Take the stress out of your home inspection.

by Chuck Roper 22. January 2018 07:21

 

Selling your home can be stressful.  And, no time during the selling process is more stressful than the inspection period.  Sellers wait on the side line while the buyer’s inspector goes through their home with a fine tooth comb.  Afterward, a repair list is submitted with all the items which the seller had no knowledge even existed.  Here are a few things from a Realtor’s point of view to help reduce inspection anxiety.

1.       Consider a pre-listing inspection.  There’s no rule that says a seller cannot hire his/her own inspector before the home is listed.  The seller can learn about hidden defects beforehand and either repair them or disclose them upfront to the buyer.

2.       Do a thorough cleaning.  A gleaming house sends a message that the home is lovingly cared for.  There is less reason to suspect deferred maintenance or problems caused by neglect.

3.       Check the windows.  Inspectors are trained to make sure windows and doors are fully operable.  Check to make sure windows open and close properly and that there are no cracks, broken sashes or broken window seals.

4.       Do the outlets work?  Inspectors will test electrical outlets, GCFI’s and the electrical panel, most of which are outside my scope of knowledge.  What I can do is to find out if the outlets are working and replace ones that don’t.

5.       Complete items on your repair list.  Do you have a “honey-do” list?  Do light bulbs need replacing or drains need declogging?  In the long run, it saves time, money and anxiety to make those minor repairs before listing the home. 

6.       Get current with your seasonal maintenance.   If you have missed a few seasonal maintenance checks, now is a good time to schedule your HVAC, lawn irrigation or other regular checkups.   While you’re at it, change the battery in your smoke detectors and replace your air filters.

7.       Clear away piles of stuff.  The inspector needs clear access to HVAC systems, plumbing stacks and basement walls/foundation.   Clear away anything that would prevent the inspector from being able to access the attic or reach mechanical systems or inspect the foundation. 

Do you have other suggestions for reducing home inspection anxiety?  I’d love to hear them.

 

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Selling Your Home

2018 Real Estate Predictions

by Chuck Roper 8. January 2018 09:17

2017 was a positive year for our St. Louis real estate market and we are well positioned for continued prosperity in 2018.   Median sales prices rose +4.4% in the three primary counties we list and sell properties (St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles).  This compares favorably with +3.2% national price appreciation as reported by Realtor.com.  Residential home sales rose +1.9% in our area, compared with +2.5% growth nationally. 

 Looking ahead, Realtor.com published 3 Housing Trends which are relevant to our St. Louis market.

  1. Inventory is expected to increase - Low inventory has constrained sales growth in recent years.  Now, with high consumer confidence, solid home price appreciation and a vibrant economy, home owners are projected to get off the fence and sell.  This will increase sales in 2018.
  2. Price appreciation is expected to slow – Higher inventory will begin to normalize supply and demand, resulting in a more balanced seller – buyer relationship.  One caveat is entry level home prices, which Realtor.com predicts will continue to rise as demand will continue to outweigh supply.
  3. Millennials will gain market share in all home segments - Millennials are the largest population segment.  Realtor.com predicts Millennials may constitute 43% of all home buyers taking out mortgages in 2018.  This is a good sign for us; we need first time home buyers to spur home ownership rates and push sales up the pipeline.

To read the 2018 Realtor.com Housing Forecast, click here.

 

 

 

 

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General

Do You DECK THE HALLS a little or a lot?

by Chuck Roper 30. November 2017 10:54

'Tis the season for holiday decorating!  For my own home, I say "the more the merrier."  I love coming home to a house twinkling with lights, wreaths on every window and planters stuffed with mixed evergreen branches.  There’s nothing more pleasing than the aroma of fresh cut pine, fir or cedar meandering through the home.   Oh, how I love garlands of holly, ivy, magnolia and mistletoe on my mantel and dining table.

