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The Listing Agent's Expenses

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

The Listing Agent's ExpensesWhen you decide to sell your Wilmington area home, you have an important decision to make upfront – do you want to sell it yourself or hire an agent? Some homeowners scoff at the idea of paying a commission to a real estate agent. They aren’t sure that agents deserve that large a portion of the sale price. There's a misconception that the money we make is mostly take-home pay, but it's not. Real estate agents work under 1099s. That means we're independent contractors and absorb all costs of running our businesses. What are those costs? Here’s a basic breakdown:

  1. The Real Estate Firm. Every firm – Coldwell Banker, Re\Max, Keller Williams, Network, etc. – have their own commission plans. Most agents start out at 50/50 split. So, if a listing agent sells a $150,000 house listed at the market’s typical 6% commission, which is then split in half with the buyer’s agent, the agent will make about $2,250. Volume and agent experience usually increases this amount.
  2. Photographs. Other agents may take their own photographs, but we have all of ours professionally done, because we believe your online ad is your home’s first showing.
  3. Measuring. We have a professional measurer come in and record your home’s dimensions in order to prevent discrepancies.
  4. Marketing Materials. Signs, flyers, postcards, booklets, etc, You, the homeowner, don’t pay for these items. We do. It’s part of our efforts to get the home sold.
  5. Marketing Tools. Virtual tours, text-for-info, etc. We want to stay on top of interested buyers, so we use a variety of tools to help us reach them. These cost us money on a monthly and per-property basis.
  6. Online Enhancements. Your home listing, thanks to an agreement through our real estate firm, will be syndicated to the top real estate websites, but this is a basic listing. We often pay for the enhanced versions of these websites, in order to gain as much control over the information shared as possible and to have our listings featured.
  7. Online Advertising. In multiple different formats, we pay to advertise your listing on social media and other websites. 90% of home searches start online, and it’s not always on the typical real estate websites.
  8. Time and Gas. Our job requires a lot of time and travelling for tasks, including: meeting the photographer/measurer, putting up the sign and lockbox, delivering marketing materials, speaking about your home at sales meetings, turning on lights for showings, and meeting handymen/inspectors/etc. during contract stages. If we have a conflict at any point, we have to pay a qualified person to do it for us. We also spend a considerable amount of time negotiating, filling out paperwork, arranging open houses, and making sure everything gets signed.
  9. Association Fees, License Fees, Required Continuing Education, E&O Insurance, etc. – You’d be surprised at how costly it can be to pay everything we need to access the Multiple Listing Service and be considered legal. A portion of every closing helps to pay for this.
  10. General Upkeep of Our Business. Website fees, hardware, e-mail, signs, advertising, business cards, vehicle maintenance, networking events, document systems, etc. Maintaining a presence in the local community and online are just as important for our clients as it is for us. Real estate is a business that relies a lot on networking and word-of-mouth for exposure, and, increasingly, technology.

As you can see, we put a lot into presenting and advertising our listings. Many of our payments happen upfront, because they’re for listing and marketing services. We don’t get paid until the listing sells, so if the listing doesn’t sell, we’re out that money. That’s why we are always perfecting our marketing plan. We only want to use what works. All finances aside, we remain Realtors, because we love the satisfaction we feel when our clients are happy.

Have a question about anything above or want to learn more about our seller services? Give us a call at (910) 202-2546!

When Staging is Overdone

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

When Staging is OverdoneWe’ve said it a lot – home staging is important! Studies have shown that it affects a buyer’s decision to make an offer, as well as the amount of the offer price. Good home staging will make a buyer imagine themselves living in the home and that can make a huge difference when trying to decide between properties. However, as good as staging is at highlighting the positive characteristics of a home, it is possible to over-stage a home and create the opposite effect.

To understand this, you need to know the fundamental parts of staging:

  • Decluttering
  • Depersonalizing
  • Painting (as needed)
  • Arranging furniture for the best flow
  • Placing accessories to accent the home’s best features
  • Choosing the best lamps, bulbs, and fixtures to light each room

Depending on the home, there may also be a need to make more complex updates, but that’s rarely the case.

Each area of staging opens up the possibility for mistakes. I’ll share what those may be, but remember that a professional stager can make a world of a difference. They know how to quickly identify problem areas and the best tricks for an effective solution. So, don’t under estimate their value.

