BUYING DURING COVID-19

 

Buyers are navigating showings during COVID-19 with the help of protective gear, patience, and flexibility.  The process is generally the same once you have identified the home you want unless you are from out of town.  Those buyers are not likely making multiple visits here.  Finding the home you want is a more thorough process as we carefully select which homes to view.  Once you have an accepted offer the process moves forward in a typical fashion other than limiting contact with others.  We are following guidelines and those may change here and there along the way.  Below is how things have changed thus far.

Initial Consultation

When a new buyer reaches out to me, the first thing I do is send my buyer survey to gather information about their search.  Next, I set up a time for us to meet in person or chat over the phone.  I’ll delve into more details of their search.  I work with a lot of out of town buyers so the fact that all my consultations are now over the phone is not much different for me.  Whether it’s COVID-19 or not, I ask buyers to provide a pre-approval letter from a lender before seeing homes.  Being pre-approved and targeting homes based on criteria we’ve discussed means our time will be used wisely.  We’ll only see the homes that are the best possibilities, which is exactly what we should be doing now anyway.  We are being selective when choosing to go into other peoples homes.

Showings

I am asking ALL of my buyers to wear masks, take shoes off or use shoe covers, and touch as little as possible with a wipe in hand.  Majority of sellers are requiring these measures.  Whether or not they state those requirements explicitly, I am telling my buyers to follow that protocol.  Prior to viewing homes, buyers are to review all online materials for a home which could include a home tour video or a Matterport 3D tour, floorplan drawings, photos, and any documents provided in the MLS.  By thoroughly reviewing all of this and driving by the home before a showing, if possible, we can avoid unnecessary showings.  Many sellers are asking that only the Realtor and parties who will be signing purchase agreement documents enter the home.  There also should not be overlapping showings.  I’ve found my buyers are being really thoughtful about whether or a not a showing is necessary.

Out Of Town Clients

Many of my buyers moving here from other areas of the country are limiting their travels.  They are waiting to travel here until it’s closer to their deadline for securing a home.  The timing can be tricky with limited visits and certainly can make the move more stressful when there is pressure to find a home.  I have taken a lot of videos of homes and neighborhoods for buyers over the years.  I’m no videographer, but it helps narrow down possibilities.  I’m also utilizing FaceTime as well as WhatsApp, a free app that allows me to video call buyers similar to FaceTime so they can tour the home along with me in real time.  I will not only help you with your home purchase, but I will also connect you with anyone else here to help meet your needs.  Whether it’s a list of my preferred service providers, healthcare providers, or a friend who has a kid in the preschool you are interested in, I’m on it!

Inspection and Appraisal

Inspectors and appraisers are taking all the same precautions we are asking buyers to take.  It is preferable that only the inspector and buyers attend the inspection.  The sellers will be away for this appointment per usual and it is not a good time to invite family and friends to see the home you are purchasing.  I know you might be excited to show it to them, but a video call would be best.  Buyers don’t attend the appraisal in any circumstance so that has not changed.  Lenders are allowing more drive-by appraisals during this time and sometimes they are even waived in certain circumstances.

Final Walk Through & Closing

The final walk through will likely be your third time in the home after the initial visit and inspection.  You are not required to attend a walk through or even have one.  I recommend doing one to make sure there are no last minute surprises like a burst pipe.  I will happily do the walk through while on a video call with you if you prefer.  As for closings, you can close inside the title company in a private room that has been disinfected.  You can also request to sign from your vehicle.  I will not be inside for a closing in order to limit the number of people in a room.  I will either be in the parking lot or available by phone should a question arise.  Knock on wood, by the time we get to the closing table most questions have been answered and any additional questions can likely be answered by your closing agent.  If there is someone in your party who does not want to come to closing, but needs to sign, someone could be given Power of Attorney or documents could be signed then mailed.

In summary, I will work with you in the way that you need me to be in order to feel safe and to minimize your outings.  This entire process can be done from home.  If that’s the choice that is best for you then by all means I will do what needs to be done to make that happen just short of picking up a home and bringing it to you.  Prepare for the process of finding a home to take longer, as there have been fewer listings than usual.  We all now know how quickly a country can shut down and if we return to a stay at home status then closings could be delayed.  We did see some of that in March and then things got back on track.  If there are two thing to be during the time of a pandemic, it’s patient and flexible.  I look forward to helping you find a home in a safe and productive way!


