Great experience! Tom did a great job marketing our home. He was well prepared with comparable sales prices, and helped us establish a realistic sales price. Tom diligently followed through on all the details. We received an offer very quickly and were very satisfied with the price and Tom’s excellent service. We’d definitely use Tom again!
Team McKenzie offers resources and advantages that are not available in a typical home sale. As a lawyer, Thomas McKenzie, JD, RFC, Green, FTBS, CPRES, RENE, PSA offers full-service representation to each client. The benefits of selling your home with Team McKenzie include accurate pricing and home value advocacy, MLS and additional syndication measures, detailed marketing strategies to guarantee maximum exposure, expert negotiations, as well as legal, escrow, estate planning, investment, and title advice.
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What is the difference between list price, sales price, appraised value, market value, actual market value and assessed value?
What's a house worth?
A home ultimately is worth what someone will pay for it. Everything else is an estimate of value.
To determine a property’s value, most people turn to either an appraisal or a comparative market analysis. An appraisal is a certified appraiser’s estimate of the value of a home at a given point in time. Appraisers consider square footage, construction quality, design, floor plan, neighborhood and availability of transportation, shopping and schools. Appraisers also take lot size, topography, view and landscaping into account. Most appraisals cost about $350 to $550. A comparative market analysis is a real estate broker’s or agent’s informal estimate of a home’s market value, based on sales of comparable homes in a neighborhood. Most agents will give you a comparative market analysis for free. You can do your own cost comparison by looking up recent sales of comparable properties in public records. These records are available at local recorder or assessor offices, through private real estate information companies or on the Internet.
Can I find out the value of my home through the Internet?
You can get a rough idea of your home’s value by searching the Internet. There are a number of websites, like Zillow and Trulia, who use “Automated Valuation Modeling” (AVM), in order to estimate the value of properties. However, AVMs do not take into account the condition of the subject property, nor the condition of the comparable properties. Because there is no physical inspection of any of the properties, the valuation produced assumes an ‘average’ condition for all the properties. This, probably is not an accurate reflection of the reality. Finally, there is no one to physically check the accuracy of any of the data they have collected.
Most AVMs will, themselves, admit to inaccuracy rates of three to five percent, however, a recent study by Standard and Poor’s has shown inaccuracies can result in an over or under estimate of property value by as much as 20%. Enhancing this risk, several states do not make property records available to the public. And even in states that make information available, there can be a 60- to-90-day lag between the time a home sells and when the information is finally recorded.
The reality is that there is a great deal of information about your home, your neighborhood, and your community that AVMs can’t capture. They have no idea that your kitchen has granite counter tops with inlaid marble floors, or that three homes on your block are boarded up and in foreclosure. For that kind of knowledge, buyers and sellers must turn to professional real estate agents and appraisers not only to set prices and but help get the deal done as well. The National Association of REALTORS® in a recent survey found that a whopping 81 percent of home buyers who started their search for a home ‘online’ ended up purchasing it through a real estate agent who knew the area first hand.
Are some REALTORS® more highly trained than others in assessing the true value of my property?
Yes. Part of the equation involves the agent’s’ experience in developing a comprehensive Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). Another factor is the level of training a REALTORS® has in valuing your property. For example, the National Association of REALTORS® has an official certification program called the “Pricing Strategy Advisor” program (PSA). This program contains advanced education regarding pricing strategies, how to select appropriate comparables and make accurate adjustments, how to guide sellers and buyers through the details of CMAs and the underlying pricing principles that inform them, and how to interact effectively with appraisers. In order to better assist his clients, Mr. McKenzie has earned the Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA) certification.
Although the costs below are subject to negotiation, sellers in California should expect to pay approximately 5-9% in closing costs on the sale of a property. Those costs can include…
Can't I Save Money By Selling My Home Myself?
A very good article from Investopedia outlines 8 important reasons why this can be a very bad idea. Some of the ideas discussed are as follows:
The bottom line is, selling your home will likely be one of the biggest transactions of your life. You can try to do it alone to save money, but hiring a REALTOR® has many advantages. REALTORS® can get broader exposure for your property, help you negotiate a better deal, dedicate more time to your sale, and help keep your emotions from sabotaging the sale. A REALTOR® brings expertise which few home sellers have, to a complex transaction with many financial and legal pitfalls.
