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  • 5 Critical Steps





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    Whether your prospective residents have decided to sell their homes now or they are just starting to think about testing the waters, there are a handful of important steps they’ll need to take to get their homes ready for showings and maximize the return on the sale.

    1) Enlist a Qualified Real Estate Agent

    Most sellers opt to list their homes with a real estate agent versus For Sale By Owner, and therefore choosing the right one is a serious business. A good agent has exceptional experience, training, local market knowledge, connections, negotiating ability, and legal expertise — while also being enjoyable to work with. Researching and screening agents is time consuming, but doing the homework prior to listing the home saves time, money, and effort down the road.

    Moving Station has a full-time staff dedicated to finding experienced real estate agents in your prospective resident’s local market area, managing their work, and continuously tracking their performance. Our counselors are professionally trained and stay informed on the market trends in selling residential real estate. They complete hundreds of transactions a year and are dedicated to their customers; they know how to measure quality and consistently deliver exceptional home sale results.

    2) Evaluate the Home’s Curb Appeal

    The maxim “you don’t get a second chance at a first impression” is never truer than with a home for sale. A freshly painted door, sharp landscaping, swept driveways, and clean roof and gutters are crucial to prospective buyers’ impressions. If they drive up to a home that appears run-down, they’ll drive on to the next property on their list without entering to see what the interior has to offer. Potted plants and other decorations lend a charming character to the exterior and can make it stand out from others in the neighborhood. Keeping the backyard tidy is just as important, so gardening tools, lawn furniture, and other items should be neatly organized and in their proper places. At night, exterior lighting makes the home look welcoming and illuminates the house numbers so they’re visible from the street. Leaving a few lights on inside the house adds to the overall glow.

    3) Put on Some Makeup, but Don’t Get a Facelift

    Homeowners always ask whether renovating a kitchen or adding a bath pays for itself at the time of sale. The return on investment is limited by the extent of the renovation. Simply updating or even upgrading a few elements of the home will not significantly increase its value. The seller’s efforts should instead focus on minimizing dated decor. If the budget allows, removing wallpaper and repainting the house in modern colors is one way to avoid presenting a house that feels like a “project”. Effective and inexpensive improvents include cleaning and stretching the carpeting and completing the minor fixes on the “honey-do” list, such as replacing burnt-out bulbs, cleaning the windows, dusting the light fixtures, repairing torn screens, fixing squeaky hinges, etc. The goal is to allow prospective buyers to appreciate the features of the home without being distracted by the little things that need attention.

    4) Minimize Personal Effects

    Putting and keeping a home in “market-ready condition” is one key to getting and maintaining the interest of prospective buyers. Clutter is the enemy of effective marketing photos and successful in-person showings. Counters, vanities, tables, and other furniture should be clear of personal effects. Bookcases, cabinets, and closets should not be overstuffed. Sellers are often advised to pack away their collections and family photos — not out of security concerns but rather because the prospective buyers need the opportunity to imagine their own lifestyle and belongings within the home. For much the same reason, furniture should be arranged to encourage entry into each room. Sellers want buyers to remember the size and usefulness of the home, not the big couch blocking the way or the hunting trophies mounted on the wall.

    5) Don’t Procrastinate

    It is rare that a neighborhood market is in such high demand that just putting up the sign is enough to gain attention from buyers. Taking the time to see the home through a buyer’s eyes before the home enters the market is one of the most effective ways to entice an offer. The first few weeks the home is on the markets makes the most lasting impression of its appeal. Allowing showings before the home is ready might leave a poor impression that’s hard to overcome.

    Helping your future residents prepare for the task of selling the home is a challenge. They’ve built a life and raised a family there, and every corner of the home has special memories. Without skilled guidance, your prospective residents may find the process overwhelming. Through our Home Sale and Home Purchase Programs, Moving Station’s Real Estate Counselors assist you and your future residents in navigating the course toward selling the home at the right price and within the desired time frame.


  • Managing Expectations of Home Value





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    Many homeowners have a great deal of pride of ownership for their homes that have been lovingly tended to for many years. Unfortunately, many of these homes are also in original condition, or updates may have been made some 15-20 years ago. The true market value of these homes, as a result, can fall short of lofty expectations, making it a challenge to convert a prospect to a resident. It’s therefore crucial to carefully and sensitively manage those expectations from the outset. Conveying a sense of what buyers in the owner’s neighborhood are looking for – and what they are willing to pay for it – is a first step that can’t be overlooked. To accomplish this, three important factors should be understood:

    1) The Market is Local and Current

    Appraisers, real estate agents, and mortgage lenders can predict the likely market value of a home by examining the performance of similar properties within the neighborhood sold within the last 6 to 12 months. Real estate activity is ruled not just by supply and demand, but also by all of the dynamic economic factors that color a buyer’s readiness and ability to purchase. These factors are ever-changing, so reviewing only the most recent activity is relevant to the task at hand.

