by Anna

Interview Real Estate Agents

July 9, 2014 in Family by Anna

Today, I want to share why I think you should interview real estate agents before hiring one.

Interview Real Estate Agents from Learn Like A Mom! http://learnlikeamom.com/interview-real-estate-agents/ Here's why you should interview real estate agents and not feel guilty doing so! #moving #realestate #realtor #realestateagent

Why You Should Interview Real Estate Agents

Truth be told, I have only purchased one house and I’m in the process of selling it. My husband and I thought long and hard about whether we would try to sell our property on our own or hire someone to represent us. In the end, we chose the latter.

If you have ever shared with friends or family that you’re looking for a home or thinking of selling your own, most everyone says something along the lines of, “Oh! I know a realtor I can recommend!” Many of you may know a real estate agent personally as well.

I still think it makes sense to interview any prospective agents because they are being paid by you. When you hire someone to do work on your home, you get estimates and gather information about how and when the work will be done. When you are looking for babysitters, you meet them and see how they’ll interact with your child. When you’re an employer, you interview any potential employees.

Don’t Take The Easy Route with Previous Agents and Friends

Just because a friend is a realtor, doesn’t mean they’ll be the best real estate agent for you. Just because a friend recommends their realtor to you, doesn’t mean you have to hire him/her. It’s business and nobody should take it personally.

Interviewing real estate agents just makes sense.

Oftentimes, people don’t.

Why not just use the realtor that sold you the house you’re currently in? Well, you can. But do you know how that realtor handles business when they are the listing agent versus the buyer’s agent? Do you know if they’ll want to pursue the option to be a dual agent (and double their commission)? Why not interview them while interviewing others? It won’t hurt.

We did not choose to hire the agent that sold us our home because we never saw her after our transaction. I don’t mean that we expected to hang out or anything. I mean…we never saw her face or name appear on any signs in our area. To me, this meant she wouldn’t have known this area too well anyway, so how could she sell someone on it?

We also recommended her to a friend when they were interested in looking around the area and she was weak with her follow-through. When we purchased through her, she was actually a dual agent, representing the builder and us. At the time, we just wanted to purchase the house and didn’t think about having an agent that represented our interests in the transaction.

Stay Focused on What You Need

When you are purchasing or selling a home, you want someone to represent your interests. Hiring a real estate agent can do that. But you want to make sure you sign a contract with someone you feel comfortable with, you trust, you can contact at any time, and you like their communication style. You also want someone that is good at their job.

Sounds like a marriage in some ways, doesn’t it? Well…it sort of is. You are going to share things with this person and expect them not to share the information with the buyer or buyer’s agent. This is one of the main reasons I did not want to hire someone as a dual agent…Walking that line can be hard for people and I wanted someone to earn their money by representing me and selling my house.

It is always important to ask, “Is ‘Your’ Agent Working For You?”

This Working With Real Estate Agents pamphlet (PDF) does a pretty good job of explaining the three roles a realtor can take. This article explain why you should sign it.

There Needs to be Trust in Every Relationship

Trust is a big part of this. Not only do you trust them with your specific situation, timeline, financial picture, and access to your home, but you also have to trust their advice as the professional in the field. If you don’t trust their input on the market and where things stand with your property or the timeline it may take to sell your house, you are going to want to anull this relationship rather quickly.

This brings me to another point. I interviewed five realtors before selecting one. We had feedback about our house that spanned all the way from, “you’re house isn’t worth more than X and I suggest you rent it for a year and try again after that” to “I would list your house at Y right now.” There was a difference of $50,000 between X and Y and we didn’t trust either one of those responses. Don’t go with the first person you speak to! Play the field a bit. (Now it sounds like dating before marriage!)

Someone who suggests that your house might benefit from a pre-market appraisal is likely suggesting your house is worth more than what comparibles are showing. We were told by 3 out of 5 of those realtors that we should do a pre-market appraisal. (We followed their advice.)

Someone that is good at their job (which can be seen in numbers like houses sold in the past year, average days on market, list price vs. sell price) should give you a clear picture of what your house can sell for and how they can negotiate for the best-case scenario on your behalf.

Communication is Key

The way someone communicates with you can give you a glimpse as to how well they will communicate and negotiate on your behalf. Are they sweating and nervous? Are they condescending? Are they strong, but respectful? Do they sound confident in themselves and the subject matter.

