HomeLight Blog https://www.homelight.com/blog Real Estate Advice from America's Top Agents Mon, 02 May 2022 02:21:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.2 https://homelightblog.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/gplus-icon-150x150.png HomeLight Blog https://www.homelight.com/blog 32 32 Getting the Listing: How to Stand Out From the Crowd and Beat the Competition https://www.homelight.com/blog/agent-getting-the-listing-part-1-podcast/ Mon, 02 May 2022 08:05:43 +0000 https://www.homelight.com/blog/?p=30927

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With inventory at record lows, you have to make the most of every chance you get to win a new listing. This week on The Walkthrough™, Barrett Spray introduces you to his team’s “pre-listing box” and their tag-team approach to meeting new sellers. These are just a couple tactics that help his team stand out from the competition and win about 80% of their competitive listing appointments. This is part one of a two-part series.

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Links and Show Notes

Full Transcript

(SPEAKER: Barrett Spray, Guest)

Barrett: What happens next, or actually it happens before that call because it’s a different person. Either my director of operations or my listing manager sends out what we call our listing box. Lots of agents have a pre-listing package, and it’s a file or a folder of some sort that says, you know, this is who we are and this is what we do. We’ve taken that about 10 levels beyond, we send out, literally, a box. Want me to show it to you?

(INTRO MUSIC)

Matt: Hi, there, I’m Matt McGee, managing editor of HomeLight’s Agent Resource Center, and welcome to “The Walkthrough™.” This is a weekly podcast. We have new episodes that come out every Monday. This is the show where you’ll learn what’s working right now from the best real estate agents and industry experts in the country. At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. We are here to explore how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable.

A few moments ago, you heard the voice of Barrett Spray. He was talking about one of the key things his team does to stand out from the crowd. Rather than sending out the typical pre-listing package, they send a box. It’s the size of a pretty big coffee table book. It’s like three inches thick, big enough to hold a book, folders, some small gifts, and a lot more that I’ll tell you about soon.

Getting the listing is what we’re talking about today and next week, too. This is part one of a two-part series, and this is so important in today’s market. When inventory is this low, you have to make the most of every opportunity you get to win a new listing. Barrett Spray and his team are doing exactly that.

Barrett runs a small team in the Orlando, Florida market. Today, they have six agents and five support staff. Last year, as a team of seven total, they did 120 deals and earned just shy of a million dollars in GCI. Barrett says they win about 80% of the competitive listing appointments that they go on. What helps them get those listings is that they do a few things that really make them stand out and look different.

On today’s show, you’ll hear Barrett talk about that listing box that he mentioned at the top of the show. You’re going to hear what’s in it and how it gets a lot of sellers to sign paperwork before the appointment even starts. He’ll talk about the five questions that every seller wants answered during the listing appointment. And Barrett is going to share some scripts for the first contact with a new lead and the pre-qualification call that they do. So, all of that is coming up today in part one of our two-part series.

As we dive in, I’m talking to Barrett about what happens right when a new lead comes in. In this example, it’s a HomeLight lead, and he says step one is for his ISA’s to respond really, really quickly.

(SHORT MUSIC TRANSITION)

Barrett: We receive a HomeLight lead, which is obviously a competitive situation. Their job is to be on the phone with that consumer within ten seconds. Ten seconds of that lead coming in, they are on the phone with them, because speed to lead really does matter. We are very good and my ISA’s are scripted very well into getting into rapport with that consumer very quickly because that consumer is probably getting bombarded with phone calls and texts, and it’s a little overwhelming. And the first job is to get into rapport and kind of calm them down and let them know we’re here to help them and to take care of them, not to just sell them something.

Matt: What does that script look like? What does the ISA say when that lead first comes in? How do you get into rapport like that?

Barrett: So it really depends on the consumers’ energy when it comes in. So, I teach my ISA’s to mirror and match very well, not only tonality but the rate of speech. So if it’s a New Yorker, and they’re talking really fast, we need some information, we need to go real fast, you better match that.

Matt: Right.

Barrett: Or, if it’s somebody from Texas, you better not talk like a New Yorker. And I don’t mean to belittle either one of those people. However, rapport means mirroring and matching them on the phone in both tonality and rate of speech. The exact script will depend on the consumer–whether it’s a buyer or a seller. In this case, we’re talking about sellers.

“So, I understand you may be wanting to put your house on the market here in Orlando. How can we best help you with that?”

And it’s letting them talk. It is asking way more questions than telling. Selling is asking questions, not telling people information.

When the ISA has that consumer on the phone, they’re very intelligent. They’re very well-scripted. The idea is for them to set an appointment with that consumer. Sometimes, when they are in conversation, they have what we call a “call-out button” which, literally, calls all of the agents on the team and says, “I have somebody on the phone right now,” (just like a HomeLight work transfer lead) “can you get on the phone right now?” They use that if they get stuck, if they have kind of a combative consumer on the phone, if they’re just not getting into rapport. The objective is to get somebody on the phone at that point that can do a better job.

It may be the consumer’s having a bad day. They don’t want to talk to a female. They don’t want to talk to a male. Whatever that is, it is to get into rapport. Their ultimate goal is to make an appointment. So, they’re pretty good at it, and let’s say they do make an appointment. Today is a Monday, and they make an appointment for Wednesday. The goal is not to make an appointment more than 72 hours out.

Matt: Okay.

Barrett: They can if they have to, but the goal is to do it within two or three days. Within four hours of the ISA making the appointment, the agent who the appointment is made for, then picks up the phone and calls the consumer again to introduce themselves and let them know, “Hi, I’m Barrett.” “Hi, I’m Ed. I’m the one that will be going on the appointment with you. Just wanted to introduce myself.” So it’s a second layer of familiarity.

Matt: Let me rewind a little bit. Because if I’m listening to this right now, I’m thinking all right, Barrett just said they have a “call-out button”. Can you tell me what that is?

Barrett: It’s a text. It’s a text that has all of us on it, that the ISA can do while they’re on the phone and send a text out that says, “I’ve got a consumer on the phone. Somebody jump in,” and the first person that calls in, that’s whose call she takes or he takes.

Matt: Okay, gotcha. All right. So it’s as simple as they’re on the phone, and if they need the help, they just text the team, and somebody chimes in at that point?

Barrett: Correct.

Matt: Okay, let’s fast forward back to where we were. You were just talking about how the agent who is going to work with this person, you said they have four hours to confirm the appointment. How much pre-qualifying do you do before you actually go out?

Barrett: On that call? Very little. It’s just an introduction call. What happens next, or actually, it happens before that call because it’s a different person, either my director of operations or my listing manager sends out what we call our “listing box”. Lots of agents have a pre-listing package, and it’s a file or a folder of some sort that says, you know, this is who we are, and this is what we do. We’ve taken that about 10 levels beyond. We send out, literally, a box. Want me to show it to you?

Barrett: At this point in our conversation, Barrett grabbed one of his pre-listing boxes and showed me everything that’s in it, piece by piece. It’s about 10 by 13 and about 3 inches thick. It took more than two minutes to go through everything inside. It has gifts like cookies and popcorn. The popcorn is there because there’s a link to an online video about the team. It has a lottery ticket and a business card.

There’s a little gold key inside because Barrett’s team has what they call the Gold Key Club. Clients can borrow painting equipment, pressure washers, and so forth. The box has a bunch of information and marketing collateral, things like brochures, explaining why you should hire Barrett’s team, seven things that set the Barrett Spray team apart from other Orlando agents, a guide to choosing an agent, a state of the market report, an explanation of their commission tiers.

All of the listing agreement paperwork is in there. They divide that into “fun homework”, and “not-so-fun homework”. And then, if the home is above the $500,000 price point, they also include a hardback book that offers a more elegant introduction to the team, the sales process and so forth. So all of that goes into this one box. They’ll drop it in the mail for overnight delivery, or they’ll use a courier if the appointment is same day. We’ll have some photos of all this that you can see in our Facebook Mastermind group. As we get back to the conversation, I asked Barrett why he does all this for every listing appointment.

Barrett: I tell agents consumers, from a listing perspective, ask five questions on every listing appointment: Why should I hire you? What makes you different? What’s your marketing look like? What’s your commission? And, where should I price my house? That box answers four of the five before I ever show up at the door. Why should I hire you? There’s, literally, pamphlets of why [they] you should hire me. What makes you different? There’s, literally, information that says, “this is why we’re different.” What’s your marketing look like? Well, here’s an example of it on a pretty substantial level. What’s your commission? We do a 6, 5, 4. It’s in there. And what should I price my house at? And I don’t tell them that until I cross the threshold.

Matt: Does that get you listings? That box, you attribute listings to that box?

Barrett: Many, many, many, many, many listings. When I first started sending it out, I actually kept track of how many I sent out and who got it, and what the reaction was, and if I got the listing because of the box, or if I got the listing or not. I stopped doing that years ago, I stopped tracking it because now everybody, every seller gets a box, because the response has been so overwhelming around it.

Nobody else does it, nobody else comes anywhere close to it. I give this to anybody. I’ve taught so many classes and said this is it, and if you want copies of what’s in it, talk to my director of operations, she’ll give you… you’ve got to make it yours, of course. This is all branded to us. I know of one other agent in Orlando that does anything like it, and it’s because I gave it to her, and I’ll give it to anybody.

There’s enough business for all of us. It shows a level of professionalism that is missing in a lot of real estate, unfortunately. It allows people to see who you are and your level of marketing and professionalism before you ever show up at the door. And that’s what they’re looking for. That’s what consumers want to know. Who are you? Why should I hire you? Yes, you’ve got a website. So does everybody else. What makes you any different than any other realtor?

Matt: What does it cost to make that? I assume you’re making that yourself in the office, it doesn’t look like something that a vendor has put together for you.

Barrett: We do it in the office. If we don’t put the hardcover book in it, [then] everything else in the box is about 9 bucks, just shy of $9. And, to overnight it through the U.S. Postal Service is another 9 bucks. So it’s about $18 to make and to mail locally. The hardback book cover itself is $13. So, it’s why I only put those in higher price listings because it almost doubles the cost, it over doubles the cost of the box and it almost doubles even with shipping. But it’s the book cover is a very nice piece, and we print the hardcover binders, and then we fill it in the office and keep it updated because it’s a melted binder that we just make them one off at a time. My director of operations, we have about 8 or 10 in the office at all times, and we changed the…we put our sales in them and we changed the state of the market once a month. So at the end of the month, she updates the books, so she doesn’t want to build 50 of them because they change every month.

Matt: Right.

Barrett: We were going on 10 to 12 listing appointments a month, now we’re going on 15 to 20 listing appointments a month. So we go through a bunch of them.

Matt: So if you’re doing… Let’s max that out. So say you’re doing 20 listing appointments a month, you said max costs, depending upon, you know, whether the book’s in there or not, say call it $30 or so. So that’s $600 a month, if my math is right, yeah. Right? So, you get one listing out of that, it’s more than paid for itself.

Barrett: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I can’t tell you how often we go on listing appointments, and the box is sitting on the kitchen table with us as we do the listing appointment. And our listing appointments go kind of the same way every time, and we’ll talk through that here in a minute. It used to shock me, and now I just love it, when we get to the point and we go, “Okay, let’s do some paperwork,” and they pull it out of the box and go, “Oh, I’ve already done that. It’s all done. Here you go.”

Matt: Right.

Barrett: It’s a beautiful thing. It truly is. Some people will tell us that as soon as we get there, “I’ve done all the paperwork, we’ve just, you know, I’d want you to see the house and price it for us.” Some people will actually let us get to the end and go, “Yeah, this was your listing to lose. I did all of this in advance, knowing I was pretty sure I was gonna go with you, but I just wanted to make sure that, you know, you were who you said you were.” And then, they’ll pull it out. “Go ahead, it’s all done for you.”

