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Sellers Guide

Why hire a Realtor®? - ...why The Cooper Team?

Sellers say.... - What sellers say about The Cooper Team.

Selling your home - Valuable tips to assist you.


Why hire a Realtor®?

Specifically, why hire The Cooper Team?

Let us give you 8 good reasons -- and then 1 more.

1 Keeping it simple.

When pricing your home, you can understand our Comparative Market Analysis with ease. We offer no excessive materials to wow you.

2 Marketing other Realtors®.

Much of our marketing effort is directed toward other Realtors®, particularly those who are successful in working the markets which includes our listings. Being a high producer, We network with other high producers who may have buyers for our listings.

3 Complete listings.

Our listings in the Realtors® Multiple Listing Service (RMLS) are complete. Many Realtors® are lax and do not include details. This means that their listings do not surface when other Realtors® do computer searches for items such as school districts, neighborhoods, hardwood floors, view, private, etc.

4 Internet marketing.

Our listings are marketed from the Internet on these 6 sites:

  • TheCooperTeam.net -- Click on ®Our Listings®.
  • PortlandCondos.com -- Go to "Search the RMLS database".
  • Pearl-District-Lofts.com
  • RMLS.com -- public access to the Realtors® Multiple Listing system.
  • RMLSWeb.com -- Realtors® Multiple Listing Service, servicing Realtors®.
  • Realtor.Com -- is a nationwide database that allows buyers to search for properties throughout the United States.

Visual Tours - In addition to lots of Internet locations we provide visual tours (360 degree photos) for buyers to view the listed properties from the comfort of their homes or offices. Access to Visual Tours at:

  • RMLS.com
  • PortlandCondos.com
  • Pearl-District-Lofts.com
  • TheCooperTeam.net

5 Super service.

Family Team - Our team manages the office to assure that inquiries about properties and other issues are dealt with promptly.

6 No pressure.

We do not believe in high pressure sales techniques. You will find that we are prepared and organized when attending to the marketing of your home.

7 Legal sensitivity.

Selling a property in a litigious society involves some risk. We carefully look out for our client's best interests. This means we handle the property listing and agency disclosure and other paperwork with care.

8 Risk free services.

If you are not satisfied, you can take advantage of our EASY EXIT policy which lets you terminate the listing agreement (no argument, no fine print).

...and 1 more:

We keep our promises. We consider this most important.


Sellers say...

Sellers say this about The Cooper Team:

We were referred to John Cooper ... by a friend, and hired him to sell our home. We are delighted with the results, and want to pass the favor along.

John is knowledgeable and hardworking (and he got us a great price). ...He came to our closing and personally delivered our check from the title company.

Beyond the regular stuff, he arranged for the decommissioning of our oil tank. He also made arrangements for the marketing of a commercial property that we are selling. He can arrange for landscaping, painting, carpeting and repairs.

We are pleased with our "full-service Realtor®," and recommend him without reservation.

~ John & Nancy Nielsen

I wholeheartedly recommend your real estate services to my friends. ...I am so grateful for your skilled guidance through the painless sale of my home and the search for and purchase of the perfect condominium...

My anxiety was diminished by having the same very competent Realtor® handle both sides of my move...Your calm expertise was reassuring and your knowledge of the real estate market produced sage advice.

~ D. Doley Clarkson

Stacy is competent, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and ethical.

~ Sharon Miles

...I do want to thank you for the professional way in which you handled the sale of our home....You handled all the myriad details from showing the house to completing the papers with a minimum of requirement from us, and we appreciate that. Above all, the sale price was above what we were asking, and we could ask for no better service and assistance than that.

~ Jenny and Bill Cary


Selling your Home

Contents

  1. Selecting an Agent to Market Your Home
  2. Preparing Your Home for Sale
  3. Pricing Your Home Properly
  4. Marketing Your Home
  5. When to Reduce Your Price
  6. Showing Your Home to Potential Buyers
  7. Accepting an Offer
  8. Inspections, Appraisals, & Repairs
  9. Settlement & Closing Costs
  10. Tax Consequences of Selling
  11. Moving Check List

1 Selecting an Agent to Market Your Home

Choosing a real estate agent is the first and most important step in selling your home. You should strive to find an agent who will work hard to achieve six basic goals:

  1. Obtaining the best possible offer, regarding both price and terms, from a qualified buyer
  2. Doing so in the quickest possible time-frame
  3. Doing so with the least inconveniences to you
  4. Taking care of all details to assure that the transaction closes
  5. Always representing your best interests throughout the course of the transaction
  6. Keeping you informed at all times

Obtaining a good offer in a relatively short time-frame requires an agent with good marketing skills. Ask your agent for a specific marketing plan on how he or she plans to sell your home. Find out if the agent plans to use the benefits of the multiple listing service to allow other agents to show and sell your home.

