New Albany Realty Resources

Central Ohio Real Estate Tips

We've learned these tips through years of experience as top REALTORS®. But we know that YOUR situation might be different. That's why we're here.

It's our job to personally advise New Albany, Columbus and Central Ohio area home buyers and sellers. Ask us if any tip that we've included here really applies to your situation.

Choose a Real Estate Tip...

A Market Analysis

Best Interests of the Buyer

Fair Market Value

Lender Appraisal

Professional Appraisals

Refinancing Your Home

The Language of Real Estate Agents

Three Caballeros

Working With A Real Estate Agent

Working With Appraisers

A Tough Sale

Accepting An Offer

Clean Offers

Evaluating Multiple Bids

Is First Always Best

Know Your Price Range

Low Offers

Negotiating Factors

Offers and Counter Offers

Purchase Negotiations

Responding to Low Offers

The First Offer

A Full Service Professional

Beneficial Brokers

Best Interests of the Buyers

Building With Help From Brokers

Buyer Agency

Buying Out Of State

Dual Agency

Real Estate Agent Representation

Who Pays the Commission?

Buying Bug Free

Dog Houses

House Odors

House Odors and Selling

Houses and Pets

Termites

Do any of these tips raise questions for you? Didn't find what you're looking for? Check out "MORE Valuable Real Estate Tips" or let us know! We are happy to answer ANY questions. It's our job! There's no obligation, and we promise to get back to you quickly..

A Market Analysis

Setting the right price is an important first step in the process of selling a home. Is it necessary to spend $200 to $400 for a professional appraisal of your property before placing your home on the market?

A professional appraiser's opinion of a property's market value is based on the recent sales of similar homes in the neighborhood, and on the square footage and condition of the property. Different appraisers might come up with different figures. Even if all of them agreed on a value, there is no guarantee that you would receive that amount for your property.

An alternative to a professional appraisal is to ask a professional real estate agent for a written market analysis of your property. This analysis will include information about recent home sales in your neighborhood, as well as how those homes compare to yours. Real estate agents may provide this service with no charge or obligation. If you are still unsure of the value of your home, you may wish to pay for an appraisal.

 

Best Interests of the Buyer

Who represents the home buyer in the transaction? The most common scenario is for New Albany home buyers to purchase a home with the help of the seller's listing agent. In this case, known as "dual agent representation," the real estate agent assists both the sellers and the buyers. However, it is also possible for the buyers to ask another Central Ohio realtor to represent their interests exclusively, acting as the "buyer's agent," a service which is available at no additional cost to the home buyer.

Any licensed real estate agent can act as your buyer's agent, helping you to locate and look at properties in your price range. However, if that real estate agent works for the same brokerage that is listing a particular property, dual agency or designated agent rules will then apply. The buyer's agent will advise the buyer if issues arise such as termite damage or significant material defects appearing on the home inspection report. If the home appraisal comes in at less than the asking price, the agent will represent the buyer's interest, working with the seller and the lender to negotiate a satisfactory resolution.

 

Fair Market Value

What is the best price for a piece of real estate? Mortgage lenders, appraisers, and real estate brokers use what is called the "fair market value" (FMV). FMV has been defined as "the price that a buyer is willing to pay and the seller is willing to accept, when both parties are knowledgeable about the property and neither is under any time pressure to buy or sell". Sounds great, but how is this price determined?

The starting point for determining a fair price may be an opinion of the value or a  Central Ohio real estate "comparative market analysis". Such an analysis uses information on similar properties which are: 1) currently for sale, 2) already sold, or 3) expired properties (those which did not sell). Local, national and international trends and market conditions must also be evaluated.

By comparing similar properties in each of the three categories and the market conditions, appraisers, lenders and agents come very close to the maximum price that buyers would be willing to pay for a house.

 

 

Lender Appraisal

Many sellers think that the price of their home is determined solely by what they are willing to accept and what the buyer is willing to pay. However, there is one more variable that can affect the sale of a home assuming that a bank loan is involved -- the lender's appraisal.