Posted on May 22, 2020 at 3:34 am
Kristi Gibbs | Posted in Uncategorized |

SELLING DURING COVID-19

 

Whether you are selling during COVID-19 pandemic or considering selling, read on to learn more about selling during this time.  Listing consultation, marketing, showing, pricing, and closing protocols have all changed since then.  It’s important to have an understand of selling in today’s world because some of this may remain as the new normal for listings.

Listing Consultation

Sellers can request a virtual appointment which can easily be done over FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom, etc…  This way you can see me and give me a tour of your home both inside and out.  The video works well enough for me to provide recommendations about staging, landscaping, painting, and general repairs or maintenance.  A follow-up plan will be emailed outlining what should be done before listing your home.  I will also drop off my sellers brochure which walks you thought the process of selling as a handy reference.  Another option is for sellers to leave home so I can walk through on my own.  We could chat outside after I view the interior.  It’s really up to each seller what they are most comfortable with!  

Marketing

If your home is not occupied, then not much will change and we can proceed like usual while taking precautions for showings.  Whether a home is vacant or not, all my listings have a video walk through, floor plan drawings, and professional photos.  I found it was immensely helpful to provide those services pre-COVID-19.  I continue to do so now with a few adjustments.  For example, I am asking sellers to clean out closets so photos of those can be included with the listing if needed.  In addition, I am advertising with a service that follows buyers online with an ad about your listing.  I know buyers are on the internet house hunting more than ever so I want to be present there beyond home search sites. 

I am still sending out “just listed” postcards and posting to social media, in addition to online marketing.  As for printed materials, most times I am not leaving packets in homes for buyers to take.  If you want to list your home, but want to do it completely virtual, that is possible.  You would have to take all your own photos, which I could have enhanced.  I would also ask that you video the interior of your home and possibly ask that you FaceTime a prospective buyer and/or their agent.  I understand it is not possible for some people to have anyone in their home if they can avoid it.  A home could be listed on the condition that the buyer not be able to enter until an offer is made.  This could work depending on the home and price point.  Ultimately, you would have to allow the buyer with the inspector and appraiser to enter the home.  I will be do my best to meet you where you are.

Showings

For a long time now, a sellers first showing has been online.  Buyers start their search there and, now more than ever, they need access to the most information possible.  In an ideal world, the only showings you would have are with buyers who are ready, willing, and able.  While showings are down and you should expect fewer than you would have anticipated months ago, the buyers looking at homes during this time are serious.  That is good news!  The pool of potential buyers might be smaller, but there are buyers who are still looking to secure a home.  My listings have a COVID-19 reminder at the door listing protocols that are expected like not having multiple parties in the home at once.  I have shoe covers, wipes and masks available.  We are asking that everyone wear a mask and that only the agent, using a wipe, touch anything unless the buyers also have a wipe to use.  Ideally a seller will have the lights turned on and as many doors open as possible in the home so we can make the showing as touchless as possible.  

Pricing Your Home

Prices are changing during this time and everyone wants to know what will happen with prices going forward.  The answer is that I don’t know.  I’m keeping an eye on our monthly MLS reports and sales prices.  I’m optimistic that our niche market here will continue to chug along without the disruption that we might see on the coasts or in larger cities.  I will keep up with home pricing changes in our market so I can advise you accordingly.  I’ll provide information about your home views online and the number of showings in your area.

Closings

Title companies are continuing to process closings without issue.  They are either bringing documents to your car to sign or having you sign inside in a room all to yourself.  I am staying in my car in the parking lot or making myself available over the phone.  Sellers generally don’t have that much to sign since they won’t have lender documents and so you could also opt to sign remotely.  You can sign documents and return them in person or overnight documents if you are out of town.  

The overall goal of all these measures is to allow for social distancing and to keep everyone safe.  My mask protects you and your mask protects me.  Sellers who have to move are going to move and buyers who have to buy are going to buy.  Keeping the housing market going is impacting our economy in a positive way.  I anticipate Realtors will continue to be allowed to conduct business here so long as we are abiding by the rules.  My team and I are here for you from start to finish.  


