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Frequently Asked Questions by Sellers

Seller Representation FAQs

  1. What is a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA)?
  2. Should I list my home for a higher price to leave room for negotiation?
  3. How will you schedule showings of my home?
  4. How important is it to put a “For Sale” sign in my yard?
  5. What can I exclude from the sale of my home?
  6. I want to market to Buyer Agents. How much commission should I offer them?
  7. What is an electronic lockbox?
  8. What is a “showing service”?
  9. What is a contract “terms sheet”?
  10. What is my home’s ‘legal’ description?

If you have other questions, or would like additional clarification, feel free to e-mail us. We will be happy to answer any questions you have.

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What is a Competitive Market Analysis?

A Competitive Market Analysis is a technique used by REALTORS® and licensed appraisers to estimate market value based on comparable (similar) properties that have recently sold, are currently listed for sale, as well as those that failed to sell.

This technique works particularly well when a number of homes in your neighborhood that are substantially similar to yours in size (lot size and interior square footage), configuration (number of bedrooms, baths, garage spaces, swimming pool, etc.) and construction (upgrades) have sold within the past six months.

Armed with the sold prices per square foot of the comparable homes, any adjustments that may be appropriate to the subject property (i.e. square footage, upgrades, etc.) are then factored in and an estimated sales price (usually expressed as an estimated low and high sales price range) is produced!

Note: A REALTOR®-generated Competitive Market Analysis should NOT be substituted for the advice of a licensed appraiser.

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Should I list my home for a higher price to leave room for negotiation?

No! To sell your home quickly and for top dollar, you should start with the RIGHT sales price — at fair market value!

Buyers’ interest is highest at the beginning of the listing and decreases the longer the listing continues. During the first week that a home is listed, it receives nearly 4 times more web traffic than it will a month later!

Pricing your home above the correct sales price could:

  • Dramatically limit your potential buyers.
    • Buyers may not see your home in their search criteria if the price is inflated.
    • Even if your home does appear in their search, buyers may not bother looking at your home if it is overpriced.
    • Even if a buyer sees your home, they may not take the time to make an offer on an overpriced home.
    • Qualified buyers do not want to waste their time and energy pursuing unrealistically priced homes.
  • Net you less money for your home.  After your home has been on the market a while, buyers:
    • Wonder what is wrong with it – why it hasn’t sold
    • Negotiate harder to pay a lower price
  • Make other nearby homes seem like a better deal than yours.
  • Cause appraisal problems.
    • Most buyers get loans to buy a home.
    • Even if a buyer makes an offer on an overpriced home, their lender won’t allow them to purchase the home if it does not appraise for the purchase price.
    • Or, you will need to find a buyer who falls deeply in love with the home and is
      willing to pay cash for it — at your overpriced value!

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How will you schedule showings of my home?

Before your listing begins, the agent will discuss and document your showing instructions with you (i.e. appointment required, one-hour notice, security codes, pet instructions, etc.). Most agents will then hang a REALTOR®-approved electronic lockbox on your front door that stores a spare key to your home. Your agent will then communicate your showing instructions to their showing service. This way, you don’t have to be home during showings!

Any listing inquiry calls we get directly from prospective buyers from our yard sign, listing flyers, web site, newspaper/magazine ads, REALTOR.com®, etc. will be routed to the agent who listed your property. Your agent will answer prospective buyers’ basic questions about your property over the phone. If the prospective buyer is interested in seeing your property, your agent will contact you via one of the phone numbers you provided us at the time the listing to arrange a mutually convenient time to show your property!

Any listing inquiry calls we get from other cooperating real estate agents, brokers, inspectors, appraisers, etc. will be handled in a similar manner. However, once a cooperating agent or broker has obtained the showing instructions from the showing service, they will be able show your home to their buyers in accordance with your showing instructions.

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How important is it to put a For Sale sign in my yard?

It is VERY important! Statistics show that approximately ONE-THIRD of homes are sold as a result of somebody seeing a REALTOR’S® yard sign! We have invested a lot of time and money into our yard signs to ensure they are very attractive and effective!

If you have a very good reason why you cannot place a yard sign in the yard (i.e. homeowner’s association rule, privacy issues, etc.), let us know and we will take that under consideration.

