If you were to stay, what would you do next?

I really like asking this question to my potential seller clients. Along with my suggestions of what the seller should do to make their home ready to sell, I like to ask them what they themselves would do to the house if they decided to stay. Things like paint the living room, or recarpet the upstairs, or replace some shrubs around the house that were on their last leaves, or fix some rotten wood around the windows. These are, coincidentally, the same things that potential buyers will be saying about your home. 

When the seller thinks about this question, it helps them understand better what the potential buyer will be thinking as they view their home. These unaddressed issues can become costly to the seller during offer negotiations as well. For instance let's say a room needs to be painted. The seller can paint or pay someone to paint. Let's say the opt to have it painted for $500. More often than not, if the seller does not paint, the buyer will ask for money to cover the cost of painting once they move in. And magically, their cost estimate can be many times the actual cost, when negotiated. 

So, when thinking about repairs around your home, the money you invest in making your home nice could be much less than what a buyer will ask you for to complete the same task. 

Talk to your favorite Real Estate agent to find out more about getting your home ready for sale. Or call den Boer Homes and let us become your new favorite Real Estate professional. 

New Office!



Atlanta Communities opened up their new Woodstock office last week and it is beautiful! We took a bank building on the main drag through Woodstock and converted it to a great new 18000 sq ft office space. First floor is reception and agent offices as well as conference areas. 

The second floor has a full kitchen, agent offices, and a great training room that holds over 100 agents at a time.The third floor has more agent space as well as a full video studio and separate pod cast area for the agents to use free of charge.Outside, under the old drive through, 5 new eight seat picnic tables are arranged for agents to enjoy some fresh air. 

If you find yourself in the area, please stop in and look around. This new space provided by our terrific management team is sure to fire up the 380+ agents working from this facility. 

We need to sell first, but let's go look!

There are many times that home sellers need to be looking for the next home. If there home sells before they find the next one they could end up homeless and/or in an expensive hotel until they can find and move in to the next home. This dance of trying to have back to back closings is always a bit stressful for everyone. 

But what if the potential sellers are not even thinking of selling their home for 6 months and want to start looking for the next one? Well, if they are amenable to putting their home up for sale quickly once the next home is found, and the market will support a quick sale , then fine. But what if these conditions don't exist? 

I am afraid these folks might be wasting everyones time. What if you do find that perfect next home? Do you really believe it will still be there waiting for you in 6 months? Probably not. I would suggest waiting until you are a bit closer to the date you wish to list your home before hitting the streets looking for the next home. This will save you, and everyone else the heartache of watching that perfect next home go to another buyer who is ready to pull the trigger. 

Should I be Concerned With How My Home Is Marketed?

I love marketing. When done correctly, magical moments happen. In Real Estate these moments show up as sellers receiving more for their home than they expected, and quicker than they hoped. Good marketing drives higher prices and returns quicker sales in Real Estate. 

When getting your home ready for sale, we all intuitively know where we need to put our dollars. Usually in the visual parts of a home. For instance, money spent on a new Thermostat or a home warranty are nice additions to a home and can be talked up by the listing agent, but can be lost on a buyer. A new coat of paint or upgraded kitchen appliances usually stand out in a home and can be observed and appreciated by potential buyers without someone taking the time to show them. 

When getting a home ready to sell, make sure 1) you have all safety issues resolved and 2) look to see where you can make the biggest visual impact to improve your home. This will bring you more marketing bang for your bucks. 

If you would like to hear more about how great marketing can help you sell your home for more money, give us a call at den Boer Homes.  

Would you buy a car from them?

Here is an interesting scenario...You wake up today and decide this is the day to go buy a car. You have looked around a bit, but you don't really know enough yet about what you want to purchase, so you decide to hit two dealerships today and look at 2 different cars you are interested in.You pull into dealer number 1 and you are greeted by a very nice salesperson who seems attentive and asks you about what you are looking for. You respond with several ideas and ask the salesperson about a specific car. The sales person pulls out a spec sheet and reads to you several answers to your questions. You are then taken out to the car and you get inside. You ask the nice sales person how this and that works and they cheerfully say, not sure, lets test it out. 

