Pricing a House: The Difference Between Sold Listings and Old Listings

This is a great time to sell with limited inventory on the current sales market and the mortgage rates at all-time lows. In fact, every news outlet is saying how the housing crisis is in remission, so why hasn’t your home sold yet?

Let me give you a frame of reference: if you have had a property on the market for longer than 2 months with no serious interest, your property can be considered stale and will be harder to sell. Keep in mind this is not true for all properties. Certain properties that fit into a niche market (multi-million dollar mansions, horse farms, etc.) or have problems (in areas with lots of construction, awkward layouts, etc.) will take longer to sell than turn-key properties. If your property doesn’t need improvements and is in a sought after location, why didn’t your house sell when it first came on the sales market?

Our society is becoming increasingly visual and tech-savy and people want to see high-quality photographs. Do your listings feature plenty of pictures of the property? Are the pictures high-quality and shot by a professional photographer? Is your listing mobile friendly so buyers look up your listing on their smartphone or tablet? If you answered “yes” to these, then more than likely it’s because the price is too high.

Pricing a house to sell in the current sales marketThere are many reasons a property doesn’t sell but more often than not, not pricing a house to sell in the current market is the factor for a listing to go stale. If you feel this is wrong, let me ask you, did you come up with a price based on the formula: I paid X so many years ago and put in Y so the price should at least be (X+Y)+Z with for inflation and appreciation? It’s an easy formula but it is the wrong way to go about pricing a home. One reason is that your ROI is never equal to 100%. There are several home renovation projects to increase its value, but none of them will give you back exactly what you put in. Another reason this formula is inaccurate is that the market works much differently and a property should be priced to sell for the current market. Worst case scenario is that your area took a hit in the housing crisis and it hasn’t recovered. If you bought it for X at the peak of the market, chances are you are not going to get it all back when you want to sell. Best case scenario, you bought low and held onto the property for years and now you can get much more than what you paid and put in.

“Is my property priced too high?”

If you and your Realtor are doing everything to market your property well, check the sales activity in the local market. Is there a lot of activity? If there is a lot of activity in your sales market but your property has not had any interest, this is a good indication the price is too high. Pricing a home is not a guessing game, have your Realtor provide a comparative market analysis and look at the data. This will show you what similar properties to yours have recently sold for and you will also be able to see how long they were on the market and compare the list price to the sold price.

If you are still saying to yourself that you know your home is worth the price you are asking, let me ask you this: do you really want to sell your home? If your answer is “only if I get the price I want,” you don’t really want to sell and chances are you won’t sell. If your answer is “yes,” then it needs to be priced to sell in the current market. If you want to get the best price, price the home to sell to begin with. This will bring a lot of traffic and interest right away, which is the most critical time for any house on the market. The properties that are getting close to asking or above asking are priced well at the start. If the property is priced too high to begin with, it will sit. To generate renewed interested, you will need to drop the price. Depending on how long you have it on the market and how many price reductions you make, you may end up selling for less than you would have if you had priced it well to begin with. In the meantime you have lost money because of the holding costs incurred through property taxes, maintenance, and mortgage payment.

Pricing a house too high for the current sales market

versus

Pricing a house to sell in the current sales marketIf this doesn’t move you to reconsider your strategy when pricing a house, see what your asking price gets you in the local market. Are there more bedrooms? New renovations? Landscaped outdoor space? These are what buyers are expecting at this price and if your property falls below their standard, buyers are not going to be interested.

If you are in the market to sell a home or would like to know what your property is worth in the current sales market, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group.

Schedule a consultation with a Realtor

Posted in Real Estate Tips, Sell property | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Setting the Stage to Sell Your Home

Staging to sell your propertyOnce you put your home on the market, you have to come to terms with the fact that this will no longer be your home. Once you’ve accepted this, you can start to see it how a buyer would see it. The first step is to get all the clutter out and depersonalize. If you were buying a home, you would want to see a property free of all the previous owners’ personal items. People don’t want to be reminded that they are going through someone else’s home. You want to inspire the buyer with an unassuming canvas, something a buyer can look at and say, “This works, but I can see how I can do a little more.”