Posted on May 22, 2020 at 1:32 am
Kristi Gibbs | Posted in Sellers |

A FEW THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT APPRAISALS

 

If the buyer is obtaining a mortgage to purchase your home then the lender will require that an appraisal be completed.  The appraisal is an estimate of a property’s value. This is based on factors such as age, location, square feet, number of bedrooms & bathrooms, amenities, structural condition, and recent sales of similar properties.

Who orders the appraisal?  

The buyer’s mortgage lender orders the appraisal and the buyer pays for it.  This appraisal will likely be scheduled a few weeks after an offer is accepted.

When does the appraisal occur and how is it scheduled? 

The appraiser will schedule the appraisal appointment just like a showing appointment.  He/she will be able to access your home as a member of our board and it is normally scheduled during typical weekday business hours.  

Do I need to attend the appraisal? 

No, you do not need to attend the appraisal. However, you are welcome to be home when the appraiser is there.  Make sure any documents I have left at your home for showings are available for the appraiser.

How long does the appraisal take? 

Usually about 30 minutes and typically no more than an hour.

How long until we know if the property appraised for the purchase price? 

They usually have it completed in 7-10 business days.  The lender will forward the appraisal to the buyer which shows whether the property appraised at the purchase price, below the purchase price, or above the purchase price.  The seller does not get a copy of the appraisal.

If the property appraised at or above the purchase price, then great.  That means the buyer can get the loan amount they have requested.  If the property appraised for less than the purchase price, we have a problem. The bank will loan up to the appraised value.  In this case, the buyer is not able to finance as much of the purchase as planned and will likely ask the seller to renegotiate the purchase price down to the appraisal price.  If a seller says no, then the buyer has to come up with cash at closing for the difference between the appraisal price and the purchase price.  Generally, buyers can’t or won’t want to do that.  If the buyer walks away, his or her earnest money is usually refunded in the case of a low appraisal.  In my experience, it’s not been common to have a low appraisal so fingers, toes, and eyes crossed there are no issues!


Posted on May 3, 2020 at 1:31 am
Kristi Gibbs | Posted in Uncategorized |

LET’S MAKE AN OFFER!

 

The day has come when you have found your one and only.  Maybe not your true love of the human variety, but you did find a home you love.  Now what?!  Here is some information you need to know as you move forward with writing an offer.

Full legal name:  

You will sign purchase agreements for your home the way you typically sign your name legally unless you are buying the home in another name, such as an LLC.  If you are applying for a loan, you will sign purchase agreement documents the same way you sign your loan application documents.

Offer price: 

What price do you want to offer for the home?  Let’s have a discussion about the sale to list price in the neighborhood if we haven’t already.  We will discuss whether you should expect to pay below asking price, asking price, or above asking price based on today’s market.  I will email you comps to review and give you my opinion as to what the home is worth.  * Typically there is some negotiating back and forth.  You need to decide how much you’re willing to pay for the home and what your walk away price is.

Earnest money: 

Typically, we offer 1% of the purchase price.  There are some circumstances that warrant offering more earnest money and I will let you know if I recommend it for your purchase to make your offer more appealing.  The earnest check can be a personal check or cashier’s check made payable to the listing brokerage.  We specify the due date for this in the purchase agreement and it’s typically due in a few business days after offer acceptance.

Consider the earnest money as part of your down payment.  If you’re planning to pay $30,000 for a down payment and you’re paying $3,000 in total earnest money then at closing you would owe an additional $27,000 for the remainder of the down payment.

The earnest money is not something you get back if you walk away from a purchase due to a change of heart.  That money is your way of demonstrating to a seller you are serious about closing on the purchase of their property.  Things can come up during the inspection process that lead to a mutual release and, depending on how that process goes will depend on whether or not you are be entitled to a refund of earnest money.  I always tell buyers that money is gone once they write the check so that they are only making offers on homes they are serious about buying.

Method of payment:  

I will need to note your method of payment in the offer.  We will need to know what percent of the purchase price you are borrowing and the length of the loan.  If paying cash, I will need to provide proof of funds to the seller within 24 hrs of making an offer and if you are going to have an appraisal.