Obtaining a good offer also requires proper pricing. Be sure that your agent is familiar with your area and that he or she researches comparable properties to help you determine the price. Don't pick an agent based on price alone. Always use comparables and objective data to set the price.

Some agents make the mistake of thinking that the marketing efforts need to be heightened near the end of the listing period, when the house still hasn't sold. Actually, for best results there should be a marketing "blitz" during the first few weeks that the home is on the market. This gives you a much better idea if price or exposure is the problem. Make sure, though, that your agent intends to continue a basic marketing strategy throughout the listing period.

Choose an agent who is dedicated and diligent. You're not only paying a commission for the agent's real estate knowledge, experience, and marketing expertise, but also so you can relax and avoid the many headaches involved with a real estate transaction. Make sure that your agent is committed to making the necessary phone calls, obtaining and delivering the required documents and paperwork, and meeting with inspectors, appraisers, surveyors, lenders, and escrow agents, among others, to assure that your sale proceeds smoothly.

And, don't underestimate the importance of the agent's overall real estate knowledge. An agent's practical experience can often help you avoid the pitfalls that inevitably come up in so many real estate deals. It sometimes requires a great deal of creativity to hold a deal together, so it doesn't hurt to have someone on your side who has dealt with similar problems in the past.

The issue of agency is also vital. When you sign a listing agreement you are choosing a person and a company to represent your best interests at all times, including the pricing, marketing, and negotiating. Be sure that your agent is fully aware of his or her duties and responsibilities, both legally and ethically. Not only should your agent protect your interests during the course of the listing, but he or she should also communicate regularly, informing you of all pertinent details, so that you can make intelligent decisions.

In most cases your best interests are served by an exclusive right-to-sell listing. However, be sure to understand the specific contractual agreements, their implications, and the time-frame involved before signing a listing agreement.

2 Preparing Your Home For Sale

In order to sell your home quickly and for an acceptable price, it is important to make preparations that will showcase your home to its best potential. Following are some basic tips:

  1. First impressions are lasting. The front door greets the prospect, so make sure it is clean or freshly painted. Keep the lawn trimmed and edged, and the yard free of debris.
  2. Faded walls and worn woodwork reduce appeal. Why try to tell the prospect how your home could look when you can show him by redecorating. A quicker sale at a higher price will result.
  3. Open draperies and curtains, and let the prospect see how cheerful your home can be. Dark rooms do not appeal, so let the sun shine in.
  4. Dripping water discolors sinks and suggests faulty plumbing, so fix any leaking faucets.
  5. Repairs can make a big difference. Loose knobs, sticking doors and windows, warped cabinet drawers, and other minor flaws detract from your home's value, so have them fixed.
  6. Turn off the television, and turn on soft music.
  7. Arrange bedrooms neatly. Remove and store excess furniture. Use attractive bedspreads and freshly laundered curtains.
  8. Bathrooms help sell homes, so make them sparkle. Check and repair caulking in bathtubs and showers.
  9. Display the full value of your attic, basement, and other utility space by removing all unnecessary articles. Brighten dark, full basements by painting walls.
  10. Make closets look bigger. Neat well-ordered closets show that the space is ample.
  11. Keep pets out of the way, and preferably out of the house. If there are any pet odors, try to eliminate them. Have carpets steam-cleaned, if necessary.
  12. Eliminate cluttered appearances by removing excessive pictures, wall decor, trophies, etc. Remove memos and other papers from the refrigerator.
  13. Cleanliness is imperative. Extra effort in the bathrooms and the kitchen will go a long way toward a favorable impression.

3 Pricing Your Home Properly

One point that can never be stressed enough is the importance of pricing your home right at the beginning. Some sellers are convinced that they need to "test the waters" by overpricing their home. However, if you sincerely want to sell, this can be a tremendous mistake.

