Real Estate Tip of the Week: Coaching on Persuasive Offer Letters

Sometimes placing an offer on your client’s dream home isn’t enough – they might be competing with other potential homeowners who are offering the same, if not more.

Instead of panicking and losing your cool – because, duh, you’re an amazing real estate agent – think about suggesting an offer letter for your client to write.

What is an offer letter?

This letter is written by the buyer and delivered to the seller. Essentially, it should help establish an emotional connection between seller and buyer – the buyer no longer becomes a “contractual party,” but instead, a person. A person with goals, dreams, and someone who will take great care of the home.

How to begin?

You’ll want to instruct your client on tailoring the letter to the seller and the home.

Connect – If your client writes about their connection to the home, how they felt when they walked through the front door, etc., it can give the seller a good idea as to how they’ll treat the house. Advise your client on why they want the house, not just how they want their offer accepted. What grabbed your buyer’s attention on the home? Compliment the home.

Use Emotion – Selling a home can be emotional! The sellers created life-long memories in this home, and they probably want to see someone move in that understands and appreciates the love of the house. Have your client explain their understanding of taking care of the home – maybe include special instances, like taking care of the already beautiful garden the previous homeowners took steady care of.

Write – Suggest your client write this letter by hand. It gives the letter a more personal touch than an email or printed letter, and it shows that your client is motivated and serious about their offer.

While these are just quick suggestions to share with your client, it can set your buyer’s offer above others. Selling a home means leaving behind memories – it can be hard for the seller to say goodbye. An offer letter might just help separate the pack of buyers and set your client above the rest.

The Three R’s of Owning a Home: Renovate, Remodel, Redesign

Being a homeowner means you’re the landlord of your own home – you fix anything that breaks AND you renovate anything that you believe needs to be updated.

A new survey conducted by LightStream found that 73% of homeowners plan to start remodeling this year, which is up 26% from last year. They also plan to spend more money on these projects as well – about 32% more than 2018.

The number one reason most are prepping for these renovations: personalization. The second runner up is to increase the value of their home. So it would seem most of these homeowners aren’t looking to sell anytime soon, but to actually create a space they love.

Which spaces are homeowners looking to renovate?

  • Outdoor spaces: 41%
  • Bathrooms: 37%
  • Kitchen: 31%
  • Home repair (windows, roof, etc.): 29%
  • Garage: 18%
  • Pool: 7%

And while 59% of homeowners stated they either plan to move out in more than 10 years – or never move – these renovations for personal taste make sense in the real estate world.

Turning the Tables: Buyer’s Market on a Hot Streak

A potential homebuyer is sitting at a blackjack table. He hasn’t raised his bet, but instead, places a contingency. The dealer proclaims, “winner, winner, chicken dinner!”

While selling and buying a home doesn’t exactly happen in a casino – you get the idea.

Redfin has pronounced that around 7% of winning offers last month were contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home – which is up from less than 5% last year.

A sale contingency allows the buyer to coordinate the timing of the sale of their previous home with the purchase of their new home – which means that buyers are moving because they want to, not necessarily because they need to.

Experts agree that this rise in sale contingencies equals a more balanced market between buyers and sellers, since buyers are facing less competition. Because there are less bidding wars, sellers are more willing to negotiate and work with a buyer who is relying on a sale contingency.

Redfin believes this change is good for the market, as hesitant buyers last year might reappear.

While spring hasn’t quite yet sprung for the real estate world, it looks like signs are pointing towards a balanced market.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Planning for Extra Costs

Ever heard of buyer’s remorse? We’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives – the sense of regret after having made a purchase. Maybe it was buying that car, that TV, or that really cute sundress you saw in the window.

Or, maybe it was the purchase of your new home. Ouch. That one might be harder to deal with.

If you’re a real estate agent, it would be in your best interest to help and guide your clients to fully understand all of the fees that are associated with owning a home, so your clients feel prepared and ready for the transaction.

According to a new survey from Bankrate, 63% of millennial homeowners – more than any other generation – expressed buyer’s remorse after the purchase of their homes. 20% of those with remorse were surprised by maintenance expenses and other costs corresponding to the transaction.  

While these fees will vary from person to person and state to state, it’s important to clarify the costs on the table so they don’t feel misled.

Inspection Fees

While these aren’t required, they are highly recommended in the industry. An average inspection may cost anywhere from $300 to $500. Inspections can help uncover any problems with the home and prevent more costly repairs in the future.  