Closing cost credits: 

Do you want to ask the sellers to pay any of your closing costs?  Generally the sellers pay their closing costs and the buyers pay their own closings costs, however, we can ask the sellers to pay some of your closing costs on top of theirs, if needed.

Closing date: 

We often see closing timeframes of around 45 days if a buyer is getting a loan and 30 or less days for cash closings.  Closings take place during the weekday from 9 AM – 4 PM at a title company.  They take approximately one hour unless you are paying cash and then it will be closer to 30/45 min.

You can ask for a longer closing date if that is what works best for you.  Keep in mind you can typically lock your interest rate for only up to 60 days.   If you want to close in less than 30 days and you are getting a loan, you would need to let me know right away and I would help direct you to lenders who can make that happen.

If you’re not getting a loan and are paying 100% cash you can close as quickly as 14 days.  Especially if there will not be an inspection or appraisal.  The title company essentially needs enough time to get a title policy and have the closing scheduled.

Possession: 

It is not uncommon for sellers to ask for a few extra days of possession after closing to get moved out of the home.  So don’t be surprised if a seller counters with this request.  I’ve had sellers with months of extra possession and, often, we note in our listings when the earliest is that a buyer could get possession if the seller has a specific timeframe.  For example, it is not uncommon for sellers to want to stay in their home until the end of the school year and move over the summer.

Inspection: 

You can either completely waive all inspections, reserve the right to have an inspection, or buy the home “as-is.”  More often than not, buyers reserve the right to have an inspection.  We often ask for 15 days to both complete the inspection and provide a response to the seller.  We also ask for additional days, if needed, to further examine any issues that come up in the initial inspection.  I recommend reading the inspection portion of the contract more than once to make sure you thoroughly understand what a defect is according to IN law.

Home warranty: 

Do you want to ask the seller to provide a home warranty on the property?  They are $500 and here is a link to more information on an HSA home warranty:  https://www.onlinehsa.com/.  Home warranties are great for first time homebuyers, especially if the home is older.  This can provide some peace of mind that there will be some financial help with bigger replacements/repairs in that first year of homeownership.

Contingencies:  

Any other contingencies we need to be aware of?  Do you need to sell your current home before you can buy?

While negotiations sometimes go quickly, it can also take several days of going back and forth.  Every seller is different and some people can make decisions quickly whereas others need time to think things through. Patience is key once you submit an offer and start to work through negotiations. Cool, calm, and collected is my daily mantra.

Keep Calm & Real Estate On!


Posted on March 10, 2020 at 8:38 pm
Kristi Gibbs | Posted in Buyers |

MULTIPLE OFFERS – HIGHEST & BEST

What is a highest and best offer?

When a seller receives multiple offers on their property, they typically ask all interested buyers to submit a final offer by a certain time and date. The idea is that this is the highest amount the buyer is willing to pay with the best terms possible. Usually there is no additional negotiation other than perhaps asking the buyer to change a closing date so interested buyers should offer the maximum amount of money they are willing to pay for the property.

How do you put together the highest and best offer?

While you might think the seller just wants the highest price for their property, there are other considerations that factor into which offer is the best for them. Here are some of those considerations and strategies that can help you secure the home you want:

  • Have your real estate team on the same page to ensure a smooth transaction. You don’t want to find out that you can’t qualify for the amount of money you’re offering if you go above the list price, so keep your lender in the loop as well as anyone else involved.
  • If you need a mortgage, make sure you have an up-to-date pre-approval which should be submitted with your offer.  Also, you need to be comfortable with the offer you’re putting in so ask your lender about the payment difference if you are increasing your offer.
  • A typical closing timeframe for a loan would be around 45 days and 30 or less for cash purchases.  Unless the sellers have a specific closing date in mind, try not to ask for anything out of the ordinary in terms of closing.  Make sure your Realtor knows if the seller wants post-closing possession and add that to your offer to make it more attractive.
  • Sellers want to work with a buyer who they think will be easy to work with. Talk with your Realtor and come up with reasonable requests. For instance, I don’t suggest asking for a home warranty if you’re in a multiple offer situation or closing costs if you don’t absolutely have to have those.  The cleaner the offer, the better.
  • Consider making an “As Is” offer.  An “As Is” offer means you do an inspection, but won’t ask the sellers to make any repairs. You are agreeing to buy the property as it is. After the inspection you can still choose to walk away if major defects were revealed that were not previously disclosed, but you won’t ask the sellers to fix anything if you choose to move forward with the purchase.  This gives the seller peace of mind that the deal will likely close because, often times, if a deal falls apart it’s over inspection items.  This isn’t the best choice for all buyers.
  • Have your lender call the seller’s Realtor and assure them that you are a strong buyer and won’t have any issues qualifying for the loan.
  • Write a seller love letter telling the seller about yourself and why this is the perfect home for you.
  • Consider an escalation clause.  This is something I go over with all my buyers who are in multiple offer situations and it is often used in our market.  I have specific strategies when using this clause.
  • Additionally, when I have a cash buyer in a multiple offer situation there are some strategies to help make their offer the most appealing beyond the fact that there will not be a financing contingency.