To protect the interest of their investors, the buyer's mortgage lender hires a licensed appraiser to give an independent, objective opinion of what the property is worth. The appraiser compares the house with similar homes in the neighborhood that have recently sold. Square footage, amenities and the condition of the home are taken into account. Renovations and home improvements made by the seller usually add value to the home, while defects such as needed repairs or code violations decrease the property's value. The seller's real estate agent can provide the appraiser with up-to-date information about neighboring homes that have sold to support the seller's asking price.

Professional Appraisals

Before your mortgage application is approved, the lender will order a professional appraisal of the home to make sure that the agreed-upon selling price is justifiable based on the current market value of the property. The cost of the appraisal will be based on the complexity of the appraisal report and the time required to complete it.

A professional appraiser will choose the appraisal technique that is applicable to the particular property to arrive at an unbiased opinion of value. One approach is to look at comparable homes in the area that have sold within the last six months. If there are a number of similar properties that have sold recently, the appraiser's job is easy. It is more complicated to arrive at the appraised value if your home is located in a rural area or a diverse Central Ohio neighborhood.

The appraised value will usually be very close to the sale price. If the appraisal comes in lower, the real estate agent may be able to provide the appraisers with additional information on recent sales which will result in increased value.

 

Refinancing Your Home

Interest rates fluctuate as changes occur in the general economy. If you purchased your home when interest rates were higher, you may want to consider re-financing your loan at a lower rate.

You will have to apply for the new mortgage and have your current income eligibility assessed. Depending on how long you have had your present loan, a current appraisal may be required. There are closing costs, such as attorney, title fees, recording and notary fees, and appraisal charges. The biggest factor in your decision should be the length of time you plan to remain in your home. If you will be there for only a year or two more, it might not pay to re-finance. If you will be in your home longer, re-financing could provide you with lower mortgage payments. Your New Albany real estate agent can help you work out the numbers and can refer you to reputable home appraisers and mortgage lenders.

 

The Language of Real Estate Agents

Technical terms can be confusing to people who do not work in a profession, and real estate agents use language that may be confusing to many home buyers and sellers.

If you find your eyes glazing over when your real estate agent starts talking about escrow, clear title, easements, encroachments, contingencies, financing, appraisals and the closing process, don't hesitate to ask for a translation. Buying or selling a home is a major step, and professional real estate agents are totally committed to helping you understand the process thoroughly so that you can make informed decisions.

The simple transaction of trading the sellers' house for the buyers' money has become complicated by several hundred years of custom, common law, and state and local government requirements. Consumer demands have resulted in up-to-date rules that communication be as clear and understandable as possible. Real estate agents work to create an atmosphere in which you feel comfortable to ask questions.

 

Three Caballeros

When you buy a house or refinance your present home, your lender will ask you to pay for an appraisal to help ensure that the sales price and mortgage amount is consistent with the property's market value. The appraiser will look for "three caballeros" or three "comparables" -- homes that are very similar to the one you are buying -- and will make adjustments to reflect the differences between the properties.

Housing patterns tend to be homogenous, meaning that homes worth $300,000 are usually located in $300,000 neighborhoods. It is important for properties to be within the general pricing patterns of their neighborhoods because over-valued homes, even if they are exceptional, are sometimes difficult to sell at full market price.

This is not the only factor considered in determining the worth of a property, but it is an important one. The buyer or seller may view the property as a home or an investment, but lenders view it in a completely different way. To a lender, property means security in the event a borrower fails to repay a mortgage. Therefore, lenders must know real estate values in order to limit their risks.

 

Working With A Real Estate Agent

It is not unusual for homeowners to yield to the temptation to try to sell their own home. It seems easy enough--just place an ad in the weekend paper and wait for buyers to show up. Although it may seem simple, real estate sales transactions are extremely complex proceedings.

The first pitfall can come with pricing your property realistically. Homeowners often price their property too high initially, then drastically slash the price when weeks go buy without an offer. Even if a prospective buyer agrees to the initial asking price, there could be complications if the buyers begin to feel that they have agreed to pay too much, or if the lender's appraisal values the property at far less than the agreed-upon price. Some clients hire agents to market their home professionally after weeks or months of trying to sell their own home without success, or after their FSBO transaction fell through.

