Sell Your Home in 8 Steps

Sell Your Home in 8 Steps



1. Define your needs.


Why do you want to sell your home?  Write down all the reasons you are selling your home.  Ask yourself, “Why do I want to sell now and what do I expect to accomplish with the sale?”  For example, a growing family may prompt your need for a larger home, or a job opportunity in another city may necessitate a move.   Define your goals.   Do you need to sell your house within a certain time frame or make a particular profit margin?   Work with a real estate agent to map out the best path to achieve your objectives and set a realistic time frame to sell your home.


2. Price to Sell Your Home


Determine the best possible price to sell your home.   Setting a fair asking price from the outset will generate the most activity from other real estate agents and buyers.  It is important to take consider the condition of your home, what comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for, and state of the overall market in your area when setting the price to sell your home.

It’s very difficult to be unbiased when putting a price on your home, so that is why my expertise in real estate and current market conditions will be critical at this step.  I know what comparable homes are selling for in your neighborhood and the average time those homes are sitting on the market.  You’re always better off setting a fair market value price than setting your price too high. Studies show that homes priced higher than 3 percent of their market value take longer to sell.  If your home is on the market for too long, potential buyers few the home as “shop worn” and may think there is something wrong with the home . Often, when this happens, the seller has to drop the price below market value to compete with newer, reasonably priced listings.

3. Prepare to Sell Your Home


I know I don’t keep my own home in “showroom” condition.   We all tend to overlook piles of boxes in the garage, broken porch lights, and doors or windows that stick.   Now is the time to break out of that owner’s mindset and get your house in tip-top selling shape. The condition of your home will affect how quickly it sells and the price the buyer is willing to offer.  First impressions are the most important.

As an agent, I will help you take a fresh look at your home and suggest ways to stage it and make it more appealing to buyers.  A home with too much “personality” is harder to sell.   Removing family photos, mementos and personalized decor will help buyers visualize the home as theirs.   Make minor repairs and replacements.  Small defects, such as a leaky faucet, a torn screen or a worn doormat, can ruin the buyer’s first impression.  Clutter is a big turn off to potential buyers.   Remove all knick-knacks from your shelves and clear all your bathroom and kitchen counters to make every area seem as spacious as possible.

4. Get the word out.


Now that you’re ready to sell, I will put my experience to work for you by setting  up a marketing strategy that is specific to your home. There are many ways that I get the word out:  The Internet , Yard signs, Open houses,  Media advertising, Agent-to-agent referrals, Direct mail marketing campaigns.  Listing your home on the MLS is only one piece of the overall marketing strategy.  I use a combination of these tactics to bring the most qualified buyers to your home including hosting a well marketed open house.  My marketing structure is designed to bring out the most potential buyers during the first 3-4 weeks on the market.

5. Receive an offer.


When you receive a written offer from a potential buyer, I will first find out whether or not the individual is prequalified or preapproved to buy your home. If so, then you and I will review the proposed contract, taking care to understand what is required of both parties to execute the transaction.  The contract, though not limited to this list, will likely include the following: legal description of the property, offer price, down payment, financing arrangements ,  list of fees and who will pay them,  who pays for the survey,  deposit amount,  inspection rights and possible repair allowances,  method of conveying the title and who will handle the closing,  appliances and furnishings that will stay with the home, settlement or closing date, and any contingencies.

At this point, you have three options: accept the contract as is, accept it with changes (a counteroffer), or reject it.   Once both parties have signed a written offer, the document becomes legally binding.

6. Negotiate to sell.


Most offers to purchase your home will require some negotiating to come to a win-win agreement.  Since I am well versed on the intricacies of the contracts used in Texas,  I  will protect your best interest throughout the bargaining process. I also know what each contract clause means, what you will net from the sale and what areas are easiest to negotiate.  Once both parties have agreed on the terms of the sale, I will finalize the  contract.

7. Prepare to close.


Once you accept an offer to sell your house, there will be a list of all the things you and your buyer must do before closing. The property will likely need  to be formally appraised, surveyed, inspected or repaired. I will coordinate these tasks  and serve as your advocate when dealing with the buyer’s agent and service providers.

