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Business Booming? Agent Safety Tips to Remember

As brokers it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the  busy season.

We’re as guilty as anyone of letting agent safety slip when calls start coming in left and right and we’ve got tours lined up back-to-back. Summer, especially, is an easy time to let your guard down and accidentally open yourself up to risks!

Here’s a quick reminder for all you agents (and for sale by owner folks!) to stay safe using some of these easy to remember tips.

open house1. Never Lead

We’ve all been there. The master bath is to die for and just wait until you see this closet space! But it’s always safest to let the interested buyers/sellers lead the way, particularly in an unfamiliar property. Not only does it ensure we’ve never got our backs turned, it keeps the client up front and excited to lead the tour!

2. Check for Service

Before your open house or property tour starts, check to ensure you’ve got adequate cell service before relying on your phone as a lifeline. Not only do you need service, you need a decent charge so always keep a car charger and a backup battery on you! Remember that your phone’s only useful if you have it handy – and never rely on a tool you’re unfamiliar with (like pepper spray) to keep you safe, either.

3. Don’t Block Yourself In

If you end up in a situation that makes you uncomfortable at a showing or open you’re going to want an easy exit. Don’t allow your car to get blocked in when parking in a driveway, and try to back in if you can for easy egress. Parking on the street may make it easier to get in and out, too.

cell phone4. Host Opens Near an Exit

As we always say, encourage your clients to think ahead when holding an open house (hiding their valuables, finding somewhere else for the dog, etc.) so you don’t have to monitor the back recesses of their home. Staying near an exit at an open house not only keeps you safer, it allows you as the broker to keep tabs on who’s coming and going from their home.

5. Safety in Numbers

If you’re ever unsure about your safety, invite another agent to come along. If you’re holding an open house, having a lender on-site is a good way to get safety in numbers while also adding value for potential buyers! Safety in numbers is a real thing and it’s always more fun to have someone else along for the ride.

 

Being in real estate is very safe. Like any profession, ours has its risks but most of them can be mitigated by being vigilant and thinking ahead! We’re all about safety – for our kids, our clients, and our colleagues.

Now get out there and enjoy this hot selling/buying season in Charlotte!

 

 

14 Things You Should Always Tell Your Agent

Hiring a real estate agent is a big decision.

We’ve talked before about why you need a real estate agent and given you plenty of advice about how to choose the right agent, when to sell/buy, and what the Charlotte market is like. Once you pick an agent, though, what should you discuss? Here are 14 things you should always, always tell your real estate agent whether you’re a seller or a buyer.

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  1. Be upfront about whether or not you’re planning to update any aspect of your home. Adding a porch? Fixing the gutters? Having the fireplace serviced next week? Tell your Realtor.
  2. Tell your Realtor why you want to buy or sell. Need more space? Downsizing after the kids left the nest? They need to know these things to serve you well.
  3. Are you just starting to look for homes or have you been looking for a while? How many houses have you been shown…and are you under contract with another Realtor?exhausted
  4. Likewise, sellers should disclose whether or not the home’s been listed recently (as in, anytime in the last year) and what happened. If you couldn’t get any interest, say so.
  5. Tell your agent your concerns about the area. Are you worried about the new middle school going in, or have you noticed neighbors’ homes selling for less than usual?
  6. Your agent should know about your past experience with Realtors. If you prefer to work with a team rather than a single agent, say so. If you’ve only had negative Realtor experiences, tell them why.
  7. Along the same vein, tell your agent if you have a preferred method of communication. Hate checking voicemails but read your email constantly? Let them know how best to get in touch with you.
  8. Similarly, be upfront about how often you want to stay in communication. Some clients like weekly check-ins…some prefer only to be bothered when there’s news to share.
  9. Talk to your agent about your dealbreakers, buying or selling. As a seller, do you have a bottom-line price? As a buyer, would you never consider a single-story home or a house with a pool?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  10. Your agent should know what you expect from them. If you chose them because you liked the way they marketed listings via Facebook, tell them that’s important to you.
  11. Be honest about marketing hurdles they may face. If you’re absolutely opposed to having an open house be upfront about it. If your neighborhood has outlawed For Sale signs they need to know that, too.
  12. Tell them what your #1 priority is when it comes to your transaction. Do you need to be in a new house within the month? Or is it imperative you get a certain price for your home to satisfy your mortgage debt? Knowing where they have wiggle room gives agents room to work for you.
  13. Be clear about whether you’re interviewing other Realtors, and also talk about how you plan to make your decision.
  14. Talk to your agent about mortgage issues you’re facing. If you’ve been denied pre-approval, they should know that (and they also may have some resources available to help you navigate the current problems.)

