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8 Questions to Ask Your Agent When Starting Your Home Search

Friday, May 18, 2018


Whether it’s your first or your fifth, making the decision to purchase a house is one fueled by emotion. Maybe you’re fueled by excitement at the thought of upgrading to the home of your dreams. Or perhaps that excitement is overshadowed with anxiety over leaving behind a place you’ve made countless memories in.


With the ebb and flow of feelings in tow, it only makes sense that’d you engage a real estate professional you can trust; someone who’s both empathetic and cognizant of your needs. As with any major life decision, put in the due diligence and ask the right questions before signing on the dotted line. You’ll often find that the more selective you are, the more enjoyable and successful the experience will be.

Are you a part-time or full-time agent?

Be mindful of how devoted an agent may be to their line of business. If they’re currently dipping their toes in real estate as a part time job, you may not receive the same level of attention you’d find from a full-time agent or agency.

How many clients are you currently representing?

There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer to be given in this instance. However, there’s a big difference between five and 20 buyer clients when it comes to the amount of attention you’re hoping to receive. Get a feel for the real estate agent’s level of engagement and how often they’ll be available to respond to questions or concerns as they come up.

Will you representing me exclusively, or both the buyer and seller in the transaction?

While it’s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, it’s important to understand where the practitioner’s obligations lie. A good practitioner will explain the agency relationship to you and describe the rights of each party. It’s also possible to insist that the practitioner represent you exclusively.

What type of support does your real estate agency offer?

Having resources, such as in-house support staff, access to a real estate attorney, or assistance with technology, can help a real estate professional sell your home. Get a feel for how an agent will go about aligning your home needs with what’s available on the market to ensure any goals you might set are actually attainable.

Can you recommend service providers for obtaining a mortgage, making repairs on my home, staging, etc.?

Keep in mind here that real estate professionals should generally recommend more than one provider and should tell you if they receive any compensation from any provider. If they’ve been in the business for a while, this will most certainly be the case and be reflective of their ability to network within their community.

How will you keep me informed throughout the home purchasing process?

Again, this is not a question with one correct answer, but one that reflects your desires. Do you want updates twice a week or don’t want to be bothered unless there’s a hot opportunity? Do you prefer phone, e-mail, or a personal visit?


Looking to start your home search off on the right foot? ContactJanet McAfee Real Estate—if you’ve got questions, we’ve got the answers.


Category: Tips for Buying a Home

Does Timing Matter?

Monday, May 14, 2018

Yes.  There is seasonality in residential real estate and the time is NOW.  We are in the peak of the real estate selling season.  In fact, May, June and July are the peak months in our St. Louis metropolitan area.   I looked at closed transactions over the past five years and discovered that the month of June has 32% more closed sales than an average month.  Remember, a closed sale typically occurs 40-60 days after an offer has been accepted, which means contracts written in mid-May produce the closed sales the end of June and contracts written in June close in late July.   As we say in real estate “time is of the essence.”


Category: Seasonal Preparations | Selling Your Home

Spring has sprung … Hooray!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Finally, Spring is here!  It’s sunny, in the 70’s and the residential real estate market is in full bloom!  In the St. Louis Central Corridor, 309 listings were put into MLS in the last 7 days.  235 listings went under contract (both new and existing) and 188 sales closed.  In the same period for the luxury market (over $1 million), there were 18 new MLS listings, 6 went under contract and 2 closed.

STL Central Corridor MLS Listings

All Prices

Over $1 M

New Listings

309

18

Option & Contingent

235

6

Sold - Closed

188

2

My advice to our sales agents is “don’t delay.”  Do everything you can to take advantage of this robust time of year.  Be aware that service professionals are busy-busy so we must be persistent and resourceful in scheduling painters, plumbers, roofers and contractors.  When working with buyers, prepare them to act quickly when they find the home of their dreams.   You know the Benjamin Franklin adage “an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure.”  

 

Happy Spring Selling and Buying!

Janet


Category: Real Estate Market | Selling Your Home

Staging Your Home to Sell: Physical vs. Virtual

Wednesday, April 18, 2018



We live in a visual world where seeing is believing and believing is seeing imagery that excites each person’s individual tastes. Nowhere more is this true than with the staging of a home to sell.


In fact, 81 percent of buyers argue that staging a house helps in visualizing a property as a future home. The keyword there is home. A place that looks polished but lived in, laughed in and loved.


