4 Money Musts Before Listing Your Home

Selling season is coming upon us – if you are thinking about selling your home – contact us sooner than later.  Much to do!  650-568-5522 or info@TheCatonTeam.com

4 Money Musts Before Listing Your Home

If you’re planning to sell your home, chances are good that you’re seeking a lifestyle level-up: you want to bring your home’s size, shape, features, location, maintenance and financial obligations into better alignment with your life – or your future. Making sure that you execute a home sale that actually does align your home with your life requires a lot of prep work.

For most home sellers, it’s the property preparation work that is top of mind. You’ve gotta pick an agent, let them come and tell you all the junk that has to go, pack up that stuff and then let the painters and housekeepers do their job. Then, and only then, the stagers can begin, telling you to pack up all the rest of your stuff so they can create a really clutter-free, updated, neutrally-chic vignette of an irresistible life in your home for the next folks. (Be forewarned – sellers have been known to love their post-staging house so much they question their decision to move!)

But there are a number of financial prep steps that also need to happen to ensure your home’s sale actually does improve your life the way you hope it will, without creating any surprise dramas or burdens. Here are four of those money-do’s to add into your list of home sale prep steps:

1. Get clear on your current credit status. I know, I know – checking credit is an ever-present item on a home buyer’s prep checklist. But if you’re selling a home, chances are good that you’ll want to buy a replacement one. The best time to spot credit glitches and hitches – bills you need to pay down, rogue errors and the like – is not when your current home is on the escrow countdown. If you’re thinking you want to sell your home this year, now is the time to check your credit, spot issues and begin fixing them.

Some credit rehabilitation projects take months, even a year, to complete – so the earlier you get started, the more time you’ll have on your side. And this advice is for everyone – even if you think you have stellar credit, check your reports far enough in advance that you can spot and dispute any erroneous information that might have found its way there. Get started by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com – and revisit this post for an even deeper dive into what you’re looking for, and what you need to do.

2. Scope out your minimum desired decrease – or maximum tolerance for increase – in housing costs. Often times, we eyeball these things: rates are still good, you just got a raise, you can well afford your current payment, looks like your home is worth more now and those houses up the hill don’t cost that much more – time to move up, right?

Maybe so. But maybe no. There’s a lot more to account for in this equation. You need to factor in what the actual increase in your mortgage payment will be, but also how much you’ll net on your home, how much cash you’ll need to close on your next one, and how much your utilities, property taxes, insurance and other home-related expenses might increase if you move up.

Same with downsizing: if you downsize from a home you’ve live in for decades to a brand new, but smaller, condo – you could actually see an increase in property taxes in some areas and get an HOA bill you never had before, to boot. By no means does that mean it’s not the right move to make: the increased bills might be offset by decreased heating, cooling and maintenance, and the fact is that the smaller, new place might just be the right size and style for the next stage of your life.

But you can’t know that’s the fact until you have clarity about how much you can truly, sustainably, wisely afford to spend on your next move. To get this clarity before you list, you’ll need to enlist

▪   your agent – who can help you understand what sort of downsize or move-up property you can get at various price points

▪   your mortgage broker – they can help you understand various financial scenarios for purchase prices, down payments and monthly payments – including property taxes

▪   your tax advisor – who can help you understand the differential impact of various next-home scenarios on your income tax situation, and

▪   your financial planner – if you don’t have one, it might be worth engaging one to help you make a wise financial move as you carry out your next home move.  A fee-based financial planner can help you get clarity around your current income and expenses, your debt, as well as your savings and investments – this insight allows you to wisely time your move vis-a-vis your other life and financial goals.

3. Get inspections and key reports in advance (then read them). The potential for big, bad financial surprises is the scariest element of any real estate transaction. And when you’re selling your home, that potential comes in the form of surprise property problems that complicate your sale, surprise liens and taxes that must be paid to close the deal and even surprise HOA problems that don’t manifest fully until the buyer gets HOA disclosures.

One way to limit your financial exposure to these sorts of surprises is to simply decide not to wait to gather this information until a buyer is on the hook. In many markets, it’s now standard operating procedure for sellers to actually have home, pest and/or roof inspections – and any governmentally-mandated inspections – conducted before the house even goes on the market. This empowers you, the seller, to either begin conducting repairs or to fully disclose what needs doing and list your home in as-is condition. You might not get the same price for it as you would have without the reports, but you will minimize the likelihood of tense negotiations and falling out of escrow – things that are common when a buyer gets a mid-transaction surprise of negative property condition reports. Ask your agent for advice about whether obtaining any or all of these inspection reports in advance makes sense in your situation.

Additionally, work with your agent to get early copies of your home’s preliminary escrow report and HOA disclosures. If you have outstanding liens or there are HOA issues that will make it difficult to carry out a sale, better to know – and solve for – them sooner than later.

