We stage all of our properties at no cost to our clients. Utilizing an ever-changing, high-end inventory of furniture, we personally work in the space with our own supply accessories, linens, art and rugs. Staging is a crucial element in drawing out the property features and the highest and best use of the home.
All of our photo shoots are directed by a professional photographer with a careful eye as to how the photos and styling will be conveyed on the property website, your business portfolio website, the Slate Properties network and thousands of other websites across the Internet.
Professionally Designed Print Materials
We personally design (remember, James used to own a real estate marketing company in San Francisco), our own print materials. We no longer call it a brochure, it’s a booklet. Your property will be featured in it’s own booklet that is at least 8 pages and will include as many photographs as possible, floor plans, neighborhood history and local amenities. We will add pages as necessary. We take great pride in constantly staying ahead of our competition with creative layouts, graphics, folds and design.
It’s more than just a sign in your yard. We label your home with “value point signage”. We design and have signage professionally printed so that it is branded to your property and is easily seen and recognizable by guests. And yes, we will put a sign in your yard with a rider for your property website, too.
As buyers have increasingly gone on-line, we have worked hard for over a decade to create the most distinctive and most comprehensive online marketing program in the business. Our listings are showcased not only on websites, but social media and email, as well. Your property must be easily found online and without any barriers to viewing the information or photography. Each property site is synchronized to your portfolio site, as well as social media channels and email lists.
We will engage the development of a custom website, from a company we founded and sold, for your property with a keen understanding of a user’s experience, from the placement of links to site accessibility from all operating systems, browsers and devices, to include mobile. We purposefully do not use “Flash” so that the website can be viewed on devices where that program is not supported (ie: iPads and iPhones), as well as to encourage indexing by search engines. We also include a floor plan on the website.
Our intention with social media is not to target just individual buyers, but those who might bring a buyer to the property – agents, neighbors, fans of businesses in the area. By targeting those who are connected to shops, restaurants and other businesses, as well as organizations, through social media, we can expose your property to prospects who already enjoy the area.
- Your property website
- …and globally via IDX feed to thousands of sites.
On-Market: Week 1
- Input property in Multiple Listing Service, complete with photo captions and virtual media
- Email 4500 local agents and Craigslist advertising
- Launch property on Slate Properties network and social media
- Catered “Grand Opening” reception, Thursday 6-9 pm
- Brokers’ Tuesday tour open house – 12:00 am-12:30 pm
- Public open houses – Saturday 2-4 pm (house cleaning prior) and Sunday 1-5 pm
On-Market: Weeks 2-3
- Private showings
- Follow-up with brokers and potential buyers
- Web updates for open house
- Open house email and Craigslist advertising
- Public open house – Sunday 2-4 pm
On-Market: Week 4
- Review competitive properties, market conditions and trends
- Review and revise marketing plan and pricing strategy, as needed
- Re-order photos on MLS and website; freshen copy
- Private showings
- Follow-up with brokers and potential buyers
- Web updates for open house
- Open house email and Craigslist advertising
- Public open house – Sunday 2-4 pm
The list price of your home is always your decision. In our conversation, we will arm you with recent, comparable sales (the past 6 months, as this is what the appraiser will use) that reflect a similar square footage, bedroom and bathroom count and condition. Note: the key word here is “similar.” We will find a range of properties, view them objectively, make allowances for the differences, and determine our best recommended price in order to generate the most interest for your home.
10 out of 10 homeowners view their property as more valuable than the highest priced sale in their area. The danger of over-pricing a property is that it can ultimately lead to a lower-than-market sale price after sitting on the market for an extended period. The market will react more quickly to a property priced at a fair market value, or even slightly lower. If a property is underpriced, the market will correct, just as it will if we are overpriced. An underpriced property that is not effectively marketed will likely only achieve the list price. We always want to create as much activity as we can in order to create a micro-market for the property and ultimately, a competitive, multiple-offer situation.
Q: How are real estate agents paid?
A: Real estate agents (and the brokers with whom they are licensed) are usually paid a commission. A commission is a fee, often calculated as a percentage of a home’s sale price, paid to a real estate broker. The broker then divides this fee, sharing it with the real estate agent and cooperating broker/agent (if any) in the transaction. An agent skilled in marketing, negotiating, and in closing the transaction often can make you more money than the fees you pay them. By law, there is NO set commission schedule for real estate transactions. However, a common fee is 6% of the sale price (split 3% to the listing agent broker and 3% to the selling agent broker). Your listing agent will be happy to discuss sales commissions in more detail and answer any questions.
Q: How are buyer’s agents compensated?
