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Selling Your Home? Surprisingly Simple Things You’re Probably Not Doing

Terry Story, Selling Your Home

With Terry Story, a 31-year veteran with Keller Williams located in Boca Raton, FL

During this week’s Real Estate Roundup, Steve spoke with Terry Story, a 31-year veteran at Keller Williams Realty, about a wide variety of topics, including when is the best time to sell your home, how to prepare your home for sale, real estate scams to watch out for, and a little bit about homeowners’ insurance. 

The Time To Sell Is Now

There’s a sort of running joke between Terry and Steve that the best time to sell is “now” – and the best time to buy is now, too. As Terry says, “It’s always now, Steve.” Well, the truth is that now really is the best time to sell, although some months tend to see more home sales than others. People tend to want to move or relocate into a neighborhood before a new school year starts. And most people don’t want the hassle of moving during the winter (even in Florida). But as we’ve mentioned before, you can’t really afford to wait for “just the right time”, as you never know exactly when that moment might be.

Terry informed listeners that a recent realtor.com market report revealed that “buyers in 20 of the hundred largest markets are beginning their home search in January” whereas in the past homebuyers traditionally didn’t start getting busy looking until about the month of April. What does this time shift mean? As we’ve talked about a lot recently, inventory levels are low, and buyers are realizing that the early bird gets the worm, so they’re going house hunting earlier. So, if you want to get your home in front of buyers, you need to go ahead and get it on the market now. 

Things To Remember When Prepping Your Home

Prepping your home to sell is a critical part of getting it on the market quickly and securing a good price. There are a number of things about staging their home for sale that sellers often forget.

Terry advises her clients to be realistic. When showing your home, you’re most likely still living there and you can only do so much staging. The main thing is just to make it as clutter-free and as clean as possible.

Part of cutting down on clutter means putting things out of sight. A lot of sellers remember to put away their jewelry because, as Steve noted, they rightly think, “Well, I don’t want to expose that. Someone might steal it.” Excellent! Today, that concern really shifts to prescription medications. Having any prescription medication out and lying around is a potential hazard during walkthroughs. But in America’s drug crisis climate, the need to put away medications is even more important.

Getting a realtor involved is smart for a lot of reasons, but specifically when it comes to preparing your home to be sold. An agent can facilitate open houses and walkthroughs and  help you create and follow a checklist of things you need to do to prep your home for sale.  

Real Estate Scams To Watch Out For

The housing market is still rife with real estate scams, especially ones committed online. Chief among the sites saturated with scammers is Craigslist. But what exactly are these scammers doing?

Their main tactic, Terry pointed out, is, “to hijack or copy listings that other agents already have. For example, if I have a property already listed, either to rent or to buy, they come along and steal the information for the property. They basically copy and paste the listing. It looks professional because I’ve already put the time and energy into preparing the listing.” They simply put in different contact information, false information that steers prospective buyers to them. Most of the time, this scam is done with rental properties at a lower price point.

These scams work because they target people who are looking for a decent place to rent that’s within their price range. Let’s paint a clear picture of how one of these scams might go down. Say, for example, a beautiful apartment appears in an ad for $1,400 per month. But the value of the apartment is closer to $2,000 per month. People are going to jump on an opportunity to pick it up for just $1,400! You call, and a professional voice on the other end of the line tells you to send a cashier’s check as a deposit and they’ll mail you the keys. A desperate buyer might send a check, afraid of losing a great deal.

Agents are constantly on the lookout for these scams, but it’s impossible to keep up with all of them. Honestly, it’s really a matter of using common sense and performing due diligence. If a deal seems too good to be true and/or you’re asked to pay anything before doing a walkthrough, it’s probably a scam.

A Word About Homeowners’ Insurance

Many people aren’t covered enough when it comes to homeowners’ insurance. For example, Steve explained to listeners, “If you have insurance where 80% or less of your home replacement value is covered, you’re probably going to have a real problem if something serious happens.” People tend to balk at paying much beyond the minimum for homeowners’ insurance, but it’s far better to pay a little more to have the coverage you need. If you don’t, you could end up paying through the nose to make repairs or even rebuild if major damage occurs.

Make sure that you regularly check on your insurance policy. Your home’s value is going to go up. That means replacement costs are going to be higher. There’s also the depreciated value of the things inside your house. So, let’s say that you have $100,000 worth of inventory in your house. The depreciated value might be something like $50,000 or less. Your house burns down. You have the actual cost of rebuilding and the cost of replacing everything inside the house. The keywords to look for in your policy are “replacement value.” Ask your agent what it would cost to rebuild your home today. He or she should have the price per square foot for you.

The bottom line is this: it’s worth the time and the money to be diligent about getting a solid homeowners’ insurance policy. It could literally save you your entire fortune in the long run.

If you’d like to learn more about buying or selling a home, check out Keller Williams website!