After looking a bit longer you leave to go to the next dealership. There you are greeted by a salesperson just as nice and welcoming as the first. They ask lots of questions about what you are looking for as well. There is a difference though. The salesperson seems to know the answers to your questions as you ask them. No looking up spec sheets. When you ask about seeing the car, you are taken to it and as you sit inside the salesperson reviews with you your needs and suggests 2 other cars they think you might like. You hadn't thought about those choices. 

When you ask the salesperson how they know all about these cars, they reply, as each new car hits our lot I read up on them and learn everything I can about them. I then take them out for a test drive so I can relate to my customers how the car feels and acts while driven. I know my inventory. 

Impressed, you buy from this knowledgeable salesperson. They know their stuff. 

Many Real Estate agents only see homes that are requested by their clients. At den Boer Homes, we preview homes on the market and actually keep notes on the homes we see. That way when a client asks us about an area, we can talk knowledgeably about the local inventory. 

We believe this is the best way to serve our clients. If you agree that this makes sense, give us a call today and let's discuss your buying and/or selling needs. 

Fees, Fees, and More Fees!

 iBuyers. These are the big, well financed companies that come in and offer to buy out sellers and even move them to the next home. On the surface this sounds really good. 

Maybe too good?The theory is that these companies can save a seller from the trials and tribulations of having buyers tromp through their home, open houses that inconvenience them, and dealing with crazy offers. I believe that their are some times when these business models mesh well with sellers. Perhaps for an estate sale when the owners don't want the hassle of dealing with the sale process, or maybe when the owners reside out of the area. 

All of this comes with a cost though. Between fees the seller is required to pay, the repairs they are required to complete, and the sub-market prices offered to some sellers, this type sale can cost 9-10% in total fees. 

As to saving the hassle of showings and open houses, homes have typically been selling rather quickly here in our market with only one open house. Most clients don't mind because all this activity typically leads to the fastest sale for the highest price. 

So, when discussing the sale of your home to one of these iBuyers, make sure to ask about total costs for selling your home. Then call a trusted agent to review your options.

Curb their Enthusiasm!


Ever pulled up to the front of a home, and even before you leave your car, you fall in love with the home? How about just the opposite. You pull up to a home and decide to not even slow the car down. I call this a drive by. Something about the home just turned you off. It could be something you just can't put your finger on. Or it could be the car up on blocks in the front yard. Either way, these situations both involve what we in Real estate call Curb Appeal. 

Curb Appeal has to do with how a home looks like upon first glance from the street or curb. Hence the name. Believe it or not, the curb appeal of a home can make or break the sell of a home. This appeal is fairly easy to control with just a little bit of work. Watch my video above to get a few pointers how you can improve your home's curb appeal, and as a consequence, its saleability. So make sure you don't Curb a potential buyer's enthusiasm for your home! 

Sorry, does not exist here.

Friday I spoke with a gentleman looking to relocate from Tennessee to this area to be near his kids. He has a home on a lake in Tennessee and would like to have the same here. Luckily, we are blessed with 2 great lakes in this area, so we started discussing exactly what he was looking for. 

The gentleman was looking for a townhome community on the lake with a great view and a dock, or at least access to one. My problem is that we do not have townhomes on the local lake. It is surrounded by single family homes. 

My new client was adamant that there has to be some because they have them in Tennessee. And that, dear readers, is the issue. 

You hear all the time that real estate is local. This is very true in all aspects of the business. Pricing is different. Homes are different. Schools are different. And in this case, while another area seems to have a number of Townhomes on a lake available for sale, in my area we do not. I think this was a rude awakening for my client. 

He may have to reset his ideas of what kind of home he would like if he still wants to be on the lake. Because if all he wants is a Townhome on the lake, well, sorry, does not exist here. 

What do you do all day?

I wonder sometimes if our clients see Real Estate professionals as people who get up around 10am. Go meet friends for coffee. Have a long lunch. call a few people in the afternoon. And then call it a day. They might if you don't help explain the process as you go about helping them. 

There is definitely value added to our clients every minute of the day as a true professional goes about their work. It might not be obvious at first, but the value is there. 

