Realty 33, Inc
REALTY 33 BLOG
TIPS FOR BUYING & SELLING & ALL THINGS REAL ESTATE
Do You Use Zillow, Or is Zillow Using You?
I Call it the Zillow monster. Why? Because It swallows up all the usable real estate data and makes us pay to get any of it out. We all pay Zillow in one form or another. Real estate professionals pay by having to buy into the paid advertisements to make themselves visible to potential prospects. Users pay by having to give up their email and phone number to get more information about a property.
Do you use Zillow for home searching? If so, this may be useful to you. I recently made a short video talking about the pros and cons of using Zillow, as well as some simple strategies for getting great information from your search without being bombarded by email and phone calls from random real estate agents.
So here's the truth Zillow doesn't want you to know: Zillow is not a Real Estate Company. Zillow is an internet company. Zillow sells Ads, not homes.
It's important to remember that Zillow is like the wild west for real estate listings. Anyone can post a listing about any property, and Zillow has little to no control over the accuracy of the information. Many times property data is inaccurate, and the status of a property for sale is almost never updated. To get the most out of Zillow, try these simple strategies:
1. ZESTIMATE is Zillow automated home value estimator but it is not a reliable source for your home's value. Do not rely on the Zestimate to determine what your home is worth. Instead, use recent sales data from your neighborhood to get an idea of what your home might sell for. Search for nearby comparable home sales by selecting "recently sold" under listing type and zooming in on the map to find comparable in your area. If you make a specific inquiry about your home's value, expect to be contacted by a local agent that has paid Zillow for their advertising platform. Remember, Zillow sells ads not houses. Zillow connects agents to buyers and sellers, and that's how they make their money.
2. When you're searching for homes for sale, or recently sold, sort by newest first. Zillow doesn't update the status of it's listings. If you are shopping for a home and looking at listings over 30 days old, chances are they are already under contract or sold. If you are really interested in a property, contact a local real estate agent to verify the information you are looking at is accurate before you get your hopes up.
Zillow can be a very useful tool for home buying and selling, but remember that they want to collect your contact information to resell and make money. Avoid this by performing your own manual searches and contact agents directly if you have questions about a particular property or you home value.
The Closing date is the most important date of the entire real estate transaction. It is the day in which title is finally conveyed between the previous owner and the new one. After weeks of negotiations and hard work, the last thing anyone wants is for a deal to fall apart at the closing table. That's why we've outlined a few key steps every buyer and seller should take before signing on the dotted line. Following each one of the tips below will help to ensure you have a smooth and successful closing:
1. Take 1 last walk through the home. Ask your realtor to walk the property with you. Bring the repair list with you and make sure all items were addressed. Make sure items that were to be removed were indeed taken out and anything that was supposed to remain behind is still there. Don't wait until the last minute to do the walkthrough, do it the day before closing so you have time to address any issues that might arise.
2. Read paperwork BEFORE the closing. There should be no surprises when you sit down to close the deal. Depending on the type of transaction there may be a lot of paperwork to sift through. There is no need to feel overwhelmed. Request that the attorney, mortgage company, etc send you the preliminary drafts of the closing documents 2 days prior to closing. calmly go through the documents and jot down notes on anything that isn't clear to you, Then consult with your attorney or mortgage rep to get a better understanding on those items.
3. Make sure checks are prepared in advance. Buyers should make sure they know in advance the exact amount needed to bring to closing. Decide ahead of time which form of payment (check, credit card, wire) is best. Sellers should decide ahead of time how they want to receive the proceeds. The bottom line is you want to make sure your money goes where you want it to go at closing.
4. Make sure all contingencies are satisfied. Were all repairs completed? Did someone obtained the municipal fire and certificates of occupancy? Were all of the buyer's mortgage contingencies met? Are there any outstanding judgements, liens, or bills that need to be paid at or before closing? Buyers should consult with their mortgage rep and attorney to tie up any loose ends. Sellers should stay in contact with their attorney and title company to make sure there are no outstanding issues that could delay the sale.