Staging plays a vital role in prepping a house for market. While the practice can be time consuming and costly to sellers, virtual staging has changed that by transforming how buyers can envision the home of their dreams. Let’s take a look at some key differences between physical and virtual staging.

Cost

The physical staging of a home will typically involve the clearing of clutter, furniture rearrangement and occasionally, replacement. If a home is completely empty to begin with, a design expert will sometimes be hired to gauge the feel of the house with decor to match. All in all, this process can be extremely costly to the seller, ranging anywhere from $350 per room on the low end to over $200,000 for luxury homes.


However, virtual staging is a fraction of the cost. Most rooms can be fully furnished—virtually, that is—for about $100 per room.

Time and Flexibility

The coordination it takes to physically stage a home far outweighs that of a virtual stage based on the convenience factor alone. For a physical stage, clients must consult with a designer, clear out and move decor around accordingly, have new items moved in and then capture the look with a photography session.


Virtual staging, on the other hand, is done without much contact at all between consultant and seller. With the exchange of some photos and guided direction, stagers are able to arrange and rearrange virtual furniture throughout a room many times over within a matter of a few short hours.


Seeing is Believing

It can certainly be argued that seeing is believing, and when a potential buyers view images online that don’t sync with the views in real life, it can be a bit jolting. On the other hand, walking into a completely empty space (or one with opposite design taste aesthetics) can be difficult to imagine as anything other than that. As Danielle Schlisser of the Corcoran Group in New York City says, “In an empty space, people can’t really understand how big a couch or bed is… They’ll come in and think they’ll never fit their furniture in there because they really don’t have an understanding of scale.”


Whether looking to cut costs or re-envision your home decor with ease, virtual staging has opened the door to new possibilities for sellers and buyers alike. Choosing the best option comes down to understanding what works best for your goals, timeline and overall asking price.

 

Need help deciding on whether to opt for physical or virtual staging when it comes to selling your home? Contact Janet McAfee Real Estate today for three decades worth of home buying and selling insights you can count on.


Category: Home Selling Tips | Selling Your Home | Staging Your Home

Location Wins Again!

Monday, April 16, 2018

We surveyed our Realtors to find out what is the most important home feature that their buyers are seeking at this moment in time.  55% of Realtors ranked Location as Number 1.

Is anyone surprised by this?

 

Moreover, I have discovered that buyer preferences are getting more and more specific.  For location preferences, Buyers direct their agents to look beyond general school district parameters to a particular elementary school or a particular neighborhood.  Buyers may identify where in the neighborhood they want to live – on a cul de sac, on a corner, not on a corner, next to green space, not next to a golf course, etcetera, and etcetera.  

 

Price-Value ranked the second most important criteria for buying a home.  Half responded that price-value was either the most important feature or the second most important feature in the purchase decision.  Again, this is no surprise to us.  Purchasing a home is a major financial decision.  The “Value Proposition” is top of every buyer’s mind.  The home must meet or exceed the buyer’s expectations about what they should be getting for a specific price.  The digital world has made information readily available for smart buyers.  Buyers come equipped with their own price per square foot analyses and room by room comparisons.

 

The survey ranked these important criteria when selecting a home.

Copious amounts of information reside at our finger tips; buyers are more sophisticated than ever before.  With one swipe of a finger, we can check our mobile website to find out the list price and the price which valuation algorithms have calculated the property’s worth.  We can stand in front of a home and see interior pictures on our phones.  From miles away, we can view “google earth” video of the neighborhood and lot characteristics.  Buyers’ perceptions are formed by the images and information that is readily available to them at their fingertips in real time.  Buyers know what’s possible and they want the best of the best.

 

Yet, even in this information age where just about everything is on public display through the internet, there is still one overriding real estate truth: there is no substitute for personally touring the home.   Nothing is quite the same as viewing, touching, experiencing the home first hand, in person, in the flesh.  Our agents are equipped with all the digital information – PLUS – they have actually been inside the home.  And, that’s the difference.

 

Yours, in person and in the flesh,

 

Janet Horlacher 

 

Consider These 8 Things Before You Start Your Home Search

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

 

Whether you’re recently married and looking to settle down in your first home, or are an established family looking for a community for your children to grow up in, buying a home is one of the most important decisions you'll ever make. But what if you’re not sure where it should be? From low crime rates and a great education system to local nightlife and culture, there are many variables to consider when choosing the perfect home. We’ve taken the stress out of making this decision by compiling a list of the eight most important factors to consider when you are ready to buy a new home.