 

Working With Appraisers

After the buyer and seller come to a "meeting of the minds" on the price of a house, there is one more person who must be convinced that the house is worth the selling price--the mortgage company's appraiser.

The appraiser looks for three similar houses that have sold in the same area within the last several months, and compares the selling prices of these homes with the one that is now on the market. The appraiser makes adjustments to account for the differences in each property, and averages the adjusted prices of the other three homes to arrive at a final opinion of value. In subdivisions or condominium projects where there are many similar properties and numerous recent sales, the appraiser's job is relatively easy. In neighborhoods of older homes that have been renovated or remodeled over the years, it can be like comparing apples and oranges.

If the appraiser's evaluation is lower than the selling price, it can stall the transaction because the lender may decline the buyer's loan because of the discrepancy. A real estate agent can work to minimize potential delays associated with the appraisal process by helping the seller to price the home as close to fair market value as possible.

 

A Tough Sale

Here is a situation that many buyers have experienced. After searching for weeks, you found the perfect home and you made a very low offer. The sellers responded with a counter-offer which was several thousand dollars lower than their asking price. You came back with a slightly higher bid, and they came down some more. After many days of back and forth, you finally reached a meeting of the minds, and you are very pleased with the results.

If you have driven a hard bargain in purchasing a house, be sensitive to the seller's feelings as the transaction proceeds. They may be suffering from the impact of a rough negotiation. Try to minimize any additional requests you might make of the sellers. As you move toward your closing date, keep in mind that the sellers may not share your elation. If you are considerate and avoid making excessive demands, you can help everyone walk away from the transaction feeling satisfied with the outcome.

Accepting An Offer

Your real estate agent has just brought you an offer on your home, and you want to think about it. You would like your agent to contact the other people who have shown an interest in your home. Whether your home has been listed for three days or three months, there is always a desire to hold out for a better offer, and sellers can feel considerable resistance to making a decision.

Some buyers will include in the offer a deadline for getting a response, but the seller should respond to an offer quickly even if a deadline is not specified. The interval between when an offer is submitted and when a response is made is a crucial period because the buyers are free to withdraw from the transaction during this time. Even though they are mentally landscaping your yard and arranging their things in your rooms, they may also be afraid that they will get the house, and are, therefore, extremely vulnerable to buyers' remorse.

Clean Offers

You have found a house that makes your heart skip a beat--it is in the right location and has all the amenities you want. The price is the only thing that is keeping you from making an offer, because you feel that it is more than you can afford. How can you maximize the possibility that the owners will accept an offer that is much lower than their asking price?

The first thing you should do is to make the offer as "clean" as possible by not asking for special contingencies. Avoid making demands on the sellers for minor repairs, such as cutting down the dead tree in the back yard or leaving custom drapes. Be as flexible as possible about scheduling the move-in date to accommodate the seller's plans. Finally, you can offer a larger-than-usual deposit to persuade the sellers that you are a serious buyer and to make it harder for them to "just say no". Each situation is different, but the "cleaner" the offer, the more likely the sellers are to accept it.

Evaluating Multiple Bids

Competition for homes is high in hot markets. When you are a seller faced with multiple offers on your home, how do you choose the best one? Your real estate agent can help you compare and contrast the terms of each proposal.

Look at the price of each offer and evaluate your net profit. Next, consider the terms of each contract. How "clean" is each offer? Are there contingencies that affect the sale, such as the buyers needing to sell another property before they can finalize the purchase of your home? Can you work out a mutually agreeable date for you to move out and for the buyers to move in? Can you get reasonable assurances that the buyers will be able to qualify for the financing they will need?

Your real estate agent can help you weigh the relative merits of each offer, so that you can accept--or counter--the best one, and line up another as an alternative.

Is First Always Best

Your home has been listed for just a few days, and your real estate agent calls with great news. The people who looked at the house last night have come in with an offer to buy it! When the agents arrive to present the offer, you are excited and hopeful. As they explain the price and terms, however, you feel that the price is a little too low and that the offer contains some terms that will be inconvenient for you to meet. Should you try to work it out or wait for something better? Work it out!

Often the first offer to come in is the best one. When a house is fresh on the market, there is usually a flurry of activity and the buyers who see it during the first few days of the listing are likely to be very interested. If you are fortunate enough to get a solid offer right away, it will probably be to your advantage to accept it or try to work out a compromise.

