Why Comps are a Homeowners Best Friend

Whether you are buying or selling a home or other type of real estate, chances are you will hear a lot about “comps” so it might come in handy to understand what they really are and why they matter.

Comps are comparisons between your property and other similar properties. Age, location, amenities, and the general condition of the home are all used to compare your property against others in the same general vicinity in order to establish a price or fair market value.

Do Not Make This Mistake

Many sellers mistakenly look at the asking price of homes in the immediate vicinity when trying to establish a listing price, but that is often a major mistake. Actual sales data is a much more reliable indicator of value, since some sellers can be overly optimistic when it comes to setting an asking price.

Buyers also benefit from obtaining accurate comp data in order to determine what amenities, upgrades, and other items are included. Even homes that superficially look exactly the same in terms of square footage or floor plans may have substantial upgrades or extras that dramatically impact the price of the home.

Get the Most Accurate Data

Insist upon accurate and up-to-date comps when buying or selling a home, and do not confuse true comps with estimates or other inaccurate sources of data. Many popular websites use estimates based upon self-reported data or generalized insurance replacement rates.  While these may be useful for rough guidelines, they may cost you tens of thousands of dollars when buying or selling a home.

Work with an agent who provides the latest information specific for the area you are considering.
Age, condition, maintenance, upgrades, amenities, landscaping, appliances, energy efficiency, attractiveness, and even whether or not you have a corner lot can make a tremendous difference in the desirability and price of a home.

4 Essential Things to Consider When Buying a Condo

Condominiums remain popular housing choices, especially among those seeking a low-maintenance lifestyle, with the benefit of ownership. However, before making an offer on a condo there are a few things to keep in mind.

Fees & Service Charges: Condo associations typically charge a variety of fees to cover everything from modest maintenance charges to extravagant luxury amenities. Understand what is included, anticipated large expenditures, and out of the ordinary expenses likely to be incurred. Pay attention to deferred maintenance, planned upgrades, or other potential costs so you are not taken by surprise.

Management and Operational Efficiency: Spend time speaking with current residents, review community literature, and take a careful look around the area to get a general “feel” for how things are maintained.

Finances and Reserve Funds: Perform due diligence on the finances and reserve funds of the condo association to make sure their problem doesn’t become your own. Pay special attention to large numbers of foreclosures or vacant units that could eventually result in higher per owner premiums to compensate for loss of revenue.

Lifestyle and Values: When you buy a condo you buy a lifestyle – for better or worse. Be sure the condo and community share the same values and interests you find important. Remember, since condo associations are typically governed in a democratic fashion, a change of heart by the majority could lead to long-term frustration.

Staging: an Essential Secret to Selling in a Down Market

Staging has become commonplace when selling a home, but with the recent downturn in the economy and continued sluggishness in the real estate market; staging is more important than ever.

Here are the top reasons why home-staging matters, and how you can make it work for you:

A picture is worth a thousand words: Over 80% of home buyers begin their search online, so the first impression of your home might be the last. Make sure your home looks its best.

Browsers spend more time looking at pretty pictures: Not only are buyers searching online, but they tend to spend more time viewing attractive properties than those without pictures or with “ugly” photos. Use plenty of photos to showcase your home or property.

Visualize their space, not your place: Staging becomes even more important when buyers visit in person. Properly performed home staging is essential to allowing prospective buyers to visualize the home as “their space” rather than trying to see through your clutter and belongings.  A home should be attractive yet neutral enough to allow buyers an opportunity to get a feel for how their own furniture and belonging would fit.

Not just another pretty picture: Professional staging goes beyond mere looks and even combines fragrance, tactile, lighting and other sensory input for a complete experience sure to delight potential buyers of any age and income. Staging does not have to cost a fortune to be effective, but does require experience for best results.