Articles Tagged "home selling"

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August
2

Florida Architecture

If you're planning on buying a Florida home or upgrading to a different Florida property, you'll find that there are a lot of architectural styles to choose from. Our real estate agents understand that having so many options can feel overwhelming, especially if you aren't sure exactly what you're searching for in a home.

We recommend learning about the different architectural options so that you feel more comfortable when you're shopping for a home. Here are some of the most popular Florida home styles. 

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January
14

Whether it's your first time buying or selling a house or it's your fifth, you'll likely have lots of questions about the process. We understand that, which is why we're answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the home-buying and home-selling process. Read on to get the answers you seek!

Buying a Home

Should I work with an agent?

Yes! When searching for a home, it's important to know what you want. The right agent will help you determine must-haves and deal-breakers, as well as educate you on the communities you're interested in. Your agent will also help you navigate the complexities of the home-buying process. They're the expert, after all!

Should I go to the bank before starting my house search?

Getting pre-approved before starting your house search can be very helpful. By measuring factors like income, credit, and assets, a lender can determine what type of loan best suits your needs and how much home you can afford. Not only will you know your spending budget, it can also give you an upper hand as a buyer because it shows sellers you're serious about making a purchase.

How many houses should I tour?

As many as it takes until you find the perfect home for you. Everyone's needs, wants, and deal-breakers will be different, and you want to avoid settling for a house you'll dislike after a few months. Even if it takes time, it's worth the extra effort.

Do I need money for a big down payment?

Not necessarily. Today, more loan options and homebuying programs exist, giving buyers a larger variety of approaches to buying a house. While some people may still want to complete a large down payment, it is absolutely not vital to purchase a home. In fact, the average first-time buyer only puts 6% down, and many loans and programs available to first-time buyers require even less than that.

How long will closing last?

After negotiations have settled and your offer is accepted, the loan process and title work begin. Inspections and other walkthroughs will be completed as well. Most closings last 30 to 45 days.

 

Selling a Home

Should I sell on my own or with an agent?

You've probably heard from one person or another that going the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route is optimal as it will save you money that you would otherwise spend on commission fees. However, the benefits of listing, marketing, and exposing your home to potential buyers an agent provides are often worth the commission fee.

What's more, you may end up spending less money by selling with an agent. A typical home sale process that requires lots of time and effort likely won't net you much savings at all if you go it alone.

When should I put my home on the market?

This is the first of many steps where an agent's expertise will help you make a decision. When there are fewer available homes to purchase to meet buyers' demands, you get a seller's market. Each home for sale becomes a hot commodity in this sort of market.

There's no truly bad time to sell, necessarily. Even in a buyer's market, your home will still draw attention so long as it's promoted properly.

Should I make any changes to my home before selling?

Definitely! Do a deep clean, make necessary repairs and replacements, organize cabinets and closets, declutter and depersonalize, and spruce up your home's curb appeal. Be careful about spending too much money on major repairs and renovations, however; you may not make back what you spent in the sale.

How should I price my home?

Determining your home's value can be tricky; setting an accurate sale price can be even tougher. Your agent will help you assess your home's value by analyzing other similar homes in the area that have sold. A home inspection will also help to paint the picture of your home's value.

Setting a sale price is a delicate art. Price it too high and you risk pushing buyers away. Price it too low and you might raise suspicions in buyers' minds. Again, your agent will help you find the sweet spot and price your home favorably.  

 

Still have questions about the home-buying or selling process? Contact one of our expert agents to have your questions answered.

December
22

If you're like 60% of people, you probably dread the idea of moving. And we get it! Packing, loading, unpacking – it can all be a bit of a drag. So you've probably considered simply reimagining the space you're in as an alternative to moving. But that has its own drawbacks, like trying to live around the messiness and noises of home improvement.

At the core of either of these decisions lies the true issue: you're not happy with at least some part of your home. Making the choice to renovate or move to a new home entirely isn't easy, but we're hoping the following guide can help you make an informed decision one way or the other.

Consider the Costs

Try to think beyond the profit, because believe it or not, selling your home can be costly. Everything from touch-ups and minor repairs to staging and various closing costs can rack up a high price. That's before you even consider paying for your new home!

Then again, depending on the scope of your renovations, you could be looking at a hefty price tag as well. Renovations also typically require immediate out-of-pocket costs, and as projects go on, you could see additional costs enter the picture.

Do You Like Your Location?

Do you love your neighborhood? Are your kids in a great school district? Are you an active fixture in your community? Sometimes the one thing you fall out of love with about where you live is…where you live.

If you've found you adore your community but your home isn't meeting your needs anymore, perhaps renovating is the route for you. Conversely, if you'd rather discover a new neighborhood, you might choose to start fresh with a move.

Think Long-Term

It's generally accepted that what you pay for in renovations, you probably won't get back when you sell. There are exceptions to this, of course, but for most folks it holds true.

So if you plan to be in your home for another 10 years, remodeling is a good idea. You'll get to enjoy the results of all your hard work and money spent. If you don't see yourself staying put for long, however, it likely won't be cost-effective to sink money into renovations.

Research the Market

For the past year and more, the market has been particularly ripe for sellers. And while that might influence your decision to sell and move into a new home, keep in mind that you'll still need to buy a new home. The market has been significantly more challenging for buyers.