    2) Generalizations About Real Estate are Misleading

    News items about a “hot market” seldom deliver useful information. Some markets are active, some types of property are in strong demand, and some price points are appealing to certain segments of the industry. It’s very rare that these stories relate specifically to the customer’s home.

    Similarly, the performances of other types of financial holdings are not a reliable indicator of residential real estate prices. Rising and falling prices of gold or stocks and bonds exert no effect on the buying decisions of 99% of the home shoppers active in the market. Accordingly, applying a standard rule or general formula related to historic appreciation rates or the average price-per-square-foot seen in the marketplace fails to predict a buyer’s reaction to the home being offered for sale.

    3) Value is Driven by Buyers

    The popularity of television programming focused on home buying, selling, and renovations is a reflection of the trends emerging over the past decade toward consumer preferences for the latest in upgrades and updates. Even modestly priced homes often feature high-quality finishes such as granite or marble, stainless steel appliances, luxurious master suite amenities, large closets, and custom decorating.

    These “value drivers” aren’t limited to just the quality and cosmetics of the interior. Open floor plans, large family living areas, sufficient garage space, attractive outdoor living amenities, and low-maintenance landscaping are popular in many markets. Not to be forgotten is the importance of location, as well as the overall size, condition, and functionality of the home.

    Understanding a neighborhood’s “value drivers” includes an objective assessment of the home’s conformity to the other homes that recently sold nearby. Trends can be identified where most of the sales featured a number of common elements, such as finished basements, pools, or gleaming hardwood floors. These conforming trends establish what prospective buyers find appealing and at what price.

    Managing the Homeowner Expectations

    The customer usually has a general notion of the value of the home, though typically this is not based on an objective review of the features and condition of the neighborhood market. The best approach is to:

    1) Ask the question “for how much do you think the home would sell today?”

    2) “Tell me about your house.” How many beds, baths, garage bays?

    How much above-grade living space (sq.ft.)? How long have you owned,

    what’s been remodeled, and when? Remember that most owners love to talk about their home; they’ve been living there for years. It’s not an interrogation, it’s a conversation.

    3) Using the information at hand, invite the homeowner to review some internet market data with you. If the customer said the home was worth $200,000, use a website like Realtor.com or Zillow.com to search for homes in their neighborhood that are currently for sale between 90% and 110% of the target value. Ask them to review the pictures you find and elicit their comments on how their home compares to what else is being offered on the market. Are they bigger or smaller, more updated/upgraded or the same? Do they share a specific style or “curb appeal” with the customer’s home, or not? The same exercise could be done with homes recently sold in that same price range.

    4) Ask the question “if 123 Main Street is available for $200,000, do you think a buyer would likely pay more or less for your house, and why?”

    5) Practice this with your own home or one you know well so you learn how to navigate the search engines and efficiently filter the results. Time and practice will help build an understanding of how to recognize the “value drivers” among various price points and neighborhoods.

    The goal of this exercise is not to establish the property’s value, but to get the customer thinking objectively about their home and see it as a prospective buyer would. It’s worth noting that 95% of all home buyers begin their search for a new home utilizing these very websites – looking at pictures, reading the descriptions, and checking out the locator maps – before they ever call a real estate agent to set up a showing.

    The goal of this exercise is not to establish the property’s value, but to get the customer thinking objectively about their home and see it as a prospective buyer would. It’s worth noting that 95% of all home buyers begin their search for a new home utilizing these very websites – looking at pictures, reading the descriptions, and checking out the locator maps – before they ever call a real estate agent to set up a showing.

    The short version:

    •Value is a buyer’s domain.

    •Look at the home and the choices available in the neighborhood market through a

    buyer’s eyes.

    •If selling the home is crucial to the customer’s decision to move, a realistic

    expectation speeds that prospect toward becoming a resident.

    Your Moving Station Real Estate Counselor is in place to help you navigate these conversations with your prospective residents. Every day, we have similar discussions with home owners to help them become successful home sellers. Having an honest conversation about home value is not always fun, but it is important toward helping your prospect become your resident, and that is why we are here to serve you.


  • What Drives Residential Real Estate Value Part 2





    Part 2- Cost Versus Value

    In Part 1 of this series we presented the truism “Sellers Set Price, Buyers Set Value.” Understanding the needs and desires of the common buyer is crucial when assessing the market value of a home. To further explore the impact of value-drivers in residential real estate, it’s important to understand the distinction between cost and value.

