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Hiring the right real estate agent makes all the difference in a successful real estate transaction in Lake Travis and Austin.

You also need to understand who's side an agent is on when you buy or sell a home and move towards closing.

There are a number of ways agents may represent clients.

By knowing where your agent’s loyalties lie, you’ll know what you can tell her and what you can’t. If, for example, you’re dealing with an agent who doesn’t represent you but is representing the sellers of a home you want to buy, you won’t want to tell her how high you’re willing to go on the price.

No matter what form of representation you agree to, or where you live, watch out for your own interests and understand the six ways brokers and agents represent clients below.

Buyer’s Agency

Do you want the agent to represent you and only you when you buy a home so that all the information you share with her is confidential? Opt for an exclusive buyer’s agent.

Who pays the buyer’s agent? Surprisingly, even if you hire a buyer’s agent, you can still ask the sellers to pay his fee. You can pay your buyer’s agent yourself, or ask the seller (or the seller’s agent) to pay your agent a share of their sales commission.

Seller’s or Listing Agency

An exclusive seller’s agent represents only the sellers, not the buyers. If your exclusive seller’s agent finds a buyer for your home, he may have another agent - maybe even a co-worker from the same brokerage - represent the buyer in your transaction. In some cases the buyer may have no agent at all. Your exclusive seller’s agent is loyal only to you, so it’s OK to discuss strategy with him.

Who pays the seller’s agent? The seller pays a commission to the seller’s agent from the proceeds of the sale. The seller’s agent may, and often does, share the commission with the homebuyer’s agent.

Dual Agency

In many states, agents can represent both the buyer and seller. These dual agents seek to bring both sides together. They can’t do something that’s only good for you and not for the other side.

A dual agent situation often arises when one agent represents the buyers and the sellers of the same home. The agent must disclose the relationship and, in many states, you must agree in writing to such dual representation because of the potential for conflicts of interest. While dual agents have an obligation not to share any confidential information of a client without their permission, be sure to inform the agent that the information is confidential and know that any non-confidential information may be shared with the people on the other side of the transaction.

Who pays the dual agent? Usually the seller pays the commission.

Designated or Appointed Agency

What happens when the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent both work for the same broker?

To make sure both sides of the home sale are treated fairly in this situation, some brokers designate an agent in their company to represent only the buyers and another to represent only the sellers. A designated agent or appointed agent will be loyal to you and only you. The strategy helps avoid a dual agency situation.

Who pays the designated agents? The sellers pay the commission and the designated agents share it.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.

Getting the Most Curb Appeal For Your Lake Travis Home

by Rebecca Shahan

If you plan to sell your home in Lake Travis or Austin, you're going to have competition, so you need all the edge you can get. 

What do buyers see first when they come to your home for sale? Obviously, the outside. And how your home looks from the curb can make ore break a sale.

What are some affordable and simple ways you can spice up your curb appeal?

Replace Old Hardware

Replace old hardware, such as door knobs and house numbers, with fresh new fixtures.

Makeover the Mailbox

If your mailbox is next to your home (not across the street), then you can spruce it up to compliments your home. Pick a box that reflects your home's trimmings. You can paint the post or surround it with flowers.

Add Planters

Place various potted plants on the front steps and patio accentuate you garden.

Outdoor Lighting

To add a little appeal to your home, you can add low voltage lighting along the walkways for a little flare.

Reveal the Architecture

Don't go overboard with plants and landscaping that can hide your home. Keep your landscaping back from the home to let it shine.

Pressure Wash the Exterior

This is a quick and easy makeover that will make your home shine.. A pressure washer can be rented at most hardware and home improvement stores, and are easy to operate.

Display a Wreath

Welcome buyers with a beautiful seasonal wreath on the front door.

Lay Out a Path

You can use river stones to make a curved pathway and add unique flair to your yard.

A Fresh Coat of Paint

A fresh coat of paint can liven up any home, especially if the current coat is fading or chipped, or the color is outdated.

Add Window Boxes and Shutters

Adding colorful shutters with window boxes with matching paint will liven up any exterior. You can also plant colorful flowers to make it stand out even more.

Line Up the Porch Chairs

If you have a porch large enough for a few chairs, make sure they're lined up. If you don't have matching porch chairs, it would be worth investing in a set.

These are just a few ways you can spice up the exterior of your home and drive a higher price on your home for sale.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.

How to Seal the Deal When Closing Your Home

by Rebecca Shahan

This is the moment you've worked for. It's time to close the deal on your new home. The home you've been wanting is almost yours, and the keys are nearly in your hands.

As you cross the finish line, what are some things to consider?

What Does "Closing" Mean?

Closing simply means that you sign the final paperwork that gets you the keys to your new home.

The process really begins when you sign a purchase and sale agreement, which specifies the closing date. It usually takes about 4 - 6 weeks from the signing date to closing date. During this time, purchasing funds are held in escrow, where your money is safe until the deal is officially done.

What's a Closing Disclosure?

A Closing Disclosure, or CD, is provided by the lender at least three days before settlement. The CD discloses you final loan terms and closing costs.