The market is always fluid, however, so whenever you find yourself pondering renovations versus selling, do yourself a favor and check in on your local market.

 

What you choose will ultimately come down to your unique situation. If you're looking for an agent's expert opinion on the matter, check in with one of Watson's knowledgeable real estate pros!

September
30

For most of us, a life lived mostly inside the walls of our home became the norm for at least a year. Lots of things changed; grocery store trips became deliveries, intense hand-washing sessions occurred multiple times a day, and empty guest rooms became home offices.

It makes sense then that homebuyers' preferred features have shifted in response to the changes they've experienced. Point2 Homes examined 43 million words from more than 640,000 listings across the United States, then compared their findings to a study of the same nature in 2019.

Examining the most popular home descriptions words, phrases, and features reveals a lot about how buyers' tastes have changed.

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September
2

Litter Box Tips

September is officially Happy Cat Month, so take some extra time to appreciate your feline friend. Cats make wonderful pets, but there's one part of cat ownership that everyone dislikes - the litter box. Its appearance isn't attractive, and no one wants to have its odor or the sounds of a cat scratching away in the box invading your home's common areas.
  
With a few tools, some time, and a little bit of effort, you can hide your cat's litter box while still leaving it easily accessible for them. Check out these tips to help make your cat's litter box out of sight and out of mind.

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July
28

Have you ever wondered what style of house represents your personality? There are so many home types to choose from, you should know which one fits you best! Take a look at these five popular home styles to get an idea for the aesthetic and functionality that match your unique personality when you're ready to purchase your next home.

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July
14

With homes flying off the market within days of being listed (and often for far more than the listing price), you might reason that selling your home on your own is the wise choice. Why pay a commission fee to an agent when buyers are falling over themselves just to make an offer for every available house, right?

Not quite. It may seem appealing to go the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route right now. But even in a seller's market, the benefits of working with an agent are worth their weight in gold. Here's why you should still use an agent to sell in 2021.

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June
16

It's summer and you know what that means – it's listing season! Even though the market is primed for selling and many homes are selling for way over their asking price, it's still important to approach selling with a sound strategy. To that end, here are some key takeaways you should keep in mind to stay on top of your game in the lucrative 2021 market.

Understand Market Data

Though it can be exciting to sell when the market is scorching and you have the potential to make thousands over your asking price, remember that the market changes quickly, and there are a number of factors that go into pricing your home. According to Inman, if a home prices higher than comps in its area, it's likely that home has factors that can't be replicated – such as location, a pool, or a desirable lot. Your Watson agent knows to do their research thoroughly in order to best understand how to price your home.

Know Your Target Buyers

Low supply and buyer demand are skyrocketing the prices of homes, but that means that certain buyers are going to be priced out. Therefore, it's best to understand what your target audience is and what they're willing (and can afford) to pay. A great REALTOR® will understand where the leads are coming from, whether local or out-of-town, and what their financial backing looks like. Many buyers are offering all cash, but that may not always be your best bet since it can include contingencies, deductions, low-balling, and timelines that leave you frustrated.

Don't Alienate Your Buyer

You may think that since the market is in your favor, you get to call all the shots. But that attitude can backfire. Buyers still want a good deal and want to be treated with fairness. They also will be unwilling to move forward if the home doesn't meet their expectations. So, to avoid this pitfall, be sure to first get a thorough inspection and repair big items before listing your home. Things like roofs, leaks, or any basic items that are non-functioning need to be in great condition before listing, or you risk losing most buyers.

Proceed with Caution in Multiple-Offer Situations

Though receiving multiple offers on your home is a leveraging dream, it's not a particularly easy-to-navigate situation. Your instinct may tell you to go with the highest bid, but that's not always the right answer. An experienced REALTOR® will know to dig into the contract terms, financing, the offer letter itself, and other variables in order to make the best decision. It's best to operate with knowledge and realistic expectations and not let emotions sweep you away.

Now that you have the most vital information for selling your home in 2021, let's begin the listing process with the help of our expert Watson agents – contact us today!

May
20

While choosing to list your home in a seller's market is a highly desirable opportunity, there are still a few tips you should keep in mind to ensure your home stands out among the rest. Although your Watson agent will take care of most of these for you, you should also be well-versed on what to look for. Here are a few key things you'll want to implement in order to attract buyers and achieve your selling goals.

Hire a Great REALTOR®

A sound home-selling strategy includes multiple parts. Perhaps the most important part is hiring an outstanding REALTOR® who knows the market, the comps in your area, and what buyers are looking for. An experienced agent can sell your home faster and at a better price, so do your due diligence on agents in your area to maximize your profit and minimize sale time.

Make Your Marketing Matter 

According to Forbes, social media is the biggest factor in the new real estate market. Not only that, but a Pew Research Center survey also found that of 30-to-49-year-olds, 82% use at least one social media platform, with Facebook and Instagram being the most popular.

Take advantage of social media by giving your agent permission to post stunning photos of the home with relevant hashtags like #yourcityrealestate on Instagram and Facebook. Then, share those posts to maximize your reach! Don't forget to combine that with traditional methods like yard signs, and you'll have more eyeballs from a variety of sources on your home, which equals more offers for you.

Go Live at the Right Time 

Psst! Here is an insider secret: Friday is considered to be the best day of the week for home selling. Many people start their vacations that day or take off work early and are ready to get into personal affairs like browsing homes for sale. Since this day is likely to have more online traffic, consider posting the listing for sale on a Friday to generate more initial activity and engagement with your home. Conversely, Mondays are the worst day for activity, so keep that in mind!