5. Make sure your moving arrangements are flexible. Too many people make the mistake of thinking the closing date is set in stone. Trust me when I say that it is not! Though there are exceptions, in most cases the closing date is a "floating" deadline. The date and time can usually only be confirmed 2-3 days in advance, at best. That's why it's important to have a flexible moving schedule, and to have temporary living arrangements set up if needed. If you are selling, don't wait until the day of closing to move out. Give yourself time to move your personal belongings without the pressure and stress of looming deadlines. Lastly, don't rent a moving van or hire a moving company until the exact date and time has been confirmed by all parties involved.
The closing is the most critical and emotionally charged moment of the real estate transaction. That doesn't mean it has to feel stressful and chaotic. Keep a cool head and these 5 tips in mind to help make sure your next closing is a smooth and successful one!
We wanted to share with you this is promotional video with some amazing drone footage put together by our new digital media specialist.
Realty 33 is committed to being on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to marketing homes for sale. We will include a 1 minute video just like this, (along with a full album of hi-res photos and drone shots) in our marketing package for all future listings. What do you think? Would this be valuable to you if you were selling your home?
You have finally decided it's time to sell your home. After meeting with a realtor and determining a list price, your house is ready for the market. But wait! Before you list the property for sale consider making a few improvements that'll help you sell it faster and for more money! Here are 8 tips on things to do before selling your home:
1. Remove all Major Clutter. Take a look at the house and determine how much clutter you need to remove. It’s important to keep in mind that prospective buyers will want to see what the house looks like behind all your stuff. This sometimes means going room to room and clearing everything out so that the whole house appears clean and organized.
2. Neutralize the Home. You may love the native tapestry on your living room wall or your grandmother’s old spoon in the kitchen but most of the time these personalized decorations will not help sell your home. Many home staging companies recommend removing personal photographs and knick knacks and replacing them with neutral items like picture frames or a vase with a simple arrangement.
3. Minor cosmetic work. Once you remove the clutter you will probably notice that some parts of the house are in need of repairs. it’s a good idea to paint where necessary, clean the carpets, repair moldings and trims, and replace cracked or damaged drywall. When making these improvements think neutral colors for any finishings be it paint or carpets. If you have hardwood floors have them sanded and finished. Area rugs can look amazing. Whatever you do, don’t over do it. Keep it simple and clean.
4. Hire a professional cleaner. Once you have the house cleared you should hire a professional cleaning crew to wash the walls, windows, work over the kitchen and bathrooms, clean the floors and shampoo all carpets that don’t need to be replaced. Your house should be spotless and kept this way for the duration.
5. Staging each room. If your rooms are smaller rearrange the furniture to make the room look bigger. For example removing some furniture is better than having too much cramped in. Set your furniture up in a conversation pit style. Make it cozy. Pull couches away from walls to give the appearance of depth.
6. Kitchen and bathrooms. To a buyer, these are often the most important rooms in a home. Make sure yours show really well. Plumbing fixtures should be working properly and look like new. Use a good cleaner or even a metal polish to make them shine. Showers and tubs should to be spotless. Sinks and vanities should to be clean and uncluttered. Kitchen cabinets should be in good working order with all doors opening and closing properly.
7. Doors and windows. It’s all about first impressions. In the case of selling your home, The first thing prospective buyers see when they walk in your home is a door. Make sure its painted or cleaned up and that it will open and close properly. This goes for screen doors as well. Windows should all be cleaned and be sure if someone wants to open them that they work properly. If they have been painted closed, as is the case with some older homes, now is the time to get them opened!
8. Odors and pets. if you’ve ever walked into a house with dogs or cats you know that it’s possible to immediately smell them as soon as you open the door. Therefore it’s important to take extra steps to remove all animal odors from a home you’re preparing to sell. Keep litter boxes fresh and clean daily. If possible, restrict your animals to certain areas of the home until after the sale. If you have more than one cat or dog remember to vacuum often and use carpet cleaners.
I know this sounds like quite a bit of work, and it is! But by following these tips you could easily be adding five to ten thousand dollars to the sale price of your home, not to mention that it will very likely sell faster! When it comes to selling a home, a little elbow grease now could turn out to be a solid investment.