The reason for this step is to make sure there's no surprises during the final closing. You should let your lender and title company know right away if there's a significant discrepancy between the Loan Estimate and CD. Depending on what the underlying issue is, the closing has to stop and a new closing disclosure must be sent out with a new three-day review period.

The main things that can't change between by the time you get the Closing Disclosure is the interest rate and lender fees. Some items can change by only 10% (fees paid to local government to record the mortgage might be one); and others can change without limit, like prepaid interest, because it can’t be predicted at the start of the loan process.

When Will the Final Walk-Through Happen?

Usually within 24 hours of the settlement, you and your agent will do a walk-through of the home, making sure any repair work that the seller agreed to make has been completed.

If any repair work is missed, your agent will contact the listing agent and, in most cases, negotiate to get the seller to compensate you at closing, This will usually be in the form of a personal check for the costs of fixing the problems yourself.

Worst-case scenario: You have to delay closing to resolve problems. In the unlikely event that happens, your agent will help you address the issue.

How Much Will I Pay for Closing Costs?

Closing costs can be frustrating for home buyers, as there can be unexpected surprises.

Costs are split between you and the seller, but as the buyer you’ll cover the lion’s share. You can generally expect your closing costs to be 3% to 4% of the home’s sales price. So, on a $300,000 home, you can pay anywhere from $9,000 to $12,000 in closing costs. (Meanwhile, the seller typically pays closing costs of 1% to 3% of the sales price.)

You can try to predict closing costs with calculators which lets you plug in your mortgage details to get a rough estimate of what your costs will be.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.

5 Reasons Not to FSBO

by Rebecca Shahan

In the modern real estate market, as home prices rise and inventory is lower, some home sellers might consider trying to sell their home on their own, which is referred to as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). If you plan to sell your home, should you sell it on your own?

Here are the top five reasons why selling as a FSBO is not a good idea:

1. Exposure to Prospective Buyers

Do you have a marketing strategy and network that will expose your home to the widest market? Putting up an ad on Craigslist or Facebook doesn’t count. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote your home and expose it to a nationwide network. Do you?

2. Results Come from the Internet

Where did buyers find the home they actually purchased?

49% on the internet

31% from a Real Estate Agent

7% from a yard sign

1% from newspapers

Putting a sign on the front lawn and putting up an ad in the paper are the least effective means of selling a home these days. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

3. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale by Owner:

The buyer who wants the best deal possible

The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer

The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)

The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house

The appraiser if there is a question of value

4. FSBOing Has Become More And More Difficult

There is a ton of paperwork when it comes to selling a home, due to industry disclosures and regulations having become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people who sell as FSBO has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

5. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

It may seem as if you’re saving money by selling your home on your own because you’re not paying the seller’s commission. But the fact is that the seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

A study by Collateral Analytics revealed that people who sell as FSBOs don’t actually save anything, and in some cases, may be costing themselves more. One of the main reasons for the price difference at the time of sale is:

“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”

Using an agent will expose your home to more buyers, and as such the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war. The study showed that the difference in price between comparable homes of size and location is currently at an average of 6% this year.

Why would you choose to list on your own and manage the entire transaction when you can hire an agent and not have to pay anything more? 

If you decide to use an agent to sell your home, we would be happy to work with you to get the highest price possible for your home for sale in Lake Travis, Lakeway, and Austin.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

What to Expect With a Home Inspection

by Rebecca Shahan

A home inspection is a must when selling or buying a home. It brings peace of mind to both buyers and sellers knowing that the home is structurally sound. Here is the whole process outlined, along with how to get the best out of your home inspection.

Why Have Your Home Inspected?

Having your home inspected as a seller is beneficial because it allows you to list the home for a higher value after you make all the needed repairs. A with fewer problems is easier and faster to sell because the buyer won’t have to make those repairs.

Make sure your home inspector has a good track record. You can do this by researching home inspectors in your area and looking up what people say about them or by hiring a home inspector trusted by someone you know.

During the Home Inspection

Make sure to be there during the home inspection so that the inspector can point out possible problems in person and explain the options you have to fix those issues. You can have the opportunity to ask questions, take notes, and take photos. This will also help you learn about what things to check for when buying a home. Make sure to check each possible home issue to protect yourself from bigger problems down the road.

Recheck and Take Notes

After the home inspection, go over the identified problems and take a closer look at what is found. This will help you with negotiation whether or buying or selling. You can add or deduct from the sale or buying price depending on what needs to be repaired.

Discuss and Negotiate Repairs

If you’re selling the home, either you can do the repairs needed and then list the home for a higher price or not make the repairs, then offer the home for a slightly lowered price.

If you’re the buyer, you can ask for an asking price deduction that is equal to the estimated cost of repairs if you’re buying the home as-is. Another option is to suggest that the current owner get repairs done and then you buy it after a re-inspection following the repairs. This would be best for very expensive repairs such as for changing the entire roof or re-plumbing the entire home.