1. Affordability

No matter your pay grade, living comfortably within your means should be your first priority. Consider not only housing expenses, such as your mortgage rate, but also the prices for consumer goods, such as groceries, gas, and utilities for your area. This will give you a better sense of just how much money it costs to live in a specific location on a monthly basis.

2. Real Estate Value

It’s no secret that the real estate market is in constant flux, which means it’s vital that you do your research before buying a home. For example, our website, JanetMcAfee.com, can help you get a grasp of the real estate market for a specific area. Consider current home prices and pay attention to the length of time houses are on the market, as well as the resale value of homes and long-term value estimates as well. Researching the market beforehand allows you to determine if you are making a wise, long-term investment, and may ultimately shape where you decide to live.


3. Employment Opportunities

Following your career is another important factor to consider when choosing a place to live. Employment opportunities vary widely from state to state and city to city, so be sure to research the job markets in different areas of the country, scoping out opportunities in your industry. Depending on your profession, you may find that certain cities have a higher concentration of viable options, which may help steer your decision.

Income levels for jobs in your industry are likely to vary as well. Websites like Salary.com allow you to compare pay rates across the country. For example, a marketing manager position may have a large salary attached to it in San Francisco, but the cost of living is also very high for that area. Aim to find a location with a comfortable salary and moderate cost of living and, if possible, secure a position before moving.

4. Crime Rates and Statistics

If you plan to move with children, ensuring you’re relocating to a safe community is of the utmost importance. Research crime rates and statistics for the locales you are considering to learn about the safety of a specific town or neighborhood. If you‘ve already decided on a place to live, stop by your local police station to discuss neighborhood safety. And remember, just because a neighborhood is safe today, doesn’t mean that it won’t change in the future, so long-term neighborhood stability should be a consideration factor as well.


5. Education System

Another important factor when moving with children is the quality of the education system in the area, as a good education is essential to helping children lead healthy and productive lives. Websites like GreatSchools are an excellent resource for parents looking for the ideal schools for their children. Remember, the quality of schools for a specific area can factor into your finances, too, since private institutions are considerably more expensive.  


6. Healthcare Facilities

No matter who you are or where you live, accidents happen and ensuring the presence of quality clinics and hospitals is of the utmost importance when choosing a place to live, especially if you have kids or are nearing retirement. Easy access to quality health care can increase your quality of life, so do your research beforehand on the healthcare system in your area before choosing to live there.

7. Commute Time and Public Transportation Options

Nobody likes sitting in traffic, which means commute times can be a determining factor when choosing a place to live. Moving somewhere with a public transportation system can cut the cost and time it takes to commute to work. Plus, if you’re moving with your family, the presence of quality public transport can help your kids get around when you’re not there to drive them.


8. Culture

If you’re someone who loves to go out on the weekends to concerts, restaurants, or sporting events, then you will want to choose to live in a city or town with a lot of cultural offerings. Many people feel the need to be close to their favorite team or local music scene, so be sure you can continue to pursue your hobbies and interests in your new location. If you’re someone looking to escape the hustle bustle of city life, be sure that your new location reflects that, with an abundance of scenic beauty, hiking or boating options, and plenty of room to spread out and relax.

 

Choosing a new place to live can be overwhelming, and In order to find success in your search, determine what factors from the above list are most important to you and your family. Remember to do your homework and be vigilant in your search until you find the perfect place to live. Although it may be frustrating, your efforts are sure to pay off once you are settled and happy in your new location.

Are you considering buying a home? Still on the fence? Our experienced agents are happy to help answer any questions or concerns you have and will help you along the way to finding your dream home. Contact us to get started!


Category: Tips for Buying a Home

“The nicest thing about the rain is that it always stops. Eventually.” Eeyore

Monday, April 02, 2018

 

Too much of a good thing can get tiresome.  This is one of the rainiest years I can remember.  So far this year, we’ve had 13.2 inches of rain and it continues to pour as I write.  In comparison, we had 6.7 inches of rain during the first three months of 2017.  Truly, I am sympathetic to both buyers and sellers, who are persevering through Open Houses, appointments and building inspections in this drippy weather. 