Closing Costs

Financial experts recommend setting aside 2-5% of the purchase price for closing costs, and they must be available on closing day. This fee covers a variety of things, like notary services, title company search fees, attorney expenses, real estate transfer taxes, insurance premiums, and more. These will vary by state and property.

Maintenance Costs

It is recommended to put aside 1% of a home’s value per year for any unexpected maintenance expenses. For example, a $300,000 home would mean budgeting $3,000.

Moving Costs

While this might be the last thing on your client’s mind, moving adds up too. If they’re planning to hire a moving company or renting a truck, they’ll want to allocate this into their upcoming expenses. As a real estate agent, you’ll need to remind them to speak with their lender and bank to fully understand their financial planning. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t help guide them on some of the upcoming fees associated with purchasing a home.

Beauty isn’t Pain for These New Home Design Trends

What’s the new black?

The answer: a variety of colors for different features in your home.

While spring is rapidly approaching, it’s interesting to note some of the trends that are predicted to take off for interior design.

The end of February saw the 2019 International Builder Show and the Kitchen & Bath Industry show in Las Vegas – which presented plenty of unique and interesting new trends into the world of home décor.

Bathroom and Cabinets

While most bathrooms are neutral colors, presenters showcased vanities in grays, blues, greens, pinks, and off purples.

Kitchens, like bathrooms, usually stick with whites – but according to Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz, “moody colors” will be the new trend for this area of the home. Grays, navys, greens, and reds were presented on kitchen cabinets on the show floor.

Vinyl Flooring

This choice for flooring is quickly gaining popularity in plenty of home remodels. It comes in a variety of colors and textures and has a smooth-finished design. The water-resistant material was mostly presented in grays or whites throughout the show.

Small Features

Customizable hardware options will be the hot ticket item for 2019. Homeowners have the option to add different finishes to their stainless steel, matted white, or matted black refrigerator or stove by switching up the hardware with brushed bronze, stainless, or black handles. 

We’ll have to keep an eye on interior design trends to see which of these new designs will truly take off.

Renting Who? Millennials Ditching the Landlord

Renting seems to be taking a back seat in the real estate world.

According to recent data from the Census Bureau, homeownership rates rose in the fourth quarter to 64.8% – a four year high. The increase in purchasing homes seems to be coming from millennials switching from renting to owning.

And with rental prices rising, who can blame them?

According to CoreLogic Deputy Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin, “the number of new renter households fell six out of the past seven quarters with a decrease in 167,000 households. This suggests that the increase in the homeownership rates is at least partly due to households making a switch from renting to owning.”

The data shows that last year:

  • Buyers aged 35 and under rose from 36% to 36.5%
  • Buyers aged 34-44 rose from 58.9% to 61.1%

With a large majority of millennials turning 30, they’ve hit prime home-buying power. While student loans are still a huge deterrent to purchasing homes, millennials see becoming a homeowner as a long-term goal.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Connecting with Millennials

Millennials are stepping up to play – play what you ask?

The home-buying game.

With 45% of millennials accounting for mortgages in comparison to 37% of Gen Xers and 17% of Baby Boomers, it’s safe to say that the millennial generational group are the next biggest powerhouse when it comes to purchasing homes.

So what can you do, as a real estate agent, to connect with these buyers?

Technology

The scary word for some – “technology” is going to be the go-to towards reaching out and connecting with this generational group. With an average of checking their phone 45 times a day, it’s critical as an agent to make sure you’re available through other platforms, like text messaging or instant messaging. Implementing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat, are also great ways to stay close to potential millennial homebuyers.

Reviews

This age group takes commentary on a product or company seriously – 50% of millennials trust reviews more than any other type of advertising. After your transaction, ask if your clients can write a quick review about you on your social media platforms, or think about creating short testimonial videos that you can post to your site!

Educate

The more resourceful you present yourself, the better. Millennials, for the most part, want to be involved and informed on each step of the process (blame paranoia with student loans, maybe?) – creating educational videos about the real estate market, or writing articles about the neighborhood your listing is in, will show potential clients that you’re valuable, know your stuff, and are willing to share your knowledge.

Millennials are nothing to be scared of – they’re eager to jump into homeownership and want your help. Show them what you have to offer!

It Really Is the Simple Things – Homebuyers’ Favorite Features

Sometimes all you need is space – garage space, that is.

