GUIDE TO SELLING A VACANT HOME
Published by Authorify Publishing Copyright © 2019 Authorify Publishing
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. DISCLAIMER AND/OR LEGAL NOTICES: While all attempts have been made to verify information provided in this publication, neither the Author nor the Publisher assumes any responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, or omissions. Any slights of people or organizations are unintentional. This publication is not intended for use as a source of legal or accounting advice. The Publisher wants to stress that the information contained herein may be subject to varying state and/ or local laws or regulations. The reader of this publication assumes responsibility for the use of these materials and information. Adherence to all applicable laws and regulations, including advertising and all other aspects of doing business in the United States or any other jurisdiction is the sole responsibility of the reader. The Author and publisher assume no responsibility or liability whatsoever on behalf of any reader of these materials. If your property is currently listed with a Realtor, please disregard this notice. It is not our intention to solicit the offerings of other brokers. Printed in the United States of America
Table Of Contents
2. To Rent Or To Sell? That Is The Question 3. Not Living In Your Home Makes It Easier To Sell
10 4. Steps To Selling Your Vacant Home 16 5. Choosing The Right Agent 24 6. Why Changing Things And Small Improvements Can Gain You Thousands 28 7. Marketing A Vacant Home 34 8. Using Curb Appeal To Sell Your Home For More 38 9. Importance Of Good Pictures 48 10. Staging Solutions And Options 54
11. Safety Points While Selling A Vacant Home
12. Selling A Home Out Of State
13. Negotiating While Selling A Vacant Home 14. A Good Agent Can Help Sell A Vacant Home
15. Mistakes To Avoid While Selling A Vacant Home 96 16. Closing The Sale On A Vacant Home 104
When I first ventured into the real estate industry years ago, I did so with the hopes of helping sellers like you avoid the headaches often associated with the home-selling process. In my years of experience, not only have I helped alleviate the stress of selling for numerous clients, but I’ve also accumulated years of knowledge to help them get more money for their homes in the least amount of time. I decided to share all of my expertise in one place with potential clients. And that’s why you’re receiving this book. I want to help you have the best possible home-selling experience. And by that, I mean I want you to 1. Get the most money possible for your home, 2. Sell in the least amount of time, and 3. Avoid the headaches most commonly associated with the home-selling process. Think of this book as my gift to you. It contains insider advice on the home-selling process to help you achieve your ultimate real estate goals, including: • Secret strategies to sell your home for more money • Marketing techniques employed by top agents • Advice on how to appeal to today’s buyers • And much, much more If, after reading through it, you want to hire me to help you sell your home, I’d be more than happy to meet with you to discuss a specific plan to sell your home. Happy reading!
AGENT was raised in CITY with X siblings. As a child, AGENT had aspirations of being a OCCUPATION. Never in a million years did he think he’d stumble into the real estate industry, but you can’t always predict where or when you’ll discover what you’re meant to do in life. AGENT was taught at a young age that if you want something in life, you have to work for it. So that’s what he did. And he worked hard. As the years went by, AGENT worked his way from FIRST JOB to LATER JOB, never wavering in his resolve to become the best version of himself with each career move. AGENT got into the real estate industry X years ago when STORY ABOUT HOW YOU GOT INTO REAL ESTATE/WHY. He set out to LIST ASPIRATIONS FROM WHEN YOU STARTED OUT IN REAL ESTATE. As his career advanced, AGENT found his stride working with NICHE MARKET/SPECIFIC MARKET AREA/TYPE. He’s an expert in LIST AREAS OF EXPERTISE/SKILLS THAT SET YOU APART FROM OTHER AGENTS.
Throughout his career, AGENT has earned numerous accolades, including:
• LIST ACCOMPLISHMENTS • LIST SALES STATS ix
• ANY OTHER IMPRESSIVE INFO YOU’D LIKE TO INCLUDE
AGENT aims to provide the highest level of service to his clients and takes deep pride in helping them achieve their real estate goals. AGENT aims to provide the highest level of service to his clients and takes deep pride in helping them achieve their real estate goals.
Testimonials & Reviews for Agent Name
Here’s a list of people whom I have helped buy or sell a home, and what they said about working with me:
Agent-Name had a tough job, but she did it!