Why do sellers ask for highest and best offers?  

It gives all interested parties an equal opportunity to have their offers considered and it shows how committed a buyer really is.  Plus, sellers want the most they can get for their home with the best terms and this gives sellers that opportunity.  Some sellers list low with the hope they will get multiple offers so they secure a fairly clean offer that meets their criteria.


Posted on February 26, 2020 at 4:29 pm
Kristi Gibbs | Posted in Uncategorized |

SOCIAL MEDIA PRIVACY SETTINGS

Have you ever seen a friend or family member post on social media about their home purchase or sale?  I certainly have!  Sometimes those posts include information that could benefit one party to the transaction.  This is why I strongly recommend changing your privacy settings on social platforms, especially Facebook, so only your friends can see your posts.  Not public or friends of friends.

I often look up the other party to a transaction on social media.  I try to get an idea of who they are and hope that I luck out by finding a post that says they found the home of their dreams.  Great, now I know my seller has a stronger negotiating position because someone has declared to the world of Facebook that they love my listing.  Maybe they posted they’ve moved out of state and posted a photo of that new home they just bought.  Super, now I know you are likely quite motivated to sell. 

Other agents are also looking you up on social media.  By changing your settings, they won’t be able to see your personal information.  Since you are working with me, you are not going to post about your home search or purchase until after the closing anyway.  Correct?!

We are all learning with social media that revealing too much personal information can lead to unintended consequences.  There is already an issue with wire fraud and people posing as real estate agents to trick buyers into wiring funds to the wrong account.  Let’s not make it easier for them to track down buyers and sellers by blasting that on social media.  Keep it under wraps and then, post closing, have at it!


Posted on February 1, 2020 at 2:17 am
Kristi Gibbs | Posted in Buyers, Buyers & Sellers, Sellers |

SECURING YOUR HOME

 

With all the new home technology available, there are a myriad of ways to secure your home.  The more tech savvy are controlling everything from the HVAC system to interior room lights to a crock pot from a phones.  Others are still using a wooden rod in the track of a sliding door so whatever your level of home security prowess, here are some simple tips/reminders:

1. Keep your yard mowed and well-maintained. While you might be out of town for a few weeks this summer, make sure your exterior doesn’t clearly advertise that.

2. Have dawn to dusk lights on your exterior. You can add a sensor to existing lights so they turn on and off automatically.  If you want to take it one step further, buy a timer for an interior light or two giving the appearance someone is home.

3. Install an alarm system.  Today’s alarm systems aren’t hardwired and difficult to install.  In fact, many homeowners are installing systems themselves.  There are systems you can own and take with you if you move.  I personally use SimpliSafe.

4. Deadbolt doors and lock all windows. It is so easy to forget to do this so give doors and windows a check before you head out of town.

5. Be smart about what and when you post on social media. Don’t advertise to the public you are away on a week long vacation.

6. MY TOP TIP FOR BUYERS – RE-KEY YOUR NEW HOME.  We don’t know how many copies of your keys are floating around town.  A local locksmith like J&S Locksmith can get it done!

7.  Have you ever heard of a Door Devil?  This device prevents your door from being easily kicked-in and, according to Door Devil, installation is easy peasy.  Doors are kicked in regardless of there being a security system or not, so just one more smart way to keep you and your valuables safe.

