Think the Zestimate is accurate for the home you are trying to buy or sell? If so, think again.
I priced a home that I was listing at $2.4 million. When I looked up the Zestimate, Zillow had it valued at $1.4 million. Many phone calls and emails later, they changed the Zestimate to $2.3 million. We all know perception is often people’s reality. So, what Zillow says about your home when you’re trying to sell unfortunately makes a difference. If a realtor named Cara from the Detroit area can convince Zillow to bump up a value by $1 million and Zillow’s CEO sold his home for 60% of the Zestimate, nothing more needs to be said about the accuracy of their pricing methods. Call or text anytime 312-545-8428
Investing in the suggestions below may help you net thousands more on your home.
When you list with the me, your home will be seen by thousands through my unique online and print marketing. If you have not already set up a time to meet, I’d be excited to show you my cutting-edge marketing with professionally curated video & photography and how I use online and print media to market your home. I will sell your home like it’s my own asset to net you the most money that the market will allow.
Since most buyers will first see your home online, having it ready to go for the photo and video shoot is of the utmost importance.
We will work together to help you prepare your home. Please do not feel the need to have your home show ready before my first visit. I have sold and closed many homes and it is very rare that any home is 100% ready to go on day one. They typically look like mine on a normal day with 2 children and 2 dogs!
Visit. I will take the time to walk through your home with you, room by room to discuss possible improvements that you can do with little expense. I will only suggest things that will help you decrease your days on market and increase your profit to help get top dollar for your home. When selling, it is important to remember you’ll need to sell to the buyer, inspector, and appraiser.
Change light bulbs and update light fixtures. You will want your home to be as bright as possible and lighting makes an incredible difference. Make sure every bulb is working. We will have these all on for my professional photographer.
Retrieve boxes. Reduce clutter to get a head start on moving. Your home should appear clutter free so the new owner can picture themselves living there. Box up anything you are not using. Organize closets and pantries. Less is more.
Storage unit or garage. Consider storing any boxes, clutter, bulky furniture pieces & toys in a storage unit or neatly in the garage. If your furniture is old and worn, it may be best to show that room empty.
Make an extra set of keys. Prospective Buyers and their agents will need to access your home for showings, so you’ll need an extra set of keys for the lockbox. Showings are typically scheduled through an app called ShowingTime. We will both receive a text notification for all showing requests. Agents will only access your home upon approved showing by you.
Bathrooms. Remove all the toiletries you have on display. The counters should be completely clear. Invest in some new towels for the towel racks in all bathrooms. Shower curtains should be neutral.
Laundry room. Should be cleaned and organized. If you have a shelf above your washer and dryer with things on it, consider getting matching bins to hide items.
Spruce up the kitchen. A kitchen can make or break a buyer’s decision to make an offer. You’ll want the counters to be as clear as possible. Clean inside the microwave and fridge (and remove the magnets, photos, and notes). Clear the decor on top of the cabinets, which can be distracting. If your cabinets are older, new hardware will make a huge difference.
Family and/or living room. Clean the sofa and chairs and consider investing in some new light colored throw pillows. Hide all clutter and wires from your TV/stereo/speakers. Do this in all rooms, especially for photo and video day. A few family photos are ok, but less is more.
Dining room. The goal is simple and clean including the table having one centerpiece or nothing at all.
Bedrooms. The bedrooms should be inviting. You’ll need to clean and declutter. If you don’t already have one, invest in a neutral-colored duvet cover or a white comforter. Think of your last visit to a luxury hotel or model home and aim for all beds having a minimum of four pillows with crisp sheets. Remove bulky furniture.
Master closet. It’s a good idea to pack up or donate items not used in over a year (including shoes). Less clothing hanging and folded on shelves will help make your closet appear larger.
Plumbing. Take care of any known leaks or plumbing issues. Update dated faucets. Like the kitchen hardware, switching out the faucet can be a low-priced option to freshen the space up. Remember, your home needs to be sold to the buyer’s inspector after an offer is accepted.
Store vs. donate vs. throw away. Don’t pack anything that you don’t plan to bring to the next house. Consider donating. The VA will pick up your items from your doorstep.
The entrance. Buyers will have an emotional reaction to your home within 15 seconds of entering it and what they experience at the entrance is important. Your entrance and front yard should be clean, de-cluttered, and inviting. Paint your front door if needed, add fresh flowers to a pot, pull weeds, lay new mulch, get rid of cobwebs, and put away your hose. Keep front porch swept before showings.
Backyard. Ensure your yard is free of weeds, trimmed, and inviting. If you have a pool, make sure the tile is clean.
Personal Items. The goal is for your home to appeal to as many Buyers as possible. This only happens if they can picture their own items in your house. Walk through every room in your house and pretend you’re a buyer.
