Category Archives: Selling Home Advice

Basic Steps to Selling a Home without a Realtor

Selling a home without a realtor involves more legwork but can equal serious savings. A homeowner can save 5 percent or more by selling a home without a realtor. The process is typically referred to as “For Sale By Owner” and over 10 percent of home sales are done this way. The money saved can be used toward a down payment for another home or added to an interest-bearing savings account for the future. Consider a few basic steps involved when selling a home without a realtor.

Conduct Detailed Research

Know the comparable values of other homes sold in your neighborhood. Hire an appraiser to get a realistic estimate of your home’s worth. Often real estate agents will do this work for you and there is no obligation to hire them. Create a folder with important documents such as insurance, property records and other pertinent facts about your home. Read books and website dedicated to selling a home without a realtor. Consult with a real estate attorney to find out about the essential documentation required to sell a home. Ask questions about other legalities you might want to offer as an incentive to buyers such as renting with the option to buy or owner financing.

Get Handy Around the House

Look at your home objectively to see what buyers will think. Does it have curb appeal? Are there major functional issues that should be repaired? Does your home show visible signs of wear and tear? Mow the lawn, plant flowers and replace extremely worn/broken windows to give your home better curb appeal. Paint dingy walls and refinish scratched floors. Inspect the roof, heating system and appliances to ensure they are modern and functional. Now is the time to get handy around to house to give it a facelift to make it more appealing to potential buyers. If you can’t do it yourself, hire someone to help. Failing to make certain repairs will lower the selling price of your home. Buyers will negotiate if they notice certain appliances don’t work or the backyard is a mess.

Keep it Impersonal

Once you take care of necessary repairs, get rid of your personal clutter to properly stage the home. If you have toys and photos all over the house, people cannot visualize themselves living there. Keep it clean, crisp and impersonal. Add plenty of light and open windows to make your home look brighter and bigger. Walk through your yard to get rid of junk, garbage and other clutter that tends to build up outside.

Price a Home Realistically

Often the selling price of a home is set too high and sellers wonder why nobody is calling to see it. A house sells faster when you set a realistic price. Websites such as Zillow give you a rough estimate of what your home is worth. Hiring an appraiser after the repairs are done is a great way to find out what your house should sell for. It also gives you formal evidence of the home’s worth to present to potential buyers during negotiations.

List Your Home at the Right Time

Listing a home at certain times of the year makes more sense than others. For example, most people want to purchase a home prior to the beginning of the school year. Listing the house in the late winter or early spring gives buyers time to close on the deal before school starts. However, listing the home in September might mean you have few potential buyers for several months. Consider the weather when you list a house. If you list a home near the holidays or during snowy winter months, fewer people will come to see it. Your home can sell faster if you list it during the proper time of year.

Marketing Matters

Marketing is the biggest job a realtor handles but you can do it yourself. Place a For Sale sign on your front lawn with contact information to attract passersby who are looking to buy a house in your neighborhood. Pay a small fee to be listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so you can compete with sellers hired a realtor. Place an ad in your local newspaper with a photo of your home. Use a classified ads site like Craigslist to advertise your house. Let friends, family and neighbors know you are selling your home and encourage them to spread the word. Be prepared to show the house when people inquire about it. This means you must be present and willing to show your house when buyers want to see it. Protect yourself against potential scammers or thieves by asking for identification before you let anyone into the house. Try not to be alone when you show the house. Be open to negotiations and if you get stuck, hire a real estate attorney to help you out.

Be Ready to Sell

Once a buyer makes a valid offer, be ready to close the deal. Try to work with buyers who are preapproved for a mortgage to save time and disappointment related to financing. Request a letter to prove the buyer has preapproval. Have the required paperwork ready to present to the buyer. Any contract or deal should be subject to the approval of your attorney. Know what disclosures need to be made, such as lead paint. Be aware the closing date is often flexible. The sale is subject to the results of appraisals and home inspections ordered by the buyer. If something is found, be ready to make repairs or further negotiate the selling price of your home. Make sure the house is broom clean and in good condition to deliver to the buyer when the closing date is near. If you have difficulty with the paperwork, enlist the assistance of professionals such as a title insurance company and a real estate attorney. The proper paperwork can make or break a deal so this is a worthy expense.

Selling a home without a realtor can be a challenge but sellers save thousands of dollars by doing it themselves. Often you need to help of other professionals such as a title insurance company and real estate attorney. Either way, you still save money and have greater control over the selling process of your home.