Pro tip: Don’t leave boxes from expensive purchases sitting outside without breaking them down – you don’t need to advertise what might be found in your house.


Posted on January 29, 2020 at 12:22 am
Kristi Gibbs | Posted in Buyers, Buyers & Sellers, Sellers |

ENERGY SAVING TIPS

 

I challenge anyone reading this to turn off all unnecessary lights when leaving your home, keep doors/windows well-sealed, turn down your A/C or heat when away, and use LED light bulbs.  Some simple steps and habits that can make a difference.  If your kids are like mine, then know that I understand how challenging it can be to get them in the habit of just turning off their lights before heading off to school in the morning!    

What are some ways you can conserve energy?

  • Use power strips for electronic devices. When you aren’t using them, turn off the power strip so they don’t continue to draw energy. Duke estimates you can save up to $24/year by making that simple change.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. This way you can set your home to not use so much energy when no one is home or while you sleep at night. Duke estimates this can save up to $162/year. Vectren has a link to a rebate up to $75 for this at: https://vectren.com/savings/in-home/rebates/thermostat.
  • Have a regular A/C and furnace inspection by an HVAC professional. Changing your filter and maintaining your units will not only extend the life of your units but Vectren estimates you can save 3-10% on your bill.
  • Install LED bulbs. You can save about $80 in energy costs over an LED’s lifetime as they use up to 90% less energy than standard bulbs. They are bright and last up to 15 times longer than standard bulbs. Duke offers discounts on LED lighting at Lowe’s. https://www.duke-energy.com/home/products/discounts-local-retail
  • Want to know specifically what you can improve in your home? Visit this site to see if you quality for a free home energy assessment: https://www.duke-energy.com/home/products/home-energy-house-call.

What about rebates?

Duke offers a number of rebates for HVAC, attic insulation, pool pumps, etc… Your contractor might already know about these rebates and can help you with them. For example you can save up to $525 on a qualifying new AC, heat pump, or geothermal heat pump. Be sure to check out what you might qualify for! https://www.duke-energy.com/home/products/smart-saver

Vectren also offers a number of rebates here: https://vectren.com/savings/in-home. Depending on whether your HVAC is electric or gas, for example, would determine which company’s site you look to for possible rebates. For example, they are offering up to a $300 rebate on new gas furnance that meet certain criteria as well as $25 towards furnace tuneups.

Let’s use less energy and save some $$$!


Posted on December 14, 2019 at 1:31 pm
Kristi Gibbs | Posted in Uncategorized |

HOME MAINTENANCE TIPS BY SEASON

Want to keep some preventable maintenance from haunting you during a home inspection?  If you purchased a home in the last year, then you probably remember the inspection process and whether or not the home you bought had a slew of issues.  Could any of those have been prevented by regular maintenance?  I would suspect so and this is why I am encouraging good care of your home.  It’s your biggest asset after all!

 

SPRING:

√ Deep cleaning – including wiping down baseboards & cleaning windows.
√ Check smoke detectors/carbon monoxide detectors & replace batteries
√ Service and clean your A/C system
√ Clean your disposal – put 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain followed by 1 cup of white vinegar. Plug drain and wait several minutes. Then flush with hot water.
√ Add window screens if you took them out over the winter.
√ If you have landscaping beds and want to prevent weed germination, this is the time to sprinkle on some Preen or other weed control.

 

SUMMER:

√ Carefully power wash siding, patios, walkways, and even driveways to remove build-up.
√ Clean/repair decks. Waterproof and/or re-stain or paint if needed.
√ Clean out dryer vent and any other exhaust vents exiting your home.
√ Clean aerators on faucets and shower heads. Protect sink aerator by covering with masking tape before using pliers to remove. Use a toothbrush carefully to clean without scratching.
√ Check all tile grout and caulking around sinks, tubs, etc… Repair as necessary.

 

FALL:

√ Clean gutters. I can not stress the importance of this enough!
√ While cleaning gutters, take a peek at the roof to see if there are any obvious issues.
√ Trim branches that overhang or are touching the roof/siding.
√ Have your furnace cleaned and serviced.
√ Winterize exterior faucets. Unhook your hoses before the first frost.
√ Have chimney cleaned.
√ Test sump pump. Make sure it’s plugged in and all looks good.
√ Service and clean furnace. Ask your HVAC professional to also take a look at your water heater, checking for any issues.

