No Brainer Do’s & Don’ts When Selling Your Home

We generally take a pretty serious approach in everything we do, but we thought we’d have a little fun and cover some definite “Do’s & Don’ts” when it comes to selling your home. We’ve seen a lot, probably walked through more than 10,000 homes, and have many stories we could tell. Here are a handful of simple things to be mindful of when your home is on the market.

  1. DO take good pictures. Scratch that. DO take excellent pictures. Use a pro. The very first impression of your home to a potential buyer will likely be your home’s main photo in a thumbnail gallery on website. This photo needs to be an actual photo of your home, not a picture of the other home your agent listed the same day, or six years ago. And if it is your home, the entire home should be in it….not just the left side of the front stairs and part of a window to the side of the house.
  2. DO flush your toilets before showings. Close the lids as well. Double check them. This is important.
  3. DON’T have scented candles burning during showings. Sinus problems, instant headaches, bye-bye buyer.
  4. DON’T leave your dirty underbritches laying around the home. Hey, don’t leave the clean ones laying around either.
  5. DO leave the house during showings. We have showing apps, reminder texts, showing confirmation emails, etc. Many agents do. Some don’t. If you have trouble remembering when you have showings coming up, get a reminder app for your phone. It’s hard to hear the doorbell, or the family of buyers and their agent piling through the front door, when you’re in the shower.
  6. DON’T leave loud, heavy metal music playing for your potential buyer’s enjoyment. If you feel inclined, low volume classical or jazz playing throughout the home works well.
  7. DO make the beds, clean the counters, empty the sink, etc., etc. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but cleanliness goes a long way.
  8. DON’T leave Max at home. Max is a good dog, but your potential buyer had a bad experience with that exact breed years back. Plus, her son is allergic to him.
  9. Speaking of pets, DO leave a note on the door if your cat is an escape artist. A thoughtful owner left us a note once that read “Please don’t let my black cat out.” As we were leaving the house, we noticed a black cat outside. We chased that cat for nearly an hour before the owner got back home and informed us that her black cat was the one sitting up in the front window of the living room….not the one we were chasing.
  10. DON’T cook tacos the night before a showing. This particular smell lingers, gets sucked up into the air return vent, and permeates throughout the house for several days.
  11. DO take down the old country duck wallpaper.
  12. DON’T leave up the old country duck wallpaper.
  13. DO Google “Country Duck Wallpaper Images” to ensure nothing in your house resembles this type of wallpaper.
  14. DON’T shy away from leaving out freshly baked cookies and mini bottles of water for showings. Agents like cookies. Buyers like cookies. We like cookies. We highly recommend the large, chewy chocolate chip variety.
  15. DO remove any creepy, life sized dolls or clowns that you have out for “decoration.” We’ve seen some pretty crazy things, but kids find these scary. And let’s face it, many adults find life sized clowns just downright disturbing.

If you follow these simple steps, your potential buyers will likely have a good experience when viewing your home. Obviously this is not an all encompassing list. If you have questions, or just aren’t sure about some of these items, please don’t hesitate to give us a call anytime. We’re always here to help.

The Carnes-Hyatt Group at RE/MAX Realty Brokers, Inc. - Jason Carnes 205.612.2616 or Jonathan Hyatt 205.617.9957

The 5 Most Common Repair Items

As a team with over 25 years combined real estate experience, we’ve seen a home inspection or two. While the home inspection is an important part of the process in helping buyers determine if any serious adverse conditions exist with the property, it’s usually not serious conditions that pop up in most transactions. However, buyers typically want to see some sort of return for the money they spent on their home inspection. So we usually see a laundry list of minor items that may seem otherwise mundane to an owner that has lived in a home for many years. While a few of these may seem unimportant, a few can be conditions required by the appraiser in determining whether the lender will make the loan for the buyer.

Here are the five most common repair items we see requested.