Selling you own home in Canada

Selling your own home in Canada is something that has become more and more appealing to sellers in the last several years.  There are a few reasons for this.  The first reason is that many people don’t like the idea of several thousand dollars of the sale price going to a realtor rather than in their own pockets.  The second is that many more people feel equipped to handle the legalities and paperwork on their own than ever before.

The truth is, the method of selling your own home in Canada has recently changed a great deal.  Recently, the Federal Competition Bureau challenged the right of individuals to access the Real Estate Boards’ MLS (Multiple Listing Service) throughout the country.  The MLS is a listing service that is owned and operated by the Canadian Real Estate Board.  The MLS has now been opened up to the public to list properties for sale.

Because MLS is owned and operated by the Canadian Real Estate Board and only licensed realtors and brokers can put properties onto the MLS, individuals need to employ a licensed realtor if they want to use the MLS service.  Since the change in access to MLS has happened, many licensed realtors and brokers have begun to offer this service to individuals.  Most of them use what is called a “flat fee” service to do this.  So, if you are selling your own home in Canada and decide to use the flat fee service of a licensed realtor to get your property onto the MLS you will pay far less than if you were to employ the full services of a realtor to market your property for you on a commission basis.

Valuing your Home

The first thing to think about when you start off is how much to ask for your home.  Check out the market in your area and compare your home to those listed and what they are selling for (not what they are on the market for).  Market value is often far more indicative of what you can realistically ask for your home than tax assessments are.

When mortgages are involved (especially for the buyer), the bank may require that a professional assessment as well as an inspection take place before they will approve a mortgage on the property.  You will need to negotiate with the buyers who will cover the costs of these.

What You Need to Know

Selling your own home in Canada is quite different than selling with a realtor.  There are several things you need to know about the process and several things you will want to research.

The first thing to know is that you will be responsible for your own advertising, your own showing, your own negotiations and most importantly, your own paperwork and legal matters (unless you employ a lawyer).  You will need to familiarize yourself with a purchase agreement/contract so that you understand exactly what you are on the hook for if things don’t end up working out.  You will need to research and learn about “conditions” placed on the purchase agreement/contract both by you and by the buyer, and make sure that your agreements specify exactly what will happen in the case that these conditions are not met.  For example, you will need to make sure that the contract specifies what is to happen to any monetary deposits that have been made by the buyer if the conditions are not met by you or by them.  You will want to be sure that you understand that all conditions must be waived (satisfied) by a certain date in order for the sale to be finalized.


A lawyer is usually involved when selling your own home in Canada.  Sometimes the seller and the buyer each have their own lawyer and sometimes they agree to use the same lawyer.  In some cases, you can do your own legal work, but in many cases (especially if there is a mortgage involved) one of the parties in the sale may be obligated to employ a lawyer.  It is highly advisable to consider having a lawyer involved for your own protection.

One thing you will want to cover with your lawyer is the matter of disclosure of latent defects on your property.  You will want to make sure your contract covers this and that you disclose anything you know as you can be held responsible for these things many, many years down the road.  Latent defects include environmental issues and things that are not necessarily visible during an inspection of the property.

The law also differs from one province to another and regulations and tax issues can differ between municipalities.  Don’t make any assumptions and check out the local laws and regulations.

Final Decision

Selling your own home in Canada can save you a lot of money if you don’t want to pay commissions to licensed realtors.  This idea can be a little deceptive, as some people end up paying more in legal fees to sort out badly done negotiations and contracts they did on their own.  In the end, you need to be confident that you’ve researched the matter and understand what you are getting yourself into when selling your own home versus having a professional, licensed realtor doing it for you.

Staging a Home to Sell

Staging Your Home May be the Missing Link in Your FSBO Plan

No one ever said selling your home on your own was an easy process. If you’ve priced it appropriately, you probably have people looking, but if you’ve had a dozen showings and no one has made any offers, it’s possible you need to be staging your home for sale.