Decluttering

While the purpose of decluttering is to make rooms look larger, some home owners think the best approach is to remove everything, but the bare essentials. This can lead to a pretty barren looking house and does little good in showing how the home can be lived in. Remove surplus furniture, collections, piles of books, extra countertop appliances, etc. but don’t leave empty shelves and large blank spaces. Moderation is key.

Depersonalizing

Removing your personality from the home is a key component of home staging; however, it can have the same effect as too much decluttering. The aim of depersonalizing is to tone it down to the point that the buyer can overlook it, but removing bold furniture, wall art, and Ugly White Wallsaccessories while leaving large blank spaces or worse, holes and fade lines, in their place can leave an ugly impression. When you remove items, make sure there’s no evidence there was something there. If there is, correct it or replace it.

Painting

Most people have heard that it’s a good idea to paint your home with neutral colors when you’re getting ready to list, but some home owners think the easy way to do this is to paint every room white. This ends up making the house feel more like a hospital than a home. Instead, try to stick with warm, light, earthy tones when possible. They will make the rooms look larger and inviting.

Arranging Furniture

If a home owner is going to get something wrong when it comes to staging, it’s going to be furniture arrangement. From too large pieces to incorrect orientation, there’s just too much that can go wrong. The growing trend of open floor plans make this especially difficult. It’s not always clear how a room should be setup and an incorrect approach can give Too Much Furniture for Roomthe impression that a room is lacking usable space. This is when getting a professional’s opinion can prove invaluable.

Placing Accessories

Well-utilized accessories (wall art, vases, plants, etc.) will make your ceilings look higher and rooms appear larger, as well as show buyers how the home can be lived in. Poorly utilized accessories can create clutter, break the flow of the home, and hide good characteristics. Like furniture, they need to be well thought-out. Not sure if your accessories are creating the effect you want, ask a friend to walk through the home and share their immediate impressions, like what their eyes are drawn to upon entry.

Lighting

Lighting is considered so permanent that it’s often overlooked, but you want the house to appear light and airy, and it’s not as hard to achieve as you may think. You don’t need an electrician to improve your lighting. A simple change in wattage can have a positive impact on a room and, if your light fixtures have shades, changing out the shades for newer ones is an easy update that can increase the spread of light in the room. If needed, bring in floor lamps and tabletop lamps to increase lighting, but don’t overdo it. If you feel like you’ve just walked into a stadium when you step into a room, you need to scale it back a little.

If you aren’t sure you’re overdoing your home staging, we suggest trying out a professional. Many stagers have different levels of services that they offer from consultations to handling all aspects of the job themselves, including furniture rental. If you’re looking for a stager in the Wilmington area, we recommend the professional interior decorators and home stagers at Carolina Sold by Design. If you list your home with us, we provide a complimentary 3-hour staging consultation with them. Call us for the details – (910) 202-2546!

 

How Long Should It Take My Home to Sell?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

How Long Should It Take My Home to Sell?If you’re getting ready to put your Wilmington home on the market, you’re probably wondering how long it’s going to take your home to sell. Between preparations, an unpredictable showing schedule, and financial factors, selling a home can be a stressful process. It’s not unreasonable to want it over as quickly as possible. So, what is the answer? Will it be days, weeks, or months?

The answer is different for every property. Location, condition, and price are the main determinants. The more popular the location, the better the condition, and the more competitive the price, the quicker a home will sell. However, there are certain stats that can help give a ballpark number of days.

Our local multiple listing service (and many others) allow the local real estate board to track how quickly homes are selling and at which price. Each county, city, and community have average days on the market (ADOM). The more specific the area, the more accurate the estimate.

For example, the ADOM for the greater Wilmington area (New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender Counties) in February was 127 days. However, for the community of Meadowbrook in Wilmington, it was 57 days. But keep in mind, there’s a wide range here, because the minimum was 6 days and the maximum was 101 days. So, this is where price and condition comes into play.

Your Realtor will be able to share the ADOM for the area your home is located. They should also advise you on what needs to be done to compete with other similar homes on the market, but you have the final say on what your home is priced at and what improvements (repairs, updates, and staging) you make before listing. Your real estate agent is there to help you make an informed decision.

If you are considering selling your Wilmington area home, we’d love to sit down and talk about your options and our marketing plan. We’ll do a comparative market analysis to show you how other similar homes are selling, including the ADOM. Give us a call at (910) 202-2546 or send us a message through our Contact page. If you’d like a ballpark estimate of your home’s current market value, you can also try our automated system at WilmingtonHomeValuesOnline.com.

