Value Comes Before Price

When selling your property you need the most money you can get for it. Here are some great ideas for making sure you are on top of the REALTOR® priority list. Put together a budget for how much you would like to spend before leaving. Is it going to be a couple grand? Five hundred bucks? No matter what it is, you have to be realistic and goal oriented. What is going to be the selling point of the property? Put the most of that budget toward the goal and thin things out on the other items. Here’s a list of some lesser expensive ways to put your home first.

  1. Call a pro. In order to be sure on what people are looking for at the particular time you are selling, it is a great idea to contact a lisenced REALTOR® who not only knows the market and how it is currently trending, but how it will be changing in the coming months. It won’t do you any good to take a few months spending your budget on the back yard in the middle of the autumn season if it’ll just be covered in snow when you’re selling. Find out what people are buying and shape your property to that market.
  2. Inspect. There are no inspections that are required by law before you can sell a property but this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be done. Hiring a professional general home inspector to help you with an assessment on the beneficial and trouble spots both. If you have great windows and doors throughout your home and this is rare for the current market, you want to know so you can emphasize this! If the furnace is old but still in great shape, you may want to spend your money on other areas as old doesn’t mean bad.
  3. Paint. The first place most people begin to freshen up a property is with a nice paint job. If you aren’t seasoned at painting- CALL A PRO. It’s not uncommon to spend a couple hundred dollars per room getting a color change to something more neutral. If you already have neutral colored walls, the price can go down by just painting the same color a single coat rather than two coats to change the color. Cleaning the trim is always a great idea. If you clean the doors and trim it’s likely you will see that they only need touched up with paint rather than completely repainted. This can save you several hundreds of dollars. In the end, the home can completely transform in appearance, thus value.
  4. Touch it up. Though there are some things in housing markets that fluctuate in and out of popularity and favor, some things stay the same. Everyone seems to want a nice kitchen with lots of cabinet space. Then off to the bathrooms- if the bathrooms look modern, many other things won’t be questioned. Next is closet space. Is there enough room for expansion or is what they get all there is to be had? Finally, yard maintenance. Are there bare spots in the yard from the family dog repeatedly using the same spot to relieve themself? Have the kids decided to dig for gold at the end of your patio? These are places to focus on. Don’t assume that just because you’ve grown used to seeing things like this, it means a prospective buyer will- because they won’t. If you don’t show you’ve put things back together on the outside, they can only assume you haven’t done proper maintenance on the inside.
  5. Keep it bright and light. When repainting, be sure to choose light colors that reflect light. This gives appearance of a larger space rather than a cave-like atmosphere. Clean the walls and floors and get rid of any items that aren’t completely necessary. The less there is to clutter the scene, the more open the space appears to be and the more square footage shows rather than is covered up thus not usable. Using plants to give a feeling of outdoor freshness is great because it provides a feeling of outdoor spaciousness.
  6. Keep it together. Starting with the curb appeal we have already touched on bare spots in the laws. What about trimming the trees? Have you really looked at the bushes lately? Is a good window cleaning in order. Making a good checklist of items that you would like to get a handle on is always the place to begin. It’s just so easy to get sidetracked by a beautiful day or spend all of your time on one project and overlook another. The checklist will help keep things in line. If a bush or two have died- dit it up! Just remember to not leave a dirt pile in its place. Decorative rock or even mulch is an affordable way to enhance any part of a landscaped yard.
  7. Seasonal maintenance is different than weekly maintenance. Picking up doggie poop and blowing off the leaves from your air conditioner unit are completely separate priority items. Check out our nice list of winter maintenance duties you may want to see in our Winter Maintenance Time article. Be sure to think in both short and long term when completing maintenance. Wind up the hoses, clean out the fire pit, pick up the branches, what ever it takes to make the yard look like a pleasing place to spend time.

Do what you can to step outside of your daily life to see what is actually around you rather than what you’ve built your home around you to become. Everyone will see the property differently from you, to your friends and family, to professional contractors, to a prospective homebuyer. Take the help when it comes, stay positive on the experience and remember that everyone gets stressed doing this phase of property sales. It’s normal and it will all be a memory soon if it’s done right. Make the best of it!

May 18 Central Illinois Homes Guide – Available Online!

Laurie Pearl of Keller Williams Premier Realty presents this charming and beautiful Peoria Heights home within walking distance to the Peoria Heights shopping and dining experiences. This house features updates and much more! Link for more information and photos inside on page 7.

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Get the exclusive look at the May 18, 2018 Interactive Central Illinois Homes Guide Online before it hits stands on Friday! You can also share it on your social media universe! View here!

It’s Tax Season… Use Your Refund to Jump Start Your Down Payment Savings!

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*from Keeping Current Matters

According to data released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Americans can expect an estimated average refund of $2,840 this year when filing their taxes. This is down slightly from the average refund of $2,895, last year.

Tax refunds are often thought of as ‘extra money’ that can be used toward larger goals; for anyone looking to buy a home in 2018, this can be a great jump start toward a down payment!

The map below shows the average tax refund Americans received last year by state. (The refunds received for the 2017 tax year should continue to reflect these numbers as the new tax code will go into effect for 2018 tax filings.)