 

 This is my question: Do you go ahead and have your Open House with the rain or wait out the weather?

 

Let’s start with the reasons why you would wait.  1. Lighting is one of the most important factors in showcasing your home.  If there is no natural light coming into the house, it may look dark and dreary.  2.  Visitors may track water and mud throughout the house.  Even if they take off their shoes, rain coats and hats can drip.  3. With windows closed, your basement may feel clammy and damp even if there is no standing water.    4.  If outdoor living spaces are a key selling feature of your home, many buyers will opt out of seeing one of your best amenities.

 

 

On the other hand, there are many good reasons to go ahead with the Open House.  1. Spring is our primary selling season and more people are in the market to buy homes now.  2. People are bored.  There are no competing outdoor activities.  Cabin fever will drive buyers out to Open Houses.  3. Buyers can see how well your home holds up in terrible weather.  Buyers feel confident when they witness first hand no leaks, no gutter spills, a dry basement and clear, well-sealed windows.   4.  Looking at the numbers, the market is strong.  Our weekly sales sheet is long and keeps growing!

 

If you are going ahead and braving the rain, here’s my advice for a successful Open House:

  1. Turn on all the lights, inside and OUTSIDE.  Give your home a warm and inviting glow for all to see from the street.  Inside, the more light the better.
  2. Sweep walkways where there are pools of water.
  3. Light a small fire to take the chill off and give your home a cozy feel.
  4. Place an urn or basket for umbrellas and a large mat by the front door.
  5. Provide booties for those who cannot remove shoes.
  6. Keep ceiling fans turned on to a low setting.  Because your windows are closed, you don’t want your home to feel stuffy or to draw attention to any pet odors. 
  7. Run a basement dehumidifier.
  8. Place fresh flowers around the house.  Even though it’s dreary outside, your house will be cheery, warm and alluring on the inside!

Janet Horlacher

Success Begins at Janet McAfee Real Estate

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Ever since Janet McAfee Inc. was incorporated in 1975, one thing has remained constant: our philosophy.


Give the client better service than the competition and do it with personal integrity.


That is why Janet McAfee Inc. employs a team of talented managers to "work behind the scenes" and support agents through every aspect of home buying and selling.


Whether you are considering a career in real estate, a newly licensed agent, or a proven performer ready to take your practice to the next level, luxury-leader Janet McAfee Real Estate is the perfect fit. Your journey to personal and financial success begins here. Check out how Janet McAfee has worked for so many others, just like you!



Dani Lester

‘Janet McAfee is a great place to start your Real Estate career. I've received top-notch training from our knowledgeable brokers, and the experienced agents are always willing to offer guidance and support! Joining Janet McAfee Real Estate is the best decision I've made.’



Belle Rolfe

‘The training I have received at Janet McAfee is one of the driving reasons I chose to work here. With a team of veterans that are ready and willing to help me at any given time, my success is truly unlimited.’



Jody Johnson

‘Working at Janet McAfee is an absolute joy! Everyone here is so kind and helpful. I feel so supported by both the staff as well as other agents.’



Mac Scott

‘Janet McAfee Real Estate is a terrific place to work with an amazing support staff and agents who make their clients' lives easier.’





Lucy Goltermann

‘I have worked at Janet McAfee for over 30 years, and we have some of the most professional agents in the industry.’



Wayne Norwood & Ben Patton

‘Could not ask for a higher level of professionalism, service level or management vision. Consistent in every way, and more.’


‘Awesome company with great leadership and skilled agents!’



Julie Lane

‘Our customer service is second to none. Highly recommend Janet McAfee.’



Marc Sinclair

‘By far, this brokerage has the most knowledgeable agents and brokers in St. Louis... If you are involved in or considering a real estate transaction...You should consult with Janet McAfee!’


Our continued success is due to a consistent dedication for hiring the best and the brightest to create our unique, cooperative spirit — an ideology which could not be better explained than by Principal of Janet McAfee, Janet Horlacher:


"A real estate company is as good as the people who are involved in it. We're fortunate to have some of the best agents in our field. Our agents are successful because they are truly professional in demeanor and experienced in all aspects of a transaction, yet they are all team players. Everyone cares about another person's success, and that builds tremendous morale. It builds a family.

 

If you’re a professional who is enthusiastic, hardworking and also values honesty, integrity and is dedicated to expert customer experiences, we invite you to take the important next step to your personal and financial success by contacting Janet Horlacher for a confidential interview.


