Frequently Asked Questions
Many people have real estate questions that they want a quick answer to. Rather than having you search all over the site to get the information you need, I have put the answers to the most frequently asked questions into this brief and organized FAQ.
If you have additional questions, or something you think we should add to this page, please reach out to us via the contact form at the bottom of the page. We look forward to hearing from you.
Sellers – Listing Your Home For Sale With A Real Estate Broker
- How much time does it take to get my home sold?
Great news! We are in the midst of a very strong seller’s market and that means homes are selling quickly. The average days on market for a home to sell once it’s “gone live” – we are looking at under a week in most cases. If you choose to price your house very high, it may take longer.
Once we have a buyer under contract, it will usually take the “traditional” buyer who is getting a loan, about 30 days to close. Sometimes, a cash buyer will be able to close more quickly – usually the title company will need about a week to prepare all the documents and then the buyer will wire over the money to complete the transaction.
If you need more time in your house before you move, you may be able to negotiate a lease-back from the seller, allowing you to rent the home for a week or two (or more!) before you have to move out.
- How much money can I get for my house?
The price of your home is determined by many factors, notably: size, location and condition. When you look at these factors in comparison to the other homes that have recently sold in your area, and the direction that the market is moving… appreciating or depreciating… you’ll get an idea of how your home compares.
For an automated evaluation of your home’s equity, click here.
For a free human-generated price evaluation, click here.
If your home is in need of extensive repair, you want a fast cash offer, or you’d prefer to sell “as-is, ” click here.
- What are the costs of sale? (Commissions, Closing Costs, etc.)
Understanding the closing costs and fees in your real estate transaction is very important and can be tricky, because it varies… there is a Washington State Excise Tax that is about 1.5% of the sales price of the home (paid by the seller). If you are an out-of-country seller, you may also have some of your proceeds withheld to ensure you pay Uncle Sam the capital gains tax owed on the income from the sale.
You will need to pay a pro-rated share of other fees such as property taxes and insurance on the property. If you have pre-paid these bills, you may have a refund for the days you paid for but didn’t end up owning the house.
Next you will have the real estate agent commissions, which are earmarked at 3% for your agent, and 3% for the buyer’s agent in most of my transactions, although this can vary and discounts may apply.
Finally, you will have “closing costs” and escrow fees – title insurance and money to the legal team who handles all the paperwork.
If you have agreed to pay any of the buyer’s closing costs, loan points, or money toward repairs to the property, this will be deducted from your total at closing as well. And don’t forget that you need to pay off your mortgage and any other liens against the property.
For a more extensive article on closing costs, click here.
- Do I have to do a lot of fix-up to my home to get it ready for sale?
Some sellers are intimidated by the idea of selling their home because they think they have to remodel everything! This is not true. Almost any home can sell in as-is condition. The question is whether you will get more money from the sale of your home if you invest into upgrades.
If your home is a fixer-upper, we can list it as-is, make you a fast cash offer, or help you finance the repairs to remodel it yourself.
If it’s not “that bad” but you’re not sure what to do, we are happy to come over and do an onsite evaluation to help you determine the highest ROI repairs, and create a plan that suits your budget and timeline.
- What is the market like now? Is it a good time to sell?
We go above-and-beyond when it comes to tracking the real estate market… not only do we rely on our own in-the-field experience, but we regularly look up and do a video report on MLS statistics for several Puget Sound Markets each month (check the blog) as well as subscribing to real estate news and trends services that help us know what is going on at the national level, and down to the zip-code level. We are happy to share this data with you and help you evaluate what is going on in the neighborhoods you’re most interested in.
- Why should I work with Emily Cressey & HomePro Associates?
Emily Cressey, the owner of the HomePro Associates Team at HomeSmart has nearly two decades of real estate experience. Starting her career not as an agent but as an INVESTOR, Emily had the opportunity to work with many brokers, see their style, and see what was working or not working about the way they did business. First licensed in 2008, Emily decided not to do things the “traditional” way, but to break the mold and do things differently, with a focus on client experience, analyzing realtime data, and marketing heavily with the help of technology to expose your home to the masses! Click here to see how our video and paid ads are putting your home in front of a large audience of hungry buyers to ensure maximum market interest!
