Price Maximization Analysis
When we first meet, we’ll do a thorough walk-thru of your home to discuss its strengths and any potential weaknesses.
Are there defects that we should resolve if it can be done cost-effectively? For example, does the basement leak? Maybe for a few hundred dollars we can fix it by extending gutters and doing some minor regrading in the yard.
Does it make sense to paint a room, change a light fixture, or plant or remove some shrubs, in order to give the house a little more shine?
Any repairs or improvements will be up to you—we will just try to give you the full benefit of our knowledge and experience. Since we’ve been rehabbing and flipping houses forever, we know many cost-effective ways to solve problems or enhance a home’s presentation on a budget.
If you want, we will give you a written list of recommendations of the most cost-effective, bang-for-the-buck improvements you may consider making, and our recommendations on how these will affect sale price and enable you to beat the other active listings.
Remember: the buyer is going to buy the best house for the price in the neighborhood. You have to take a cold-blooded look at how you stack up against the competition.
We frequently work with a company named Design-to-Market, a firm which specializes in home staging and decoration. If you wish, they can advise us regarding how to maximize the effect of your current furnishings, paint colors, and the like. They are true experts in home presentation.
If your home is vacant, they provide staging services—providing and arranging furnishings, paintings and other items to show how the house really works and looks. If you want us to bring them in, there will be an additional fee
Repairs and Improvements
If you decide to do any repairs or improvements, we will offer to do them for you at wholesale prices. We will take the hassle and stress of having to find good contractors, negotiate with them, schedule them, and oversee the projects off your shoulders. We work with contractors whom we’ve been doing business with for many years. In exchange for our repeat business they do the work at a labor rate 40-50% less than they would charge a one-time customer. We will take the hassle off your hands, and oversee the work, making sure it is done properly and that you’re satisfied before payment is made.
A major part of the sales process is the home inspection. This frequently makes or breaks the deal. The buyer will have a professional inspector inspect the home. It’s the inspector’s job to point out every possible problem, and they do. Almost always, the buyer will request that something be fixed, something you may never have known about, or that you know about and think is ridiculous. If you agree to do some repairs (and you probably will to keep the deal, that’s just how it works), you can delegate the repairs to us and we’ll handle them, again at wholesale prices. You won’t have to hunt for that plumber, carpenter, roofer or furnace guy, under tremendous time constraints, to do jobs you resent doing in the first place. And it will get done right, because we’ve used all these guys many times before.
You are probably going to want to prepare the home for the market by having it thoroughly cleaned, maybe polish the hardwood, and perhaps have some landscaping done or the yard cleaned up. We can arrange for cleaners, flooring people and landscapers to take care of these items as well.
Tax Appeal Analysis
Frequently the county auditor inflates the value of a house and charges too much property tax. We will look at what the auditor says your house is worth and tell you whether we think the auditor has over-valued it such that you’ve been paying too much in property tax. If it is substantially over-valued we can file a tax appeal for you and represent you at the board of revision hearing. Since the real estate taxes are paid a year in arrears (your January bill is for January-June of the previous year) you may receive a sizable refund. Also, reducing the taxes on the house will make it more attractive and affordable for the buyer, giving you a competitive advantage. There will be no charge for the tax appeal analysis; if you have us prepare the appeal and represent you at the hearing, there will be a charge for that.
All contracts are reviewed by the owner of ThinkSmart, an experienced attorney. Michael Samuels graduated Harvard Law School in 1985 and has been practicing real estate law since then. Attorney review is included in our flat fee.
In many states, you can’t sell your home without attorney review and involvement. You are dealing with a contract for one of the largest, if not the largest, transaction in your life, and it needs to be done correctly. You want the contract to be air-tight; you want the language to be drafted correctly to protect your interests.
A real estate agent does not have the knowledge or training to handle legal issues that may arise. Two examples that have arisen recently:
We were representing a client who was purchasing vacant land for his daughter, who planned to build a daycare center. At closing, the title company presented a title insurance policy that took an exception for “covenants indicated on land plat . . .” Normally, the title policy is not something an agent would look at—it’s a legal document beyond the agent’s expertise or interest. But Michael, reviewing the title policy, understood that the covenants could impose restrictions on the use of the property. He demanded that someone go to the recorder’s office and bring back a copy of the covenants before the closing was completed. It turned out that one of the covenants said that nothing could be built on the property without a specific individual’s approval. In other words, a person that no one involved had ever even heard of completely controlled construction on the property. Obviously, we didn’t close that day. It took the title company about a month to find the individual and get him to release the covenant. Once the problem was fixed, our client bought the property and his daughter built the daycare center. The bottom line is the client could very easily have purchased the property and been unable to build. Without an attorney involved, the client would have been faced with a horrible situation in which he had purchased a worthless property, and probably would have had to sue the seller and title company to attempt to resolve the situation.
We were representing a seller who purchased a property, fixed it up, and resold it. The buyer had an FHA mortgage. The buyer was all packed up and ready to move in. The day before closing the lender said that FHA rules prohibited a sale until 90 days after the seller’s deed was recorded, and that it would be another three weeks before the sale could close. We presented to the lender the actual regulations governing FHA mortgages, which said that you can resell the property 90 days after the seller bought the property, not 90 days after the deed was recorded. We proved that the seller purchased the property more than 90 days before, and that that there had simply been a delay in recording the deed. We closed the next day, rather than suffering an unnecessary 3-week delay.
These are just a couple of examples of how having a lawyer involved and available saved the deal. Selling a home is a major transaction, and it’s not always simple and straightforward. Often the knowledge, skill and training of an attorney can make all the difference.
An In-depth Comparative Analysis
We provide an in-depth Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), and help you decide upon an appropriate list price. The CMA looks at recent sales of similar houses in the neighborhood, as well as current active listings to see what kind of competition you have.
We list your property in the Multiple Listing Service and all the other home-selling websites, like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. We take professional-quality photos of the home, and place a professional, high-end sign in the yard. We schedule showings and hold open houses.
We negotiate the contract, in consultation with you, and oversee the entire process through closing, handling any glitches that may occur along the way.
You are not bound by a listing contract
Most important, you will not be bound to keep your listing with us if for some reason you would like to make a change. The listing contract will include a clause stating that if for any reason you are not happy with us, you can cancel the contract and list with someone else. It’s never happened, but it’s there. No one should have to work with someone they’re no longer happy with, especially on something as important as selling your home.
Other companies’ listing contracts require that you keep the property listed with them for a specified time. Let’s say you have a six month contract, and after four weeks you’ve had no communication, feedback, response—you’ve justifiably soured on your agent. Sorry, you’re stuck—you’ll have to wait another five months for the contract to expire before you can move on. Yuck. Who needs that?