Realtors won’t hesitate to tell their clients how to improve the “look” of their home, but without a realtor, you may not be getting the straight talk you need. Professional stagers can help you stage your home to sell, but if saving money is the goal, you can do it yourself by following these tips:

  1. Look through design magazines and visit a few homes that are on the market in your neighborhood or price range.  See what your “competition” is doing.  Create a master list of some of the best things you see.
  2. Go through your house room by room.  Note areas that should be cleaned.  Decide which items need to be boxed up and stored, which can be sold or donated, and what can be thrown out.  Pay attention to odors and smells.  Replace burnt out light bulbs.  All five senses come into play when buying a home.
  3. Take down family photos and personal items. Get rid of piles of mail and books stacked on desks and counter tops.  Recycle old magazines, and sell or store excess furniture or art that makes a room feel crowded.
  4. Paint the walls.  Realtors will tell you that the more neutral a home’s color scheme, the easier it is to sell.  Fresh paint will not only lighten and brighten your rooms, but it will make everything look clean and new.  If you feel artwork is needed after you paint, keep it to a bare minimum. Add color with throw pillows, flowers, or books.
  5. Place furniture sparingly.  Even if your dining table usually has the “big leaf” in it, take the leaf out, put a few of the extra chairs in the attic or garage, and allow for more “breathing room” around the table.  If a room is full of furniture, buyers notice the furniture.  If it is sparsely furnished, they notice the space.
  6. Open curtains and clean the windows and sills.  Re-stain or paint them if necessary.  Sunny spaces sell faster than dark ones, so emphasize the natural light in your home when staging a home for sale. If the window coverings are dated, replace them with simple panels in a neutral shade.  Get rid of the cheap mini-blinds.  Put pretty plants or art outside the windows to add to the view.
  7. Have carpets professionally cleaned.
  8. Organize closets, pantry, and storage areas.  If you have three sets of dishes crowding your cabinets, cut back to one set while your home is on the market. Store off season clothes elsewhere to thin out your closets. If closets are full to the brim, the perception is there’s not enough storage space in the house.
  9. Put some attention on the outdoor spaces of your home.  Outdoor living is a big plus.  Homes with porches, decks and patios sell for more money and sell faster than identical homes with no outdoor living space.  Clean up your deck or patio and stage it with your patio furniture and some of the excess furniture and art from inside the house.  Outdoor living rooms are “in,” so don’t forget to add accent pillows, coffee tables, and plenty of plants.
  10. Upgrade your curb appeal with a new mailbox, fresh paint on the house numbers, flowering plants, low maintenance landscaping, or a coat of paint on the front door.  First impressions count.  If your home doesn’t draw people in from the curb, or if it doesn’t look as nice as the other homes on the street, it won’t sell as fast.

Follow these ten steps and you will not only have done a thorough job of staging your home to sell, but you will have eliminated a lot of “junk” that you won’t have to move when the time comes.

First Steps To Take When Preparing To Sell Your Home

Are you prepared to sell your home?  What you need to know before you put your house on the market.

You recently made the decision to sell your home, Congratulations!  Now what?  Before you place the “For Sale” sign in the front yard there are steps required to ensure the sale of your house. Many well-intentioned sellers are more than ready to sell their house but they haven’t taken the first steps to prepare for it.  And in this marketplace, those first steps are critical.  So before you actually list your house, you will need to do some planning.  Here are a few steps you will want to take and items you will want to address.

  1. Prepare yourself emotionally to sell your home.

This may be the most important step you take.  It’s so easy for a seller to have an emotional attachment to their home, especially if they have lived in that house for many years.  This can be a great deterrent to a potential buyer.  Whether you are aware of it or not, you may be sending signals to a buyer that this is your home.  You need to start looking at the house as no longer yours and just another item to sell.  Visualize yourself handing over the keys to a buyer.  Tell yourself that this is simply a business transaction and make a mental decision to let go of every room and every aspect of the house.  By doing this, you will give yourself a great advantage over other sellers.

  1. Learn the right way to price your home.

Pricing your house right is crucial and will save you a lot of time and frustration down the road.  Before you set a price, you will need to understand how to price your house appropriately.  Now, this doesn’t mean that you under price it significantly – it means you price it competitively and at the right economic value.  How do you do this?  One way is to search for a list of comparables in your area.  Comparables are houses that are similar in build, square-footage, style and location to your house.  This will give you a good idea where to begin when pricing your home.  Remember how we placed, “Prepare yourself emotionally to sell the house” as the number one step to take?  There is a reason for that.  If you are emotionally attached to your house, you will see it as worth more than it really is and subsequently overprice it.