Meghan Riley

One to Buy, Two to Sell

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

One to Buy Two to SellIt’s a question we often see in the real estate world, “If I’m buying a home and only my name is on the loan, does my spouse have any claim to it?”

Short answer is: Yes.

A situation like this occurs either when a home is purchased prior to marriage or if the loan officer suggests that one spouse secures a loan alone due to a higher credit score. Though only one spouse signs on the dotted line to be financially responsible for the home loan, the other spouse has a marital stake in the property.

Remember, it takes…”One to buy, two to sell.”

So, if a homeowner is married, both spouses need to sign the listing paperwork. That means both need to be in agreement to sell, as is the case anytime more than one person has a stake in a property. When the home is sold, both will benefit financially. An accountant is the best source for explaining how income and taxes will be affected.

Also, if two people are legally separated, both should hold off buying a new home. Their spouse still has marital rights and could lay claim to ownership of the new home. So, if a buyer wants to avoid a mess, it’s best they rent until the divorce is over. Of course, a buyer should always refer to an attorney when it comes to legal matters, such as divorce, separation, etc.

If you have any questions about this or buying/selling a home, give us a call at (910) 202-2546 or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

Grab the Attention of Home Buyers with Help from the "Cloud"

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Grab the Attention of Home Buyers with Help from the "Cloud"Have you heard of the “cloud”? It’s a term that applies to online servers and storage that can be accessed from multiple devices. What we used to have to store on a computer can now be uploaded to the internet where we can view or run it from a laptop and a smartphone and a tablet and whatever other device we may own without saving it to a storage device and manually downloading it. This has proved to be very handy for completing homework, office work, and even gaming, and now, it’s proving helpful for homeowners wanting to sell their homes.

What is the number one factor that affects a home buyer’s choice to make an offer on a home? Risk. No matter how much they love a home, if they feel it’s too much of a risk to purchase it, they’ll move on to the next home on their list. This is why most home buyers have an inspection done on a home prior to buying it. So, doesn’t it make sense to try to minimize a buyer’s concern about risk?

We always suggest doing that by offering a home warranty, but keeping a shareable record of home improvements and important information has also proven to be beneficial. Home owners are using cloud applications to log home improvements (paint colors, materials, contact information for contractors, etc.) and information about appliances (manuals, warranty information, etc.) to present it to potential home buyers. As Jack Huntress said in “Everyting About a Home –in the Cloud” in Realtor Magazine, receiving all that information affected his choice to make an offer on his home: “It wasn’t the sole reason we bought the house, but it definitely factored in and made me very comfortable with the buying process.”

If you are planning on selling your Wilmington area home in the future, consider utilizing the cloud for logging important details about your home. Apps like HomeBinder and HomeZada make it easy to save all your information. You can then turn all that info over to the new owners with a click of a button.

Ready to buy or sell? Give us a call at (910) 202-2546 or send us a message through our Contact page!

Meghan Riley

10 Commonly Missed Areas When Cleaning Your Home

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

10 Commonly Missed Areas When Cleaning Your HomeGetting ready to sell? You want to make sure your home is in tip-top shape, and that includes a deep cleaning. A dirty home can be a real turn-off to potential buyers, especially if allergies are a concern. A good clean is the cheapest, most effective way to improve how buyers view your home and, whatever you do, don’t underestimate what a buyer will notice. What has become commonplace for you, may stand out like a sore thumb to them.

To help you prepare for cleaning day, here’s a list of 10 commonly overlooked areas.  

  1. On top of ceiling fan blades. Buyers will be checking out all fixtures to determine their condition. Dirty ceiling fan blades can make a room look dingy.
  2. Inside light fixtures. After a while, bugs and dust can make their way inside light fixtures creating shadows and dimming light when they fixture is turn on. This can cast an ugly shadow on a room, not to mention that the buyers will see the dirt and bugs when they look directly at the light.
  3. In and around air vents. They’re one of those home features we learn to ignore, especially if they’re ceiling vents, but they gather dust and dirt (and tiny toys) easily.
  4. Windowsills. Blinds won’t hide windowsills from buyers, who will be looking at windows to determine their condition.
  5. On top of door frames. Like most things just out of eyesight, the top of door frames gather dust. If you’re on the short side, you probably won’t notice it, but taller buyers will. If your door has grooves in it, they too could use a wipe-down.
  6. Inside appliances. Buyers will looking at all appliances that remain with the home. That includes inside the oven, built-in microwave, dishwasher, and refrigerator (if you’ve decided to leave it).
  7. In sliding door frames. If your home has a sliding door between the living areas and back yard, make sure you clean in the spaces that appear when the door is open, because buyers will look down when they walk through it.
  8. Light switch covers. Some of the dirtiest features of a home are the light switch covers. They’re some of the first things people touch when they enter a room, so they collect dirt, germs, and grime. The build-up is so gradual, you may not even realize how bad it is until you clean them.
  9. In and around sink drains. Food, hair, toothpaste, and makeup can collect in a home’s drains. This not only leaves gross chunks and residue, but it can slow down the flow of water and emit an odor. Clean them with some drain cleaner. There’s also a type of dishwashing soap that cleans your drains and makes them smell like fresh cucumbers.
  10. Front and back door mats. Though they may not come with the house, door mats can definitely set a level of expectation for the home. Make sure they’re clean. If they’re looking worn, it’s probably a good idea to invest in new ones, especially the one located at the main entrance.