  1. Standard Heat/Air Service - This is by far the most common item we see requested. In most home inspection reports, we see the inspector recommend that the heat/air system be serviced by a licensed technician. In addition, many buyers will be under some sort of home warranty during their first year of ownership. Being able to show that the heat/air was serviced prior to buying helps with any claims concerning the HVAC system when using their home warranty.
  2. Loose Railings - This is very common. Loose stair or deck railings can be a safety hazard, and repairing them is usually an FHA/VA Loan requirement as well.
  3. Rotted Trim - We see rotted trim mentioned quite often. The two most common areas we see are around exterior window casings and chimney trim. A close second would be trim around garage doors or basement service doors. Repairing rotted wood/trim is usually an FHA or VA Loan requirement
  4. Old & Worn Roof Vent Boots - These are fairly cheap to replace, but are a commonly seen item. In speaking with many home inspectors and roofers over the years, vent boots appear to be the most common area for roof leaks.
  5. Windows Won’t Open Or Lock Properly - This one is common on many older homes with wooden windows. They may just be painted shut, or there may be a bigger issue. FHA/VA typically require that windows open and close properly for safety purposes.


If you are planning to sell your home, these would be some of the most common issues to evaluate ahead of time, with possibly the exception of the heat/air. If your heat/air is in good operating order, we usually recommend waiting until after the home inspection to see if this might be a requirement. If you have already experienced issues with the system (coolant leaks, system freezing up, etc.), it might be a good idea to have it serviced prior to putting your home on the market.

Buying & Selling During The Holiday Season

One question we’re often asked during this time of year (October through January) is “Should I really buy or sell a home now or wait until next year?” It’s a common and valid concern for many consumers in any market. There are many schools of thought on this subject, and many are specific to the market you are looking to transact in. Also, there really is no right or wrong answer.
There are only a few things to consider if you are juggling this dilemma. Here are our considerations on the topic:

If you are thinking about selling your home:

  1. Inventory is typically at it’s lowest point during these four months. Entering the market at this time means less competition from other active listings in your area.
  2. While there are fewer buyers actively searching during this time frame, the ones that are searching are usually much more serious buyers. Why else would they be searching for a new home during the Winter? Because they have a need that can’t wait until Spring.
  3. Listing agents have more time to devote to marketing your listing. Avoid the Spring and Summer rush and get more personalized attention.
  4. Buyer’s agents definitely have more time to show and sell homes. Always room for one more to round out the year with a nice holiday bonus!

If you are thinking about buying a home:

  1. Although inventory is lower during this time frame, the sellers are usually more willing to negotiate in order to complete the transaction before the Spring rush.
  2. Both the listing and buyer’s agents will be more readily available and have the time to handle issues that need to be addressed.
  3. Scheduling movers is a whole lot easier in the slow season. Most any service provider usually has more time and availability to meet your needs.
  4. Your family would surely appreciate a nice, new comfy home for the holidays so that you can finally host all of those wonderful friend and family gatherings!
  5. By the way, rates are so low right now you may hurt your back trying to pick one up.

If you or someone you know need to buy or sell a home to round out this year, please contact The Carnes-Hyatt Group. We’re never too busy for your referrals, and they are always greatly appreciated!

Document Your Negotiated Repairs

So now that your property is under contract, what comes next? For most real estate transactions in our local area, the next step is for the buyer to perform a home inspection. This can be done of their own accord, or as in most instances, your buyer will likely hire a licensed home inspector. Once that inspector has completed their inspection, they will usually have their report to the buyer within a few days, and then repair negotiations occur between both parties.

While this process is somewhat a back and forth exercise between the buyer and the seller until both parties agree on which repairs the owner will perform, and which the buyer will accept, we’re going to shift our focus to the actual documentation of those repairs and why that documentation is so important.

Most repair lists that our team sees are broken down into two main categories: repairs to be completed by the owner & repairs to be completed by a licensed professional in either a general contracting field, or specialty field such as plumbing.

As a homeowner, it’s important to keep in mind that once these repairs are agreed upon, the buyer will have expectations that they be completed as negotiated. Not doing so could result in a delayed closing, hiring a professional to repair what should have been done by a professional in the first place, or worse…..your buyer not closing the deal.