Matt: Right. I mean, that’s got to be a great feeling when the box has done the work for you.

Barrett: It’s done the heavy lifting.

Matt: That box is something that really helps Barrett’s team stand out from the crowd. And you just heard him explain that it makes such an impression. A lot of sellers fill out the paperwork before the appointment begins. The box does the selling for them.

But of course, sometimes the Spray team still has to win over the seller during the appointment. And it turns out, they do things a little differently in that situation too. It starts with a two-agent approach and a detailed call to prequalify the seller.

Matt: The agent assigned to the listing, when they get to the listing appointment, is that the first time that they are talking to the client, or do they also do some pre-qualifying?

Barrett: Absolutely. Our listing appointments are always two people. It’s usually me and my lead listing agent. However, sometimes it is my lead listing agent and another agent if I’m busy or gone or something. It’s always two people. It is the responsibility of the lead listing agent assigned to the listing the day before the appointment to prequalify the appointment.

And that pre-qualification phone call, we say, “Do you have a few minutes so that we can ask you some questions to be better prepared for you when we show up tomorrow?” Those few minutes usually end up being 30 to 60 minutes. That is a much chunkier pre-qualification conversation. And it starts with “If what we say makes sense, and you feel comfortable and confident that we can sell your house, are you prepared to sign listing paperwork with us tomorrow?” And whatever the answer is–yes or no–we keep going. “Well, maybe. I am interviewing a couple of other agents.” “Okay, that’s great. I was going to ask that question anyway. May I ask who my competition is?”

Sometimes they’ll tell you, sometimes they won’t. My goal is to find out who my competition is, if it’s competitive, and I do game film. I want to know who my competition is because I want to know how to beat them. Period. What their weaknesses are. Our goal is to get as much information on that phone call as we possibly can. And that is a four-page script that I have created over time through the culmination of other pre-qualification scripts combined with personal experience, and it’s pretty inclusive.

The objective is to know [the] motivation of the seller. Are we competing? What did they believe the house condition is? On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your house? Ten being Taj Mahal, one being knock it down. Okay, what would make it a 10? And then they’ll tell you, “Well, the bathrooms need to be remodeled,” or “I haven’t touched it since,” and you get a sense of what that consumer feels about their own house. So when you show up, and they gave it a six, and it really is the Taj Mahal, you’ll know that kind of what their relevance is to the house. Or if they say it’s a 10, there’s nothing wrong, and you show up and they’re hoarders that you’re like okay, this person is out of touch with reality.

Matt: By the time of this pre-qualification call, has the agent already run comps?

Barrett: It doesn’t matter at that point because you’re not giving them information at that point. You’re getting information from them. You’re asking them questions. Sometimes they have. Sometimes they haven’t, but that’s not the point at that conversation to know, you know, what it is, where it is. It’s gauging motivation and who we’re up against and what we’re up against from the consumer standpoint. And frankly, it’s to know is this a legitimate listing appointment? Because that pre-qualification conversation stops 15% maybe 20% of the listing appointments we go on because it’s not a real sale.

Matt: Because of what do you find out that makes you stop and say, we’re not going to do this appointment?

Barrett: If we’ve run comps, and we asked the question, “Do you have a general, you know, value of what you think your house is worth?” And they say, “Yeah, I’m not selling this house for less than $600,000.” And it’s a $300,000 house, we’re gonna go, “Okay, can you tell me where that number comes from?” “Well, I need $600,000 to move.” “Okay, I can appreciate that. And where does the value for $600,000 come from?” So if they’re truly stuck on $600,000, and it’s a $300,000 house, we’re not going on that appointment. There’s no reason to. And we dig very deep around that at that point to know, are they just blowing smoke? Are they, you know, pulling our chain around $600,000? Or no, they’re not listed for less than $600,000 and then let somebody else deal with that.

Matt: So let’s assume that it’s a serious seller, pricing conversation gets held off until you are in the house with them. Is there anything else you’re purposely not talking about during the pre-qualifying call?

Barrett: Specific value. I will not go into specific value on a pre-qualification call. Other than that, no. I mean, they’ll ask me what commission is fairly often on that call, and it’s pretty straightforward. We do a 6, 5, 4, and what that means is it’s 6% if another agent brings the buyer, I’m gonna split 3 and 3. It’s 5% if our team brings the buyer, and it’s 4% if you, Mr. Seller, would happen to refer the buyer to our team that we would represent. So it keeps all of us in the game. We hunt for buyers hard because we make more money, and we want you to continue to hunt for buyers because it reduces your commission and makes you more money.

Matt: And that’s all explained in the box as well.

Barrett: It is explained in the box as well. Yes, there’s a fluffy flier that talks about it, and then there’s an actual addendum to the listing contract that does it. And that works in Florida because we can represent both the buyer and the seller. I know there’s a lot of states that you can’t do that in. In our state, you can. So, we can.

Matt: You mentioned earlier that you always have two people show up for the listing appointment. Why is that?

Barrett: We have found over time that two people show team support, that they’re not just hiring one individual, [a] one-man-band agent, that we come as a force. That, from their perspective, it shows they’re not just hiring one person. They’re hiring an entire team of people that specialize at their jobs. From our perspective, when we are sitting with the consumer, it’s oftentimes two consumers–whether it’s husband, wife, or whatever.

And we can gauge the body language and the energy of that consumer better as one person is talking, the other person is watching. And when the person stops talking, the other person can engage, there is more often than not, the consumer will connect with one of us better than the other. And if there are two consumers, say, husband and wife, we pair off better that way, and they’re not kind of tag-teaming one agent. We have found over the years that when we go as a team, the two of us together, and it’s not just me and him–it is two of us–period, our chances of success are much greater.

Matt: Now, listeners are probably hearing this and thinking, “Wait a second, if two agents are going on this appointment, and you get the listing, whose listing is it?”

Barrett: All listings go in my name, I’m the team leader. And the other agent that is there goes as a secondary agent. So there’s two agents on every listing.

Matt: And are you one of the two on all the listing appointments?

Barrett: I’m always one of the two. Yeah, all the production goes under my name, and it also goes under the secondary agent.

Matt: Okay, so there’s never any competition between two of your agents.

Barrett: So, what happens on my team is, it’s a little different. My team is paid on a spreadsheet breakdown based on the activity that they do in that transaction. So, going on the listing appointment and taking the listing is worth 20% of the commission. And when two people go on it, it actually gets split 10 and 10. When I go on it with another agent, I give the other agent the whole 20%.

Matt: So, there’s no competition there in that sense.

Barrett: No. Our competition is with whoever the other competing agent is. We take that competition very seriously. And there’s always competition on the back end on a team. If you don’t have competitive agents, find new agents. That’s part of this business. However, the way our pay structure is broken down it alleviates the vast majority of that.

Matt: Is there ever a concern about confusing the client because they’ve already had this 30 to 60-minute pre-qualification call with one agent, and then all of a sudden two show up?

Barrett: Rarely, because what happens is at the end of the appointment, there’s a handoff that says, “Ed is the lead listing specialist on the team. He will be your point of contact for the majority of this. I, as the team leader, will always be here to answer any questions that you have if Ed is gone or on vacation or on an appointment or whatever. I’m always here to answer questions and help you, however, Ed will be your main point of contact going forward.”

And that happens every step of the way with the consumer. There’s a soft handoff that says, “Okay, this is who you’re going to talk to next because they are the best person for the job to answer those questions. And we introduced the lead listing manager at that point, and we say, “Lisa is going to show up with the photographer, and she’s going to measure your house, and she’s going to put the data entry into the MLS. She’s going to build the listing for you so if you have any questions around that, she is your contact.” And we point her out on the box, and show her contact information so they know who’s coming and what happens next.

(SHORT MUSIC TRANSITION)

(Hi, this is Matt McGee. HomeLight Settlement provides modern title and escrow services to simplify your closing. Our dedicated escrow officers ensure your clients have a seamless closing every time. Contact your HomeLight Agent Experience Team, or go to homelight.com/agents. After you sign up to use our settlement services, a HomeLight rep will be in touch to help you get started. HomeLight Settlement is currently available in select states and will expand to more states in the future.)

(SHORT MUSIC TRANSITION)

So that’s part one on getting the listing. Thanks so much to Barrett Spray. Great stuff there about how they get the listing 80% of the time in competitive situations. Today, we covered everything that happens from the time the lead comes in up until the listing appointment itself. Next week, in part two, we will dive into the appointment. I’ll give you a preview of that in just a moment.

Here are my Takeaways for episode 81. “Getting the Listing with Barrett Spray.”

Takeaway number one: When a lead comes in, the ISA’s job is to respond within 10 seconds. Speed to lead matters, and it helps them set more appointments. The ISA’s are also trained in an NLP technique called “mirroring and matching”. The idea is to match the consumer’s tone and rate of speech to build rapport.

Takeaway number two: Barrett talked about the five questions that every seller needs answered when they’re choosing an agent to list their home.

Question number one: Why should I hire you?
Number two: What makes you different?
Three: What does your marketing look like?
Four: What’s your commission?
And question five: Where should I price my house?

Takeaway number three: One of the things Barrett’s team does to stand out from the crowd is send a pre-listing box, not just a standard listing packet. I spent about 90 seconds listing all the stuff that’s inside. Barrett says this box answers four of those five questions, and it often convinces sellers to choose his team before they even show up for the appointment. If you want to see the box for yourself, check out our Facebook Mastermind. We’ll share some pictures in there.

Takeaway number four: They do a detailed pre-qualification call to learn things like the seller’s motivation, which other agents the seller is interviewing and so forth.

And Takeaway number five: Speaking of standing out from the crowd, they always send two agents to every listing appointment. Barrett says it gives them a better chance to make a personal connection with the sellers, especially when it’s a couple that owns the home. And those are your Takeaways this week.

Now coming up next week, we’ll have part two with Barrett Spray. We’re going to pick up with the listing appointment itself and what happens once they get to the house. We’re going to talk a lot about the pricing conversation because that is such a key part of the process in today’s market. Barrett is going to share the script that he uses to talk to the seller about the value of their home. Here’s a preview of that:

Barrett: Next is size, size of the house, size of the dirt. Size matters in real estate. That’s where price per square foot comes from. Please do not use price per square foot when it comes to value residential real estate. It does not work. If you have the exact same house, one sits on a ski lake, one sits right across the street from the ski lake, it’s the exact same square footage, it’s the exact same house. There could be a half a million dollars difference because of that ski lake and the price per square foot goes completely sideways.

Matt: So, make sure to join me next week for part two about getting the listing with Barrett Spray. If you have any questions or feedback about what you heard today, in part one, there’s a couple of ways you can get in touch. Leave a voicemail or send me a text. The phone number is 415-322-3328. You can send an email to walkthrough[at]homelight.com or just find me in our Facebook Mastermind group. Go to Facebook, do a search for HomeLight Walkthrough™, and the group should come right up.

That’s all for this week. Thanks so much to Barrett Spray for joining me, and thank you for listening. If you have a moment, can I ask a quick favor? Please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. Sure would appreciate that. And while you’re there, hit that follow button so that you get all of our future shows automatically.

My name is Matt McGee, and you’ve been listening to “The Walkthrough™.” At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. We’re here to explore how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd and become irreplaceable. Go out and sell some homes, I’ll talk to you again next week. Bye-bye.