How they prefer to communicate will be quite significant when you’re juggling showings, feedback, responses to potential buyers, and just questions like, “Why isn’t my house showing?!?” “The house next to me just went on the market!!! What should we do now?!?” You will want answers, so you’ll want to know if they like email, phone calls, texts, or Facebook messages the best. Don’t put yourself in the situation where you want to go bang on their office door. Ask before you sign on the line!

Skip The Hunt

If you are having to track down a realtor to interview them…You may not want to hire them. If they aren’t responding to you now, why do you think they’ll reply in a timely manner later? They should be wanting your business. If they don’t, great for them! But, don’t waste your time.

I contacted an acquaintance that we had really thought we would hire whenever we moved. I hesitated to contact her because we witnessed how long it took for our mutual friend’s house to sell. But I did anyway. I got an initial reply and then nothing. I didn’t bother to follow-up. It’s not my job and she didn’t need my business. Plain and simple.

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by Anna

My Dream Kitchen

June 28, 2014 in Family by Anna

Have you ever sat around and thought about how you’d create your dream kitchen if you had the chance? Well, we are on the verge of a move (whenever the house sells, we’ll move), and I keep thinking that I need to sit down and write a list of our “would likes” and our “must haves.” That way, when we are house hunting, we’ll already know what we’re looking for.

For a chance to win an Un Amore custom-designed KitchenAid Stand Mixer from PartSelect, I have been thinking about the top three “would likes” for our new kitchen and decided to check out what KitchenAid has to offer! I discovered three appliances that would change our reality kitchen into a dream kitchen.

My Dream Kitchen from Learn Like A Mom! http://learnlikeamom.com/dream-kitchen/ ? #kitchen #kitchenappliances #dreamkitchen #remodel #kitchenappliances

Top Three Appliances For My Dream Kitchen

We have two young boys that will change into tweens and teens before we know it. Big Brother has always been a good eater, open to trying just about anything we put in front of him. However, discovering that he actually does have some control over what he does, he’s lately turned up his nose on occasion. Little Brother is exactly like me when I was young. He turns his nose up at just about anything. Although he did just spend a week with his grandparents and decided he would eat and make up for lost meals…and make me out to be a liar!

Anyway, I keep reminding myself as I find myself challenged at mealtimes, that soon enough, they’ll be eating us out of house and home. So, one of the larger dream kitchen appliances I’d like in our home would be a double oven! I just think it’d come in really handy when trying to keep up with their metabolism down the road!

When you’re preparing a lot of food, you’re typically buying a lot of products, and the garbage and recycling bins fill up faster than ever as well. The second dream kitchen appliance I wouldn’t mind having would be the KitchenAid Trash Compactor, reducing our use of garbage bags and trips to the outside dumpster. Plus, I think I’d like not having to smell the garbage all the time!

The third (but not final) appliance on the list for my dream kitchen is clearly for me! It may be selfish and a bit sophisticated for our home, but it’s just so inviting and would make me feel like I’m somewhere else for a bit. It’s an undercounter wine cellar! Just think of the money I’d be saving by grabbing a bottle from my very own cellar to find a tiny escape rather than taking the whole family on a vacation to get away!

Okay, okay…I may be talking myself into that one, but this is a dream kitchen isn’t it!? Obviously I’d want a fridge, microwave, nice countertops and cabinets, quality flooring, lighting, and a backsplash too, but…I’ll have to save that for another day!

What would you want in your dream kitchen?

by Anna

Declutter Your Home

June 11, 2014 in Family by Anna

I have been preparing our house for the market and in doing so, I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff!

I am definitely the hoarder in our house. My husband could live out of two bags, use about five kitchen items each year, and doesn’t gather anything for future use or hang on to much for sentimental value. (Which probably means the items he has hung on to mean a whole lot more!) I am always tucking something away here or stashing materials there…all in preparation for “some day.” It’s also part of the teacher in me. Do you know many teachers that don’t have a ton of stuff or utilize every bit of storage available?

But, over the last several years, I’ve been fairly good about going through things every six months and weeding out a little here and a little there.

Today I’ll be sharing six simple ways to declutter your home and why you should!