Hiring a professional stager is one of the best investments you can make when selling a home. If you are living in the house while it is on the market, a stager can help you by advising how to make the space appeal to a buyer while keeping it functional and livable for you. And if you have moved out and taken your furniture with you, staging a home can give life and warmth to an empty space. Unfortunately buyers do not always have the vision necessary to see themselves in a house. Staging allows them to see a house as their home.

You know your home. You know the time of day where the sun hits a room just right. Highlight the features that makes your home unique. Make sure to capture what makes this home so special and how it can make someone else just as happy to call it home.

Fix or upgrade the features that will turn someone off. Are the fixtures in the bathroom out of date? Change them to something more current. Are the cabinets in the kitchen still white with a wood border? Simply switch them out. Doing those little changes will add value to your home. If a buyer comes in and only sees what they will have to change and the work they will have to do, it can either turn them off completely or cause them of give a lower offer.

Many buyers these days like to come into a property and see little or no work needs to be done. Features like a landscaped garden can seem like a great highlight, until a buyer starts thinking of all the work and money they are going to have to spend to maintain it. Realizing these ahead of time, you can turn what some see as a negative into a positive. Offer helpful tips to show it’s not that difficult to take care of a garden or leave the name of gardeners that can help maintain it.

These are just a few ways to set the stage to sell your home. If you are interested in learning how we can help sell your property, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

Subscribe to our real estate newsletters

Posted in Real Estate Tips, ROI, Sell property | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Assessed Value vs Market Value

“Why is the assessed value vs market value so far off for this property?”

Many buyers have asked this question thinking a ratio of assessed value offers a shortcut to a property’s fair market value. While I use and can suggest many factors and figures to determine a property’s fair market value, I do not ever look at the assessed value when pricing a property. In fact, the only time I consider a property’s assessed value is when I want to provide buyers with the figure they will pay for property taxes.

The fair market value is the price agreed upon between a willing and informed buyer and a willing and informed seller under usual and ordinary circumstances (not under duress). The fair market value is the highest estimated price in terms of money which the property will bring if exposed for sale on the open market with reasonable time allowed to find a buyer who is purchasing with full knowledge of all the uses and purposes to which the property is best suited and for which it can be legally used.

Market Value vs Assessed ValueIn contrast, the assessed value is the dollar value assigned to a property by a public tax assessor for the purposes of measuring applicable taxes. Some states require assessed value to be a percentage of the real market value, but most do not. In Massachusetts, Town Assessors are required to submit assessed values to the State Department of Revenue for certification every three years. Assessors review the real estate sales market data every year and therefore reassess values each year. Many states do not allow the assessment value to be increased unless the home is sold or improvements are done to the home (called Proposition 13 protection in California). If market value falls below assessed value, the home owner may petition the tax collector for an abatement.

Since fair market value and assessed value differ in purpose and in how they are determined, an analysis of assessed value vs market value does not provide a consistent ratio from which to judge the merits of one metric or the other. After charting the two values looking for a correlation, the results show assessed values are all over the place in relation to a property’s fair market value.

I suggest using better methods of gauging a listing price’s merit in the current market. A comparable market analysis (CMA) is the best method for determining probable price of a property, but even price per square foot or the ratio of sale price to list price can be used as quick metrics of a list price’s validity in today’s market. Our Realtors are available to provide you with a CMA if you are considering buying property or thinking about listing your home for sale.

Subscribe to our real estate blog via RSS or email

Posted in Buy Property, Condo, House, Property for Sale, Real Estate Sales Market, Real Estate Tips, Sell property | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Clean is Clean? Real Estate Etiquette for Those Moving Out

Sellers and renters, by law, are only responsible to broom sweep their old home. This is another instance where you have to let your conscience be your guide. Ask yourself, “When I’m exhausted from packing and moving everything I own into a truck, do I really want to clean my new home that I just purchased or rented before I can put any of my things down?” I’m sure the answer would be “no.”

Clean Your Old Home Yourself and Save Money

I understand the last thing you want to do after a long day of packing and moving all of your belongings into a truck is to clean a place that is no longer yours. Here are a few ways you can motivate yourself to do it.

