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Listing Agent: The Key to Finding the Right Person

Home is where the heart is, and if you’re ready to sell your current home, you want to make sure you’re putting your trust in the right hands. Your listing agent will work with you to price and market your home, negotiate with buyers and help with closing the deal.

Here’s how to find an expert that works with you and your needs.

Know Your Timeframe

Have a listing date in mind? Backtrack six to eight weeks before that time, and aim to hire a listing agent around that time.

This will give you both the time to prepare to go live with your listing. For you, that might mean making repairs or upgrades. For your agent, that means working on creating a polished listing, ideas for marketing the house, pricing and more.

Begin Your Search

As you approach that ideal time to hire a listing agent, start researching professionals.

You can search for a Chicago REALTOR® here, or ask friends and family for recommendations. Remember, it doesn’t hurt to shop around. You’ll be working side by side with your agent, so make sure you find someone your trust to do the job.

Conduct Interviews

Take the recommendations and research you’ve done to set up interviews with agents. Here are some suggested questions that will help you determine if an agent is the right fit for you:

  • How long have you been in the real estate business?
  • What’s the price range of the homes you typically sell?
  • What is your fee?
  • How do you market homes?
  • How long are your homes usually on the market?
  • What’s your communication style?

During these interviews, make sure the agents understand your goals and meet the expertise qualifications or personality you’re looking for. If you follow those two desires, you’ll be sure to find a listing agent that works for you!

Roadmap to Selling Your Home

Your home holds all of your family’s memories, but maybe it doesn’t fit your needs any longer. When you’re ready to take the step and sell your home, make sure to set yourself up for success. We’ve put together a roadmap of milestones to help you plan out the selling process from start to finish.

  1. Do your research. Once you’ve decided to sell your home, start your research. The housing market has likely changed since you last purchased a home, so find out about mortgage rates, inventory and other aspects of the market that will impact the selling process.
  2. Choose a REALTOR®. Your most important relationship you’ll have as you sell your home is with your REALTOR®. Take the time to search for one, and interview them, to decide who you want with you on this journey. Use our database to start your search for a Chicago REALTOR®.
  3. Price your home. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do this alone! Work with your REALTOR® to look at the current market and comparable homes to set the right price to get your house sold.
  4. Prepare for the sale. Set up a time for professional pictures, schedule showings and plan open houses will take place. Make sure your home is picture perfect to make a great impression on potential buyers. Clean up, declutter and make repairs to get your home in tip top shape.
  5. Start marketing. Work with your REALTOR® to put together a top tier online listing with perfect pictures and a strong description. Then, create a plan to share the listing to get as many eyes as possible.
  6. Show your home. Your marketing worked, and now potential buyers want to check the home out! Work with your REALTOR® on a schedule for showing, and make sure to incorporate a plan to keep everyone safe, like disinfecting surfaces and hosting virtual tours, if need be.
  7. Look at your offers. Yes, it’s possible to receive more than one offer! Sit down with your REALTOR®, review each one and determine which is best for you.
  8. Time to negotiate. Enter a counteroffer to the buyer’s offer based off of what you want. Of course, money is a factor, but timing may also be another big negotiation. Your REALTOR® will help craft your counteroffer based off all these factors.
  9. Get the home inspected. Once you have agreed on an offer, the buyer will set up a home inspection. Your home will be examined for any issues, and repairs can be negotiated by the buyer. Work with your REALTOR® to come to an agreement with the buyer.
  10. Close the deal. Now, it’s time to make things official. During the closing, you will sign the final paperwork and collect your check!

Make Your Open House A Success

So you’re selling your house, and now it’s time to show it off to buyers! Use these tips, and the help of your REALTOR®, to make a great first impression during your open house.

Make Your Home Open House Ready

Make sure your home is picture-perfect by the time your open house comes around. Here are some things we recommend you take the time to do:

  • Clean Up Clutter: Tuck away additional clutter within your home, including clothes, cleaning supplies, toys and more. If you don’t have a good location to put it all, consider renting a storage unit.
  • Make Your House Spotless: Deep clean every inch of your home, so your windows are spotless and there are no dust bunnies in sight. Don’t have the time? Hire a cleaning service. Your REALTOR® likely has some recommendations for you.
  • Consider Cosmetic Repairs: This isn’t the time to make any big changes, but if you spot chipped paint or burnt out lightbulbs, making those repairs will go a long way in making your house look great!
  • Remove Any Personal Items: When a potential buyer walks into a home, they want to be able to picture themselves in it. Seeing photos of your family and other personal items can hinder that experience, so put them away for the time being. Also, put any valuables in a secure location, just in case.