For instance, a typical day for me consists of getting to work around 7:30 in the morning. This is my quiet time when I work on writing blogs, captions for photos, listing narratives, and other word intensive projects. All of this hones my written communication skills that use to my clients advantage. 

I also do research on the areas I work in so that when I speak to buyers and sellers I have the knowledge they are seeking about what is for sale and for how much. There are also days when I am out in these neighborhoods previewing these homes as well so that I can speak from experience to buyers and sellers about the market. 

During the day I also work on video projects that not only help keep my clients informed, but also help hone my skills with verbal communication. There are also times when I work on software projects to learn how to better show off my listings in social media and make my videos and pictures the best they can be, all for the benefit of my clients. 

Then there is the normal stuff of the day. Writing and receiving contracts. Negotiating for my clients. Working with contractors and talking to agents. Oh, and the occasional class time to keep up with everything else. 

While these are only the normal things during the day that come to mind, there is also the unexpected and crisis type issues that flare up and have to be contended with. A pretty full day. 

So I guess the 10am wake up call and morning coffees will have to wait for retirement. 

Hey Is that Rain I see?

It has been a very wet last year for many states in the south and west this year. I can remember moving to New Jersey after college to take my first job, and there was an article in a magazine shortly after arriving about a dried up lake not far from the apartment. They had a shot of the Governor standing in the middle of a dry lake bed, lamenting that we would see more of this in the future. 

Fast forward to today. The local lake here is 4 feet over "Full Pool" and they are having to release copious amounts of water from the lake, flooding areas downstream. We had 2 days of pretty nice weather then more rain today. Why the concern about rain for the average home owner or buyer? Well, water is something that does not play well with the interiors of homes. It hastens the development of wood rot, insect damage, and mold growth. 

When looking for a home, it is always smart to walk around the outside of a home to see if the landscape slopes away from the house, as it should. Is the yard graded in such a way to move water away and not allow it to collect? Also, if the home has a basement, follow your nose. I can normally smell a damp basement from a mile away. (OK, at least from the top of the stairs.) 

And when selling, it is wise to make sure that all gutters are clean and ready to collect rain water. Also, make sure the downspouts have plastic extensions to direct water out into the yard. Check the drainage for the air conditioner as well to make sure condensation water is not just dripping at the foundation but away from it. 

These seem like common sense things to do, but in the heat of the moment, when you are visualizing your furniture in that perfect house, these things can be overlooked. 

Snow! Head for the Emergency Shelters!

Atlanta and snow don't mix well. While we do get some snow each year, it hardly ever amounts to much. But when we get those huge 2" blizzards, we can be socked in for hours! 

Seriously, we have very little in the way of snow removal equipment since we hardly ever need it. They do apply a brine solution to the roads and that seems to help. And even if we did have the equipment, more often than not we get ice instead of snow. 

Today they are calling for about an inch of snow. The roads have been treated, all the bread and milk is gone from the store shelves, and schools are already closed for today. All this, and it was close to 50 degrees outside this morning when I awoke. It is good to be prepared.

 So instead of continuing my observations on the state of todays weather, I need to get out and find some bread and milk. Wish us luck!  

Rental Aversion

I admit it. I have rental Aversion. This is a disease that afflicts many real estate agents. It starts with someone asking for help finding a rental home. It quickly progresses to an eyelid twitch, followed by a neck spasm. The ability to speak can be affected as well, with the afflicted stammering and making no sense. It is a rough disease to deal with. 

Why did I come down with this horrible disease? Well it all started when leasing agents started offering $100 or less to agents who bring qualified renters to their property and end up renting. $1500 per month rents and $100 or less payouts. This means that I actually lose money on these deals whenever I work with a renter. In some states it is common to split the first months rent between agents and even pay again upon renewal, just not here in Georgia. 

Oh sure, I know the story about renters eventually becoming homeowners. I have seen it happen. About as often as seeing the unicorn walk through my backyard. So why do I even bother at all? Well, there are two really good reasons. 