4.  Create a financial plan for your home’s sale. “It takes money to make money,” they say. What they didn’t say is that it also takes money to turn your home into the cash your equity represents. So I’ll say it:

  • When you bought your home, the seller paid both agents’ commissions. Now that you’re selling, it’s your turn – make sure you calculate the average 5-6% of the purchase price that you’ll need to cover your listing agent’s work, and the buyer’s agent’s, too.
  • Depending on the condition of your home, you may need to spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than a few thousand getting it market-ready, whether you decide to do a DIY-fix-it sweep or to hire the best stager in town to showcase your showplace.
  • Depending on how much financial margin you have – or need – and on what your advance inspections revealed (if you did them – see #3, above), you might want to build in a line item for a repair credit to offset the cost of any repairs that come up during escrow.
  • Your agent can help you project other costs of selling your home, like property transfer taxes and paying for the buyer’s home warranty – costs customarily covered by the seller vary widely state-by-state, and even across counties within the same state.  Your escrow holder and agent can also get you up-to-speed on precisely how much of your home’s sale price will go to pay off your mortgage(s), property taxes and any other liens.

Your final money-do is to actually document your financial plan and budget for selling your home. Many agents will sit right down with you and help you do this; if yours will, take them up on the offer. It also creates a perfect time and space to get educated about the flow of the home selling process and standard bargaining practices in your area. The goal is to get a clear, concrete understanding of the dollars that will flow in and out during this major life change, so you can make clear, calm decisions throughout the process that set you up for success long after closing.

SELLERS: What money-dos did you fail to do before you sold your home?  Any advice for sellers-to-be?

I read this article at:  http://www.trulia.com/tips/2014/01/4-money-dos-before-listing-your-home/?ecampaign=cnews201401C&eurl=tips.truliablog.com%2F2014%2F01%2F4-money-dos-before-listing-your-home%2F

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The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

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GOOD NEWS FOR SELLERS – Home prices in 20 major U.S. cities were up – biggest jump in more than 6 years!

I was beside myself when I came across this article from Money.Cnn.com. Realtors are seeing this market and are trying to get the news out there. On the SF Peninsula – we have an excess of buyers ready to move and bare bones inventory. If you are considering the sale of your home – let your Realtor know! The Caton Team enjoys sitting down with sellers and showing them where the market is and where we expect it to go. Enjoy this article!

Home prices in 20 major U.S. cities were up 5.5% in November compared to a year earlier, their biggest jump in more than six years.

The latest reading of the closely watched S&P Case-Shiller index is another sign of the growing recovery in the long-battered housing market.

The last time prices jumped this much was in August 2006, when the housing bubble was still inflating. Soon after that, prices went into a steep decline that led to a flood of foreclosures. That sparked the most serious economic downturn since the Great Depression.

“Housing is clearly recovering,” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Prices are rising as are both new and existing home sales. These figures confirm that housing is contributing to economic growth.”

Housing prices have been helped by a number of factors in recent months, including increased sales of both new homes and previously-owned houses, a drop in foreclosures, and near record low mortgage rates. A drop in the nation’s unemployment rate also is helping.

The rise in home prices is good news for more than just people hoping to sell their home. The higher prices rise, the fewer homeowners that will be underwater on their mortgage, meaning they owe more on their homes than they are worth. That can help many homeowners refinance and save money, which would pump more cash into the economy.

“The ongoing price appreciation is significant, because we expect housing wealth effects to be an important factor driving economic growth in 2013, possibly matching the direct impact on economic output from the rebound in homebuilding,” said Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist for Deutsche Bank.

Related: Housing to drive economic growth (finally!)

Michael Gapen, senior U.S. economist for Barclays, said the fundamentals for the housing market are now strong enough that his firm is forecasting another 6% to 7% rise in prices in 2013, and a 5% to 6% rise again next year. He said the tight supply of homes for sale on the market should support continued price increases, and that the decline in foreclosed homes for sale is reducing the drag that those distressed properties had on overall prices.

How to play the 2013 housing market

“I’m not worried about these increases being overdone,” he said. “Home prices overcorrected a bit on the downside, and what we’re seeing now is a recovery from that.”

Sabrina’s 2 Cents: If you want to be a homeowner – don’t shy away just because prices are moving. There is a saying in Real Estate – “Don’t Wait and Buy Real Estate – Buy Real Estate and WAIT!” Why you ask? Because investing in real estate, even if it is the home you live in, is an investment. Buy Low. Sell High. That’s the idea. So if you want to be call your self a SF Peninsula homeowner – don’t sit on the sidelines and wait – come in and sit down with The Caton Team – we’ll come up with a plan to turn your real estate dreams into realty.

Related: Home building surges 12%

The S&P Case-Shiller index tracks home prices in 20 major markets. The latest reading showed 19 of them posting a gain in prices, with only New York posting a modest decline from a year earlier. Phoenix, one of the markets hit hardest by the housing crisis, posted the biggest increase, with home prices there climbing 22.8%.

San Francisco and Las Vegas, markets that were also hit by the housing boom and bust, also posted double-digit increases, while Miami, another bubble market, posted a 9.9% rise. Detroit, a city where economic problems led to a high rate of foreclosures, enjoyed an 11.9% price increase.

But even with November’s strong gains, the overall index stands 29% below the home price peak reached in the summer of 2006.

I read this article here: http://money.cnn.com/2013/01/29/news/economy/home-prices/index.html?hpt=hp_t3b

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at: http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me: http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:


Thanks for reading – Sabrina