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Preparing Your Home

Common Mistakes When Hiring a REALTOR® • Helpful Hints • Escrow • Title Insurance

When planning to put your home on the market, you will need to take care of things that will ensure buyers see the home as well-taken care of and maintained and make it possible for those buyers to see themselves living in your home.


Review the questions below to ensure your home looks the best it possibly can in the buyer`s eyes.


  • Does your yard look well maintained?

  • Are the trees and bushes trimmed?

  • Is your lawn mowed and edged?

  • Is your lawn free of weeds?

  • Are the decks and patios clean?

  • Does your house need painting?

  • Are there any exterior holes or cracks?

  • Are your walks and porches clean and in good repair?

  • Does your roof leak or sag?

  • Are any shingles or tiles missing?

  • Is your chimney in good shape?



  • Are your carpets clean and in good condition?

  • Do your carpets need stretching?

  • Are there any pet or smoking odors?

  • Do your walls have any cracks or holes?

  • Do your walls need painting?

  • What about that wallpaper?

  • Do your ceilings have any water stains, cracks or peeling?

  • Do your ceilings need painting?



  • Are your appliances clean and in good working order?

  • Are your cabinets in good condition?

  • Are your countertops in good condition?

  • Is your tile grout clean?

  • Is your sink stained, chipped, or in need or re-caulking?



  • Do your faucets shut off completely?

  • Do your sinks drain freely?

  • Are your toilets in good condition?

  • Are your shower doors shiny?

  • Do your tubs need caulking?

  • Is your floor in good condition?

  • Are your vanities and mirrors in good condition?


Living Room:

  • Is your fireplace clean?

  • Is the fireplace screen in good shape?

  • Are all drapes, shutters, and shades clean and working properly?

  • Are any window screens bent?

  • Do all the windows open and close easily?

  • Are the windowsills clean?

  • Are your doors in good condition?

  • Do any doors sag or stick?

  • Do the locks work?

  • Is the paint in good condition?

  • Do the doors seal tightly?



  • Is your basement/attic organized?

  • Are they well lit?

  • Are they clean?

  • Are the stairs in good repair?

  • Do the doors open and close easily?

  • Are there any signs of insects or rodents?


  • Garage:

  • Is your garage organized?

  • Is it well lit?

  • Is the floor swept?

  • Are there oil spots or other stains on the concrete?


5 Most Common Mistakes Homeowners Make When Hiring a REALTOR®


What things should you consider when hiring a realtor to sell your home? Well, take care because all real estate agents are not the same. It may make the difference between your home selling right away or sit on the market for 6 months or a year.

When sellers start considering what Realtor to hire to sell their home, many make the same five mistakes:

  • Hiring a friend, relative or neighbor

  • Hiring the realtor that promises to get you the highest listing price

  • Not paying attention to the levels and reach of the marketing

  • Hiring a listing agent

  • Having paralysis by analysis


Mistake #1: Hiring a friend, a neighbor or relative

Most people know someone or have a relative who sells real estate. That friend of yours might just have the experience necessary to sell your home. But many times, this is not the case and sellers often feel pressured to hire their relatives, their in-law, their neighbor or a good friend. Before you hire a realtor, pay close attention to their experience, their track record in actually selling homes and pay attention to the comments of their former clients. Otherwise, you may be hiring a realtor without the track record or knowledge to sell your home.


Mistake #2: Hiring the agent that promises to get you the highest price

What is important in your decision to hire a realtor is not the one who can promise you the highest price but one who understands the market and can honestly and accurately set the highest price possible, but a price that will help you sell your home. The right agent can analyze the prices of the comparable sales of homes in your neighborhood that have sold, are still active, etc. to set a realistic price that will sell. The price is ultimately your decision, but you need an agent who can provide you with a solid, realistic price that will gain attention in the market and sell but to ensure you get the highest realistic price, based on the market.

If a realtor recommends a price that is too good to be true, it most likely is. You need someone who can tell you what you can realistically expect to sell the home for the highest price possible, but not a dream price that will ensure your home sits on the market unsold indefinitely.


Mistake #3: Not paying attention to the level and reach of an agents marketing plan

First, never hire a realtor who doesn't have a marketing plan a plan that spells out the exact activities they will complete selling your home. Second, in looking at the marketing plan, be careful to notice the difference in the level of marketing, the reach of the marketing, and how much the plan depends on internet marketing. Internet marketing should be a major component of a marketing plan, and if the agent's plan is not specific and clear on every internet activity, choose another agent.

