As the real estate market continues to hit all-time highs and multiple offers pour in on desirable properties in desirable locations, you are not alone in wondering if now is the right time to sell. Many homeowners have this on their minds these days, contemplating if it is the right time to sell before any contraction in the East Texas real estate market occurs. But, there are considerations. Where could you affordably buy in order to save the gains you might make on your current home? If you sell in a high market, you are also buying in a high market. Will you downsize to save your gains? You could choose to jump on the sell-rent trend, wait out the rest of the boom and repurchase in downturn. Each homeowner will have to decide what is right for them and their circumstances. 

If you decide the time is right to sell, here are a few tips and considerations to begin the process. I recently reached out to Tami Jones of American Real Estate in Lufkin, Texas to talk to her about preparing your East Texas home for a sale and selecting a Realtor. She was very insightful and walked me through several areas of the process. 

Before homeowners decide how to sell, Tami advises them to make an assessment of their potential listing, starting from the curb, through the home and to the back of the property. Most of us become accustomed to how our homes look, and upon listing them for sale, hear things we just do not think about daily. This is where a trusted friend or real estate agent can be very helpful with constructive criticisms. A fresh eye tends to pick up on things we do not.

Let’s start at the curb where Tami said to begin. When a prospective buyer sees photos or arrives at your home for the first time, there is an instant first impression, and that is where you begin your assessment. Does your home have curb appeal? Are there DIY projects you can do to enhance that appeal? You have to remember, from the moment you list your home for sale, it is in the spotlight every waking hour and needs to be show-ready on short notice.

Here are some questions to ask yourself on the journey from the curb to your front door.

1. Does the front of my home and landscaping appear clean and neat at first sight?

2. Are there any landscaping projects that I can do to make it more appealing? Tami always suggests a pop of color.

3. Does the exterior of my house need any work, such as fresh paint or repairs?

4. Is my front door area inviting?

This local Craftsman Style home really hits the mark.

Inside the home, you want to allow buyers to imagine themselves living there. Fresh paint or touch-ups are always a good idea. Painting is fairly inexpensive and can freshen the wear of everyday living. Popular neutral paint tones such as beige, grey and taupe can help make your home appealing to broad range of buyers. Tami says another must-do is thoroughly cleaning and decluttering your rooms. This not only includes furniture, but also counter spaces in all the rooms and shelving. When a potential buyer enters your home, they are looking to see where their own furniture and belongings would go. As a seller, it is your mission to make that process easy for them without the distractions of your everyday life. If you are trying to sell an unfurnished East Texas property, then staging is an excellent idea.

Once the front and inside of your home are ready to go, make sure to give some thought to the backyard and back porch space. In Texas, we rarely live in neighborhoods with front porch cultures. The backyard is important to us for outdoor activities, relaxing and entertaining. So, you can imagine a buyer will want to be able to picture all those activities in your backyard. Make sure the landscaping is clean and neat, any fence or boundary repairs are made and consider staging the porch as an outdoor living space that would be inviting.

So, are we ready to sell, yet? 

After an assessment of your home’s appeal and the projects that you have identified and done, there is another step that can put you ahead in the market. Tami said, “a pre-listing inspection is always a great idea. It gives the seller an opportunity to get repairs made before listing the home.” She continued, “Many times when an inspection has already been done, offers will come with fewer or no option period. A good realtor can help with understanding the inspection report and help a seller decide which repairs are necessary and which are not. Some repairs might be required for FHA, VA, and USDA loans.”

Tami Jones and I moved on in our conversation to some commonly asked questions from potential sellers about listing their East Texas homes for sale, and she provided sound advice for area homeowners.

At this time, on average, how long are homes sitting on the market?

Currently homes that are priced correctly, are in good condition, and advertised property are getting offers in 48 hours (depending on the day of the week that they are listed). We don’t have the frenzy that we had about a month ago, where houses would typically get about 5 offers. The market is still good and houses are typically getting 2-3 offers in 48 hours.

How should a homeowner go about selecting a qualified agent in a sea of choices?

The agent you choose to represent you is an important decision, and it does make a difference. We are not all created equally. You want an agent that will work hard and be ale to negotiate on your behalf. Asking an agent for their marketing plan and strategies is a great way to start. You can also ask them to see their previous work.

What are some thoughtful questions that you should ask a potential agent?

Do you use professional photography?

Do you use any drone footage?

Do you provide a video tour?

Where do you advertise?

What MLSs (Multiple Listing Service) do you belong to?

Will you list my house in all of them?

How long are the homes you list on the market before getting an offer/contract?

How long until closing?

How many of your deals fall apart? And why?

Tami, can you talk to me about homeowners listing their home on one of the tech services, such as Zillow or Trulia, directly and what difference hiring a realtor makes?

Brokerages that belong to a National Firm, like ERA, typically push their listings out to hundreds of different websites including Trulia and Zillow. Some brokerages can provide you a weekly report of how your home is doing and give information like where potential buyers currently live and what sites they are finding your home. Also, for instance, new layouts on Zillow, make it harder to find for sale by owner homes than ones that are represented by an agent who submitted their listing to Zillow.

How do you help a client arrive at a selling price?

A Realtor does not provide the selling price, the market does. Therefore, a complete market analysis using recently sold comparable homes along with adjustments will provide a suggested list price and a probable sale price.

For people who want to sell in this market peak and cash in on gains, what do you counsel them to do next?

Interview agents who will help you achieve your goals. The agent with the highest suggested list price is not always the best choice. Remember, that you will still have an appraisal on the house, and you will want to hit that number. It is very frustrating to have a contract and 3 weeks into the deal, when you are close to closing, to get an appraisal that is much lower than the contract price.

Are you seeing a lot of the sell-rent trend here for those wanting to save their gains until a market correction?

No. Real estate has proved to be a very wise investment for many years. Renting is paying someone else’s mortgage.  Sometimes renting is a wise choice, especially in the case of life changes.

Keeping a home in show condition is a difficult task. With showings sometimes being short notice, what tips would you give a client about how to stay ready to show?

I recommend packing up anything that you won’t need in the next few weeks (you are going to pack to move anyway). This way, there is less to clean up. Keep a basket by the door. Before leaving each morning or before a showing, walk through each room turning the lights on, opening the blinds, and closing the toilet lids while putting any items left out in the basket. You can put the basket in your car where it is out of site for buyers.

Besides the transaction, what might some people not realize that a Realtor can do for them?

Well, it become a relationship that is about more than a one-time sale. Realtors can help to coordinate moving from one house to the other, recommendations for vendors like plumbers and electricians. We can also help with a home warranty. ERA provides a concierge service to help set up utilities and security systems, as well as sending discounts and coupons with moving expenses, pizza deliveries, etc.

Finally, I am going to give you some keywords, and you give me the first thing that pops into your mind.

Paint – neutral

Cleanliness – absolutely a must

Photos – professional, please

Landscaping – curb appeal, first impression, love a pop of color

Clutter – declutter, declutter, and then do it again

I would like to thank Tami Jones of American Real Estate in Lufkin, Texas for taking the time to talk about East Texas real estate, for giving us good tips about preparing to sell and how much easier a qualified Realtor can make the process.

If you have additional questions about selling your East Texas home, here is Tami’s contact info.

Tami Jones, Realtor

Phone: (936) 366-4882

Website: Lufkin Real Estate Agent

Address: 1313 S John Redditt Dr., Lufkin, Texas 75904

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Clay Simcoe East Texas, Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Real Estate