    Cost is simple to define – it’s the price paid for an improvement, a repair, an appliance, etc. When preparing a home for sale, many homeowners will tally the costs incurred over the history of their ownership and simply add it to the perceived value of the home to reach a “bottom line” price. This is the classic mistake of confusing cost with value. These familiar costs can be divided into three basic categories, illustrated as follow:

    Systems

    Improvements

    Decorative

    Roof

    Deck or Patio

    Paint and Wallpaper

    Windows

    Remodeling

    Floor Coverings

    Heating and Cooling

    Upgraded Fixtures

    Shelving Systems

    Plumbing and Electrical

    Room Additions

    Window Treatments

    Money spent on systems repairs and replacements are assumed by many to be expenditures that directly add value to the home, mostly for the simple reason that they are expensive. But are they really value-drivers? Most often not, because a typical buyer expects a home to exhibit the functionality of a sound roof, operational windows, and safe and effective temperature control, plumbing, and power systems. Though there is value in proper preventative maintenance, and buyers in the market may demonstrate a willingness to pay more for a home that has new heating or a new roof, it’s likely that nearly every other home for sale in the neighborhood has also been properly maintained. Thus, the true price value for these improvements may be negligible, but still greater than the steep discount that occurs when a home exhibits poor maintenance or inefficient systems.

    Second to location, property improvements are effective and readily observable value-drivers. Depending on buyer needs and wants in a particular marketplace, improvements deliver varying returns. Adding a deck or patio where there wasn’t one before, increasing above-grade living space, improving the usefulness of a basement, or remodeling a dated kitchen or bath to modern expectations – all of these can deliver a substantial return on investment. It is important to keep in mind, however, that a dollar-for-dollar return on investment is unlikely, particularly in the short term. If a seller chooses to invest $25k in a kitchen remodel and then puts the home on the market 6 months later, in most marketplaces, the full $25k will not be recouped.

    While fresh updating typically enhances the home’s initial appeal and can speed a sale, decorating remains a very personal decision. Some owners worry about resale and try to keep their color scheme neutral, while others see homeownership as an opportunity to express personal tastes and style. Some folks like elegant draperies and valances, while others prefer the minimalism of sheers or blinds, and a few more even lean toward the functionality of shutters. Tastes can be generational as well; where hardwood floors were once a sign of economic struggle in cheap apartments, they’re now considered a hallmark of luxury. Buyers rarely look at a home and feel they could move in without adding their own touch of décor, so very few will see the cost of the seller’s decorating as a contribution toward the home’s value. In practice, most buyers will deduct the perceived cost of redecorating from the market price when making an offer.

    Remember that buyers look first for location and functionality: the right area, an ample number of rooms, and enough space for their lives are requirements that must be met. These are the primary value-drivers, followed then by the home’s condition and particular appeal. Sellers are cautioned against assuming buyers will share their personal preferences. What’s right in the home for the seller may be exactly what’s wrong for the buyer, as can be seen in the dwindling attraction of formal living spaces and corner lots, or in-ground swimming pools outside of the warmer states. Buyers want what they want, and they’ll pay top dollar for the house that meets their specific needs and desires, but they’ll discount an offer on the home that falls short.

    In summary:

    • The costs of maintenance and repairs are the costs of ownership. They won’t add appreciable value to the property, though keeping a home in good condition does prevent steeply declining appeal.

    • Location, condition, utility, size, features and amenities all drive value. The location can’t change, but much can be done with the rest to enhance performance.

    The trusted relationship that a sales counselor builds with his or her prospective residents often means the sales counselor will find him or herself engaged in conversation about the sale of the home. It’s helpful to have an understanding of value drivers to prevent your prospective resident from spending money unnecessarily or delaying the move, citing home improvements as the reason. For additional information, or to discuss positioning with your future residents, do not hesitate to contact Moving Station.


  • What Drives Residential Real Estate Value Part 1





     

     

    Part 1 – What’s My Home Worth?

    Selling your home is a significant, emotional, and (for most) an infrequent event. Homeowners – especially those who haven’t been in the market for years – tend to rely upon easy resources that fail to predict an accurate home value. Web sites such as Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com feature useful information regarding a range of values within a marketplace and even offer a nice glimpse into recent activity within the area. In the end, however, an accurate approach to valuation requires examining the unique features of the home in question (location, condition, size, functional utility, features, amenities, and improvements) in terms of their appeal to buyers. Unfortunately, owners typically find it difficult to see their homes through the eyes of buyers.