Documentation is key. If your repair addendum calls for a licensed electrician to evaluate and repair missing GFCIs, two missing breaker panels, and replace a bad light fixture, you should insist that once the work is completed, the electrician provide you with an invoice stating those exact items. This would go for any work to be completed by any licensed professional or contractor. Their invoice needs to show that the work was paid in full, and the itemized list of repairs should mirror the repair addendum as closely as possible. The clear expectations set in the repair addendum should be conveyed to the contractor/licensed professional in the same way; with expectations that they will detail their invoice in a manner that leaves little room for misinterpretation from the buyer.

Most buyers will perform a final walk-through prior to closing, and some will even bring their home inspector along to re-evaluate the items that were repaired. Being able to provide invoices for the work ahead of time goes a long way to easing the buyer’s mind, and getting them to the closing table without hesitation. In cases where certain work is to be performed by the owner, we always recommend providing receipts for items that were purchased (even if it’s just paint and caulk), and making sure that the work was completed in a good and workmanlike manner.  

And as always, before hiring a professional, we recommend checking local and state websites to ensure their licenses and certifications are up to date.

Finding A Buyer Is Half The Battle

Many homeowners, and even many novice real estate agents, assume that once they've found a willing and able buyer, a home is as good as sold. In many cases this can't be further from the truth. While finding the right buyer can be a daunting task for certain homes, this is only the first half of the battle to the closing table. Working a contract from the initial offer, all the way to the closing table, requires quite a bit of work. And that's for the easy deals.

An experienced agent can make all the difference during this phase of the home sale. And by experienced, we mean one that not only has the marketing know-how to find that right buyer, but one that also possesses the operational soundness to guide a transaction to a smooth closing. Some of the very top agents, or at least those that are perceived to be top agents, struggle with all the ins-and-outs of properly guiding a contract through its various stages of inspections, running point to keep all parties to contract deadlines, and coordinating with the many service providers that are involved from start to finish. Conversely, there are agents that only sell a few homes a year who are exceptionally good at this process, and never miss a beat.

When interviewing potential agents for the job of selling your home, we suggest asking about both sides of the selling process. A solid, experienced agent, should have a proven marketing program to get your home seen by all potential buyers, and a strong track record of actually getting those contracts finalized at the closing table. And as always, ask for a list of referrals.






7 Quick Tips To Get Your Home Market Ready

Here are seven quick tips for getting your home market ready and ultimately SOLD!

      SELECT THE RIGHT AGENT: Your husband’s cousin’s sister may have a license, but you need to pick an experienced full time agent with the budget and tech-savvy know-how to get the job done right. – Helpful Hint: Contact The Carnes-Hyatt Group for an interview. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll get a full team of experienced professionals working for you. Plus, we have great commission rates!

    PRICE IT RIGHT FROM THE START: Everyone wants the most out of their home. So do we! And we work hard to get it. However, pricing the home outside the realm of reality based on comps and condition is not a good way to get started. Many over-priced homes typically sell months later for lower prices after all your competition has sold. This can cost you time and money. Pricing it right from the get-go is key. - Helpful Hint: We’ll work with you to get it right from the start. We’ve presented thousands of pricing opinions over the years and we know how to get you every dollar possible.

    STAGE ROOMS: Homes show the best when the rooms are staged as they are intended. Pool tables in the dining room or empty bedrooms are not the best way to “wow” a buyer. Clean, decluttered rooms can make a big difference and really help show off each room.

    CURB APPEAL: The exterior of your home is your first impression on a buyer. Clean gutters, make sure your lawn is cut and edged, and have flower beds looking fresh and neat. If anything needs to be painted, get it painted. You don’t want to turn off a buyer before they enter the front door. - Helpful Hint: Your home’s exterior photo is typically the very first impression a buyer will see. We want it to look so great that they can’t resist clicking on it to see more!

    FRESH AND CLEAN: After your rooms are staged with the right furniture, make sure they are organized and de-cluttered. Store boxes of knick-knacks in the garage or a storage unit. Make the rooms look inviting and larger. Lighter earth-tone or neutral paint colors can help tremendously. Make sure the home smells fresh. Also, deep clean the house. Dust and stains make selling a strain!