 

All real estate agents are not created equal. Every great client/Realtor relationship begins with dialogue and it’s as important for you to be as upfront and honest as you expect your agent to be. Good agents will use your honesty to more effectively, efficiently market your home.

Want to talk to a great agent about buying or selling your Charlotte home? Call us now.

 

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Who is the typical REALTOR?

realtorsThe average REALTOR may not be who you think.

Everybody knows a REALTOR or two (and in our case, about 5,000!) but really, who is the typical REALTOR?

You’ll probably be surprised just how diverse and varied the pool of REALTORs in the U.S. really is, and we’re so proud to be a part of this amazing industry! Remember, not every real estate agent is a REALTOR – only those who are members of the National Association of Realtors can claim the title.

Recently the NAR put together a profile of the typical REALTOR in 2013. Here are a few of the points we found the most interesting.

  • 82% of Realtors say they are very likely to stay in the field for at least 2 years
  • The typical Realtor has 12 years experience
  • Only 12% of Realtors have a real estate blog (like this one!) and 61% of Realtors are using social media
  • The typical agent closed 12 transactions in 2013, up from only 10 in 2011
  • The “average” Realtor is a 56-year old female who owns a home (57% are female)
  • 78% of Realtors say real estate is their only occupation
  • Realtors reported earning 21% of their business from repeat clients and 21% from referrals
  • Vehicle expenses are the #1 reported expense of Realtors
  • 86% of Realtors own their own residence

There you have it! That’s what your typical real estate agent looks like, in a nutshell, and some of those numbers might surprise you. Our biggest takeaways?

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Realtors are feeling optimistic about the industry, more so than at any point in the last two years.

 

Social media and real estate content are upward marketing trends in the industry because they help sell houses.

 

Owning is a better investment than renting, as 86% of Realtors can vouch for.

What surprised you about these stats?

What to Do When You and Your Spouse Disagree During House Hunting

Every episode of HGTV’s “House Hunters” starts off the same way.

House HuntersThe wife wants one thing…the husband wants the opposite. Three houses later, they find the perfect match! Let’s be real: that’s not how real-life house hunting works. Of course, the conflict drama on House Hunters is played up for TV but it’s actually more common than you might think that spouses have a really (really) difficult time agreeing during a house search.

We’ve helped hundreds of couples find a home they both can love over the years, but it’s not always easy. Some couples could have saved themselves lots of bickering and months of searching by laying it all out in the open from day one. Here are some tips for couples embarking on the house hunting process who are destined to see things differently.

Do Some List-Making Separately

Before you hash it out at the kitchen table, make some lists separately. Write down what you want in a home, what your dream home would look like, and where it would be. Jot down some absolute requirements as well as some nice-to-haves and even spend time online looking at floor plans and interior shots if you’re a visual person. Once you know what you want you can have a constructive conversation with your spouse about compromising.

house hunting Discuss Priorities

Next step is to sit together and discuss priorities. For the moment, leave location out of the equation and just talk “house.” If you must have a big, fenced-in backyard for the dog to play in, make that a priority. If your spouse has to have that fourth bedroom to set up a pool table or an office, add that to the list. Don’t be greedy! This is the point you truly decide what your future home has to have and what you can both agree to wiggle on.