Photos and Videos are King 

What is the first thing you would look at when browsing homes to buy? If you said photos, you've done this before. Sharp, clean, professional photography is paramount to the buyer experience of wanting more of what your home has to offer. Good photos will entice a buyer to come visit your home in person.  For homes in the $200K to $1M range, high-quality photography can increase the price by $3K-$11K. Even better, high-quality photos and especially virtual tours can lead to a 32% faster sale!

Begin with Curb Appeal

Hands down the most important part of making your home attractive is making it beautiful, clean, and as turn-key as possible. Start with the outside and take care of your landscaping, painting, and repairs. It's the first thing people see in photos and in person – and first impressions count! Plant bright flowers, lay down fresh mulch, eliminate weeds, and give the outside a power wash or new coat of paint to give your home an affordable facelift that yields excellent returns.

Create a Clean Slate

It should come as no surprise that if you plan on getting your home sold, the bare minimum is getting it clean, de-cluttered, and repaired. But you may also want to consider a professional cleaning or upgrades for key areas, like the kitchen and bathrooms – which buyers zero in on most. Ensure there are no smells whatsoever, remove any sign of pets, and de-personalize by removing photos or items like sports team flags or religious keepsakes which can turn buyers off. Don't forget home staging can help buyers visualize the way furniture compliments the home.

Ready to take the first step to getting your home sold? Let our Watson agents help – contact us today!

May
18

Whether you're selling or refinancing, a lot rides on your home's professional appraisal. The appraiser's unbiased opinion will give buyers and lenders alike a clearer vision of your home's worth. A lower number hurts your chances of securing a loan or selling for a good price.

Many factors go into your home's appraisal, some of which you simply can't control like number of bedrooms or the neighborhood. Luckily, there are things you can do to boost your home's profile. Here are some tips for getting a high appraisal.

Look at Past Appraisals

If your home has been appraised in the past, take a look at those records. Pay close attention to the things that lowered your home's value and try to improve those issues first.

Clean Everything

Cleanliness is next to godliness, and that goes for your home too. Scrub, dust, and wipe every corner of your home to create a spotless presentation. Renew your air fresheners or light a candle or two to emphasize a clean, crisp environment. You'd be surprised how something as simple as cleaning can influence your appraisal.

Take Care of Those Minor Repairs

If you've been putting off those pesky leaks or clogged gutters, now's the time to knock them out. Neglecting quick and inexpensive fixes will absolutely negatively affect your appraisal. Be sure to document any minor and major repairs as well, especially if you hire contractors to work on them.

Create Curb Appeal

Before the process even begins, your appraiser will start making mental notes about your home's exterior as they arrive. Make sure they're taking good notes by creating welcoming curb appeal. This can be done by maintaining the grass and any plants, presenting a clean walkway, touching up the paint if need be, and more.

Enter the Modern Age

Worn finishes and creaky, old appliances won't score you any points for being vintage. Instead, consider saying goodbye to these relics of the past and enhancing your home with more modern touches, like quartz countertops or stainless-steel appliances. Appraisers will place more value on these sorts of higher-end details. Of course, it's always worth talking to your agent about which upgrades make the most sense for your home.

With that said, however, it's important not to cater your home to one specific niche. Pricey upgrades may not make as much sense as they do on paper – you may not even recoup those expenses in the sale.

The ultimate takeaway is to ensure your home is well-kept. Even a home with outdated stylings could sell well if it's been maintained with care and consistency over the years.

Be Honest

If there are repairs you haven't completed by the appraisal, be honest with your appraiser. The desire to hide them may be strong – no one is proud to admit they haven't gotten that cracked foundation fixed yet – but it will only hurt you in the long run.

By telling your appraiser of any needed repairs, they can possibly factor the costs of said repairs into the appraisal. Otherwise, they may use a general figure, which could end up hurting your value. If you intend to have the repairs done yourself, the appraiser may need to return to confirm their completion.

Have more questions about getting a high appraisal? Contact a Watson agent today for more info!

May
6

The real estate market has been on fire lately, and that figures to continue well into the summer. New homes are flying off the market, often within days of listing and for more than the asking price. Sellers are unquestionably in the driver's seat right now, but that doesn't mean you can get away with speeding. Here are a few reasons why pricing still matters in a seller's market.  

High Prices Can Alienate Buyers

As inflating sales prices continue, it's easy to start seeing dollar signs. If the market says you can get more than your home's value, why not list at that amount?

For one, it alienates potential buyers. Buyers are already at a disadvantage in the current market, and by putting up your home for an exorbitant price above market value, you could be pushing away valuable contenders who don't have as much spending power.

Create a Bidding War

A fair price leaves room for a bidding war – another reason why pricing still matters in a seller's market. Multiple buyers will be in competition for your home – a precious commodity in a low-inventory landscape.

Competition means a steady flow of offers all trying to one-up each other. That is, unless you force the bidding to start at an artificial high point with an expensive asking price. While more offers can make choosing the right one more complicated (the right agent will make it easier, though!), it's often in your best interest to create a bidding war.

