When You Hire a Realtor, You’re Also Partnering With These 11 Pros

Whether you’re putting your home on the market or searching for your dream house, a Realtor is going to help you achieve your goal as smoothly and seamlessly as possible.

From striking the best deal to simplifying that often-daunting paperwork, these pros truly do and know significantly more than their job title implies. In order to maximize your value and minimize your stress level, your agent must morph into nearly a dozen different roles to get the job done.

Let’s take a look at some of the other hats your Realtor wears throughout the course of a single transaction.

1. Expert photographer

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We’re all familiar with that expression, “A picture’s worth a thousand words,” but when it comes to selling houses, a great photo might be worth a thousand walk-throughs. Because most homebuyers are browsing the web before hitting the open house circuit, photography has the power to reel them in or convince them to keep scrolling.

Who’s going to make that tiny half-bath look like it’s large enough to host Thanksgiving dinner? Photographers, er, Realtors know just the right angles to show off your home and make it look so good you might wonder why you’re putting it up for sale in the first place.

2. Magician

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Though they may not carry a wand, Realtors are experts at working a little magic when it comes to transforming the average home into a stunning showplace. They also have the ability to make things happen. Negotiation stalled? A great Realtor is often able to reach an agreement when others would’ve considered all hope lost. Pulling proverbial rabbits out of their hats is par for the course.

3. Chauffeur

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According to the National Association of Realtors, its agents log approximately 30,300 miles annually for business-related driving. With their trusty GPSs and chargers, cars are virtual mobile offices for agents on the go. Visiting the car wash is almost a prerequisite for this post.

4. Home stager

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Knowing exactly which furnishings to keep and which to store takes a home from meh to marvelous. Recognizing that clean countertops, perfect accessories, and a well-placed plant may make all the difference, Realtors will put your furnishings to work for you and remove those that work against you. (Dogs playing poker painting, we’re looking at you!)

5. Landscaper

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Never underestimating the value of curb appeal, Realtors aren’t afraid to whip out their green thumbs when yards require a little TLC. Let’s be honest: If a lawn doesn’t look well-maintained, buyers assume the interior is probably in shambles as well. Enough said.

6. Psychiatrist

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For most people, a home is the largest asset they’ll ever own. So it’s natural that from time to time both sellers and buyers require a little hand-holding along the way. According to home design and improvement site Houzz, simply making home renovations can lead 12 percent of couples to consider divorce. We imagine those figures only increase when you think about all that’s at stake with a home sale or purchase — not to mention moving!

7. Plumber

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Toilets have an uncanny knack for overflowing just seconds before an open house begins. Water pressure in a bathroom sink or shower somehow dwindles down to a trickle moments before a buyer is about to cross the threshold. But never fear, Realtors are ready. If they can’t fix it themselves in a hurry, chances are they’ve got a connection who’ll have it repaired in no time.

8. Life coach

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Whether buying or selling, sometimes clients need a little pumping up — as in “You’ve got this!” From qualifying for a mortgage to hiring a mover, Realtors have your back and are rooting for you every step of the way.

On other occasions, clients may benefit from a bit of tough love. Realtors aren’t afraid to tell clients what’s best for them when they lose perspective.

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9. Lawyer

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Just hearing the words “attorney review” can strike fear in the hearts of most, but particularly first-time buyers and sellers. Your agent will put that legalese into layman’s terms and your mind at ease. And you don’t even need to put them on retainer.

10. Home inspector

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Going beyond the simple white-glove test, your Realtor will notice everything from less-than-gleaming light fixtures and mismatched doorknobs to sagging gutters and cracks in the foundation. If you’re selling, these extra touches will make your home sparkle during an open house and prevent any unwanted surprises from popping up on an inspection report.

If you’re the buyer, you want these eagle eyes on your side as well, pointing out repairs that may help you get a better price or at least help you negotiate when the time comes.

11. Marketing guru

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Marketing is so much more than ‘For Sale’ signs and postcard mailers — but, of course those are important too. Having a branded online presence and knowing how to harness the power of social media is key when it comes to promoting properties. Much like Mad Men‘s Don Draper, Realtors are powerful storytellers at a time when every word counts.

With so many talents wrapped up in one title, it kind of makes you look at those commissions in a whole new light, right?

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Remodeling Your Home

Spring is coming soon, and with it comes the opportunity to begin remodeling projects! Because there are many things that could go wrong with any remodeling project, it pays to have some help from the pros who have already done what you want to do. This way, you’ll save time, money, and a boatload of frustration at possibly having to redo a project.