The first, I take any and all referrals from past clients as long as I can physically and reasonably help. I feel as though past client referrals should always be considered to reinforce my appreciation to them for thinking about me in any real estate related business. 

Second, there is a large section of the real estate industry that is underserved by real estate professionals. These people have real needs and should not be ignored. I can't make a living serving only renters, but I can certainly help when I can. 

Looking to rent? (Twitch, twitch). Let's talk about it and see if for the same money or less we can put you in a home. 

Sellers Left a What?

Interestingly, sometimes Sellers leave behind things that they think the buyer might want, or is just too difficult to get rid of. For example, I have often seen paint cans left for the new buyers. In theory, this helps the new buyers identify what the colors are in the home if they need to repaint. For sellers, paint is notoriously hard to dispose of so in a perfect world, this works for both sides. 

The problem is that often the paint is years old, moldy, and/or dried up. A paper list of paint color information works much better. The buyer ends up trying to find a way to get rid of all the old paint. 

I also have seen grills, porch furniture, swing sets, and many other items left at the home as they leave. Luckily, the new 2019 contracts specifically state that not only does the home need to be "Broom Swept", but it specifically states that the seller cannot leave anything behind that has not already been agreed to be left behind in the contract. It also says that objects in the home cannot be removed without being replaced with substantially the same thing. 

In order to stay out of contract difficulties, make sure you have a professional Real Estate agent at your side. 

Did You Hear Me?

Good agents pride themselves on how well they listen. Good clients should listen as well. Here is a case in point. 

I recently spoke to a good friend who was looking to sell their home and purchase a single level home to get rid of stairs. They wanted to go look at homes right away. I asked, do you need to sell before you can buy? They surprised me by saying, no, their loan officer said we are approved for $650,000 with a VA loan and did not require them to sell their current home. I immediately suspected a problem, but realized that financial situations change. So we went looking. 

Several times in the next week I asked again about the loan process. The clients were adamant that they were "Approved". I still had my doubts and told them that I would suggest they talk again to their loan officer. 

You see, VA loans allow for an amount of total loans over a period of time. My clients last home purchase was with a VA loan, and that used up some of their VA loan amount availability. I believed this is what my clients had heard and misunderstood. I discussed this with my clients but they still said they were approved. 

Fast forward a week and we find the home they want. I ask them to go get the pre-approval letter from their lender and when it comes in, right at the top, contingent upon sale of their home. Once again, they asked me to look over the letter again, because it says they are approved. Yes, I said, but with a contingency. You see, these clients were so in to buying a new home, they did not listen to or understand what the loan officer was telling them. They also did not listen to me, their agent, as I gently inquired about their approval. 

Several lessons here. 1) I as their agent should push more forcefully when I suspect there is a mis-communication, and 2) Buyers should carefully listen to their agent and loans officers as they start the process of purchasing a home. 

New Home Sales - It's All About The Builder



New homes are much like new cars. As soon as you enter either one you see a beautiful clean home, with everything new. You are also surrounded by that wonderful aroma of newness. That smell that we also always say, If I could just bottle that smell and sell it! 

New is wonderful too in that it usually comes with a handful of warranties. The home could have a 10 year structural warranty, all the new appliances have their original warranties. What could go wrong? Cue the dark clouds across the sun with creepy background music. 

The contract you sign to buy a new home is usually written by the builder. When I write an offer for my buyers on a resale, I use a state contract vetted by the real estate board. These contracts go out of their way to protect our buyers and the agents that represent them. Not so much with builder contracts. 

The builders are not usually being nefarious. They are just protecting their own interests. And, most of the time these contracts do not get in the way of completing a sale. There are things to watch out for, however, and that's why the help of a professional real estate agent is so necessary even when buying that new home. 

So, if you are looking at purchasing a new home, hire a professional agent to help you navigate through the maze of issues. We can even bring some prerecorded creepy music to play at just the right time! 

Hidden Reasons to Hire a Professional Real Estate Agent

Did you know your real estate agent has superpowers that you are unaware of? It's true. Now, you usually won't find us in a cape looking to fly out a second floor window unless a deal has gone bad. But we do have hidden powers.

