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Advice For Sellers

If you are thinking of selling your home, chances are you're caught up in a mass of emotions. You may be looking forward to moving up to a new home or facing the uncertainty of a major move across country. You may be reluctant to leave your memories behind or eager to start new and exciting adventures. Remember, I am here to help you with any of your needs.

Getting Your House Ready to Sell

Want to Start Off With a High Sales Price? Beware!

Types of Listing Contracts

Details of a Listing Contract

Listing Commissions and Related Issues

The Listing Agent & Marketing Your Home

The Listing Agent - Marketing Your House to Other Agents

The Listing Agent - Marketing Your House to Homebuyers

Showing Your House to Home Buyers

Handle With Care!

Many people rank moving as one of the top five causes of stress. How you handle your children before and during the sale of your home can reduce some of their stress - and yours!

Experts recommend the following to make this a smooth transition:

  • Children should only be told of a planned move once the decision has been made. Discussing the possibility of a move beforehand only causes unnecessary anxiety, according to many child psychologists.
  • Minimize the stress your children feel when moving by getting them involved in their favorite activities - sports, academic or artistic - BEFORE the move actually occurs. Children can use the Internet to find out about their favorite activities, events or teams, as well as other interesting facts about their new area.
  • Another way to help children adjust to a new environment is to allow them to become familiar with the area before the move occurs. Take a vacation, or short trip to your new location to allow them to get to know the area. That way, it will seem familiar and reassuring once they've moved.
  • And finally, let your children stay with relatives or friends during the actual packing and loading process. That will relieve the stress of seeing their possessions packed into boxes and taken away.

Is a 1031 Exchange Right For You?

You may have heard of people "exchanging" their investment property to avoid huge tax bites out of their sale proceeds. An exchange of real property can be a valuable tool to defer or avoid capital gains tax on real estate transactions.

Section 1031 of the IRS Code offers real estate investors a great investment opportunity to build wealth and save taxes. By completing a 1031 exchange, you can dispose of investment property, use all of the equity to acquire replacement investment property, defer the capital gains tax that would ordinarily be paid, and leverage all of you equity into a replacement property.

Replacement property acquired in an exchange must be of "like-kind" or similar to the property being sold. The following are examples of properties that could be eligible for a 1031 exchange:

  • Single Family Rental
  • Multi-Family Rentals
  • Farms/Ranches
  • Raw Land
  • Retail Offices
  • Motels/Hotels
  • Golf Course
  • Industrial
  • Leases of 30 years or more

Properties NOT eligible under 1031 include foreign property and primary residences.

1031 exchanges are primarily designed for people interested in investment properties, not for typical home sellers and buyers looking to purchase a residence.

After the SOLD Sign

You've probably spent so much time and effort on making sure your home sells for the best price possible that you may not realize there's more to do! Now that the SOLD sign is in your yard, here are some things you can do to get ready for the move.

Stop by your local post office to pick up a change of address form so your mail will be forwarded to your new home. If you're not sure of your next permanent address, consider renting a post office box for a few months to guarantee your mail delivery will not be interrupted.

Be sure to notify anyone who provides you with service at your home that you are moving - landscapers, home cleaners or window washers. If you are moving out of the area, ask for recommendations of service providers you could use at your new home.

It's time to decide now which belongings have sentimental value, and which you can part with. Set a weekend aside to have a moving sale and arrange for a local charity to come by and pick up whatever doesn't sell. This will make it much easier to pack and will also save you money, since movers generally charge by the pound.

Getting started on these activities will ensure that you and your family experience a smooth transition to your next property.

Quick Tips!

  • Call and schedule a date for termination of utilities, phone and cable services so you don't pay for service after you move.
  • Give children a job to do during moving preparations. Boxing up their books or toys gets them involved with, and excited about, the move.
  • Exchanges usually involve slightly greater costs than sales, so not every transaction should be an exchange
  • Your personal tax advisor can offer information specific to your situation and help you determine if a 1031 is right for you.
  • Don't pack your child's security blanket or other favorite toy. It should travel with your child instead.
  • Moving during the middle of the school year allows your children to make new friends right away.

17 Simple Things to Make Your Home More Marketable:

  • Make sure your entranceway says "Hey, look at me!"
  • Paint (or touch up) exterior, and repair screens and windows.
  • Check A/C and heating systems.
  • Fix leaky faucets, toilets, and faulty lights.
  • Repair wall cracks, re-caulk bathrooms and kitchen.
  • Mow lawn, edge driveway and walkways
  • Throw out junk from garage and storage areas.
  • Prune dead limbs from trees.
  • Clean your windows.
  • Vacuum drapes and carpets.
  • Clear out closets.
  • Remove excess furniture.
  • Ensure windows, doors, and locks work smoothly.
  • Weed flowerbeds and trim shrubs.
  • If you have a pool, make it crystal clear.
  • Clean lawn furniture.
  • Keep cats and dogs out of visitors' way.

Choosing a REALTOR®:

Buying or selling a home is a major decision in your life. Before you begin, find a professional you can trust. Your REALTOR® will be an important advisor during one of the most personal and exciting experiences of your life. It is OK to be very careful about choosing someone you feel comfortable with.

Look for the word "REALTOR®"

The first factor to understand is the difference between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent. The word "REALTOR®" can only be used by professionals who are members of the National Association of REALTOR®s (and, locally, the Houston Association of REALTOR®s).

In order to be a member, an agent must agree to abide by a strict code of ethics based on values of competency, fairness, and high integrity. Among other strict standards, REALTOR®s can not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

An agent who has become a REALTOR® has committed to a higher standard of service and professionalism.

Interview potential REALTOR®'s

When you meet a potential REALTOR®, be ready to interview him or her just as you would interview any person you might be hiring for a job. Here are some good questions to ask:

  • How long have you worked in real estate? Is real estate your full-time job? Real estate is a complex business. Experience and commitment definitely count.
  • Are you a licensed REALTOR®? Are you a member of the Houston Association of REALTOR®s? Do you belong to the HAR MLS? Agents who cannot actually call themselves REALTOR®s have not sworn to uphold the profession's code of ethics. REALTOR® members of HAR have access to all of the most current information and training on the real estate business. Members of HAR's MLS (Multiple Listing Service) can search through thousands of properties in Greater Houston to find a list of those that meet your specific needs.
  • How many buyers and sellers have you worked with this year? How many of them have "closed a deal" with you? "Closing" on a home means seeing the process through to the final details of the contract and the transaction. The average agent closes 10 to 15 transactions a year. A REALTOR® who closes on a lot of homes may be able to help you buy or sell a property much quicker than others. On the other hand, a REALTOR® who only closes a few transactions a year may have more time to spend with you. The choice is yours.
  • Do you have any assistants who work with you? What do they do? Some REALTOR®s have a team of staff people to help meet customers' needs faster and more efficiently. If your REALTOR® does enough business to have assistants, make sure that the REALTOR® personally handles any negotiations including the contract and closing. It is perfectly OK for an assistant to handle paperwork and home tours.
  • Do you have any designations, certifications or special training? REALTOR®s learn as much as they can about the real estate business with continuing education. Some kinds of education result in special designations for the REALTOR®. For example, if you are interested in a historic home, there are agents who have special designations and understand the unique market conditions of the older home.
  • How do you stay in touch with your clients? If your REALTOR® prefers to send e-mail, but you want to be called on the telephone, the two of you will need to work out an agreeable communication plan. Choose your REALTOR® carefully, but once you have chosen, stay with that person. Do not sign a buyer's agreement at your first meeting with a REALTOR®. Wait until you are certain you have made the best choice.
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