Selling Your Home Takes Focused Consideration

It is likely that your home is your largest investment.  You have protected it over the years, maintained it, improved it, and now it’s time to sell.  Maybe you got a job transfer, perhaps you lost your job.  You have more kids now — or fewer.  Maybe someone died or there was a divorce.  Maybe it’s too big or small.  Whatever the reason is, you want to sell in your own time frame and you want as much money from it as the market will bear.

The good news is that 2016 was another record year in Austin and 2017 is starting out to be another extremely hot market for sellers, though the Austin Board of Realtors said on Jan. 18, 2017, that this will be a year of stabilization.  Sellers have the upper hand, for sure.  Inventories of homes on the market are already down 20% from 2015 and 2016 to about two months.  Interest rates are still low and currently 4.25% with good credit.  Cost of replacement and new homes are seeing significant cost increases.  Yes, sellers hold the keys to driving our Austin area market and it’s a great time to sell.  In 2014 appreciation was 12.5% — three times normal.  In 2015, it was 10%+.  In 2016, it was 7%.  Normal is 4-5%.  It’s a HOT market, alright!

2016 In Review

The December & Year-End 2016 Central Texas Housing Market Report released by the Austin Board of Realtors reported 2016 as another record-breaking year for Central Texas home sales, while also showing signs that the housing market could begin to normalize in 2017.

Last year, 29,569 single-family homes were sold in the five-county MSA, a 3.9% increase from 2015 and an all-time high for annual home sales volume. Median price for single-family homes rose 7.2% to $284,000, while home sales dollar volume jumped 9.1% to nearly $10.5 billion.

Homes spent an average of 50 days on the market in 2016, an increase of two days from 2015.

Housing inventory levels remained unchanged from year-end 2015 to year-end 2016, ending December 2016 at two months of inventory.

In December, single-family home sales rose 1.9% year-over-year to 2,373 home sales, while median price rose 6.9% to $290,000.

I am in a very unique position to help sellers.  Few agents will do more than I will to market and sell your property.  Please read the exhaustive list of services I provide to my seller clients and then conduct some research to find another agent who does as much.  There are agents out there who charge the same as I do, but do considerably less to sell your property, skimping in critical areas that could create a large dollar difference.  And there are others who will do almost as much as I do and charge you a premium.  Why pay more if there is no logical reason to do so?!

Selling Your Home — Pricing It Right

Pricing will get you the sale or will cause your property to languish on the market.  As a Ninja-trained agent, I have been taught the best and little-known system of ARP (Absorption Rate Pricing), which shows us how long it should take to sell your property vs. your competition and how to BEAT the competition for a quicker sale.  Priced too low, you leave money on the table.  Priced too high, you wait and wait.  I use Realtor data to find the right price to plug into the ARP model.  Please note: Data from Trulia and Zillow does not work in Texas, where they cannot get sales price information.  Hence, their valuations are inaccurate, based on mere public information the tax office has.  REALTORS have real, actual sales data, which is the key in our “non-disclosure” state.  This means sales prices are not public and only REALTORS have access to hard data.

The Story of Your Property

Especially if you have updated, added rooms, designer colors, fixture upgrades, and other amenities, your property has a unique story to tell.  I creatively and effectively tell that story.  If advantageous, I will use the full allotment of 40 MLS photos and syndicate them to dozens of other sites, too.  Photography is one of my award-winning specialties; you get this for free.  I utilize QR codes and use single-property websites with their address as the URL.

Why hire me to Sell Your Home?

You need to hire a REALTOR who knows how to meet buyers where they are and get your property on their short list.  It’s a no-brainer requirement in today’s marketplace!  And you need exclusive representation and a fighting chance to get above list price — sometimes via multiple offers.

I have been in this business since early 2002 and have seen many situations as the seller’s agent.  I am trained by negotiation experts as a Certified Negotiation Expert.  Also, I have been trained by the National Association of REALTORs in eco-friendly sustainable green homes.  For those homeowners who are financially strapped, I can help in a number of ways — whether with a short sale, assisting with obtaining a loan modification or bringing in an expert.  I have been trained by the Certified Distressed Property Expert team and am a Certified Niche Marketing Professional.  This means if you have a unique property, I know how to find that unique buyer.  And I am certified to find housing for buyers with my Texas Affordable Housing Specialist designation.