Is it Wise to Use a Discount Brokerage Firm?
Can't I Just Use a Discount Brokerage Firm and Pay Only 1% to Sell My Home?
Discount real estate brokerages promise lower commissions than full-service REALTORS®. Whether you choose a discount brokerage or a full-service brokerage, you should understand what each provides, and how they are compensated.
In the traditional real estate brokerage model, the seller pays the listing broker a percentage of the home’s selling price (usually 6 percent, though it is negotiable). That listing broker usually has a split with the listing agent and also offers out a cooperating broker compensation of up to half the total commission to the buyer’s broker, who then splits that with the buyer’s agent. In other words, that 6 percent of the purchase price can go to paying the commission for as many as four people, plus any service people like transaction coordinators, should the agent use them.
Typically, discount brokerages will list your home on the MLS, spend a few hours taking pictures and inputting details on the MLS, and possibly assist you with some of the paperwork, but from there, you are on your own. This means that you will likely be responsible for photography, staging, handling appointments, access to your home, negotiations with the buyer or buyer’s agent, contracts, etc. And remember, even if you have a discount listing agent who charges 1 percent, unless you already have a buyer, you will need to pay the buyer’s agent between 2 ½ and 3 percent of the sale price.
When serving as a full-service REALTOR®, Thomas McKenzie provides much more than any discount brokerage. Other services he may typically provide include:
Although Mr. McKenzie strongly recommends that in most cases, a seller would end up better off financially and otherwise by using him as your full-service REALTOR®, in appropriate circumstances, he does offer a discount brokerage service that includes price consulting, listing on the MLS, processing of transaction paperwork and escrow guidance, for which he would typically charge 1 percent.
More Questions About Selling Your Home
There is no “best” time to sell per se. Selling a house depends on supply, demand and other economic factors. But the time of year in which you choose to sell can make a difference both in the amount of time it takes to sell your home and in the ultimate selling price. Weather conditions are less of a consideration in more temperate climates, but most of the time, the real estate market picks up as early as February, with the strongest selling season usually lasting through May and June. With the onset of summer, the market slows. July is often the slowest month for real estate sales due to a strong spring market putting possible upward pressure on interest rates. Also, many prospective home buyers and their agents take vacations during mid-summer. Following the summer slowdown, real estate sales activity tends to pick up for a second, although less vigorous, fall market, which usually lasts into November when the market slows again as buyers and sellers turn their attention to the holidays. If this makes you wonder if you should take your home off the market for the holidays, consider the advice of veteran agents: You are always more likely to sell your house if it is available to show to prospective buyers continuously.
Studies have shown that, contrary to forecasts, over 80% of first time homebuyers want no part of fixer-uppers, especially foreclosures requiring a great deal of fix-up. They are far more willing to pay more for homes they can move into immediately.
Here are five ways to lure and land a first-time buyer:
- Staging and conditioning your home is very important. (new paint, floors in good condition, de-cluttered, and odors removed)
- Deferred improvements such as newer roofs, efficient furnaces, and weather-tight windows are high on their list.
- Offer to pay closing costs.
- Always provide a home warranty.
- Make a counter-offer, even to the extreme low-balls (Remember, these are first time buyers. They don’t yet have an appreciation for home ownership and just how much this home means to you. Don’t get mad – make a reasonable counter-offer.)
Tweaking a few basic elements can make the difference between a quick home sale and a long, frustrating ordeal. First and foremost, put it in the best condition possible, especially if you are in a market with few buyers and lots of homes for sale. That means taking care of any major repairs that could deter a buyer (such as replacing any broken windows or replacing a leaky roof) if you can afford it. Next, work on your home’s curb appeal. Make sure your landscape is pristine. Mow the grass, clean up any debris and weed the garden beds. Plant a few annual flowers near the entrance or in pots to be placed by the door. Other quick fixes that don’t cost a lot of money but can help you get top dollar for your home:
- Price it right. Set a price at, or slightly lower than, your property’s realistic price range. Use a real estate tool known as “Absorption Rate” along with a well thought out “Comparative Market Analysis” to set the right price. As a certified Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA), Mr. McKenzie can assist you with this.