    Sellers Set Prices, Buyers Set Values

    Predicting the likely sale price of a home requires an appraiser or real estate agent to “walk in the shoes of the buyer” and report an objective analysis of value. So what drives this value? Looking at competing homes and recent sales, the analyst gains awareness of the common attributes recent buyers are looking for in a home:

    •  Location – could be about schools, parks, waterfront, cul-de-sac, or even less obvious attributes like sidewalks with mature trees or the unique history of a specific area

    •  Condition – not simply functional but cosmetic too. A newer roof or water heater is necessary for the proper function of a home, but new kitchens and baths, updated floor coverings of exotic woods and tile, and modern electrical, heating and plumbing systems all feature heavily amongst the competition in most markets.

    •  Functional Utility – family-friendly number of bedrooms and baths, a spa-like master suite, full basement, outdoor living amenities, and sufficient garage space can be crucial to buyers.

    •  Appeal – exterior style of the dwelling (whether grand or charming), interior decorating, construction material, observable maintenance, attention to landscaping, and surrounding area.

    When shopping for homes, these are the features and amenities by which buyers judge the appeal of what’s available. These are often the “must-haves” that represent the “value drivers” of the property. Understanding the impact – and, therefore, the price – associated to the value drivers includes an unbiased assessment of the subject home’s conformity, or lack thereof, to the nearby houses that have recently sold, as well as to those currently on the market. Unbiased experts can quantify the market price of the features and amenities described above by identifying trends in home sales that reflect buyers’ behaviors and preferences.

    By contrast – and counter to the goal of pinpointing the current value of a home – homeowners unfamiliar with the accepted methods to measure market prices instead rely on a number of popular but misguided indicators:

    •  Attention grabbing media headlines about a “hot” market and articles about appreciation rates.

    •  The “Zillow” value.

    •  Indiscriminate formulae based on average prices in the city or dollars-per-square-foot.

    •  The appraised value from a “few” years ago, or even longer – don’t forget that real estate values and trends are fluid!

    •  The base cost of the home plus the money spent over the years on improvements and updates.

    •  The asking price of friends’ and neighbors’ homes, regardless of differing style, size, location, etc.

    These misconceptions tend to blind the typical homeowner from seeing their own home through the eyes of prospective buyers and accurately pricing a home for a successful and timely sale.

    In short:

    •  There’s no shortcut to predicting value. Recent, nearby comparable sales are the foundation of valuation, and measuring the typical buyers’ responses to differences in size, condition and functional utility is the finishing touch.

    •  There’s no substitute for the comparable sale approach to valuation. Buyers are the key, for they alone know what they want and what they’re willing to pay at that given time in that given marketplace.

    •  Things change. Like any commodity, real estate values fluctuate based on market conditions beyond the owner’s control. The price paid for the home 2, 5, or 10 years ago has no bearing on the current value.

    For most prospective residents of senior living communities, the home sale is an emotional, if not financial, barrier toward them being able to move and truly enjoy their new home. Many sales counselors realize that talking about the home sale is a necessary part of helping their future resident move forward, and conversation of value drivers is just as important today as it was a few years ago. For additional information, or to discuss positioning with your future residents, do not hesitate to contact Moving Station.

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  • 9 Misconceptions Seniors Have About Selling Their Home





    Every day, senior communities and their incoming residents look to Moving Station® for expert guidance on what’s often the key aspect of relocating to a new lifestyle – selling the old home. Our mission is facilitating a swift, fair and low-stress sale for your future residents. In fact, in response to a commonly asked question, “Can’t you just buy my home,” we developed our newest offering, the Quick Buy Program. With this program, the home is purchased outright enabling your future resident to move in as few as 30 days, significantly reducing the stress and hassle associated with a traditional sale. To learn more, click here.

    When it comes to selling on the broader market, it’s important to understand potential pitfalls and know how to avoid them. To prevent delays and mistakes, we can open this discussion by offering corrections to commonly held misconceptions about the selling process, thereby smoothing the transition to the senior living community:

    I’ll sell when I get the price I need to make the move.

    The value of my home is the same as others in the area.

    My friend is a real estate agent and will work harder to get me my asking price.

    A real estate agent lives next door. Who better to sell my home than someone who lives in the neighborhood?

    I’ll negotiate the commission with my real estate agent.

    If someone is willing to pay my price, getting a mortgage appraisal to support that value shouldn’t be a problem.

    I should hold out for the best offer. There’s no harm in leaving my house on the market.

    If I sell too quickly, I’ll have nowhere to live.

    I should be there for the showings.

    Final Thoughts

    The long and short of it is this: everyone benefits from getting a home sold quickly and at a fair price. To do this, the home must be priced strategically, the correct listing agent has to be chosen, a buyer must be found, and the deal has to be closed. Moving Station has systems and expertise in place to help with each of these steps. Not only do we understand the market, we specialize in assisting senior homeowners with the momentous, and often stressful, process of relocating.


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