You may have noticed that energy-efficiency ratings have started popping up in residential listings. That may be because of recent findings published by The Earth Advantage Institute, a non-profit group in Portland, OR, who found that certifications from Energy Star or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) boost sale prices by an average of 8%. The news is even better for existing construction: certifications add a premium of about 30% to the home.
But wait, there’s more! In Portland, OR, a recent review of residential listings showed that energy-efficient homes spent 18 days less time on the real estate market than comparable non-certified properties. That might help explain why banks have started picking up on the trend. They realize that a borrower who pays less to heat and power an energy-efficient home is better able to pay the mortgage, and therefore, presents less risk to the underwriting bank. Appraisal companies are becoming more attuned, too, introducing training programs that educate their field appraisers on what to look for and how to integrate their findings into valuations.
As the move toward energy-efficiency and sustainability continues, this may become more the rule than the exception. At the end of the day, it’s becoming clearer: energy-efficiency saves owners money and time.
The last few days before closing escrow can be a stressful time for homebuyers and sellers. However, there are a few things you can do to ensure a timely and smooth close.
- It’s important to review your final closing statement or HUD-1 statement a day or two before closing. Look over the calculations to make sure that the buyer is receiving credit for all deposits and any other credits due from the seller.
- Review all escrow and title fees to make sure they accurately reflect what you were told and that you agree to them.
- Look over the preliminary report to confirm the legal description of the property and any liens or other items that may have been discovered. Make sure all items that you did not agree to will be removed at the close of escrow.
- Be sure escrow or title has your correct vesting (the way in which you want to take title).
- Inspect the property one last time prior to closing to verify that everything is the way you expect it to be, and that all agreed upon repairs or work have been taken care of.
It is also very important that all conditions of the purchase contract are met prior to closing, and that all instructions that were given to the closing agent have been completed. If you have double checked that all items are correct, it’s time to sign the closing documents!
Whether you’re trying to stay in touch with friends, family, colleagues, or clients, you probably may have so many different methods that it’s hard to keep them straight. What you might not know is that Facebook has a tool called Video Calling. It’s a way to be face to face conversation without leaving your status behind.
Facebook’s Video Calling feature allows you to chat real-time, face-to-face, while multi-tasking. Whether you’re text chatting or posting photos of a listing, Facebook allows you to do it all in one location. Oftentimes, you may have a client or colleague who isn’t in the immediate area. Facebook Video Calling allows you to interface with them on the Internet, one-on-one, from your office. Whether it’s exploring options on a listing, talking with another agent about an offer, or working with a contractor on repairs, Facebook Video Calling keeps you connected when you need to be. Most likely, you’re already connected with a lot of those same people on Facebook anyway!
To take full advantage of Facebook Video Calling, you and the recipient need a webcam and microphone (starting at around $30). Once you’ve got the hardware, you open a Facebook chat session with the recipient and click the Video Camera icon. When you’re doing this for the first time, you’ll have to download and install Facebook’s Video Chat software – but during that time, Facebook will alert you to which of your other contacts are already enabled for Video Calling. If the recipient you’re calling doesn’t have a webcam, they’ll still be able to see and hear you – you just won’t be able to see them.
It’s not just status. The powerful (and inexpensive) Video Calling feature can help you maintain personal connections – and could help give you an edge over the “other” agent!
On the Internet, there are many different ways a client can find you and your listings. That makes information like knowing where they came from, what led them there, and how long they stayed on your site all the more important. With a few minutes of your time, Google Webmaster Tools can help you figure out what’s working best for your online presence.
“Google Webmaster Tools,” says Jimmy Macklin at theMLSapp.com, “provides insight on keyword rankings, impressions, and CTRs… priceless for Realtors looking to optimize their sites.” You can optimize your site(s) to boost traffic from elsewhere on the web, simply by using the applications that Google offers.
To add and verify your site:
1) Login to your Google Account (if you don’t have one already, you’ll need to create one).
2) Find “Webmaster Tools” under “My Products.”
3) Click “Add a site” and type the full URL for your site (e.g. http://www.mysite.com/).
4) Click continue; the site verification page will open.
5) Select the desired verification method, then follow the prompts to complete.
6) Repeat as necessary for each of your unique sites.
As you determine what’s driving clients to your website, you can customize content, focusing on your own unique brand. By creating memorable content that is also useful and timely, you allow more opportunities for your clients to connect with you. Before long, you’ll be connecting with more clients!
As a seller in the current market, you might find yourself wondering on occasion if now is the right time to sell. If you’ve seen a decrease in the number of visitors to your property, don’t pull the listing. Instead, look at these ways you might improve your chances of finding a buyer:
- Review the price. Speak with your agent, especially if your house has been listed for more than a month. Take a look at recent comps to ensure your price is in line. If necessary, get a fresh appraisal to ensure your price makes sense.
- Create curb appeal. Potential buyers explore neighborhoods before they set up viewings. As such, make sure your house looks as beautiful on the outside as it does on the inside. If you have any out-of-season flowers or shrubs, consider sprucing them up.
- Improve interior appeal. Sometimes all it takes is a simplification: store the knick-knacks and extra furniture. A fresh coat of paint may be in order. Work with a staging company to ensure that any of those “problem” spots in your home look wonderful and inviting!
- Update your listing. These days, most buyers start looking for homes online before they view homes. Review your listing, and make sure the pictures in your listing represent your house beautifully and accurately. If you’ve done anything along the lines of items 2 or 3, take updated pictures and make sure they’re updated online.
- Negotiate. It used to be the buyer who had to do this. Now, it’s the seller’s turn. Make sure you consider all advantages of an offer before rejecting it outright. The ground between you and the buyer may be much smaller than it initially appears. Consider seriously what it would mean if you didn’t take the offer and what it would really cost if you did, then think about #6.
- Sweeten the pot. You may have already decided that you’re getting rid of the appliances, so consider throwing them in. If you have a little wiggle room, consider helping the buyer with closing costs or moving expenses to help defray some of those costs for them.
In today’s housing market, you have to be one step ahead of the competition. By following one (or several) of these suggestions, you can help ensure the best opportunity possible to sell your home.