Get Off the Market

With such low inventory, it's possible your home will sell fast even if it is overpriced. However, it still remains a risky move. You'll want to lean on your agent's knowledge and market expertise to ensure your home's priced fairly based on several factors, including location, condition, and more.

A boosted price could keep away gun-shy buyers and leave your home dwelling on the market for an extended period. Especially in a market where homes for sale get purchased extremely quickly, you don't want to be the one home that isn't moving.

Want to know more about why pricing still matters in a seller's market? Contact one of our real estate agents!

April
1

Watson List Your Home

Listing your home for sale can be overwhelming, especially if it's your first time. One of the best ways to sell your home quickly and increase your sale price is through proper home staging. Home staging is both an art and a science and often takes a good bit of experience to pull it off just right. Our real estate agents are experts at home staging and are always willing to offer tips to help you through the process.

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February
10

the value of a real estate agent

When buying or selling a house, what's your top priority? Probably to make the most money if you're selling or get the best deal if you're buying. As a result of being money-conscious, you might think you're better off pocketing what you would pay in commission fees for a real estate agent. If you go that route, however, you're likely doing yourself a disservice. The value of a real estate agent comes from the often-overwhelming amount of work they take off your plate when buying or selling your home.

Buying a Home

House-shopping is at once very exciting and exhausting. A real estate agent can help alleviate many of the exhausting factors. They'll comb through new listings – across a wide network you wouldn't otherwise have access to – in search of homes that match your wants and needs, weeding out the pretenders and bringing you the contenders.

The value of a real estate agent becomes even more apparent when it comes time to make an offer. They'll help you prepare a formal offer as well as guide you through any negotiation that may come after to ensure you get a good deal. After the offer, a real estate agent will guide you through inspections and oversee any repairs deemed necessary.

Selling a Home

What do you need an agent to sell your home for – you know it best, right?

Well, when selling, objectivity is your best friend. A real estate agent will value your home with an honest eye, one that accounts for market value and other factors to ensure your asking price isn't too high. They'll also help you stage your home so that it makes the best impression to potential buyers.

Your agent will be invaluable when it comes to marketing your home to those buyers. They can get your home exposure on multiple websites and listing services, as well as use tools like social media to get even more eyes on the property.

Again, you'll truly recognize the value of a real estate agent when you start receiving offers. Your agent will review offers and keep you informed through every step of negotiation, ensuring you don't get caught with a stale deal.

Picking the Right Agent

Ultimately, the real value of a real estate agent comes in finding the right one. Working with an agent you gel with and who understands your wants and needs is critical. But once you secure the right agent, you'll truly understand why it's worth it.   

December
18

Whether you've sold a home or not, you're likely familiar with some common home-selling tips or pieces of advice that you've been told or read in some article. You may even believe some of them! Even if delivered with the best intentions, the fact is a lot of the most common home-selling tropes are myths, and we're here to play the role of real estate myth busters. Here are eight home-selling myths you shouldn't believe.

The Myth: My house will sell in the first week!

The Truth: Your home may very well sell in the first week! We're currently in a seller's market, which means there's more demand than there are homes for sale. So if you were to list today, there actually is a good chance your home would sell very quickly.

However, that's only true when the market favors sellers. In other times, selling in the first week just isn't likely. Having lived in your own home for years, you've naturally developed a strong emotional connection to it. Unfortunately, not everyone else has the same connection, and it might take time to find someone who vibes with your house the same way you do.

The Myth: These huge renovations will pay big dividends in the sale!

The Truth: So you've poured thousands of dollars into a remade kitchen or a high-class bathroom in hopes that it will increase your home's value. On a very technical level, they may have. But it doesn't necessarily mean your house will sell at a higher price. The unfortunate truth is that depending on what you spent, you may not even make it back in the sale. Everyone's taste is different, so sweeping upgrades may not gel with potential buyers. Instead, talk to your agent about which upgrades might pay off. You can also take notice of other homes in the area and see what they're doing.

The Myth: My home should have a high asking price to leave room for negotiation!

The Truth: Unless you find a buyer who is head-over-heels smitten with your home, the only thing a high asking price will get you is a price change after a few weeks. Instead of creating room for negotiation, you're pushing away serious buyers who will balk at the exorbitant asking price. Instead, trust your agent to set an appropriate listing price based on the market, your home's value, and other factors.

The Myth: I received my first offer really fast. I must have underpriced my home!

The Truth: Remember when we said it's unlikely your home will sell in the first week? Sometimes, it does happen – you might get a bite just days after hitting the market. Don't overthink it: you didn't underprice your house. If anything, you likely priced it perfectly, which is why you're attracting serious buyers so quickly.

The Myth: I'm not going to accept my first offer, because I'll likely get a better one down the road!

The Truth: A common thought when receiving an initial offer – especially if you deem it less than attractive – is to hold out for a better offer from someone else. Of course, if the first offer fits what you're looking for, then by all means accept it – you know what's best for you. Talk with your agent about evaluating the offer – is there room to negotiate to bring it closer to what you want?

But turning down an offer just because it's the first can have unforeseen consequences. For example, the longer your home stays on the market, the more questions buyers will begin to have. What's so wrong with those house that it hasn't sold yet? What am I not seeing? Suddenly that first offer you turned down doesn't look so bad.

The Myth: I don't need to depersonalize my home when selling!