Also, make sure you understand how each marketing plan will make sure that you maximize the visibility of your home to the maximum number of agents, brokers and potential buyers. If that is not clear, choose another agent. Newspapers and most print media are no longer very effective in selling homes, so you`ll want to pay a lot of attention to the online media opportunities that each agent presents.


Mistake #4: Hiring a Listing Agent

Many real estate agents are listing agents, which means their prime focus is on getting listings, not selling homes. Be sure to hire an agent that focuses on working with many buyers so they can potentially bring a buyer to you.

The ultimate goal for many real estate agents is to list many homes for sale and then let the MLS listing do the work, which means they do nothing. We in the industry call them `Listing Agents.` You want to make sure you choose an agent who also works with many buyers, which greatly expands the visibility of your home and widens the pool of potential buyers.

Be sure to find out how many buyers they work with and how many of their listings they sold in the past year.


Mistake #5: Paralysis by Analysis

Many times sellers are so concerned about their choice in agents, they end up not being able to decide between agents. In the end, go with your gut. Which agent do you sense has the most commitment to selling your home? Which agent has the most positive energy that fits with yours? Which agent do you want to work with daily? And, last but not least, which agent can you be honest with and give feedback to and expect a positive response to your needs?


5 Helpful Hints to Sell Your Home

Would you like to sell your home faster and for more money? Hopefully, your answer is yes, and in that case, you'll want to follow this time-proven strategy. We call it getting ready to move! The National Association of Realtors reports that a staged home sells 50% faster and for 17% more money than unstaged. While hiring a home stager is an option, you can stage your home yourself very effectively by following the five key steps below.

1. Disassociate Yourself With Your Home 

When you list your home for sale, people will begin looking at your home, and they`ll be comparing it to other homes they also want to visit. To each of these prospective buyers, your home is now a product. Say to Yourself: I'm selling and moving so this is not my home its a product to be sold much when you shop for a piece of furniture or a TV. Focus on letting go of your emotional attachments to the house because someone else will buy it, and you`ll be moving soon. Picture yourself moving into your new home and saying goodbye to your home. 


2. De-personalize 

Hide everything personal -- family photos, awards, trophies, your collection of old dolls that might interfere with a buyer feeling like your home could be theirs. People get distracted when they`re surrounded by someone else`s stuff. Make your bathroom look like a hotel; no one wants to see your soggy loofah and a half-used bar of soap. Put all your beauty products in a shower caddy that can easily be stowed under the sink before a showing. 


3. De-clutter 

Clutter can lower a home`s sale price and can make a home sell slower! Since you want to move now, its a great time to start packing! Most people have too much stuff, whether its decor, personal items, paperwork or furniture. The goal is to create a sense of space in a room and all of your closets. Fight the urge to shove all your stuff in your closets, since many prospective buyers open every last one and love to examine nooks and crannies. An organized closet can send the message that, as an owner, you`re a person who doesn`t slack on any aspect of maintaining your home. 


4. Clean and Freshen 

No one wants to walk into a dirty house. Bathrooms and kitchens, in particular, should be sparkling. Pay attention to hidden corners like the nook behind a toilet or the inside of your refrigerator. You never know where people are going to look. Since only about a third of Americans live with pets, be sure you`re not alienating the other two-thirds of the population. Remove all traces (leashes, litter boxes, dog beds, pet food bowls) of animals.

And since outdoor living is so popular here in the desert, be sure to make your patio, outdoor furniture, and barbecue area appear entertainment-ready. Adding a color bowl or two full of seasonal annuals is an easy and inexpensive way to brighten up your patio, as well. 


5. Lighten and Brighten 

You want to have as much light as possible filtering through your home. Start by cleaning the windows. Before a showing or open house, make sure your shades are open. Check to see if all your bulbs are working, and replace low-watt bulbs with high-watt ones to maximize brightness.


What is Escrow? 


Escrow is not a person, or a place or a thing.  It is a process.  Escrow companies are licensed by the State of California and are responsible for coordinating all parties and paperwork to ensure a successful closing.

• Escrow coordinates all parties, including buyer, seller, and lender throughout the process

• Escrow is the holder of all documents and funds

• Escrow is neutral…escrow cannot take sides and cannot negotiate.

• The escrow holder keeps monies, documents in their custody as an impartial third party, that takes effect only when all specified conditions have been fulfilled.


What is Title Insurance and Why is it Important? 