Header Image Source: (Monster Ztudio / Shutterstock)

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10 of the Cheapest Places to Live in Colorado https://www.homelight.com/blog/cheapest-places-to-live-in-colorado/ Sat, 30 Apr 2022 00:52:53 +0000 https://www.homelight.com/blog/?p=30983 When it comes to year-round, seasonal sports and outdoor activities, there are few places that can beat Colorado. From world-class ski resorts to scenic trail runs, the state is known for its active lifestyle — attracting residents who want to spend more time exploring the great outdoors.

The growing population of Colorado has contributed to the increase in housing costs over the last few years, with the median price of a single-family home rising by almost a third. And while housing prices in hot spots such as Boulder, Aspen, and Vail can easily reach into the millions, there are still affordable places to live if you know where to look.

Here are 10 of the cheapest places to live in Colorado

Below are ten cities and towns in Colorado that represent some of the cheapest places to live in the state. Please note that the estimated median home values listed will fluctuate with market conditions. Click on the value to see current estimates.

La Junta

Population: 7,322
Median local home value: $129,241
Median household incomes: $49,654

The small community of La Junta is located in southeastern Colorado in the Arkansas River Valley. The name “La Junta” means “the junction” in Spanish and reflects the town’s history as the junction of two major trading routes and the critical role it played in the transport of commercial, agricultural, and ranching commodities for over a hundred years.

Although the mountains of western Colorado are visible on the horizon, La Junta is located in the prairie grasslands. Biking, bird watching, and hiking are popular activities here — as well as exploring museums that highlight the history and heritage of the area. Youth sports are also a big deal, with tournaments happening all summer long and great community support for the high school teams.

Rocky Ford

Population: 3,815
Median local home value: $113,168
Median household incomes: 31,510

Ten miles southeast of La Junta is the town of Rocky Ford, which is famous for the cantaloupe crops that grow plentifully around the community. As one of Colorado’s most famous foods, these cantaloupes are well-loved throughout the state.

Primarily a farming community, the town of Rocky Ford is rural and quiet — ideal for those wanting to live life at a slower pace. There is a small, historic downtown center where residents can grab a bite to eat, go shopping and get a peek at the city’s historic roots.

Lamar

Population: 7,687
Median local home value: $122,041
Median household incomes: $41,124

The quiet, rural community of Lamar is located in southeast Colorado. The town is equally known as one of the best bird-watching spots in the state, as well as the home to one of the Colorado Welcome Centers, which is located in a restored 1907 train depot.

Bird lovers and other outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the town’s proximity to John Martin Reservoir State Park, Willow Creek Park, and Two Buttes State Wildlife Area. The Two Buttes Trail is part of the Colorado Birding Trail and is a great place to catch a view of snow geese, sandhill cranes, and other migratory birds in the spring and fall.

Find a Top-Performing Agent in Any City

If you’re considering a move to a new city, HomeLight’s free Agent Match tool can connect you with a top-performing agent who can help you navigate a smooth home sale or purchase.

Sterling

Population: 14,777
Median local home value: $226,177
Median household incomes: $40,956

The city of Sterling may be small by many standards, but it is the largest community in northeastern Colorado — serving as the main shopping district for much of the region. The city also sees visitors because of the famous public art display here, which can be found throughout the downtown area and parks. Created by local sculptor Bradford Rhea, these living tree sculptures take the shape of various characters and creatures, including a mermaid and a herd of elephants.

Like other communities in this part of the state, residents enjoy a quiet, laid-back lifestyle that heavily revolves around the outdoors. Boating, hiking, golf, and hunting are all popular activities here.

Trinidad

Population: 8,329
Median local home value: $181,752
Median household incomes: $38,733

The tiny town of Trinidad is located in southern Colorado along the New Mexico-Colorado border. There is a lot of Colorado history in this little town, as it once served as an important trading outpost on the Santa Fe Trail. Now, that trail is an important recreation area in the area.

Speaking of recreation, Trinidad is increasingly becoming a popular spot for gravel bike enthusiasts, as there are over 1,600 miles of gravel roads in the area. Residents also spend time at Trinidad Lake, which provides ample camping, hiking, fishing, and boating opportunities.

Fort Morgan

Population: 11,597
Median local home value: $302,242
Median household incomes: $48,642

Fort Morgan is an agricultural, ranch community located 80 miles northeast of Denver in the plains of Colorado. Farming and food production are big business here, with a number of food processing facilities calling Fort Morgan home.

In addition to the employment opportunities, residents of Fort Morgan can look forward to lower utility rates than many other communities in Colorado, because all of the utilities are owned and operated by the city. According to the city website, this results in the lowest electric rates for commercial and residential customers in the state and contributes to the affordability of settling in this community.

Cañon City

Population: 17,141
Median local home value: $313,065
Median household incomes: $49,963

Cañon City has earned the distinction of “the Climate Capital of Colorado.” Due to its unique geography (and despite its elevation), Cañon City is typically 10 degrees warmer in the winter months than the surrounding communities.

Located southwest of Colorado Springs in central Colorado, Cañon City sits between the Sangre de Cristo mountains and the eastern plains. Because the city is surrounded by thousands of acres of protected land, residents enjoy beautiful views throughout Cañon City — as well as have access to many outdoor, recreational options. Popular activities include fishing, hiking, biking, rock climbing, off-road riding, and hunting.

One such attraction is the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park which is popular among thrill-seeking residents and tourists alike.

Pueblo

Population: 111,876
Median local home value: $300,301
Median household incomes: $42,902

The city of Pueblo is located in southeastern Colorado. Although significantly smaller than nearby Colorado Springs, Pueblo has many of the amenities that you’d find in larger metro areas, including a four-year university, a symphony orchestra, and a performing arts center. Pueblo is also home to the annual Colorado State Fair and Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Festival.

The winters in Pueblo are much milder than what you’d find in the mountains, with an average winter high of 47 degrees. Yet, it’s only about a two-hour drive to the mountains, where world-class skiing, tubing, and other snowy adventures await.

The city sits on the Arkansas River, with the city riverwalk being a highlight of the downtown area.

Brush

Population: 5,339
Median local home value: $262,997
Median household incomes: $56,078

The small rural community of Brush is located in the plains of northeastern Colorado. Agriculture and ranching are a big part of the local economy here, with the city hosting the largest amateur rodeo in the world each July.

Despite its rural feel and small population, the city offers a range of amenities aimed at enhancing the recreational opportunities of its residents. These include five parks, a nine-hole golf course, a roller skating rink, public swimming pool, and wildlife areas. The city also holds a 4H Junior Fair and multiple 5K run/walks each year.

Cortez

Population: 8,766
Median local home value: $276,996
Median household incomes: $42,245

Located near the famous Four Corners is the historic community of Cortez. This city is steeped in rich Native American history and culture that goes back centuries and can be seen both in the artifacts and archaeological points of interest in town, as well as the residents who call this community home.

The city is located a mere eight miles from Mesa Verde National Park and is also in close proximity to Carpenter Natural Area and Hawkins Preserve where rock climbing, biking, and hiking are popular activities.

Heirloom and heritage corn, squash, and beans are popular crops here, making their way onto restaurant menus and at farmer’s markets throughout the area.

FAQs: Choosing the right Colorado community

Are there cheap places to live in the mountains of Colorado?

The mountain communities of Fruita, Trinidad, and Cañon City all have affordable housing options that are well below average in the state.

What are a few of the safest cities in Colorado?

According to the latest SafeWise report, the safest cities in Colorado include Brush, Frederick, Milliken, Severance, Gypsum, and Dacono. The city of Lamar also made the top 10 list.

What if I want to live near ski resorts?

World-class skiing comes with sky-high prices. In Aspen, the current median home price is 2.7 million. House prices in Vail are not much cheaper at 1.5 million.

Are there cheap places to live in Colorado that have good school districts?

Generally speaking, the best school districts in Colorado come with an expensive price tag, with Telluride, Aspen, Boulder, and Cherry Creek high on the list. When balancing affordability with school quality, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Trinidad, and Lamar are good places to start.

What cities in Colorado have the nicest climate?

The cities of Pueblo, Cañon City, and Lamar are known for their mild winters and hot summers. In Lamar, the coldest month of January has an average high of 46 degrees.

Is it a good time to sell my Colorado home?

It is a seller’s market in Colorado with low inventories and a median single-family home price that has risen by almost a third in the last two years. If you’re thinking about selling, we invite you to try our free Best Time to Sell Calculator, which analyzes sales data in your neighborhood and tells you what time of year you’d likely sell the fastest and make the most money.

Are you considering buying or selling in Colorado? Partner with a top agent

Colorado is a real estate hot spot, being ranked the most desirable state to move to in a 2019 survey. Between the high demand and rising prices, you’ll need an experienced real estate agent on your side to help guide you through the process and help you get the best deal possible on your home sale or purchase.

To speak to a top agent in your area, try our free Agent Match platform. And if you’re curious what your Colorado home might be worth now, our Home Value Estimator will give you a ballpark quote in two minutes.

Get an Estimate on Your Home's Value

Get all the key information you need to sell your home confidently. You’ll get the estimated value of your home, the relevant parts of a comparative market analysis, a list of top local real estate agents, and an estimate on a cash offer through HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform.

Header Image Source: (Justin Wang / Unsplash)

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9 of the Cheapest Places to Live in California https://www.homelight.com/blog/cheapest-places-to-live-in-california/ Sat, 30 Apr 2022 00:50:04 +0000 https://www.homelight.com/blog/?p=30940 It’s no secret that living in California can be pricey. In fact, a recent study found the Golden State was the second most expensive state to live in the U.S. The primary driver of that statistic is high home prices, which hit an average of $771,270 in February 2022.

If that figure is out of reach for you, then you aren’t alone — only 25 percent of households in California could afford to purchase a home in that price range in the fourth quarter of 2021. The good news for you? That means affordable housing options do exist if you know where to look.

A california house that might be in one of the cheapest places to live.
Source: (Durian Bullet / Unsplash)

Here are 9 of the cheapest places to live in California

Below are nine cities and towns in California that represent some of the cheapest places to live in the state. Please note that the estimated median home values listed will fluctuate with market conditions. Click on the value to see current estimates.

Eureka

Population: 26,512 

Median local home value: $438,411 

Median household incomes: $43,199

Known for its active seaport, the coastal city of Eureka sits between San Francisco and Portland in Humboldt County, California. With its ocean landscapes, proximity to redwood forests and beautiful rivers, it’s a popular spot for anyone who appreciates nature and is looking to buy a home in a place with a quaint, rural feel.

The city is well known for its Victorian architecture, eclectic shops, cultural events, and diverse restaurant options. Whether you’re looking for a jazz festival, artisanal chocolate shop, or local brewery, there’s likely something here that will catch your eye.

Bakersfield

Population: 403,455

Median local home value: $368,025

Median household incomes: $65,687

The city of Bakersfield is located between the major metropolitan centers of Los Angeles and San Francisco. With good school systems and affordable housing options compared to other cities in the state, there has been a population surge in Bakersfield in the past few years. In 2020, the population grew faster than in any other city in California.

Agriculture and oil are big industries here, giving the city the nickname of the “Texas of California.” Its ample parks, bike paths, and proximity to the Sierra Nevada Mountains are also a big draw for those who prefer an outdoor, active lifestyle.

Fresno

Population: 542,107

Median local home value: $365,650

Median household incomes: $53,368

Fresno is the fifth-largest city in the state. Located in California’s San Joaquin Valley, the city is surrounded by farms, which contributes heavily to the agricultural culture here. Whether it’s shopping at an area farmer’s market for local tomatoes and pistachios, or eating at a farm-to-table restaurant, Fresno is a foodie’s delight.

Because it’s a major city, residents can live and work here. And with less traffic congestion than can be found in other metro areas of the state, residents can enjoy a commute that is often much less challenging. Yet, when the desire to visit Los Angeles or San Francisco strikes, each city is close enough for a quick weekend trip.