Depending on the written contract, you may pay for all, some or none of these items. If each procedure returns acceptable results as defined by the contract, then the sale may continue. If there are problems with the home, the terms set forth in the contract will dictate your next step. You or the buyer may decide to walk away or open a new round of negotiations or simply proceed to closing.

8. Close the deal.


“Closing” refers to the meeting where ownership of the property is legally transferred to the buyer at the title company.  I will be present during the closing to guide you through the process and make sure everything goes as planned. By being present during the closing, I can mediate any last-minute issues that may arise.  An attorney is not required to attend closings in Texas .   In Texas, the sale is final when the funding of the home is complete.   This can be the on the same day you sign the closing paperwork or the next day.   When the transaction is funded, the buyer officially owns the home.

What is an Option Period in Texas?

What is an Option Period in Texas?

What is an Option period in Texas?


The option period in Texas is sometimes also called an inspection period.  The most important thing to know is that buyer has an unrestricted right to cancel the sales contract for any reason during this specific time period.   The buyer will pay an “option fee” to the seller for an agreed amount of time.   During this “option period” the seller cannot enter into another contract.

During this time period, the buyer will typically hire an inspector to inspect the property.   Before the option period expires, the buyer may request that the seller amend the original contract to include any repair items that are discovered during this time period.    The seller may or may not agree to the new terms of the contract.

If the buyer and seller agree to amend the contract, the the option fee is credited back to the buyer at closing and the transaction moves forward.   If the buyer and cannot come to an agreement, the buyer may cancel the contract and get his earnest money refunded.  However, the option fee will stay with the seller.

The buyer must pay a fee for this time period to be valid.    The buyer has 3 days from the executed date of the contract to pay the seller for this fee.   Sellers would like this period to be a short as possible and the buyers would like this time period to be as long as possible.   Your Realtor will guide you through this very important process.  Generally, the option period is between 5 to 10 days.

Major Points About an Option Period in Texas

1.   Buyer must pay a fee  to the seller within 3 days after the contract is executed.

2.   Buyer has an unrestricted right to cancel the contract during this time frame.

3.   Seller cannot cancel contract during the option period.

What is a Texas Homestead Exemption?

What is a Texas Homestead Exemption?


In a nutshell, a Texas homestead exemption saves homeowners money on their property taxes. A Texas Homestead is a legal status for real property created by the constitution. A homestead generally consists of the home, fixtures and land that a person occupies as a residence and it can be either separate or community property.  There is no requirement to file anything of record to establish a homestead in Texas.    However, a homeowner will need to file an Application for Residential  Texas Homestead Exemption to take advantage a reduction in property taxes.

Background on Texas Homestead Exemption


One of the many reasons that I love being a Texan is because of the strong property owners rights that we have in our great state.   One of these protections is the Texas Homestead Law which began in 1839.   So many of the original settlers in Texas were pursued by creditors and this law protected their property by making it exempt from certain creditors claims.

The  homestead law was also a  protection for the settlers’s wives  in the event the man of the house was stupid enough to gamble away his property or get killed.  The families of a deceased breadwinner were secure in their home(stead) and could not be removed because of some improper or manufactured claim of debt or be forced to sell because of non-payment of a debt other than taxes or mortgage on the property.

In Texas law, a “homestead” refers to the special protection given to the home of a family or a single adult from the owner’s creditors, the right of occupancy given to a surviving spouse, minor children, and unmarried children of a deceased owner, and favorable tax treatment accorded to the owner.   Initially these laws  were so strong that it made it difficult for Texans to obtain mortgages so the law has been amended through the years.   The definition of a “homestead” has changed throughout the years but the principle has remained the same.

Primary Features of Texas Homestead Exemption


1.  They prevent the forced sale of a home to meet the demands of creditors (however, in most cases homestead exemptions do not apply to forced sales to satisfy mortgages, mechanics liens, or sales to pay property taxes);

2.  They provide the surviving spouse with shelter;

3.  They provide an exemption from property taxes which can be applied to a home.

4.  Homeowner may only protect one property as a “homestead.

Current Texas Homestead Exemptions


In  2015, the mandatory residence homestead exemption for school districts increased and the school district tax ceiling will decrease. School districts, cities and counties will be prohibited from repealing or reducing a local option percentage residence homestead exemption adopted for the 2014 tax year until 2020.    The basic homestead exemption is now $25,000 from it was at $15,000.