Know Your Price Range

As a home buyer, you may have found the perfect new house for your growing family, but what if it is a little out of your price range? You might list your current home for more than it is worth and be lucky enough to find a qualified buyer who is willing to pay the price, but it is impossible to know in advance what your home will sell for.

If you want to sell your home quickly, have a frank and detailed conversation with your real estate agent to determine the best price for the house. Setting your price within 5% of the fair market value of your home greatly increases your chances of getting solid offers that will result in a relatively quick sale.

Don't buy and sell so close to your target amount that you become anxious when the numbers don't meet your expectations. There may be other approaches, such as adjustable rate mortgages or owner financing, to increase your buying power and get you into that new home. When you are selling one home and buying another, you will need more than good luck. You will need a highly professional and experienced real estate agent who can give you solid advice on how to make the transaction work for your particular requirements.

Low Offers

In every real estate market, there are buyers who make offers that are far below the current market value of the property. How should you react if your agent brings you one of these "low ball" offers? Here are some scenarios for the seller.

If your home is priced very close to its fair market value, you can simply reject the offer and be reasonably confident that a better one will appear. However, if you have priced your home higher than other comparable homes in the neighborhood, the offer may not be unreasonable.

Ask your real estate agent for advice about the buyer's overall strategy. Do they really want your house or will they move on to another property if you make a counter offer? Can they afford to pay a higher price? Are there ways to close the gap with a small owner take-back, or with terms that will increase your bottom line? Take a hard look at your asking price and explore all your options before saying "no", especially if you are selling in a buyer's market.

Negotiating Factors

Negotiations for the sale of a home can be affected by emotional factors. For example, it is easy to be offended by someone who is making an offer on your property. Even if the buyers love your house, they are trying to negotiate the best possible price and terms. They probably will not let you know how much they want your home until they have negotiated a purchase agreement.

Buyers almost never write offers that please the sellers entirely. Offers and counter offers may be traded back and forth over days or weeks. Terms of the sale will be discussed and deadlines will be set. When there is finally a meeting of the minds, both sides may feel relieved but exhausted by the process. One of a real estate agent's most important jobs is to act as the intermediary during such negotiations. With your agents knowledge of financing, negotiation procedures, and the tax laws affecting real estate sales, agents come up with creative solutions to the challenges that may arise.

Offers and Counter Offers

Many of the offers real estates submit for prospective buyers aren't exactly what the sellers want. The price may be lower than they are asking or there might be terms included in the offer that will require negotiation. What happens after the offer is submitted?

The seller's real estate agent will present the offer to the sellers, along with the buyer's qualifications. If the sellers accept the offer, then a purchase agreement is written and signed by both parties. If the sellers counter the offer, the next action is initiated by the buyers when they make a response, either accepting the counter offer or countering it with yet another figure. If you want to buy a particular house, your chances of succeeding are greater if your initial offer is as close to the asking price as possible. You could save money by engaging in lengthy negotiations, but you run the risk of losing the home if a more attractive offer comes in from another buyer.

Purchase Negotiations

If you are selling your home, you should be prepared for the day your first offer comes in. When your real estate agent calls to say there is an offer on your home, you will naturally get excited. When your agent describes the offer, you will probably experience an adrenaline rush. Whether the offer is good or bad, you should just remain calm--and discuss a counter-offer with your agent. The negotiations of a purchase begin with the buyer's ideal terms and a counter offer that communicates the seller's ideal terms.

A good agent will look beyond the price when evaluating an offer. If the buyers' financial qualifications are shaky or the offer includes potentially problematic terms or conditions, your real estate agent should be there to minimize any risk to you and to address these items in your counter-offer. Your agent's job is not to make a decision for you, but to be sure that you understand fully what the offer includes and what is expected.

Responding to Low Offers

The beginning of negotiations is usually the end of many months of hard work for the buyer or seller. The work ahead requires skill in order to maintain a strong position.

Sellers can lose their advantage if they do not counter an offer that a buyer has made. Even if the opening offer is beneath what the seller feels is reasonable, it is advisable for the seller to respond with a slight reduction from the asking price. The most important component in negotiating is good communication.