Category: Our Stories

Cyber fraud and Real Estate

Friday, March 16, 2018

Cyber fraud and Real Estate

 

I just read a scary fact in Realtor magazine: $969 million was diverted or attempted to be diverted from real estate purchase transactions and wired to “criminally controlled” accounts in fiscal 2017.  The fact is attributed to FBI data as reported by the Washington Post.

Scammers are targeting real estate professionals, title companies and mortgage lenders with phishing emails and fake text messages.  One way home buyers are scammed is they receive an email providing wire instructions for funding their new home purchase.   Please be aware - this is a fake email.  You should NEVER respond with your account information without speaking first hand to your agent or title representative.   I read a recent story of a Memphis home buyer who responded to a genuine-looking request to wire the full purchase amount of $203,000 to an account, which turned out to be fraudulent.  The money was gone, wired to a bank account controlled by an invisible thief.

 

Another risk is hacking.  Realtor magazine also reported about 80 percent of hacking-related breaches were through stolen passwords or passwords that were easy to guess.  If your password is “password,” stop reading, immediately close your browser and change your password. 

Be safe,

 

Janet Horlacher

Principal, Janet McAfee


Category: General | Real Estate Market | Selling Your Home

Six Extra Steps You Can Take to Win the Bid on a House

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Spring is the hottest time to buy a new home, and while that means a higher chance of finding your dream house, it also means there’s a good chance you’ll face competition on your bid. Tight supply markets across the U.S. lead to what is commonly referred to as a “bidding war” that results in properties selling at or above their asking price. In order to emerge the winner in a bidding battle, you can turn a critical eye toward important factors that affect closing a deal. Below are 6 extra steps you can take to win the bid on the house of your dreams.

1. Select the Right Agent

First things first, make sure your working with the right real estate agent as they will be your guide during the stressful bidding process. Aim to work with someone with experience in multiple-offer situations, whose advice and knowledge you trust, and who is willing to explain things every step of the way. Having the right agent on your side can make or break the deal during a tense bidding war.


2. Get Pre-Approved

Getting pre-approved for a loan significantly increases your chances of winning the bid on your dream home because it indicates to sellers that you're serious. Being that today’s mortgage market is still relatively tight, sellers worry about appraisals coming in low and loans not closing, making them weary of buyers whose loans aren’t set in stone. Getting pre-approved requires you to provide a verified credit score and income, which will ease seller’s worries as they’ll know you won’t have trouble financing the house.

3. Start with your Best Offer

The term “bidding war” may suggest you start low and counter often, however, the opposite is true. Be the first to make an offer and don’t lowball. Your best bet is to bid at or just below asking price to indicate that you’re serious. Making a generous offer right off the bat will benefit you by knocking low bidders out of the running. Remember, if you choose to bid over the appraisal value, you’ll have to come up with the extra cash yourself, as lenders and banks won’t help, if the seller does not accept an appraisal contingency.


4. Consider an Escalation Clause

An escalation clause indicates the amount of money you’re willing to add to your offer if other bids are present. For example, if the purchase price of a home is listed at $500,000, but you suspect it will increase to $550,000,you may include an escalation clause in your bid proposal that you’re willing to pay as high as $560,000, if you have the necessary funds. Your agent should have language approved by an attorney structuring a price escalation to include in your offer.

5. Consider Cutting Back on Contingencies

A contingency clause is used to make your offer dependent on certain circumstances, such as your ability to secure financing.  If you are confident in eliminating some protections the contract provides a buyer, you may waive them.  A better approach may be shortening contingency timelines where possible. Be sure to discuss all contingency protections with your agent before waving any contingencies or shortening the contingency periods in your contract offer.

6. Connect with Sellers

Connecting with sellers is a great way to make your proposal stand out above the rest. Sometimes, all a seller wants to know is that their home will be properly cared for. If you haven’t had a chance to do so, write a personalized note on why you’re bidding and include it as a cover letter to your proposal. This helps sellers see you as more than just an offer, which can make or break the deal, especially if there are multiple offers.  

The reality is that you may not win your first, second, or third bid on a home, and although it can be easy to get discouraged, keep trying, learn from your mistakes, and follow the above tips. If you’re ready to start your home search or put your house on the market, contact Janet McAfee Real Estate.




Category: Tips for Buying a Home

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