What I do:

  • Comparable Market Analysis
  • Property Evaluation
  • Open file at title company
  • For sale sign in your yard, if permitted
  • Black and white flyers outside in box and color inside in easel
  • Field and present all offers to you
  • MLS listing with robust information and photos
  • Review title company closing statements
  • Make and field appointments to show your home
  • Marketing on dozens of websites, including realtor.com and austinhomesearch.com
  • Single-property website
  • Virtual Tours
  • QR codes
  • Help with most real estate forms
  • Provide lockbox
  • Weekly updates on showings and feedback
  • Staging and repairs advice
  • Open houses
  • Qualify buyers
  • Negotiate offers
  • Optional Just Listed cards to mail
  • Arrange for home warranty during listing period
  • Provide referrals for surveyor, inspector, etc., if needed
  • Attend closing to ensure accuracy

High-Tech Marketing Sells Your Home

Working Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to earn a high ranking of search results on each page is direly important.  Most home shoppers won’t go beyond page one of results, so it’s part of my job to do better so people see your property.  There is a lot of inaccurate information out there about your property, Texas being a “non-disclosure” state.  Sale informati0n is not made available to out-of-state aggregating companies and is reserved for REALTORs who pay for current and accurate data.  To see for yourself what comes up for your property, google your address.  If it’s not accurate, don’t be surprised.  To get it right when selling, you need to list with a REALTOR like me who can provide current information AND likely provide your property with a high ranking via effective SEO.

Have you noticed how fast my web site is?  I have paid for a top tier hosting company that knows speed is important to online searching.  Recently google released results of a study showing the average internet surfer has an attention span of 250 milliseconds.  –Grab them or lose them.  There is not much time to capture their interest.  So site speed is essential to keeping buyers’ interest.  If pictures take too long to download, people move on.

In some cases, having a pre-inspection for your home is a good idea.  It addresses problem areas early in the process so they won’t bog us down later.  Unaddressed problems can prevent closings from happening.  Placing a free or nearly-free sellers’ home warranty service on your property also gives peace of mind to you during the marketing time.  Each of these are items not always appropriate for each property and situation; we will talk about these and strategize together.

Selling Your Home in Texas — Demographically Speaking

Nationally the typical seller lived in their home for nine years, up from 2007 when the typical tenure in home was only six years. In Texas, the typical seller lived in their home for eight years.
Eighty-eight percent of sellers were assisted by a real estate agent when selling their home nationally; in Texas, that figure was 92%. REALTORS get more for a house than people can selling it themselves and saving the commission.  Statistics show REALTORS get 14-17% more, so it’s more of an investment than a cost to hire a REALTOR.
Overall, recent sellers typically sold their homes for 98% of the listing price, and 42% reported they reduced the asking price at least once. In Texas, sellers typically sold their homes for 98% of the listing price and 46% reduced the asking price at least once.  In 2016, the Austin average was 98.2%.  That is strong.
Ten percent of recent sellers had to delay or stall selling their home because the value of their home was worth less than their mortgage on a national level. This share was 7% in Texas.
Thirty-six percent of sellers offered incentives to attract buyers, most often assistance with home warranty policies and closing costs overall. In Texas, 44% of sellers offered incentives.  They are common and often include seller-paid closing costs for the buyer.
Home Selling and Real Estate Professionals
Nationally, 39% of sellers who used a real estate agent found their agents through a referral by friends or family, and 25% used the agent they worked with previously to buy or sell a home. In Texas, 37% of sellers found their agent through a referral and 25% used the agent they had worked with previously.
Two-thirds of home sellers only contacted one agent before selecting the one to assist with their home sale, a trend that is also true in Texas.
Eighty-five percent of sellers reported that their home was listed or advertised on the multiple listing (MLS) website overall; 86% in Texas.
Among recent sellers who used an agent, 84% reported they would definitely (65%) or probably (19%) use that real estate agent again or recommend to others. In Texas, 86% reported they would definitely (68%) or probably (18%) use the agent again.
For-Sale-by-Owner (FSBO) Sellers
The share of home sellers who sold their home without the assistance of a real estate agent was 9% nationally and 6% in Texas. Forty-four percent overall and 33% in Texas knew the buyer prior to home purchase.
The primary reason that sellers choose to sell their home without the assistance of a real estate agent to a buyer they did not know was that they did not want to pay a fee or commission (46% nationally, 44% in Texas).
Approximately one-third of FSBO sellers took no action to market their home, and 64% did not offer any incentives to attract buyers overall.
In Texas, 38% of FSBO sellers did not market and 56% did not offer incentives.
The typical FSBO home sold for $184,000 compared to $230,000 among agent-assisted home sales nationally.  In Texas, the typical FSBO home sold for $153,500 compared to $200,000 among agent-assisted homes.
*National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.
2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers Conclusion
Despite the 2017 changes observed in the housing market, the importance of the real estate professional in the transaction remains clear. As inventory tightened in many areas of the country, buyers are most often looking for real estate agents to help them find the right home: 88% of home buyers purchased their home from a real estate agent or broker — up from 69% in 2001. For most buyers, referrals continue to be the primary method for finding an agent, and most buyers only interviewed one agent during their search process. Sellers place a high importance on the reputation of the agent as a factor in hiring them. Sellers also find a high importance in whether the agent is honest and trustworthy. Sellers trust their agent to be able to perform the same four tasks as in previous years:
  • help selling the home within a specific time frame
  • help the seller market the home to potential buyers
  • help finding a buyer for the home, and
  • help in pricing the home competitively.