Buyers typically flock to a new listing, especially during the first two to three weeks on the market. Even though a home's price has later been reduced, the listing becomes "stale" in the minds of many purchasers.

Sometimes a lowered sales price raises red flags, causing buyers to think there are problems with the property, or that you are desperate to sell at any price. Remember that most purchasers tend to shop for homes at the high end of their range. Thus, a home that is overpriced will probably not be seen at all by those buyers who it will most likely appeal to.

Today's market has created the most sophisticated and cautious group of buyers ever, so it's extremely unlikely to find a buyer willing to pay more than the true market range. And, even if an un-knowledgable buyer did make a high offer on your home, it's probable that the appraisal will come in too low, and kill the transaction anyway.

Your real estate agent can help you to determine the market range for similar houses to yours. A comparative market analysis (C.M.A.) prepared by your agent, will show you how your home stacks up against those like it which have sold in your neighborhood. It will also show those which are currently active on the market, which will be used by buyers to compare value. Analyze the C.M.A. carefully with your agent to come up with a competitive price.

In determining a price, try to separate emotions from reality. Your home is probably very special to you, but be realistic and objective on how a potential buyer is going to view your home. You remember your kids growing up playing in the majestic oak tree in the back yard, while a purchaser might think of all the work raking up leaves.

In general, your home will be largely affected by the value of other homes in your immediate area. Your neighborhood will have a major effect of holding any dramatic shifts of value in check, despite costly or trendy remodeling.

4 Marketing Your Home

Besides price, the other main factor in whether a house sells or not is exposure. Proper exposure is achieved by effective marketing. A good real estate agent realizes the importance that marketing plays in getting your home sold quickly.

The single most effective form of marketing is that done through the multiple listing service. The service allows cooperating agents to show and sell someone else's listing, even if they are with a different company. The great majority of sales nationwide are sold in this manner. It's important that your real estate agent knows how to use the multiple listing service effectively, by taking full advantage of the system's capacity to list as many positive features about your home as possible. The information which another agent reads on an M.L.S. computer printout will usually determine whether or not your home gets shown.

Print advertising can also be important, but can be very inefficient when done haphazardly. A well-written newspaper ad can actually attract 50 times more calls than one that's written without much thought. Newspaper ads are competing with so many other ads, that buyers will generally call only a very small proportion of those in their price ranges. Typically, several ads get the majority of the calls, while other ads might only draw a few responses. Preferably, newspaper ads should be timed in conjunction with open houses for the best efficiency.

Another form of print advertising available in most metropolitan areas are the home buyer magazines, which have the added benefit of a photograph. If your home has good curb appeal, the photo can make a big difference in the number of inquiries. Advertisements in these magazines are normally available only to the real estate industry.

Many real estate agents also use flyers to market your home. They are often distributed to other agents, at open houses, and through flyer boxes or tubes attached to the yard sign. Many buyers look at dozens of homes, so a flyer, especially one with a picture, gives you a large advantage of having your home remembered.

If your home is being frequently viewed by both real estate agents and prospective purchasers, chances are that the marketing efforts have been sufficient. At a certain level, additional advertising and promotion is simply wasted. It doesn't matter how much money and time is spent on getting the word out about your home if it's overpriced or if it's not in selling condition. The purpose of marketing is to draw as many prospective buyers to your home as possible, so that your home is among those homes in competition for the buyers' attention and final purchasing decisions. If your home doesn't compare favorably with others on the market, no amount of additional marketing, advertising, or promotion will make a difference.

5 When to Reduce Your Price

After your home has been on the market for a certain period of time, has been viewed by a reasonable number of real estate agents, and has been shown to a sufficient number of prospective buyers, you must determine why there has not been a sale. This is especially true if there has not even been any offers.

You should be prepared to reconsider the list price if your home has received at least basic exposure, and has been on the market for several weeks. Other than the number of showings, the number of offers, and whether or not a sale has resulted, the signs of whether or not your home is over- priced are not necessarily that obvious. Too many sellers mistake a polite buyer's positive comments for legitimate interest. Be sure to separate your own emotions and frustrations from reality.

Although a comparative market analysis is a useful tool in setting the original price, it is by no means an exact science. So let buyers' actions be an even greater barometer of pricing. Otherwise, your home will be used simply as a strategic comparison property to help sell another home.