- Get your home “market ready” for at least two weeks before you begin showing it. You must make the most of the potential buyers’ first impression. This includes de-cluttering and cleaning the house thoroughly. For example:
- Clean the windows and make sure the paint is not chipped or flaking.
- Be sure that the doorbell works.
- Clean and freshen up rooms, furnishings, floors, walls and ceilings. Make sure that bathrooms and kitchens are spotless.
- Organize closets.
- Make sure the basic appliances and fixtures work. Replace leaky faucets and frayed cords.
- Eliminate the source of any bad smells, such as the kitty box. Use air freshener or bake a batch of cookies before your open house to ensure that the house smells inviting.
- Invest in a couple of vases of fresh flowers to place around the house.
- Properly stage your home. The money you spend conditioning and staging your home will usually be far less than your first price reduction. Homes that are move-in ready, staged, and priced right typically always sell faster than the competition. Consider this: In a 2004-2006 study conducted by Stagedhomes.com, on average, staged homes sold 50% faster and for 6.9% more money than homes that are not staged.
- Be flexible about showings. It’s often disruptive to have a house ready to show on the spur of the moment, but the more often someone can see your home, the sooner you’ll find a buyer.
- Be ready for the offers. Decide in advance what price and terms you’ll find acceptable.
- Don’t refuse to lower your price, especially in a “buyer’s” market. If your home has been on the market more than 30 days without an offer, be prepared to consider a reduction in your asking price.
- Making relatively easy and inexpensive repairs and cosmetic enhancements to the property, as well as its curb appeal, can aid in a quicker sale, and possibly a higher sale price.
- Be careful, however, about remodeling your home in preparation of a sale, because in most markets, the cost of the project will be greater than that which is recouped upon sale of the property. An exception to this rule may be what you may have seen on the various “flip” shows on cable television. Sometimes, relatively inexpensive projects can improve the property in a manner that lessens the number of days on the market, and results in a higher sale price that covers the cost of improvements. One must be very careful, however, in attempting to use this strategy, as it may not always turn out as you would have wanted, especially in a down market.
Even in a down market, real estate experts say that price and condition are the two most important factors in selling a home. If you are selling in a slow market, your first step would be to lower your price. Also, go through the house and see if there are cosmetic defects that you missed and can be repaired. Secondly, you need to make sure that the home is getting the exposure it deserves through open houses, broker open houses, advertising, good signage, and listings on the local multiple listing service (MLS) and on the Internet. Another option is to pull your house off the market and wait for the market to improve. Finally, if you who have no equity in the house, and are forced to sell because of a divorce or financial considerations, you could discuss a short sale or a deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure with your lender. A short sale is when the seller finds a buyer for a price that is below the mortgage amount and negotiates the difference with the lender. In a
deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure situation, the lender agrees to take the house back without instituting foreclosure proceedings. The latter are radical options. Your simplest, and in many cases most effective, option is to lower the price.
Sellers are not legally obligated to disclose the terms of other offers to prospective buyers.
In most states, it is the seller, but obligations to disclose information about a property vary. Under the strictest laws, you and your agent, if you have one, are required to disclose all facts materially affecting the value or desirability of the property which are known or accessible only to you. This might include: homeowners association dues; whether or not work done on the house meets local building codes and permits requirements; the presence of any neighborhood nuisances or noises which a prospective buyer might not notice, such as a dog that barks every night or poor TV reception; any death within three years on the property; and any restrictions on the use of the property, such as zoning ordinances or association rules. It is wise to check your state’s disclosure rules prior to a home purchase.
In some states, you do need an attorney to complete a real estate transaction, but in others you do not. Many home sellers are capable of handling routine real estate purchase contracts as long as they make certain they read the fine print and understand all the terms of the contract. In particular, you should be clear on the terms of any contingency clauses that will allow the other party to back out of the contract. If you have any questions at all, it may be advisable to consult an attorney to avoid future legal hassles.
Luckily for buyers and sellers who work with Mr. McKenzie, he is not only a Realtor®, but he is also a California licensed attorney with years of experience, which can be of great benefit during the buying or selling of real estate. He has the legal know-how that can only be provided by a licensed attorney. Non-attorney Realtors® or real estate agents/brokers cannot, by law, provide such advice.