 

WINTER:

√ Remove window screens to store for the winter. Have any damaged screens repaired.
√ Vacuum refrigerator coils – it will run more efficiently!
√ Deep clean your basement. Look for signs of mold and water.
√ Check your crawlspace for water and mold. Easier said than done, so hire a foundation company or home inspector to inspect for you.
√ Check toilets to see if they are loose at the floor and tighten.
√ Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans to circulate the warm air – energy tip!

 

* Don’t forget to check your furnace filter and replace when necessary.


Posted on December 3, 2019 at 8:03 pm
Kristi Gibbs | Posted in Buyers, Buyers & Sellers, Sellers |

IS THE ZESTIMATE A GUESSTIMATE?

 

If you’ve been home shopping or home stalking in the 21st century, then you’ve heard of the Zestimate.  It has been credited for Zillow’s instant popularity and continues to generate buzz today.  Is this magical estimate of value generated by algorithm’s the end all be all to your home value?  No, it isn’t!

Is the Zestimate an appraisal?

I met a seller once who said to me that he knew the value of his home because he had an appraisal. When asked who conducted the appraisal, he said Zillow.  Then I asked if he let the appraiser from Zillow come into his home, if they studied his neighborhood and studied the market. Of course that did not happen because your Zestimate is NOT an appraisal.  Appraisers are licensed, they follow a code of ethics & conduct, and they often live in the market they serve.  An algorithm can not duplicate their knowledge of an area or the condition of home. 

Is the Zestimate accurate?

If a seller tells me they are thrilled with their Zestimate that sets off all sorts of alarms for me. It could be accurate, but I don’t know that there is any rhyme or reason to why it is way off or closer to market value at times.  I sold a home this year that had a Zestimate nearly $75,000 less than my list price and it sold for list price.  That particular Zestimate also showed that in the previous 30 days the home value had decreased by $11,000. If I had put ANY stock in that estimate, my seller’s would have sorely lost out on a lot of cash. I also see Zestimate ranges of over $100,000!!!! So they are saying a home could be worth between $300,000-$425,000.  That really confuses buyers and sellers.  It’s like predicting Indiana weather, it could be sunny or we could have arctic blasts followed by hail.

Why isn’t it accurate?

I think a computer program can generate a range in sale price with the right information, but to get to an actual listing price there is a more human element involved.  There are some important considerations that are missing from the Zestimate.  Does Zillow know which schools are really popular?  Have they been in your home to see how it compares to others in your area?  Do they know if your neighborhood is appreciating or depreciating?  Do they know your backyard has the best sledding hill in the area?  These are just a few of the things that I have to think about when listing a home for sale.

As a REALTOR, I know that sellers often perceive their home value to be more than the actual market value.  There are things about homes that sellers might not care about, but the average buyer will as they compare your home to others.  A 4 bed, 2.5 bath home might have similar specs on paper to another in the area, but the other home might have a new roof, new kitchen, larger bedrooms, and a better yard.  So we have to account for that when determining price.  Your home Zestimate might be similar, but market value will not be as similar.

If you want to know what your home is worth, call me.  I will run comps and give you an idea of what you can expect for your home.  The sale price of a home is different at any point in time because buyers are entering and exiting the market.  Consider our area where we tend to have a very active Spring market, but when Winter hits we slow down a lot.  Listings lag over the colder months and that does affect pricing.

Have fun checking out Zestimate’s and trying to guess how accurate they are, but don’t think too hard about them!  When a home is pended the Zestimate seems to magically get closer to the list price, something I’ve noticed.  I would assume Zillow wants to create data showing the accuracy of the Zestimate.  If they were to take the last Zestimate posted before a home is a closed sale, then they could say their estimate was really close to sale price.

The most entertaining part of Zestimate’s for me is the constant increase and decrease in home values that sometimes are quite drastic over a short period of time. I also love that there are numbers like $386,509 listed as a Zestimate.  Wowzers.  I have never seen such inaccurate accuracy!

Happy Buying and Selling!


Posted on November 22, 2019 at 7:06 pm
Kristi Gibbs | Posted in Buyers & Sellers |