The Truth: As we mentioned earlier, you likely have a strong emotional attachment to your home. It's full of personal memories that you'd never dream of hiding. But you really should when it comes time to prepare your home to sell. You want potential buyers to be able to envision themselves in the home. Let them imagine making their own emotional connection without the roadblock of your family photos lining the shelves.

The Myth: My house will sell itself!

The Truth: Lovely though it may be, your house is highly unlikely to sell on its own merits alone. A well-thought strategy goes into every home sale, including marketing, staging, studying the market, and so much more. Simply sticking a For Sale sign in your front yard isn't going to get the job done. That's why hiring a trusted real estate agent to assist you is paramount in selling.

The Myth: I'm going with the agent who values my house the most, because they'll get me the best return!

The Truth: Go with the agent who properly researches the local market and values your property fairly according to said market. That's who will give your home the best chance to sell.

November
6

With the current market favoring sellers, you're in a great position if you're looking to get your home sold. But the excitement of selling in a sellers' market often overshadows the fact that you're not just a seller; you're a buyer, too. And if your home sells before you've secured a new one - which is likely to happen in the current market - you could find yourself in a compromising situation. You always have options, though, and we're here to remind you what they are. Here's what you can do if your home sells faster than expected.

Captain Obvious Says "Buy Your Next Home Before You Sell"

The Captain may have a point, but that doesn't mean it's always feasible. Sure, you should try to secure your next home before selling your current one, but any number of factors can limit your ability to do so; especially in a sellers' market, when listings are often snatched up within days of hitting the market. If you don't have a home lined up before finalizing the sale of your house, at least try to get pre-approved for a mortgage. You'll remove some of the waiting period that comes with financial pre-approvals and at least be one step ahead in your home search.

Negotiate a Post-Possession Agreement

With some savvy negotiating and good bit of trust, you can negotiate a post-possession agreement to essentially rent your existing home a little longer after closing on the sale. If that sounds extremely convenient, well, it is. But it's also very risky for the buyer, so expect negotiations to be tough. This is where a skilled and experienced agent will come in very handy for you.

Check Offseason Vacation Homes

Depending on when you close, you could find a great deal on a vacation rental during the offseason. Demand is naturally lower in the offseason. You'll likely find one that's furnished, and most offer stays of up to a month or more.

Bunk with Friends or Family

Maybe your best friend has an extra bedroom? If not, you can take solace in knowing that your dear old mother will always welcome a visit. In all seriousness, friends and family can possibly put you up for a few weeks if you need it.

Find Someone in the Opposite Position

This means someone who's bought a new house and moved before their old home has sold. They may be willing to let you rent the home out for a brief period – it'll help them avoid paying extra on two mortgages at once. Of course, it also means you're subject to the owner's desire to sell; should they decide it's time to finally find buyers, it'll be time for you to move out. This is unless they've decided to convert the home into a full-time rental, which you'll want to determine before making your own decisions.

Extended-Stay Hotel Suites

Many hotels offer suites designed specifically for longer stays. These are sort of a middle-ground between a rental home and an apartment. You'll have a degree of privacy and access to the amenities you need, but you'll have even less ownership over the suite than you would in an apartment. But if it's only for a temporary stay, you likely won't be bothered by that.

Invest in a Storage Container for Your Stuff

If you're moving into a furnished rental or staying with a friend for a few weeks, you need somewhere to put your stuff in the meanwhile. Consider looking into a portable storage container. Many companies will drop off the unit, let you pack it up, then bring the container to your new house when you're ready. If you just need to store things for a night or two, check with your moving company; they may let you keep their moving truck overnight for an additional fee.

July
29

You've heard it a million times but allow us to say it once more: first impressions matter! Consider that chefs often say the first taste of a meal happens with our eyes. The same principle applies to selling your home – how you present it to potential buyers makes a difference. From introducing more natural light to decluttering, these proven home staging tips will get those For Sale signs out of your yard in no time.

Deep Clean

Even if you clean regularly, chances are some nooks and crannies of your home haven't seen household cleaner in a while. No judgment – it's easy to overlook some surfaces when you've got a full house to clean! But now's the time to scrub high and low all throughout your home to get every sneaky surface squeaky clean. Here's a guide to help you get started.

Declutter

Decluttering is a favorite topic of ours, and with good reason: it does so much for your home's presentation. It creates space (even if you don't have as much), makes your home look neat and tidy, and shows the home in its best light.

Let There Be Light

Turn on every light in the house. Open up curtains and let that natural light shine in. Utilize candles where possible but keep fire safety concerns in mind. A bright home is a happy and inviting home.

Do Away with Decorations

Your home is very attractive, and your style of décor surely enhances it. But for the sake of staging, peel back as much of your personal décor as possible. It may sting to remove what you consider to be part of your home's personality, but it will help your home appeal to the largest audience.

Focus on Fixable Cosmetic Changes

You know about depreciation, but did you know there's such a thing as curable depreciation? In the simplest terms, curable depreciations can be fixed and add value back to the property. These cosmetic fixes include painting, wallpapering, decluttering, and more. Prioritize these fixes because you'll see the financial rewards reflected in the sale price.

Say Goodbye to the Past

Furniture and other items that are visually outdated should be removed, unless it's a true antique or a family heirloom. Your accessories should make your home look modern.

Put Furniture Where It Belongs

You might have kept a workstation in a corner of your dining room, but that doesn't mean you should advertise that. Put furniture in the room where it makes most sense to give the best impression.