  1. Consider having a professional inspection.

Although a professional inspection will cost you a little money upfront, it can save you a lot of money and a few headaches in the long run.  Have a certified inspector look through the house for any unseen defects or issues that may not come to the surface until closing time.  Red flags that come up for potential buyers when they conduct their own inspection can be a deal breaker.  You want to make sure you take this initial step so there are no “surprises” later when it matters for the sale.

  1. Get informed.

This step involves doing some homework.  You will want to get your hands on as much information as you can on how to sell your house effectively.  Really become a student of the real estate market and understanding how it works.  After you do this, you will need to decide whether it is more advantageous for you to sell the house yourself or hire a real estate agent.  If you do decide to use an agent, make sure you interview a few in your area.  Have a list of questions ready for when you sit down with each agent.

  1. Declutter, Depersonalize and Deodorize.

You really aren’t prepared to sell your house until you declutter it.  Nothing sends a potential buyer running faster than a house full of your stuff!  Remember, you want the buyer to visualize the house as their own.  So the decluttering and depersonalizing steps go hand in hand.  Remove all non-essentials from each room, keep all countertops clear (especially in the kitchen), remove toys and knickknacks and store away personal items including all family photos.  If you have a lot of decluttering to do, consider renting a storage unit or better yet, have a garage sale and donate what doesn’t sell.

Another step that goes along with decluttering and depersonalizing is deodorizing.  Your home should shine before you put it on the market.  Some basics for your list of cleaning “do’s” include:  window washing, spray down sidewalks and decks, re-caulk, regrout and repaint, vacuum daily, dust furniture and fixtures and replace old towels and rugs.  Also, make sure your home is free of any disdainful odors.  If you have pets, you may want to consider relocating them until your home is sold and get rid of unwanted odors they leave behind.

With these first steps in place, not only will you will be prepared to sell your home but you will also be positioned for the best outcome possible and ensure that the next sign you place in your yard is a “SOLD” sign.

Selling a Home by Owner – Your Marketing Plan

In previous articles we’ve discussed getting your home ready for sale and pricing it correctly.  Now that you have it looking great and priced right, the next step is making sure people know it’s available.  That’s where your home marketing plan comes in.

Marketing is one of the key benefits a real estate agent provides.  Realistically, however, most real estate agents do the bare minimum.  There is no doubt you can do what they do and probably do it better.  After all, you have the advantage of knowing your home intimately – far better than any agent ever could.  Best of all, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Developing your home marketing plan has as much to do with timing as with creativity.  For that reason, the first step in any marketing program is to identify all the opportunities for marketing in your community, and to start with the basics first.

  1. Classified Advertising – This may sound like a no-brainer, but depending on the size of your community, local newspapers can be expensive to advertise in, so review all your options, including the free weekly publications and community newsletters.  If you’re in a small town with a weekly paper, a classified ad may cost you just $15 for three or four placements, but in a big city, the price tag could reach $250 for just one week of daily placements.  If a classified is affordable, start running one as soon as you are ready to show the home.  If the option exists, consider running it only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which are the days when most potential buyers are looking.  Be sure to list the price. Otherwise you’ll be fielding lots of calls by unqualified buyers who just want to know “how much?”
  2. Signage – Your local hardware store or home improvement store will stock a variety of For Sale signs.  Since the sign is your best source of exposure to those driving through your neighborhood, it is worth investing in a good one.  If you can’t find a sturdy sign with a metal frame at the store, contact a sign company and have one made.  Be sure to include your phone number on the sign, and consider buying a brochure box to attach to the sign. Many signs come with that option.  If your home is located in a low-traffic area, consider putting a directional sign at the main entrance to your neighborhood or at a major intersection, as well.  Be sure to check local regulations to make sure any signs away from your property are legally placed.
  3. Flyer or Brochure – Desktop publishing packages make it possible for novices to create attractive flyers almost as good as the pros. If you’re comfortable making your own flyer, by all means take advantage of this inexpensive form of marketing.  If you aren’t interested in doing it yourself, contact a local graphic designer and invest a couple hundred dollars in a professional flyer or brochure. The most important aspects of your real estate flyer are price and photos.  Include at least a few photos of the inside of the house, and one of the backyard if it has a nice porch, deck, or landscaping.  Also include the basic information, such as number of bedrooms and baths.  Don’t forget to put the address of the home and your phone number on the flyer.  Many prospective buyers drive all over picking up flyers, and if the address or phone number isn’t on your brochure, they may never find it again.  Keep the box on your sign full of brochures.  There’s nothing more frustrating to people driving by then no information in the box.
  4. Answering Machine – Home answering machines are a great invention, and when you’re selling your home yourself, yours can work as a marketing tool.  Since prospective buyers will call you either to schedule an appointment to see your home or to ask questions, make sure your answering machine has a professional sounding message recorded for callers to hear.  Now is the time to get that cute message your five year old recorded off the machine and replace it with a standard greeting and professional sounding message.  There’s no need to record information specifically about the house, but a professional message that lets callers know you will return the call will go a long way toward getting them to leave a message.
  5. Your Network – When selling your home, be sure to tell your neighbors and friends, as well as people you go to church with or see at community events.  Your neighbors, in particular, have a vested interest in ensuring a quality “new neighbor,” so they can become your best source of sales leads.  Your friends also can assist in passing information along as they hear about people who are looking for a new home.
  6. Cable Television and Other Sources – Many local access channels have inexpensive advertising and announcements that run in between local news programming.  If your cable station has a real estate “channel,” find out the cost and determine if it’s in your budget.  Typically all you have to supply is the same information that you have on your flyer, as well as a photo in an electronic format that can be converted to run on air.

