Q: What do all of those real estate acronyms in the ads mean?
A: If you find yourself stumbling over weird acronyms in a real estate listing, don't be alarmed. There is method to the madness of this shorthand (which is mostly adopted by sellers to save money in advertising charges). Here are some abbreviations and the meaning of each, taken from a recent newspaper classified section:
- assum. fin. -- assumable financing
- dk -- deck
- gar -- garage (garden is usually abbreviated "gard")
- FDR -- formal dining room (not the former president)
- frplc, fplc, FP -- fireplace
- grmet kit -- gourmet kitchen
- HDW, HWF, Hdwd -- hardwood floors
- hi ceils -- high ceilings
- nr bst schls -- near the best schools
- pvt -- private
- pwdr rm -- powder room, or half-bath
- Wow! -- better check this one out.
Resources: * "Real Estate's Ambiguous Language You Oughtta Understand," Glennon H. Neubauer, Ethos Group Publishing, Diamond Bar, CA; 1993.
Q: What is the difference between list and sales prices?
A: The list price is how much a house is advertised for and is usually only an estimate of what a seller would like to get for the property. The sales price is the amount a property actually sells for. It may be the same as the listing price, or higher or lower, depending on how accurately the property was originally priced and on market conditions. If you are a seller, you may need to adjust the listing price if there have been no offers within the first few months of the property's listing period.
Q: What are the two most important factors when selling a home?
A: Price and condition are the two most important factors in selling a home, even in a down market. The first step is to price your home correctly. Use comparative sales information from your agent, or pay for a professional appraiser (usually $200 to $300), to objectively evaluate your home's worth. Second, go through the house and repair any obvious cosmetic defects that could deter a buyer. In a down market, you may have to consider lowering your price and/or making a major repair, such as replacing the roof, in order to lure a buyer. Also, make sure that your home is getting the exposure it deserves with good photos of the home both inside and out, listing on the local multiple listing service, and online marketing sites. If this isn't happening, take it up with your agent or agent's broker. If you are still not satisfied you are getting the service you need, you may have to switch agents.
Q: What is the difference between market value and appraised value?
A: The appraised value of a house is a certified appraiser's opinion of the worth of a home at a given point in time. Lenders require appraisals as part of the loan application process; fees range from $200 to $300. Market value is what price the house will bring at a given point in time. A comparative market analysis is an informal estimate of market value, based on sales of comparable properties, performed by a real estate agent or broker. Either an appraisal or a comparative market analysis is the most accurate way to determine what your home is worth.
Q: What is the difference between list price, sales price and appraised value?
A: The list price is a seller's advertised price, a figure that usually is only a rough estimate of what the seller wants to get. Sellers can price high, low or close to what they hope to get. To judge whether the list price is a fair one, be sure to consult comparable sales prices in the area. The sales price is the amount of money you as a buyer would pay for a property. The appraisal value is a certified appraiser's estimate of the worth of a property, and is based on comparable sales, the condition of the property and numerous other factors.
Q: How does someone sell a slow mover?
A: Even in a down market, real estate experts say that price and condition are the two most important factors in selling a home. If you are selling in a slow market, your first step would be to lower your price. Also, go through the house and see if there are cosmetic defects that you missed and can be repaired. Another option is to pull your house off the market and wait for the market to improve. Finally, if you who have no equity in the house, and are forced to sell because of a divorce or financial considerations, you could discuss a short sale or a deed-in-lieu-of- foreclosure with your lender. A short sale is when the seller finds a buyer for a price that is below the mortgage amount and negotiates the difference with the lender. In a deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure situation, the lender agrees to take the house back without instituting foreclosure proceedings. The latter are radical options. Your simplest, and in many cases most effective, option is to lower the price.
Q: How is the price set?
A: It's very important to price your home according to current market conditions. Because the real estate market is continually changing, and market fluctuations have an effect on property values, it's imperative to select your list price based on the most recent comparable sales in your neighborhood. Our Doll Team agents can provide a comparative market analysis which will provide the background data upon which to base your list-price decision. When you prepare to sell and are interviewing agents, study each agent's comparable sales report (the data should be no more than three months old). If all agents agree on a price range for your home, go with the consensus. Watch out for an agent whose opinion of value is considerably higher than the others.
Q: What are the standard ways of finding out how much a home is worth?
A: A comparative market analysis and an appraisal are the standard methods for determining a home's value. Your Doll Team Real Estate Agent will be happy to provide a comparative market analysis for you. This is an informal estimate of value based on comparable sales in the neighborhood. You will be able to see the listing prices of current homes on the market as well as those that have sold. You also can research this yourself by checking on recent sales in public records. Be sure that you are researching properties that are similar in size, construction and location. This information is not only available at your local recorder's or assessor's office but also through private companies and on the Internet. An appraisal, which generally costs $200 to $300 to perform, is a certified appraiser's opinion of the value of a home at any given time. Appraisers review numerous factors including recent comparable sales, location, square footage and construction quality.
Q: How do you prepare a house to sell?
A: Doing whatever you can to put your house's best face forward is very important if you want to get close to your asking price or sell as quickly as possible. Short of spending a lot of money, here are several ideas for making your home show better:
- Sweep the sidewalk, mow the lawn, prune the bushes, weed the garden and clean debris from the yard.
- Clean the windows (both inside and out) and make sure the paint is not chipped or flaking. And speaking of paint, if your home was built before 1978, new federal law gives a buyer the right to request a lead inspection. If you think you might have some problems, do the inspection yourself beforehand and make any fixes you can.
- Be sure that the doorbell works.
- Clean and spruce up all rooms, furnishings, floors, walls and ceilings. It's especially important that the bathroom and kitchen are spotless.
- Organize closets.
- Make sure the basic appliances and fixtures work. Get rid of leaky faucets.
- Make sure the house smells good: from an apple pie, cookies baking or spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove. Hide the kitty litter.
- Put vases of fresh flowers throughout the house.
- Having pleasant background music playing in the background also will help set your stage.