Find a Top-Performing Agent in Any City

If you’re considering a move to a new city, HomeLight’s free Agent Match tool can connect you with a top-performing agent who can help you navigate a smooth home sale or purchase.

Stockton

Population: 320,804

Median local home value: $449,924

Median household incomes: $58,393

Located in California’s Central Valley, the city of Stockton sits in relatively close proximity to San Francisco and San Jose. Yet, with notably lower median home values of $439,477, it’s significantly more affordable than housing prices in either of those other metropolitan areas.

Known as “Brick City,” Stockton is a diverse community that draws residents from many different cultures and backgrounds. In fact, it was named by a U.S. News Special Report as the most racially and ethnically diverse city in the United States. This diversity can be seen not just in the various neighborhoods, but also in the city’s restaurants, shops, museums, and city-wide events.

Clovis

Population: 120,124

Median local home value: $497,620

Median household incomes: $84,119

In 2021, NerdWallet named Clovis the top city in California to raise a young family because of its highly-ranked public schools and affordable housing.

The small city of Clovis is located in the San Joaquin Valley at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, giving the city the nickname, “Gateway to the Sierra.” Not only do the mountains provide a picturesque backdrop to the city, but it gives residents easy access to areas for hiking, mountain biking and other outdoor adventures. At the same time, the city is only a two- to three-hour drive to either the coast or Yosemite National Park.

Sacramento

Population: 524,943

Median local home value: $502,228

Median household incomes: $65,847

According to an analysis by U.S News and World Report, Sacramento is the fourth best place to live in California thanks to its affordable housing options, mild climate, job opportunities, and overall quality of life. Located just a few hours away from San Francisco, the city has experienced a population surge in the last few years, as families and young professionals were drawn by the city’s affordability compared to nearby metropolitan areas.

Despite being an urban center, the city of Sacramento is known for its abundance of trees, which provides needed relief in the summer sun. In fact, it has more trees per capita than any other city in the country, giving it the nickname “City of Trees.”

Modesto

Population: 218,464

Median local home value: $442,285

Median household income: $62,182

The city of Modesto is located in the Central Valley, about 70 miles from the capital city of Sacramento. The city has a thriving arts and entertainment culture, with its own symphony orchestra, opera house, and arts center. As the birthplace of George Lucas, it also proudly hosts the only official American Graffiti car show each June, which includes a festival, parade, and a week-long showing of the movie.

If farm-to-table dining is more your speed, you’ll find plenty of dining options and farmer’s markets in Modesto. As the third-largest food distribution area in the country, the area harvests crops year-round. It’s also home to E&J Gallo, the largest family-owned wine and spirit company in the country.

Blythe

Population: 18,317

Median local home value: $227,037

Median household incomes: $44,563

Located along the Arizona border is the quiet, desert community of Blythe. Although the Colorado River does run through the city, much of Blythe is a dry, dusty landscape where cacti grow freely. The city relies heavily on winter tourism when tourists flock to the city to take advantage of the city’s warmth and proximity to the Colorado River. Beyond boating, fishing, and water sports, the area is ideal for hiking, off-road vehicle sports, prospecting, and ghost town explorations.

Because of the city’s small-town feel, as well as its distance from major metropolitan areas, it will be important to consider employment options prior to making the move.

Crescent City

Population: 6,673

Median local home value: $335,844

Median household incomes: $33,347

Located along California’s northern coastline is the small community of Crescent City. For outdoor enthusiasts or those who simply appreciate nature’s beauty, the area has a lot to offer from beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean to some of the planet’s oldest redwood forests. Hiking, horseback riding, cycling, and surfing are all top activities here.

Much of the city has been rebuilt over the last five decades after it was destroyed by a devastating tsunami in 1964. The historic Battery Point Lighthouse survived the storm and still stands as one of the northernmost lighthouse stations in the state.

San Francisco, not one of the cheapest places to live in California.
Source: (Joshua Sortino / Unsplash)

Q&A: Narrowing down your California home search

Are there cheap places to live near the ocean in California?

Yes, there are some areas along California’s coastline that offer a more affordable cost of living. Generally speaking, it’s cheaper to live in northern California coastal communities compared to those in the Los Angeles and San Diego metro areas, with Crescent City, Eureka, and Arcata all providing affordable housing options. By California standards, the city of Ventura also provides cheaper places to live, though the median home price is still $862,078.

What are the safest cities in California?

According to a 2022 SafeWise report, the safest cities in California are Danville, Rancho Santa Margarita, Moorpark, Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, and Laguna Niguel.

Are there cheap places to live in close proximity to good California job markets?

Both San Francisco and San Jose were ranked as two of the best cities in the country for job opportunities. Though given the high housing prices in these two cities, they also have some of the longest commute times. Although San Jose tends to be very pricey, there are some cheaper options in the San Francisco metro area. Vallejo, with a median home value of $585,199, and San Pablo, with a median home value of $620,759 are a few options.

Are there cheap places to live that have good school districts?

Yes, there are affordable communities in California that have highly-ranked school districts. Clovis, Eureka, and Sacramento (which we covered above) have good public schools. Beaumont is another option, which has a median home price of $536,770.

What if I want to live near Hollywood and the stars?

With a median home price of $3 million, Hollywood Hills is a very expensive place to live. By comparison, Burbank is cheaper but still averages $1.1 million.

Is this a good time to sell my California home?

House prices have been climbing throughout California over the past few years, putting many current homeowners in a good position to sell. In San Diego, the median sale price has risen by 17.2% in the last year, and in San Jose, it rose by almost 29%.

Of course, the best time to sell your home will be when the market is strongest — that’s why we recommend trying our Best Time to Sell Calculator. This tool will analyze sales data in your neighborhood to provide a more educated estimate about what time of year your home might sell the fastest — and for the highest selling price.

Considering buying or selling in California? Partner with a top agent

As a whole, the California housing market is competitive and expensive. If affordability is key, you’ll want to partner with a top real estate agent who knows the ins and outs of the different communities and can point you toward the best options for your needs.

If you’re a current California homeowner and are curious what your home might be worth right now, we invite you to try HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator for a free, ballpark estimate.

That being said, house sales in the state have been falling — so if you’re interested in putting your home on the market, you’ll benefit from the expertise of one of the area’s top real estate agents.

Get an Estimate on Your Home's Value

Get all the key information you need to sell your home confidently. You’ll get the estimated value of your home, the relevant parts of a comparative market analysis, a list of top local real estate agents, and an estimate on a cash offer through HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform.

Header Image Source: (Mike Fox / Unsplash)

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How To Get Your House Ready To Sell Checklist: Inside And Out https://www.homelight.com/blog/how-to-get-a-house-ready-to-sell-checklist/ Sat, 30 Apr 2022 00:38:02 +0000 https://www.homelight.com/blog/?p=31007 When it comes to getting your house ready to sell, Maryland real estate agent Bob Lucido likens it to putting yourself on a dating site.

“We want people to fall in love with the house and that starts from the outside, every component,” says Lucido. “First impressions make a ton of impact to a potential buyer, so what we do is critique the exterior thoroughly but don’t overdo it.”

Lucido is a top-performing agent with nearly 7,000 real estate transactions under his career belt. He has advised thousands of sellers on how to get their house ready to sell — inside and out — with fixes and updates that are going to have the highest return on investment for the least amount of effort.

Drawing on his expertise and other proven best practices, we’ve created an easy-to-follow checklist that can help you get your home ready to sell quickly and for top dollar.

How to get a house ready to sell: Your best first step

1. Find a top performing real estate agent

This may not sound like it has anything to do with painting or dusting, but finding a top-performing listing agent is often the most important thing you can do to get ready to sell your home successfully.

Home sellers may get over-eager and jump in and spend time on preparations and renovations that are unnecessary, out of order, or at a higher cost than necessary. It’s crucially important to find someone who can help your house look like the best one on the block, but who also knows how to advise their clients not to overspend on repairs.

“People need to research and hire the best real estate agent in the marketplace to help them maximize their profits because maximizing profits is a byproduct of making the house look great,” says Lucido. “It’s all about getting the maximum dollar amount.”

Need help finding a top agent? HomeLight’s free Agent Match tool can connect you with the agents in your market who get the best results and fit your home selling needs.

organized bedroom in a house ready to sell
Source: (Point3D Commercial Imaging Ltd./Unsplash)

Checklist for inside your home

The inside of the home is where you live, or have lived, and it will need a lot of attention to get it ready to sell to potential buyers.

2. Declutter every room and closet

Remove the clutter. Closets can still have clothes hanging in them to show people live there but do not have them stuffed full of clothes. When people open a closet and see it jammed full, they may look at it and not be able to visualize their own belongings fitting into the space.

Put unnecessary or out-of-season clothes, shoes, and belongings in an offsite storage unit to help buyers imagine themselves and their own belongings in each room and closet.

3. Deep clean the house

Some agents like Lucido have teams they hire to come in and do a deep clean of the house to get it ready for showing. Lucido recommends a deep clean before it goes on the market, including often overlooked tasks like cleaning the windows. “These things are a pain but they will make you a substantial amount of money,” he says, adding that if you do it right, a clean home will also sell quicker.

4. Depersonalize your space

Make sure people focus on the space, not your belongings. Clear away anything too interesting or distracting to potential buyers that will not be conveyed with the home sale. Lucido recommends leaving a few family photos out, but not a ton of photos all over because it looks too busy. The same holds true for personal knickknacks and keepsakes.

Top Agents Know What Sells Homes

If you’re thinking about selling your house, partnering with a top real estate agent early in the process can be a great move. They have the experience to know how to get you through the process, from prepping your house for sale to getting to closing day.

HomeLight takes just two minutes to match clients with the best real estate agents — who sell houses faster and for more money — who will contact you and guide you through the process. To connect with an agent, simply tell us a little bit about your property and how soon you’re looking to sell.

5. Deodorize, not just disguise smells

It’s easy to become used to the smells in your home, but other people will be able to smell them right away. Deodorize your home by removing the sources including smoking, intense cooking odors, pets when possible, and anything that causes a damp smell.

6. Remove scuff marks and fill holes

Once you remove extra photographs and art from the wall, fill the holes in and touch up the paint so it looks like there was never a hole there. Pull furniture back from the walls to examine if there are scuff marks and gently scrub them away with a melamine foam sponge to make walls, baseboards, stairs, and corners look good as new.

7. Repaint walls using neutral tones

Not everyone likes the same paint colors, but there are neutral tones that appeal to buyers. “There are certain colors that are appealing now, and two years ago they were different colors, so you need to make sure the colors are correct,” says Lucido. He uses a color expert to advise clients on the most up-to-date colors to paint their walls and cabinetry if needed. “Brown is out,” he adds. “We’re painting a lot of kitchen cabinets lately.”

8. Repair or replace loose or broken handles or knobs

Have you lived with a loose knob for years? Now is the time to tighten it up. Make sure all handles, knobs, and anything you put your hands on to get into cabinets, closets, and rooms, are all operational and match the other fixtures around them.

9. Repair or replace light fixtures, switches, sockets, and the doorbell

Light fixture styles change frequently, and updating these can make things feel newer with little investment or effort. Lucido says they have even spray painted some chandeliers black to make them feel more current. Also, be certain your doorbell sounds healthy.

10. Fix cracked molding and leaking faucets

Your agent can help to identify cracked molding that needs attention, as well as leaky faucets or other details many homeowners overlook or don’t get around to as they live in a home.

11. Stage rooms or hire a stager

Home staging is the process of rearranging, replacing, or even removing decor and furniture, and expertly dressing up a home to make it look more appealing for listing photos and showings. “Staging isn’t decorating,” says Lucido. “It’s de-decorating, it’s like your house going on a diet.”

