Consider This Before You Sell On Your Own. . . .

—distributed by Texas Association of REALTORS®
Consider this before you sell on your own

There’s nothing stopping you from selling your home without a real estate agent. Can you believe I just wrote that? Some of my fellow Texas Realtors® probably can’t. But it’s true. You can put a for sale by owner sign in your yard, buy ads, and negotiate the sale of your own home … and that’s a pretty attractive idea to some homeowners. Before you start heading down that road, though, you should consider a few things.

Practice makes perfect
If you’re selling your home, chances are you’ve been through at least one real estate transaction. Compare your experience and knowledge, though, to that of someone who spends every day helping people buy and sell property.

Real estate transactions can be complicated and multifaceted: title insurance, surveys, inspections, earnest money, option fees, escrow, financing, contingencies, disclosures, required addenda for specific types of properties—the list stretches on. Make a misstep somewhere along the way and you might jeopardize the transaction, lose money, or find yourself named in a lawsuit.

I’m not saying you can’t successfully negotiate the process on your own. However, regularly performing tasks and processes leads to expertise. I believe that using the services of a Texas Realtor is a better option

Do you have the time?
Selling a home requires much more time than you think. You’ll have to educate yourself on the process, analyze the current housing market to determine a price for your home, research the various means of marketing your home and implementing the marketing strategies you choose.

And then you have to be available to show the property to prospective buyers. Depending on how long it takes to sell, showing your house can really eat into your free time. You’ll probably have to postpone any trips while your home is on the market and be around most weekends. What if someone wants to see the house at 10 a.m. on a Thursday? Be prepared to take off work to show your property.

Also, before you show your home to someone, I’d suggest you make sure that person is qualified and motivated to purchase it. Nothing is more frustrating than spending time with prospective buyers, negotiating a sale and getting halfway to closing only to find out the buyer can’t qualify for a loan.

Why not have a dedicated professional who knows the ins and outs of the industry and shows homes for a living?

Speaking of price
The biggest incentive to most people who decide to sell their homes on their own is saving the agent’s fee or commission. But that can backfire if you don’t set the right price for your home. Make a mistake here and you might leave a substantial amount of money on the table.

Overpricing your home can be equally detrimental. Homes initially priced too high may sit on the market giving the impression that something must be wrong with the property. Often, a home that starts off overpriced eventually sells for less than if it had been priced right at the beginning.

There’s also the give and take of negotiation. Some people are uncomfortable with the confrontation. Others get too emotional. Texas Realtors® are skilled at the art of negotiation and will act in your best financial interest.

What has changed?
If you haven’t bought or sold a home in the last few years, you’ll quickly find out that quite a bit has changed, and I’m not only speaking of market conditions, which shift quickly and on a local level. I’m referring to the marketing tactics. Ideas that worked well the last time you were involved in a real estate transaction may not work this time. Texas Realtors® have witnessed the evolution of the industry and customers expectations and are comfortable navigating a modern real estate transaction

Texas Realtors are here to help
To sum it up … yes, you can sell your home on your own. Some homeowners do so and are pleased with the process and results. Many others sell on their own, find it a huge headache, and vow never to do so again. Still others attempt to sell on their own and eventually hire a Texas Realtor® to get the job done.

If you do choose to go it alone, make sure you’re aware of what it will really take and the stakes involved. After doing a bit of research, you will likely find that the decision to hire a Texas Realtor® is well worth it. For more information about selling your home or to find a Texas Realtor®, visit TexasRealEstate.com.

What To Know About Homeowners Associations

If you’re planning to buy a home or condominium, keep in mind that the property may be governed by a homeowners association (HOA). More than 60 million residents were governed by HOAs in 2009, according to the Community Associations Institute. That’s up from 45.2 million residents in 2000.

Many buyers appreciate the benefits provided by HOAs, but the mandatory dues and covenants, conditions and restrictions (CCRs) occasionally rub some people the wrong way. Before you make an offer on a property governed by an HOA, here are some things to consider.

What do you get from the HOA?
Homeowners associations often provide access to amenities that individual residents couldn’t otherwise afford—pools, gyms, tennis courts, walking trails—and their rules can protect property values. Some associations also take on services traditionally provided by government, such as trash pickup, landscaping, street lighting and street and sidewalk maintenance.