The marketing techniques listed here are easy, inexpensive, and are consistent with the basics that a real estate company may provide.  If you’re serious about selling your home yourself, these are the techniques you need to use.  Certainly there are more sophisticated and expensive marketing options, but by starting with these basics, you’ll be well on your way to selling your home and saving money in the process.

Selling a Home by Owner – Price of a Home

In the previous article, we discussed the research and renovation that can help ensure that your home is on par with others in your neighbourhood.  This gives it the best chance of selling at a comparable price to others in your area.

Whether you opted for major renovations or a simple coat of paint, the next step in selling your own home is to create a pricing and sales strategy.  In other words: decide what you’re going to ask for the home, determine how much you’re willing to accept, and decide how long you’re willing to wait for the price you want.

If this is the first time you’ve sold a home on your own, you may have previously left these pesky pricing details to your realtor.  But after “location,” the most important aspect of real estate is price.  Real estate professionals do know  pricing strategies, current market conditions, financing availability, and buyer behavior, so if you’re selling your own home you need to know a little about these things too.

There are just a few simple rules to setting the price of a home:

1. Most homes are over-priced to allow for negotiation between the seller and buyer.

2. Buyers expect sellers to take less than the asking price.

3. Buyers expect people who are selling their own homes to take less than those homeowners who are working with a realtor.

4. Buyers will look at homes they cannot afford.

5. Expect a few “low ball” offers from people who are trying to get a really good deal.

The tricky part: many people sell their homes without an agent in order to make more money by “avoiding the commissions.”  Buyers, however, expect to get a discount for working direct with the seller and are expecting to get at least part of the savings passed on to them in the form of a “better deal.”

Keeping all these things in mind, how do you decide how to price your home? It’s important to develop a pricing strategy.

First, get a realistic view of the market and real estate pricing.  There are a few public sources of information that are available to assist you.  Tax records are one source of valuation available to both sellers and buyers.  For years there has been a common understanding that tax record values are low.  Real estate appraisers who work for buyers, sellers and their mortgage companies often put values of 15 – 20 percent higher than taxable value on real estate appraisals.

Over the last couple of years taxing authorities have been attempting to close this gap (and raise their own tax revenues) by re-evaluating properties and adjusting their values up.  In many areas, this is being done as properties sell.  The 15-20 percent rule is fast disappearing as taxable values get more in line with what real estate is actually selling for.

Another source of information to set a price of a home is good honest research.  Drive around your neighbourhood and collect the flyers from the boxes in front of homes that are for sale.  Go online and look for homes in the price range you want to ask and see what else is available.  Compare what you are offering to what other sellers are offering.  Pay close attention to other homes being sold by owner.

Once you have a good idea of pricing for comparable properties, think about your objective.  If your goal is to maximize the price you can get for your house, you may need to be prepared to wait a little longer for it to sell.  If you are interested in a fast sale, you can price the home attractively and thereby generate more traffic and a bargain-hunting buyer.

As part of your pricing strategy you also need to decide if you’ll work with realtors.

Many people who sell their own homes make the mistake of locking out potential buyers who are working with agents.  Conversely, many agents refuse to show homes that are for sale by owner to their clients, even avoiding the streets that the FSBO signs are on when driving clients around.