Here are seven of the most common mistakes people make when they begin a remodeling project. Once you’re aware of them, you can work to avoid making the same mistakes on your own projects.

Avoid impatience

Don’t rush into any remodeling project. Think it through, decide what your priorities will be for the project, and come up with a good plan that you can follow. Revise this plan until it seems rock solid, and all your goals for the project will be met. Price out the work, and then try like crazy to stick to your plan, and your pricing. Of course, you should always expect the unexpected, but if you have a solid, realistic plan, hopefully that’ll keep the unexpected at a minimum.

Avoid choosing just any contractor

Don’t rush to choose a contractor, or choose the first one you talk to in order to get the work underway. Hey, we understand you’re excited at the prospect of beginning your remodeling project, but you could be making a costly mistake in both time and money if you don’t do your research first when it comes to a contractor. Talk to several contractors, and check each reference. Talk to people in the town you live in that have had remodeling done in the past year or so. Ask for referrals. Check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if the contractors have complaints (and take these complaints with a grain of salt). Be absolutely certain that the contractor you choose has insurance in place. Choose a contractor that you like as a person, and that you feel comfortable communicating with. And of course, get everything in writing.

Avoid undershooting your budget

Be realistic about the budget you create for the project. Leave yourself quite a bit of wiggle room when it comes to dollar amounts allocated for specific parts of the project. Whatever budget you already have in mind – you should increase by 20% in order to give yourself the necessary cushion if something doesn’t go as planned and goes over budget. There are things you just can’t foresee, and those are the things that will break the bank if you don’t anticipate them ahead of time. The last thing you need is to have to skimp on important parts of your remodeling project because something happened that used up funds.

Avoid being too cheap

You are not going to “save” money in a remodeling project, so get it right out of your head. This isn’t the time to nickel and dime your way around spending money. Consider the future appeal of the work to be done and how it might affect the selling price of your home. Consider the enjoyment with which you’ll enjoy the remodel if it’s done properly without trying to penny-pinch. This also comes into play for do-it-yourselfers who think that they can save money by doing the remodeling themselves. If it’s something you are capable of and skilled enough to do correctly, then go for it! But if it’s not, you’ll spend more money fixing it than you would have by simply hiring a professional in the first place.

Avoid breaking the bank on materials

Over-spending on materials is a no-no. Again, this happens largely because of lack of planning, and the homeowner feeling rushed to get the job done. So plan ahead – look for sales at home improvement stores, and definitely keep your eyes peeled at garage sales, moving sales, flea markets, and estate sales for materials you may need. Also look for salvage stores, and call around to different materials companies who may offer you “seconds” that they can’t use or sell at a deep discount. Note that this isn’t the same as the penny-pinching we mentioned in tip number 4. This is simply smart buying of materials that are going to work exactly the same as “brand new” materials would, but at a fraction of the cost.

Avoid being too different

Creating a home that doesn’t harmonize with your neighborhood is always a huge mistake. It’s one thing to be unique, but it’s another thing altogether to lower the neighborhood’s value because you want to be different. Your home’s resale value will be less, as will the resale value of the homes around yours, if your home sticks out like a sore thumb.

Avoid losing sight of your plan

Once you have created your realistic remodeling project plan, stick with that plan. If you begin changing your mind about things, that’s when the price tag starts to go higher and higher. Listen to suggestions from your remodeling team, but always keep your goals for the remodeling project at the forefront of your mind.

OPEN HOUSE: 710 Vermont in Urbana this Sunday (Jan. 28)

Historic appeal in charming Colonial! A large foyer and bright living area are sure to welcome you home to this 1930s Garrison gem. This home not only features 4 bedrooms and 2 fireplaces, but also boasts a quick walk to campus and downtown Urbana. Stay warm and cozy in one of the two family rooms with easy access to the kitchen and formal dining room. Take a trip up the spiral staircase and you’ll find 2 additional bedrooms and a full bath on the third floor. Don’t miss out on your chance to own this homey Colonial in the Urbana state streets! One year home warranty included. Radon mitigation has been installed and Inspection report on file – ready for new buyers. Call (217-239-7144) for details!

Owning A Home Is More Affordable Than Renting In Most Markets In The US

According to a recent study by Zillow, owning a home is more affordable than renting in most metro markets across the United States.

According to the study, renters pay an average of 29.1% of their household income towards rent, while homeowners only pay an average of 15.4% towards their mortgages. This means renting eats up nearly twice as much of your income as owning a home.