Look past the pool and golf course
Your perfect condo may have a great pool or your dream home might be sitting on the first tee, but remember that those things are only part of the HOA’s scope. When you purchase a property governed by an HOA, you enter into a legal contract with the association. You agree to abide by the association’s regulations and pay its dues. In exchange, you get a community guided by an HOA and the access to its facilities and perks.

Read before you buy
Make sure that any uses or freedoms you expect to come along with your property are allowed in the CCRs. Want to store your boat trailer in your driveway? The association’s CCRs may not allow that. Want to paint the house? Some HOAs have restrictions on permissible colors, so check the palette allowed by the association.

You may have heard horror stories of home repossessions and other legal squabbles involving property owners and HOAs. A common theme among many of these cases is homeowners not understanding the regulations or ignoring them. Review the CCRs carefully before you purchase the property and you’ll be much less likely to run afoul of your HOA.

About those dues …
HOAs run on dues, your annual fee for living in the community. These fees range from less than a hundred to thousands of dollars, depending on the neighborhood or building and what amenities it offers. Ask how much the dues are and if they’ve increased during the past few years.

Find out what the dues cover and what they don’t. For example, your condo association may perform all exterior maintenance. That means when the roof leaks, your dues pay for its repair, even if you live on the ground floor of a three-story building. If you live on that third floor, however, you don’t have to pay to repair the entire roof yourself. If the association manages a pool, you’re paying for it, even if you can’t swim and never use the amenity.

Who’s in charge?
When you review an HOA’s documents, be sure to inquire about its finances. Is the HOA solvent? Does it have a reserve fund? Who controls the money? What kind of oversight is that person subject to?

Find out who manages the HOA and what role residents have in its governance. There may be a board or other group of property owners who manage the association. Take some time and talk to people who currently live in the community. How do they feel about the neighborhood, development or building? Find out their impressions of how the HOA and how it’s run.

Perform due diligence before signing a contract to purchase a property governed by a homeowners association. You’ll be able to make an informed decision about the HOA’s pros and cons, as well as your responsibilities, without jeopardizing the transaction or subjecting yourself to regulations that aren’t consistent with your lifestyle. For expert advice about HOAs and all kinds of information about owning, buying or selling a home, ask your Texas Realtor® or visit TexasRealEstate.com.

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How to find the right Texas Realtor®

Real estate is a diverse industry, with residential, commercial and other specialties. If you’re selling a house, you obviously want an agent who knows residential real estate, but what else should you look for?

What’s in a name? A lot
Holding a real estate license does not make someone a Realtor®. The main thing that distinguishes a Realtor® from someone who’s merely licensed by the state to sell real estate is the Code of Ethics, which requires Realtors® to put their clients’ interests first at all times. Hiring a Texas Realtor® means you’ve retained someone who is committed to continuing education, professionalism, and integrity. So, before you ask potential real estate agents any other questions, ask if they’re Texas Realtors®.

Look beyond dollar signs
When considering an agent, it may be a mistake to choose your representative based solely on compensation. Agents charge differently and provide different levels of service. Make sure you know what you’re getting.

The price may not be right
It’s also not always the best idea to go with an agent solely because he suggests the highest asking price. Yes, you want to get as much as possible for your home, but neither you nor your agent determines what a buyer is willing to pay. An agent who prices your home too high to get your listing isn’t doing you any favors.

Where are all the buyers?
Suppose your house is beautifully remodeled and priced to sell. What good is that if no one sees it? Before you hire an agent, ask how she plans to market your property. Agents have different marketing strategies that may include the Internet, MLS, print ads, open houses, staging and other means. Make sure you’re comfortable with the efforts planned for your property.

Staying in touch
Find out how an agent stays in touch with clients. Phone calls? E-mails? Posts on your Facebook wall? Tell the agent which method you prefer – and how often you want to hear from her. It’s better to find out now if an agent doesn’t use text messages, which may be your preferred method of communication, than to find out during negotiations with a buyer.

Ask around
Don’t be afraid to interview several agents. Ask your friends and family who they’ve used. There are lots of us available to help you, and we each have our own style, personality, strengths and business models.

To find Realtors® in your area that can help you sell your home, visit TexasRealEstate.com and use the Find a Texas Realtor® search. You can narrow your search by criteria such as city, whether they represent buyers or sellers, what languages they speak, and what type of real estate they specialize in.