The best way to handle a low offer is to counter it with definite terms that are favorable to the seller. A counter offer has two advantages: 1) it keeps the buyer interested, and 2) it moves the negotiation forward and gives the buyer the opportunity to submit another offer that the seller is more likely to prefer.

The First Offer

Often the first offer to come in is the best one. When a house is fresh on the market, there is usually a rush of activity and the buyers who see it during the first thirty days are likely to be the most interested. While your home is new on the market, it will receive the most exposure, so the chances of finding a serious buyer are greater during this period of time. If you are fortunate enough to receive an offer right away, you will probably be better off if you accept it and work on resolving any issues that arise relative to price and terms.

A Full Service Professional

Home sellers may be lured by the promises of agents that offer to list and sell your home for a discount commission. But consider the advantages of using a full service broker who will represent your best interests in the transaction without cutting corners.

A full service real estate broker will be informed about the current trends in your local market. He or she will share valuable information about the selling price of comparable properties, to help you determine a realistic price for your home. If your home needs repair prior to listing, a reputable local contractor will be recommended. Buyers will be pre-qualified and personally escorted through your home. After showing your house, your broker will give you feedback from buyers and agents, negotiate the price and terms of the purchase contract when an offer comes in, schedule the home inspection and coordinate the closing.

You may not receive adequate professional or personal attention if the agent feels they owe you less because you are paying them less. It is to your advantage to engage the full services of a real estate broker who will give 100 percent to guide you through the complex process of selling your home.

Beneficial Brokers

Home buyers who use the Internet to start their Central Ohio home search may be lured by the promises of realty companies advertising "one-stop shopping" guaranteed to meet all your housing needs. But before you sign up with an online company, consider the benefits of meeting personally with a real estate agent or broker who can represent your best interests in the transaction.

A full service real estate broker will be informed about the current trends in your local market. He or she will personally show you properties that satisfy your unique requirements. When you want to discuss your options for a home mortgage loan, your broker will refer you to a reputable mortgage professional who can help you choose a loan that meets your specific needs. Your broker will have a working relationship with home inspectors and homeowner's insurance companies whose professional integrity they can vouch for. Online "one-stop" companies profit from handling all aspects of a transaction, but the New Albany home buyer may not receive adequate personal attention or get the best deal. It is to your advantage to engage the services of a real estate agent or broker, because their sole motive is to protect and guide you during the complex process of buying property.

Best Interests of the Buyer

Who represents the home buyer in the transaction? The most common scenario is for home  buyers to purchase a home with the help of the seller's listing agent. In this case, known as "dual agent representation," the real estate agent assists both the sellers and the buyers. However, it is also possible for the buyers to ask another realtor to represent their interests exclusively, acting as the "buyer's agent," a service which is available at no additional cost to the home buyer.

Any licensed real estate agent can act as your buyer's agent, helping you to locate and look at properties in your price range. However, if that real estate agent works for the same brokerage that is listing a particular property, dual agency or designated agent rules will then apply. The buyer's agent will advise the buyer if issues arise such as termite damage or significant material defects appearing on the home inspection report. If the home appraisal comes in at less than the asking price, the agent will represent the buyer's interest, working with the seller and the lender to negotiate a satisfactory resolution.

Building With Help From Brokers

Did you know that, for no additional cost, you can be represented by a real estate broker in conjunction with purchasing a home from a builder? Home builders are accustomed to working with real estate brokers and often their commission is already covered in their marketing and promotion costs. A broker can provide objectivity and guidance in designing your home and help you select amenities that will lead to a more advantageous resale. He or she can help coordinate the sale of your present home and the closing of the new one. Many brokers offer guaranteed home sale programs so that when your new home is finished, the real estate company will buy your previous home at a pre-agreed price to prevent you from owning two homes at one time; and can usually arrange the occupancy agreeable to all parties. Take advantage of using your real estate broker in conjunction with building your new home at no additional cost.

Buyer Agency

In the history of the real estate industry, there has been a single approach to working with a real estate agent. If you wanted to purchase a home, an agent showed you properties on behalf of the sellers of those homes. As a buyer, you were not represented by anyone other than yourself. Negotiation over price and terms were entirely your responsibility.