12. Hide and secure your valuables

With people you don’t know coming in and out of your home, it’s important to put all valuables in a hidden, secure place.

13. Replace air filters and clean vent covers

New air filters can keep the air smelling and feeling fresher. Dust the vent covers to keep that air as clean as possible as it flows through your house.

clean gray house and driveway ready to sell
Source: (Zac Gudakov/Unsplash)

Checklist for outside your home

Curb appeal is the first impression a buyer gets of your house as they consider if they want to make it their next home. Step back and make sure your property looks good from the vantage point of the buyer as they exit their car to come inside. Here are tips to help make your home’s exterior look top notch.

14. Pressure wash your home’s exterior and driveway

Hire a professional, or rent or borrow a pressure washer to make your exterior and driveway look fresher in no time at all. Depending on your home, your agent might recommend hiring a professional. Pressure washing can damage siding, wood, and paint if not handled properly.

15. Sweep and clear walkways and driveway

Especially in the spring and autumn, sweeping the walkways and driveways regularly to keep plant debris out of the way is a curb appeal key. In cold-weather parts of the country, keep the walkways and driveway shoveled clear of snow and ice.

16. Declutter your yard and other outdoor spaces

Just as you decluttered your indoor spaces, do the same for your outdoor spaces. Remove unnecessary yard equipment, put away out-of-season sports apparatus, and clean or clear away extra outdoor furniture that doesn’t help show off the appeal of the yard. Remember to also take care of little details like rolling up the hose after use.

17. Repair or replace damaged shingles

A seasoned agent will be able to provide the best advice on whether any roof repair work needs to be undertaken prior to putting your house up for sale. In some cases, your agent may advise you to hire an experienced roofer to repair or replace obviously damaged or missing shingles.

18. Wash and repair broken windows, screens, and shutters

Be certain all windows are repaired and sparkling clean so they can showcase the natural light your home receives. Another tip Lucido shares is to remove the window screens during showings to maximize the natural light even further. Store the screens in a garage or shed and replace them once your home has sold.

19. Clean out gutters and outdoor HVAC units

Especially in the autumn, make sure to clear leaf debris from the gutters, around the HVAC units, and anywhere else leaves pile up. Use a leaf blower or hire a landscaping company to take care of these tasks, especially in yards with a lot of trees.

20. Clean or repaint your front door

Give the front door a really good scrub down to start, including the sides, top, and bottom. You may notice the door needs a fresh coat of paint, so use a neutral color that matches the home’s exterior. The front door plays a vital role in your home’s overall appeal and perceived value.

21. Create an inviting outside entryway

First impressions make a ton of impact on the buyer, so it’s important to make the entryway to the house look inviting and well maintained. Make sure the outside lights are repaired or replaced if needed, and the address numbers are clean and easily visible from the road.

22. Repair or replace mailbox

Mailboxes don’t get a lot of thought beyond being a receptacle for our deliveries and letters, but now is a good time to wipe away outside grime and dust from your mailbox. If you’re already pressure washing the house, give the mailbox its own spray down. If the old one is in especially bad shape, it may be better to go ahead and replace the entire mailbox with a new one.

23. Mow, trim, weed garden, and add color with potted plants

Mow, trim, and maintain your yard to show off its best side to potential buyers. Weed garden beds to keep them looking crisp, and add some color and life to your yard with potted plants as needed. This is an easy way to increase the inviting feel of a home without much effort or investment.

24. Clean up and organize pet areas

Dispose of dog waste, and wipe down or repair any areas where pets may have scratched or chewed. If possible, relocate your pets to a kennel or another home while the house is on the market to keep from having to repeat these tasks multiple times.

For the best results, start and finish with a proven agent

When it comes to getting your house ready to sell, there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. Partner with a top-performing agent in your area who can look at your home with fresh eyes and provide an expert opinion about what tasks you need to tackle.

In some instances, such as with Lucido’s firm, an experienced agent may have a team available to help you prepare your home before it’s listed for sale. Armed with knowledge about the local market, their advice may include things beyond this checklist that can make your home extra appealing to potential buyers.

With the right agent and the right checklist, you can feel confident about how to get your house ready to sell, inside and out.

Get an Estimate on Your Home's Value

Get all the key information you need to sell your home confidently. You’ll get the estimated value of your home, the relevant parts of a comparative market analysis, a list of top local real estate agents, and an estimate on a cash offer through HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform.

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7 Things That Make a House Hard to Sell (And What to Do About Them) https://www.homelight.com/blog/what-makes-a-house-hard-to-sell/ Sat, 30 Apr 2022 00:27:13 +0000 https://www.homelight.com/blog/?p=31022 What makes a house hard to sell? Whether you’re selling your primary residence, listing a relative’s old home, or cashing out an investment property, you may find that qualities in your property make it difficult to offload. As a result, your home may languish even in a seller’s market, waiting for offers that never seem to come.

What are the most common factors that can make a house hard to sell? And if you face this kind of difficulty, what steps can you take to overcome the challenge? This article will provide you with an overview of the things that could be holding you back and tips on what actions can move forward toward a successful closing.

Start at the correct price, and you’ll get multiple bids… typically up to the price you were looking for.
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    Alex Adabashi
    Alex Adabashi Real Estate Agent at Huntington & Ellis
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1. You’ve priced too high

Alex Adabashi, a leading real estate agent in Las Vegas, asserts that pricing your home too high can deter potential buyers.

“Even being in one of the hottest markets we have ever seen, some homes aren’t selling,” he warns. “Some homeowners like to overprice the home to leave room for negotiation, [but] that is the number one issue we’re seeing with homes not selling — even in this crazy hot market.”

The solution: Lean on your Realtor®’s expertise and work together to price your home appropriately. If you do so, you’ll net the goal price you had in mind all along. “Pricing the home to sell will actually get them the price they want,” Adabashi assures. “Start at the correct price, and you’ll get multiple bids… typically up to the price you were looking for.”

What’s more? You’ll close the deal more quickly and avoid the costs of carrying the property for longer than you’d like.

2. Your curb appeal is lacking

Fear not: in the scheme of seller struggles, lackluster curb appeal is a reasonably easy — and often inexpensive — fix.

“First impressions are so important,” stresses Adabashi. “Freshening up the front entrance, making sure there are no weeds in the yard, [having] a nice big, beautiful doormat, and making sure the front door is painted a popular color that pops” are good starting points that ensure your property looks cared for and ready to sell.

The solution: Maintaining the yard, adding a few hearty plants to the flower beds, and giving your front door a fresh coat of paint are some fast, inexpensive DIY options for giving your home the “wow factor” for passers-by who may take interest.

Be sure to invest in the fixes that will provide a return on your investment: while $6,000 for a new driveway might make the place look sharp, you’re unlikely to recoup the cost in your selling price. Depending on what budget you have available for cosmetic fixes, your Realtor® can provide an expert opinion on how to spend wisely here.

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3. Privacy or location is an issue

Location can be both a blessing and a curse. Being five minutes from the closest gym, shopping center, or office building can be a huge selling point, but it may come with the compromise of being located on a busy thoroughfare. Issues like noise pollution, messy neighbors, or a lack of property privacy won’t just magically disappear — and while you may have grown used to nuisances like these as a longtime resident, prospective buyers are likely to notice.

The solution: Recognizing these pitfalls is the first step to addressing them. Ask a friend or family member who doesn’t come by much to walk through the property and give their frank assessment. (Your sunny kitchen window overlooking a corner lot might also face a congested intersection at close proximity — yikes.)

Your listing agent comes equipped with the experience and creative toolkit to address these concerns. Does your patio overlook your neighbor’s backyard? Are nearby power lines messing with your view? Deterrents on your property are likely obstacles your agent has seen before.

“We still get them sold,” Adabashi says of houses with these hard-to-sell features. “There are tricks of the trade to help our clients.” There’s a reason you purchased the home once upon a time, and your Realtor® can help the next buyer to fall in love just as you once did.

4. Your emotions may be getting in the way

Beware the sentimentality that may crop up and hold you back. While your pantry door may be a time capsule of children’s growth spurts, your fond memories are an unwelcome distraction for prospective buyers. (Sorry, not sorry!) It’s time for a fresh coat of paint.

Your favorite couch may be a welcome respite after a long day at work. Still, an oversized leather sofa may simply be an eyesore during showings, especially if buyers are looking for a roomy, light, and airy space. Likewise, the toddler swing hanging from your oak tree out back may bring warm fuzzies to you and your partner but could turn off buyers who don’t share your life stage or lifestyle.

In reality, the things that make your home comfortable and lovable may be the very features that make it difficult to sell. So be prepared to compromise your tastes, if only temporarily, to close the transaction.

The solution: Making your home a blank canvas will give it the best chance of selling quickly. Make “The Three Ds” your mantra, and get to work deep cleaning, decluttering, and depersonalizing the space. Take photos for your memory book if you must, but being able to set your home up for its next family is crucial to the selling process. Clean your home, consider professional staging, and let go of the past to make room for what comes next!

5. The place isn’t looking its best

As we’ve already mentioned, sprucing up curb appeal, tackling a deep interior clean, and staging your space can all help make a hard-to-sell home more desirable to buyers. In addition, if you find you aren’t lining up as many showings as you’d like to, take a good hard look at the photography in your listing.

“Your number one show is online,” says Adabashi, and this is the absolute truth: professional real estate photography is necessary.

Your home doesn’t have to look uninhabited, nor is Hollywood studio lighting in order. But cell phone photos of dim rooms with half-open blinds are likely to hurt the home’s listing, even if the competition in your area isn’t much to speak of.

The solution: Work with your Realtor® to invest in a professional photography package that includes indoor and outdoor areas. So much of your buyer traffic will be virtual: photos that let your home shine will drive initial interest and garner more clicks (which will translate to more showings and, ultimately, a sale).

6. Your agent isn’t cutting it

Though plenty of factors can make a house hard to sell, there’s also a chance there’s nothing wrong with the property itself. Be sure you are working with a real estate agent whose priority is to secure a sale quickly and at a competitive price.

Is it time to cut ties and find a new partner for your home sale? Keep an eye out for red flags that may signal your agent could be the problem with the sale.

  • An unresponsive agent or team who is slow to return calls, texts, or emails
  • An agent whose real estate business is their “side hustle,” — the sale of your home should be their main job and a primary professional concern
  • Lackluster marketing: your photography and listing verbal description fail to make the strengths of your property shine
  • Slow traffic: a lack of social media engagement, absence of a robust online listing, few open house events
  • Inexperience — you want a go-getter who is not only familiar with the market but also someone who knows how to move inventory in your area

The solution: If you notice any warning signs or sense it’s time to try a new direction, try our Agent Match Tool to connect with top agents in your area. This service is completely free to use — no catches, we promise! — and can help you find the right professional to help you close the deal.

A house in winter that might be hard to sell
Source: (Amber Kipp / Unsplash)

7. ‘Tis (not) the season

Lastly, listing your home at the right time of year can differentiate between a fast sale or a long listing time. While you have little control over buyer traffic during the slow months, be mindful of when you place your home on the market.

January is a notoriously tricky time to sell, perhaps due to a post-holiday doldrum or conflicts with busy school and work calendars. But, conversely, warmer months see an uptick in shopper traffic — and it can’t hurt if your pool is freshly open or your hydrangeas are in full bloom.

The solution: Don’t be discouraged if the winter months make your house seem particularly hard to sell. Discuss market trends in your area with your Realtor® to determine the best time of year to list. You can even explore our Best Time to Sell Calculator to line your sale up for success and identify the best possible month to list in your local market.