Consider Your Requests

Once you come together you can discuss whether or not any of your “musts” are set in stone. Maybe one of your have-to-haves is a big master closet…that doesn’t mean you have to nix any house without one! You may be able to find a home that’s under budget and has room to extend a small master closet – it might take a little more work but there’s usually a way to make changes. Focus on big, immovable items like lot size, home size (even then: addition!), and school district and don’t get caught up in things like hardwood floors, granite countertops, or landscaping.

walkingTalk Location

Location is often the most difficult part of the house hunting process for couples. In many cases, one spouse wants land and interstate access (Ballantyne!) while the other prefers to be in the middle of things, walking distance to their favorite coffee shop (Dilworth!) This is the point you need to decide your parameters: maybe you can agree to look in a ‘neutral’ location or one person can give up their dream location if they get more of their “house” needs met. It’s a compromise and you really shouldn’t look until you know where you want to live.

Bring in Your Realtor

Hold on…a Realtor hasn’t been involved the whole time? It’s always better to work out some of the stickiest issues before you bring in the pros – that way they’ll have a clear, focused vision when searching for your perfect home. Of course, you’re never going to have it all sorted out until you find the right home for your family, but it’s not a good idea to rely on your Realtor to be your mediator. Let them focus on meeting the requirements you bring to the table – you might be surprised what kind of compromises they’ll find you!

Be Prepared to Compromise

It seems so simple but remember, every single house search takes some compromising whether or not you and your partner are on the same page. Most often seen in first-time home buyers, it’s easy to get caught up in waiting for the “perfect” home and being unwilling to “settle.” No house is perfect. The trick to finding the right home for your family is knowing what’s a must and what’s negotiable, and focusing on the positives. In today’s market you have to be able to jump on a great home when you see it or you may risk losing it all together.

And above all else…have fun! Most couples only undergo the house hunting process a handful of times in their life and it’s an experience you’ll miss once it’s gone. The more you enjoy the process the happier you’ll be when you finally find somewhere to call home.

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Ready to start house hunting? Call Mary Sessoms and the On the Move Charlotte team to find out how you can get started!

On the Move Charlotte is Excited to Welcome Mary Sessoms to the Team!

We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Mary Sessoms to the On the Move Charlotte Team!

Mary SessomsMary’s primary role will be Lead Buyer’s Specialist where she’ll focus on helping our house-hunting clients find the perfect home for their needs. She looks at real estate not only as a career but as an opportunity to impact the lives of her clients, an attitude that fits right in with the rest of our agents.

Mary is known for her friendly demeanor, easy-going attitude, cooperative spirit, and tireless work ethic. Don’t be fooled by that beaming smile, however…her tenacity, intense loyalty, and keen negotiating skills make her an asset for any Charlotte buyer! She loves nothing more than helping individuals find the perfect home then ensuring they understand the buying process every step of the way.

As a native North Carolinian and UNC Chapel Hill graduate, Mary knows the Charlotte area well. She loves spending her free time with her husband Jess, their two children, and their two dogs as well as giving back locally within her church and at her childrens’ schools. A particularly fun fact about Mary is that before she got into real estate she worked for Southern Living Magazine – she’s got a great eye for design and can’t wait to help her buyers decorate after they’re all moved in!

This exciting new growth means On the Move Charlotte can continue to keep customer service our #1 priority…it’s critically important to us that all our clients are taken care of! When we say we’re your “real estate concierge”, we mean it. And as for the rest of the team, Michelle Duyck is thrilled to transition to the role of Listing Specialist while Leigh Bryant grows her role as Team Leader/Listing Specialist and Kathy Freundt continues to provide administrative support. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Mary on board!

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Are you considering buying a home, town home, or condo in the greater Charlotte area?

 

Contact Mary Sessoms at On the Move Charlotte to find out how she can help get you into the home of your dreams!