Now there is another way to handle buying property. With buyer agency, your real estate sales associate acts on your behalf in all negotiations. That agent is committed to being your advocate in finding and purchasing your next home, and at no cost to you.

In many cities across the United States, buyer agency is used in the majority of home purchases. With buyer agency, all fiduciary duties are owed to the buyer, not to the seller. The buyer has the freedom to discuss personal finances, negotiating strategies and the value of properties with their buyer agent. The buyer can ask for the opinion of the buyer agent regarding the condition of the property, the effect of improvements, the seller's motivation for selling and a variety of other information thar the seller's agent cannot provide.

Buying Out Of State

People who are moving to another state are usually concerned about how they will be able to monitor the purchase or sale of a home across state lines. Your local real estate agent can assist you in the process of buying or selling property out-of-state.

The National Association of Realtors is a nation-wide network of real estate sales professionals, similar to the local Association of Realtors. Almost every real estate professional is who is a member of the local association is also a member of the national organization. This professional affiliation among real estate agents all across the country works to your advantage when you buy or sell out-of-state property.

Your local real estate agent can contact an agency in the area where you want to buy or sell. When the relationship with the out-of-state real estate agent is established, your agent can coordinate arrangements by selecting houses for your consideration and helping you to strike a deal when you have made a selection. Having a local sales professional to help you work out any problems that may arise is a real plus.

Dual Agency

What happens when you are interested in purchasing property that is being sold by the same real estate agency in charge of your buying needs? You may have concerns about a dual buyer/seller agent. Will this form of agency protect your interests, or that of the seller? Will you as buyer be able to share confidential information about your needs?

In states where dual agency is legal, the real estate agent will serve the needs of both parties fully, because good business practices and professional integrity require honesty and fairness. If a buyer and seller are both represented by the same agency, they will be asked to sign a dual agent contract acknowledging the affirmative obligations of the real estate agent. Neither party should fear being shortchanged because the other party's interests will come first. Because the real estate agent will honor the code of confidentiality, both parties may share sensitive information without undue anxiety.

A reputable real estate agency will help to reach a satisfactory outcome to negotiations for both parties in the transaction.

Real Estate Agent Representation

Which party in a real estate transaction is represented by the real estate agent--the buyer or the seller? Until recently that question was never asked because the answer was always the same. Traditionally all the marketing professionals involved in real estate transactions were legally and ethically obligated to conduct business on behalf of the seller. They may have aided the buyer in certain situations, but their client was the seller. Today that is not necessarily the case.

In a time of increasing specialization, buyers can be represented by a real estate agent who functions solely as a buyer's broker. In this case, the sales professional helps the buyer locate a home, negotiate the price, and is responsible to the buyer only, for an agreed-upon fee or a percentage commission.

In any real estate transaction you have the right to know which party the real estate agent is representing.

Who Pays the Commission

Does it cost the home buyer more to be represented by a buyer's agent who serves their interests exclusively? No, because the listing agent splits the sales commission, which is customarily paid by the seller of the home, with the buyer's agent. The sales commission split is usually 50-50, but the listing agent and buyer's agent will sometimes make another agreement and split the commission unequally.

There is one very unusual circumstance in which the home buyer might pay a commission to their buyer's agent. The real estate agent might show the buyer a local "for sale by owner" (FSBO) home which the client decides to purchase. In most cases, the FSBO seller who is presented with a qualified buyer is glad to pay the buyer's agent a reduced fee of about 3 percent, or half of a normal sales commission. But the FSBO seller could stubbornly refuse to pay the buyer's agent any commission whatsoever. In that case, the buyer's agent would legitimately expect the buyer to pay the sales commission, in fair exchange for the agent finding the FSBO home and negotiating a successful transaction.

Buying Bug Free

If your house is a typical one, there is probably some kind of small, leggy creature that makes its home with you. Whether they are termites, fleas, roaches, ants, or spiders, it is a good idea to serve them with an eviction notice before you put your home on the market. If home remedies like ionized boric acid don't work, paying a professional exterminator will be money well spent.