Realistically you need to understand that your buyer pool shrinks dramatically if you refuse to work with clients who are using agents.  Many sellers indicate “Agents Welcome” on their marketing materials, but most agents will require that you agree in writing to a sales commission before they even bring their clients by.  Some will ask for a “one day listing” in order to qualify for a commission from a buyer they truly think will buy your home.

Flexibility, particularly in a tough real estate market, is the key to success.

Perhaps one of the best things about selling your own home is the ability to raise and lower the price and experiment with your marketing and pricing strategy.  Changing the price of a home for sale by owner home is as easy as changing the price on your flyer or sales sheet or changing what you say when potential buyers call and ask, “How much?”

Successful individual sellers also monitor new homes on the market every week and adjust their prices up or down in an effort to remain competitive or to meet their own timelines for a sale.

When selling your own home , remember that buyers are looking for two things: the right house at the right price.  Even if your house is perfect and just what a buyer is looking for, if the price is wrong, the buyer will never show up.

Tenants in Common

In recent months and years many folks have lost their homes, frequently because they did not understand or correctly analyze certain terms in their mortgages. Often real estate agents and loan officers assume you know what you need to know, so they are not proactive in defining many terms for you. In this context it becomes more important than ever to understand property law concepts.

One very important area is where more than one person owns a property—husband and wife, business partners, or other entities.

You may hear the term tenants in common. This is not the same as joint tenants.

In a joint tenancy, each owner owns the same proportion of the property and the co-owners have a right of survivorship. This means that if one of the owners dies, the other owner or owners still own the property. If there is more than one owner at this stage, each again has an equal share of ownership. Neither of the co-owners has the right to sell his or her share apart from the other owner. This is the most common type of ownership of a home by married couples.

In some states you must have agreed to a joint tenancy in writing, or the state will presume the property is owned by tenants in common.

In a tenancy in common, the owners may own equal or unequal shares of the property. There is no right of survivorship for tenants in common. Thus, if one of the owners dies, the others still own their portion of the property, but the part owned by the deceased will be part of his or her estate; it will therefore be inherited by whoever is designated as owner under inheritance rules of the respective state.

Each owner has the right to sell his or her portion of the property at any time; this does not affect the ownership of the other partner(s).

As an example, take a look at ownership of an apartment building with ten apartments.

  1. Two people could purchase the apartment building, with each owning equal shares of the building just as they might own their own home, with right of survivorship. This would be a joint tenancy.
  2. Two people could purchase the building, with one person contributing 60% of the purchase price. The building could therefore be divided with that person owning six specific apartments in the building. That person would have the right to sell any or all of those apartments. If that person died, then his or her heirs would own those apartments. This would be a tenancy in common.

The most common reasons for owning by tenants in common are if the owners are not married, if they have given different amounts toward obtaining the property, or if the property is part of a business arrangement. Just be sure you know you are getting what you need before you sign a contract.

Investing in Land

Similar to playing the stock market, private equity firms and individuals are looking to purchase cheap land in markets where real estate has struggled.

Local developers, once upon a time, were the only ones who purchased land from over-leveraged homebuilders when the real estate market hit a funk. Now everyone is getting in on the play. Their goal is to buy these hard assets and wait until the markets return to respectability.

The rewards of buying industrial-zoned land overshadow the risks involved. Again, using the stock market as an example, purchasing land is more logical because land does not experience as much volatility. The value of land tends to go upward.

The play on buying land should increase. Brokers have indicated that investors are waiting for prices to fall even more. They envision the day in which prices bottom out, low interest rates help revive the market and builders return to increase bids on land prices.

A prominent question for investors: Why not invest in an existing building instead of land? During an upswing in development, land appreciates faster than buildings. If you have enough capital to invest in land, now is a good time to invest in vacant office and industrial-zoned land.

Land shortages and low vacancies in existing buildings drive values up, according to property experts.

In other words, during an upswing phase in office and industrial property, such as what is happening now in many places, land appreciates much faster than developed properties.

The difficulty lies in the shortage of zoned office and industrial land. It is smart to bank in land, if you can find it. The residential market, on the other hand, is fully priced and you do not, as a rule, buy an asset that is fully priced.

Residential property prices should grow at about the consumer price index inflation rate for the next couple of years. Therefore, office and industrial-zoned land is a good investment. Land values are skyrocketing for all types of commercial land.

