Today, selling a home is quite a complex process that requires many decisions and thoughts to consider. To help you get started in learning about the home selling process, please feel free to browse through the topics below.

If you have questions about the home selling process, be sure to contact Judy and Scott.

The Asking Price

Why Realtors® Can Get You Top Dollar

Smart Decisions Require An Appraisal

The Highest Bidder

The Price Of Overpricing

The Market Weary House

Curb Appeal

The Home Inspection

Tips On Showing Your Home

Choosing A Listing Agent

Keeping Your House Ready To Show

The Seven Rules Of Selling

The Value Of A Yard Sign

"The Asking Price"
By Thomas Ervin
Thomas Ervin is a nationally sydicated columnist
(Reprinted by permission from the author)
All too often, the asking price of a home is decided upon without good planning. In fact, the greatest mistake made in real estate is poor pricing. The asking price must accomplish three primary goals.

Let's examine these all-important goals:

In the final analysis, it is buyers who determine what your home is worth. How do buyers determine value? Buyers learn about value by inspecting and comparing various homes that are for sale during the same time period. This process of comparison is used when buyers decide which homes they want to see. If your home is not priced in accordance with similar homes, you will not realize as many showings as those homes that are competitively priced. When attempting to price your home with the market, don't rely on hearsay or rumor about recent selling prices. Get the facts by asking your Realtor® for a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA).

Traditionally, in the home selling business, most buyers expect to negotiate. Everyone likes to think they got a "deal". In order to satisfy this need to negotiate, you should price your home so that you will be willing to accept somewhat less than the asking price. Although market conditions will certainly affect the amount of negotiating, most homes sell within 5% of the asking price. A poor market will make this percentage larger while a strong market may experience more full price offers and sometimes offers above the asking price.

Although pricing for the competition and for negotiation are important, the asking price must deliver the highest financial return for the seller in a reasonable period of time with the least inconvenience.

SUGGESTION: Like most other facets of our lives, properly pricing a home is best done by specialists who have all the necessary tools. Retain the services of a Realtor® to sell your home.
"Why Realtors® Can Get You Top Dollar"
By Thomas Ervin
Thomas Ervin is a nationally sydicated columnist
(Reprinted by permission from the author)
It is not unusual for homeowners to consider selling their home without the services of a Realtor®. It would appear that the seller would save money by avoiding the cost of a sales commission. As logical as this sounds, the opposite is often true because Realtors® usually have the ability to get a higher sales price than an amateur. Here are some things to consider:

CREATION OF DEMAND: A Realtor® can create more demand for a home than an owner acting alone. This increase in demand increases the price of the supply of homes that are available to meet this demand. Demand is created by commissioned salespeople who don't receive a paycheck unless they make a sale. So, Realtors® are motivated to produce results. Realtors® are always advertising to attract buyers to their listings. These advertisements provide a constant supply of buyers who are interested in buying a home in certain geographic areas.

Realtors® also belong to multiple listing services. These services swing into action when a home is listed by a member firm. Information on each home is broadcast by computer to every other real estate agent who belongs to the service. This allows hundreds of agents to show your home to potential buyers at the invitation of the listing agent.

PRICING EXPERTISE: Correct pricing is best achieved by someone who is in real estate on a regular basis. The asking price must attract buyers, be competitive with similar homes, and allow for some negotiation. Many sellers lose money at the outset with improper pricing. It is best to use a professional when making the critical decision of the asking price.

THE POWER OF AN AGENT: There are numerous situations in which it is better that the buyer and seller not communicate directly with each other. A seller could become intimidated by the buyer and sell the home for less than it is worth. The seller also may betray how anxious he or she is and give the buyer reason to drive a hard bargain while negotiating. An objective and experienced Realtor® can help protect the interests of the seller and obtain a fair market price.
"Smart Decisions Require An Appraisal"
By Thomas Ervin
Thomas Ervin is a nationally sydicated columnist
(Reprinted by permission from the author)
Your home may be the largest investment you have. All the decisions that you make regarding your home have a big impact on your financial well-being. Some of these decisions are so important they require certain information if they are to be made properly. A market appraisal of the current value of your home can give you the information you need to make the following decisions:

SHOULD I MAKE IMPROVEMENTS TO THIS HOME? If you are considering adding a bedroom or modernizing the kitchen or making some other improvement, you must know how this improvement will affect the resale value of your home. Will it over-improve your house when compared to other homes in the neighborhood? How much of the improvement costs will you be able to recover when the time comes to sell? After receiving the cost estimates from your builder, ask your Realtor® to provide current market data so that you can analyze the resale impact of this decision.

