Tips to Find the Right Agent to Sell Your Home

When you are selling your home, you need to have a real estate agent to help you get the highest possible sale price, in the best possible way.

Q: Why is it important to choose the right agent to sell your home?
A: It is important on several levels, especially when the market is slightly calm or it’s difficult. When the market is booming, nearly every one can sell property, so in a weaker market you have to hire the right person who has the know-how and experience. It all boils down to how you relate to them, how comfortable you are with them, how they intend on marketing your home and how they negotiate with buyers. In short, you need an agent who is going to do the right job for you and one that you have complete confidence in.

Q: How do you find the right one?
A: In real estate, recommendations by word of mouth is important. Instead of an agent telling you what they have done, it is far better to hear the good they have done from other people. It doesn’t matter whether you choose an agent with 25 years of experience or one who has been in the industry for just a year. Quite frequently, newer agents are more eager and not as complacent as some that have been around for years. They will go the extra mile because they’re working to make a name for themselves and build a brand.  Likewise is the agent who works alone in their owns the business.  This agent has their reputation at stake here and the ‘buck stops with them’.  Also important is not to choose your agent using online rating sites as the agents pay for this service and the ranking only takes into consideration the volume of properties sold (which might have been heavily discounted) and the highest value in the suburb.  It does not take into consideration the number of days it took to sell the home or if the property was sold for more than the asking price.  Nor does it consider the agent who sells in multiple areas!

Q: What are the biggest misconceptions when it comes to picking a real estate agent?
A: There are two misconceptions. First, you save money by hiring the cheapest agent. Second, people view real estate agents as rich people driving in nice cars and wearing black suits.  In the first one, it could end up costing you money. You wouldn’t go to a cut-price dentist or surgeon, so it doesn’t make sense for you to hire a cheap real estate agent to sell your home, which is probably your biggest asset.  As for the second misconception, there are many agents who don’t fit that stereotype. Real estate agents come in all shapes and sizes, so an agent who wears the best suit isn’t necessarily the best one to sell your property.

Q: After getting a few quotes to compare, what are the factors that you need to consider?
A: The most important thing is the word of mouth recommendation. If you’re hiring an agent and don’t have any recommendation, act carefully. You also need an agent who will work after hours, and not all agents are willing to do that. Give preference to agents who are up to date with the latest technology because there are many tools available today. From a marketing perspective, choose an agent who doesn’t place their eggs in one basket. So, use a combination of photography, different websites, different print media and social media, too!

Q: Does a higher commission normally effective in a price premium on a sale?
A: The more commission that you are paying, the more encouragement you’re giving the agent to get the best possible. This is how it works in real estate. Usually, the agents who charge a low commission are after a quick sale. For every property that an agent might sell at a higher commission, an agent charging a lower commission would have to sell two or three properties to get a similar amount.

Q: How does an exclusivity normally works?
A: When a seller signs an agency contract, they’re usually signing up with only one agent, and that is how it should work. When you begin multiple listings with various agencies then nobody will take accountability. There should be only one agent to take ownership and responsibility for bringing your results. The exclusivity period is usually 90 days and ins negotiable.  Watch out and be very wary of agreements that have no end date and the small print hidden within the agreement saying you must give 30 or even 60 days notice to cancel.

Q: What agent “promises” should you consider a red flag?
A: An agent that promises anything should be a red flag. Go by track record. Look deep into what an agent means when they promise to provide feedback. Look for concrete proof of the ways the agent gives feedback. How do they make follow up calls to prospective buyers after an open house? What kind of weekly reports will be given to you, both from follow-up calls and the different website analytics they utilise?

Q: Do I need to pay for “extras” like home styling and rental furniture when you’re selling?
A: You don’t need it if your home is already furnished, but there is nothing wrong with considering it, depending on the type of property. Styling can cost you, but it can also help you get the highest possible price and even help to sell the home in a shorter period.  There are properties that appear hollow, empty and cold with no furniture and styling and there are also incidents where styling can make your property look and feel fake. The nature of the property determines your decision and your agent should be able to provide the best advise for your property.

Q: My final tip for picking the right agent for your property?
A: Those middle road, really nice, honest-style people who have been working as agents for a long time and have established a good reputation within the community make the best real estate agents. They may not be flashy or known, but they get down and get on with business. Those people are most likely better alternative to agents who are always propping up their status as being the best in their area.

It is important to use word of mouth recommendations. Avoid websites that compare and recommend agents because almost all of the websites are there with an agenda and that is to make a profit. In exchange for being recommended, these sites might get a slice of the commission. The best agents don’t have to use such websites.

Major takeaways:
Be smart in choosing your agent – you could lose a lot of money if you choose wrong.
Always be guided by word of mouth recommendations.
Don’t avoid agents who have been in the business for a short time or who work alone in their own agency – they could be more driven and will go above and beyond.
Pick an agent who will work after hours – especially if you are working full-time.
A bigger share of commission can motivate agents to aim for a higher price.
Don’t automatically believe the agent who calls themselves as “the best” is truly the best. Agents who “fly under the radar” are the smarter choice.
Be careful of comparison websites that endorse certain agents – they may be getting paid to do so.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Landlord

There are many benefits to being a landlord, but the truth is there are also drawbacks that you need to consider.