It's Tax Season… Use Your Refund to Jump Start Your Down Payment Savings! | Keeping Current Matters

Many first-time buyers believe that a 20% down payment is required to qualify for a mortgage. Programs from the Federal Housing Authority, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all allow for down payments as low as 3%, with Veterans Affairs Loans allowing many veterans to purchase a home with 0% down.

If you started your down payment savings with your tax refund check this year, how close would you be to a 3% down payment?

The map below shows what percentage of a 3% down payment is covered by the average tax refund by taking into account the median price of homes sold by state.

It's Tax Season… Use Your Refund to Jump Start Your Down Payment Savings! | Keeping Current Matters

The darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to homeownership! For those in Alabama looking to purchase their first homes, their tax refund could potentially get them 69% closer to that dream!

Bottom Line

Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task. But the more you know about what’s required, the more prepared you can be to make the best decision for you and your family! This tax season, your refund could be your key to homeownership!

February 9 Central IL Homes Guide – Online!

Want to make a quick move to a new home?
Ready to own the new home you have always dreamed of?

You can find one of these fantastic homes right here in our February 9 Central Illinois Homes Guide! Over 570 homes and properties featured in this edition.

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The Downside of Zillow

*From Sarah D’Hondt via lightersideofrealestate.com

Let me just go ahead and say it bluntly: stop listening to Zillow.

Zillow itself even encourages buyers, sellers and homeowners to conduct other research such as “getting a comparative market analysis (CMA) from a real estate agent” and “getting an appraisal from a professional appraiser.”

Sure, Zillow’s Zestimates® are quick, easy, and free. The point? Just let a local real estate professional (who will actually see your home’s unique features in person) determine its fair market value.

Let’s dive in a bit further, shall we?

First, I don’t believe that Zillow is inherently evil. In other words, they don’t set out to intentionally mislead the general public. In fact, they do have their positive points. Nevertheless, what is the net effect when buyers and sellers use Zillow? They often get inaccurate information, rely on it (even swear by it), thus causing migraines for REALTORS and agents everywhere.

See, for those of you not working in the real estate industry, you assume that Zillow is a trusted resource to find out what your property is worth. You assume the information is factual, based on homes that have sold in your area (also known as comparables or “comps”), and therefore are to be considered true market value. I’m here to explain to you why this website is feeding you misinformation and why it should not be trusted.

To put it simply…

The fine folks at Zillow don’t have the slightest clue about your market. There are approximately 43,000 zip codes in the United States, and each one has variables that affect property values, such as: school district, knowledge of declining or flourishing areas, property taxes, proximity to interstates, hospitals, attractions and shopping, and bodies of water to name a few.

Let’s pretend that you live in a 3 bedroom, brick ranch with a basement in “Perfect Town, USA”. When you plug your address into the search bar on Zillow, you will see a bunch of dots near your home. Those dots represent other homes that have sold, have foreclosed, or that are for sale or for rent. When you click on the dots, it will show you what the home sold for and the dot on your own home is just an average (also known as a “Zestimate”) of what all the others sold for, regardless of how it compares to yours.

Let’s say that half of those homes are colonials, are vinyl sided and not made of brick, don’t have a basement, or have 4 bedrooms or more, or are on the water, while yours is across the street from the water. Those are huge differences in the world of real estate, and especially to the appraiser who will seal the fate of what your home will inevitably sell for.

Zillow does not account for the condition of your home.

Your home may have been recently remodeled and has as updated kitchen and bathrooms, a new roof, new windows, new furnace, etc… and some of the homes being used as comps are stuck in the 1980’s.

It could also be the opposite and you may see an inflated value put on your home because others in the area have sold for more because they are new construction or have been renovated. Just because your neighbors’ homes sold for $500K doesn’t mean yours will too.

Appraisers need to compare apples to apples, so unless you live in a neighborhood where all the homes are identical cookie cutter houses, don’t ever expect to sell for what your neighbors sold for. Values change with every season, and the only true indicator of what your home is worth is the buyer. A REALTOR can run a thorough comparative market analysis (CMA) for you and give you a pretty accurate value and suggested listing price, but what a buyer is willing to offer you is ultimately what your home is worth.

What a buyer is willing to pay is based on many variables too, including the location, the updates and amenities your house includes and how much competition you have. If you live in an area where it’s a sellers’ market, it means you have little competition and more buyers in the area than homes for sale. This is when you want to list your home, and can expect top dollar, as indicated by the buyer!

This doesn’t mean you ask an outrageous amount, because anything over-priced will not sell. If you live in an area that is a buyer’s market, then you need to compete with many other homes for sale and can expect your home to sit on the market longer. No matter what city you live in or how the market is in your area, one thing remains the same:

Zillow is not correct and you need to call your REALTOR today to find out the value of your home! It takes a few minutes, it’s FREE and, most importantly, it will be accurate!

December 15 Central IL Homes Guide – Available Online

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our December 15 Central IL Homes Guide online! Over 675 active properties are featured in this issue. A big thank you, Happy Holidays, and a very Happy New Year to all of our advertisers, loyal readers, and subscribers!

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December 1 Central IL Homes Guide

Our December 1st Central IL Homes Guide is now available online. You can check out the digital version before it hits stands tomorrow, Friday, 12/01/17.

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