s motivation and strategy while working with a professional. Ultimately, it is the bank that decides the terms of contract acceptance for the short sale and forgiveness of deficiency of debt. So, the “right” or best offer is one made at fair market value. 

Submitting a low offer  – is a gamble, one that allows room for a competing offer to come in and be more attractive than yours. If you are offering what your comfortable with and what your budget allows then that is acceptable, however, be sure that you are not wasting time. 

For more information on REO (bank-owned) properties/short sales including seller’s eligibility, pricing, required documents, tax or credit implications check out REeBroker Group’s Mentoring Program training documents.

Keep Yourself Safe In The Field

Written by: Sarah Vance

The natural processes of buying and selling a home often make real estate agent’s a prime victim to crimes. Most crimes against real estate agents are crimes of opportunity. Therefore, avoid providing the opportunity for crimes to happen.

Reasons why real estate agents may be targeted:
  • Real estate agents often work alone
  • Schedule showing appointments with random members of the community
  • Advertise open houses
  • Visible signs of wealth
  • Women are more likely to be attacked than men
Tips that may keep you safe:
  1. Hold open houses during day-light hours.
  2. Instruct owners to put away valuables, photos, and prescriptions. Make sure home is insured.
  3. Do not wear expensive jewelry, flaunt luxury items or a full wallet because that may imply that you’d be a valuable hostage.
  4. Avoid being alone at isolated homes. Have another person with you or inform someone that you will be checking in and if you do not, they should contact you.
  5. Ensure cell phone works and emergency contacts are programmed.
  6. Have visitors sign in: full name, address, phone number, and email.
  7. Walk behind the prospect, direct them do not lead.
  8. Always check the premises before and after the Open House. Don’t assume everyone has left and check that all windows and doors are locked.
  9. Inform the neighbors – have them be your eyes and ears to anything out of the ordinary.
  10. Carry small self-defense weapons with you such as pepper spray or a handgun (if its legal in your area). Safety alert devices are also great because they send distress signals directly to police station at the push of a button.

Stay safe in the field! Listen to your gut. Real estate agents are taught to be polite and accommodating to all people, however, often those who have been a victim of a crime ignored a client’s unusual behavior. So, if you feel uncomfortable or that something is amiss don’t ignore or dismiss those feelings. It is okay to leave as quickly as possible; your safety should be your number one concern.

Contingency Removals

What to Know About Contingency Removal by: Sarah Vance

Need to know what a contingency is – check out our previous post here.

All Parties Should Fully Read and Understand
the Purchase Contract They Are Signing

It is important to know what your contract says. Some purchase agreements (such as the C.A.R Residential Purchase Agreement) requires an active removal of contingencies for a real estate contract versus a passive removal. Therefore, an active removal requires an action like all contingencies must be removed in writing and are not automatically removed with the passage of time.  

Each contingency has its own default time period/removal date based upon the terms and Acceptance date of the purchase contract. This date is defined in the offer as when the buyer will remove the contingencies and commit to a firm intent to close escrow. The appraisal, physical inspection, and buyer’s investigation contingencies have a defaulted removal date of 17 days after acceptance and the loan contingency has a default removal date of 21 days after acceptance.

What happens if the contingencies are not removed?

If the contingency period (date) has passed for a contingency to be removed, then the seller (or buyer) may issue a Notice to Perform. This is a tool designed to ensure all parties are sticking to their contractual duties defined in the purchase agreement. The Notice typically allows 48 hours for the other party to remedy the situation otherwise the transaction may be cancelled by the issuing party. Even though the Notice to Perform is in every real estate agent’s arsenal, it is highly recommended to not use it at the first sign of a passing removal date. As an initial step, as a real estate professional you should maintain open communication with the buyer or seller to discover the reason for the delay and work towards solving the problem.

As a seller, it is important to remember that purchasing a property can be stressful and with a lot of moving parts making mistakes and missing deadlines may be unintentional. In some instances, it may even be out of their hands especially if it involves a lender or an appraiser.

Therefore, if a contingency date has come and gone choose empathy first towards the buyer or seller situation and the Notice to Perform as a last resort. This will help to ensure that the transaction continues to move forward in an amicable way without stirring up unnecessary strife.

When contingencies are removed, what does that mean for the buyer and seller?

It means that if the buyer does not close escrow, whether due to lender or unsatisfaction with the property, then the buyer may not be entitled to a return of buyer’s deposit.

Processes to Expect When You Buy a Home

By: Sarah Vance

Real Estate Buying Process

First, you’ll want to have the answers to these questions:

  1. What is your price range? What kind of property are you looking for?
  2. Are you financing your purchase? Are you pre-qualified? Pre-approved?
  3. Do you have any pets? Any children?
  4. Do you have any required/important amenities?