Data Source: Zillow

Thanks to rising rents, homeownership is becoming a more sensible option across the nation, and renters are taking notice. According to the National Association of Realtors’ Realtors Confidence® Index, 39% of homebuyers from October 2016 to November 2017 were renting at the time of their purchase, which means that 39% of buyers made the transition from renter to homeowner. And many of them did so without breaking the bank on a down payment. In fact, 61% of first-time buyers made a down payment of 6% or less.

The Takeaway

If you’re currently renting, it’s time to reevaluate your situation. Why throw away nearly 30% of your income on rent when you can spend almost half as much and have a home to show for it?

Historically Low Inventory Creates Perfect Storm For People Wanting To Sell Their Home

 

According to Realtor.com’s recent Housing Shortage Report, the US is experiencing the worst inventory shortage in two decades. And while this presents a definite challenge for people looking to buy a home, it creates the perfect storm of opportunity for those wanting to sell.

According to Realtor.com’s research, the housing shortage can be attributed to the baby boomer generation being unwilling to sell in the current market. In fact:

  • 72% of existing homeowners over the age of 55 feel their current home fits their needs
  • 85% of those baby boomers don’t plan to sell their home in the next 12 months

Boomers are keeping approximately 33 million properties off the market — a huge contributor to the historically low inventory the US is experiencing.

But this historically low inventory means that there couldn’t be a better time to sell. Low inventory means more competition, and more competition typically means higher offers and a better deal for sellers — especially if you’re selling a starter home.

Thanks to millennials entering the homebuying market for the first time, starter homes are the most in demand selling point on the market. And since they experienced a 17% decrease in supply from 2016 to 2017, a great starter home will be an even hotter commodity in 2018.

The Takeaway

Low inventory can be a problem for buyers. But if you’ve been thinking about selling your home, low inventory means there’s never been a better time to put your property on the market.

8 Mistakes First-Time Home Sellers Make & How to Avoid Them

Plenty of home sellers consider their places to be coveted properties that others would be lucky to own. But, that hubris can often lead to trouble when it comes to actually landing an offer and closing a sale.

First-time sellers in particular exhibit some self-sabotaging behaviors that can trip them up on the way getting the deal done. The following are the most common mistakes they make and how to avoid them.

1. Thinking they can go it alone

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Selling a home is not for the faint of heart, nor is it an easy DIY project. First-time home sellers quickly realize marketing and showing their property is a full-time job. Unless they’re experts in real estate contracts, appraisals, inspections, and other documentation, they can end up make costly errors. Fortunately, this is an easy one to fix: Hire a licensed agent.

2. Wanting to price it too high

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Homeowners may think they’re living in the perfect home, but pricing it too high will render it a white elephant. It’s great to be optimistic that you’ll make a nice profit, but it’s important to be realistic and price a home accurately. Remember, time is money. Seeking top dollar can cost you if your home remains on the market far longer than you’d planned.

3. Being unwilling to negotiate

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Just because an offer comes in lower than a seller might have hoped, that’s no reason to take it personally and refuse to negotiate. Think of an offer as a starting point that leads to a compromise that works for both parties.

4. Not doing a thorough cleaning

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From the moment sellers decide to put their places on the market, they should begin cleaning and decluttering to make the home look as attractive and well-kept as possible. Staging is important, but experts agree, nothing makes a home shine quite like a thorough cleaning.

5. Making it difficult for agents to show it

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Sure, last-minute showings can be inconvenient, but if sellers really want to make a deal, they have to be willing to let an agent and prospective buyers inside. Thinking a two-hour open house once a week is going to be enough is some serious wishful thinking.

6. Refusing to take the agent’s advice

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Homeowners often think they know their properties better than anyone, so why should they take any advice — even from a professional? Because you’ll benefit from the wisdom and experience of a professional. If your agent suggests that you stash your garden gnome collection in the shed or fix that rickety staircase, just do it.

7. Being unwilling to make changes

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Things like kitchen and bathroom updates can make a home look more attractive and move more quickly as it means less work a buyer will need to tackle after moving in. Still, some sellers dig in their heels and decide to adopt a “take it or leave it” attitude. Sadly, many buyers will choose to leave it.

8. Not considering the next move

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Homes can sell more quickly — or more slowly — than anyone, including even a Realtor®, can anticipate. So it’s important to have a back-up plan either way.

Seniors Real Estate Specialist

Are you or someone you know is 50+ and is looking to buy or sell their homes? Working with an Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designated agent can make the process a lot less stressful!

Sharon Harkness holds the SRES designation and would love to help you or someone you know today! Give us a call (217) 239-7144

10 Amenities That Get Homes Sold During Winter

Many homeowners believe attempting to sell their places during winter is a losing proposition. Real estate agents, however, know any season is the right one when a property is attractive and represents a great value.

