When you choose to list your property with Sharon Drake Real Estate you choose to work with a dedicated team of professionals who have excelled in the Real Estate business for over 30 years. Our company recognizes that your decision to sell your home or land is one of the most important financial and emotional choices you will make. We make it our business to know your property as well, if not better than you do. We are professionals, we do our homework, we return phone calls, we communicate and our extensive experience in the trade allows us to offer real guidance to you as you ready yourself to navigate the marketing and selling of one of your most important assets.
Choosing an Agent.
The Real Estate Agent you choose to work with will be your professional resource throughout the marketing and selling of your property. It is important to find a personality that feels right for you. You will be spending a lot of time communicating. Before you hire an Agent ask some real questions.
- How well do you know the area?
- How long have you been in business?
- What is your marketing approach?
- What publications do you advertise in?
- How do you arrive at a suggested list price?
All of these questions will help you to determine whether or not you have found the right personality and professional for you. Your agent needs to be more than a messenger, shuffling information back and forth word for word. Instead your agent needs to be a skilled negotiator and representative, an educator, a partner, a buffer, a source of information and a guide.
Your agent should always listen to you, understand your comfort level, your financial position, your time frame and your goals. A good agent will represent you well, keep you informed, give you honest guidance and feedback even if it disappoints you, direct you to other professionals when faced with situations outside of their expertise and will walk you through every step of the selling process.
Understand the difference between being a customer and being a client.
Before you begin working with an Agent understand that Maine Law provides for different levels of brokerage services. You should decide whether you want to be represented as a customer or a client.
As a customer you can expect all Maine Real Estate Licensees to:
- Comply with all State and Federal Real Estate Law.
- Be accountable for all money and property received from or on behalf of the buyer and/or seller.
- Be honest and not knowingly provide false information.
- Disclose all known material defects pertaining to the physical condition of the real estate in question.
As a client you can expect all Maine Real Estate Licensees to:
- Honor all of the services listed above.
- Enter into a written agreement with you creating a client-agent relationship, and to honor the terms therein with skill and care. Unless you enter into a written agreement for representation you are a customer, not a client.
- Promote your best interests by negotiating for the best price and terms.
- Maintain confidentiality on all subjects.
- Provide you with respect, loyalty, full disclosure, confidentiality, accountability, reasonable care and diligence.
Understand the difference between a Buyer’s Agent, a Seller’s Agent and a Dual Agent.
A Buyer’s agent represents and negotiates on behalf of the Buyer only. A Seller’s agent represents and negotiates on behalf of the Seller only. A Dual Agent can represent both the Buyer and Seller within one real estate transaction. According to Maine Law an Agent can only act as a Dual Agent under full disclosure, known as Disclosed Dual Agency. Both the Buyer and Seller must consent to this type of representation in writing. A Dual Agent is bound by law not to disclose to one party any confidential information obtained from the other party.
Pricing your home.
When it comes right down to it, it really doesn’t matter what you or your agent thinks your property is worth. The person whose opinion matters the most is the Buyer who makes the offer. There is an art and a science to pricing properties. It involves comparing similar properties, making adjustments for the differences, and factoring in the current inventory and market trends. It is the market that ends up dictating the successful sales price. It is up to you and your Agent to make the most educated guess based on all of the above and taking into consideration your financial needs and time frame.
Here are some important things to keep in mind:
Find good comparable properties. Experience and knowledge are critical here. Talk to your Agent about your property’s strengths and weaknesses, unique characteristics, flaws and highlights. You know there isn’t another place out there just like yours, but a good Agent will be able to help you identify properties for sale and sold properties that will help you to pinpoint the most effective sales price for you.
Consider recently sold properties as well as currently for sale properties. What other people are asking isn’t necessarily what they are getting. Be sure to review the recent sales prices of properties similar to yours. This will give you a better understanding of the market than by just looking at current list prices.
Price your property competitively. The more Buyers that see your home the better. Overpricing doesn’t give the negotiating cushion that some might think. Knowledgeable Buyers won’t even view the property when they recognize it is overpriced in comparison to other properties available to them. Make your property a must-see.
You can’t underprice a house. While underpricing isn’t an option for everyone a list price just under the competition will catch people’s attention and can create a kind of bidding excitement.
You can overprice a house. An overpriced property can miss its window of excitement, as educated and well-represented Buyers will pass it over. Once the property has sat on the market for a while people may begin to wonder what is wrong with it. The property may gain a stigma that can become difficult to overcome. Even with price reductions the freshness of the property fades and “listing fatigue” sets in. This scenario is difficult for everyone. Frustrated Sellers may blame their Agent and/or end up selling at a lower price than if they’d priced the property effectively to begin with.
Don’t always choose the Agent who suggests the highest list price. Understand how an Agent arrived at the suggested list price. Uninformed Agents may not be aware of market changes. Unprincipled Agents may be playing on your hopes instead of working with data and experience. While the high list price suggested may very well be the proper asking price, it’s wise to ask the Agent how they arrived at the price they’re suggesting. They should be able to show you recent comps that support it.
Preparing your property for sale.