Social media has taken the modern world by storm. People today are more connected than ever before thanks to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In terms of real estate, this means that many potential homebuyers are starting their home search online. If you are planning on selling your house, you will want to make sure that Internet advertising is part of your marketing plan. Here are just a few examples of how to market on social media.
1. Zillow Listing- Posting on Zillow is an easy way to put your property in front of thousands of potential homebuyers. To do this, just type in the address of your home and click on "owner" tab. Then you can fill in the details about your property such as the price and number of beds and baths. Make sure to write up a nice concise description and use high quality pictures. When you are finished, publish the listing and share it on your favorite social media platforms.
2. Facebook Groups- If you live in a town that has a Facebook group, this can be a great way to reach potential buyers that work or live in the area. Share your Zillow listing or create a post from scratch with a short description and nice pictures of the property. Remember to tell people how to get in contact with you.
3. Facebook Ads- This is a little more advanced and requires some basic understanding of "pay-per-click" advertising works, What you want to do is create an ad that targets potential home buyers that live or work near your home. For the ad you'll want to include a nice picture and a short description with a "call to action". Tell buyers where to go or who to call for more information. Finally, set your daily budget and how often you want the ad delivered. Once the ad is live you can monitor the traffic and feedback using Facebook’s ad management tool.
4. Video- Take a short (less than 5 minute) video of your home and post it online. The video should either be a virtual tour or a slideshow. Make sure to use a good quality camera and keep the video professional. Edit the video to include your name and contact information at the bottom. Then, post it to YouTube with the property address as the title. Once your video is live, link to it on your social media.
5. Hire a Realtor- The tips listed above are just a couple of examples of how you can use social media to market your home for sale. There are many more. Creating and monitoring all of this content can be time consuming. That's why sometimes it's better to leave it to the professionals to do it for you! By now, all good realtors should have added social media to his/her marketing tool belt and know how to use the power of the internet to get more people interested in your property. Look for a realtor that is tech savvy, can adapt, and has a good online presence.
In Northern New Jersey it is common for a home to have an underground storage tank or (UST). A UST is a large tank that holds oil used for heating the home. Some oil tanks are active in homes that use oil as the primary heat source, while others are abandoned or decommissioned in homes that have been converted to gas heat. When an abandoned UST appears on a home inspection, it can be a complicated matter. That’s because there’s always a possibility that the soil underneath and around the tank could be contaminated with oil products. Here are 4 tips to help deal with an oil tank.
1. Tank Sweep - The first step to confirming the presence of a UST is to hire a company that will perform a “sweep “ of the property to detect the tank. If a tank is discovered, they will produce a report describing the approximate size of the tank and it’s location. A tank sweep typically costs $250-$350.
2. Get Permits & Certificates – If an oil tank had been previously decommissioned or removed, there should be a permit or certificate with the town. Buyers should be wary of a seller that mentions the removal of a tank but doesn’t have any permits or town certs to back it up.
3. Soil Test – In instances where a UST is discovered it’s critical to know 2 things: Is there is any oil product still in it and is it leaking? Remember that some UST’s can be 30 or 40 years old. The tanks decay and corrode over time and eventually can leak. If a leak is suspected then environmental company should be hired to take a soil sample and analyze it for possible soil contamination.
4. Sell it As-Is -If a UST is discovered during a real estate transaction in most cases the buyers will ask that the sellers remove the tank. However, sometimes a home can be sold with the UST still in the ground. For example, investors and house flippers often buy properties with abandoned USTs. Foreclosures, estates, and vacant homes are often sold as-is and some investors take the risk. If a seller has a UST, selling to a cash buyer may be the best option.
Are you considering putting your house up for sale after the New Year, but not sure where to start? Maybe you're afraid it will take too long to sell, or that you won't get the price you want? One way to make sure that doesn't happen is by giving the outside of your house a good makeover, and set the scene for buyers to fall in love with your home. Here are 3 tips to help you stage the outside of your home for the spring and summer market.
1. Foundation and Siding - Take a look at your home's foundation. Is the paint worn, cracked, and chipped? It might be time to repaint it and get it looking new again. Also inspect your drivieway and your home's siding. Don't worry - If you've taken care of your home you probably won't have to replace it, but a good powerwash can go a long way. Remember that when buyers see things like peeling paint or chipped siding they are going to think the house has not been well taken care of. Don't let them have that first impression!