In addition – since investors are known for sharpening the pencil, being hard-nosed, and a little bit cheap… Emily loves to negotiate on your behalf. Statistically, Emily is able to negotiate an additional $50,000 in the sales price of her listings over-and-above just accepting the best of the deals that came in, as-is.
Finally, Emily cherishes the life-long relationships she forms with her clients, many of whom become friends and enjoy get-togethers and celebrations together, even after the transaction has ended.
- What is your list to price ratio?
I’m so glad you asked! We have a tremendously high list-to-price ratio for a few reasons.
a. The market is very strong currently.
b. We tend to utilize an psychologically-based strategy when marketing our listings to create a buyer-frenzy with a combination of aggressive pricing and expert marketing. As in an auction-style environment, we tend to draw buyers in with a modest, “good deal” price, and let the most enthusiastic buyers compete to come out on top. Remember… when buyers compete, you win. 🙂
c. Emily is a friendly-but-effective negotiator, and always squeezes the deal to get the most money on your side of the table as possible.
Our list to price ratio: 134% of Listing Price
“MLS Average Agent” during the same time period: 102% of Listing Price
What could you do with an extra 32% Of Your Home’s Price As Cash In Hand?
- Have other wealthy people trusted you with this process?
That is a great question… when we’re uncertain and not sure what to do… we tend to look to see what others (smarter, more successful people) are doing… and ride on their coat tails.
The average price point of the homes we sell is $1.21 Million, which is well above the median price point in the areas we serve. We also own a 3,300+ sq ft. house in Lake Forest Park as well as investment properties throughout the country, so we have been a “client” of many real estate agents ourselves, and have used this experience to improve many of our own “processes and procedures” above the in However, if you have a smaller property, we are happy to help you sell as well.
- What do you do that other agents to NOT do?
We never like to bad-mouth anyone in our industry, so we’ll focus on what we are doing right!
BEFORE THE HOME GOES ON THE MARKET:
a. BEFORE your house goes on the market, we consult with you on how we plan to prepare it for market, and customize our plans based on your goals and vision for the home. If you don’t have a vision, leave it to us. We will do whwat needs to be done!
b. BEFORE your house goes on the market, we help you (if needed) line up contractors, etc. to spruce up the home. If desired, we can coordinate bigger projects with our contractor who will delay taking payment until the house is sold, so you do not have to come out of pocket for repairs and you can sell the house for more, and NET more money if your home looks fantastic when it comes onto the market.
c. BEFORE your house goes on the market, we will pay for basic staging in several rooms of the house or, if it is below our minimum price threshold, we will do “digital staging” courtesy of our photoshop team, so that people can see photos showing the size and location of “virtual furniture” that would be placed in the room to give them a sense of scale.
d. BEFORE your house goes on the market, we get professional photos done (still not everyone does this!) and we can also invest in extras like drone photos or videos, a 3-D rendering of the floorplan and a virtual tour video. Our photography service will enhance your photos to make sure the house looks its best – blue skies, a fire in the fireplace, green lawns, & lighting and color correction will show your house off while still giving a realistic perspective of the home buyers will see when they visit.
e. BEFORE your house goes on the market, we film a “vlog-style” video featuring your home and the surrounding neighborhood and amenities. This is not a stuffy “slide show” video that reviews the home’s still photos. Instead, it’s an engaging “influencer” type video that will attract attention online and hold the interest of potential buyer’s in today’s short-attention-span environment.
f. BEFORE your house goes on the market, we will prepare full-cover brochures promoting your home’s best features and the neighborhood. We will JAM the flyer box full of as many as it can hold, and give you extra’s to keep inside the house for visitors touring the property. This way, potential buyers who drive by can learn about the property and call us to gain access. They can also take a flyer home if they’ve visited the property and want to remember it later!