Disclosure: The opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily of the radio show. Interviewee is not a representative of the radio show. Investing involves risk and investors should carefully consider their own investment objectives and never rely on any single chart, graph or marketing piece to make decisions. Content provided is intended for informational purposes only, is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be considered tax, legal, investment advice. Please contact your tax, legal, financial professional with questions about your specific needs and circumstances. The information contained herein was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however their accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. All data are driven from publicly available information and has not been independently verified by the radio show.

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Steve Pomeranz: It’s time for Real Estate Roundup. This is the time every single week we get together with noted real estate agent Terry Story. Terry is a 31-year veteran with Keller Williams, located in Boca Raton, Florida. You’re back.

Terry Story: Yeah, I’m back.

Steve Pomeranz: Welcome back to the show, Terry.

Terry Story: Thanks, Steve. Love being here.

Steve Pomeranz: There’s a lot of talk in the real estate industry about when you should be buying a house. I mean-

Terry Story: You know my answer.

Steve Pomeranz: What is your answer?

Terry Story: Now, Steve. Always now. Now’s the time.

Steve Pomeranz: Best time to buy is now. Best time to sell is now. But all kidding aside.

Terry Story: Yep.

Steve Pomeranz: Some months seem to be better than others. I know that people kind of want to move into a neighborhood before school starts and the like.

Terry Story: Sure.

Steve Pomeranz: But a lot of people don’t want to list in the winter, and even down here, January, February, they want to wait until March or April. But the statistics show that that’s actually not a very smart thing to do.

Terry Story: Right. According to the realtor.com market report, it revealed that buyers in 20 of the hundred largest markets are beginning their home search now in January when it used to be April. So it’s moved from April to January. Which basically, what that tells me, Steve, is we know that there’s low levels of inventory, so it’s like that early bird catches the worm theory.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah.

Terry Story: They’re starting to look and take their home search seriously earlier on.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, because they need more lead time. That could be it, too.

Terry Story: Yeah, they need more time.

Steve Pomeranz: You need more time now, so you don’t have the luxury of waiting.

Terry Story: Right, right.

Steve Pomeranz: Okay, good. You know there’s an old Shel Silverstein poem.

Terry Story: Right.

Steve Pomeranz: If you’re a bird, be an early bird and catch the worm for your breakfast plate. If you’re a bird, be an early bird, but if you’re a worm, sleep late. So remember that.

Terry Story: I don’t think I’ve ever heard that. Never thought about the poor worm. I always thought about the bird.

Steve Pomeranz: I’m always thinking about the worm.

Terry Story: Wow.

Steve Pomeranz: Okay, so what else can we talk about here? What do most sellers forget when prepping for a home sale?

Terry Story: There’s a lot of things they forget.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah. It’s funny, because you may put away your jewelry, because you’re thinking, “Well, I don’t want to expose that. Someone might steal it.” But there’s other stuff, too, you have to think about.

Terry Story: Yeah, people today, I never thought of this years ago, but it’s prescription drugs.

Steve Pomeranz: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Terry Story: I can’t imagine going, showing a house and rifling through their bathroom drawers and medicine cabinet.

Steve Pomeranz: Well, I could see opening up the medicine cabinet and closing it.

Terry Story: Yeah, but apparently, a lot of people leave, and I’ve seen that, where they have a whole 20 bottles of prescription drugs sitting on their kitchen counter.

Steve Pomeranz: Yes, and some of those-

Terry Story: So some of them can be addictive drugs.

Steve Pomeranz: Tylenol with codeine.

Terry Story: Right, right.

Steve Pomeranz: Oxycontin.

Terry Story: Right, Oxycontin.

Steve Pomeranz: You may not even know that you have that stuff anymore.

Terry Story: Right, so don’t leave prescription drugs out. And Steve, one time, I’ll never forget, I had a gentleman, he had his Rolex. He must’ve come into the house and he’d left his Rolex on the kitchen counter with his cash.

Steve Pomeranz: Uh-huh (affirmative), cash and Rolex.

Terry Story: Cash and Rolex. So I was a nervous wreck, as the listing agent.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, yeah.

Terry Story: All I did was, I stood there to protect it and I let the other agent walk the client around. I was like, “I can’t.” I didn’t even want to touch it or move it. I didn’t want to be accused of moving it or touching it. Was I being baited to see if I would touch it? I don’t know. So don’t do that to your realtors or tempt any clients in any way, shape or form.

Steve Pomeranz: I mentioned Tylenol with codeine, and that’s obvious, and Oxycontin, but according to this article, it also says medications like Adderall, for attention deficit disorder.

Terry Story: Sure.

Steve Pomeranz: I mean, that has some physical effects on when you take it. Depression, anxiety medication like Zoloft and Xanax, and also sleep aids, like Ambien. So it doesn’t have to be the hard drugs. It may be something you didn’t even think about.

Terry Story: Sure.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, weird. All right. Let’s see what else here. The fact is that real estate scams, especially online scams, are still rife.

Terry Story: Yes, they are.

Steve Pomeranz: Especially egregious, according to the article that we’re talking about today, is Craigslist.

Terry Story: That’s right.