Remember, how well the home is presented is a direct reflection of how well it’s been cared for over the years. The cleaner the home, the better chance of receiving an offer on it. Taking the time to make sure it looks the best it can will only benefit you, the seller.

Have a question about listing your Wilmington area home for sale? Give us a call at 910.202.2546 or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

Reasons Why Some Buyer's Agents Don't Provide Feedback

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Reasons Why Some Buyer's Agents Don't Leave FeedbackWhen you list your Wilmington area home for sale, you will have a number of agents showing it to their buyers. After each showing, the agent will receive an automated form through our centralized showing service asking them questions about what they or their clients thought of the home. They are not required to fill out this form. Giving feedback is just a matter of courtesy. Many agents take the time to fill out the form, but some don't, and we know that can be frustrating. As a seller, you want to know what parts of your home may be hindering the sale and if buyers are showing any sort of interest in it. So, why don't agents leave feedback? Here are some reasons why:

1. They don't want to lose negotiating power. Showing agents can pick and choose which questions they anwer on the form we send through the centralized showing service, but some agents feel that if their client showed serious interest in the home, anything they might say could affect negotiations. If they make their clients sound like they loved the home too much, the seller may counter at a higher price than if they didn't know their motivation. So, they may wait on giving feedback until after their client decides on a home. Sometimes, this happens so late that they forget to give it.

2. They don't feel they have feedback to share. Maybe it was just a preview for their clients (meaning the clients weren't present) or the buyers didn't have much to say about the home. If that's the case, the agent may feel giving feedback is a waste of time, because they have nothing helpful to add. We always prefer an agent to give feedback, even if it's just their own impression, but some agents are against providing their own opinions of the home, because they think it can get them in trouble when they show it again later.

3. They saw too many houses in one day. The day can become a blur when you see house after house after house. If an agent showed their client a lot of houses in one day, it's possible they don't remember exactly what they said about the home. To not risk giving the wrong feedback, they may choose not to provide any at all.

Not receiving feedback can be feedback in itself. If the buyer's agent doesn't feel the need to contact the listing agent directly or give feedback on the home, their clients were clearly not interested. It also implies there was nothing about the home that was an obvious issue. It doesn't matter how many homes you see, if there was something about a home that really stood out (good or bad), an agent will remember it.

We try to be considerate of other agents' schedules. We know that showing houses to a client can be a multi-day process. If an agent doesn't fill out a feedback request for a home, they get sent reminder emails. If we don't receive feedback in a few days, we do our best to contact the agent to get feedback, but as we stated above, agents have their reasons for not providing it.

If you have any questions about selling a home in the Wilmington area, give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

Video: What is the Due Diligence Period?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

If you're buying or selling a home in North Carolina, you should familiarize yourself with the Due Diligence Period, a part of the official offer to purchase that covers financing, inspections, etc. In this video, Melanie Cameron, Team Leader of The Cameron Team, explains all that the Due Diligence Period involves.

If you would like more information about buying or selling your home in the Wilmington area, please contact us!