However, when I put on my Realtor hat, I remind myself "Less is More."  Too much of a good thing is distracting and confusing to buyers.  Nothing turns off a buyer more than cramped halls, obstructed entry ways and rooms overstuffed with holiday tchotchke.   So, if your house is for sale this holiday season, DO decorate and DO practice a little restraint.  Instead of using every color of the rainbow, choose one or two predominant colors and maintain consistency throughout your house.  My personal favorite is green with gold or green with silver.  It’s fresh and there is so much variety in evergreen cultivars that you you’ll never get tired of it.  I also think red is festive and appropriate for light filled homes with white walls and neutral furniture.

What do you think, a lot of holiday décor or a little?

Janet Horlacher

Principal, Janet McAfee Real Estate

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General | Home Selling Tips | Selling Your Home

Wayne and Ben Join Janet McAfee Real Estate

by Chuck Roper 13. November 2017 10:27

Saint Louis, November, 2017

The team of Wayne Norwood and Ben Patton have joined luxury leader, Janet McAfee Real Estate.  Known as Wayne and Ben within the real estate community, the team operates their own boutique entity, “Finest Homes of St. Louissm, a registered brand focused entirely on luxury homes within the Saint Louis central corridor.  Wayne is the Senior Partner and Broker.  Ben, a licensed Realtor, creates and manages all marketing for the team.

Wayne Norwood, Broker Associate
A former corporate Sales and Marketing Executive, Wayne has proven levels of highest achievement and success. His background ranked him in the Top 1% of two prior fields, wholesale apparel, and consumer packaged goods, and has nearly $1.0 Billion in lifetime sales. A native of New York, Wayne graduated from The University of Rochester, cum laude. Prior to making St. Louis home, Wayne lived in New York City, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.

Ben Patton, Realtor & Business Analyst
A native of Columbia, Missouri, Ben graduated from the University of Missouri, where he majored in Finance, with an emphasis in Real Estate. He is a strong Mizzou fan and a staunch supporter of his Alma Mater.

Ben moved to St. Louis after graduation where he obtained his Real Estate License, and started his career at Gladys Manion Real Estate, in 2009. He teamed up with Wayne, and the two became the company’s most successful Team in its 80+ year history. In 2017 Wayne and Ben joined Janet McAfee Real Estate, the St. Louis region’s premier luxury broker, to springboard ‘Finest Homes’ into the next decade with the best resources and platform to surpass client expectations.

Ben sits on the Young Professional Board of Friends of Wings, through Barnes Jewish Christian Hospital, and is a volunteer Big Brother for over 8 years. Ben’s passions include international travel, his bulldog Gus, attending sporting events, and spending time with his family. Ben resides in the Central West End.

For additional details, go to www.janetmcaee.com/waynenorwood.

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General | Success Begins Here

4 Holiday Home Selling Myths You Can Ignore

by Chuck Roper 13. November 2017 06:27

It may surprise you to learn that the holidays are a good time to sell a home.  Popular opinion tells us buyers are too caught up with travel, social engagements and gift exchanges to look for homes.  The truth is … we sell homes every season of the year.  Holiday buyers are enthusiastic and emotional; they are serious buyers, less distracted by busy work schedules.  Often, they are more motivated to achieve house buying goals during this season of homecoming.     

Myth #1   No one is looking

The reality is that when work commitments slow down around the holidays, buyers look online.  Corporate transferees schedule home buying trips over the holidays.  Holiday buyers have a sense of urgency to write an acceptable offer before the end of the year.     

Myth #2   Holiday decorations deter sales. 

There is nothing like an abundance of lights, a fire in the hearth, the smell of fresh pine and a festive atmosphere to make a home look its best.  As long as it’s not overdone, holiday décor makes a house warm and inviting, which appeals to buyer emotions.

Myth  #3   Spring market brings higher prices.

The fact is prices are more a function of supply and demand (market dynamics) and less a function of the season.  Inventory is lower over the holidays; sellers face less competition; and serious buyers are quicker to make a strong offer.   We don’t have a crystal ball to predict Spring prices, but we do know that 2017 has been strong year and there are qualified buyers actively looking now.