Six Simple Ways to Declutter Your Home from Learn Like A Mom! http://learnlikeamom.com/around-the-house/organization/declutter-home/ #declutter #organization #homeforsale #cleaning

GIVE THINGS AWAY

It’s nice to make money, but sometimes you come across something that you really think someone else could use and you don’t want to throw it away. If it’s the perfect fit for that person, they may adopt the item and add their own wear and tear! Anyone that’s had children knows that kids go through things so fast and it’s nice to save a little money by taking hand-me-downs from a friend or relative. If the receiver decides they don’t want the item, let it be. They’ll either get rid of it on their own or decline the offer. If they choose the latter, maybe the rest of this list will help.

PACK

If you know you don’t want to purge an item from your house AND you know that you will use it in the future, but it’s not an everyday use item, pack it up. We have several containers of things in our garage that are full of items we use once or twice each year. I have added close to 100 boxes of things to simply declutter our home while it’s on the market. I took a look at everything and kept the essentials (well, maybe even more than the essentials), and packed up the rest.

THROW THINGS AWAY

Why are we so scared of this? If something is torn to pieces or an odd part to something you already got rid of, toss it. If people keep declining your free stuff, it’s probably because it’s not worth much…to a lot of people. Get rid of it. This can even be your last resort, but is something you may need to do.

CONSIGN YOUR ITEMS

Search online for consignment sales in your area. They are often run locally and take place every six months around here. (That’s how I got into the routine of weeding things out over the last few years.) Some take place in churches while others take place in expo centers and at the state fairgrounds.

You can also search for local consignment stores that operate like a normal business. They stock their inventory and sell items consumers bring to them for a percentage of the sale price. Some give you the money upfront (like when I dropped off over $100 worth of books to a local store) and some keep your information on file and cut you a check every few months.

Consigning may require a bit of work on your part. You’ll have to register since you’ll be receiving a portion of the profit from the sale. You’ll need to clean toys, check books for markings, launder clothes, and maybe even tag items. You’ll want to clean all of your items and charge or replace batteries before approaching any consignment sale. The better something looks or runs the more likely you’ll cash in on it. But in the end, someone will buy your things at the price you set with no negotiation or direct sale on your part.

The pictures in this post are my car full of items for a consignment sale. I made almost $400.

Six Simple Ways to Declutter Your Home from Learn Like A Mom! http://learnlikeamom.com/around-the-house/organization/declutter-home/ #declutter #organization #homeforsale #cleaning

SELL THINGS

Sell things directly if you wish. You’ll still want to clean things up and have a price in mind. You can post things online or you could hold a yard sale. I ended up organizing a neighborhood garage sale where four households participated. We advertised on various sites and hung up signs. It took a little bit of teamwork to have everything set up and someone to keep an eye on the children, but when the early morning turned into daylight, we were all pleased with the results.

DONATE

Once you have given, consigned, sold, packed, and thrown things out, you can create an itemized list with the estimated value of remaining items and drive them to a local donation center. You can also donate to various organizations. For example, we have donated gently used items to our church. Either way you go, ask for a donation slip of some form as evidence that you donated the items. This will come in handy when you prepare your taxes!

WHY? WHY? WHY?

I could ask, “Why not?” Why aren’t you go through your things to know what you have, where it came from, and if you use it or need it?

But I’ll just tell you some reasons why you should declutter your home.

You probably don’t NEED everything you have. It’s just there. But, someone else somewhere might actually NEED it!

You don’t have the space for it. If you’re having to dig through a number of items to get to the one thing you’re looking for…and you do this a lot in various places around the house…you might just have to revisit what the space is meant for and why you’re cramming so much into it.

You want to be safe. You don’t want so much stuff that your house is unsafe or unsanitary. Now, I’m definitely not that bad, but it happens!

You’re like us and you’re getting ready to move. You want to show your house, not your personal belongings. Moving things out before you’re actually moving helps potential buyers see your home and what it has to offer. They don’t need to see that you can fill every inch of your cabinets and closets. They need to see the storage space available to them. They need to see your floor space, not your shelves full of collectibles and books.

Plus, the less you have the less you have to tidy, pick up, put away, or clean! You’re not just decluttering your home, you’re simplifying your life!

When is the last time you decluttered your home?