Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Selling Agent Interview Questions

So your thinking about putting your home on the market and don't know where to start. For many this isn't a problem as you probably have a great real estate agent like myself :), or a friend/family member that can assist in this process. For those who do not however its very important that you meet with multiple agents and do you homework.

Selling your home is important and while we as agents can not perform miracles and shouldn't be expected to sell your 200K home for 250K or sell it within a week when your neighbors average time is 150 Days, we sure can make the process much easier! Its important that you find an agent your comfortable with, trust and know is working hard on your behalf, even when the market is slow.

Here are some great questions to ask your agent as you begin the interview process:

1)Are you proficient with and do you use the internet to market your listings?

2)Are you available via email / cell phone?

3)Will you provide two or three references?

4)What marketing plans do you have for my home?

5)Can you recommend a great mortgage company or loan officer for interested buyers? Do you pre-qualify them?

6)Are you a full time hard working agent or part time?

7)Do you speak any additional languages?

8)Number of homes sold / volume this past year?


10)Do you work with a team or alone?

11)What is your commission?

12)Is there a cancellation policy?

13)How long is the listing period?

These are a handful of great questions for you the next time that you decide to sell your home and need to meet a realtor. In addition to the above, any agent that you meet should be prepared with a market analysis of your home's value (assuming you gave them information prior to meeting) and the average market time in your area to set expectations.

Use the above and you'll be less surprised and better prepared when you move ahead with an agent!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Advantage Realty Group Blog: Home Improvements with the Best Return on Investme...

Advantage Realty Group Blog: Home Improvements with the Best Return on Investme...: "Hello everyone, I hope you enjoyed learning about some the least effective improvements when looking to get the best bang for your buck whe..."

Home Improvements with the Best Return on Investment!

Hello everyone, I hope you enjoyed learning about some the least effective improvements when looking to get the best bang for your buck when updating or remodeling your home! Today, I'm going to share with you the best options and best returns on your money when it comes to home improvements.

As I stated last week, many improvements are regionally based and for the most part, the improvements that I'll share today will be reflective of the area that we all live here in the mid-west. When it comes to putting your hard earned money back into your home, wouldn't it be useful to have a check-list of those places that will help increase the value of your home? Don't make the mistake of blindly assuming that every improvement made brings an automatic 100% return on your money, it doesn't happen. Educated yourself and you'll save lots of heart-ache in the future.

Best Improvements based on Average Return

1) Clean / de-clutter - Simple right? Well this while seemingly basic is the least expensive and has the best return on your time and money if applicable. If you are selling your home, de-clutter and clean it. If you must, rent a storage unit to put your excess until the home is sold. Return on investment is over 100%.

2) Lighten and Brighten - Replace any burnt out bulbs, use higher wattage bulbs if possible. Return over 100%.

3) Landscaping - The yard is so vital when making a first impression. If you have a single family home or town-house, make sure the entry-way is appealing and the lawn is landscaped, the grass is green, bushes trimmed and weads pulled. If necessary, hire a professional. This is one area that a minimal investment of time and money will also give you well over a 100% return.

4) Paint the Interior - Repair any damaged walls, patch holes and cracks and touch up any areas that show wear and tear. If you don't have neutral earth tone colors, scale back on your wild side tastes and try to appeal to the masses.

Okay now all of the above I just shared are very basic and in many cases hardly doing any damage if any to your pocket book. Now lets get on to some more hefty duty improvements. Ready to take your wallet out, we're going to spend some money but don't worry, these options will be adding good value to the home :)

5) Wood Deck Addition - A deck gives an owner the opportunity to enjoy more of their home and enjoy the outdoors. It makes for a great place to entertain and without a deck or nice patio, a buyer certainly will add that to their to do list of expenses if they want to buy your home. An average deck will give you an approximate return on your investment of 85%.

6) Vinyl Siding Replacement - Curb appeal plays a huge role in this one and if your siding is in need of updating or replacement, this project is a great and not a terribly expensive project to make a big difference in the home's appeal. Its low maintenance and can last 25 years, gives the home a new look and the average job is less than 11K and returns over 86% of the investment.

7) Steel Entry Door Replacement - Ever walked up to a home with a very basic door and to an extent, thought in advance that the home you enter may also similarily be quite basic? How about the opposite? Have you walked up to a home with a gorgeous entry-way door, didn't you expect the home to follow the trend? First impressions mean everything and for less than most projects this will give you over a 100% return on your money and can make the home more energy efficient.

8) Attic Bedroom - Homeowners that turn a dusty old attic into a fuctional bedroom can recoup nearly 80% of their investment and put a wow factor in their home and can utilize the space that can possibly come in handy to a growing family. The attic also is usually the least expensive of space additions to the home as its often easier to budget than adding on to a home.

9) Mid-Range Bathroom Remodel - You may remember in the past blog that a bathroom addition isn't a great option for a return due to its expense. That is true but when it comes to a current bathroom, giving it a make-over is a great choice! Replace vanity, flooring or fixtures and see a dramatic difference in your bathroom and recoup nearly 80% or more of the investment.