2. Landscaping- Step outside your front door and look around your front yard for 2 minutes. What you are seeing is what potential buyers will see. Dead plants, old Christmas decorations in the middle of March? Again, it's all about making a good first impression. What you want to do is first remove all weeds, dead plants, and old lawn ornaments. Then cut the grass nd throw down some fresh grass seed, watering it for a few days. Lastly, get a few plants and mulch from the local nursery and spruce up the front and sides of the house. Buy 2 of the same plant so you can create a nice symetrical design along the front.
3. Don't forget the backyard - While that might not be part of the potential buyers first impression experience, you still should make sure it's in the best condition possible. Make no mistake, backyards are a big deal to a lot of buyers. Pull up weeds, water plants, do some sweeping, and throw out any old raggedy furniture. Oh, and please - If you have a dog that normally uses the backyard for a bathroom, make sure you clean it up so buyers don't step in anything gross!
Imagine yourself as a potential buyer looking at your property for the very first time. What impressions are you getting? Would YOU buy your house? What would you like to see changed before you put an offer on your house?
And don't worry about spending a few thousand dollars to get your house ready to sell, because if you do it right you'll get it all back at the closing table. And if you're handy, you can save tons of money by doing it yourself. But keep in mind that no matter what proper staging helps you sell your house in a shorter time and at the price you want.
In my time working in real estate I have found that every property comes with it's own unique sets of challenges, especially properties that need repairs or renovations. The very idea of tearing down a space, however small, and rebuilding it from scratch can be terrifying. There is a lot to stress about- Will the contractors do a good job? Is the price right? How much of a mess is this going to make? To help ease the stress of home renovations, Here are 5 tips based on mistakes I've made and lessons I've learned:
1. Never Just Get 1 Bid - Most of us aren't experienced enough in the world of general construction to know the exact cost of specific jobs, so the best way to know if the price is fair is to compare quotes from multiple contractors. This is where you want to get good referrals from friends and family (think of someone you know that recently renovated their home) while also searching online and reading reviews. 3 is a good number for a short list of potential contractors.
2. Know Your Material Costs- Take a quick trip to your favorite general hardware store and start to familiarize yourself with some material costs. Bring a note pad and paper, or go online, and look at things like flooring material, tile, paint, fixtures, appliances, backsplash, kitchen cabinets, etc. If you have measurements of the space you are renovating use that to figure the cost per square foot. To save time pick out all the materials in advance and have the contractor pick them up later.
3. Plan Carefully & Avoid Extras - If you've ever received an estimate for a home improvement job, you will notice that it is very specific. In other words, if a particular job is not on the estimate chances are it won't get done. Adding these forgotten items later can be very costly. Take your time and go over the plan carefully with your contractor. For example, do you want to add recessed lighting or built in speakers before you fix the ceilings? Is this a good opportunity to wire in a security system? Try to include everything in one estimate so you don't get hit with extras at the end.
4. Know the Subcontractors- When you hire a general contractor for a remodeling job you are also hiring the subcontractors that the contractor works with. Make sure to check your itemized quote so you can see the charges for electrical, plumbing, roofing, or any other subcontracted work. Make sure to take each subcontract apart and negotiate each one. Also get the names, company info, and license number from each subcontractor.
5. Establish a Pay Schedule- The pay schedule should be structured in a way that allows for portions of the total balance to be disbursed only when specific milestones are achieved, For example, a typical pay schedule may call for an initial payment for material, a payment after demolition, and another payment after rough plumbing & electrical work. Hold the final payment until you are completely satisfied with the job and the contractor has passed all the necessary city inspections and permits have been closed.
Major home improvements can be stressful. Hopefully this will save you money on a future project! For fun, I put together an album wiith some videos and before/after shots of recent home renovation projects my partners and I have done.
Check it out here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/7nyfltr8kevs150/AAANafZVwimIx4G-rXGiRFUwa?dl=0
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Experience is the chief author of the Realty 33 blog, as we continue to learn new things everyday. This blog is intended to educate and help those that wish to know more about the world of real estate.