Paint touch-ups and re-painting. A fresh coat of paint is one of the cheapest ways to freshen up your home. Bold colors are a turn-off to some buyers, so to appeal to a broad base, take the time to re-paint if needed. Kitchen and main living areas should have neutral colors. Bedrooms can usually get away with bolder colors. Don’t forget about baseboards and ceilings – they might need a good dusting or some white paint. A Sherwin Williams palette that works great for most homes: “Accessible Beige 9 Color Home Paint Palette.”
Fix the little stuff. This includes the leaky faucet, the picture holes in the wall, etc. If you aren’t handy yourself, bring in a handyman to take care of items. Replace air filters. Again, you will need to sell your home to the home inspector, and you are aiming for “This home was well cared for” to come out of their mouth.
Get the windows cleaned. Investing in professional window cleaning before your photo and video day is well worth it.
Get the carpets cleaned. Unless your carpets are brand new, you’ll want to have them steam cleaned. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes.
The final clean. While you can do this final step yourself, bringing in professional cleaners who will make sure to clean all the spots you miss is a good idea.
Make plans for the pets. Prospective buyers may not love animals and may be allergic. Plan to have your pets out of the house for showings, if possible. Remove all signs of pets for photo and video day (hide bowls, litter boxes, crates).
Make plans for the toys. A few toys are fine if they are organized. Store the extra toys in a hall closet for showings.
Make your house smell good. It’s important for home sellers to be honest with themselves about the smells in their home and take care of the root cause, rather than simply masking them. A strong scent can distract the Buyer’s ability to decide. We don’t want buyers to walk in and think “What smell are they trying to cover up?” I’ve shown homes to clients with a scented candle lit in every room, marijuana odor in the garage, and incense on the stove. This typically ends with nothing more than exiting the house with everyone commenting on nothing more than the smell.
Staging. There are certain situations where some light or full staging may be recommended. We will discuss this option with you in more detail during our walk-through.
Photo and video shoot. When your home is ready, it’s time for the photographer and videographer to work their magic. This will happen a few days before we list your home for sale. Natural light is very important, plan to have all lights on and blinds up. We like to shoot in the best lighting possible, if there is rain or severe clouds, we may need to reschedule. I can typically have your home’s website live and listed within 48 hours after the shoot. We promise that all of your hard work will be well worth it!
The final once-over. Take one final walk through all the rooms and adjust as necessary. Look for things that might turn off a buyer.
Showings. Open blinds to let the natural light in and/or turn on lights. Secure valuable items, including medication, cash, and jewelry.
Final thought. I am here to help every step of the way. We are a team and if you need any help, have questions, or need referrals I have you covered!
While I am a Certified Pricing Strategist, this is a commonsense tip that everyone should use when putting their home on the market. Every day, I see homes put on the market priced at $499,000, $749,000, or $3,900,000. This is not wise, and I’ll explain why. When you put your home on the market, the obvious goal is to generate tremendous awareness & interest. This is done by getting as many eyeballs on your home’s photos/videos as possible which drives showings and offers. The more buyers interested in your area that see your home, the better. People search for homes in $ increments or buckets.
Now pretend you are looking for a new home and you are preapproved for a $500,000 mortgage or you have $1 million cash, but you only want to spend $500,000 on a new home. Both buyers search on Zillow, Realtor.com, etc. for homes ranging in price from $350,00 – $500,000 or they ask their agent “Please send me what is available for under $500,000”. The agent enters their criteria along with under $500,000 into the MLS and 150 homes pop up. That list is way too long, so the agent narrows it to $400,000 – 500,000 and 30 homes are for sale. They think, this list is much more manageable to select houses for visiting and hits send. We will call these buyers set “A”.
Let’s next pretend you are looking for a new home and you are preapproved for a $700,000 mortgage or you have $1 million cash, but you only want to spend $700,000 on a new home. Everything remains the same as above, but the search is now $500,000 – $700,000. We will call these buyers set “B”. If you were selling your home that you are looking to get about $500,000 for, wouldn’t you want buyer sets A & B to see it? Absolutely. Here is the reality, if you price your home at $499,000, BUYER SET B WON’T EVEN KNOW THAT IT IS ON THE MARKET! Please price your home at $500,000, $750,000, $4,000,000, etc. I wish people would wise up and drop the 9s! I hope that you hire me when you want to sell but please, if you don’t tell your friends and family about me, at least give them this tip if you see their home is priced unwisely.
“Cara was excellent to work with from the very beginning. Upon our first meeting, the level of care and preparation was evident. Her vast experience, blended with her passionate personality, resulted in strong confidence that my investment was in the right hands!