We were tough clients! We were moving to City and didn’t have a lot of time to look at houses, having to deal with our employer’s relocation, and all of the other challenges that came along. But, Agent-Name went above and beyond to help us. Even now, one year after the sale closed, I can still call her for business and service recommendations in the area — she knows just about everyone, and is very happy to help.
Agent-Name is the best agent in City!
I’ve used Agent-Name twice so far, and I was impressed both times. I bought my dream home with AGENT a year ago. She worked long and hard to find me the perfect home. And she just recently sold another property of mine. Everything went quickly and smoothly. Both of my real estate deals were done very quickly and professionally. Agent is honestly the BEST in her business. I would highly recommend her.
Agent-Name perseverance got me the house
My experience with Agent-Name during the entire home- buying process, from start to finish, has been nothing short of exceptional. I have a unique work structure, and because of this, it was very difficult to find mortgage lenders that would approve me for a home. I was very frustrated and on the verge of giving up, but Agent-Name insisted that we continue searching. Not only did we find a mortgage lender but also a mortgage that I felt great about. His perseverance is the reason I am now a homeowner. He is professional, punctual, knowledgeable, and very easy to work with. With the highest regard, I will recommend Agent-Name to all my friends and family.
Very attentive to concerns, details, and negotiations
Agent-Name helped me find a house by literally picking it out for me. Every house I wanted to go to, I got there and didn’t love it. Agent-Name was busy taking note of the likes and dislikes I was stating and said “I have a house that you’re going to love”.... AND I DID! I went back 4 or 5 times to show other members of my family, and she accommodated me without complaint. I was a first-time homebuyer, and she walked me through the steps of everything, gave me advice, and constantly followed up to make sure I was doing OK. With her help, I was able to close on the house early, right before I started my new job. I would recommend Agent-Name to EVERYONE, buying or selling. Agent-Name made it so so easy. She guided us through the entire process. She recommended great people to work with
every step of the way. She was available 24/7 to answer any questions we may have had. With her high standards, expertise in the industry, and patience, we would recommend her as a Realtor to anyone looking! She was amazing!
Agent-Name even advised me on how to prepare my house
Agent-Name was a gem. In addition to being highly knowledgeable about the real estate market, with many years of experience, he is a consummate professional. He was extremely easy to work with, gave me very good advice about preparing my house for sale and was very responsive during the entire process of receiving offers, selling and closing. I would work with him again in a heartbeat. He’s that good.
Agent-Name is the first agent I would call
Agent-Name and his team were able to rapidly list, show and sell my property. Being an expert in real estate, he was spot on in his pricing of my property and getting this deal completed. Overall, I highly recommend him and his team. If I want to buy real estate, AGENT would be the first person I’d call.
Agent-Name got us an offer in three days!
Agent-Name was the consummate professional during our stressful and difficult process. In the midst of juggling a ‘failed’ marketing effort with another agent, she presented a
well thought out plan and strategy to sell our home in short order. We needed to move quickly due to a growing family and another baby on the way. She helped alleviate that pressure by securing an acceptable offer with 3 days of listing. We put pressure on her, and she delivered. We couldn’t thank her enough.
Agent-Name kept us calm throughout the process!
Agent-Name always made herself available to answer questions. She worked hard to sell our home and find the best fit for our new home. She and her team worked with us through the entire process and kept us calm when we got anxious.
I am 100 percent satisfied!!
Agent-Name is professional and knowledgeable about everything. She is also always available. I would definitely recommend her to anyone. Very smooth transaction from start to finish. I felt confident with her experience.
Agent-Name found us our dream home
Agent-Name was very efficient and helped us find our dream home within a few short months. She was able to negotiate the price that we wanted for the house. Overall, I would look for her again to help us look for a house if need be in the future. Thank you so much!
Efficient communication and service
Agent-Name and his staff were very helpful in selling our condo. They kept me informed frequently with email, sending reports on showings, offers, and feedback from potential buyers. We are very satisfied.
Agent-Name will get your house sold fast!
Agent-Name is great and has the expertise to get your house sold. The communications throughout our sale (from beginning to end) has been outstanding. Agent-Name understands the stress involved in selling your house, and she updated our family consistently! This made us feel we were in good hands. I have worked with numerous agents, and I highly recommend her to represent you when it comes time to sell your home.