Get Rid of Pesky Odors

Pet smells, food odors, and anything else giving your home a funky scent should be dealt with immediately. Use candles, air fresheners, or even bake a fresh batch of cookies to make your home smell luscious.

Tuck Away Personal Possessions

You might love the picture of your family on the mantle, but it's not going to help your home sell. Your ultimate goal with staging should be making your home feel like a model home. You want it devoid of personal touches so that potential buyers can form their own emotional connections to it while picturing themselves living there.

June
17

We've previously talked about questions you should ask when buying a house on this blog. This week we're looking at the other side of that equation: what to ask when selling your house. From making sure you have the right agent to determining your home's value, you've got lots to consider when putting your home on the market. Let's dig into those questions and more.

Do I have the right agent for my goals?

Think of the search for a real estate agent to list your home as a job interview, and you're the hiring manager. Ask about their history in the industry, how many homes they typically sell in a year, areas in which they specialize, what they'll do to market your home, and more. What can they bring to the table, and does it align with your goals for selling?  

Is now a good time to sell?

Depending on your circumstances, the right time to sell can be hard to define. One big factor to consider is if you're in a buyer's or seller's market. A buyer's market happens when there's more homes on the market but less demand, empowering buyers. Conversely, fewer homes on the market and more demand creates a seller's market. A seller's market means you have the power to negotiate better deals. Your agent will help you determine what the current market landscape looks like.

How much will it cost to sell my home?

You'll (most likely) walk away from your home sale with money, but it'll cost you to get there. Commission fees and closing costs will come out of your bottom-line profit, but some out-of-pocket costs can sneak up on you. These can include staging, landscaping, and more. If you're buying a home at the same time, you'll want to include those fees in your budgeting efforts as well.

How much is my home worth?

Determining your home's value can be as simple as determining its condition and demand. Your agent can help you assess demand with a customized report covering how much similar homes in your area have sold for. This is called a comparative market analysis. Additionally, you can get an approximate estimate of your home's value with our home value estimator tool.

Should I hire a home inspector?

A home inspection occurs as a standard part of the process once your home is under contract. You can, however, have an independent inspection completed prior to listing your home on the market. It's another fee to account for, but it gives you a chance to remedy any potential ills in your home before presenting it to a buyer.

What do I need to disclose to potential buyers?

One of the scary parts of selling is having to be honest about your home's flaws. Even if you get an inspection before selling, there may be flaws that just aren't cost-effective for you to fix. But you may still have to mention them in the seller's disclosure. That being said, what you have to disclose can vary based on state laws and other factors. Your agent will help you determine what must be included in the seller's disclosure.

April
2

In these uncertain times, Watson remains committed to your real estate needs. We've taken our home-buying and selling processes digital to offer you the same legendary quality of service you're used to while adhering to social distancing practices. Buying or selling a home digitally is easy; read on to find out how.

Buying a Home

1) Finding an Agent

If you haven't already partnered with a real estate agent, you can easily find one via our website. Once you've found someone you like, you can consult with them via email, phone, or text to talk about your home wish list, areas in which you're looking, and more.

2) Getting Pre-Qualified

Applying for a loan online is simple. Just create an account with Watson Mortgage Corp. and get started. 15 short minutes later, you'll see how much you qualify for!

3) Touring Properties

Your agent will send multiple properties to review online. Once you've narrowed down your favorites, your agent can arrange a virtual tour via video. If you and the seller are comfortable with it, you may still be able to arrange an in-person tour.

4) Making an Offer

A written offer containing details like financing method, cancellation terms, repairs, and more will be prepared over the phone or via email and will be submitted to the seller digitally. If further negotiations are required, they will also be handled over the phone or via email.

5) Closing

We've altered our closing process to reduce the number of parties needed at signing. Once all terms are agreed upon and necessary paperwork has been filed, signings will occur in a staggered fashion – usually the seller goes first and then the buyer. And just like that, you've bought a house safely and conveniently!

Selling a Home

1) Finding an Agent

As with finding an agent when buying a home, you can easily find an agent you like via our website. Once you've secured an agent, you'll consult with them over phone, email, or text to discuss your selling goals, proposed timeline, and more.

2) Prepping Your Home to Sell

If you're comfortable with it, your agent can visit your home to give advice on which projects you should tackle before putting your home on the market. You can also organize a video call if you'd rather stay digital.

3) Listing Your Home

Your agent will consult with you via phone, email, or text to set a reasonable asking price that will give your home the best chance to attract buyers. They'll email you a comparative market analysis that tracks the selling price of similar homes in your neighborhood to help determine your home's value. Once you've settled on a listing price, your agent will consult with you digitally to develop a customized marketing strategy for your home.

4) Showing Your Home

Virtual tours make showing your home during these times easy and safe. Your agent will perform a walkthrough of your house, filming the entire tour with their smartphone or camera. The virtual tour can also be performed live via Facetime or another streaming service. Virtual tours are the recommended way to show your home during these times, but in-person showings can be offered to buyers who are pre-approved and qualified to buy, and who have given their intent to buy the home.

5) Receiving Offers and Closing

Your agent will submit offers to you digitally via email and discuss the terms of the offer with you over phone or email. Any further negotiations will be handled the same way. Once you've accepted an offer, your agent can work with you to schedule independent inspections and appraisals with respect to your schedule and comfort level. After all requirements have been met, your agent will have you sign the final sales agreement in a staggered fashion – seller first, then buyer.   If you have any further questions about buying or selling a home digitally, feel free to contact your real estate agent directly or contact us here.