However, what differentiated Cara was the genuine level of care (what she may call the “white glove service”). I asked a ton of questions; she had the patience and thoughtful answers. I was challenging to get ahold of given work and travel, she was consistent in communication. I was newer to home negotiation; she was steadily confident in her skillset. And these examples are just a few of the many reasons I would recommend!
Overall, there’s a difference of getting the job done and having piece of mind you’re in great hands knowing you’re going to get everything completed with maximum return. There isn’t a doubt, my experience working with Cara was exceptional!”
Cleveland Clinic Genetics Research Doctor in Oakland Township:
“Cara Mossington provided exceptionally good professional realtor services. We have bought and sold a lot of homes and worked with many brokers. Cara was a cut above all of them. She listened to our needs. She provided expert advice. Her vast experience translated into strategies that served us well. At every point in the process, she went above and beyond. I can recommend Cara without reservation; she guided us through a process that ended successfully in no small part because of her good and hard work.”
Patent Attorney in Troy:
“Cara is the consummate professional; she is smart, knows the market and the area well, and is very responsive. She listened to what my property needs are, found a beautiful property for me, and put together a successful offer in rapid succession. Cara is friendly and knowledgeable and is a dedicated agent. Cara more than earned my highest recommendation.”
I met Charletta (Dr. Dennis) while pricing her multimillion-dollar home in Rochester a while back when she was contemplating selling. I enjoy her so much, that truthfully, I hope she stays in Rochester despite her thoughts of moving away. Relationships before transactions is what helps my soul and business flourish. While having breakfast to catch up, she was gracious with me as my curious mind riddled her with questions about her life. Her life’s story is so profound, I’m sharing just a glimpse into it here.
Imagine growing up in the inner city surrounded by drugs, violence, and poverty with a father in prison and finding yourself pregnant at the age of 14. You probably can’t, and neither can I. If you met Charletta today on your child’s soccer field, you would never know how much this woman has overcome in her life as today she is a prestigious doctor living on a large estate in Rochester. Where did the power come from to achieve so much with so very little? “From within”, she will quickly tell you. This humble woman thinks she was born with a hard work ethic and the inability to be complacent. Did a healthy upbringing, parents with good jobs, and going to the best high school in town get her there? Not a bit. Hard work, encouragement from a stranger, and a will to fight for what she wanted was her path.
According to the world she is a “rags to riches story”. Monetarily she’s made it, and all her neighbors can see that, but she’s not just another pretty Rochester affluent lady. She is something special and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to share a smidge of her story.
When asked if she felt unsafe as a child, her answer was no. Why? Because that was all she knew, it was her normal. It wasn’t until after she had her son at 15 that she knew she wanted out for them both. After graduating from high school, a year early, she found herself working at White Castle full time thankful for the full benefits for her and her son. While working, 2 EMTs came in and started telling her about a class to become an EMT. Now 19 with a second child, she took them up on it. While there and realizing she didn’t want to be an EMT after having to help a crew carry a 400 lb man on a stretcher, she decided to become a medical assistant. While working at Henry Ford, the doctors encouraged her to become an RN.
She points to two large events that propelled her forward in ultimately becoming the Director of Psychiatry for the Michigan Department of Corrections and now a Medical Director.
What were those two events? The first one was while she was working as a medical assistant, getting all A’s in nursing school. A big-time doctor at Henry Ford Hospital looked at her report card and said, “You are on your way to medical school.” The seed was planted. The second event was when, after finding out that she wanted to become a doctor, two people in positions of power discouraged her which made her want to fight even harder to prove them wrong. One was a woman at the hospital that told her “I don’t know if that is a possibility.” and another was a male professor who told her “It’s highly unlikely that you will become a physician.” The ugliness of people discouraging a child is sickening, but she used that ugliness to feed the fire in her belly to become a top doctor.
She went on to complete 4 years of medical school, 4 years of a psychiatry residency, and a one-year forensic psychiatry fellowship. Without any financial help from family, all these educational achievements transpired, in part, because that one person spoke kind and encouraging words.
Her service to our community involves trying to fix mental health issues and a job which entails knowing more about criminals than most of us can even bear reading about in the paper. Fascinating as she has a father in prison who has encouraged her throughout her life, with whom she is extremely close to today.
My biggest breakfast takeaway, other than deep respect and awe of this woman, is the power in encouraging one another. She was encouraged by her father and that one doctor who saw her hard work and encouraged her. If you see something beautiful in someone, speak it.
With US equities and bonds having their worst first five months of the year in half a century, it is tempting to say that nothing is working in the financial markets. There seems to bad news everywhere including the fact that while working from home means skipping the commute, it does come with a cost. When you consider rising energy costs. Electricity costs in April alone were up 11% year over year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index. I won’t even touch on the price of gas and groceries.