School districts are required to offer an additional $10,000 exemption on residence homesteads to persons age 65 or older or disabled. Any taxing unit, including a city, county, school district or special district, has the option of offering a separate exemption of $3,000.


Texas law provides partial exemptions for any property owned by disabled veterans and surviving spouses and children of deceased disabled veterans.  The amount of exemption is deter­mined according to percentage of service-connected disability.


Texas Politics - Homestead on the Range



Do You Need a Realtor to Sell Your Home?

Do You Need a Realtor to Sell Your Home?


Do you need a Realtor to sell your home?  You do if you want to net top dollar for your home.   From time to time,  a potential home selling customer will announce that they are considering selling their home as a FSBO or a For Sale by Owner because hiring a Realtor to sell their home is too costly.   Besides, they believe their home is special  and it will sell itself because homes are selling like hotcakes right now.     Here are a few reasons why you should hire a Realtor to sell your home.

You will sell your home for more money using a Realtor.

 According to  the extensive research completed by the National Association of Realtors in the annual Home Buying and Selling Report.  FSBOs typically have a lower median selling price: $208,700 compared to $235,000. Thus, the typical agent-assisted home sale typically has a 13 percent higher sales price than the typical FSBO sale.     So even with a 6% brokerage fee,  agent assisted home sales were netting an average of 7% more than for sale by owner.    The first thing a buyer is going to ask a for sale by owner to do is to reduce their 6% because their isn’t a realtor involved.

Only 9% of All Home Sales in the US were made without an Realtor.

Almost half of those sellers knew the homebuyer prior to the home purchase.   How many people do you know right this minute who are ready, willing and able to buy your home?

You need a Realtor because Mortgage timeframes and requirements have dramatically changed .

88% o frecent home buyers financed their home purchase.    Who is going to make sure that the guidelines are being followed so that the closing is smooth, accurate and on time?   You or  the buyer or both of you?  Who even knows what the guidelines are?   Go to the new government website for an overview of some of the new guidelines.   Yuck!

You need a Realtor because A Sign in the Yard isn’t Enough.

92% of home buyers used the internet to view homes.   91% of all home purchases were made with the assistance of a Realtor.  For more than half of buyers finding the right home was the most difficult step in the home buying process .   Imagine how much more difficult it will be to find your home if its not even listed.    A for sale by owner seller is hoping that a well qualified pre-approved buyer will happen to drive down their street see their yard sign and want to buy their home.  Maybe they will get lucky and someone they know will buy their home.    It can happen but it usually doesn’t.    Even if it does, how does the for sale by owner know that they sold their home for top dollar?

You need a Realtor because You Do Not Have a lot of Free Time.  

Will you be able to show your home to a potential buyer with very little notice?    Someone has to qualify the buyer.   Someone has to be schedule the inspections, the appraisal and so forth.   Seems like a lot of work to ultimately make less money on the sale of your home.







Four Home Updates that Pay Off in Texas

Four Home Updates that Pay Off in Texas


Here are four home updates that pay off in Texas for sellers.  Home sellers and home buyers frequently ask me what home improvements or “upgrades” are worth the investment.   I think that

According to the 2016 Texas Remodel Valuation Report released by the Texas Association of REALTORS®, the most profitable remodeling projects were dominated by those that boosted a home’s curb appeal.

 Four Updates that Pay off in Texas


Steel entry door and garage door replacements ranked among the top five projects in most markets, recouping up to 113.2%  and 107.6 % of recoup costs, respectively. Siding, roofing and window replacements – and a new project, stone veneer accents – also frequently yielded higher returns than costs.

Big ticket remodels, like sunrooms, tend to be the least profitable updates.   Last year, sunrooms only recouped between 29% to 51%.


Siding replacement ranked in the top five most profitable projects nationwide and in Dallas, El Paso, Houston, San Antonio and Midland.  Siding replacement recoups up to 108.2 % of the total project cost.