Excellent experience topped with a personal touch
Excellent experience all around, not only knowledgeable but Agent-Name and team have a very personal touch I felt like family throughout the entire process. He always took his time; we never felt rushed or like “just a number.” I sold my home and bought with him. We had lots of questions he gladly answered them with no problem and guided us through the entire process, eliminating lots of stress. I truly appreciate that and would recommend him and his team to family and friends.
CHAPTER 1 Introduction Vacant homes pose real estate challenges and offer opportunity at the same time. Paradoxically, empty real estate can be easier to sell (e.g., it can be owner-unoccupied and beautifully staged for marketing) and at the same time it is harder to sell (it may be a piece of property left to you in a favorite aunt’s estate that has been neglected for years. That is what we are going to discuss in this book — the challenges and the techniques to successfully sell an empty house. A home can become vacant due to marriage, divorce, job relocation, death, or myriad other life events. The house could be in superb, average, or shabby condition. It may be updated or old-fashioned. It may be starkly empty and beautifully painted in neutral colors throughout, or it may be crammed with old furniture and the previous owner’s (perhaps your) possessions and have zebra-striped wallpaper in the kitchen and bathrooms.
Either way, it needs to be sold. This book considers how.
There are two types of vacant home sales. One is where the homeowners/sellers have decided to vacate the home they currently live in and reside elsewhere while the house is sold, such as an apartment, rental home, or residence hotel. They do this to make a home showing a more attractive
proposition for the buyer. As we will see, this is “staging” a house for the market. The advantages of vacating the house before starting the home marketing and sales process include presenting a better staging opportunity, more frequent showings, easier upkeep to curb appeal and a pristine interior, and less burden on the seller’s time and effort. The other situation is where the home is unoccupied — no one lives there and perhaps no one has lived there for some time. Maybe you were left the house, assumed it for a debt, or decided it was an investment that did not work out. Sometimes vacancies are due to a bank foreclosure or short sale in which the lender accepts less than the mortgage balance. It is these bank-owned properties, sometimes called “real estate-owned,” or REOs, that tend to be “problem homes” in maintenance and sales. A house that’s been vacant may look like a bargain, but buyers should be cautious because expensive problems can exist inside homes that have been unoccupied. While vacating the home during the time it is on the market can be a distinct advantage to the seller, that is not the case with all vacant property. That’s the purpose of this book — to educate the reader on the issues involved in selling a vacant residential property.
CHAPTER 2 To Rent or To Sell? That is the Question
The decision whether to rent out or to sell a vacant home often arises in residential real estate sales transactions. Real estate is a prime investment. For most Americans, it is their largest investment, with the equity built up in the home of genuine importance in retirement planning. It may be an attractive proposition either for long-term investment or immediate cash flow if a homeowner has the opportunity (and financial ability) to become a landlord and rent out a home while affording another. A family may arrive at a point where more room is needed, or a change of location desired, or a new job requires a relocation that causes someone to move, yet rent their house to tenants. Other situations where it might be more practical to rent out rather than sell out could involve a home that has languished on the market or where the owner is “under water,” the mortgage being more than the home value. By 2016, American home prices had recovered nearly all the losses from the 2006 downturn, although when adjusted for inflation, prices are still 20% below the 2006 peak. Renting your home versus selling has many factors to consider. For example, is real estate a good investment in the overall economy? Is the housing market in general 4
moving up or down? If waiting two or three years will see substantial appreciation in local home prices or if home prices have been depressed but are slowly rebounding, it may be better to rent out your home than sell now. It makes sense to keep a house as an investment if it shows future growth in worth, provided you have the wherewithal to maintain its value with conscientious renters and appropriate upkeep. In a general down market, it could also make sense to hang onto the home and realize rental income until the market recovers.
A MAIN REASON TO SELL — NOW
The local situation is a big factor. Is the home in an area of economic stability and rising house prices or in a steadily decaying area? That the home is in an increasingly unstable neighborhood is economically a reason to sell quickly. Should the value of the entire area have vastly decreased, it is hard to know when it will stop, or if it will stop at all. Consulting with a real estate agent who has experience and knowledge about dropping neighborhood value will help you in figuring out what to do. If the agent believes that the value is not going to go up anytime soon, it is best to sell your vacant home as soon as you can. Using a real estate agent to sell your vacant home will make the process go more smoothly, especially if you need to sell it within a short period of time.