Second, find out what your purchasing power is based on your available payment level and type of financing. You will want a pre-approval, which is a full loan approval – it shows that you are willing and able to purchase a home without any financing hindrances.

Quick Recap of Loan Process

  • Prepare for a Loan – submit applications. Note: It is wise to consider receiving rates from multiple lenders. Do so within a 7 to 14-day period so that it only counts as an inquiry on your credit score one-time.
  • Begin Your Property Search & Get an Offer Accepted (Hire a professional!)
  • After Offer is Accepted – Escrow Period includes loan submission, underwriting, approvals, loan documents, and recording.
  • Close of Purchase

Third, you’ll want to secure an accepted offer but that may include some negotiations. Therefore, it is IMORTANT to hire a professional agency when you begin your property search. A professional will handle the negotiations but you should be familiar with some terminology.

Negotiation Phase Terminology

  • Counteroffer: this may counter terms in your original purchase offer. There may be several counteroffers shared back and forth before all parties agree on all terms.
  • Seller’s Multiple-Counter Offer: if there are multiple offers, the seller can use this form to counter all offers at one time. As a buyer, you want to make sure your purchase offer has terms that appeal to the seller on a personal level. The seller has the final say before the purchase contract is ratified. The seller must accept your counter.
  • Common terms that are negotiated: price, escrow period, contingency period, closing costs, home warranty, leasebacks, repairs, etc.
  • “Back-Up” position – means the seller has accepted another offer but will keep yours to ratify if the first offer cancels or falls through

Last, you’ll enter into and after typically 30 days (or the agreed upon time-frame in the contract) you’ll close your home purchase.  

Quick Recap of Escrow Process

  • Submit EMD (refundable deposit)
  • Lender processes loan
  • Review and sign all contractual disclosures
  • Complete buyer’s due diligence: inspections, appraisal, loans finalization, etc.
  • Sign all loan and title documents
  • Closing of purchase

These are a few of the major processes you’ll encounter on your journey of purchasing real estate property. Depending on your real estate purchase’s circumstances you may run into few other kinds of processes that are specific to certain transaction types such as: short sales, foreclosures, probates, trusts, and REO’s. Encountering these kinds of transactions is evidence of how important it is to hire a professional real estate agent or brokerage to represent you . If you would like additional information on Why You Need a Buyer’s Agent check out my other blog post.

Four MUST Have Qualities When Seeking a Real Estate Mentor

By Sarah Vance

men·tor·ship

/ˈmentôrSHip,ˈmentərSHip/

noun

  1. the guidance provided by a mentor, especially an experienced person in a company or educational institution.
  2. a period of time during which a person receives guidance from a mentor.
Diversify Your Mentorship Influencers

Four MUST Haves When Seeking a Mentor

Reliability – as a mentee or mentor you should make sure that as you seek guidance and assistance in growing your business and career that you have time. Time to commit to your business, time to put forth satisfactory effort in your business, and time to meet regularly. Face-to-face, in person meetings are preferable to many people however with the rise of technology virtual meetings are becoming just as effective. The importance of consistent connection is to ensure accountability and follow through. Time is valuable to all people and how you choose to use your allotted time will be reflected in the success of your business.  

Success and experience level – You want your mentor to have reached the success level that you want to have or someone with the experience in the areas that you want to excel in. This may or may not be reflected in the “age” of your mentor. With the changing real estate industry leaning more towards higher technology, you may find that the mentor with the success level you want is someone younger. A younger mentor may be able to assist you in understanding and using digital forms, social media, Google Adwords, website design, etc. Mentorship is not about age but rather about professionalism and business sense.

Appropriate Feedback – you want positive and honest feedback. When choosing a mentor do not choose based upon someone who says what your itching ears want to hear. Its important to receive honest, critical feedback on your business because if you do not then your business will not be challenged to grow. As a mentee you need to be able to take constructive criticism well from your mentor and put into action efforts to improve areas of weakness. If you don’t receive this kind of motivation your business will remain complacent – therefore, be challenged!

Diversity – in your sphere of mentorship influencers. While you want common ground and common connections in your mentorship pool you also want diversity. Diversity in neighborhoods, niches, specialties, marketing campaigns, style, etc. This will allow your business to expand to a more diverse audience or even allow you the opportunity to create your own unique sphere of influence.

Does your mentor have what it takes? The REeBroker Group’s mentorship will create a worry-free transaction from start to finish. The excellence, experience, and tech support provided will blow you out of the water. You’ll receive all of the following: 24/7 support, reliable video conferencing, listing presentation assistance, MLS, offer and service negotiation techniques, document review, training platform and resources, conflict resolution, and so much more. For a full list of program inclusions sign-up here: https://reebroker.com/MentorshipOnlineAgreementForm.aspx. They are always creating and revising the program to ebb and flow with the ever-changing industry.