Stone veneer accents ranked as the most profitable project in the West South- Central U.S., Austin, Houston and McAllen.  Stone accents recoup up to 123.7 % of the total project cost.


Roofing and window replacements continue to recoup up to 114% of the replacement cost.    In addition, outdoor living space such as deck additions also recoup up to 116% in the Southern portion of Texas. Roofing replacements were the most profitable project in the Dallas area, recouping 114.5 % ($20,909) of the total project cost. This project also had the largest year-over-year gains in recoup costs, increasing 51.8 %t from 2013 to 2014.

Home Updates that Do Not Pay off in Texas

Sunrooms, as mentioned before, are one of the top losers in Texas, followed closely by home office remodels and master bedroom remodels regardless of the scale of the update.   The less practical and the more costly additions consistently yield the lowest return on their investment.

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3 Easy Improvements Help Sell Home

3 Easy Improvements Help Sell Home


Here are easy home improvements to help you sell your home.  Regardless of  local market conditions or the state of the economy, someone somewhere is selling their home or just sold their home.   Here are a couple of easy improvements that will make your chances of selling quickly and getting the price you ask for more likely.

Don’t randomly select home improvements based upon what you like or what your friends like either.  You won’t be living there after you move so your tastes really don’t matter to the new buyer.

Research houses in your community and compare features and appraisals to get a better idea what people in your area want. A swimming pool may be a popular upgrade in a Southern suburb filled with young couples and families, for instance. But in the North, a hot tub will have greater appeal. A community with older people, no matter where in the country, will probably value a car port or garage over a pool or spa.
Here are three home-improvement project categories that almost anyone can do without busting their budge.

Boost Your Curb Appeal


The old statement that “You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression” is never more applicable than when you are selling your home.  When potential buyers drive up to your home, if they don’t like what they see immediately, they may not even go into your home.

No need to spend thousands on fancy trees and dramatic water fountains.  In fact, some of the most value-added outdoor home-improvement projects cost little to nothing, except for your time. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) suggests some of the following property improvements:


Get out your pruning shears:   Keeping the lawn mowed is a given.  Keeping plants and flowers watered is also a must. Pruning trees, shrubs and other greenery is more easily overlooked but doing this will make your home stand out.


Dig into some mulch: Mulching is another very important landscaping project that has a tremendous impact.  It doesn’t matter what kind of mulch that use -just use something.


Show off your green thumb:  Place plants in containers on the patio or around the home’s entrance will immediately spruce up the curb appeal and draw attention.


Clean up your home’s exterior: Spend a weekend cleaning your gutters and  windows and  other exterior items. Rent or purchase a power washer for a very affordable price to really make your home shine.

Add a Coat of Paint


A new coat of paint makes anything look better and brighter.  To improve your home’s value and attract buyers, consider a fresh paint job, inside and out.

Its best to choose neutral colors, such as beige and off-white, and to avoid vibrant or gender-specific hues such as orange, purple or red.  However, a little dash of color accents can make a home really stand out but too much can be overwhelming.

Update the Kitchen or Bathroom


Updates or renovations to these two rooms usually generate buyer interest and offer a high rate of return on investment when it comes time to sell.  Again, this does not have to bread the bank.


Replace sink and bathtub fixtures: Switch out generic faucets and handles for newer, better-quality hardware.


Install a new sink: As long as you’re replacing faucets and such, why not replace the bathroom or kitchen sink as well?


Refinish the cabinets: Solid wood responds well to sanding and refinishing with stain and a polyurethane top coat, or even paint. Newer cabinets often require refacing with veneer instead. Veneer kits make the job fairly simple: Adhere the material to the cabinet box (the portion left after removing doors and drawers) .  Add some new cabinet or drawer hardware to update the look.


Upgrade your countertops: Replace laminate with stone, tile or even a concrete countertop.


Add lighting and accessories:  Add accent lights or task lights. Consider changing door knobs, light switch and outlet covers, or installing ceiling fans or a medicine cabinet.
Whether you do the work yourself or hire a pro,  each project will increase the value of your property and help you sell your home faster.



Receive a  free copy of the National Association of Realtors study of home improvements