6 Showing Your Home to Potential Buyers

Many sellers just take it for granted each time their home is shown to a potential purchaser. No preparations are made, and even worse, sometimes they even get in the way of their main objective. Some sellers seem to think that even without any marketing efforts, hundreds of buyers will flock to see their home. The reality is that you must make the most of every showing situation. There are only a small number of serious buyers looking at any given time, compared to the number of homes on the market. And, only a small portion of those will likely see your home.

You will only have a few real opportunities to sell your home during the listing period, and you seldom know which ones are the most important. So, it's important that your home always look its best. This means that your lifestyle may have to change slightly during the marketing period. It will probably mean doing things you normally don't do, whether it be making your beds every day, doing the dishes immediately after meals, or mowing the lawn more often. However, if you are serious about selling you will have to make some minor sacrifices. You should also be prepared to leave your home when a real estate agent is showing it to a potential purchaser. Buyers don't feel nearly as comfortable when the sellers are present, and tend to quickly glance over the home. They need the time to look carefully through each room. Open houses should also be held without the sellers being present. Ask your real estate agent for his or her specific instructions for appointments and open houses.

It's also a good idea to "stage" the home for each appointment by turning on all room lights, opening up drapes, turning off television sets, turning on soft music, and taking pets out of the house. And be sure to do a last-effort cleaning before anyone arrives. Most purchasers are immediately turned off by dark homes, homes with odors, cluttered homes, and dirty homes. Put extra attention into the cleanliness of the bathrooms and the kitchen.

When a purchaser makes an offer, he subconsciously comes up with a price based on the most irrelevant things. Ridiculously, an offer might be $2000 lower because of your children's toys strung out across the living room. It actually happens, so it's to your advantage to have your home ready to sell.

7 Accepting an Offer

Once someone decides that your property is just right, and your real estate agent conveys an offer to you, excitement or frustration usually follows. Many offers are less than the seller's asking price, but that is part of the process. Take your time and give some careful thought to your response. Analyze the offer with your agent. You don't have to reply immediately if you're not certain the price and terms are acceptable to you.

While you weigh the offer, you'll want to take into consideration the current state of the real estate market and your own time frame. Don't make the common mistake, though, of assuming that one offer will lead quickly to others. Consider any offer on its own merits, assuming no others are imminent.

Even if you and the potential buyer are far apart on price, it's usually wise to make a counter-offer, as opposed to rejecting the offer outright. Remember, also, that in most cases the selling agent is also representing your best interests, so any insight the agent can give you into what type of counter-offer might be acceptable to the buyers should be helpful.

Some sellers let emotions play too big a part in the negotiating process. Use good judgment by deciding what's truly best for you, instead of trying to compete with the buyer in a game in which both sides lose.

After terms and price have been agreed upon, make certain every detail of the agreement is included in your sales contract. Usually, your real estate agent will be able to complete pre-printed standard form contracts for you. Contracts generally will include the total price, the amount of the down payment, the type of financing, the closing date, and any other terms of the sale you and the buyer have agreed to include. The more fully you spell out the details of the sale, the less likely there is that problems will occur.

Remember that an accepted offer does not mean the sale will automatically go through. There are documents to be processed, inspections, appraisals, financing requirements, and contingencies. It's wise to analyze any offer on the basis of its likelihood of closing, as well as on the price and terms. It's also prudent to avoid making any commitments which will put you in a bind if the transaction does fall through.

8 Inspections, Appraisals, & Repairs

It's likely that the buyers of your home will protect themselves with an inspection clause within the sales agreement, allowing them to terminate the purchase within a specified period of time if an inspection report is not satisfactory. You should also realize that you are normally required to disclose any known defects to the buyers. It makes sense, then, to make sure that your home is in reasonable condition, allowing for a smooth sale.

The inspection is not intended to be a warranty of your property's condition, and normally covers only those areas which are readily accessible or visible to the inspector. Although latent defects may not be reported, you could still be liable for damages if you fail to disclose any known deficiencies. If possible, you should plan on attending the inspection, so that specific problems which may require repairs can be directly pointed out to you.