One : it’s good karma (if you believe in that)! But bottom line it is the right thing to do. Always leave a home the way you would want to walk into your new one.

Two : for the security deposit. The last thing you want is to have to pay for someone else to clean a place you no longer live in. If you are selling, the last thing you want is for your deal to go south at the final moments or have the buyer come after you.

Three : your old landlord will think well of you, which is key if you ever need a landlord reference in the future.

Cleaning your old place doesn’t have to take hours, but hit the important areas:

  • Remove all stains in the bathroom (hint: bleach takes care of about everything in the bathroom).
  • Make sure you leave nothing behind in the cupboards since not everyone will want your leftovers.
  • It’s amazing what a difference clean floors make, so vacuum and/or mop the floors.
  • Thoroughly clean the fridge. This task should take the longest. Many people are very particular about their food and what is near it. I am not one to judge, everyone has their eccentricities and since this is now someone else’s home it should be respected as such.

Even though you may not be legally obligated to professionally clean your old home, proper real estate etiquette is to clean it throughly whether you are renting or selling real estate.

Subscribe to our real estate newsletters

Posted in Etiquette, Real Estate Tips, Rental Property, Sell property | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can I Quit You? Ending a Real Estate Relationship

This spring in Boston, properties for sale are moving at lightening speed. By the time a property hits the general public, it seems to already have multiple offers. This is both intimidating and disheartening for all buyers but even more so for first-time home buyers. The most important resource both buyers and sellers have is their Realtor. Depending on your Realtor, this can be the best thing you have or the worst. It is important to have someone you are comfortable with and who understands your goals and real estate needs.

Just like in any break up, honesty is the best policy. Using the cliche “it’s not you, it’s me” phrase is worthless. It is unnecessary, vague, and doesn’t help either you or your Realtor. If you are unsatisfied with how they are doing their job, tell them, but give specific examples. If they are not responsive, show you properties that are not at all what you are looking for, or you feel like they are pressuring you to take certain properties, tell them. Sometimes your Realtor isn’t aware that you are dissatisfied. Your response time might be much sooner than what your Realtor believes necessary. Maybe the perfect property isn’t out there and your Realtor is showing you options that work for your needs. Getting on the same page with your Realtor and understanding how each party feels is crucial to making the process a smooth one. After you have had that conversation and nothing has changed, then tell your Realtor that you no longer wish to work with them. Do not avoid them and work with someone else without telling them. If you have signed an exclusive buyer representation agreement and you buy property through another party, you will still owe your original Realtor their commission.

Before beginning a real estate relationship, make sure both parties are on the same pageMore often than not, your Realtor will let you out of your contract if you are truly dissatisfied and have clearly discussed your dissatisfaction with them. No one wants to be in any kind relationship when one of the parties wants out. This holds true if even if you are the seller.

Furthermore, you may be surprised by your Realtor’s reaction. If neither of you took the time to understand each other, your Realtor may be as interested in breaking up as you are.

There are many Realtors in Boston, every one has a different approach, attitude, style, and personality. It is crucial to work with a Realtor who understands your specific real estate needs and goals. We at Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate feel jumping blindly into a business relationship costs time and money. We need to understand what our buyers and sellers want. We take our time to discuss what our clients’ goals are and what are their highest priorities. Especially for first-time home buyers, buying a home is just as emotional as it is business and constant and clear communication is the only way to achieve your goals. Taking the time for a one hour consultation with our real estate team will save you time in the long run and make the experience less stressful for everyone involved.

Schedule a consultation with a realtor

Posted in Buy Property, Etiquette, Real Estate Tips, Realtor, Sell property | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ROI: 99 Projects and a Bath Ain’t One

What Projects Bring the Best Return on Investment

When starting to do any renovations or improvements on a property the most important factor to consider is who or what the work is for. If this a property that can be called home for generations, then go personal, build it to fit your style, something that you want and will want for years. If the work is needed but in a property that you will out grow within several years, consider a practical approach. The more personal style shown in a project, most likely the less of a return on investment (or “ROI”) you will get at resale.

