Frequently Asked Questions
The most important question answered first:
Why will sellers get more activity on their homes when listed with us?
If a buyer calls your typical 6% real estate company about your home listed with them, one of the following is likely to happen:
- Buyer leaves message. If anybody ever calls back, it takes longer than you would be happy about.
- Buyer reaches an agent, and the conversation quickly turns into the agent trying to talk the buyer into becoming a client, and your house is forgotten.
We almost always answer the phone, even after hours. If a call ever goes to voicemail, it is returned within a few hours at most. Then the buyer is referred directly to you, after we explain that we don’t charge a commission, and that the seller will save 3% if the buyer doesn’t have an agent. Once the buyer understands he can save you money and that you may pass some savings on to him, he is even more interested and deals directly with you.
Result: The call doesn’t get diverted, and you have a buyer who is not going through an agent.
If you find any terms that you are unfamiliar with, click here to use our real estate dictionary.
What is the MLS and what is a Flat Fee Listing?
A multiple listing service is a suite of services that enables real estate brokers to establish contractual offers of compensation, facilitates cooperation with other broker participants, accumulates and disseminates information to enable appraisals and is a comprehensive, detailed list of homes for sale. Read More
Flat Fee MLS generally refers to the practice in the real estate industry of a seller entering into a service agreement with a real estate broker who accepts a flat fee rather than 3% of the sale to a listing agent and another 3% to the buyer agent. Read More
If the seller prices the property correctly and follows all the advice on our website, the success rate is over 99%. That percentage decreases as the number of mistakes the seller makes increases. Sellers normally have a contract in a week to 60 days. Rural properties, raw land, extremely unique properties, and properties over $1,000,000 tend to take longer to sell, but no property should take more than 6 months to sell.
Secondary listings are just that: a second (or third) listing on another adjacent MLS (Multiple Listing Service). Sometimes a seller is open to either selling or leasing their property. In such cases, a secondary listing is an ideal solution. This will allow them to advertise the property both for sale and for rent at the same time.
Additionally, if a home is located between two MLS areas or in a smaller one, but near a larger, more robust MLS, a seller might want their real estate listing to appear in both. For example, it is quite common for sellers to list on both the San Antonio MLS ( SABOR ) as well as the Austin MLS ( ARBoR ) in order to increase their listing’s exposure and reach as many potential buyers as possible.
Remember, most real estate agents are members of only one, maybe two, MLS sites at the most (although some areas do have a regional MLS). Creekview is a member of 15 MLSs in Texas, so we can list your property on more than one MLS at a time. Many people have the mistaken idea that the MLS is one massive interlocking system: it’s not. There are literally over a thousand stand-alone, local MLS databases across the country, and they vary in size; some are quite big, and others and quite small.
Click here to add a secondary listing of your property.
Let’s assume your house sells for $300,000:
- If the seller prices the property correctly and follows all the advice on our website, the success rate is over 99%. That percentage decreases as the number of mistakes the seller makes increases.
- Sellers normally have a contract in a week to 60 days. Rural properties, raw land, extremely unique properties, and properties over $1,000,000 tend to take longer to sell, but no property should take more than 6 months to sell.
- If you listed with us and WE sent you the buyer: $495. Total savings is $17,505!
It’s the best of both worlds! You have the tremendous exposure of being listed on the MLS, but with all the control and savings of selling “For Sale By Owner”. If you work directly with a buyer, then you don’t have to pay any commission, and your listing will be appear on your local MLS, Realtor.com & ALL public sites that display properties.
We get this question ALL the time. There are only 3 reasons why:
- Because they don’t know this option exists
- They assume selling a home for sale by owner is more complicated than it is
- Some just believe it’s too good to be true or are too brainwashed by 6% real estate agents.
Any informed, knowledgeable seller would never list with a 6% real estate agent.
REALTOR® identifies real estate professionals who “are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics”, which is the official definition from the National association of Realtors (NAR). Not every real estate agent is a REALTOR®. In more practical terms, a Realtor® is a real estate agent who signed some papers and paid his/her dues to belong to the local real estate board to have access to the MLS listings. The truth is that any state licensed real estate agent will be accepted by the real estate board and become a REALTOR® if they pay the fees. There is no additional background check, and no reason for the public to believe a REALTOR® is any more ethical or honest than a regular real estate agent.
The MLS is generally referred to as “the real estate market”. Being listed in the MLS means all the area real estate agents can find your home in their MLS database, and all the buyers can find your home when searching on Realtor.com and thousands of other websites that display MLS listings. That’s why the MLS is responsible for over 90% of all home sales, and why MLS listed properties sell faster and for more money than non-listed “for sale by owner” properties.
Are you searching for property listings in the Dallas/Fort Worth area? Check out our easy to use search system. You can save your searches, set up email notifications to alert you of new listings, save your favorites for easy side-by-side comparison and conduct advanced searches with endless options. Integrated Google maps show the location of searches and enable you to see similar properties in the surrounding area. The North Texas Regional IDX also features a full-screen slideshow mode for easy viewing of listing images.
Other Areas? Click Here
Preparing Your Property for Listing
So, you’ve finally decided to pick up your roots and move on. You’re ready to list your house, but you want to get your home ready for the real estate market. A few small repairs might be the difference in your home selling within a few days verses several months. Few home improvement projects will return a profit, though. Follow these steps closely and you will make better decisions about what to do and what not to do when getting your home ready.
Walk through the property and ask yourself, “Would I buy this home”? Try to remove any emotion and sentimentally you have attached to the home so you can look at it objectively.
Choose Repairs Carefully
- A few hundred bucks worth of hardware (drawer handles, shower heads, ceiling fans) could significantly strengthen your selling position. Adding new insulation probably won’t…unless you are in desperate need of insulation.
- Prioritize changes and repairs according to when the house will go on the market. Projects requiring more contractors should be scheduled first.
- Stick to your repair/change timetable. Most homes will be on the market for at least a few months…especially those that need repairs to sell. Once you’ve come to a reasonable target selling price, don’t let outside factors make you vary from your original plan. If you’ve done everything correctly, the home will sell in due time.
Getting your home ready for sale is a tricky process. There isn’t a hard and fast rule on which repairs will return your investment. You have to know your home AND you have to know your market. If your home is likely to be torn down and replaced with a new construction, don’t pay to replace anything. But if your home has problems with the roof, the foundation or with termites, all of the affected items will have to be repaired or replaced.
Repair and Cleaning Checklist
- Paint: Does the house need new coats or an updated color?
- Holes and cracks: These are problem signs…especially if they are visible.
- Sidewalks, porches and decks: They need to be continually swept and kept in good shape.
- Windows and door screens: If they aren’t in good shape, consider repairing them.
- Gutters and downspouts: They must be secure (which is an easy fix) and you’ll want them to be clean when you show the home.
- Drive-up appeal: If any part of the home is unsightly, consider giving it a once-over to ensure prospective buyers are encouraged to stop and look inside your home.
- Lawn: An ugly lawn can destroy the drive-up appeal for your home. You need your lawn to be lush and fertilized.
- Lawn upkeep: It is imperative that you keep your lawn mowed, edged and weeded throughout the sales process.
- Shrubs and trees: Keep them trimmed.
- Flower beds: If your home has beds, make sure your flowers/plants are healthy and clean. If you have old, dying plants, get rid of them.
- Be careful here: Do not do anything to the roof until you speak to your buyer. If your buyer plans to tear your house down, there is no need to repair the roof…or even spend the deductible on the repair. On the other hand, if your buyer is financing the home, the mortgage company will demand that the roof is fixed either by the seller or through a negotiate settlement through the buyer.
- Leaks/un-level areas: See above.
- Missing shingles or tires: Again, see above.
- Floors: Keep them swept and get rid of stains.
- Floor space: Attractive garages look roomy. Move boxes and other clutter as close to the walls as possible to “maximize” your garage’s appearance.
- Garage door/and the garage door opener: Should be in proper working order.
- Appearance: You want your attic to look organized and inviting, not like a cluttered mess?
- Stairs: They should be in good condition.
- Lighting: Make sure the light fixtures are working and that the attic is well-lit?
- Insects/rodents: If there is any evidence of pests, get rid of them before you place the home on the market.
- Appliances: All should be clean and working.
- Cabinets: Clean and make sure they are in good shape.
- Sink: Re-caulk if necessary and eliminate any stains and/or repair chips.
- Faucets: Check for leaks.
- Oven: If you haven’t cleaned it in a while, you should.
- Counter tops: Clean them and clear them of clutter.
- Tile: Re-grout if necessary and wipe them down.
- Shower doors: These should be clean.
- Floor: Should be in good condition.
- Excess items: Prepackage these and stow them in storage areas to make the home appear larger.
- Walls and woodwork: Check for holes, cracks and/or needed paint.
- Wallpaper: If it is outdated or in terrible shape, replace it or paint over it.
- Windows: MUST be clean inside and out…and they should open and close easily.
- Floors: Should be clean and polished.
- Water damage/leaks: If you have stains, be sure to clean them as soon as possible.
- Carpets: Should be clean, flat and stained free.
- Draperies: Clean them and make sure they work properly.
- Hinges: If they squeak, lubricate them.
- Doors: If they stick, repair them…and inspect the door seals to ensure they are working properly.
- Locks: They should all work properly and you’ll need to the keys for each one.
- Lights: Check to see if they are working properly. Replace bulbs where necessary.
- Ceiling fans/vents: Clean and make sure they work properly.
- Overall cleaning: Depending on your situation, it might be wise to deep-clean your home before you show it…and it could also be wise to hire a professional to do it.
No, they are usually a waste of time and money. If you believe all the DIY house-flipping shows, then you think it’s a simple task to jack up the value of your home with a bevy of buzz-worthy home improvement projects.
According to a recent survey, home buyers are often willing to kick in a bit extra for certain upgrades. Even so, features like granite counter-tops are worth, on average, an extra $1,620, but the cost can range from $47 to $78 per square foot. Not to mention the fact that, like many other trendy items, granite is becoming less popular. More people are starting to turn to engineered quartz because of the way granite tends to become scratched…
Do not spend yourself into a hole on renovations before selling your home. You are probably only going to re-coup pennies on the dollar for amenities and upgrades like granite counter-tops, swimming pools, bathroom additions, and garage conversions.
The odds are, you’re going to have entirely different tastes than the prospective buyer of your home. Not to mention the headache of trying to organize a renovation on top of selling and moving out of your home.
Instead of trying to guess what someone would like and spending thousands of dollars on improvements before selling, why not simply reduce your price and let whoever buys your house make the changes and upgrades to the home themselves?
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to spend a lot of money prepping your house for sale.
Yes, you want to make your house pop, but you can do that yourself by cleaning it up and doing some small repairs. Keep it simple, practical and most of all, smart.
Don’t Spend a Lot of Money When Staging a House to Sell
When you stage a home to sell, focus on the basics. You would be surprised how much of a difference a good once over from top to bottom will make. And, while you do not have to make your house smell like fresh baked cookies, I guess it couldn’t hurt. You could hire someone, but in most cases you can do the cleaning yourself and save.
Likewise, don’t waste cash on massive remodels, upgrades or renting furniture to showcase your house. Use what you have and make it look as good as possible.
Here are some easy, inexpensive things you can do to stage a home that will improve your odds:
- Clean it up. Mow the lawn, power-wash the windows and decks, clean the carpets.
- Get rid of clutter. Box up knick knacks and donate or store unwanted items.
- Fix obvious eye-sores. This includes dings, scratches and other minor repairs.
- Improve your curb appeal. Look at your house from across the street and be objective.
- Depersonalize the space. Remove excess family photos and mementos.
Home staging basics are all about making your house as inviting from the inside as it is from the outside.
Vacant, but it doesn’t make a huge difference.
Don’t go through extra trouble of moving out so it can be vacant, but don’t make any effort to furnish a vacant house because somebody told you it will show better that way. If you have tenants, it’s better to get them out, clean it up, and show it vacant (unless it’s being marketed as investment property). Tenants almost always cause showing problems.
NEVER let somebody move into your vacant house because they will “help with showings” or any other reason. You don’t need them – you only need a keybox. There are “home staging” companies that make a living furnishing houses to make them “show better”.
The house will sell much faster if a seller reduces the price by whatever such a staging company would charge. Nobody buys an over-priced house no matter what furniture is in it. Builders furnish model homes when the home is also their office, but you won’t see them moving furniture in and out of their spec homes or inventory homes.
Advantages of a vacant house:
- Easier to show
- Easier to keep clean and in showing condition
- It looks bigger
- Buyers can visualize their furniture in the house better
- Buyers feel more comfortable looking at vacant homes
- Buyers who need a quick closing may choose to only view vacant homes because they know most sellers expect to have a month to move out.
Disadvantages of an occupied home:
- Showing problems with pets, tenants, or other occupants
- Annoyance of people trudging through your home and having to leave for showings (assuming you are, which is best)
There are no advantages of an occupied home or disadvantages of a vacant one. It is a common misconception that a home will sell faster or for more money if it’s occupied or furnished.
Overpriced homes only sell when there is a “perfect storm” shortage of real estate inventory in a “sought after” neighborhood.
The longer a property stays on the market, the more expensive it becomes to sell.
Click here to learn about pricing a new home vs. an existing home
Click here to learn whether it's better to list at $199,999 or $200,000
Click here to learn about the basics of real estate pricing
Generally speaking, you should reduce your price, on average, every 4 weeks. Click here to read more about the strategy of price reductions.
When reducing your price, it should be no less than 3% to 5%. Why? Anything less than that looks like you are not serious about selling your home, and you will end up wasting more time on the market. This means your DOM (Days On Market) will increase, and realtors will always ask why you've been sitting on the market so long if you're a serious seller.
NEVER say this in your description. it's like saying, "We've been trying to sell this house for a while for more money, but nobody wanted it."
Stay away from these words as well. All these two words do is invite low-ball offers. Show your motivation with a lower price.
Shipping and The Listing Process
Step 1: Payment – Here is a link to our secure payment site. Once you have made your payment and we have given you a call to verify the information, we can ship your keybox and yard sign while you complete your paperwork. Normally, we can get your items to you by the next business day (see How long does it take to get my shipping? for information about the shipping process).
Step 2: Complete the following forms. (All forms can be found right here).
- You can either print them, fill them out, and fax them to 866-219-7535 or scan them and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Please be sure that you DO NOT fill these forms out in the browser window. Download the blank copy to your desktop, and then fill out the forms.
- These forms are required for ALL listings:
- Listing Agreement – be sure to enter the date you want your listing to be active, and your price.
- Listing Information (Make sure to select your correct MLS area)
- Seller’s Disclosure (not required for Lease listings)
- Information About Brokerage Services
- Description and Directions in editable text (see Description, Directions, and Picture Requirements for character limits and picture limits for each MLS area)
- Lead Paint Disclosure (ONLY if your property was built before 1978)
- Pictures (Please number the pictures in the order you want them to appear. To send a Dropbox link, send it to email@example.com. All other emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may place pictures in a ZipFolder, or simply send them as attachments).
Step 3: If you ordered an electronic keybox, please let us know when you have placed it on the door, and where exactly you have placed it. If you are using your own keybox or a combination keybox, please let us know where you have placed it and what the combination code is. If you live in a gated community, or if you have special instructions to deactivate an alarm, please make sure to provide us with that information as well. Our goal is to make sure your property can be shown as much as possible and as easily as possible!
Once you have placed your order, you will receive a phone call from us to verify your information (property address, shipping address, contact info, etc.). Once we have completed this call, we will send out your shipping. We ship with UPS and you will receive your order either the next business day or within 2 business days (depending on your location). UPS will leave the box at the shipping address. If you ordered an electronic keybox, please let us know as soon as you have placed it on the door.
Please note: any orders placed and verified (meaning we were able to call you and confirm your information) by 3 PM will be shipped out that same day. That is the UPS cutoff time. Any orders placed after 3 PM or orders that are not verified will be shipped out the next business day.
We Pay For Shipping!
If you ordered an electronic keybox (Supra), we include a return shipping label as well. If you lose it, we keep a copy on file for you – just ask us! Don't worry about the sign and flyer box, we only need the keybox back.
Turn in your completed paperwork to us by 11 AM and we will list your house on the MLS the same business day. Make sure you have already placed your order first so we can get the shipping out to you as well.
That’s no problem. Your 6 month listing doesn’t start until you are actually listed in the MLS. That means that you can make your payment at any time, and wait as long as you need to get your property ready for listing. You can send in your paperwork at any time along the way and we will save it in your file until you are ready.
Pictures are pretty important. We offer a professional photography package which we highly recommend, but you can also take your own pictures. Click here to read more about the importance of pictures for your listing.
Directions: Give a simple explanation of how to get to where your property is located. Using google maps can help! It doesn’t have to be long—start with a major highway, interstate, or cross street, and give turn by turn directions to your location, and assume the individual is not familiar with the area.
Description Character Limit
Directions Character Limit
36 (1 required)
32 (6 required)
25 (4 required)
40 (1 required)
36 (6 required)
31 (1 required)
45 (1 required)
25 (1 required)
24 (1 required)
25 (3 required)
45 (1 required)
25 (1 required)
36 (1 required)
Please keep your keybox until you have closed! While you are under contract, there may be times that appraisers, inspectors, the buyers and the buyer's agent, and more will need to access your property. The keybox allows them to get in and out without trouble, and keeps everything on track. You are still notified if someone is coming by your property to access the keybox.
When our sellers send back the keybox early, they end up causing headaches for the buyer's agent and many others who are involved during the contract phase. They end up playing phone tag with each other just to figure out how and when they can access the property.
We pay for shipping both ways, so when you receive your keybox, the box also contains a return shipping label for you to use whenever you are ready to send the keybox back. If you lose the label, we can send you a new one.
You as the seller do not want anything in the way of closing on your home! Keep the keybox until closing.
All About Buyer's Agent Commission
You can, but we don’t recommend adjusting it unless your house is worth a million dollars or more. The harsh realty is that homes without a 3% buyer’s agent commission (BAC) are seen as a RED FLAG to a real estate agent. Agents expect to be paid the typical fee. When a seller lowers this fee, they are not likely to show your property. In Texas, about 99% of all homes are listed with 3% being offered to the buyer’s agent. The smartest thing to do is inflate your list price to include a 3% commission for a buyer’s agent and leave less room to negotiate.
REMEMBER: If a buyer comes along without an agent, you don’t pay any commission at all.
Commissions are only negotiable with your listing broker (that’s us) before your home is listed. Once it’s decided what commission is to be offered to the buyer's agent for bringing their buyers, the commission amount is entered in the MLS by the listing broker. This creates a contractual obligation for the listing broker to guarantee that commission to any agent who produces a buyer.
This can be confusing to some For Sale By Owner clients who assume our only role is to enter the listing in MLS, similar to placing an ad in the newspaper. Anybody can place an ad in a newspaper, but you need a real estate license and must sign a contract with a real estate board to be able list a home on MLS.
It becomes clearer when you consider why the MLS was created in the first place. The concept is for agents to make their listings available to all the other agents to sell, and to be able to show their buyers all the other agents’ listings as well as their own. The traditional 6% commission is split in half, with 3% going to the buyer’s agent, and the other 3% to the listing broker. All the brokers contractually agree through the real estate board to guarantee buyer agents the posted commission. It is this guarantee that makes the multiple listing service, or MLS, function. This makes a lot more sense than listing your home with multiple agents, or having to deal with a different agent for every house you want to see.
The difference is that we only charge a small fee to save the seller half of the 6% commission, and we refer buyers directly to sellers so they can save the other 3% as well. Such a “self-service” listing allows the seller to save money by doing some of the work on their own. But the listing broker is still ultimately liable for the commission offered to other agents by their contract with the MLS.
The results of a seller trying to negotiate down the commission after receiving an offer will be any one or all of the following:
- Agent calls us to complain
- Agent refuses to conduct any further negotiations with the seller, and threatens to file a complaint with the real estate board
- Agent’s broker actually files a complaint with the real estate board
- Agent’s broker files a lawsuit against us for the commission
- Listing broker will cancel your listing!
If you don’t want to pay a 3% commission to a buyer’s agent, then whatever you are willing to pay must be stated in your listing agreement and must be entered in the MLS.
The typical 6% commission in a real estate transaction is usually split 4 ways. The listing broker and the buyer’s broker typically get 3% each. Most real estate agents are working under a broker, and split the 3% with that broker. That split typically ranges from 50% to 70% going to the agent, and 30% to 50% going to the broker. Assuming a sale of a $100,000 home at 6% commission, involving 2 agents who each work for a broker with a 60/40 split:
- Listing office gets $3,000, with $1,200 going to the broker and $1,800 going to the listing agent.
- Buyer’s agent’s office gets $3,000, with $1,200 going to the broker and $1,800 going to the buyer’s agent.
- Note that legally, commissions are negotiable between any client and their agent. This example merely illustrates a typical transaction.
Of course you can, but unless your home is worth over $1,000,000, it’s not a very good idea (see the first two questions regarding commission). You could get away with it if your house were in California or New York, where houses cost 3-4 times what they cost in Texas. In Texas, about 99% of all homes are listed with 3% being offered to buyer’s agents. The result of offering less is that you will get fewer showings.
Of course agents are supposed to be ethical and put their clients’ best interests ahead of their own, so they should show your house regardless of the commission offered, shouldn’t they? The truth is that they care more about their commission than anything else, so they'd rather show another house with a 3% commission.
The smartest thing to do is set your price to include a 3% commission for a buyer’s agent, and leave less room for negotiation. If a buyer comes along without an agent, there’s 3% room for negotiation. If you insist on only offering 2% anyway, here’s what will normally happen:
- Your house will get far fewer showings
- Some agents assume it’s 3% without looking, and write their offer to include a 3% commission anyway. Then there’s the problem of restructuring the offer, which usually ends up irritating the agent as well as the buyer. The result is you end up agreeing to pay the 3% anyway or they go buy something else.
- Most agents who do notice the lower commission offered and are still willing to show the house will have a written agreement with their buyers that guarantees the agent a 3% commission. The buyer then has to pay his agent the other 1%, so in the buyer's mind your house is 1% more expensive. It's the same deal to the buyer if the house were listed for 1% more with a 3% commission. It’s just more complicated and tends to annoy the buyer.
- Almost all sellers who start with 2% eventually increase the commission to 3% after the house doesn’t sell at 2%, and they miss out on the first 2-3 weeks when a listing is fresh and buyers are more anxious to make offers
Showings, Feedback, Keyboxes, & Centralized Showing Service
The showing service is CSS (Centralized Showing Service), and is available in Austin, Bryan/College Station, Central Texas, DFW, Houston, McAllen and San Antonio.
Any time a property is listed on MLS, there must be one-- and only one-- phone number for agents to call to set up a time to show the property. Showings can be missed if a call to that phone number results in a voicemail, or even worse, a busy or no answer. The showing service:
- Answers all calls and sets up the showings
- Records the name of the showing agent and verifies the agent’s identity
- Gives the agent pertinent information such as keybox combinations, alarm codes, and any special showing instructions (i.e., don’t let the cat out, dog in back yard barks but won’t bite, etc.)
- Informs seller of the planned showing at any phone numbers designated.
- Other benefits are an email for each showing for your records, and a weekly showings report by email that shows the activity for the week in addition to agent comments and feedback.
The showing service is only for agents to set up showings through MLS, and not for use by the general public, so the showing service telephone number should NOT be put on flyers, yard signs, or any other advertising materials intended for buyers. Read More
The most meaningful feedback is HOW MANY showings and offers you are getting.
The showing service automatically sends an email to each agent after they show a property and requests feedback. As sellers soon realize, the value of the information gained from the feedback responses is limited. In areas where CSS is not available, calling to obtain feedback from agents who have shown your home is another thing that many listing agents do that is a waste of your time. Sellers whose homes are overpriced are the most likely to obsess over getting feedback. Why? Because they aren’t getting any offers, even if they happen to get a lot of showings, and they are typically looking for answers about why their home isn’t selling (the answer being the price).
Why 6% listing agents like to call showing agents for feedback:
– The listing agent hopes their client will get the impression something is being done to help justify the 6% commission.
– Early in their career, the agent was taught that’s what listing agents are supposed to do.
– It gives lonely agents someone to talk to.
– It gives bored agents something to do.
What sellers are hoping a call for feedback will accomplish, but never actually happens:
– It gives them an opportunity to point out things the showing agent and buyer have missed, which causes the buyers to become more interested.
– Some misunderstanding comes to light and the buyer does an about face and makes an offer.
***Deciding factors don’t get “missed” by buyers. If they DO get missed, it’s because those buyers weren’t that interested anyway. If the listing and description are done properly, nothing that makes a difference will get missed.***
The actual result of sellers calling buyers’ agents for feedback:
– Occasionally, it simply satisfies the curiosity of the seller.
– Most often, it just confuses the seller and yields no new information.
– The agent doesn’t remember the property, so they just say something nice.
– The agent overly compliments the property and avoids mentioning any negatives to hide their actual intent.
– The agent gets annoyed and calls us to find out why the seller is calling for feedback.
– They happen to be one of those agents who doesn’t want to deal directly with sellers and avoids showing the property in the future.
Why buyer’s agents will say the house is beautiful and priced well–even if it isn’t:
The logic is that any seller may be in the market for a new agent at some point. If the seller believes the home is priced right, then it must be their agent’s fault that the property isn’t selling.
If that was true, the simple solution would be to get a new agent like one who apparently shares the seller’s views about the quality and price of their house.
Unfortunately, if it’s the same property in the same MLS at the same price, the property doesn’t sell with the new agent either. The new agent then has to talk to the seller about reducing the price.
Feedback doesn’t help sell an overpriced property
In our pricing guide, we discuss the realities of pricing your home. Very simply, if your home isn’t selling, it’s not priced correctly. Often times, sellers seek an agent’s confirmation that the home is priced appropriately. No matter what an agent might tell you, if you’re not seeing showings and offers, the home is overpriced.
No amount of buyer agent feedback will sell an overpriced house.
Other real estate “marketing” that rarely works:
Newspaper ads (including online classifieds)
Newspaper ads can get expensive and sellers who are not interested in owner financing will have to weed out unqualified buyers. The majority of homes sold with newspaper ads are by professional investors. Newspaper classified ad columns tend to be filled with investor ads with headings like “$0 down“, “Owner financing“, “Lease Option“, “Bad credit ok“, “$3000 down, $900/mo.“, etc.
Investors typically inflate the home prices and give the buyer/tenant (who can’t qualify for a loan) a lease option. Credit challenged buyers gravitate towards newspapers because they can’t qualify for a typical loan that would be required for MLS listed homes. Other time wasters that will respond to newspaper ads are investors looking for bargains, and real estate agents prospecting for listings.
The value of holding an open house is vastly over-rated. The first people to go to an open house are the neighbors who are thinking about listing their house, and the real estate agents want to meet them in the hope of getting another listing. Buyers who go to open houses have typically just started looking. Serious buyers would have seen the yard sign and called the phone number anyway.
Real estate agents like to meet prospective buyers who may be in the market to buy at some point in the future. Holding an open house is also a great way for real estate agents to give their clients the impression that they are actively marketing the home when they are actually just promoting their own business.
***If you are convinced that holding an open house will make a difference, you can do it yourself. It can’t hurt, and it doesn’t require any special knowledge.***
Free Real Estate Magazines
Commonly found on racks in supermarkets and convenience stores, these publications exist to either promote a real estate company or sell advertising. They contain very little useful information for buyers and due to the time lag between printing to actually being picked up and read (minimum 6 weeks), properly priced listings are usually off of the market before they are even seen in one of these “publications.”
For-Sale-By-Owner websites get an insignificant amount of traffic from buyers. Buyers who do take a look get discouraged quickly by the limited selection and from the lack of a response from sellers when they try to make contact. Many of the ads are outdated and the homes are off the market, so sellers often don’t respond.
A very unproductive method some agents like to tell their clients about (as though it had value) is mass emails to agents informing them of a house for sale. Agents have access to MLS, and don’t need to be spammed with such information–it’s just an annoyance.
The first thing the typical agent does when checking emails is delete the “House for sale” spam emails from other agents. Many agents mark the sender as a spammer in their email program, causing any legitimate future emails from the spamming agent to go directly into their trash.
There are various things real estate agents will tell potential listing clients to sell them on a listing. Some of these things sound good, but accomplish nothing more than promote the real estate company.
Example: “We’ll send out 300 mail pieces to all the homes in your neighborhood!”
This is a way for the real estate company to advertise their company and generate listings. Neighbors are more likely to become sellers than buyers, and if a neighbor were interested in buying your home, the yard sign would be enough to let them know about it.
A Virtual Tour is available at a slight additional charge. We create a link in the Realtor.com listing that looks like a little red house that takes the buyer to the Virtual Tour. If your home is less than 4,000 square feet, the still photos are sufficient and we wouldn’t recommend a Virtual Tour.
Buyers and agents will be uncomfortable when you are home during a showing. Buyers tend to spend less than half the time on the showing when a seller is present, and buyers tend to remember those homes the most that they spent the most time in. Buyers are also inhibited about looking at everything as thoroughly as they otherwise would when a seller is on the premises. It is best for sellers not to be home during showings. The exception is when buyers don’t have agents, of course.
Because your price is too high. (Assuming you have good photos and easy access for showings). See Should I call the agent after a showing for feedback? for more on this).
There is something about your house that buyers don’t like, that they don’t know about until they see the inside. Typical issues:
- Bad floor plan
- Bad pet or smoke odors
- Need for significant renovation or improvements
- Poorly done remodeling jobs
- Lack of privacy
There is something about your house that buyers don’t like, that can be seen from the outside, which they don’t know about before they scheduled the showing.Typical issues:
- Busy street
- Big power lines
- Backing up to something undesirable such as retail or a freeway
- A FSBO sign.
When an agent wants to see your home, they can use CSS. Read more about that here.
When an unrepresented buyer wants to see your home, they will need your help to gain access to the property, because only realtors can access the electronic keybox. While some will say “I’ll just use a combination box”, we say “Not a great idea!” This is because a combination keybox offers no security, and the code can simply be shared with others who will then be able to gain access.
The best thing to do is to coordinate a time to meet the unrepresented buyers at your home, and stick around for the showing. They may want to ask you questions, or have you show them around. This is our one exception to the rule of “leaving your house for all showings”, as the unrepresented buyer will appreciate you taking the time to let them come by. Whether they want you to show them the property or not, definitely stick around while they are there.
REMEMBER: if you find an unrepresented buyer, you don’t have to pay the 3% buyer’s agent commission.
Forms, Offers, and Contracts
The form used for Contingency Contracts is the Addendum for Sale of Other Property by Buyer.
Should I accept a Contingency Contract?
A Contingency Contract is when a buyer offers to buy your house, but only after his house sells. If his house doesn’t sell, he can back out of the deal to buy your house.
If the buyer has the house he is selling under contract, and the closing is within 30 days, it’s worth the risk if it’s a solid contract.
If the buyer does NOT have the house he is selling under contract, then entering into a contingency contract with the buyer only benefits the buyer, not you. Once you enter the contract and it’s posted as such in the MLS, you will get drastically fewer showings.
You will probably waste a lot of time and money with your property effectively off the market, because the buyer’s property may never sell for what they want.
Contingent offers can be okay if you get the buyer to agree to list his property for the appraised value from an independent appraisal, and to agree in advance to periodic price drops until it sells. And if he doesn’t adhere to that agreement, the contract is canceled and he loses his earnest money. If this is part of the contract, you know that his house will eventually sell. The problem is that it isn’t so easy to get the buyer to agree to that.
Most Contingency Contracts fail because the seller doesn’t recognize the “red flags” and doesn’t take the proper precautions. They’re tricky and there are many variables, so if you are considering a Contingency Contract, we recommend you hire us for a nominal fee to negotiate it for you.
If you are selling a home that was built before 1978, the law requires that you notify the buyer of the possible risk of lead paint.
Click here to view or download a copy of the Lead Paint Disclosure form.
Decades ago, it was not uncommon for paint manufacturers to use lead in paint. White lead, when added to paint, decreased drying time and increased the durability of the paint and even enhanced certain colors. Both adults and children could be exposed to lead in the form of flaking paint chips and or paint dust falling from walls and ceilings.
People who inhaled the dust, or children who ate the sweet-tasting lead paint chips, frequently developed neurological problems, sustained organ damage (including kidney failure) or even died due to the effects of lead poisoning.
This is why in 1978 the federal government acted to ban the use of lead based paints in homes and on toys.
Some states still allow lead based paints to be used to paint lines on roads, but more and more states are opting for less toxic paints.
Full Representation and Buyers (Questions from Sellers)
As a seller, you want to be very wary of entering into a contract with a buyer who has not gotten a pre-approval for a loan. When you enter into a contract, you are effectively taking your house off the market. If you find out a month later that your buyer can’t get a loan, you’ve wasted a month and missed other potential buyers. It’s not wise to enter into a contact without obtaining a strong pre-approval letter from a reputable lender.
WARNING: There are unscrupulous lenders who routinely give pre-approval or pre-qualification letters to borrowers who they know will never get the loan.
Why? Because they charge the borrower all kinds of nonrefundable fees, often thousands of dollars. They play the game, tell the unsuspecting borrower they’ll get them the loan, string everybody along, and charge their outrageous fees. Then the day before the closing, the crooked loan officer tells the borrower how sorry he is that the underwriter didn’t approve the loan, and how he (the crooked loan officer) did everything he could to fight to get an approval. This happens most often with homes in the lower price ranges with first-time home buyers (under $130,000) and is most common in lower income areas and homes under $80,000. Low income borrowers, unsophisticated buyers, minorities, and people who have difficulty obtaining financing are the most common victims. The likelihood of it happening reduces as the price of the home and the income and education level of the buyer increases. As the seller, you want to get a Pre-Approval letter from a reputable lender whose name you recognize.
Questions About Title
A home warranty is a type of service contract that covers the repair or replacement of specified household appliances if they break down due to normal wear and tear.
A certificate of title is issued by a title company and states that the seller has a clear, marketable and insurable title on the property.
The term “cloud on title” means that there appears to be an outstanding claim or lien which adversely affects the marketability of said title.
Earnest money is a good faith deposit on the property that a buyer wants to purchase.
Title insurance protects the named insured against loss because of defects, liens, encumbrances, adverse claims or other matters not shown or disclosed to the new owner that attach before date of policy. All lenders will require title insurance to cover the loan amount, and buyers usually pay a little extra to cover them for the full purchase price. Usually the seller pays for this, although technically it is negotiable.
The Closing Process
Closing day (AKA settlement) is the day on which the property legally changes hands. Closing costs can vary, but click the link below to find a calculator that will help both buyers and sellers calculate their closing costs.
As of 8/1/2015, the HUD-1 has been replaced with the Closing Disclosure. It is a summary of all the costs involved in the purchase of a property. The below link provides further explanation of the forms, as well as a guide to read through and understand them.
The final walk-through is your last opportunity to inspect the property before finalizing the sale. See below for a detailed list of what to look for and how it works.
Most title companies are able to accommodate a remote closing. While we recommend that our sellers try and plan it out so that they are able to attend closing, we understand that it is not possible sometimes.
If you know you won't be present for the closing, be sure to speak with the title company to let them know, and see 1) if they are able to do a remote closing, and 2) what they need from you to make it happen.
Lenders and Financing
“Pre-qualified” generally means a borrower had a conversation with a mortgage company, and told a loan officer what their debts and income are. “Pre-Approved” generally means the borrower made a complete application with a mortgage company, and has provided paycheck stubs, bank statements, W-2s, and when applicable, tax returns. Technically, the term “Approved” means the loan has gone through underwriting, which can only be done after the property is identified and appraised and all conditions are met.
The problem is that various mortgage companies may use these terms loosely, and what is Pre-Approved to one company means Pre-qualified to another. The important thing is what the letter from the mortgage company says.
The mortgage company’s letter should state that:
- The borrower has completed and signed a loan application
- Has provided documentation showing income and assets
- The mortgage company has evaluated the borrower’s credit, and based on these items, the loan should get approved.
The only significant conditions remaining should be that the property is acceptable to the mortgage company (title and value), and that there is no material change in the borrower’s credit or situation such as loss of a job.
Whether you are the seller evaluating a buyer, or a buyer who wants to make an offer on a property, the only kind of letter you should consider is one that states a complete application with supporting documents and credit report has been made, and that these items meet underwriting requirements, or words to that effect.
Lender required repairs must be corrected by the seller before the mortgage bank will fund the buyer's loan.
FHA backed loans are easier to qualify for than conventional loans.
To qualify for a VA loan, the borrower must either be a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran (who was killed in the line of duty or died as a result of a service connected disability).
FHA and VA loans provide purchasers the opportunity to buy homes with minimal cash investment and at lower interest rates. There are some fees a seller must pay on behalf of the buyer that aren’t required for conventional loans. The fees normally range from $600 to $1,000. Sellers should verify what these charges are so they don’t get a surprise at closing.
Ultimately, lender non-allowables are closing costs that the seller is responsible for paying.
The state of Texas differentiates between a mortgage banker and mortgage broker.
A mortgage banker requires a larger net worth ($250,000) because it has the ability to engage in the entire loan process from origination through funding.
A broker originates the loan and then relies on outside sources to handle the rest of the process.
Most brokers cannot meet the financial requirements to originate FHA loans, whereas all mortgage bankers are able to originate FHA loans. In Texas, a broker and loan officers working under the broker must be state licensed. Loan officers working for mortgage bankers don’t need to be licensed because they are employees, and the mortgage company is federally licensed.
One point is equal to 1% of the new loan amount. Lenders often charge an “origination fee”, which is normally 1 point, in addition to points.
The greater the points, the lower the interest rate; the lower the points, the higher the interest rate.
Inspections and Appraisals
An appraisal is the estimate of the market value of a piece of property given by an impartial expert.
A professional appraisal will give the most reliable estimate of value, but it is not required prior to selling your home.
There are numerous types of inspections. An inspection is meant to evaluate, at minimum, the structural and mechanical condition of a property. It is not the same as an appraisal which evaluates the market value of a property. Persons involved in real estate transactions need unbiased information about the physical condition of property they plan to buy or sell. As a buyer, your contract should include an option period during which time you can cancel the contract and get your earnest money back if the inspection report is unsatisfactory or if the seller is unwilling to correct defects the report uncovers.
Click here to see a sample inspection. Please note that the format of inspection reports vary, and they don’t always include pictures or as much detail as this sample report.
Preparing for a home inspection is not really all that different than prepping your home for buyers.
Also referred to simply as a termite inspection, a wood-destroying organism inspection report is a written opinion by a qualified state licensed structural pest control inspector based upon what was visible and evident at the time of inspection. The inspection report does not represent or guarantee the structure to be free from wood-destroying organisms or their damage, nor does it represent or guarantee that the total damage or infestation is limited to that disclosed in the report. Wood-destroying organisms include subterranean termites, damp-wood termites, carpenter ants, wood boring beetles and wood decay fungus.
All About Our 2% Rebate Program
The first step is finding the home you want! Whether it's a new build or a pre-owned property, narrow it down to one or two final choices, and we'll take it from there. We are able to give you such a big rebate because you do the initial legwork of finding the house you want.
No, our 2% buyer’s rebate is not taxable.
No! In fact, home buyer rebates are legal in 40 U.S. states and counting.
Our fee is always a minimum of $1,500 or 1% of the transaction, whichever is greater. So for homes selling for under $150,000, the rebate will be less.
When less than 3% is offered as a commission, the rebate would be less accordingly.
The commission is often 2.5% for bank owned properties and short sales, so in those instances the rebate would be 1.5%.
The terms of the rebate are spelled out in our Buyer Representation Agreement.
Our listings provide that the sellers can avoid any commissions if they find an unrepresented buyer on their own. As a service to our sellers, we refer buyer inquiries directly to the sellers if the buyer does not have an agent. If they make a deal, we don’t charge any commission. The result is that you don’t get a rebate from us, but will very likely get at least that amount of a price reduction from the seller.
99% of the time, the buyer’s agent’s share of the commission is 3%. If you buy a house directly through the listing agent, all of that 3% will go into their pocket, along with the other 3% they are probably getting for listing the property (total of 6%). Even if you deal directly with the seller, the standard 6% listing contract states the listing agent still gets the full commission. No discounts for the seller finding the buyer, even if the buyer is his brother and the agent did absolutely nothing other than sign the listing agreement. To see the terms of 99% of all listing agreements, see the standard Exclusive Right to Sell Listing Agreement. The other factor is that almost all the big brokers don’t allow their agents to do the kind of discounting we do. And even if they were allowed, it still wouldn’t work, because after the agent splits the 3% with their broker, there wouldn’t even be enough left to give you 2%, even if they agreed to work for free!