Plenty of things can make a house difficult to sell. Keep the following tips in mind to clear the path to close:

  • Don’t loiter. We know you’re proud of your place, but ultimately, you should leave the selling up to your support team. Let the home speak for itself. Take this as your cue to sip an iced tea on a patio across town and take a mini-vacation from the stress of selling.
  • There is such a thing as too much personalization. The chartreuse accent wall in your office may spark joy for you, but it may horrify prospective home buyers. Tone back any elements that may detract from your home’s best features. Remember, it’s not personal! This is simply about making the space a blank canvas for the next person.
  • Remember that buyers with mobility limitations may need different living configurations than what has worked for your family. Consider staging that ground-level bonus room as a first-floor bedroom to underscore accessibility. Repurpose spaces to demonstrate the flexibility of the house’s layout.

Be a solution-oriented seller

Every home has pros and cons. Even if your property has proven difficult to sell, there are likely efforts you can make to downplay any negatives and illuminate your house’s strengths. Your listing agent and their team have likely overcome similar challenging circumstances at some point in their career; rely on their experience to persevere.

A lengthy listing time can be discouraging, but with a motivated Realtor® and an intelligent strategy, you can work to play up your property’s strengths and close the sale together.

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Header Image Source: (Roger Starnes Sr / Unsplash)

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20 Moving Tips For a Smooth Relocation https://www.homelight.com/blog/22-moving-tips/ Thu, 28 Apr 2022 21:37:50 +0000 https://www.homelight.com/blog/?p=1941 When you’re selling a house, finding a buyer means you can start thinking about the next big step: actually moving. This includes packing up your stuff, booking a trustworthy mover, and getting everything to your new home. With houses on the market for an average of 18 days as of February 2022 (according to statistics from the National Association of Realtors®), you don’t have much time to sell, pack up the house, and go. Follow these expert moving tips and packing advice for a smooth transition.

Moving tips for handling logistics

1. Book a mover early

When hiring a mover, it’s best to book your moving date several months in advance. Waiting until the last minute, especially during peak moving season, can limit your chances of locking in the right-sized truck and the moving date you want. Always book early, when possible.

2. Find a reputable mover

Finding a moving company you can trust takes some legwork. Make sure the mover you hire is licensed, insured, and has an established history with the community. Ask the professional for the company’s DOT number issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or their state regulator. Check online reviews and the BBB website to read company ratings, reviews, and complaints.

3. Get at least 3 estimates

To receive a competitive price and find the best mover, arrange three in-person estimates. Make sure the mover is licensed, insured, and offers a binding estimate which guarantees the price won’t change after your items are on the truck. It’s always a smart idea to prepare a list of questions for the estimate such as the timeline and downpayment. Never pay a mover more than 50% upfront.

4. Protect yourself from moving scams

Unfortunately, consumers have been targeted by moving company scams and fraud, where unscrupulous moving companies have disappeared with the customer belongings and their cash. To prevent this from happening to you, look out for the following red flags:

  • The mover doesn’t accept credit cards, only cash or direct deposit payments
  • You can’t locate the company’s address online
  • The mover isn’t registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) or their state regulating agency
  • The company requires a large deposit
  • The mover hands you a blank contract to sign
  • The moving carrier has unresolved complaints with the Better Business Bureau

5. Choose a mover that offers the services you need

Do you need temporary storage until you find a permanent residence? Your vehicle shipped? Your baby grand piano moved by an experienced piano mover? Know that not all movers offer the same services.

If you’re transporting expensive artwork, collectibles, and valuables, make sure the mover you hire provides full value coverage, and you might need crating for oversized art.

6. Understand your insurance options

Whether you’re moving around the corner or cross country, the proper moving insurance will help protect you in case something happens. Your homeowner insurance policy might cover you for items damaged in transit or in storage, but they won’t cover you if a mover drops your precious antique mirror while packing it into a box. Some insurance covers just 60 cents per pound. When you need more coverage, consider full value coverage or third-party insurance.

Minimizing stuff to move

1. Consider listing your home as furnished (or sell furniture to buyers)

If you plan on buying new furniture when you move, consider selling your home furnished. Bonnie Fleishman, a top agent in Glen Burnie, Maryland, recommends selling furniture and decor items as part of the house. [Doing so] “saves loads of packing time, especially for long-distance moves,” says Fleishmann. You’ll have items for staging and a buyer looking for a second home will likely appreciate the furniture, silverware, dishes, and linens upon their arrival.

2. Decide what to keep, discard, donate, and sell

If you’ve lived in your home for more than a few years, you’ve likely accumulated lots of stuff. To cut down on your moving bill, sort through items you want to take with you and make a plan for the rest, for example:

  • Rent a dumpster for discarding large items
  • Donate clothing and home goods to charities
  • Give stuff away to friends and family
  • Hold a garage sale
  • Sell antiques and collectibles to a local antique store or an online auction

Packing tips

As a rule of thumb, give yourself one day to pack up each room in the house. Add an extra day for rooms that contain a lot of contents such as the kitchen and the garage. Here’s an estimate of how long it takes to pack up a house.

  • Studio apartment: 1 day
  • 1-bedroom apartment: 2 days
  • 2-bedroom house: 3-4 days
  • 3-bedroom house: 4-5 days
  • 4-bedroom house: 5-6 days

You can save time (and stress) by hiring two or three experienced movers to pack up your belongings but plan on tacking on 75% to 100% of the moving costs for packing.

1. Learn how many boxes you’ll need (per square foot)

You’ll need different sized boxes for your move, but how many? Here’s how to judge the number of boxes you likely will need based on the square footage of your home.

Estimated number of packing boxes needed by home size:

House size Small boxes needed Medium boxes Large boxes Extra-large boxes
400-700 square feet 7-15 9-15 6 3
700-1250 square feet 17-23 15-22 7-11 4-6
1200-1700 square feet 32-37 25-35 16-20 10-12
1700-2200 square feet 38-42 36-47 21-26 13-15

Moving boxes are of course available for purchase, but you can pick up moving boxes for free at grocery and liquor stores, or ask a friend who recently moved if they can donate a few.

2. Learn how many boxes you’ll need (per room)

Ordinarily, you’ll need around 10 small, 8 medium, and 5 large packing boxes per room. However, it can vary depending on how much stuff you own. Here’s a ballpark estimate of how many boxes (and their sizes) you’ll likely need per room:

Standard size kitchen
  • 2-4 small boxes
  • 5-6 medium boxes
  • 4 large boxes
  • 2 Extra large boxes
  • 4-6 dish packs
Living room
  • 2-4 small boxes
  • 3-4 medium boxes
  • 2-4 large boxes
  • 1-2 extra-large boxes
Dining room
  • 1-2 small boxes
  • 1-2 medium boxes
  • 2-4 dish packs
Primary bedroom
  • 1-3 small boxes
  • 5-6 medium boxes
  • 5-8 large boxes
  • 4-6 wardrobe boxes
Secondary bedroom
  • 1-2 small boxes
  • 3-5 medium boxes
  • 3-5 extra-large boxes
  • 2-4 wardrobe boxes
Bathrooms
  • 2-3 small boxes
  • 1 medium box

You’ll also need boxes for storage areas such as the attic, basement, garage, and the laundry room as well as any artwork boxes, wardrobe boxes, and boxes for electronics. You can pick up heavy-duty boxes for heavier items at Home Depot. Never pack boxes too heavy.

3. Pick up packing supplies for your move

Other than boxes, you’ll need packing supplies that include:

  • Packing tape
  • Bubble wrap
  • Shrinkwrap
  • Thick permanent markers
  • Ziplock bags
  • Labels
  • Blank newsprint paper
  • Scissors and tape
  • Moving blankets when you’re moving yourself

Use sheets, towels, and blankets to wrap glassware and breakable items and you’ll save on the cost of bubble wrap. To ensure you don’t have empty spaces that could shift around in boxes, use newspaper and newsprint paper to pack things nice and tight.

4. Begin packing months in advance

Waiting until the week of your move to start packing puts a lot of pressure on yourself. You can make things easier by starting ahead of schedule. Begin packing items you don’t plan on using until after the move, for example, books and magazines. If you’re moving in summer, you can pack winter clothes, snow boots, and skis a few months out.

5. Label boxes by rooms and contents

Labels are lifesavers when you need to find a box among a stack of 50 boxes. Stick labels on the sides of boxes (not on the top), so they don’t get covered up. Label the description contents and the room where they belong on each box. Consider keeping a notebook nearby to jot down an inventory list to keep things organized.

6. Place furniture hardware and electrical cords in baggies

When taking apart furniture, place screws and hardware in plastic bags and tape them to the back of the item. This makes it easy to find your HD cable to watch TV or your computer cord to power up your laptop when you arrive at your new digs.

7. Organize important paperwork in a folder for easy access

Your passport, deed, rental lease: these are some of the critical documents you might need at a moment’s notice and don’t want to wonder where you put them. By keeping them in a folder, you can access them quickly and conveniently without having to open up boxes.

Other important items to keep on hand for moving day include:

  • Toiletries: Keep shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and toothbrush, shaving cream, combs, brushes, and a blowdryer in an overnight bag.
  • Tools: Leave out a screwdriver for a loose screw and a hammer to remove nails from walls.
  • Cleaning supplies: Leaving your home spotless can help you get more money back from your security deposit if you’re a renter — and it’s always nice to leave the house clean for the buyer.

Important tasks to remember

1. Small but important items for your new home

Remember small tasks like turning on the utilities in advance will provide light, water, internet access, and energy in your new home.

2. Change your mailing address with the post office

You don’t want to miss any important mail that could get stuck at the old house. You can change your mailing address in advance online or at the post office if you know the date you’ll be in your new home.

3. Notify companies and creditors about your address change

To avoid the potential of important bills and documents getting lost in the mail, notify your credit card company, insurance companies, and other important businesses about your address change.

Options if you need more time

1. Rent-back agreement

If you’ve found a buyer and you need extra time to move out, consider negotiating a seller rent-back agreement. This addendum allows you to stay in the house for a set period of time after the house is sold. This is especially helpful when you need the capital from the sale for a down payment on a new house–– or there’s a construction delay with your new home build.

2. Find a short-term rental

Another option is to find temporary housing to give yourself extra time. “I’d rather live in temporary housing in a month or two months and that way I can be more relaxed buying my next property and not rush into anything,” says top Los Angeles real estate broker Todd Jones Plus getting out your stuff shows better and enables you to paint and clean the carpets more easily.

If you’re relocating for a new job and don’t have a new home to call your own, HomeLight can connect you with top agents in your area. Just enter your address and some details about the home you’re looking for and we’ll do the rest to find the best local real estate agents that match your criteria.

Header Image Source: (Africa Studio / Shutterstock)

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Taking The Plunge: How a Texas Buyer Used HomeLight Trade-In and Cash Offer to Find Her Perfect Pool https://www.homelight.com/blog/agent-trade-in-cash-offer-texas-house/ Thu, 28 Apr 2022 19:28:57 +0000 https://www.homelight.com/blog/?p=31032 “I’m a serial homebuyer,” laughs Claribel Solis, a homeowner in Arlington, Texas. “I’ve moved many times and have worked from home on and off for about 20 years.”

While having to spend time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t exactly new territory for Solis, she did feel her walls slowly starting to close in as the days slipped away.

“I felt almost caged because there were limitations on where I could go outside and who I could interact with,” Solis recalls. “I needed something to entertain myself because otherwise I’m stuck here and I go grocery shopping and then I come back home and that’s it.”

Solis’ decided that she wanted a pool. After all, what could be better than a personal backyard oasis for exercise and relaxation?