The good news for homeowners is that real estate is working! On May 31, we learned that U.S. home prices between March 2021 and March 2022 soared 20.6%. That’s the biggest 12-month uptick ever recorded. Yes, ever!
I’ve been hearing for a while from clients “I want to sell due to my home’s value being high and wanting to upsize/downsize, but where would I go? There is still nothing on the market.” Here is the reality:
In 2021, there were 6.9 million home sales in the U.S. In 2020, 5.64 million. This same trend is continuing in 2022. Obviously for more homes to sell, more need to be on the market. In fact, between March 26 and May 7, nationwide inventory levels rose 10%.
The issue isn’t that fewer homes are for sale, they are just selling quicker. You are wise to choose a savvy realtor that is quick on their feet and offers relevant, grounded advice when buying a home today. In this market you should be just as choosy about who is helping you buy a home as you are about who is helping you sell one. Neighborhood knowledge, relationship with other realtors, savvy negotiation skills and having your finger on the pulse daily is vitally important.
If you are thinking about buying, the time is now as mortgage interest rates are still historically low and most, including me, think home prices will continue to rise. To put things in perspective, 40 years ago rates were at about 17%! If rates were 17% instead of 2.5% in December, the sound bites would be “Buy now with historically low rates at around 5%” instead of “Rates are high at 5%”. It’s about perspective and who you listen to when forming your opinion.
Many of my clients ask me about the home buying processes as they get ready to become a new home owner, or they ask me for a list of steps that they can share with a friend or family member. It’s always helpful to understand (or remember) these major steps in the process:
1 Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage. Find out what you can afford and let sellers know that you’re serious and ready to buy. All sellers want a pre-approval letter or proof of funds with any offer.
2 Start Your Search and Tour Homes. We will work together to select homes that match your criteria. I’ll set up private showings to tour each home providing guidance along the way.
3 Make an Offer. Once you find the home you want, we will discuss a negotiation strategy to get you your home at the best value. In each offer I write, I put layers of protection around my client should anything unexpected occur. As a former licensed investment advisor, my diligence in this regard is stellar.
4 Schedule an Inspection. Once the offer is accepted, I’ll guide you in hiring a home inspector to make sure the home is up to your standards. If anything major arises during the inspection, you have the option to walk away free and clear of any binding contract or we can go back to the negotiating table. This happens during the inspection/”due diligence” period as dictated in the purchase agreement/offer. Typically a 7 day period after your offer was accepted.
5 Engage a title company to make sure that a seller has the rights to sell the property to you.
6 Secure Financing unless you are purchasing with cash. If the home passes inspection and you choose to move forward, you have 5 days to fully apply for the mortgage and 30 days to get fully approved with your lender.
7 Schedule an Appraisal. Your lender will have an appraiser value your home. If the home appraises for less than the sales price, we go back to the negotiating table.
8 Your Loan Goes to Underwriting. It takes one to two weeks for your loan to be reviewed and approved after the appraisal.
9 Clear to Close – Your loan is approved! Review all of your closing docs for accuracy, and confirm how much cash you need to bring to closing.
10 Do a Final Walk-Through. This is a MUST. It is your last chance to see the property and make sure everything is in order before the sale is final.
11 Closing on Your Home. Signed, sealed, delivered – you are officially closing the deal and becoming a new homeowner!
I hold your hand through the entire process. Email, call or text anytime 312-545-8428!
Proverbs 16:9 A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
I hope your New Year is off to a good start. With rising home values and low inventory – Is it a good time to sell your house? Well, my last listing went for $19,000 above asking price and everyone knows that the answer is absolutely!! Here is a bit of insight as to why it is also a good time to purchase a house. I am no mortgage specialist, so if you have detailed questions about the information below, I can point you in the right direction. This is simply food for thought…
Let’s say that today you bought a home for $350,000 at 2.5%. Over the life of a 30-year loan, you would end up paying about $147,000 in interest. This brings the real price of the home to $497,000
Now, let’s say that another family decides to wait until home prices go down to buy – Totally understandable. In a year, they hear home prices are dropping, so they begin looking. In fact, an exact replica of the home you just bought a block over from you is now on the market for $315,000 only a year and a half later. Wow! The interest rates have gone up a bit and are now at 5.5%. Over the life of a 30-year loan, they would end up paying about $328,000 in interest. This brings the real price of the home to $643,000.
Was it worth waiting for home prices to go down? Not unless you have $146,000 to throw out the window. No one knows when rates will rise or home prices will go down, but we all know that rates are currently at historic lows.
Call me if you have any real estate needs or questions. 312-545-8428