Steve Pomeranz: Now, what are these scammers doing on Craigslist, which makes us so vulnerable?

Terry Story: Basically, what they do is, they hijack or copy listings that agents have. For example, I would have a property for rent or for sale, they could steal the information.

Steve Pomeranz: So they come in and they copy and paste-

Terry Story: They copy and paste.

Steve Pomeranz: … the listing, so they see that. It looks professional.

Terry Story: Yep, it does. I’ve seen it.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah.

Terry Story: Then they give false information how to reach them. It’s usually for rent. It’s always at a lower price point.

Steve Pomeranz: Yes. I’ve seen that too. I mean, and I’ll tell you, there’s people in financial places in their lives where they’re really looking for a nice place, but they really just can’t afford the current costs of renting. Then they see an ad, and the place, it looks really legitimate.

Terry Story: It looks legit, yeah.

Steve Pomeranz: Instead of it being $2,200 a month, it’s like $1,400 a month, and you call the ad.

Terry Story: Right.

Steve Pomeranz: As soon as you call-

Terry Story: A legit sounding person says, “Well, send us a cashier’s check.”

Steve Pomeranz: That’s right, as a deposit.

Terry Story: As a deposit, and we’ll send you the keys or whatever. And they’ll give you a long lame story like, “Well, the owner left the keys and I’ll have him mail them directly to you.”

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah.

Terry Story: I know this to be true because it’s happened. The way I know that it’s happened is because the person who was scammed, or about to be scammed, actually, I’ve never been involved where they were scammed, but they came close to … well, they recognized the fraud, contacted me through the legitimate listing and asked me, “Is the property for rent?”

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, yeah.

Terry Story: I’m like, “No, where’d you see it?” Now, as agents, we keep an eye out on this stuff, but it’s widespread.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, it’s impossible to see everything.

Terry Story: Keep everything, yep.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, so again, it looks real. They take off the telephone number of the agency.

Terry Story: Right.

Steve Pomeranz: And they replace it with their own telephone number and they do a little copy and pasting, a little photoshopping and they get something, and it looks pretty real. So, I guess it’s under the too good to be true category.

Terry Story: Right.

Steve Pomeranz: If everything else is selling at a much higher rate, why would this property that’s so nice-

Terry Story: Be so low?

Steve Pomeranz: When you call, you might ask them that question, and they go, “Well, because …”

Terry Story: The seller’s desperate.

Steve Pomeranz: That’s right.

Terry Story: They just had to move out of town real quick.

Steve Pomeranz: Exactly. They’ve just got to get this thing rented or whatever it might be.

Terry Story: Right, yeah.

Steve Pomeranz: All right. Real quickly, let’s talk about homeowners’ insurance.

Terry Story: Sure.

Steve Pomeranz: A lot of people are under-covered. For example, if you have homeowners’ insurance where only 80% or less than 80% of your home replacement value is covered, you’re going to be very unhappy if something serious happens.

Terry Story: Right, that’s why they call it insurance. No, it’s really important.

Steve Pomeranz: People don’t want to pay though. They don’t want to pay insurance.

Terry Story: Looking at this article, I don’t think I’ve looked at my own policy in four or five years.

Steve Pomeranz: We both said the same thing when we were reading this, we have to look at our policies.

Terry Story: And our home values have gone up.

Steve Pomeranz: Yes.

Terry Story: So replacement costs are a lot higher.

Steve Pomeranz: Okay, so there’s the actual cost.

Terry Story: Right.

Steve Pomeranz: There’s the depreciated cost of the stuff that you have in your house.

Terry Story: That’s right.

Steve Pomeranz: That’s no good, because if you have a 10-year old couch, how … you have to go out and buy a 10-year old couch?

Terry Story: Right.

Steve Pomeranz: That’s not going to happen.

Terry Story: Yeah, can you imagine if you had to replace every item in your house? I don’t know how much stuff is, but let’s say you have $100,000 worth of stuff. Depreciated value is probably $5,000 for everything you own.

Steve Pomeranz: I know. Think about that.

Terry Story: And then, your house burned down.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah.

Terry Story: You have to replace all your clothing, literally everything that you own.

Steve Pomeranz: Right, so replacement values are the keywords that you want to look for.

Terry Story: That’s right.

Steve Pomeranz: You want to take a look, and you ask your agent to tell you what the rebuilding of your house would cost today because they have the price per square foot.

Terry Story: It’s a fortune. Does anyone know how expensive it is right now to build a house? It’s high. Very, very high.

Steve Pomeranz: All right, so I think that’s good advice. Check your insurance policy.

Terry Story: Yep.

Steve Pomeranz: You and I are both going to do that. Next time we meet, we’re going to compare notes on that.

Terry Story: I know that your insurance policy is going to go up.

Steve Pomeranz: My guest, as always, is Terry Story, a 31-year veteran with Keller Williams, located in Boca Raton, Florida. She can be found at terrystory.com. Thanks, Terry.

Terry Story: Thanks for having me, Steve.