March
31

As we alluded to in our post about selling your home in winter, spring is widely considered to be the best time to sell your house. That holds firm even as we weather the Coronavirus outbreak. In fact, digital adaptations like virtual tours and contact-less appointments have made it easier to safely sell your home during this time. Beyond that, a combination of factors makes that window of time from late March to early June such a perfect time to sell, and our brokers are here to explain why. Here's why you should sell your home in spring.

Nature Boosts Curb Appeal

After wilting during the cold winter months, nature comes alive in spring. Beautiful flowers blossom, trees become full with leaves again, and grass shimmers brightly in the sun. Your yard returns to its pre-winter glory and your garden blooms once again, instantly boosting your curb appeal in a way that even virtual tours can brilliantly display. "Grass turns from brown to green, and cold dreary days turn into sunny, warm ones," explains Mike Matthews, Managing Broker for Watson's Amelia Island office. "Properties always show better in the spring for those reasons."  

Selling Around School

Listing your home in spring allows you to get on the market just in time for those families aiming to purchase a new home and move right after the school year. "Lots of people plan their moves around the school schedule. They start looking in spring so they can prepare their moves for the summer when school is out," Mike explains. The same benefit extends to your family. Donna Daigle, Managing Broker for Watson's Middleburg office, adds, "When timed correctly, listing in spring allows your children to finish school, sell your home, and be settled in your new home before the next school year starts." Even with most children out of school right now, it can still be beneficial to plan selling your home around the home-schooling methods your children are currently working through.

Targeting Military Movers

As anyone in the military will tell you, your family is bound to move a lot. Getting your home on the market in spring gives you the best chance to target military movers. "A lot of military transfers happen in the summer," Donna says. "By listing in the springtime, you're opening your home up to many high-quality military buyers who will begin their search a few months before their transfer."

Tax Time Can be a Boon

Many buyers try to save as much as possible for a down payment (even if it isn't always necessary). Tax returns can play a big part in their budgetary efforts, which means you can also benefit. "People typically receive their tax returns in spring," Mike explains. "This leads to additional funds for their down payment or even their move." As buyers are able to increase their down payment fund, you'll likely see more serious shoppers.

December
11

Conventional wisdom tells you spring is the best season for selling your home, with summer coming in as a close second. But we're here to tell you waiting for warm weather to put your house on the market isn't necessary. There are plenty of strong reasons why you should sell your home in winter, and we've got some of our expert brokers to share them with you.

Selling in Spring = Heavy Competition

Know who else sells their home in the spring? Everyone! "Winter is a great time to sell your home because not many people list then," says Curt Marksbury, Managing Broker for Watson's Mount Dora office. "There's less competition thanks to lower inventory."

Indeed, with so many sellers putting their home on the market in April and May, you'll face stiff competition. In the winter, however, your home gets more of the spotlight thanks to the less populated market.

Winter Buyers Typically Mean Business

Fewer homes for sale also means buyers shopping in the winter months are more likely to be seriously interested for a few reasons. The holidays certainly come into play.

"Most people are focused on the holidays around this time of year," explains Geannina Mejia-Acevedo, Managing Broker for Watson's Port St. Lucie office. "They're shopping, traveling, hosting friends and relatives. So if a potential buyer takes interest in your home during this hectic time, there's a good chance they're very serious."

The winter also weeds out buyers who simply want to browse. "Window shoppers tend to only look during the traditional home-selling periods of spring and summer, sometimes fall. Buyers shopping in the winter are looking to make an offer," Marksbury explains.

Holiday Decorations Boost Selling Potential

Speaking of the holidays, the festive décor adorning your home is a great boon in your quest to sell. It not only helps your home stand out, but it also helps buyers imagine themselves celebrating the holidays in the house.

Snowbirds Come Flocking

While northern states get blanketed by blizzards, Florida's climate remains balmy and pleasant in even the chilliest months. Of course, plenty of snowbirds come flocking to escape their frigid northern confines, and some of them may be ready to make their move permanent.

"As snowbirds travel to Florida for the warm weather during the winter, they may decide they're done scraping ice off their windshields every year," says Marksbury. "It makes for a great time to show off your home, too, as they can see what winter would be like in their new house."

Corporate Relocation Creates Motivated Buyers

January and February are two of the most popular months for corporate relocation, which means a lot of buyers are looking for a home fast. And because relocators have precious little time to move their family, they don't have the luxury of browsing tons of listings. Motivated buyers plus a need to move quickly equals a great chance for you to sell your home in the winter.

October
16

In 2019, the classic image of hammering a For Sale sign into your front yard to announce to passersby that your home is on the market looks slightly more dated than it used to. While it's still common and effective, this typical portrait of a home for sale is only one of many ways a customer can list their home.

The newest version that's swiftly gaining traction across the country is Instant Buyers or iBuyers. You've probably heard of some of them: Opendoor, Offerpad, Zillow Instant Offers, just to name a few. Pitched as an alternative to listing with a real estate agent, iBuyers purchase homes outright directly from customers. The convenience of iBuyers has turned many heads, but does that convenience come at a cost?

How Do They Work?