A title insurance policy protects a real estate owner or lender against any loss or damage they might experience because of liens, encumbrances, or defects in the title to said property, or the incorrectness of the related search.  Typically the seller pays for Title Insurance for the sale of their home.


Protecting You Against Hidden Risks

Protection against loss from claims on real estate which cannot be discovered by examination of the public records is the second part of the two-fold benefit provided by Title Companies.


How Does Title Insurance Differ From Casualty Insurance?

Casualty Insurers (car, life, health, etc.) assume the risk for future events, collecting monthly or annual premiums. A title policy insures the past of the real property and the people who owned it, for a one-time premium paid at the close of escrow.


How Does a Title Insurance Policy Protect Against These Dangers?

If a claim is made against your title as covered by your policy, Title Companies protect you by:
1. Defending your title, in court if necessary, at our expense.
2. Bearing the cost of settling the claim if it proves to be valid, to perfect your title and keep you in possession of your property.


Your Ownership of Real Estate

Real estate has always been considered people`s most valuable possession. It is so basic a form of wealth that many special laws have been enacted to protect ownership of land and the buildings which stand on the land.

You should realize whenever you buy a property that the owner who is selling it to you has extremely strong rights as do his family and heirs.  However, there may be others - in addition to the owner - who have "rights" in the property you are going to buy, perhaps governmental bodies, or contractors, for example.

Some of the things a title search uncovers are any unpaid taxes or mortgages judgments against previous owners, easements, and many other court actions or recorded documents that can affect title to real estate. Title companies find and report such defects in the title to the real estate you wish to buy so that these matters can be corrected and cleared up. It is the first benefit you receive when title insurance is ordered.


What Types Of Policies Are Available?

A standard CLTA `Owners` policy insures the new owner, the home buyer and an ALTA or CLTA `Lenders` policy insures the priority of the lender`s security interest. An extended coverage ALTA-R (residential) policy to owners of 1-4 unit property is also offered. The ALTA Homeowner`s Policy is for owners of 1-4 unit properties as well and expands the number of covered title risks to 29, including certain specified risks that may arise in the future. Some Title Companies may issue this extended coverage automatically on qualifying properties. Special Binders, Guarantees, and Endorsements are also available.


How Is Title Policy Created?

After the escrow officer or lender opens the title order, title companies begin a search of the public records including the County Recorder, Federal and State Agencies, and County and City Offices. A Preliminary Report is issued to the customer for review and approval. All closing documents are recorded upon escrow`s instruction. When recording has been confirmed, demands are paid, funds are disbursed, and the actual title policy is typed and sent to the insured.


Who Needs It?

Purchasers and lenders need title insurance to know the property they are involved with is insured against various possible title defects. Whether it`s a sale, refinance construction loan...the seller, buyer, and lender all benefit.


Pay Only Once

Unlike other forms of insurance, the original premium is your only cost as long as you own the property. There are no annual payments to keep your Owners Title Insurance Policy in force.


Why is Title Insurance Important?

Title Insurance will protect you against a loss on your home or land due to a title defect. A deed or mortgage in the chain of title may be a forgery.

• Title Insurance will protect you against a loss on your home or land due to a title defect.

• A deed or mortgage in the chain of title may be a forgery.

• Claims constantly arise due to marital status and the validity of divorces.

• A deed or mortgage may have been made by an incompetent or under aged person.

• A deed or mortgage made under an expired power of attorney may be void.

• A deed or mortgage may have been made by a person with the same name as the owner.

• A child born after the execution of a will may have an interest in the property.

• Title transferred by an heir may be subject to a federal estate tax lien.

• An heir or other person presumed dead may appear and recover the property or an interest.

• A judgment regarding the title may be voidable because of some defect in the proceeding.

• By ensuring the title, you can eliminate delays when passing your title on to someone else.

• Title Insurance reimburses you for the amount of your covered loss.

• Title Insurance helps speed negotiations when you`re ready to sell or obtain a loan.

• A deed or mortgage may be voidable if signed while the grantor was in bankruptcy.

• Claims have risen dramatically over the last 30 years.

• There may be a defect in the recording of a document upon which your title is dependent.

• Title Insurance covers attorney fees and court costs.

• Many lawyers protect their clients as well as themselves by procuring title insurance.

• A deed or mortgage may have been procured by fraud or duress.

• A title policy is paid in full by the first premium for as long as you own the property.


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5 Most Common Mistakes
5 Helpful Hints
What is Escrow
Title Insurance
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