Get The Word Out

Although your REALTOR® will do a lot of heavy lifting on this front, it doesn’t hurt to give them a hand. Add posts to your social media platforms, such as neighborhood groups, if you’re part of them, to get the word out. Or, if you frequent a local coffee shop or popular store with a bulletin board, don’t be afraid to go “old school” with a flyer.

Also, work with your REALTOR® on a few different aspects of the open house, such as:

  • Setting up yard signs to announce the open house. If you live in a winding neighborhood or subdivision, put signs around the neighborhood to direct visitors to the right location.
  • Add the open house information to your online listing for additional traffic.
  • Decide on the best time to host the event. Sundays are typically the most popular, and other open houses may take place between 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. Consider starting earlier, around noon, or keep yours open later, until 4:00 PM or 5:00 PM, so you’re not competing for visitors.

Let Your REALTOR® Take the Reins

When the day comes, step back and let your REALTOR® work their magic. Make sure to leave your house (having the seller lurking around isn’t the best look), but keep your phone on you in case your REALTOR® has questions.

Afterward, debrief with them about any questions that came up or comments that were made, and discuss how to address them to get your home sold!

Comparable Sale: What It Is & Why It Matters

The burning question for anyone getting ready to sell their home is: “How much can I sell for?” First, it’s important to understand what a comparable sales price is and why it matters is valuable, which we’ve broken down for you below.

What Is A Good Comparable Sale Price:

comparable sales infographic

Why Does It Matter?

Evaluating the differences and similarities of surrounding properties on the market will give you the best idea of the current estimated value of your home. This is also where your REALTORS’® expertise will come into play, as they’ve likely seen many homes in your neighborhood and know about comparable sales in your area, making them your greatest asset in the listing process to help adjust your price efficiently and effectively.

4 Ways to Price Your Home Like A Pro

Your home is a major investment in time, money and memories, so understandably, selling it can be an emotional process.

It’s important to lean on your REALTOR® for guidance. After all, this person is your go-to industry expert who is invested in helping you sell on your timeline and for the best possible ROI.

Still nervous about the pricing conversation? We’ve created four pro tips to help you through this process.

1. Higher Isn’t Always Better

Be strategic in your pricing and don’t list too high – that could scare away potential offers!

The longer your house sits on the market, the less likely you are to get your asking price. Buyers are more likely to negotiate a deal on a house that’s been listed for a significant stretch of time. A price-to-sell strategy will give you leverage, options and exposure to potential buyers.

2. Know The Local Market

How did similar homes in your neighborhood sell? These comparables (also called “comps”) play a big role in your own home’s price.

Your REALTOR® should run the average sale price for homes in your area. When selecting comps, REALTORS® generally filter properties within a one-mile radius of your home that sold in the past 90 days. Comparable homes will be similar in age, location, square footage and number of bedrooms/bathrooms.

Based on these results, they’ll pinpoint the differences and assess why price reductions did or didn’t happen. This nuanced understanding is invaluable, particularly when measuring the unique aspects of your home.

3. Upgrades Don’t Always Mean More Money

Buyers want a home they can:

  1. Picture themselves in, and;
  2. Easily make their own.

Help spark their imagination with neutral updates. Upgrades based on specific taste can sometimes devalue a home based on personal buyer taste and preference.

For example, just because you spent $40,000 to update your kitchen doesn’t mean you get to add an extra $40,000 to the listing price. Research from the National Association of REALTORS® states you might recoup 59% of your costs, based on the national average of kitchen upgrades.

Talk to your REALTOR® about what you can do, or have done, that positively affects your home value and listing price.

4. Keep Your Emotions in Check

Don’t let pride, sentiment and nostalgia mislead you!

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the wrong price can drastically delay your sale. That “fresh factor” tends to wane after just 30 days! Therefore, it’s important to listen to your REALTOR® about your pricing strategy.