Zolo Realty, a Canadian online real estate marketplace, surveyed more than 1,800 North American home shoppers and found that most of them would rather have a garage than a luxurious item.

A pool? No thanks. A garage? That’s what they’re looking for.

The highest marks went to properties with a garage, an en suite, main-floor bathroom, or a newer furnace or A/C unit.

What’s the ideal home layout to both men and women, you ask? Well, a standard 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home with a master bedroom suite and a garage sounds about right.

The top 5 features homebuyers consider not as important:

  1. 61% – Pool
  2. 54% – In-law/income suite
  3. 44% – Mudroom
  4. 35% – View (city, mountain, water)
  5. 31% – Accessible living features

This might not be that surprising when one thinks about tackling renovations – updating a kitchen to fit your needs wouldn’t seem as big of a feat as pool maintenance or building a garage if one doesn’t already exist.

If you’re selling your home and wondering what you can do to up your value, maybe don’t worry so much about whether you need to build a mudroom, but hope that you have a garage to highlight.

Finding the Perfect Value for Your Home? Priceless.

It can be intimidating and overwhelming to put your home up for sale – after all, how do you put a price tag on something that’s held so many memories for you and your family?

Zeroing in on the value of your home is an important part of the selling process. You don’t want the price point too high, or too low. The wrong price point could turn off potential homebuyers you’re looking for – so it’s important to discuss options with your real estate agent and appraiser.

Here are some things to consider when determining the value of your home:

Motivation

How long are you waiting to find the right buyer? Are you willing to accept a lower selling price so you can move your home quickly, or do you have time to find the buyer willing to pay the amount you’re looking for?

Condition

When you’re thinking about your home, think of everything it has to offer. Consider amenities, upgrades, view, and curb appeal.

Current Market Conditions

This can go along with motivation – depending on whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market, you’re going to have a different journey.

A seller’s market will have: low inventory, high demand, homes selling above listing price, and multiple offers.

A buyer’s market will have: high inventory, low demand, lower offers, and price reductions.

Similar Home Prices

The appraiser you hire will generally inspect similar homes in the area that have sold within the last 45-90 days. When completing your own research, you can also look at sales within the last 12 months to get a pretty good idea as to where your home stands.

Extra Steps

Talk with your real estate agent about a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) and talk with an appraiser.

When it comes down to it, you (the seller) price your home. But, it doesn’t hurt to become informed first.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Link your Brand with LinkedIn

Your real estate agent brand shouldn’t solely fall on Facebook’s, Instagram’s, or Pinterest’s shoulders!

With 500 million members and counting, LinkedIn is a prominent social media space to share what your brand is and what you have to offer.  LinkedIn is a professional space – this means your audience is expecting professional and educational tips and postings. You don’t need to worry about staying “in the loop” with any lingo that might be present on Facebook or Instagram.

LinkedIn is your virtual resume; it is a great place to show off your achievements and accomplishments – potential clients can get a great sense of the path you’ve been on in regards to selling real estate.

So, what are some of the ways you can upgrade your LinkedIn profile?

Keywords

Your headline should include keywords that include your profession. This way you are easily searchable and clients know what you specialize in.

Another additional tip with keywords – your customized URL. If you go to the right side of your profile page, you can click “Edit Public Profile and URL.” From there, you can personalize your URL to stand out above the rest. Consider having it tie in with your profession, i.e., “JaneDoeRealEstateAgent.”

Endorsements

Like a resume, LinkedIn allows you to write down some of the skills you believe you have and should show to potential clients. Think – “staging perfectionist” or “works with first-time homebuyers” as some of the skills you’d like to highlight. After you’ve created a few, LinkedIn will notify your connections to endorse you for your skills.

Recommendations

As a real estate agent, you know recommendations are everything! LinkedIn makes it easy for you to reach out to past clients:

  • Click the “Me” icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage
  • Select “View Profile”
  • Scroll down to the “Recommendations” section and click “Ask to be recommended.”

From there, you can write in the connection (in this case, a past client) that you would like to have write a recommendation for you! In theory, it would be best to ask this past client in person if they’d be willing to write a review for you instead of surprising them with a notification later.

Act

It’s important that you engage through your LinkedIn profile. Interact with content posted by your connections, or any updates posted about them.

LinkedIn is more than a social media site – it’s your online resume! And it’s a great way to showcase you and your abilities as a real estate agent.