The value of industrial-zoned land has risen 300 percent in the past 18 months in many parts of the world. This applies to zoned retail, commercial and industrial land. All three sectors have seen enormous growth in value.

In summary, the risks of buying industrial-zoned land do not stand up against the rewards.

Investing in land for sale is a logical place to put your money. Unlike other investment possibilities like the stock market, land does not experience much volatility.

Remember to look at pre-platted lots located in developed or developing planned communities or subdivisions. More developers are likely to build in those locations. With every new house that is built, supply gets lower and values should increase.

Donald Trump, for example, made his millions by what is called land banking – the process of buying and holding land for future sale or development.

As with any business plan, you must be prepared for all facets of land purchasing. It requires not only $5,000 to $15,000 of capital to get started, but also an impeccable preparation scheme for the challenge.

Market research, attending city zoning meetings, and on-going communication with prospective sellers is a necessity. Purchasing land is much more than blindly paying money for something that might not possess value. Making the right decisions will determine if your venture will be profitable or a financial mistake.

If you have capital and the gumption, staking your name to a plot of land might be the best move you will ever make.

Selling a Home by Owner – Research & Renovation

The beginning stages of trying to sell your home on your own are very critical because planning means everything to the process.

Those home owners who believe that simply sticking a price tag on their home will get the sale are sadly mistaken, especially with how the house-selling market is today. More often than not, the home owner waits instead of executing a quick sell.

What can speed the process? Research and renovation.

Look at similar units being offered in your area and how they are being renovated. Think of how you can make your unit better than the others. Make the upgrades where necessary. You might be surprised about how much that will swing the buyer’s interest.

Here is a breakdown of the strategy you must implement to sell your home for the price you want in the amount of time you deem necessary:

  • Fix up the place. Make the place look pristine to the buyer. Leave no area unturned. Repaint the house. Replace worn carpeting. Repair where necessary. The buyer is more apt to be interested in taking the next step by feeling like the home is practically like brand new. Any unsightly areas or broken-down facilities will be an immediate turnoff.
  • Remodel with an effective plan. Make sure the amount you invest in a remodel will be resold at a similar or better value. In other words, if you have more than $10,000 to spend on a remodeling project it might be wiser to do that on a master bathroom instead of a kitchen. Studies show that buyers are more interested in purchasing a unit with a modern bathroom style rather than a grungy old facility. Kitchens generally do not sell for the same resale value from what is put into it.
  • Know your neighborhood. You should learn your local market before deciding on home improvements. Avoid renovating your home to where it becomes the most expensive one offered on the block. Spend the money on renovations that reflect the marketplace. Don’t spend an elaborate amount on renovations if it is not necessary. Talk to local realtors, visit home-improvement stores and go to open houses to get a better idea of what’s selling in your neighborhood. Get a list of certified real-estate appraisers to consult in your area.
  • Consider market trends. When contemplating renovations you should also pay attention to the home-selling market. You don’t want to spend too much for something that might be dropping in value. This requires research and consulting with home-selling experts.
  • Light the way. The most overlooked aspect of home-selling by the owner is the aesthetic presentation of the house. Would you rather buy a gloomy dark house with heavy curtains and little lighting than one that is bright and airy? How many times have you driven to a property at night that you might be interested in and it is not well-lit and uninvitingly dark? If you are serious about selling your house make sure your home is well-lit and night and your interior is very bright with the use of light drapes.

The modern-day sale of your own home requires unconventional means and thorough research and implementation of a plan. Who would have thought that lighting can make a difference? With the technologically advanced capabilities of the Internet, showing your home on eBay or on a blog might also do the trick.

Yes, that’s right, a blog. Some homeowners have found success selling their homes from out-of-town buyers that way.

Like anything in sales, it’s how strongly you reach out to the buyer that will make the difference. The bold action must first come from the seller: You. It will require a lot of hard work and some money spent, but your focus must be on selling that house of yours. Nothing can be left to chance.

How to successfully sell your home By Owner

So, you want to sell your home?  You’d love to get every dollar possible from it, so you can put a nice down payment on your next residence and maybe even buy a new sofa or big screen TV.  If you use a realtor, though, you’ll pay her at least seven percent of the selling price.  Add in your portion of the finance charges from the bank on the loan, and you will likely cut up to ten percent off your profit.  Imagine owing $150,000 and selling your home for $200,000.  “Wow,” you think.  “I’m going to have fifty grand for my down payment and moving expenses.”