“I remember looking online and I found a sweet little home — I’m used to buying new construction but this was an older house — so I clicked on it and the agent called me and we started talking,” says Solis.

When she explained that she didn’t have a lot of cash to buy a home, the agent recommended HomeLight Trade-In as a way to tap into her existing home’s equity.

A house where you can do a trade in and cash offer.
Source: ( Ryan Colston / The Rhodes Team)

No cash? No problem with HomeLight Trade-In and Cash Offer

The HomeLight Trade-In program allows sellers to unlock their equity and become buyers first by making a guaranteed offer on the original home. Not only does this free up funding to shop for a new property, but it also eliminates the sales contingency and allows buyers and their agents to write highly competitive offers. And there’s no uncomfortable transition period between homes because moving only happens after the new home has closed.

“This program just makes sense,” says Solis. “HomeLight approved me in less than a week and said, ‘You can afford this much, and you can use this cash buying offer, too.’”

With the additional purchasing power of HomeLight Cash Offer — a program that effectively removes the financing contingency and allows for a no-frills cash offer using HomeLight’s money — Solis was ready to find her perfect pool.

Since a pool was Solis’ primary objective, she was able to be selective and hold out for just the right home. And despite her usual tendency toward new construction, she knew it would be easier — and far more affordable — to purchase an existing home that already had a pool in place.

“My agent and I started looking at houses in early December 2021 and eventually found this one a few weeks later. We made an offer and within about a week it all came together. It was a whirlwind,” she says.

With the strength of HomeLight Trade-In and Cash Offer behind her, Solis’ competitive offer included an unbeatable eight-day close.

“It was just nice to have the assurance that I could definitely get a pool,” says Solis. “With new construction, I would have had to hire a contractor to put in a pool. And in the home I had before, I couldn’t have even built a pool if I’d wanted to because there was an easement for a sewer line. I needed to move to an existing home in an established neighborhood.”

Swimming in success, thanks to HomeLight

While the HomeLight Trade-In and Cash Offer programs helped Solis stand out from the competition and secure her preferred pool, HomeLight kept both her and her agent in the loop at all times with transparent communication.

“HomeLight has a great team,” says Solis. “Everyone was super nice, super knowledgeable, and there was always someone to make sure I had peace of mind and explain what we were doing and why we were doing it. Everyone was so patient with me.”

The last step of the process was to sell Solis’ initial home — a successful effort that brought in 12 offers in just three days. It ultimately sold for $13,000 above list price.

Now that she’s happily settled into her new home with a pool, Solis is more grateful than ever for her HomeLight Trade-In and Cash Offer experience.

“I highly recommend HomeLight for people wanting to switch homes like I did. It’s really the way to go.”

Header Image Source: (Russel Rhodes / The Rhodes Team)

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A Seamless Transition from California to Idaho? Here’s How HomeLight Trade-In Made It Possible https://www.homelight.com/blog/agent-trade-in-san-diego-house/ Thu, 28 Apr 2022 17:15:07 +0000 https://www.homelight.com/blog/?p=31024 When a work opportunity meant that homeowner Molly Porter and her husband, Jason, would need to relocate from San Diego to Idaho, they were nervous about how to navigate a tricky transition.

“We were concerned about our ability to sell our home in California and seamlessly buy a new home in the new state,” says Porter. “For us, it was about the timing of leaving a job in San Diego and being able to have a good living situation to start a new job, but without having to support two households in two different states.”

As many homeowners know, having to wait on one property to sell before being able to comfortably move forward with the purchase of another is inconvenient to say the least. Having a sales contingency can mean losing out on a new home that would otherwise be a perfect fit. But selling the original home before shopping for the next can lead to the expense and hassle of having to move into temporary housing to bridge the gap between properties.

“It was really about not being held up to buy a new place waiting for the other house to sell,” says Porter.

A house in san diego for trade in.
Source: (J.C. Agajanian / eXp Realty of California Inc)

A sunny solution with HomeLight Trade-In

Fortunately for the Porters, their agent, J.C. Agajanian, introduced the idea of HomeLight Trade-In.

A modern solution to an age-old problem, the HomeLight Trade-In program allows sellers to become buyers first by making a guaranteed offer on the existing home. This eliminates the sales contingency and frees up cash to allow buyers and their agents to write highly competitive offers. Even better, clients can remain in their home until they’ve closed on their new one.

“HomeLight Trade-In solves one of the biggest issues that we’re facing in the San Diego market — probably nationwide, too — which is that it actually helps find more home inventory because so many sellers don’t want to move until they know where they’re going next,” says Agajanian.

Having used the program with several clients, Agajanian knows the value of a seller being able to shop for a new home first and worry about their own home later.

“HomeLight Trade-In really made the process way less complicated and way less stressful than we were thinking it was going to be,” explains Porter. “We were able to just sign everything with HomeLight and then we didn’t have to worry about who was ultimately going to buy our house in San Diego.”

The Porters decided to purchase a new-construction home in Idaho. While they didn’t have to worry about competing against other buyers on their specific house, they knew they couldn’t just assume the purchase would be easy.

“Once you reserve your place [with the builder] there’s no competing, but the area of Idaho we chose to buy in is a fast-growing community, so we were anticipating it being a little scarier to try to buy,” Porter says. “But it was nice knowing that we didn’t have to worry about the other house getting sold. That had made us nervous and that’s one of the reasons why we chose to go with HomeLight Trade-In.”

Living room of a san diego house trade in.
Source: (J.C. Agajanian / eXp Realty of California Inc)

Great communication and a seamless transition

Since HomeLight Trade-In is designed to make life easier for clients and agents alike, it’s no surprise that communication is a major component of the program’s success.

“Between HomeLight and our agent, we knew everything that was going on,” recalls Porter. “All of our options and all of the details were explained really clearly. The communication was great and it all happened really, really quickly.”

The Porters signed their HomeLight paperwork in September 2021 and closed on their new home in Idaho in late October. And the couple couldn’t be happier with their customized abode.

“The other part about HomeLight Trade-In that was great was getting the majority of our money upfront. We were able to buy this new-build [home] and put in a lot of upgrades. We didn’t have to wait for the house in San Diego to sell,” says Porter. “It was really nice to be able to buy something with basic features and then be able to do what we wanted with it right away because we had that money.”

Since HomeLight Trade-In returns any earnings above the agreed-upon price to the seller, when their San Diego property did sell, the Porters took home a cool $10,000 more than they anticipated.

“We probably could have waited a little longer and maybe gotten a little more money, but to us, it was worth it to just get the money we’d been expecting,” says Porter. “We were happy with the three offers we got and those all came in within the first week that they showed the house. We didn’t feel the need to hold out for anything more.”

The Porters’ original home only needed a few minor cosmetic repairs and staging to make it ready for the market, and they appreciated the transparent, honest process there, too.

“It was all within or under the budget that HomeLight had estimated, which I really appreciate,” says Porter. “Everything was really transparent and we didn’t come out on the other side where they were like, ‘Oh, well, we estimated $5,000 but it was actually $10,000.’”

All told, the couple is happy to recommend HomeLight Trade-In and says they would use the program again.

“I’m so glad we did it this way,” Porter says. “It would have been so much more stressful. It was already a big move. We’re from Southern California and have, for the most part, always lived there. To be making a big life change like this was already a lot, and I feel like selling the house was probably the easiest part. It was really seamless.”

Header Image Source: (J.C. Agajanian / eXp Realty of California Inc)

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Want to Know What Helps Sell a House? A Seller’s Guide for 2022 https://www.homelight.com/blog/what-helps-sell-a-house/ Wed, 27 Apr 2022 23:08:07 +0000 https://www.homelight.com/blog/?p=1893 Selling a house is one of the biggest decisions you can make, so it only makes sense that you’ll want all the help you can get. It’s why we tapped into advice from some of the top real estate agents in America, analyzed it, and packaged it in a few core tips. Whether you’re hoping to attract high offers, sell fast, or simply make things go smoothly, we’ve got you covered. This is what helps sell a house.

What helps sell a house the most?

By and large, the easiest way to save time, sell your home fast, and land the returns you want is to team up with an experienced real estate agent. Not only do they have the know-how to help you tackle tough tasks, such as price setting, marketing, and negotiations, agents often have a rolodex of connections to help you prepare your house for its sale. These are just a few reasons only 7% of home sales are for sale by owner (FSBO), according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

At the same time, leveraging an agent’s help can dramatically swing how much profit you pull in after you’ve sold your house. In fact, a NAR report found the median FSBO home brings in $58,000 less than agent-assisted sales. Even in the seller’s market of 2022, taking these steps can help make the most of your sale. Here are four critical things that will help you sell a house.

Connect with a Top Agent

Our data shows the top 5% of agents across the U.S. help clients sell their home for as much as 10% more than the average real estate agent. It takes just two minutes to match with the best real estate agents, who will contact you and guide you through the process. To connect with an agent, simply tell us a little bit about your property and how soon you’re looking to sell.

1. Bring out the best in your home’s interior

If you want to place your home’s value on full display, it’s important to start by sprucing up the house’s interior. These home interior improvements can make a major impact when you decide to sell your house:

Tackle repairs and upgrades

One of the fastest ways to set your house up for a faster sale is to dig into any deferred maintenance and knock out necessary repairs. However, it isn’t a smart idea to simply make upgrades on a whim. Each repair and update carries costs and takes time. That’s why it’s important to do your research, identify the upgrades that will grab you the highest ROI, and look for the features that are in high demand within your area.

One handy trick is to visit open houses around your area. This hands-on research can help you keep up with the preferences in the area. That way, you’ll have an idea of how to stage, paint, and design your home to fit local trends.

Another great way to identify repair needs is to snag a pre-listing inspection. These are inspections that the seller pays to have done prior to listing the home. Although having an official pre-listing inspection will cost you money, it also can point out those essential repairs that could hold up your house sale later on.

Deep clean your house’s interior

Cleaning your house’s interior helps you sell your home in several ways. First, it prevents potential buyer’s from getting distracted by dust or messes. Also, it can bring out qualities of your home that may otherwise be overlooked. What’s more, it reassures home buyers that there aren’t other neglected amenities lurking somewhere else within your house.

“A deep clean never fails to solicit buyer comments like ‘the house feels solid, well-maintained, or meticulously cared for’ — even if the house is really outdated,” says Jessica Riphenburg, one of the top agents in Madison, Wisconsin.

For older homes in particular, you may want to also consider hiring a professional cleaning service to sparkle every nook and cranny.

Depersonalize and stage your home

Staging your home is a critical step if you’re hoping for an easier time selling. In fact, a 2021 NAR survey found nearly 1 out of every 2 buyers’ agents say a house’s staging affects most home buyers’ decisions.

“You have to have a home staged and be a 10 out of 10 for showings to look better than the competition and get that emotional connection to your home from someone,” says Janice Overbeck, one of the most successful agents in the metro-Atlanta market. “I highly recommend getting a professional stager in.”