A: It used to be that seller-only agency was “customary” in residential real estate. The real estate commission was thought to be paid by the home’s seller, deducted from the home sale proceeds at the time of closing. Real estate agents and brokers represented the interests of the property’s seller; the buyer was unrepresented in the transaction – and usually not even aware that this was the case!
This “conventional wisdom” changed across most of America, during the 1990s: without buyers, nothing sells. The real estate commission is derived from the proceeds of the home sale, and is really paid by both buyer and seller. Both parties are entitled to an “agency relationship,” and the representation it entails.
With the advent of buyer agency, homebuyers are now able to be fully represented by a real estate agent in the purchase of property. In most states, it’s rare that buyers would pay their agent/broker directly for services in finding and purchasing a home. If a broker does charge buyers a direct fee, it should be outlined in an exclusive agency agreement that the buyer signs when engaging the broker.
When a buyer is represented by a real estate agent, she/he comes to terms on which services the buyer-client is seeking, and the manner in which the agent will be compensated for providing those services. In most cases, a fee or commission is still derived from the seller’s proceeds of sale, and shared between the seller’s (listing) and buyer’s (selling) agents and brokers.
Q. What typically goes into a listing agreement?
A. The listing agreement is between the real estate company and a home’s seller. Think of it as your legal instructions to the people who will market your home and represent you in its sale. It must include beginning and end dates for the term of the listing, the conditions to which you, the listing agent and the real estate company agree, and a price (usually a percentage of the eventual sale price) you’re willing to pay for services rendered.
Q. How important is the condition of my property to its sale?
A. The answer to this question depends upon your priorities. Are you hoping to extract the maximum sale price for your home? If so, condition and appearance can both be very important. If, however, you’ve let “deferred maintenance” catch up with you, your priorities may be different. You may wish to sell your home in “as is” condition, allowing its buyer to repair/replace items as she/he sees fit. In this case, your ultimate sale price will be less than what the same buyer would be willing to pay for your home in mint condition.
Q. Should we leave our home when showings (or open houses) are being conducted?
A. Generally speaking, yes. If it causes you no undue hardship, it’s easier for a real estate agent to show your home without you present. The agent is better able to “demonstrate” your home’s features and benefits, painting a realistic picture for the buyers to envision themselves living there. Your absence will also allow your prospective buyers to focus on the house and its attributes – rather than on being polite to you.
Q. What is an Agency Disclosure?
A. An Agency Disclosure is a state-required document, disclosing to you as a principal in a real estate transaction (in this case, the seller) whom the agent(s) in that transaction represent. A state’s Agency Disclosure simply notifies you of that state’s agency laws; it does not obligate you to work with any particular agent or broker.
Q. What is the MLS, and how does it benefit me?
A. A Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, is a database that makes it easier to reach a large number of buyers and increase your property’s exposure. It’s a system which participating brokers at the real estate board agree to share commission on the sale of houses listed by any one of them. For example, if your house is listed with one broker and another finds the buyer who purchases it, they split the commission. You benefit because more people have an interest in selling your house and your home is exposed to more buyers since Realtors have access to MLS.
Q. Should I buy first … or sell first?
A. Do you need the equity that’s built up in your present home to complete the purchase of your new home? If so, you either need to sell first or consider a bridge loan or house sale contingency. We strongly suggest that you engage a real estate agent with whom you can enter a trusting relationship. Then discuss this question with him or her, touching on every aspect of what it may mean for your particular situation.
Q. How can I prepare my house for sale?
A. The selling process usually starts months before a property is actually put on the market. It is a good idea to look at your home through the eyes of a potential buyer. This will help you decide what needs to be cleaned, painted, repaired or tossed out. Your agent can help you make these decisions and list your home at a fair price when it’s ready.
Q. How can I find out what my home is worth?
A. Your agent has a thorough knowledge of the current real estate market, and will prepare a professional market analysis of your home to help you set a competitive price. Your associate will also help you stage your home for showing to buyers. It is extremely important to view your home as a potential buyer would. Professional staging features your home in the best light, increasing its marketability.
Q. As a seller, what do I have to disclose about the condition of my property?
A. The best policy is truth when it comes to disclosing the condition of your property. You must disclose all known material defects of the property. Normally, these are noted on a Seller Disclosure Form (SDF). This is a form included in the seller compliance manual and is completed by the seller and Realtor. If an item is not covered on the SDF, you must still make disclosures about known material defects. Even if a matter has been repaired, you should still disclose the previous defect and a report of the repairs completed. By disclosing all problems up front, you can avoid any surprises that many times provokes a lawsuit.
Q. When is the best time to put my home on the market?
A. Peak selling seasons change from year to year and sometimes weather has a lot to do with it. Often early spring and early fall are the prime listing seasons because houses tend to show better in those months than they do in the heat of the summer or the cold of winter. Keep in mind there are more houses on the market during the prime seasons, so you’ll have more competition. You shouldn’t base your decision to sell on what season it is because each selling situation is unique.