Home inspections, seller disclosure requirements and the agent’s experience will help. In California, the law requires the seller to complete a real estate transfer disclosure statement. Here is a summary of the things you could expect to see in a disclosure form:
- In the kitchen — a range, oven, microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal, trash compactor.
- Safety features such as burglar and fire alarms, smoke detectors, sprinklers, security gate, window screens and intercom.
- The presence of a TV antenna or satellite dish, carport or garage, automatic garage door opener, rain gutters, sump pump.
- Amenities such as a pool or spa, patio or deck, built-in barbeque and fireplaces.
- Type of heating, condition of electrical wiring, gas supply and presence of any external power source, such as solar panels.
- The type of water heater, water supply, sewer system or septic tank also should be disclosed.
Sellers also are required to indicate any significant defects or malfunctions existing in the home’s major systems. A checklist specifies interior and exterior walls, ceilings, roof, insulation, windows, fences, driveway, sidewalks, floors, doors, foundation, as well as the electrical and plumbing systems. The form also asks sellers to note the presence of environmental hazards, walls or fences shared with adjoining landowners, any encroachments or easements, room additions or repairs made without the necessary permits or not in compliance with building codes, zoning violations, citations against the property and lawsuits against the seller affecting the property. Also look for, or ask about, settling, sliding or soil problems, flooding or drainage problems and any major damage resulting from earthquakes, floods or landslides.
People buying a condominium must be told about covenants, codes and restrictions or other deed restrictions. It’s important to note that the simple idea of disclosing defects has broadened significantly in recent years. Many jurisdictions have their own mandated disclosure forms as do many brokers and agents. Also, the home inspection and home warranty industries have grown significantly to accommodate increased demand from cautious buyers. Be sure to ask questions about anything that remains unclear or does not seem to be properly addressed by the forms provided to you.
There are several cardinal rules to negotiating effectively.
- Do your homework, and learn as much about the buyer as you can.
- Have a good idea of the home’s real value. A comparative market analysis (CMA) provides the background data upon which to base your price.
- Play your cards close to your vest, and don’t reveal too much information to the other party or their agent.
- Don’t let yourself get rushed into any decision, no matter how tempting it may be.
- Finally, hire help. Someone with negotiation skills can be very important to your success. And remember, Mr. McKenzie is both a certified Real Estate Negotiation Expert (RENE), and a certified Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA). The training involved in obtaining each of these real estate designations enables Mr. McKenzie to provide professional advice to his buyers or sellers, throughout the negotiation process.
Note: As noted above, Mr. McKenzie has been awarded the Real Estate Negotiation Expert (RENE) certification, the premier negotiation credential in the country. The RENE is conferred by the Real Estate Business Institute (REBI) and is an official certification of the National Association of Realtors®. He has also been awarded the Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA) certification, which provides enhanced tools, education, and expertise to determine the most accurate value for a property. The PSA certification is also an official certification of the National Association of REALTORS®.
It’s very important to price your home according to current market conditions. Because the real estate market is continually changing, and market fluctuations have an effect on property values, it’s imperative to select your list price based on the most recent comparable sales in your neighborhood. A so-called comparative market analysis provides the background data upon which to base your list-price decision.
Property Taxes and Other Tax Issues
Property taxes are what homeowners are required to pay to the county in which the property is located. In 2018, the median property tax in California was $2,839 per year for a home worth the median value of $384,200. In Los Angeles County, the average property tax was $2,989, and in Orange County, the average property tax was $3,404. However, because of Proposition 13, many homeowners are not paying property taxes on the full value of their property, which serves to keep these averages artificially low. And, in most cases, when you purchase a new property, your property taxes will be “reassessed,” meaning that they will be based upon the current value of the property as determined by the county tax assessor.
In certain cases, there are ways to lower your property taxes, or even prevent a reassessment of the property, however, a real estate agent is not legally authorized to advise you on such issues. As a licensed attorney, Mr. McKenzie has much more experience with issues related to Proposition 13 and reassessment, and in some cases, his advice can save his clients substantial sums of money. Of course, this depends upon the particular circumstances of the property transfer.