The cost vs value report 2011-2012 surveyed 35 remodeling projects over 80 cities that range from mid-range to upscale projects. According to this survey, replacement projects had the better return versus remodeling projects and mid-range projects recouped their costs more than upscale.

The top 5 projects that showed the best return at resale. Remember this is the national average and results may vary depending on location.

  1. Fiber-cement siding. This immediately improves curb appeal and 78% of the cost is recouped for a mid-range replacement.
  2. Entry door replacement. Again improves curb appeal and 72.8% of the cost is recouped for a mid-range replacement.
  3. Attic bedroom. This is a bigger project that adds an extra bedroom and bathroom and stays within the home’s original footprint. 72.5% of the cost is recouped. On average this project can cost $50,000 and has a value of $36,000 at resale.
  4. Minor kitchen remodel. This is a project that doesn’t have to cost very much if you think of it as a facelift. Replacing cabinets, hardware, countertops, and old appliances with energy efficient models can recoup 72.1% of the cost.
  5. Garage door replacement. 72.1% of the cost is recouped but this is a project that can vary in price depending on the home and the materials that have to be used. For a detached garage, an uninsulated door is fine. But if the garage is part of the house or rooms exist above the garage, spending more for an insulated door is necessary. Either way this project again immediately improves curb appeal.

The projects with the least return on investment are additions such as a sunroom or master suite. Remodeling a home office or bathrooms are also least likely to see a return on the dollars you put into the project, the reason being more people would want an extra bedroom rather than a home office and bathroom projects rank so low due to the expense. Taking a smaller bathroom and turning it into a spa also takes square footage away from other areas of the home and changes the original footprint of the home.

Renovations That Showcase Personality May Hurt ResaleResale is just one factor to consider when doing home improvement projects. If this is a home you have no intention of selling, making it what you want is more important, within reason. If your home is on top of your neighbors, you may want to tone down how much personality you show on the exterior of your home because it may make it stand out (and not in a good way).

Visit the Cost vs Value Report to see the full data and learn more about cost vs value. On the site, you can compare the data nationally, regionally, and by city.

To find your next project or your next home, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

Subscribe to our real estate blog via RSS or email

Posted in Real Estate Tips, Renovation, ROI, Sell property | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Renting Your Home that has Not Sold

If your property has been sitting on the sales market for a while and you have already moved, you may want to consider renting your home. A tenant’s rent payment can pay for the mortgage, which can take off the pressure that might cause you to make rash financial decisions. You may decide in the end to keep the home as an investment property or you could wait until the market improves to sell your property.

The housing market has been on a roller coaster to say the least and Boston has not been immune. Rental property in Boston continues to be in high demand. But before you decide on renting your home consider a few things.

When to start the lease is an important factor to consider. September 1st has the most turnover of any date for rentals in Boston and any time between the spring and September 1 is considered to be “in season.” Winter is the worst time for renting your home because less people are looking for housing at that time of year.

South End Brownstone that can be Rented Out while on Sales MarketBecause Boston’s rental market has such dramatic seasons, you need to factor this into your decision of how long of a lease you want. If you want to keep your home on the sales market, a short-term lease gives you the most flexibility but there is the risk of gaps in occupancy. Also know that most short-term tenants want their rental to be furnished. Fortunately there are many companies throughout Boston that will furnish a home for a monthly rate, but furnishing a condo or a house is not cheap.

To secure a long-term tenant, it would be best to commit to taking your property off the sales market once a lease in in place since tenants are unlikely to commit to the possibility of showing the property for sale and then having to move if a sale does occur. With a long-term lease you would be less likely to have gaps in occupancy and you can structure the lease length to work to your advantage. For instance, if you want to put your home back up for sale in a year, have the lease run until the end of January or February of the following year, so you can have it ready for the spring sales market.

You will also need to figure out a fair price to ask for renting your home. Like pricing your home for sale, the right price for renting your home can have it rented quickly. For the best insight into the current market, get the opinion of knowledgeable Realtors.

Renting your home can be a great option if isn’t selling, but it is important that you know what options are available and what will work best for you. For more information, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

Schedule a consultation with a realtor

Posted in Property for Sale, Real Estate Sales Market, Rental Property, Sell property | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment