MySeller's Book

house

Why MyREALTY™.com
?


I built MyREALTY.com to assist the consumer in understanding and making real estate transactions. Our main objectives are to: 1) Simplify the real estate transaction process, 2) Save you time, and 3) Save you money. At MyREALTY.com, you or your real estate agent can post properties for free on the Global Listing Service™ (GLS), purchase marketing products used by real estate professionals, as well as, search for properties and locate real estate agents, lenders, and other service providers. This is your FREE and informative MyBuyer’s Book. We want all homeowners to be able to experience “MyMoment”; that place in the sun, that time away from it all, where MyREALTY.com wants to take you. Whether it's with a cold drink on your new patio or cuddling by the fireplace of your mountain getaway, MyREALTY.com will help guide you there.
 
 
As a former Realtor, Commercial and Investment Specialist, and owner of more than 10 homes, 50+ properties (including two subdivisions) and several commercial buildings, I am a big believer that all real estate is not necessarily an investment – especially when it comes to home ownership.  
If you want to purchase a house to convert into your own palace, please take the time to create a list of pros and cons and include time and money variables. Many folks simply want a home with a fenced yard for the kids and dog. The bottom line is that purchasing a home is ultimately more of an emotional decision than an investment decision. If home ownership is what you are after, then MyREALTY.com is here to help!


Thanks for visiting MyREALTY.com!

Todd Murphy

Todd Murphy
CEO and Founder, MyREALTY.com


MyTransaction:  Easier than you might think.

One of the things about which we most want to educate you is the transaction process, something which seems daunting to many people. The process is not that complex, but the stacks of forms required by real estate agents, lenders, title insurance companies, and escrow/closing companies or attorneys often make transactions appear overwhelming.

To simplify a real estate sale and purchase process, let's break it down into ten easy-to-follow components:

Seller’s Process

1. Decision to Sell
2. Preparation
3. Repairs - Checklist
4. Disclosure Statement / Form
5. Listing - FSBO or Agent
6. Offer / Buy-Sell Contract
7. Title Commitment (Report)
8. Renegotiation (if necessary)
9. Escrow / Closing
10. Moving and Storage

What does that word really mean?  Get to know the Realty and the Reality of Real Estate Terms with the MyREALTY.com Glossary.

Step 1.)  Decision to Sell


Sometimes circumstances make the decision to sell easy and sometimes it takes late nights of debate, culminating in an endless tally of pros and cons. Before you call a real estate agent or list your home for free on MyREALTY.com, consider these important questions:

-  Are you sure you can get a price that you need in your current home?
-  Are you sure you want to start out in a new neighborhood?
-  Can you afford the home you want to move into?
-  Have you considered an addition or remodel?
-  What about the move itself… oftentimes a lot of effort?  Have you budgeted for the move?
-  Are you prepared to clean, repair, and stage your home thoroughly for a sale?
-  How will you market your home?
 

Step 2.)  Preparation

Prepare your home for sale by making both the inside and outside appear as pleasing as possible.  Remember, you must strive to achieve that each potential buyer experience "the Moment" when they come to visit your home.
Any and all necessary repairs should be made prior to listing your property.  Download a convenient MyREALTY.com checklist.



Curb appeal — Are the grounds in perfect shape?  You must eradicate the yard of weeds and dandelions, the trees and shrubs should be pruned, there should be absolutely nothing in the yard, and the grass should be freshly mowed and completely green (lots of water and fertilizer in the weeks before the sale.)

Clutter — Get rid of the clutter. A home with too much clutter is like a date with too much makeup.  Keep your home décor simple. It's worth it to rent a storage facility to move the extra "things" out of the house and garage and away from the buyer.  Take down family photos and put away other personal items.  They only distract the buyer.  (And your Neil Diamond record collection might be too polarizing for the general public!)

Walls — Ensure that your walls are not only clean, but also freshly painted wherever necessary.  Paint is the best investment for a greater return on the sale of your home.  A $1000 in paintwork can bring another $10,000 in purchase price.  Don't go for trendy colors.  Keep them neutral.  The buyer can add the latest shade of orange when she moves in.

Flooring — Refinish your hardwoods and replace worn vinyl.  If your carpet is in good shape, ensure that a professional cleans it.  If it is showing wear, you should strongly consider replacing it.  I've often heard sellers say they would give a carpet allowance so a buyer could select their own carpet; however, buyers want a home that is ready to move into today.  Visit several carpet retailers to find what the popular colors and patterns are, then select a neutral and light colored carpet for the entire house.

Odors — It is especially offensive for non-smokers and non-pet owners to walk into a home that has smoke and pet (especially cat) odors.  The only way to ensure a great smelling home is through cleaning the walls, a fresh coat of paint, cleaning the drapes, and replacing the carpets.  When buyers are coming over, it might be a good idea to brew some coffee or cook some brownies.  Nothing welcomes someone home like dessert and a cup of joe.  Do not, however, go overboard with the incense, candles and sprays.

Property Report — It's in your interest as the seller to disclose everything you know about the property you're selling. With market comparables and the entire transaction history of your home, a MyREALTY.com Property Report gives you the power to price your home with confidence.

Step 3.)  Repairs

In addition to cleaning, make all necessary repairs. Repairs will include holes and scratches in the walls and flooring, leaking faucets and moldy tile grout in the kitchen and bathroom, and larger repairs like the broken garage door opener. If you don't like repairs hanging over your head, potential buyers won't be interested in your repairs hanging over their heads either.
We suggest you take our inspection checklist and peform your own inspection. Take one trip to the hardware store to purchase all
 materials and don't stop repairing until all items are complete.
If you don't have time, we suggest you pay for a home inspection and hire a handyman to make the repairs.

Here are some other little investments that bring big returns:

-  Replacing dirty or old light switch covers
-  A new coat of paint
-  New stain on wood features like decks and railings and trim on the windows and walls
-  Shelves: for extra storage in closets, garage, and storage areas
-  New and updated light fixtures
-  Curtains - professionally clean or replace
-  Thorough cleaning - inside and out
-  New doors, saving the best, most secure for front
-  A nice, raked yard is a wonderful and very inexpensive fix.
-  Replacing broken window panes

Here are some bigger projects that have proven worthwhile:

-  Put up a new wall and make a room (often doable for around $1,000)
-  Take out a wall and make a bigger room (plan for this or it could get ugly)
-  Refinished cupboards
-  New tub and shower.  If they're functional, just not pretty, then get a new shell
-  Add a garbage disposal
-  Gazebos always impress
-  See if more closet space is feasible
-  New, modern appliances (refrigerator being most important)




Simple Ways to Sell Your Home Faster

With the average number of home sales in 2006 down 20 percent, and the market slipping away from sellers in favor of buyers, your home may need more than just a fresh coat of paint. Here are some suggestions on how to move your home off the market:

-  For about $300, you can get an inspection of your home before you even talk to your first interested buyer.  Getting your own inspection shows you have nothing to hide.  Have a convenient list of any problems that came up during the inspection and what you've done to fix them.  Some of these issues you may choose to sell with the house, but at least you're being  forthright.

-  A home warranty. For about $400 you can compete with the newer homes on the market with a limited home warranty that covers all major appliances.

-  Have you heard about the recent phenomena of staging?  When buyers are looking at ten or twelve properties in a day, you want yours to be the most memorable.  Staging companies often move trendy furnishings into a home and find ways to best accentuate the qualities of your home.  According to statistics from Boulder, CO, staged homes sell 46% faster and staged condos sell 62% faster than homes without staging.

-  Offer to pay the closing costs.  Buyers are becoming savvy to the  real estate transaction process and an ad that offers to pay closing costs will serve a seller well.  According to a National Association of Realtors™ survey, offering to pay closing costs was recognized as a better reason to buy a home than paid vacations, free upgrades, free appliances and flooring    credits.

-  Make sure all of your ads, like fliers and your free MyREALTY.com listing, include the price of the property as well as the square footage.  Buyers don't want to dig for information.  Listings without price and square footage are more likely to be skipped for a listing that offers that information. Try as much as you can to avoid too many, if any, restrictions on when buyers can see your home.

-  Do not overprice your home.  In a buyers' market an overpriced home will sit on the market for a long time, eventually costing the owner more in expenses than they would have made if they'd priced their home appropriately and sold it sooner.

-  Small details usually bring you the greatest return.

-  Planters with flowers and trimmed trees immediately make your property's first impression more pleasing on the eye.  And if you do the work yourself, you haven't spend much more then twenty bucks.


Step 4.)  Disclosure

Seller should complete a disclosure form, which shows all defects that you are aware of.  To ensure you have no legal battles after a sale, we highly encourage you to Disclose! Disclose! Disclose!

See a sample and order your disclosure form.

Aside from avoiding the nightmares of litigation, buyers gravitate to a seller who is open about any problems with the property.



Step 5.)  Listing - Agent versus FSBO


Whether for sale by owner (FSBO) or with an agent, we can maximize the exposure of your home. 

 More than 80% of interested buyers start their search on the Internet. Get a FREE listing in front of millions looking for their next home on the Global Listing Service.

More than 70% of all homebuyers start their home search by looking for yard signs. The MyREALTY.com yard sign is
 professionally designed and tested to stand out and sell. 


Would you like to hire a real estate agent or are you ready to go it on your own?

GLS vs MLS

GLS™ stands for Global Listing Service™.  MLS is the Multiple Listing Service, which is a database of properties for sale in a region; there are as many as 1,000 disparate MLS in North America. The Global Listing Service gives you and your agent more control in finding a wider variety of properties on the market.  MLS has served well during its reign as the go-to real estate listing service.  However, after repeated calls for a more user-friendly database, one that includes all types of properties on the market and not just those under agent contract, MyREALTY.com created the Global Listing service

If you decide to work with an agent, remind him or her to place your home on the GLS.  It's free on MyREALTY.com.  If you've decided to go it alone and sell by owner,  then it's easy to post your Free Global Listing yourself.

For Sale By Owner vs. Agent


MyREALTY.com is a big supporter of real estate brokers and agents, especially when a large group of agents belong to the local MLS.  When you hire an agent and she places your property on the MLS, you have essentially hired hundreds, if not thousands of agents to bring you a buyer.  However, we strongly encourage you to have your agent post your property on the GLS, in addition to the MLS, in order to maximize your exposure. 

An agent should also bring a lot of experience to the process, he or she will likely place a lock box at your home to let other agents show your property, as well as, manage the paperwork and transaction process. If you've decided to post your property with an agent, we encourage you to interview three top agents and select the one that best suits your needs.
You can find agents at MyREALTY.com's service provider page, and you should also get referrals from people from the area you are moving into.  Some of the top things to look for in agents are:

-  Area of expertise?  Does he or she concentrate on medium priced properties in your neighborhood, luxury properties on the other side of town, or commercial and investment properties?

-  Home Sales experience… how many properties has he or she sold?

-  Average time of sale for the homes they list?

-  Average % of listing price that his or her listings sell for?

-  Years of experience?  There is an awful lot of agent attrition in the real estate industry, so seek those with the most experience. 
    Experience also translates to network and influence, ultimately meaning access to more homebuyers.

-  Written Comparable Market Analysis (CMA).  Did he or she bring one to the listing presentation, in addition to their qualifications?

-  Designations:  Realtor designates that she belongs to the National Association or Realtors - as discussed earlier.  GRI stand forGraduate Realtor™ Institute, CRS stands for Council of Residential Specialists, CRB stands for Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers, ALC stands for Accredited Land Consultant, and CCIM means that he is a Certified Commercial and Investment Member, who most likely specializes in commercial real estate or investment properties.     

-  Ask how he or she intends to market your home.  Many agents typically say that they will put your property in the MLS, place a yard sign, and put your property on the Internet. The key question here is, "where on the Internet?"  Simply putting it on their personal or corporate website is not enough; request that they also post your home on the GLS.  Some agents will also market your home in the local newspaper, but more and more classified advertising dollars are being driven to the Internet.

-  Once you select an agent, you will likely be asked to sign a listing agreement, which usually has a 180-day term. 

-   Make sure you disclose and exclude any parties, whom you may have already talked to about buying your property.

Download a list of the right questions to ask your Real Estate Agent from MyREALTY.com.

If you decide to go it alone (FSBO), you are able to post your property for FREE on the GLS and purchase additional marketing tools, like yard signs and virtual tours, at MyREALTY.com.

1. When considering offers from buyers, ask to see a copy of their pre-approval letter. This will ensure that you don't have to lose the home sale after several weeks, because the buyers could not secure financing for your home.
2.  Be familiar with the federal laws and other potential legal issues:

-  Lead based paint, typically found in homes manufactured before1978.
-  Asbestos, typically found in older tile/flooring, siding, insulation, adhesives, etc..
-  Pedophiles (and other sex offenders)
-  Race discrimination
-  Underground storage tanks
-  Mold and mildew

Determining Asking Price

What should my asking price be?  A recent Realtor™ survey showed the number one reason a home doesn't sell is because it's perceived as being priced too high. A well-informed buyer already knows the range of the asking price.  You likely have comparable properties and sales in your neighborhood.  An agent can help provide a comparable market analysis (CMA), and you should also purchase a complete property report at MyREALTY.com

Opinions of market value vary.  If you truly want to sell your home quickly, you should price your home to sell.  I know of many agents that would like to post your property - oftentimes at whatever price you think your home is worth.  Whether you market your home alone or through an agent, do your research and know your home's value before listing. Don't forget to factor in the cost of marketing your home - including commissions, title insurance, closing costs, etc.

Sit down and write out the strengths and weaknesses of your home. Only you know what your home's strong sales points are.  You can type up your own one page brochure, which includes all of the key marketing points.  We also encourage you to write a simple paragraph that explains your property's strengths.  This will be used for listing your property, and it will be a great tool for an agent to list your home.

Buy our complete Property Report, which includes a valuation.
-  Get a competitive market analysis from an agent. This usually is free if the agent is trying to earn your business.  Some agents
    charge $100 or so if you don't use them.
-  Obtain a complete Appraisal.

The Taxman Cometh


One of the most renowned benefits of home ownership is the ability to write off on your taxes the interest you pay on your mortgage.  Not only can you deduct the interest you pay on your principle mortgage, but any of the interest you pay on a home loan or home equity line of credit.  But what about the seller?  Know this: Internal Revenue Code 121 allows for a one-time, tax-free principal on residence sales profits up to $250,000 for an individual and up to $500,000 for a married couple filing their taxes jointly. All you need to do is occupy the home as your principal residence at least 24 of the last 60 months (2 of the last 5 years) before its sale.  Here's how to become a serial home seller, making tax-free profits just by fixing and flipping.
 
1.   You can use IRC 121 to your benefit every 24 months! 
2.   Find a house in a decent neighborhood that needs work (never a condo as you can't fix n' flip the entire building!) and find
      cost-effective ways to fix it up. 
3.  Avoid high crime areas (aka "bad neighborhoods") and homes that need too much work and you'll enjoy tax-free profits
     every two years!
4.  Keep in mind that you'll be moving a lot.Here's the official IRS 121:

SECTION 1. PURPOSE This revenue procedure provides guidance on the application of 121 and 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code to a single exchange of property.

SECTION 2. BACKGROUND.01 Section 121(a) provides that a taxpayer may exclude gain realized on the sale or exchange of property if the property was owned and used as the taxpayer's principal residence for at least 2 years during the 5-year period ending on the date of the sale or exchange. 

Section 121(b) provides generally that the amount of the exclusion is limited to a one time $250,000 ($500,000 one-time exclusion for married couples). You want to read the whole thing? Knock yourself out.



Step 6.)  MyOffer - Writing a Buy-Sell Contract

Once you've accepted an offer, it's time to create a contract.

Who can write a sales contract?  Anyone.
A real estate sales contract simply does the following:

-  Identifies the property being sold
-  Names the buyer and seller
-  States the amount of money the buyer will pay (consideration)
-  The date when title to the property will be exchanged for the money


And now some smart additions to any real estate sales contract:

-  A deposit explanation that declares how much the deposit will be, which will accompany the contract and who will hold the deposit money.

-   When and where the closing will take place.

-  If and when the property must be inspected or if it is to be sold "as is".

-  If any warranties are included with the property.

-  Whose insurance will cover the property until the closing date.

-  Notice of any disclosures on the property (lead paint is the big one, but anything, ANYTHING notable that could adversely
   affect the value of the property should be identified).

-  When will the buyers take possession?

-  Who will pay for pest, well, septic and other inspections, buyer or seller?

-  What is included and excluded with the property?  Refrigerator?  Washer/Dryer?

-  Any provisions for arbitration and disputes.

-  Any other contingency you can think of.  Who will pay if there is termite damage?  If the roof is old, will the sellers
    replace it?

-  Clear the title.  Does the buyer own the property outright? 

A real estate contract must also say something to the effect that "This is a legally binding contract, so if you do not understand it, please get legal advice before signing."

Some notes:  including a plat map with the county's official location of the property is a good idea.  Streets change and so do addresses but a surveyed plat of the property will remain the same. 

Homes and buildings are often referred to as "improvements" and land is called "real property."


Step 6.)  MyTitle Commitment - Preliminary Title Report

As a seller, you typically pay for title insurance, which provides the buyer assurance that he is getting clear title to a property. Title insurance is prepared by title company in preparation of title insurance policy.  From a cost perspective, it is pretty much a commodity since rates are filed with the  county and/or state.  However, service and claims provide differentiation.  Most sellers (and buyers) know very little about title companies and simply rely on their agent to suggest a title company. 

A preliminary title report is the document, which is prepared on a property once an escrow is opened. It provides all kinds of information about the  property that is essential for a buyer to see, such as who owns the property, what kind of exceptions to title are currently of record (like easements, liens and encumbrances).

The preliminary title report then becomes the final title report, on which title insurance is based. In addition to specific exceptions to title that will be listed on a title report, it will also list standard exclusions from coverage.

In almost every real estate transaction, the buyer has the right to approve or object to the preliminary title report and back out of the deal unless the seller can provide clean title by eliminating certain exceptions to title prior to closing. But, a buyer will only have a short period of time during which to act on the preliminary title report.

So, it's extremely important for a buyer to carefully review a preliminary title report immediately and to take appropriate action if there are any unacceptable exceptions to title - including the hiring of a good real estate attorney.

With respect to Title Insurance, who is insured?

The lender, any future investors and, if an owner's policy is issued, those buying the property. 

What amount does it cover? 

Typically it covers the amount of the mortgage and the sales price for the owner.

What is being insured?

Clear title to the real property.  It insures against a prior owner (or relative of a prior owner) coming back to try and claim ownership of the property.

What do I need to acquire title insurance?

You must have proof of that property taxes were paid, have the signed Sellers’ (or Owners') Affidavit explaining that the seller or owner is not aware of anything that would adversely affect the title.

Also, any open mortgages, judgments or liens that the abstractor found, bearing against the property, must have been canceled and a survey from a licensed surveyor or a survey waiver must be signed at closing.



Step 8.)  MyRenegotiation

If you've found issues with defects in the house (from disclosure statement, home inspection report), clouds on the title (from title commitment or your own due diligence), etc., you need to negotiate any remedies prior to the date specified in your buy-sell contract. 
We recommend that you have major items repaired by the seller, as opposed to taking a reduction in price, as the actual cost may turn out to be more than the estimated price - especially when it comes to new roofing, foundation repairs, or mitigation of mold/mildew, radon, termites, etc.

Step 9.)  MyClosing

Typically, the closing is coordinated by an escrow agent from a title company, although an attorney is required in Alabama, Massachusetts, Delaware, Georgia and North Carolina. If you've selected a good closing entity (title company or attorney), the closing should go off without a hitch. You should have received your settlement/closing statement (HUD-1 form) at least three days before closing.  It is at the closing when you must bring a cashier's check with the balance of your down payment.

What is escrow?

Escrow is an account handled by a neutral third party. It holds documents and money in a real-estate transfer until all conditions of a sale are met. When selling homebuyers will accompany their offers with earnest money at approximately 1% of the asking price.  This money expresses the buyers "earnest" intent of buying your home and is put in escrow.  If you accept the offer and they buy your home, then the earnest money is typically applied to their down payment. 

Escrow also accrues money from your monthly mortgage payment that is applied to home insurance and property taxes.



Step 10.)  MyMove

Moving your household – go it alone or hire a professional moving company.  Find movers and storage at MyREALTY.com.  You can also download several useful lists.

Even before you pack anything you should:

-   Go to the post office and fill out a change of address form or pay a small fee and do in online through their website.

-  Change address with IRS,  banks and credit card companies (think of the things you don't want showing up at the wrong house.)

-   Find a new bank in your new city. It's a good idea to set up a checking account.

-  Contact any subscriptions, cable and Internet.

-  Contact utilities and switch your address. 

-  Ask your current dentists and doctors for referrals. You might need a new pharmacy too.

-  What church or civic organization will you be a part of in your new town?  You should close out current memberships as well.

-  Rental trucks and movers need advanced reservations, so give them a call now.  Make any necessary travel arrangements.

-  What about pets?  You'll want to plan how they'll get to your new home.

-  Taking down serial numbers and creating an inventory of your belongings is a good idea.  Insurance companies also recommend
 video taping your belongs.  You'll also want to make copies of important documents before mailing or moving them.

-  Get more boxes than you ever imagined you'd ever need. You'll need them.

-  Color code boxes for different rooms or mark them clearly. Give yourself time to be organized.  Check closets, basement and any
 nooks and outbuildings for your belongings.

-  Eat your inventory.  Dine-in more and clean out your cupboards.

-  Get ready to buy some pizzas to tempt friends to help you move. 

-  Contact the Division of Motor Vehicles for driver's license, auto registration and tags.

-  Find the hospitals, police stations, veterinarian and fire stations near your home.

In Conclusion

If you're selling then you've most likely been involved in at least the buying side of a real estate transaction.  The insight you gained will be helpful to get the most for your property.  Yet at MyREALTY.com we are a little obsessed with getting you the right information; the inside stuff and the important things you might overlook, as well as our many available tools to move your house off a sluggish market. 

What final point might we leave with you?  Again, as a seller, it comes down to Disclose, Disclose, Disclose! It's the best remedy against collapsed closings and prolonged legal battles. 

If you go FSBO (For Sale By Owner), remember that statistics show what you save on real estate commissions is often countered by smaller profit margins.  A professionally trained Real Estate Agent will earn his or her keep by getting you the highest price the market will bear for your home.  And that brings us back to another important point: legally, real estate agent commissions cannot be fixed and therefore are negotiable! 

Getting the price you want for you home without the legal and financial hassles comes down to the details.  We do our best to take care of those.  We know you're busy with your own life so we dedicate ours to picking at buy/sell transactions until everything is exposed.  If you haven't found all the right sales tools, or you haven't seen the answers you need on the MyREALTY.com blog, the MyREALTY.com Forum and MyREALTY.com Glossary, then contact us to let us know how we can help.

Finally, like an overzealous mother, we also have some Real Estate "Do's and Don'ts" to download and take with you. 



All content Copyright 2010, MyREALTY.com Inc.