HOW MUCH CAN I AFFORD TO PAY FOR MY NEXT HOUSE? If you are thinking of buying a more expensive home, you will have to know how much you will receive from the sale of your existing home. Many prospective homebuyers commit themselves to the purchase of a higher priced house without knowing what their existing home is worth. When they finally find out, they are sometimes disappointed to learn that they are not going to have as much money for a down payment as they thought. If you have your existing home appraised before you begin house hunting, you will know the price range that you can afford.

WHAT SHOULD BE THE ASKING PRICE FOR THE HOUSE? If you have decided to sell your home, you should not price it based upon hearsay or hunches. Your Realtor® has access to the latest market statistics including information on recent selling prices and competing homes that are now for sale. This data can remove the guesswork from pricing decisions. Your asking price will be able to compete effectively for buyers' attention, allow for some negotiation, and give you the highest possible financial return.
"The Highest Bidder"
By Thomas Ervin
Thomas Ervin is a nationally sydicated columnist
(Reprinted by permission from the author)
Should you list your home with the Realtor® who suggests the highest asking price?

The three goals of every seller are to sell at the highest price, in the least time, with the least inconvenience. If you list with the Realtor® who puts the highest price on your home, will this person be able to get you the highest price? You may say yes. If this person believes that the house will go for this price, then he or she will be much more enthusiastic about getting the higher amount.

As much as it might seem logical, it usually doesn't work this way. Realtors® don't decide what your home will sell for; buyers make that decision. The proper role of the Realtor® is to monitor the real estate market and present you with a factual report of current values.

Buyers will decide what they think your home is worth. How do they come up with a figure? They compare your home and its features with other homes they inspect and they also receive market information on recent sales prices. As buyers go through this learning process, they become quite knowledgeable about home values and are usually able to recognize a property that is obviously overpriced.

There is an old adage in the real estate business that refers to those brokers who give sellers an over-inflated price. This practice is known as, "buying the listing." This phrase simply means the listing was obtained, not on the merits of the Realtor®, but rather by appealing to the natural tendency of all sellers to want to hear a high value put on their property.

SUGGESTION: Don't make the error of listing your home with the highest bidder. If you find that one Realtor® prices your home significantly higher than the other estimates, something is wrong. In order to be sure that you are making a proper pricing decision, be sure to ask for actual written market information regarding recent sales so that you may price your home competitively from the outset.
"The Price Of Overpricing"
By Thomas Ervin
Thomas Ervin is a nationally sydicated columnist
(Reprinted by permission from the author)
The biggest detriment to selling real estate is the all too common problem of overpricing. For the last 20 years, I have been approached by anxious sellers who want to know why their property is not selling. The answer is always the same: The asking price is too high.

Why do people make the common mistake of asking too much? There are several reasons. Some owners expect the present home to bring them enough money with which to purchase a more expensive home. In other words, they are just not facing reality. Others price it too high because they have not had their property evaluated by a professional. Relying on hearsay only, they put a price on their property that does not compete with other available properties.

  1. The asking price must be competitive with the asking price of similar homes.
  2. It must allow for some negotiation so the buyer feels that he or she struck a fair agreement.
  3. The final negotiated price must give the seller the highest possible return considering the condition of the property and the marketplace.
  1. Salespeople, knowing it is overpriced, will not show your home.
  2. Your home will sit on the market while others around you are selling.
  3. Prospective buyers, seeing your home on the market for a long time, will begin to feel that there's something wrong with your home.
  4. You will begin to get anxious and lose patience.
  5. Because of the time restraints you are under, you will reduce the price below the asking price of competing properties.
  6. Your property will sell for a lower price than it is worth.
Time and time again, it seems to happen as I have described above. An owner who did not know or ignored the market facts in order to try to get top dollar ends up getting less than fair value.

ADVICE: Be careful when setting your original asking price. Ask your Realtor® to present you with all the pertinent market facts.
"The Market Weary House"
By Thomas Ervin
Thomas Ervin is a nationally sydicated columnist
(Reprinted by permission from the author)
Have you noticed a house that seems to stay on the market for a long time? What thoughts do you have concerning that home after you continue to see the "for sale" sign in the yard month after month? Overpriced? Poor condition? Do you wonder if there is something wrong with the house like a leaky basement? We have all had these thoughts from time to time. It is always exciting to hear of a home that has just been put up for sale, but many buyers are not interested in seeing a home that has been on the market for a while.

Pricing, condition, location, and timing affect the salability of every home. Of course, you can't do anything about the location. If your home has been for sale for a long time, however, you can make decisions regarding pricing, condition, or timing.

The quickest decision that will have the greatest immediate impact is to reduce the listed price. This may be necessary because your original price was too optimistic, or perhaps the market has softened since you began marketing your house. A price reduction is a news item that can motivate new buyers to see your home and may cause previously interested buyers to consider your home once again.

If you don't want to reduce the price, will you consider investing more money into the house? Dollars well spent may be the inducement needed to generate enthusiasm among the real estate agents and their buyers. Your home may require carpeting, painting, drapes, or other decorator items. If more expensive work such as new kitchen appliances is needed, you may want to rethink your unwillingness to reduce the price.

If your house is not selling and you do not want to reduce the price or spend more money fixing it up, you may be better off taking the house off the market for a while and offering it for sale at a later date.

ADVICE: Don't choose any of the above alternatives without consulting your Realtor®.
"Curb Appeal"
By Thomas Ervin
Thomas Ervin is a nationally sydicated columnist
(Reprinted by permission from the author)
When preparing to sell your home, take time to consider the importance of curb appeal. Curb appeal is the physical appearance of your property as seen from the street. Will the exterior appearance of your property help or hinder your efforts to sell your home? How will your home appear to a prospective buyer as he or she drives up to your home for the first time? Some of the following tips may give your home the competitive edge in the eyes of a buyer:

LANDSCAPING: All shrubs should be neatly trimmed and cut to a size that allows them to be in proportion to the size of the house. Shrubs that are too large will dwarf the house and diminish its attractiveness. The lawn should be cut regularly so as to have a neat and well-maintained appearance. If there is a "for sale" sign in the front yard, be sure to trim around it. If there is tall grass around a sign, people will surmise that the home has been on the market a long time.

CURTAINS: Curtains should be clean and hung evenly. Avoid gaudy colors in any curtains that can be seen from the street. Go out in front of your home and check the appearance of the curtains in all windows facing the street. Dirty or uneven curtains will give a bad impression to a buyer before they have a chance to inspect your home's interior.

GARAGE: Try to keep bikes toys, tools, lawn equipment and other outside items in the garage. Also, keep the garage door closed as much as possible. A garage and its contents can be an unneeded distraction to an interested person viewing your home from the street. Most multiple listing services hire a professional photographer to take a picture of your home for insertion in the multiple listing book that is distributed to local REALTORS®. A closed garage door will enhance the quality of the photograph.

ADVICE: You never have a second chance to make a first impression. The exterior appearance of your home is critical to a successful sale. Ask your REALTOR® for suggestions regarding how to improve the curb appeal of your home.
"The Home Inspection - FAQ's"
Buying or selling a home can be an exciting and positive experience. It can also be a source of anxiety for both parties. It makes good sense for a homebuyer to have an inspection to help assure them they are making a sound investment. Let's face it, even with the seller's full disclosure; there may be things that neither party would be aware of without the help of a professional. The home inspection has become an integral part of the home buying and selling process.

The advent of the home inspector has dramatically changed the way real estate is bought and sold today. Home Inspection companies began "popping up" in Central Kentucky in the late 1980's and the concept really took off in the 1990's. The qualified home inspector is able to provide an invaluable service to both buyer's and seller's.

What Is A Home Inspection?
A home inspection is an unbiased assessment of the condition of the house and its listed systems as the time of the inspection.

When Is The Home Inspection Performed?
As a rule, the home inspection is performed within an agreed upon time period following contract acceptance. This time period will vary from area to area. In Central Kentucky, the contract currently used by the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors, gives the home buyer the option of having the home inspected within 10 days of the seller's acceptance of an offer to purchase the home.

What Happens If The Home Inspector Finds Something Wrong?
Rest assured, the home inspector will find something wrong, there is no such thing as a perfect house! The buyer typically meets with the home inspector toward the end of the inspection in order to look at and discuss any potential problems or defects found. The inspector will give the buyer a written report detailing his/her findings. The buyer then has four days to submit a list of repairs or changes noted in the inspection report that they would like the seller to make. At this point, the negotiating process begins again, until the buyer and seller agree on which items will be taken care of and by whom. Sometimes, an agreement cannot be reached and the transaction falls apart, however, more often than not, the buyer and seller will come to terms.

What Does A Home Inspector Do?
A home inspector will examine structural items such as roofing, the sub-floor, rafters, exterior coverings, porches, decks and walkways for soundness and life expectancy. The home inspector should also check the plumbing, electrical, appliances and heating and cooling system. Safety issues are of great concern to the home inspector. They will check smoke detectors, look for electrical and fire hazards as well as unsteady railings or insufficient lighting on stairways.

How Long Should A Home Inspection Last?
The length of a home inspection will vary from company to company and will also depend on the size of the structure to be inspected. You should probably allow 3 or more hours, however, the inspector will tell you the estimated length of the inspection when you hire them.

Do I Need To Meet With The Inspector?
Yes. A good home inspector will go through the report with you in detail and will help orient you to your new home. You may want to bring a camera or tape recorder along - you will hear a lot of information in a short amount of time and it is difficult to remember everything! He/she will talk to you about routine maintenance items, such as where and how to change your furnace filter(s), and address any problems or concerns. Don't be afraid to ask questions, a good home inspector is a terrific source of information and very knowledgeable. Keep in mind that the inspector is not there to inspect cosmetic items, such as carpeting or paint, unless it directly affects the structure.

Who Benefits From A Home Inspection?

Learn the condition of their prospective purchase
Familiarize themselves with the workings and components of the home

Avoid unwittingly passing on latent problems
Avoid unexpected financial concessions

Know the condition of their collateral

Real Estate Professionals
Avoid being perceived as a construction expert if they are not
Gain some insulation from clients who fail to disclose
Limit buyer remorse and regret after the sale
Limit liability
Promote full disclosure

How Do I Choose A Home Inspector?
Very carefully. This is a very important part of your home purchase and should not be taken lightly. Don't wait until you have found the home you want to purchase and are on a time line - do your research in advance. Interview several companies, ask questions and consider the following:
  1. Experience. Ask about the construction background of the inspector and length of time in the inspection business.
  2. Licensing. Fayette County requires home inspectors to be licensed.
  3. Membership in professional trade groups.
  4. Type of report. When you get it and is it easy to understand?
  5. Complaint handling procedure and history.
  6. References. Each home inspector should have a list of references, but one of the best sources is through friends, co-workers or family members. Have they had a good or bad experience? They will be glad to tell you - especially if it was bad!
  7. Ask about liability. What happens if there is damage to the property caused by the inspector? Do they have errors and omissions insurance? What happens if they miss something?
What A Home Inspection Is Not...
  1. A code enforcement inspection. A 50-year-old house was built under a different code than a 2-year-old house.
  2. A value appraisal. By the same token, the appraiser that the lender will send out to determine value is not a home inspector.
  3. A warranty or guarantee.
  4. A deal killer.
  5. Perfect. It is an inspection of those areas and items that can be seen. Home inspectors cannot inspect areas or items that are inaccessible.
A Note From Judy Craft
I have found the home inspection process to be a very positive "period of discovery" for the homebuyer to learn more about their new home. Many inspectors will spend time with the buyer educating them about the home's features and introducing them to the regular maintenance that goes along with home ownership.

Many buyers are so pleased with the inspection report that it makes them feel good about their purchase. All in all, a home inspection is money well spent.

Home Inspection FAQ's reviewed and approved by Steve Pruitt of Pruitt Inspection, Inc.

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"Tips On Showing Your Home"
By Thomas Ervin
Thomas Ervin is a nationally sydicated columnist
(Reprinted by permission from the author)
Here are some important tips to consider when showing your home to prospective buyers:

CLEANLINESS: A personal inspection of every room is a must. Cooperation from all family members is important during the entire time that your home is for sale. Even though your Realtor® tries to give you adequate notice, it isn't always possible. Consequently, only last-minute cleanup may be possible. The two areas needing closest attention are the kitchen and bathrooms.

LIGHTING: Your home should have a bright and cheery appearance. Lighting plays an important rule in displaying your home to its best advantage. Whether it is a sunny day or after dark, turn on many lights throughout the house.

ODORS: While your home is for sale, it may be necessary to temporarily avoid cooking certain foods. Strong smelling foods may be offensive to a prospective buyer. Check the entire house for any musty or distasteful odors.

NOISE: All stereos, televisions sets, radios, and record players should be turned off while the home is being shown. Many homeowners feel that soft background music enhances the sale. Not so. Any noises may tend to distract the potential buyers from concentrating on the features of your home.

HOMEOWNER: Many homeowners feel they should personally conduct a tour of their home for both the Realtor® and his or her customers. Do not do this! This will make them feel uncomfortable and anxious to escape as soon as they can. Although Realtors® don't know all the features of your home as well as you do, they do know the personality and needs of their customers. Excuse yourself and be available for questions. Let the Realtors® do the selling.
"Choosing A Listing Agent"
By Thomas Ervin
Thomas Ervin is a nationally sydicated columnist
(Reprinted by permission from the author)
How should you select a Realtor® to sell your home? It is an important decision. You may think that it doesn't matter who you choose as long as they are a member of your local multiple listing service. This is not true. Your listing agent will have a major impact on your success. Here are some guidelines:

Don't go with the "highest bidder". Your decision should NOT be determined only by the asking price recommended by a particular agent. There may be no relationship between the person quoting the highest figure and the person most qualified to market your home. In fact, this is the most common mistake made by homeowners when selecting a Realtor®.

Can you get along with this person? Are you impressed with his or her personal knowledge and credibility? Remember, you and your Realtor® actually become partners while your home is for sale. Each partner must do his or her part to have a successful sale. If you're going to choose a partner, get someone you can work with.

What resources will the agent use to sell your home? Success is not an accident. It is the result of good planning. It is quite rare for a listing agent to actually sell his or her own listing to a buyer. Most listings are sold by other agents. So, it is important to find out how your agent will promote your home to other agents.

If you are inclined to list with relatives or friends, ask them the same questions you would ask any other agent. This will establish a better business relationship that will hopefully not interfere with your personal relationship.
"Keeping Your Home Ready For Showings"
By Thomas Ervin
Thomas Ervin is a nationally sydicated columnist
(Reprinted by permission from the author)
Selling your home is a chore. There is no other way to describe it. If you are going to get top dollar, your home must be in top condition. This requires that you make a list of major things that must be done prior to putting the house on the market. Perhaps some painting, wallpapering, or repairs are needed inside and outside. Most homeowners understand these one-time items must be taken care of before inviting potential buyers to see the house. If you don't know which of these things are most important from a selling point of view, ask your Realtor® for his or her opinion.

Now that the major items have been done, your home must be ready to be shown to buyers upon a thirty-minute notice. What must you do on a daily basis to keep your home in a ready condition?