     GREAT LISTING PHOTOS: If your agent doesn’t have high quality equipment or use a professional photographer, get a different agent. Pictures are your first impression online, and 99% of your buyers are likely to start their home search there. Dark, blurry photos or drive-by smart phone pictures will not cut it. - Helpful Hint: Our team doesn’t compromise when it comes to photos. If we don’t think we can make your home shine with our cameras and equipment, we hire a professional!

    MAKE IT EASY TO SHOW: Most agents are pretty good at getting showings set up a day in advance, but many times they allow their clients to dictate their time and struggle to set up last minute showings. Be as flexible as possible. The day you leave the house a wreck is the day everyone will want to see it. If feasible, take your pets on a little road trip during showings, or have them secured in the garage. And whenever possible, have the alarm disarmed. Alarms are the bane of the showing agent’s existence.


These are the basics, but obviously there’s much more to selling a home than the tips above. When you’re ready to get your home sold, our team can guide you through the easiest and most cost effective ways to get your home ready, and ultimately get you to the closing table. Call us anytime.

Tips On Pricing Your Home To Sell

When it comes to selling a home, nothing is more important than pricing it properly. Property condition, marketing, and even market conditions in general, all play second fiddle to ensuring that your price is right. Here are a few quick tips that can make all the difference when it comes to pricing and eventually realizing a sale.

1. When setting an initial price, only look at comparable properties that have sold in the last 6-12 months. This is the criteria an appraiser will use. And a bank will not make a loan on your property unless it appraises for the contract price or higher. This will help you determine the maximum price you can ask for your home.

2. Once you have set a maximum price that your home is likely to appraise, it’s time to evaluate your competition and adjustment the price to ensure that your home is competitive. If all of your neighbors are asking more for their homes, then no adjustment should be made. But if you have some stiff competition, you may have to lower your price a little to remain competitive.
 
3. Evaluate your price every 30 days or so and make adjustments if needed. Market trends can change quickly. If a handful of your neighbors sell at a discount, it will affect your home’s pricing as well…not to mention the appraisal stats used by the appraiser and lender to form an opinion for the loan. 

4. Don’t get lost in the fray.  Price you home in $5k/$10k increments, as most home search websites are built to support those increments for searching.  This way your home will usually show up on the first page of those search results. 


What's Happening in 2016?

Our local real estate market in the Greater Birmingham Area really started to pick up steam in 2013 and 2014. We started seeing prices level out, or rise modestly, in most areas. And the balance of buyers and sellers evened out as well. Some areas had, and still do have, a shortage of listings.

2015 was no different. Purchases were fueled by good news both locally and nationally. It was a well balanced market, but last year was met with many changes in our industry that slowed agents, lenders, and attorneys down just a little bit. In our immediate area, the entire MLS changed over to the Paragon MLS System in the middle of the year. While we were still learning the ins and outs of that system, we were hit with serious changes to lending and closing procedures (commonly known as TRID) in October. Everyone has moved quickly to adapt to these new changes, and the pace of real estate business seems to be getting back to normal.

2016 is poised to be a fantastic year for real estate. The minimal FED rate hike late last year shows there is rising confidence in the economy. Interest rates for loans in 2016 so far have seen no real increase and are still hovering around 4%. Foreclosures continue to fall and are no longer a dominant force in the marketplace. Many new or revised and relaxed lending options are opening up and/or coming back in fashion to help first time home buyers. New construction building permits are on the rise. But most of all, Millennials are entering the home buying market a lot stronger than expected. Initially dubbed the "renter" generation, Millennials now account for almost one third of all home sales. Generation X are now in their prime earning years with busy families and moving up into their long term "dream" homes. Baby Boomers are entering retirement and looking to downsize and simplify their lives. All of this leads to growing housing needs across the board for all generations and we fully expect 2016 to continue to build on the successes of the last three years.

January 2016 RE/MAX National Housing Report Released


After two consecutive months with falling home sales, December roared back with 6.1% more sales than one year ago. On a month-over-month basis, December sales were much higher than expected at 22.5%. In all of 2015, nine months saw home sales higher than the same month one year ago.