Most standard sales agreements require that a property be inspected before the closing and treated for termite infestation, if necessary. It is a good idea to check for insect problems as soon as you sign a listing agreement, so that they don't become an issue of contention in the sale. Some insects may not physically damage the house, but may reduce its chances of selling for top dollar. Constantly having to push back spider webs while touring the house could seriously undermine a prospective buyer's ability to fully appreciate your home.

Dog Houses

A family pet often represents a major challenge when a house is being marketed. Your family may call your large dog "Fido"--but your real estate agent calls him "Fang"! This is a sensitive issue for a real estate agent to communicate to sellers.

Even though he is just doing "his job", a dog's bark will sound ferocious to anyone who is knocking at the door. This is usually a good thing, but when your home is on the market, real estate agents will be bringing a lot of strangers to the door. Most agents are concerned about the unpredictability of dogs they don't know. When they are greeted by a barking dog, they may not be willing to enter the house unless the owner is at home. If your dog is confined to part of the house, such as a basement, be sure to put up a sign informing people of that fact. Talk with your real estate agent about the best way to manage your pet while your house is being shown, and make sure that this information is included in the MLS listing.

House Odors

What is "H.O."? You can probably guess--it means "home odors".

Be careful of odors in your home. If your family room smells stuffy and stale, or if your cat or dog has left a distinctive odor in the hallway, take action by eliminating the source of the odor rather than merely treating the effects. Smells have a powerful effect on the way people react to a house, and no amount of room freshener or vanilla on the light bulbs can mask a serious odor problem. In fact, such remedies may draw attention to the problem. We have seen homes with an odor problem languish unsold on the market for months or sell for significantly less than comparable homes in the neighborhood.

If you think that you may have a problem, talk candidly with your real estate agent. Your agent should be able to offer some constructive suggestions, and perhaps refer you to a professional who can help banish H.O. from your home!

House Odors and Selling

Do you have a dog or cat that lives indoors with the family? A pet can pose a problem when your property is listed for sale. Even if prospective buyers have pets of their own that smell just like yours, they may be repelled by animal odors as they tour your home. If you have a pet odor problem, you should hire a professional to clean and deodorize the furniture and/or carpets that have been affected. Check the cat box frequently and keep the kitty litter fresh.

Some people have allergies to pet hair or irrational fears of certain animals, so it is a good idea to put dogs or cats outside or confine them to one area when your house is being shown. It is hard for buyers to appreciate your home through puffy, watery eyes or in between sneezes! Even if the house is exactly what they want, your chances of selling it will be diminished if the buyers are afraid of being attacked by Fido.

Houses and Pets

Many real estate agents are animal lovers and have pets of our own, but we have all shared stories of having our fingers or ankles nipped by furry creatures during a showing. We have opened the front door to the home we are showing only to have a purebred Persian kitten scoot toward the nearest busy street.

If you have pets and are going to put your house on the market, be sure to work out the showing arrangements carefully. It is important for us to be able to communicate to our colleagues what to expect when they pass through your front door. It is rare for pets to pose significant problems, but big dogs can be menacing. Buyers or agents may be allergic or even a little phobic about dogs or cats.

It is difficult to get a buyer excited about your home if he or she is sneezing continuously or unwilling to cross the threshold because your dog is barking away intruders. If your agent knows there might be a problem, they can arrange ahead of time for you to walk the dog, vacuum the cat dander or do whatever is necessary to make sure that the showing goes smoothly.

Termites

Most home purchase agreements have clauses that deal with termites. After the agreement is ratified, a termite inspection is arranged. Before the closing can occur, the sellers must be able to produce papers signed by a licensed exterminator stating that the house is free of infestation and that any termite damage has been repaired.

Before you sign an agreement to buy or sell a home, you should read the termite clause and be sure that you understand it. Who selects the exterminator and pays for the inspection? If bugs are found, who pays for the treatment? Are the sellers obligated to repair any damage and have they placed a limit of the dollar amount they will spend on those repairs? If treatment is required, the buyers may want a chance to discuss the options with the pest control company, especially if someone in the family is sensitive to the chemicals used to control the termites. Ask about the exterminator's guarantees or service contract options.