g. BEFORE your house goes on the market, we will prepare a welcome center for buyers and their agents who visit with a flyer box, shoe covers, a 3-ring binder featuring information about the schools and neighborhood, and anything else YOU would like buyers to know about when they come in to your house.
h. MAILINGS: We will send out a large color postcard to your nearest 250 neighbors letting them know the property is for sale. They say, “birds of a feather flock together” and neighbors are often an overlooked source of potential buyers. Using our “Choose Your Own Neighbor” campaign, we can enroll the neighborhood network and expand our reach to identify who might want to move into the neighborhood.
WHEN THE HOME IS ON THE MARKET:
a. HOME CONDITION INSPECTIONS: When your house is on the market but vacant, we will visit it regularly to make sure any messes left by other agents are corrected as soon as possible. Occasionally, unfortunate things do happen to vacant property (candy wrapper litter, doors left unlocked, leaves and pine needles in front entry, fire alarm starts low-battery beeping, etc.) And we want to detect those problems and get them resolved quickly, so we will inspect your property regularly while it is on the market to make sure all is well.
b. We will text, call, and email agents who have shown your property to determine their client’s response and get feedback for you on price and condition.
c. We will invest in marketing your property to our own database of buyers, new
AFTER THE HOME IS UNDER CONTRACT
- How To Choose A Real Estate Agent
Choosing a real estate agent comes down to several main factors:
How to Choose A Listing Agent To Help You Sell Your Home:
How will they market your home for sale? Are they putting a sign in the yard and sticking it on the MLS, or is there more?
Top agents, even in a seller’s market, know the value of creating demand for your home.
First – You want to make your home look its best before it hits the market. Will your real estate agent advise you on cleaning and preparing your home for sale – Paint and Carpet, handyman jobs, landscaping, etc. What level of repairs and primping does your house need, or is it ready to go as-is? In some instances, thinning out the furniture or bringing in furniture for professional staging can completely change the look of an ordinary home.
Second – You’ll want your house well-represented online because that’s where 95% of buyers begin their search these days. Some items to look for include; Professional-quality photos in large numbers. In some areas, drone photos or videos are popular.
In relocation markets, where people may not see the home in person before submitting an offer, a 3-D Matterport tour can also be an asset. It lets people feel as though they are walking through the home. Another “live walk-through” option would be to create a video tour of the property (branded or unbranded) for viewers to see before deciding to come out to the home. What is your agent willing to invest in, here?
Launching the Property – In this low-inventory market, the home may only have a week or so to show itself off before it is snapped up by an eager buyer. It has to look good during this week. Make sure your agent has everything lined up and ready – both in the property itself – shoe covers, key boxes, marketing pamphlets, sign, etc. – and online (photos, videos, ads, etc.) before flipping the switch to “go live” on the MLS. The first syndication of the MLS data to the portal sites is the most important because this doesn’t always get changed or updated quickly.
Once your property is “out there” on the Internet, what else will your agent do to be proactive in its promotion? Ask about Open Houses, Mailings, Telephone solicitation, their own in-house buyers, networking with other agents, and more.
Soon enough, offers will start rolling in. How will your agent handle the negotiations on the property? Strong negotiators are few and far between, with most agents just selecting and recommending the best of what’s been submitted. Strong negotiators will call back the interested buyers and give them the opportunity to improve their offer, bringing in additional funds or better (more secure) terms for the seller.
11. What’s the Difference Between Buyer’s Market and Seller’s Market.
Inventory tells the tale when determining a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. A balanced market would have 4-5 months of inventory available.
Right now, in many markets across the country, including mine in Seattle, we have less than 1 month’s inventory of homes available on the market. Meaning, if we stopped listing new property and the number of buyers stayed the same, all the homes would be sold out in less than a month.