KITCHEN: This is the room that is constantly in use, takes longer to clean, and gets the closest attention from buyers. One of the things to control is the odor from various foods. If you enjoy certain foods that have a distinct odor that may be objectionable to potential buyers, you would be well advised to postpone cooking them until the house is sold. Don't let plates, silverware, and glassware pile up. You may not be able to get them all cleaned and put away before the showing. If you have a trash compactor, it is also wise to empty it prior to each showing. Many people draw conclusions about the care a house has had by examining the inside of the oven. If you do not have a self-cleaning oven, you might want to consider cleaning it thoroughly before putting the house on the market and making a point of keeping it spotless until the sale is completed.

BATHROOMS: Bathrooms are also given a close look. If you have more than one bathroom, it might be a good idea to check periodically during the day so that they are always in showing condition.

BEDROOMS: Obviously, beds must be made and clothes put away each day upon rising. It is also important to inspect closets regularly for neatness.
"The Seven Rules Of Selling"
By Thomas Ervin
Thomas Ervin is a nationally sydicated columnist
(Reprinted by permission from the author)
In order for you to obtain the highest possible selling price for your home, you must work closely with your Realtor®. The seven rules of selling listed below comprise the items that a homebuyer can contribute to a successful marketing effort.
  1. Be prepared to spend money preparing your home for sale. Many homeowners are very hesitant to invest additional money in their homes at the time they are selling it. Although understandable, these feelings may rob you of a much higher selling price.
  2. Price it right. Price your home in accordance with the current realities of your local real estate market. Ask your Realtor® for a competitive market analysis.
  3. Cooperate with your Realtor®. Some homeowners limit the effectiveness of the Realtor® by prohibiting "for sale" signs, open houses, or lock boxes. Don't eliminate any selling tools.
  4. Keep your home in a state of readiness. You may not get much advance notice that potential buyers would like to see your home. Try to keep bedrooms, bathrooms, and the kitchen in "better than usual condition" so that you won't panic when getting ready for a showing.
  5. Maximize the appeal of your home during showings. Turn the lights on even during daylight hours. Be sure that the house doesn't have the odor of strong smelling foods. Let the Realtor® conduct the tour.
  6. Be willing to consider a price reduction. Sometimes, the best way to get top dollar is to reduce your asking price. The original price may have been a little too ambitious or perhaps the interest rates or the local economy have changed since the original price was set.
  7. Be a reasonable negotiator. Some owners become very emotional at the time an offer is made on their home. Don't let these strong feelings cloud judgment when considering an offer.
"The Value Of A Yard Sign"
By Thomas Ervin
Thomas Ervin is a nationally sydicated columnist
(Reprinted by permission from the author)
Homeowners sometimes question the value of a "for sale" sign when listing their home with a Realtor®. There are those who feel that they may be able to enjoy more privacy if a sign is not used. Actually, the opposite is true. The use of a Realtor's® sign can help you maintain your privacy while allowing the Realtor® to answer buyer's questions. More importantly, the yard sign is a very effective selling tool for the following reasons:

REFERRALS: The sign attracts the attention of people who live or work in your area. They, in turn, may know fellow workers, friends or acquaintances that are interested in buying a home in your location. You never know where a lead for the buyer may originate. Sometimes, a neighbor may know of someone who has expressed an interest in buying in your neighborhood.

PRE-QUALIFIED BUYER: If a potential buyer makes an inquiry about a certain home because of the "for sale" sign, he or she may be an excellent prospect. It is obvious the calling party was impressed with both the outward appearance of the house and the immediate neighborhood. Because location is the most crucial factor in real estate, a sign call guarantees that the location is a plus rather than a minus in the mind of the inquiring mind.

Because all buyers have differing tastes, it is sometimes difficult to find a home that appeals to the buyer from an emotional point of view. Because the sign motivated a potential buyer to call, it is obvious that the caller has been emotionally attracted by the property and its surroundings. This is another reason why an inquiry from a sign is usually more productive than other sources of prospective buyers.

ADVICE: A yard sign is certainly not the only tool provided by your agent. Multiple listing membership, newspaper advertising, referral organizations, and motivated salespeople, who are paid on a straight commission basis, are also very effective. Yet, the "for sale" sign plays an essential role in any marketing strategy. Be sure to allow your Realtor® to use a sign when your house goes on the market.

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