10) Minor Kitchen Update - Kitchens can be very expensive and its important to note, I am not referring to a complete remodel here or your expense and return will not be what your looking for. What can be done however is adding backspash to a wall, resurfacing or painting cabinets if they are getting dull or old. Changing out fixtures, redoing caulk or cleaning grout and adding hardware to cabinetry. A fresh coat of paint to brighten things goes a long way here as well.

11)Windows- If you have old windows and even more specifically wooden windows then its time to consider this invesment. Not only are windows very important when it comes to all important energy efficiency but they add value to the home. Now a days you can even qualify for many goverment tax credits by upgrading to a more energy efficient window!

12) Flooring - Repair and refinish hardwood flooring or damaged floors or cover with neutral, wall to wall carpet. Consider upgrading vinyl flooring if applicable in areas like the foyer, kitchen and baths when the budget allows.

These are a few of the most popular and best options to invest your money back into your home. While a home is for most of us the largest single investment we will make in out lives, its worth taking great care and pride in making sure your investment stays updated and current.

Hope you found today's blog and this two part series on home improvements useful! I will be enjoying a vacation and look forward to blogging to you in a week. Until then, have a great time updating your homes!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Advantage Realty Group Blog: Home Improvements - Best and Worst Projects for yo...

Advantage Realty Group Blog: Home Improvements - Best and Worst Projects for yo...: "Ever had one of the dilemnas below? I'm thinking of putting my home on the market and want to know what areas I should improve to get the b..."

Home Improvements - Best and Worst Projects for your Money!

Ever had one of the dilemnas below?

I'm thinking of putting my home on the market and want to know what areas I should improve to get the best return on my money?..or..I'm not moving, but have a little extra money available that I would like to invest back into my home, where should I invest it for the best return on its value?

The above are common scenarios that many of us may encounter each year and yet don't quite know the best answer to the questions. Today I'm going to discuss with you what some of the WORST improvements based on return that you can make to your home. In my upcoming blog, you will hear what the BEST improvements are that you can make to your home based on expected return, so stay tuned!

Some of the Worst Home Improvement Projects for Your Money (note that these are best examples here in the Mid-West. Regionally this varies significantly)

1) Home Office Remodel - Owners remodeling a home office can recoup on average less than half of the investment made into this. Reason being is that while the office may be very important and vital to you, to another buyer that may not work from home or do it as often, that space is not as important to them. Some may see it as an added expense to revert it to a much needed bedroom, or space with some other need in mind.

2) Swimming Pools - Let me first start by saying that during an extremely warm and humid summer like we are having this year, I'd love a pool! That being said, pools can be very costly and are not easy to maintain. While the pool that you install may get great use from the children or by you and your family, the next owner of your home may not see it as a positive. Pools can cost from close to 30-40 grand when you factor in the fence, pool, landscaping etc. to as much as 100K or more. Knowing that this investment is best returned in the joy it brought to you and your family and not in its resale will save you much distress later on.

3) New Roof - Yes we all know that a roof is paramount to your home and its vital that
its maintained and in good condition. A poor roof is instantlly seen by a buyer and the cost to replace the roof or put a new layer of shingles on it is directly proportionate to their offer. However, that being said, when a new roof is put on, don't expect the value of your home to be reflected in the price you paid for your fancy new architectural shingles. Its one of those investments that protect the well being of the rest of your home and is expected to be in quality condition when a buyer purchases your home.

4) Sunroom Addition - Who doesn't love a sunroom? I know I do but the cost to have one built on a home generally only reflects in a 51% return on your investment. Want another option that has been gaining popularity? Adding on to a family room or building a guest/mother in law suite.

5) Garage Addition - Homeowners who build an addition to a garage can expect a return on your investment of less than 62%. The versatility of a garage doesn't always reflect its high cost. In order to do it properly your employing contractors to lay a slab, construct walls, build a roof, install electric and more. This all adds up and at the end of the day, the money could have been better invested else where in the home.

6) Bathroom Addition - But I thought bathrooms were extremely key when selling homes you say?? Yes they are, but updating a bathroom and building out a new one are two different things. While adding a bathroom if there are few can certainly help sell the home, the costs can be very high. Realize that unlike a close space, when you build out a bathroom, you are now reconfiguring plumbing, electrical, air conditioning, heat, fixtures and more. Often this build-out can be ten's of thousands and the return is generally much less.

Hope you found the above blog today useful. If not today, possibly in the future you'll need to invest into your home and knowing what not to do, can often lead to a more successful sale by using your money for better alternatives. These better options we'll discuss in my upcoming blog!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I Think I Can

If you think you are beaten you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't;
If you want to win but think you can't;
It's almost a cinch you won't.

If you think you'll lose you're lost;
For out of this world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will;
It's all in a state of mind.

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger and faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.

I love the above message and challenge you to print this off and put it in a frame and make an effort to read it when you need some motivation! Have a great day :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010