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What can I exclude from the sale of my home?

As a general rule, things that are not attached to your property (loose personal possessions and non-built-in furniture and appliances) may be removed. Custom window treatments are typically considered a part of the home, but under certain circumstances, can be excluded.

A partial list of items that are typically included in the sale of a home are: window treatments; ceiling fans; built-in kitchen equipment; fireplace screens and artificial logs; heating and air conditioning equipment; satellite dish system and controls; security and fire protection systems; plumbing and lighting fixtures; garage door openers and controls; pool equipment and maintenance accessories.

Recent case law seems to support this. When in doubt, ask your real estate agent or your attorney.

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I want to market my property to Buyer Agents. How much commission should I offer them?

The commission you offer Buyer Agents is negotiable, but it should be competitive. Naturally, you want to offer enough commission to attract agents without needlessly giving away too much of your equity. We want the same thing for you.

As a general rule, a commission offering in the range of 1.5% to 3% of the final sales price is usually reasonable. Ultimately, however, the demand for homes in your area, and the Buyer Agent commissions being offered, determine how competitive your commission offering should be.

Your agent will be happy to provide you with guidelines that are appropriate for your property.

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What is an electronic lockbox?

An electronic lockbox is a box that typically hangs on your front door knob and holds a spare key to your home. Access to the box is electronically controlled to limit access to only those people who possess an active electronic keycard. It is also usually programmed to only allow access to the box during certain times of day. Typically, the local Board of REALTORS® is the body that grants and monitors access and use of the electronic keycards.

In addition to storing a spare key to your home, the lockbox also records the entry date, time, and ID of the keycard that entered your home, which is handy for security reasons.

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What is a “showing service”?

A showing service is a third party that REALTORS® call to set up appointments to show your property.

At the time a listing is taken, the listing agent discusses and documents your showing instructions and records the name and phone number of the showing service used to provide showing instructions into the REALTORS’® Multiple Listing Service (MLS®).

The listing agent then communicates the showing appointment type (i.e. appointment required, one-hour notice, courtesy call, etc.), enter/exit instructions (electronic lockbox, security in and out codes, pet information, etc.), and any special information that may be required to the showing service.

When a REALTOR® calls the showing service to set up an appointment to see the property, after properly authenticating their identity, the showing service then contacts the seller for authorization (as may be required). Once the showing appointment has been authorized, the showing service passes the showing instructions on to the calling REALTOR® and records the showing date and time, and showing REALTOR’S® information in their database. Finally, the showing information is made available to the listing agent.

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What is a Contract “Terms Sheet”?

A contract terms sheet, commonly known as a Letter of Intent, is a non-binding document that allows a seller and prospective buyer to document the proposed terms of sale in which they are prepared to agree to in a subsequent legally binding contract.

Once the proposed terms of sale are documented in a contract terms sheet, an attorney, or other authorized person, may then uses the proposed terms of sale to complete a legally binding sales contract.

In the real estate industry, a state-level “Real Estate Commission” typically comprised of attorneys and experienced real estate brokers, creates fill-in-the-blank style (“promulgated”) real estate sales contract forms and addendums that licensed and trained real estate agents may use to create legally binding sales contracts – providing they stay within the limits prescribed by law.

When used, a contract terms sheet allows sellers and prospective buyers to focus on the proposed terms of sale and not the legally-binding contract forms and addendums. That’s what a REALTOR® is trained and licensed to do!

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What is my home’s “legal” description?

Unlike postal addresses, whose street names and zip codes oftentimes change, a legal description is permanently recorded in your local (typically county) property records office.

Although the format of legal descriptions are not consistent throughout the U.S., perhaps the most common format is the lot, block, track (subdivision) system.  With this system, the lot number, block number, and subdivision name referenced in a particular volume and page number in the local property records office are used to reference the property.

Highly irregularly shaped parcels of land, and some areas of the country use a metes and bounds measurement as the legal description for a property. With this method, a surveyor’s precise measurements, originating from the earth’s latitude and longitude coordinates, and using well-known and/or previously established landmarks, are used to define the property’s location within the  legal ‘section’ and ‘township’ in which it belongs.

These legal descriptions may be obtained from the deed to your property, your tax statements, or through your local property records office.

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