Before we dive into that, let's talk about how iBuyers operate. Typically, sellers start by filling out an online offer request form with details of their home. If their home meets that particular iBuyers' standards, the iBuyer will make an offer using an automated valuation model (AVM). If the seller accepts the offer, home inspectors representing the iBuyer perform an inspection and create a list of repairs to be completed before the purchase is finalized.

In most cases, the seller can either complete the repairs themselves or have the estimated repair costs taken out of the offer on their home. Once that is negotiated and the offer is finalized, the transaction is complete. Just like that, a house has been sold and the former owner embarks on their next adventure.

Stress-Free Selling

Anyone who's put their home on the market knows it's a colossal task. A ton of work goes into getting the home ready to sell: cleaning, organizing, making repairs, and staging take a lot of time and effort. Not to mention the difficulty of getting the kids and pets out of the house for showings.

Then there's the biggest stressor of them all: Will my home even sell? iBuyers remove all those factors. There's no living around contractors making repairs. No stressful deep cleans so the house is spotless for yet another showing. And best of all, no worry if your home will sell. You can even set your own closing date since there's no buyer to consider. iBuyers hinge their business on presenting a true model of stress-free selling.

The Cost of Convenience

If you're waiting for the catch, here it is: homeowners who sell with iBuyers typically get less money than if they had enlisted a REALTOR® and sold on the open market. An investigation of multiple transactions by MarketWatch found that iBuyers customers netted 11% less than owners who sold their homes via more traditional methods. That can translate to tens of thousands of dollars.

Many iBuyer offers come in under market value for the home (some well under). Indeed, one customer cited in MarketWatch's report said they felt lowballed by their iBuyer's initial offer. iBuyers also charge various fees, which can further reduce the amount a customer receives. Collateral Analytics found that most iBuyers charge sellers a convenience fee of 6% to 9%, with some charging additional fees that would normally be paid by buyers at closing, adding another 1% or more.

Conversely, selling with a REALTOR® incurs a commission cost of anywhere from 5% to 7%. With all fees and commission costs considered, iBuyer sellers can expect to pay anywhere from 7% to 10% in fees, while brokerage sellers can expect to pay 5% to 9%. Bear in mind that repair costs also factor into iBuyers' offers, and some customers reported feeling nickel-and-dimed by inspectors working for iBuyers. In their investigation, MarketWatch spoke with a customer who claimed he was being charged heavily for minor repairs.

Should You Use iBuyers?

We arrive at the ultimate question: should you sell your home through an iBuyer? The answer ultimately depends on your situation. If you need to move fast and already have your next destination set, iBuyers offer incredible convenience without the uncertainty of selling on the open market. On the other hand, that convenience comes at a cost. Your home is an investment, and if your goal in selling is to get exceptional returns on that investment, iBuyers might not be your best option.

January
1

Maybe your family grew a bit last year and you need more space. Maybe you're ready to move somewhere closer to work. Whatever your reason for moving on from your current house, how you prep your home to sell makes a big difference in attracting interested buyers. Your home's overall condition includes everything from its curb appeal to the foundation it's built on. That's a broad spectrum, and it can easily overwhelm. But with this post, we'll walk you through some of the most critical steps and teach you how to prep your home to sell.

Deep, Deep Clean

We're not talking about wiping down the counters and vacuuming the carpet – save those for your weekend cleaning routine. When selling is your goal, you've got to scrub, dust, and polish every nook and cranny of your home. Clean behind any pictures hanging on the wall. Wash the inside and outside of all your windows. Scrub the built-up grime from the sides and backs of your major appliances. Dust the ceiling fans. If it's not spotless, clean it until it is! Prospective buyers will be impressed by your home's cleanliness, and they'll be encouraged that you've taken good care of it.

Make Necessary Repairs & Replacements

Drafty door? Cracked windows? Sagging roof? Clogged pipes? Any of these could severely damage your ability to sell your home and should be repaired or replaced. It's also important to determine which repairs are the most cost-effective – these should be your priority.

Organize Cabinets & Closets

During a home tour, prospective buyers are inevitably going to open a cabinet or closet and look around. They may just be checking on the amount of space, but you can bet they'll be unimpressed if it's in disarray. There's no greater time to finally tackle a closet or cabinet rearrangement than when prepping your home to sell. Organization, like cleanliness, shows you've treated your home with care.

Declutter & Depersonalize

Decluttering is a common part of prepping your home to sell, and it's easy to see why. Not only does it create space and open up your home, but it makes it much easier for prospective buyers to see themselves living there without all your junk in the way. Speaking of buyers seeing themselves in your home, now would be a good time to depersonalize. Photos of your kids, family heirlooms, or even just a favorite piece of furniture – all of these should be removed. Don't make prospective buyers feel like they're visiting another family; allow them to envision their own life in your home.

Consider Curb Appeal

Your home's exterior can be forgotten amid deep cleaning and decluttering everything inside. But it shouldn't be, because it's the first thing any potential buyer will see. Don't let them develop a negative opinion of your home before they even make it through the front door. Update doorknobs and locks, paint the front door, and be sure to clean outdoor furniture. Add a few colored pots or plant some flowers for a touch of vibrancy. You want your home's exterior to give potential buyers the same feeling it's given you for years: Welcome home. First time putting your home up for sale? Check out our helpful home-selling guide and make sure you get the most out of your investment.

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