Preparing your property for photographs and showings is essential to making it appealing to Buyers. You will want great looking photographs to be a part of your property’s online presentation and you will want Buyers to be able to envision themselves living in the space. If you are selling land Buyers will want to see a clean and clutter-free area. Remove all trash and debris. Consider working with an arborist to clear views within the legal limits or prepare for a driveway.
If you are selling a house here is how to get people to focus on its best assets:
De-clutter. This is the most important thing you can do. Your house will look larger and more airy when you put away the clutter. Clean off the kitchen counters. Clean off the bathroom vanities. Clear out unnecessary furniture like that stationary bike or freestanding clothes hanger. Show off your wood floors by removing throw rugs. Think of it as a head start on packing. You can also keep a container handy for storing remote controls, pens and pencils and other small items in the common spaces. Toss these items into the container just before photographing and showing to reduce clutter.
Prepare the house as though making it ready for guests. Make the beds, replace expired light bulbs, remove piles of magazines and newspapers, take out the trash, clean important or central windows, glass doors and mirrors, put out fresh towels, vacuum, open the shades and turn on the lights.
De-personalize. Buyers need to be able to picture themselves living in the home. Pack away your personal photos, collections, toothbrushes, slippers and robes, kids’ drawings, toys, clothing, and anything that would make your life a bigger discussion than the house.
Neutralize. Not everyone shares your passion for lime-green paint or cinnamon bun scented candles. You want to appeal to the most people as possible. Think simple, uncluttered and neutral.
De-odorize. House odors from pets, smoking, mildew, etc. are the first things Buyers notice. Do your best to eradicate any unpleasant odors without going to perfumed sprays or smelly candles, which can be just as bad.
Contain Pets. Set up a nice spot for them in the garage or take them with you. Barking dogs can be a major turn-off to Buyers.
Vacate. Leave the house so that the Buyers and/or photographers can focus on the space instead of making conversation.
How does the outside of the home look? Park vehicles in an out-of-the-way spot, or drive them away altogether. Move garbage cans, hoses and tools so they can’t be seen. Weed and tidy the walkways, mow and rake the yard and if it is winter be sure the walks and steps are shoveled and sanded.
Help your agent to help you.
Be ready to show at all times. Same-day and last-minute requests for showings are common. We do our best to give you as much notice as possible, but we can’t control everything. It’s best to be flexible and to get as many showings as possible. Remember to keep things clutter-free and depersonalized to the best of your ability.
Communicate with your Agent. Let them know how the marketing of your home is going for you. Be in touch, ask questions, clarify your goals if they change. This is a working relationship. When they sense your loyalty, honesty and willingness to work with them they will work harder for you and you both will benefit from a trusting and respectful relationship.
Be honest with your Agent. There is nothing to be gained by withholding information. Do you have specific goals? Share them with your Agent so you can both work efficiently and effectively. Tell your Agent everything you know about your property. At some point it will likely be discovered and you do not want to have to lower your price, or jeopardize a sale as a result.
Be flexible. Most Buyers and their Agents try to arrive on schedule for the showing appointment, but sometimes delays are inevitable.
Don’t ask your Agent to do anything illegal. Fraud and deception never pays, so don’t put your loyal agent into an uncomfortable position.
Remember that Real Estate Agents are professionals. Call them during business hours and treat them kindly and respectfully. Give them the opportunity to schedule with you. It is not their job to be on call or available at a moment’s notice. They have scheduled appointments and clients just like you who they are working hard for.
Cooperate with your Agent. Work with your agent and trust their counsel. Fill out any necessary paperwork in a timely manner. Respond to their recommendations and requests and allow them to do their very best for you.
Going under contract and closing.
What you can expect throughout the process:
The Offer. You will receive, in writing, the Buyer’s offer to purchase your property, with the purchase price, and any contingencies such as financing provisions, building inspections, items to remain or to be removed from the property, etc. You accept the offer, reject it, or you and the Buyer negotiate through your Agents until there is an agreed upon purchase price and set of terms. At this point you are officially under contract.
The Property Inspection. These are paid for by the Buyer and are usually scheduled right after going under contract. They are most often completed within 10 business days of an accepted offer. These typically include an inspection of any structures, water supplies, septic systems, zoning, pests, radon levels, etc. Any repair issues as a result of the inspection are negotiated with the Seller at this point.
The Appraisal and Title Agency. The Buyer chooses a Lender, if financing is involved, and a Title Agency. The Buyer’s Lender will order a certified appraisal from a licensed appraiser. A survey may also be required by the Lender. The Buyer pays for the appraisal and survey costs unless other arrangements have been made.
The Walk-Through. The Buyer will conduct a walk-through of the property prior to the closing. Be sure that everything is clean, empty and in working order. Check the heating system, the plumbing, and be sure that the heating and cooking fuel levels are as they have been reported.
The Closing . Your Real Estate Agent and the Title Company will work closely with the Buyer and the Buyer’s Agent to coordinate the closing and make sure everything that’s required is properly handled. In addition to the loan pay-off fees and any Attorney’s fees, you will typically pay for the Broker’s commission, a Maine State transfer tax, your prorated share of annual property taxes, and your prorated share of any property association dues.