Benefits of being a landlord

Additional income

One of the best benefits of owning investment properties is the rental income. If the rental income is higher than the property’s holding outlays, such as insurance, repairs, property taxes, etc., plus financing cost, the landlord gets a monthly payment, generating for you a stable source of income for as long as the property has a tenant and rent is being paid on time.

Tax benefits

Another great benefit of being a landlord is the tax deductions. There are various tax cuts that investment properties are entitled to including:

  • Business deductions (if the property is owned by a company)
  • The cost of the property, including property insurance, property taxes, and certain maintenance costs or repairs
  • Depreciation
  • Mortgage interest

A lot of these deductions are available only to rental property investors and can amount to large tax savings over time.

Equity and appreciation of the property

In most cases, real estate increases in value over time. Depending on its location, there is a chance the landlord can profit from the potential appreciation of the property on top of the additional income it generated from being leased.

Disadvantages of being a landlord

Time

Income from a rental is considered to be passive, but a rental property is not a passive investment. So much work is required in owning a rental property. Landlord responsibilities include:

  • Advertising vacancies and showing the property
  • Screening renters
  • Collecting deposits and executing leases
  • Tenant communication
  • Managing maintenance and repairs
  • Collecting rent
  • Filing evictions

One investment property may not entail a lot of work, but several properties will. Some landlords choose to hire a property management company to help them manage their rental property. Whether you manage your rental property yourself or hire a property manager, there is a fixed time obligation to investing in rental property.

Risk and liability of renting a property

There are certain risks and liability when a property is rented to a tenant. These include a lawsuit from a renter who is hurt in your property or inability to abide by your state’s tenant-landlord laws. On the other hand, a landlord could find themselves pursuing damages against a renter who damaged their property after they were evicted.

There are means to minimise risk, such as getting a sufficient liability policy for the property and putting the ownership of each property in a separate company, but the risk remains. Keep yourself updated on federal, state and local rental laws, and purchase adequate coverage to further protect yourself.

Maintenance and repairs

Properties must be maintained and cared for over time. It will suffer general wear and tear, or tenants caused damage to the property, items will have to be replaced, fixed or updated.

In some instances, unplanned expenses will come up. Some of these are:

  • The roof needing to be replaced sooner than anticipated
  • A pipe bursting, flooding the home
  • The air conditioner or hot water service breaking 
  • Finding the home in disarray after a tenant has left

Allocate a part of your rental income for ongoing maintenance and repairs, and be always ready to work with renters, contractors and repair people to fix the problems.

Long-term investment

Rental properties should be considered as long-term investments, as the gains are maximised the longer it is owned. Your money is tied up in a property for years to come. If your property comes with equity, you have the chance to leverage a part of that equity. However, the liquidity is far less in a rental property compared to alternative investments like real estate investment trusts (REITs).

Vacancy

All is well when a property is occupied, but when it is not, the landlord remains responsible for paying the property’s outlays and financing expenses. If the vacancy is longer than expected, it may be financially draining to continue the cost of owning the property.

Tips for Cleaning and Sanitising your Home Amid COVID

Cleaning companies are enjoying a surge in requests for sanitising services, with homeowners and businesses making efforts to keep their surroundings free of germs.

However, bringing a professional cleaner into your home may not be an option for everyone, so here are some tips from Safe Work Australia on how to DIY clean and disinfect your home thoroughly.

How to clean and disinfect

Cleaning means to physically remove germs (bacteria and viruses), dirt and grime from surfaces using a detergent and water solution. A detergent is a surfactant that is designed to break up oil and grease with the use of water. Anything labelled as a detergent will work.

Disinfecting means using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. It’s important to clean before disinfecting because dirt and grime can reduce the ability of disinfectants to kill germs. Disinfectants containing greater than equal to 70% alcohol, quaternary ammonium compounds, chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach are suitable for use on hard surfaces (that is, surfaces where any spilt liquid pools, and does not soak in). These will be labelled as ‘disinfectant’ on the packaging.

Cleaning should start with the cleanest surface first, progressively moving towards the dirtiest surface. When surfaces are cleaned, they should be left as dry as possible to reduce the risk of slips and falls, as well as spreading of viruses and bacteria through droplets.

Before a surface is disinfected, it is important it is cleaned first because dirt and grime can reduce the ability of disinfectants to kill germs. Disinfectant may not kill the virus if the surface has not been cleaned with a detergent first.

The packaging or manufacturer’s instructions will outline the correct way to use disinfectant. Disinfectants require time to be effective at killing viruses. If no time is specified, the disinfectant should be left for ten minutes before removing.