Then, you get the closing statement from the title company, only to find that you paid that sweet realtor $14,000 and dropped an additional $7,000 on closing and title costs.  Suddenly, your 50k profit on selling your home turns into a paltry-looking $29,000.  You’re eyeing a shiny new $250,000 home, and with your own closing costs on a new loan, you won’t even have ten percent for a down payment.  What’s the answer, you ask?  Simple, sell the home without the use of a realtor — By Owner.

There are several basics to a successful By-Owner sales transaction.  Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to eliminating most of those exorbitant, superfluous costs.

First, get busy advertising.  Even if you have things to do, in order to prepare for your By Owner sale, such as home improvements, making your house look nice from the outside and proper paperwork, you need to generate interest from buyers.  Realtors have a network of buyers lined up, so advertising is the least of their worries.  You need to make use of your own network and your resources.

Before you run to the local hardware store and grab a For Sale By Owner sign, compose a nice point-of-sale sheet that outlines the features of your home.  This is another product that realtors provide that you can make very easily or have a friend or family member make for you.  It should be eye-appealing and include all of the best features of your house, as well as all of the things you might not normally consider, such as square footage, new items, amenities, etc.  If you are struggling with completing this, find a sample at a home for sale in your neighborhood and just take one as a model.  As soon as you’ve done this, get that For Sale By Owner sign and place it in your yard.

Next, run some inexpensive ads on the Internet.  Just go to free classifieds at either Yahoo or AOL.  You’ll be surprised at the response.  Also place ads in inexpensive magazines and newspapers in your neighborhood, and post signs at community places.  Plan open houses, the same way your realtor would.  This is something most For Sale By Owner people neglect to do.  They simply say call for appointments.  Open houses are wonderful selling tools, because when people see that others are interested in your home, they may decide to bid faster, as well as higher.  Plus, they have the freedom to come on their schedule (within set limits), instead of an exact time on an appointment.

Once you’ve placed some ads and posted your sign, get yourself a mortgage professional.  This person can help in many ways, even with a For Sale By Owner transaction.  He’ll help you with loan and closing cost information, a title agent, and, most importantly, he’ll provide you with all of the necessary paperwork you need — for free.  Just tell the mortgage broker that you are looking for someone who may be able to finance two transactions – your sale and your next purchase – and you need some professional guidance in selling your home.  Explain that you need a purchase agreement and all other important point-of-sale material.  You’d appreciate his help and you’ll encourage your buyer to use him.  The broker will be very enthusiastic and will likely refer you to a title agent who will get you all of the paperwork you need to be successful.

What these steps do in the eyes of potential buyers is make you look like a professional – like a real estate agent.  You see, you can do all of the things a realtor does, without special training.  The key is to use resources available to you and to find people who are willing to work for free, because they know they’ll get paid later.

At your open houses or when people call for information, you may be asked how you came up with your asking price.  Never hedge on this.  In fact, another service your mortgage broker can provide is getting you a value of your home, without charging you for an appraisal fee.  He’ll have his own appraiser do some simple office work to come up with the number.  Now, you can tell people the home was appraised by a professional.  Also, have your mortgage broker check on recent sales within one mile of you.  He’ll probably have his appraiser do this too, but it won’t cost you anything.  Assuming the recent sales are similar to your house, this is a great tool in setting your price and selling your potential buyers on its fairness.  You’ll be able to say, “Take a drive by 1255 on School Street.  It’s almost identical to this house, and it went for $215,000.  As you know that’s $3,000 more than I’m asking.”  This is a great salesmanship – the type of tactic a realtor would use.

When it comes to setting your price, be sure not to ask too much, based on the appraised value.  This is a common mistake people make, especially when being influenced by a realtor, who wants to inflate the price, so she’ll make a higher commission.  If the value is $220,000 and you want to get $200,000, ask for $208,000 and settle for $196,000.  Remember, you are saving tens of thousands of dollars by selling your home By Owner and eliminating the realtor.  So, it’s okay to take a few thousand dollars less than what you want.  Plus, when you tell prospective buyers that your start price is twelve thousand dollars below the fair market value, you can add that they’ll be getting that twelve grand as instant equity in their new home.  That’s powerful selling.

Follow these basic steps, post your For Sale By Owner sign, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll sell your home.

Now, go buy that big screen TV; you’ve earned it.