7 Reasons NOT to Try “For Sale by Owner”

for sale by ownerWith a noticeable uptick in home sales in the Charlotte market, the On the Move Charlotte team has seen more and more “For Sale by Owner” signs posted around town. While it may seem tempting to try to sell your house yourself to save on listing fees, there are dozens more reasons why you’ll probably ultimately lose money (and time) by going it on your own.

We hear the same complaint from clients again and again. Many assumed it would be a breeze to sell their own home between online listings and the hot Charlotte real estate market. Time after time they come to us looking for help selling their house after weeks and even months spent lingering on the market to no avail.

Here are seven reasons you should always use a professional Realtor when selling your home. Forget “For Sale by Owner.” How about “SOLD by On the Move Charlotte?!”

7. You are not a real estate professional.

No matter how well you know your neighborhood and how many hours a day you’re on Zillow, you’ll never have the knowledge and experience a professional Realtor has. Between the legalities of selling a home, pricing specifics that aren’t available to the general public, and long-term market knowledge that only comes from experience there are plenty of reasons to pay a listing agent for their services. Afterall, you wouldn’t think of trying to perform your own root canal; you’d visit a licensed dentist! Is the sale of your home any less important?

6. Pricing is hard business.

Every homeowners knows what they’d like to get for their house but unfortunately sometims that number is rather far away from what the market actually dictates as the house’s value. A Realtor is exactly the objective eye you need to help determine what your house is really worth to buyers. Starting at a slightly lower list price now but selling in 5 weeks as opposed to 5 months can actually save you money. Let a qualified Realtor perform a CMA on your home before you ever think of listing.

5. Your home needs to be on the MLS.

The Multiple Listing Service is a crucial resource for real estate agents and the first place your buyers’ agents are going to look when they’re searching for homes. If you try to “Sell by Owner” you won’t be on the MLS listings (there are some ways around this but they can be very expensive!) and your home may not be as visible as it could be. Likewise, don’t count on your house being listed correctly in online databases like Trulia and Zillow.  Realtors work hard to manage your home’s visibility which is something you simply can’t do on your own.

open door4. A Realtor can help keep you safe.

Imagine your hesitation to list a piece of furniture online only to be bombarded with calls and emails from strangers looking to show up at your house. Using a Realtor helps keep your family out of harm’s way by providing a vetting system for potential buyers and eliminating the need for you to allow complete strangers into your home. Working with a Realtor ensures only qualified buyers ever get past your front door, protecting your family as well as your privacy.

3. Negotiating is difficult work.

You may consider yourself a keen negotiator but all bets are off when you’re suddenly asked to make a very emotional decision involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, all while keeping a good “poker face.” Realtors are specially trained in negotiation and have years of experience handling tricky situations between buyers and sellers. An objective third party is exactly what you need when you’re trying to get the most money possible for your house but you don’t want to lose a deal.

2. Marketing takes more than a “For Sale” sign.

Efficiently and accurately marketing your home is an incredibly specific process. Many “For Sale by Owner” sellers assume that because they live on a busy street people will surely see the sign and call! Not the case. Between making flyers, hosting open houses, networking, and phone calls, marketing a piece of property is hard work. Particularly if your home has any hard-to-love aspects (i.e. strange layout, dated kitchen, small yard), having an experienced Realtor to pitch the property is crucial. You may think your house is so great it will sell itself but even in the upturned Charlotte market, it won’t.

frustrated1. Being a real estate agent is a full time job.

Odds are, you’ve got enough on your plate without adding to it the tens of hours a week that come with selling your own home. Even in the best markets, selling a house takes work – contracts, showings, negotiations – everything about the home selling process means time. Consider the opportunity costs you’re incurring by giving up precious family, work, or leisure time to struggle through a home sale you could simply hire a professional to do. Isn’t your time worth it?

 

When you decide you’re ready to sell,
contact Leigh Bryant at On the Move
Charlotte to talk about your options.

Harold’s Back With Charlotte’s (Great!) Market Stats for May

On the Move Charlotte’s mascot Harold is back with some great news for both buyers and sellers in the Queen City.