ADJUSTABLE RATE MORTGAGE (ARM): The interest rate on this type of mortgage is adjusted up or down depending on a specified financial index.
AGENT: Acts on behalf of another, representing that person’s interests and serving as an intermediary
AMORTIZATION: Used in describing paying off the loan balance – A method of equalizing the monthly mortgage payments over the life of the loan, even though the proration of principal to interest changes over time. Generally, in the beginning of the loan term the portion of principal repayment is very small and interest repayment is very high. Typically, that relationship is reversed at the end of the mortgage term
ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (APR): The actual finance charge for a loan, including the points and loan fees in addition to the stated interest rate
APPRAISAL: An experts judgment of the value of a property
ASSUMPTION MORTGAGE: Loan type where the Buyer assumes liability for an existing mortgage note held by the Seller. This is usually subject to the lender’s approval.
ASSESSED VALUE: The value placed on a property by a municipality for tax purposes. The assessed value can vary greatly from the appraised or market value
BALLOON PAYMENT: A large principal payment due all at once at the end of some loan terms
BROKER: A real estate professional who has a higher level of training than a real estate agent. The Principal Broker generally is the legal representative of the office
CAP: The limit on how much an interest rate can change in an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)
CLOSING DISCLOSURE: What was once two forms, the Truth in Lending Statement and the HUD-1, has become a combined document. The Closing Disclosure Form (CD) discloses to the borrower an estimate of the annual cost of the loan AND the total cost of the loan over the full term – including all costs and fees associated with obtaining the loan. It also outlines all charges being assessed to both the buyer and the seller.
COMMISSION: A fee, usually a percentage of the transaction, paid to a broker for services performed
CONDOMINIUM: A type of real estate ownership where the owner has title to a specific unit and shared interest in common areas
CONTRACT: A binding legal agreement between two or more parties that delineates the conditions for the exchange of value (Example: Money exchanged for title to a property)
CONVERSION CLAUSE: A provision that allows converting an ARM to a fixed-rate loan after a specified interval
DEED: A legal document that formally conveys ownership of property from Seller to Buyer
ESCROW: A fund or account held by a third-party until conditions of a contract are met
FANNIE MAE AND FREDDIE MAC: Privately owned corporations created by Congress that buy mortgage notes from local lenders and are responsible for the guidelines a majority of lenders use to qualify borrowers
FINANCE CHARGE: The total cost, including all fees, points, and interest payments a borrower pays to obtain credit
FIXED RATE MORTGAGE: Interest rates on this mortgage type remain the same over the life of the loan term
FIXTURE: A recognizable entity (kitchen cabinet, toilet, light) that is permanently attached to property and belongs to the property when it is sold
HAZARD INSURANCE: Compensates for damage from specified hazards such as fire and wind
HOME INSPECTION REPORT: Prepared by a qualified inspector, this report evaluates a properties mechanical , electrical, and plumbing systems
INTEREST: The cost of borrowing money – usually expressed and a percentage over time
LIEN: A secondary claim on property until a debt is satisfied
LISTING AGREEMENT: A contract whereby an owner engages a real estate agent for a specified period to sell property, for which the agent receives a commission
MARKET VALUE: The price that is established by present economic conditions, location, and general trends
MARKET PRICE: The actual price at which a property sold
MORTGAGE: Security claim by a lender against property until the debt is paid
MRIS: A system that provides to its members detailed information about properties for sale
NEGATIVE AMORTIZATION: A method of calculating fixed monthly payments in combination with a variable interest rate. When monthly payments are not enough to cover interest costs, unpaid interest is added to the principal balance
Origination Fee: An application fee for a processing the mortgage loan
PITI: Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance. The sum becomes the basis for monthly mortgage payments
POINT: One percent of the loan principal. It is charged typically in addition to interest and fees
PREPAYMENT PENALTY: A fee paid by a borrower who pays off the loan before it is due
PREQUALIFICATION: Information estimate of how much financing a potential borrower might expect to obtain. The prequalification is done before you begin looking at properties
PRINCIPAL: Amount of money borrowed for which interest is charged
PRORATE: Divide or assess proportionately. For example, real estate taxes will be prorated on your Closing Disclosure through the day of settlement
SETTLEMENT: All financial transactions required to complete contract performance / obligations
TITLE: The document that indicates ownership of a specific property
TITLE INSURANCE: Insurance policy that protects against loss from defects in title. Title insurance is paid for an effective as of settlement
TITLE SEARCH: Detailed examination of the entire Title document history to make sure there are no encumbrances