It is a strong seller’s market. Prices will keep going up and sellers will continue to have the upper hand until we see inventory rates rise by 500% or more.Why is it a benefit to work with you vs. someone else?
12. How long will this take?
13. Can I just sell my house to some website for cash?
14. I already know an agent and it would present an awkward social pressure NOT to hire him or her.
15. Do you have examples where you have succeeded when others have failed?
16. What do other people say about you?
17. Can you prove what you say or are you just running your mouth?
18. Is there a benefit to a national brokerage or is a hyper-local boutique better?
19. What percentage of the time do you sell your own listings?
20. When should I plan different aspects of the move?
21. What do I do about financing? It’s confusing… there are so many options.
22. How much do you charge?
Sellers – Selling A Home For Sale By Owner
1. What are the Pros and Cons of selling a home For Sale By Owner?
2. How long does it take to sell a home for sale by owner?
3.How much does it cost to sell a home For Sale By Owner?
4. When do you recommend For Sale By Owner?
5. What is your Direct Home Buyer Service?
Selling Your Home Directly To Us (Home Buyer Service)
Who should consider selling their house to an investor?
What types of properties will an investor buy?
How much money will I get for my home?
Are “We Buy Houses” ads, signs or investors a scam?
What is “We Buy Ugly Houses” about?
What if I am behind on payments?
What if my house is an Estate Sale or Proabate?
What if I am going through a divorce?
What if someone died in the property?
What if I am behind on taxes?
How much do home buyer services cost? Will I have to pay?
Working with a real estate agent vs. utilizing Home Buyer services.
Buyers – Looking To Purchase A New Home?
Do I have to have 20% down to buy a house?
How Much Money Do I Need For Closing Costs?
– Closing costs can be hard to pin down because they vary at every home purchase due to the time of year when you close, how much your interest rate, lender fees, and homeowners insurance are, and a number of other factors.
Click here for an explanatory article (with minimal boringness) covering “Buyers Closing Costs” on a hypothetical starter home in Shoreline, WA.
How much can I afford?
Do I need to be pre-qualified for a mortgage in order to look at homes?
How do I get pre-qualified for a mortgage to buy a home?
What’s the most efficient way to find a home to buy?
What should I do when I find a home I like?
How many homes can we look at when we are out viewing homes?
Should I go out to Open Houses?
How can I make an offer?
What does the purchase contract look like?
Do I have any escape clauses once I have signed an offer?
How much earnest money do I need to bring when I go under contract?
What other costs will I have besides my down payment?
Loan origination fees or points
How long will it take to close, once I am under contract to purchase?
What if I find out there is something wrong with the house?
When will I get the keys and when should I plan to move in?
Buying a Mobile Home
Hey, so I’m perusing around Zillow at the moment, but came across some pre-manufactured homes in Renton, WA that are really cheap, but also pretty nice. Besides a stigma, is there anything special to consider about them? Haha.
Stigma aside, a lot of people look at manufactured housing in this area because of the affordability factor.
Here are the things you want to know:
1) If it is a manufactured home in a mobile home park, you will have additional park dues, often in the range of $800-$1,000 per month. This essentially pays for your parking spot in the park and may also cover some utilities like water and sewer.
Some mobile home parks have their own rules, such as being limited to residents 55+ years old.
2) Mobile homes tend not to appreciate well, in contrast to other Seattle-area real estate.
This is less of a concern if the home is sited on its own lot. For a mobile home on land, you will probably be paying $500,000 and the home would be attached to the land and considered “real estate.”
However, if the structure is in a mobile home park and you do not own the land, lenders tend to look at it more like a vehicle that depreciates over time. They think of it as an RV in a parking spot; not like real estate.
3) Because of this concern about the mobile home going down in value over time, typically you won’t be able to get a regular mortgage loan on this type of property. It will be more like a vehicle loan with a larger down payment requirement and higher interest rate. You will have to find a special financing company that gives loans to mobile homes. Even then, they may not be willing to loan on mobile homes older than 30 years old, so these often trade in cash.