Their unbiased perspective combined with knowledge of the market and real estate inventory will help you walk away from the closing table feeling confident in your transaction.

183 Ways A REALTOR® Makes The Real Estate Transaction Easier For You

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Transfer Taxes: What You Need to Know

If you’re thinking about buying or selling your home, make sure you know about transfer taxes. These taxes are part of your cost when your home is sold and the title goes from one individual (you, the seller) to another individual (the new homebuyer).

The state or city charges transfer taxes to complete a sale and title transfer. Your property’s assessed value and classification determine the total cost of your these taxes.

Chicago follows the Real Property Transfer Tax law. This law states that the transfer tax costs $5.25 per $500 of the transfer price. Three dollars and 50 cents of the $5.25 goes to the city, while the other $1.50 provides financial assistance to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). In Chicago, the buyer is responsible for paying $3.75 and the seller is responsible for $1.50.

Certain circumstances may lead to exemptions or credits on transfer taxes. Check out the city’s website to see if you fall into one of these categories.

You will pay these taxes during the closing of the property’s sale, so make sure to figure in the price when buying or selling a home! Make sure to talk to your REALTOR® if you have any questions or concerns about your transfer taxes.

ramp up your curbside appeal

How to Ramp Up Your Curbside Appeal

Are you thinking of putting your home on the market? If so, ask yourself two questions from a buyer’s perspective. First: what would stop you from making an offer? Second: what makes this home stand out from a curbside view?

There are many important steps to preparing your home to sell. Curbside appeal projects provide sellers like you with the highest return on investment. Therefore, we recommend focusing on these 5 projects to ramp up those beautiful, exterior home aesthetics!

Update Your Curb Appeal

The National Association of REALTORS® “Remodeling Impact Report” suggests that landscaping projects often bring in higher sales prices. Homes that improved their landscaping or added a deck or patio, saw returns of investments above 100%.

We recommend starting with:

  • Applying a fresh coat of paint to the front door.
  • Trimming your bushes and other greenery.
  • Re-mulching those garden beds.
  • Replacing worn-down stone walkways and pathways.
  • Removing any dead plants or trees.
  • Aerating the lawn (if you have one).
  • Pressure washing the exterior of your home, driveway and sidewalk.

In the end, any of these curbside appeal upgrades will help attract the eye of your home’s future residents!

photo of Chicago residential building

FSBO vs. REALTOR®: How Should You Sell Your Home?

You’re ready to make the next move in your life to a new home, which brings up the task of selling your current house. You may be debating whether to sell the house on your own, For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO), or to use a REALTOR®. You might think your best option is to sell it on your own, however, we argue that you might want to think twice about that decision. These are the top benefits and reasons you should use a REALTOR® to sell your home.

#1: REALTORS® Will Sell You Home For a Higher Price

Many sellers who choose the FSBO route believe they will be saving money in the long run by avoiding paying commission to a REALTOR®. According to the Nation Association of REALTORS’®(NAR) 2017 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers, those who used a REALTOR® sold their home for between $60,000 to $90,000 more than FSBO. Even with commission costs, which are typically five to six percent of the home’s listing price, you will still be selling your home for more!

#2: REALTORS® Have the Time and Tools to Market Your Property

With a full-time job, family and other responsibilities, finding time for yourself can be hard, let alone finding the extra time to list and market your home. REALTORS® have the time (it’s their job!) and the resources (including dedicated property websites, built-in social media audiences, open house hosting experience and a broad network) to effectively spread the word on your home. Their expertise comes in handy for those who are unsure where to start when purchasing a home.

#3: Your Home Will Sell Faster When Working with a REALTOR®

Because of their access to time and tools to sell your home, using a REALTOR® will allow your home to sell faster. The NAR report found that most homes sold by REALTORS® were purchased 20 days faster than FSBO. If you’re on a timeline and need to sell quickly, getting these days back could mean a lot.

#4: REALTORS® Have Potential Buyers At Their Fingertips

How many people do you know who are looking to buy a home? REALTORS® have a full arsenal of potential homebuyers at their fingertips, from previous and current clients to those in their database and more. They have the ability to reach more people faster than an FSBO.

If you’re ready to get started with a REALTOR® to sell your home today, click here to begin your search.