Melanie Cameron
Broker/REALTOR®
(910) 202-2546

Email Melanie

6 Slightly Crazy Things That May Kill Your Home Sale

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

6 Slightly Crazy Things That May Kill Your Home SaleI have to admit, when I hear some of the feedback we get on homes, my response is, “What? Really!?” But I’m a fixer and one of those people who actively tries to look beyond what I see. When I bought my home, the yard was downright ugly. I saw it as a prime opportunity to put in a garden. Other buyers didn’t look at it that way and that’s one reason why I got my home at well-below the original listing price. If you’re thinking about listing your home for sale, you may want to consider the following list of crazy things that may kill your home sale:

  1. Dead Light Bulbs. A buyer walks into your home and flips a light switch, but nothing comes on. The bulb is dead. Maybe the home is vacant, so you figured, “Why pay for a bulb in a light fixture that doesn’t need to be used?” Or maybe it burnt out after the home was listed and you haven’t been around to notice. Or maybe you’re just feeling lazy. Well, that light bulb may have just killed your sale. Why? The buyer may assume the light fixture, not the bulb, is dead (ugh, a repair!) or it may make the buyer question what other upkeep you’ve neglected to do (that’s going to factor into an offer price). Bulbs are cheap. Take the time to replace them.
  2. Carpet in the Bathroom. It absorbs urine around the toilet and doesn’t allow water to properly evaporate, so the materials underneath are at risk of mold. Just imagining what lies underneath is a major turn-off to buyers, who don’t want to deal with repairs and other people’s bodily fluids.
  3. Brightly Painted Rooms. You took an AMAZING trip to the Caribbean and on returning home, decided to completely redecorate your home in a color scheme inspired by it. It’s just paint, right? Sadly, most buyers find it difficult to look past boldly painted walls. First, the colors make it more difficult for them to imagine their own furniture and belongings in the house. Second, they immediately imagine all the work they’ll have to do prior to moving in. Buyers want less work. Plain and simple.
  4. A Dead Lawn. Does your home look great inside, but lack curb appeal? You’ll want to get right on that! Patchy (or overgrown) yards, dying shrubs, unkempt bushes, hazardous tree limbs…a collection of lawn gnomes....These are the types of things that will make a buyer refuse to get out of the car to see your home. It DOES happen!
  5. Sloppy Closets and Cupboards. Just because the mess is behind a closed door doesn’t mean it’s not going to be seen. Buyers will open drawers and doors, and if they’re stuffed full, they’ll assume the home won’t have enough storage for them. So, make sure you clean out every nook and cranny, and put what you really don’t need in a storage unit.
  6. Listing Too Soon. Are you in the middle of renovating or updating your home? Don’t list until you’re done. Your MLS pictures are basically your first showing. You want the home looking as good as possible and with all the features that the buyers will be purchasing, because they will assume what’s in the pictures is what they get. If the features aren’t there in the pictures, the buyers will assume they aren’t present in the home. Good pictures also means no construction dust, materials, or other remnants lying around. When it comes time for showings, you don’t want buyers walking through a construction zone, because, let’s face it, the home needs to be accessible and available for showings or you may alienate certain buyers. It really pays off to wait.

You may be thinking now that buyers are too finicky, but most of them aren’t on purpose. Like marketing any product, it’s a mind game. Just pay close attention to commercials next time you’re watching television. The marketers have 30 or so seconds to convince the viewer that they need their product in their life. To hit the key triggers that will make the viewer want to buy, they appeal to all the senses through carefully thought-out product shots, dialogue, and music. In a way, you have to do this with homes as well. Not every buyer will fit your home, but you never know when the right buyer will come, so you should do your best to make it as presentable as possible.

If you need help listing your Wilmington area home, give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

Which Price Ranges in Greater Wilmington are Getting the Most Showings?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

The Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS uses a centralized call center for scheduling showings of homes. Not only does it take some of the work out of tracking showing times and who is accessing the home, but it also allows us to get a pretty good idea of what kind of activity each price range of homes is seeing. This can help us and our sellers create a realistic expectation for how often their home will be shown.

Here is the showing activity for the past month (1/18/15-2/17/15) for the entire MLS:

Number of Showings Per Price Range

Activity Detail 

As you can see, the homes listed between $100,000 and $300,000 are getting significantly more showings than the other price ranges. Even homes listed in the next price range, between $300,000 and $400,000, is seeing half the showings of the first two. Is this a sign that the homes in the higher price ranges will take significantly longer to sell? Not necessarily. This data needs to be compared to the amount of current inventory and the average days on the market. If you're thinking of your home in particular, you also need to consider how it's priced in comparison to other similar homes on the market.

If you’ve stumbled across this blog at a later time, you can always contact us, and we’ll be happy to pull this report for a more recent timespan. We can also further narrow the report to cities and zip codes. Have a question? Let us know!

Meghan Riley

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The Cameron Team
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage
1001 Military Cutoff Suite 101
Wilmington NC 28405
Office: 910.202.2546
Toll Free: 800.522.9624
Fax: 910.795.4723