May is looking up…and it’s prime time to sell your current home or “move up” to a bigger house! Call the On the Move Charlotte team today to talk about your Charlotte neighborhood.

How to Know When You’re Ready to Buy Your First Home

 

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions most people will ever make. It’s a commitment that requires research, forethought, and a lot of financial planning. Knowing when you’re ready is an entirely personal decision, but it doesn’t have to be subjective.

Here are a few signs you may be inching closer to the decision to buy your first house…

YOU’RE STABLE

Of course, being stable financially is the #1 precursor to buying a home. It’s important to have a steady source of income as well as a handle on any outstanding debt – mortgage lenders will want to know everything from your student loan payments to your tax write-offs before giving you a loan. In fact, most major lenders require those with less traditional streams of income (i.e. freelancers, all-commission salespeople) to have at least 2 years of stable W-2 income before they’ll even consider a loan.

YOUR CREDIT IS GOOD

You don’t have to have perfect credit to buy a home, but the better your score the better your APR is likely to be. A good credit score is a sign you’re responsible enough financially to manage the burden of a mortgage, both to lenders and to home buyers themselves. Of course, there are all kinds of loan packages available to people who don’t meet traditional requirements but be very wary of any deal that seems too good to be true and always talk to a financial adviser before signing.

YOU’RE STAYING PUT

The general rule in home buying is that purchasing a home is a safe financial investment only when you know you’ll live there for 5 years or more. There are exceptions to this rule in every state but if your job’s in flux, you may need to change school districts, or you’re just not sure you like the neighborhood, consider waiting a while to dive into a home.

 

YOU’VE DONE YOUR RESEARCH

Say you happen to wander into a beautiful open house one Sunday and you fall in love…this could be your first home! Never let home buying become an overly emotional experience and be sure you do thorough research on the area, other homes for sale, and mortgage rates before you pen an offer. On average, a home buyer spends 12 weeks searching for a home before finding the right one, looking closely at at least 10 homes before buying.

YOU HAVE THE CASH FOR A DOWN PAYMENT

Typically a 20% down payment is needed to secure a traditional home loan. There are packages available that don’t follow this guideline but if you’ve got enough money to put down 20% odds are you’re in a good position financially to invest in a home. Never, ever “stretch” yourself to buy the perfect house – don’t scrape together an extra few thousand to have enough for the down payment only to find yourself struggling each month to meet the mortgage.

YOU CAN HANDLE THE COSTS

Home ownership comes with all kinds of costs renters are simply unaware of. Even brand new homes will need maintenance every month – lawn care, trash pickup, cleaning services. Be sure you’re ready to handle the sudden onslaught of bills from a plumber or the cost of a broken fridge. Research different home options; condos typically cost less to maintain than single-family homes. Buying a home means becoming your own landlord which requires dedicated time and money.

 

First time home buyers account for over 39% of all home sales in the US each year. While 51% of these buyers are married couples the single buyers account for over 36% of the remainder.

If you’re interested in discussing the options for your first home, contact On the Move Charlotte today! We’ve been successfully representing first-time home buyers in the Charlotte area for years.

Why You Should Visit Open Houses

Get out in your Charlotte neighborhood and visit some open homes!

Did you know that over 45% of all buyers say they visit open houses in their search for a new home? Charlotte has a particularly vibrant open house “scene,” especially in Spring. Buyers in the South are statistically more likely to find a home from an open house than in any other region! Home prices are rising in just about every neighborhood in town – if you’ve considered buying a home in the near future now’s a great time to get out and explore your options. The market is changing quickly!

 

So, why should you spend your Sunday visiting Charlotte’s open houses?

  • Open houses are a great way to see what’s available on the market in a particular neighborhood
  • Learn what’s reasonable to expect at a certain price point by visiting open houses
  • If you’re a seller, find out more about your “competition” by visiting other homes
  • Haven’t found a broker to work with yet? Open houses are great places to connect with agents