Selling Your Home: Getting the Most Out of Your Remodel Dollars in 2017

These ideas (plus some eye candy) from the experts at realtor.com can help you balance the impulsive and emotional with the long-term value-adds of remodeling.

Future-Proof Kitchen

Consider some of 2017’s top kitchen remodeling trends care of property listing site realtor.com:

  • Modern design with black, white or gray cabinetry
  • Solid surface counter tops of granite or quartz
  • Minimalist designs
  • Appliances that blend with the cabinetry
  • Black or stainless steel hardware

Several of these kitchen “trends” — particularly white, minimalism, and simplicity — are actually enduring vs. trendy. You’ll find most of them on HouseLogic’s definitive list of timeless kitchen features. They’re the features you’ll love now and in 10 years — and that will be marketable when it’s time to sell.

Flex Rooms   

Embrace the multigenerational trend, says realtor.com, by creating flex rooms.

Adding or converting a bedroom to include a sitting area and bathroom makes a lovely sanctuary for your guests now and a cozy space for your mother in her later years. Consider a separate entrance, too.  When you get up there in age yourself, you can supplement your retirement income by renting out the space.

Paint Color

The official color (according to the official arbiter of color, Pantone) is “graige” — a combination of gray and beige. Accent colors for pillows for the sofa? Definitely yes. Neutrals are better than bold colors — in 2017 anyway.

“Be wary of any trend that has the potential for a short shelf life,” realtor.com advises. Stick to neutral colors for anything in your home (inside and outside) that’s not as easy to replace as a pillow.  Here in Austin, “Summertime” is the most common neutral color.

Home Equity Rising

Experts predict home prices should rise further in 2017 — at least the first half — to the point whereby 91% are back in the black. This means you could have the home equity you need to fund your next renovation …or sell and move up or move down.

Interest Rates Headed Up

Unless you’ve refinanced, you will have more home equity in 2017 than you did in 2015 and 2016, but doing a cash-out refinance to pay for your remodel will be harder and more expensive to do in the year ahead due to new rigid underwriting rules (TRID, which began Oct. 1, 2015) and rising interest rates. Lenders say loan files are now routinely hundreds of pages long, so lower your expectations about how fast and how easy it is to refinance. But don’t let your frustration with the process wreck your enthusiasm for your remodeling or selling dream.  Allow 45 days to close.

And Now for that Eye Candy

Whenever you’re remodeling, it’s smart to make sure you don’t over or under-improve compared with neighbors’ homes. So check out some of the home listings on realtor.com in your subdivision or zip code, many of which include interior pictures.

Selling Your Home: Now it’s up to You

Compare these extraordinary services to those of any other agent in Austin and you will likely find this list of services caters to today’s buyers and how they shop for their next home.

Not all properties receive the same marketing. Call or email and we can discuss what’s best for you.

Ted Simpson, REALTOR.  512.217.5377