Since you’ll want to make it easy for a potential buyer to picture themselves living in your house, it’s important to neutralize spaces and prepare them carefully. Here are a few ways to depersonalize your home:

  • Paint rooms in simple, neutral tones
  • Tone down kitchen floors and backsplashes when possible
  • Pick up clutter and store toys in totes
  • Pack away knick knacks
A nice backyard that might help sell a house.
Source: (ÇAĞIN KARGI / Unsplash)

2. Enhance your home’s exterior

Another important focus that will help sell your house is improving your house’s exterior. The outside of your house can hit your potential buyer with a lasting first impression that can easily make or break a sale. Here are a few ways to beef up your home’s exterior and lift your house’s curb appeal:

Add outdoor amenities

Outdoor living spaces can be a major value-driver as buyers shop for a home. And they’re in especially high demand in the shadow of the pandemic. In fact, nearly 50% of agents say outdoor living areas are a top priority within their post-vaccine market. Here are a few outdoor amenities that can drive up your home’s value:

Up your home’s curb appeal

Upgrading curb appeal is an easy way to help your house stand out and stick in a potential buyer’s mind. One of the best ways to amp up curb appeal is to improve landscaping. Maryland real estate agent Bonnie Fleishman says there are a few big-impact landscaping tasks that can sharpen your home’s appeal:

  • Lay down fresh mulch
  • Mow the lawn
  • Pull weeds
  • Trim the shrubs and trees
  • Remove overgrown items
  • Edge the yard

Another way to enhance your house’s curb appeal is to upgrade your home’s exterior condition and beautify the house’s outer shell. Fleishman says the first place to start when you upgrade your home’s exterior is the front door. “If that front door looks bad, you only have one chance to make that first impression,” Fleishman warns.

Beyond painting and cleaning your critical front door, there are a few additional exterior upgrades to make if you want to boost your home’s curb appeal:

  • Clean and repair any chipping or peeling paint
  • Fix sagging gutters or downspouts
  • Remove leaves from the gutters
  • Pressure wash the house
  • Pressure wash the driveway
  • Clean the windows
  • Clean all outdoor light fixtures

If you want to supercharge your home’s curb appeal, you also have the option of hiring a professional landscaper, or you can save some money by putting in extra work on your own.

I think the problem [pricing a home] is people tend to listen to family, friends, and neighbors, instead of analyzing the data.
  • Bonnie Fleishman
    Bonnie Fleishman Real Estate Agent
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    Bonnie Fleishman
    Bonnie Fleishman Real Estate Agent at Douglas Realty LLC
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    Currently accepting new clients
    • Years of Experience 32
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    • Average Price Point $329k
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3. Set the right price for your home

Setting the right price for your house has always boosted your chances of selling, but it’s especially important in the current housing market. In 2021, home prices and sales surged, with 98% of real estate agents pegging Q2 of last year as a seller’s market. This year, many professionals expect low inventory to impact housing prices even more. In fact, 75% of agents expect a housing inventory shortage in 2022. Simply put, with so much hitting the market at once, it can be tough to land on the perfect sales price for your home–but setting the wrong price can cost you hefty profit.

Fleishman says one of the biggest mistakes home sellers make is not doing their homework before setting a price. “I think the problem [pricing a home] is people tend to listen to family, friends, and neighbors, instead of analyzing the data,” says Fleishman.

An easy way to pin down a starting price for your home is to use an online tool, such as HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator. By simply entering a few details, this tool will examine similar listings in your area, look at your home’s features, and calculate the value of your home.

Still, if you want to set a profitable, yet appealing, price on your home, it’s a good idea to team up with an experienced agent. The best agents will conduct Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) before pricing your home. In the CMA process, the agent will dig into your house’s local market, your home’s features, current trends, and other important factors in order to set the perfect price on your home. These in-depth reports use data to back your pricing decision–making it easier to settle on a price that’s high enough to hand you a profit but not so high your house sits on the market.

4. Create an eye-catching marketing plan

If you want to connect with potential buyers and snag the right price for your home, it takes a multi-level marketing plan. Not all sellers realize it, but real estate agents spend hours building buzz around the homes they sell. Simply put, the better you market your house, the easier it will be to sell your property at or above your asking price. Here are a few tips to help you spread the word about your home:

Sell at the right time of the year

Timing the market right is important if you want to land an ideal sale. Different areas will have hot seasons when you could increase the price of your house and lulls when you may risk watching your house sit on the market for longer than you want. Before you list your house, dig into the data and make sure you understand the best time of the year to sell your house within your local market.

This is another area where your local real estate agent’s expertise will come in handy. Because they spend hours eyeing local market data, it’s likely they’ll know exactly how to time your home sale and snag you the highest ROI possible.

Hire a professional photographer

Your home’s photos can draw in buyers or completely turn them away. That’s why it’s critical to use professional-level photographs when you sell your house.

“The most important thing, absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt, are great photographs,” says Los Angeles agent Todd Jones. “I’ve seen listing agents list a property and, for whatever reason, they don’t put one photo in. And that’s just a crime. That’s doing a horrible disservice to the seller.”

Professional photographers will see the best angles, know how to reduce glare, and will be able to bring out the best in your house. And a good realtor should have a photographer in their network and generally will offer the service for free.

Craft a captivating listing

A listing is a home’s first impression. It has to be accurate and also capture attention. Here are a few tips real estate professionals suggest to help you create an attention-grabbing listing:

Combine these tips and a top agent’s help to sell fast

Selling your house is a big decision, but the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. And taking a few minutes to prepare before you sell your house can end up making all the difference in the long run. As long as you follow a few proven tricks, and lean on an expert agent’s help, you’ll be set up for a smooth and painless home sale.

Header Image Source: (Pixabay)

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Best Real Estate Books For Buying, Selling and Investing in 2022 https://www.homelight.com/blog/best-real-estate-books/ Wed, 27 Apr 2022 17:41:35 +0000 https://www.homelight.com/blog/?p=2116 Whether you’re interested in buying, selling, or investing in real estate, these books can help you dive deeply into the world of real estate. We’ve found some of the best real estate books for 2022 to help you learn the ins and outs of how it all works.

Best real estate books for selling

Selling your home is not a walk in the park. There are a lot of factors that come into play whether you’re trying to sell your home with a real estate agent or sell your home yourself.

Here are some sources to get you started.

“The Ultimate Guide to Selling Your Home: How The Nation’s Top Agents Break Records”

If you’ve thought that selling your home is as easy as slapping a “for sale” sign in your yard, then this is the book for you.

What better way to learn about selling your home than straight from real estate experts? This book is full of tips, strategies, and insider scoop on the housing market and how to sell your house effectively from top-selling agents.

This book also features insights to teach you how to sell your home at a great price. Figuring out how to maximize your earnings as a home seller in your local market can be a challenge, but don’t sweat it. That’s what agents are here to guide you for.

“How To Sell Your Home In Five Days: Third Edition”

The third edition of “How To Sell Your Home In Five Days” was published in 2007 and remains a popular and informative work. While the title is definitely intriguing, the information is even better.

Sure, maybe you won’t get as lucky as the book suggests and literally sell your home in five days, but you will learn some great ways to help your house sell fast.

Here’s the kind of crucial information you will get out of this book when it comes to selling your home:

  • Understanding market conditions
  • How to write a swoon-worthy home advertisement
  • Marketing strategies for your home
  • How to conduct round-robin bidding
  • How to think like a home buyer

Bill Effros’ book teaches its readers the possibility of selling your home with a 5-day plan that requires some preparation before the actual selling process, but that effort will pay off when you do list your home.

Request an Offer To Sell Your Home In Days, Not Months

One option for selling your home quickly is to request a competitive cash offer. HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform allows clients to sell without additional repairs, prepping their home for listing, or showings.

“Selling Your House: Nolo’s Essential Guide”

Nolo seeks to provide helpful legal knowledge to the general public. When it comes to selling your home, understanding the legalities can be useful in helping to mitigate potential legal risk.

Nolo’s essential guidebook to selling your home provides bountiful information about the home selling process and the basics such as price points, how to find the right realtor to work with, and what upgrades to make to your home to increase your home’s value.

Some topics covered include:

  • Safely allowing visitors into your home
  • Negotiation tactics to receive a fair price
  • Making legally required disclosures to buyers

In this book, you will hear from top-rated professionals that aren’t just in the real estate niche. You’ll hear from home stagers, attorneys, and advice from previous home sellers.

Best real estate books for buying

Buying your first home or a new one? The process can be exhausting and making the right choice for your next home is important.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or looking for a change of scenery, here are some great books to read about the home buying process.

“First Time Home Buyer: The Complete Playbook To Avoiding Rookie Mistakes”

Buying your first home is a big deal for multiple reasons. Not only is this a big step in your life, but there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with purchasing your first home.

For example, the timeline for buying your first house can be daunting. There’s the process of looking for the right home, visiting to inspect it, getting approved for your loan, closing, and signing the endless amount of paperwork.

This book will teach you what to expect and what to avoid in order to make the process go as smoothly and quickly as possible. You will learn about the decisions you will be faced with within the buying process and how to make sure you’re getting an investment you’ll be happy with.

This book walks you through the process in three parts:

  • Part 1: Pre-purchase decisions to consider
  • Part 2: What you need to do before buying your home
  • Part 3: The details of how to look for the right home

If you’re new to the home buying process, trust us, this is the book you’ll value.

“100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask, Fourth Edition”

If 100 seems like a big number to you, we promise you’ll realize once you step into buying your home it’s actually rather small.

Buying a home is a tedious process since you’ll maybe be signing a mortgage at the time of closing. With that being said, you should feel fully confident in the house and homeowners you’re buying from.

Building your confidence comes with asking the right question, but if you’re a first-time home buyer, how do you know what the right questions to ask are? That’s where this book comes in handy. It was written specifically by a top-selling agent who wanted to make the public aware of the questions to ask as you start to dive deeper into the home buying process.

This book will teach you the right questions to ask the homeowners and questions to ask your real estate agent so you have all the information you need in making an informed and confident decision. You’ll learn how to have a keen eye for detail and what to ask homeowners before you agree to a sale.

Best real estate books for investing

Done right, real estate investing can be highly rewarding. It requires keeping up with the latest housing market trends and having the right mindset to avoid making a bad investment.

If you’re wanting to take a few steps closer to the wonderful possibilities real estate investing can offer, we advise you do your homework with one of these sources.

“Real Estate Investing QuickStart Guide”

If you’ve been curious about dabbling into real estate investing, you should probably read up on it before you go all in.

As a #1 Amazon Bestseller, this book will give you the information you need to break into this lucrative gig. It’s described as “beginner friendly” and will give you quick-learning strategies to see quick results in this new venture.

Here is what this book promises its readers:

“The Millionaire Real Estate Investor”

Everyone dreams of what it would be like to have enough money so you no longer have to work. What if you could build that life with real estate investing?

What this book teaches are the fundamentals you need to know before you step foot into this process. This book is a collection of insights from over a hundred successful real estate investors. You will learn:

  • How to develop the right mindset for successful investing
  • Criteria for identifying viable investment properties
  • Information for making the best deals
  • How to find the right, trustworthy partners
  • Models and strategies to track your progress, wealth, and success

“The Millionaire Real Estate Investor” is heavy on the financial aspect of investing and how to create a generous future as a property investor. You will be glad you purchased this book and learned the fundamentals before you find yourself stuck later on.

“The Book on Rental Property Investing”

Whether you’re a beginner investor or a master at the craft, “The Book on Rental Property Investing” is for you.

This book is nearly 400 pages long and is jam-packed with actionable advice on finding the right properties to invest in, financial aspects to consider, and trusted strategies to use when building this business. Written by an investment Realtor® himself, this is another book that will give you inside information along your journey.

Here is a snippet of what you will learn in this book:

  • Ways other real estate investors fail and how you can avoid their mistakes
  • Strategies you can implement in your practice
  • How to find stellar deals in any market
  • How to optimize the cash you have for any kind of deal
  • How to defer taxes

Time to find your reading nook

Real estate books provide valuable information that goes more in-depth than any blog can. With these books we’ve hand-selected, not only will you be provided with high-quality information, but you’ll learn straight from top sources.

So, with that in mind, it’s time to grab your book (or audiobook), snuggle up on the couch, and get to reading.

Hungry for additional sources?

Good news — we wrote a book, too! Check out our eBook “Your House Has a Secret Life on the Internet.”

Header Image Source: (Aga Putra / Unsplash)

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