WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT OF THE AGENT I HIRE TO SELL MY HOME?
Your agent will handle all aspects of your property sale, from pricing, marketing and showings to the intricate steps involved in closing the deal. Your agent should partner with you from day one, take time to discuss your unique needs and goals, and present a customized marketing plan outlining how best to generate awareness of your home. Your agent will also: guide the entire process, ensure discretion, report to you regularly, promote your listing to the widest possible buyer audience and brokerage community via web and print outlets, seek pre-qualified buyer prospects and provide personal representation at every showing. Once offers come in, your agent will skillfully negotiate on your behalf with full knowledge of all activity associated with your property to secure the best price and the quickest closing, and will work to bring the sale to its successful conclusion by helping you navigate building rules and all of the details of transfer of ownership.
WHAT IS AN EXCLUSIVE SELLER REPRESENTATION AGREEMENT?
A property owner who wishes to sell their home usually signs a contract with a real estate company called an Exclusive Seller Representation Agreement. This agreement is the initial contract between the seller and the broker, which gives the broker and a specific agent the exclusive right to sell your property for a designated period of time (i.e., six months or a year). Terms of the agreement vary, but generally include things like duties of the realtor, the amount of commission (6% is standard), length of the exclusive right, asking price and other selling terms.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AS A REASONABLE MARKET TIME?
The time your home is on the market depends on many factors and varies by location. Your agent can give you an approximate market time expectation based on your specific property. However, it’s important to note that homes which are priced competitively, marketed aggressively to reach a wide local, domestic and international buyer audience, and staged effectively to showcase the best features attract more buyers and sell faster. Proper pricing is especially important in the early stages of marketing. Statistics show that if properly priced, an offer should be presented within the first 12 showings.
HOW IS A HOME’S VALUE DETERMINED?
Many factors go into determining a home’s market value, including the condition of the property, the location, square footage, recent comparable sales, amenities and other factors. Your listing agent is the most qualified to evaluate your home and arrive at an accurate selling price based on the current market and vast array of industry resources.
HOW CAN I INCREASE THE VALUE OF MY HOME?
Whether you’re thinking of doing a major remodeling or just sprucing up your place with a fresh coat of paint, there are many ways to make your home more appealing to buyers while adding both perceived and real value. Adding bedrooms and doing kitchen and bathroom renovations/upgrades can yield substantial price increases. Features like high ceilings, ceramic tile and wood floors, a sitting area in the master bedroom, a laundry room and central air also contribute to the value. Yet, not every improvement has to cost a lot. There are simple things you can do, like washing the walls and windows, eliminating clutter, installing new window treatments, shampooing carpets, modernizing light fixtures, refinishing the kitchen cabinets and upping the wattage of light bulbs to create a brighter ambience.
DOES STAGING A HOME HELP IT SELL FOR MORE?
Your home is your most valuable asset so, of course, when the time comes to sell, you want to do everything you can to make it most attractive and get the highest price possible. Research shows that well-staged homes can sell approximately 32% faster than those that are non-staged, plus often command higher sale prices of up to 10% more. Homes that are properly staged make a great first impression. It’s all about selling a lifestyle, and it’s proven that homes which exude warmth, elegance, romance and sex appeal sell fastest. Staging helps paint a picture for buyers so they can imagine themselves entertaining, relaxing or cooking dinner in the space. Staging can involve anything from putting a new color on the wall or boxing up knick knacks to rearranging furniture or bringing in new décor. Your agent will work with you to find staging solutions to optimize your apartment’s appeal.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN OPEN HOUSE
The open house showcases your property to the public, so you want it to look its best. Buyers don’t overlook anything, so make sure the entire place is clean from top to bottom, even inside the appliances! Throw away the trash, put away your valuables, organize all closets and drawers, get rid of children’s and pet toys to minimize clutter. Try to depersonalize each room by removing photos and posters or artwork. Buy new linens and pillows if necessary, preferably a neutral color. Ensure that everything is working, from light bulbs to the AC, and repair anything that needs fixing, like a leaky faucet. Maybe even spray a pleasant room freshener around and play some soothing background music for effect. Remove pets from the premises when possible and, most importantly, go out for a few hours and enjoy yourself. Leave everything to your agent who’ll be well-prepared with marketing materials and answers to all questions.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO PUT MY HOME ON THE MARKET?
The spring selling season has been the best time to put a home on the market. It’s a time of new beginnings and the nicer weather gets people out of the house. Also, for families with children, they generally prefer to move before school starts, especially if moving to a different neighborhood. Historically, September and October have also been popular months to sell. However, there are always buyers looking for homes all year round, even during the more trying times our market has recently experienced which has altered the usual selling patterns. If a home is priced and marketed right, it will sell no matter what the season or state of the market. Your agent will evaluate your home, prepare a comparative market analysis for you, and work with you to decide what the best strategy and timing is for putting your home up for sale.
WHERE DO MOST BUYERS START LOOKING FOR HOMES?
An incredible 90% of home shoppers today use the Internet to start their home search. Of course, those looking to buy still browse the newspaper real estate section as well as magazines, attend open houses, and get recommendations from friends on the best places to live. However, there is no question that your home will get the most visibility by being properly marketed online.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AS MY CLOSING COSTS?
If you are selling your home, you will also incur closing costs. Knowing what these are upfront can help you plan your next move and make your transaction go smoothly. Generally, closing costs for selling a cooperative, condominium or townhouse property include the real estate commission you have agreed to pay your agent (6% of the purchase price), the mortgage principal remaining on the property, your real estate attorney’s fees (which vary), New York City real property transfer tax (which can be up to 1.425% of the purchase price), New York State transfer tax (0.4% of purchase price), move-out deposit ($500 and up) and other various fees. These costs are payable from the sale proceeds.
WHAT HAPPENS AT A CLOSING?
All of your paperwork will be with your agent when you go in for your closing appointment. You have a right to review your paperwork in advance of this meeting. You’ll need to bring a current photo identification with you to the closing, typically a driver’s license or a passport. Also, bring any paperwork you feel you might need to refer to during the closing, such as your original deed, warranty information, repair receipts, etc. Ideally, all of these items should have been reviewed and accounted for well before the closing time, so this is just precautionary. Some amounts owed may need to be paid by certified check; ask your attorney.
For cooperatives and condos, the closing is usually held at the office of the management company of the building and is attended by the buyer, buyer’s attorney, you, your attorney, lender’s attorney, a representative from the management’s transfer department, and the agent(s).
For condominiums and townhouses, the closing is ordinarily held at the office of the seller or the lender’s attorney, with the buyer, buyer’s attorney, you, your attorney, lender’s attorney, title company closer and agent(s) in attendance. Checks are exchanged for the keys to the apartment or the house.