Back in 2004 the world noticed that Ocala real estate was under priced when compared to other parts of the country and even other parts of Florida. A sellers market, almost a gold rush developed. All that ended in the spring of 2006, although a lot of people didn’t realize it until late 2007. That was a bubble and that bubble burst. After several very slow years sales have picked up. Homes are always selling. Don’t believe all the bad press.
Pricing: Pricing is a little art and a lot of science. Houses are priced by the square foot and that number is adjusted for condition, location and improvements. Many homes in Ocala are part of subdivisions. Homes in a given subdivision sell within a fairly narrow range. Price your house at the top of that range and it will stay on the market for a long time or until you reduce it. Ignore that price range and the home won’t sell. It has been rejected by the market. Price your home at or near the bottom of the range and you’ll get all the buyers interested in your area and an offer. It’s just as simple as that.
Seller Beware: A practice called “buying a listing” is when an agent tells you what you want to hear instead of the truth. They give a price to list your home at, knowing full well that it will never sell at that price. You are then put through a series of stressful price reductions and your home lingers on the market while others are sold. A good agent will tell you the truth even if it means not getting your business.
Condition: Condition is a distant second to price. Why a distant second you might ask? Price over comes all obstacles to a sale. Condition can mean anything from minor cosmetics to major repairs. A good realtor can advise you on what renovations will be most cost effective to best market your property. It makes no sense to make repairs that won’t result in a higher price. Beware of over improvement. Your goal is to net as much as you can after expenses.
Maintenance vs. Improvements: Replacing the roof or air conditioner makes your house more sell-able but doesn’t increase its value. Why you may ask? These are maintenance items. If 2 houses are for sale, one with a new roof and the other with an older roof, buyers will go for the new roof but won’t pay much for it. Trying to recover money you spent on repairs is a way sellers over price their homes.. An improvement might be adding a pool, or renovating an out dated kitchen. Once again beware of over improvements. You never want the biggest most expensive home in your sub division.
Curb Appeal: By that I mean simple things like a nice lawn, trees, shrubs, flowers and a freshly painted exterior. First impressions mean everything. There are buyers who won’t even get out of the car to look at some properties.
Things You Control: You control the exterior and interior appearance of your house like paint, carpets and landscaping. You control general appearance, like keeping things neat and clean. You control access like keeping your house ready to show at all times and on a lock box for convenience. You control the asking price.
Things You Don’t Control: Location, school district, size, style, market trends, mortgage rates and the price that a buyer will actually pay for your house.
Home Warranties: Many sellers in Marion County offer home warranties as an incentive to buyers. Home warranties cost around $400.00 for a basic package. They provide peace of mind especially on older homes. A good realtor can advise you what sellers of competing homes are offering so you can market your property competitively.
Your Home’s Value: There are 3 ways that people use to find out how much their house is worth. First and easiest is to go to one of the many web sites that give home values. These numbers are based on public records like number of rooms, square feet and sold prices. The accuracy of some of these sites is a subject of great debate. The true business of these web sites is the collection and selling of personal information. The next would be a Comparative Market Analysis by a local Realtor. This is basically an opinion based on similar data to the web sites. However a good Realtor will be familiar with your area of town, the local market and may have actually visited the homes that are being compared to yours. A CMA will always be the more accurate of the two. An appraisal is generally done by a licensed specialist, either to obtain bank financing or in some cases where comparable properties don’t exist, especially in the upper price ranges. It’s important to realize that no matter what the selling price, if the buyer needs financing, the home will have to be appraised for that selling price or the bank won’t grant a loan.
No One Has Looked at My House: How do you know? Houses are generally previewed online by buyer’s searching the MLS. Your home could have been looked at dozens of times without you knowing it. It could have been rejected because of price, size, location or a number of factors. Beware of agents who just post one image. The Ocala Marion County MLS allows up to 25 images. Why would anyone post just one? The MLS is the number one marketing tool.
Marketing: Online marketing has almost entirely replaced newspapers and real estate type magazines. The National association of Realtors says that 80% of buyers start their search on the Internet. I think it’s probably even higher than 80%. Did you know that most real estate web sites can’t be found on a Google search? This is especially true of the look alike franchise sites. You need a custom web site like this one to get search engine ranking and to get your listing found online.
Disclosures: In Florida, a seller is obligated to disclose to a buyer all known facts that materially affect the value of the property being sold and that are not readily observable. So if your roof leaks you have to disclose it to the buyer and not just paint over the stain. This is a law that effects sellers, their agents and even for sale by owners.
Offers: Statistics tell us that your first offer is almost always your best offer. Time on the market seldom generates higher offers. Remember an offer is a starting point for further negotiations. Don’t get upset because someone offers you less than you hoped. If you want to get upset, get upset with all the lookers who didn’t even make an offer.
Negotiations: One of the best reasons to have a realtor is negotiations. There are times when some people just get on your nerves. That is what’s so important about an arms length transaction, as it is called. Your realtor doesn’t take things personal, it’s just the business. There is nothing worse than a loosing a sale because the 2 parties don’t get along. This sort of thing often happens with For Sale by Owners.
Closing: A good agent is like a shepherd herding his sheep or a conductor with his orchestra. Your realtor must constantly keep up on whether inspections and financing are being done on time. A good agent will have a list of contractors in the event a repair or some other service may be required. Finally, your agent should always attend the closing.