A good home inspection can make the difference between a smooth transaction and a disaster.  Make sure you find the right inspector and be involved in the process.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

More Home Staging Ideas to Help Your Home Sell

by Rebecca Shahan

More Home Staging Ideas to Help Your Home SellLast week we talked about some simple home staging ideas to get you on the way to selling your home faster in Austin and Lake Travis. But those ideas only scratch the surface of all the ways you can improve the appeal of your home for sale.  What are some further ways you can get the edge on the competition? Here's some advanced tips that can help.

Bring Balance

Last week we talked about the importance of cleaning and de-cluttering. Now that you have a cleaner slate, it's time to selectively bring back some items that will add appeal to your home. You can use tasteful decor such as a vase of cut flowers, a bowl of lemons by the sink, or perhaps some fresh produce on the kitchen counter, preferably from a local Austin area farmers market.

Add Style to the Dining Room

The dining room often gets overlooked when it comes to decorating a home. Empty tables can look unwelcoming, so style it up a bit with a series of small vessels down the center of the table.  Try to stay away from one large item in the center as this can look too stiff and formal.

Look at the Floors

You should at a minimum clean all the carpets. How worn are your wood floors? If they show their age, you should get them refinished. And if you can't afford to refinish them, try adding some carefully placed area rugs.

Symmetrical Furniture

Symmetrical furniture placement usually works best. You can create a more inviting area by pulling furniture away from the walls to create a conversation area.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

More Reasons Why This Spring Is the Best Time to Sell Your Home

by Rebecca Shahan

Do you plan to sell your home this Spring in Austin or Lake Travis?  Typically, Spring is the best  time of year to sell a home. But this year it’s promising to be an even better time to sell.  There are factors happening in the Austin real estate scene that make this the case.  Here are the top 4 reasons why selling your home this Spring is such a great idea.

  1. Strong Demand

The National Association of Realtors Buyer Traffic Report indicates that buyer traffic is strong in Texas. Home buyers are ready to go and are buying homes right now.This means more competition to buy your home and possible more money in your pocket.

  1. Less Competition

Home inventory has been dropping for around the past 32 months. This is a good thing if you’ve been building equity in your home. But don’t count on this being the case for long. The average number of years that homeowners stayed in their homes has been around 9-10 years since 2011.This was due to the previous negative equity that kept many homeowners from selling.As values rise, more people will sell.So don’t wait too long or you could end up getting less for your home.

  1. The Process Will Be Quicker

The competition for buyers is real, and that means more buyers will be ready in advance to buy your home, including being pre-approved.Buyers are more likely to know what they want and how much they can spend, which really speeds up the process for everyone.

  1. Time to Move Up

Are you planning on moving into a better home?The good news is that higher priced homes are actually selling for less due to a higher inventory in the higher price ranges. So if you’re selling a starter home, your home will sell more quickly and you’ll be more likely to find a premium home.

The best time to sell your home in Austin and Lake Travis is now.  Rebecca Shahan has been helping people buy their homes in Lake Travis and Austin for years. She can help you make the right choice in a home if you do decide it's time to move. Call today at 512-657-4467. Or search for a home online with our convenient home search tool.

Summer Home Selling Tips

by Rebecca Shahan

Are you getting ready to put your home on the market in Lake Travis or the surrounding areas this summer?  The way you present your home is critical in getting the most money from the sale.  There's also things you can do depending on the season that will help as well.  Here's a few tips for selling your home in the summer that will help maximize your return.

Spruce Up Your Surroundings

What do they say about first impressions? It goes without saying that what a buyer sees first stays with them.  Make sure you clean your siding, sidewalks, porches, etc.  If you don't have a backyard deck, arrange some outdoor furniture to create the illusion of an outdoor space. Make needed repairs and paint if needed.

Show Off the Pool

If you have a pool, then flaunt it! It gets hot here in Texas, and buyers want to stay cool.  So make sure you keep it clean and add seating near it.

Turn Up the Air

If you have AC, make sure you set it to be comfortable.  Buyers want to know that they're not moving into an oven. But don't make it feel like a freeze either.

 

 

Get Your Home Ready to Sell For Spring

by Rebecca Shahan

Spring is just around the corner, and this is the time of year that many people decide to sell their home.  If you’re one of those people, then now is the time to start getting ready for the busy spring home selling season here in Lake Travis. Here’s a few things you can do right now that will increase the selling price of your home and help it sell faster.

Curb Appeal

You know what they say about first impressions, and that certainly applies to your home. You need to make sure that your home looks great from the moment prospective buyers first set eyes on it.  Pull the weeds. Trim the shrubs. Paint the exterior if needed, or at least the trim. And try to use a neutral color when painting to make your home look more generic and make your home look brighter and more appealing.  Power wash the walkways and driveway.

Repairs

Fix those leaky faucets and sticky cabinets. Replace old screens.  Little things do matter.  Even if something is not obvious, subconsciously it may still affect the perception of your home. People tend to overestimate repair costs, so its better to make sure things are fixed beforehand.

Rearrange and Pack Up

Move the furniture to allow better traffic flow and create a purpose for each room. Rent storage if you have too much furniture. Remove as many personal items as you can.  It’s easier for buyers to imagine a home as their own if your personal items aren’t’ obstructing their view.

Remember, every little thing you do to prepare your home to sell will not go to waste.  So don’t waste time getting your home ready to sell!

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