In most cases, any allowances in the sales agreement for repairs refers to lender-required repairs. The purchaser's lender will probably request a copy of the inspection report, and may demand certain repairs based on that report. Many times, though, the lender will request repairs based only on the appraiser's recommendations. Although the appraiser does not tend to inspect the condition of the property with the same thoroughness of most inspectors, there are specific things most appraisers look for to meet the underwriting guidelines of the lender or government loan programs, such as F.H.A. and V.A. Some of the most common things most appraisers look for are adequate access to the attic and crawl space, water in the crawl space, plastic sheeting in crawl space, dry rot, wood-to-soil contact, proper roof and floor ventilation, peeling or blistered exterior paint, shower and tub surrounds, bathroom fans or windows, ceiling insulation, smoke detectors, good gutters and down-spouts, minimum standard electrical service, pop-off valve on the water heater, and certifiable 3-year roof life. The appraiser can suggest repairs or corrections of any of these items, as well as any others he deems necessary. It is up to the underwriter to determine if the repairs will be required as a condition of the loan.

The appraiser's primary purpose, though, is to estimate the market value of the property. Since the buyer pledges or hypothecates the title of the property as security for the mortgage loan, the lender has a vested interest in loaning no more than a percentage of the property's value. Each loan program has a maximum loan-to-value ratio, where the buyer is required to make a minimum down payment based on the appraised value. For example, if the property costs $100,000 and the maximum loan-to-value ratio is 90%, then the lender will loan $90,000 and the buyer must put $10,000 down. However, if the appraised value falls short and is only $98,000, the lender will only loan $88,200. So, in this case the buyer must make an $11,800 down payment, unless the seller is willing to lower the previously agreed upon price.

9 Settlement & Closing Costs

Closing costs are often negotiated between buyers and sellers, and these costs may vary depending on the lender, the type of loan, the escrow company, and state and county requirements. Generally, however, the costs are fairly standard, as indicated by the chart on the next page. However, you should always check with your escrow agent before closing to get a firm idea of what you are expected to pay.

Pro-rations, although not truly a closing cost, are also figured at closing. Pro-rations is a method of making an equitable adjustment between the buyer and seller on any items which have been prepaid by one of the parties. The seller is normally credited for prepaid insurance premiums and prepaid interest, but normally must pay the buyer at closing for property taxes. Also, if the seller has any impound accounts for property taxes or hazard insurance, he or she will be credited for the amount of the reserves.

10 Tax Consequences of Selling

There are certain tax implications when you sell real estate, so unless you are completely familiar with current laws you should consult your accountant before any offer is accepted. Although you are not required to reinvest all funds made available from the sale of your house, failure to do so may create a capital gain on which you will be taxed. A loss on your home is generally not deductible. If you're 55 or older, a portion or all of your gain may be deferred if certain conditions are met.

Some repairs may be deducted from the selling price of the house, which may reduce the gain you recognize and the taxes you pay on the sale if the sales proceeds are not all reinvested in a new principal residence. Any repairs must generally be done within a specific time period from the contract date.

It's important to remember that tax consequences can be dramatically different depending on what type of real estate you sell, for example, the difference between the home you live in, a vacation home, or a rental home. Also, state tax laws vary greatly, and might include various types of energy conservation and solar energy tax credits.

11 Moving Checklist

  • Send Change of Address Cards to:
    • Post Office
    • Charge Accounts
    • Subscriptions
    • Friends
    • Relatives
  • Make Arrangements with Moving Company
  • Disconnect Utility, Get Refund for Any Deposits Made, and Advise where Final Bills are to be Sent
    • Water
    • Electric
    • Gas
    • Telephone
    • Fuel
    • Trash Removal
  • Cancel Deliveries
    • Milk
    • Newspaper
    • Other
  • Transfer Bank Accounts
    • Checking
    • Savings
    • Safe Deposit
  • Have Bank Recommend Affiliate in New City
  • Transfer Memberships
    • Church
    • Clubs
    • Civic Organizations
  • Notify Insurance Companies
    • Health
    • Life
    • Auto
    • Home Owners
  • Check with Insurance Agent on Coverage of Life, Car, and Household Goods in Route to New Home
  • Obtain School Records for Children
  • Obtain Birth and Baptismal Records for All Family Members
  • Obtain Legal Records
  • Check to See if Your Will Must Be Rewritten When Moving Across State Lines
  • Obtain Medical Records
    • General Practitioner
    • Dentist
    • Optometrist
    • Other Doctors
  • Veterans Notify Your Draft Board or VA Office
  • Have Drug Prescriptions Refilled
  • Have Car Tune-up for Trip
  • Leave Keys and Any Necessary Legal Papers with Your Realtor®

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