Capital gains tax, or CGT, is a tax imposed on the profit (capital gains) resulting from the sale of an investment. For example, capital gains are commonly realized after the sale of stocks and property. To calculate capital gain, subtract the purchase price from the sales price.
Generally, when you sell your primary residence, you can make up to $250,000 in profit if you’re a single owner, twice that if you’re married, and not owe any capital gains taxes.
There are a few rules to follow, of course. First, the property you’re selling must be your principal residence. That means you live in it. This tax break doesn’t apply to a house or other property that you have solely for investment purposes. In those cases, the usual capital gains rules apply.
You also must live in that principal residence for two of the five years before you sell it. This is known as the use test. It also means, practically speaking, each sale must be at least two years apart.
That still leaves you room to make some money on several properties. You can sell your residence this year, pocket any gain within the tax limits and buy a new residence. Then two years later, you can do the same thing, again and again, every two years. And you no longer have to worry about that pesky prior-law reporting requirement. When your gain doesn’t exceed the limit, you don’t have to file anything with the IRS. As always, please consult with your CPA regarding issues of taxation.
In some cases, there are ways to lower your capital gains taxes, or hold title to your property in a manner that is more advantageous with respect to capital gains taxes, however, real estate agents cannot provide legal advice regarding these issues. As noted above, as a licensed attorney, Mr. McKenzie has much more experience with issues relating to taxation and title than a Realtor® or real estate agent, and can provide valuable estate planning advice that you would not receive elsewhere. If appropriate and relevant, this advice would be provided to you at no additional cost.
Selling at a Loss
Lenders will initiate foreclosure proceedings when borrowers become delinquent in their mortgage obligations, usually after three payments are missed. The lender will then notify the borrower in writing that he or she is in default. The lender can request a trustee’s sale or a judicial foreclosure, in which the property is sold at public auction. A borrower can cure the default by paying the overdue amount and the pending payment after the notice of default is recorded, usually no later than a few days before the property’s sale. Some sales allow the successful bidder to take possession of the property immediately. If the former owner refuses to vacate the premises, the court can issue an unlawful detainer that allows the sheriff to come out and evict them. Borrowers should do everything they can to avoid foreclosure, which is one of the most damaging events that can occur in an individual’s credit history.
Bankruptcies and foreclosures can remain on a credit report for seven to ten years. Some lenders will consider a borrower earlier if they have reestablished good credit. The circumstances surrounding the bankruptcy can also influence a lender’s decision. For example, if you went through a bankruptcy because your employer had financial difficulties, a lender may be more sympathetic. If, however, you went through a bankruptcy because you overextended personal credit lines and lived beyond your means, the lender probably will be less inclined to be flexible.
Yes, in some case you can sell your home for less than what you still owe on the mortgage, but this is complicated and depends on the lender. This situation is known as a “short sale.” Sometimes a lender will be willing to split the difference between the sale price and loan amount, which must still be paid. A short sale may be more complicated if the loan has been sold to the secondary market, because then the lender will have to get permission from Freddie Mac, the two major secondary-market players. If the loan was a low-down payment mortgage with private mortgage insurance, then the lender also must involve the mortgage insurance company that insured the low-down loan.
Foreclosure proceedings usually begin after a borrower has skipped three mortgage payments. The lender will record a notice of default against the property. Unless the debt is satisfied, the lender will foreclose on the mortgage and proceed to set up a trustee sale.
The information provided herein is general in nature, and should not be construed to be legal or tax advice. In addition, an attorney-client relationship is neither implied nor expressly created in response to this advertisement and is not formed unless a signed retainer agreement for legal services between the attorney and the client has been executed.
We Can Help You Sell Your Home
After years of business, our responsibility and attention to the customer have never been so effective. Find out what people say about us.
List with Tom, he is the best!! I listed my property with Tom, he was so helpful and knowledgeable. He was accurate and realistic about pricing and getting it on the market quickly. We had an offer much sooner than I expected, (because of the similar properties I had been watching for many months that had not sold.) Tom is an attorney and that was a big plus for me because I had a complicated listing. He made it so easy and fixed everything perfectly! My accountant was very impressed with Tom’s work too! I highly recommend Tom McKenzie, because he Is knowledgeable, professional and so nice to work with!