In addition, remember to disinfect your computer keyboards and devises, doorknobs and any remote controls, or gaming system controls, etc.

 

Tips to Avoid the Most Expensive Household Hazards and Insurance Claims During Winter

Winter blues and winter hazards around the home usually come hand in hand. They sneak up on us like the cold and you can become vulnerable when you are not protected by your home and contents insurance.

There are two common and expensive insurance claims that, during winter, home owners should be especially aware of.

Fire and escapable liquid, from the perspective of peril-type costs, are the costliest in the industry at present for home and contents insurance.

According to Fire and Rescue NSW, of the 4500 house fires in the state they handle yearly, one-third happen during winter. Heaters, electric blankets, open indoor fires, wheat bags and power surges can be accidents waiting to happen.

Fire typically is started by heating and an electrical surge due to numerous electric heaters and/or more appliances being used. Fires tend to occur more in older-wired and metered homes too.  Now that winter is here, make sure you check the things around the house that might cause a fire like heaters and electric blankets, particularly if they are several years old. 

Leak of liquids is commonly caused by significant day-to-night plunge in temperatures.  Putting pressure on pipes causes leaks and flooding. Think about a 15 to 20-degree that plunges to one digit or minus temperature at night. When hot water flows through the cold copper pipes, that is when they tend to break down.

You can avoid major water damage caused by the leak of liquid by monitoring changes in your water bill consumption and water pressure.  It is important to mitigate these dangers before they occur – preventable accidents do happen. Nights are turning colder and heaters are being taken out of storage, so making sure your home and contents insurance are adequate.  

I recommend you contact the following people to help make sure you are safe and protected this winter.

Trevor Gibson – Newsure Insurance

Uwe von Czapiewski – Elekmark Industries

Daniel Blancato – Shortland Plumbing 

 

What Things Should First-Home Buyers Watch for Right Now?

It is no surprise that many first-home buyers keeping up-to-date with the latest real estate news are experiencing a fear of missing out. Interest rates are at a record low, controls on public auctions have been relaxed, and the prices of some homes have been reduced.

These conditions may benefit first-home buyers, however, the number of homes for sales in April declined 11.9% year-on-year because of the COVID-19 lockdowns and subsequent economic instability.

With fewer choices of homes for sale, first-home buyers need to make sure they are financially ready to purchase, are able to make a quick decision but without making the wrong decision.

Keep in mind what’s important to you and don’t approach the process of purchasing a property like trying to snag a bargain item from the sales rack. The best bit of advise is to be ready and make that quick decision before your competition or you will end up being the bridesmaid over and over again and you will miss out!  

Location is crucial
Picking a location is rather personal, but there are several major signs that buyers should watch for. These include convenience, proximity to work, transport, and lifestyle choices like parks and cafes are essential. Though they may not be the priority of first-home buyers, another thing to consider is local schools.

Remember that a dreary house can be upgraded, but its location cannot be moved
First-home buyers should take care not to get wooed by beautifully presented or re-modeled properties that might be in bad locations especially if they have a limited budget. If a home is located on a busy main road, you can’t move it. As beautiful as the refurbished kitchen or bathroom it will always be rated as a C-grade property and will affect the resale value.

Experts recommend choosing a home that is near public transport but not located directly on a train line.

Find out if any traffic congestion or flight paths runs close to your house of choice to prevent any disappointment because of noise pollution down the road.

Focus on layout and structure
After taking into account the location, buyers should focus on searching for a home with a floor plan that fits their present lifestyle, thus preventing the need for major costly renovations.

The cost of any renovation that is needed for a home should always be considered in the budget from the beginning. While a house might be beautiful or cute to you, what you need to look for are things that cannot be changed. It will cost a lot to move the kitchen, bathroom or laundry, so to be sure the floor plan fits your needs.

First-home buyers can benefit from properties with good bones that you can update or add some value in the future – like a period home, a period terrace or a tiny flat in a small complex, so there’ll be that element of uniqueness.

If you’re planning to buy a unit, a point to consider is optimal orientation to promote natural light and airflow. The ideal orientation is north or north-east, which is something you cannot change.

Think long-term
For buyers who are thinking of beginning or growing their family while residing in their first home, buying a home with room to expand can prevent upsizing too quickly.

Preferably your first home, if you can pay for it, should have some space to expand. A tiny yard would be ideal. If a third bedroom or a second bathroom is within your budget, it might suspend you growing out of the home.

Buyers should look for features like a bathtub in a house if they are going to have young children or an expanding family, because something as basic as a bathtub could be a deal-breaker.

Establish relationship with selling agents
With the number of properties listed for sale currently down, local agents possess a vast amount of knowledge on future properties for sale.

Currently, the supply is low and there are not many properties for sale, so talking to an agent will give you information on what properties are coming up and point you to other listings that best suit you.

Place yourself on the radar of mediators in your area to put you in the best position when new properties for sale become available.

Now go out talk to some agents, get your finances in order and find your new home!