Myth #4   Holiday showings are just for “sightseers”

A person who devotes time and energy to view properties during the busiest time of the year is a serious buyer. Sightseers or people just seeking decorating tips are more apt to tour when nothing else is going on.  Serious buyers are out looking during the holidays.

Janet Horlacher, Janet McAfee Real Estate

 

Sell Now or Wait Until Spring?

by Chuck Roper 30. October 2017 06:10

Around mid-November, I am often asked whether it is a good time to bring a home on the market.  I consider the following:

1.       Inventory is Low = List Now.  Residential real estate is driven by supply and demand.  When supply is low, as it is now, Sellers have less competition for buyers.  When two or more buyers are competing for the same property, the price is going up.

2.    Inventory of Comparable Properties = Need More Data.  While inventory is low across the entire market, we must look at specifics.  What are inventory levels in your price range and in your neighborhood?  Your Realtor will drill down to only the areas and  price ranges, which are considered comparable.  We do have excess inventory in some categories, so you should be well informed before making the final call.

3.       Pool or outdoor amenity is an essential selling feature = Wait until Spring.   If your swimming pool or outdoor living feature is an essential reason for anyone to buy your home, you should wait until it is looking its best.   If waiting is not an option, I highly recommend providing photos which show just how lovely it looks.

4.       High lot value/possible tear down = List Now.   New home inventory is low and builders are anxiously scouring the market for good lots in good locations.  If your home could be a tear down, take advantage of current conditions and list now.

5.       Condo or Villa = List Now.  Currently, demand is strong for condos, villas and lifestyle communities.

6.       People buy homes every season of the year = List Now.  Remember, people will buy homes in every season.  Job transfers, promotions, marriages, changes in family situation happen all year.  A desirable, well priced home will sell any and every day of the year.

Janet Horlacher, Principal, Janet McAfee Inc.

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General | Real Estate Market

How Often Do You Want to Hear from your Realtor?

by Chuck Roper 16. October 2017 08:27

When a client is dissatisfied with their Realtor, the number one complaint is often lack of communication.   Complaints include lack of feedback on showings, lack of market updates and inability to reach the agent in a timely fashion.   

The frequency of communication should be decided up front when the agent first starts working with a buyer or seller.  There’s no right answer: some clients like to hear from their agent daily; some prefer an automatic alert for all new listings; others prefer a weekly recap of activity.  The important thing is to set up the expectation and then be consistent.

Another communication strategy to establish up front is how you would like to be contacted.  For me, there is no substitute for personal contact.  But I recognize that face to face meetings every day is not realistic.  Decide up front if you prefer phone calls, emails or texts.  Some successful agents schedule a detailed email and phone conversation at a specific time every week. 

How often and which method do you prefer to communicate?

Janet Horlacher, Principal

Janet McAfee Inc.

 

 

Multiple Contracts - 5 Tips for a Successful Outcome

by Chuck Roper 18. September 2017 09:21

This has been a year of multiple contracts on well-priced homes in desirable areas.  The buyers who lose out don’t understand why their near full price offer wasn’t accepted.  They wonder why the seller didn’t give them a second chance to improve their offer.   I hear “I would have paid more.”  In order to coach buyer’s agents on multiple offer situations, I encourage them to look at it from the seller’s perspective and consider the following:

  1. Use terms consistent with the Seller’s needs.  Does the seller have a desired closing date?  Are there fixtures, draperies or other attachments which the seller wants to exclude?   Provide significant earnest money to show the buyer’s commitment.  These are ‘win-win’ considerations which can make your offer appealing to the seller without compromising the buyer’s rights.
  2. Fewer Contingencies make your offer more desirable for the Seller.  Today’s standard Residential Sale Contract is written with terms favorable to the buyer, with rights to terminate or renegotiate the offer.   I often hear that a buyer missed out not because of the price, but because “the other offer had better terms.”  Consider removing the “walk away,” which is the buyer’s right to terminate the contract after the building inspection.  If the buyer is fully vetted and approved upfront, can you submit the offer without a finance contingency or appraisal contingency?  Can you limit the building inspection to only structural or environmental issues?  The last thing a seller wants is to accept an offer, take the home off the market and have the contract terminated weeks later. 
  3. Consider an Escalation Clause.   In highly competitive situations, buyers may offer to pay a certain dollar figure over any competing bid up to a maximum amount. 
  4. Timing is Important.  It’s important to find out from the listing agent when the seller is going to review the offers.  In our age of technology, being ‘too late’ is simply inexcusable.  Conversely, if you submit an offer days in advance of the seller’s response time, you risk having your contract used as leverage to recruit higher offers. 
  5. Follow the “First and Best” Principle - Put Your Best Foot Forward.  You can’t expect a Seller to revisit lesser offers if they have a wonderful contract in hand from someone else.  Buyers may not get a second chance, so submit your strongest offer without any remorse if someone else submits a higher and cleaner one.  

Janet Horlacher, Principal

Janet McAfee Inc.

 

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Tips for Buying a Home

6 Steps for a Smooth Appraisal

by Chuck Roper 23. August 2017 10:09

We have an expression in real estate “you need to sell your home twice; first to the home buyer and second to the appraiser.”  These days, most sale contracts contain a finance contingency or an appraisal contingency or both.  If the home doesn’t appraise for the contract price, the seller may be in a position of lowering the price or letting the deal die.  Both are painful alternatives, especially after a willing, able and qualified buyer has been procured.

 

Here are steps your Realtor can take to make sure the appraisal process goes smoothly:

 

1.       Treat the Appraiser’s Appointment like a Property Viewing  – Turn on all the lights, play classical music on the home’s internal audio system, play a movie on mute in the home theatre and have the pool fountains flowing.  Treat the appraiser’s visit like a showing; present the home in its best possible light with all amenities in full viewing.

 

2.       Provide Access to All Rooms – The appraiser needs to view all floors and measure the home.  A locked room prevents the appraiser from doing his/her job and will likely necessitate a return trip.

 

3.       Provide a Special Features Sheet and Improvements List – The appraiser is comparing the home to “comparable sales,” but there may be additions, updates, improvements and other amenities which make the home more valuable than the others.  Those upgrades may not be visible upon a cursory view, so it’s important to put them in writing and provide the list to the appraiser.

 

4.       Give your CMA to the Appraiser – More information is helpful to the appraiser.  Provide the comparable sales analysis which was used to price the home.  Inform the appraiser if you received competitive offers and if they had escalation clauses.  The appraiser will consider all relevant information.

 

5.       Complete All Repairs Prior to Appraiser’s Visit – If the sale contract calls for repairs to be made, complete them prior to the appointment.  They can impact the value of the home and necessitate a return visit by the appraiser.

 

6.       Keep Pets Away – Man’s best friend is not a friend to the appraiser, even if he/she is a pet lover.  The pet can be a distraction or an annoyance.  You don’t want your appraiser to leave the premises early because they are afraid of your pets.

 

Janet Horlacher

 

Principal, Janet McAfee Real Estate

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Home Selling Tips | Selling Your Home

2017 St Louis Real Estate Market Update

by Chuck Roper 16. August 2017 08:44

With six months of 2017 residential sales data on the books, we examine pricing and segment trends in our St. Louis Real Estate Midyear Report.

In the first half of the year, residential unit sales have increased 2% and prices are up 4%.   Inventory is still hovering at critically low levels.  The lack of inventory is holding back unit sales in some of our strongest neighborhoods.  Low inventory also leads to a seller’s market with intense competition and multiple offers for well-priced homes, a phenomenon true in the middle and low price ranges.  Conversely, the luxury market (defined as homes over $1 million) has ample inventory.  In fact, we are seeing over 8 months of inventory in million+ dollar homes.  While luxury unit sales are modestly growing, prices for luxury homes are flat and in some cases compressed.  Older homes are especially subject to downward price pressure as luxury buyers demand newer floor plans, mint condition and the latest and greatest amenities. 

Click here to read our 2017 Midyear Market Report.

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General | Real Estate Market

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