With inventory typically lower during the cold weather months, it’s actually a perfect time to put a home on the market. It also doesn’t hurt to set the stage — or sweeten the pot, if you will — by evoking a warm and welcoming vibe that makes would-be buyers want to hang up their coats, kick off their boots, and stay a while.

There’s no denying it’s cold out there, so why not embrace it? The following are amenities that prove winter really can be the most wonderful time of the year.

1. Fire pit

#Cozy #night by the #fire during the #holidays…

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Create a covetable outdoor space with the help of a fire pit. Whether it’s made of stone and serves as a permanent fixture or is a movable and affordable centerpiece for backyard S’mores-making, adding the element of fire ups the charm factor immediately.

2. Hot tub

A nighttime soak in this Jacuzzi ® Hot Tub will bring a smile to your face in no time

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Wait, is this a home or a five-star resort? Watching steam rise from a frothy hot tub on a chilly afternoon or evening makes anyone want to move right in! Giving a place the spa treatment, will remind home-shoppers that with this luxurious item on the premises, winter can last as long as it likes.

3. Home theater

Think the kids will like this one? #SoldbyKenitaTang #Kenitatangrealtor #Movienight #hometheater #movies #Kids #Realtor

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Especially during the winter, and particularly in cold weather climates, playing up the ability to have a blast indoors does wonders for buyers’ peace of mind (moreso if they’re parents). A home theater, even on a smaller scale (think flat screen and an old-fashioned popcorn maker), helps visitors envision themselves and their families surviving those endless snow days in style.

4. Fireplace

It’s almost impossible to resist the hypnotic allure of a roaring fire. According to the National Center for Real Estate Research, fireplaces have a positive impact on the selling price, with each fireplace adding about 12 percent. If a home has this feature, by all means, strike a match and watch that property heat up!

5. In-home wine bar

Baby, it’s cold outside — so why leave the house? This wine bar is one way to keep spirits merry and bright. It also conjures up thoughts of hosting holiday parties and gatherings as new owners envision celebrating and showing off their place.

6. Hot cocoa bar

Hello Friends!! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!!I've been pretty busy working on projects all last week and still haven't put up my Christmas tree. I did manage to get my hot cocoa bar done!! Is Everyone finished with their decorating yet or are you like me and it's taking you forever!! I'm normally not like this, but I'm struggling on trying to figure out how I want things to go. Hoping to figure it out and get it done by the end of the day. Happy decorating!! #mugrackmonday #signsandstemsmonday #wordsindecor #merrymerrydecor #mymerryhome #merrymondaydecor #myfarmcharmchristmas #verymerrymonday #mystyledholidayhome #lovingmyholidayhome #hotcocoabar #raedunn #raedunnchristmas #targetdollarspot #hotcocoa #coffeestation #farmhousechristmas #christmasdecor #holidayraedisplay Cute coffee banner is from @diyinspiredhouse Have a Holly jolly Christmas sign is from @rusticchicksboutique and Hot cocoa sign is from @houseon77th Awesome shops to check out

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On the other end of the spectrum, but no less festive, a hot cocoa bar offers a sweet welcome all ages can enjoy. Placed in the kitchen, dining room, family room, or foyer, this treat station makes you feel comfortable and right at home.

7. Wood-burning stove

Wood-burning stoves represent a delightful throwback to bygone days. Their timeless appeal will charm visitors at the same time they warm up a home. Thanks to advancements in technology, these old-fashioned heaters are more energy efficient than ever.

8. Home sauna

A home sauna? Why not? We can do that.

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Calling all athletes and anyone who could use a haven from the stresses of the outside world! (So, OK, everyone!) An in-home sauna is the oasis you’ve been seeking. Steam away those cares while enjoying health benefits that include improved circulation, detoxification, and even sinus relief.

9. Storm survival kit

Throwing in a highly-desirable item often increases interest from buyers. In a snowy climate, there are few tools as sought-after as a snowblower once that white stuff starts falling. Want to keep the enticement more affordable? Heavy-duty snow shovels, high-end gloves, rock salt, and de-icer all come in handy as well. First-time home-buyers who may be snow-removal newbies will appreciate this gesture.

10. Highlight energy efficient upgrades

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In addition to being comfortable temperature-wise, if a home is as energy-efficient as possible, that’s something buyers will definitely want to know — and remember. Creating a list of any upgrades to windows, doors, HVAC units, and the roof, as well as the installation of energy-saving appliances, means more money in buyers’ pockets and less going out the window.