 For instance, it is critical during negotiations that your agent and the Buyer/Seller agent on the other side of your transaction get along. I have seen too many deals go sour, not because the buyer and seller can't agree, but because the agents are trying to out do each other thumping their chests. Professional agents learn quickly that they can help their clients better if they get along with others. 

The next super power? We carry clout. That's right. For instance, I showed a new construction home over the weekend and my client was asking me about getting things in writing from the builder. I assured her that all things promised will be put in writing. What keeps the promiser from doing what they promise? Well, the law for one thing, but the other is one of our super powers. If a builder causes issues with a deal, the agent has the ability to discuss this transgression far and wide by talking to other agents. This tends to put a damper on new sales for this builder by agents, and the builder would rather not get a bad rep amongst the agents they deal with. 

So, next time you look to hire a professional real estate agent, make sure to ask them what their super powers are. 

What do you mean it won't close?

Ever had to tell a Seller right before closing that the deal has died? These can be terrible words to hear especially if the Seller has already moved out and is anticipating the purchase of another home. I have seen this domino effect cascade through many closings, with the first default causing a chain reaction down the line. 

Does this really happen? Yes, it does. Fortunately, if a deal is going to fall through, it usually does so in the first week to 10 days after the contract is signed, or the due diligence period. Deals might end for many reasons including Buyer cold feet, an inspection issue that cannot be resolved, financing problems, and so on. 

What can be done to mitigate these issues? Make sure the home being sold is in the best shape the Seller can put it in. When an offer arrives, check the lender conditions carefully. Are the Buyers pushing the limits of their credit worthiness? Is the lender local and have good standing in the community? 

All these things and more are why Sellers hire professional real estate agents. We know how to watch for warning signs and help guide our clients around obstacles that could endanger the deal. 

Should I ask for the Moon?

I received an amendment to address concerns yesterday from a buyers agent representing buyers under contract with my seller clients. The email started off saying, "Tried to be reasonable about our requests..." This always worries me when I see this. It usually means the requests will be quite unreasonable. Luckily, in this case they were not. 

Let's go back to what is an amendment to address concerns. It is a form the the potential buyer sends to the sellers after they have done an inspection of the property. They ask for things turned up in the inspection to be fixed. I have seen amendments with one line item, and I have seen amendments with multiple pages. 

Sometimes a buyer will make a very reasonable offer on a home only to ask for the moon after the inspection in hopes that the seller will just lower the price in lieu of making numerous repairs. 

Don't ask for the moon when it is your chance. I suggest to my clients that anything health and/or safety related needs to be addressed. Certainly don't ask for aesthetic things like paint. If you ask for the moon the seller may just shut down and say NO to everything. If you are smart, you can ask for the important things and get what you want. 

Selling during the Holidays



No seller likes people tromping through their home and trying to keep it up during the sales period. This gets even worse during the holidays. 

I have clients whose home shown above was listed last Friday. They worked hard for quite a while to get it into showing shape. When we listed, they told me that they were having weekend company, but they would work around any buyers that wanted to see the home. 

Being the start of the holidays I was unsure about activity, but this home was priced in a very advantageous price point. 

Long story short, after 4 showings Saturday resulting in 2 above list price offers, we are under contract. Yes, we are in the holidays, but homes priced in this price point any time of the year are sure to generate lots of attention. 

If you are not sure if you should list your home now, talk to your favorite professional Real estate agent. They can help you decide the very best time to list your home. 

An Appealing Idea...

How does your home look from the street? Leaves in the gutters? Mail box a bit askew and in need of paint? Shutters missing, but only on one window? These are all items that fall under the category of "Curb Appeal". 

This is so important as the first impression a potential buyer has of your home is the one generated when they pull up to your home. They take in the scene and start to make impressions of your home before they even get in the front door. I have had buyers tell me as soon as we drive up to a home that they are not interested and do not want to even enter the home. 

Curb appeal. So, so important and often over looked by Sellers. Because of this, I produced a video that I send to all new sellers I list. It touches on a few ideas to watch out for and gets the seller to start thinking about how their home looks from the outside and what they might need to do to improve that look.Enjoy. 

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