ISSUES IN DECIDING TO RENT
YOUR VACANT HOME
There are issues that will determine whether you can, or should, rent your home rather than selling it.
Renting costs. Consider the costs in renting your home to decide if you can afford to go that route. Determine the going rental rates in your market using tools like the MLS listings, “shopper” guides, and online websites. Look for comparable properties in your neighborhood to estimate the monthly rent your home could bring. Note features such as square footage, number of rooms, and upgrades such as granite kitchen counter tops. Take location and proximity to desirable schools into consideration while looking for comps. You can also talk to real estate agents and property managers to get their take on pricing. If it turns out that you cannot cover your mortgage with the projected rent, then calculate how much of a loss you can take to still be able to afford to rent the house. In addition to mortgage payments, there are taxes, upkeep, and utilities to consider. Your home-sale situation. Your own economic circumstances may play a role in determining whether to rent your home or offer it for sale. Some sellers must evaluate whether they can afford to sell their home. If not, renting is a viable alternative. Here is an example of a situation where a couple had to examine how affordable it was for them to sell their house.
The couple live in an area of Florida where houses have dropped in value since the peak in 2006, the same year their house was purchased. As they debated whether to sell their home in 2011, they realized that if they chose to sell, they would be forced to take a $50,000 cash loss, not including closing costs. They looked at the numbers and decided they could not afford to sell their home. For them, it made more sense to rent their home and purchase a second home. When you rent, you may take a loss monthly, but you do not have to come up with the cash to satisfy the loan immediately upon sale. If you sell at a loss, then there is no tax benefit. The couple bought some time for real estate prices to further recover. Beneficial tax deductions of renting a home. For homeowners in need of tax deductions, there are benefits to renting rather than selling a house. You can deduct expenses related to owning and managing your property when you rent it. This includes mortgage interest payments, insurance, property taxes, maintenance, fixtures, cleaning services and even travel and local transportation expenses incurred in maintaining and managing the property and rent collection.
PROS & CONS OF RENTING OUT
The biggest advantage of renting out your vacant home is gaining an additional source of income. This extra money each month will help you pay property taxes, mortgage, and utilities (unless you rent with the condition that tenants pay
for utilities each month, which is completely your choice). It is possible to return some profit. Another advantage is the increase in the value in your vacant home through appreciation and/or by having some renovations done for your tenants which could end up becoming an enhancing investment at ultimate time of sale. For example, finishing the basement and adding a kitchen and a bathroom will turn it into a basement apartment, and increase the home’s value for resale. By renting out your vacant home, you will avoid squatters, vandals, and thieves. For example, if you own a vacant home and you are rarely there, squatters and vandals are going to take notice. Therefore, it is best to rent it out even short-term, so there is someone living there if you are not planning on quickly selling it. You may get lucky and even have tenants, who can help with maintaining your property. This could be anything from lawn care to plumbing issues. A tenant could even become a future buyer for your property. One con to renting out is that you are the landlord with the obligations, responsibilities, and headaches of that role. Property management is a dynamic activity, meaning you do not simply rent out your home and await income and tax benefits. There is regular and emergency maintenance (e.g., mowing and the hot water heater that bursts at 3 AM.)
Bad tenants are a serious concern for owners renting houses. They cause damage to property, are late on rent
payments, or don’t pay rent at all. This will cause additional expenses for repairs, perhaps involve legal fees for eviction proceeding, and may eliminate the benefits of renting out your property. Background checks and requiring references on potential tenants is advised. Another con if you are expecting to sell within a few months to a year or two is that having tenants in the home can make the home more difficult to sell. For example, say you have let your tenant know that you are planning to sell, and that they must relocate within two months’ time. If they do not have options, they may drag their feet and make it as difficult as possible for you to prepare the home to sell. Whereas, if your home were empty, you could easily clean up, and get the property ready for the potential buyers, without having to work around your tenant’s schedule. Converting residential to rental property may involve capital gains tax. If you lived in the house for at least two years, then rented it out for under three years, you might be able to use the provision that allows you to exclude up to $500,000 of gains tax free. If you plan to sell a home you’ve converted to rental property, you should consult an accountant or tax expert.
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